On the Showdown at Saddleback

|

For the purpose of promoting debate at H&R, allow me to crib a post from Andrew Sullivan, who provides an excerpt from conservative columnist Kathleen Parker's latest. I know nothing of Parker, but hers strikes me as a eminently brave (and sensible) position to take over at Townhall.com. Indeed, the site's readers have rated the column a measly two stars out of possible five. So here she is asking what seems to be a fairly obvious question regarding the Showdown at Saddleback:

"At the risk of heresy, let it be said that setting up the two presidential candidates for religious interrogation by an evangelical minister—no matter how beloved—is supremely wrong. It is also un-American.

For the past several days, since mega-pastor Rick Warren interviewed Barack Obama and John McCain at his Saddleback Church, most political debate has focused on who won… The winner, of course, was Warren, who has managed to position himself as political arbiter in a nation founded on the separation of church and state. The loser was America…

His format and questions were interesting and the answers more revealing than the usual debate menu provides. But does it not seem just a little bit odd to have McCain and Obama chatting individually with a preacher in a public forum about their positions on evil and their relationship with Jesus Christ?"

Why yes, it does.

Advertisement

NEXT: Rudy Can't Fail

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

  1. That got posted on Townhall? I can’t imagine what the comments section is like.

  2. Separation of Church and State? But . . . but . . . America was founded on Judeo-Christion values!

  3. His format and questions were interesting and the answers more revealing than the usual debate menu provides.

    That’s precisely the thing. If the MSM debate moderators weren’t such useless tools, there would be no demand for this sort of “debate”. Heck, my S.O. and I are both hellbound Atheists, and we both thought the questions by-and-large were better than anything you’d see on prime-time. Not to mention that the candidates were given time to actually give full and thoughtful answers.

  4. How is it wrong or un-American for candidates to voluntarily choose to be questioned by someone who I assume is a registered American voter?

  5. robc —

    Warren wasn’t acting in his capacity as “an American voter”. He was acting in his capacity as “Christian Kingmaker”. Surely you can tell the difference, no?

  6. I would like to agitate against this whole asking politicians questions unless there is some sort of religious test of the questioner.

    People shouldn’t just be able to ask questions of politicians or to petition the government for redress of grievances and if you allow them to freely assemble they will likely end up in a church somewhere saying things or distributing flyers that would be better off monitored.

    Doesn’t the First Amendment say something about respecting an establishment of religion?

    WHY DO PEOPLE IGNORE THE FIRST AMENDMENT???

  7. I’m an atheist — and a pretty strident ‘Wall of Seperation’ defender, and I don’t see anything wrong with it.

    There’s lots of religious Americans, and they have an interest in knowing what the candidate thinks about issues important to them.

    Now, promises of political action based on completely non-secular concerns — that’s different.

  8. Jaybird, could you try again, please, using actual English sentences?

  9. Jaybird, could you try again, please, using actual English sentences?

    Yeah, my parser melted too.

  10. The League of Women Voters held MUCH better debates than the CPD, or so I heard from many people. I agree the CPD debates suck.

  11. The fact that some people preface their pro-free-speech comments with some variation of “I am an atheist but . . .” shows how easy it is to put folks on the defensive, on a libertarian forum, when the subject concerns the freedoms of religious believers.

    Obviously, it’s “un-American” for a popular Christian writer and speaker to sponsor a political debate. Leave that sort of thing to the “nonpartisan” folks at the Commission on Presidential Debates, or the League of (some) Women Voters.

  12. I don’t see anything unamerican about this.

  13. Having a “mega-pastor” pose questions to candidates has nothing to do with the government establishing a religion.

  14. i>But does it not seem just a little bit odd to have McCain and Obama chatting individually with a preacher in a public forum about their positions on evil and their relationship with Jesus Christ?

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought so. I’ve never found either candidate more repellent.

    Call me a prudish Canadian, but there was something really creepy about hearing them pontificate about their (very private) religious beliefs. Almost like hearing about their sex lives. Waaay TMI, and not relevant to their professional qualifications.

    Not to mention extremely alienating for those who don’t share their beliefs.

  15. *The first part should have been italicized, obviously. Attempting to type AND eat lunch is proving difficult.

  16. I don’t see any philisophical difference between John Stewart interviewing the candidates and Rick Warren doing the same. In both cases you have people who regularly talk in front of a large audience asking the candidates questions in front of that audience. Parker brought up a quote from Jefferson:

    “It does me no injury for my neighbor to say that there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

    From that perspective, both a Warren and a Stewart interview would be better than an interview on NPR.

