Campaigns/Elections

Obama and the Pastor

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Denver Post columnist, occasional reason contributor, and recovering orthodox Jew David Harsanyi on Barack Obama's yes-no-but relationship with Jeremiah A. Wright:

Choosing your church means something. If you're a practicing Catholic and support gay marriage and abortion, you're in the wrong place. If you're a Scientologist knocking back Excedrins every day, think your membership is over.

Barack Obama should have done the same years ago.

This week, Obama delivered a rhetorical masterpiece confronting the issues stemming from the words of his pastor. He distanced himself from the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright's detestable and conspiratorial words, but he also deflected the most important question: What about the past 20 years?

Is Obama responsible for the words of Wright? No. But whether he likes it or not, supporting the man for 20 years is relevant. Obama claims he had no knowledge of the nastier Wright tidbits. If true, that would make him the most naïve candidate ever or the most willfully ignorant.

More here.

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  1. Oh noes, Obama is responsible for his associations just like the rest of us! Please, Obama-humpers, come tell us why he in fact isn’t responsible for his associations but everyone you don’t like is.

  2. Ep-Agreed, but isn’t it “Obama-humpees”, or is that term reserved for the rest of us if he does make it?

  3. I agree with Obama that you don’t just drop friends and family members because of their views and actions. That is something I would expect from most politicians (e.g., the Clintons), and it is refreshing to me that Obama’s not doing it, despite the risk. No, Episiarch, I’m not an Obama supporter, I’m a Paultard.

  4. I think it depends on whether or not Episiarch is suggesting the Obamapologists are tops or bottoms. Of course, he could just be saying that they like to dry hump his leg–outercourse, if you will.

    Of course, I’ll heap invective on Obama only when Hillary deigns to explain her 30-plus year association with Bill. If we have a viscous round of guilt-by-association, Hills is gonna lose…

  5. If you’re a practicing Catholic and support gay marriage and abortion, you’re in the wrong place.

    Actually, about 3/4 of practicing Catholics oppose the Church’s position on birth control.

    Fuck you very much, for telling people you’ve never met how they should organize their religious worship.

  6. Jeremiah is a crackpot, who works himself into a lather of wrath about the U.S.A., a country where he and his congregation are, in fact, quite happy. He deserves to be taken to task for his lazy self-indulgence. But, excuse me, is he a bigger liar than, you know, George Bush and Dick Cheney? Why isn’t John McCain being forced to “explain” his relationship with them?

  7. This just in: people who don’t go to church don’t think you should, either.

    More news at 11.

  8. It’s really amazing how lame and vacuous the attacks on Obama are. With all the concrete things to despise about McCain and HRC, the more these weak “reasons” to dislike Obama are argued, the more I like the guy.

  9. There are no pro-choice Catholics – if you’re pro-choice, by definition you aren’t a Catholic. Sorry if that asks too much of “cafeteria Catholics” but nobody said that getting into heaven would be easy. Maybe you can make a government entitlement out of it.

  10. joe’s right. I don’t agree with most of the catholic church’s teachings, and I rarely pay attention during mass. For all I know, my Pastor might think the CIA spread AIDS too. My church experience is one of meditation and community, and I enjoy it. The idea that Obama should leave his community because Wright said a few crazy things is ridiculous.

  11. This just in: people who don’t go to church don’t think you should, either.

    Generalization is a sign of ignorance, joe. I don’t go to church, but I could give a flying fuck what you do with your time…

  12. Alan:

    not only that, but why isn’t McCain being taken to task for his association with Pastor Hagee, whose approval his campaign actively sought?

    also, are the words of Obama’s pastor a representative sample of his typical message?

  13. Breaking…breaking…apparently, Wolf, certain members of a religious sect are declaring that other members of that sect, with whom they disagree politically, are infidels.

    Details are sketchy at this time. More as events ensue.

  14. “If you’re a practicing Catholic and support gay marriage and abortion, you’re in the wrong place.”

    joe beat me to it. This is the dumbest statement I’ve ever heard. People go to the church where their friends and family go. They go to be part of a community. Most people don’t have a liturgical litmus test.

  15. That’s me, Taktix: profoundly ignorant.

    If you aren’t lecturing people on the best way for them to do something you neither know nor care about, then you don’t have to be so defensive about put-downs of those who do.

  16. I think the problem, Lamar, is that people who actually do think of their church as the central organizing principle of their political lives assume that everybody else does, too. Or at least should.

    The whole Cesar/God thing just doesn’t register with some people.

  17. I’m as much a basher of the Obama cult as anyone, but give me a fucking break. A good deal of what Jeremiah Wright had to say was inflammatory but not untrue — the US has imprisoned a great deal of the African-American population because of the drug war, and the CIA did look the other way when our good friends the contras smuggled cocaine into this country. And you know what? Truman did order the incineration of the populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki without batting an eye, all in the name of impressing the Soviet Union and launching the Cold War.

    And to say that someone can’t criticize this country if they live comfortably in it is just another way of saying “love it or leave it” — in other words, it’s bullshit.

    Paul/Wright ’08

  18. joe, it’s either that people see church is a central organizing principle for their politics, or more likely, these people were never going to support Obama anyway, and this incredibly weak excuse is convenient.

  19. I agree with Obama that you don’t just drop friends and family members because of their views and actions.

    Nobody is suggesting that Obama drop his family members at all.

    And nobody is really suggesting that he can’t continue to be “friends” with Rev. Wright. After all, he could go to another church and still be buddies with him (unless Rev. Wright cut him off for leaving his church, as I would expect).

    What people are worried about is why he had a 20 year relationship with Rev. Wright, supported his divisive church, and cites him as a political adviser and inspiration. Obama’s attempt to waft these questions away on a cloud of obfuscations and false equivalences isn’t working.

  20. Remember how terrible it was when Bill Clinton said “You cannot love your country and fear your government?” You sure as hell can.

    You can also love you church and think your pastor’s politics are loony.

