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Romney, religion and American exceptionalism

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Thats my opinion Donating Member (804 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 08:18 PM
Original message
Romney, religion and American exceptionalism
AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM (11/16)

Most of us take a dim view of those who have nothing positive to say about the United States, but plenty to say about what is wrong. Super patriotism may be tedious, but good solid, I love Americaor wherever you happen to liveis both legitimate and socially rewarding.
Lives there a man with soul so dead
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
(Sir Walter Scotta 18-19th century Scottish poet)

Why should anyone want to live in a nation they despise? On the other hand, these days we are hearing a steady chorus of what has been called American exceptionalism. While that term left undefined allows for a variety of interpretations in the hands of politicians, it may evidence an alarming perspective.

Consider what Mitt Romney had to say in a recent Citadel speech. America must lead the worldThis century must be an American centurywith the United States wielding the strongest military in the world. He continued, I believe we are an exceptional country, with a unique destiny and role in the world This is Americas momentI will never apologize for America.

What, he suggests, has given us the imprimatur to rule the world? But here is where it gets frightening. To quote Mitt again, God did not create this country to be a nation of followers. America must lead the world. Thus we move from the divine right of Kings, to the divine right of the nation. I objected strenuously when a Baptist pastor opined that Mormonism was a cult. That statement had no place in the political arena. But when Mitt lays his own religious perspective out for the public to examine, it is fair game. So the question arises, does Romneys religion include the affirmation that God established, through a lost tribe of Israel, a new nation that was divinely commission to rule the world? A careful reading of the book of Mormon indicates that this new American born revelation may suggest exactly that.

Whether Romneys theological affirmation that God has ordained America military and economic exceptionalism comes from his Mormon faith, or is just a rhetorical flourish that every other Republican candidate might mouth, it is bad religion and bad politics. It makes God into an American patriot. History is replete with attempts to enlist God as a national icon, and a particular people as divinely mandated. When Hitler was coming to power, just after seizing the title Chancellor, he thundered, Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Glaube. (One people, one nation, one faith.) What was that faith? He went on to said, The Christian faith will safeguard the life of the German people.

In the United State there is rooted a profound distrust of religion when it is used as a political tool. The founders were clear that the United States was to be a secular nation, as opposed to those nations having a state religion. The wall of separation spelled out in the First Amendment mandates that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. When any politician tries to bring God in the back door as somehow an exclusive American patriot, that wall has been seriously breached.

Some weeks ago in this column I discussed Reconstructionism which is the notion that America should be ruled by Christian law. One wonders if what Romney, and probably others of both parties might imply, is really Reconstructionism lite. If in Romneys mind that notion is an essential religious conviction, then his religion ought to be subject to public examination. If he just tossed in the line suggesting that God created America to rule the world because it would sound good to evangelicals, then we can just pass if off as so much political verbiage.

Religious ethics, or ethics from any other point of view, has a legitimate place in any political debate. But religious doctrine does not.

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MarkCharles Donating Member (932 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 08:36 PM
Response to Original message
1. Why do you have to link the word "religious" with the word "ethics"? Isn't this ...
Edited on Sat Nov-19-11 08:37 PM by MarkCharles
sort of like trying to make the Occupy Wall Street folks into some sort of "religious" activity?

Ethics........look it up........no where there does it have to be associated with creeps and slimeballs like Romney, Gingrich, or even Jesus, (made up 50 years after he died) Christ.

And to use the word "exceptionalism" for America, sounds pretty F*n jingoistic to me! I thought ALL people were created equal !!!
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darkstar3 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 08:42 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. Because as often as he backpedals, he actually doesn't believe ethics can exist without religion.
He also doesn't think a world without religion would be worth living in.

In short, every good thing for him comes down to religion.
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Thats my opinion Donating Member (804 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-20-11 12:00 AM
Response to Reply #1
12. Ethics and doctrine are two arms of theological inquiry
Ethics is also related to philosophy.
Does ethics grow out of doctrine? It rather grows out of a humanistic understanding of right living. Most ethical thought is not, however, molded from doctrinal concerns, but in the living out of what is right and good in the crucible of terror. Perhaps the best religious ethical statements come from Dietrich Bonhoffer in the time before he was executed by the Nazi's. Ethics and religious faith are parts of the same continuum. Historically the greatest ethicists have first been people of faith. Just do a little historic reseaech.
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darkstar3 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-20-11 12:34 AM
Response to Reply #12
17. Complete bullshit.
Religious ethics have for generations been created and rehashed in order to fit what the religious leaders believed was God's will at the time. That means they come entirely from doctrine. That they intersect with ethical standards set down by those who are non-religious only serves as a piece of evidence for the idea that God is in the mind.
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MarkCharles Donating Member (932 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-20-11 02:27 PM
Response to Reply #12
20. Ethics existed well before Christianity, and while books of the Jewish
Edited on Sun Nov-20-11 02:30 PM by MarkCharles
Old Testament were urging the smashing heads of Babylonian infants against rocks.
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LAGC Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 08:39 PM
Response to Original message
2. Sounded good, clear up to the last sentence.
I don't think religious doctrine should necessarily be off-limits if candidates really believe in them, and use them to guide their decision-making.