  17. I actually congratulate Rick Warren on being a good capitalist. The whole debate was one big infomercial for his church. Nothing un-American about that!

  18. I’m pretty sure Jaybird was taking the piss, but I’m not really sure what was going on there.

  19. What’s scary is how many evangelicals there are that the pols would consider this a useful exercise to go through rather than the content of the interview. They only told people some likely combination of the truth and what they wanted to hear. The scary part is what people want to hear.

  20. I’d say the un-American act was done by 2 the presidential candidates. WTF are presidential candidates doing showing up at a religious-based debate?

    (I know, pandering – an American activity if there ever was one.)

  21. Holy Christ Dagny!

    Christianity is not a “private religious belief”. They are supposed to talk about it as a basic tenet.Christians aren’t mildly annoying just because they want to be. The Faith requires it.

  22. The fact that some people preface their pro-free-speech comments with some variation of “I am an atheist but . . .” shows how easy it is to put folks on the defensive, on a libertarian forum, when the subject concerns the freedoms of religious believers.

    It’s not hedging or defensiveness, Max. Just stating our biases out in the open.

    Dagny hit it right on; for people who are not Christian, this served to make them feel pretty unwelcome in our political arena. As an Atheist, I’d be shit out of luck running for office pretty much anywhere in America, belonging as I do to the only major group that still polls majority negative opinion from the electorate.

    But, some of the issues questions that intersect morality with policy (abortion, capital punishment, judicial outlook, environmentalism, poverty), Rick managed to get out punchier questions than the average MSM hack-meister. And for that, he should be lauded for doing a service after a fashion.

    For what it’s worth, the picture of the Obama-Warren-McCain group hug sent shivers down my spine.

    There’s nothing inherently wrong with Warren offering the forum, and nothing wrong with the candidates accepting the invitation. But let’s not make it what it wasn’t (questions of an inquisitive/disinterested observer) and call it what it is (I’m Rick Warren of the “not-quite-as-douchey-as-the-other-guys Billy Graham” School of Evangelical Pastorship crowning a Christ-Approved candidate for your approval).

  23. You’re not as annoying as Mormons,SIV.

    This is why I always liked Jews the best of any religion. No Jew ever knocked on my door wearing a suit wanting to tell me about the Torah.

  24. This was a good thing, as it shows everyone:

    1. What both candidates are willing to do for votes
    2. That they both did the same thing (surprise, surprise)
    3. What exactly they are pandering to

    As for having a discussion with a pastor, last I heard there was freedom of religion in this country. I hate religion as much or more than many of you, but my opinion about religion counts for Jack and Shit, and Jack left town, because people have the right to believe in whatever they want.

  25. Christianity is not a “private religious belief”. They are supposed to talk about it as a basic tenet.Christians aren’t mildly annoying just because they want to be. The Faith requires it.

    SIV,

    Various religions may require lots of things that I find creepy. Nowhere did I state that they shouldn’t be free to engage in such activities.

    A side note: in my corner of Corporate America, most people seem to get through the day just fine without talking about their religion. I get that running for public office is different, and I get that the candidates are only giving the people what they want.

    *However* I find personal divulgences about one’s “walk with God” very off-putting and somewhat unprofessional.

  26. I’m Rick Warren of the “not-quite-as-douchey-as-the-other-guys Billy Graham” School of Evangelical Pastorship crowning a Christ-Approved candidate for your approval).

    I thought Warren tried to present as fair a format as he could (hence the “cone of silence” thing) so that he couldn’t be seen as endorsing one or the other.

  27. I think what Dagny T. was trying to hit on was that it gives the impression you need Church approval for office. Popes and kings never got along for this same reason.

  28. As a Christian, and one who occasionally strays across into fundamentalism, I have to agree with Michael, this smells. The real heresy is the belief that Christians are somehow better than non-Christians. They don’t make better citizens and they especially don’t make better politicians.

    The most devout Christian president we’ve had in the past 50 years was not Bush, not Reagan, but… Carter. Not exactly within the traditional boundaries of the religious right.

  29. I also don’t care if they want to talk about their beliefs. What gets my goat is when the dominant majority in this country constantly bitches about being oppressed.

    Not being able to force me with the law to bow to your bullshit morals is NOT A FORM OF OPPRESSION.

  30. Popes and kings never got along for this same reason.

    Will no one rid me of this meddlesome pastor?

  31. lmnop,

    As far as I know, the “christian kingmaker” position grants you the same number of votes as “registered voter”.

