What to Do When the People Let Conservatives Down? (6:28)
Calls for assassination are moving from the fringes. Advocates of murder are now sharing the stage with all too willing mainstream conservatives.
Why Is My Religious Freedom Hate Speech? (6:15)
Religious freedom includes imposing my convictions on others. One Senator wants to add to my liberty a new freedom - freedom from criticism itself.
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Marriage, as it has been defined and held to for millennia, was and is only between one man and one woman. It is a religious sacrament. It is the bedrock principle of western civilization. Without this sacrament, it is impossible to believe that our societies would have flourished and prospered.
- T. Paine, June 25, 2015
Words mean what we declare them to mean and sometimes they have multiple meanings. Just because we have defined a word a certain way for years or centuries or millennia doesn't mean that we must continue to do so. In this case, it's also worth noting that "marriage" has not meant one particular thing across all cultures throughout history. You know that it has not always been about your God or any god, about love, or about just two people, so your attempt to both claim it as your own and declare that it has a fixed meaning is disingenuous.
But the terminology is irrelevant. The Supreme Court decision does not require religious people to recognize gay unions (or any other kind of union) as spiritually valid marriages or to officiate gay weddings unless they are public servants. It merely allows gay people to become legally married in the same way that straight people can become legally married. What a gay or non-religious union *actually* is (legally or in your God's eyes) and what a Christian union *actually* is (legally or in your God's eyes) have not changed with this decision. The only change is that gay couples are now entitled to the goodies associated with civil marriage. We could call it something else, but changing words doesn't change reality. (Isn't that pretty much your point anyway?)
You know that what the State has recognized as marriage for years is totally disconnected from your own religious views and definitions. Atheists, after all, can get married. You claim now that the government should not be involved in marriage at all, but you seem to only be arguing this now that gay people are allowed to get married. This implies that your problem is specifically with gay marriage or homosexuality, not with any other disregard that our government has shown for your religious beliefs, despite your claims to the contrary. I could be wrong; perhaps you have held this position for years. But if that's the case, I wonder why you haven't been more vocal about it here over the years.
As for your belief that this is just the beginning, that soon the government will force churches to marry gay couples, that is pure speculation--and not very good speculation at that. Can you identify any cases where churches have been forced to marry other couples, like interracial or inter-religious or atheistic ones? *That* is the most important historical information to use if one wants to consider whether or not churches will be forced to marry gay couples. In any case, even if some people attempt to make it happen, even the ACLU, much maligned as it may be in conservative circles, will be on your side. And so will probably every liberal on this site. Could it happen? Could our culture change to allow it? It's possible, but it does not *follow* from the legalization of gay marriage and is, frankly, a separate issue entirely, somewhat like gay adoption.
"Without this sacrament, it is impossible to believe that our societies would have flourished and prospered."
It is not impossible. Both reproduction and child-rearing -- including raising children with all of the values that you or I have today, with the exception of marriage -- can occur without marriage. In fact, people can even commit to each other without marriage. I know that I am no closer to my wife for having married her, as it was always my intention to stay with her.
Ryan can also be found at Secular Ethics, a site devoted to the application of reason to ethical behavior.
From Shaun Mullen, TMV Columnist, at The Moderate Voice:
How can Republicans avoid losing the popular vote in 2016 for the sixth time in seven elections when the party is not only increasingly out of step with public opinion but seems determined to look back and not forward?
Polls show widespread support for increasing the minimum wage. The Republican Party is opposed. For a more inclusive immigration policy. Ditto. For access to health care. Ditto. For addressing climate change. Ditto. Against restrictions on abortion. Ditto. Against tax breaks for the rich. Ditto. And then there’s the seismic shift in support for gay rights and same-sex marriage. Ditto, ditto.
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That saved a wretch like me.
When John Newton wrote those words and led a congregation in the song, he may have been trying to reach out to a friend and colleague who seemed to be slipping back into the mental traumas that had haunted him throughout his life.
