Gingrich Says New Religious Wars Are A Good Idea

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Republican presidential flirt* and former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich bravely decried the rising tide of "radical secularism" during his commencement address at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University this weekend. Gingrich then went on to claim:

"Basic fairness demands that religious beliefs deserve a chance to be heard…. It is wrong to single out those who believe in God for discrimination. Yet, today, it is impossible to miss the discrimination against religious believers."

Discrmination against religious believers in the United States? Give me a break! "Discrimination" in country in which a Newsweek poll on March 31st found that 91 percent of Americans say they believe in the Big Guy in the Sky and 82 percent say that they are Christians? The good news is that only 26 percent think that an atheist can't be a moral person.

In the West Christians stopped being discriminated against about the time that Theodosius made Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire in 392 AD. Of course Christians enjoyed discriminating against one another and what followed was centuries of bloodletting as practitioners of different varieties of Christianity busily slaughtered heretics. It was the advent of the odd notion of separating the state from religion that eventually ended religious wars within and between Western countries. It is the principle of separation of church and state that has protected civil peace for more than two centuries in the U.S. and it is one of the pillars of the secularism denounced by Gingrich.

*Flirt because you can't be a "hopeful" until you declare that you're actually running.

NEXT: Jimmy Carter, Ever the Healer, Seeks to Soothe Own Criticism of Bush

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  1. Of course Christians enjoyed discriminating against one another and what followed was centuries of bloodletting as practitioners of different varieties of Christianity busily slaughtered heretics.

    The Christian People’s Front got what they deserved!

  2. oh dear this is going to be one of those threads.

    so a derail question: how much cash do you think liberty ponied up to get newt as their commencement-er?

  3. Newt defends a thought
    A thousand posts will follow
    Haiku or batin?

    Ten thousand a talk
    Bet he’s got some great stories
    Good on Larry King.

  4. “Discrimination” in country in which a Newsweek poll on March 31st found that 91 percent of Americans say they believe in the Big Guy in the Sky and 82 percent say that they are Christians?

    With a court system run by the manger-burning wing of the ACLU.

  5. “With a court system run by the manger-burning wing of the ACLU.”

    Over 3/4 of sitting federal judges were appointed by Reagan, Bush, and Bush.

  6. 1st Commandment: Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

    1st Amendment to US Constitution: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

    A direct conflict, makes me wonder if these people even read either the bible OR the constitution.

  7. As a religious person, I agree entirely with Ron’s assessment of the situation. Akira’s vitriol and wishes aside, Christians are not discriminated against in the United States, and separation of church and state is a good idea, if only because theocracies seem to be very bad at crafting policy for this world. To the extent that Christians have lost privileges in the U.S., it is not a matter of becoming second-class citizens, but rather of the whole notion of first- and second-class citizenship being dismantled.

    The other reason for the insistence on being discriminated against has deep roots in Christian social theology (and before that, in Jewish concepts that come from around the time of Babylon Captivity) that see the chosen people as a suffering people. If you aren’t oppressed, you aren’t legitimately God’s people, so if you aren’t being oppressed, you have to manufacture the oppression that legitimizes your existence.

    So here is from one religious person all in favor of secular government and making everyone, Christian, atheist, Wiccan, etc. equal in the eyes of the law. Let government be conducted based on the validity of ideas, not on securing a group’s place as on top of the pile based on historical privilege.

  8. Haiku or batin?
    moose presents us a false choice
    haiku is batin!

  9. A direct conflict, makes me wonder if these people even read either the bible OR the constitution.

    How is it a conflict? I missed the direct part. Saying that people should have no other God by YHWH doesn’t say anything about the political establishment of religion. If someone is really interested in putting no God before YHWH, that person should be very leery of the temptation to political power and the establishment of religion, which is likely to replace religion with politics in a hurry.

  10. i like guy mont-blog
    for he keeps me laughing hard
    oops i peed a bit

    manger burning man
    sec’larists hold baby jesus
    let me get some gas

  11. Christianists, like Islamists, believe that using the government to further the dominance of their religious group is their right. Denying them the power to imprison homosexuals or require schoolchildren to engage in Christian prayer, for example, are just as much a denial of their rights as forbidding them from praying. This is the sense in which Christians are discriminated in America.

    Please note my terminology – Christianist/Islamist vs. Christian/Muslim. The former are political identities, the latter are religious identities. I make this distinction, even though the aherents to those political ideologies don’t.

  12. This is good stuff.

    I love hearing the “secularism is tyranny” line from someone who’s on, what, his 5th marriage by now?

  13. 91 percent of Americans say they believe in the Big Guy in the Sky and 82 percent say that they are Christians

    As many REAL Christians would tell you, most of “those people” aren’t really Christians. They may say they are, but not all of them are.

  14. Shut up, Newt!
    You stole my shtick!

  15. today, it is impossible to miss the discrimination against religious believers.

    So true, our anti-theist bias can’t be avoided. Let’s list all the ways the devout are oppressed in today’s America.

    1) All candidates for political office must publicly declare their atheism or have no chance of being elected.

  16. Oh, Lord, not again!
    Another religion thread
    Let’s pray it ends soon

  17. haiku is batin
    and quite religious as well
    yell “oh god!” at end

    oh god oh god done
    that one was not full haiku
    secular tyrant!

    what a guy is fun
    and so is the burning man
    is guy burning man?

    Kneel before great ZOD
    kneeling – trick of Democrats
    Monica kneepads?

  18. So given joe’s “ist” distinction…

    Don’t we need to be sure to include the “secularists” in the mix.

  19. Secularists = those that “believe that using the government to further the dominance of their” beliefs is their right.

    By the way, as much as I hate the prick, I don’t see Gingrich calling for a theocracy in the article…maybe there was a point in the speech that I missed.

  20. It was the advent of the odd notion of separating the state from religion that eventually ended religious wars within and between Western countries.

