Ted Cruz: When Civil Religion Goes Too Far

Our fellow Patheos blogger Warren Throckmorton posted about recent comments Glenn Beck made at a Ted Cruz rally, held at a South Carolina church, about the Constitution and the Bible both being “sacred scriptures.” [start at :50]

Christian conservatives need to draw a clear line on this topic.

Yes, religion and the Bible have had a major role in shaping our nation’s ideas, and the mental world of the Founders, regardless of their personal faiths.

Yes, a nation that strips itself of those framing concepts and resources risks creating a “naked public square,” as Richard John Neuhaus put it.

Yes, all things being equal I would prefer to have a candidate of serious personal faith, who can speak intelligently about their beliefs in public.

And yes, we want a candidate who cares deeply about issues such as life, marriage, and religious liberty.

BUT, the American nation and the Constitution are this-worldly, secondary commitments for us. The Constitution, wonderful as it is, is man-made and imperfect. The Bible is God-breathed and perfect.

Lest I get a bunch of flak about being a “liberal” for saying these things, let me note that I see a lot to like in Ted Cruz. I voted for him in the Texas GOP primary for Senate. (Many readers will also know that I am a former guest on Glenn Beck’s program.) I do not know how Cruz himself would respond if asked about these comments.

But Cruz’s platforming of this kind of civil religion, and conflating of the Bible, the Constitution, the Kingdom of God, and America, are the most troubling aspects of his campaign. It confirms that Cruz’s relationship with David Barton, the leading “Christian America” advocate and head of Cruz’s Super PAC, is not just incidental but central to his outreach.

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More from our Politics and the Globe Section and other Patheos Topics

The Limits of Evangelical Identity Politics
“Ask Jesus into Your Heart”: A History of the Sinner’s Prayer
Reassessing the Boston Tea Party
The Stunning Statistics of the Slave Trade
  • http://seerstone.wordpress.com Matthew Jensen

    To fundamentalists, the Constitution is like a sacred text: divinely inspired, infallible, and never read in its entirety.

  • http://harwooddiscipleship.blogspot.co.uk/ Antony Rei

    Good line! This explains to me why this position puts gun ownership over the death of innocents.

  • Clay Davis

    Because guns can think and act of their own accord, right? You’re also assuming laws restricting gun ownership is the answer and that it’s OK for GOVERNMENT to have all the guns and use them as they see fit. Ever heard the term “statheist”? You might be one.

  • http://harwooddiscipleship.blogspot.co.uk/ Antony Rei

    Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God

    The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Ga 5:19–21.

    Enmity, fits of anger, strife, rivalries, dissensions and divisions, bro, so chill, because it isn’t God talking through you when you go straight into polemic attack and defamation of character. It shows an unfortunate, avoidable and un-Christlike resemblance to folk in the Muslim world who react out of all proportion at the slightest negative mention of Mohammed: gun law seems to be the issue that inspires a similar kind of negative and over-the-top reaction from ‘true-believers’ in the second amendment.

    Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.

    The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Ro 13:2–6.

    The Bible does speak with authority on this issue. No I don’t trust the state with all the weapons. Nor do I trust myself, or my neighbour, because by nature we are children of wrath, sold as slaves to sin. I don’t think the solution to an armed group of sinners we call “the state” is solved by an armed group of sinners called individuals. Nor an armed group of sanctified sinners, saints in Christ, as those who live by the gun, die by the same, and that is not the kind of King we serve. The valuing of human life and the longing for equality, is a clear and repeated clarion cry in the Bible. If you can find me a reference that puts gun ownership up there with the ten commandments and the ‘turn the other cheek’ teachings of Christ, I am willing to be corrected. It seems to me that this is a quintessentially uhmurican problem, and one that has, really, no precedent in church history, barring maybe the seizing and capitalizing on temporal, political and martial power at the time of the crusades and the Roman Catholic church, pre-reformation. I could be wrong there. Happy to be corrected, if someone knows more church history than me: not a stretch!

  • Sven2547

    You’re also assuming laws restricting gun ownership is the answer and that it’s OK for GOVERNMENT to have all the guns and use them as they see fit.

    World-class straw-man, right there.

  • http://www.thegodreality.com/ johnheno

    They took the guns off Australians. This has done nothing to reduce the murder statistics. The only ones that still have guns are criminals, terrorists and police. Who are few in number, and never there when you need them.. In short, don’t let them take your guns.

  • Sven2547

    They took the guns off Australians. This has done nothing to reduce the murder statistics.

    Firearm homicides fell 59% over the next 10 years, with NO corresponding increase in non-firearm homicides.

    This has been the subject of numerous studies. You do not know what you are talking about.

  • http://www.thegodreality.com/ johnheno

    You missed the point! People find all sorts of ways to kill people. Not just guns.

    Over the past 18 years (1 July 1989 to 30 June 2007), the rate* of homicide incidents decreased from 1.9 in 1990-91 and 1992-93 to the second-lowest recorded rate, of 1.3, in 2006-07. *rate per 100,000 population. This is not a 56percent drop in murder statistics.

    Murder is the predominant charge and has been throughout the 18-year data-collection period. In 2006-07, there were 230 murder charges, 28 manslaughter charges, one infanticide charge, and one unknown. The type of charge against an offender may change once the incident proceeds through the judicial process.

    In 2006-07, there were 260 homicide instances, involving 266 victims and 296 offenders

  • Sven2547

    You missed the point! People find all sorts of ways to kill people. Not just guns.

    I quite clearly took non-firearm homicides into account, you dimwit. What part of “NO corresponding increase in non-firearm homicides” did you not understand?

  • http://www.thegodreality.com/ johnheno

    My original statement was “This has done nothing to reduce the murder statistics” What part of my statement did you not understand. You dimwit!

  • J. Inglis

    If that’s what you really meant, then you have failed to differentiate between what is statistically relevant and what is not.

  • Sven2547

    My original statement was “This has done nothing to reduce the murder statistics” What part of my statement did you not understand.

    Oh I understood what you said. I also looked at the murder statistics (that’s what “homicide” means, btw) and found your statement to be false. Deal with it.

    How can you look at a drop from 1.9 to 1.3 and call that “no reduction”? Must be a conservative. Inability to handle simple numbers.

  • http://www.thegodreality.com/ johnheno

    Yes, I guess a drop of 0.6per cent is highly significant. It shows what a huge difference the confiscation of gum made. How could I have missed such a dramatic change.

  • Sven2547

    Yes, I guess a drop of 0.6per cent is highly significant.

    Oh wow, you don’t have the slightest idea what you are talking about. Those numbers weren’t percentage points.

    The annual homicide rate dropped from 1.9 murders per 100,000 citizens to 1.3 murders per 100,000 citizens in the span of 1989 to 2007. That is a decrease of roughly 31.6%.

    Or put in simpler terms, since your math skills are at a 6th grade level, 1.3 is about 68.4% of 1.9. Got it?

  • http://www.thegodreality.com/ johnheno

    From 1.9 to 1.3 murders per 100,000. An earthshaking difference of 0.6 murders per 100,000. Wow! Little wonder Australian’s never ventured out before they took the guns. The way you handle your statistical maths reminds me of the dodgy statistician who drowned crossing a river with an average depth of 10 cms. The difference of 0.6 murders per 100.000 is not sufficient grounds to disarm the entire population. Unfortunately Australian’s had no constitutional rights to bear arms. I can see why Americans have opted to keep their guns on constitutional grounds, especially the way the country is going. Got it!

  • Zeke

    Hahahahahahaha! Lemme guess – Christian home schooled, amiright?

    Put in a way even a right wing Christian ammosexual can understand, in a population of approx. 23 million, the number of firearm related homicides dropped from about 440/yr. to about 300/yr. It has since dropped to about 200.

    Numbers are not your friend John. You should probably focus less on statistics and more on how those animals on the ark made their way to Australia.

  • http://www.thegodreality.com/ johnheno

    Wow.1 A drop of around 150 firearm homicides in a population of 23 million. There are around 30.000 vehicle fatalities each year in the US . So, let’s all start pushing for the confiscation of all motor vehicles, yours included. And considering that over 53 million infants have been butchered and torn apart in the abortion “killing fields”, lets all start pushing for the closure of all abortion facilities. As I said its time to leave your statistical wonderland and join the real world. Don’t waste my time with your statistical gymnastics and mindless semantics.

    To answer you other comments. I attended public educational institutions. I have received achievement awards. Along with an award for outstanding scholarship for graduate legal studies. What scholarship awards do you have?

    p.s. By the way, we all know how the animals came to Australia, The same way they get to any land mass or island. I will leave it to you to do a simple google search .

  • Sven2547

    An earthshaking difference of 0.6 murders per 100,000. Wow!