  21. Catholics who believe in abortion, etc. would be better off going to Mass on Sunday rather than doing the NYT crossword. If you’re in church, you’re more likely to encounter challenges to your, ah, *interesting* views, and maybe even reconsider them.

    The Church shouldn’t give up on the abortionists – remember that Dr. Bernard Nathanson, formerly one of the most prominent abortionists and pro-abortion lobbyists in the country, is now a Catholic and a prominent pro-lifer. See The Hand of God: A Journey From Death to Life By the Abortion Doctor Who Changed His Mind,

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/089526174X/reasonmagazinea-20/

  22. Actually, RC, everyone from other churches who visited that “divisive church” reported feeling completely welcome and uplifted.

    and cites him as a political adviser Link?

    Obama’s attempt to waft these questions away on a cloud of obfuscations and false equivalences isn’t working. Not for you anyway. But how cares? See Fasula’s comment.

  23. I think the best part of this (because I couldn’t give two shits about who wins, they are all scum) is watching the Obama supporters losing their shit over this. The fact that it may cost Obama the nomination, but is really no big deal, is killing them. McDreamy is getting shafted!

    (Nelson “ha ha”)

  24. Say, what exactly was Wright’s official role within the campaign? I keep hearing references to that, but I haven’t actually seen anything specific. That is a significant issue, and even Obama’s Greatest Speech Since God Spoke to Moses on Sinai? doesn’t address it. I’ll grant that the role may have been a token one, but does anyone know for sure?

  25. I remember being 13, too, Episiarch.

    Saying “everything sucks” is a good way for someone too insecure and uniformed to venture an informed opinion to cover.

  26. Pro Lib,

    He was on the “Black Religious Leadership Committee,” an outreach group to black churches.

  27. joe, your discomfort and rationalizations over Obama’s possible demise are all I need to enjoy this Friday. Weak attempts at equating a choice between giant douches and turd sandwiches and being juvenile are just gravy.

  28. I agree with charlie. If Obama had said, “What Pastor Wright said is painful, but true — except for that batshit loony stuff about AIDS,” I might have considered voting for him.
    That’s probably why I’ve never voted for a winning candidate, and most likely never will.

  29. joe’s upset because we won’t drink the Kool-Aid with him. You just have to believe! Our cynicism is upsetting him, though he should expect it from libertarians, who see this all as a corrupt power grab.

    joe,

    Okay, I figured it was something like that. If I had to guess, I’d say that Obama historically has used Wright for working the black vote. He had been able to do that without much controversy in the past, but this time he got called on it. I’m not sure this sort of issue wouldn’t have been avoided by a more competent campaigner. He’s made some pretty silly goofs (like his statements after the Virginia Tech shootings). I think his best approach would’ve been to have just said, “Yeah, he says some crazy stuff now and again, but he’s usually okay” and to have not officially involved him in anything.

  30. Episiarch,

    You’ve yet to offer any facts or arguments on the issue, and I don’t care about your feelings.

  31. Actually, about 3/4 of practicing Catholics oppose the Church’s position on birth control.

    Fuck you very much, for telling people you’ve never met how they should organize their religious worship.

    zing, ftwz

  32. I think this sums it up. From William Saletan’s “Lessons Learned” from his support for the Iraq War:

    2. Suspicion can become gullibility. I’m all for suspicion, particularly in foreign relations. The world is full of bad people, and bad people are more likely to claw their way to power in other countries than good people are. But past a certain point, suspicion can make you credulous. This is what happened to Dick Cheney. He was so suspicious of Saddam that he bought-and spread-rumors, lies, and exaggerations about Iraqi WMD. Worse, he failed to recognize his credulity, since he thought he was being suspicious. The next time somebody feeds you rumors in the name of vigilance, remember this.

    Reflexive reactions are the opposite of thoughtful questioning. This is true, even when your reflexive reaction is couched as world-weary cynicism. It can be just another reason not to think, or just a front people put on to cover for their own insecurity.

  33. You’ve yet to offer any facts or arguments on the issue, and I don’t care about your feelings.

    Oh no…must cry now. After I finish laughing.

    Facts and arguments? You’re not presenting any, why should I? “Obama shouldn’t be held responsible for anything” is not an argument, d00d.

  34. “Actually, about 3/4 of practicing Catholics oppose the Church’s position on birth control.”

    Joe, is this from a recent and reliable survey?

  35. but Obama gives us HOPE and CHANGE! How can you forget about that! Utopia is within our reach if we only vote for Obama!

    HOPE and CHANGE and higher minimum wage in ’08!

  36. Episiarch,

    You’ve been a fed a heavily-edited 30 second video consisting of 5-10 second clips from three sermons. Along with that, you’ve been fed a line about a politician being bad.

    And you swallowed the whole thing hook line and sinker, because the con men know exactly what button to push to make you accept things uncritically.

  37. Biggest. nonissue. of.all. time.

    Really. I just can’t take people seriously who work themselves into a lather over this. Hell, Wright sounds a lot more entertaining than any pastors I ever saw in New Hampshire Catholic or Congregationalist churches. If I was a pol and had to go to church in order to pretend I was a believer I’d probably pick someone like Wright as well. At least he keeps you awake.

  38. And you swallowed the whole thing hook line and sinker, because the con men know exactly what button to push to make you accept things uncritically.

    Of course, because Obama is dreamy! I see your logic, joe: Obama is perfect and anyone who criticizes him is a con man who is adept at fooling idiots like me. I’m such a fool 🙁

  39. Facts and arguments? You’re not presenting any

    What are you, fucking kidding me? I haven’t been shy over the past week, you might have noticed. I’ve got plenty of record to point to in terms of facts and arguments I’ve laid down.

    That’s how up your own ass you are with your little pose: you can’t even tell when a position is backed with facts and logic vs. being a mere assertion. All you can see is whether someone has taken a position, and you are rendered incapable of even noticing, much less considering and judging, the strength of the facts and logic behind it.

    It’s a nice pose, if you’re 13 and realize the conversation is over your head.

