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haelig

Blanket statements like "religion has no place in the public debate" are criticisms of the Civil Rights movement, Abolition, the anti-war movements of the 1950s and early 1960s, late 19th Century and early 20th Century Progressivism, Roosevelt's own feelings about the New Deal . . . Americans have always been and still are a God-bothering people and a God-bothered people. Their feelings and thoughts about what makes a just society and how to bring it about are informed by and driven by their feelings and thoughts about what God wants them to do. This doesn't make us a Christian nation or even a non-secular one. It just makes us one with a lot of people in it who cannot separate an argument for doing the right thing from an argument about how to get right with the Lord.

I think you're putting up a strawman: The core issue (at least for me) isn't the presence of religion in general politics, but rather the separation of church and state--the role of religion in the legal system and governance of our nation. We can't deny that religion was and is the motivating factor for some of the greatest political movements and social legislation in history. But when the legal transformations were carried out by the government, they were done without any religious pre-conditions--if you were discriminated against because you were black, then you received restitution or the equal treatment you were due because you were a *human being*, not because you were a Christian too. Religion and government intersect when it comes to recognizing the unique worth of every human being and their basic human rights, and if a politician's understanding of that is enhanced by his/her religious beliefs, so be it. But the Bush Administration made their Christian-motivated "compassionate conservatism" into a litmus test for basic government operations--and 8 years later, the Justice Department is a shell of its former self, funding for social services is unaccounted for and badly skewed, and the country is in shambles, all because the applicants were selected on whether they agreed with Roe v. Wade.

What worried me about the Saddleback Forum was that 1) This event was not simply an opportunity for the two candidates to speak to a particular constituency, like the NAACP national meeting. This forum in a conservative evangelical church was the *first nationally televised 'debate'* with the 2 presidential candidates, lending it the near legitimacy of a presidential debate with none of the supposed fairness, policy substance, and neutral objectivity that would allow ALL Americans to evaluate the candidates reasonably. (Although, yes, I know the national presidential debates to this point have been anything but that.) 2) Obama and McCain explicitly professed their Christian faith as not just the animating force that inspired them to help the American people, but also something that would directly dictate their policies--i.e., marriage is between one man and one woman. The Bible says that marriage is between a man and a woman; but the U.S. Constitution says nothing of the sort, and allows for the gay and lesbian community to claim the legal rights bestowed by marriage.

Yes, I know that religion will be key in reaching certain demographics such as African-Americans and Hispanics. But at the end of the day, the POTUS is governing a richly diverse America with people of widely varying beliefs and creeds, and his/her governance must be based on the objective rule of law, not specific religious creeds. But so far, the rhetoric of both candidates reveals that neither will be better than the Bush Administration on the separation of church and state, and I fear the wisdom of JFK's words will be permanently lost: "I believe in a President whose religious views are his own private affair, neither imposed by him upon the nation or imposed by the nation upon him as a condition to holding that office."

elbrucce

What bugs the hell out of me is that he let himself get photographed hugging John McCain.

Non-partisan. He'll probably make McCain Secretary of State.

Too bad Constitutional scholar Obama didn't bother to study the First Amendment, though.

Brian

"Making fun of a belief in a white-bearded magician in the sky is implicitly making fun of a belief in Allah, Krishna, and the Great Spirit and believers of all kinds know it."

It is, in fact, explicitly making fund of belief in Allah et al., and that is why it is good. Everyone who believes in patent nonsense deserves to be made fun of. End of story. The fact that this includes most people does not make it any less necessary. Religious belief should be legal, safe, and rare.

rawdawgbuffalo

Prison and race, the contours of a tragedy

apostate

You make some good points, but you aren't acknowledging that there are plenty of terrific arguments on the progressive, non-religious side about keeping politics and religion separate.

Be that as it may - Obama is a sincere and devout Christian? Really?

How do you know?

I am convinced that he is an intellectual. Can intellectuals of his calibre believe in Christianity?

I've never been able to convince myself of Bill Clinton's religiousity either.

It's simply contradictory to be superlatively intelligent and believe in absurdities.

I am pretty sure they do their God-bothering because it's expected of them and they have to, and politicians do a lot of stuff of that nature. Plus, they know the power of community organizing, and churches are perfect community centers.

Badger3k

"Four. A lot of what Right Wing Christian pastors preach is just plain wrong. Their arguments aren't even close to Christian. They're based on willful misreadings of the Bible and plain ignorance on the subjects of their own religion and history. There has been no shortage of conservative Christians writing books and articles about how Jesus wants us all to be rich. (See also Three above.)"

Lance, I didn't expect you to bring up the "No True Scotsman" fallacy, but there you go. Sad. Over the last 1700-1900 years of history (depending on when you want to say the canon was written) every individual has seen what they wanted to see in the biblical writings. Every one of them says that they are reading it correctly and others are not. If you are going to go into this line of argument, I hope you have more evidence than they do to support your contention, as well as having some measure to gauge how "christian" a person is, and how such a system can be confirmed.

Otherwise, drop it and just say you disagree with them and what they believe.

actor212

Amen, Lance. Amen.

It is, in fact, explicitly making fund of belief in Allah et al., and that is why it is good.

Logical? Perhaps. Truthful? Maybe, the jury's still out on that.

But it is idiotic. So, not good.

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