Religion and Politics: An Unholy Mix

As the nonreligious proliferate, the GOP may find it has foreclosed any chance of winning their votes.

One day, in a sardonic jibe at some conservative who was piously claiming the mantle of heaven, I told my wife, "Don't forget, God's a Republican." Without missing a beat, she replied, "But his son's a Democrat."

Between the Old Testament Jehovah and the New Testament Jesus, a Christian can find support for almost any ideological perspective. American religion used to have room for many different political views, and American politics used to feature religious people across the entire ideological spectrum.

At one time, mainstream denominations were just as likely to tilt to the left as to the right. Back during the 1960s, as a teenage Christian conservative, I was continually annoyed by antiwar ministers and priests who admired Che Guevara.

At the height of the Cold War, U.S. Catholic bishops called for nuclear disarmament. In 1983, I went to a Lutheran service expecting a sermon commemorating the 500th anniversary of the birth of Martin Luther.

Instead, I heard a denunciation of President Ronald Reagan's policy in El Salvador.

Experiences like that drove me from church to church in search of a nonpolitical version of Protestantism. They eventually also helped drive me from religion entirely. Today, something similar is happening, but the push is coming from the right, not the left.

It may have started in 1979, when Southern Baptist minister Jerry Falwell founded the Moral Majority to mobilize evangelicals behind conservative political causes. Reagan and other Republican leaders were more than happy to make use of religious sentiments to attract votes.

It looked like a perfect match: Evangelicals gained political influence, and the GOP acquired a loyal bloc of supporters.

But today, it looks increasingly like a bad bargain that dramatizes the risks of interweaving politics and religion. As these believers became more vocal and visible in the Republican Party, they sent an unmistakable message: If you're not a conservative, you're not a Christian.

So a lot of people who are not conservative but once would have gone to worship services have decided they don't belong. They see the GOP claiming to represent the will of God and run the other way.

"Each year, fewer and fewer Americans identify as secular Republicans or religious Democrats," write political scientists David E. Campbell and Robert D. Putnam in the current issue of Foreign Affairs. "Formerly religious Democrats (except among African Americans) have drifted away from church, and formerly unobservant Republicans have found religion."

That may sound like a reasonable trade for conservative Christians. Who needs skeptics and scoffers anyway? But it has some side effects they may come to regret.

One is that they are losing leverage and consideration in one of the two major parties. President Barack Obama's proposal to make religiously affiliated universities and hospitals provide contraceptive coverage to employees might not have occurred if religious folk were more numerous in the Democratic ranks.

Another consequence is that making the Almighty synonymous with political conservatism breeds contempt for faith. Young people now are far more likely alienated from religion than their forebears were. In the 1970s, only 12 percent of people in their 20s disavowed any religious affiliation. Today, 33 percent do.

The change has a lot to do with the fact that "millenials" tend to be liberal or libertarian on social issues. When they hear Republicans invoking the Bible to justify banning same-sex marriage, many deduce that Republicans are too intolerant to bear—and so is the Bible.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    The Republican practice of spurning "none/other" voters

    And candidates, as Gary Johnson discovered

  • Longtorso||

    Both the left and the right need to know that if they tell me "Jesus supports this policy" and I don't, it won't make me like the policy. It will make me say "then fuck Jesus Christ".

  • General Butt Naked||

    Yup.

    Like when people on the left claim that Jesus was actually a socialist.

    Yeah, so JayCee was either a moralizing uber-douche or he was a commie...fuck that guy.

    All I know is that Zeus was for lightning bolts, and I'm for lightning bolts, so...

    Vote Lightning Bolts '12!

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    Like when people on the left claim that Jesus was actually a socialist.

    Don't know if JC was, but read Acts, "Neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common."

  • ||

    Hence, Chapman's statement:

    Between the Old Testament Jehovah and the New Testament Jesus, a Christian can find support for almost any ideological perspective.
  • fursa||

    To genocide, or not to genocide?

  • Zeb||

    I think you have to look to the Old Testament for that.

  • robc||

    The early Jerusalem church was clearly a commune. But that never existed outside Jerusalem.

    And no one inside or outside of Jerusalem had a problem with that either way.

    Jesus was also criticized, in his day, for socializing with tax collectors and prostitutes.

    Anyone who thinks of him as a moralizing uber-douche or a commie has no reading ability.

  • The Unknown Pundit||

    Amen.

  • Masturbatin' Pete||

    "Neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common."

    A free association of people who choose to share property =/= government-compelled redistribution of wealth.

  • Zeb||

    More of a communalist than a communist.

  • THIS SUX||

    Interestingly, Ron Paul has pledged to ride the lightning with Elvis and his cat:
    http://youtu.be/WvahywQKeFc?t=1m55s

  • Mensan||

    This makes more sense than anything I've ever heard Ricky say about the Constitution.

  • Jeff||

    When Democrats pander based on religion, it's cool, though. Whether it's Obama banging on about how Jesus made him do Obamacare or Nancy Pelosi's incoherent blathering about "The Word, The Word", we all know they can't possibly mean it because They're Just Too Smart™.

  • Suki||

    The whole "X [Jesus, Nick Gillespie, FDR, Ronald Reagan] would support this" business is designed for people who are susceptible to that kind of advertising. For some reason it works, but for the life of me I don't see why. If they really have something for their position they would/should accompany it with some convincing facts, but good luck hearing that from the MSM.

