David Limbaugh gives talk on “Culture War” to student journalists.

David Limbaugh, brother to Rush Limbaugh and author of the book “Persecution: How Liberals Are Waging War Against Christianity”, was the keynote speaker at the Baptist Press Excellence in Journalism Banquet last Saturday. His speech was a call-to-arms against the rise of secular values in American culture and it included many of the popular distortions about what the Founding Fathers intended with the establishment clause and how the Christian world view is supposedly the basis for American concepts of freedom and liberty.

“We are engaged in a culture war in this country,” Limbaugh said. “I believe that Christians are the primary targets of the secular humanists who are engaged in this culture war…. Our entire Christian worldview is under siege.”

Secular values “have taken primacy in our culture,” he said. “And it’s something that we really need to be concerned about.”

Many Fundamentalist Christians love to drone on and on about the “threat” of Secular Values without ever bothering to explain just what, exactly, these values that secularists hold supposedly are. David points out that they come from secular humanists so a good place to look would be the Secular Humanists homepage and look specifically at what their Affirmations of Humanism has to say their values are. Here’s a small sampling of these “dangerous” values:

  • We believe in an open and pluralistic society and that democracy is the best guarantee of protecting human rights from authoritarian elites and repressive majorities.
  • We are concerned with securing justice and fairness in society and with eliminating discrimination and intolerance.
  • We believe in supporting the disadvantaged and the handicapped so that they will be able to help themselves.
  • We attempt to transcend divisive parochial loyalties based on race, religion, gender, nationality, creed, class, sexual orientation, or ethnicity, and strive to work together for the common good of humanity.
  • We believe in the cultivation of moral excellence.
  • We believe in the common moral decencies: altruism, integrity, honesty, truthfulness, responsibility. Humanist ethics is amenable to critical, rational guidance. There are normative standards that we discover together. Moral principles are tested by their consequences.
  • We are deeply concerned with the moral education of our children. We want to nourish reason and compassion.
  • We believe in the fullest realization of the best and noblest that we are capable of as human beings.
  • We cultivate the arts of negotiation and compromise as a means of resolving differences and achieving mutual understanding.
  • We want to protect and enhance the earth, to preserve it for future generations, and to avoid inflicting needless suffering on other species.
  • We are engaged by the arts no less than by the sciences.

Now to most folks the above probably doesn’t come across as being that terrible of a set of values to have gaining prominence in American culture. I would argue that American culture would be better off if these values had really taken primacy as Limbaugh claims. An open and free society? More justice and less discrimination and intolerance? Help the poor and disadvantaged? Working together for the common good? Cultivating moral excellence? How could any reasonable Christian have a problem with a set of values like that? What’s the basis for the claims that secularist values are evil and dangerous then? Well, there’s a few I didn’t list yet that will show you what the Fundamentalist Christians really fear about Secular Humanism:

  • We are committed to the application of reason and science to the understanding of the universe and to the solving of human problems.

You can’t use Reason and Science to understand the Universe or solve human problems! Only through hours spent praying and appealing to the Great Invisible Superfriend in the sky can you accomplish these things!

  • We deplore efforts to denigrate human intelligence, to seek to explain the world in supernatural terms, and to look outside nature for salvation.

Do I even need to explain why this one gets the Fundie’s panties all in a bunch?

  • We believe in enjoying life here and now and in developing our creative talents to their fullest.

No, no, NO! We’ll have plenty of time for that nonsense once we help to bring about the apocalypse and the after-life!

  • We respect the right to privacy. Mature adults should be allowed to fulfill their aspirations, to express their sexual preferences, to exercise reproductive freedom, to have access to comprehensive and informed health-care, and to die with dignity.

Socialized health care? Freedom to practice sex as you choose?? Dieing on your own terms instead of God’s??? Why that’s UNAMERICAN!!

  • We are skeptical of untested claims to knowledge, and we are open to novel ideas and seek new departures in our thinking.

You want PROOF?? You can’t HANDLE the PROOF!! Just BELIEVE or you’re gonna burn, burn, BURN!!

  • We affirm humanism as a realistic alternative to theologies of despair and ideologies of violence and as a source of rich personal significance and genuine satisfaction in the service to others.

