Catholics in the Comboxes

Msgr. Charles Pope has noted it:

Recently however, I am getting more comments that are just plain rude, mean or unnecessarily personal. I have had to press the delete button more than I’d like. It is not just the use of profanity that is alarming (and that too is becoming more common), but it is the excoriation of one’s opponents with dismissive labels and terms which either question their orthodoxy, or their love of the poor, label them as rigid or as communists, etc.

There is also the unnecessary ridicule of positions. And most of these comments come in the context of a discussion outside dogmatically defined issues, where reasonable people, reasonable Catholics, can differ and terminology may have more than one meaning, where the presumption of good faith and the celebration of the Catholic faith ought to be presumed. Gentle corrections are appreciated, but making a person look foolish is usually unnecessary.

Deacon Greg has noted it, and from time-to-time felt the need to close comments until everyone could get a grip, or at least calm their first furies, and so have I.

And now Te-deum blog notes it: the comboxes at Catholic blogs are becoming toxic little pools of spite, malice, passive-aggression, bullying and something new called “judgmental orthodoxy,” which supposedly “builds up” the Body of Christ, although I don’t see it. Diane writes:

I want to spark discussion, but not just any kind of discussion. I think one of the things that really gets us going is that we have lost the art of debating points and principles and are debating people. We are getting quite personal in the process, expecting everyone to understand why we feel the way we do. For that reason, this new post series I am doing will not point to people – not even veiled. The post series is strictly about behaviors. Every one of us probably engages in these at various times without even realizing it, so there is no need to attach something to someone else. Look inward as good Christians are suppose to do.

This promises to be a thoughtful and soul-searching series. Probably good for all of us to check out.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Scott

    I think it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better. There will most likely be a wedge driven into our flock over the gay marriage issue. Because of the seriousness of the issue and the stark lines drawn, things are going to get hot.

  • vox borealis

    I have to be honest, I haven’t really observed comboxes getting worse. Maybe there is more offensive email sent to bloggers—that I cannot comment on. But it seems to me that comboxes on just about any blog bring out fairly robust commentary, which gets more rough and tumble depending on the topic.

    On the other hand, I have noticed that blog administrators are allowing less and less leeway in their comboxes (which is their prerogative of course). The end result is that more and more, in my view, each blog, with its set of devotees, becomes its own tribe, and “outside” views are rarely allowed.

  • Rudy

    Long time ago the editor in newspapers and magazines had ample power to decide what letters to the editor to publish. Then with the advent of Talk Radio celebrities like Rush Limbaugh or Howard Stern could use “screeners” even though their shows are based on sparring with phone callers. Now is the “combox”. Yes some comments are horrible and resort to personal name calling and Ad Homineim attacks. But in the other hand, isn’t this what freedom of speech is about?

  • Mark P. Shea


    When you call for civility in comboxes, you remind me of ADOLF HITLER!!!! :)

  • TXRed

    It seems to be prevalent in other parts of the blogosphere as well, and in the public space. I suspect that the growing emphasis on emotions has something to do with it. The idea that the person with the strongest feeling about something is correct has poisoned several discussions I’ve been in and observed. “I feel more strongly about my argument than you do about yours so I’m right and you are an (idiot/willingly blind/ignorant/evil/ et cetera) if you don’t see that I am right and you are wrong!” And when the other party/ parties suggest that no, reason/data/logic trumps emotion, the emoter becomes more emotional, which further “proves” their argument. Combine that with the semi-anonymity of the Internet and nastiness can ensue.

  • Halle

    As far as I’m concerned, it’s about orthodox Catholics trotting out obscure popes and fire/brimstone quotes from various saints to “convince” others of what bad Catholics they are.

    Yes, gay marriage will continue to be a wedge. But so will the anti-Vatican II/pro-Vatican II crowd arguments. There is nothing more crazy than an uber orthodox catholic telling an orthodox catholic that they are a bad catholic. That is the bread and butter of many blogs and many of us are sick of it.

  • Vera

    Ah, yes. Now I remember. All the ills of the world come down to gay marriage. Whew! Glad we cleared that one up.

  • Tim D

    It has been ever thus. The Apostles and Church Fathers all dealt with the same contentiousness. The internet “democratizes” the commentary to an unprecedented extent. Why wouldn’t you expect heated give and take?

    Perhaps the best thing is to have strictly enforced rules of commentary established and enforced. You cut off the tails of the “bell curve” commentary range at the points beyond which you are uncomfortable. People will begin to gravitate to those sites which best meet their needs for edification, education, controversy, and/or catharsis, as they see fit.

