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ruveyn
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04 May 2013, 6:40 pm

Fnord wrote:
visagrunt wrote:
... Churches are no different than community sport clubs, theatre companies, art galleries or any other organization that exists for purposes other than profit.

Then tax them too!


Every organization that has property that needs to be protected by the police and fire services and requires the legal protection of the courts and the laws should be paying their share for the services that are being provided. Non-profit organizations have to pay local property taxes for the customary support and protection services we all need.

ruveyn



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05 May 2013, 8:59 am

ScrewyWabbit wrote:
AngelRho wrote:
I agree for the most part. The problem with politics is that lawmakers, unwittingly or not, attack the church when they pass laws that would negatively impact the church. It's the government who makes the first move when they politicize moral issues. Abortion and birth control would be no-brainer, slam-dunk issues if they didn't trample on ideals that Christians hold most sacred. You can't expect us to keep silent on issues that affect us.


The thing is, a lot of these issues that you say "affect us" really do no such thing - they only affect you in-so-far as you don't like other people doing them - i.e. abortion or birth control or gay marriage. If the government legalizes abortion, no one is forcing any Christian people to have abortions - if their faith dictates that they don't have one, they're free to abide by their faith and not have one. Surely someone other than yourself or your partner having an abortion does not affect you. Ditto for birth control. You're still free to use it or not use it as your conscious and religion dictate. Same for gay marriage - if you don't want to do it for religious reasons, don't. If someone else wants to, you haven't done anything that violates your religion.

Now, I'll grant you that its much more of a grey area when a religious organization is forced to pay for a health plan that provides birth control or abortion coverage to its members, and I think that probably does cross a line, but I also don't think someone who works for a church who has different personal or religious belief's than the church's official position on these matters should be forced to not have the option of having a health plan that offers these things.

It's more than simply liking or disliking something. Replace the abortion or gay marriage argument with racial involuntary servitude or even sex slavery.

"if the government legalizes slavery no one is forcing anyone to have slaves - if your faith dictates they don't have one, they're free to abide by their faith and not have one. Ditto for sex slaves. You're still free to use it or not use it as your conscious and religion dictate. Same for urinating in public - if you don't want to do it for religious reasons, don't. If someone else wants to, you haven't done anything that violates your religion."

Which should tell you that it's more than just religion or what the government says is legal. Slavery and public indecency are moral issues that transcend what any religion or government says. If something is wrong, it is wrong without regard for any rationalizations we have for or against it. If injustice is being done, we have a moral duty to fight it. While no Christian is perfect or perfectly consistent, Christians have long served as the moral conscience of the societies in which we live. I mean, on both sides of the slavery debate, Christians have been the most vocal group (although a pro-slavery argument is scripturally a weaker one, not to mention contrary to the ideals of a free society). I think in our current society Christians have succumbed more often in moral debate because we have lost our intellectual acuity largely in part due to a long-standing lack of challenges to our positions...those positions largely being just accepted by society as a whole.

However, there is no guarantee that all Christians will continue to "just accept" it. There are those who do rise to the intellectual challenge of moral issues. Abortion and some forms of birth control are difficult if not in some cases impossible in my jurisdiction, and increasingly becoming more difficult. With each legal challenge, there are more people analyzing those failures seeking new language and modifications to failed legislation that will work. Like slavery, just because it is legal doesn't make it right.

It has nothing to do with what we personally find acceptable or with what is legal. A "mind your own business" policy only perpetuates the problems of injustice. What right does a person without slaves have to tell a slaveholder what to do with his? According your viewpoint, nothing. American black slaves didn't free themselves. It was the work of abolitionists who recognized the evil being done to them working to secure their freedom that overturned slavery as an institution...i.e. people who refused to "mind their own business."

It has everything to do with what IS right or wrong, something that defies rationalization or legislation. Is abortion the destruction of human life? Yes. Is human life sacred? Yes, otherwise we wouldn't be so concerned with murder and other forms of homicide, or even the death penalty debate. Therefore, abortions that, at least in my opinion, aren't carried out to save the life of the mother are flat wrong on the basis of the sanctity of life (though the same applies to life-threatening pregnancies, it boils down to whether we have the right to defend ourselves. I see no point in carrying a pregnancy to term especially if the lives of both mother and child are in imminent danger. My wife strongly disagrees with me...she believes abortion is ALWAYS wrong).

It is the same as the slavery issue in principle because those who are affected aren't able to speak for themselves.

The issue of homosexuality does affect us in a different way in that, for example, public schools insist that all children tolerate and accept it despite what their parents or churches teach them. We live in fear of bullying allegations and marginalization for so much as expressing negative opinions of homosexuality, even if expressing those views takes the form of non-threatening and respectful dialogue. We're talking about pushing a political agenda on a group of people who cannot in good conscience accept it if by no other means than maintaining a strong influence on their children. After all, look at recent polls on which age groups are more favorable towards gay marriage. Here's a hint: it's not their religious parents or grandparents who aren't favorable to gay marriage teaching them those attitudes!

And for all that you want to tax the moral fiber of a community? For speaking out on what it feels strongly are issues of right and wrong? If you tax them, you have to represent them. I'd rather have the power to speak my own mind regardless of how I draw my conclusions than have to tacitly go along with what I disagree with. It's only a matter of time after you give churches legislative power before one church seeks establishment, and I strongly feel that this would be harmful to believing and non-believing alike.



Last edited by AngelRho on 05 May 2013, 2:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Kraichgauer
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05 May 2013, 10:26 am

As far as bullying homosexual students is concerned - yes, they are more often than not physically threatened, if not harmed. The notion that "Christian" kids are being accused of bullying for simply voicing their disapproval in a respectful way is an invention of the right. If Aspies are going to face humiliation and even danger at the hands of their more popular peers simply for being weird, just imagine what gay kids go through.