    I see know difference at all. Yes, he is influential to some people, but lots of people have influence.

  32. Epi,

    Just comfort yourself with the realization that Pascal’s Wager is a sucker’s bet.

  33. setting up the two presidential candidates for religious interrogation by an evangelical minister — no matter how beloved — is supremely wrong

    That’s what I thought…until I watched it. There was no more talk of religion at this event than what is volunteered freely ad nauseam in typical debate formats. I thought it provided by far the best insight into the candidates’ minds than anything preceding it.

  34. You’re not as annoying as Mormons,SIV.

    I’m not a Christian.Mormons are amusing in that the events of their Faith are either not shrouded in antiquity (Joseph Smith) or entirely absent from the archaeological record (The Book of Mormon).Christians don’t have that problem.Scientologists have it worse.

  35. For those who object to the forum, is it any worse than if the Candidates went on Oprah?

  36. SugarFree,

    What gets my goat is when the dominant majority in this country constantly bitches about being oppressed.

    According to the unconstitutional* information the census bureau collects, 47.4% of Americans in 2000 were “Christian Adherents”. Considering the number for Utah was 74.3%, I think they are counting things in christianity that I wouldnt count, so the number is actually less.

    What majority?

  37. Just comfort yourself with the realization that Pascal’s Wager is a sucker’s bet.

    Just like the lottery!

  38. What is wrong with a large voting bloc getting to ask questions? What’s next not allowing the AARP to host a townhall? Or not pandering on MTV to the ‘youth vote’? Face it you live in a Christian country and until that changes Christians will be pandered to as the large voting bloc they are.

  39. Episiarch | August 20, 2008, 3:50pm | #
    Just comfort yourself with the realization that Pascal’s Wager is a sucker’s bet.

    Just like the lottery!

    Hey, somebody has got to win.

  40. Hey, somebody has got to win.

    Nope. Everyone can fail to hit the number sequence again and again. That’s how you get the super jackpots. Then so many people play that the odds that somebody will win get higher. But nobody has to win.

    Just like Pascal’s Wager.

  41. robc,

    Then I will fall back to the dominant political majority position.

    Although, what’s up with the other 53%? Do Jews, Muslims, Wiccans, Scientology and atheists really make up 53% of the country? My bullshit-o-meter is tingling.

  42. This is where I am expected to go into the atheist rant about superstitious boobs. I won’t today. Instaed I’ll ask an honest question to the theists here, many of whom I respect. Do you actually give a crap about a candidate’s relationship with Christ? Do you actually believe candidates tell the truth when discussing their personal religious views/beliefs.

    Why or why not?

  43. Dagny hit it right on; for people who are not Christian, this served to make them feel pretty unwelcome in our political arena.

    So as a white person, I should feel unwelcome when candidates attend a debate sponsored by NAACP or Univision.

  44. Tulpa,

    When McBama sits down with the Orange County Atheist Coalition (OCAC, say it fast) the Christians can bitch all they want.

    All races get pandered to, but only a few religions get that privilege.

  45. There’s nothing inherently wrong with Warren offering the forum, and nothing wrong with the candidates accepting the invitation.

    No – what’s wrong is that neither candidate would have a shot at winning dogcatcher had he chosen to decline the invitation.

  46. To rephrase:

    A bunch of people getting together and having their representative ask guys running for office questions related to the concerns of said bunch of people is one of the most American things ever.

    What’s unamerican is complaining that people are using their Constitutionally-protected Rights in a way that you find distasteful.

  47. That debate was a triumph of stupidity.

    People who believe that our most gripping questions of the day are to be solved by ancient middle eastern text are not going to like nuance or intellectual answers.

    They want heartwarming stories, simplistic and retarded answers to complex issues followed by a “we are all heroes” and “we are at the center of God attention and the other guys aren’t” kinda crap.

    Bill Maher was right, religion is a socio-psychological disorder.

  48. @Elemenope: “…my parser melted too.”

    That happened to me in college. A dose of Valtrex cleared it right up.

  49. Episi,

    As the lottery jackpot rolls over more people buy even more tickets until all possible
    number combinations are taken. At that point somebody has to win.

  50. SugarFree,

    Although, what’s up with the other 53%? Do Jews, Muslims, Wiccans, Scientology and atheists really make up 53% of the country? My bullshit-o-meter is tingling.

    Jews were 2.2% on the same chart. The big chunk of the rest of the 53% is made up of people who self identify as christian but arent adherents. I guess that distinguishes those who say “well I was raised catholic, but I havent been to mass since I was 16”.

