The Democrats Get Religion (Again)

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Frequent Hit & Run commenter Akira MacKenzie points to this AP story about the Democrats going after the religious vote (he adds, "I guess this secular humanist is going to have to stay home on Election Day"). Spearheaded by former Democratic Party chairman David Wilhelm, the Web site Faithful Democrats debuts today.

Because, you know, there isn't enough religion in politics today.

"It struck me as strange that people whose political world is motivated by faith had to be Republican. Democrats need to be on the playing field," Wilhelm said.

He said the site will give religious Democrats "the moral support and some language they can use."…

Over the last 30 years, the GOP has found common ground among traditional pro-business, anti-tax Republicans, small government advocates and social conservatives. Democrats, on the other hand, have been influenced by a secular, liberal bloc that advocates separation of church and state. The party's disparate groups have had more trouble finding a single voice.

It's worth remembering that basically up the very late 1970s, with the creation of the Moral Majority and the start of the Reagan years, that religion was, if anything, more associated with the Dems. Not only were they the longstanding party of Catholics, Southern Baptists, and most other forms of non-country club Protestant sects, the Civil Rights movement in which Democrats played a leading role pulsed with appeals to Christian ideals of equality before God, etc. How times have changed:

A poll by the Pew Research Center found that the proportion of Americans who considered the Republican Party friendly to religion dropped from 55 percent last year to 47 percent this year. But that is still significantly higher than the 26 percent who regard Democrats as friendly to religion.

Whole AP story here.

Blast from the past: Spectacular Jimmy Carter commercial, "Bible," from the 1980 campaign in which Gov. Peanut proclaims that nothing is more important to him than his religion (well, except for separation of church and state) and that he prays daily. Recall that it was Carter's candidacy in 1976 that helped popularize the term "born-again Christian" in the U.S.

In 2004, Reason columnist Cathy Young took a look at the new discrimination against godless politicians–despite polls showing the 60 percent of Americans rarely or never made electoral decisions based on religion. Check it out here.

In that same year, Young contrasted the different grillings JF Kennedy took in 1960 (was he too loyal to his Popish roots?) and JF Kerry took in 2004 (was he really a Catholic?) to explore how religion has become more prominent in politics over the past 45 years. Check that out here.

Along similar lines, former press secretary and self-described "libertarian Democrat" Terry Michael decried the Donkey Party's embrace of "Religion Lite" here.

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  1. This was inevitable. The bulk of their platform was religious in nature anyway with it’s myriad appeals to altruism or some deified mother earth. Now they’ll just have the appearence of a unifying principle. If anything, I’m surprised they ever deviated from that in the past.

    Either way, it’s incredibly depressing that this country just can’t seem to take the constitution seriously. I think it needs a better PR guy, you know, seperation of church and state is a good thing! It’s frustrating because it should be even more appealing to the religious-minded than anyone else.

    Sigh.

  2. I wonder what “friendly to religion” means. I’m pretty sure that my definition is different from someone who uses faith as a voting guide.

  3. (From Spartacus)
    Julius Caesar: Rome is the mob.
    Marcus Licinius Crassus: No! Rome is an eternal thought in the mind of God.
    Julius Caesar: I’d no idea you’d grown religious.
    Marcus Licinius Crassus: [laughs] It doesn’t matter. If there were no gods at all I’d still revere them.

  4. Let’s face it, if libertarians were honest they’d admit that their philosophy is essentially a religion, with the Almighty Free Market as their God who solves all problems for those who trust in him.

  5. Please do not feed the trolls.

  6. Troll is another word for heretic around here.

  7. Don’t make me play “Maw-Wide” again.

  8. Please, please, please people – read the first sentence of the First Amendment. I’ve got to believe that the reason that the founding fathers wrote that ‘freedom of (and from) religion’ thing first – very tippy top of the document – was because they thought that that was the most important issue that they faced. They wanted religion to be separate from politics.

    Express your religious beliefs privately and leave them out of the White House, Congress, and the courts. They shouldn’t impact all of us like this.

    I’m starting to be embarassed to be an American…

  9. They wanted religion to be separate from politics.

    No, that would be impossible. What they wanted was freedom of religion, and to achieve that they understood that the state had to remain neutral on the subject.

    I don’t think they were suggesting that religious viewpoints were not relevant to political discussions or policy. All core beliefs are “religious” anyway.

  10. Religion, especially Christian, is a slice of the voting pie. It is a political tool. God and prayer are safe phrases that say, “trust me, I talk to and am guided by the omniscient and omnipotent force (of most all religions)”. To use any other characters or quotes in the bible is politically reckless on the national level.

  11. Whatever cigarette-smoking monkey on a tricycle is nearest the believer at the moment of worship is the God of Libertarianism.

  12. All core beliefs are “religious” anyway

    I can’t help myself: since this is obviously a core belief of yours, doesn’t this make it a baseless religious assertion?

  13. You guys hate the religous right. Wait until we get a good dose of the religous left. Just think about the bullshit moralism of Jerry Falwell combined with the earnestness of Ned Flanders combined with a good dose of smug self rightousness and western loathing thrown with little bit of Jimmy Carter anti-Semetism thrown in for good measure. If the Dems ever get religion, I may convert to Islam.

  14. John, if you do convert to Islam, all I ask is that you finally kick your habit of seeking out and conforming to stereotypes. Because the Muslim stereotypes (not to be confused with mainstream Islam), combined with your military training, would make for a nasty combo.