-Bill, otherwise known as Kraichgauer



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05 May 2013, 12:00 pm

AngelRho wrote:
ScrewyWabbit wrote:
AngelRho wrote:
I agree for the most part. The problem with politics is that lawmakers, unwittingly or not, attack the church when they pass laws that would negatively impact the church. It's the government who makes the first move when they politicize moral issues. Abortion and birth control would be no-brainer, slam-dunk issues if they didn't trample on ideals that Christians hold most sacred. You can't expect us to keep silent on issues that affect us.


The thing is, a lot of these issues that you say "affect us" really do no such thing - they only affect you in-so-far as you don't like other people doing them - i.e. abortion or birth control or gay marriage. If the government legalizes abortion, no one is forcing any Christian people to have abortions - if their faith dictates that they don't have one, they're free to abide by their faith and not have one. Surely someone other than yourself or your partner having an abortion does not affect you. Ditto for birth control. You're still free to use it or not use it as your conscious and religion dictate. Same for gay marriage - if you don't want to do it for religious reasons, don't. If someone else wants to, you haven't done anything that violates your religion.

Now, I'll grant you that its much more of a grey area when a religious organization is forced to pay for a health plan that provides birth control or abortion coverage to its members, and I think that probably does cross a line, but I also don't think someone who works for a church who has different personal or religious belief's than the church's official position on these matters should be forced to not have the option of having a health plan that offers these things.

It's more than simply liking or disliking something. Replace the abortion or gay marriage argument with racial involuntary servitude or even sex slavery.

"if the government legalizes slavery no one is forcing anyone to have slaves - if your faith dictates they don't have one, they're free to abide by their faith and not have one. Ditto for sex slaves. You're still free to use it or not use it as your conscious and religion dictate. Same for urinating in public - if you don't want to do it for religious reasons, don't. If someone else wants to, you haven't done anything that violates your religion."


Here you are trying to establish an analogy where none exists. Two gay people freely deciding marrying each other affects no one but themselves. A man or a woman freely choosing to use birth control impacts no one but themselves and their partner. A person forcing another person into a life of slavery is something where one person is freely making a choice, but one that obviously negatively impacts the prospective slave to a great extent, who would have no say in the matter. And while I think you mean to suggest that a person urinating in public would "impact" other people by forcing them to bear witness to such unwanted spectacles, which, while unpleasant, doesn't really impact anyone, it goes way beyond that - well, unless we don't think that turning the streets into public sewers and the resulting cholera outbreaks would impact other people.

I'd also go back to what you said in your earlier post "The problem with politics is that lawmakers, unwittingly or not, attack the church when they pass laws that would negatively impact the church." The reality is very much the reverse of this situation. To eliminate behaviors and actions that the church thinks "negatively impact[s]" it requires restricting those things. But, generally speaking, most behaviors and actions are legal and unrestricted, unless laws are passed to restrict them. Birth control is inherently legal unless government passes a law restricting it - otherwise manufacturers have the freedom to manufacture it, and people have the freedom to use it. Even abortion is inherently legal unless government passes a law to restrict it. Slavery is a notable exception, since it was initially codified as legal in the US Constitution. But for the most part, really, what is at issue here is not government passing laws that "negatively impact" the church - it is a lack of (or it only happening to a degree that the church deems insufficient) the government passing laws that would positively impact the church by restricting everyone's behavior. And, historically, it really hasn't been a lack of this, at least from my stand point - throughout the history of our country, the government has been passing laws that restrict people's behavior in ways that positively impact the church - granted, not every law that the church would like to see enacted, but many such laws - and in effect the government has been really doing the opposite of what you've said - they've been legislating morality and in so doing have been (to paraphrase you) "attacking everyone else when they pass laws that positively impact the church".

AngelRho wrote:
Which should tell you that it's more than just religion or what the government says is legal. Slavery and public indecency are moral issues that transcend what any religion or government says.


These things may be moral issues, but these issues not only transcend religion, they transcend morality too. They transcend religion and morality straight into the realm of secular government - into the framework of how the government is set up, and what people's fundamental rights are within the framework of that government. And it is on that secular level that they must be dealt with, not from a religious or moral standpoint. It may be immoral and against Christianity to enslave people, true enough. But the more fundamental issue is that allowing slavery takes away the rights and freedoms of one group of people, who are fundamentally entitled to those rights, in order to empower and profit another group of people, who are not fundamentally entitled to profit at the expense of someone else's rights. And while some people might enjoy the freedom to urinate in public if they had such a freedom, fundamentally they cannot have that right if it means spreading disease and death to the public at large.

AngelRho wrote:
If something is wrong, it is wrong without regard for any rationalizations we have for or against it.

This is simply a round-about way of saying that if religion says its wrong, its wrong. Logic, intuition, practical observations of the world around us be damned. I suppose that would be all well and good if we lived in a theocracy. We do not. What's fundamentally wrong here is not that a certain segment of our society chooses to live by ancient texts that have no more provable truth to them than elaborate children's fairy tales. What's fundamentally wrong is that they want everyone to live that way.

AngelRho wrote:
If injustice is being done, we have a moral duty to fight it.

Yes, but if injustice is being done, we have a civic and societal duty to fight it as well. Its not all about morality.


AngelRho wrote:
It has nothing to do with what we personally find acceptable or with what is legal. A "mind your own business" policy only perpetuates the problems of injustice. What right does a person without slaves have to tell a slaveholder what to do with his? According your viewpoint, nothing. American black slaves didn't free themselves. It was the work of abolitionists who recognized the evil being done to them working to secure their freedom that overturned slavery as an institution...i.e. people who refused to "mind their own business."