  40. See, this is your problem, Episiarch:

    Everything I’ve written – about the difference between a church and a pastor, about the difference between a pastor’s politics and his religious leadership, about loving the sinner and hating the sin, about the role people’s religious community plays in their life – you can’t even recognize that those arguments are there, much less respond to them.

    All you can see is Of course, because Obama is dreamy!

    That’s why you never have anything useful to add to the discussions: the only political position you are capable of articulating is the pouty faux-wordliness of a teenaged poseur.

  41. But past a certain point, suspicion can make you credulous. This is what happened to Dick Cheney. He was so suspicious of Saddam that he bought-and spread-rumors, lies, and exaggerations about Iraqi WMD. Worse, he failed to recognize his credulity, since he thought he was being suspicious.

    Very insightful words, but you’d actually have to think about them to learn anything.

  42. What are you, fucking kidding me?

    Oh noes, joe thinks his defense of McDreamy is based on logic and not emotion!

    The conversation is totally over my head, joe. I mean, struggling to defend a stupid politician against a stupid, but career-affecting, story is way above my pay grade. It’s totally beyond my capability to endlessly pontificate on why Obama shouldn’t be responsible for his associations while simultaneously arguing that McCain should.

    It’s just so unfortunate I’m not smart enough to join you up there.

  43. If you’re a practicing Catholic and support gay marriage and abortion, you’re in the wrong place.

    What a stupid comment. I’m a practicing Catholic and I don’t have a big problem with gay marriage and I don’t support outlawing abortion. And a lot of Catholics I know feel the same way. For most people church is not about doctrine, it’s about tradition and community. Most American Catholics can’t tell you the first thing about what the Church truly teaches. If you support the death penalty you shouldn’t be a Catholic, if you don’t truly believe that the Pope is completely infallible on matters of doctrine you shouldn’t be Catholic, if you don’t sincerely believe that Christ is “really, truly, and substantially present” in the Eucharist you shouldn’t be Catholic, etc. But I bet a majority, at least, of American Catholics don’t agree with Church teaching on those issues. And most Protestants are just as ignorant, or apathetic, about what thir Church doctine really teaches.

  44. Well, I’m certainly not infinitely skeptical, wallowing in my own solipsistic visions of the world. I can be convinced that a politician or government action is good. But, as for any extraordinary claims, I require extraordinary evidence. It simply doesn’t exist for Obama or any other of the major candidates.

    Distrust of government and politicians is an American virtue, not a vice. If that distrust can be honestly overcome, great, but a few platitudes and nice words aren’t going to do it. Especially when backed by the usual questionable career of a national politician. Bah.

  45. the role may have been a token one

    Oooh, you are so gonna go to Hell for that…

  46. P Brooks,

    Dear Jesus, you’re right! I didn’t mean it that way! Oh, no, my campaign to be the first non-Catholic Pope/American Secretary General of the U.N. is in jeopardy! Damn my loose fingers! Damn them to hellll. . . . .

  47. I love it. Glenn Beck keeps saying: This isn’t guilt by association because Obama is really associated with this guy.

  48. Won’t somebody rid him of this meddlesome priest?

  49. Choosing your church means something. If you’re a practicing Catholic and support gay marriage and abortion, you’re in the wrong place.

    Really? You can be the one to tell my grandparents, then. I don’t think they’ll like to hear that they’re not really Catholic after 35 (extremely active) years with the same church, but truth hurts, I guess.

  50. For most people church is not about doctrine, it’s about tradition and community. Most American Catholics can’t tell you the first thing about what the Church truly teaches.

    I must be missing something; the last time I checked, the Pope is God’s spokesman on earth, and the doctrines of the Church are the received Word of God (or some such thing). I’m pretty sure that God doesn’t qualify for the “crazy uncle” treatment. In fact, it really pisses Him off!

    If you want “community” join a fucking bridge club. Stop kidding yourself.

  51. Okay, look. This is stupid. When somebody says “church doctrine isn’t the most important thing about religion to me,” quoting doctrine at them is not an effective counterargument.

  52. If you’re a practicing Catholic and support gay marriage and abortion, you’re in the wrong place.

    Well, whether this is a view one adheres to depends on one’s notion of what it means to be a congregrant as well as one’s view of the authority of the corporate body in question.

    BTW, is the conciliarist tradition completely moribund in the RCC these days?

  53. It seems from my experience in churches that many, maybe most, congregants are there for social interaction, business contacts and family tradition. I often wonder if this is what the bible refers to as taking the Lord’s name in vain.

  54. The conversation is totally over my head, joe. I mean, struggling to defend a stupid politician against a stupid, but career-affecting, story is way above my pay grade. It’s totally beyond my capability to endlessly pontificate on why Obama shouldn’t be responsible for his associations while simultaneously arguing that McCain should.

    It’s just so unfortunate I’m not smart enough to join you up there.

    Still not arguments? What a shocker.

    You don’t even realize the difference between what you feel, and what you know, so you don’t bother to know or think about anything. And then you pretend THAT makes you sophisticated.

  55. P Brooks,

    Well, throughout history for the majority of people who have been part of a faith group doctrine has been a secondary issue at best (and this becomes a more prominent feature of religious faith as a religion matures).

  56. why aren’t more people talking about the “typical white person” gaffe?

  57. Take, for example, the treatment of his reference to his white grandmother. Of course you can go after him in all the ways that people have gone after him-if what you want to do is go after him. But suppose you approach Obama’s text under the twin assumptions that (a) he is trying to communicate with you, and, (b) your obligation is to make a good-faith effort to understand his meaning. I read what he said about his grandmother, and his words left me in no doubt about two things: He really loves his grandmother, and he was saying something important about race that I recognized from my own experience. I bet many of the people who have slammed him recognize it from their own experience too. The guy was being honest, and he was being right. What the hell more do you want?

    Charles Murray on the Obama speech.

  58. Episiarch – I like how you stir up a hot steamy cup of joe.

  59. Pro Libertate,

    That’s a fine statement, and it’s reasonable to draw the conclusion that you SHOULDN’T believe things said about Obama.