We don't know the ultimate fate of his friend. We do know that Newton's religious songs were more popular among common people than they were among publishers of the day. Successful religious leaders tended away from confessions of their own past sins. Portraying a good example was considered necessary for effective spiritual leadership.
Newton was different. His message of redemption had a special emphasis on the personal. His contemporaries found remarkable the journey that began in sacrilage. John Newson was a seaman with a reputation for creative profanity and defiance of authority. Standards change, sometimes for the better. Today, most of us would be struck by his history in the slave trade.
Even after his conversion to Christianity, John Newton continued sailing the Atlantic as a slave trader. He saw nothing in slavery that would conflict with his faith. We don't know his reasoning, or whether he found any reasoning necessary. Slavery in the 1700s was often regarded as an effective way of spreading the good news of the Gospels.
Those with a biblical bent could take comfort in numerous Old Testament commands. Slavery was accepted and loosely regulated by heavenly directive. Exodus ensured there would be no penalty for severely beating a slave, as long as death did not result for a few days. Exodus also allowed for an implied satisfaction guarantee in the sale of one's daughter. If the buyer was displeased with her services, a refund was in order. Do unto others, even in selling family members.
Those who believed in a New Covenant, replacing old arbitrary rules with new arbitrary rules, could point to the Apostle Paul advising a runaway slave to return to his owner.
As time went on, Newton took his developing faith seriously. He studied and thought and sought out mentors. He decided that the ownership of one human by another was evil, against God's love for all his children. He became a noted activist in the cause of abolishing slavery.
The lifetime transformation from slave trader to dedicated opponent of the entire system of human chattel seems to me the underlying theme of John Newton's most famous hymn.
I see John Newton as a beacon of guilt, hope, and redemption when I think of the perspective those of my generation might share in our treatment of those whose sexual orientation differs from our own. Most of us not only failed to give our attitude toward gay people a second thought, we never gave it any thought at all. It was how we had been taught all our lives.
Those who did think about gay people might have taken comfort in Old Testament prohibitions or a New Testament warning by the Apostle Paul. The rest of us simply knew that men who were attracted to men, or women to women, were not to be mentioned in polite company. They were, quite properly, outcasts whom God and nature had denied such rights as love and marriage.
When Hannah Arendt a couple of generations ago studied the culture of Nazi Germany as she reviewed the crimes of Adolf Eichmann, she referred to the "banality of evil." Many of those who passively went along with the Hitler regime thought of their support as simply the natural order of things. They were just ordinary people believing ordinary things.
Ta-Nehisi Coates, in his study of the ideology in America of white supremacy, talks of a myth, the "Racist Child Molester Serial Killer theory of America."
Racists -- should they even exist -- are not people we know, but people who existed either in some distant history or in a far off cave somewhere.
- Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic Magazine, August 29, 2011
The conclusion Arendt closes in on, the conclusion Coates explicitly advances, is that the horror of the holocaust, the long pernicious grind of racism, cannot be assigned to the sociopathic fringes and forgotten. The real perpetrators have been the good people of society, those who can be recognized and appreciated in any time and place.
Ordinary folks who worked hard, loved their children, were kind to their neighbors, contributed to their houses of worship, those have been the pillars who condoned and participated in the denigration of others whose crime was a sexual love for the wrong gender. We who now recognize the monstrous role we played can know that we were captives of the strongest source of evil there can be. It is the closest secular equivalent to original sin. We were thoughtless and we knew not what we committed.
John Newton never mentioned any specific connection between his slave trading past and Amazing Grace. We know the public confession of his life of wrongdoing did include slavery. I sometimes wonder if his self-description, "a wretch like me," implied the crushing regret many of us would feel. Did his nights include dreams of those he condemned to a life of involuntary servitude?