  • Jeff||

    I'm actually not that mystified as to why it works. Most people are not particularly sophisticated and know especially little about politics, so it seems only natural that invoking the name of someone they like in support of Policy X tends to make them favorable toward Policy X. It's no different than having a celebrity endorse a soft drink or weight loss program.

  • db||

    I know some very, very smart people who are exactly this way. They are very smart and expert in their fields and they assume that the "top" people in other fields are also experts and are more likely right than wrong, so they support the "top" people.

    Where this breaks down is that my friends are experts in technical fields where things are provably right and wrong. Unfortunately, the "top" people in question are working in fields with considerably less rigorous understanding of the causes and effects of problems and policy.

  • ||

    And also that respect is generally earned.

    If someone has a history of being right on a particular subject, them I'm more likely to take their word on it. There's nothing wrong with that.

    What I don't get is the kind of people who trust Michael Jordan's credibility on underwear. Politics is that writ large.

  • db||

    Yes, but the part about "being right" is important. There are still fundamental disagreements among economists, psychologists, and other social sciences about basic concepts. Not so much in mathematics, engineering, the practical fields my friends work in. Yes, of course, at the fundamental levels of physics and chemistry there are competing theories, but the current state of governmental policy is analogous to trying to build a complex combustion control system based on phlogiston theory.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    but the current state of governmental policy is analogous to trying to build a complex combustion control system based on phlogiston theory.

    SCIENCE!

  • Anonymous Coward||

  • lightning||

    Your comment made me remember a recent Yahoo article that made fun of a recent conservative state that passed a law making it OK for students to critique scientific theory. This article along with this current reason article show that even among intellectuals there is a certain amount of "group think" that finds it outrageous that anyone could critique scientific theory. Which, if you trully follow science, is exactly what science wants you to do. Yet so many forget the difference between theory, fact, law, etc.

  • db||

    If you understand that to properly critique scientific theory, you have to be conversant in the scientific method and the mathematical language of science, sure. There are too many people who think that half-baked hypotheses with no grounding in mathematical or empirical rigor constitute "critique" of science.

  • lightning||

    You are right that to critique science one should use the scientific method. Yet doesn't the scientific method start with a simple hypothesis that is then tested (this is where I assume you mean folks need to adhere to the scientific method)? The development of a hypothosis starts with a question that usually challenges current theory. I assert that the scientific community is as much in bed with big business as the government and has begun to deviate from questioning theories to gain funding. Religion isn't the only thing that can be manipulated for personal gain.

  • db||

    You're right about the manipulation of science for political or personal purposes. Look no further than the CSICOP--those guys ued to be respectable but they have succumbed to groupthink and have compromised their skepticism in the name of supporting their political prejudices.

  • ||

    The Republicans have Chuck Norris. That's all I need to know.

  • BigT||

    Packaging political messages in religious dogma is dangerous. You are immediately alienating all those who don't share your particular sect. Even those who tolerate other religions do not necessarily want policies based on those religions.

  • Suki||

    Packaging political messages in religious dogma is dangerous and as old as the hills.

  • celtigirl||

    Some of us don't want policies based on our own religion! I'm a practicing Roman Catholic and a libertarian, but I sure don't want the type of government that Santorum wants. Granted he is in no way a libertarian, but he seems to want to bring about a Christian based theocracy.

  • Robert||

    Religious dogma is political messages packaged as religious dogma.

  • NotSure||

    Mixing politics with almost anything is generally not a good idea.

  • lightning||

    Yet, I will say that it is disengenuous to blame religion for this. Much is done in the name of religion, but those actions often bear no resemblence to the religion being utilized. Humans will attempt to manipulate using whatever method is most effective. Al Gore uses science to pad his pockets. Santorum uses religion to get votes. I would no more blame science for Al Gore than people should blame Christianity for the pompous intolerant windbag Santorum.

  • LP||

    +100, What I don't like about this article is that, by exclusively ranting about religion, Chapman implies that politics by itself is generally fine.

  • Pi Guy||

    Not at all. What he's implying is that... wait for it... religion is sliding out the back end of the Overton Window.

    I suspect that 24-hour cable and the world wide intergoogles have played a role in allowing younger people - who are both more technologically savvy and less conservative than their parents - to put faces on the faceless "others" their superiors (yes, I used that word intentionally). You can't demonize or dehumanize them in the same way as you could, say, 20 years ago. It's just to easy for a 5th grader to pull the rug out from such claptrap.

    It's getting harder and harder anymore to convince the young uns that your god has the biggest... Lightning Bolt!

    Vote Lightning Bolts 2012!

  • Robert||

    Bumper sticker I've been told of:

    "Your god was nailed to a cross. My god carries a big hammer. Any questions?"

  • Anonymous Coward||

    "Your god was nailed to a cross. My god carries a big hammer. Any questions?"

    Yes. If Thor is so awesome, why doesn't he carry anti-venom?

  • Wilt Chamberlain||

    I agree strongly with the beginning of Chapman's column, leftist religious messages are often just as annoying or even more annoying than the Christian right. Growing up, my church insisted heavily on not just charity, but welfare. They were relatively anti-wealth, emphasizing the money changers in the temple story. (Which I always thought was about corruption, not money per se.) Oh well, now I'm an atheist, but it amuses me how often people try to claim Obama is a "secret atheist." Goes along with the whole blank slate theory, where Obama is just a projection of their desires. What's disturbing is when Obama uses his religion as reasoning for policy and nobody questions it. It seems hypocritical.

  • NotSure||

    If he really was supposed to be a "secret atheist" why on earth would an atheist support him ? It means he is openly deceiving people.