    There are two charts in the census data, that was the first one I came across and also was the number I was looking for.

  51. J sub,

    I’ll give it a shot. It is my opinion that a person who claims Jesus as saviour to make political hay will fail their God and their constituents. They are trying to serve 2 masters. If I am a christian and half my constituency are athiests, I can’t possibly serve their interests without ignoring the bible. I also feel that by trying to be all things to the most people, a christian politician ignores his highest duty; that is to spread the gospel to the unsaved for the glory of God.

  52. What bothers me is not so much the pandering of politicians to religious groups (politicians can and will pander to anyone who has a vote), but that religious tests for office or public trust are forbidden by the Constitution (Article VI, paragraph 3).

    What is trotting candidates up on stage and grilling them on religious orientation and beliefs, if not a form of religious test? The Constitution doesn’t say merely that Congress shall not pass a religious test law. It says that “no religious test shall be required as a qualification to any office…” So, if someone won’t vote for anyone who doesn’t profess a belief in fundamentalist Christianity, for instance, that amounts to a religious test imposed by the individual voter. It may be unprovable and even undetectable, but it also seems technically unconstitutional. So it isn’t just those rascal politicians who skirt the Constitution and even ignore it outright. Citizens lead the corruption parade whenever they consider religion as a job qualification for public office.

  53. J sub D,

    Do you actually give a crap about a candidate’s relationship with Christ?

    I do, but it is probably about 470th on the list of things that will decide my vote.

    Do you actually believe candidates tell the truth when discussing their personal religious views/beliefs.

    No. But that is because they are politicians and I always assume they are lying.

  54. As the lottery jackpot rolls over more people buy even more tickets until all possible
    number combinations are taken. At that point somebody has to win.

    Nope. Everyone could choose 1 2 3 4 5 6. Also, all possible combinations can never be taken as they are far greater than the number of humans on the planet.

    No one has to win, but probability says that someone will eventually.

  55. J A Merritt,
    Jesus says in the bible to “render unto caesar what is caesar’s and unto God what is God’s”
    If a christian requires a candidate to be born again, and that is against the constitution, then that christian is also committing a sin.

  56. JAM,

    The constitution does not apply to individuals. It only restricts the federal, and via the 14th, the state governments. Individuals are never restricted by it. Thus, it is perfectly constitutional (if stupid) for an individual to apply a religious test.

  57. I submit that a debate, sponsored by a Christian, asking pointed religious questions, with essentially required attendance by the only two candidates who matter, IS a form of religious test. As it happens, I believe the same applies to pretty much every debate–where Jesus gets name-dropped more than Jefferson–and that is reason #4,232 why I don’t vote.

  58. We had a little discussion of jury nullification in H&R recently, and some people seemed to disapprove of the strategy of doing whatever it took to be seated on a jury and then “voting their conscience” by refusing to convict, with no other explanation, if the juror felt the law or its application were unjust. They argued that to do so would royally gum up the works of our justice system.

    I wonder how many of those jury nullification foes have problems with the informal “religious test” administered by Reverend Warren on behalf of his flock, or with the idea that, armed with the information they received from the forum, voters among the flock will base their choice of President on the extent to which they deem the candidate to be a “god-fearing man.” It would seem to me that such decisionmaking criteria by what I am going to call “rogue voters” would gum up the works of government — going against the original, intended design — as much as nullification by rogue jurors might. Just a thought.

  59. I’m always wary whenever something is described as “un-American.”

    My preference is that candidates spend as much time answering hard questions as possible–from any and all corners.

    BTW, without true back-and-forth, a presidential debate isn’t much of a “debate.” I don’t expect bloodsport, but the existing format of the official debates leaves much to be desired.

  60. Do you actually give a crap about a candidate’s relationship with Christ?

    What I care about in a politician is the basis for their morality. I would prefer an Atheist who grounds his morality in utilitarianism than a Christian who dances on the strings of his pastor. As I said earlier, I don’t consider Christians to be better than non-Christians.

  61. As the lottery jackpot rolls over more people buy even more tickets until all possible
    number combinations are taken. At that point somebody has to win.

    Nope. Everyone could choose 1 2 3 4 5 6. Also, all possible combinations can never be taken as they are far greater than the number of humans on the planet.

    No one has to win, but probability says that someone will eventually.