  15. Thoreau, if you actually knew me in person, you would know I am about the least stereotypical person imaginable. Not that that necessarily is a good thing, but despite my postings on here, I rarely fit expectations.

  16. thoreau. You have inspired my most brilliant idea yet.

    I have a cunning plan. President Bush should publicly convert to Islam. Obviously, it would be a sham conversion, and the U.S. wouldn’t change in any way, but we would have President Muhajid Abdul-Qahaar to talk jihad talk with the Islamaniacs. Since people in the Middle East generally equate their leaders with their governments, this will create the illusion that the U.S. government is, in fact, Muslim. Heck, we might start getting free oil to fund our holy war against drug users and copyright infringers!

  17. I can’t help myself: since this is obviously a core belief of yours, doesn’t this make it a baseless religious assertion?

    I don’t know if I’d consider that a core belief of mine. It’s more like an observation.

    The point, of course, is that any sort of morality is essentially religious in nature. If you believe, for example, that it’s wrong for the government to take an individual’s property, that’s a religious belief in my opinion.

  18. Just think about the bullshit moralism of Jerry Falwell combined with the earnestness of Ned Flanders combined with a good dose of smug self rightousness and western loathing thrown with little bit of Jimmy Carter anti-Semetism thrown in for good measure.

    That actually sounds a lot like the religious right as we already know it, except the right suddenly decided they were not anti-Semetic after all…

  19. The point, of course, is that any sort of morality is essentially religious in nature. If you believe, for example, that it’s wrong for the government to take an individual’s property, that’s a religious belief in my opinion.

    Its nice that you take the liberty to change definitions in the middle of a conversation but for the rest of the world “religion” means a belief in a supernatural dogma or force.

  20. that’s a religious belief in my opinion.

    And your opinion, or belief, then would also be religious in nature.

    Oh, but wait, you said that it’s an observation. So you don’t think morality can come from observation, just your own views?

    Just admit it Dan, you’re in love with yourself and a religion unto your own. Everyone else’s beliefs are dogma, yours are rational.

    Yawn. Heard it all before. Get out of here.

  21. Recall that it was Carter’s candidacy in 1976 that helped popularize the term “born-again Christian” in the U.S.

    It was? (I’m too young to know first-hand.) What did all those people naming their daughters Renee think it meant?

  22. John, you may very well be very non-stereotypical in person. It would be great if you displayed some of that here.

  23. Let’s face it, if libertarians were honest they’d admit that their philosophy is essentially a religion…
    Comment by: Dan T.

    I partly agree with Dan, and have made similar comments… but to be clear(er)

    Philosophy has no end in view save truth; faith looks for nothing but obedience and piety.
    – Baruch Spinoza, Tractatus Theologico-Politicus (1670)

    I would try (pretentiously) to improve on the distiction by saying that *both* nevertheless rely on ritual, dogma, and communities of consensus, so that in that sense – yes, political blogs can certainly begin to take on that hue when they arent directly participating in a dialogue with, say…the rest of the world? 🙂 The reaction when Kos-ites appear on H&R is stereotypical… heratics! heratics in the building! Even people like me that occasionally say things, oh, like, ‘maybe religion is free speech, and harmless free speech?’ – I get verbally burned at the stake.

    I have pointed out that ‘religious behavior’ – clinging to an orthodoxy, participation in ritual, etc – is universal, regardless of what people’s stated ‘beliefs’ are. Self-stated secular humanists often preen in their sense of ‘liberation’, as though they’ve transcended the base-mythic impulses that drive the unwashed masses, when in fact they are often playing the same game with a different uniform.

    All core beliefs are “religious” anyway

    Well, again… this is tautology right? What you’re saying is that we dont know what we know – we know what we believe. And that beliefs aren’t ever entirely based on reason… and perhaps they shouldnt be, to be honest. For a while I thought sterilization of the stupid wasnt really the worst idea. Then i realized how much more dangerous ‘smart+frustrated’ people are. (see Eric Hoffer)

    Anyway, there is a clear libertarian ‘anti-religious’ meme… one shared by Reason/H&R editors, echoed by the readership – one that is I think fundamentally irrational.

    I think this stems basically from the fact that libertarians are determinedly ‘outsiders’ (and are mostly still straight-up nerds)… i.e. people who come to this position were likely never comfortable with communities of consensus in the first place. Not team joiners. Suspicious of anybody who submits their will to higher authority.

    Anyway, all this aside, my point way above was basically saying, ‘whats the big deal’. This has nothing to do with the Establishment clause, and everything to do with political pandering. Politicians will genuflect to anything they think will gain them the approval of large clumps of voters. This doesnt translate them turning into a priestly class.

    Despite the citation of “60 percent of Americans rarely or never made electoral decisions based on religion.” – this is entirely misleading. A poll I’ve seen (newsweek 1999) showed 92 percent of americans identifying themselves as a ‘believer’, and were more likely to vote for a homosexual than an athiest. I think these numbers have been tossed around in this context. When you say *based* on religion it skews the answers because, while people believe, they are also thinking creatures who like to believe they make their choices themselves.

    JG

  24. And your opinion, or belief, then would also be religious in nature.

    An opinion is a viewpoint that you acknowledge to be subjective, whereas a belief is a view that one sees as being absolute.

    Just admit it Dan, you’re in love with yourself and a religion unto your own. Everyone else’s beliefs are dogma, yours are rational.