    On the bright side, your concern has already had the efficacious result of raising the level of Brother Shea’s perspective.

  • terry nelson

    It has really gotten bad. Some bloggers seem to encourage it however, they almost cultivate a negative or toxic culture about their website, forever making fun of women priests and liberal nuns – not just critiqueing them, but actually mocking and demeaning them. Dismissing most baby-boomer Catholics as irrelevant and unfaithful, and so on.

  • Jim Pogue

    It seems that the lack of civility affects us and we don’t seem to remember how it all started.

    Back in the 30′s America was completely aghast when Gone with the Wind included the line, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Today that language doesn’t even lift on eye lash much less a brow. In the early 60′s in the small Baptist church I grew up in the controversy was when one of the leading ladies of the church wore a pant suit to evening worship service, just yesterday in my church T-shirts and jeans were as common as any type of “Sunday dress”. I think the pastor and one or two of the ushers had a tie, come to think of it, I was wearing a polo shirt with dress slacks. Now honestly, I don’t believe that any of the “dress code” issues affected a very worshipful service highlighted by a really excellent sermon on the Holy Spirit’s role in our lives.

    This lack of civility infects our political discourse, religious discussion and even simple conversation. We seem to have fallen prey to the idea that anything goes. The attitude too often is I feel is clearly better than anything you could possibly believe.

    I believe that we can learn from anyone at any time if we only will allow ourselves to stop and listen.

  • Stephen Taylor

    I stay out of it as much as I can. Those who want to be hard nosed on either side can do it without me. Our focus should be on God not on what the Church is doing or not doing, because bottom line, we’re not Bishops. Looking to our own souls is enough of a job for anyone. The Church doesn’t need our bickering to help or save or recapture or anything else. God is in charge whether any side of any argument likes it or not. That is why the words “the gates of hell will not prevail,” are in the bible. The question is, have we become the gates of hell?

  • cathyf

    Just an observation, but I think that there is a group of people who gain monetarily and emotionally by selling to other people the opportunities to Stand With Persecuted Saints Against Evil Oppressors. I’m not sure whether the Drama Queens or the Marks are more pathetic in this emotional prostitution, but to be sure there is commerce taking place.

    And the Combox Dramas are just part of the show.

    Like spammers, you’ll never be rid of them as long as somebody is making money off of the transactions…

  • Todd

    Speaking as a minority liberal on many conservative sites, I will attest that the overall tone (from my perspective) hasn’t changed in ten years. It’s often impolite, rude, and occasionally just horrific. It spikes sometimes, like in November 2008. But it always settles down again.

    However, as I’ve gotten to know many conservatives over the years, exchanging e-mails and other well wishes about non-controversial topics, I find that many individuals have softened over the years. Or rather, some of us have found that ideology doesn’t define us the way we thought at first.

    These experiences convince me that there’s nothing that improves on personal contact. Comboxes are pretty low on that totem pole.

    [I agree with that. I've worked with "liberals" (I hate these ill-fitting words) who had their guard up at meeting, who have figured out that I'm nothing like they imagined. And I of course was happy to see they came with detachable horns! :-) And of course, the practice of praying with or for someone who is from "the other side" completely dissembles the fences-admin]

  • Deacon Chuck

    Sadly we (meaning Catholics in general) tend to forget that our outward behaviour and the way we treat each other is supposed to be a manifestation of our spirituality – you know, love of God and love of neighbour? I think often times the thought that we are (and should be) held to a higher standard of behaviour and civility than those who don’t know any better is lost on a great number of us. I am reminded of a Catholic teachers’ union convention, when the provincial minister of education attended to make a public address, was shouted down, sworn at and had books and papers thrown at her by Catholic educators! If we can’t as Catholic adults treat each other with a degree of civility, then we have no moral authority to expect otherwise from our children and youth (who spend far more time online and exposed to comboxes than most of us ‘adults’). If Catholics have to resort to cruelty and profanity in their comments, then they are at worst hypocritical and at the least verbally stunted.

  • Rudy

    A perusal of XIX century political cartoons and opinion pages can dispel the idea that things were nicer back when.

    Bloggers post controversial issues, “hot buttons” that are sure to elicit strong emotional responses. You can’t provoke opinion on such issues and then retreat in indignation. Bloggers are manipulating the information to keep their blogs popular, then they can’t stand the heat and act surprised. As Harry Truman said, “if you can’t stand the heat…”

  • Diane at Te Deum

    Thanks for the link, Lizzie.