    Totally beside the topic and all, but several years ago, a group tried to corner the Virginia Lottery by purchasing every single combo when the expected value became >$1 per $1 ticket. They failed only because computer & internet technology was not quite substantial enough to pull this off in the early 90’s. IIRC, after this Va and the rest of the lotteries have put limits on how many tickets can be bought at a time. And I think they may have restructured so that the EV will never be greater than 1.

  62. This forum doesn’t just show how atheists are ruled out from running for office, it shows how every non-Christian is ruled out from running for office. That’s not Warren’s, Obama’s, or McCain’s fault, because I can bet that the latter two are no more religious than your average schmo, it’s just the way into the American voters pocketbook.

    And could we please stop with this “they have a right..” bullshit? No one is saying that they should be prevented from having the forum, they are saying that it’s bullshit that the candidates are being effectively submitted to a religious test, even if it is only implicitly.

  63. Oh, and you can’t be a “good Christian” and run for high office in this country. You are required to commit far too many sins to qualify for that. The fact that most Christians don’t understand that is the real problem.

  64. Kolohe | August 20, 2008, 5:09pm | #
    As the lottery jackpot rolls over more people buy even more tickets until all possible
    number combinations are taken. At that point somebody has to win.

    Nope. Everyone could choose 1 2 3 4 5 6. Also, all possible combinations can never be taken as they are far greater than the number of humans on the planet.

    No one has to win, but probability says that someone will eventually.

    Totally beside the topic and all, but several years ago, a group tried to corner the Virginia Lottery by purchasing every single combo when the expected value became >$1 per $1 ticket. They failed only because computer & internet technology was not quite substantial enough to pull this off in the early 90’s. IIRC, after this Va and the rest of the lotteries have put limits on how many tickets can be bought at a time. And I think they may have restructured so that the EV will never be greater than 1.

    I’ve heard tell from professional gamblers that there are professional lottery teams out there who, when the pot gets big enough, buy up every ticket. They too have said that states have enacted laws to prevent this play and now these largerly go overseas. Not sure if they were spinning me some hay or if they were talking straight.

  65. Odds of picking the Powerball jackpot winning numbers are 1:146.1 million.

    My math skills are too rusty to figure how many randomly generated “quick pick” tickets need to be sold to cover all combinations. No one has to win any given drawing but “somebody has to win” as eventually all combinations will be covered.

    I drop a single dollar on the sucker bet occasionally, but only when the advertised jackpot exceeds $100,000,000. Some individuals buy hundreds of tickets for a single drawing.
    They are either innumerate, wealthy or both.

  66. # robc | August 20, 2008, 4:39pm | #

    # The constitution does not
    # apply to individuals.

    True enough, as I myself remind people at every opportunity. But, in my opinion, that is nothing but a “cop out” in this case. The Article VI, Paragraph 3 provision, more than any other in the Constitution, makes it clear that the undue influence of a religion or religious sect on secular government was not intended, and was even unwanted, by those who founded our nation. Yet such stunts as the recent forum, by the Rick Warrens of the world, are obvious attempts to play “God’s Kingmaker” — a role that is practically synonymous with “undue influence,” and which is only available because people allow themselves to be swayed by the religious views or conviction of the candidates they consider. This is a source — in recent decades, a MAJOR source — of corruption in the system.

    There is, however, another way to look at the Constitution’s prohibition on religious tests for office. Would you agree that, while the Constitution does not constrain individuals in general, it certainly constrains elected officeholders and other government employees when they are acting in their official governmental capacities? If so, then why not individuals when they are participating in government activities as citizens (i.e., voting?). We already see such constraints, for instance, in the ages for voting and serving in elected federal office.

    As I said before, violations of the “religious test” prohibition are probably undetectable and unprovable: trying to enforce the prohibition might gum up the works even more than letting individuals flout the Constitution (in their official public role as citizen-voter). But voting in a way that violates the spirit and clear intent of the Constitution seems to be just a bad, shameful thing to do — at least, if one has the gall to call oneself a “patriotic citizen.”

  67. I thought Warren tried to present as fair a format as he could (hence the “cone of silence” thing) so that he couldn’t be seen as endorsing one or the other.

    Yeah, but he sandbagged Obama a few days later in the press on the Abortion question. So, no. he’s less of a neutral arbiter and more of a slithery backstabber.

    As far as I know, the “christian kingmaker” position grants you the same number of votes as “registered voter”.

    Uh huh. If you actually believe that, I’ll know not to take you seriously on this topic in the future.