    Where Episiarch goes wrong is to make the mistake that he SHOULD, based on that logic, BELIEVE UNCRITICALLY the charges against Obama, because, as a politician, he must be guilty of whatever gets thrown at him. Ergo, he doesn’t have to consider counter-arguments.

    Yours is a real skepticism, and his is the pose of an insecure child.

  60. … | March 21, 2008, 10:52am | #

    why aren’t more people talking about the “typical white person” gaffe?

    I guess we all look the same. maybe it’s the tall pointy hoody

  61. joe beat me to it. This is the dumbest statement I’ve ever heard. People go to the church where their friends and family go. They go to be part of a community. Most people don’t have a liturgical litmus test.

    Just a slight correction: this is what stupid people do, or perhaps people who don’t really care about their religious choice one way or another.

    But to claim that you can believe whatever you want and still be a Catholic because you show up is silly.

    If I went around calling myself a Communist, I’d be a god-damn idiot.

  62. But to claim that you can believe whatever you want and still be a Catholic because you show up is silly.

    then most american catholics aren’t actually catholic.

    an odd way to view religious participation – but to each their own.

  63. Fluffy,

    But to claim that you can believe whatever you want and still be a Catholic because you show up is silly.

    Well, doesn’t this depend on who gets to define who is and who is not a Catholic? Note that this particular question is about as old as the church is.

  64. then most american catholics aren’t actually catholic.

    This is actually true.

    If I started going to Mass every Sunday, it wouldn’t matter how many times I sat my ass in a pew if in my mind I didn’t accept Catholicism as true.

    an odd way to view religious participation – but to each their own.

    Religion is a matter of belief, not participation.

    You can be in a union by participating, even if you don’t believe in unions. You can be in a marriage just by participating, even if you don’t believe in marriage.

    But you can’t be in a church just by participating if you don’t believe in the teachings of the church. That makes you a voyeur or a fellow traveler, but not an initiate.

  65. As a practicing atheist, I don’t understand how any intelligent politician can cling to any of the “world’s great religions.” But they do, and so do an ungodly number of Americans. I suppose I could make what I regard as irrational views about deities and miracles and the insanities of Leviticus a litmus test for who to support for Leader of the Free World….and I would end up with no choice at all. What I DO know is that Barack Obama is who he says he is, not who his pastor is. And I do know that the speech he gave on race–an actual coherent, nuanced argument, rather than a collection of sound-bites–was something completely different in American politics, a straight-forward critique of liberal racism (like America’s First Black President could have given, had he had the courage.) And I do know that I am tired of the holier-than-thou advice of those who expect Obama to turn his back on an individual with whom he obviously has a complicated personal relationship.

  66. Just a slight correction: this is what stupid people do, or perhaps people who don’t really care about their religious choice one way or another.

    it’s only stupid if 1) said people don’t feel it’s trumpingly important to be with their family, which is a legitimate position held by many, and 2)there are no positives that counterbalance/overpower the negatives.

    full disclosure: i am certifiably godless; i think the idea of a sentient god who cares about us is absurd. but obama’s defense of his religious choices is one of the most moving and convincing I’ve heard.

  67. Fluffy,

    Actually, religion is as much about practice as it is about belief; and in the history of religion the community aspect of religion has always been far more important than doctrine for the vast majority of adherants.

  68. “But to claim that you can believe whatever you want and still be a Catholic because you show up is silly.”

    Silly but true.

  69. Where Episiarch goes wrong is to make the mistake that he SHOULD, based on that logic, BELIEVE UNCRITICALLY the charges against Obama, because, as a politician, he must be guilty of whatever gets thrown at him. Ergo, he doesn’t have to consider counter-arguments.

    Oh joe, you are so involved in your pathetic little soap opera that you can’t even understand that some of us just don’t give a shit. So sad.

  70. But to claim that you can believe whatever you want and still be a Catholic because you show up is silly.

    An atheistic Amen to Fluffy. The kvetching of religionistas who want to have their cake and eat it, too is hilarious. Catholics, your leadership has said “no” to birth control and gay marriage…just man the fuck up and leave the Church already.

    As for this “I go there for the community” junk, well, how hypocritical and shallow can you be? There are plenty of communities with fun, interesting people you could join that don’t require you subscribe to a whole host of patently stupid notions.

    Go work at a homeless shelter or take a cooking class, if you want community. But if you don’t believe in Catholic tenets, you shouldn’t be Catholic.

  71. I do know that I am tired of the holier-than-thou advice of those who expect Obama to turn his back on an individual with whom he obviously has a complicated personal relationship.

    Frankly, I’m tired of the Cult of Obama telling me I can’t criticize him for being such a psychological chump that he can’t tell a certifiable idiot to get away from him.

    If he’s not stupid then he’s co-depedent.

  72. I think there’s a difference between attending a Catholic church and a Protestant church. Under Catholic doctrine, if you separate yourself from the sacraments, you cut yourself off from grace and foreclose upon your avenues to redemption. Protestants believe that redemption is a personal affair (hence their talk about a personal relationship with the Savior). Faithful Protestants are free to choose their church with no peril to their soul, faithful Catholics who disagree with any doctrine of the faith still have to attend Mass regularly or cut themselves off from any chance at grace.

    Be that as it may, joe has a good point about attending a church despite disagreeing/ disbelieving some tennants. Erasmus once commented that he would not join the Reformation because he would rather repair his house than burn it down and build a new one.

    None of this gets to why Obama attended the church for years, brought his kids there, donated over $20K in one year, but never once confronted his pastor’s “distorted view” until he was called out on it. Obama had more freedom to change his church membership, and was presumably good enough friends with this guy to confront the issues.

    If people didn’t like Bush for failing to confront Brownie over his incompetence, how will Obama be any better?

  73. “Religion is a matter of belief, not participation.”

    Tell that to the Jews, Catholics, most protestants and Muslims.

  74. In stature noble, and in mind discrete? Yes, that’s me ?

    I suppose I tend to believe negative statements about politicians a little easier than positive, but that’s hardly an absolute. I imagine that Episiarch probably isn’t buying everything negative he hears about Obama, either, having a healthy skepticism of, at least, the motives of those pushing such claims. The Wright association, though, does have some true negatives. I think the issue really is–barring any new information–the weight to give those negatives.