    @Jim Pogue – You somewhat hit upon something I was thinking about.

    There was a time when society valued a virtuous response amidst conflict and was indignant when someone lost control and said what they really thought.

    Today, it’s the opposite. It’s as if there is a point system. The more creatively you can tell someone off, the more points you get.

    I refer to it as the Roseanne-Barrification of society, but in fairness to Roseann Barr, it started well before her.

  • Margaret

    I agree that comments have become increasingly rude on many sites.

    However, I believe that one factor in this problem is that some bloggers post provocative and contrarian articles deliberately to create a storm of controversy and quickly increase the number of visitors to their website.

    A post that generates hundreds of rude comments and thousands of page views is exactly what these bloggers are aiming for.

    Bloggers who earn money from their blogs can then charge more for advertising, and others do it just to make themselves look important.

    Also, any blog that does not aggressively moderate comments will certainly become a haven for trolls (ultra-rude commenters.) But trolls quickly lose interest in well moderated comboxes. Bloggers need to take responsibility for ALL the content on their sites.

    I’m tired of seeing calls for more civil comments on websites (not this website) that routinely publish inflammatory articles and don’t do enough to moderate the comments.

  • Karen LH

    Rash judgment is part of the problem as well. Someone says something that isn’t phrased very well and that assumes a context that another person doesn’t share, the other person takes offense and snaps back, and the next thing you know you’ve got a flame war.

    Maybe people should copy out CCC 2477-8 onto a post-it and stick it on their monitors.

    [That's very good, thanks for the link admin]

  • Barbara Peters

    I think a person can zealously argue a position with emotion and passion without being rude and without engaging in ad hominem attackes. Our public discourse has become rude and disrespectful. I wanted to blame the anonymous nature of a blog comment, but then I recalled the young man who cursed at me this morning when I waited too long at a stop sign.

    [Funny, I was just thinking today that we're living in a the day of the bully. People just don't treat each other well, anymore; it's all selfishness. -admin]

  • cathyf

    For anyone tempted to believing just how persecuted he/she is, today is the feast day of yet another pair of English martyrs — something that happens a couple of times a week, it seems:
    St John Wall (1620-1679)

    John Wall was born 1620 near Preston in Lancashire. He was the son of wealthy and staunch Lancashire Catholics. He was sent to Douai for his schooling. He enrolled at the English College in Rome in 1641 (as John Marshn one of various aliases he used during his ministry), was ordained priest in 1645 and sent to the English mission in 1648. In 1651 he received the Fransiscan habit at St Bonaventure’s Friary, Douai. He returned to England some years later, and worked as a priest for more than twenty years, mainly based at Harvington Hall in Worcestershire. He was arrested in December 1678 during the flurry following the Titus Oates Plot, at Rushock Court near Bromsgrove, where the sheriff’s man came to seek a debtor. Once it was clear that he was a priest, he was ordered to take the Oath of Supremacy; on refusing to do so he was committed to Worcester. He was tried on the charges of receiving and exercising his priesthood, and of refusing the oaths. He was duly sentenced to death, and sent to London. On being sentenced he said: “Thanks be to God; God save the King; and I beseech God to bless your lordship and all this honourable bench” Under further questioning he was offered his life if he would abjure his religion. He later wrote: “I told them I would not buy my life at so dear a rate as to wrong my conscience.” He was brought back to Worcester, and was executed at Redhill. His quartered body was given to his friends, and was buried in St. Oswald’s churchyard. The long speech he composed for his execution was circulated among Catholics after his death; and the authorities issued as a broadsheet the public account of his execution containing “a true copy of the speech…with animadversions upon the same”.

    St John Kemble (1599-1679)

    John Kemble was one of the oldest of the martyrs, being 80 when executed. He was from near Hereford, being born into a Catholic family in 1599. He studied for the priesthood at Douai where he was ordained priest, and worked as a priest in England and Wales for 54 years. He founded several missions, some of which were still functioning well into the 19th century. In 1678 he was caught up in the aftermath of the Gunpowder plot. He was cleared of all involvement of this and was eventually condemned for being a “seminary priest”. Before his execution he said: “I die only for professing the old Catholic religion, which was the religion that first made this kingdom Christian” He was hanged, drawn and when dead quartered at Widemarsh Common on 22 August 1679.


    For anyone unfamiliar with hanging, drawing and quartering… It was the standard punishment for English Catholics who refused to renounce their faith during the reformation. The victim was first hanged, but only until unconsciousness. Then he was disemboweled while still alive, and when dead his body was torn limb from limb into four quarters plus the head. A sympathetic crowd, often one somewhat impressed and shamed by the victim’s faith, would demand that the executioner leave him on the scaffold until he was completely dead. In the 1500′s both laymen and priests suffered this punishment, while by the 1600′s it was limited pretty much to priests. Women were treated somewhat less barbarously — Anne Line and Margaret Ward were both hanged, while Margaret Clitherow was crushed to death. (This was the standard punishment for refusing to enter a plea. She refused so that there would be no trial, because her children would have been tortured to compel them to testify against her.)

  • Greta

    Wonder how blogs would have made out in Germany under Hitler or in the USSR under Stalin. The blog is but one of many new ways of communication. Its very nature is to put out a thought or event and thoughts about it and let the market determine the response. I have visited a few blog sites with some excellent writing and see very few comments with any passion. They are soft and feely and do not touch on areas of deep division. You can review this blog or Deacons Bench and see which post get 50 responses and which ones get three. The blog writer sets the tone for the comments by what and how they post. I would bet that by now Anchoress or Deacon Greg can predict which ones will set off a storm and bring readers back to see who has commented and what they said about their comment. Post anything on gay marriage and stand back. Post something on a great person who is very nice and doing something good and get silence or a few passionless comments. Go to Yankee Stadium in Red Sox regalia you will get more attention than showing up with no identification. Americans are passionate about certain things and frankly, I am glad we are still somewhat passionate about our Catholic faith somewhere. Why try to stiffle discussion about Catholic Church teaching? Seems like a good place to lay it out when you consider how little many Catholics know about their faith. I think it would be good to have the posted article include the actual Church teaching in the main body of the post. Why do we continue to argue about settled Church teaching? Does anyone believe the official Church teaching on gay marriage is going to change? Does anyone believe that we will see women priests ever? Does anyone believe that Church teaching on voting for candidates who support abortion requires that person to find some reason that equals the evil of 54 million abortions? Does anyone believe that the Democratic Party support of abortion keeps it legal in this country and that Catholic vote against that party for a few elections would end their support of this grave evil? Honestly stating Church teaching in clear terms as part of a post would be a good touch on a blog that is first and foremost Catholic.

    So if you want peace and tranquility and to see no passion on the comments, post stories that will bring that result. Throw red meat into the arena with thousands of people hungry to see truth not varnished over or dripping with excuses or outright lies and you will get passionate comments. When the passionate comments are attacked, you will see it turn to anger pretty fast.

    So how about trying it out. Post solid facts on the actual teaching on abortion and then when it is attacked by the pro abortion folks, show us how to respond without anger to set an example. Set out a post on actual Catholic teaching about those whose vote for a candidate either through them or by proxy to their pro abortion party keeps the abortion mills running and since the bishops threw in a crumb that allows one to vote for an abortion candidate, what would be any issue of greater importance or relavency to 54 million dead babies. Use the amazing writing talents to educate on how this is done. I also note that the admin posts often drip with some pretty obvious passionate anger connected to a stomping off to shut off all comments. Certainly the right and privledge of owning the blog, but hardly an example of this “Gentle corrections are appreciated, but making a person look foolish is usually unnecessary” is on display. I will be watching to learn from the master of language and tact… Keep in mind that I view you honestly as one of the best bloggers and am serious about this little challenge and really do want to see how you manage this feat.

    [Sorry, Greta - I'm not accepting your challenge. I've run the blog the way I do for six years posting on what strikes me, or is interesting to me; I have never held myself up to be the representative of any voice by my own, happily in sync with my church, which I love, and professing to be nothing more.

    My blog is not "all about" abortion; when I feel moved to write about it, as with the Gosnell story, I do. It's not all about euthanasia, but when I feel moved to write about it, as with the Schiavo story, I do. When I am incensed to see a politician vote against the born alive act, as with Obama, I write about it. My blog is not about refining one's understanding of "actual church teaching" any more than it's about clarifying "the actual rules" of baseball, but when I feel moved to write about the church, or baseball, I do. It's not all about prayer, or books, or cat videos, or the pope, or artificial contraception, or gay marriage or the coming schisms, or politics, or anything one thing in particular. It's just a Catholic life, doing its imperfect best. I am not interested in talking every day about 54 million abortions; there is nothing new to be said, and I assume everyone here knows that this is evil, so I don't need to preach it to them. I have written about silly females pretending to be Catholic priests, when I have been interested in doing so, but mostly that subject bores me. I do not subscribe to the "every day we must be enraged about something" school of Catholicism; that bores me too. When it's time to write about the coming schisms, I will write about them. But not before I'm really interested in doing so.