  • ||

    They might be atheists but they still approve of pious frauds

  • Jeff||

    For the same reason it's okay that he's against gay marriage because he's really for it. I find it rather less offensive that Rick Santorum thinks that God said, "MARRIAGE IS 4 STRAIGHTZ ONLEY OK???!!!" At least he's being sincere, whereas Obama is just trying to split the difference on the issue because of a political calculation he has made.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I watched a documentary about some potheads who were sure that he'd legalize pot in his second term.

    Denial, it's what's for dinner. For idiots.

  • LP||

    Yeah, although we have no idea what he will do since up until now all of his decisions have been to further his political career. It all depends where else he wants or thinks he can go.

  • Brand||

    I knew a lot of potheads around the time of Obama being elected, and they told me the exact same thing. I told them he was going to be Bush 2.0. Oh the laughs I had.

  • Suki||

    OT: Why is "live and let live" missing from the lack-of-belief-system of so many atheists?

  • General Butt Naked||

    I don't think that one's propensity to meddle in the affairs of others is contingent on one's adherence, or lack thereof, to religious beliefs.

    Unluckily for us, big government meddlers come in all shapes and sizes.

  • Suki||

    +1

  • Jeff||

    Because it's a misconception that atheists are more non-religious than anyone else. It's just that for many of them, politics is their religion.

  • Suki||

    +1

  • sarcasmic||

    politics is their religion

    We are government.
    Government is god.
    That means we are god.

    Worship us.

  • sarcasmic||

    Many who claim to be atheists would be more accurately described as anti-religionists.

    They're engaging in childish rebellion against their Christian parents.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Many who claim to be atheists libertarians would be more accurately described as anti-religionists anti-government.

    They're engaging in childish rebellion against their Christian statist parents.

    I've actually heard a variation of this argument.

  • sarcasmic||

    I've actually heard a variation of this argument.

    That argument comes from people who are too stupid to comprehend the distinction between limited government and no government.

  • SugarFree||

    And your argument comes from people who are too stupid to comprehend the distinction between not believing in fairy tales and worshiping government.

    I don't do either.

  • Brandon||

    Because "Many" automatically refers to you personally.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    So the government is Mommy/Daddy/God in your peculiar worldview?

    Good to know.

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    I see a lot of that.

    I always thought atheist meant that I don't believe in gods, not that it's important to me that I don't believe in gods. I have nothing against the religious, it just doesn't mean anything to me.

  • ||

    Oh lord, here we go. Someone always has to make a statement about the big meanie atheists persecuting the poor Christians. Christians who fail to follow the "live and let live" doctrine quite a bit themselves.

  • lightning||

    This is not unique to Christians or religion. You see this in nationalism, political ideology, racism, etc. Religion isn't the cause of today's ills or intolerance. It is human nature to try and control and manipulate those who are different than you using whatever means necessary.

  • Brandon||

    And someone always has to respond with how ridiculous a notion it is that the noble selfless atheists could ever possibly do anything wrong or be obnoxious. And then point out something wrong with "Christians."

  • The Unknown Pundit||

    Funny, I find it missing in Christians just about all the time.

  • Wilt Chamberlain||

    Yeah, if Maher is right,then Obama seems incredibly dishonest and cynical.

  • Suki||

    Does Maher have a code word for that?

  • Suki||

    Which I always thought was about corruption, not money per se.

    Finally, someone else who noticed that.

  • Bean Counter||

    I was a Baptist minister for 8 years and I noticed AND PREACHED that the first time I read it.

  • Suki||

    +100

  • R C Dean||

    They were relatively anti-wealth, emphasizing the money changers in the temple story.

    See, I took that parable to mean that the church shouldn't be consorting with rich people.

    Apparently, this interpretation is not popular with the church. Can't imagine why.

  • Robert||

    Wilt the Stilt! I knew you'd be back. What was being dead like?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Jesus Christ is probably rolling over in His grave right now.

    The last presidential election, we saw the Left tearing a page out of the Right's New Testament and usurping the Word to push their guy. And since then "social justice" has been used to promote any and all possible statist policy position coming from our leftwing thinkers, all blessed from above. As difficult as it may be to listen to, there's probably a positive equilibrium forming now, balancing out who can claim the most righteous job of God's mouthpiece.

  • ||

    Jesus Christ is probably rolling over in His grave right now.

    There was that "On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures..." So, I dunno about "rolling over in his grave."

    Aside from that, a religio-political thread? The only thing missing here is Bitterness Studies. I'd sooner go back to some liberal nut job college and get some useless degree to add to my arsenal.

    I'll pass thanks.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I'd sooner go back to some liberal nut job college and get some useless degree to add to my arsenal.

    Why not? My daughter's pediatric hematologist/oncologist has a M.F.A. (along with her medical degrees, of course. What do you think I am, a Christian Scientist?)

  • ||

    Yanno, even with your patented Death-PrOn-O-Matic ways, you sure are earnest. My plate, however, is full for the time being.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    The light of my burning passion only adds to the contrast of the darkness of my shadow.

    Or something.

  • Robert||

    He meant after they caught him & buried him again. Ya gotta stake 'em to the ground!

  • Wilt Chamberlain||

    Jesus Christ is probably rolling over in His grave right now.

    Nice one.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Jesus Christ is probably rolling over in His grave right now.

    I saw what you did there. At least we Buddhists had the good sense to cremate the Buddha after he died from a mesenteric infarction and/or eating a spoiled piece of pork.

    We knew how to deal with zombie-ism back then.