Would you not agree that there are too many Catholics on the Supreme Court?
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MarkCharles Donating Member (932 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 08:41 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. I think that there are too many god-believers on the Supreme Court, I would..
prefer smarter, bolder, more honest men and women.

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Thats my opinion Donating Member (804 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-20-11 12:02 AM
Response to Reply #2
13. I don't know.
But I do think there are too many hard right-wing conservatives on the court.
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NMMNG Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 08:45 PM
Response to Original message
5. What's the difference to the average devoutly religious person?
Religious ethics, or ethics from any other point of view, has a legitimate place in any political debate. But religious doctrine does not.

Where is the line drawn between religious ethics and religious doctrine? Doesn't religious doctrine drive religious ethics?

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MarkCharles Donating Member (932 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 08:50 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. People who are religious see no line, they seldom think about such distinctions
They are on a campaign and "religious" for them is more important than a rational discussion of ethics.
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NMMNG Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 09:10 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. That's what I've been told by many a religious person
Which is what I find so worrisome when I'm told that religious ethics have a place in politics/government.
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Thats my opinion Donating Member (804 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-20-11 12:07 AM
Response to Reply #7
14. I guess you just don't have a good understanding
of how sincere religious scholars really function. Doctrine is another matter. We think about such distinctions all the time.
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NMMNG Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-20-11 12:17 AM
Response to Reply #14
15. Please enlighten us. n/t
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Thats my opinion Donating Member (804 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-20-11 12:17 AM
Response to Reply #7
16. What a marvelous authority you must be
on how other people think! I guess I'm more interested in how YOU think.

It's called "bigotry if used about anything else.
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rrneck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 08:47 PM
Response to Original message
6. There is no religious ethics.
There is only ethics.

You just can't hide it, can you?
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skepticscott Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 10:15 PM
Response to Original message
9. What is the distinction
between "religious ethics" and non-religious ethics? Can you name any ethical principles that are only discoverable through religion?
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laconicsax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 10:38 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. How about these?
-Killing someone because they picked up sticks on the wrong day of the week or if they had sex in the wrong position.
-Circumcising corpses and innocent babies to please a god.
-Burning someone alive because they have a book written in the wrong language or believe the wrong thing.

I'm sure there are others I'm forgetting.
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skepticscott Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 11:51 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. Silly me
how could I have overlooked those? I'm sure the OP will be happy to supply any that you've neglected, though.
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skepticscott Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-20-11 08:09 AM
Response to Original message
18. It's a simple question. Why do you keep dodging it?
Can you name any ethical principles that are only discoverable through religion?
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MarkCharles Donating Member (932 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-20-11 02:20 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. I see that these "ethical principles" are on the tip of their tongues!
I mean, so many have been listed out here.
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skepticscott Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-21-11 06:23 AM
Response to Original message
21. And STILL no answer
Can you name any ethical principles that are only discoverable through religion?

If so, what are they? If not, do you not see that your whole argument is empty? If you refuse to answer either way, I'm sure our studio audience would like to know why.
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trotsky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-21-11 08:47 AM
Response to Reply #21
22. We will never get an answer.
But I think it's vitally important to keep asking, so that others won't have their assertion that religious-based morality is superior unquestioned.
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skepticscott Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-21-11 06:52 PM
Response to Reply #22
23. I expect no answer
because he CAN'T answer. But it's important that people who understand see that there is no answer to this question that fits his agenda.
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Angry Dragon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-21-11 09:41 PM
Response to Reply #21
25. The answer will be in his next post to clarify his position
and only if he thinks you really want a fair discussion
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Quartermass Donating Member (207 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-21-11 07:38 PM
Response to Original message
24. Okay, this is a new one on me.
What's the difference between religious ethics and religious doctrine? I sense a scam going on here.
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