This is another one that causes these guys to flip their wigs. Imagine thinking that there’s any world view that could be considered as being a “realistic alternative” to the Christian world view.

  • We believe in optimism rather than pessimism, hope rather than despair, learning in the place of dogma, truth instead of ignorance, joy rather than guilt or sin, tolerance in the place of fear, love instead of hatred, compassion over selfishness, beauty instead of ugliness, and reason rather than blind faith or irrationality.

This one counters so many basic tenets of Christianity that it should be no surprise that the Fundies fear it becoming a popular idea so much.

To more moderate Christians the above list isn’t all that threatening and there’s probably more than a couple of values listed there that they’d agree would be a good thing to see more people embrace, but to the hardliners on the far Right they may as well be statements of intent to engage in large-scale rampages of murder, rape, and baby killing. These are the values that folks like David Limbaugh would like you to think are the very definition of evil. He continues with…

“The establishment clause … meant that Congress, the federal government, would not establish a national church,” Limbaugh said. “… The thrust of the establishment clause was not to separate church and state, which it’s later been construed to do. The purpose of it is to promote religious liberty.”

This is a very popular claim by Fundamentalist Christians and it’s based on a dissenting opinion authored by Justice Rehnquist in which he claimed that the intent of the Founding Fathers was only to prevent the establishment of a national church. A claim that is completely untrue. Both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison wrote extensively about what the intended effect of the first amendment was and Madison’s letters in particular support the Supreme Court’s 20th-century understanding of the term “wall of separation.” In a letter to his friend Robert Walsh, James Madison wrote of how successful both church and state were proving to be in spite of the wall of separation:

    “It was the Universal opinion of the Century preceding the last, that Civil Government could not stand without the prop of a Religious establishment, and that the Christian religion itself, would perish if not supported by a legal provision for its Clergy. The experience of Virginia conspicuously corroborates the disproof of both opinions. The Civil Government, tho’ bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability and performs its functions with complete success; whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the Priesthood, and the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the Church from the State.” (Robert L. Maddox, Separation of Church and State: Guarantor of Religious Freedom, New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1987, p. 39.)

Contrary to the oft-repeated claim, history shows us that the intent of the separation clause was indeed to build a solid wall between church and state.

David Limbaugh continues with another popular claim with no basis in reality:

“We need to appreciate our freedom,” he said. “And we need to understand that Christianity is the source of our freedom…. Our constitutional liberties are undergirded by Judeo-Christian principles.”

There’s not much of anything either in the Constitution itself or in any of the letters and articles written about it by the Founding Fathers afterward that gives any support to the above claim, but David tries to establish a link anyway.

Two foundational doctrines for the American concept of freedom are the doctrines of creation and sin, Limbaugh said. The doctrine of creation teaches that each human is created in the image of God and gives rise to the notions of liberty and inalienable rights, he said.

“If we truly believe that God is omni-benevolent, omniscient, omnipotent and He decided to create us in His image, what an ultimate honor and compliment that is,” Limbaugh said. “And it carries with it an obligation to respect the dignity of human life. It is what gives rise to the notion of liberty. Christianity gives rise to liberty, the idea that we’re made in God’s image and therefore entitled to happiness, dignity, freedom.”

He starts off fairly strong on this one at least in regards to inalienable rights as the Declaration of Independence does make reference to a Creator endowing man with certain unalienable Rights, but that same document refers to “Nature’s God,” which is more of a Deist belief than a Christian one, but one could reasonably argue this link isn’t entirely without merit. How he thinks Christianity gives rise to the notion of liberty or that we are entitled to happiness, dignity and freedom is beyond me. Liberty and freedom are more or less synonyms and are often the last things the Christian church is known for supporting. The history of the Christian religion is filled with examples of attempts to deny others anything even remotely resembling liberty and freedom. If the Fundamentalists have their way they will deny homosexual couples the liberty of deciding to marry or even form domestic partnerships. They’re already pissed off that the Supreme Court struck down a Texas sodomy law thus giving people the freedom to engage in a sex act that previously could have gotten them arrested and imprisoned. They also wish to eliminate a woman’s freedom to end an unwanted pregnancy regardless of the circumstances behind it.