    Do I think it hurts Obama? Some. Do I think he should fall for the association? No. I honestly don’t think he’s aligned with Wright. I cynically assume that the association had more to do with political expediency than anything else. Obama does have a narrower tightrope to walk on race issues going forward; it’ll be interesting to see what challenges Clinton and the GOP throw in front of him. I still think he’s in jeopardy for the remainder of the primary if Clinton forces him to address divisive issues like, say, reparations.

  75. it’s only stupid if 1) said people don’t feel it’s trumpingly important to be with their family, which is a legitimate position held by many, and 2)there are no positives that counterbalance/overpower the negatives.

    Well, if you’re going because you want to be with your family and you don’t really care about the doctrines, this would put you in the category of “people who don’t really care about their religious choice one way or the other”.

    Well, doesn’t this depend on who gets to define who is and who is not a Catholic? Note that this particular question is about as old as the church is.

    That question was settled at the Council of Nycaea.

    And maybe the answer to that question was dead wrong in “God’s” eyes, and the “real” one “true Church” would be a different one with different doctrines. But once you go out and pick different doctrines, that means you are no longer a Catholic but are instead a member of “the really, truly much more awesome reformed Church”.

  76. Abdul,

    Good point about Erasmus.

  77. Ayn_randian: I’m as atheist as they come, but your take on why people go to church is absurd.

    More importantly, it is unclear why people should leave an institution in which they’ve invested substantial time and money, just because they disagree on some issues with the leadership. Do you realize how stupid that sounds?

  78. Fluffy,

    That question was settled at the Council of Nycaea.

    Yet not everyone agrees with that and the question continues to be asked. Honestly, you are straying into circular reasoning here as best as I can tell.

  79. Actually, religion is as much about practice as it is about belief; and in the history of religion the community aspect of religion has always been far more important than doctrine for the vast majority of adherants.

    This has been true when social conditions [such as illiteracy] made it unlikely that a Church member would even form an opinion about doctrine.

    But even then, if you stopped chewing your cud long enough to active form an opinion about doctrine which deviated from what was acceptable, you placed yourself outside the body of the Church.

    Tell that to the Jews, Catholics, most protestants and Muslims.

    Judaism is replete with doctrinal disputes about who is and who is not a Jew. If doctrine isn’t important to Judaism, why are there different sects?

    And the entire reason there are thousands of Protestant sects is because of disputes over doctrine. If doctrine does not control, why isn’t there just one big Protestant church?

    And one becomes a Muslim by making a statement of belief. One becomes an apostate if one renounces that statement of belief. There’s lots of “lab” in Islam, but it would be hard to come up with a case where belief was more the controlling factor. If I convert to Islam, go through all of the “participation”, but then stand up and say, “You know what? I no longer believe that Allah is the only God, and I no longer think Muhammad was a prophet” I am an apostate, and no participation can change that.

  80. I’m a practicing Catholic and I don’t have a big problem with gay marriage and I don’t support outlawing abortion. And a lot of Catholics I know feel the same way.

    I believe what makes one a member of the Catholic Church is baptism and confirmation. Thus anyone who was baptized and believes that abortion is okay can still rightfully claim to be a Catholic. However those people are deluding themselves if they believe that skipping confession and penance, taking communion when not in a state of grace, and ignoring the Ten Commandments will not negatively impact their afterlife. If you are ignoring the teachings of the Church you can’t really call yourself a “practicing” Catholic.

  81. Do you realize how stupid that sounds?

    No, I don’t. It’s obvious that this atheist thinks that you should choose your worldview and your entire lifecode with more seriousness than you would, say, a country club.

    Furthermore, I don’t think I have to take people seriously who say “yeah, well, I don’t agree with the major temporal issues of the Church, but hey, my friends go there and we got new carillon bells this year…oh yeah, and this crazy priest, my supposed spirtual adviser and leader? Yeah, I don’t think much of his thoughts either, but I’ll let him lead me.”

  82. Lamar,

    As far as I can tell most religious adherants (no matter what the religion is) are not terribly familiar with the ends and outs of their various beliefs, yet I wouldn’t say that they are not adherants of the religions that they identify. The religious impulse in humanity isn’t really explained by doctrine and doctrine doesn’t seem to be the foundation of religion for most religious people.

  83. I just received this chain e-mail from a cousin on the honky/baptist side of my family tree. She is a real babe, but not so bright upstairs:

    Remember–God is good, and is in time, on time–every time.
    According to The Book of Revelations the anti-christ is:
    The anti-christ will be a man, in his 40s, of MUSLIM descent, who will deceive the nations with persuasive language, and have a MASSIVE Christ-like appeal….the prophecy says that people will flock to him and he will promise false hope and world peace, and when he is in power, will destroy everything. Is it OBAMA??

    I STRONGLY URGE each one of you to repost this as many times as you can! Each opportunity that you have to send it to a friend or media outlet…do it!

    If you think I am crazy..Im sorry but I refuse to take a chance on the “unknown” candidate

    The irony here is our late grandmother is infamous for propping her preacher up against a wall Darth Vader style (she was a pretty scary woman) and nearly choking him to death in 1960 when he came by her house to inform her not to vote for JFK because he was an agent of the pope.

  84. Well, if you’re going because you want to be with your family and you don’t really care about the doctrines, this would put you in the category of “people who don’t really care about their religious choice one way or the other”.

    for smart people like obama, accepting doctrines is never a black and white issue, no pun intended. in his case, some things repel him, and if we’re to take him at his word, more things attract him. there’s a crucial distinction between a) swallowing your misgivings and going because deep down you don’t give a shit and b) doing a cost-benefit analysis in your head and deciding that the positives overwhelm the negatives.

  85. Fluffy,

    Well, we’ll just to agree to disagree on this matter I suppose.