  • ||

    More on the demise of Prince Siddharta Guatema

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I've always found this essay, which argues for the mesenteric infarction theory, to be more persuasive.

    I'd post a link but the stupid spam filter won't let me...so Google it..

  • ||

    I'm familiar with it, and from a pathology POV, I tend to lean towards food poisoning. But then, The Bhudda was not the corpulent person as depicted, but a very thin, gaunt fellow, which lends inductive strength to the mesenteric rupture theory. Emaciated, near starving people should not suddenly gorge solid food that is difficult to digest.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Indeed. Too bad Plumpy'Nut wasn't around circa 550 B.C.E.

  • ||

    Or Boost.

    Bhudda probably could have been saved, but I would have had to stick a PEG (percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy) in him. Eventually, he may have matriculated to a mechanical soft diet.

  • free2booze||

    Organized religion seeking political power. Who would have thunk it.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "The Republican practice of spurning "none/other" voters (basically, all who don't identify themselves as Christians)"

    Maybe they spurn the "none" crowd, but "other"? There are plenty of non-Christians whose votes the Reps would be happy to have. Jews, for one. Mormons (unless you consider them a flavor of Christian). Some Reps even like them some Muslim outreach.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    There are plenty of non-Christians whose votes the Reps would be happy to have. Jews, for one.

    If the Republicans can't get the Jewish vote even though they are more Likud than Likud, then nothing they do will.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Point is, they *want* the Jewish vote, and that one counterexample shows they're not "spurning" all non-Christians, as the article claims.

  • ||

    If the Republicans can't get the Jewish vote even though they are more Likud than Likud, then nothing they do will.

    This assumes that The Jewish Vote is monolithic and sympathetic to Israel, which is decidedly not the case, and skews very much TEAM BLUE. Lefty Prog Jews are Lefty Progs first.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Yeah, that's what I'm arguing.

  • ||

    'Twas explaining it for the folks who may not be familiar with The Likud party. Just putting it a different way than ye.

  • ||

    Honestly, I think the Jewish lobby is a bit of a fiction. You'll find as more hardcore support for Israel from social con/strong defense type as a Jew.

  • robc||

    Mormon vote is much stronger GOP than the Christian vote is.

    If anything, they are the Mormon party that lets christians in.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Utah is as red as it gets. IIRC, McCain got 77% in 2008.

  • ||

    Nope. Obama carried 0% of the counties here in 2008. 0%. In fact, His Pestilency had four Dem challengers on the ballot, including the infamous Randall Terry.

    Clearly Ok, who elected JC Watts to the HoR, is horribly racist. /Snark

  • BakedPenguin||

    yup. My mistake, he only got ~64% in UT in 2008, vs. 65% in a couple other states, including OK.

    The 77% was from a recent poll of Romney vs. Obama.

  • robc||

    There were 113 red counties in KY in 2008. I live in one of the 7 blue ones.

  • Syd Henderson||

    There really wasn't that much racial rhetoric concerning Obama in Oklahoma. It was more religious, fear of communism, big city liberal and he's gonna take our guns away. I'm sure some people voted against him because of his skin color, but he just didn't have any connection in Oklahoma. Kerry did really badly here as well.

  • sarcasmic||

    Democrats claim that Jesus would have been one of them since they claim to be looking out for the poor.
    Except that Jesus wanted people to help the poor because they want to, not because they are forced to.
    Liberals are so stupid that they cannot comprehend the difference between "voluntary" and "involuntary".
    Fucking retards.

  • Matrix||

    They also don't understand that he was encouraging individuals to do it, not demand that governments take on that roll. But then, I'm not a Christian, so I don't give a shit what Jesus said.

  • fursa||

    I'm not a Christian and I give a shit what Jesus said, because well so many people around me use and abuse it.

  • robc||

    Well, technically, for the Christian it isnt voluntary.

    "Feed my sheep" was an order.

    Given in triplicate.

    But, there was no government involved.

    [as an aside - one of my favorite passages, even though it translates horribly into english, as we dont have the linguistic distinctions of the word love that the greeks had]

  • jacob the barbarian||

    Yes. It was, but the order was NOT "Force others to feed the sheep." It is still about individuals caring for others. It is not about robbing Paul at gun point in order to let Peter stay home and eat cheetos.

  • NotSure||

    This whole Jesus was a (fill in your political affiliation) is nonsense, he was essentially apolitical, his main message was a spiritual one.

  • fursa||

    Yes, finally. Kingdom not of this world, etc, etc.

  • BigT||

    he was essentially apolitical

    Not true. Jesus was undermining the Roman occupation. He was killed by the Romans using their state execution style because they feared he would cause another violent uprising.

    Read: "Who Killed Jesus? : Exposing the Roots of Anti-Semitism in the Gospel Story of the Death of Jesus" by John Dominic Crossan

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    The Man just couldn't deal with his anti-imperialist message, man.

  • R C Dean||

    Jesus was undermining the Roman occupation.

    I doubt that what was what he set out to do. But, who knows?

  • jacob the barbarian||

    Really. I recall that Pilate, the Roman governor did not want to execute Jesus, it was the Jewish political elites, who did not have much power. Pilate washed his hands of the matter. Offered the people (the whole mob) a choice, Barabas or Jesus. Guess who the unwashed picked? It was Democracy in action!

  • THIS SUX||

    Because the Jewish establishment, who basically sold out to the Romans, had absolutely no fucking role in his execution. Just look at modern politics and how the public scorn any messenger who says something they don't like. It would be like the RNC got the government to charge Ron Paul with treason and when the the Attorney General sees no reason to charge him, the RNC gets Republican members to protest for his execution. (of course you also need to suspend any belief in due process or assume 1st Century Roman due process).