    As a nonreligious person, I gotta disagree with Mr. Bailey on this one. While it did appeal to my manger-burning (thanks for this one, Guy Montag!) instincts, it doesn’t jive with my take on history.

    It is difficult to find a religious war where religion was anything more than a tool for justifying the political goals of nobles. In my opinion, the separation of church and state followed the loss of value of the clergy to the nobles for wielding power, rather than being a cause of the waning power of the clergy. Even the Crusades were a political attempt by the the Vatican to reassert their control over the Catholic nobility.

  21. 2) Believers are forced to trade in currency with the words “There is no God” inscribed on it.

  22. Reinmoose,

    As many REAL Christians would tell you, most of “those people” aren’t really Christians.

    …but they are far from being secularists, by any measure.

  23. NM,

    I think we’re running into a semantic problem there – the word “secularist” is used to define two distinct set of beliefs.

    There are those secularists who do wish to use the government to advance an anti-religious ideology. For example, those Turks and Frenchmen who would ban the wearing of headscarves.

    But is also describes the ideology of restricting the government from being involved in religious disputes at all. For example, the First Amendment in 1789 imposed a secular orientation on the federal government – meaning, it was to avoid all engagement as the state governments established official religions!

  24. Gingrich’s comments are just more demagogy from the Republican party.

  25. 3) Believers are surrounded by enormous temples to atheism with tall spires topped by atheist symbology and with signs next to the road telling them how doomed the are for being theists.

  26. My favorite church sign, by the way:

    There is no way but Yahweh!

    I couldn’t get offended at something that funny. I can’t help but appreciate people who have a sense of humor about their religion.

  27. I shouldn’t have let my ACLU membership lapse. I had no idea they had a manger-burning wing. That fucking rules, Guy! Thanks for the tip.

    You’re really special, Guy; “short-bus” special that is.

    Here it is in haiku form:

    Manger burners are
    neato. Thanks Guy. Rock on, you
    shortbus knobjockey.

  28. 4) Members of the clergy are forbidden from serving in the armed forces, and may not attend to military personnel.

  29. Speaking of favorite church signs:
    Come to worship on Sunday! It’ll shock yo mama!

  30. My favorite church sign: “God wants spiritual fruit, not religious nuts.”

    And wasn’t Christ Himself the first promoter of separation between Church and state, with His “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and render unto God that which is God’s?”

  31. twaddlenockery
    abounds when church and state meet
    SPIRITUAL FRUIT!

  32. “My kingdom is not of this world.”

    “Put not your faith in princes.”

  33. favorite unintentionally funny church sign:
    Join us for Sun. worship at 10 AM

  34. “”Put not your faith in princes.””

    No! I am not Prince Hamlet
    Nor was meant to be…

  35. 5) Each session of Congress begins with a Secular Statement, reminding the representatives of the importance to legislate wisely and well, since no divine justice will be forthcoming to correct their errors.

  36. Speaking of religion, check out this handy little website for confessing your sins…

  37. I have no indignity to spout

    we’re getting a little better with these god snarks

    Yo mike, whats news

  38. Unfortunately once the state assumes a certain size there is no way to get both fully free exercise and full disestablishment at the same time, as I wrote at http://users.bestweb.net/~robgood/politic/religious.html . Suppose you have a community that’s 95% Christian, and their state’s constitution requires them to establish a tax-supported school. Can you say for sure that it’s any less of a violation of their liberty for their school to have to be secular than for it to be religious? Can you blame the 95% for trying to sneak their religion in to the school as much as they can get away with?

    Similarly if state schools (in France or wherever) have a dress code, why shouldn’t it ban the wearing of head scarves or yamukas, when it would appear that allowing such items to be worn would be a state endorsement of that religion — just as allowing a Pepsi logo would be an endorsement of Pepsi? When the child is in the school, does not that child’s behavior & dress reflect the school’s requirements?

    If you think these questions are answered easily, that’s only because of familiarity with what you’re used to.

  39. “It is difficult to find a religious war where religion was anything more than a tool for justifying the political goals of nobles.”

    cathars?

    up until a certain point the popes (especially during the two popes period) were both secular and religious leaders. but i don’t think this means you can just throw out the explicitly religious justifications for certain actions.

  40. gilmore: almost done with semester, other than that the job hunt will ramp up this summer…with a vengeance!

  41. Rimfax,
    I wasn’t being serious, but merely channeling the debating techniques of my mother to make a case against that statistic, so that Christians can continue to feel oppressed.

    My favorite Church sign (billboard) in Central, PA

    CH__CH
    What’s Missing?
    U R!

    (it was located on the highway near an Adult World store)

  42. mike: BBQ this weekend? Bring Christians! And beer.

  43. Ron Paul on religion

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/paul/paul148.html

    “As we celebrate another Yuletide season, it’s hard not to notice that Christmas in America simply doesn’t feel the same anymore. Although an overwhelming majority of Americans celebrate Christmas, and those who don’t celebrate it overwhelmingly accept and respect our nation’s Christmas traditions, a certain shared public sentiment slowly has disappeared. The Christmas spirit, marked by a wonderful feeling of goodwill among men, is in danger of being lost in the ongoing war against religion.”

  44. Be sure to read the whole thing for the money quotes…

    “The notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers. On the contrary, our Founders’ political views were strongly informed by their religious beliefs. Certainly the drafters of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, both replete with references to God, would be aghast at the federal government’s hostility to religion. The establishment clause of the First Amendment was simply intended to forbid the creation of an official state church like the Church of England, not to drive religion out of public life.”

  45. 6) Religious practice is so widely disparaged and held in low regard, that believers are often afraid to express their beliefs, even to friends and family. The fear reprisals from employers keeps them from displaying symbols of their faith in the workplace.

