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Sat Nov 3, 2012, 01:38 PM

Religious Consistency and Hypocrisy: Election 2012 (long, but good read)

Religious Consistency and Hypocrisy: Election 2012
by Jim Wallis 11-01-2012 | 11:32am


Most people in America, whether they are religious or not, prefer consistency in the faith community to hypocrisy. One of the reasons the fastest growing demographic in religious affiliation surveys is now “none of the above” is that too many people see more religious hypocrisy than consistency.


Religion is not, at its core, politically partisan. But too often religion becomes a political tool; and we see that on both sides of the aisle. That does not mean people of faith shouldn’t have strong convictions or feelings about political issues or shouldn’t vote one way or another; or that there is a moral equivalency between the political parties and it doesn’t matter which way we vote. Elections are important, and people of faith should be voting as citizens and by their most basic values.

But let’s be clear: On Nov. 6, neither a Republican nor Democratic victory will bring in the Kingdom of God.

Elections can sometimes, however, set a framework for what can or can’t be done for the things we believe in. And there are important differences between the candidates at every level up and down the ballots we will cast next week. But people of faith — and their leaders — should be more prophetic than partisan during election seasons. And the moral issues we care about should be more important to us than the candidates or the parties they represent.

In this election, I’ve heard a lot of talk about “biblical principles” or the importance of voting according to a “Christian worldview.” Unfortunately, those words are normally followed by talking points that sound a lot more like a party platform than words you could imagine Jesus speaking. The Sermon on the Mount, when read next to campaign speeches, reads as almost a direct refutation of everything politics values in our world today. Matthew 25 sounds like an example of what NOT to say if you want to run for elected office.

With more than 2,000 verses in the Bible about poverty — and with freeing the poor and oppressed as central components of the Gospel's “good news" — shouldn’t we consider how the election will affect the poor and oppressed? Or ask how we should treat the millions of undocumented immigrants among us, who clearly fit the biblical category of “the stranger?” In both cases, how we treat “the least of these,” Jesus says in the 25th chapter of Matthew, is how we treat him. Doesn’t our voting have something to do with that? Many of us Christians are “pro-life,” but aren’t the nearly 20,000 children around the world who die every day of utterly preventable hunger and disease just as much a “sanctity-of-life” issue as the approximately 3,000 abortions that occurred in our country today.

More:
http://sojo.net/blogs/2012/11/01/religious-consistency-and-hypocrisy-election-2012/#disqus_thread

17 replies, 1591 views

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Arrow 17 replies Author Time Post
Reply Religious Consistency and Hypocrisy: Election 2012 (long, but good read) (Original post)
demosincebirth Nov 2012 OP
cbayer Nov 2012 #1
dimbear Nov 2012 #2
rug Nov 2012 #3
dimbear Nov 2012 #4
rug Nov 2012 #5
dimbear Nov 2012 #6
rug Nov 2012 #9
dimbear Nov 2012 #10
rug Nov 2012 #11
dimbear Nov 2012 #12
rug Nov 2012 #13
dimbear Nov 2012 #14
rug Nov 2012 #15
dimbear Nov 2012 #16
rug Nov 2012 #17
skepticscott Nov 2012 #7
rug Nov 2012 #8

Response to demosincebirth (Original post)

Sat Nov 3, 2012, 01:48 PM

1. He makes some excellent points. I have been particularly disturbed about

the lack of attention being given to the poor by either candidate in this election. While I have no question that Obama's moral compass is more likely to steer towards the poor, I often wish he was more vocal about it.

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Response to demosincebirth (Original post)

Sat Nov 3, 2012, 06:58 PM

2. It's very much worth understanding that Christianity was constructed to support government

and that it pretty much always has. It's worth keeping in mind that the words of the NT are simply put into the mouth of characters to advocate a particularly obedient worldview.

Saint Constantine knew what was what. He didn't mind putting up with little inconsistencies like not mistreating the poor, they're easy enough to ignore in practice. The important lessons of obey your masters, pay your taxes, and don't tolerate other religions were what counted then and now.




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Response to dimbear (Reply #2)

Sat Nov 3, 2012, 08:30 PM

3. Drivel.

Unlinked drivel.

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Response to rug (Reply #3)

Sat Nov 3, 2012, 09:39 PM

4. That's a little harsh.

Many Christians aren't really aware that before Saint Constantine got involved sponsoring it, Christianity really wasn't making much headway. It's fascinating history, but not one you're likely to learn in Sunday school.

His character and the character of his mother are important guides for the student of Christian history. His politically adroit hands lay very heavily over all the future of Christendom. It was he who first clearly saw the value of Christianity to the administration of the Empire and correct and proper control of its subjects.

One can glean all the info from Gibbon, a more modern treatment is found in several of the later texts of Ramsay McMullen.



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Response to dimbear (Reply #4)

Sat Nov 3, 2012, 11:21 PM

5. Well, maybe.

Still, your broad brush overlooks the first three centuries of Christianity. If it is a political construct of Constantine, it's really not tenable to claim that he would choose, of all the religions in the Empire, one not "making much headway" as the unifying religion of his Empire.

I will look into Ramsey McMullen. I never heard of him before.

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Response to rug (Reply #5)

Sun Nov 4, 2012, 01:35 AM

6. You are likely to run across a very interesting urban legend about Constantine's choice.

It's certainly known that he was originally an adherent of Sol Invictus, as with so many of the emperors about that time.

It is to be regretted that so little is known for sure, and that the church saw fit to so completely obscure the details with fanciful legends.