  • sarcasmic||

    He was aspiring to be king.
    It was his disciples who used his death as an opportunity to start a religion and get rich.

  • John||

    None of his disciples got rich. They all died martyrs deaths. What the disciples did after Jesus' death was by any rational standard insanity. You have to remember people lived in terror of instability. No one wanted a religious war. So preaching a new religion that denied the validity of the state religion was suicidal. And they knew it. Bt they did it anyway.

  • sarcasmic||

    I didn't say that it worked.

  • ||

    They all died martyrs deaths.

    Not true. John (your namesake) died a natural death on the island of Patmos, though to be accurate, the NT does not specify how the Apostle John died.

    John was also the only apostle to witness Jesus' crucifixion and subsequent death.

  • John||

    That is right. But he got banished for his troubles. And one out of 11 is not good odds.

  • ||

    True. But he was rewarded for his faith by avoiding a messy and painful death. (I'm not quite sure banishment to a rough island is much better.)

    Even if you disregard the religous tenor of the situation, the Apostle John still showed tremendous courage for associating and appearing at the public execution of a known heretic and (percieved) advocate of sedition.

  • lightning||

    Actually, he didn't aspire to be king. In fact that is why Jews continue to be Jews and not Christians. Jews wanted a political messiah that would overthrow the Romans and lead them back to the promised land. Jesus not only didn't do that but said that was not his purpose (in spite of saying he was the promised messiah). In a nutshell, his non-political stance is what got him killed.

  • Zeb||

    I love arguments about what a character in a made up story actually did or said. Nobody actually did or said anything that is in the Bible. There probably was a historical Jesus, but I see no reason to believe that anything recorded in the gospels actually happened.

  • Syd Henderson||

    The Bible actually gives you a feeling to his personality and what he taught. I think he's one of those people who made an impression and a lot of myths were added to the story, like George Washington.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    I love arguments about what a character in a made up story actually did or said.

    You'd be a fat load of not-fun in literature discussions.

  • trythisout||

    So then you don't believe in any historical figures pre-1,000 AD? Because there is more documented history of Jesus than any other figure during that time. Even other religions acknowledge Jesus' existence and even regard him as a prophet.

  • The Unknown Pundit||

    No, his main message was practical.

    1. Love your neighbor as yourself.
    2. Do unto others as you would have done to yourself.
    3. Seek the truth and it will set you free.

    Throw in the parables and you get a roadmap on how to live happily in the world and make it a better place.

    Unfortunately, most Christians see the spiritual Jesus as more important than the practical Jesus. If Christians actually understood what Jesus was getting at with the Golden Rule, no Christian anywhere would dream of enacting laws that demand everyone live as if they are Christian.

  • jacob the barbarian||

    That part came when the Church in the East fell to Islam in the 800's-900's. The Roman church was heavily influenced by their heritage - Worship Caesar as a God or else.

  • Zeb||

    There was also the whole "I am God" bit.

  • ||

    I clearly remember when Jesus got so into the socialist compassion for the poor that he threatened citizens with violence unless they gave him their money, which he then divvied up among friends, spending the rest on ill-conceived programs and attacking other nations.

    That Jesus, what a socialist.

  • shamalam||

    Good description of the prescription and the follow-on course of the disease.

  • Ramjet||

    +1

  • Brian from Texas||

    Recommended Reading: Go to deism.com and select 'Communism in the Bible' where you read an eye-opening commentary about how the Christian god may be a Communist.

  • ||

    Oh, Acts 5:1. Pretty good black comedy, if you ask me.

  • ||

    I can say that again.

  • ||

    Oh, Acts 5:1. Pretty good black comedy, if you ask me.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

  • Soc Indv Sparky||

    I don't know about politics, but he's a great mechanic. Jesus built my hotrod.

  • sarcasmic||

    I've got to ding a ding dang, my dang along ling long...

  • John||

    President Barack Obama says the Easter story of Christ’s agony and resurrection has helped him get through the tough moments of an embattled presidency. The president got ‘Amens’ from religious leaders at a White House prayer breakfast in the East Room.”

    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/s.....4-10-26-30

    I guess it is not religion religion when Democrats do this. I would like to think Reason is smart enough to realize that all politicians use religion in politics. But I guess I expect too much. The Democrats are every bit as overtly religious as Republicans. Yet somehow get a complete pass for doing so. Saying God wants you to support socialism I guess is somehow okay.

  • sarcasmic||

    Yet somehow get a complete pass for doing so.

    One of my favorite lines from the movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    "Does the word 'duh' mean anything to you?"

  • John||

    I understand they get a complete pass from the mainstream media. But what pisses me off is that they get a complete pass from allegedly Libertarian Reason. Reason only gets their atheist on when it involves slamming Republicans.

  • Jeff||

    It's Chapman. What do you expect from an Obama voter?

  • John||

    Good thing Obama isn't religious or anything. It might have cost him Chapman's vote.

  • Jeff||

    Nah. How could you not vote for an intellect and temperament like his, even if he is a Christfag?

  • jacob the barbarian||

    Some think he is a closet Muhammed-fag. Go figure.

  • Drake||

    None of the fawning toadies in the press asked him what the "tough moments of his embattled presidency" were? They just bought that whole line of bullshit and fake devotion? Sickening.

  • John||

    And how narcissistic do you have to be to think the Congress saying bad things to you and not doing your bidding is like being nailed to a cross?

