Ben Carson

"Faith Cannot Be Shoved into a Corner." But Can it Be Contained in Politics?

Religion in a free society will always cause controversy. Got a problem with that? Religious minority Ben Carson seems to.


Joel J. Miller has some interesting thoughts about the public dimension of religion in a free society. Miller, who works for formerly with the Christian publisher Thomas J. Nelson, is a practicing Orthodox Christian (fwiw).

Watever we think about the controversies over same sex marriage, or the Obamacare contraception mandate, or [insert your chosen fight du jour], one lesson stands out: faith cannot be shoved into a corner.

For all of its private aspects, religion is a public affair. Whether a person considers himself a cultural warrior or just a humble and faithful adherent, there are always social implications to belief….

If a free expression of religion means anything—and this goes for Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, etc.—it must mean that adherents are free to influence society with their views. This is especially true in an open, liberal society such as our own. It's the curse and the blessing of our system.

Yes, we can declare certain things off limits. The Bill of Rights is an attempt to do that. But that won't stop arguments from being made or minds being changed. And in the long run this is true even for prohibited expressions of faith….

Beware those who think stacking the deck with statutes will somehow keep the worst aspects of, say, Islam from sinking its teeth into a society. Laws reflect hearts; they rarely change them—except perhaps in the opposite direction desired by the legislators. Coercion is infrequently met with gratitude.

More here.

Let's think about this in the current context, where Ben Carson—a leading candidate for the GOP presidential nomination and himself a member of a religious minority—has said "I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation." As Matt Welch wrote yesterday, that's because Carson believes that various things about the Muslim faith invalidates its followers from running this country. For instance, Carson believes:

"Muslims feel that their religion is very much a part of your public life and what you do as a public official, and that's inconsistent with our principles and our Constitution."

Well, OK then.

Of course Carson exempts his own public religiosity from such strictures, ostensibly because he believes his Seventh-Day Adventism is not in any way, shape, or form inconsistent with the Constitution. Yet for much of its existence, Carson's church has dwelled on the margins of mainstream Christianity, suspect not simply due to its recent origins but because of its unique theology (a well-known 1963 book by a Calvinist theologian referred to Adventism as one of "the four major cults" linked to protestantism, with the others being Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Christian Science).

Indeed, Carson was recently bounced from a Christian event put together by Baptists due to his beliefs. Those of us over about 50 can remember a time when the main arguments over religion were between Protestants and Catholics, with the latter being castigated as members of the world's largest cult and the embodiment of the Whore of Revelation (this has a long history, of course, taking back to the Reformation and even including such Enligthenment wise men as Isaac Newton, who believed the pope to be an anti-Christ).

So if Joel Miller is right that religion has an innately public dimension that can't be undone, I think he's also right that it will always be a cause of concern and anxiety in a society that is founded upon the idea of toleration and freedom of expression. These descend from the thinking of Roger Williams, the early colonist who created Providence, Rhode Island as a secular space in which all religions were welcome. That Williams also thought the pope of Rome to be an anti-Christ speaks to his belief in free speech and religion.

And Ben Carson and others should also take Miller's heed when it comes to writing bad religions out of public view. As it happens, I disagree with Miller about laws being unable to change hearts—seems to me that dog owners only started picking up their pet's crap when they were forced to under penalty of law. On a less banal note, after initial and sometimes violent pushback, it seems clear to me that various anti-discrimination laws did succeed in changing minds/hearts, or at least certain behaviors, which might be all we should ask of laws. So too did rules about seatbelts. We can argue over whether such mandates are always or even ever the best way forward, but it seems to me that laws can change actions—and minds and hearts ultimately.

Having said all that, Miller is on target that "stacking the deck" against certain things you dislike rather than creating neutral rules that minimize coercion is a mug's game. What's the old saying? The government that is strong enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take away everything you have. It all depends on who's running the show, right? And if the past 15 years of the not-so-new century tell us anything, it's that the people running the show change with alarming—or maybe comforting—frequency.

Miller's full piece here.


NEXT: 3 Ways Scott Walker's Exit Changes the GOP Primary Race

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  1. Wow. Carson is Seventh Day Adventist? He is extra crunchy crazy and not just garden variety Christian crazy. Proof is that even Baptists don’t want him around.

    1. I for one welcome the chance to make history by helping elect our nation’s first Seventh Day Adventist president. Also, the second ever black president. You can only elect the second black president once.

      1. First one was a half-breed.

      2. The first African-American president. Obama is the first African American president.

        1. What you did there….has me smiling


          1. And he’s Mau Mau-ing the public, and not the flak-catchers.

  2. “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation.”

    The key word is advocate, which means publicly support or recommend. Why is that a problem? Must Carson advocate a Muslim? Is he not permitted to be reticent?

    That’s way different from accepting a Muslim, which he did not rule out.

    1. Read the article. At issue is not that he opposes a Muslim POTUS due to their religion. The issue is that he is the same as the Muslim with his desire for Christian Sharia.

      1. he is the same as the Muslim with his desire for Christian Sharia*

        *Citation needed

    2. Wait, Carson doesn’t want laws prohibiting a Muslim from serving as president?

    3. ” Is he not permitted to be reticent?”

      No, because that wouldn’t be sufficiently Muslim affirming. That’s why we have to change the law so that we can change hearts and minds or some such bullshit.

    4. No one must advocate anyone.

      Although it’s curious that a person would decide ahead of time, before even knowing who the candidate is, that being Muslim would be an automatic disqualifier.

    5. He’s permitted, and others are permitted to call that opinion monstrously bigoted. Of course I prefer all presidents to be only pretend religious at most. People with actual religious faith are too dumb to be president ipso facto.

      1. Pots and kettles.

      2. People with actual religious faith are too dumb to be president ipso facto.

        OK, Tony. That’s just idiotic. I’m an atheist and I don’t really get the whole faith thing. But I can see that lots of very smart, interesting, decent people have faith and are religious. Dismissing all of those people as “dumb” is stupider than dismissing all of your political opponents as irredeemably stupid. Very smart people can and do reach very different conclusions about the world.

