Romney and the Role of Religion

Columnist Ron Hart on Romney's recent rap about religion:

A Pew Research Center poll in September found that 25 percent of GOP voters, including 36 percent of white Protestants evangelicals, said that they would be less likely to vote for a Mormon. Rudy Giuliani with his three wives does better than Mitt Romney with his stable solid marriage of 30 years and his great kids. Folks, that is small-minded and wrong.

The Democrats are smarter on this. Their leading candidate Barrack Obama has admitted to drug use and no one cared. Meanwhile, the GOP base slices and dices its candidates; forcing them into in a ludicrous competition over issues of religion and morality that should have no bearing on their ability to govern.

More here.

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  • ||

    that should have no bearing on their ability to govern.

    But it does have a bearing on what kind of theocracy they are going to create.

  • ||

    Come on, it's wrong to not want a guy in office who believes in the silly Mormon stuff? I don't care how many wives the president has had, that's still not as bad a quality as believing Native Americans were Israelis and Joseph Smith wasn't a fraud.

  • lunchstealer||

    a ludicrous competition over issues of religion and morality that should have no bearing on their ability to govern.

    We're the GOP! Ability is irrelevant. You will be assimilated, and your distinctiveness added to our own. Actually, we will engage in raging polemics against your distinctiveness until this distinctiveness is at least 50 years old, and then we will embrace your distinctiveness as a conservative value. You don't believe us? Just look at Jazz and Catholicism. Borg got nothin' on us.

  • ||

    Making batshit crazy the guiding force of your life has no bearing on one's ability to govern?

  • ||

    I don't care how many wives the president has had, that's still not as bad a quality as believing Native Americans were Israelis and Joseph Smith wasn't a fraud.

    All religions are equally silly.

  • Abdul||

    Yeah, the Democrats are a lot smarter than the GOP because they don't care what religion their candidates pretend to believe in.

  • ||

    As long as the President REALLY respects the Constitution, I don't care if he/she worships the balloons in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.

  • ||

    I'd be interested to see what the percentage of Democrats who would be less inclined to vote for a candidate because he is Mormon would be. I suspect little difference. Romney is the one who made Mormonism an issue with his dishonest little speech about his faith.

  • ||

    Areson

    For your information the Mickey Mouse ballon is the only true God. Those that worship Bullwinkle and other ballons are heritic members of the Church of Latter Day Ballons.

  • ||

    "GOP base slices and dices its candidates"

    Maybe if the DEMS sliced and diced their candidates, they would have the backbone to stop the war in Iraq.

  • thoreau||

    Amen, brother Ruthless! Amen.

  • ||

    The Democrats are always worried about what the Christian-right/republicans will think/say about their candidate. The Republicans are always worried about what the Christian-right/republicans will think/say about their candidate.

  • thoreau||

    And a damn good point by Reinmoose as well!

  • ||

    Rowland Hussey

    ROCKY is the One True God.

    Bullwinkle is his prophet.

  • Seitz||

    All religions are equally silly.

    Yes and no. I think that yes, all religions are silly, but I think Mormonism is sillier than others, since Joseph Smith was so clearly a fraud. It's easy to say that 2000 years of distance makes the Christianity myth easier to swallow, but for the difference is in the protagonists (full disclosure, I was raised Catholic, and haven't been to mass in probably five or six years).

    I mean, Jesus suffered. Sure, both he and Smith had to put up with a lot of crap, but Jesus took all that came to him, and he said a lot of really unpopular things. You really had to believe that great things in heaven awaited to follow Jesus. No one wants to hear that they have to give everything to the poor and that kind of crap. Then he gets executed in the end.

    Smith, on the other hand, had pretty convenient revelations. Joseph Smith liked to chase skirts, so God conveniently told him he could marry and screw everything that moved. Feds breathing down your back? Other than moving away from the people that wanted to kill them, there wasn't a lot of sacrifice by the people in charge of the Mormon religion.

    Jesus may have been a charlatan (for argument's sake), but it's not like he stood to gain a lot from it. But Joseph Smith was a shyster long before he looked into that magic hat.

  • ||

    not as bad a quality as believing Native Americans were Israelis and Joseph Smith wasn't a fraud.

    Is it any more crazy than believing in transubstantiation, a boat that can hold two of each animal or inconsistencies re: the number of gods in existence? No offense to Christians or Jews, but all religions have wacky beliefs. It's just that we've had a lot longer to get used to Christianity's and Judaism's brands of crazy.

  • ||

    I'm a Bokonist.

  • ||

    Good point, Reinmoose.

    Ruthless, DailyKos is a good resource if you're looking for Democrats challenging the warmongering minority in their midst. There's a lot of talk about getting "More and Better Democrats" elected, to stop the war.

  • ||

    Seitz,

    Jesus is one thing. Paul and the gospel-editting early church leaders are another.

  • ||

    Rudy "I had three wives" Giuliani is benefiting from a massive, below the radar Muslim GOP vote, something I predicted over a year ago. Mark my words: vote for Rudy, and he will take away your bacon, and he will take away your booze.

  • ||

    Can someone tell me where in the Book of Mormon it says that waterboarding is not torture and that we must build two Guantanamos?

    I'm still trying to find the part in the New Testament where Jesus says to launch pre-emptive nuclear attacks.

  • ||

    Watch your feet, woofyman.

    It's icy out there.

  • ||

    Watch my feet HA !

    I'm in Atlanta, it's like 77 degrees all this week.

  • Tacos mmm...||

    I mean, Jesus suffered. Sure, both he and Smith had to put up with a lot of crap, but Jesus took all that came to him, and he said a lot of really unpopular things. You really had to believe that great things in heaven awaited to follow Jesus. No one wants to hear that they have to give everything to the poor and that kind of crap. Then he gets executed in the end.