    No, like everybody else my views are not all rational. I’d like to think that they’re not dogmatic like yours and many other libertarians’ are, however.

  25. Well, again… this is tautology right? What you’re saying is that we dont know what we know – we know what we believe. And that beliefs aren’t ever entirely based on reason… and perhaps they shouldnt be, to be honest.

    That’s basically what I’m pointing out.

    Remember, the context here is the idea that religion and politics should be separate. I’m just saying that’s impossible.

  26. Let’s face it, if libertarians were honest they’d admit that their philosophy is essentially a religion, with the Almighty Free Market as their God who solves all problems for those who trust in him.

    Arguing with the libertarians in your head again are you Dan? The libertarian philosophy is not Markets = magic solution to all problems. If you were to educate yourself a little on what libertarians actually think markets are and are not good for, you might be able to argue a little more convincingly about the pitfalls of libertarian ideas. But that might take actual work and reading something a bit more challenging than Daily Kos, so I assume you will continue to sit back and take potshots by making broad, innacurate statements about libertarian philosophy. If that’s fun for you, great, but you should know that no one takes you seriously, with good reason.

  27. How much evidence of my non-existance do I have to give you people before you stop believing?

    DAMN YOU!

  28. Arguing with the libertarians in your head again are you Dan? The libertarian philosophy is not Markets = magic solution to all problems. If you were to educate yourself a little on what libertarians actually think markets are and are not good for, you might be able to argue a little more convincingly about the pitfalls of libertarian ideas. But that might take actual work and reading something a bit more challenging than Daily Kos, so I assume you will continue to sit back and take potshots by making broad, innacurate statements about libertarian philosophy.

    Actually, that view comes from reading comments here over the last year or so. It’s a sarcastic generalization, sure, but there don’t seem to be very many situations where leaving things up to the free market isn’t argued to be the cure-all for any of society’s problems.

  29. Recall that it was Carter’s candidacy in 1976 that helped popularize the term “born-again Christian” in the U.S.

    I’d say: helped to turn it from an insiders’ term, known primarily by those who belonged to the religious groups that believed in it and aspired to it, to one so accessible to the rest of the country that it could be used as a term of mockery. There were plenty of tens of millions of people who knew what it was and used the term before 1976; it’s just that they were mainly adherents.

  30. Anyway, there is a clear libertarian ‘anti-religious’ meme… one shared by Reason/H&R editors, echoed by the readership – one that is I think fundamentally irrational.

    I think this stems basically from the fact that libertarians are determinedly ‘outsiders’ (and are mostly still straight-up nerds)… i.e. people who come to this position were likely never comfortable with communities of consensus in the first place. Not team joiners. Suspicious of anybody who submits their will to higher authority.

    You have some good points there JG, but I think the larger conflict between the libertarian viewpoint and politically active religious viewpoint is that the latter seems largely interested in criminalizing consensual behavior. As such, most of the religious agenda is anathema to libertarians.

  31. If you were to educate yourself a little on what [my cult] actually think…, you might be able to argue a little more convincingly about the pitfalls of [my cult’s unassailable ]. But that might take actual work and reading something a bit more challenging than [hanging out with enemy cult], so I assume you will continue to sit back and take potshots by making broad, innacurate statements about [my cult]

    = i.e. “heathen! infidel! non-carrier of our truths!'”

    The fact that everyone *except* Dan has been acting like someone dunked the libertarian jesus in a tank of pee, goes a long way to proving his point.

    I’ve been reading H&R for couple years now and indeed, there’s total intolerance for any percieved challenges to accepted l[L]ibertarian orthodoxy…even when it’s just percieved as such…or when its anything other than an echo of the often irrational consensus assumptions of the community. H&R is of course better than most, but still doesnt rise to the ideal of ‘free minds’ that so many pay lip service to.

    JG

  32. This is off topic, but does anyone think that this is euthanasia?

    “Eventually, the artificial heart began to wear out, and Mr. Christerson?s health deteriorated, his relatives said. He was offered a replacement but declined, unwilling to have the surgery again. He had a small stroke. As the machine continued to fail, his family and doctors decided to turn it off before he started to suffer. He was sedated, and the pump was switched off in February 2003.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/06/health/06heart.html?ex=1315195200&en=6e0c81014a6a5010&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss

  33. I have a news flash for both of you, GILMORE, Dan, free minds does not equal “accepting every single viewpoint”. If we think that libertarianism is right, then you bet we’re going to argue against viewpoints that contradict it. That doesn’t mean we’re dogmatic, it means we believe in something. And no, not all beliefs are religious.

  34. Dan T.,

    One of the most important premises of libertarianism is that utopia is not an option. So no, the free market does not solve all problems because nothing can. But reasoned observation shows it generally distributes goods and services in the most fair and efficient manner of all available alternatives. Believing this is no more an act of faith than believing in gravity.

  35. “Thoreau, if you actually knew me in person, you would know I am about the least stereotypical person imaginable. ”

    thank you, john, for proving my god – farcicus – is truly without peer.

    if everything is religious than nothing is religious. which would make for a pretty boring earth.

  36. fyodor, everything that you say is reasonable, and I agree. Nonetheless, sometimes we commenters do our best to come across as less than reasonable. For instance, if somebody suggests that, say, consumers have made bad decisions about debt and we might be in for some lean times as a result, other people have been known to rush into the thread and insist that nothing can go wrong in a market, who are you to decide what is the right level of debt, and anyway it’s all the fault of regulations. Such comments certainly project a rather closed mindset.