  86. Fluffy: I didn’t say doctrine was unimportant. I’m just saying that it is naive to say that ethnicity, community, and even administrative law aren’t substantial parts of the religious heritage.

    Being an atheist, I have a hard time understanding how anybody can truly believe that Jesus zapped the world into existence. My biases lead me to assume that people go to church solely for the community aspect.

  87. In the big scheme, how important is this? Meh.

    But Obama really set himself up for the beating he is getting on this. His appeal was largely based on a mixture of being the “post-racial President” and being a “new kind of politician”.

    Its hard to claim to be post-racial when the man you claim as one of your mentors and political advisors (to the point of inspiring the title of your book) is pretty much a racialist nut.

    Its hard to claim to be a new kind of politican when the most benign explanation for your 20 year association with him is that membership in his church was essential to getting you the street cred with the black community you needed to get your political career off the ground.

    He’s learning that when you put yourself on a pedestal, its easy to get knocked off.

  88. Yet not everyone agrees with that and the question continues to be asked. Honestly, you are straying into circular reasoning here as best as I can tell.

    Well, no.

    It’s only appears to be circular reasoning if you want to insist [as some do, for whatever reason] that the beliefs of these associations cannot be discretely identified.

    I suppose if you are starting a new association with no existing framework of belief, then the content of that association is determined from the bottom up – everyone who joins contributes to the conversation about what that framework will be.

    But in the case of the existing Christian sects, there are pre-existing doctrines that are already in place. If you accept those doctrines, you are part of the association; if you don’t, you aren’t.

    If this isn’t true, then these religions carry no content at all, and are nothing more than names, empty vessels that can be filled with any meaning anyone wants at any particular moment in time. And that basically makes a whole lot of proper nouns effectively useless and worthless.

    I think it’s going a bit far to invalidate the doctrines of all religions everywhere just because some people want to make their parents happy and join the Catholic Church even though they disagree with virtually everything it has to say.

  89. Lamar,

    Well, it brings up important questions of where the religious impulse comes from and I doubt that it comes from doctrine.

  90. Fluffy,

    It’s only appears to be circular reasoning if you want to insist [as some do, for whatever reason] that the beliefs of these associations cannot be discretely identified.

    I’m not suggesting that what some think to be the doctrines, etc. of a religious body cannot be discretely identified; I am suggesting that the for the vast majority of adherants of any particular religious body (generally speaking) that they just aren’t the meat of religious belief. Make of that what you will.

  91. Awwww…joe’s having a bannder day here…I don’t even feel like commenting other to say that that whole projection thing might be a goldmine of self improvement for joe.

    On Catholics, there’s a big difference. Obama chose to go to a racist church (“Unabashedly black”), fine, but there appears to be some societal excusabilty for that that a politico that chose to go to an “Unabashedly white” church would not get. Other than being racist, I don’t know what the specific belief system of the church is, but it doesn’t appear to be widespread.

    Catholocism, on the other hand, has a belief system embodied in the catechism which says “We believe this, if you’re with us, you’re to believe this…you don’t have to be with us, but if you are, here it is”. People that choose to continue to identify themselves as “Catholic” when they don’t particularly ascribe to that belief system are at least being dishonest with themselves. While there are some priests who will refuse people at the alter, I believe the current church doctrine after Vatican 2 was that anyone that shows up shall be given communion and god will sort it all out. Not sure on that, though.

    For record purposes, I don’t go to church and tend to be more taoist in my approach to the world than anything.

  92. “Well, it brings up important questions of where the religious impulse comes from and I doubt that it comes from doctrine.”

    Well said. I don’t really know where it comes from, but I know enough about history to know that religious doctrine isn’t what drew people to church for the last 2000 years. Perhaps that started to change in the reformation, and has accelerated today. People who shop for churches based on doctrine are probably still in the minority.

    I highly doubt that every single person in a mega-church believes 100% the same thing as the preacher. They go to the mega-church for the “mega” part, not the “church” part.

  93. Lamar,

    Well, to flesh out this point a little more, doctrine seems to be the capstone for most people when it comes to their religious belief (or disbelief for that matter).

  94. All this yapping has persuaded me to duck out of the office and head to the noontime Good Friday service at the church next door. My soul thanks you all.

  95. Citizen,
    say howdy for me please.

  96. I’ve read often on this board that libertarians tend to be folks who base their decisions/associations/politics on adherence to basic principles such as the noninitiation of force. I’ve also read that this is unusual among the general populace. So maybe it’s not so surprising that libertarians have difficulty accepting that anyone can “belong” to a group they don’t actually “believe in”.

    snarkily – Just because YOUR club requires adherence to doctrine, doesn’t mean mine has to.

  97. Just curious. Is Hillary Clinton a member of any congregation? She doesn’t seem to be.

  98. All that Heaven and Hell stuff is purported to be more significant than a preference for “chunky” over “creamy.”

    As for the Barack and the Preacher Man story, I will say this: I am less offended or disturbed than I would be if I looked at Google news and saw three thousand stories on, “Jesse Jackson Obama’s Newest Advisor.”

  99. Still?

    Race relations will never improve as long as we keep talking about race.

    I’m not going to clutch my pearls and fan away the vapors with my hankie over some pissed off black man’s Sunday morning, anti-whitey pulpit rants. He has every right to be pissed off (the paranoia is a little much, however).

    If true, that would make him the most na?ve candidate ever or the most willfully ignorant.

    Barack’s association with that church doesn’t bother me either. I believe it was purely political, but yeah, it was god damn stupid of him. I read Oprah left that church years ago because of Wright’s rhetoric. How did Obama fail to realize this would come back to bite his fine ass?

    Alas. Had they listened to John Brown those many years ago we would not be in this mess. Miscegenation was the only way to go. Why, just look at Larry and Loretta! Larry David and the Blacks are the happiest, most delightful family in the country.

    Seriously though, I’m not voting against Obama because he’s black, or because he attended that crazy church that hates me, or because Wright is the angry, paranoid, crazy uncle he refuses to disown.

    I’m voting against him because he’s a fucking socialist.