    You have to admit, though, that we don't really know much about Jesus, except through a handful of stories written at least a generation after his death, portions of which are known late fabrications. His actual existance is even arguable. So Christians are able to fill in these giant gaps with imagined virtues.
    Contemporaries of the early Christians found the whole religion quite ridiculous, the same way that most people feel about the mormons - it's too new to be true.

  • Seitz||

    Feds breathing down your back?

    I forgot the part that goes with that sentence. I was trying to point out that when the government was coming after the Mormons because of polygamy, God conveniently told them that polygamy was no longer OK, at least publicly (but he apparently gave them a little wink on the down-low).

  • Seitz||

    You have to admit, though, that we don't really know much about Jesus, except through a handful of stories written at least a generation after his death, portions of which are known late fabrications.

    No argument here. My point was if you take both religions at face value and evaluate the lives or their protagonists, what you find is that Jesus' life (again, assuming he existed and there's some truth to the stories) really sucked. Joseph Smith's life, on the other hand, only sucked to the extent that he wanted to do a lot of really illegal things, and pissed off a bunch of people.

  • ||

    Seitz,
    you do realize mormons believe in jesus too, right? Joseph smith was their founder. Jesus is still the protaganist.
    Mormons suffered a lot during the early years of the church. Smith was tarred and feathered twice, and was eventually murdured by a mob. many of his friends and family were murdered.

  • ||

    Seitz,
    while I mostly agree, it's not exactly like modern-day Christians are all that self-sacrificing.

    They may say they believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ, but they really only mean the ones that they can convince themselves are practical to follow. Surely there are Christians out there who do most of the stuff they're supposed to do, but far too many ignore their personal short-comings in favor of condemning others.

  • adrian||

    he wants to take my mountain dew! I can take a lot of things but not that.

  • ||

    "(but he apparently gave them a little wink on the down-low)"
    Bullshit. There is no polygamy int he mormom church whatsoever. None.
    The polygamists that still exist are not member of the mormon church.

  • ||

    If you don't belong to the Mormon (TM) Church, you're not a Mormon ? :(

  • Seitz||

    Mormons suffered a lot during the early years of the church. Smith was tarred and feathered twice, and was eventually murdured by a mob. many of his friends and family were murdered.

    But you have to ask yourself why. Updated for today's times, If I started a religion that said I get to screw everything in a skirt, snort coke off of hookers asses, etc, I'd expect a lot of heat from the government too. I also think it would be wrong to say I "suffered" for my religion when my religion was pretty clearly bullshit. There were very fews tenets of the Mormon movement that didn't benefit the power structure. And I certainly sympathize with the many people (mostly women) who not only were second class citizens in their own religion, but also bore the brunt of the external pressure. That they were duped doesn't make them any less sympathetic.

    Catholicism, for example, certainly perverted itself in much the same way, what with the corruption of the Papacy over the next couple millenia. But to the extent that there's any truth to the Jesus myth, what was in it for him?

    you do realize mormons believe in jesus too, right? Joseph smith was their founder. Jesus is still the protaganist.

    Yeah, I realize that, but the story of the Mormon religion is really the story of people like Smith and Young.

    while I mostly agree, it's not exactly like modern-day Christians are all that self-sacrificing.

    I agree with that and everything else you said. Which is why I'm not particularly religious.

  • lunchstealer||

    If you don't belong to the Mormon (TM) Church, you're not a Mormon ? :(

    Not now, but don't worry, they'll go back and convert you posthumously.

  • Seitz||

    Bullshit. There is no polygamy int he mormom church whatsoever. None.

    Certainly not today, and I didn't mean for that statement to be misinterpreted as such, and I'm sorry if that wasn't clear. And I don't consider the folks in Colorado City to be real Mormons. But it's well documented that even after word went out that Polygamy was no longer acceptable, it was still practiced by mainstream leaders for a time thereafter. Habits die hard.

  • LarryA||

    The Democrats are smarter on this.

    Mayors against illegal guns announces presidential candidate questionnaire.

    Ready! Fire! Aim!

  • ||

  • Duckman||

    There are better reasons to dislike Romney than his religion, such as the fact that he's trying to buy the election with his personal fortune.

  • ||

    The funny thing is, both these guys are going against their respective religions: Giuliani by having three wives, and Romney by only having one.

  • ||

    Joseph Smith's life, on the other hand, only sucked to the extent that he wanted to do a lot of really illegal things, and pissed off a bunch of people.

    ... and that about wraps it up for religions founded by libertarians. Too bad. I've always wanted my own cult.

  • ||

    I'm still trying to find the part in the New Testament where Jesus says to launch pre-emptive nuclear attacks.

    Joe S.,
    Don't you realize that in order to reach the nuclear launch button, a neo-con must turn the other cheek? Or at least lift one of them off the seat cushion.

  • ||

    It's all over, folks.

    That is very sad.

  • ||

    I'm still trying to find the part in the New Testament where Jesus says to launch pre-emptive nuclear attacks.

    Maybe withering the fig tree outside Jerusalem was an allegory for that.

    Then again, if Iran is causing us to sin, we're supposed to cut it off, right?

  • ||

    It's all over, folks.

    Dumber than whale shit. IMRO, half of those surveyed aren't literate enough to read and comprehend the book.

    That's right, I inferred that biblical literalists are a bunch of ignorant yahoos. Color me intolerant. Or just tired of stupid, ignorant, inbred hillbillies.

  • ||

    J sub D

    I must take offense. I was borned in Alabama and live here now and I AM NOT INBRED. My chillins aint neither.

