Obama, Romney, and Rick Warren’s Religious Test

Obama, Romney, and Rick Warren’s Religious Test July 20, 2012

Saddleback Church’s evangelical mega-pastor Rick Warren has announced that he’ll be holding another presidential forum, just as he famously did in 2008 with Barack Obama and John McCain. While nothing is confirmed yet, it is tentatively scheduled for the end of August and will supposedly work “to promote social civility so that people with major disagreements (can) talk without beating each other up.” However, neither President Obama nor Republican challenger Mitt Romney should be fooled, this is an exercise in conservative Christian power, a religious litmus test in all but name.

John McCain, Rick Warren, and Barack Obama.

Obama should consider that Warren either lied about his plans for the 2008 forum or bowed to pressure from other conservatives regarding the topics up for discussion. In the week before the earlier event, Warren told TIME’s David van Biema that his questions would center on four areas: poverty, HIV/AIDS, climate change, and human rights. “There is no Christian religious test,” said Warren. The night of forum, however, Warren stuck to a more conservative script, quizzing the candidates about gay marriage, judges, and abortion—and only briefly touching on poverty and climate change. As one progressive religious leader told me at the time: “They hadn’t done their research on Warren. Obama wasn’t prepared for the Saddleback thing at all, and Warren bushwhacked him.”

Pastor Rick Warren has an entirely undeserved reputation as a “moderate” evangelical Christian because has no trouble being courted by Democrats, or signing toothless global warming documents. In truth, the man who has sold countless “Purpose Driven Life” books is lock-step with the evangelical mainstream on almost all social and theological issues. He’s for banning same-sex marriage, doesn’t believe in evolution, and only spoke out against draconian anti-gay legislation in Uganda (he had ties to one of the bill’s supporters) after immense public pressure. The only real difference between Warren and many other figures within the realm of conservative Christianity is his genial self-help-book-writer tone. In short, this is not a man I’d trust to explore alone the serious moral and ethical questions inherent to the world’s more powerful job, because there’s only one moral and ethical standard he’s truly capable of understanding.

“Some of the questions Pastor Warren posed crossed the line and promoted the fiction that the American people are electing a pastor-in-chief, rather than a commander-in-chief. Questions like ‘What does it mean to trust in Christ?’ create a religious test for public office and should have no place in the political discourse for a secular office. America is the most religiously diverse country in the world, and Christianity is only one of those faith traditions. Millions of voters who tuned in tonight will feel disenfranchised by some of the questions posed in this forum.” – Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, president of Interfaith Alliance

Around 20% of Americans fall outside the accepted boundaries of the Abrahamic traditions (Jews, Christians, and Muslims) entirely. If we’re talking just non-Christians, then the number is about 22%. Around 18% of American Christians belong to (generally more liberal) Mainline Protestant Churches. Catholics claim  24% of the population. Evangelical Christians make up around 26% of religious adherents in the United States, the largest faith grouping in America, but does their size justify the prominence of place they seem to now inhabit in national politics? The margins are small enough that it seems like folly to think that the moral concerns of an evangelical pastor will line up with a the concerns of all the other groups. It’s more a testament to the organizing power of conservative protestants, than a true reflection of their demographic weight or cultural influence.

The reason Obama and Romney are so eager to engage in what is a de facto religious test for office is that each want to convince different parts of American evangelical culture to vote for them. Obama wants the “small but significant chunks of white evangelical voters” that helped propel to the White House in 2008 to do so again (an uphill climb considering his evolution on the issue of same-sex marriage). Romney, meanwhile, will try convince still-skeptical evangelicals that he lines up with their moral values, despite belonging to a “false religion” (Mormonism). Both will emphasize their commitment to Christ, and Christian values. All of which is great, if you’re an evangelical Christian. You get two hours of presidential candidates making the case directly to you that they support, or at least respect, your moral universe. For everyone else, from liberal Christians to Hindus, you’re reminded that your vote, and the issues you’re most concerned about, aren’t quite as important.

When voters are indirectly told that one kind of religion, or even one kind of Christianity, is the one that gets catered to on the national stage, the one that needs to be wooed, we enter dangerous ground. We are told subtle lies about what’s foundational in our nation, that we were not built on Enlightenment values with a commitment to secular pluralism, but that instead we are a “Christian Nation” and all non-Christians (or Christians who aren’t the right kind of Christians) exist here by either a quirk of fate, the erosion of values, or the sufferance of the not-so-silent majority. It says that on matters of faith, presidents are accountable to the Rick Warren’s of this world, not to the “others” (or “nones”). This creates a narrative where morality is debated only within a spectrum acceptable to the most politically powerful faiths, where pundits can say straight-faced what “religious” people believe about an issue while really only talking to one subset of Christianity.

When you factor in the vast amount of theological (and political) diversity in the world’s religions, from indigenous traditions to pacifist Quakers, the amount of room between, say, “religious left” titan Jim Wallis and Rev. Dennis “non-Christians get out” Terry, starts to seem pretty arbitrary to those outside the halls of power looking in. It’s “lefty” Jesus vs. “righty” Jesus, but guess what, one acceptable face or another of Christian power always wins. This isn’t just bad for non-Christians, it’s bad for authentic Christianity as well. Jefferson was smart enough to know that religious wars could tear our nation apart should we appear to favor one over another, so he smartly built a “wall of separation” to avoid the problem.

Perhaps there was a time when it was acceptable, even necessary, for our nation to use Christianity as a source of unity, but if that time truly existed it has long since past. We live in a age where American diversity isn’t just a slogan, it’s real, and religious pluralism is happening in the atomic structure of our society every day whether we want it or not. Allowing Rick Warren to be our nation’s religious moderator is a bad idea, one that both candidates should reject. I can’t imagine that John F. Kennedy, our nation’s first Catholic president, would have participated in this religious test disguised as a forum.

“I would not look with favor upon a president working to subvert the First Amendment’s guarantees of religious liberty. Nor would our system of checks and balances permit him to do so. And neither do I look with favor upon those who would work to subvert Article VI of the Constitution by requiring a religious test — even by indirection — for it. If they disagree with that safeguard, they should be out openly working to repeal it. I want a chief executive whose public acts are responsible to all groups and obligated to none; who can attend any ceremony, service or dinner his office may appropriately require of him; and whose fulfillment of his presidential oath is not limited or conditioned by any religious oath, ritual or obligation.”

“Even by indirection,” which I argue includes a forum supposedly about moral issues, but asks questions about trusting Christ, a topic immaterial to every non-Christian voter. We have allowed this to happen, we have allowed one group to set the rules of engagement in the public sphere when it comes to faith and morality. Conservative evangelicals have been masterful in becoming political power players in the span of a generation, and the rest of us have been busy playing defense. This has to end, and the best place to start would be for Obama and Romney to tell Rick Warren “no.” Failing that, American people of all faiths need to reengage with our political process, no matter what their party or ideology, so that we can embrace the pluralistic promise of our nation, and put an end to litmus tests in all but name.

ADDENDUM: Obama campaign officials have stated that there will be no joint pre-debate appearances, so it looks like Warren was a bit premature to imply that both campaigns had agreed to appear.

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148 responses to “Obama, Romney, and Rick Warren’s Religious Test”

  1. Being from the UK, I find it odd that any Presidential candidate should feel the need to undergo some form of religious litmus test (mind you, Rick Warren probably would refer to litmus as God Paper).

    There are enough issues for debate on merit without faith questions of any hue coming into  play.

    Gentlemen, state your case and let the voter’s individual intellect and conscience be the guide for their vote, whichever way they go.

  2. I really hope that President Obama and (ex)Governor Romney “just say no” to Rick Warren.  I am so tired, as a Pagan, of being insulted by the Rick Warrens of this world, and then being doubly insulted by the Politicians who pander to him.  Religion has no place in our Government.  Or maybe Religion has only one place in our Government—freedom to practice and believe as one sees fit.

  3. The important thing to understand about democracy in the United States is that it is essentially a matter of demagogues influencing the large portion of the populace who have little time, little interest, or few resources to dig more deeply into essential matters. Campaigning therefore takes the form of barraging the voting populace with information designed to hit them on an instinctive level, something that the Christian element in politics has become very adept at. 

    Perhaps that has something to do with that religion’s traditions of rhetoric from the pulpit. 

    It makes me wonder if this sort of fire should be fought with fire of our own: rhetoric was developed as a skill by Greek and Roman pagans, and the ability to weave words together was highly valued by pre-Christian Celtic and Germanic cultures. Perhaps we should start trying to influence politics at-large with our own rhetoric.

  4.  I was here for the Obama/McCain election four years ago and it was a bit of a culture shock moment.  In the UK, there’s usually 6 weeks of notice prior to an election and only within the notice time for any election can media campaigning/advertisements be put out by candidates or parties.

    The notion of any religious denomination or faction holding sway or having say tends to be greeted by an air of scepticism.  It seems my countrymen have a whole “your religion/faith is your own business and anyone trying to push their beliefs is looked at rather askance” thing, which suits me as a fairly private kind of person.

    Now, living as I do in PA, I’m getting used to the change of philosophy, somewhat, and adapting accordingly. 

    There you go, Rick Warren – evolution!

  5. Candidates are free to expose their moral beliefs all they want, and answer a million questions, but it shouldn’t take the form of an official campaign event, one run by a conservative evangelical who gets to decide what the right questions are. That dangerously blurs the line of creating a religious test for office.

  6.  I agree; I wouldn’t mind an * interfaith* panel of theological/philosophical  leaders asking such questions; it’s the implicit (or is that, very *explicit*) unstated assumption that ONLY “Judeo-Christian” values are important (funny thing, Rick Warren, I don’t see you inviting a Jewish cleric to your little confab) that has me burning.

  7. The problem with the “both say no” approach is the Prisoner’s Dilemma; one is screwed if the other cheats and winds up debating an empty chair.

  8.  I wish we could restrict the campaigning to six weeks before the election.  That would be so much better than what we see now…

  9. I think Rick Warren is a truly “moderate” Christian. Take a good look at the guy: that is what “moderate” Christianity looks like. “Liberal” and/or “progressive” Christianity is largely mythological, and to the extent that it exists it is a joke. Probably the most active and numerically significant body of “progressive” Christians are Catholics. CATHOLICS. What is the use of being “progressive” if you can’t even wean yourself away from the freaking Catholic Church?

  10.  That is almost a call for ‘Pagan’ evangelism. Not a popular stance, I have found.

  11.  There are a lot of people who believe in ‘absolute’/objective morality, as opposed to subjective/relative morality.

    These people will simply say that anything that does not fit their (generally Abrahamic flavoured) moral compass is wrong.

  12. Dear pagans, The constitutional prohibition against a religious test is an official prohibition and speaks to government, not to voters or their personal decisions.  Americans are free to choose their leaders based on any test they wish to apply and to ask candidates questions about anything that interests them.  We are free to ask questions about the economy, foreign policy, moral issues, corn subsidies, which team should win the World Series, and questions about religion.  The fact that you are not interested in some of those issues does not mean that I am not.  So, what Rick Warren is doing is perfectly American and the candidates are free to skip the event or refuse to answer any question they don’t wish to answer.  But your suggestion that it is somehow wrong or unAmerican to hold such a forum is silly.  Millions of voters are interested in the answers to the questions Rick Warren will pose and will cast votes based in part on the answers they hear.  That’s why the candidates attend such events.  The fact that nonChristians oppose the notion of Christians holding forums is pretty much irrelevant.  Hold a pagan forum if you want.  But don’t pretend that Christians are required to ignore their core values when choosing leaders.  There is nothing in the Constitution that suggests such a policy and nothing Jefferson said about separation of church and state (in a private letter, no less) has any bearing on the matter.

  13. Announcing a forum on poverty, HIV, climate change and human rights, and then pulling a bait-and-switch to questions about following Christ, is un-American. If Warren were nobody in particular this would be a case of “fool me once…” Unfortunately he is too prominent to be ignored.

  14. Liberal Christianity has been around for more than a century, since the abolitionists. It’s been a partner (sometimes strained) of American radicalism. It just doesn’t grab the mike the way evangelicals do.

  15.  Indeed, that is how the First Amendment stands, including Article IV.

    However, before every debate, perhaps the media should remind the audience of the Treaty of Tripoli, as ratified by the US Senate:  “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion”.

  16. Yeah – soon he will demand Republicans sign some sort of pledge just liek the other idiot.

  17. Let’s clarify something…we are a REPUBLIC, not a Democracy.  Republic:  Is a nation ruled by law and those laws were set up according to the Word of God and everyone came under that law.  Democracy:  Is a rule of people or a rule of feeling and that changes all the time as people change. The danger of a democracy is that we are looking toward “people” to bless us, to fix us, to help and take care of us when in fact this country was most certainly founded on Christian principles only in that God was at the head, the throne, HE and only HE blesses our nation and its people.  We look to God for what we need…the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob…the one and only true God.  America exists BECAUSE our forefathers believed this, knew this and established this country on Godly principles, not on ever changing people’s ideals or hangups.  You don’t have to believe in God/Jesus, you have free will but our history is a fact, it is what has made this nation great.  And as said many times before, if you don’t like it, feel free to live elsewhere.  Anyone here who wishes to believe otherwise has that right as this is (actually we’re closer to being a WAS) a free nation.  Rick Warren has every right to call this meeting and those who don’t wish to hear have every right to turn it off…that is YOUR right, but you cannot remove OUR rights to hear.  We’re all created EQUAL, get that?  For those out there who believe they have any type of special right, you are wrong…we’re equal, that INCLUDES Christians.  I find the most intolerant people are those who are not Christians.  Oh they tolerate everyone BUT Christians and praise those who are different, except, as I’ve said, Christians.  I pray that God forgives this nation for going against His Word and blesses us because I’ve lived quite a while and I am amazed at how different, how much worse this country is just in the past 20, 30 years.  We  have lost many freedoms already.  Again, if you don’t agree, sobeit, move on, don’t watch.  Instead of spending so much time fighting Christians or what they believe, find out what it is YOU believe and stop whining.  I know without a doubt what’s true…there is one absolute truth…but we are all able to choose for ourselves…that’s called free will.

  18.  Again:  Treaty of Tripoli, ratified by the Senate in 1797, “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion”.

  19. And which dictionary did you pull your definition of a Republic? lol  You spent so much time writing your response, and everything you said was wrong.  It must be exhausting.

  20. This is your democracy, America. Cherish it.

    It’s happened because that one group has worked tirelessly for decades to make it happen. It’s really that simple.

    This is happening because Warren got off his ass and made it happen.

    Why isn’t Americans United sponsoring a similar event and inviting the candidates to appear? Or other religious freedom groups?

    It’s both saddening and hopeful that these deluded persons are 26% of the population. Saddening that means there’s 70 million fuctionally insane people, and they vote. Hopeful because it means that if *all the rest of us* get off our asses, they lose.

    Obama may be disappointing in many ways, but the alternative is exponentially worse and must be avoided at any and all costs. Obama has at least shown the ability to change positions with enough public pressure, as he did with same-sex marriage. He’s a typical centrist politician. Better that than a new Dark Ages.

    Vote, dammit!

  21. Just wait–he’ll have his very own B akker/Swaggart/Haggard-type scandal to run from sooner or later.  He has too much unearned power and a sky-high ego.

  22. Yep pretty sure pre-Christian Rome was also a republic, and the word of “God with the Capital G” had nothing to do with it. 🙂 

    Such ignorance of historical facts… *sigh*

  23. Americans United has neither the high profile nor the deep pockets to field something like this, and Warren does.

    Political campaigns are collected dozens of billions in donations to fund attack ads. Do you suppose they could persuade some of those donors to shell out for forums? Would they? Is a superb debate presentation as valuable as a jugular-seeking 30-seconder?

  24.  Once again, the (relative) centralisation of Christianity gives it an edge in terms of power over other religions.

  25. Thank you very much for your question. The “corky” odour that you describe is not uncommon in a bottle of red wine that has just been uncorked. If you remove the cork from the bottle an hour or two before you plan to serve it and allow it to “breathe,” the odour should dissipate.

  26. They run the range from some Episcopal congregations to Quakers, to United Church of Christ to Wesleyan Methodists to  to the Unitarian-Universalists, most of whom identify as Christians.

  27. Whether the forum is “wrong” or “unAmerican” or unconstitutional is not the issue. What is at issue is that America is a country where it appears to be necessary for a serious candidate for the highest office in the land to kiss Rick Warren’s ring. You may find this perfectly acceptable, but there are others who do not–and for good reason, in terms that Jason has ably expressed.

  28. I completely disagree with this article, for the Bible is full of Kings of Israel who denied their faith and GOD and became multi-culturalistically religious, and look what that got them, and the people of Israel who ascibed to those King’s societal ways and beliefs.

  29.  Like, for example, the Roman Empire? It lasted for over 500 years as a Pagan society until it became Christianized, and then collapsed in a little over 100.

    This, however, is based on historical fact, instead of a particular religious sect’s mythology. The Judeo-Christian Bible is not a book of history.

    How did all the Christianist trolls get in here anyway?

  30.  A Republic is “NOUN. 1. a state in which the supreme power rests in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them. 2. any body of person viewed as a commonwealth.” No mention of god here.  Definition from dictionary.com

    A Democracy is “NOUN. 1. a government by the people; a form of government in which supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system. ” Again, no mention of god.  Also from dictionary.com

    MNMKAT, see the difference?  America is a democracy, as put forth by our founding fathers! Rewriting history to serve your agenda or to make you feel better, doesn’t change it.  Our founding fathers were not Fundamentalist Christians, no matter how much you want it to be so.  If they had been, we would be a monarchy or a theocracy by now.

    Instead of bemoaning and wishing history different, why not be grateful that the universe saw fit to to put the men that were chosen, in charge.

  31.  Oh, so much to disagree with, but I think I’ll just go with this and leave the rest to anyone else so inclined.

    “there is one absolute truth…but we are all able to choose for ourselves…that’s called free will.”

    What you describe is not free will. It is coercion. It’s the language of tyrants and thugs, “Do as I command or suffer the consequences”. Your god doesn’t offer freedom, only the yoke of servitude. You can pretty it up however you like but it is what it is. You may find comfort in it but you’re not going to place it around everyone else’s necks without a fight.

  32. Agree with most of what you said, but one small correction: The largest theological plurality among UUs is Humanist, at the last count. Not a majority, but close. Next, well down in the ratings, is Pagan. I forget whether Christian or Buddhist comes in third.

    Unitarians and Universalists used to be solidly liberal Christian, but that started to unravel in the late 19th Century and the process continued into the 20th.

    Theologically, everyone in UUism is a respected minority.

  33. America is most decidedly not a democracy, but a republic.  Our founding fathers recognized the ungainliness and potential tyranny of a true democracy and decided to avoid that pitfall.

    As far as for the US being founded as a Christian nation, if one searches he can find many quotes from our founding fathers on both sides of the coin, but the prevailing notion seemed to be that the founders were primarily Christian and our founding documents reflect that fact.  Since they did not want to establish a theocracy, they were careful not to include theocratic language in those documents, but an honest reading of Washington, Madison, and even Jefferson will lead one to recognize their belief in and profound reverence for God Almighty and His role in the administration of this new experimental government.

  34. America is most decidedly not a democracy, but a republic.  Our founding fathers recognized the ungainliness and potential tyranny of a true democracy and decided to avoid that pitfall.

    As far as for the US being founded as a Christian nation, if one searches he can find many quotes from our founding fathers on both sides of the coin, but the prevailing notion seemed to be that the founders were primarily Christian and our founding documents reflect that fact.  Since they did not want to establish a theocracy, they were careful not to include theocratic language in those documents, but an honest reading of Washington, Madison, and even Jefferson will lead one to recognize their belief in and profound reverence for God Almighty and His role in the administration of this new experimental government.

  35.  I like the idea of a shorter election cycle, but the news media would go nuts without all the hoopla. 

    It’s ungodly the amounts of money that are spent.  To think how comfortably I could live on just a small percentage of what is spent by one candidate, in just one month.

  36.  Where did you get your definition of republic?  I am a Christian with a political science background. 
    I believe, in my heart, that this nation was founded upon Christian values and precepts, but I have never heard this definition of republic. 
    You are correct when you state that we are a republic, not a democracy.   Over the last 50 years or so that distinction has become ever more blurred to the point now that most people, if asked, will call our form of government a democracy.  This is a problem, particularly when those who lead do not understand the difference, and an even worse problem if they do understand, but use the misunderstanding to do wrong.

  37. All historians agree that the Roman Empire did not fall because of Christianity, for it existed as long as it did because it was able to conquer other societies and live from the booty of those conquests, as the Assyrian and Babylonian Empires also did.  Rome fell because their Empire consisted of far more slaves than Roman citizens, and when attacked by invading hordes of many different organized barbarians, could not muster enough soldiers from their mostly slave population to defend themselves, and actually fell from within because of this.  Christianity had nothing to do with it and the Empire flourished for quite a while under Christianity.  And the Bible is being proven a history book, by each new discovey of proof of what is in it, as time goes on. 

  38. Our political system is baffling even to those of us who grew up with it.  Personally I have voted for a third party presidential candidate in every election since 1984.  Many people tell me that I am “throwing my vote away”; I see it as sending a message that I want what I want and that the lesser of two evils is not good enough.  All I know is that I feel good after I vote.

  39. As I see it Rick Warren is well within his rights to want to know how both men stand on values important to Christians.  While the 20+% of atheist ,Progressives or non-religious prefer to control Government policy and use the ruse of seperation of church and state to shut them up their faith contributes to their persona.  I am sure at the core of Warren’s venture there is a desire to know if both men are moral, immoral or amoral in their dealings.

  40. I think this whole article is an exercise in misunderstanding.  Of course Warren will ask questions from his perspective, and the candidates SHOULD answer candidly (whether they will is doubtful).  Since we now have other faiths playing a part in public life, it is also feasible for leaders from other faiths to have similar forums (or for the atheists to do so).  Each group would ask questions reflecting their concerns.  Why not have the Dalai Lama hold a forum or some imam?  Of course, if an imam were to ask me a question regarding islam, I would be forced to tell him that I regard their religion as the worship of Satan—I’m sure that would go over great.  I don’t consider myself an evangelical.  I’m very close in many respects, but there are certain key issues where I disagree such as their view of the inspiration of scripture.  I was, however, raised an evangelical (fundamentalist) and still have many close friends who are still in that camp (including my life-long best friend). 

  41. Rather post-hoc error. There also exist societies that have become multi-culural/”godless” while being very good places to live in, while the introduction of Christianity in places like South America caused massive social upheaval. It seems that the religion is orthogonal to prosperity and stability of society.

  42. Your point about the 1797 Senate lends some support to your position, but that is greatly diluted by the fact that it merely affirms America was not officially founded on Christianity so it’s not a theocracy. Perhaps it would be much stronger if your quote emerged in a foundational document by the original founders, and not by one particular Senate in session that year, but in any case your quote is only an observation.

    However, the reality is that America from the start has been a Christian nation because of the beliefs and practices of its citizens. It doesn’t have to be officially founded on Christianity for the essential Christian cultural, social, and religious nature of this country to be observably true, whether you like that or not. In fact, most if not all of the moral improvements made over the decades since its inception have been driven by largely Christian principles (many shared by other faiths).

    Even with the modern decline of its influence upon the culture today, the U.S. remains a Christian nation simply by the beliefs and practices of the vast majority of its citizens. If it is your goal to change that reality, you still have some decades to go.

  43. “But it is objected that the people of America may, perhaps, choose representatives who have no religion at all, and that pagans and Mahometans may be admitted into offices. But how is it possible to exclude any set of men, without taking away that principle of religious freedom which we ourselves so warmly contend for? This is the foundation on which persecution has been raised in every part of the world. The people in power were always right, and every body else wrong. If you admit the least difference, the door to persecution is opened.” – James Iredell, North Carolina, one our first Supreme Court justices, appointed by George Washington.

    One wonders what your view of Freemasonry is? Because a significant proportion of our country’s founders were Freemasons.


    Including our first president.

  44. MNMKAT wrote: ” And as said many times before, if you don’t like it, feel free to live elsewhere. ”

    What you have said illustrates that you are NOT a follower of Jesus Christ, who said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

  45.  According to the definitions listed by Cerridwen below, a republic (in the sense that we use the term to refer to the US) is a type of democracy:

    ” Republic:  ‘NOUN. 1. a state in which the supreme power rests in a
    body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives
    chosen directly or indirectly by them.'”

    “Democracy:  ‘NOUN. 1. a government by the people; a form of
    government in which supreme power is vested in the people and exercised
    directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral
    system.’ ”

    We are not a direct democracy, but at least according to these definitions a republic still falls within the broader umbrella of a democracy. If you accept democracy as “a government by the people” it seems pretty obvious that the US qualifies as such considering our Constitution beings with “we the people.”

    The laws established in our country were set up by people, not by  the Abrahamic God. You claim that “God was at the head, the throne, HE and only HE blesses our nation
    and its people.  We look to God for what we need…the God of Abraham,
    Isaac and Jacob…the one and only true God” but the founding documents of our country do not attest to this. The Constitution does not mention your God, or any God for that matter. Jesus or Christ is not mentioned either. The Declaration of Independence does mention “nature’s God” but Jefferson’s view of God was based in Deism and Enlightenment thinking, not Christianity specifically (http://history.hanover.edu/hhr/hhr93_1.html).

    Many of the founding fathers were Deists and Christians, I do not doubt or debate that, but the government they chose to  construct was not  a “Christian Nation.” They never intended a theocracy. They certainly had the opportunity to make it so but they chose not to. They were not the ones who placed “under God” in the pledge of allegiance or “in God we Trust” on the currency, they were not the ones to set up plaques of the 10 Commandments at courthouses.

    “We  have lost many freedoms already.” What freedoms would those be exactly? Can you provide us with examples?

    “We’re all created EQUAL, get that?  For those out there who believe they
    have any type of special right, you are wrong…we’re equal, that
    INCLUDES Christians.” When did we ask for special rights? At this point, Christianity has been disproportionally represented in government related functions, including the debate in question. We have little to no representation in these matters. If anyone seems to have “special rights” it is Christians, and that is the entire point of the article.

  46. Christians, while indisputably an overwhelming majority, are not any different than any other group of citizens bound by a common interest, although this one is so large that it is somewhat fractured, if one breaks down distinct “factions” as the author has done.
    While Evangelicals and Catholics may not agree on important theological points we are in agreement about many issues to which essential Christian values and principles apply. You could not be more wrong that Christians of different flavors have no compelling interest in hearing candidates address particular issues and to evaluate their views according to our own values. Pagans and other atheists certainly do that much, and some of them claim status as a religion when it serves their legal or political interests to do so.
    The U.S. may not be officially a Christian nation, but its Christian citizens have every right to evaluate candidates for office according to their faith-driven criteria, values, and principles. This is no less so for non-Christians.
    Finally, to suggest it is wrong or inappropriate for such candidates to meet in a Christian forum reveals the author and his supporters in this combox fail to understand what is meant by “no religious test for political office.” Officially, there is no test or bar to be attained to qualify for public office in the U.S. – that is a constitutional truth.
    However, private citizens are free of such constitutional constraints, and are fully entitled to evaluate candidates according to their own personal criteria, values and principles. If one applies the  arguments mounted in this post fully, then no politician can address the NAACP either. One could argue that we live in a nation which is ostensibly race neutral but even a conservative would agree that the NAACP has a compelling interest in hearing candidates address issues of primary importance to their membership and black Americans in general.
    Yet, those black Americans constitute 12-13% of the population – far less than any of the religious groupings cited by the author. Does the author mean to say that no candidate should speak to the NAACO because to do so sends a message to white Americans that they are unimportant or irrelevant? I reject that suggestion outright.
    It appears a lot of effort and little deep thought went into the construction of this argument. It obviously was initiated with a specific political conclusion in mind, with the rest reverse-engineered to support that conclusion. Too bad the author had no choice but to rely upon selective facts and incomplete arguments to make his case. It’s a waste of time and space which could have been better used to advance his political agenda in a more legitimate fashion.

  47. “All historians” do not agree to any such thing. In fact, quite the opposite.

    It doesn’t matter how an empire survived, the fact that it did disproves your original statement: that if they are “multi-cultural religious” then an angry Yahweh with smite them.  No empire was more multi-cultural religious than the Pagan Romans, who left the religions of the peoples they conquered alone. In fact, they often adopted the Gods of their vassal states (Isis and Mithras were particularly popular.) They didn’t care who you worshiped, so long as you paid your taxes, didn’t make trouble, and once a year swore allegiance to Rome and the Emperor. It was for this reason the early Paulist Christians were arrested and executed – they refused to swear allegiance to the Emperor. They were charged with treason, not “heresy”. The very concept of heresy didn’t exist in Pagan Rome.

    Only after Constantine established Paulism as the state religion did the Romans start persecuting other religions. Pagan emperors like Julius, Augustus and Marcus Aurelius knew better than to give the priests of ONE religion too much power, or establish any authority greater than the Imperial government. Religious diversity served to keep the vassal states contented. Rome didn’t get “smited” until AFTER it was Christianized, and that is a plain, simple fact of history.

    See: “The Roman Empire Disintegrates”:


    For that matter, the Hebrews also expanded their empire by blood and conquest. They all did. According to their own legends, they conquered lands by the sword, and killed or enslaved the conquered peoples. That’s the way things were in the Bronze Age. The entire text of 1 and 2 Kings, from your own “history book”, the Bible, describes this all in gory detail.

    Just to give one example, the myth of the Exodus has no archeologial eveidnece to back it up. There is no evidence to prove 2 million people were wandering the Levant for 40 years, for they left not the slightest trace, which archeologists can tell you is impossible. The Egyptians, who left elaborate histories, say nothing about Moses or the loss of millions of slaves, or the killing of their Pharaoh by drowning. It didn’t happen.

    See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Exodus#Ongoing_debate

    As for the “historical” Hebrew empire:

    “There is no evidence of a united Monarchy, no evidence of a capital in Jerusalem or of any coherent, unified
    political force that dominated western Palestine, let alone an empire of
    the size the legends describe. We do not have evidence for the
    existence of kings named Saul, David or Solomon; nor do we have evidence
    for any temple at Jerusalem in this early period. What we do know of
    Israel and Judah of the tenth century does not allow us to interpret
    this lack of evidence as a gap in our knowledge and information about
    the past, a result merely of the accidental nature of archeology. There
    is neither room nor context, no artifact or archive that points to such
    historical realities in Palestine’s tenth century. One cannot speak
    historically of a state without a population. Nor can one speak of a
    capital without a town. Stories are not enough.” – historian Thomas L. Thompson

    (Actually, since Thompson a record has been found of a Hebrew king named David. But it’s scant evidence and says nothing about an Empire of the size depicted in the Bible.)

    Stop depending on Christian apologists and fundamentalist webpages for your information. Try reading history books by professional historians instead, it might widen your perspective.

  48. I agree. Let’s apply this principle to all other arenas as well. No candidate should apper before any racially-based group like NAACP, the Klan, or La Raza, either, so raceial groups outside the hosting groups feel insulted or demeaned in any way.

    Feelings and not principles are the lodestone of our democracy.

  49. I wish your reading comprehension was a bit better. I never say it’s an actual government-ordered religious test, I say it’s “a religious litmus test in all but name.” I quote Kennedy who decries any kind of religious test,”even by indirection.”  

    You can’t see past your Christian privilege to understand what this forum is to all non-Christians, and I doubt you ever will, since you seem more interested in proving me wrong by setting up a straw-man version of my post instead of actually engaging the issues. 

  50. Just a quick note:
    “Pagans and other atheists”  –  while there are some Pagans who also self-identify as atheist or humanist, it isn’t accurate to class us simply as a variety of atheist. Many of us are in fact polytheists, pantheists/panentheists, animists, etc. and believe in a wide array of beings science does not readily acknowledge at this point in time.

  51. Not according to the ‘Founding Fathers’, whose consensus in the ‘Federalist Papers’ implies that religion, particularly Christianity, is parallel to the course of prosperity and stability in a society, specifically the one they instituted by the founding of this great nation.  If not so, then the ‘Declaration of Independence’ is one big lie.  And I know of no existence of any multi-cultural and godless society, where people live in freedom and where their rights, as described in the ‘Declaration of Independence’, are honored by the government of their society.  If you know of one, maybe you should emigrate there, instead of trying to change ours, and in doing so destroy the rights and freedoms we have, which is going on now, which conservatives and Christians are fighting against.

  52.  “And I know of no existence of any multi-cultural and godless society,
    where people live in freedom and where their rights, as described in the
    ‘Declaration of Independence’, are honored by the government of their

    I’m not sure about multi-cultural and godless (are you using “godless” as an inaccurate synonym for “not officially Christian”?) but Canada, Australia, and much of Europe come to mind.

  53. But a large majority of historians, for which there are plenty, with various and opposite recordings of history, do agree with the way I described as being the downfall of the Roman Empire, and also the reason it lasted for as long as it did.  It’s easy to pick and choose what you want to believe in order to support what your personal agenda may be, but the fact is most of the Bible, but not all as of yet, has been proven accurate.  And there was no Palestine until the Romans conquered Israel and renamed it as such, and after the Roman Empire collapsed, it was given other names by the people who then conquered and ruled it, the Ottoman Empire for the most of that time.  Only since Jordan gave it to the Israelis, after losing a war with them, did the Arabs that hadn’t left the area because of the war, wanted it to be named Palestine again, and declared that they were the indiginous people of that area, renaming it to copy that of the Roman name, which when Rome gave it that name there were only Israelites there, which rebelled against Rome several times.

  54. Oh, yeah, it’s the atheists, progressives and non-religious who hamstring abortion access in Third World countries that get US family planning assistance. **snicker**

    “[W]ell within his rights”? Another example of a privileged majority tactically assuming the trappings of a marginalized minority. Possibly in reaction to erosion of that privilege, or that minority? Learn to live with it, Chuckie.

  55. Europe is the modern foundation of Christianity, from which it spread to Canada, Australia, and the USA.  Just because the prophecies of the Bible are now coming to past, and Christianity is under attack and declining in all these former bastions of that religion, from whence came the spread of it to around the world, does not mean these examples you cite are godless, and most of Europe now say their experiments in multi-culuralism is a great disaster, and is one of the things that is tearing their societies and countries apart today, and mostly by the Muslims.  But no matter, even in the countries you cite, and Europe also, freedom and rights of their people have never been as great as that in the USA, because of our Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution, which as more of the Biblical prophecies are realized, the more those great documents are ignored by the current administration, as also goes the loss of many of our rights and freedoms those documents describe and define.

  56.  Yeah, because all those other faiths also have the privilege Christianity shares. Their leaders have the same power and popularity as Rick Warren.

    Okay then.

  57. Just a small point of contention: can we drop the word/idea Judeo-Christian?  I know of no Jews who engage in the kind of demagoguery, religious litmus testing, and out-and-out religious war on other faiths that Christians do.  

    Our issues aren’t with the Jews, it is firmly with the Christians.  There is no Jewish Rick Warren-types that I know of supporting Ugandan “Kill the Gays” bills or writing “The Kosher Driven Life”.

  58.  Ok, so now what rights of Christians have we impeded on?!  I don’t understand all of this whining and complaining from Christians about the loss of their rights.  There are only two “religious” holidays our government observes, and both are Christian.

    There are politicians right now in some states that are fighting to disallow vouchers to parents that want to send their children to private schools that are not Christian – and they are winning! 

    When is the last time someone discriminated against you for wearing a cross or carrying a Bible?  When is last time someone made a disparaging comment to you because you were going to spend Sunday in church?  When is the last time someone told you to leave the country because of your Christian views?

  59.  This has nothing to do with names of nation-states. It has to do with archeological evidence and historical scholarship.

    There are no “historians” that accept the accounts of the Bible as history except Jewish and Christian apologists. “Most” of the Bible has NOT been proven accurate, that is a blatant misrepresentation, not a fact. I’m quite certain you cannot point to a single SECULAR historian with accepted academic credentials that makes any such claim. They ALL claim exactly the opposite. The major split of biblical Scholarship into two opposing schools is strongly disapproved by non-fundamentalist biblical scholars, as being an attempt by so-called “conservative” Christians to portray the field as a bipolar argument, of which only one side is correct. Examination of the so-called “liberal/secular” views in detail shows many differences of opinion, clearly demonstrating that to portray biblical scholarship in such “us” against “them” terms reflects a particular sectarian point of view, not supported by the evidence.

    Real historical scholars do not start from the premise that the Bible must be correct, so therefore the job of scholars is to “prove” it. Real historical scholars don’t alter the facts to fit their premises, they alter their premises to fit the facts.

    Do your own research. I recommend you start with “Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism”  by John Shelby Spong (Harper, 19992)Pagans don’t start with the premise of a “holy writ” that must be followed. Pagans don’t believe in holy writ. Pagans find the Truth of existence in existence itself, that all existence is Divine, and historical realities have no bearing on this premise. We know that Minerva did not spring forth fully formed from the brow of Zeus, that Set didn’t murder Osiris and get killed in turn by Horus, that any Pagan mythology doesn’t have to represent historical fact. We revere the myths of our traditions for what they teach us by allegory and metaphor, not for being factual history. Thus we have no fear of what Science and Archeology reveal.

  60. “It’s easy to pick and choose what you want to believe in order to support what your personal agenda may be.”

    Pot, meet kettle.

  61.  My ancestors were here at the founding, and I can assure you that you are entirely, completely, massively wrong about the founders.

  62. I have not been talking about rights specific to Christians, but to all Americans, the Bill of Rights is under assault by Obama and his administration. I just referred to the correlation of Biblical prophecy to the loss of rights and freedoms in the USA, by making the US Constitution irrelevent, and ruling not by law, but by Executive Order, by-passing Congress, and refusing to enforce laws of the USA, all that dictates the loss of rights and freedoms for the individual, for we are supposedly a nation of laws, not of one man’s will.  But as far as Christians loss of specific rights, it’s been on the internet news agencies daily, but the liberal biased mainstream media refuses to report it, probably because of their anti-religious bias.  Veteran’s cemetaries in Texas, not allowing families of fallen service people to have religious ceremonies or Biblical readings at grave sites during internments and outlawing Crosses for headstones, pastors on the streets of Dearborn, Michigan, a city with over 50% Muslims, being arrested for preaching the Gospel on street corners, and hundreds of others just in the USA since the beginning of this year alone.  Go to the Thomas Moore Law Center’s internet site and see the dozens of lawsuits they prosecute yearly, for free, defending religious rights usurped by the government or the ACLU.  Are you truly that unaware of what is going on in the USA, or are you one of those who want to promote government rights over the individual’s rights?   

  63.  Washington was a Deist and a Freemason.  He revered a Grand Architect of the Universe, but did not think that Christianity had accurately captured the whole truth about that Creator.

  64.  Also, according to the same sources, there were plenty of Kings of Israel who had a strong faith in that same God . . .  “and look what that got them”!

  65. You just want to imply that all religion is just a myth, and refuse and ignore the proof or history of it, so you can become secure in you’re atheism.  Not so for me, so quit trying to prove that GOD doesn’t exist, you’ll meet Satan long before you’ll ever be able to convince me, so just stop trying.  You go your way with your non-belief, and I’ll go mine with my belief, and we will both find out who will be happier after this life, oh sorry, you believe there isn’t anything after this life.

  66.  The Federalist Papers do not represent a consensus of all the Founding Fathers, but only a part of them, who also constituted the Federalist *Party* — one party, merely, of several — in the first years of the nation.

  67.  The prophecies of the Bible are NOT now coming to pass.  Your own statement that they are coming to pass brands you as a heretic among Christians.

  68. “Europe is the modern foundation of Christianity, from which it spread to Canada, Australia, and the USA.”

    No argument there. However, the USA, Canada, Australia, etc. did not get the idea of a representative government by and for the people along with such things as freedom of religion and speech from Christianity, and those ideas only returned once Christianity as a ruling power was challenged. During the height of Christianity’s power and influence in Europe, people did not have the rights and freedoms you so cherish. It was only by departing from Christianity’s stranglehold that people began to regain them.

    “[E]ven in the countries you cite, and Europe also, freedom and rights of
    their people have never been as great as that in the USA, because of our
    Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution”

    Yes, and consider that might be because we specifically chose not to establish an official church, unlike some countries in Europe. Again, we have additional rights and freedoms due to less official entanglement with Christianity – not because of it’s influence.

    “…does not mean these examples you cite are godless.”

    I never said they were. I was just trying to clarify what you meant when you were asking for examples of “multicultural and godless” societies. Some Christians use terms like “godless” and “unbeliever” to mean any non-Christian.

    “The more those great documents are ignored by the current
    administration, as also goes the loss of many of our rights and freedoms
    those documents describe and define.”

    As I asked another Christian here, what rights have we lost and/or what rights are we imminently in danger of losing?

  69. ALL of the freedoms we have lost in the past quarter century have been lost at the hand of Christian leaders acting specifically to advance an evangelical agenda. The big loss of our modern civil liberties began with the Cold War, which set the stage for an apocalyptic confrontation in the Judeo-Christian vision of such a thing. They very nearly succeeded, and also created a police state infrastructure to spy on our own citizens and to extract loyalty oaths from them, including oaths to the Christian god.

     Then there was the Drug War, which was conceived purely by protestant Christianity. That was the beginning of the end of meaningful due process. Then of course the “war on terror” which has spent trillions of dollars and countless lives for next to nothing. Not entirely nothing. It DID create a Soviet-level secret police infrastructure and created the legal justification by which the government asserts its right to eavesdrop, jail, torture and even kill completely at will and with no oversight. It has since asserted that it has the power to do this not only to foreign combatants, but our own people. The architects of this are, to a man, Christian, and most of them during the Bush years were evangelicals. Not a single one was an avowed atheist, nor, as far as I know, a pagan. 

    None of this stands as any surprise. Christianity has endorsed slavery and shackled the minds, bodies and spirits of people everywhere it has gone for the last 16 centuries or so. 

    The narrative which says this country was founded as a “Christian country” on the ideals of modern fundamentalist wackadoos is a false narrative, and demonstrably false. It is a pseudo history concocted by guys like Warren to allow them to claim status as the guardians of “real America.” 

  70. “arrested for preaching the Gospel on street corners”

    Citation, please? And let’s make it a real news source, not an online Christian megaphone.

  71. So, really, for the last time: we here are PAGANS, not atheists. Most of us accept the existence of many deities and aren’t limited to one. If you want to talk to atheists, go to the atheist portal, not the Pagan one.

    Also, your entire rant delivered above only serves to prove that you (and Christians like you) are incapable of being even remotely objective in the matters being dealt with in this thread. Scholarship is not starting with the premise that the Bible is completely, factually, historically correct, or that America is a ‘Christian nation’ or that Christianity is the only true religion. Starting with any of those premises precludes you from objectivity, period, full stop etc.

  72. None of the Christian dominionists are followers of Jesus. They use Jesus as a sock puppet to project their own voice as that of Yahweh….

  73. I have looked, and found they were rewarded with many graces, as well as the people they were sovereign over.  Just the Kings that turned their backs on GOD, and led most of their people to do the same, were punished, by the Assyrians over Israel, and the Babylonians over Judah, at different times but for the same reasons.  And there are similar lessons through-out the history of Abraham’s descendents, whether Kings, Judges, or just common Israelis.

  74.  Also, MNMKAT wrote:

    “You don’t have to believe in God/Jesus, you have free will but our
    history is a fact, it is what has made this nation great.  And as said
    many times before, if you don’t like it, feel free to live elsewhere.”

    As I said, my ancestors were here at the founding, and for a century and a half before the founding.  I see no reason to leave my country.  Instead, I have every reason to do what I can to wrench it back to the principles on which my ancestors founded it — principles that you pervert and distort with your words.

  75. I must agree with PP, here in the US our political system is a frikkin mess . Way too much time and money is spent electing our govt. The parties and special interest groups have way too much money .Not to even mention the Big money/ Companies are people debackle . And at this point despite all the money and time spent our govt is broken . These religious figuires like Rick Warren having such sway and power in  current US politics is one of the many problems.Not that the left is innocent , but at this point , from this pagans point of view, the political right , w/thier NAR, RR, Tea Party base is where most of our current problems origonate . The  bad economic policies , obstructoinist ways in congress/ house of reps , economic inequality ,excessive military spending etc . I’m just hoping we can survive until the figuirative pendulum swings back to a  more centrist , non religious government as our founders intended.At this point the RR, NAR types have too much power in our govt. Obama hasn’t been able to get anything done b/c of obstructionism from the right . What happened w/ health care is a prime example .The  American healthcare system is clearly broken, an attempt to fix it was met with major opposition from the right and the insurance/pharmicutical industries . Only a watered down version was able to ge through. What happened to our government working for the American people ……….it’s not there for the benefit of special interests , big money. Sorry i rambled a bit , but this this crap really bothers me .   Kilm

  76. They show the consenus of all the ‘Founding Fathers’ that authored the ‘Federalist Paper’, and in those papers they also also implied the same of the rest of the ‘Founding Fathers’.  Just what is it you’re trying to prove, that the USA was not founded on Christianity and Christian values and beliefs, for if you are, you are totally wrong?  Just a look at what was written on all our national Monuments to prove this.

  77. I took your first post as referring to the the kings *and their people,* as you said.  Indeed, look where the piety of those very few faithful Kings of Israel got them and their people!  Despite those few faithful kings, the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah perished miserably in the end.

  78.  The Federalist Papers do *not* “imply the same” of the rest of the Founding Fathers, who pragmatically compromised their various individual principles and values so that they could found this nation.  They were never at any time all of one mind and heart on most of the matters that later patriots hold to be the “founding principles” of our nation.

    As I said in reply to another poster, my ancestors were here when the nation was founded, and I see its founding not just through the documents that you mention, but also through the stories that have come down about the lives of those same ancestors of mine.  When push comes to shove, I trust those same stories as much as I do any selection of venerated documents, much less quotes on national Monuments.

    And I come here to bear witness on my honor and the honor of my ancestors that you are wrong from the very ground of your beliefs upward.

  79.  PS  Since you ask, I am not “trying to prove” anything here.  I am just bearing witness, not arguing.  I do not think anything I could say or write could reach you.  Nor am I writing for you specifically; I am writing for those who read you, to undercut you.

  80. You are so wrong and do not even know the history of the common man’s rights and freedoms.  It was taught in our schools that the US Constitution was patterned after the Magna Carta, which we were told was written by the Lords, who forced the King to sign it, in order for the Lord’s armies of Peasants to serve the King in time of peril of war.  But it has now been proven that Catholic Monks wrote the Magna Carta, because most of the Lords were as ignorant and uneducated as the Peasants they ruled, and the Monks controlled the Peasants through the Christian religion, and to get the Peasants to serve the Lords, the Lords had to force the King to sign the Magna Carta and guarantee all Free Men of England certain rights and freedoms.  But these rights and freedoms go back even further than the Magna Carta, for approximately 100 years before the same thing happened, Catholic Monks wrote another document that guaranteed rights and freedoms to the Peasants, which the Lords were forced to force the King of that time to sign, for the same reasons the latter King signed the Magna Carta, which was patterned after this first document for Free Men’s guaranteed rights and freedoms.  Later in England’s history, the Protestant Clerics forced the King to sign a document that we consider the same as our ‘Bill of Rights’ for the Magna Carta.  Our ‘Founding Fathers also wrote that they attempted to pattern our government after what they supposed was the Israeli government before a King was appointed and anointed, and when Judges ruled Israel.  Strange how the basic ideas of human rights and freedoms have come from the Judao/Christian beliefs, for which there would be none in the world if not for those religions. 

  81.  “It’s easy to pick and choose what you want to believe in order to
    support what your personal agenda may be, but the fact is most of the
    Bible, but not all as of yet, has been proven accurate.”

    Define “most.”

    I do believe that most myths, including those in the Bible, have a grain of truth to them, so it’s not surprising that they have discovered evidence of at least some of the places and cultures described therein, but have they proven any of the main theological points upon which Christianity is based?

    Have they proven that Moses parted the Red Sea and that God impregnated a virgin? Have they shown that Jesus not only existed, but was the divine son of God, and was physically resurrected, etc.?

  82. Randy131 wrote: “Just what is it you’re trying to prove, that the USA was not founded on Christianity and Christian values and beliefs, for if you are, you are totally wrong? Just a look at what was written on all our national Monuments to prove this.”

    By your own logic, Randy, we can imply that the national Monuments themselves (the Lincoln, Jefferson, and Washington Monuments, for instance) show that Pagan values are the source of our Nation’s greatness.  (As one Pagan has asked, “If the United States of America was founded as a ‘Christian’
    nation, then why does almost all of our civic architecture — our courthouses,
    our capitol buildings, our national monuments — imitate classical Pagan

  83.  The answer to this is simple, Randy. You are also an atheist – when it comes to the Pagan deities. A Pagan, on the other hand, can even accept that YHVH, the god of the Israelites, is as real as any other mythological deity, in exactly the same way.

    You make the common mistake of thinking that calling something a Myth means it is “false” and has no meaning. We Pagans cherish our Myths as demonstrating great Truths and teaching us the nature of the Divine.

    And it was you, Randy, who barged into a Pagan blog discussion and commenced to insult and belittle Pagans and claim that what you call “multiculturalism” will lead to the downfall of civilization. When presented with counter-arguments and citations of fact, you simpy re-iterate the same talking points and then try to change the subject. You’re not interested in discourse, you came here to try to bully and frighten people into converting to your religion. You didn’t even use the worn-out trope of “I’ll pray for you!” when confronting your abject failure to accomplish what you came here for.

    May your path in life lead you to exactly what you deserve.

  84. Obama’s administration has violated 6 of the 10 ‘Bill of Rights’, the most notably is the 4th Amendment, which started with the Bush administration at our airports, but Obama has expanded it to bus depots, train stations, ship embarkation ports, federal buildings, and now check-points along or Interstate System.  I know you’re a liberal atheist, trying to make conservatives doubt our convictions, but most people on these conservative sites know all this already, because it has been reported here before.  Obama and his campaign is really getting desperate to pay people like you to do this, but he’s still going to lose the election, but make as much money as you can while the making is good.  As for myself, I’m with the ‘Founding Fathers’, giving up my rights and freedoms is not worth the promise of your security, for if one does, he obtains neither.

  85.  Let me try to summarize for you:

    You believe that the entire 100 billion light-year wide Universe was popped into existence in one long weekend by the petulant penis-god of a prehistoric tribe of Levantine goatherds who had never traveled more than ten miles in any direction from the place they were born. Is that it?

    Pagans tend to think that the Divine and the Universe are somewhat bigger than that.

  86.  Sounds good to me. But, still requires educating ‘the masses’ about our respective paths. Which, to many, is seen as evangelism.

  87. Perished only under new Kings that did evil in the eyes of GOD, and led the people to do the same.  When Assyria conquered and enslaved Israel, carrying those 10 tribes back to Assyria (todays Turkey) as slaves, Assyria attacked Judah many times, but could not defeat them, because they were under a King that followed GOD’s precepts, and led the people to do the same.  After being defeated by Judah in his attempt to conquer it, the Assrian King would go back to Ninevah in Assyria and indiscriminately kill Israeli slaves, out of frustration, and leave them lieing dead on the street, as is written in the Catholic Bible in the Book of Tobit.  Much later Judah got a new King who did the same as the King of Israel when it was conquered by the Assyrians, and after the Babylonians conquered Assyria, they then attacked Judah, which GOD allowed to then be defeated, because of the evil deeds of the new King, and it’s people who did as he did.  But one thing is sure, never in history has a raced been scattered about the world, and come back to it’s origins thousands of years later, still intact as it was designed by GOD.

  88. Your opinion and mine are different, you keep yours and I’ll keep mine, and I’ll trust in the Lord and pray that this nation will return to what it was when it was founded, whatever you may think that was, and to me whatever I think that was, for I’ll be completely satisfied for it to return to what it truly was, whatever that may be.

  89. I imagine that ‘most’ in the dictionary would be defined as more than 50%, but I cannot give you an accurate percentage.  But your myth is my fact, so believe whatever you want, and I’ll believe in the Bible, and may GOD makes us both happy, or since you believe He is a myth, may you make yourself happy then.

  90.  It is also from Europe that most of the major forms of Paganism come.

    I must say, I am glad I live in England. Far less theocratic than the USA.

    I can cite an example of positive change in a non-Christian country.

    Iceland. The commonwealth and the Alþingi were established in 930, whilst Iceland became Christianised in 999.

  91. Ha Ha Ha Ha!   (As one Pagan has asked, “If the United States of America was founded as a ‘Christian’ nation, then why does almost all of our civic architecture — our courthouses, our capitol buildings, our national monuments — imitate classical Pagan temples?)   Where do you guys come up with this comical stuff, they imitated classical architecture, not pagan temples.  Are you saying because some pagan temples used classical architecture, our monuments were made to imitate pagan temples by Christian architects.  I think the reasoning would be more classidal than pagan.  But if it makes you feel good, believe what you want, it doesn’t bother me, for you’re responsible for your soul and I for mine, and I’ll follow the Judeo/Christian GOD and you can follow your pagans, for to each his own.  I happy with that and I hope you are too.

  92. “I’ll follow the Judeo/Christian GOD and you can follow your pagans, for to each his own. ”
    ‘I’ll follow the Abrahamic god and you can follow your ‘Pagan’ gods, for to each his own.’

  93.  I don’t know about anything else, but it was smaller, and had negligible influence outside of its immediate borders.

    I’d drink to that!

  94.  Do you have any sources for this information?

    Although it’s not a fabulous source, I thought it was interesting that according to Wikipedia, Pope Innocent III annulled the Magna Carta in exchange for the King submitting to his authority. It was perceived by the Church as “an affront to the Church’s authority over the King and the ‘papal
    territories’ of England and Ireland, and he released John from his oath
    to obey it.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magna_Carta)

    If I’m not mistaken, many of the rights within the Magna Carta were drawn from rights held by the pre-Christian Anglo-Saxon tribes.

  95.  “I know you’re a liberal atheist”

    You know no such thing. I’m probably fairly liberal by your standards, but I’m not an atheist by any means.

    “Obama and his campaign is really getting desperate to pay people like
    you to do this, but he’s still going to lose the election, but make as
    much money as you can while the making is good.”

    Really? You think I’m being paid by Obama to disagree with you. I would appreciate the extra money, but no, I’m not an Obama plant.

  96.  Don’t fall into the mistake of thinking that a scribe is the same thing as an author.

    Put it another way – men wrote the Bible.

  97. I barged into nothing, but was simply making comments in reference to an article about a Christian Presidential debate, not a pagan Presidential debate.  I did not try nor intended to insult or belittle anyone, but only stood up for my Christian beliefs, and if doing so you were offended, then you need to be a little more accepting of other’s rights to believe what they want, for I haven’t denegrated you for what I think is a mistaken belief, but said please do as you believe and want, and I’ll do the same as I believe and want.  To me your facts are suspect, but believe as you want, and I have certainly not tried to bully or frighten anyone into my religion, but have simply defended your attacks on it through your supposed counter-arguments of citations of fact (very suspect), and have failed at nothing since I was attempting nothing, but just responding to comments about a Christian Presidential debate, for which I am sure all you pagans on this blog site are here for exactly what you accuse me of, since this is not an article about a pagan Presidential debate.  I think any people, besides you pagans, would believe the same, but who cares, I really don’t, for with GOD’s mercy, my path in life will lead me to exactly what GOD believes I deserve, and I will gladly accept His will.

  98. “Obama and his campaign is really getting desperate to pay people like you to do this”

    You really think our opinions are paid political announcements of the Democratic campaign?

    We’ve gone from Bible-as-fact country to tinfoil-hat.

  99. Ooooohhh..those awful evangelicals! How dare we want to have a voice in the public discourse or an opinion on politics, of all things! Well, Horrors!

    Give us a MASSIVE break.

  100.  bleusmon: “However, the reality is that America from the start has been a Christian
    nation because of the beliefs and practices of its citizens.”

    Thomas Paine was a Deist, and an outspoken critic of what he disdainfully referred to as “this thing called Christianity.”

    Benjamin Franklin was also a Deist, although he seems to have been of the opinion that Christianity is a good religion for the vast majority of people who are uneducated and of low intelligence, and, therefore, naturally inclined toward a religion such as Christianity.

    Thomas Jefferson explicitly rejected core Christian doctrines, in particular the divinity of Jesus, and Jefferson wrote that all that is true and worthwhile in Christianity (and Judaism) is also found in Deism.

    Ethan Allen, a Revolutionary War hero, was an outspoken Deist. In 1785 he published Reason: The Only Oracle of Man, in which he espoused Deism and also borrowed from Spinoza, while strongly criticizing Christianity.

  101. I’m glad you mentioned Ethan Allen’s book.  Thank you!  He’s one of my favorite figures from the Revolutionary era, too often overlooked..

  102. It is no religious litmus test.  I am a committed Christian and cannot believe
    that there was a single thing worth my time in Warren’s interview or Bush or of Obama.
    I will not be watching this series either.  But I will be looking at what both men and others running for national office this year have to say.  Even then I have a cynical
    streak and wonder whether even what they say matters.

  103. Again, the privileged majority fabricating the guise of a marginalized minority.

    Give US a massive break.

  104. MNMKAT, why don’t you learn a bit more about the Puritans historical behavior before you go talk about their cultural “values”.  It was acceptable for a man to rape his maids and servants, but if a woman got pregnant as a result and started to show, there would be public outcry where she would be beaten and thrown out. I’m not sure there’s not some who when currently they are trying to be Puritan Americans aren’t sadly being a little bit successful in bringing back similar hypocritical and evil behavior. Perhaps if they thought through what they really wanted to become there wouldn’t be such opposition from many to civil rights, worker rights, fair treatment toward the middle and lower classes, and safe and accessible birth control and health care.
    Some kinds of Christian were never accepted by the Puritanical sects who actively would interfere with them. There has never been just a single “Christianity” since before the time of Washington, Jefferson, etc. Whenever someone says “this is a Christian nation” the next challenge should be “what kind?” This doesn’t happen, and no one will say specifically which denomination they consider “America.” I think most likely if that was answered, it wouldn’t be a denomination that even existed in the 1700’s, proving it false. 

  105. Excellent point Sarenth. And some Jews still face discrimination, in places where they are a minority religion. thank you.

  106. Evangelicals had a direct phone line to the Bush white house through the Arlington Group for years, including Karl Rove’s personal phone number.  
    Considering the damage done, the evangelical’s “breaks” should have stopped long ago. 

  107. I’m curious what “core values” you list as “Christian” or if that’s just an explanation you would give for being bigoted against those not Protestant like you.
    You can write a list, really. It might educate us, might educate you. I’d like to know how much of  your list would actually reflect what Jesus asked of his followers regarding love, charity, generosity to the sick and the poor.

  108. Deerwoman: “If I’m not mistaken, many of the rights within the Magna Carta were
    drawn from rights held by the pre-Christian Anglo-Saxon tribes.”

    That was also Thomas Jefferson’s opinion. In fact, Jefferson insisted that Anglo-Saxon “Common Law” (and Magna Carta is the written codification of this Common Law) “existed while the Anglo-Saxons were yet Pagans, at a time when they had never yet heard the name of Christ pronounced, or knew that such a character had ever existed.” For that reason, Jefferson concluded, Christianity has no special status, except through “usurpation”, in Anglo-Saxon, English, or American law.

    source: http://lachlan.bluehaze.com.au/lit/jeff20.htm

  109. Also, there was Haym Solomon, a Jew, who was one of the most important financiers of the American Revolution.

  110. The 1797 quote about the United States’ not being in any sense founded on the Christian religion is not just some random Senate pronunciation, but a clause in an actual treaty, ratified by the Senate and signed by one of the more Christian early presidents, namely, John Adams.  As a ratified treaty, it — like all ratified treaties — stands on an equal level with the Constitution as the highest law of the land (see the express statement to that effect in the Constitution itself). 

    So, since 1797 it has been a part of the highest law of the land that the United States is in no sense founded on the Christian religion.  Period.  No ifs, ands or buts.

    The senators who ratified that treaty, like the President who signed it, can safely be assumed to have been well aware of the views of the Founding Fathers on Christianity.  (Indeed, some of them are themselves counted among the Founding Fathers.) 

    People who continue to assert that the United States is in any legal or constitutional sense whatever a Christian nation are simply whistling up a wind for themselves. 

  111. It never ceases to amaze me how the America-is-a-Christian-nation crowd manages to argue around the language in that treaty. It’s pretty blatant. As you said, given the date on the treaty, it was essentially ratified by the Founding Fathers themselves, and they obviously had no qualms about making so direct a statement on the manner. 

  112. Where two or three gathered there when I find no one Christian, who will be there also when they may hold a satanic verse dear like pursuit-of-happYness?

  113. Whilst also utilizing “Christian” principles to slaughter, rape, pillage, destroy, and steal from Native Peoples, whose many diverse and rich cultures, religions, and languages were and are a part of the “American” landscape first.

  114.  Having a voice and an opinion is fine but, in a secular state, why should the political candidates be subject to religious questioning?

    The very fact that people care more about whether a candidate gives a flying monkey about any particular religious topic than whether a candidate has an opinion on an actual political issue just shows why mass democracy is flawed.

  115. Didn’t Thomas Jefferson also have a Bible of his own where he cut out what he considered extraneous, and included what he found to be viable, via “Jefferson’s Bible” ?

  116. What I really believe in?  I really believe in freedom of religion.  My local church is free to place a large monument bearing the ten commandments on their private lot in the center of town, abutting the public sidewalk, and I fully support their right to do so.

    In turn, as a pagan, I do not feel that I must restrain my pagan hounds from doing what they naturally do to any upright chunk of granite abutting the public sidewalk.

  117. Let me guess – though you pretend to support freedom,  you also supported Bush when he ran his coup d’etat.  It was quietly done, but how really would Obama be able to dismantle this mess.. those responsible for helping push it through are still in power. 
    Bush consolidated the military and police powers under a new Homeland Security,  bribing off everyone who objected with our tax funds and by going into debt with China. And he ensured it’s continuance by giving them any powers they wanted through signing things like the Patriot Act, authorizing country-wide domestic surveillance and pumping up prisons.  *All* nearing Metro stops to the Malls would be closed down during protests of his Administration – very little notice was made of this, but that had been unprecedented. Those who made it up to protest, revealing the corruption and objecting no longer were legally allowed to demonstrate where the White House can see other than with high power binoculars (they changed that, too)  and the remaining protesters typically put in jail and then later released with no charges.

    You gave up freedom for a lie that had “security” put on it. 

  118. And where’s my money from Obama? If I’m being paid not to trash him as well for the treatment Pvt. Brandon Manning has received, and for TSA’s intrusive, expensive, useless security theater, then I should have got a check.
    I haven’t seen it.

  119. Randy131 
    Are you suggesting people should be forced to endure verbal abuse in Deerborn, MI because you probably don’t like half of them because they’re Muslim?
    If said street preachers were yelling and blocking the way in front of your house where you lived, you’d want them arrested for what’s legitimately disturbing the peace.

  120. I look, and I often like them, myself. This is what’s on the inside of the Jefferson Memorial
    “For I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”  

  121. Practice what you preach –  give away all your technology right now to bring yourself back to what it was when it was founded.

  122.  Poor poor Randy….and WHERE do you think that “classical architecture” came from???  Did you know that ALL of your Ancestors were Pagans?  Have respect for those who came before.  Without them and their knowledge, NONE of us would be here.

  123. I want to thank Randy, Louisa and all the other folks who jumped in here trying to bully us into belief, for illustrating why it would be insane for either candidate to show up.

  124. Reply to Obsidia below:

    we can imply that the national Monuments themselves (the Lincoln,
    Jefferson, and Washington Monuments, for instance) show that Pagan
    values are the source of our Nation’s greatness.

    Have you ever visited the Lincoln Memorial? In size, scope, and feel, it is clearly the Temple of the Deified Lincoln. Thousands of people (maybe tens of thousands) make pilgrimages there every year; when I set foot there, the energy was vibrant and worshipful.

    The Washington Monument, too, is an Egyptian obelisk, the phallic symbol so appropriate for the individual known as the ‘father of our country’. 🙂

  125. I know you’re a liberal atheist, trying to make conservatives doubt our convictions

    Deerwoman’s fairly liberal, but I don’t believe she’s an atheist. Fact is, most of the readers/commenters in this forum are Pagan, not atheist.

    I myself am a polytheist – a devotee of Aphrodite and Hermes, and priestess of the Horned God of the forest.

    I’m also not an employee of the Obama administration, nor am I member of the Democratic party.

    But I do admit to hoping that ‘conservatives’ (in quotes because these days most self-described ‘conservatives’ are actually radicals) will stop and critically examine their ‘beliefs’ instead of blindly swallowing whatever garbage their mouthpieces are dishing out this week.

  126. Are you saying because some pagan temples used classical architecture, our monuments were made to imitate pagan temples

    “Classical” architecture refers to architecture from the classical period of ancient Greek and Roman civilization…which existed considerably prior to Christianity’s invention.

    So, yes, the architects of the great monuments of the US deliberately used Pagan architectural motifs in their design. The fluted columns, the giant obelisk of the Washington monument, everything. There’s a great statue of Washington in the Smithsonian where he’s portrayed shirtless in a toga, carrying a sword.

    Henry Bacon was the designer of the Lincoln Memorial. Here’s a quote from the National Park Service’s page:  Bacon had spent several years of study in Europe and had grown very fond
    of the architecture found in ancient Greece. He decided to incorporate
    that style into his design for the Lincoln Memorial. His true
    inspiration was the Athenian temple known as the Parthenon.

  127. Randy131, the Bible doesn’t say anything about not voting for Pagans.
      Your St. Paul even appealed to Rome (which was at the time Pagan) for better treatment. 

  128. There are nutjob fundamentalist Jews in Israel, and they create every bit as much of a problem there as our Christian counterparts do here. Hell, one of their own prime ministers was killed by one of them. They do also go after gays every bit as much as Westboro Baptist.  On the other hand, you’re correct on one point. The Jewish radicals for the most part don’t seem to target those of other faiths simply for being the “wrong” religion. They usually attack other Jews they don’t feel are being “Jewish enough.”

  129. Randy, would you clarify… are you using atheist to mean “not Christian”? Because that’s what I’m getting from your repeated insistence that a big group of mainly polytheists (translation: polytheists believe in MULTIPLE gods) are actually atheists (translation: atheists believe in ZERO gods). Can you not see how that’s well, ridiculous? 

  130.  Atheism: The belief in no god.
    Monotheism: The belief in one god.
    (Soft) polytheism: The belief in many gods as aspects of one gods.
    (Hard) polytheism: The belief in many gods as distinct entities.

    As a hard polytheist, I will say that (most) Christians are a lot closer to being atheistic than myself. It is a simple process of reduction, really.

  131.  Aw.  You just recited the background plot of the movie “Ironclad”.  I didn’t know you were a fan.

  132.  It is interesting to note that the Kings that actually did “right” in the eyes of the Lord (Hezekiah and Josiah, notably.  At least if my memory serves properly) lead their people to greater ruin and eventual destruction.  The author(s) of what became the surviving books of the Old Testament were of the mentality that those who fought against Assyria and Babylon were “doing right” and those that did “wrong” were the ones that capitulated and offered tribute.  One can argue that by “doing right” they caused their Exile.  The recorded word of these people are so saturated with political desires and dealings. 

  133. excuse me , but isn’t this a PAGAN blog ? Christians use your own blogs ………….we don’t want you here . Talk about your own god on your own time in your own blogs not ours . I also agree neither candidate should have to be subjected to a Fundie litmus test .Sorry if i’m outta line Jason . We get bombarded w/ enough on this stuff in our everyday lives to have to deal with it here , on a for pagans by pagans blog.

  134. No one , including Jason has said Christians cannot vote their own values,morals  and or conscience . All we are saying is that the candidates shouldn’t appear on a religous based forum or be subjected to a Fundimentalist litmus test . People , Christians included having and acting on their values is normal and expected . In our political system Government and Religion are supposed to be seperate .What we as a people do in our, homes , churches , synigogs , and temples is a personal , private matter. Not to be brought into the public realm . As a multicultural , multireligious people we donot need religious matters brought into our government . Altho a majority bringing Christian views into this election is exclusionary to the rest of us , that donot share Christian views or fundimental views or morality. As a CR[Celtic Reconstructionist/Traditionalist] my Code of honor /conduct is quite strict , altho it would be nice ………..i can’t expect or require others to follow my code or Religion . That is not how our government is supposed to work , fairly for all Americans , not just the Majority.   Kilm

  135. “You’re welcome on my boat. God ain’t.” – Malcolm Reynolds, Firefly #1 (Train Job)

  136. My dear Evangelical ……………you have the ear of the Republical Party, the so called base . We just think a religiuos based political forum and litmus test is a bad idea . In no way are your views not being heard , if anything you have too much political power based on your numbers . Altho Christians are a majority in the US , Evangelicals are a small minority within American Christianity and the greater population .

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