  100. Adherence to doctrine is supposed to be a mainstay and a requirement to belong to a particular church or denomination. Religion is supposed to be more important than the country club membership or politics. That doctrinal belief and adherence is what defines our denominational choice.
    Spiritual belief, if one chooses to have such, should be more important than anything else in our lives. If I am willing to compromise that in order to please my family, or for growth in my business, or for political gain than I compromise my very soul. Nothing should come before God.

  101. sez who?

  102. “That doctrinal belief and adherence is what defines our denominational choice.”

    Or, most people are born into their religion.

  103. Lamar,

    Well, since I guess the 1960s the strength of that particular factor has apparently weakened considerably (at least in the “West”).

  104. Or, most people are born into their religion.

    Which doesn’t really explain why I’m supposed to give Sen. Socialist McEmptySuit a pass. He chose the church, chose not to walk away and is too much of a codependent twit to tell the loony tune to “Please vacate the premises.” If the only way he deals with the crazies is to venerate them, I don’t want him governing.

  105. Is Hillary Clinton a member of any congregation? She doesn’t seem to be.

    Au contraire. She is the High Priestess of Hillary the All-Knowing Savior. Bow down to Hillary!

  106. Ayn_Randian: I can see you’re upset by this. Frankly, you lose me at the point you say, “this isn’t what Obama says, but there’s this other guy who’s crazy…..”

    I doubt Obama is ready to lead for a number of reasons. Sitting in a church while a pastor rants and rambles on isn’t one of them.

  107. I’m not voting for him ’cause he’s–and I quote–“a fuckin’ socialist”. As is his current opponent who I am also not voting for. These other issues are just side dishes to the entr?e I am not ordering.

  108. brotherben,
    J.C. and the boys send their regards.

  109. Flulffy,

    If I went around calling myself a Communist, I’d be a god-damn idiot.

    If you attended the local party meetings every week, marched in the rallies, read your Marx, tried to win converts, but disagreed with the party chiefs about whether factories should be owned by local workers councils vs. the national government, you’d still be a communist. You’d just be an unorthodox one.

    Now, if you believed that the role of the state was to defend private property, and that Marx was an idiot, you wouldn’t be a communist.

    So the question is, is believing that the proper role of government in a liberal democratic republic is a limited one, which does not extend into a person’s womb, is that more like not believing Jesus is the Son of God, or more like not believing that the church’s roof should be redone with asphalt shingles instead of a rubber membrane?

    Since it has nothing to do with theology or personal morality, I’d say the latter.

  110. Citizen,

    LOL thanks

  111. Randian, Fluffy, since neither of you go to church or believe in a religion, is is possible that you just don’t understand the inner lives of those that do?

  112. brotherben, maybe you are right. Maybe everyone SHOULD only attend churches when they are 100% on board with every single statement of doctrine promulgated by the clergy. Maybe Galileo should have stopped going to mass.

    But as this thread pretty effectively demonstrates, most people don’t agree with you. Most people feel that there’s a little more wiggle room, room for their own conscience. (What’s that you say? A conscience informed by study and prayer? Sounds familiar.)

    So, for that reason, I find it entirely plausible that Obama a) doesn’t actually subscribe to every one of the beliefs of Rev. Wright, and b) stayed in that church because he got a great deal out of it anyway.

  113. Agreed Joe.
    My personal beliefs would require that Obama or anyone else for that matter would leave such a situation.
    One of the more interesting things to me in all this is seeing people being critical of Obama for not leaving that are guilty of similar behaviours. A good example is Hannity being publicly christian and pro-life but willing to support pro-choice candidates because they don’t scare him like Hillary.

    But it is always easier to tell omeone how to live than to show them how to live.

  114. “someone” even

  115. So maybe it’s not so surprising that libertarians have difficulty accepting that anyone can “belong” to a group they don’t actually “believe in”.

    Putting aside the snarkiness for a minute, my point was that I don’t believe that Obama’s church has something that says “this is what we stand for, and you must pledge allegiance to our stuff to call yourself a member of the church”.

    However, Catholic doctorine does exactly that, it says if you’re not in full communion with the church, meaning, you ascribe to the promulgated beliefs, you can observe the mass but not participate. The fact that a number of people ignore that doesn’t change that the doctrine is that you cannot call yourself a “Catholic” without agreeing to the belief system.

    There is a lot that gets confused with catholocism also, a lot is just practice but is not “official”, for example the rosary. The rosary is good to do, but is not mandatory. It’s only the “official” stuff which counts in terms of being in communion, but a lot of what people have in their head as “Catholic” is the non official stuff.

    To restate: The Catholic Church itself, being a single institution with a heirarchy (including Roman Catholic, Eastern Rite, etc, all those that swear allegiance to the pope), proclaims a set of beliefs that THEY say you must believe in to be a Catholic. To call yourself a Catholic while not holding those beliefs would be akin to joe calling himself a well reasoned, logical, caucasion loving guy. It’s ridiculous, no matter what volume you scream it.

    A lot of people do ignore what their own church says, and joe is still here still hating himself and projecting it on us. The world ain’t perfect, but it still doesn’t make it “right” and logically supportable.

  116. Joe, the question is: does God see abortion as murder. If we are seeking the guidance of a particular group in spiritual matters for the salvation of our eternal soul, I find it hard to disagree with them based upon a secular decision on the proper structure of government.
    I must abide by the law of the land allowing for abortion but that doesn’t change the sinfullnes of the act. If I were to disagree with what I see as a basic foundational principal of my religion based upon secular law, then I would be forced to question my faith.

  117. If I were to disagree with what I see as a basic foundational principal of my religion based upon secular law, then I would be forced to question my faith.

    No, you’re confusing “faith” with religious doctorine. One is what you believe. One is what you sign up for. What you would question is your judgement in calling yourself an “X”, whether that be Baptist, Catholic, Jew, whatever, when you don’t believe that religion. You’d be right to question yourself, and if you find it irreconcilable, you’d be right to leave.

    If you didn’t, you’d be hypocritical at least, but most definitely it wouldn’t be an issue of “faith” as an issue of religion. They are very very different.