        1. There are many people who simply replace faith in an unknowable, inscrutable god, with faith in an omnipotent, benevolent state.

          The latter concern me far more than the former.

          1. Or augment their religion with some kind of faith in the state. There are quite a few left-wing Christians out there. The leader of the largest Christian church in the world, for example.

            1. And many if not most African-Americans.

          2. The latter concern me far more than the former.

            The latter are right above you in this very comment thread.

          3. Not a single person on earth outside of places like North Korea believes that. So you’re not talking about anything. You’re setting up a straw-man to deflect attention from your unshakable faith in the magic of markets.

            1. I’m talking about a significant number of Americans Tony – and you’re probably one of them.

              How else would you characterize a group of people who stand up on public television stating their gratitude that now Obama is president, they’ll have their mortgage and gas bills paid? To people who shamelessly parade elementary school kids singing hosanannas to the President.

              If that doesn’t look like state-worship, what does? Hell, go back over your own bleatings and have a little self-reflection, man.

              Despite your theophobia, God ain’t going to reach down and direct a politician to pick your pocket, shoot your dog, and then go on TV and shame you for being a racist.

              1. If people have faith in the ability of the American government to deliver paradise on earth, they are idiots. But I think most people are more than cynical enough. The real religion in American politics is market worship.

                1. The real religion in American politics is market worship.

                  I’ve never seen the problem defined so poorly, ever.

                  Of course, the person here most guilty of Government worship would surely wonder why more people didn’t worship at its altar with him. Of course you would say that!

                2. You know, I don’t think most left-liberals “worship” government. I do think that a lot have too much faith in government’s ability to solve social and economic problems. But even the left for the most part has a fairly pragmatic view of government.

                  While you may think that some people put too much faith in the market, but you make a similar error there. Very few people actually believe that markets always deliver good results to everyone. For libertarians there are two important things. First, markets are voluntary, so they are a much more ethical way to distribute and price resources than central control by governments. And secondly, empirically markets have proven to produce better outcomes than planned economies time after time.

        2. I am forced to accept the existence of compartmentalization and the idea that people can be incredibly smart while also believing in incredible nonsense. But I don’t think intelligence has a concrete definition. Someone can be a genius at building bridges and a moron at making economic policy. My own personal definition has a barrier to entry: you can’t be considered truly intelligent unless you have figured out the absurdity of belief in deities.

          1. Oh, right, you’re an asshole.

        3. Re: Zeb,

          OK, Tony. That’s just idiotic. I’m an atheist and I don’t really get the whole faith thing.

          Oh, Zeb. Please don’t engage it as if it were a person. It is a Marxian. You are wasting your time with it. Treat it like something you find stuck to your shoe.

          I am a nonbeliever myself and I also find the Marxian’s pedantry annoying. I simply scrape it off my boot by dragging it on freshly cut grass until it is gone.

          1. It’s my time to waste. But I appreciate the concern.

      3. Linus Pauling was terribly mistaken, but he was not an imbecile. You’re on even shakier ground here than that.

        1. Huh? Linus Pauling the self-described atheist?

          Look, other civilized countries look at the religiosity in American politics and wince. We have to be a little less inward-looking, assuming that the way we do things is normal by default. It’s not. Politicians being required to worship Jesus is not a good thing.

          1. Linus Pauling the vitamin hyperdosing crank.

            1. Maybe he had a deep-seated faith in vitamin hyperdosing.

            2. He was a friend of my grandmother. He would pull that vitamin crap on my parents and to this day, my father still believes in it.

      4. People with actual religious faith are too dumb to be president ipso facto.

        What the heck was Galileo thinking, being all “religious” and smart! Also, Newton. And Kepler.

  3. We can argue over whether such mandates are always or even ever the best way forward, but it seems to me that laws can change actions?and minds and hearts ultimately.

    “Hey, force can compel behavior!?”

    For a site called Reason…

    1. How much of it is just a mop-up operation after years of awareness campaigns and social stigmatizing a la smoking in public?

    2. I have a feeling that sentence will generate hundreds of comments and the rest of the article will go down the memory hole.

    3. +1 Taylor System

    4. That’s the line where I stopped reading. Can it make a cake taste good, too?

      1. Why? Is it not true?

        I think it is the wrong way to change hearts and minds and actions, and probably leads to unintended changes of those things. But it seems like a valid observation.

      2. THERE. ARE. FOUR. CANDLES!!!!

  4. The story of William Miller and The Great Disappointment is kind of a funny one.

    1. I didn’t know about the Bah?’? connection, though.

      1. Thinking about it more, it’s actually rather sad too when you think of how the people involved were affected.

      2. I’m familiar with the basic Millerism story, but not the Baha’i connection. What is it?

        1. I didn’t know about the connection either, but it’s on the Wikipedia page for “The Great Disappointment.”

          1. Huh, that is interesting. It decreases my respect for Baha’is, though.

            1. They didn’t participate in it, as far as I can tell. Just co-opted the episode after the fact to substantiate their own prophet. The dates are several months off, but it’s not like Miller’s date was on especially solid ground in the first place. In any event, if you believe that your founder is a manifestation of the true word of God or whatever, it’s a pretty handy coincidence that later that year a load of Christians were expecting an earlier manifestation of the true word of God to appear.

              1. (It’s been a good several years since I studied the stuff, and I was just tagging along with a friend who’s a devotee. Nicest people I’ve ever met.)

  5. Never mind “religious conviction”. What’s wrong with saying, “Because I just don’t feel like it. Now GTFO.”?

    1. Religious belief sits on a pretty high pedestal.

      1. Some religions are on higher pedestals than others.

        1. Indeed. Has not Hagee stated the Catholic Church is influenced by Satan or some such?

  6. OT from TalentlessPublishers: Maybe Sanders will be okay with 23 kinds of guns:…..s-on-guns/

    At a campaign stop in Portsmouth over the weekend, Sanders pushed back against this sentiment, telling ThinkProgress: “You’re looking at a senator who voted to ban certain types of assault weapons. You’re looking at a senator who voted for instant background checks and wants to strengthen that, and who voted to do away with the so-called gun show loophole.”