    Decreasing the murder rate by nearly a third really is quite significant. Your inability to grasp basic statistical concepts is not my shortcoming.

  • http://www.thegodreality.com/ johnheno

    I see you are dazzled by statistics. It’s time you joined the real world. A third of an insignificant number is in overall terms insignificant. And no basis for calling in the guns or the troops. Got it!

  • Andrew Dowling

    Umm, actually gun homicides declined dramatically. But thanks for playing.

  • http://www.thegodreality.com/ johnheno

    Maybe the framers of the Constitution should have added the phrase or end note:”This Constitution should be modified, reinterpreted or thrown out by those Supreme Court justices who want it to say something different. As it is only relevant for this moment in time. “

  • Andrew Dowling

    In fact, the Constitution establishes the Supreme Court to do that very thing. Only an idiot would write a governing document and then declare it infallible for all of eternity. Hence we have judicial interpretation and the amendment process. The Founders were pretty intelligent people overall.

  • http://www.thegodreality.com/ johnheno

    Yes, the Founders were pretty intelligent people overall.They knew that there are fundamental principles that do not, and must not, change over time. The first of these is the foundational principles of democracy. Namely, that government of the people, by the people, and for the people is paramount, and includes freedom of speech, the press, assembly, religion and all else. They knew that unelected justices were not to legislate from the bench in dictatorial fashion to impose their “amended progress” leftist liberal agenda on the State and the nation, contrary to the will of the people. Lincoln specifically warned American’s about unelected U.S. Supreme Court justices seeking to impose their “amended progress” on the State and the nation. Stated Lincoln “If the policy of the government, upon vital questions, affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made…the people will have ceased to be their own rulers…” Thus, the battles rages over appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court. Because every American knows that the unelected justices of the U.S. Supreme Court do in fact “legislate from the bench” to impose the leftist liberal “progressive” sociopolitical agenda on the State and the nation. A disturbing development Justice Scalia and others have repeatedly warned Americans about. Every informed American knows that this is now happening, and that the nation is going down the tube; morally, politically, culturally, and economically. China has well noted that it was the “protestant work ethic” and the moral and cultural stability provided by belief in God and Christianity that made America the world’s greatest Superpower. China and the world also knows that this no longer exists.And that America is now a weaker and greatly diminished nation. The fact that Socialist Burnie Sanders and Hilliary Clinton are now competing to persuade voters who most leftist candidate says it all.. .

  • Andrew Dowling

    What is this “leftist” totalitarian agenda? Civil rights? Gay marriage? I’ve never heard so much waxing about faux persecution than from conservative christians.

  • Rudy R

    Perfect description of the Bible as well.

  • Brian McCrorie

    So let me get this straight. You’re taking some comments that Glenn Beck made at a Cruz rally, even though you admit you don’t know how Cruz would respond to them, and basing a whole article about how Cruz is wrapped up in basically a theology of reconstructionism? Seems like a bit of a leap to me.

  • rdrift1879

    The Beck endorsement was the purpose of the rally, and he spoke for a long time. It’s Cruz’s place to put some distance there if he disagrees.

  • Brian McCrorie

    It’s still a leap to assume that Cruz holds to everything one of his endorsers might say publically at a rally. Sure, he could distance himself. He could also have demonstrated the differences between Beck’s mormonism and his Christianity. But let’s not assume him guilty by association. That’s a fallacy.

  • http://twitter.com/cpmondello Corey Mondello

    Just do a search on Cruz, he IS a Dominionist, like many conservative Christians in the USA!

  • J. Inglis

    Have you read what Cruz’s father teaches and preaches? And what he obviously taught to Cruz? There is a much broader and deeper connection to reconstructionism than just the rally.

  • stefanstackhouse

    This is IDOLATRY! Count me out.

    Here’s news for all of you – although it shouldn’t be. According to Psalm 2, ALL the nations of the world are in rebellion against God. He is going to laugh ALL of them to scorn, break them ALL with a rod of iron, and smash them ALL like pottery. ALL means ALL, and that includes the USA. There will be no USA in the eternal Kingdom. . . but there will be Christians who have been called out of the USA, just as there will be people called out of every other nation.

  • Kirk Leavens

    Wait, what, noooo! Donald is going to make America great again! There’s still time for us to turn this around, return America to the great country it was when it understood its Manifest Destiny to take the country from the red man, take the black man from Africa and teach him about Christ and how to pick cotton. If we can just keep Catholics and Mormons out of public life, get women back in the kitchen, get those pesky Gays back in their closets. All kidding aside, it’s interesting how there has been a reversal amongst Fundagelicals concerning religion and politics in the last 75 years or so. There was a time when the view that America was a beacon of hope for the rest of the world, that Christianity (which equated to being “civilized”) was the means by which the world would become better and better until Christ returned was a liberal Christian view. Early fundamentalists were seen as unpatriotic because they saw society in America as unredeemable, and looked forward to the eminent return of Christ (via rapture) as the only answer. Now things have reversed. It is liberals and progressives who are unAmerican and evangelicals are the ones trying to make America Christian again, so that God can bless us as a nation. Strange turn of events.

  • cken

    Both the Bible and the Constitution are inspired writings. Then again so was Narnia and Lord of the Rings. Where does this inspiration come from?

  • http://twitter.com/cpmondello Corey Mondello

    Hitler was inspired by the Bible

  • cken

    And look what he accomplished. We can all get inspiration from the Bible, or the Koran or the Gita, it’s all a matter of interpretation and how we use it.

  • RCPreader

    Hitler denounced both Christianity and Judaism, so how was he inspired by the Bible? He was an atheist who played around with Norse and Germanic mythology.

    Hitler was inspired by Mussolini, who was inspired by Woodrow Wilson.

  • Chris

    Beck’s comments can be understood based on his Mormon faith. As I understand it, Mormons consider the U.S. Constitution divinely inspired. I assume at a level just below the Bible and the Book of Mormon.

    MormonWiki, whatever its accuracy relative to LDS authorities, states, “The Constitution of the United States of America is considered by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be an inspired document.” (http://www.mormonwiki.com/Constitution_of_the_United_States) The quoted texts from seeming authorities in Mormonism would seem to support the point.

    See these comments from a former LDS President:

    https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1987/10/our-divine-constitution?lang=eng
    Garry Wills also discusses the topic here, though I can’t speak to how accurate his (or his student’s) understanding of the belief is:

    http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2012/05/24/mormon-constitution/

  • RCPreader

    Yes, either the author is ignorant or is deliberately misleading readers. We can’t infer Cruz’s views from statements made by Beck, who is not even of the same religion. If we’re going to play this sort of game, we can attribute all sorts of views to all the candidates in both parties, on the basis of things that their surrogates have said.

  • Marla Hughes

    Cruz has the option to disavow Beck’s claims as well as the claims of his preacher father who anointed him with oil as a king of the kingdom, authorized to being the wealth of the wicked into the storehouses of the righteous. If Cruz was going to come much closer to the nomination I would be insisting on it, as Obama should have disavowed Reverend Wright’s proclamations in his regular presence. One time statements can be forgiven and forgotten, but standing on stage with and participating in repeated events declaring it are a different kettle of fish.

  • Arlene Adamo

    I don’t know why people aren’t asking if Beck and Cruz are part of an extremist Christian sect known as Dominionists. The lust of Dominionists for power means that they embrace greed and oppression in many forms. Their faith is mostly in mammon and Jesus would find them absolutely appalling.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominion_Theology

  • ML Kyte

    God is imaginary.

  • Sagrav

    I’m pretty sure your three sentence post isn’t going to cause anyone’s faith to waiver. Why did you bother?

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe_Brain

    Sometimes facts need stating, even though they may upset others.

    The Earth is not Flat.
    The Sun doesn’t orbit the Earth.
    Pi is not equal to 3.
    Chromosomes don’t define sex.

    Why should I care if someone’s faith wavers or not? They may find great comfort in their beliefs in Thor or Amaterasu or whatever, and to undermine that belief may cause them to be unhappy.

    That would not be good. The world has enough misery without me adding to it. So state the facts, but try not to be unkind doing it, otherwise you’re missing the point.

    Moreover, some people use various Holy Scriptures, such as the Holy Koran,1645 King James Bible, Book of Mormon or Bhaghavid-Gita as moral guides, and often do more good than harm. Even though they’re mutually contradictory, and belong in the fiction section.

    Matthew 25:35-40New International Version (NIV)

    35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,

    36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
    37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?

    38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?

    39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

    40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

    You don’t have to accept Jesus Christ, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster for that matter, as your Personal Saviour to see the good in those words. Many Christians try to live up to them too. Just not Supply-side “Christians” like Cruz, to whom that’s all Commie talk.