  • ||

    Seitz -- have you studied the actual history of the the LDS Church, or did you extract bullet points from anti-Mormon pamphlets?

    Other than moving away from the people that wanted to kill them, there wasn't a lot of sacrifice by the people in charge of the Mormon religion.

    Yeah, other than being forced to abandon their houses and property and being hounded out of Kirtland, Ohio, and then hounded out of Far West Missouri, and then hounded out of the next place they settled in Missouri, and then being driven out of Missouri altogether because the governor issued an "extermination order" to kill them all, and being repeatedly thrown into jail, and having their prophet and various other leaders literally tarred and feathered and sometimes murdered, and then being driven out of Nauvoo, Illinois in the dead of winter and being forced to trek about a thousand miles to a barren desert in the Salt Lake Valley on foot and hauling one's possessions in a handcart and burying the family members who died along the way, and then having the federal government try to drive them out of there too, and then try to confiscate all the Church's property and shut it down, in between abandoning one's wife and children for two or more years to go across the Atlantic to Britain on one's own dime to serve one or more two year missions ...

    Other than those piddling little inconveniences, man did those Church leaders ever have an easy life!

  • ||

    Seitz again:

    I was trying to point out that when the government was coming after the Mormons because of polygamy, God conveniently told them that polygamy was no longer OK, at least publicly (but he apparently gave them a little wink on the down-low).

    Articles of Faith #12:

    "We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law."

    From Official Declaration #1 of the LDS Church:

    "Inasmuch as laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort, I hereby declare my intention to submit to those laws ... The Lord has told me to ask the Latter-day Saints a question ... The question is this: Which is the wisest course for the Latter-day Saints to pursue -- to continue to attempt to practice plural marriage, with the laws of the nation against it and the opposition of sixty millions of people, and at the cost of the confiscation and loss of all the Temples, and the stopping of all the ordinances therein ... and the imprisonment of the First Presidency and Twelve and the heads of families in the Church, and the confiscation of personal property of the people ...

    If we had not stopped it [on our own] ... this trouble would have come upon the whole Church, and we would have been compelled to stop the practice [by the federal government]. Now, the question is, whether it should be stopped in this manner, or in the way the Lord has manifested it to us ... This is the question I lay before the Latter-day Saints. You have to judge for yourselves. I want you to answer it for yourselves. I shall not answer it ...

    The vote to sustain the foregoing motion was unanimous."

  • ||

    My chillins aint neither.

    Shouldn't that read "I was borned in Alabama and live here now and I AM NOT INBRED. Couzin Betty lou and my chillin ain't neither"?

  • ||

    J sub D,

    I kindly ask you to not drag my momma's second husband's step daughter into the fracous. She aint my couzin you freek.
    And just how the hell didja know her name?

  • Seitz||

    If you're going to deliberately misunderstand the point, there's not much use in explaining it to you.

    No is arguing that many Mormons weren't persecuted, or that a lot of people didn't make individual sacrifices to follow the Mormon religion. Smith, however, was a shyster. He always had been. And while the people who followed him paid for his "sins", Smith didn't suffer until he finally overstepped his bounds in Navou.

    I'm going to sound like a big-time Christian here, but trust me, I'm not. My point is that following Jesus and living a life of poverty and charity (again, to the extent there's truth to the myth) was purely an act of faith. You had to believe that something better was out there, and you weren't going to get it until you were dead. Life was going to suck, but the next part was going to be pretty good. That wasn't exactly true for Smith, and Young, and other Mormon leaders. There was a lot in it for them in life. And ultimately, it's easier to believe someone who's walking the walk than it is to believe someone who's talking the talk.

    "We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law."

    Your point being? So "new and everlasting covenants" were only everlasting until a law was passed?

    "The same God that has thus far dictated me and directed me and strengthened me in this work, gave me this revelation and commandment on celestial and plural marriage, and the same God commanded me to obey it. He said to me that unless I accepted it, and introduced it, and practiced it, I, together with my people would be damned and cut off from this time henceforth. We have got to observe it. It is an eternal principle and was given by way of commandment and not by way of instruction."

    He must of left out the "unless people start to run us out of the country, then we can disobey it" caveat.

  • Seitz||

    That wasn't exactly true for Smith, and Young, and other Mormon leaders.

    I should, however add that it was true for the vast majority of people who followed them.

  • ||

    If you don't belong to the Mormon (TM) Church, you're not a Mormon ? :(

    woofyman, there's the main Church, which has about 13 million members, and a bunch of vastly smaller splinter sects, such as the fundy Mormons (FLDS), or reformed Church (RLDS)with memberships in the thousands or tens of tnousands, none of which recognizes the others as legitimate. The main Church forbids polygamy, and excommunicates anyone found to be practicing it who doesn't repent and cease and desist. There are quite a few non-main-Church or independent polys scattered around, mostly in Utah or surrounding states -- they're free to form their own Church or act independently, if by "free" you mean "breaking the law and subject to imprisonment".

    So, to answer you question: The main Mormon Church feels they're the only true Mormons, the fundy polygamists feel they're the only true Mormons, the RLDS feel they're the only true Mormons, etc.

    It's a free market thing. ;)

  • UM||

    Seitz = Dave S?

    Same arguments and points...

  • ||

    """Smith, on the other hand, had pretty convenient revelations. Joseph Smith liked to chase skirts, so God conveniently told him he could marry and screw everything that moved."""

    Shows you know little about skirt chasers. They prefer not to marry ever skirt they chase.

  • Seitz||

    Shows you know little about skirt chasers. They prefer not to marry ever skirt they chase.

    How do you explain Rudy? :)

    Seitz = Dave S?