  118. Just wondering, Were any of the defenders of Obama here part of the lynch mob that went after Ron Paul for these similar associations?

  119. Randian, Fluffy, since neither of you go to church or believe in a religion, is is possible that you just don’t understand the inner lives of those that do?

    WTF, joe? You’re giving me the “It’s a woman religious thang; you wouldn’t understand?”

    Does that come in a T-Shirt?

    Also, joe, if you don’t think there isn’t a lot of fire and vinegar involved in “Who and who is not an Objectivist, Randian, Neo-Objectivist, et. al.”, you’re sorely mistaken.

    Finally, I haven’t always been atheist.

    is that more like not believing Jesus is the Son of God, or more like not believing that the church’s roof should be redone with asphalt shingles instead of a rubber membrane?

    Wow, joe, what a snooty denigration of the Pope’s worldview on the subject. “Excuse me, Your Holiness, but I believe that your ardent pro-life stance is akin to decorating ideas!”

    Like Fluffy said before, you’re attempting to void the definition of “Catholic” because you don’t like all that it entails.

  120. Other Matt,
    if i’m seeking navigation for my eternal soul, it would seem of utmost importance to find a churh where the religion is based on the same tenets as my faith. If my church’s doctrine varies from my faithful beliefs, it is the wrong church. If my faith allows me to ignore or repudiate doctrine because of political beliefs, than my faith is weak.

  121. That being said, I would have to question Obama’s willingness to seek spiritual guidance that affects the condition of his soul from a man whose life views he has serious reservations with.
    Any time religion is used as a political tool, it backfires. I give you, George W. Bush, a religious poltical tool

  122. If you’re seeking navigation for your eternal soul, why would you storm out based on the pastor’s politics? Wouldn’t you overlook his political idiocies if it meant you were prepared for glory?

  123. Lamar,
    The short answer is his political idiocies have no place in the pulpit. If he is that much of a dumbass about the easy things, how can he possibly understand the difficult.?

  124. Anyway, it is pretty clear that for most people the lived religious experience has has far less to do with doctrine than other matters and that those religious people who do focus on doctrine are a minority of adherants. Some people may view this as hypocritical but I just think it is an important aspect of the general sociology and psychology of religion.

  125. Who here wants consistency between the President and the words coming out of the pulpit?

    By the test suggested the only person able to run would be an atheist, which doesn’t appear likely in the US.

  126. Calidore, I agree with your assessment of peoples adherence to doctrine. Not so much with that being important. I think it more a harm than a good.

    deron,
    an athiest president is fine by me. IMHO a christian has more important things to do.

  127. By the test suggested the only person able to run would be an atheist, which doesn’t appear likely in the US.

    No one said anything about a test. Most of us are just (slightly) concerned that a nice guy didn’t have the testicular fortitude to cut a lunatic out of his life. And, to add to it, called him a spiritual and social influence.

    Jeepers.

  128. If my church’s doctrine varies from my faithful beliefs, it is the wrong church. If my faith allows me to ignore or repudiate doctrine because of political beliefs, than my faith is weak.

    True. So, what you’d question is not your faith, but the church, and you’d leave.

  129. I have no issue with an athiest either, but American’s seem very inclined towards religious babble with little religious action. Given the wide range of what can be called faith, I take comfort in this inconsistency.

    It’s as if we’ve all read “The Prince” and come to the doctrinal conclusion that not only was Machiavelli correct, but that his descriptions must remain immutable with regards to the ruler and faith.

  130. Most of us are just (slightly) concerned that a nice guy didn’t have the testicular fortitude to cut a lunatic out of his life.

    Come on, dude – a lunatic?

    The guy has non-mainstream political opinions, but the only “crazy” [as opposed to “extreme”] thing I’ve heard is the “AIDS was invented by the government” thing. And the Tuskegee experiment really makes it hard for me to describe someone who thinks that as insane.

    I would think that someone who calls themselves “Ayn Randian” would tread lightly about calling people lunatics based on their political opinions.

    Absolutely nothing Wright had to say is remotely as crazy as believing that angels intervene in human affairs, or that Jesus will help you win a high school football game – but if this preacher talked about angels or prayed on the sidelines of a game, no one would blink an eye.

  131. Doesn’t this support the theory that Reagan was a fuckin’ genius? He wasn’t a member of any church, still got the religious right to drool at the mention of his name, and avoided the slings and arrows that plague a candidate of any religious denomination.

    Kerry caught it for being a pro-choice Catholic. Romney caught it for being a Mormon. That ignorant hillbilly whackjob preacher got it for being an ignorant hillbilly whackjob preacher.

    Reagan finessed the whole superstition relgion thing. Pure political genius.

  132. I think things are a bit different now than in reagan’s time. The moral majority developed into christian supremacy and the contract on america.Those that didn’t subscribe to it developed a much keener sense of whack job detection.

  133. It is much easier now to convince people that different is scary and wrong. Not everyone is as open minded as me ya know?

  134. I can honestly say that the Rev. Wright thing hasn’t made me any less likely to vote for Sen. Obama.

  135. It is much easier now to convince people that different is scary and wrong. Not everyone is as open minded as me ya know?

    I am extremely open minded as well. Those that aren’t should be rounded up, imprisoned and re-educated.

  136. J sub D, as long as they are re-educated to see things my way, I am good with that.

  137. Come on, dude – a lunatic?

    You have to remember, Fluff, Other Matt has race issues. We’re talking about somebody who uses the “you hate white people” charge against people who are too anti-racist for his taste. This is somebody way out on the fringe.

    Reverend Wright scares the holy fertilizer out of him.

  138. Fluffy – what should I call someone who is a mix of ridiculous religious fervor and paranoia? A wild-eyed sane man or something?

    Reverend Wright should be holding a cardboard sign on the street corner, not hustling fear, loathing and mythology to Chicago’s poor.

    Fuck him.

  139. You have seen 28 seconds of video, Randian.

    Don’t be a dupe your whole life. The sermons are available on You Tube.

    You’ve been lied to.

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