I also have a problem with the idea that Limbaugh thinks we’re entitled to happiness. This sort of thinking is where a lot of our social problems come from. That happiness is something you should expect rather than something you pursue and it gives rise to people who think that if they’re not happy then they have a right to do whatever they want to make themselves happy such as stealing those shoes or beating the crap out of people they don’t agree with. Dignity is likewise something you have to work for, not something you’re handed as a door prize for showing up.  Limbaugh continues with his explanation for the sin part of his argument:

The doctrine of sin teaches that humans are fallen and that sin must be restrained by governing forces, said Limbaugh, the brother of popular radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

The founders “knew that man left to his own devices … will subjugate other men. And obviously that militates against liberty,” he said. “The framers … wanted to invest the government with enough power to ensure ordered liberty, to allow government to protect individuals…. They also need[ed] to turn right around and impose intricate limitations on the government.”

It might just be me, but the two paragraphs above seem to contradict each other. First he argues that sin must be restrained by governing forces, but then argues (quite correctly) that the framers wanted government to establish an ordered liberty while protecting individuals and put limitations on government to ensure it didn’t overstep its bounds. Perhaps it’s because it’s only a partial quote, but I don’t see anything here that supports the idea that the doctrine of sin is responsible for shaping how the framers laid the foundation for our system of government.

Based on the above you’d almost think Limbaugh was a libertarian rather than a die-hard conservative, but this sort of irony is necessary on his part in order for his argument to work. The goal here is to try and convince his audience that Christianity and its world view are directly responsible for the American concept of freedom in order to support his argument that the diminishment of Christian values in American culture is a bad thing. He drives this point home as follows:

Ultimately, the well-being of America depends upon believers’ willingness to acknowledge the nation’s dependence upon the Christian worldview, Limbaugh said.

“We have an obligation … to stay true to the truth and to fact,” he said. “… Infuse your profession with your Christian worldview.”

Never mind that there’s very little in the way of truth or facts behind his argument. That’s of little concern if he can convince folks that Christianity and America’s very survival are inextricably intertwined. If America can’t survive without the Christian world view then the argument that said view should be dominate in American culture is an easy sell. I’ll let Jefferson have the final word on that idea:

    “It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.” – Notes on Virginia, 1782

30 thoughts on “David Limbaugh gives talk on “Culture War” to student journalists.

  1. I constantly marvel at your ability to write clear and reasonable rebuttals to unreasonable points of view. It’s why I’ve been around so long and I’m sure it’s why so many others come here daily, if not several times a day. What we, on our best days, feel the world should be like seems to be a constant state of awareness with you. Excellent entry and thanks for it.

    I still read that highly religious site I talked about a few times here and last night I asked the readers to answer some questions for me. It’s the same question, really, queried different ways:

    How does someone else being gay harm you? How could their personal choice to love whom they wish to love or even to couple with whom they wish to couple with be a threat to your well- being? Why do you feel that you are justified in criticizing, even challenging them by making their choices important to yourself?

    I don’t know – I guess I just really need to understand how others can unabashedly pursue an agenda that has nothing really to do with their needs and rights – how they can justify affecting my comforts and my passions. I do really need to understand this.

  2. Les – far be it for me to sully the sheer American-ness of the above post with the somewhat altered and paraphrased views of a long dead German-Jew, but the statements of Limbaugh (David variation) and his ilk strike me as the desperate, frightened, living-in-a-dream-world scream of the oppressed creature. I’m against those opinions, yes. But my overwhelming feeling is one of sadness.

    Which, in a way, leads me to…

    Brock – First off, I’d wholeheartedly agree with your endorsement of this fine site. Secondly, I don’t know you, nor have I had any communication with you outside of reading your various posts here. But the thing that strikes me time and time again is your willingness to beat your head against the brick wall of ignorance and blind faith. In many ways, this goes back to my thoughts on the whole secular/religious debate and the idea that there exists some compromise between hardline elements on both sides and a place where we can all – if not understand each other – then live some kind of mutual existence that doesn’t include the harsh and sometimes abusive battles that take place in the forums given to us here and elsewhere. I think, like you, that I’d like to believe that there is a rational and simple answer to questions like the one you asked the folks at the ‘highly religious site’ you mention and that someday we will find it, but ultimately I know that this is not the case. That makes me feel sad and cynical and pessimistic about the future, a way I hate to feel. But really, if the internet is a microcosm of world opinion, then almost everything I read forces that ultimate belief home a little further. It’s a nail in a philosophical coffin, for sure, but I’m really not seeing any evidence that’s ever going to prevent that nail from hitting home.