  • Sheri

    Alan, stop trolling.
    All you guys do by trolling is prove how unhappy trannies are. We get the message: you’re miserable.

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe_Brain

    Sheri, I was wondering whether to respond to your post. If you were the only reader, I wouldn’t bother, I’d let you continue to think I was cut to the quick, if that’s what makes you happy. But this comment isn’t for you.

    Some people deliberately try to hurt others. I’ve never understood that, though it’s easily observable.

    Some people attempt to portray “n1ggers” as shiftless and lazy, because they get off on hate.

    Others portray “trannies” (not that I am, technically, I’m Intersex, but close enough) as miserable, mentally ill, perverts etc. These people get off on hate too.

    Jews cop it the worst, being portrayed as “kikes” and “Yids”, simultaneously penniless parasites leeching off society, and also super-rich plutocrats oppressing others. The illogical contradiction never seems to make any difference to anti-semites. The Hate’s the thing.

    Sometimes it’s personal – the deliberate use of “dead names – previous appelations that haven’t been used for over a decade, is hurtful to many trans people. Not me, but the attempt was made. Not accidental. Deliberate. Why?

    The only people I permit to use the old name are my in-laws. They’re in their mid to late 90’s, and very frail and with senile dementia. they have an excuse – as often they think I’m an aunt, or sister, or cousin, many of who have been dead for 30 years.

    Perhaps others with “different” mental processes, those who feel the need to hurt others, deserve the same consideration. So call me anything, just don’t call me late to dinner.

  • http://mandilivingston.wordpress.com/ MandiLiv
  • obadiahorthodox

    “…The Bible is God-breathed and perfect…” Really? Give me a freaking break. the Bible is no more god breathed and perfect than any other religious scripture, be it the Quran, Bhagavad Gita, Srimad Devi Bhagavatam, or any of the Buddhist scriptures, they are all written by MEN not god. http://bibviz.com/

  • http://twitter.com/cpmondello Corey Mondello

    I know, coming from a man, a member of a cult, Mormonism, whose very founded was killed in a jail by a mob of those like Ted Cruz

  • Randy Davenport

    After he broke out of jail and killed 2 people.

  • http://twitter.com/cpmondello Corey Mondello

    Inter-religious fighting was the norm when one was the majority and tried snuffing out the other. One would hope that, any one lynched for what they do or don’t believe, should at least have been guilty of more than just that. If that were the case,ntry lynching make seem more like punishment as opposed to persecution. I’m not sure if Smith killed anyone, he could of legally been arrested just for his beliefs at that time.

  • Occupy Christianity

    The fact that Cruz would associate with a hack like Barton (and his close friend Beck) demonstrates (as if we needed any further convincing) his complete unsuitability for public office, not to mention the presidency. Ask any historian (I am one) about Barton. He’s shunned not for his perspectives, but because he’s a piss-poor historian. He starts with his conclusions and then plagiarizes or makes up “facts” to “prove” them. The fact that Cruz is a Dominionist is clear – he sees no religious liberty except the “liberty” for Conservative Christians to foist their views on the entire nation. As the immortal Inigo Montoya put it, “you keep on using that word…I do not think it means what you think it means.”

  • Steve Bailey

    Excellent comment.

  • http://twitter.com/cpmondello Corey Mondello

    Cruz is a Dominionist. That means, basically, Christian Theocracy, Christian world domination.

  • http://www.thegodreality.com/ johnheno

    AMERICA: FROM CHRISTIANITY TO ATHEISM, IN A GENERATION

    Nowhere does the Constitution or any other document promote or endorse “Freedom FROM religion, rather “Freedom OF religion”. with the liberal left proclaiming America is a Secular nation. Yet Secularism itself is a religion: Secularism is in fact Atheism.The word Secular, and Secularism was introduced by hard-core atheist and Socialist George Jacob Holyoake (13 April 1817 – 22 January 1906). Holyoake was the founding father of “secularism”, and was first to use the word “secular”. He was a leader of the English “free thought” movement that actively promoted atheism and socialism. He first coined the term “secularism” in1851: As a result of his six months blasphemy imprisonment and his role as editor of the radical atheist publication Oracle Holyoake soon came to regard “atheism” as a negative word – hence his preference for “secular”. As “secularism” was just a code word for “atheism”. And both words meant one and the same, and produced exactly the same results: A godless lifestyle and socialist world “without God, spirituality and traditional religion”.

    Secularism is Atheism. And the U.S.Court has itself has ruled that atheism is a religion. In Kaufman v. McCaughtry – 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court set the precedence that acknowledged Atheism to be a “religion”. This landmark court decision affirmed what most people already knew to be true – Atheism is a religion..Meaning, leftist liberal majority U.S.Supreme Court justices “legislating
    from the bench” have in reality imposed “atheism” on the State and the nation: Making atheistic Secularism the “new” State religion. Thus, the United States emblem IN GOD WE TRUST is now in reality IN ATHEISM WE TRUST, and the declining moral and sociopolitical consequences are there for all to see.

    “Make no mistake! Secularism is about the judicial and state enforcement of a godless sociopolitical system and lifestyle by brute force: Atheistic Secularism is the judicial and State enforcement of an atheistic religious worldview and lifestyle “Without God, spirituality and alternative religious worldviews, tolerating no other.” This is accompanied by judicial threats and Government intimidation towards all who do not conform. In this sense atheistic “secularism” is no different to aggressive Communism, Socialism, Secular Humanism or Islam. As Secularism is a religion that hates every other religion, particularly Christianity”.

    This is precisely why Thump and other Republican Presidential contenders are gaining such an audience among Christians and sociopolitical conservatives. The American people have had enough of this atheistic Socialist-Humanist worldview and godless lifestyle agenda being imposed on individuals and the nation – while elected members do nothing. These are the issues the American
    election must be fought on. As this is the only way to restore the nation to its conservative roots, and make America a great nation again. If not, the writing is on the wall. As China well knows.

    As reported by Australia’s national newspaper, The Weekend Australian, Communist China well knows that it was the “Protestant work ethic” and the moral and cultural stability and well-being provided by belief in God and America’s
    Judaeo-Christian history and heritage that made the United States a great global superpower. This no longer exists! The U.S. Supreme Court leftist-liberal judiciary has effectively eradicated theism and the Christian worldview from the State, education and all public places, with due consequences. The United States is now a nation in crisis. The world is witnessing the rapid decline of a
    superpower. The American people and the world knows that the United
    States is now undergoing serious moral, cultural and economic decline. Indeed, it’s only conservative American’s and the nation’s many Churches the Christian institutions, that keep the fading flame burning. As an Australian who lived and studied law in the United States some years ago it grieves me to observe what is happening to this great nation as the “Dictatorship of the judiciary” destroys the nations foundation, and its Judaeo-Christian history and heritage..

  • John Williams

    lol….wut? No…..just….no.

  • Rudy R

    That was one helluva rant. How can you apply the label of religion to atheism, which explicitly denies a central belief of all religions? Atheism is just a position on the god question. Nothing more, nothing less. And secularism is a principle that asserts the right to be free from religious rule and teachings.

  • ron_goodman

    My favorite is “Atheism is a religion like bald is a hair color”.

  • http://www.thegodreality.com/ johnheno

    I suggest you extend your understanding of atheism beyond atheism 101, as the U.S. Supreme Court did.The U.S Supreme court ruled that atheism is a religion because it was a group that was “religious in nature even though it expressly rejects a belief in a supreme being.” As is the case with Zen Buddhism.

    Secularism is atheism. And atheism is a religion. As further pointed out by author Timothy Keller in the New York Times best seller, The Reason for God, Secularism and related atheist worldviews have all the qualities of a religion. Says Keller, “It is a set of beliefs that explain what life is all about, who we are and the most important things that human beings should spend their time doing.” In regard to godless worldviews such as secularism and atheism Keller states, “For example, some think that the material world is all there is, and that we are here by accident and when we die we just rot, and therefore the important thing is to choose to do is what makes you happy and not let others impose their beliefs on you. Notice that though this is not an explicit “organized” religion, it contains a master narrative, an account about the meaning of life along with a recommendation for how to live based on that account of things.”

    Atheism and Secularism (Secular Humanism) both represent “positions on the God question” . And all such godless positions and worldviews are founded on religious metaphysical beliefs beyond the verifiable limit’s of science and physics. (see link below) This is precisely why Secular Humanists repeatedly acknowledge that godless Humanism is a religion, And have openly declared Secular Humanism to be the “New Faith”. However, like all atheistic worldviews it turns out to be a faith founded on “vastly improbable” events for which there exist no “verifiable scientific answer” to this very day.: A definition for magic or miracles – here: http://thegodreality.org/miraclesofscience.html

  • Rudy R

    The U.S Supreme court ruled that atheism is a religion because it was a group that was “religious in nature even though it expressly rejects a belief in a supreme being.”