    It would be perfectly reasonable to say that yeah, people probably did make some bad decisions, there probably will be some lean times, and there’s probably not much that either the markets or the regulators (or a lack of regulators) can do to change that fact.

    I’m sure that you agree with the previous paragraph, as do most other posters. But sometimes reasonable comments are drowned out by comments that certainly appear to espouse the strawman position of “Nothing can go wrong in a market!”

  37. David =

    “the larger conflict between the libertarian viewpoint and politically active religious viewpoint is that the latter seems largely interested in criminalizing consensual behavior. As such, most of the religious agenda is anathema to libertarians.”

    I agree that this is *a* factor

    But when you say “*politically active* religious viewpoint”…you are reducing what we’ve meant by ‘religious’ so far down to a very small slice, so that in this smaller instance you may be correct.

    When you say, “largely interested”, i’d say thats an total exaggeration. The most vocal few, sure, but the vast lay population is no different than your average secular cross section. You seem to suggest that seculars have no similar impulse to criminalize consensual behavior? 🙂 Was the plumber who thought ‘locking up the gays’ was a good idea driven to that conclusion by Jeebus, or was he just good ol’ “regular intolerant”? 🙂 Faithful people have no monopoly on shitty statist anti-libertarian views.

    I hope you see my point here.

    Anyway, your point doesnt really speak toward those who see nothing threatening about, say, prayer in schools, freedom of expressing their beliefs in public, etc.

    We once had a lively debate about “plastic jesus on the courthouse steps”… where the view of the majority here was that it was flagrant violation of establishment… even when confronted with the fact that the display being discussed was a) paid for by donations from the community, and b) limited to a week during christmas. We’re talking baby jesus & donkeys here, not bleeding scary jesus.

    Other examples are legion. Libertoids dont like religion for one oft-cited reason, “dont make me have to deal with your silly bearded-guy-in-the-sky-myth!” – and they’ve once or twice claimed that we need to *pass more laws* to guarantee Freedom FROM Religion… in total contradiction of libertarian ideals. The anti-religious meme isnt connected to libertarian principles at all as far as i’m concerned, but is truly driven by an intellectual snobbery, a juvenile habit of the ‘liberated outsiders’ to piss down on those they consider ‘followers’…

    …it reminds me exactly like what I used to see hanging out in the Philosophy Majors dorm in college… all the kids getting high, and complaining about the ‘Frat Guys’…like, “those frat guys are such {x} and all they want to do is fucking [y] and man they think [z] of me, which is why they wouldnt ever let us hang out at their party”…. well, I knew all the frathouse guys. They used to be like, ‘why dont those kids in the dorm over there ever come out?’ They were just like the kids in the dorm, had a similar spectrum of opinions on things, the main difference being, they were social people who didnt ever feel like outsiders, and consequently never felt compelled to see others as a ‘threat’.

    Anyhoo, enough screwing around and avoiding work… 🙂 Pax

    JG

  38. “I have a news flash for both of you, GILMORE, Dan, free minds does not equal “accepting every single viewpoint”

    Comment by: Ayn_Randian

    Bien sur, Ayn. But we’re the one’s trying to be reasonable, and you’re the one shrieking and failing to supply any substance to your non-point…you’re just like, ‘Wrong! Shut up!’.

    “That doesn’t mean we’re dogmatic, it means we believe in something And no, not all beliefs are religious.”

    Certainly.

    The ones you wont risk questioning, or engaging in any serious way, are, however.

    JG

  39. You seem to suggest that seculars have no similar impulse to criminalize consensual behavior? 🙂

    Not at all, JG. There’s plenty of idiots to choose from, and I hold the PTC and CSPI in equally low regard(just to name two examples).

  40. GILMORE, my favorite is when you complained that the Phil Majors were stereotyping the frat guys, and you said that they were wrong to do so, and then you turn around and whine about “libertoids” and spew stereotypes about that non-existent creature. “Some libertarians” (you don’t say who, although you swear examples are legion) “want to pass laws outlawing religion. I promise!” Hokae.

    But we’re the one’s trying to be reasonable

    Right…right…because claiming that libertarianism is a religion and we’re all just cultists; that’s a rational way to approach H&R.
    You’re so caught up in thinking that reasonable = middle of the road that you’re willing to stereotype libertarians, all while complaining about stereotyping.

    argh.

  41. Bien sur, Ayn. But we’re the one’s trying to be reasonable, and you’re the one shrieking and failing to supply any substance to your non-point…you’re just like, ‘Wrong! Shut up!’.

    I think it was actually “Get out of here”.

  42. Ayn,

    Every single thread on religion on H&R provides examples. Unlike your ‘pot calling kettle black’ accusation, i’ve been here among you guys for 2 years, repeatedly pointing this out. I’ll get some links for you if it will help..

    But my point was that while I’m here sharing my views, talking about this, you guys – or maybe just you – rarely go out of your way to read about facts of religion in america, much preferring to demonize and exaggerate the whole majority as ‘out to get you’…just like my alterna-friends in school. see Bailey’s recent comments re: the pope firing the guy… whenever the term “believers” comes up on reason at all. There is a lumping of all faiths into the “crazy folk” pot. Its misinformed and bigoted, and indeed, it’s very common here.