    Yet Sanders also cast a vote against the Brady Bill, legislation that instituted federal background checks and a five-day waiting period for gun purchases. He said at the time that states should be able to set their own waiting periods. Then, in 2007, he voted for a bill to prohibit foreign or United Nations aid to be used for gun control. In 2009, he voted to allow firearms on checked bags on Amtrak. His most controversial vote was cast in 2005, in favor of an NRA-backed bill to prevent victims of gun violence from being able to sue gun manufacturers for negligence.

    1. I’m endlessly amused that the one domestic issue on which he’s remotely sensible is the issue that his supporters can barely tolerate him on.

      1. I couldn’t be more thrilled that a flaming socialist is better on guns, in general, than probably every Democrat in the country.

      2. Charles Cook made a good point on Friday’s MD&E podcast. As divided as the GOP field looks, for the most part it’s just one abusive candidate perpetuating the notion that the party is hopelessly fractured. The one candidate with any sort of divisive message is Paul, and he’s walked back his most contentious points and in any event is barely registering. But the Democrats have an actual ideological problem in Sanders, who threatens to drag the party even further left than the extremis they’ve already reached. If Sanders continues picking up steam he may split the party in half before the primary is over.

    2. In other words, if you don’t vote for every piece of legislation that restricts gun ownership or promotes gun control efforts, no matter how stupid or silly the legislation is (no guns in checked Amtrak bags?), you are a gun nut.

      It’s nice when thinkprogress comes right out and says these things explicitly.

  7. No the reason that people let their dogs crap at the park is because the park belongs to everyone (read: no one). Public ownership is the issue, if there is not any one person that stands to gain or lose if the land is soiled with dog droppings, it is unlikely to change for the better.

    1. +1 Garrett Hardin

      1. Yeah that. But with less eugenics and forced sterilization.

        Looking at his wiki page leaves me with one question: How was this guy viewed as a serious academic at anytime that wasn’t the 1930’s?

    2. ” the reason that people let their dogs crap at the park is because the park”

      Has paid employees to presumably clean it?

  8. You know, Nick, that’s a hell of a lot of words to just say something that could be boiled down to ‘tu quoque‘.

    1. You know who else made a lot of tu quoque arguments…

        1. Has he been around? Or did Tulpa finally retire that character?

          1. I wouldn’t know, damnatio memoriae and all that.

      1. Your mom? Therefore not mine.

      2. Shreek in every single thread he posts on, including this one?

        1. well that’s the obvious winner

        2. Shriek is a parody account. That’s its job.

  9. Carson doesn’t believe the US Constitution is the supreme law of the country.


    All right, I’m going to close here with a question from a Facebook poster. And this one came from Victor Roush. Simple question, “Does the Bible have authority over the constitution?”


    He said that’s a simple question? That is not a simple question by any stretch of the imagination.


    A simply-worded question, how’s that?


    I think probably what you have to do is ask a very specific question about a specific passage of the Bible and a specific portion of the constitution. I don’t think you can answer that question other than out of very specific contexts.…..15-n402571

    He is really fucked up.

    1. He is really fucked up.

      Or just unprepared for the question. The question also brings up a lot of possibilities. Authority of one’s own choosing on their personal behavior, or legal authority for example? I wouldn’t jump to conclusions about what Carson thinks based on this exchange.

      The only issue basically where it would be important would probably be same-sex marriage. And that’s not a shocker.

      1. I disagree. George W. Bush famously said it was a “higher father” that guided him to war with Iraq. When you believe the crazy you act like it.

        1. So, what you’re saying is that Carson = W.

          So, basicallly, BOOOOOOSSSSSH!

          (BTW, not a fan of Carson.)

          1. They’re both afflicted with the same type of insanity.

            I know, I know…


            1. Not in team red, I don’t care.

              But you’re still blaming BOOOOOOSSSSH for Carson’s statement. You’re special.

              Does the Bible have Authority over the Constitution? Yes, but I would never hold people to it by FORCE OF ARMS. You really cannot make a mountain out of that mole-hill.

        2. I disagree. George W. Bush famously said it was a “higher father” that guided him to war with Iraq. When you believe the crazy you act like it.

          But Bush didn’t circumvent the constitution in that situation, which is the issue at hand. He got congressional authority. I’m not trying to defend Bush–I’m simply bringing the conversation back to the original topic: authority of the Bible over the Constitution or not.

          1. You’re wasting your time and mental efforts with shriek

            1. Yep. Lesson learned.

          2. Of course Bush didn’t circumvent the Constitution in the Iraq example (he did other times like the 4th Amendment).

            Again, the ARTICLE above by Gillespie is about how religious belief distorts one’s ability to reason.

            1. Did you actually read the article? Or did you just skim 8% of it and assumed the rest?

            2. Of course Bush didn’t circumvent the Constitution in the Iraq example (he did other times like the 4th Amendment).

              Again, the ARTICLE above by Gillespie is about how religious belief distorts one’s ability to reason.

              I finally realized why people hate you. Your post I responded to was about Carson’s exchange with Chuck Todd about the question of the Bible having authority over the Constitution. I said it was a tough question Carson probably wasn’t prepared for, and that we shouldn’t jump to conclusions about his positions. You then gave the completely irrelevant example of Bush appealing to a higher power for guiding him to the Iraq war, which I commented was irrelevant because Bush did not circumvent the Constitution, the Bible vs. the Constitution being the issue at hand. You then responded to that observation with “Of course Bush didn’t circumvent the Constitution in the Iraq example” in addition to trying to change the topic and stating it as if I had gone off topic from your original post.

              Well, I think I learned my lesson.