    No. In the past two days I've been accused of being Edward (not) and now Dave S. (also not). I don't believe I've ever sworn off the board.

  • ||

    Seitz again: "We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law."

    Your point being? So "new and everlasting covenants" were only everlasting until a law was passed?


    Umm, if you had read what I printed after Article of Faith #12, my point was that not only does the Church believe in obeying the law, they had no practical choice in the matter ... either they abandoned polygamy "voluntarily", or the feds would have used extreme force to destroy the Church, force the law-abiding members to abandon the practice, and continually hound the few stragglers who defied the law.

    Doctrinally, the Church didn't permanently give up the practice, but rather told its members that they had to choose to either voluntarily give up the practice until such time as the federal government rescinded the law (if ever), or choose to leave the Church.

    Basically, because the federal government acted extremely unlibertarian, two principles of the Church came into conflict with each other, and they had to pick one. Should the federal government ever act more libertarian and quit regulating who and how many people can get married, then the Church would have the option of resuming the practice ... though since it's slowly been taken over by people who consider polygamy anathema, and who are single-minded about growing membership, it seems unlikely they'd reinstate polygamy even if the ban was lifted.

  • ||

    """How do you explain Rudy? :)""""

    Skirt chasing and serial marrying are two different things. :-)

    Now Clinton was a skirt chaser, which the right-wing hated. Seems like the right-wing has few problems as long as you marry, divorce, marry, divorce, and marry. They don't seem to care that Rudy commited adultery in the process, which makes me wonder what was their problem with Clinton. The adultry, or the fact that is was in the Whitehouse? Certainly the GOP talk of why it was important to impeach Clinton it at odds with whom they support now. Which is at the core of why the GOP held control for only a short time. No set of values is worth keeping when your in office, only when the other party is in office.

  • UM||

    Prolefeed, I think that's why the church has been so adamant in opposition to gay marriage, even more than on some other issues that would seem to be equally important to morals and all. Basically, as long as the one man + one woman bit is the law of the land, the old argument that polygamy was withdrawn "as a practice, not a principle" (which, incidentally, Seitz, is how a Mormon who knows their history would respond to your argument, whether you find it convincing or not) has no real practical implications. The day that the tidy definition of marriage is exploded, however, the question can be raised as to why polygamy isn't reinstated (it was the definitional practice in the church in the nineteenth century, a role then taken over by the Word of Wisdom: no coffee, tea, tobacco, or alcohol). Since reinstating polygamy would freak people out and end any illusion of the mainstreaming of Mormons in contemporary society, I don't think many are keen to even face the issue.

    Think of it as the Mormon version of the Domino Effect. You fight the gay marriage bit to protect your homeland.

  • ||

    "Certainly the GOP talk of why it was important to impeach Clinton it at odds with whom they support now."

    The articles of impeachment were'nt over Clinton's running around but over his lieing under oath about it. Although I don't think that necessarily deserved impeachment, but I think allowing Loral and Hughes, whom had given large contributions to Clinton's re-election campaign, to sell missile secrets to China should have been more thoroughly investigated and that that would have been an impeachable offense if found guilty.

  • ||

    Seitz,

    I think your underlying point that Christianity is easier nonsense to swallow than Mormonism is, but your argument is weak. Smith's cult made him a leader among men, but also a persecuted man on the run, no different than the early Christian leaders. You may view having multiple wives as awesome, but it was hardly a necessary prerequisite to getting yourself some pussy in that century. Brothels existed. Extra-marital affairs took place. "Loose" women were open to premarital sex. If all Smith wanted was tail, he could have just moved to NYC and saved himself a lot of trouble. Moreover, many of the tennants of Mormonism suck- no smoking, no drinking, and and overall culture that pushes the boundries of dorkishness.

    No, the real and only reason Christianity is easier to swallow than Mormonism is the fact that Smith is of such recent vintage that we can pour through his life and document his dubious claims and outright frauds. On the other hand, scholars know so little about the life of Jesus that there isn't agreement as to whether he even existed at all.

  • UM||

    Actually, aside from atheist polemicists, there is very little disagreement among serious historians of religion, including those that think Christianity itself is a load of #@$!, that there was someone in Judæa that Jesus corresponds to. We actually have better evidence for the existence of Jesus (as historical figure) than we do for many figures no one questions. It's only when you engage in the atheist vs. Christian debate, where arguing that the God of one side never existed is powerful ammo, that this even becomes an issue. If you get out of that fight this isn't an issue, even though there is absolutely no agreement among scholars and historians of religion beyond the fact that a Jesus person did exist.

  • ||

    "We actually have better evidence for the existence of Jesus (as historical figure) than we do for many figures no one questions."

    Not true.

  • ||

    """The articles of impeachment were'nt over Clinton's running around but over his lieing under oath about it."""

    If the Scooter Libby trial has taught us anything, it's that Republicans/right-wingers don't really care about that.

  • ||

    Just as many Democrats/liberal didn't really care about it then.

  • ||

    UM -- there are certainly a few scholarly folks in the Church who think through the Domino effect consequences as you described, but it's mostly a self-reinforcing loop: not being openly practicing gay is a requirement for joining the Church, so the only gay people in the Church are gays born to Church members, or converts who discover their sexuality after conversion, who either choose to remain celebate or who go really deep into the closet.

    I think the much more prevalent view is that the price of getting polygamy is the federal recognition of gay marriage, and that's a price that the top leadership refuses to pay.

    Frankly, I think if the laws against polygamy were abandoned, it's quite possible that huge pressure would build for the Church to reinstate the practice to avoid looking like blatant hypocrites, but the practical effect would be minimal, at least initially, since the overwhelming membership of the Church would choose not to practice that principle.