  • Soc Indv Sparky||

    John, would you get this worked up about it if this piece was slamming Democrats?

  • John||

    If they did that, they wouldn't be hypocrites would they? They slam Republicans all of the time for religion. The day they actually hold Democrats to the same standard, what grounds will I have to complain?

  • Soc Indv Sparky||

    The fact that other Reason staff consistently slam Democrats for everything else isn't good enough to not make them hypocrites? They have to specifically slam Democrats about their religion or they are just partisan political hacks?

  • sarcasmic||

    As a general rule Democrats don't try to use government to force their non-statist religion onto people, while Republicans do.

    So there's nothing to slam them for.

  • robc||

    I think you need to read some history.

  • robc||

    I think you need to read some history.

    That was directed at sarcasmic. The new site rollout better fix the limited indenting problem.

  • sarcasmic||

    I was speaking in present tense, not past tense.

  • robc||

    In the present tense, they arent doing much of anything. Nothing happens before 9:30 in congress.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    And the whole place closes down after 4:20.

  • lightning||

    Taking money out of your wallet in the name of Jesus isn't a form of forcing their religion on you? OMG!

  • sarcasmic||

    Taking money out of your wallet in the name of Jesus

    I suppose it would be if that's what they did.

  • lightning||

    Dude, making me pay for your abortion, your birth control pills, forcing me to give welfare recipients cell phones, and Solyndra a massive government loan IS taking money out of my wallet. You want to fund that crap fine - but you and your liberal cohorts need to do that on your own.

  • lightning||

    All this is done, by democrats, who insist that this is what JESUS WOULD DO. So don't even try and tell me that using religion in politics is the sole purvue of republicans. BULL!

  • sarcasmic||

    who insist that this is what JESUS WOULD DO

    I don't hear Democrat politicians saying that. I see that argument coming from liberal assholes, but not the politicians.

  • lightning||

    Charles Rangel, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, have all done this in one form or the other. They pander (I say pander cause I don't believe they actually believe what they say themselves) as much as republicans.

  • Masturbatin' Pete||

    I don't hear Democrat politicians saying that. I see that argument coming from liberal assholes, but not the politicians.

    Is Barack Obama a "liberal asshole" or a politician? I'd say both.

    "Speaking to more than 3,000 people at the annual breakfast, Obama said "faith and values" should play as much as role in tackling the nation's challenges as sound decision-making and smart policies.

    He said, for example, that his own call for fairness in the tax code – a central tenet of his State of the Union address and his 2012 campaign – is both economically sound and consistent with the teachings of Jesus.

    "If I'm willing to give something up as somebody who's been extraordinarily blessed, and give up some of the tax breaks that I enjoy, I actually think that's going to make economic sense," he said. "But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus's teaching that `for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.' It mirrors the Islamic belief that those who've been blessed have an obligation to use those blessings to help others, or the Jewish doctrine of moderation and consideration for others.""

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....49631.html

  • Pip||

    "Jesus's teaching that `for unto whom much is given, much shall be required."

    Spiritual gifts =!= money.

    Barack Obama is the whore of Babylon.

  • Drake||

    The State is their religion.

  • robc||

    Not this one?

    Buffy: Hey Ken, wanna see my impression of Gandhi?
    [beats him to death with a club]
    Lily: Gandhi?
    Buffy: Well, you know, if he was really pissed-off.

  • sarcasmic||

    I didn't watch the series. Just the movie.

  • robc||

    I actually missed the word movie in your original.

    I liked them both, in different ways.

    Paul Reubens stole the movie, of course.

  • sarcasmic||

    Kill him A LOT!

  • ||

    Quothe Reverend Mother Nancy D'elesandro Pelosi:

    ARE YOU SERIOUS? ARE YOU SERIOUS?

    And this gem:

    THE WORD IS THE WORD.

    I pity the man she imprinted.

  • db||

  • db||

    Crap, that was the short version. The Bird in all its glory.

  • Robert||

    Was there any truth to that? I've long assumed it was based on an actual news story that got a lot of att'n for a while that the song writer was making fun of.

  • lightning||

    Problem with this story is that libertarians risk losing support and votes by being intolerant of Christians. I am a Christian and a Libertarian. I have NO desire to change your "spiritual" orientation either personally or via legislation. In regard to the political religious issues such as same sex marriage and abortion; libertarianism answers this just fine. In regard to same sex marriage, government needs to get out of all marriage. Just like athiests don't like Christians telling them how to act and think, Christians don't like being told to violate their beliefs. Works both ways. No reason we can't all have civil unions (and a flat tax, but I digress). Abortion is a medical issue. It should not be handed out like candy, but it also should not be banned due to the medical considerations. I also should not be required to financially subsidize either of these issues. We all need to be more tolerant, and quit the hyperbole and get working on the real issues we have like eroding civil liberties and our corrupt government who is in bed with big business/banks.

  • Drake||

    Me too. Christians who think the government is a big religious charity are idiots. Just leave me alone, I'll go to my church and leave you alone.

  • Mr. Soul||

    Chiming in with you guys on this Maundy Thursday. Im a little "c" christian and a little "l" libertarian. Leave me alone and I'll leave you alone...well I might pray for you but you'll never know.

  • Mr. Soul||

    Rand Paul...my two favorite authors!