    SCOTUS only made an opinion on a legal ruling. Their only purpose is to rule on the Constitutionality of laws and not to be the arbiters of philosophical questions, i.e. handing down official decrees on atheism. If we want to carry your logic about SCOTUS rulings to it’s natural conclusion, gay marriage, abortion, and capital punishment are moral acts, simply because SCOTUS ruled that they are Constitutional.

    Secularism is atheism. And atheism is a religion. As further pointed out by author Timothy Keller in the New York Times best seller

    That’s his opinion, which by the way, isn’t exactly an non-biased opinion coming from a pastor, theologian and Christian apologist. Should I start naming people and authors who state otherwise?

    “It is a set of beliefs that explain what life is all about, who we are and the most important things that human beings should spend their time doing.”

    You described a worldview, not atheism. Again, atheism is a lack of belief in the existence of God or gods. Atheism is no belief; not a set of beliefs. What you are really describing is an ideology, which is indeed a set of ideas or beliefs.

    “For example, some think that the material world is all there is, and that we are here by accident and when we die we just rot, and therefore the important thing is to choose to do is what makes you happy and not let others impose their beliefs on you. Notice that though this is not an explicit “organized” religion, it contains a master narrative, an account about the meaning of life along with a recommendation for how to live based on that account of things.”

    Indeed, that describes some atheists worldview, but not all. Again, what you are describing is a worldview and the basis for how someone decides to conduct their life. A worldview is not synonymous with atheism, which does not equal religion. No where will you find a common definition for religion that does not include a system of worship, faith and a supreme being. Atheism, if anything, is the antithesis of those things.

    Atheism and Secularism (Secular Humanism) both represent “positions on the God question”

    Most atheists don’t have issue with the practice of religion by theists. They just have issue when theists want to legislate their religion’s moral values. Secularsim is the principle that the state be neutral on matters of belief, from the imposition by government of religion or religious practices upon its people. Many theists can and do advocate secularism, so your logic that atheism and secularism are one in the same is a failed argument, because theism and secularism can be one in the same as well.

    And all such godless positions and worldviews are founded on religious metaphysical beliefs beyond the verifiable limit’s of science and physics. (see link below)

    I can provide links that dispute your link, but that won’t get us any further in the argument. What is your best evidence, in your own words, on how you know morals are derived from a supernatural being?

    For me, morals are nothing more than how humans promote human well-being. Almost all humans desire to pursue happiness and avoid pain and suffering. The goal of morals is to resolve conflicts between humans that arise in the pursuit to be happy and avoid suffering.

  • cajaquarius

    It is a matter of making you into a conglomerate enemy, like they do with Islam, Pagans, and so on. These are people of limited rational capacity and can’t really put themselves in the shoes of other people. They are fundamentally incapable of it. Part of why many conservative religious people meet so many of the prerequisites for being considered dark triad type psychopaths.

    I would check out “The Authoritarians” by Prof. Bob Altemeyer (you can Google it and find it for free as an e-book). Very eye opening and based on thirty years of research.

  • Steve Bailey

    Arlene’s concern about the Dominionists is a real one that faces you Americans. Thank God we have none of this heresy in Canada. I watched Beck’s ‘performance’ at the Cruz rally – extremely well orchestrated — and an insult to all intelligent Americans. Poor Mr. Beck has always lacked intellectual acumen. The less we see of him and Mr. Cruz – and their twisted views of both Bible and American constitution – the better.

  • kagl982

    Count on a big dollop of self-righteousness from Canadian Christians. “Oh, you silly Americans,…”

    Get the planks out of your own eye. Self-righteousness will lead to hell.

  • Steve Bailey

    What an ignorant comment.

  • accelerator

    Beck is Mormon, right? Mormons think the Constitution is divinely inspired.

  • a r tompkins

    where in the bible is a single word about an executive branch, a legislative branch, and a judicial branch? where in the bible is cruel and unusual punishment prohibited? where in the bible is there a single word about freedom of religion? where in the bible does it say there shall be no religious tests regarding one’s fitness to hold elected office? where in the bible does one person get one vote? where in the bible is there a word about “the pursuit of happiness”? where does this idea come from that the declaration and the constitution derive in any way from biblical texts?

  • John Hutchinson

    To be fair, one must differentiate between what Glenn Beck spouts and what Cruz has said. No guilt by association. However, I would expect that Cruz should, if asked (and he should be asked), clearly distance himself from Beck, unlike HRC with regard to Albright and Steinem.

    However, as to Beck’s silly and easily refutable declaration; at what point of the Constitutional Amendment process is the true and infallible word of God? Was God right in 1919 when the U.S. enacted alcoholic prohibition, or before 1919 and after 1933 when those things did not apply? And if the law of God is universal as well as infallible, why only America has these sacred scriptures.

    Glenn Beck. What a Mormoon?

  • Dale Nichols

    When Beck refers to “sacred scriptures,” is he including the Book of Mormon? Would Cruz? What about Science & Health with Key to the Scriptures? The Talmud? The Bhagavad Gita? How about the Koran? Who draws these lines, and where, and how?
    If the Constitution is also sacred scripture, is that only the original document, or as amended? The first ten amendments, or all of them? Since The Federalist Papers are used to clarify original intent, are they sacred too? In particular, is the forbidding of the establishment of religion sacred, too?

  • http://danielcode.com/ Greg Bratcher

    There is a prophecy that the “Beast” from the earth will “speak like a dragon” and take us back to the Dark Ages by combining Church and State and legislating its morality on all peoples. I am glad some of us see it coming. Let us warn others.

  • Red 2

    The Bible is not perfect. It is not a book, it is a compilation of books. The books chosen to be a part of the compilation varry depending on which church you belong to. The books were also written in many different langueges, many of which are now dead langueges. The current editions of the Bible are translations of those. Some of them are translations from earlier forms of current langueges. For example, try reading something written in English from 500 years ago. You’ll find you don’t recognize much. There are also lots of books that didn’t get put into the Bible, particularly by the choices the Catholic Church made. None of this is an attempt to bash the Bible, or state the general concepts are wrong, but the notion that the Bible is a God made book of perfection is simply absurd. It’s a series of historic documents made available for your interpretation.

  • ourdemascam

    > The books chosen to be a part of the compilation varry depending on which church you belong to

    That’s misleading to the point of being closer to wrong than right. Papists add some extra books to the Old Testament, but there is no book included in the King James Bible or 99+% of other Protestant Bibles that isn’t in the Bibles of practically all other Christians, papists included.

  • Red 2

    Lol…you say I’m misleading, then say I’m correct, all while calling Catholics Papists.

  • ourdemascam

    Calling Papists Catholics is likewise misleading.

    And no, I didn’t and wouldn’t say you’re correct with regards to the comment I quoted before. There’s universal agreement on all the books contained in Protestants’ Bibles. I think any fair and impartial person would recognize that a fair reading of “vary,” as you used it, means something incompatible with that fact.

  • John Thomson

    Beck-bashing and Barton-bashing seem to have hardened into dogmas for a large segment of evangelicalism. What’s with that? Taking pleasure in hate isn’t exactly a Christian virtue.

  • Occupy Christianity

    It’s not about hate. People like Beck and Barton do an awful lot of damage to the body politic by their fear mongering and outright ignorance. Calling that what it is is not hate, it’s alerting people to the ills of our society.

  • Straight Shooter

    Thank you ever so much for saving us! How can we ever repay you?

  • Occupy Christianity

    OK…I’m not sure what that comment added to the discussion. Whatever…have a good one.

  • HamburgerHelper2

    Oh great another one of those….. (disagree with someone = hate) comments

  • MerleTemple

    Lots of hand-wringing here and gross distortion of Cruz’s beliefs, not to mention unkind attacks on his faith. This Dominionist charge is the latest rage of the left. It has become the talking point du jour to use against any conservative Christian who does not bow before the messianic state, which wishes to be our temporal god.

  • Marla Hughes

    As an evangelist I have real concerns about Cruz’s religious beliefs considering what those around him are espousing in his presence about his candidacy. Just as I did with Obama’s strong connection to Reverend Wright in light of Wright’s pronouncements and if Obama accepted them as truth or not.

  • MerleTemple

    I’m an evangelist, too, Marla. I have met Ted, talked with him, and came away convinced that he is genuine. Having known countless politicians, I don’t say that lightly. Nothing is more important to me than my faith. I believe Ted to be the real deal, someone the Lord will use. My Savior will not be arriving by Air Force One, but until He does, we defend the faith and advance the work of the Kingdom. There is no close to Ted that I know of who would even remotely come close to Rev.Wright.

  • Marla Hughes

    His father.

  • Tacitus

    Good answer (and an accurate one).