    In the end, secular Liberalism preaches the freedom of the individual rather than the idea of some pluralist compromise where we all live in peace and can debate in a reasoned and intelligent fashion. In that sense, the current divisions in our various societies represent the ultimate literal expression of that ideal. We’ll go on fighting them and they’ll go on fighting us. But if you think either side can ever actually win, you’re living in as much of an irrational dreamworld as our friend Mr. Limbaugh.

    That’s an opinion I don’t necessarily enjoy holding. I think there’s an intelligence and nobility in the posts I’ve read from Les, yourself, and many of the other people that throw their thoughts into the arena here. I just can’t seem to pull myself away from the idea that this is it, and that nobody will ever really surprise us or change the world again.

  3. I just can’t seem to pull myself away from the idea that this is it, and that nobody will ever really surprise us or change the world again.

    Gee, Neon, the world’s changing right now – faster than at any time in history.  I believe optimistically that tolerance will eventually win out around the world because tolerance is economically more productive than oppression. 

    There will be mistakes and reversals but the contrast between the Taliban (and its more familiar kin,) and the success of open and tolerant societies, cannot be overlooked.  Democracy, humanism, and freedom work

    BTW, have to second what Brock said about Les’ ability to confront for forces of BS.  And about other stuff, too.

  4. Duh – you wouldn’t think a person could stutter with a keyboard, but that should read: “… Les’ ability to confront forces of BS.”  Not “for forces of BS” where the first three letters typed inadvertently sounded like a preposition.  So no matter how the world changes, I should still proofread.

  5. Brock,

    I’m reluctant to go down this path, because I think this has been covered enough times on the board, but I do want to offer some thoughts. And I ask that you read the whole note…I’m offering thoughts, not an opinion.

    Primary to the idea that your decision to do something hurts me, is the assumption that there are some things that are inherently wrong, and that their very existance harms our socieity and everybody in it.

    Is it okay (not agreeable, but acceptable) to get sexual gratification from images of underage children?

    Is it okay to hate blacks/jews/gays because they are that way? Is it okay for people to privately hate these people, and to teach their children to do so—as long as they don’t ever do anything about it?

    Is it okay to be naked in public places?

    Is it okay to execute people under the age of 18, or who comitted crimes before the age of 18?

    None of these things results in physical harm to the average joe on the street…and there are some people who will say YESSSS!!!!!! and others who say NO!!!!!! to literally any of these.

    So—some people choose to have sex in a way that is specifically forbidden by the holy books of many people, or alternately which is not the way nature designed it for purposes of procreation. (And some people have “natural” sex, but outside the bounds of marriage and with little or no chance of pregnancy….same thing.) Is it harmful to society that this exists?

    What about when these same people (any of them) start telling others about their opinions? What about when they and their children profess these beliefs, in the place that they are most likely to cause distress? Does this harm society?

    Whether your answer for any given item is “yes” or “no” the logic is the same. If it’s NOT acceptable, then the fact that people do it may harm the society and the people in it.

    As a second point, there is also the fact that you posted your question to a highly religious site. In christianity, being homoexual is not acceptable. It’s not quite as clearcut as most would like it to be, but it’s pretty straightforward.

    Therefore, if you ask people on a christian site how it hurts them for someone else to be gay…you will get the christian answer.

    A silly example of the same thing—when people speak English, they often use adjectives where they should use adverbs. (How are you? I’m good.) It’s wrong. It doesn’t matter that they like saying it. It doesn’t matter that their parents spoke that way. You can’t do that, and claim that you are speaking pure, perfect English.

    If you then ask a group of english teachers if it isn’t proper for people to speak this way, then answer is predictable. The teachers will tell you it’s wrong, and no amount of “logic” is going to convince them otherwise—because in the context you are asking, it’s clearly incorrect by every English reference guide there is.

    As a closing, I would like to make one more comment…even if I felt that being gay was someway harmful (which I don’t) it’s a lot MORE harmful that a majority of elected officials are willing to f*** with MY federal constitution because of THEIR moral beliefs. Which moral side will I be on next time?

  6. DOF – I’m not against your response to my comments, and I understand and accept what you mean. I think the only query I’d venture is to ask you to define ‘Democracy’ and explain how America, Britain – and indeed, the rest of Europe and those nations that generally fall under the header of ‘Democratic’ – practice this philosophy in any way that even vaguely resembles the theories and ideas put forward by, say, the Constitution as mentioned by Les in his original post.

    I know that pretty much asks you to write a 50,000 word essay and isn’t exactly the world’s most reasonable query, but let’s accept that I have a working knowledge of history, sociology, and the current political climate and go from there.

  7. Hi, Neon – I was sort of trying to cheer you up with my previous post.  You sounded a bit down there.

    …define ‘Democracy’ and explain how America, Britain – and indeed, the rest of Europe and those nations that generally fall under the header of ‘Democratic’ – practice this philosophy in any way that even vaguely resembles the theories and ideas put forward by, say, the Constitution as mentioned by Les in his original post.

    I know that pretty much asks you to write a 50,000 word essay…

    The one-word answer to your 50,000 word question is “imperfectly” – that’s how the US, Britain, etc. practice democracy.  Not surprising as it is a human enterprise that is taking form as it emerges even here in the US.  Lots of examples of that imperfection in the news.

    I like to view it by contrasts.  For example, comparing the US to Iran, which is not even trying to be democratic, or to Russia, which is trying.  Or to China, which is trying to balance a population of inconceivable magnitude.  Or India (similar problem) or Pakistan.  You have to put voter registration problems in Florida in perspective against women being beaten for leaving the house without a male relative (and not having the right to vote.)

    Even more useful – to me – is to compare the US to itself just 40 years ago, and to imagine our country 40 years from now. There are really serious social and technological changes in my lifetime and even in the last five years.  Just to pick one example, blogs have already played a significant role in this election.  The word “blog” did not even exist until December, 1997.  That is an astounding rate of change.

    Fortunately man is an adaptable animal.  We evolved in the tropics but came to ecological prominence during an ice age.  If that isn’t a reason for optimism, what is? There are so many exciting possibilities in what’s happening now.

    It’s a messy process and the outcome isn’t guaranteed to be good.  We all need to be awake and active because the forces of oppression certainly are.  We have a historical advantage because freedom is a more effective way to run a society.

    When I say freedom “works,” and oppression “doesn’t work” I just mean economically.  I can’t think of an example of a wealthy, diverse society that has an oppressive government.  Even Singapore is pretty free-wheeling by the standards of, say, North Korea.  And the most oppressive societies tend to be the poorest.

    When people are above the necessity level they get creative and think up cool stuff like medicines and hybrid cars and blogs and Wikipedia.  In a connected world, people will notice which societies are succeeding and eventually want to emulate them.

    So I guess my point isn’t really very profound, except to say “Cheer up!  There really is good reason to think that in the long run, it will turn out all right.  The only question is how long “long” is.

  8. After surviving years of Catholic school education, where ‘secular humanism’ was cited on par with satanism, I have to say I’m absolutely weary with this argument.  What do these people have against The Enlightenment (besides everything)?  Enough already.  I’ve been reading Robert Hughes’ biography of Goya, and the inquisitional nature of early 19th century Spain feels alive & well today in ‘Murica.  The Spanish feared witches; today we look around every corner for terrorists.  Oh, and Ferdinand II had liberals slaughtered by the bushel.  I’m sure Ann Coulter, Dave Limbaugh, et al feel nostalgia for those good ol’ days.  Not me.

  9. Damn, I can’t stay away from SEB tonight. DOF, again, I am not against the views you have stated and not looking in any way to pick a fight or whatever. But the rapid changes you describe include the movement towards globalisation…and the movement towards globalisation necessarily includes the nations you describe which are resolutely undemocratic.

    Which, I suppose, is really neither here nor there in terms of this discussion, so having made the point, I’ll pull away before we get sidetracked from a sidetrack and go off into world politics and globalisation.

    I don’t know, maybe I’m just very blinkered or very trapped in the present. That’s a possibility I can’t really comment on as you have a good few years of experience on me and no doubt a greater breadth of experience to draw on. The view from here suggests that another forty years such as the one we’ve most recently experienced is a difficult concept. After all, you’re right in saying that much has changed since then. But I’d argue that one of the key political elements of that change is a definite centering of mainstream opinion. That in itself is a difficult trough to climb out of, as in the current climate, any kind of extremism is a big no-no. With extremism and the possibility of rapid changes in direction (politically speaking) out of the window, we find ourselves living in an era with very limited choices.

    Which leaves us, I feel, with very little in the way of options. Such a climate has given rise to the sudden importance of peripheral concerns concerned largely with media perceptions and a very superficial approach to politics and culture in general. If (and I appreciate that is a huge and highly subjective ‘if’) centrism and apathy have won the day so early in this new millenium, then what hope is there? What’s your vision of the future?

    I am, to a certain extent, playing devil’s advocate here – but only in the sense that I’m countering arguments with my darkest and most cynical thoughts. I have a genuine curiosity as to how people see us progressing from here and what they think our future might look like. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m working on a novel called Welcome To Forever which has a subtext that draws very heavily on certain theories expounded by Max Weber and – to an extent – Francis Fukuyama.

    *Cough* That’s much more exciting than it sounds. *Cough*

  10. NoenExile—People of every era feared there was no hope. It is a long, hard journey toward change for the better. I have no doubt some day homosexuals, for instance, will no longer be required to sit at the back of the bus and drink from separate water fountains. Heh.

    You can bet people of every era feared there was no hope.

    It is just change. That’s all it is. Humans survived an ice age, we will survive this change. Hope is wherever you find it.

    JethricOne said: “some people choose to have sex in a way that is specifically forbidden by the holy books of many people, or alternately which is not the way nature designed it for purposes of procreation.”

    My question to that line of thinking is this: If sex were intended only for procreation, why is it that people who cannot have babies are still horny?

    Les—sometimes I feel like mass mailing your entries.

  11. I’m very flattered by the positive comments from everyone.

    It always worries me when the Fundies start promoting their belief as being responsible for making America the great country it is or being favored by the Founding Fathers, or being morally superior to other religious worldviews when the reality of the situation is quite different.

    The only way to combat that sort of deception is to try and educate people and encourage them to look into the claims being made by those who would presume to lead them. So I do my little part to get the word out.

  12. Neon,

    the rapid changes you describe include the movement towards
    globalisation…and the movement towards globalisation necessarily includes
    the nations you describe which are resolutely undemocratic.

    (Mr. Burns’ voice: “Exxxxcellent!!!”)  Trade presupposes contact, and contact with free societies is poison to oppression.  Not right away, certainly, but over time.  The global corporations, without having any moral intentions (Neibuhr), facilitate people in different societies meeting each other, corresponding with each other, and so on. 

    Back in the ‘60’s you could get in a lot of trouble in Russia if you were caught with Levis’ jeans or recordings of Rock ‘n Roll.  Those old commies knew what they were doing:  “How you gonna keep ‘em down on the (collective) once they’ve had a taste of gay Pairee?”  I always thought we should be trading with Cuba for that very reason.  It may be impossible to smash communism, but economics can make it irrelevant.

    Look at China – Mao’s “Cultural Revolution” was nothing less than genocide and oppression on a scale that just beggars the imagination.  It took an indisputable anti-communist (Richard Nixon) to open up trade with China.  Gradually their society is beginning to adapt to contact with the West.  I am glad the change is gradual because when there’s a billion+ people involved, you want to step carefully.

    Which leaves us, I feel, with very little in the way of options. Such a
    climate has given rise to the sudden importance of peripheral concerns
    concerned largely with media perceptions and a very superficial approach to
    politics and culture in general. If (and I appreciate that is a huge and
    highly subjective ‘if’) centrism and apathy have won the day so early in
    this new millenium, then what hope is there? What’s your vision of the
    future?