  • lightning||

    The other thing I forgot to point out is this: All politicians are hypocrits. In my lifetime, both parties have had a majority (including having the presidency). Neither party, in spite of their hyperbole, has done anything significant in terms of social issues. Best predictor of future behavior is past behavior and I have no doubt that nothing substantive will happen with these issues at the Federal level (state is different). The only issue that may see federal interference is same sex marriage and that will come only if gays insist on a catholic priest marrying them in a state that allows same sex marriage. Civil unions will then become the norm, because you can't violate the first amendment. This is actually the concern most Christians have with same sex marriage. Many Christians polled a couple of years ago supported same sex unions, but not same sex marriage due to this issue with the violation of religious beliefs.

  • Pip||

    "Religion and Politics: An Unholy Mix"

    Are you fucking kidding me? Do we get a beverage to was down the big old horse cock you're feeding us? I watched some guy on MSNBC telling everyone that Mormonism began bequse a guy in upstate NY got caught fucking someone who wasn't his wife so he told her god told him to do it and in the end he had 15 wives. He said Romney needs to tell America if this is what he believes. The whole contraception meme was brought to us by team blue and you, Mr. Chapman, are no better with this crap you're spewing out your ass.

    I don't give a fuck about religion, so why not try to keep it out of your rag?

  • John||

    Gee maybe if Obama wasn't out fucking with the Catholic church, religion wouldn't be an issue? Pretty fucking rich for Democrats to pick a fight over religion and then have Chapman slam Republicans for using religion in politics.

    Here is a thought, if the government would leave people alone, religion wouldn't be so important in politics.

  • Pip||

    You're just saying that to win favor with TiggyFooo.

  • ||

    lulz!

  • Soc Indv Sparky||

    Here is a thought, if the government would leave people alone, religion wouldn't be so important in politics.

    How does the saying go? From your lips to God's ears?

  • sarcasmic||

    if the government would leave people alone

    Where's the fun in that?

    Government is supposed to be the people who will help you when someone won't leave you alone.

    So if you're someone who has no intention of leaving people alone, but don't want anyone to stop you from doing so, use government as your tool for bothering people!

  • TiggyFooo||

    Now there is a guy that jsut does not beat around the bush!

    www.Anony-Surf.tk

  • Pip||

    Thanks, Tiggyfooo.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I was wondering if we'd hear from TiggyFooo

  • Pip||

    "One day, in a sardonic jibe at some conservative who was piously claiming the mantle of heaven, I told my wife, "Don't forget, God's a Republican." Without missing a beat, she replied, "But his son's a Democrat.""

    My god what a boring household.

  • John||

    +100

  • ||

    Oh, this.

  • Gadianton||

    God is a monarchist. Kingdom of Heaven, etc.

  • TiggyFooo||

    Who comes up with all that crazy stuff man?

    www.Anony-Surf.tk

  • Ramjet||

    IMO, 99% of Christians give Jesus a bad name.

  • lightning||

    As a Christian I have to say this is the most accurate statement made here today! As someone once said, "Christianity is a great religion, too bad so many of its followers can't abide by its principles".

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    The paradox is that if everyone abided by Christian principles Christianity would be false, because one element of Christianity is sin and (unless you're a Pelagian) you're going to expect it among Christians like everyone else - if there was no sin then the Christian redemptive narrative makes no sense.

  • lightning||

    Not sure how you can say Christianity would be false based on the belief in sin or originial sin. All Christians believe/acknowledge that they sin (as much as anyone else if not more so). Not many Christians or non Christians who believe mankind is perfect. Free will does not negate original sin. Humans were created with free-will intentionally. Original sin is the use of this for personal gain. Hence the "Christian redemptive narrative". All original sin says is that "man was born bad" ie created "bad" which is merely an acknowledgement that all humans have free will and don't use is wisely.

  • lightning||

    Sorry, last statement was meant to read: All original sin says is that "man was born with sin", which is to acknowledge that God intentionally created man "with free will". It is the acknowledgement of the inateness of free will that leads to the belief of originial sin.

  • R C Dean||

    My impression is that you can be a good Christian by striving to live a life without sin.

    Actually living a life without sin is not necessarily a requirement.

  • lightning||

    Second that. In fact, in most Christian denominations, it is "sinful" to believe you are "without" sin. That is soley the purvue of God. Best man can acheive is the pursuit of life without sin. It is not believed by most Christians that people can be free of sin.

  • The Unknown Pundit||

    Oh please. No one said that living by Christian principles would necessitate one living the equivalent of a sinless life.

    While I can't speak for lightning, it's become quite apparent to me that most Christians treat non-Christians like shit. And when they aren't treating them like shit they think of them as shit. It's quite apparent that large numbers of Christians are happy to deprive others of their liberty if those others aren't living the way God wants. IOW, Christians have been "othering" people for about 2000 years now.

    If Christians ever come to understand that freedom of conscience and freedom of action are inseparable from one another, then they would be living up to Christian principles. The truth is that while most Christians are down with freedom of conscience, there's a sizable cohort of Christians that deny freedom action is connected to freedom of conscience and therefore they champion punishments for those that live a life that is too un-Christian for their tastes.

    In short, the average Christian, and I include the Pope in this too, has more in common with the Pharisees of 2000 years ago than they do with Jesus. It's not even close. Too bad really.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "If Christians ever come to understand that freedom of conscience and freedom of action are inseparable from one another"

    If only the Department of Health and Human Services could understand this!

  • The Unknown Pundit||

    So most Christians aren't any smarter than bureaucrats, I guess that's why they can't put it all together.