  • Tacitus

    All politicians can turn on the charm when they want to. It’s part of the resume. The problem with Ted is that a lot of people who have worked with him or for him, all the way from college to the present day, end up disliking him, and not just a little.

    No smoke without fire, as the saying goes.

  • ourdemascam

    “the Lord will use” Pharaoh as powerfully and effectively as he’ll use any ruler.

  • Katherine Harms

    The Constitution is not God-breathed Scripture as the Bible is. Any Christian with half a soul will concur in that statement. However, the Constitution was written as the outgrowth of faith in the God of the Bible, and it deliberately incorporates a biblical worldview in the government it defines. Further, the worldview of the men who wrote the Constitution was such that they would have said that every document, not just the Constitution, must be read, interpreted and applied as its original language with its original definitions and intents direct. They would one and all reject the idea of discovering a penumbra in the the Constitution that justifies abortion on demand.
    Therefore, it is appropriate to show our Constitution the kind of respect it deserves. We should read the Constitution and study it by learning what its words meant when spoken by those who wrote them. We should understand and interpret the Constitution by studying the discussions the Framers had when they wrote each section. We need to know what they intended, because otherwise, the Constitution is a blank slate on which each generation can project its own wish list for a new and more generous government.
    Don’t confuse respect for the original intent with some idea that the Constitution has authority equivalent with Holy Scripture.

  • Andrew Dowling

    That was a whole bunch of nonsense. The Constitution was “written as the outgrowth of faith in the God of the Bible?” Is that a Dave Barton line from one of his charades of a book?

  • Brad F

    Get a life, girl.

  • Andrew Dowling

    Brad, back to contributing your usual high level of intellectual discourse I see. Tell me, are you still successfully fulfilling the massive holes in your miserable life by trolling on Patheos?

  • ourdemascam

    On par with your response to Katherine, Mr. Black Pot.

  • Cindy Bird

    Most of the Founding Fathers were not Christian they were Deists. They believed in a Creator but not one who took interest in each individual.

    1802 January 1. (Jefferson to the Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut). “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”9

    1823 April 11. (Jefferson to John Adams). “The truth is that the greatest enemies to the doctrines of Jesus are those calling themselves the expositors of them, who have perverted them for the structure of a system of fancy absolutely incomprehensible, and without any foundation in his genuine words. And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away all this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this the most venerated reformer of human errors.”15

    “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.” Thomas Jefferson Letter to Peter Carr 8/10/1787

    “That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence, and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practise Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.” (Mason, 1776, emp. added).

    Need any more quotes?

  • Jason Millican

    So, all US citizens ought to live like Christians and practice Christian principles, according to the Mason quote.

  • Cindy Bird

    “and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience;”

    Missed that part huh?

  • ourdemascam

    Nope. That is very precisely “practic[ing] Christian principles.” See, for example, Chapter 20, section 2 of the Westminster Confession of Faith, written in 1548 and as clear a statement of founding era Protestantism as you’ll find anywhere.

  • MerleTemple

    You are trying to revise history. The Pilgrims and Puritans came to America for religious freedom and to further the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. Both were followers of John Calvin, the “Father of America,” who launched the reformation of Western Christendom. The Pilgrim’s initial commune system at Plymouth failed, but the settlement flourished under free enterprise. The Pilgrim’s Mayflower Compact and the Puritan’s American Covenant were early expressions of government long before Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, and were incorporated into the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. By the time of the American Revolution, 98% of Americans were Protestants, 1.8% were Catholics, and .2% Jewish.

    As the first dawn broke over the new republic of the United States of America, the rallying cry of those who fought for liberty against England’s king still echoed across the land: “No king but King Jesus.” The men who fought for liberty and framed the Bill of Rights to shackle Congress, not man, were overwhelmingly devout Christians who became judges, educators, ministers, Bible publishers, and Presidents—men like James Wilson, appointed by Washington to the Supreme Court and the second most active speaker at the constitutional convention, who said that that God’s law could not be separated from civil law. A leading educator and signer of the constitution, William Samuel Johnson, said that the purpose of education was to prepare the young for service to Christ—“In Him we now live, nothing apart from Jesus Christ.”

    Church services were held in the Capitol building, Congress bought Bibles for schools, and the Supreme Court, under John Jay, opened with fervent prayer before any deliberation. Jay said, “God has given us the privilege of electing our leaders.” The republic was forged by followers of Christ who pledged to protect liberty and rights granted by God and codified in the Constitution in a time when God still reigned, and men administered, before the rise of autonomous man who rejected Christ.

  • Cindy Bird

    I’m not trying to rewrite history, i’m GIVING you history. Yes, the Pilgrims came because of religious persecution. But we don’t consider them to be the Founding Fathers.

    As for buying Bibles for schools, the Congress did not buy the Aiken Bible for schools. It was the first English language Bible to be printed in the New United States. Bibles in English, prior had to be imported from England, carry the imprint of the Crown, and at the time Congress paid for the Aiken Bible, it was no longer possible to import Bibles.

    “April 18, 1775 John Adams and John Hancock were at the home of Rev. Jonas Clarke, a Lexington Pastor and militia leader. That same night Paul Revere arrived to warn them of the approaching Redcoats. The next morning British Major Pitcairn shouted to an assembled regiment of minutemen. “Disperse ye villains, lay down your arms in the name of George the Sovereign King of England. The immediate response of John Adams and John Hancock was “WE RECOGNIZE NO SOVEREIGN BUT GOD AND NO KING BUT JESUS!”” This is the basis for the myth that ALL minutemen used this rallying cry. They did not. It supposedly comes from the Eads Home Ministry. However they cannot produce the diary it supposedly came from nor do they say this is a true rendition of events.

    And even today the Supreme Court opens it’s sessions with a prayer, however that Prayer has been given by Christians, Jews and Muslims as well as a Blessing from a Tibetan Buddhist monk.

    The Constitution was NOT written to shackle Congress or the President but to grant freedom from a Dynastic Regime such as a Royal Family. In other words, it was written to make sure that a King could never rule over the new America nor could one branch of government ever overtake the other in a Coup D’etat. It also insured that no National Religion could be instituted, such as happened with the Church of England. You need to go back and learn REAL history, not Glenn Beck’s revisionist history.

  • MerleTemple

    I don’t listen to Beck. Real history seems to be in the eye of the beholder. When you claim that all of the Founders were deists, you are cherry-picking and don’t go far down the depth charts. I suggest you look at all of the signers and framers. The Founders were not obsessed with freedom from religion, but freedom of religion. When you yank that thread from the First Amendment, it all comes unraveled.

    Our Christian forefathers opposed what we should oppose today–a coalition of ecclesiastical tyranny and civil tyranny in federal law. The despotism they opposed was the Inquisition or church tyranny, and the Bastille, state tyranny. Anyone who says that Christians today want either is ignorant of history or disingenuous. Our line of liberty extends from the Reformers to the Puritans, who came here for religious liberty, to the American patriots in the colonies who fought to simply worship God as free men. They wanted no caesaropapist or Erastian control of religion from Washington and the Constitution reflected that imperative.

    Even the liberal jurist, Chief Justice Earl Warren, said in 1954, “I believe the entire Bill of Rights came into being because of the knowledge of our forefathers had of the Bible and their express belief in it…I like to believe we are living today in the spirit of the Christian religion. I like to believe that as long as we do so, no great harm can come to our country.”

    No religion other than Christianity could have formed the bedrock of the United States of America that proclaimed, “All men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.” That phrase alone excludes other world religions that do not believe all men are created equal, do not think men have certain inalienable rights, or do not believe in God as in the case of naturalism. No matter your religion, you and all those you love are the beneficiary of the tenets of Christianity which was the well from which this great experiment was drawn.

    From the Continental Congress, Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1777: “That at one Time and with one Voice, the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor; and that,
    together with their sincere Acknowledgments and Offerings, they may join the penitent Confession
    of their manifold Sins, whereby they had forfeited every Favor; and their humble and earnest Supplication that it may please GOD through the Merits of JESUS CHRIST, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of Remembrance; That it may please him graciously to afford his Blessing on the Governments of these States respectively, and prosper the public Council of the whole: To inspire our Commanders, both by Land and Sea, and all under them, with that Wisdom and Fortitude which may render them fit Instruments, under the Providence of Almighty GOD, to secure for these
    United States, the greatest of all human Blessings, INDEPENDENCE and PEACE: That it may
    please him, to prosper the Trade and Manufactures of the People, and the Labor of the Husbandman, that our Land may yield its Increase: To take Schools and Seminaries of Education, so necessary for cultivating the Principles of true Liberty, Virtue and Piety, under his nurturing Hand; and to prosper the Means of Religion, for the promotion and enlargement of that Kingdom,
    which consisteth “in Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost.”

    Of the 55 delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention, 49 were Protestants, and two were Roman Catholics. “Founding Fathers” refers to a specific group of men, the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention. There were other important players not in attendance, like Jefferson, but these 55 made up the core…28 Episcopalians, 8 Presbyterians, 7 Congregationalists, 2 Lutherans, 2 Dutch Reformed, 2 Methodists, 2 Roman Catholics, 1 unknown, and only 3 deists–Williamson, Wilson, and Franklin…93% Christian. 70% were Calvinists (the Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and the Dutch Reformed), considered to be the most extreme and dogmatic form of Christianity of their time.

    Franklin, raised a Puritan, adopted and then abandoned Theism. It was his moving call for prayer at the convention with four references to Scripture. Others, like Jefferson, were clearly influenced by Christianity.

    To deny the Christian influence on the founding of the country is just silly, yet these men framed the First Amendment to allow Christianity to flourish, but not to be established as a new Church of England. Only men influenced by the love manifested in the Gospel would have done this. It is sad to see the will and intent of the framers so misrepresented today and used by some to promote religions which do not value liberty and win converts, not by the bent knee, but by the sword.

    My forefather fought in the American Revolution. To look at the times, to read their letters and still proffer this idea that the men who rode from their churches to save Washington…that pastors who led those men…that men who saw their homes burned…would not have been sustained by their faith and rallied round “No king but King Jesus,” is again…just silly.

  • Cindy Bird

    Good for your forefather fighting in the Revolution. Only he did it after stealing MY people’s lands, I’m Cherokee. So let’s not forget that there existed entire Nations of people here BEFORE the Pilgrims. And as for any other religion saying all men are equal, I’m Buddhist. Buddhist Teachings are that all men AND women are equal and had been for 2300 years BEFORE the Declaration of Independence.. Yes, these men did have some Christian influence, but be truthful, not all even believed in the Divinity of Christ. Jefferson created his own Bible by cutting out all the miracles and the resurrection. He re-named it The Life and Morals of Jesus Christ and did it in 2 languages, English and German. You can try to revise history but truth is truth. You don’t have to like it, but you DO have to live with it. By the way, was your forefather a slave owner like most of the Founding Fathers? One little point, Native Americans were ALSO held as slaves. We even have the reciept for my husband’s Grandmother. She died in 1972 at roughly 108. She was born a slave and was bought by his Grandfather for 40$. He was white so he filed Manumission papers with Texas so he could marry her legally.He paid 40 horses to the Apache for the right to take her away from the tribe as well. They got married here in Alabama. My Father-in-law was born when she was in her late forties/early 50’s. And that was in 1916. Do you want to try to argue that happened as well? What the Continental Congress said and what ended up in the Constitution are two different things and you have to live with THAT too.

  • MerleTemple

    Sorry for your pain, Cindy. I see now where the anger I sense in your posts come from. You don’t know my forefathers, as I don’t know yours. It would be grossly unfair of me to criticize yours, as it is for you to attribute deeds to mine that you can’t possibly verify.

    Citing Jefferson in no way detracts from the vast majority of the Founders who were Christians. Noe of our ancestors are pure, just as we are not. Native Americans also held slaves, just as blacks trafficked in humans in Africa. It was a Christian, William Wilberforce, who fought the institution in England and a former slave ship captain who sought forgiveness and penned Amazing Grace.

    We live in a fallen world. The human heart is wicked. Who can know it? Most of humankind’s history is replete with deeds that repulse us, but as Franklin himself said, “If man is wicked with religion, what would he be without it?”

    Only Christ offers us a personal relationship, only He can fill that big hole in our hearts. He did for me, and though I encounter many who despise me because I follow Christ, I love them because He loved me when I thought I was unlovable.

    When his son was born, the Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama): “A fetter has arisen.” That is, he perceived his son as an obstacle to his enlightenment. The Buddha then abandoned his wife and child in order to pursue detachment.

    As Ravi Zacharias said, “It does not seem accidental that the night Gautama Buddha left his palace to pursue an answer to pain and suffering was the very night his wife was giving birth to their son. In his quest to eliminate suffering, he actually walked out and left his wife alone in the throes of her pain.

    Contrast this with the God of the Bible, who came into this world Himself in the person of His Son to suffer on the cross, to embrace pain and suffering for the sake of humanity. Buddha walked away from his son and from pain. In Christianity, God is part and parcel of the solution.

    Gautama Buddha taught that we should free ourselves from illusions of selfhood, God, forgiveness, and individual life hereafter. We should focus on a life wherein good deeds outweigh the bad. Buddha believed that all life is suffering and that to escape from rebirth we must understand our nature. If we extinguish hungers and detach ourselves from desires (namely, relationships), we will then offset all impure acts and thoughts. That is the Buddhist’s hope. But Buddhism’s attraction provides no real answers.

    The self-which is undeniable and inescapable-is lost in Buddhist philosophy, which brushes away the hungers of the soul. Everything is in our care. All losses are ours. There is no “other” to whom we can go, not even a self to whom we can speak. Yet Buddhism’s denial of a personal God is unable to prevent its practitioners seeking to relate to and worship a personal being. There is a universal hunger that drives the self to a transcendent personal other of one’s making.”

    The Buddha offered lifetimes of hopeless re-embodiment bound by Karma, where we pay and pay and pay in our present life for previous lives…each rebirth due to karmic indebtedness, but without the carryover of the person. Christianity sees the individual self as unique. Christ died once for all, to deliver us from sin, and death, and the suffering that weighs upon us. Perfect emptiness offered vs. the endless glory of Christ, that other we cling to.

    I wish you well and hope you find the peace Christ has given me. By the by, a friend is a wonderful author of Native American stories, and she is a Christian.

    Thanks for the discussion. If I ever sound harsh, I certainly don’t mean to.

  • Cindy Bird

    You’re right. The comment about your forefather was unfair. I don’t think you really understand Buddhism or the Dharma because the desires and “fetter” we are to try to extinguish are fear, hate, anger (which I still need work on) jealousy, desire for those worldly things which get us in trouble, money and fame are listed so many times I don’t think you can count them. Not the love we hold for our families, our friends or for those we meet in our everyday lives.

    In Buddha’s time the only way to become an ascetic was to leave your home and follow a teacher around. He did that for 7 years. Then realized that way wasn’t the answer either. He sat under the Bodhi Tree and figured out the Middle Way, be in the world but not OF the world. His son and wife later became disciples and both reached Enlightenment.

    Karma is action whether it’s good or bad all goes back to intention. And yes, we do have to suffer the consequences of our actions. But no one else can save me. I have to save myself. Buddha’s last words were, “Monks, go forth and seek your own salvation diligently.” I’m sorry if I came off angry. I didn’t mean too. I’m going through a Lupus flare and dealing with a lot of pain, (My problem, not yours) and if I took it out on you I apologize.

    Namaste (The spirit in me bows to the spirit in you)

  • MerleTemple

    Thanks, Cindy. Hope you’re better soon. If you’d like something to read as you deal with your pain, send me your email to mine at merletemple@bellsouth.net and I’ll gift you an eBook of my first novel on Kindle.

  • a r tompkins

    where in the bible is there any concept of “all men created equal” (let alone women)? Where in the bible is a word on democracy? and although there is some romantic allure in the idea of “all men created equal”, there is very little evidence the founders of our representative government really believed that. I mean, try to tell that to a man of african or native american ancestry. try to tell that to a woman. Further, the world of the late 18th century was obviously a very different kind of place than today – the scientific revolution was in its earliest infancy. germ theory, chemistry, cosmology, physics, biology, and on and on, were just getting started. many of the framers of course were scientists or at least of a proudly scientific bent. one cannot say with certainty how these people, if they were alive today, would regard the “revolutionary” concepts of evolution and relativity, but it is a fair bet to say many of them would have embraced our modern, scientifically-driven, views of the world. Regardless, it is our world now. Religion has given humankind nothing, absolutely nothing, save division, strife, war, greed, and all manner of evil. On the other hand, the scientific method, and its progeny in the applied fields, have given us longer, healthier lives, more creature comforts, more communication, more people, more of every good thing. Where in the bible is there a useful word about sanitation, plumbing, engineering, medicine, physics, etc?

  • Ron Turner

    No, you’re SPREADING steer manure.

  • ourdemascam

    Mason’s quote is entirely consistent with biblical teaching, and there is no more basis for calling Mason a deist than calling Glenn Beck or Ted Cruz or St. Augustine a deist.

  • Otto Tellick

    Katherine, you must remember to bear in mind that one of the most important components in the original intent of the writers of the Constitution, a matter which they set down quite clearly in very explicit terms that we can easily still understand today, is the set of procedures to be followed in order to amend the Constitution. Clearly, they understood that their original document was not perfect, and would need to be updated as conditions in and around the nation changed in ways they could not even imagine, let alone anticipate.

    It’s foolish to impute to those long-dead authors any specific opinions about modern-day issues, such as a woman’s right to autonomy in making decisions about her own health and well-being, when they never wrote anything about these topics.

    BTW, the Bibie is as entirely man-made as the Constitution is; it simply doesn’t include any clear instruction about how to overcome its own original (and innumerable) imperfections – much to the detriment of all subsequent generations of believers. The same is true of all foundational religious texts (although it seems that the Mormons at least allow their living leaders to “receive new revelations” when corrective actions are needed, as was the case with regard to racial discrimination several decades ago).

  • ourdemascam

    Like to beg the question?

  • http://twitter.com/cpmondello Corey Mondello

    No religion was used to create the US Constitution. That’s history revisionist like David Barton’s reality

  • ourdemascam

    Every law and constitution in the history of the world is built on the religious beliefs of its authors and their culture, beliefs about authority, good and evil, etc.

  • Handy Graph

    These comments are so funny.
    There are millions of Christians in America, I’m betting that not even 1 percent of them ever heard the term “Dominionism,” nor would they identify as Dominionists.

    This is just one more “-ism” slur that the theophobes love to throw out there, in an effort to cow Christians into never even discussing our beliefs in public. The left-wing churches have been sucking up to secularists for over a century, now even many self-identified “evangelicals” are feeling the pressure to conform, distancing themselves form the “Dominionists” and “theocrats” (even though they’ve never actually met one).

    Stay grounded in reality: When you shuffle through the airport holding your shoes in your hand, ask yourself: Are the security people screening for Christian dominionists or Christian theocrats?
    It’s all a silly delusion (there are so many) of the left: Ignore the real threat of Islamic terrorists (because if you talk about that, they’ll call you an “Islamophobe”) and create the mythical threat of Christian “Dominionists” taking over.

  • MerleTemple

    Spot on, Handy.

  • cajaquarius

    Much like being an idiot, whether or not you are a Dominionist isn’t up to you: it is up to all of us. It is a descriptor. Everyone except you gets to decide on that based off your belief systems and how you approach those who don’t fall in line with them. As for Islam, most secular types like myself see it the same as you – acceptable when it is more liberal and keeps to itself and an enemy when it doesn’t. It is your lack of rational capability and empathy that causes you to see what isn’t there (the supposed alliance between gays, atheists, and Islam).

  • Brad F

    So many bored homosexual trolls on the web. Poor little things.

  • cajaquarius

    Much like pud, Brad reveals what I spoke of above: he is clearly upset and resorts to insults in response to a statement I made which he hasn’t the mental acuity to actually fight. This is overly common. When I say my enemies don’t have the intellectual capacity to defend their views, it isn’t ad hominem: it is an unbiased observation.

  • http://twitter.com/cpmondello Corey Mondello

    I’m not bored, and most trolls, and child molesters, are heterosexuals

  • pud

    How are things in the AIDS hospice, miss?

  • cajaquarius

    For those reading: notice how the replies involve insults. Not surprising. Insults and generalized anger are pretty common because these people don’t have the intellectual capacity to actually defend their views.

  • Otto Tellick

    Actually, I think the lack of intellectual capacity has more to do with accepting such views in the first place. The inability to defend the views is intrinsic to the conflict that such views have with facts, honesty, and real compassion.

  • D Rieder

    Well what does one expect from someone who identifies as a pud?

  • http://twitter.com/cpmondello Corey Mondello

    There have been more attacks on Americans in the USA by conservative Christians, than Muslims. And, when religious people quote the bible or their belief in bible while making laws, which is what the Republican Party has become, that is theocracy and dominionism.

  • ourdemascam

    Name one attack that had any notable link to “conservative Christianity” (beyond the fact that it was perpetrated by an American and most Americans are culturally-historically nominally Christian.)

  • Kirk Leavens

    Frank Shaeffer has an excellent article here:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/frankschaeffer/2016/02/heres-the-best-article-ever-on-the-fact-that-ted-cruz-is-literally-the-first-openly-reconstructionisttheocracy-candidate-to-run-for-president/?repeat=w3tc?ref_widget=gr_popular&ref_blog=grails&ref_post=progressive%20christian

    Perhaps after reading it you can become a little more “grounded in reality.” There are those seeking to influence America to return to a point where a religious minority control the wealth, power and influence in society, like the Catholic Church did for so long during the middle ages, but in the hands of fundamentalist Christians instead. This is not about freedom of religion but about the power of minority religious views over everyone else. Despite what Glenn Beck says, this is not what America is about, nor should it be what Christianity is about.

  • Andrew

    Frank Schaeffer is not even a Christian. He turned against Christianity because his own books were failures, and he just assumed that as Francis Schaeffer’s son, Christians would inevitably buy his book, and they didn’t. If he wasn’t constantly spewing his hate for Christians, people wouldn’t even know he exists. He’s not even an adult, he’s just a child begging for attention. No Christian takes that type seriously.

  • Kirk Leavens

    Well Andrew, I hate to spoil your hypothesis, but I am a Christian who takes, at least some of his statements seriously. Didn’t care for his book though. Rather than make a blanket statement of how he’s not a “real” Christian why don’t you read what he said and respond to that. I read stuff I don’t agree with all the time. It’s the intelligent thing to do. Otherwise you just end up living in a bubble.

  • Handy Graph

    That is a crock, but that’s typical of the religious left. The secular left loves using people like you as its patsies.

  • Kirk Leavens

    Can you be more specific. What is a crock? Your comments about “reality” seem to center on those outside, i.e., Muslims, while any shortcomings from within Christian circles is ignored. Is this your intent? You mention paranoia. Are you paranoid about Muslims? Gays? Liberals? Democrats? Welfare? Are you a patsy for the Rebublican machine? I have my suspicions.

  • Shy

    You may think so but there are people taking it very seriously and they may just be leaders of your own church, with you unawares.

  • D Rieder

    Oh I’m sure they’d never claim the label. But listen to them complain when Starbucks changes their coffee cups or when someone asks that a government sponsored nativity be taken down. I think there is a vast majority who believe the US was founded on Christian principles and that Christianity must be part of someone’s repertoire to be suitable to hold public office. Maybe you and I see different things in these actions and attitudes.

  • Handy Graph

    Yes, very different.
    I see reality, you see your paranoid fantasy because it makes you feel important to uncover a conspiracy theory, even though there is no conspiracy.
    Paranoia is a matter of small people trying to make themselves feel big.

  • bmaccerly
  • Everett Kier Jr

    appreciate the comments a great deal. The conflating of reality has implications. I wish Cruz was able to distance himself in a theological sense from Barton and Beck. Not sure he can but it would make a vote for him a lot easier.

  • Forrest Long

    What ever happened to the concept of the separation of the church and state? Why does the church let itself become a political platform? When this happens the church prostitutes itself before the political system which uses it for its own advantage. This whole election process has become pathetic, when any politician who can quote from the Bible gets a following of professing Christians. The constitution did not come from God and the USA is certainly not a Christian nation, not by a long shot, sad to say.

  • ourdemascam

    “any politician who can quote from the Bible” is getting to be a unique attribute.

  • cmon guys

    I was expecting the author to show specific examples of Cruz pushing Civil Religion? The author seemed to only talk about Glenn beck? What am I missing?

  • Randy Davenport

    Cruz does not go to his dad’s church. He goes to a Southern Baptist church. Has he ever said supporting civil religion or Dominism?

  • Kirk Leavens

    Cindy and Merle below are having an interesting argument over whether or not our nation was founded on Christian principals. Cindy presents the view that there was a clear distinction or wall created between church and state and that Enlightment Deistic views held sway while Merle presents a more conservative view of traditional Biblical values influencing our Constitution. But, in truth they are presenting two sides of the same coin. Both Christianity and 18th century Rationalism influenced our thinking and development of our laws.

    The rest of western society is decidedly “Post-Christendom,” and America is showing signs now of heading down that path. Evangelicalism reached its zenith of influence on society following WWII while Billy Graham was “America’s Pastor” but has been declining ever since. As Christians we need to be careful in assigning too much hope in a candidate restoring America to be a “Christian Nation” again. Politics is about power and not the Holy Ghost kind.

    While many evangelicals pine for the “good old days” and seek to turn back this tide of change using old methodologies, the church is faced with a dilemma…and opportunity to rethink its approaches toward mission and influence on society. As Stuart Murray says in “Post-Christendom: Church and Mission in a Strange New World,”

    “Inherited assumptions and Christendom models will not help us respond creatively to the challenges ahead. But perhaps – if we have the courage to face into this future rather than hankering after a faded past, if we resist short-term strategies and pre-packaged answers, if we learn to be cross-cultural missionaries in our own society, and if we can negotiate the next forty years, whatever culture emerges from the ruins of Christendom might offer tremendous opportunities for telling and living out the Christian story in a society where this is largely unknown.”