  68. So many things to comment on, so little time.

    So we will just go with:

    The problem is you HAVE to be christian to run for office in this country. Can’t have a Muslim run cause we will all have to be muslim. Jeez, I am having a Kennedy flashback were we would all have to be catholic since he was catholic.

    Do you think a budhist(sp)or an atheist could even come close to getting elected? There is already a religious test in america. Why do you think you keep hearing the already discredited he was a muslim story. They even go as far back as he was 6 and going to a madrassa in the phillipines. I know by the time i was 6 I was having trouble deciding which religion to follow. These people are idiots.

    Did anyone think Obama had a chance when he answers questions honestly and McCain gives the answers the right wants to hear?

  69. Now that I think about it, I seem to remember that either those particular people failed and/or nobody does it anymore because if someone else not in your group hits the winning number, you wind up being SOL because of the split pot.

  70. I don’t get it. It’s wrong for Christians to vote for candidates who share their values? Candidates who agree on such details as when life begins?

    But it’s ok for black people to vote for the black candidate because he’s black?

    Christianity is one source of guidance for politicians who seek a foundation for their principles. Quite obviously this can lead to very, very different political outcomes. So, at the end of the day, even if you ask two political candidates about their religion, you will learn a lot about how they would govern. And this governing philosophy is not at all predicted by the simple label of “Christian.”

    Besides, if you’re truly and atheist, then it should be no big deal to lump “Christian-American” with all the other multi-cultural BS.

  71. Besides, if you’re truly an atheist, then it should be no big deal to lump “Christian-American” with all the other multi-cultural BS.

    That doesn’t make one bit of sense. Are you saying that Atheists can’t be Black? Hispanic? Irish? Lesbian?

    What “multi-cultural BS” are you talking about?

  72. “We had a little discussion of jury nullification in H&R recently, and some people seemed to disapprove of the strategy of doing whatever it took to be seated on a jury and then “voting their conscience” by refusing to convict, with no other explanation, if the juror felt the law or its application were unjust. They argued that to do so would royally gum up the works of our justice system.”

    not at all. jury nullifcation is an implicit part of our justice system. our justice system was DESIGNED that way, to make individual citizens (not the legislature ) the final judge of whether a person is guilty. and part of that decision is a judgment on whether the law itself is valid.

    jury nullification doesn’t gum up the justice system. it is part of the justice system.

    very good discussion a ways back at volokh.com on this (case where a juror basically made it known by his questions to the judge during deliberation that he might nullify), and judge subsequently removed that juror. needless to say many lawyers were against jury nullification but that’s because it takes power away from the legal elites – judges and lawyers and places the power where it’s always belonged – the people.

  73. “Do you think a budhist(sp)or an atheist could even come close to getting elected? There is already a religious test in america”

    the issue is that there may be a de facto religious test, but there is no de jure religious test. if the religious test is determined individually by the voters, this is neither unconstitutiuonal nor unamerican. christians, jews, muslims and atheists all get one vote each.

    this reminds me of the argument many on the left have against vouchers. since the vast majority of vouchers are used at religious schools, the argument is that it’s a govt. “establishment” of religion. clearly, since the individual PARENTs are free to decide religious or nonreligious schools – it isn’t. even if 99.9% of all voucher money went to religious schools, that would not be an establishment because the locus of control is with each parent. and vouchers are given to the parent for the student. the school is the secondary recipient. no different than a govt. employee spending his paycheck on church tithings. it’s HIS money to make the decision.

    people who care about religion (and by extension – a candidate’s religion) are a majority (to put it mildly), and they have the ultimate right to make a voting decision based on any whim or belief they have. just like anybody else.

    as a matter of practicality, no (professed) atheist could probably be elected president in the USA.

    i’d be pretty confident that no former hardcore porn star could either. that doesn’t mean there is a “porn star test” (although the idea is intriguing).

    similarly, there is no religious test. there is voter preference, which is – as always- the ultimate test

  74. The election season is silly season and we all understand that. But, if a mistake was made conflating state and religion, it was McCain who made it. After all it was he who made such an issue of who he would meet with face-to-face without preconditions.

    Besides it’s naive to think there will ever be a complete separation of church and state. They are long term allies in telling you how to live your life.

  75. “people who care about religion (and by extension – a candidate’s religion) are a majority (to put it mildly), and they have the ultimate right to make a voting decision based on any whim or belief they have.”

    But my fellow libertarians, what about the PEER PRESSURE involved here! Certainly that strikes a cord with my fellow libertarans! I mean, as a majority of folks are Christian there is substantial PEER PRESSURE on candidates to profess orthodox Christian views and substantial pressure on those who profess to vote for someone who does not. Since we must protect, say, employees from the PEER PRESSURE of union organizers I know you guys are with me in supporting measures to protect folks from this insiduous peer pressure!