But its only a "mind your own business" policy to a certain degree. If one person or a group of people together freely choose to engage in behavior, and that behavior does not negatively impact someone other than that one person or that group of people in a tangible way, then generally such behavior ought to be acceptable. i.e., its no one else's business, if you will. But if it does negatively impact other people, then it ought not to be acceptable. That's very much not a "mind your own business" policy. And in that sense, its very much non a "mind your own business" policy because if your behavior impacts someone else, its not your own business, is everyone's business. That is why the slavery analogy falls flat.

AngelRho wrote:
It has everything to do with what IS right or wrong, something that defies rationalization or legislation. Is abortion the destruction of human life? Yes. Is human life sacred? Yes, otherwise we wouldn't be so concerned with murder and other forms of homicide, or even the death penalty debate.

The idea that life is sacred is one that is applied very inconsistently, even by people who would purport themselves to believe in such an ideal. The same people who are against abortion because they say that life is sacred are often the same people who are in favor of capital punishment. They're often the same people whose actions suggest that their belief is that life is not so sacred if, by sacrificing some lives (usually lives other than their own or their loved one's, of course) they can achieve some other goal that they deem to be more important than those lives. That is why we have wars, and more specifically, wars of our own choosing. I often wonder what a great inconvenience it must be to these people to have to wait 17 or 18 years between the time that the precious fetus emerges from the womb to the time the child can be sent off to die on the battlefield for some other more important purpose. As for homicide being illegal, its got a lot less to do with life being sacred than it has to do with the fact that one person ought not be able to deprive someone else of all their rights, including their own right to live, and the fact that we're all scared of what might happen to us or our loved ones if homicide were not illegal. There's an awful lot of people out there, including those in the life is sacred crowd who, at one time or another in their lives would have taken the life of someone else if they were not deterred by the laws against homicide and the consequences of violating those laws.

AngelRho wrote:
The issue of homosexuality does affect us in a different way in that, for example, public schools insist that all children tolerate and accept it despite what their parents or churches teach them. We live in fear of bullying allegations and marginalization for so much as expressing negative opinions of homosexuality, even if expressing those views takes the form of non-threatening and respectful dialogue. We're talking about pushing a political agenda on a group of people who cannot in good conscience accept it if by no other means than maintaining a strong on their children. After all, look at recent polls on which age groups are more favorable towards gay marriage. Here's a hint: it's not their religious parents or grandparents who aren't favorable to gay marriage teaching them those attitudes!


Let me ask you a question. Would you encourage your children when they come of age to make their own decision about what religion they want to follow, if any, or would you try to guide them towards following your own religion?

As a parent, I think you can raise your child one of two ways - you can try to teach your child your particular beliefs and try to prevent your child from believing anything else, or you can teach your child to think for his or herself and to reach their own conclusions and to form their own beliefs, even if they turn out to be different than your own.

If a parent were doing the former, then I could understand why that parent would be fearful of letting their child be exposed to any beliefs that differ from their own. Who knows what impact that may have on the child, who's got no basis for forming their own opinion and is thus going to be vulnerable to going along with the crowd, believing whatever they're told to believe (after all, the parent tried to get the kid to believe as he was told). So its understandable why parents would be fearful of the environment of public schools which, at best, are most likely going to differ in what they teach in at least minor ways from what the parent themselves would teach. From a practical standpoint, I don't understand how it is that parents expect to be able to cloister and sequester their child from exposure to any other differing beliefs - eventually the exposure is going to happen, so, personally, I think this is a rather self-delusional way to approach raising a child.

On the other hand, if I taught my child to think for his or her self, I wouldn't be so worried about what ideas the child would be exposed to in public school. Such a child isn't just going to go along willy-nilly with whatever they're told to think.
AngelRho wrote:
And for all that you want to tax the moral fiber of a community? For speaking out on what it feels strongly are issues of right and wrong? If you tax them, you have to represent them. I'd rather have the power to speak my own mind regardless of how I draw my conclusions than have to tacitly go along with what I disagree with. It's only a matter of time after you give churches legislative power before one church seeks establishment, and I strongly feel that this would be harmful to believing and non-believing alike.


Its ok to feel strongly about something. I just wish people, with an eye towards being respectful of everyone else and being able to live in harmony with everyone else, would do more to make a conscious effort to realize and understand that what's right (or wrong) for yourself may not be right (or wrong) for other people. The world would be a much better place if everyone did that.



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05 May 2013, 12:14 pm

ScrewyWabbit wrote:
:::snip:::
If the government legalizes abortion, no one is forcing any Christian people to have abortions - if their faith dictates that they don't have one, they're free to abide by their faith and not have one.
:::snip:::
You're still free to use it or not use it as your conscious and religion dictate. Same for gay marriage - if you don't want to do it for religious reasons, don't.


Firstly, I'm not religious (unless you consider my own formulated belief system to be a "religion"). The objection I have to the government (among a myriad of objections) legislating something that is objectionable to a significant portion of the constituents is that it forces them to contribute monetarily to support that perceived reprehensible action. It's not a matter of... well just don't partake, the issue is forced monetary contribution to support it. Not one tax dollar should be used to fund abortion (my own opinion) unless it is to regulate the safety (already too much government interference and they haven't proved that they can, with any level of proficiency, administer the tax dollars they already extort). That said, the U.S. is currently in a place that aligns with the beliefs of most of the populace, with the Hyde amendment. When a fetus becomes a human (and abortion would then actually be murder) is a debate that, until it can be quantified, will rage on and one I have little energy for.

Should Churches be tax exempt? Absolutely. They should also be accountable for fraud when identified.