    Meanwhile, various groups of atheists and humanists, fearlessly go door to door in efforts to educate people and save them from the perils of religion.

  46. “Discrimination” in country in which a Newsweek poll on March 31st found that 91 percent of Americans say they believe in the Big Guy in the Sky and 82 percent say that they are Christians?

    Ron, you don’t know much about evangelical Christianity. ๐Ÿ™‚ That 82 % includes papists, Mormons, liberals, and others not fit to be called Christian. According to evangelical Christians, to be a Christian you have to believe certain things and be “born again.” By that definition, only about a quarter of Americans are Christian. Most Catholics, almost all mainline Protestants, Orthodox, Mormons, liberal Quakers, that sort of riff-raff, aren’t truly Christian; they don’t properly believe. Hell, you’re probably oppressing Real ChristiansTM by simply implying that they should be lumped in with those splitters!

  47. “mike: BBQ this weekend? Bring Christians! And beer.”

    i’ll bring some trappist ale and get both in one shot! (plus it’s very hard fitting monks into a bottle and bringing it on the subway)

  48. He’s a thouroughly dangerous man.
    Newt’s just positioning himself to pick up the pieces from Rudy’s pro choice stance and Mitt’s LDS ties. The repugnicans have to have a pious candidate and newt can beat shrillary.
    Religion has nothin to do with it.
    This is politickin folks. Pure and simple.

  49. 7) “Godless America” is sung during the 7th inning stretch at Yankee Stadium

  50. “He’s a thouroughly dangerous man.
    Newt’s just positioning himself to pick up the pieces from Rudy’s pro choice stance and Mitt’s LDS ties. The repugnicans have to have a pious candidate and newt can beat shrillary.
    Religion has nothin to do with it.
    This is politickin folks. Pure and simple.”

    Good pick-up.
    ๐Ÿ˜‰

  51. “It is the principle of separation of church and state that has protected civil peace for more than two centuries in the U.S. and it is one of the pillars of the secularism denounced by Gingrich.”

    Libertarian pin-up boy Ron Paul is no fan of secularism either.

  52. “It is difficult to find a religious war where religion was anything more than a tool for justifying the political goals of nobles.”

    cathars?

    Even then, religion was more the excuse than the reason. The northern French have fought a centuries-long war of extinction against the Occitan culture and language. The Albigensian Crusade was just one of the first volleys in that war, which has now been almost completely won.

  53. Robert,

    “Can you say for sure that it’s any less of a violation of their liberty for their school to have to be secular than for it to be religious?” Um, yes? The DPW guys should pour the concrete and make a nice, flat sidewalk. They shouldn’t draw little crucifixes in it. That’s because a sidewalk is there for people to walk on, not to help bring people to Jesus. In Math class, the teachers should talk about math. Not Moses.

  54. More Ron Paul on religion and government

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/paul/paul244.html

    “I’m happy to witness so many politicians honoring a great man of God and peace. The problem, however, is that so few of them honored him during his lifetime by their actions as legislators. In fact, most members of Congress support policies that are totally at odds with Catholic teachings.”

    “This is why Washington politicians ostensibly celebrate religion – it no longer threatens their supremacy. Government has co-opted religion and family as the primary organizing principle of our society. The federal government is boss, and everybody knows it. But no politician will ever produce even a tiny fraction of the legacy left by Pope John Paul II.”

  55. gry: the papal fixation on the cathars spanned three or four popes. i don’t know how many of them were french, however.

  56. grylliade,
    I believe you stole my post ๐Ÿ™‚

  57. that is to say, I agree with you

  58. It was the advent of the odd notion of separating the state from religion that eventually ended religious wars within and between Western countries.

    I, too, wish to take issue with this statement.

    What put a brake on Western religious wars and persecutions was increasing acceptance of a tolerant attitude, not separation of church and state (which came later, if at all). England, for example, still has a state religion, and most Catholic legal disabilities weren’t removed there until the mid-19th century. But religious wars in England ended some 200 years earlier.

  59. People like Newt, when they are not simply pandering (which he surely is, as a PhD futurist I doubt seriously Newt is such a orthodox, pious fellow), mean this: Othodox Christianity (as understood by conservative sects) used to be the de facto ideology underlying everything in this land, and now that is no longer the case, and we don’t like it. We used to have our say exclusively in the schools (school prayer), in the government (In God We Trust, God Save this Court), in movies (Ben Hur, King of Kings, Ten Commandments), in the military, in colleges (religious colleges which up until 1900 dominated) etc., but now we no longer have exclusive, dominant say and we don’t like it. We feel discriminated from being able to ram our ideas, no matter how silly, down people’s throats brooking no questioning. Now we can’t, and waaah, poor us.

  60. “England, for example, still has a state religion, and most Catholic legal disabilities weren’t removed there until the mid-19th century. But religious wars in England ended some 200 years earlier.”
    I see your point JP, I think they Brits also just got war-weary (not quite the same as tolerant, as your point about religious legal discrimnation remaining long past the wars bears out) but maybe the wars ended earlier because the Catholics got whooped and it was essentially all over. The Puritans and like minded folks were just too strong and too fanatical a force post- Cromwell for any Catholic faction to be strong enough to take things to blows.

  61. maybe the wars ended earlier because the Catholics got whooped and it was essentially all over.

    Ken — If that were the whole story, then the winners would have gone back to persecuting Catholics Queen-Elizabeth style. But instead the winners adopted a live-and-let-live attitude — which continued even though England fought wars against Catholic France in the 18th century.

  62. Funny how only 11% of Americans actually believe in all of the core teachings that make up what it means to be a Christian of any denomination…

  63. “But religious wars in England ended some 200 years earlier.”

    Doesn’t Northern Ireland count for nothing?

  64. 1. Religious wars ended in Europe when the monarchs agreed to let each other impose their own religions on their own subjects, rather than fighting over which One True Religion should be imposed on those subjects. The separation of church and state came centuries later.