      2. Same-sex marriage is hardly the only issue where US law and the Bible as interpreted by many disagree. Adultery comes to mind.

        But of course Carson is right – that is not a “simple question”. It’s a gotcha. That’s what the MSM does.

        1. But would Carson interested in passing adultery laws? Possibly, but I don’t see it from this exchange.

          1. *be interested in…

    2. The worst he could do with that line of thinking is ignore federal court rulings and dodge constitutional restraints on his office. Kind of old hat by now, don’t ya think?

      1. But he’d be doing it for all the wrong reasons.

  10. So,would anyone here vote for a scientogoist for president? Maybe a Cruise – Travolta ticket? Wouldn’t that be fun.

    1. I’d vote for Mimi Rogers before I vote for Carly Fiorina.

    2. Sure, why not? It’s not like they would be in a position to hook us all up to e-meters or something. And frankly it’s no crazier than any of the other religions.

        1. 75 millions years ago? What horseshit. Everyone knows the Earth is only 6000 years old.

          1. yep, and Satan put dinosaur bones in the earth to confuse us.

        2. Yes, I know about all of that. I stand by my belief.

          1. Really? I mean at least Jesus and Mohammad actually existed.

            1. According to the plan of salvation as described by God the Father, Jehovah (the premortal Jesus) created the earth, under the direction of God the Father, as a place where humanity would be tested. After the resurrection, all men and women?except the spirits that followed Lucifer and the sons of perdition?would be assigned one of three degrees of glory. Within the highest degree, the celestial kingdom, there are three further divisions, and those in the highest of these celestial divisions would become gods and goddesses through a process called “exaltation” or “eternal progression”. The doctrine of eternal progression was succinctly summarized by LDS Church leader Lorenzo Snow: “As man now is, God once was: As God now is, man may be.”[2][3] According to Smith’s King Follett discourse, God the Father himself once passed through mortality as Jesus did, but how, when, or where that took place is unclear. The prevailing view among Mormons is that God once lived on a planet with his own higher god.[4][5]

              According to Mormon scripture, the Earth’s creation was not ex nihilo, but organized from existing matter. The Earth is just one of many inhabited worlds, and there are many governing heavenly bodies, including the planet or star Kolob, which is said to be nearest the throne of God.

              1. Yeah, on Battlestar Galactica the planet of humanity’s origin, Kobol, is an anagram of Kolob.

                I’m sure BSG is interesting if you’re Mormon or were raised Mormon because of all the Mormon theology references.

                1. Yeah, on Battlestar Galactica the planet of humanity’s origin, Kobol, is an anagram of Kolob.

                  Now that’s interesting.

                2. Yes, Glen A. Larson is a Mormon. But even more interesting would be any Mormon theology references in Magnum PI or Knight Rider.

                  1. This guy thinks Knight Rider is an indoctrination plot.

                    I didn’t believe it when I read this article:

                    [link deleted by moderator for inappropriate content]

                    but after reading through the forums here, I am beginning to believe it. Knight Rider was made by the same guy who made Battlestar Galactica, which was also choke full of secret Mormon Temple indoctrination rituals. I can’t believe that you people follow this show so closely without knowing that you’re being brainwashed into joining the Mormon Battlestar cult connection.

                    Simple proof? Do you feel compelled to visit those beautiful scenic mountains in Utah? Do you feel compelled to put 10% (whatever that means) into an envelope and send it to Utah? If you do, you’re too far gone and can’t be helped. For the rest of you, you need to stop following this Knight Rider indoctrination cult, and whatever you do, stop writing fanfic for it, because you’re secretly indoctrinating others. Please please, realize what you’re doing, and how you could be luring innocent people into the Mormon temple with your seemingly harmless fascination with Mormon produced propoganda.

                    NOTE: Those who get lured into the temple come out the other end with abnormally round heads, unusually white teeth, and they can’t stop smiling. This is PURE brainwashing. Please do not contribute to this any longer.

                    1. Why did they censor the link in the OP?!?!?

                    2. I was horribly disappointed by that. I wanted to find out more about the abnormally round heads

              2. Mormonism is basically a pyramid scheme. Mormons sure are nice people, though.

            2. at least Jesus and Mohammad actually existed

              Prove it.

              More seriously – so what? Doesn’t mean they weren’t crazy.

          1. And?

            Oh, so you want to know more?

            Hubbard also taught that, upon the deaths of humans, thetans continued to “implant stations”, including locations on planets near Earth, where their memories were erased and new memories emplaced. On grounds that some “implant stations” were better than others, Hubbard advised his followers to avoid the one on Venus. After passing an implant station, he taught, the thetan returned to Earth, where it was incarnated.Hubbard taught the Christian concept of heaven was based on a physical location on another planet, which he claimed to have visited. He compared its appearance to Busch Gardens in Pasadena, California, and noted it contained effigies of characters from the New Testament. Over time, he recalled, the location fell into disrepair. A town nearby contained an implant station, at which thetans were convinced to return there.

            Another significant encounter in Hubbard’s narrative occurred when a large group of planets formed the Marcab Confederacy, described as in search of slaves, and called a “decadent” society. The author related that this civilization caused a significant implant upon their encounter with thetans.

            Now that you’re OT III, that will be 50,000 dollars, please.

            1. You can’t prove it’s not true.

              I always knew something was wrong with Venus.

              1. You can’t prove it’s not true.

                I disagree that the claim is unfalsifiable. One merely needs to hire a geologist to travel to Hawaii or the Canary Islands to take a core sample from around the late Cretaceous, and see if there is evidence of a thermonuclear explosion around the 75 million year mark. Presumably, (though it’s been a long time since I studied geology) one could find evidence for a layer of fallout through isotope geochemistry that would show a particular isotopic signature particular to thermonuclear explosions.

                1. I disagree that the claim is unfalsifiable.


                  1. Well, shit….I got nothin’

                2. Claiming a use of atomic bombs 75mya is ridiculous. However, we do know that aliens were using nuclear weapons 12,000 years ago in the Indus Valley.