The shame that comes to a bigot is one of epiphany. It arrives at the door of those of my generation as we come to realize that our bigotry was not some horrible distant event, but something that lived in our own hearts, in our own social interactions, the jokes we told, the messages in our churches.
For some of us, it still maintains a sad dwelling place in the dimmer recesses of the human soul. Others of us know the inner struggle against the prejudices of our upbringing.
Was blind but now I see.
The redemption we seek is intertwined with a sincere regret at broken lives and loves. That inner apology should be perpetual.
We hope and pray and work to ensure that it is a shame our children are spared, that their children never know.
From Jon Perr at PERRspectives:
For all of the disputes and controversies over the Affordable Care Act, one thing has been consistent. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has repeatedly forecast that Obamacare would reduce the national debt. Nevertheless, when CBO told Congress in July 2012 that a repeal of Obamacare would raise the national debt by $109 billion over the ensuing decade, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor denounced the agency's supposed "budget gimmickry." Former Speaker and 2012 GOP White House hopeful Newt Gingrich went even further, declaring "if you are serious about real health reform, you must abolish the Congressional Budget Office because it lies."
Now with the Republicans in control of both houses of Congress and their man Keith Hall installed as its director, CBO has once told GOP leaders what they don't want to hear.
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From Tommy Christopher The Daily Banter:
What with all the Confederate apologism, “confusion” about the Charleston shooter’s motives, and concern-trolling about President Obama’s use of the n-word, you wouldn’t think things could get any stupider in post-Rachel America, but you would be wrong. On Tuesday night, Twitter users incredulously shared a screenshot of a CNN chyron that asked the molten-take question “Should Pres. Obama Apologize For Slavery?”, and wondered if it could possibly be real.
A reasonable person would assume that maybe CNN had booked a guest who had written a hot take with that absurd premise, for the express purpose of destroying it with fire. That person would only be half-right, since anchor Don Lemon instead invited New York Times contributing op-ed writer Timothy Egan onto his show in order to entertain the notion with the straightest of faces. Just to prove it really happened, here’s the full segment, but for the sake of brevity, I’ve only transcribed radio host Joe Madison’s response to Egan’s titular query:
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From PZ Myers at Pharyngula:
I’m in the curious position of having met a great many Nobel laureates. I’ve had dinner with some, gone drinking with others, had long conversations with a few. I’ve gone to the Lindau meetings twice, where Nobelists are everywhere. Furthermore, I’ve known brilliant people who have done phenomenal work of Nobel quality who would never be awarded one because the Nobels only cover a very small, limited number of subjects.
And I realized that I’ve known more Nobel prize winners, and with greater familiarity, than I’ve known plumbers. I’ve probably known only 3 or 4 plumbers, and not well at all: they come to my house, they do a job, and they leave, and we don’t go out for drinks afterwards. So my knowledge base for plumbers is a little weak, but I can do a comparison anyway. Here’s what I’ve learned.
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From Infidel 753:
The Civil War ended 150 years ago. It's time to finish it once and for all.
The image above is from Saturday's rally in South Carolina calling for the flag of treason to be removed from the state capitol (more images here). This person's sign speaks for me. Whatever "heritage" that flag represents is a shameful one. The Confederacy was all about preserving slavery -- its founders proudly and unambiguously proclaimed that fact at the time. Any claim to the contrary is a flagrant lie, and yet we've tolerated and indulged that lie for decades.
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From T. Paine at Saving Common Sense:
In the Old Testament book of Genesis, scripture tells us how God decided to wipe all of humankind from the earth with a great flood because of their wickedness. Only the righteous Noah and his family were spared because of his faithfulness to God. After the flood, God made a covenant with Noah and his kin that He would never again send a flood to destroy the earth. His promise of this covenant was the beautiful rainbow He set in the sky.
I have always loved rainbows, since I first heard this story as a child. There is something about them; about the prism that the rain droplets make that separate the light wavelengths into their different beautiful colors that has always fascinated me and made me feel joyful.