The problem is government, their inherent systemic inability to administer anything they do with any semblance of proficiency, the pissing contests over beliefs with the inclination to legislate common sense, or belief, and force people to buy a clue. It's a rare event when the government ever fixes anything. Once they've screwed it up, it literally takes an act (or multiple acts) of congress to get close to a workable "fix" (e.g., NAFTA, No Child Left Behind, Social Security, ad infinitum). Sadly, the only way I can see to get them to become even somewhat operationally efficient is to reduce the allowance they extort from the poor slobs (I being one of them) that "contribute" somewhere between 15 and 40% of every dollar they earn to their slush fund (but am open to other corrective action suggestions). :::putting soap box away:::


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Last edited by TomGunsmoke on 05 May 2013, 5:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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05 May 2013, 1:33 pm

TomGunsmoke wrote:
ScrewyWabbit wrote:
:::snip:::
If the government legalizes abortion, no one is forcing any Christian people to have abortions - if their faith dictates that they don't have one, they're free to abide by their faith and not have one.
:::snip:::
You're still free to use it or not use it as your conscious and religion dictate. Same for gay marriage - if you don't want to do it for religious reasons, don't.


Firstly, I'm not religious (unless you consider my own formulated belief system to be a "religion"). The objection I have to the government (among a myriad of objections) legislating something that is objectionable to a significant portion of the constituents is that it forces them to contribute monetarily to support that perceived reprehensible action. It's not a matter of... well just don't partake, the issue is forced monetary contribution to support it. Not one tax dollar should be used to fund abortion (my own opinion) unless it is to regulate the safety (already too much government interference and they haven't proved that they can, with any level of proficiency, administer the tax dollars they already extort). That said, the U.S. is currently in a place that aligns with the beliefs of most of the populace, with the Hyde amendment. When a fetus becomes a human (and abortion would then actually be murder) is a debate that, until it can be quantified, will rage on and one I have little energy for.


I agree with you for the most part on this point - in fact, if you look back at the post you quoted me from, i was talking about how its probably not right to, for instance, force a group like a church to pay for a health plan that in turn pays for something that they find objectionable, like abortions.

But there's also an aspect to this that I think doesn't really occur to people. If we take an institution that would otherwise be paying taxes, and exempt them from paying taxes, then, in effect, everyone who is paying taxes is contributing monetarily to whatever it is that that institution happens to be doing, whether or not they agree with it - we are allowing the institution to keep the money that they'd otherwise be paying in taxes, and instead allowing them to spend that money for the institution's own purposes - all while the rest of us are paying more taxes than we otherwise would be if said institution were paying taxes and wasn't exempt.

So I think there's a fair bit of hypocrisy (though possibly unintentional to some degree) when religious leaders are outraged that they might be forced to help pay for something that they find objectionable, when they seem to have no objection to the rest of us paying for what they're doing, even though we may find it objectionable.

I doubt there's a tax payer alive in this country who doesn't object to one thing or another that the government does, and yet they're being forced to pay for whatever that happens to be. Its not a perfect world, or a perfect system. To alleviate the problem would be to eliminate government, or to somehow operate a government that receives no revenue from the people.



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05 May 2013, 4:36 pm

ScrewyWabbit wrote:
:::snip:::
So I think there's a fair bit of hypocrisy (though possibly unintentional to some degree) when religious leaders are outraged that they might be forced to help pay for something that they find objectionable, when they seem to have no objection to the rest of us paying for what they're doing, even though we may find it objectionable.

I doubt there's a tax payer alive in this country who doesn't object to one thing or another that the government does, and yet they're being forced to pay for whatever that happens to be. Its not a perfect world, or a perfect system. To alleviate the problem would be to eliminate government, or to somehow operate a government that receives no revenue from the people.


Agreed on the first part.

Regarding alleviating the problem, my preference would be to return to a system which is more in line with what the founding Fathers (at least in the US) had intended. Federal government out of the way, providing solely what the States do not provide on their own... I have no problem paying taxes where the funds are used for National defense, border security, regulate foreign commerce, mint money, et. al. No real need to eliminate government, and the associated taxes, if they'd adhered to the scope of what the Feds were supposed to be doing. Instead we have enormous scope creep generated by those special interests trying to force their will, in bed with career politicians trying to ensure their re-elections and retirement benefits (and not without abusing their power to make themselves millionaires along the way). Welcome to taxation without representation... and no real accountability.


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05 May 2013, 4:38 pm

ScrewyWabbit wrote:
AngelRho wrote:
ScrewyWabbit wrote:
AngelRho wrote:
I agree for the most part. The problem with politics is that lawmakers, unwittingly or not, attack the church when they pass laws that would negatively impact the church. It's the government who makes the first move when they politicize moral issues. Abortion and birth control would be no-brainer, slam-dunk issues if they didn't trample on ideals that Christians hold most sacred. You can't expect us to keep silent on issues that affect us.


The thing is, a lot of these issues that you say "affect us" really do no such thing - they only affect you in-so-far as you don't like other people doing them - i.e. abortion or birth control or gay marriage. If the government legalizes abortion, no one is forcing any Christian people to have abortions - if their faith dictates that they don't have one, they're free to abide by their faith and not have one. Surely someone other than yourself or your partner having an abortion does not affect you. Ditto for birth control. You're still free to use it or not use it as your conscious and religion dictate. Same for gay marriage - if you don't want to do it for religious reasons, don't. If someone else wants to, you haven't done anything that violates your religion.

Now, I'll grant you that its much more of a grey area when a religious organization is forced to pay for a health plan that provides birth control or abortion coverage to its members, and I think that probably does cross a line, but I also don't think someone who works for a church who has different personal or religious belief's than the church's official position on these matters should be forced to not have the option of having a health plan that offers these things.

It's more than simply liking or disliking something. Replace the abortion or gay marriage argument with racial involuntary servitude or even sex slavery.

"if the government legalizes slavery no one is forcing anyone to have slaves - if your faith dictates they don't have one, they're free to abide by their faith and not have one. Ditto for sex slaves. You're still free to use it or not use it as your conscious and religion dictate. Same for urinating in public - if you don't want to do it for religious reasons, don't. If someone else wants to, you haven't done anything that violates your religion."


Here you are trying to establish an analogy where none exists. Two gay people freely deciding marrying each other affects no one but themselves.

I didn't make an analogy. I pointed out that the way issues such as homosexuality affect us are not the same as how other government policies affect us.

ScrewyWabbit wrote:
A man or a woman freely choosing to use birth control impacts no one but themselves and their partner.

I don't buy into the "birth control=evil" message that you get from a lot of evangelicals. I'm in favor of contraceptives where they are helpful. However, I do not feel it is right for teenagers to have sexual free reign over their lives while keeping parents in the dark about it. Teen pregnancy does impact the family unit. If I have a child engaging in sexual activity, I want to know when it's happening and with whom so I know who to press charges against. There are ways to educate kids on the appropriate time to begin sexual activity. Making Plan B available in such a way that parents don't know what's going on with their kids is not the way to do it. Further, I'm against any form of birth control that is used in the course of terminating a pregnancy, and I've already stated my own position on abortion.

ScrewyWabbit wrote:
A person forcing another person into a life of slavery is something where one person is freely making a choice, but one that obviously negatively impacts the prospective slave to a great extent, who would have no say in the matter.

A person forcing another human life to die before birth is something where one person is freely making a choice, but one that obviously negatively impacts the prospective human being to a great extent, who would have no say in the matter.

ScrewyWabbit wrote:
And while I think you mean to suggest that a person urinating in public would "impact" other people by forcing them to bear witness to such unwanted spectacles, which, while unpleasant, doesn't really impact anyone, it goes way beyond that - well, unless we don't think that turning the streets into public sewers and the resulting cholera outbreaks would impact other people.

Then just stay out of the street if you don't like it!

ScrewyWabbit wrote:
I'd also go back to what you said in your earlier post "The problem with politics is that lawmakers, unwittingly or not, attack the church when they pass laws that would negatively impact the church." The reality is very much the reverse of this situation. To eliminate behaviors and actions that the church thinks "negatively impact[s]" it requires restricting those things. But, generally speaking, most behaviors and actions are legal and unrestricted, unless laws are passed to restrict them.

Why restrict those things?

ScrewyWabbit wrote:
Birth control is inherently legal unless government passes a law restricting it - otherwise manufacturers have the freedom to manufacture it, and people have the freedom to use it. Even abortion is inherently legal unless government passes a law to restrict it.

OK.

ScrewyWabbit wrote:
Slavery is a notable exception,

Convenient.

ScrewyWabbit wrote:
since it was initially codified as legal in the US Constitution. But for the most part, really, what is at issue here is not government passing laws that "negatively impact" the church - it is a lack of (or it only happening to a degree that the church deems insufficient) the government passing laws that would positively impact the church by restricting everyone's behavior. And, historically, it really hasn't been a lack of this, at least from my stand point - throughout the history of our country, the government has been passing laws that restrict people's behavior in ways that positively impact the church

Why/how does it positively impact the church? Is it because of a universal right/wrong sort of morality that happens to be reflected in church practices?

ScrewyWabbit wrote:
- granted, not every law that the church would like to see enacted,

No, because the church isn't always right.

ScrewyWabbit wrote:
but many such laws - and in effect the government has been really doing the opposite of what you've said - they've been legislating morality and in so doing have been (to paraphrase you) "attacking everyone else when they pass laws that positively impact the church".

I see. So would you then say that we should repeal laws concerning murder on the basis that it is "legislated morality"? Edicts against murder, for instance, do happen to have a Biblical basis.

ScrewyWabbit wrote:
AngelRho wrote:
Which should tell you that it's more than just religion or what the government says is legal. Slavery and public indecency are moral issues that transcend what any religion or government says.


These things may be moral issues, but these issues not only transcend religion, they transcend morality too. They transcend religion and morality straight into the realm of secular government - into the framework of how the government is set up, and what people's fundamental rights are within the framework of that government. And it is on that secular level that they must be dealt with, not from a religious or moral standpoint.

Irrelevant. I mean, even secularists possess a sense of morality.

ScrewyWabbit wrote:
It may be immoral and against Christianity to enslave people, true enough. But the more fundamental issue is that allowing slavery takes away the rights and freedoms of one group of people, who are fundamentally entitled to those rights,

Who says?

ScrewyWabbit wrote:
in order to empower and profit another group of people, who are not fundamentally entitled to profit at the expense of someone else's rights. And while some people might enjoy the freedom to urinate in public if they had such a freedom, fundamentally they cannot have that right if it means spreading disease and death to the public at large.

Urinating in public was just a random example. I'm also not a big fan of smoking. How about this:

"And while some people might enjoy the freedom to smoke in public if they had such a freedom, fundamentally they cannot have that right if it means spreading disease and death to the public at large."

Actually, people DO enjoy the freedom to smoke in public. Cancer and death due to second-hand smoke seems to be well documented, i.e. "spreading disease and death to the public at large," and yet we can't effectively ban tobacco products. Why? Obviously the threat of "spreading disease and death to the public at large" just isn't enough to get rid of some things. You want to avoid COPD, cancer, and death from second-hand smoke? Stay away from smokers. You want to avoid "disease and death" from people urinating in public? Stay off the street!

ScrewyWabbit wrote:
AngelRho wrote:
If something is wrong, it is wrong without regard for any rationalizations we have for or against it.

This is simply a round-about way of saying that if religion says its wrong, its wrong.

What religion says about it is irrelevant. Wrong is wrong.

ScrewyWabbit wrote:
Logic, intuition, practical observations of the world around us be damned.