                  1. Well, that explains the many armed, blue people running around ancient India. I assumed they were ingesting colloidal silver.

            2. Now that you’re OT III, that will be 50,000 dollars, please.

              Wealth of Roman Catholic Church impossible to calculate

              1. Wealth of Roman Catholic Church impossible to calculate

                Somebody better tell Francis, stat.

            1. You know who else questioned the moral fitness of religious devotees?

              1. Ben Carson?

              2. Jesus Christ?

        3. Was that supposed to convince me that Scientology is more whacked than the religions that believe in an invisible shy man?


            1. He’s so shy He hides in the sky!

          1. Shy guys aren’t invisible, they just wear masks.

      1. Maybe hae national sea org serviice? Yeah you can say that,and I’m not religious,but there are many good charities and hospitals run by other faiths,scientology exits to make money and harasses any that leave.You can’t compare them to mainstrem faiths,even with all their faults.

          1. Yeah, that Brigham Young was a real piece of shit.

          2. So,how does something that happened in 1867 translate to today? Eruope was ravaged by religous wars for hundreds of years.There was slavery here until 1865. Why didn’t you just yell ‘crusades’?

            1. Now that we have established that enough time passing makes anything OK, why are you still bitching about Hubbard and Sea Org? Hubbard hasn’t molested anyone since at least 1986. There’s not a Catholic diocese in the world that can credibly make that claim.

              ALL RELIGIONS exist to make money and harass (or at least shun) those that try to leave.

    3. So,would anyone here vote for a scientogoist for president? Maybe a Cruise – Travolta ticket? Wouldn’t that be fun.

      It would all depend on their policy proposals and positions. If their policy proposals/positions were good enough, I would vote for him/her.

  11. I’d just like to point out that in my apartment complex, dog owners didn’t really start diligently picking up after their dogs until the complex instituted a poop/dna-testing policy.

    1. When I lived in an HOA community, I got my neighbors to pick up their dog shit by taking it from my yard and leaving it in their driveway with a “You forgot this” note.

    2. Have they matched you to any of them yet?

        1. You already offered me a Cleveland Steamer, how much worse could it get?

          1. It could get worse–trust me.

    3. In NYC the sidewalks are owned by the property owner (the city might try to claim otherwise but given that the property owner is responsible for building and repairing them, they are wrong). Yet some people still don’t clean up.

  12. “Muslims feel that their religion is very much a part of your public life and what you do as a public official, and that’s inconsistent with our principles and our Constitution.”

    It should be noted that Carson is questioning the appropriateness of a Muslim as President–specifically because he doesn’t think Muslims believe in the separation of church and state.

    And I think that’s getting lost here.

    I think it’s probably getting lost, too, that Adventists are probably more appreciative of the separation of church and state than any other religion–to the point that they’ll support abortion rights even though they condemn abortion and will support the Second Amendment even though they’ll insist on conscientious objector status if and when they’re drafted.

    In fact, Adventists are so big on separation of church and state that the General Conference of Seventh Day Adventists publicly urged Ben Carson not to run.

    1. Maybe next they’ll publicly urge him to change his position to pro-choice.

      1. I think that’s exactly the kind of thing they want to avoid.

        That and Ben Carson somehow becoming the spokesperson for Adventism.

        He’s not. Individual Adventists all speak for themselves.

        That being said, Adventist belief in separation of church and state is such that they’ll support gay marriage–even though they may consider it sinful and wrong.

        The political position of most Adventists (and typically the position of the church body itself) is that the government isn’t the solution to our problems. It’s a false god.

        1. Yes, and I think we’d be in a much better place if other denominations would pick up on that.

  13. A recent statement on Carson from the SDA church included this verbiage:

    “We also want to remind our church members, pastors, and administrators of the church’s official position on the separation of church and state. The church has worked diligently to protect the religious rights of all people of faith, no matter what their denominational affiliation.

    We should therefore work to establish robust religious liberty for all and should not use our influence with political and civil leaders to either advance our faith or inhibit the faith of others. Adventists should take civic responsibilities seriously. We should participate in the voting process available to us when it is possible to do so in good conscience and should share the responsibility of building our communities. Adventists should not, however, become preoccupied with politics, or utilize the pulpit or our publications to advance political theories.'”…..ential-bid

    Bold all mine.

    This support for the separation of church and state is in stark contrast to Islam. It is also in stark contrast to Catholicism. It is also in stark contrast to modern Southern Baptists.

    All of these religions seek to influence politics. If Ben Carson does not, it is almost certainly because he is a Seventh Day Adventist.

    1. Dr. Carson on Colo. Recreational Marijuana Sales: We’re Removing All Barriers to Hedonistic Activity…..hedonistic

      You seriously aren’t defending this guy, are you?

      1. If Ben Carson does not, it is almost certainly because he is a Seventh Day Adventist.

        Yeah, it certainly sounds like he’s defending Carson here.

      2. I support Rand Paul for President.

        Of those that are most likely to win the nomination at this point, I’m annoyed by Carly the least. I think she’s competent even if I don’t agree with her on a host of issues.

        I don’t know much about Ben Carson’s positions, but I know I’d prefer him to Hillary, Warren, or Sanders–because they’re socialists. Now there’s a dangerous religion! If Ben Carson wants a flat tax of 10%, then I don’t really care why. The fact that he wants that puts him head and shoulders above the progressive buffoons on the left.

        Talking about Ben Carson’s religion isn’t support for Ben Carson per se. But then I’m responding to someone who chooses which facts to believe based on whether he likes or dislikes somebody.

        1. Yeah, I noticed you cooled on Carly. That leaves Trump, Bush, and Carson.

          Good luck with that.

          1. “Yeah, I noticed you cooled on Carly.”

            You need to work on your reading comprehension.

            I said I prefer Rand Paul to Carly, and I prefer Carly to the rest.