  • ||

    """We actually have better evidence for the existence of Jesus (as historical figure) than we do for many figures no one questions. """"

    What are you calling evidence?

  • ||

    Wow, UM

    And where exactly does one find this "evidence" for the existence of Jesus?

    It certainly isn't in any contemporary historical accounts. Or in the archeological record.

  • ||

    "If the Scooter Libby trial has taught us anything, it's that Republicans/right-wingers don't really care about that."

    You're right about that Tricky. I've always felt that the Clintons were guilty on several matters, but it was hard to prove. Just like Al Capone. The government put Al Capone away over something they could prove, income tax evasion. The only thing Republicans could prove about Clinton was his lieing under oath, so that's what they went after him over. The problem was that that wasn't bad enough a thing for the public to want him ousted from office over.

  • ||

    UM -- the only purported firsthand evidence for the existence of Christ is the New Testament, a single very brief reference (of dubious authenticity, possibly added after the fact by medieval monks) by a historian of that time and ... wait for it ... the Book of Mormon, which is not accepted as reliable historical evidence by very many, if any, non-Mormons.

    Everything else is feeding off these sources, IIRC. Please correct me if there's some other source I haven't heard about.

  • ||

    UM -- Oh, and the Gospel of Thomas, and some lesser apocrypha that were pruned out of the canon by the Council of Nicea. My bad for forgetting these.

  • Joel||

    Meanwhile, the GOP base slices and dices its candidates;

    Well, I don't give a damn about Mormonism one way or another. But I'd sure like to see somebody explain why slicing and dicing politicians is a bad thing. In fact, I'd like to see it done in a more bipartisan way!

  • ||

    "UM -- the only purported firsthand evidence for the existence of Christ is the New Testament, a single very brief reference (of dubious authenticity, possibly added after the fact by medieval monks) by a historian of that time"

    That would be Josephus. It is obviously a forgery, probably by Eusebius who said he was willing to lie in order to promote Christianity. If you take that section out, the prose runs smoothly from the previous paragraph to the next. It's also strange that Josephus, a Jew would write such glorious material about Jesus.

    Also, Tacitus mentions rioting in Jerusalem at the instigation of Crestus. Crestus doesn't = Christ. Some people have fancied that it does because of the similarity in the names. Certainly, no proof.

  • ||

    Yeah, other than being forced to abandon their houses and property and being hounded out of Kirtland, Ohio, and then hounded out of Far West Missouri, and then hounded out of the next place they settled in Missouri, and then being driven out of Missouri altogether because the governor issued an "extermination order" to kill them all, and being repeatedly thrown into jail, and having their prophet and various other leaders literally tarred and feathered and sometimes murdered, and then being driven out of Nauvoo, Illinois in the dead of winter and being forced to trek about a thousand miles to a barren desert in the Salt Lake Valley on foot and hauling one's possessions in a handcart and burying the family members who died along the way, and then having the federal government try to drive them out of there too, and then try to confiscate all the Church's property and shut it down, in between abandoning one's wife and children for two or more years to go across the Atlantic to Britain on one's own dime to serve one or more two year missions ...

    prolefeed - based on this distribe, I assume you understand why we're so concerned about somebody who wants to govern based on their religious beliefs? All the persecution the mormons faced was due to other people governing based on their religious beliefs.

  • ||

    diatribe - sorry

  • ||

    Lou said,

    "Come on, it's wrong to not want a guy in office who believes in the silly Mormon stuff? I don't care how many wives the president has had, that's still not as bad a quality as believing Native Americans were Israelis and Joseph Smith wasn't a fraud."

    Why? Why is believing in something which seems unbelievable a bad quality?

    If you're a moral realist, then you might understand Romney a little better, and perhaps give him the benefit of the doubt, I mean hell he was raised in that religion, all his family, friends, etc are in it. BTW, I don't care for Romeny. I'm not a republican, and even if I was, I wouldn't vote for Romney.

    But if we're just going on evidence, it's certainly not apparent that religion in general is bad for those who participate, whether or not some think the world would be better without it. And Mormons in particular are some of the highest educated and highest income earners around, on the average. That doesn't make any of them qualified to be president, but it certainly shows that this 'lack of genral judgment' meme doesn't seem to fit.

    If you're a moral non-realist, on the other hand, well then nothing is really bad. And if you can go ahead and admit that, then we can wave bye-bye to all the rhetorical force of your argument.

    If you're not sure what you are, and just are committed to the idea that believing weird things is a bad quality, then perhaps your view is itself pretty weird. After all, there's nothing substantial behind it, other than a taste like a preference for cake over ice cream, nevertheless it is asserted as if it packs an objective punch.

    So belief in Isrealite Native Americans on the one hand, and belief in the "goodness" of epistemological rigor on the other, are in the same boat, which means without rational (or better yet, emperical) justification.

    So it seems to me that if someone maintains that weird beliefs are a "bad" thing, then they either a) don't really mean it deep down, or b)lack a rigorous justification for what they're maintaining, in which case, what they're maintaining seems pretty...weird.

  • ||

    Mike,

    Were the Cambodian suicide bombers, who plegged alliegance to a communist regime, doing what they did because of their religious beliefs, or because of an ideology?

    It seems that any ideology, religious, secular, or otherwise, can be good or bad.

    Politicians are informed by their values, and some of those polticians values are shaped by religion. So what? It just depends on whether the religion is excessively fundie or not, and it also probably depends more on the individual candidate and his/her trustworhtiness. I would argue that Romney underwhlems in this area, but this has more to do with his record and words, rather than the details of his religion.