    2. Northern Ireland was a war between nations seeking control of territory. The religious distinction was just an overlay. In fact, the English were involved in colonialist assaults on Ireland before Henry VIII split from Rome.

  65. I had forgotten all of that anti-separation of church and state stuff that Ron Paul espouses. Really saddens me but reaffirms my inclination to not vote. No matter how much you love about any candidate, there will always be something that you simply can’t stomach.

    His religious stances certainly will make him more popular with the LewRockwell crowd though.

  66. Doesn’t Northern Ireland count for nothing?

    Colonial war.

  67. Discrmination against religious believers in the United States? Give me a break!

    Public Schools.

    Why should the Christian Smith family send little Jimmy to be taught about evolution and the the proper use of condoms?

    The atheist Black family doesn’t have to send Sally to learn about creationism and how not to have sex.

  68. A large part of what many Christians are talking about when they talk about discrimination has to do with public schools. Get rid of the public schools and much of that discrimination/discrimination talk goes away.

    For any small tent libertarians out there, we can make common cause with Falwell types on the private education issue. For any small tent Christians out there, Christianity would thrive in a libertarian environment.

    …I don’t know how small tent people manage to live with themselves. My guess is that they couldn’t make it without the rest of us.

  69. Funny how only 11% of Americans actually believe in all of the core teachings that make up what it means to be a Christian of any denomination…

    Funny thing about religious freedom…people get to choose individually what it means to worship and be a Christian (or whatever)….ie you don’t get to decide for them and neither does code monkey.

  70. grylliade,
    I believe you stole my post ๐Ÿ™‚

    Yeah, I meant to quote what you’d said earlier. Credit where credit’s due. ๐Ÿ˜€

    gry: the papal fixation on the cathars spanned three or four popes. i don’t know how many of them were french, however.

    Certainly, the popes had their own obsessions. But I don’t think that the French kings would have acted without it being in their own interests. The popes could have preached and preached, but in the end it came down to cultural differences, of which the religious differences were only the most visible.

    Funny how only 11% of Americans actually believe in all of the core teachings that make up what it means to be a Christian of any denomination…

    Funny how you define the 11 % to be those who believe in the Bible as the source of authority, then link to the Nicene Creed – which has no mention of Biblical authority – as the standard of Christian belief. But then, I’m not a Christian by your definition, so I have no right to define what a Christian is or isn’t.

    This is what I’m talking about: I’m a Christian, yet I don’t believe in the authority of the Bible. Neither do Catholics or Orthodox, at least not in the way evangelical Christians do. You say in your linked article that Revelation was the last book written by an apostle (which it wasn’t), and that was what Christ meant by apostolic authority (which isn’t supported well by your linked verse). Again, Catholics would disagree with you, as would Anglicans and Orthodox. To us, authority in the church was also passed down through apostolic succession. And even then, I think that’s only authority in the church. Individuals still have an obligation to follow their conscience, whatever the church might say. In the end, you’re going to have to stand before God alone, and “the Church said so” isn’t going to be an excuse.

    If you narrowly define Christianity to be “what I and people I like believe,” then you can reach absurdly low numbers for adherents in America. I’d define Christians as those who can say the Nicene Creed without reservations, which would include most Christians in America, if they sat down and thought about what they really believed. But then you wouldn’t be able to have your persecuted mentality.

  71. “This is why Washington politicians ostensibly celebrate religion – it no longer threatens their supremacy. Government has co-opted religion and family as the primary organizing principle of our society. The federal government is boss, and everybody knows it. But no politician will ever produce even a tiny fraction of the legacy left by Pope John Paul II.”

    Am I supposed to see something wrong with that?

  72. gry: no doubt the northern french nobility enjoyed being able to (eventually) claim those lands, but it’s not like the papacy just showed up and pointed.

    i think my main point is that denying that religious wars are, at their core, deeply religious in nature is as odd as denying that religious good works are simply community-based goodwill offerings that have nothing to do with religion.

  73. grylliade,

    The RCC was a driving force behind the persecution of the Albigensians; indeed, because it was so ineffectual by more “benign” means it opted to push for and condone far more harsh efforts. While secular authorities were important in the end it is hard to imagine the response which the Albigensians eventually received without the leadership of the RCC in the matter.

  74. “This is why Washington politicians ostensibly celebrate religion – it no longer threatens their supremacy. Government has co-opted religion and family as the primary organizing principle of our society. The federal government is boss, and everybody knows it. But no politician will ever produce even a tiny fraction of the legacy left by Pope John Paul II.”

    In Libertopia, won’t religion have more of an impact on our daily lives than government?

  75. dhex,

    There was a time when historians discounted religion as an important force in such conflicts and that time has largely passed. Part of the confusion arises I think from modern notions of religious faith and the inability to apprehend that religious wars were as much about defending the communal notions of religion as much as specific doctrines.

  76. Ken,

    “Am I supposed to see something wrong with that?”

    You are supposed to interpret it in light of your own beliefs. I was not attempting to put any valuation on Paul’s statements.

    I just found it interesting that Gingrich was getting criticized for, essentially, taking Ron Paul’s position in the context of all the Ron Paul worshipping posts lately.

    Note that Ron Paul uses the “war against religion” (nay even the “war on christmas”) meme to frame the discussion of state and religion.

  77. “Doesn’t Northern Ireland count for nothing?

    Colonial war.”

    Sure. But see Grotius’ statement above. It ain’t just coinkidink that one side was protestant and the other catholic. The religious overlay was part of the motivation for wanting to stay separate or not.

  78. “Doesn’t Northern Ireland count for nothing?

    Colonial war.”

    Just like Palestinian/Israeli conflict?

  79. Neu Mejican,

    It is impossible to understand post-Elizabeth I Ireland without thinking about communal conflict over religion and all that entails re: differences of culture, etc.