  76. “the issue is that there may be a de facto religious test, but there is no de jure religious test.”

    This is the raison d’etre of the right leaning libertarian. As a right leaning fellow he likes the traditional and majority approved views on things, yet he is nominally a “libertarian.” But, no problem because he at least knows, and counts on, what many non right leaning libertarians seem to miss, that de facto realities will preserve vested interests and the status quo almost exactly as well as de jure ones will, so we can rhetorically disepense with the de jure measures and count on social and economic pressures to preserve right wing interests. And all the while exclaim our devotion to “liberty” and “choice.”

  77. In other words, their fear and dislike of government is that it actually might undermine or provide a bulwark against certain vested interests (often parochial, note their hate of the feds in particular) which can apply to out-groups very real forms of coercion that may not fit classical definitions of “force or fraud.”

  78. But my fellow libertarians, what about the PEER PRESSURE involved here!

    If all your friends go jump off a cliff, does that mean you have to?

  79. But my fellow libertarians, what about the PEER PRESSURE involved here!

    Just Say No

  80. The real question is why does CNN have its head so far up Rick Warren’s ass that it would air his forum, ad infinitum, give it all the gloss of official sanction, and then never so much as hint at the obvious church/state issues it raises.

  81. “Not being able to force me with the law to bow to your bullshit morals is NOT A FORM OF OPPRESSION.”

    http://bulk.resource.org/courts.gov/states/Cal/S099822.PDF

    http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions/documents/S142892.PDF

    Who is being forced by the law to bow to whose “bullshit” morals?

  82. “This is the raison d’etre of the right leaning libertarian. As a right leaning fellow he likes the traditional and majority approved views on things, yet he is nominally a “libertarian.” But, no problem because he at least knows, and counts on, what many non right leaning libertarians seem to miss, that de facto realities will preserve vested interests and the status quo almost exactly as well as de jure ones will, so we can rhetorically disepense with the de jure measures and count on social and economic pressures to preserve right wing interests. And all the while exclaim our devotion to “liberty” and “choice.””

    well yes. heck, any true libertarian (drinks?) recognizes the qualititative difference between fighting for liberty – restraint of govt. power and authority over our choices, and the idea that social convention, norms, taboos, religious codes, etc. are ok. the latter are evolved things (see: hayek), voluntary (nobody can force you to be a member of a religion) things, etc.

    if govt. tells me i can’t do X, then they have the “barrel of the gun” authority to do so.

    a private group, religious or not, … has only persuasion, scorn, etc.

  83. But does it not seem just a little bit odd to have McCain and Obama chatting individually with a preacher in a public forum about their positions on evil and their relationship with Jesus Christ?”

    Um… no. It’s a — news flash — public election. Anyone and everyone can interrogate/question/stick their nose up the butt of presidential candidates. Are we saying religious figures should not be participating in the electoral process in a public manner? If so, that’s just plain retarded. [Apologies for offending any retarded people.]

    While we’re at it, let’s feign horror at anyone asking any presidential anything… oh, the humanity. I wouldn’t even bother giving the Townhall.com post one-star… and that’s being generous for a Townhall.com post.

  84. MJ,

    You got me there, MJ. All the libertarians on this board think that private employers should be forced to hire employees and offer services they disagree with. You hear that all the time around here.

    If you want to play “gotcha” at least figure out where the hell you are first.

  85. if govt. tells me i can’t do X, then they have the “barrel of the gun” authority to do so.

    a private group, religious or not, … has only persuasion, scorn, etc.

    Clearly you aren’t an abortion doctor.
    Or a gay man.
    Or a Muslim in America.

    But sure, all religious people in the majority ever do is moral suasion. You keep telling yourself that. Only government *ever* uses force.

    Excuse me while I throw up.

  86. Elemenope,

    You don’t read so good, do you?

    The “etc” clearly covered shooting abortion doctors in front of their families at the dinner table, setting off bombs, beating on gays, and hating on Muslims.

    You just have no comprehension of nuance.

  87. lmnop,

    Only the government “legally” uses forces. Killing/assualting a gay, muslim, abortionist isnt legal.

  88. robc —

    I’m sure that’s a great comfort to the dead guy.

  89. You just have no comprehension of nuance.

    True. I am just a simple creature.

