Smart people saying smart things

The Hon. Carole Jackson: “O’Brien v. Health and Human Services”

[The Religious Freedom Restoration Act] is a shield, not a sword. It protects individuals from substantial burdens on religious exercise that occur when the government coerces action one’s religion forbids, or forbids action one’s religion requires; it is not a means to force one’s religious practices upon others. RFRA does not protect against the slight burden on religious exercise that arises when one’s money circuitously flows to support the conduct of other free-exercise-wielding individuals who hold religious beliefs that differ from one’s own.

Brian Walsh: “Clobber Texts”

When I hear folks say that homosexuality is the litmus test for “orthodox biblical faith,” while legitimating and enjoying the benefits of an economic system characterized by exploitation, injustice and environmental rape, then I’ve got to admit that I just don’t take that kind of talk too seriously.

… I don’t believe that any of the six ‘clobber texts’ have anything to do with the question of same sex committed relationships that we are talking about these days. Not one of them.

But I think that they are all concerned with the relationship of sexual practice and our broader socio-economic lives.

James McGrath: “Don’t Worship a God That Isn’t as Loving as You Are”

We think about God in light of our own limited human perspectives. Typically, theists say that God is greater than human beings in all our positive attributes. And so can one ever make a legitimate case for a theist – or an adherent to any other sort of view of God, for that matter – conceptualizing God as less loving, less merciful, or less just than we ourselves are? Isn’t saying “God’s justice isn’t like our justice” a cop out, or worse – in essence saying not that God is MORE just than we can conceive, but that, in terms of what we mean by “just,”  God is not just at all?

Gregory D. Smith: “Why I am — perhaps not — an evangelical”

As a young Christian I was suggestible. I tried for a time to be politically conservative, but it didn’t work for me. It’s just not who I am. More to the point, I couldn’t find the “religious right” perspective anywhere in the bible. As a mature Christian I’m comfortable affirming that there is a troubling conflation of politics and Christian belief in the American evangelical church. … Faith in Christ is not a political ideology. American evangelicalism is being misled on this point.

  • VMink

    [The Religious Freedom Restoration Act] is a shield, not a sword

    I like this.  I like this a lot.

  • AnonymousSam

    Too bad, having heard all the arguments for the Wrathful God, what they boil down to by “God’s justice is not our justice” is that our justice is infinitely inferior by dint of God being capable of seeing vast spans of time and the incalculable balances of the universe, and somehow all these billions of souls spending eternity in Hell is a necessary and good thing.

    Pursue them on why it’s a good thing and typically the answer becomes the everpresent tautology, “God is good because God is goodness.”

  • Magic_Cracker

    ….and somehow all these billions* of souls spending eternity in Hell is a necessary and good thing.

    Also, the idea that it’s somehow “necessary” implies it’s some kind of metaphysical cosmic law that God is powerless to change, i.e., that He may be a god, but is not, in fact, God. (In reality, the doctrine of hell is only “necessary” to those who subscribe to the just-world fallacy and want to see everyone of whom the disapprove to be punished, especially if those degenerate sinners are indecent enough to be otherwise happy, successful people.)

    *And if there’s intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, we’re talking a nigh-infinite number of damned souls.

  • Carstonio

    Even the notion of a “slight burden on religious exercise” is questionable. The folks contesting the contraception mandate are making a purity argument. Almost like they’re straw-men versions of Jews and Muslims who would fear being doomed to hell forever if touched by the splatter of frying bacon. Judge Jackson didn’t exactly reject that concept, but she did correctly note that the plaintiffs are still free to practice their own religion.

  • AnonymousSam

    Fortunately, the Catholic church is one ahead of us on that and has declared that it is unlikely that aliens would need a Hell, since they never fell from grace. We humans are the shittiest creatures in all existence and that’s why we deserve to have a place where we can be tortured forever and ever and ever if we fail to recite the right magic words.

  • Magic_Cracker

    So that’s why they’re allowed to sodomize human abductees with impunity!

  • Tricksterson

    I can only shake my head when  people say “God’s ways cannot be understood by man” and then proceed to tell us what he thinks.

  • Jeff Weskamp

    George Carlin said the same thing many, many times.  And so did Benjamin Franklin, who said that the same people who declare God to be beyond our comprehension will then proceed to analyze and describe God more thoroughly than a scientist dissecting a beetle.

  • Magic_Cracker

    “Those who say do not know.” ~ Laozi

    “…Says a guy who took 81 chapters to say it.” ~Zhuangzi

  • christopher_young

    Fortunately, the Catholic church is one ahead of us on that and has declared that it is unlikely that aliens would need a Hell, since they never fell from grace. 

    How do they know that? Have they asked them? I think we should be told.

  • Tricksterson

    I think the actual statemebnt was that they may noy have fallen.

  • Robyrt

     The idea is that it is “necessary” in order for God to be perfectly just, not that there is some abstract Fate floating around that God can’t change. The mercy and punishment are both from the same source, God’s own character. (Which is why so many of the arguments against hell are about the character of God.)

  • kisekileia

    I didn’t realize Fred was aware of Brian Walsh. I used to go to a university Christian fellowship group that he helped lead, and I remember discussing the homosexuality issue with him at a time when I was still on the fence about it. He recommended the church I occasionally went to before I moved in February. 


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