  80. I mean sure, one can look to Henry II’s invited invasion, etc., but without religious difference Irish history would be quite different. For example, consider what would have happened if the Cromwellian regimes efforts to convert the Irish population as a whole had succeeded?

  81. The Pope backed Cromwell’s side against the Irish, NM.

  82. “If you narrowly define Christianity to be “what I and people I like believe,” then you can reach absurdly low numbers for adherents in America. I’d define Christians as those who can say the Nicene Creed without reservations, which would include most Christians in America, if they sat down and thought about what they really believed. But then you wouldn’t be able to have your persecuted mentality.”

    When you say that the Nicene Creed is the defining thing that makes you a Christian, you’re engaging in that narrowing thing you decry. What makes anyone a Christian is believing in Christ and trying to follow his teachings, not saying you agree with what a quasi-statist committee cobbled up as a compromise view of what Christianity should consist of. Actions, not words, are the substance of Christianity.

  83. i think my main point is that denying that religious wars are, at their core, deeply religious in nature is as odd as denying that religious good works are simply community-based goodwill offerings that have nothing to do with religion.

    I’d say that religious wars aren’t religious in nature, but rather that religion can exacerbate already existing cultural differences. Northern France would have invaded and conquered southern France with or without the Cathar heresy. Probably the carnage would have been less had there not been a religious motive. And had the Cathar heresy spread in northern France rather than southern, the response wouldn’t have been a crusade, but rather a gentler means of dealing with it. Maybe something like England’s laws against Catholics and Puritans, after some fighting with a relatively low body count.

    And I’d say the same for religious good works. They’d happen in the absence of religion, but they wouldn’t be as widespread, and the zeal with which they were carried out wouldn’t be as great.

  84. In Libertopia, won’t religion have more of an impact on our daily lives than government?

    Only if you’re religious.

  85. joe,

    “The Pope backed Cromwell’s side against the Irish, NM.”

    There has been a lot of history since then.
    Even what many would call “war.” And most of that is more recent than 200 years ago. To call the more recent conflict colonial without recognizing the religious motivation behind the conflict is daft.

  86. Gingrich was pandering to his audience. Keep in mind that he was speaking at Liberty University, the site whence Satan called Jerry Falwell home.

    To many fundamentalists, fancying themselves as being reviled or “persecuted” by others is evidence of their virtue and, hence, part of the Falwellian schtick, as in, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven . . .”

    This is one of the few congruities between what Falwell talked about and what Jesus said. Most of Jesus’ teachings, such as loving one’s neighbors, feeding the hungry, attending to the sick and infirm, and condemning the Pharisees of His day (whom Falwell seemed to regard as role models), Falwell avoided like the plague.

    Of course, Jesus spoke in the context of King Herod having ordered the slaughter of infants and in anticipation of the mortal dangers His disciples would face; Falwell, Gingrich and their ilk merely react peevishly to snide remarks and snarky putdowns.

  87. grylliade,

    I’d say that religious wars aren’t religious in nature, but rather that religion can exacerbate already existing cultural differences.

    That’s just silly. You can’t seperate out religion from culture, particularly in areas where religion is an intimate part of a person’s and community’s daily (indeed, hourly) life.

    Northern France would have invaded and conquered southern France with or without the Cathar heresy.

    Then why did it only do so when the RCC gave northern French nobles the appropriate inducement to do so?

    …but rather a gentler means of dealing with it.

    Or alternatively (and far more likely) a Crusade calling in elements from outside of “France” would have been called in. The statements of the RCC at the time illustrate that the RCC saw the Albigensians as a mortal threat and the RCC had by the early 13th century lost its patience with developments in southern France.

  88. To call the more recent conflict colonial without recognizing the religious motivation behind the conflict is daft.

    It’s similarly reductive to see religion as the motive (I don’t know if that’s what you mean though). I friend of mine who lived in the heart of the troubles as a researcher put it this way. He said there’s the journalistic view that reduces it to Protestants and Catholics without realizing the history of disenfranchisement between the Plantationists and the native population that happened to fall along religious lines. Then there is his view which marveled at how low the body count during the Troubles actually was, something he attributes to those on both side taking the commandment “thou shalt not kill” seriously, even when they broke it. Not to count those who chose not to kill because they took their religion seriously.

    In other words, religion is one factor (and not one to ignore!), but it is not uniform in its outcome and it is not the only root of the conflict. It is symbolic of the many factors and the history since the time of the Plantation that were all involved in the Troubles.

  89. The religious wars were religious in nature. Religion – as understand as a shared community experience – was the primary issue contested between the groups involved. A ton of primary evidence exists to bolster this notion. Indeed, as yourself why Catholic Parisians would pick out Protestant Parisians and slaughter them with great violence (e.g., ripping a fetus from a woman’s womb) if the threat to community religious solidarity wasn’t at the heart of their concerns?

  90. Untermensch,

    The problem is that we moderns often tend to think of religion as this individualized, existentialist, intellectual concern. But when religion is viewed as a revealed source of absolute authority which communities simply adhere to, well one sees how challenges to such can elicit violence.

  91. BTW, I think that the individuation of religious belief is generally a good thing. It difuses group power and hegemony.

  92. NM,

    “There has been a lot of history since then.”

    Yes, there has. For example, the Catholic bishops in Ireland excommuncated the Fenians.

    And, the United Irishmen consisted of Catholics and Protestants who joined together to resist the British.

    And, for the last 30 years of the conflict, the IRA was run by Marxist atheists.

    People, particularly the Unionists, often used religion to whip up the mob, but that doesn’t change the essential nature of the conflict, which was Irish vs. English.

  93. Of course one could argue that under the right conditions humans are simply violent. Nevertheless religion can still prompt that tendency; it can help make up (or exclusively up) those conditions.