    The LDS Church is hardly liberal, but we've had conservative Christians govern us before, and we've had pretty literalistic Chrstians govern us before, like Jimmy Carter, and though we can argue about how good he was, his literal Christian beliefs didn't seem to cause the sky to fall in on us.

  • UM||

    Rattlesnake Jake,

    This is going to be a bit long, but I've got to cover some pretty basic historical method stuff here for you. Sorry about that, but your comments indicate that you really aren't aware of how historians work with events prior to good record keeping.

    First off, I'm not talking about Mormon beliefs or what believers say about Jesus, but rather about if you pose the historical question: was there a fellow named Jeshua (Gr. Jesus) who was regarded by some as a messiah and who was executed by the Romans?

    That is a very distinct question from was Jesus the son of God or whether Jesus did much other than that get exectuted. Now if you go into any department of Religious Studies (which tend to be populated by non-believers who are very distrustful of actual believers, by the way) and asked the scholars that question, you would get positives with a bunch of provisos about that not meaning that Jesus did anything in particular.

    You are correct, we have no contemporary mentions of Jesus. But then again, if that is your only basis for determining if people existed, you'd have to rule out of a lot of people that we are reasonably confident did in fact exist. In fact, given Roman history practices, it would be somewhat surprising if we did have contemporary records of Jesus rather than later encapsulations of the stories circulating among early Christians.

    But, to play it your way a little bit, we do have records of other wild-n-crazy hicks from the sticks who led messianic movements at the same time as Jesus, and we even have a few brief mentions of them being killed by the Roman authorities. From those we know that the Romans didn't take these guys seriously-they treated them as a minor nuisance-until they started fighting against the Roman authorities or leading the Sanhedrin to make noise. If you read a decent translation of the accounts of Jesus' trial (i.e., not the KJV, which is wonderfully indecipherable), it's pretty apparent that Pilate wants nothing more than to get these stupid provincials out of his hair when they show up during the Passover, the period when violence was most likely to erupt. Letting them kill Jesus was intended to pacify them and make his life easier. So we have that part of the New Testament pretty consistent with what we know actual Roman officials tended to do with actual messiah figures of the time.

    So you would propose that, even though there were a number of Jesus-like guys running around causing problems for the Romans in exactly the way Jesus seemed to do from the Roman perspective, that we should assume that everything was made up from whole cloth? That takes more faith that just accepting that there was a Jesus guy who got executed.

    To go a bit further, there are ways of working with texts to determine probabilistic authenticity. These ways rule out a lot of the New Testament (which is why fundies don't like them and argue that they're Satan's tools). When you start seeing the same stories showing up in texts from obviously different oral traditions, who start assigning a high probability to those events being rooted in some historical event. You can count out the resurrection if you want (even the New Testament argues that this is something you wouldn't normally believe), but other bits are reasonable under this criteria. The Bethlehem birth isn't among them at al, but the idea that Jesus was from the sticks in Nazareth is pretty certain, as is that he taught that he was the messiah and that he got himself executed as a public nuisance.

    When you start talking to historians of religion-as opposed to armchair polemicists who tend to be arrogant enough to think they've discovered something nobody realized before in pointing out the lack of a smoking gun-very few scholars question that there was some guy in Roman Palestine who was the germ for Jesus. Whether that fellow did much of what is recorded in the New Testament is another question, but you'll get that much agreement.

    Of course, you're sold on your position, so this is probably so much wasted effort…

    Of course, I have to ask why it would threaten you if there really was a Jesus, even if it turns out that he was a yokel rabble-rouser killed to appease a more powerful rabble.

  • UM||

    Also, Tacitus mentions rioting in Jerusalem at the instigation of Crestus. Crestus doesn't = Christ. Some people have fancied that it does because of the similarity in the names. Certainly, no proof.



    You're right that that absurd bit would get tossed out in an instance. The notion that Tacitus would use a Greek religious title to refer to someone who would have been known by a personal name is silly. Had he said that a Iesus or Iesua who claimed to be a god instigated rioting, that would be another story...

  • UM||

    err, in an instant...

  • UM||

    By the way, for an example of people with even less evidence, there are a number of Egyptian pharaohs known only from much later lists and for whom there is no contemporary or archeological evidence. We don't discard them for that reason because the evidence for their existence is, on the whole, reasonable, but it is actually less than the evidence that there was a Jesus person.

    So no, there is no "proof" (i.e., proof positive) for a Jesus person, but there is substantial evidence-the two are quite different. Remember that history isn't science and historical truth is probabilistic in nature.

  • ||

    prolefeed - based on this distribe, I assume you understand why we're so concerned about somebody who wants to govern based on their religious beliefs? All the persecution the mormons faced was due to other people governing based on their religious beliefs.

    Mike -- I did kinda beat my point a bit too much. You want to call it a diatribe, I'll take my chastening and not argue the semantics. My bad.

    I not only understand why people here are concerned about people governing based on their religious beliefs, I SHARE that concern. I'm voting for Ron Paul in the primary, not Mitt Romney. I don't want anything resembling a theocracy -- I want a strict adherence to the First Amendment's guarantee of religious freedom for people of all faiths or no faith. A similar vigorous respect for the rest of the Bill of Rights, in particular the Tenth, further endears a candidate to me.

    I guess it's easy to equate "vigorously correcting gaping factual errors about Mormon history" with "supporting a Mormon theocracy", but those are two separate POVs.

  • ||

    Hart is right again on this one. "Who loves Jesus the most" or better said, he who shows that he loves Jesus the most might win the GOP primary. Sad but true.

    I do like Hart's line about the patrician Romney that the most he ever did was maybe to experiment with domestic wines in the 1970's. He makes a great point with humor.