      3. Is pointing out some facts about Carson’s actual religion, in a discussion about how actual religions (could) affect the exercise of government power, “defending” him?

        This whole thing is just another gotcha takedown. Disappointing to see Reason piling on, and I say this as somebody with zero interest in Carson being President.

        1. I’m agreeing with RC Dean right here.

    2. That is very interesting, admittedly I don’t know a great deal about Adventist doctrine as it relates to government, or pretty much anything, honestly (they are the sect that doesn’t do birthday parties, correct?). But if Dr. Carson is following this particular tenant of his faith, which I suspect he isn’t, it kind of undermines Nick’s narrative.

      1. (they are the sect that doesn’t do birthday parties, correct?)

        That would be Jehovah’s Witnesses

        1. Thank you for the clarification.

      2. “We should participate in the voting process available to us when it is possible to do so in good conscience”

        Yeah, the official position of the church has that voting isn’t inherently evil–necessarily–and can even sometimes be done in good conscience.

        C’mon, that’s practically anarchist!

        I hope the idea is getting across (to Nick or anyone else) that the suggestion that Ben Carson is trying to impose his religion on the rest of us–becasue he is an Adventist–is laughable. ,..unless you’re unironically afraid of having the separation of church and state imposed on you by government. And there are people like that. The Baptists in particular get upset with Adventists for sticking Bibles in their faces and showing the Baptists–from the Bible–why using the government to impose their own beliefs on others is wrong.

        1. His professed faith aside, I suspect that the good Doctor’s position is one that is intended to pander to evangelical xenophobia.

          1. That very well may be true.

  14. speaking of fantastic beliefs, i hear the DC area’s going to be one major commuting clusterfuck the next day or three because a cult leader’s in town.

    1. And NY ciity alter and guess picks up the tab for the socialist pope?

      1. The taxpayers pay the security tab, no?

    2. That’s what happens when you live in a city where the main industry is self-important parasites with police power.

      1. But..but..we have rats who carry PIZZA!

  15. Isaac Newton shoved Faith in a corner. Better examples?

    1. He’d just better not put Baby in the corner.

      Cause NO ONE puts Baby in the corner.

  16. “Muslims feel that their religion is very much a part of your public life and what you do as a public official, and that’s inconsistent with our principles and our Constitution.”

    Um, what’s his position on Kim Davis, again?

    1. No position is acceptable, not even with Obama’s dick.

  17. OT: Oh Jesus, not this again…..-sinister/

    OKEMAH, Okla. — A 4-year-old was allegedly forced by his teacher to write with his right hand, even though he’s left-handed.

    The child was sent home with a letter about how left-handedness is often associated with evil and the devil.

    Zayde is only 4 years old.

    It’s his first year at Oakes Elementary in Okemah, but his mom kept him home Monday after a dispute with his teacher over being left-handed.

    1. I’m picturing Kathy Bates

    2. 4 year olds don’t “write”. They scribble.

      1. The woman is allegedly teaching him how to write.

        1. But just imagine how badass this kid will look in twenty-some years when he’s dueling a mysterious Spanish brigand and suddenly switches to his dominant hand.

    3. There’s only one way to settle this. Find out which one of his eyes is dominant and make him use that hand. He’ll thank you later when he can shoot a deer from 300 yards.

      1. Yeah, cross dominance is a bitch, I felt bad for those guys in basic. Drills had them wearing eye patches and pulling their hats over their eyes to get them qualified. Fortunately for me, I am only left handed for eating and writing. Other than getting ink all over my hand and making writing on a whiteboard a sisyphusian exercise, it wasn’t so bad.

      2. Yeah, I’m WAY left-eye dominant, and totally right-handed.

        I’ve spent the last 10 years relearning how to shoot with both eyes open…

        1. Any tips?

    4. Left handedness is sinister.

    5. We should ask Ben Carson his opinion on the Satanic origins of left-handed children.

    6. My younger brother’s kindergarten teacher did this to him. He ended up loving it, cause he wrote right handed, but was ambidextrous with most everything else. I remember he batted right, but played hockey left.


      My younger daughter’s a lefty. We just let Satan take her.

  18. These descend from the thinking of Roger Williams, the early colonist who created Providence, Rhode Island…

    Rhode Island is a hive of Papists, second only to Mary Land. Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest…

  19. Faith Cannot Be Shoved into a Corner.

    Faith should be shoved into a corner and people who insist on professing their faiths in a manner that intervenes, disrupts, and limits other people should be treated just like the people that believe in UFOs/Elvis is Alive/etc.

    Any adult that doesn’t see the correlation between God/people and SantaClaus/children is a moron. God was created long long time ago by the elitist in power to get the masses to believe that there is an accountability after death. And, that the peasant’s current suffering will go away after death.

    1. Hunankind would be easier for me to understand were that true.

    2. Absolutely agreed. People who treat government as Santa Claus should be shunned from public life and barred from public office.

  20. “God was created long long time ago by the elitist in power to get the masses to believe that there is an accountability after death.”

    That’s an interesting theory. The problem is that no society or culture survived into the historical record without some form of religion. And primitive cultures are pretty much universally egalitarian.

    A much better explanation is that religion is an evolutionary social adaptation. And if it evolved much like our opposable thumbs, then it must have conferred some sort of advantage.

    Plenty of people still seem to find it useful, too. To ignore that is like ignoring market signals. We know people like to shop at Wal*Mart because they shop at Wal*Mart. Whatever it is that people get out of religion, they’re still lining up for it.

    And, like I said, the things they get out of it are probably a lot more practical than what you imagine.

    1. You can look at the evidence that shows correlations between religiosity and health benefits, and you can also look at evidence that shows a correlation between secularism and happiness in societies. Like Wal-Mart, the story is not all good or all bad.

      Importantly, of course, is the point that Darwinian evolution is amoral. Whatever the adaptive benefits of religion, they do not contribute to answering the question of whether religion is good.