  94. But when religion is viewed as a revealed source of absolute authority which communities simply adhere to?

    When and where was this period of simple adherence true? It’s just as much a construct as the “individualized, existentialist, intellectual concern” you refer to. When we look at history and move beyond the official doctrines, we find a variety, never a unity. Cotton Mather reviled the “horse-shed Christians” who did not practice what they advocated in services, and Lucretius advocated atheism in classical Rome. Early visions of Christianity battled each other for centuries officially, and their teachings survived for centuries within the main church.

    Are there religious zealots? Yes, but they aren’t everyone in a community and never were. The idea of the mindless, religious horde flooding up out of the hollers with blank stares bearing snakes in their hands is just as silly as assuming that religion has no communal nature. (No, I’m not quoting you, but it’s not hard to get this image from the notion of people blindly following religion.)

    Regarding just about anything one can say about religion, the answer is both yes and no.

    Were the Troubles about religion? Of course they were. Were they only about religion? Of course not. Was religion’s influence in the conflict good or bad? How about both: it drove some to kill and it kept others from killing… I’ve read ethnographic accounts of people involved in the Troubles: they were not mindless automatons killing because of religion; many of them (on both sides) were deeply conflicted because they realized that their religion required them to do something other than what they were doing, but they saw no way to bring that ideal into line with their lived realities. I doubt any conflict in history that used religion as the causus belli was without such conflict and nuance.

  95. “They’d happen in the absence of religion, but they wouldn’t be as widespread, and the zeal with which they were carried out wouldn’t be as great.”

    well, i picked the cathars as my example because it was such a lengthy conflict (with a lot of buildup and history before the actual violence) and because it was explicitly religious in nature. it wasn’t simply a land grab. it was far more akin to something i’d call “magico-religious warfare” – being able to assemble a huge amount of crusaders to do tremendous violence to a relatively small and (militarily/economically speaking) nonthreatening population is a function that is somewhat unique to metaphysical belief systems.

    to pick an example that all the conservatarians will jerk off over for hours, no doubt, the first contact between muslims and buddhists in northern india – and the insane slaughter that resulted – is telling. so is the treatment of shivalingam after hindu temples had been taken over in india: specifically, the stones were crushed and turned into a walkway so that the feet of believers could forever trod upon their blasphemous idols.

    that’s symbolic warfare.

  96. I had forgotten all of that anti-separation of church and state stuff that Ron Paul espouses. Really saddens me but reaffirms my inclination to not vote.

    Yup. Which is one of the reasons why, though I like a lot of things about Ron Paul, I’m not running down to the post office to register as a Republican so I can vote for him in the primary.

  97. Untermensch,

    When and where was this period of simple adherence true?

    I’d say that despite its diversity that it was largely true in Catholic and Protestants communities in 16th century France.

    It’s just as much a construct as the “individualized, existentialist, intellectual concern” you refer to.

    Well, crap man, any discussion of the past is based on constructs. It matters whether they are accurate (or reasonably accurate) or not.

    When we look at history and move beyond the official doctrines, we find a variety, never a unity.

    Well, apparently French Catholics (from many walks of life) were united enough to carry out kingdom-wide assaults on French Protestants on a number of occassions.

    …but it’s not hard to get this image from the notion of people blindly following religion.)

    It is not that they are blindly following; indeed, they were quite consciously involved in the decisions. Their decisions were based on a mental world quite different from our own (at least in some ways).

    Were they only about religion?

    I never claimed that they were. Still, can one imagine the “troubles” being as they are without two religious communities and their seperate cultures and histories (or the historical grievances and fears that they choose to remember and mythologize) inhabiting the same island?

  98. You aren’t serious are you? I mean your internet site.. it’s a spoof right? I am just really confused, we had to read your “Hell House” article in our college Bible class, and our teacher actually thought you were for real! What a joke! Anyway, please just tell me the site is a joke so I can let my teacher know. Thanks!

    -rebekah morgan
    http://www.landoverbaptist.org/mail/0407.html
    http://www.landoverbaptist.org/hellhouse/thehouse.html

  99. dhex,

    The shitty thing of course is that the Catholic Church’s crushing of the Albigensians busted up one of the most prosperous, culturally-rich regions of Europe.

  100. That’s just silly. You can’t seperate out religion from culture, particularly in areas where religion is an intimate part of a person’s and community’s daily (indeed, hourly) life.

    I think you made my point quite nicely. ๐Ÿ™‚ Religion is, indeed, part of culture. It is the cultural differences that are primary, not the religious; that’s the point I’m trying to make.

    Then why did it only do so when the RCC gave northern French nobles the appropriate inducement to do so?

    I’d say more an excuse to do so. If you invade a neighboring country because you want their land, other countries will be somewhat leery of you in the future. If, instead, you invade because the pope gave you permission . . . Had the pope, instead of promising the land to the French nobles, claimed any land of executed heretics for the church, I guarantee you the crusade would never have happened.

    And the northern French persecution of Occitan didn’t end there. It continued over the next few centuries, and the French Revolution just made it worse. It was, and is, fairly naked cultural imperialism on the part of the northern French. Maybe it started with the Albigensian Crusade, but it sure as hell didn’t end there, and the non-religious motives have done more to eliminate Occitan culture than the crusade ever did.

    Or alternatively (and far more likely) a Crusade calling in elements from outside of “France” would have been called in.

    Yes, but would anyone have responded? France at the time was one of the most powerful countries in Europe; there would have been little to gain from attacking France, and much to lose. It’s possible that the papacy would simply have come to terms with a form of Catharism, given a politically and militarily strong opposition.

    The statements of the RCC at the time illustrate that the RCC saw the Albigensians as a mortal threat and the RCC had by the early 13th century lost its patience with developments in southern France.