Numbers as to the percentage of Christians in the Empire at about that time vary widely, but probably 5% would be high, others of course disagree.

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Response to dimbear (Reply #6)

Sun Nov 4, 2012, 10:01 AM

9. The persecutions had already stopped under Galerius before Constantine.

The kingdom of Armenia had already adopted Christianity before Constantine.

The Church was already large enough that the Arian controversy was impacting the entir Empire, necessitating Constantine calling the Council of Nicaea.

Paganism was rapidly losing its potency as a state religion.

To say that Christianity owes its existence to Constantine is unsupported.

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Response to rug (Reply #9)

Sun Nov 4, 2012, 06:14 PM

10. I'm not saying that Christianity owes its existence to Saint Constantine. What is true is

he put his stamp on it for all time to come. He gave it its character, as a supporter of the powers that be. Finally, Constantine set the pattern of furthering Christianity through financial advantage which would last right up until today.

Constantine was not the first Christian monarch, or so many sources say. That distinction fell to a chap called Abgar, who was later dragged to Rome in chains. Abgar's history is semi-legendary, tho. Also Abgar's timeline is shadowy. If Abgar was actually a Christian he wasn't an orthodox one, rather on the gnostic side.

I recommend that every Christian examine the character and intentions of Saint Constantine. In many respects he is the first important Christian whose motives are clear. Just as we judge Mormonism by a careful examination of the character of Joseph Smith, just as we judge Scientology by examining the character of Lafayette Hubbard, so we are wise to examine Saint Constantine and his doting mother.



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Response to dimbear (Reply #10)

Sun Nov 4, 2012, 06:47 PM

11. Every human who has encountered Christianity has put his or her own stamp on it.

Some more than others.

It's not surprising because it has a very human message.

Really, if you want to impugn it by examining motives, you have to go back further than him. If you want to study, as opposed to denounce, the beginnings of Christianity, you at least have to mention Clement, Ignatius and Polycarp. Then you can impugn their motives.

I'll be quite interested in hearing what you think were the clear motives of the Christians who were killed in the first three centuries CE, unless, of course, you're going to say that it didn't happen or that they were deluded.

Constantine is most important in the melding of church and state, not in the rationale for a religion.

And, yes, Helena was a doting mother. We should all have one.

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Response to rug (Reply #11)

Sun Nov 4, 2012, 07:03 PM

12. For Saint Constantine we have the advantage of seeing both sides of the coin.

We still have enough from his detractors to evaluate historical reality. Of the others you mention, (almost) all that remains is what the church saw fit to preserve.

Christianity had its martyrs, for sure. So did the adherents of Bacchus. It's hard to judge much from that.

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Response to dimbear (Reply #12)

Sun Nov 4, 2012, 07:16 PM

13. I didn't know you were Orthodox. Constantine is considered a saint only in the Eastern Church,

doubtless for political reasons.

As to critiquing sources, you cannot credibly reject the writings that do remain because other writings do not, even assuming that your cynical view that the Church deliberately destroyed their other writings is accurate. Your cynicism leads you to suspect that the non-extant writings must have contradicted the extant writings, without evidence.

And you can infer quite a bit from three centuries of recurring persecutions. The cult of Bacchus is a poor parallel.

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Response to rug (Reply #13)

Sun Nov 4, 2012, 07:49 PM

14. The traditional human method of settling arguments involves evidence, and

over the years observers have come to gravely suspect arguments supported by evidence in the custody of an interested party.

If this is cynicism, it is cynicism in good company.

I don't believe that there is any practical question whether Constantine and his immediate followers burned opposing documents en masse. This is IMHO simply a fact of history, but of course the era was a troubled one.

I recommend interested parties investigate the persecutions suffered by the followers of Bacchus. That won't take a great deal of time.

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Response to dimbear (Reply #14)

Sun Nov 4, 2012, 07:59 PM

15. Suspicion, even under the rosiest of motives, is not evidence.

It is surely not a reason to reject the evidence that does exist.

Victors always write history. Yet truth emerges. Frankly, after 1700 years a reasonable person would expect the evidence for the suspicions to have emerged.

Google produced this on 0.38 seconds:

http://www.anistor.gr/english/enback/CJLyes_Roman_Persecution_Xians.pdf

The contrast between the Christian and Baccanalian persecutions is mentioned on page 3.

This one mention 5,000 Dionysian martys in the second century BCE at the time of the Republic.

http://suite101.com/article/baachanalia-and-roman-repression-a109638

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Response to rug (Reply #15)

Sun Nov 4, 2012, 08:14 PM

16. As you can imagine, it is the second listed event to which I chiefly refer.

If we started counting Jewish martyrs, or Isian martyrs, we could go on much further. Can we agree they don't indicate much about the religions they represent? Both lists blend inevitably into crowd control. If we had the records from those sects of those martyrs, how do you imagine they would read?


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Response to dimbear (Reply #16)

Sun Nov 4, 2012, 08:22 PM

17. I agree that most religious persecutions are brought in the name of preserving state order.

I disagree that it is silent on the motives of those who were martyred. In Rome at least, it was common for Rome to offer a chance to acknowledge the state religion. Some took the offer. Others didn't. Their motives for doing either were certainly different from the motives of the state in bringing on the persecutions.

I expect we both agree that the fact of martyrdom is not evidence of the truth of the belief.

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Response to dimbear (Reply #4)


Response to skepticscott (Reply #7)

Sun Nov 4, 2012, 09:52 AM

8. Well, I see your personal attacks are as original as your thoughts on religion.

Derivative, bitter and shallow.

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