  • lightning||

    I think you are confusing Christianity with the bad behavior of a small group of Christians (most of whom are in politics - which in my opinion is an oxymoron). I don't think that the religious right speaks for even most Christians (trust me many of my Christian friends can't stand Robertson and the rest of that obnoxious crew), I think they are simply a bunch of loud mouths trying to gain power, which as many have pointed out is NOT Christian. I would no more equate the average atheist with Hitler or Stalin (and their followers) than I think it is fair to tarnish all Christians with the religious right. Hitler's facists, Stalins communists, and the religious right all are seeking power and wealth. Their mistreatment of others is a reflection of them not of the greater community that houses them.

  • lightning||

    I also would say that those seeking to deprive others of their liberty are not the sole purvue of Christians (or any religion or non-religion). Intolerance, shoving beliefs down one's throat, not allowing freedom are endemic to humans and history. It will take everyone to join together to fight it the efforts of those democrats, republicans, and coporatists who seek to take our liberty. My greatest fear is that their co-ordinated attempt to create division amongst all americans is working. A house divided among itself will not stand. As libertarians, whether atheist, Christian, Buddist, Wiccan, etc we need to be open and accepting to each other and join together to maintain what little liberty we have left.

  • The Unknown Pundit||

    I also would say that those seeking to deprive others of their liberty are not the sole purvue of Christians (or any religion or non-religion). Intolerance, shoving beliefs down one's throat, not allowing freedom are endemic to humans and history.

    Agree completely. With that said, it would seem if Christians actually understood and followed their principles, they would be better defenders of liberty for all. The fact that they aren't tells me that many Christians are clueless to the deeper meanings found in the Golden Rule.

  • jacob the barbarian||

    One would suppose as libertarians we would leave others the fuck alone even if we think their ideas about a spiritual life are wrong, one way or another. Being a prick in public and pissing all over someone else's beliefs regarding the afterlife is bullshit, and that cuts both ways. Bigotry is for assholes. Responding to someone else's bigotry with more bigotry is just an excuse to give in to your own inner asshole.

  • lightning||

    Thanks! As libertarians, we need to accept people of all backgrounds, faiths, non-faiths, etc. We need to understand that the intolerance, grabs at power, the erosion of liberty, and the enormous theft of our earnings/property are done by a bunch of psychopathic power hungry facists who abore freedom and seek to subjigate those "under them". They will use religion, politics, money, government, fear, and any other method they can to achieve these goals. Don't ever confuse the person with the propaganda. Division among us only helps them acheive the power they seek.

  • Mr. Soul||

    Paraphrasing Paul...I want you not yours.

  • Robert||

    Chapman has it approximately right as to when it started -- it was actually a few years earlier when evangelic Christians in several states made a concerted effort to take over their local GOP -- but I have a feeling that had Carter beat Reagan, today it'd be the Democrats who'd be all religious-like, and the Republicans secular. Carter was the 1st prominent politician on the national scene to make religion an issue, and I suspect that after a while the grass roots would've swung into line.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    This is by far my biggest criticism of the GOP.

    Most people I know who vote Team BLUE don't do so because they love statism, but tghey see is as the only choice one can make to prevent religious fucktards from turning their personal belief system in to public policy.

  • AnnieO||

    This whole business has nothing to do with theology. It has to do with the Protestant Work Ethic. To wit: You work hard, go to church, take care of your family and deny yourself pleasures. If you do, God will reward you with wealth. If you don't, you will be poor as a punishment. It's classical Puritanism. What Christian Conservatives really want is to not pay taxes to subsidize other people's sinful activity. And charity is always accompanied by advice to 'go and sin no more.'

  • AnnieO||

    Preferably with lots of bible verses.

  • ||

    Shorter Steve Chapman: Rah rah rah Team Blue!!

  • ||

    Although the GOP, by nature of being more traditionalist than the Democratic Party, tends to attract more religious people who tend to be socially traditional, Team Blue hasn't elected a president who wasn't a professing Christian since Jefferson, and they're still not even close to the point where they can elect anyone without at least some support from the religious constituency. It's worth noting that Chapman, without a hint of irony, himself points out that a majority of Catholics voted for Obama.

  • AnnieO||

    A lot of Catholics are traditionally blue-collar union members. They'll vote for the guy the union endorses, even if he supports gay marriage.

  • ||

    Religious or not, people tend to go with the party they believe represents their values. We have 2 parties here in the US, only one of which even pretends to represent the types of traditional values held by most religious people. It's not that terribly surprising, then, that religious people go with that party. It's the same reason why fundie environmentalists, labor unions, minority grievance mongers, and the "give me free shit" lobby votes Democrat. To the extent that people like to see their values reflected in the culture of the party that they vote for, would you really expect to see a party that vocally supports unrestricted access to abortion, gay marriage, hate crimes laws that implicate people who preach certain scriptures on sexuality, protected-class employment status for transgendered people (including for religious institutions), and laws outlawing public religious displays to attract a lot of followers from a religion that teaches that abortion is murder, homosexuality is an abomination against God, that you shouldn't have sex before marriage, and that you should proselytize your beliefs to the entire world? No. Nor would you expect a party that publicly endorses hydraulic fracking and opposes vehicle emissions mandates to attract a lot of environmentalists who believe that drilling for natural gas causes teh childrenz to die of cancer and that fossil fuel vehicles are causing catastrophic global warming. It's the identity property.

  • ||

    TL;DR

    You've already got one political party, Mr. Chapman. You don't need two. There's precious little variety among them as it is.

    (fucking character limits...)

  • JohnMoser||

    Sorry, Stevie, but I'm a devout atheist and I will never vote for the fascists you support. Btw, why the fuck are you writing for Reason?

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement