Civil rights must be “preeminent” over religious liberty

The U. S. Commission on Civil Rights is recommending that civil rights be made “preeminent” in American jurisprudence.  Specifically, that civil rights claims–for example, those regarding sexual orientation and gender-identity–should always trump religious freedom claims.  There would thus be no religious exemptions, because newly-coined rights would have priority over constitutional rights. [Read more…]

The internet as god

The internet is everywhere.  It knows everything about you.  It will solve all of our problems.  It will protect us.  The singularity will create a new world.  When we download our consciousness into the web, we will have eternal life.  Doesn’t that sound as if the internet is a god?

Werner Herzog’s documentary film Lo and Behold:  Reveries of the Connected World. explores the religious dimensions of the internet.  Martyn Smith, in a review of the film excerpted after the jump, draws them out. [Read more…]

What Judaism teaches about the afterlife

It is often said that Jews don’t believe in a life after death.  In fact, Jews often say that.  But, as Jeffrey Salkin says in a review of a new book on the subject, Judaism DOES believe in an afterlife and always has. [Read more…]

Are Christians the powerful or the marginalized?

In the course of a post on why so many evangelicals are supporting Donald Trump, S. D. Kelly tosses off an observation that explains much about the current controversies between Christians and secularists.

Secularists tend to see Christians as “the powerful”; that is, in postmodern parlance, those who are in a position of power and privilege who oppress “the marginalized,” those who lack power and privilege.

But Christians tend to see themselves as “the marginalized,” oppressed by the cultural elite who exclude them and exercise their power against them.

Thus, when a Christian baker refuses to participate in a gay wedding, the secularists see the Christian heteronormative establishment discriminating against marginalized and oppressed gay people.

While Christians see secularists–who control the culture, the entertainment industry, the educational establishment, the government, and the law–imposing their sexual ideology on those with traditional Christian values and punishing them for their minority religious beliefs.

This explains much of the rhetoric, argumentation, and high feelings on both sides.  Are these just two irreconcilable perceptions?  Or can we make an objective case for one side or the other?  Does realizing these different perceptions suggest other ways of addressing these controversies? [Read more…]

What Clinton thinks religious liberty is

In a play to capitalize on Mormon’s dissatisfaction with Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton wrote an op-ed piece in the LDS-owned Deseret News in which she emphasizes her commitment to religious liberty.  But notice what she thinks religious liberty is.

Read what she says and my analysis after the jump.

[Read more…]

The politics of refusing power

Usually, politics is a competition between individuals and factions each of which wants to be, as we say, “in power.”  In Japan, though, there is a political struggle between a faction that wants to put a man in power and that man who does not want the power.

As we blogged about, the party of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has won enough seats in parliament to accomplish his goal of revising the Japanese Constitution, which was primarily the work of Gen. Douglas MacArthur after World War II in an effort to ensure that Japan would become a peaceful Democratic nation.  Abe wants to bring back elements of pre-war Japan.  He and his party have connections to a group that wants to bring back both Japanese militarism and Emperor worship.

But now the Emperor has given an unexpected speech in which he rebuked those efforts, including the desire to give him more power and to treat him as a god.  Ironically, those who think the Emperor is a god are opposing him!

[Read more…]