All that is irrelevant, also. You can rationalize your way in and out of anything you want, and "intuition" and "practical observations" are inherently flawed if you're relying on human beings to either supply the data based on personal observations or to interpret data from a machine...after all, data collecting instruments ARE man-made devices and can be inaccurate, not to mention results of data are subject to varying interpretations which can be biased and contradictory. Those things may help us gain an insight into what good, moral behavior means, perhaps even in a relativistic sort of way, but empiricism has largely failed to give much explanation of where it comes from. Morality isn't the sort of thing that science is equipped to study, unless you allow for social science.

ScrewyWabbit wrote:
I suppose that would be all well and good if we lived in a theocracy. We do not.

Well, Christians CAN live in a theocracy within a democracy if it is a theocracy of their own making, e.g. the Amish. I view the kingdom of God as having a real presence in the hearts and minds of believers. We just happen to temporally exist across national borders and be subject to various temporal rules within those borders. If we are allowed a say in making those rules, we have a duty to speak our minds regardless of the underlying basis of our convictions.

ScrewyWabbit wrote:
What's fundamentally wrong here is not that a certain segment of our society chooses to live by ancient texts that have no more provable truth to them than elaborate children's fairy tales. What's fundamentally wrong is that they want everyone to live that way.

Christians don't live by "ancient texts that have no more provable truth than elaborate children's fairy tales." We live by what works. And if we reap the benefits of God-given wisdom, of course we want everyone else to benefit from it. What's so bad about acting towards something that is mutually beneficial?

Incidentally, the wisdom of the Bible is not our primary concern but rather seeking a relationship with God. We want to see all mankind reconciled with God. The problem isn't that we want everyone to live that way. The problem is not everyone wants to live that way.

ScrewyWabbit wrote:
AngelRho wrote:
If injustice is being done, we have a moral duty to fight it.

Yes, but if injustice is being done, we have a civic and societal duty to fight it as well. Its not all about morality.

Then why have a civic and societal duty to fight injustice?

ScrewyWabbit wrote:
AngelRho wrote:
It has nothing to do with what we personally find acceptable or with what is legal. A "mind your own business" policy only perpetuates the problems of injustice. What right does a person without slaves have to tell a slaveholder what to do with his? According your viewpoint, nothing. American black slaves didn't free themselves. It was the work of abolitionists who recognized the evil being done to them working to secure their freedom that overturned slavery as an institution...i.e. people who refused to "mind their own business."

But its only a "mind your own business" policy to a certain degree.

To what degree?

ScrewyWabbit wrote:
If one person or a group of people together freely choose to engage in behavior, and that behavior does not negatively impact someone other than that one person or that group of people in a tangible way, then generally such behavior ought to be acceptable. i.e., its no one else's business, if you will.

I see. Would you then say that it is wrong to lock up, say, a paranoid schizophrenics if he threatens to harm himself, even if he doesn't harm anyone else? Because this kind of thing happens all the time.

ScrewyWabbit wrote:
But if it does negatively impact other people, then it ought not to be acceptable. That's very much not a "mind your own business" policy. And in that sense, its very much non a "mind your own business" policy because if your behavior impacts someone else, its not your own business, is everyone's business. That is why the slavery analogy falls flat.

I see. So would you be in favor of speaking out against abortion? It negatively impacts a human life. Therefore it is not just our business, it is everyone's business.

ScrewyWabbit wrote:
AngelRho wrote:
It has everything to do with what IS right or wrong, something that defies rationalization or legislation. Is abortion the destruction of human life? Yes. Is human life sacred? Yes, otherwise we wouldn't be so concerned with murder and other forms of homicide, or even the death penalty debate.

The idea that life is sacred is one that is applied very inconsistently, even by people who would purport themselves to believe in such an ideal.

I partially agree. It depends on what we're talking about. I'll get to that momentarily...

ScrewyWabbit wrote:
The same people who are against abortion because they say that life is sacred are often the same people who are in favor of capital punishment.

Bingo. I believe in lex talionis, which is generally what free societies strive to achieve. "Eye for an eye" as applied by the Old Testament is what this is all about. Worker's compensation, as an example, and insurance policies attempt to restore monetary damages to a physical injury. Then it becomes a question of what an eye is really worth. If someone steals something, they should return the item or the monetary equivalent of that item plus reasonable punitive damages, which I would say should be a percentage of the item's worth--and I'd say that ought to be for a suitable brand-new replacement. That's just my opinion, not how we actually DO things. But the point is we at least make the effort in being fair.

The reason that capital punishment is fair is because...

ScrewyWabbit wrote:
They're often the same people whose actions suggest that their belief is that life is not so sacred if, by sacrificing some lives (usually lives other than their own or their loved one's, of course) they can achieve some other goal that they deem to be more important than those lives. That is why we have wars, and more specifically, wars of our own choosing. I often wonder what a great inconvenience it must be to these people to have to wait 17 or 18 years between the time that the precious fetus emerges from the womb to the time the child can be sent off to die on the battlefield for some other more important purpose. As for homicide being illegal, its got a lot less to do with life being sacred than it has to do with the fact that one person ought not be able to deprive someone else of all their rights, including their own right to live, and the fact that we're all scared of what might happen to us or our loved ones if homicide were not illegal. There's an awful lot of people out there, including those in the life is sacred crowd who, at one time or another in their lives would have taken the life of someone else if they were not deterred by the laws against homicide and the consequences of violating those laws.