    The pope had everything to gain, and nothing to lose, by declaring a crusade against an impotent heresy. Had the Protestants in later times been more willing to compromise, I’m sure that room would have been found for them inside Catholicism, but there were strong cultural motives there, maybe stronger than any since the Schism of 1054 (which is why that Protestantism persisted when so many other heresies died out). The Cathars were a rich, politically disunited, militarily weak group. Had any of those things not been true, I think the crusade would never have even been called.

    The shitty thing of course is that the Catholic Church’s crushing of the Albigensians busted up one of the most prosperous, culturally-rich regions of Europe.

    Occitan probably would have recovered, had the French not spent the next five centuries committing cultural genocide against the Occitans.

  101. This history lesson’s fascinating, but when it’s all said and done are we still for the First Amendment or against it?

  102. The first amendment is just peachy dandy.

    as long as we agree

    ???

  103. grylliade,

    I think you made my point quite nicely. ๐Ÿ™‚ Religion is, indeed, part of culture. It is the cultural differences that are primary, not the religious; that’s the point I’m trying to make.

    This sounds like a very artificial distinction at best and it makes very little sense. Since religion is part of a culture then its nature as part of that culture can explain a lot of the reasons why people commit violence.

    I’d say more an excuse to do so.,/i>

    You can say that all you wish, but the primary sources disagree with you. Perhaps you should consult them. It is clear that religious zeal informed a significant part of the desire of the secular and religious desire to destroy the Albigensians.

    because the pope gave you permission . . . Had the pope, instead of promising the land to the French nobles, claimed any land of executed heretics for the church, I guarantee you the crusade would never have happened.

    Actually part of the land did go to the Church as I recall.

    And the northern French persecution of Occitan didn’t end there.

    Yes and no. Occitania contained some of the few regions which continued to be exempt from various kingdom wide taxes and tolls up to the rationalization of taxation, etc. during the French Revolution.

    Furthermore when you write the “Northern French” pray reveal, why was such violence perpetrated against the Albigensian areas of Occitania and not against other areas absorbed by France during its rise into a fairly unified kingdom?

    …and the French Revolution just made it worse.

    I don’t think that Occitania suffered any worse during the French Revolution than other areas of France.

    It was, and is, fairly naked cultural imperialism on the part of the northern French.

    Perhaps, but making the region’s population orthodox Catholics was a very important aspect of kingdom’s efforts there. Indeed, that sort of effort was widespread in Europe following the various post-millenium “reforms” (e.g., a celibate priesthood, a more uniform worship service, etc.). Enforcement of Orthodoxy was Europe-wide by the time the Albigensian Crusade had gotten into full swing. In other words, the crusade was a more extreme version of the Church’s efforts (along with secular authorities) to create a more uniform religion.

    Maybe it started with the Albigensian Crusade, but it sure as hell didn’t end there, and the non-religious motives have done more to eliminate Occitan culture than the crusade ever did.

    Perhaps, but what has this to do with the Albigensian Crusade itself?

    France at the time was one of the most powerful countries in Europe…

    Since we’re talking about alternative timelines now there is really no guarantee of victory at the Battle of the Bouvines over King John; particularly since papal authority was so crucial to Philip II. Or the reign of powerful monarchs like Louis IX.

    Had the Protestants in later times been more willing to compromise…

    Luther went to great lengths to compromise with the RCC. Furthermore, the RCC had for several hundred years openly persecuted any deviation from orthodoxy (e.g., Lollards, Hussites, etc.). So much so that guarantees of safe passage for negotiations were often revoked when the individual was in the hands of the church or a secular authority friendly to it. That was the case of the leader of the Hussites if I recall correctly.

    Occitan probably would have recovered…

    Occitan is one of numerous European languages which have disappeared under the weight of more successful political entities.

  104. Let me repost that:

    grylliade,

    I think you made my point quite nicely. ๐Ÿ™‚ Religion is, indeed, part of culture. It is the cultural differences that are primary, not the religious; that’s the point I’m trying to make.

    This sounds like a very artificial distinction at best and it makes very little sense. Since religion is part of a culture then its nature as part of that culture can explain a lot of the reasons why people commit violence.

    I’d say more an excuse to do so.

    You can say that all you wish, but the primary sources disagree with you. Perhaps you should consult them. It is clear that religious zeal informed a significant part of the desire of the secular and religious desire to destroy the Albigensians.

    because the pope gave you permission . . . Had the pope, instead of promising the land to the French nobles, claimed any land of executed heretics for the church, I guarantee you the crusade would never have happened.

    Actually part of the land did go to the Church as I recall.

    And the northern French persecution of Occitan didn’t end there.

    Yes and no. Occitania contained some of the few regions which continued to be exempt from various kingdom wide taxes and tolls up to the rationalization of taxation, etc. during the French Revolution.

    Furthermore when you write the “Northern French” pray reveal, why was such violence perpetrated against the Albigensian areas of Occitania and not against other areas absorbed by France during its rise into a fairly unified kingdom?

    …and the French Revolution just made it worse.

    I don’t think that Occitania suffered any worse during the French Revolution than other areas of France.

    It was, and is, fairly naked cultural imperialism on the part of the northern French.

    Perhaps, but making the region’s population orthodox Catholics was a very important aspect of kingdom’s efforts there. Indeed, that sort of effort was widespread in Europe following the various post-millenium “reforms” (e.g., a celibate priesthood, a more uniform worship service, etc.). Enforcement of Orthodoxy was Europe-wide by the time the Albigensian Crusade had gotten into full swing. In other words, the crusade was a more extreme version of the Church’s efforts (along with secular authorities) to create a more uniform religion.

    Maybe it started with the Albigensian Crusade, but it sure as hell didn’t end there, and the non-religious motives have done more to eliminate Occitan culture than the crusade ever did.

    Perhaps, but what has this to do with the Albigensian Crusade itself?