    That's all it's ever been. I don't understand why it suddenly "needs" to be more, but I'm not inclined to make it anything more, and I absolutely have no intention of turning it into an apologetics blog or a "everything we discuss gets filtered through a cut and paste from the catechism" blog. There are tons of those out there, and if I were interested in being one of them, I would be. As to traffic, my first thought, when I find something that strikes me, is not "boy, will this get me a ton of traffic! Woweee..." I just post what either interests me or gets my gut going. Opera videos, for instance, do not bring in traffic. I post them anyway, and if folks don't like opera...they're free to not listen! And since, increasingly, I post next to nothing from Friday afternoon until Monday, I am not sure where the charge that I am 'all about traffic' comes from, anyway. Vocations posts don't get much traffic, either. But I love 'em!

    I don't try to "stifle" discussion on church teaching, but do I grow tired of passive-aggressive harangues, thread hijackings, willful misunderstandings and distortions and heated exchanges where people just get nasty, and I frankly am beyond bored with the eventual, "so what about it, Anchoress, are you as good a Catholic as we think you should be, or not," crap. Like Popeye said, "I yam what I yam" and the blog is what it is. I am not going to change to suit anyone else simply because they think I should. What I noticed the other day was that it was not enough for me to defend Michael Voris from a silly attempt at scandal; the comments were starting to try to herd me along, challenging me to get on board with him, his style, his content, etc, etc, etc, and be a "real" Catholic like him, or I was still just not measuring up. Sorry. Not interested in being Michael Voris. We already have a Michael Voris. I'm interested in being me. And I'll take my chances with God on how well he likes that. --admin]

  • Dan

    I agree with Todd, although while he says some have mellowed, others have ossified in their positions and treat differing opinions with a harshness they failed to posess in 2004, for example.

    I have no fear of labels; I am a left of center.

    I do believe that bloggers pursue “hits” and all attention (opposition included) is successful for the blogger. Therefore, controversy is encouraged and hot button concerns are promoted.

  • Max Lindenman

    Speaking as a blogger, here’s what I’ve observed:

    Anyone who takes her writing seriously wants to be read. It’s only natural to choose topics that are sure to attract attention. There’s nothing wrong with posting “provocative or contrarian” articles, as Margaret put it. If nobody did that, people would be stuck reading the same old recycled junk, day after day.

    On the other hand, I’d definitely say there are more and less ethical ways to go about that. Taking the high road means writing in such a way as to make people think. Taking the low road means writing in such a way as to make people feel – specifically, to feel angry (that some maleolent Other is doing people like them dirt), or vindicated (that their side is doing some dirt back). There are fortunes to be made in both, but in my experience, the second way takes less talent, less brainpower and a heck of lot less self-respect.

    Now, I’ve never known Elizabeth or anyone at Te Deum — or for that matter, Deacon Greg — to take the low road. The bloggers at Te Deum are charitable almost to a fault. From what I’ve seen, Greg’s mainly a newshound on his blog; his opinions he saves for his Patheos column. And as for Elizabeth, I consider it quite miraculous that someone so feisty should restrain herself with such consistency from taking cheap shots. Her dog, poor beast, must sport some very deep footprints in its flanks.

    Now, flame wars are nothing new in the world of Catholic letters. In terms of decorum, National Catholic Reporter’s combox ranks slightly below the Mos Eisley Cantina. But if the nastiness is just starting to spill over into the blogs, that’s unfortunate. John Allen, Jr. doesn’t have to moderate comments to his articles; bloggers do. If the work moderating cuts into the work of of producing content, then something has got to change.

    I don’t know that there’s any one-size-fits-all solution. Me, I’ve had good luck with a stern banning policy based on what I liked to call the ___ You Rule. If anyone pots a comment for which the only sensible response is “____ you” (or a punch in the face), he’s outtathere. No warnings, no dialogue, no second chances.

    The problem with that rule is that it only serves to weed out the truly unhinged. The kind of people Elizabeth’s talking about don’t really qualify. They’re domineering and presumptuous, to be sure, but those qualities are hard to set limits on. To do that, a blogger would have to come up with a rule along the lines of “Anyone who presents himself as a one-man Apostolic Visitation will find himself helped to the pavement with all deliberate speed.”

  • Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

    I’m glad to see this. As you know, I struggle with combox conversations, I try to not get into it. I find it problematic when posts are put up however, that seem to invite the vitriol – I do see that happen at both (these useless terms, “liberal” and “conservative” blogs.)

    It is not helpful when people start using words like Vatican II to define a position, either pro or anti, for example. Can we stop carving ourselves up?

    I recently got into a pretty big comment war on my own facebook page when I said that I did not self-identify as a feminist, although I support elements of feminism.

    The response – from numerous feminists, was that I need not be ashamed (I am not) or that the Church has eaten my brain (which it has not) or something like this. The response from those who loathe feminism was equally venomous, although mostly sent in emails, saying things like feminism equaled atheism and so forth.

    Curiously – the point I was trying to make that was the first and probably the only self-definition I like to go by is Catholic. It comes before woman, feminist, wife, American, mother and so forth. I am a Catholic; we are universal. Why are we fighting all the time? I ask that to myself when I want to fight, at least I try to. Often… FAIL.

    Thanks. And thanks to Diane too and to Msgr Pope -and to all cries for civility.

  • Greta

    Good response Anchoress to my comment. It was really less meant as a challenge even written that way as to point out it is very hard not to get riled up on something you care about, especially when it is attacked by someone misquoting something like actual church teaching. I find it hard to respond without pointing out that their basis is faulty upon which their attack was based. It also kind of irks me when someone posts a comment calling for no labeling and then immediately posts their label or attacks someone followed by a call to better and less angry comments. I found this going on a lot over the last few years after 8 years of trash talking about Bush. I saw the call to more friendly discussion after Giffords was shot only to see the very same people using language they said should no longer be allowed.

    Again, I come to this blog because of the wide array of fantastically written stories. You have a great deal of talent and have a great life experience in many areas to pull from. The stories that do not get as many comments such as those on vocations, I often send out emails with links because there are so well done and show such obvious love for the dedication of these religious. I seldom read a post that does not lay out your belief on the topic. That said, I cannot imagine putting my work out there for the general public to pick over each day. What is interesting is that unlike a lot of blogs, you manage to keep the left and right, liberal and conservative, orthodox and cafeteria all coming back which to me shows that your writing and topics chosen are the type that will bring this ongoing type of discussion which is going to soon show some anger. Thus my comment was to see if you had some examples of what you are calling for in your post that would allow these two groups to have a spirited and good debate on those hot button issues without angst..

    Angst, often confused with anxiety, is a transcendent emotion in that it combines the unbearable anguish of life with the hopes of overcoming this seemingly impossible situation. Without the important element of hope, then the emotion is anxiety, not angst. Angst denotes the constant struggle one has with the burdens of life that weighs on the dispossessed and not knowing when the salvation will appear.

    I think those on both sides of hot button issues suffer from angst. We see others forcing us to accept as normal what our instinct and our faith tell us is gravely disordered or on the other side, they see religion which many have rejected all or in part, trying to dictate to them. Thus there was the need for government, if it wanted to dictate hot button issues, had to get the constitutional block on them getting involved in religious issues separated so as to allow them to go places the Constitution did not want the federal government/courts involved in. It was not separation they desired in the end, but the elimination of God from our world of politics and education. Once in with religious views now “separated” from everything except our private life, they soon started to pass laws which the actual religious clause would not have allowed and they started to legalize things which were in direct conflict with almost all accepted religions. The result for many is that the government became their god, their nanny, their solution to all problems without restrictions. So it was now OK to kill babies, to promote deviant lifestyle as being equal to marriage, and to steal from one who earned money to give to another. There was no longer a stimgma to anything because religion was not supposed to be allowed in anything since it was “separated.” So if you remove hope, or replace it with false hope of even more of all of the above as with Obama, you build up angst. From the time the courts came up with using the private letter of jefferson to extablish the so called “separation clause,” the very important ingredient the founder knew to be essential to our democratic country was damaged leading us to where we are today. It is not surprising that many programs and policies of the left are in direct conflict with established religious beliefs.

  • Kt

    What discourages me more are bloggers who retreat from or actively suppress vigorous debate after themselves initiating discussion of a difficult topic.

  • Yeoman

    I haven’t noticed an increase in rude behavior. . .it’s been there on the net all along.

    Internet commentary is remote, and basically anonymous. Unfortunately, that mean it is tailor made for rude commentary, as there’s no direct face to face coming to account for it. The only antidote to it is to weed out, permanently, the offenders. Vigorous discussion and rude behavior are not the same thing, and are in fact diametrically opposed. If people can’t play nice, they should be sent home.