  43. Not only is Dan T. a troll, he’s the worst sort of internet troll: One who exhibits his ignorance of a subject in a manner not unlike a drive-by shooting. He passes through a thread, spraying poor logic and tortured reasoning that fails to hit most or any of his intended targets, and then continues on his merry way.

  44. GILMORE, you really don’t get it, do you? Some demonize religion, some don’t. You’ve taken that and generalized it about all of us, and demonize us for it. Then you complain about generalizing things and demonizing them.

    Here’s some religious stuff for ya: get the beam outter yer eye, GILMORE.

    I probably know more about religion and its philosophy and its modern followers than you; that’s part of the reason I am against it.

  45. “I probably know more about religion and its philosophy and its modern followers than you; that’s part of the reason I am against it.”

    that giant 5000 ton pile of hilarious rushing at you from space is nothing to be worried about. go back to reading the fountainhead…go back to reading the fountainhead…go back to reading the SMAAAAAAAASHKABOOOMKRASHBOOMSPLAT

    though i must differ with built to spillmore on one issue: there are plenty examples of the more crispie among us who are most certainly and most actively interested in doing us (by “us” i mean the perverts, weridoes and general secular humanist type motherfuckers) harm, directly or indirectly. does this warrant a general bigotry against the religious? no. but against the religious that we’re all really talking about here? (i.e. those who get involved in policy manipulation for the sake of religious or religious-coated ends). ya, rly.

  46. But reasoned observation shows it generally distributes goods and services in the most fair and efficient manner of all available alternatives. Believing this is no more an act of faith than believing in gravity.

    The belief that distributing goods in an efficient manner has any importance is itself a “religious” belief, as are beliefs in the rights to private property, privacy, pursuit of happiness, life, etc.

  47. Excuse me for getting back on topic — but David Wilhelm’s strategy is doomed as long as the Democratic party is the party of abortion. The Dems will never take an official “pro-life” stance, and therefore will never bring back religious voters in large numbers, like they used to have.
    Now back to the sub-topic: All core beliefs are not “religious” — whether the word “religious” is in “quotes” or not. That’s just stupid: 1. The statement cannot be proved, 2. It presumes an either-or without any basis.

  48. The anti-religious meme isnt connected to libertarian principles at all as far as i’m concerned, but is truly driven by an intellectual snobbery, a juvenile habit of the ‘liberated outsiders’ to piss down on those they consider ‘followers’…

    What’s wrong with intellectual snobbery? It’s one of the few (if not the only) pack mentalities that legitimately and rightfully exist.

    Every single thread on religion on H&R provides examples. Unlike your ‘pot calling kettle black’ accusation, i’ve been here among you guys for 2 years, repeatedly pointing this out. I’ll get some links for you if it will help..

    Links, plz. I’d like to see all of these purported examples where all of the “libertoids” are rallying for more laws outlawing religion. I’m calling your bluff, GIL.

  49. What’s wrong with intellectual snobbery? It’s one of the few (if not the only) pack mentalities that legitimately and rightfully exist.

    Most people who exhibit intellectual snobbery aren’t actually all that intellectual, just snobs. So it gets a bad name.

  50. As a newbie around here I would like to say that I believe Ayn Randian, as evidenced by his very moniker, is the most dogmatic of thinkers among those that seem to regularly post.

    His arguments have a very faith-based ring.

    I don’t think that he is typical of libertarians.

    When religion has come up, however, I have seen a lot of free minds closing down.

    From my reading it seems that Dan T. is confusing deductive reasoning based on unanalyzed axioms with religion. Libertarians of Ayn Randian’s ilk, however, confuse deductive reasoning based on unanalyzed axioms with intelligent thinking on a topic.

    To the extent that your view on a topic is based on “self-evident” axioms, your argument depends on the reality of that axiom for validity. From my perspective, Ayn Rand’s insights into human behavior very rarely made contact with reality, and therefore belief in her world view requires these views to remain unanalyzed. This is less true, but still relevant, for the views of Rothbard.

    The establishment clause of the 1st is an important part of our society and government, but it says nothing about the use of religion in politics… only in policy and law. It is easy to confuse the two.

  51. Smacky

    “You’re the worst kind of snob. You’re an intellecutal snob.”

    Katherine Hepburn to Jimmy Stewart in The Philadelphia Story.

    True intellectuals are not snobs.
    But that sounds snobbish when I say it.

  52. ilk, eh? Perhaps you’d like to cite for me which arguments you felt were “dogmatic” and “faith-based”. Or are you just taking cheap shots?

  53. It was probably just a cheap shot…

    Some random comments Hx by Ayn Randian,

    1)Ayn_Randian
    Ayn Rand was quite possibly history’s most influential philosopher. Her philosophy, Objectivism, is called “a philosophy for living on earth.”

    2)In essence, when you start making exceptions, you’re going to lose in the end. “Well, if you get funding for science, then we should get funding for schools..and if we get that”…you’re going to get logrolled into a communist state.

    Comment by: Ayn_Randian at July 24, 2006 07:54 PM

    3)Look, the pacifists may have gotten a hold of the Libertarian Party, but reading the Issues and the Platform, including the pledge that all LP members are to uphold, I can?t help but know that the LP was formed on the philosophical revelations of one person:

    Ayn Rand.

