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Why cant religion be a private matter in the US?

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Charlemagne Donating Member (94 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-08-11 10:52 PM
Original message
Why cant religion be a private matter in the US?
We all know the facts and can quote chapter and verse from religious texts and the Constitution that say either:

1. Pray and worship in private and dont be a dick about it
2. Hey you cant force people to believe in anything, lets just have laws that are acceptable and have nothing to do with religion of any kind.


Yet, the a majority (or very large and vocal minority) demand that everyone bend to their religious beliefs and profess as such on a constant basis. They demand that politicians, at all levels, be more devout than a minister. They demand that stores celebrate a particular religion AND celebrate it in a particular way.

I thought, by their rhetoric, these were the people of free market capitalism without government intervention. I thought these were the people that believed in individual responsibility and rugged individualism.

Yet, they demand that everything and everyone carry themselves like church on sunday.

Why cant we just let people believe what they want; let stores sell/market what they want; and make sure politicians profess faith in the law instead of a god?

I was born in 82 so, to me, this is how America has always been. Ive read that it didnt get this bad until the 70s and 80s. Is that the case? And if so, how do we go back?
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-08-11 10:55 PM
Response to Original message
1. There's a lot of territory between keeping it private and gonernment support.
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Charlemagne Donating Member (94 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-08-11 11:00 PM
Response to Reply #1
5. Perry
Perry's ad said, in as much, that he would allow religion into the public schools. If a presidential candidate is saying it.....
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-08-11 11:03 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. There's no reason to confine religious belief behind closed doors to prevent that.
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virgogal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-08-11 10:56 PM
Response to Original message
2. What's a large minority? (Other than an oxymoron)
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Charlemagne Donating Member (94 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-08-11 10:58 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. Not really
Minority = less than half, obviously.

So if, say, 48 percent of something is something....then I consider that a large minority. I figured using the word 'majority' would cause issues with the post. But if I put 'minority' people would say 'who cares.' So I settled for that.
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haikugal Donating Member (476 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-08-11 10:56 PM
Response to Original message
3. Yes, that's the case
Now the evangelicals have to put on a show for anyone who may be listening or watching...this way they can demonstrate their 'true' christianity for all to marvel at. The only way to put it back is to get them off the tv and tax the churches.
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RKP5637 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-08-11 11:11 PM
Response to Original message
7. Very good question. I think it became a lot more prevalent with the
Edited on Thu Dec-08-11 11:14 PM by RKP5637
Moral Majority with Jerry Falwell, 1979. I loathed that guy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_Majority

Then Reagan came along in 1981. To me, religion is a private affair. The problem today, IMO, is we have too many trying to force religion on people, and there are some that want to make the US into a theocratic government. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theocracy

It all gets pretty un-American in my book. To me, religion and state are separate, period, no overlap.

IMO, if one goes back and looks at history, religion is just another form of politics and political maneuvers.
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johnd83 Donating Member (190 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-08-11 11:18 PM
Response to Original message
8. I think it should be, but there is a lot of power to be had
in religious organization. I have faith in God, but not faith in religious institutions. I see far too much abuse of the power it brings.
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-08-11 11:31 PM
Response to Original message
9. Evangelical Christians demand both converts and martyrs.
That doesn't make for very good relations with people who just want to be left alone.
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laconicsax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-08-11 11:34 PM
Response to Original message
10. Because religions are partly about petty tribalism.
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Salviati Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-08-11 11:37 PM
Response to Original message
11. Because republicans need something to get people to vote against their best interests...
and blatent racism is out of fashion.
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patrice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-08-11 11:53 PM
Response to Original message
12. Because believers require social rewards in order to believe.
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Adsos Letter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-08-11 11:56 PM
Response to Original message
13. One element is the willingness to believe that the United States
Edited on Fri Dec-09-11 12:00 AM by Adsos Letter
One element is the willingness to believe that America/the United States is exceptional in the world/historical scheme of things, and that the Christian God intended it to be this way.