...there is no monetary equivalent to repay a person for his life. This is assuming that the taking of a life is a deliberate action, especially if it can be PROVEN that the action was premeditated. Sure, you can let them rot in prison for life, but people, even prison inmates, are living longer and longer lives these days. Given what criminals are given access to, prison time hardly seems like punishment. It's not that a murderer's life is less sacred than an unborn child's life. It's just that an unrepentant murderer leaves the justice system with very little room for mercy. I'd even argue that capital punishment, given with the level of comfort it is carried out these days, is more merciful than condemning a person to a life with no freedom. And I don't think that allowing a murderer to live out his days with three hots and a cot is really fair to the surviving victims of murder--those who will never see their slain loved ones alive again.

War is a offensive/defensive measure. I think a determination of whether to go to war means careful consideration of whether a nation has done wrong by offensive maneuvering and whether it is the place of another nation to prepare an offensive in support of the nation that has been attacked. A purely defensive war has to do with protecting domestic interests. That people die as a result is an unfortunate consequence. But if you are attacking me or threatening to attack me, I feel perfectly justified in killing you if I'm given the opportunity. That's just self-defense. We don't have to like the fact that people die in war. I think we should avoid war if at all possible. Simultaneously I'm afraid that passivity is not the wisest choice in a kill-or-be-killed situation.

Fundamentally that is much like the issue of bullying. Fighting is wrong, therefore bullying victims should maintain their silence when they are abused at the hands of bullies, and teachers/parents should just look the other way when it happens.

I don't care if my kids get sent home from school for standing up for themselves. If my kid were to come home with a bloody nose, I'd ask how many of a bully's teeth he knocked out.

ScrewyWabbit wrote:
AngelRho wrote:
The issue of homosexuality does affect us in a different way in that, for example, public schools insist that all children tolerate and accept it despite what their parents or churches teach them. We live in fear of bullying allegations and marginalization for so much as expressing negative opinions of homosexuality, even if expressing those views takes the form of non-threatening and respectful dialogue. We're talking about pushing a political agenda on a group of people who cannot in good conscience accept it if by no other means than maintaining a strong on their children. After all, look at recent polls on which age groups are more favorable towards gay marriage. Here's a hint: it's not their religious parents or grandparents who aren't favorable to gay marriage teaching them those attitudes!


Let me ask you a question. Would you encourage your children when they come of age to make their own decision about what religion they want to follow, if any, or would you try to guide them towards following your own religion?

I'd guide them towards following my own religon.

ScrewyWabbit wrote:
As a parent, I think you can raise your child one of two ways - you can try to teach your child your particular beliefs and try to prevent your child from believing anything else, or you can teach your child to think for his or herself and to reach their own conclusions and to form their own beliefs, even if they turn out to be different than your own.

Where many parents fail is addressing the intellectual elements of religion. For me, Christianity is not a set of "rules" or some carefully organized ritual we have to dance through to get God to recognize and do our bidding. It is about salvation. Everything ELSE flows from a desire to be obedient to God, to do God's bidding rather than our own. Salvation is the first and most important step. Everything else makes up the remaining steps of the journey.

The thing is, if I'm already right, and I know I'm right, then my concern is to make sure my kids are right as well. My job is to help my children come to the same conclusions and follow in the same walk of faith. MOST Christians don't care anything about the intellectual side of Christianity. They are saved and are content with salvation alone. They know that faith is all that is needed, and that is sufficient. I see nothing wrong with that, but I don't think it encourages the next generation to follow through in faith at the earliest and best times in their lives to know Christ. As an example, I send my children to a Catholic school. We are not Catholic, and there are elements of Catholicism we find highly objectionable (it's nothing personal, or we'd send our kids to a different school). My 4-year old daughter noticed an empty wine bottle the other day and asked me about it. She knows about wine from attending weekly mass and from religion class. That led us into a brief discussion on transubstantiation and why we disagree with Catholics on it. 4 YEARS OLD and we're talking transubstantiation!! ! That's deep stuff for many of us non-Catholics, and for many of us it is such a foreign topic we'd never have a reason to point out one of many ways Christians often disagree amongst themselves.

Children, I think, understand faith better than most adults because faith is all children have. A world without God is unthinkable to many of them raised in the church. So, if I'm right about something, which I strongly believe I am, I'd be remiss to teach my children otherwise.

Think about it: We accept stealing is wrong, correct? So, if I taught someone to make up their own mind about stealing, I have to accept the risk that they might decide stealing is a good thing. And when they decide to steal, I'm fundamentally an accessory to theft, not to mention an irresponsible parent. The main point here is I have to do my best to teach my kids the difference between right and wrong and help steer them in their thinking to make the best decisions.

ScrewyWabbit wrote:
If a parent were doing the former, then I could understand why that parent would be fearful of letting their child be exposed to any beliefs that differ from their own. Who knows what impact that may have on the child, who's got no basis for forming their own opinion and is thus going to be vulnerable to going along with the crowd, believing whatever they're told to believe (after all, the parent tried to get the kid to believe as he was told). So its understandable why parents would be fearful of the environment of public schools which, at best, are most likely going to differ in what they teach in at least minor ways from what the parent themselves would teach.

Well, that would be more of a cognitive dissonance issue. I think that is reality for SOME people, but not for everyone. Let's--oh, I dunno--let's say we accept urinating on the sidewalk is wrong. Public school says that urinating on the sidewalk is acceptable and we should be tolerant of people who urinate on the sidewalk. Johnny tells mom and dad he wants to pee on the sidewalk. Mom and dad can't exactly put into words why they think it's wrong, but something just stinks about this idea. So they tell Johnny that everyone else can pee on the sidewalk, but that's not what WE do. You can pee in the backyard all you want so long as no one is looking, but that's about as much marking your territory as we're going to let you get away with.

And then it turns out that peeing on the sidewalk spreads diseases, therefore Johnny gets a spanking if he gets caught doing it.