    France at the time was one of the most powerful countries in Europe…

    Since we’re talking about alternative timelines now there is really no guarantee of victory at the Battle of the Bouvines over King John; particularly since papal authority was so crucial to Philip II. Or the reign of powerful monarchs like Louis IX.

    Had the Protestants in later times been more willing to compromise…

    Luther went to great lengths to compromise with the RCC. Furthermore, the RCC had for several hundred years openly persecuted any deviation from orthodoxy (e.g., Lollards, Hussites, etc.). So much so that guarantees of safe passage for negotiations were often revoked when the individual was in the hands of the church or a secular authority friendly to it. That was the case of the leader of the Hussites if I recall correctly.

    Occitan probably would have recovered…

    Occitan is one of numerous European languages which have disappeared under the weight of more successful political entities.

  105. Some background and observations:

    (A) It should be noted that the Albigensian Crusade and other efforts to enforce orthodoxy Europe-wide were committed under one of Catholicism’s most powerful Popes – Innocent III at a time when the RCC at one of its periods maxmimum ascendence.

    (B) When we’re discussing religious violence we’re discussing at least two types of actors – elites (e.g., the priestly caste, nobles, etc.) and non-elites. I’d say that even if the whole “greed” or “convenience” notion applies to the former (and that is even debateable for the majority – at the very least mixed motives would be at play for most of them if I understand human nature at all) it has a much more difficult time explaining the latter. Thus religious fervor helps to easily explain the popularity of such events as Peter the Hermit’s “Peoples’ Crusade” or the slaughter of French Protestants by French Catholics masses on and around St. Barthlomew’s Day.

  106. joe,

    “People, particularly the Unionists, often used religion to whip up the mob, but that doesn’t change the essential nature of the conflict, which was Irish vs. English.”

    Essential nature of the conflict?
    Why, ask yourself, was there a conflict between the two groups? What makes one “Irish” or “English” in this context when both groups share geography. The conflict was originally framed in terms of religious conflict (“protestant problem”). Leaders talked about “catholic nations” and “protestant states.” It wasn’t only about religion, but, as in the more detailed discussion between G&G above, to try and pull the religious element out of the picture ignores a primary, if not sole, motivating factor out of the mix. I feel pretty comfortable that Northern Ireland’s war was as much about religion as the middle east conflict. It was not solely about religion, but a religious conflict fed the seeds and roots of the troubles and was more or less part of the picture from then on.

  107. We just need to properly classify religion as a psychiatric disorder of the delusional variety and be done with it.

  108. Psychiatric disorders, aren’t they covered by the Ninth Amendment?

    …and does it really matter whether having them is in the best interest of society?

    I have to admit it feels kind of icky to read a discussion about whether some people’s free exercise is good for society. I mean, where’s that discussion headed to ultimately?

    “It is the principle of separation of church and state that has protected civil peace for more than two centuries in the U.S. and it is one of the pillars of the secularism denounced by Gingrich.”

    Yet another thing secularists can thank religious people for.

  109. “I mean, where’s that discussion headed to ultimately?”

    Just for the record, I think I’d feel as icky in a discussion about whether atheists are good for society. …and I don’t think it’s a question of tolerance.

    I’d just snicker if somebody started out a conversation with, “Not that I’d ever advocate discriminating against atheists, but, just for discussion purposes, might not society be better off if, say, we rounded up all the atheists and they all died of natural causes?”

    …and then if the person started giving historical examples of vicious atheists running amok. I mean, what’s the point of that discussion?

  110. Neu Mejican,

    England and Ireland do not “share geography.” Ireland is an island, which doesn’t even share a border with England.

    Different languages, different cultural backgrounds (the Angles and Saxons never went to Ireland), different governments, different nations.

    “Why, ask yourself, was there a conflict between the two groups?” Because England was the greatest colonizing power in human history, and Ireland was next door.

  111. Occitan hasn’t completely disappeared, but is reduced to dialect status as Languedoc (langue d’oc). More or less, it’s French without as much of the strain on your facial muscles that Steve Martin made fun of.

    “Can you say for sure that it’s any less of a violation of their liberty for their school to have to be secular than for it to be religious?” Um, yes? The DPW guys should pour the concrete and make a nice, flat sidewalk. They shouldn’t draw little crucifixes in it. That’s because a sidewalk is there for people to walk on, not to help bring people to Jesus. In Math class, the teachers should talk about math. Not Moses.

    But nobody’s drawing crucifixes in the sidewalk or talking of Moses in Math. However, expansive gov’t with lavish parks & monuments, and school programs with assemblies & various activities are more the place where the secular can be, just as much as the religious, a robbery of some to promote the beliefs of others. And under those conditions, where one side but not the other gets constitutional protection and enforcement of such, the religious might try to sneak in Xs on the sidewalks with the excuse that they’re for traction, or math lessons like “3 Moseses + 8 Moseses = how many Moseses?”

    If you could get rid of or at least shrink, shorten, & cheapen gov’t school programs, and cut out parks programs & monuments, you would practically abolish the current church-state controversies.

  112. joe,

    “England and Ireland do not “share geography.””

    Very good joe. Do the unionists and the nationalists in Ireland share geography?

    “Different languages, different cultural backgrounds (the Angles and Saxons never went to Ireland), different governments, different nations.”

    Religious affiliation of the unionists just happens to match the different culture of the English with whom they favor union. Religious affilitation of the nationalists just happens (at least at the start of the troubles) to match that of the rest of Ireland.

    Or are you going to maintain your position that religion is inconsequential in the history of the conflict?

  113. joe,

    I just can’t let this one pass…

    “doesn’t even share a border with England.”

    “Because England was the greatest colonizing power in human history, and Ireland was next door.”

    The North channel could count as a shared border…but you’ll tell me that is shared with Scotland, just to be nitpicky.

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