    The gold standard? Rand. The idea that no one can initiate force to achieve political goals? Rand. The belief that the LP stands for ?personal responsibility and individual rights??that there are natural consequences to doing the wrong thing and we do not need government to punish us for actions that we will metaphysically pay for?the idea that government should be constitutionally limited and do nothing more than protect our rights?.RAND..RAND and more RAND!!!

    4)I probably know more about religion and its philosophy and its modern followers than you; that’s part of the reason I am against it.

    Comment by: Ayn_Randian at September 6, 2006 12:04 PM

  54. And how about this one.

    “Although the worship of governmental leaders makes me disgusted, what truly makes me despair is that appreciation and reverence is inversely rewarded, that is, the less that you actually produce, as a politician really produces nothing, the more you are revered, and the more productive you are, the less appreciation there is. The last acceptable discrimination, as eloquently pointed out by Ayn Rand, is that of the discrimination of the businessman, and this truism has not diminished in value since Rand said it. The ideal Objectivist society would be where we have inaugural-style festivals for the businessman, the man who makes his living trading freely with other rational beings, instead of one where someone who abuses the monopoly of force society has entrusted him.”

  55. Neu Mejican, libertarianism and classical liberalism didn’t spring from Rand’s forehead.

  56. This ones not dogmatic, but it speaks loudly

    “Therefore, if the nuclear option needs to be exercised against Mecca because the religious leaders of Muslim nations have wrongly and hatefully turned the people against the United States, then so be it. Take the wind out of their sails, and let them invent a new place where Mohammed ascended.”

    From Ayn Randian’s blog…
    http://libertariansteve.blogspot.com/2005/01/ungrateful-and-paranoid-muslims.html

  57. Eric

    I know that.

    I was quoting Ayn Randian.
    He challenged me to demonstrate his dogmatism.

  58. Eric

    I know that.

    I was quoting Ayn Randian.
    He challenged me to demonstrate his dogmatism.

  59. Eric

    I know that.

    I was quoting Ayn Randian.
    He challenged me to demonstrate his dogmatism.

  60. Akira,

    The beauty of your comment–

    Both the left and right read it and say with conviction…

    Yes, yes it is.
    Balance is not an option.

  61. Anyway, there is a clear libertarian ‘anti-religious’ meme… one shared by Reason/H&R editors, echoed by the readership – one that is I think fundamentally irrational.

    Really? Libertarians, by philosphy, tend to mistrust authority and according to most religions “God” is allegedly the No. 1 authority figure in the universe. Also, given what most of God’s followers will tell you, he is a capricious, judgemental, and vindictive character who appearently commands his followers to murder and hate in his name and to never so much as question his commandments lest they suffer for all eternity. Most religions cast him, God is the ultimate tyrant who makes the likes of Hitler and Stalin look like Cub Scouts. In short, God is ultimate form of “Big Government.”

    The only thing that’s “irrational” here is someone who’s willing to give their life and their freedom (or worse, the lives and freedom of others) to a cosmic dictator… especially one that doesn’t exist.

  62. How’d did that get tripled?

    I only pushed “post” once. I swear.

  63. Neu:

    Agreed, therefore let us no long beat around the bush with all this “balance” bullshit and have one or the other.

  64. Neu Mejican, you’re the one conflating Rand with ideas that many non-Objectivist libertarians share.

    But, as always, I read a discussion on religion here and I lose sympathy with everybody in it.

  65. “Really? Libertarians, by philosphy, tend to mistrust authority and according to most religions “God” is allegedly the No. 1 authority figure in the universe. Also, given what most of God’s followers will tell you, he is a capricious, judgemental, and vindictive character who appearently commands his followers to murder and hate in his name and to never so much as question his commandments lest they suffer for all eternity. Most religions cast him, God is the ultimate tyrant who makes the likes of Hitler and Stalin look like Cub Scouts. In short, God is ultimate form of “Big Government.”

    The only thing that’s “irrational” here is someone who’s willing to give their life and their freedom (or worse, the lives and freedom of others) to a cosmic dictator… especially one that doesn’t exist.”

    Wow Akira.

    That was actually very beautifully put. I like it!

  66. Akira =

    Your case above is nice,

    but you there’s a problem – if as you state at the end, He (god) doesnt exist, then why would any of the cases you raise in the first paragraph (ie. God as ultimate authority figure) be provocative?

    I mean, God can’t be both the ultimate in Big Government, ergo “classical liberals” must hate ’em…. and also not exist?

    Maybe you misunderstood.

    I claim that Libs have irrational distaste for religious folk; Not “God”. There’s clearly a difference.

    Please assume what I mean are the ones who *dont* want to put you on the rack, appropriate your homeland in name of Yahweh, slice your penis lengthwise to ward off evil spirits, hand out pamphlets, scream sermons in the subways… I mean, THOSE kinds get on everyone’s nerves. No, i mean just humdrum godly folk that are just boring dudes like you or bill or norman.

    Whats the big deal?

    My assumption is that the self-stated secular humanist poo-poohs them for having myths… but whats wrong with myths?

    Again no one has proposed legislation to put Jesus on the $5 bill, so dont tell me we’re slipping into theocracy if we allow Plastic Jesus on the courthouse steps. What did plastic jesus ever do to anybody?

    JG

  67. Woah, Neu Mejican! You putting out my greatest hits makes me feel even cooler than I thought I was. I should’ve paid you for the warm fuzzies my own quotes give me.