  • Fenevad||

    It certainly isn't in any contemporary historical accounts. Or in the archeological record.



    In the archaeological record?! What, do you expect them to produce the bones of Jesus? Find us archaeological proof of the existence of most people...

    Also, see UM on contemporary historical accounts. That's hardly proof of nonexistence.

    Sheesh, I leave here for four or five months and the arguments never change

  • Someone Who Doesn\'t Want to L||

    UM said:

    Remember that history isn't science and historical truth is probabilistic in nature.



    I'd guess that this is only under a pretty loose definition of the term probabilistic.

    I suspect that there's very little, and very hard to quantify, data to even make a valid statistical inference in the cases of which you speak. That's not to say that the existence of a man called Jesus whose life roughly corresponds with part of the Biblical account mightn't the best guess - though still far from a certainty - given what records we have. However, if the data can't be quantified in some manner (which I doubt even the full historical records can), and doesn't have a large enough sample size (likewise I assume the historical record on Jesus would have to be said to have a very small sample size if its "sample size" could even be measured in a meaningful way), citing probability or statistical methods to determine the likelihood of a certain historical event's truth is problematic at best. I doubt we can state the end result with any sort of worthwhile confidence. This is especially true as we are unable to clearly describe the space of possibly true historical events.

    This is not to say that statistics aren't often misinterpreted even when they are applicable or that there might be non-statistical methods of determining the likelihood of a historical account's truth. Keep in mind that statistics certainly isn't my field. However, I am pretty comfortable saying that statistical methods will be of very little use in determining the accuracy of historical accounts, especially very old ones. If there's a valid and useful way of quantifying these accounts of which I am not aware, history's on more certain ground (statistically speaking) than I had thought.

    Having said all this, you are certainly correct that history is not a science. Also, if you are using the term probabilistic in more of a common usage sense than in reference to the study of probability and statistics, I suppose I should withdraw my post as being pointlessly technical. (Which seems likely, now that I think of it.) Sorry! Have a nice day!

  • Mad Max||

    "And where exactly does one find this "evidence" for the existence of Jesus?

    "It certainly isn't in any contemporary historical accounts. Or in the archeological record."

    Yeah - I mean, for instance, no-one has ever been able to find the body.

    "Were the Cambodian suicide bombers, who pleg[d]ed alliegance to a communist regime, doing what they did because of their religious beliefs, or because of an ideology?"

    This is an unfair point, because (a) there is no inherent link between Communism and atheism, and (b) Communism is obviously a religion, because it's evil and irrational, and everyone knows that evilness and irrationality is the *definition* of religion.

  • Someone Who Doesn\'t Want to L||

    Max,

    There has been a link between Communism and atheism (particularly in Communist national governments such as that of the Soviet Union and in the philosophy of Marx). However, the link is certainly not strong enough to take the form of an "All X are Y" statement, much less the biconditional version. Communism can be Christian, and can presumably have ties to other religions as well. In fact, the Christian Communism of the link is precisely the kind of thing I was suggesting on the weekend thread - I wasn't implying some sort of Christian gulag regime or anything of the sort. Note that this Christian Communism seems to lack much of the violent nature of the Stalinist version while still being explicitly collectivist.

    I don't know where you're getting the "Communism is obviously a religion" point; I haven't seen such a statement posted here by anyone. If it's on another thread (or lots of them), I'll have to take your word for it (or your link if that's forthcoming), but I haven't seen it. The point Jay J seems to have been making in his line that you quote seems to be exactly the same one that you are trying to make, i.e. that the Cambodian suicide bombers were doing what they did not because of a religion, but because of an ideology.

  • UM||

    If you want a good summary of how the evidence for a historical Jesus is built and weighed, the Wikipedia article on the historicity of Jesus is actually pretty good. Notice that none of the evidence discussed is archaeological, but then again, unless you found the True Cross™ or something like that, I have no idea what you'd expect. There are lots of people who left no archaeological record.

    The article explains why scholars posit earlier records than we now have (you can't explain the earliest writings we do have if there weren't earlier ones) and how they build the case. It does acknowledge a controversy over whether there was a real Jesus person, but as it (correctly) puts it, the position that there was not one is a "very small minority" position. As the article puts it, "Non-historicity is regarded as effectively refuted by almost all Biblical scholars and historians."

    Part of the reason that it's a minority position is that its proponents have to engage in quite a bit of mental gymnastics to explain away the evidence we do have and it's a much more straight-forward proposition, both intellectually and historically, to accept that there was a Jesus person whose life was embellished in early Christian writings, a statement rather neutral in its theological impact (unless you're a fundie).

    And no, I'm not relying on Wikipedia in making this case: it just happens in this case to be a pretty good summary of a lot of historical work. There are any number of reputable, non-polemic books that outline the arguments about sources for the New Testament. For good, mainstream scholarly accounts by a (presumedly) non-believer (he doesn't discuss his faith except to say he's a former fundy, but it's clear he's not proselytizing), see the various works by Bart Ehrman. When you read them, consider how much more complicated the picture becomes if you posit that there is absolutely no historical grain at the center of what he's discussing. So much of what we do have becomes unexplainable in that case, but poses no problem if there was a Jesus guy.

    So, Rattlesnake Jack and Isaac Bertram, before you argue that there is no evidence, you should be aware of what counts as evidence and not insist that only certain kinds of evidence that are lacking for many historical figures be applied. Be aware as well that the burden of proof is on you in face of consensus among scholars that the evidence for the existence of a Jesus person is compelling.

    But then again, you probably know that most scholars don't agree with you and get pretty pissed that not everyone acknowledges the truth of the books you've read that say there was no Jesus person at all.