  • Shy

    Anyone who thinks there is a “good old days” needs to read more of history.

  • D Rieder

    I’d give this to “ups” if I could. This is so true. I hear it all the time. It never ceases to amaze me when folks go on about how much worse “things” are now. Certainly things are more publicized, but not worse. As you say, read more history if you think things are worse now than “then.”

  • Kirk Leavens

    Things are much worse today…if you’re a white evangelical or fundamentalist. 😉

  • ourdemascam

    In the good old days constitutional amendments were passed limiting the power of Washington, DC to trample on the rights of the people. If those weren’t good old days, show me where anything remotely comparable has happened since the South was defeated.

  • Gregory Peterson

    Speaking of the Beck/Cruz/Barton view of Constitution as having been originated by God. It has antebellum roots, as this pro-slavery tract by one of the founders of the Southern Baptist Convention, Thornton Stringfellow illustrates in his ‘Scriptural and Statistical Views in Favor of Slavery;’ 1856, 4th edition shows.

    I propose, therefore, to examine the sacred volume briefly, and if I am not greatly mistaken, I shall be able to make it appear that the institution of slavery has received, in the first place,

    1st. The sanction of the Almighty in the Patriarchal age.

    2d. That it was incorporated into the only National Constitution which ever emanated from God.

    3d. That its legality was recognized, and its relative duties regulated, by Jesus Christ in his kingdom; and

    4th. That it is full of mercy.

  • Shy

    Is Ted Cruz involved with Bill Gothard?

  • Shy

    I like what C S Lewis wrote on the subject: “Theocracy is the worst of all governments. If we must have a tyrant a
    robber barron is far better than an inquisitor. The baron’s cruelty may
    sometimes sleep, his cupidity at some point may be sated; and since he
    dimly knows he is doing wrong he may possibly repent. But the inquisitor
    who mistakes his own cruelty and lust of power and fear for the voice
    of Heaven will torment us infinitely more because he torments us with
    the approval of his own conscience and his better impulses appear to him
    as temptations. And since Theocracy is the worst, the nearer any government approaches to Theocracy the worse it will be.”

  • Kate Snyder

    You wrote: “And they might remind Cruz that the most important purposes of God’s Kingdom – the glory of God and the salvation of sinners – will never happen through electoral victories or earthly governments.”

    That’s the bottom line that most on the religious right refuse to acknowledge. When running for political office doesn’t glorify God and turns lost sinners away from Christ, it’s time repent.

    Partisan politics is corrupt, blinding, and filled with dirty money. It’s done more against the Gospel than it has for the Gospel. To think one can enter that cesspool and keep clean is naive.

    All you have to do is ask one simple question: Why didn’t Ted Cruz read the Bible on the Senate floor during his marathon filibuster instead of Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham? That was a shameless political stunt that everyone knew wouldn’t work but he did it anyway to score political points.

    Ted Cruz’ number one single donor is unbeliever Robert Mercer, a Wall Street hedge fund magnate and billionaire that happens to be our neighbor. He has Cruz in his pocket by donating over 10 million to several super PACs. Cruz slams New York values but he loves New York money. The hypocrisy is glaring. And he’s not winning any New Yorkers to Christ, believe me.

  • Kirk Leavens

    Excellent thoughts, Kate. Politics reminds us of the Biblical injunction to be “in the world, but not of the world.” Until Christ’s return and the consummation of all things we are stuck with a seriously flawed political and religious system. The Church itself is flawed and sinful. Politics as well. But God has always worked within these peramiters, He uses us as we are. God is still in control, but we get impatient and try to push things along on our own initiative. In this both classic liberal Christianity and modern Fundagelicalism have a common core…the attempt to usher in the “Kingdom of God” by the use of politics.

    This is not to say we are not to look for men and women of integrity for leadership, but Christians have ever more compromised their values since nominating Nixon when choosing leaders. I can highly recommend “God’s Own Party: The Making of The Religious Right” by Daniel K. Williams as an insightful study of this issue. To be fair, it is not just conservative Christians who have compromised. Many of my Progressive friends find voting for Hillary problematic. I certainly don’t trust her. Two candidates stand out as being more integrious than the others: on the left Bernie Sanders, on the right John Kasich. I don’t agree 100% with either’s platforms, but that’s not the point.

    But…if we make a person’s Christian Faith THE determining factor in choosing a president we can obscure other factors. I remember voting for Jimmy Carter, solely because he was a staunch evangelical believer…and at the time Reagon seemed too hawkish, was divorced and Presbyterian. Carter ended up being a rather weak president, although a delightful Christian man. It’s complicated isn’t it?

  • ourdemascam

    Kasich marked by integrity? Mr. I’m opposed to homosexual marriage but want to move ahead with it now and not look back anyway? Mr. I believe unborn babies have a right to life except where it’s “reasonable” to completely ignore that right for other reasons?

  • ourdemascam

    Summary: someone supporting Cruz said something about the Bible and the constitution that you disagree with (and probably is, in fact, wrong.) Your attempt to characterize Cruz by it is wronger.

  • Kirk Leavens

    More wrongest? Point taken, however. “Constitutionalists” like Cruz confuse “freedom of religious belief” from freedom “from” religious tyranny. The Constitution was framed in such a manner that the Government could not dictate a state religion, such as was in European countries. When the politics of religion and state were indistinguishable, such as in Europe the result was what we see in Europe today…nominal Christianity, or worse, Christianity with no influence at all. Europe is thoroughly ‘post Christendom.” All this talk of the Christian principals behind our Constitution (which was equally influenced by 18th cent Rationalism) tends to lead toward a combination of Church and State that has shown historically to have unwanted negative end results.

  • ourdemascam

    Thanks for the compliments on the effectiveness of my word choice!

    As to Rationalism versus Christian influence, the ideals of real tolerance (as in tolerating choices you believe are wrong), distrust of man and especially men with power, the rule of law… have no clear basis in Rationalism (at least so far as I can see), whereas they seem well rooted in Christian thinking (particularly sola scriptura style Protestantism as held such cultural predominance in our founding era). So quite the contrary to what you just asserted, it seems Christian principles form the strongest basis for minority rights, particularly religious minorities and other values-based minorities. Where, other than Christianity, do you find the fundamental values for decentralization of decision making (particularly as opposed to monolothic medical systems, education systems, etc. as have long dominated almost all the rest of the world by direct force of government)?

  • Kirk Leavens

    Wait, what? You start by talking about Christian principals then insert “decentralization of decision making” (states rights?) into Christianity. Where does this come from. I would agree with you that Christianity has a strong basis for minority rights, but that is not what Fundagelicals mean by minority rights. By supporting “values-based” religious minorities it is meant by them to mean the ability to discriminate on others based on classification, or simply because they do not like a certain group of people.

    Monolithic medical systems, education by force of government…where in Scripture does it assert these systems are morally wrong? You’re confusing conservative politics with Christianity. If you’re a fiscal conservative, that’s one thing, just don’t attempt to say “trickle-down economics” is Scriptural. For a discussion of rationalism/deism/Christianity see Cindi and Merle’s discussion further below.

  • ourdemascam

    Can you really not see the connection between sola scriptura and decentralizaton of decision making? And moreover, this discussion was about the constitution from the beginning. Decentralization of decision making is as basic a constitutional principle as anything. The capstone on the Bill of Rights is two amendments making explicit that everything in the original constitution and the Bill of Rights must be understood in that context. Where do my comments come from? They come directly from the constitution, from those amendments, and those amendments were only a clarification of what the constitution was all along. If those principles weren’t at the heart of the constitutional principles all along, what was?

    And I didn’t say “‘values-based’ religious minorities.” I said “religious minorities and other values-based minorities.” (Why would I say “other” if I meant to say more about religious values?) An “other value-based minority” would be a “group” (using that word loosely, not to imply any organization) like vegans or anti-vaxers or people opposed to GMO’s or people with differing educational philosophies for their children. These are all examples of “values-based minorities.” And the point is that the constitution was designed to protect the rights of all these kinds of minorities (at least from the federal government which the constitution established and concerned). And the alternative to these kinds of minority rights is the opposite of decentralization of decision making.

    Does Scripture assert that monolithic medical systems by force of government are morally wrong? The point is that the constitution (explicitly as well as the core implicit principles of the constitution) oppose monolothic medical systems by force of government. And those constitutional principles come from a respect for minority rights. And that belief in minority rights finds its strongest and a radically unique foundation in Christian principles of tolerance (as I defined above), distrust of man, etc., as I said above.


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