      Some people think religion serves the purpose of reinforcing group cohesion (and punishing defecting), which balances out as good for survival. I think it’s clear, though, that when talking about the utility or goodness of religion, it only works up to a point, and a primitive one. Enforcing group cohesion the way religion does is not necessarily a virtue for modern people. The benefits are quite outweighed by the harm, that is, competition between groups, an inherent part of religion we’re seeing played out most violently in the Middle East. Killing off the competition is part of adaptiveness too, and why it has nothing to do with goodness.

      1. the point that Darwinian evolution is amoral. Whatever the adaptive benefits of religion, they do not contribute to answering the question of whether religion is good.

        If you are a utilitarian, I don’t see much room for arguing that Darwinian evolution isn’t, over time, utilitarian, and thus consistent (at least as much as any natural process can be) with your ethics and “good” in that sense.

        1. Maximizing overall human well-being and maximizing the propagation of individual genes overlap only incidentally. There is no moral adjective to be coherently applied to Darwinian evolution, even “utilitarian.” Whose genes are we talking about favoring, and at the expense to which others?

          1. “Whose genes are we talking about favoring, and at the expense to which others?”

            We were talking about social adaptations.

            Interesting that you even think which genes should be favored isn’t a question that should be answered by free men and women making choices for themselves.

            I guess that dovetails nicely with your sick opinion about how holocaust victims didn’t have a right to their lives because the government at the time didn’t say so?

            “Whatever the adaptive benefits of religion, they do not contribute to answering the question of whether religion is good.”

            And that extends to Tony’s understanding of religion, too. It isn’t about utilitarianism for him. It’s about how people can’t make qualitative choices for themselves–and they need Tony’s favorite politician to tell them the difference between what’s good religion and what isn’t.

  21. The moment someone says something like “in charge of this nation” they lose me. Being in charge of the government is not being in charge of society or the entire nation.

    1. ^^this

      A FB friend (Canuck) – “Is this who we want running our country?” “This is the difference between you and me. I’m OK with someone ‘leading’, or ‘administering the Constitution’. You think your leaders ‘run’ your country. This is also why I have guns…”

      1. As much as it would like to, government doesn’t run businesses, doesn’t run the economy, doesn’t run families, doesn’t run personal lives. All it runs is an organization that employs force to impede all of the above. Ruin? Yes. Run? Nope. Not in the slightest.

  22. This is a non-issue created by and now perpetuated by the media. Evidently there are not any real issues to ask the candidates about. Or perhaps they don’t want to give them an opportunity to talk about them.

    1. The way it seems to work is the Republicans attack each other so much during the primary that by the time the general election comes around they’re all too tarnished to win.

    2. Only CNN had the guts to ask the real questions, like what Secret Service codenames the candidates would give themselves.

      1. That was a trick question. The correct answer was “Nicknames are given, not chosen.”

      2. It does have a weird pop psychology vibe to it. Might as well ask them what kind of tree they’d want to be.

        1. 21 Surefire Conversation Starters for Speed Dating

          #15: If you were elected president, what secret service codename would you want to be called?

          1. “What do you mean ‘Dirk Diggler’ is taken?”

          2. Maybe the Secret Service could ask the opinion of that intruder who slipped into the White House unobserved.

    3. No one will ever ask Hillary this question.

  23. 140 comments and still no Dirty Dancing references? This is what happens when there are no libertarian women.

    1. Don’t you mean Footloose?

      1. Nobody ever means Footloose.

        1. My brother was nicknamed “Footloose” on his HS football team due to his unfortunate mullet and button nose (He really did look like Kevin Bacon- except 6′ 2″ 210 lbs)

    2. I was totally going to do a “No one puts Benny in the corner” joke too.


    3. Too easy.

    4. Oops – I made it upthread at 11:45ish -too lazy to go find it. fuck you

    5. I am a libertarian woman, and I have never seen Dirty Dancing or Footloose.

  24. Carson answered the question incredibly badly. There are a ton of Muslims who I think would be better political candidates than most of the people running. I think Malala Yousafzai in 30 years would be a preferable candidate to Hillary Clinton or Trump. I personally like reformist Muslims like Maajid Nawaz. So there are Muslims that there’d be no problem with.

    The issue at hand is the fact that many Muslims in the west actually do believe their holy book to be so far above any secular authority that they basically support religious law. There was a poll reported on in the BBC that found 37% of Muslims between 16 and 24 believed that death was the proper punishment for apostasy in Britain. Given that, how many of those people do you think believe gays should have civil liberties? How many think it’s okay to hit your wife? There’s a real danger of these nutcases insinuating themselves into positions of authority in Britain as they age and it isn’t Islamophobic to worry about that.

    Carson painted with too broad a brush, so what he said shaded into bigotry. That doesn’t change the fact that a real problem exists and media is complicit in covering it up, with rare, notable exceptions like the BBC poll I mentioned above.

    That’s one of the reasons people are sometimes paranoid about Muslims – it’s obvious there’s a global problem with intolerance and violence within Islam and the media gives the whole thing an air of conspiracy by not talking about it.

    1. Oh, and here’s another stat from the BBC poll:

      “37% believe that “one of the benefits of modern society is the freedom to criticise other people’s religious or political views, even when it causes offence””

      Almost 2/3rds of Muslims in Britain oppose criticism of religion if it causes offense and don’t believe you should have that freedom. This is in a western society. There are over 1 billion Muslims who believe criticism of religion should be illegal on a global level. If Muslims were held to the same standards as Christians, we’d have to admit that well over half of them on planet Earth are fundamentalist lunatics.

      I mean, a Christian gets called a fundamentalist if he hates gays. For a Muslim to get called a fundamentalist, he basically has to blow up a Mosque. If you held Muslims to the ‘hates gays’ standard to determine if they’re fundamentalists, you’d have to conclude that the overwhelming majority of them are legitimately insane religious fanatics.

      This doesn’t make what Carson said right. What it does mean is that the issue is vastly more complex than the media narrative would have it.