    Although, still not seeing anything dogmatic about having an opinion. And that part about the LP? The NIOF principle pretty much is a quote from her, so take that for what you will. Like I said, reading the old Platform is like reading a Rand treatise.

  68. Akira,

    So, if people want to make irrational decisions for themselves…. the Libertarian view is that they *shouldnt*?

    Lets refine this =

    My point is that a libertarian view of the first amendment is NOT the Liberal reading of it e.g. “Freedom From Religion”

    It’s Freedom OF Religion. so my view of religion in public life is that it should be allowed free expression in any form so long as a) the gov doesnt show preference, and b) they self fund, and c) there is no compulsion.

    Dude’s point above [Comment by: Pi Guy at September 6, 2006 09:10 AM] is the exact opposite of what I mean. He misreads (or rather ADDS) the ‘freedom from’ part, because thats how liberals have tried to tweak it.

    I think if you look at the constitution, as he says, theres a very good reason that first amendment dealt with this issue immediately, and not because they thought God didnt exist, BTW…

    They knew that everybody and their grandmother had different spins on Jeebus, so let’s stay the hell out, but give everyone free licence to pray to whatever you want.

    but now I’m told, no, classical liberals hate even the notion of god…? I think there’s some cross purposive thinking here.

    I’ve heard some say that, for example, using public land to hold outdoor prayer sessions – (e.g. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/24/us/24worship.html?ex=1311393600&en=0bfc02b5d8cdcffc&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss)
    … some people OPPOSE this on grounds that it’s the ‘state supporting religion’.

    Pish says I. Libertarians in many cases come down on the side of ‘keep state away from PERMITTING it’…. instead of ‘allow people to do what they want’.

    I see some hypocrisy at work here.

    just some final thoughts, sorry, more substansive things were eaten by the server earlier. Will get back to you smacky.

    JG

  69. Eric,

    Huh?

    For me to conflate “Rand with ideas that many non-Objectivist libertarians share” would require me to present ideas. I haven’t.

    Me thinks you conflate Ayn Randian’s opinions with my own.

  70. Ayn

    “still not seeing anything dogmatic”

    Didn’t expect you to.

    Just for fun, try googling “history’s most influential philosopher” and tally hits referencing Rand.

    LOL 😉

  71. so many of you are such dicks.

  72. What a depressing thread.

  73. So, if people want to make irrational decisions for themselves…. the Libertarian view is that they *shouldnt*?

    Where did I say they shouldn’t?

    They can believe anything they damn well please provided those who don’t want live as they do (especially me) may do so. At the same time I demand the right to point the serious flaws in their thinking and to lampoon them when they do something incredibly stupid.

    I mean, why not? They have no problem telling me that I’m a hell-bound Communist who is league with Satan. Why not return the favor?

    but you there’s a problem – if as you state at the end, He (god) doesnt exist, then why would any of the cases you raise in the first paragraph (ie. God as ultimate authority figure) be provocative?

    God may not exist, but his followers sadly do. We give them the right to vote and they certainly use it at the expense of those who don’t share their beliefs.

    As long as the Christers use “God” as the penultimate source of authority–not just for themselves but for everyone–I’ll be there asking what makes their deity worthy of that authority.

    If that means tweaking some noses and calling a few names, then so be it.

    …but whats wrong with myths?

    Nothing as long you acknowledge that they are just myths.

    “Again no one has proposed legislation to put Jesus on the $5 bill…”

    Too late.

    “In God We Trust.”

    Remember, most Christian sects consider Jesus and God to be one in the same.

    …so dont tell me we’re slipping into theocracy…

    So Dubbya didn’t create “faith-based initiatives?” The fundie appointees at the FDA didn’t attempt to stop over-the-counter approval of Plan B for fears that it would lead to filthy unmarried sex? Congress didn’t attempt to intervene in the Terry Schiavo matter to stop the “Culture Of Death?” Republicans, on the state and federal level, aren’t trying to pass constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage to defend “the family?” Republicans in Kansas and Pennsylvania didn’t try to put Creationism into public school biology class. (Don’t give this “Intellegent Design” bullshit. Six of one, half-a-dozen of the other.) I could go on and on…

    We might not be a theocracy, yet. Give the GOP a decade or two more in power.

    What did plastic jesus ever do to anybody?

    You mean besides being an eyesore? (What is it Christians and kitsch? Is having good taste a sin?) Maybe I don’t like having government tell me or anyone else who I should trust, respect, or revere.

  74. “God may not exist, but his followers sadly do. We give them the right to vote and they certainly use it at the expense of those who don’t share their beliefs.”

    That seems a very unlibertarian view of the source of the right to vote (or any other right).

    To claim that “christers” are more prone to voting to the advantage of those that think as they do than other groups is just fantasy.

    Libertarian values are in many ways founded upon Christian notions of Free Will. Those notions underpin much of Christian philosophy and morality. In most sects of christianity, you can not coerce someone into salvation. They must choose it freely. The thought police are just as likely to be atheistic as christian…maybe more so… but that would require us to compare the Cultural Revolution to the Spanish Inquisition.

    And there are three, I mean four reasons I don’t want to get into that.

  75. What did plastic jesus ever do to anybody?

    Yeah! I think that’s the one who built my hotrod!

    Libertarian values are in many ways founded upon Christian notions of Free Will.

    I think Christianity can also take responsiblity for predeterminism too.

    I think, in fact, that Christianty invented Velcro, peanut butter, and the internet, too. I just wish that it hadn’t taken my T-Bird away.