  90. Do you think a budhist(sp)or an atheist could even come close to getting elected?

    Sure, as long as he pretended to be a Christian, as more than a few presidents have.

  91. “Although, what’s up with the other 53%? Do Jews, Muslims, Wiccans, Scientology and atheists really make up 53% of the country? My bullshit-o-meter is tingling.”

    If you count Catholics as atheists or atheist-like it might be true.

  92. “Clearly you aren’t an abortion doctor.
    Or a gay man.
    Or a Muslim in America.

    But sure, all religious people in the majority ever do is moral suasion. You keep telling yourself that. Only government *ever* uses force.

    Excuse me while I throw up.”

    maybe i’m all 3. it’s irrelevant. clearly, a religious person (or an atheist) or anybody else CAN commit murder or use illegal force to promote their ideas, etc. but only the government can do it legally, and only the govt. can fine or imprison you for going against them.

    private org’s have only persuasion, much as private businesses can’t MAKE you buy their products. you pay for govt. services whether you want to or not, but if you are a vegan, you don’t have to buy a big mac.

    you don’t have to buy what the religious right or the religious left, or any other group of like minded individuals is sellin. you DO have to buy what the govt. is sellin’ and you do have to do what they tell you, or risk imprisonment, etc.

    religious people have the same right as anybody else to use scorn, persuasion, boycott, moral outrage, argumentation, polemics, etc.

    they don’t have the right to force you to comply. only govt. does.

    true libertarianism, as i said, accepts that evolved social groups made up of people who voluntarily associate and buy into mutual goals, ideology etc. are not inconsistent with libertarianism.

    similarly, it is not inconsistent to believe that marijuana should be legal and simultaneously think it’s evil and terrible to do and nobody should do it. (note: i think it should be legal and is merely lame, not evil or terrible)

    libertarianism =/= libertinism. just because GOVERNMENT shouldn’t be able to prevent you from doing X, doesn’t mean that individuals and groups shouldn’t criticize certain behaviors, scorn, boycott, ostracize, or use other social pressures.

  93. It really isn’t a problem unless Warren were to start advocating through the church for one of the candidates, thus violating the rules for tax-exempt status of the church — isn’t that how this works?

  94. Parker’s one quote from one founder to support her position that the “Founders” would be spinning in their graves is misleading at best. Our founders were Christians. Our founders believed Christian principles were not only true, but inseparable from successful government. A very small sampling of the evidence of this can be found at https://www.reason.com/blog/show/128195.html#commentform

  95. Oops..wrong link…sorry. Try this one!
    http://www.wallbuilders.com/LIBissuesArticles.asp?id=63

  96. Dave, that link contains one of the most disingenuous quotations of Jefferson that I have ever seen. Yes, TJ said some good things about Mr. bar Yussif, but haven’t you ever seen a Jefferson Bible? The Sphinx was no advocate of the carpenter’s divinity.

    Also note all the references to morality and virtue unencumbered by any mention of hairy thunderers or cosmic muffins.

    Tom Paine and Ethan Allen are also oddly missing from your cherry-picked list.

    Here’s the reply I would have liked Mr. Warren to have received from one or more of the candidates*:

    “Thank you for inviting me to your forum. I will be happy to explain my policy views and describe my experience and qualifications to your congregants. I would like to note that our Constitution explicitly forbids any religious test for office, though of course no private citizen is bound by that proscription when deciding for whom to vote. That being said, it is my opinion that when candidates volunteer information about their personal religious beliefs they are violating the spirit, if not the letter, of our founding document. Thus I will decline to answer any questions on that subject. To do otherwise would be an affront to republican virtue and an invitation to sectarian strife”

    Then Hell, having been built special for the purpose, would freeze over.

    BTW, if there is no religious test, why does the official swearing in new officeholders, jurors, etc. keep interjecting “So help me, Gawwwdddd” when reading this?

    7. Before he enter on the execution of his office, he [The President-elect] shall take the following oath or affirmation:

    “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of the President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” – Constitution, Article II, Section 1, vii.

    Yeah, that’s right. The Framers anticipated that our President might want to affirm, rather than swear. Now, that could be because they thought that someday the people might elect an atheist, a Deist who thought that oaths were nonsense because the clockwork universe’s creator wasn’t listening, or someone who read the New Testament as forbidding the taking of oaths.

    Kevin

    *Of course, when I ran for office once, and was asked by a religious nut on a cable access show a question about my faith, I recounted what religious education I had, not what I believed. It was a disgusting display of politicianness. I felt shame afterwards.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.