These days, it is both ironic and frustrating to me that the rainbow has been recognized as the symbol for the gay rights movement. I don’t know if this misappropriation was done intentionally and mockingly of God or not, but regardless, I have long ago discovered that God allows us to suffer the consequences of our own sinful actions – particularly when we purposefully choose to take a stand against Him. As a nation, we seem to have done precisely that, and embracing the LGBT movement is just one more example of our turning our backs on God.
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From Human Voices:
"Words no longer have meaning" says Justice Scalia and he should know, being a major contributor to the vocabulary of Right Wing babble.
Chief Justice Roberts' reasoning in yesterday's decision on the Affordible Care Act was "Argle-bargle. The decision against the Defense of Marriage Act was "Jiggery-pokery." That's the power of words to hide the embarrassing truth and in Scalia's case, the truth is he's arguing the reverse of last years' Bargerly Argle.
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In response to a posted comment by an NRA Board Member
And he voted against concealed-carry. Eight of his church members who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church are dead.
- Charles Cotton, Member of the Board of the National Rifle Association, June 18, 2015
Guns don't kill people. People against concealed carry kill people?
Normally, I would argue against these "blame the victim" accusations. Pointing out that at least some of these people might be alive if they had had guns is, if true, like pointing out that a woman who was attacked while walking alone at night through a dangerous part of her town might have avoided the danger by taking a different route or walking with a friend. It's not about blaming the victim, but about identifying which elements of a situation are within the victim's control so that he can minimize his chances of being hurt. Sometimes our "liberal outrage machine," as conservatives call it, goes too far.
However, when crafting such messages, it is very easy to cross the line into blaming the victim. Rather than merely point out that the situation could have been different if people had been allowed to carry and did carry concealed guns, Mr. Cotton singled out one person for voting a particular way. Anyone should have known better, but as an NRA board member, it's fair to have higher expectations of him. Moreover, given that he said this on his own message board, likely to fellow NRA members with whom he is comfortable, it seems fair to conclude that he meant what he said. Feeling no need to sugarcoat his message among his brethren, he simply said what was on his mind.
At least the NRA has distanced itself from his comment. Unfortunately, "Individual board members do not speak for the NRA and do not have the authority to speak for the NRA" is a far cry from actually condemning it.
Ryan can also be found at Secular Ethics, a site devoted to the application of reason to ethical behavior.
Conservatives were left baffled after Chief Justice John Roberts saved Obamacare three years ago. On Thursday, as the George W. Bush appointee again helped President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement avoid a potentially devastating blow, they felt betrayed.
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From Dave Dubya at Freedom Rants:
Well, I'll be....
Thank you Gov. Nikki Haley.
150 years after the war that began in Charleston, your announcement today to finally rid the state capitol grounds of the flag of the slave state rebellion may begin the closure we need as part of the long healing process.
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Yet another NRA board member is opening his big mouth and then backtracks as he catches heat for blaming one of the victims in the Charleston church shooting for the massacre.
On a message board he runs, Charles Cotton took issue with church leader Clementa Pinckney, who also happened to be a state senator in South Carolina. The post: “And he voted against concealed-carry. Eight of his church members who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church are dead.”
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From Ted McLaughlin at jobsanger:
These charts show the results of the presidential preference survey done by the NBC News / Wall Street Journal -- between June 14th and 18th of a random national sample of 1,000 adults, with a margin of error of 3.1 points (margin of error for Democrats is 6.24 points and Republicans is 6.38 points).
The really good news is in the chart above. It seems that a significant majority of Americans (58%) view Hillary Clinton as a moderate.
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From Tim's Thoughtful Spot:
The clown car is now complete.
Of course, there's exactly zero chance that The Donald stays in the contest long enough to actually file disclosure papers with the FEC. He's got thirty days to do that, plus two more or less automatic 45-day extensions. With four months to play with, that takes us to October, by which time he'll have pulled the plug.
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