  76. So, Neu Mejican, what google says is right, eh? Any time you have some argument to make, you better google it to make sure it has enough hits.

    Oh wait, Aristotle had some words for you:

    Fallacy: argumentum ad populum

    You know better; you’re smarter than that (or at least I had high hopes.

    And the reason history will vindicate me: when libertarianism becomes the dominant political philosophy and your silly Christian myths have vanished like those of Olympus, there will be one philosopher who didn’t inextricably link mysticism with individual rights.

  77. Ayn,

    You caught me.

    I sometimes get caught using argumentum ad verecundiam too.

    So, since you seem to want to go there…

    Is your claim–
    Rand is the most influential philosopher in history, it is just too early in history to notice?

    By the way, “Most influential” usually refers in some way to influencing lots of people. Large numbers of positive assessments of influence would constitute empirical evidence that Rand has been influential (as would large numbers of citations in the writing of others, even if they were just refuting her, see, e.g., Chomsky). Google would catch both. Please, propose a better metric of “most influential in history.”

  78. Highnumber

    “I think Christianity can also take responsiblity for predeterminism too.”

    Maybe (if you mean “predestination” and discount all the other pre/non-christian versions), but I was referring to the fact that the ideas about free will that form the foundation of libertarian philosophy owe more (historically) to the christian notion of free will than they do to, say, the agentless free will of the Buddhist.

  79. Influential in philosophy, Neu, and I maintain, as of yet unknown to most academia (even though you hear them say the stuff she said and they act like it’s new). After all, Leibniz is one of our more influential philosophers and scientists, and most people still can’t name him. Influence in the world of ideas isn’t measured by popularity.

  80. “a better metric of “most influential in history.”

    the number of anthemic 70’s rock songs based on her ideas

  81. Ayn,

    How are you measuring her influence on philosophy?

    “as of yet unknown to most academia”

    How are you measuring her “unknown” status?

    You’re smarter than that.
    Give me something.
    I know you have to base your beliefs on something.

  82. if you mean “predestination”

    No, I mean predeterminism.
    Christianity can also take credit for predestination if it wishes. I personally would distance myself from that one if I were Christianity.
    Maybe the libertarian connection to Christianity is through the Enlightenment being the Western rise of post-Christianity, but I think we can tie the enlightenment to a lot of world religions, can’t we?
    The point was that we are familiar with a lot of great thinkers who came from the Western world. Do we have to credit Christianity with their thoughts and discoveries? Didn’t they pick up great ideas from all over the world? Haven’t great thinkers appeared in places that weren’t Christian?
    Democracy predated Christianity, and libertarianism postdated it. Does this have to mean anything?

  83. Highnumber,

    Point taken, but I believe you discount the influence of Christian philosophers (Locke, Milton, et al) on natural rights theory too quickly. I am not claiming that libertarian concepts of free will are solely christian, just that there is an important developmental link. From what I’ve seen so far on Hit and Run, many posters assume that their concepts of free will are anathema to christians, when, in fact, they are very much a part of the christian tradition.

    John Milton: By virtue of his wisdom God decreed the creation of angels and men as beings gifted with reason and thus free will.

    Get rid of God and angels and this sounds a lot like a basic axiom of libertarian political thought.

  84. If you were to educate yourself a little on what [my cult] actually think…, you might be able to argue a little more convincingly about the pitfalls of [my cult’s unassailable ]. But that might take actual work and reading something a bit more challenging than [hanging out with enemy cult], so I assume you will continue to sit back and take potshots by making broad, innacurate statements about [my cult]

    = i.e. “heathen! infidel! non-carrier of our truths!'”

    How clever, Gilmore! By filling in “my cult” for “libertarian philosophy” you have completely disproven my assertion that Dan’s characterization of libertarian philosophy is grossly inaccurate and willfully ignorant. And by characterizing what I actually said as impassioned cries of “heathen! infidel” you have shown me to be completely closed minded, which is why I am unable to see the perfect truth of Dan’s statements re: libertarianism.

    Oh, wait, it didn’t do that at all! It was just a foolish attempt at rhetoric which did nothing to actually address the point, and which no thinking person would take seriously. Try again, dumbass.

  85. Also, I wish to make it clear that I think dissenting voices are important on any political blog, and I personally make many more dissenting comments on other political blogs than rah-rah one on H&R. Further, I don’t want Dan, or Gilmore, or Joe to “Shut up” or “Go away”. But the fact remains that it is impossible to have constructive debate when one side truly does not understand the position they are criticizing. Statements like “libertarianism is essentially religious belief because libertarians believe that markets are magic and solve all problems” demonstrate precisely that lack of understanding, and cannot be the basis for any sort of constructive debate. That is why I must suggest to Dan that he actually educate himself on libertarian philosophy before criticizing it.

    For what it is worth, the reason I find Joe to be a far better dissenting voice than Dan, is that when debating something like eminant domain, Joe understands the facts and his arguments have a certain logic, it is at the ethical level that he disagrees with most here. That makes for good debate- when the point of contention is the principle involved: does public good outweigh private interest; can the ends justify the means; is ownership of ones property really as sovereign as we tend to think it is, and should it be? These are points that make for a reasonably good debate. To analogize, if Dan came into an ED thread saying “libertoids are dumb because they believe that getting rid of eminant domain would fix all the world’s problems forever,” he probably would get told to shut up, and with good reason.

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