Some Christians believe that America was "hidden" by God in order to provide a refuge for religious dissenters to escape persecution in England; to provide a "beacon" of proper submission to God as an example for England and the world, via Winthrop's "City on a Hill." A strong strain of this thinking still exists among some American Christian believers.

Add to this an eschatology, popular among evangelicals, which assigns a specific role to the United States and Israel.

Add in an interpretation of scripture which convinces them that a nation that "forgets God" will be punished (especially a "Redeemer Nation" as they believe the United States to be, ala ancient Israel).

Combine this stuff, bake it in the climate of fear and uncertainty which often accompanies socio-cultural-economic-political change (both national and international) and you get a theocratic-minded push to make it a test for national leadership, and a standard for national culture and law.

It has become especially obvious to us since the rise of the Religious Right, but it has been a strain of thought with us since the foundation of the republic (although modified by the introduction of Dispensational theology, etc., over the years.)

It's a very, very dangerous phenomenon.

Edit: added "cultural" in the fifth segment. :dunce:

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no_hypocrisy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 07:00 AM
Response to Original message
14. Mind control and control of the masses
Individuals who control the money, and hence the leadership of this country, find religionists to be useful, convenient idiots. The device is faith, meaning getting the masses to believe without evidence. If you get them to believe a lie even with cognitive disbelief disabled, you can get them to do anything you want without revolt or interference.

How does this play out? You get people who honestly have faith and a belief in a general set of religious principles. Many of them haven't even read their Bible but they go to church or watch TV church and soak in whatever they're told. And the religious leaders tell them about the trouble in this country and get them worried. Stuff like premarital sex, abortion, no prayers in school, Muslims. And they're preoccupied with those topics. And then they vote for republicans who tell these people that they care about their Christian values. But at the same time, those republicans are taking away those Christians' jobs and security. Sleight of hand if you will. But the voters feel good about their choice of elected official who is helping them prepare for the next world.

The republicans depend upon certain religious leaders to help them get votes and the religious leaders depend upon republicans to get more people in the pews and government financial aid (benefits, money to parochial schools). Codependency.

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RKP5637 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 04:21 PM
Response to Reply #14
21. Excellent analysis IMO! n/t
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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 09:16 AM
Response to Original message
15. The Abrahamic religions are inheirently authoritarian.
They believe that they must impose their religion on you so you are "saved".
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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 01:54 PM
Response to Original message
16. It was less blatant before the Reagan administration, when the Republicans
Edited on Fri Dec-09-11 01:55 PM by Lydia Leftcoast
realized that they could win over a huge voting bloc by appealing to social conservatives and encouraging the megachurch types to preach on hot button issues.

Before that, fundamentalists in particular tended to be apolitical.
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Thats my opinion Donating Member (804 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 02:03 PM
Response to Original message
17. The founding fathers
Were clear that the European system which combined church and state would not work here. But in various degrees they were religious, and God and religious ethics are written all over what they wrote. No church law could become national policy. But religious ethics and even religious language were never ruled out. They did not want a state church, but neither did they want religion only to be a private matter. They tried to frame the First Amendment to say both things, and that has generated two centuries of legal controversy.

Those conservative forces that want to establish religious rules are outside the Constitution and must be thwarted. But religion in public life is here to stay, and that has national implications. Without the religious work of Martin Luther King and the entire civil rights movement, there never would have been a voting rights law. Yet we must always be on guard lest the move to establish a legal system based on somebody's doctrine sneaks in.
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skepticscott Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 08:13 PM
Response to Reply #17
23. And exactly what are "religious ethics"?
You spout that term like Old Faithful, but when challenged to define it, you always run and hide.