    I’ve tried to imagine that: it’s hard to prognosticate without coming off as a total nutball.  If you told someone in 1904 what life would be like today they’d have had you locked up.  Even in 1964 it would have been hard to grasp much of what has happened.  The safest way to look ahead has always been in fiction.

    Arthur C. Clarke thought that over a long, painful process religion would become less important and a world government would emerge enforcing basic standards of human rights around the world.  Robert Heinlein thought multinational corporations would become a de-facto government.  Asimov proposed new economies based on robot labor.

    I’m not saying more really, really bad stuff won’t happen, but forty years from now, or a hundred, Adam Smith may turn out to be the most important man who ever lived.

    Good luck on your book!  If dark, cynical thoughts are driving you to write, don’t cheer up too much.  And remember, P.G. Wodehouse said, “The first rule of writing is to apply the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.”

  13. J,

    You pose an excellent question, but there is a clear and obvious answer.

    It is the same reason that women get huge spikes in endorphines AFTER delivery of a baby instead of during…

    The universe, for all it’s beauty and majesty is a very screwed up place.

    Why else would Kerry be down 4 in the latest polls?

    Helpfully yours,

    -JO

  14. DOF – I’m not always so cynical. Some mornings, I even smile. Thanks for the discussion and the encouragement. I am now off to engage in an arse/chair interface.

    Nothing kinky, I promise.

  15. decrepitoldfool I would like to hang out with you for a while. I was tired when I started to read this
    Entry but I woke up as I read along. Wow I am really going to have a good sleep now. Les you do know your subject! The way the Religious Right try to frame everything as though it is their God appointed right to teach us what the founding fathers had on their mind when the constitution was being made is laughable. Only by mis-quoting and taking statements out of context, sort of like Mr. bush does. are they able to give their arguements any semblence of dare I say logic. Because anyone who has had a chance to study the writings of the founding fathers would come away with a totally different reading of their intentions. We had just finished a war of liberation from a empire which derived much of its political power from a state church, used as a vehicle of oppression and control. the last thing that these men and behind the scene women wanted was to in anyway to establish anykind of supported religion. 
    I will post more tomorrow, another Typhoon is coming and I have to prepare for it.
    As Mr. Spock would say “live long and prosper”

  16. Thanks, Larkinsjapn!  If you want to hang out, you can usually find me here.

    This is a really good thread – our local newspaper has a section they call “Values,” where I have seen “From The Pulpit” guest editorials that mirror Limbaugh’s anti-Humanist screed but never anything about Humanist values.  I wrote to the paper’s features’ editor asking to contribute an article about humanist values but did not get a reply.

  17. Les said:

    The only way to combat that sort of deception is to try and educate people and encourage them to look into the claims being made by those who would presume to lead them. So I do my little part to get the word out.

    It’s way better than a “little” part but you could do more, you know. You could enter the political arena. American politics could really benefit from a mind like yours……

  18. (Les) could enter the political arena.

    When pigs will fly, I mean when atheists can be elected to public office.

    Now, I’ll grant you that somebody has to go first, but…

  19. Back in the ‘60’s you could get in a lot of trouble in Russia if you were caught with Levis’ jeans or recordings of Rock ‘n Roll.  Those old commies knew what they were doing:  “How you gonna keep ‘em down on the (collective) once they’ve had a taste of gay Pairee?

  20. What a desperate blowhard!! I might have shrugged this Limbaugh idiot (brother of equally idiotic Rush) off as some steaming lunatic if his comments were not so fucking disturbing; I might have been able to laugh at his diatribe if it weren’t so sad. Personally, I’ll take happy, sunny secularist American anyday over dark, medieval Christian-controlled America.