Plain fact is that public schools, just like anyone, are prone to being wrong, behaving improperly, and having a negative influence contrary to what parents believe is right--and parents are often uninformed as to what actually goes on at school. For instance, a school in my former district fired a male middle school teacher for randomly striking students on the butt with a ruler he referred to as "Mr. Feelgood" and once "searched' a student in the girl's bathroom. Further, if a public school receives public funding, which by definition they do, they have to be observant of public policy as set by the government. If you disagree with that policy, too bad--school ain't a democracy.

Speaking of Christians involved in politics, which is the real point here, this is where we typically run into trouble. If a teacher brings up the issue of homosexuality, gay marriage, abortion, whatever controversial topic you want to throw out there, he necessarily invites discussion on the issue. While I taught in public school, I made no bones about being opinionated. I had no problem voicing my opinion in front of students. (BTW, I'm referring to issues relevant to what I taught, which didn't have that much to do with current social issues until the last unit--and only because I made a point of opening a dialogue with students to find out what was important to THEM in order to make the other part of the year worth sitting through). Neither did my students have any problems voicing opposing viewpoints to mine. Never once did I grade or discipline students based on disagreeing with me on subject matter. I graded them on their performance during usual assessments and participation in class projects.

Getting to the point here, it is NOT unknown for teachers to express disdain for Christian and traditional values in the classroom and by thus doing opening up a dialogue for opposing viewpoints. The difference in how I successfully dealt with this and how other teachers have failed in it is 1) I know how to choose my battles and 2) I don't try to penalize students for disagreeing with me. So when it comes to controversial social issues and the classroom, I tended to stay away from topics I was uncomfortable with or that were outside my curriculum. Other teachers HAVE penalized openly Christian students for participating in the dialog by expressing views the teachers disliked. I recall a recent university incident in which a Mormon student was penalized for refusing to participate in a classroom activity that involved writing "Jesus" on a piece of paper and stomping on it. The plain fact is that constitutional rights, particularly with regard to freedom of expression and freedom of religion, don't end at the school gates. For the time being the court system tends to side with Christians on these issues. It has not ALWAYS been this way and there is no guarantee that it always will.

And this is the real issue here: Those who disagree with Christians will impose their ideas on Christians and try to marginalize Christians by publicly demonizing us and telling us what to believe. If we are to live in a country that allows freedom of religion and purports to teach tolerance, we all have to accept that there will be those who hold beliefs, opinions, and views we do not like. If you want Christian churches to stay out of political issues, you can't politicize moral issues. You can't, for instance, make LGBT a protected class and marginalize Christian students who believe that homosexuality is immoral. You can't claim to be anti-bullying if you make anyone, even Christians, feel they will be punished for speaking out.

ScrewyWabbit wrote:
From a practical standpoint, I don't understand how it is that parents expect to be able to cloister and sequester

I love that word. :lol:

...ok, sorry...

ScrewyWabbit wrote:
their child from exposure to any other differing beliefs - eventually the exposure is going to happen, so, personally, I think this is a rather self-delusional way to approach raising a child.

Well, I partially agree. Which is precisely why I think that a Christian who knows he is in the right on the issues--rather, has the right answers, just hasn't thought about the answers--does himself and his children a favor by making an intellectual exercise of it. Like I said before, faith is easy for children. If a child has been taught correct thinking, then independently drawing the correct conclusions is, ironically, a no-brainer.

ScrewyWabbit wrote:
On the other hand, if I taught my child to think for his or her self, I wouldn't be so worried about what ideas the child would be exposed to in public school. Such a child isn't just going to go along willy-nilly with whatever they're told to think.

You might be surprised, especially if there are negative consequences and penalties for thinking and doing otherwise. If the schools aren't providing appropriate environments for learning in which kids can work free of socio-political agendas, it is the parents' right and duty to 1) change the school or 2) find alternatives to public education.

In actual practice, I teach my kids that we send them to what we feel is the best school for them in terms of behavior management, moral teaching, and overall quality of education that far surpasses local public schools (if you knew our public schools, you'd agree with me here. They are considered failing schools by NCLB standards, and every year there are talks of charter schools to get kids out of the city schools. I worked out in the county. They aren't any better). My kids understand there are differences between us and Catholics, and I do teach my kids to go along with it for the sake of being respectful to our Catholic friends who administer the school. But as I said earlier in this post, we point out these differences and where/why we disagree.

That is the risk one takes sending kids to a parochial school, and it is not our place to voice anti-Catholic sentiment in the school system when they are doing us a favor by allowing our children to attend. Catholicism does not follow us home, however, thus it is important to keep the dialog open when differences arise.

Public schools are publicly supported and ought to promote the best public interest. It isn't a place to teach pro/con religion or broach matters of faith--other than, say, to point out that such-and-such war happened along strictly religious lines, etc. Religion, other than being acknowledged as a fact of history, is best left untouched in the public classroom. By knowingly, willfully bringing in controversial issues that offend Christians, especially issues that you as a teacher feel strongly about, you're crossing religious lines. If you're going to offend Christians, you might as well go on and offend everyone else while you're at it. You can't be fair and objective otherwise.

ScrewyWabbit wrote:
AngelRho wrote:
And for all that you want to tax the moral fiber of a community? For speaking out on what it feels strongly are issues of right and wrong? If you tax them, you have to represent them. I'd rather have the power to speak my own mind regardless of how I draw my conclusions than have to tacitly go along with what I disagree with. It's only a matter of time after you give churches legislative power before one church seeks establishment, and I strongly feel that this would be harmful to believing and non-believing alike.


Its ok to feel strongly about something. I just wish people, with an eye towards being respectful of everyone else and being able to live in harmony with everyone else, would do more to make a conscious effort to realize and understand that what's right (or wrong) for yourself may not be right (or wrong) for other people. The world would be a much better place if everyone did that.

Agreed. However, it must be said it's a two-way street. It often appears that once Christians open one side to their opponents, their opponents want their side, too!