      1. How much confidence can we have in these poll numbers? Maybe Trumpism and Islamism aren’t as popular as they appear in the West.

        1. We can have pretty strong confidence given the consistency with which legitimate polling institutions find frightening stats when they poll Muslims. Pew research found that hundreds of millions of Muslims support stoning for adulterers and an outright majority think public beatings are a reasonable punishment for crimes.

          There was also a Gallup poll where they asked 500 Muslims in Britain if it was morally acceptable to be gay and 0 of them said yes.

          0. They managed to ask 500 people that question and got a goose egg.

    2. It would sure be nice to hear a little more nuanced discussion about Muslims and Islam. FOr the most part all I hear is people arguing that it is completely horrible and evil and people who want to ignore all of the major problems and say that it’s only the Islamist extremists who want the bad things.
      When you are talking about 1/4 of the world’s population, you are going to need a different approach if you actually want to make things better. THere is no easy answer to what should be done, but I think acknowledging and perhaps encouraging more reasonable Mulims like thoe you mention who want to reform their religion would be a start.

      1. What would that ‘reform’ look like, without ripping the most fundamental tenets of the religion apart?
        Let’s pretend that the hadiths can be selectively redacted, eliminating those which exhort the faithful to slay infidels etc. You still have the main corpus of the Q’ran, the literal transcription of the words of Allah, which you can’t treat like the Bible, by ‘reinterpreting it’ in print.
        To edit or abridge the work is itself sacriligious, it’s why the Sunna and the Haditha exist (it’s my understanding that these “interpretations” may be reinterpreted by subsequent scholars)

        Over the last couple of decades, a number of commenters have declared that what Islam needs is its own Martin Luther, but if you look on such an event as an opportunity for the faith to return to a ‘purer, less corrupted’ Islam, it’s easy to see that we do have such a movement.

        Unfortunately, the movement is Wahhabism.

        So it’s hard to imagine what that different approach is. What we would call “reasonable muslims” look awfully like schismatics and heretics to the Wahabbi.

        1. “Let’s pretend that the hadiths can be selectively redacted”

          They can be and are, depending on the sect. Oman’s main religious group is Ibn Islam (different from Sunni or Shi’ite I believe) and they don’t adhere to certain hadiths.

        2. So what do you do? I think more people do need to know more about the very bad aspects of Islam. But that isn’t going to solve the problem. Nor will waging war against 1/4 of the world.

          I don’t know the answer, but just rubbishing Islam isn’t going to be it. It’s not going to go away, it has to change.

        3. I’ll do it again. Islam needs its own Martin Luther!

          And it sure as shit ain’t ISIS.

        4. What Islam needs is its own Unitarians.

      2. It would sure be nice to hear a little more nuanced discussion about Muslims and Islam.

        Yup. And about a lot of other things (immigration, perhaps?).

        But, there is no short-term reward or incentive to be nuanced or thoughtful, and lots of stroke for being a provocative asshole. As ever, we are getting more of what we reward.

        1. This.

      3. The problem is that reasonable, reformist Muslims like Maajid Nawaz get attacked as race traitors by other Muslims. Maajid Nawaz got called a ‘porch monkey’ last week by a guy who writes for The Intercept.

        It’s hard to support reformist Muslims when right-wingers still view them with suspicion because of their religion and left-wingers call them dirty imperialist pig dogs.

        1. Yeah, that is exactly the problem. So now what?

    3. 37% of young Muslims in Britain? Wow, Europe is going to have some serious pains integrating that population.

  25. Remove the crazy-Arab influence from Sharia and rename it United this-and-that Community something-or-other and a bunch of Evangelicals and their fringe ilk would accept it happily with maybe a few minor changes. In spite of their Sunday smiles Evangelicals quietly display very powerful levels of mercilessness.

    The divide between the dark places in all religions is generally narrow. But one would deliberately be thinking with half the cognition if modern context is rejected when assessing people associated with planetary religions whose leaders don’t generally espouse complete freedom.

    The Muslim religion just so happens to be under the microscope. It’s fucking disingenuous to suggest that somehow fucking massive religions with dubious track records don’t receive the same fucking investigating that actual countries and fucking states do. The Catholics had their long moment under the microscope and it wasn’t pretty but all told the Catholics seemed to develop something of a modernized fucking backbone as a result and these people are still trying to reinvent themselves as evidenced by their Mr. McMacho in the white tophat showing up here and doing the rounds.

    1. Some people are very tall and merciless
      Quincy is destroying San Antonio

      I don’t understand why I should hold Islam to a different standard than any other religion. By the standard to which I am accustomed to Islam has serious issues that prevent it from being compatible with a free society. While very many Muslims in America may be able to adapt and participate in civil life, as a world religion there is plenty of change that needs to happen.

      I still think Carson botched the hell out of this. Trump just said what a trump will say. We can’t have a president who will speak so candidly about Islam.

      1. “I still think Carson botched the hell out of this.”

        Quite correct.

  26. Unfortunately, laws and government campaigns can and do change people (for better and worse). The WoD, War on Smoking, MAD, recycling, etc

  27. Indeed, Carson was recently bounced from a Christian event put together by Baptists due to his beliefs.

    and he somehow managed to survive, like he probably imagines Muslims will be able to survive his belief that they can’t separate religion and politics.

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  29. If a religion includes provision for accepting the fact that there are many who don’t follow its edicts (i.e., peaceful co-existence), then it is compatible with the enlightenment and its politics (roughly libertarian). But if a religion is imperialistic, it has to be contained within borders lest it start intruding on the lives of non-believers. While Ben Carson’s stance on the prospects of a Muslim president of the USA is correct (though inconsistent with his own very likely imperialist religiosity) — because of the Muslim commitment to the spreading of sharia law, if a Muslim were to ascend to the presidency, he or she would need to renounce the imperialism of Islam. (For more on this, see Efraim Karsh, Islamic Imperialism (Yale 2006).

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