What distinguishes "religious ethics" from other kinds of ethics? What ethical principles are discoverable ONLY through religion?
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darkstar3 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 08:22 PM
Response to Reply #23
25. Regular old ethics attributed to the dictates of a deity, and often entrenched for far too long.
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laconicsax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 09:10 PM
Response to Reply #17
28. What are these "religious ethics" and how are they not secular?
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NMMNG Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-10-11 02:02 AM
Response to Reply #28
30. Don't hold your breath while waiting for an answer to that n/t
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laconicsax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-10-11 02:07 AM
Response to Reply #30
31. What's more, I don't know whether he has me on ignore! n/t
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skepticscott Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-10-11 07:38 AM
Response to Reply #17
32. You claim over and over
that you want "serious", "thoughtful" discussion, but when asked something as simple as explaining and justifying the terms you use, you avoid responding. Or you say that the answer is too complicated to give in a post and that we'll have to buy your book that's coming out next year if we want to read it.

And on top of that, you repeatedly state that the religious right cannot be ignored and "must be thwarted", as if you were the first one to realize this, but you constantly take to task everyone here who points out and criticizes their idiocy, accusing us of only focussing on the negative aspects of religion.

So tell us again why anyone should take you seriously.
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humblebum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 02:09 PM
Response to Original message
18. Because the free expression of speech and ideas is a right. No other explanation needed.
You also have the right to object or criticize what is being expressed. Are there recognized limitations? Of course there are. But, if you are expressing yourself and not contributing to the harm of others, you are pretty well protected in your rights.
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JoeyT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 04:11 PM
Response to Reply #18
20. Of course it's a right.
Strangely enough, criticizing those openly held beliefs apparently isn't a right, because anytime anyone tries it people show up to shriek about how persecuted Christians are.
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humblebum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 09:09 PM
Response to Reply #20
27. Rebuttal is also a right. nt
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darkstar3 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 08:21 PM
Response to Reply #18
24. There are plenty of ways to exercise your right to free speech
that are unacceptable in polite society. The word "fuck" immediately comes to mind. Unfortunately, while we as a society maintain that there are single words that are unacceptable, it has now become acceptable to discuss religion as openly as we discuss the weather, and as passionately as we discuss sports.

This was not the case in the days of my grandfather, who would have considered anyone even broaching the topic of religion outside of home or church to be incredibly rude.

Personally, I'd rather see our society be much more like Europe, where if you actually bother to bring up the topic of religion people look at you like you've sprouted extra limbs growing from your forehead.
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humblebum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 09:08 PM
Response to Reply #24
26. Have a nice trip. nt
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Deep13 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 02:30 PM
Response to Original message
19. Salvation religions promote conversion as a tenent of faith.
Their members see themselves charged with the task of saving the souls of as many people as they can. If one accepts their premise--that only those who accept X, Y & Z will be saved from eternal torment--then converting as many as possible is an urgent moral imperative.
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Thats my opinion Donating Member (804 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 05:53 PM
Response to Reply #19
22. But enshrining the winning of converts into law
is a clear violation of the Constitution. Making an appear is not--even by bad religion.
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Deep13 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-10-11 11:56 PM
Response to Reply #22
33. Sure, but ultimately the Constitution means what people think it means.
The "no establishment" and "free exercise" clauses of the 1st Amend. are signifiers--words that describe core ideas. The ideas themselves are the signified and not everyone agrees with what they mean. SCOTUS is one vote away from removing Jefferson's "wall of seperation" from the 1st Amendment.
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humblebum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-10-11 01:35 AM
Response to Original message
29. "Ive read that it didnt get this bad until the 70s and 80s." - Teaching
American History as you do, I am surprised that you aren't aware that religious fervor seems to occur in sort of a cycle, though somewhat irregular one, throughout the country's history, e.g. the First and Second Great Awakenings, plus what is often called the Third Awakening in the latter 19th and early-20th Centuries, and, again, in the late 20th Century to the present. In fact, the rise of major secular and atheist movements can be loosely tied to these same periods of time.
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