    Wait, somewhere in the back of my mind that reminds me of the attitude some other class of people have towards another book. Can't think who it might be, but I'll let you know if I think of them...

  • ||

    What, do you expect them to produce the bones of Jesus? Find us archaeological proof of the existence of most people...



    My point was more that much of the Bible is contradicted by the historical and archeological record.

    Many Christians recognize this and accept the bible as a work that guides and inspires them rather than as an accurate historical account and infallible instruction manual.

    In the same way many Jews have long since gotten past the fact that the story of Moses and the escape from Egypt is most certainly fiction even as they continue to tell it as one of their foundational narratives.

  • ||

    Actually, UM, I've never read a book that says there was no Jesus. I've also never read a book that I consider evidence of his existence.

    Now if your just saying that he was one of the numerous rabblerousers and troublemakers that found themselves running afoul of the Roman and Jewish authorities, that's a different matter. I have no problem accepting that the Jesus narrative is based on the lives of some or all of those guys.

    Look, I don't really care what you believe. I'm not out to convince anyone. Just don't claim that evidence exists where none does.

    And obviously I can't prove that there was no Jesus, even if I wanted to.

  • UM||

    Look, I don't really care what you believe. I'm not out to convince anyone. Just don't claim that evidence exists where none does.



    I'm baffled. What constitutes evidence for you, especially as you go on and grant ("I have no problem accepting") the question I was very careful to delineate from the start? I have tried repeatedly to emphasize, to the point of being pedantic, that this is a separate question from anything taught by Christianity or any proposition about religion.

    What you "consider evidence" is something only you know and that is therefore unverifiable so I cannot speak to that. By your standard, no evidence exists, but what most of the people who study the historical Jesus question-including those who think that Christianity is wrongheaded and stupid-consider evidence is something we can verify, and there you are, quite simply, wrong to assert that there is no evidence (go look at the Wikipedia article if you haven't already). I don't know any other way to put it.

  • UM||

    Isaac, by the way, perhaps it wasn't clear, but I am not advocating treating the Bible as history. I advocate treating it as two things: (a) one among many (problematic in interesting ways) historical sources, and (b) myth (in the technical sense, which says nothing about whether it is true or not and nothing about what sense true should be evaluated in). Believe it or not, I am strongly opposed to fundamentalists and dogmatists, which is why the "there was no such person as Jesus" dogma bothers me, especially when there evidence that there was a Jesus person, independent of what anyone believes about that person.

  • ||

    UM

    I found your last post eminently reasonable. And I do apologize. I did not intend for my tone to seem quite so confrontational but I can see that one might think it was.

    Believe it or not, I am not a dogmatist who says, "there was no such person as Jesus". I simply see no evidence for such nor do I find that believing (in either the mythical or literal Jesus) would fill any need in my life.

    Religious belief must stand ultimately on faith. It is my opinion that someone who relies on some kind of proof to sustain his religious belief will end up either disappointed or engaging in constant self-deception.

  • ||

    Lee Strobel, The Case For Christ

    Really a fascinating read. A bit of a look into the plausibility of the existence of Jesus of Nazareth. Worth the time in my opinion.

  • ||

    Mad Max,

    I'm not saying that there is any link between Communism and atheism. I'm only saying that the presence of atheism does not necessarily lead to peaceful outcomes.

    Communism is atheistic, but that doesn't count as a strike against atheism, any more than Jonestown counts as a strike against Lutherans.

    Ideology, religious or secular, can be very dangerous. And philosophies, religious or secular, can be very helpful.

    As for your comments about communism being a religion, and why it counts as such, I have to laugh.

    Sorry if I missed the sarcasm, it's hard to detect in print.

  • UM||

    Religious belief must stand ultimately on faith. It is my opinion that someone who relies on some kind of proof to sustain his religious belief will end up either disappointed or engaging in constant self-deception.



    Now there's a statement I can same "amen" to. ;-)

  • ||

    """Religious belief must stand ultimately on faith."""

    It can only stand on faith, that is by design.

  • ||

    This is true, TrickyVic, but an awful lot of people I know are constantly telling me how the existence of God, Jesus etc is a proven fact. They then proceed to spout a bunch of nonsense that only the most self-deluded person could believe to be any kind of proof.

    On the other hand I know people with true faith who feel under absolutely no obligation to either prove their belief or rationalize its inconsistencies with actual scientific or historical fact. For them religious belief inhabits a separate realm.

    I confess that when I hear someone speak of "evidence" I think of the former type. It probably shouldn't but that generally gets a certain type of reaction from me.

  • UM||

    Isaac,

    I see now why you reacted with a certain degree of hostility to what I wrote. I agree with you that most of what people want to cite as "proof" is not that at all. And frankly if that's what they base their faith on, then they are in trouble since, sooner or later, part of the "proof" they are based on will change in some way, and where does that leave their conclusions based on that proof. If there is a fundamental difference in outlook between religion and science it is that science admits (at least in theory) its provisional nature and welcomes disruption if that disruption advances knowledge. Dogmatism (and here one can include the careerism of many scientists, who, after all, are human), instead fears disruption and tries to destroy it.

    I have a concept of religious faith that says that it had better allow for change and embrace what science finds out. So, for instance, if geology tells me that the world is ~4B years old and has reasonable evidence for that, then I need to take that as part of the facts of the world, not try to pretend it ain't so.

    Ultimately I think that fundamentalism and dogma is based on fear: fear of uncertainty and dread that one might not have the answers. By seeking for fixity in anything, the goal is to escape the essential changeable and contingent nature of human existence.

  • Nike Dunk Shoes||

    thanks

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