  21. I do hope you realize that 55 members that wrote the constitution were active members of their christian church so to say that the radical so called religious right group who basis their beliefs on the same set of religious values that our founding fathers did is contrary to what the constitution entails is absolutely ludicrous. You people are border-line insane. Tristing the framework in which the country was built upon to satisfy and justify your horribly mislead views. James Madison said and I quote “we have staked our future in the ability to follow the Ten Commandments with all our hearts.” I suppose these same people would be considered the ultra right evil conservatives today. You people never cease to amaze me with your insane interpretation of the constitution. Do us all a favor and keep your liberal twisted views to yourself. You, who want to promote abortion which is first degree murder. Not argueable in the least. So keep on lying and twisting the truth. This nation was founded on the gospel of Jesus Christ who was a sinless man and would never condone things such as abortion. You people are a complete disgrace.

  22. Yawn.

    The one question I’d like an answer for is that if the US was founded as a Christian nation, why is the matter even open to debate? You would think that the legal paperwork would unambigously demonstrate it, wouldn’t it?

  23. elwed and Swine – you guys said it!

    Shermy isn’t worth the effort.
    He doesn’t seem to know US history very well.
    Signing someone’s work does not make you an author.

    Madison did not say what Shermy says he said…

    “No such quote has ever been found among any of James Madison’s writings. None of the biographers of Madison, past or present have ever run across such a quote, and most if not all would love to know where this false quote originated.”

    Pro-choice does not equal pro-abortion dumbshit.

    Jesus did not exist and this country was founded by the power of “We the People” not a god, not a king.

    Shermy is a complete disgrace, a product of the piss-poor education system of this country.

    Hey Shermy, if you wanna piss with the big boys you’re gonna have to do a lot better than that!

  24. “border-line insane” poster aka Sherma Smith,

    If abortion is 1st degree murder, why did the Catholic Church (which was the only church during a large percentage of this time period) say that abortion before the quickening of the baby (roughly week 17-18) was okay from the time of Saint Augustine until the reign of Pope Pius IX? It seems that you are the one that likes “[t]risting the framework in which the country was built upon [and history in general] to satisfy and justify your horribly mislead views.”

  25. “Religious Liberty” is the Christian mantra you hear when the Seperating between church & state comes up.
    These people are clueless, products of religious upbringing which has clearly damaged their thinking & reasoning mind.

    As you can tell Christians always think its them that is being denied something because they are simply not allowed to proselytize in Federal/State institutions.

    That fear is unfounded, In fact there are many many instances that Christians break the law and have been for years.

    It is true, the phrase “separation of church and state” does not actually appear anywhere in the Constitution. There is a problem, however, in that some people draw incorrect conclusions from this fact. The absence of this phrase does not mean that it is an invalid concept or that it cannot be used as a legal or judicial principle.

    There are any number of important legal concepts which do not appear in the Constitution with the exact phrasing people tend to use. For example, nowhere in the Constitution will you find words like “right to privacy” or even “right to a fair trial.” Does this mean that no American citizen has a right to privacy or a fair trial? Does this mean that no judge should ever invoke these rights when reaching a decision?

    Of course not – the absence of these specific words does not mean that there is also an absence of these ideas.
    The right to a fair trial, for example, is necessitated by what is in the text because what we do find simply makes no moral or legal sense otherwise in the 6th Amendment.
    There is nothing there about a “fair trial,” but what should be clear is that this Amendment is setting up the conditions for fair trials: public, speedy, impartial juries, information about the crimes and laws, etc. The Constitution does not specifically say that you have a right to a fair trial, but the rights created only make sense on the premise that a right to a fair trial exists. Thus, if the government found a way to fulfill all of the above obligations while also making a trial unfair, the courts would hold those actions to be unconstitutional.

    Similarly, courts have found that the principle of a “religious liberty” exists behind in the First Amendment, even if those words are not actually there:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”…

    The point of such an amendment is twofold. First, it ensures that religious beliefs – private or organized – are removed from attempted government control. This is the reason why the government cannot tell either you or your church what to believe or to teach. This is why such complete lunatics like Pat Robertson & Jerry Falwell have carte Blanche to preach their divine Hatred nation wide 24/7 on TV Second, it ensures that the government does not get involved with enforcing, mandating, or promoting particular religious doctrines. This is what happens when the government “establishes” a church – and because doing so created so many problems in Europe, the authors of the Constitution wanted to try and prevent the same from happening here.

    Can anyone deny that the First Amendment guarantees the principle of religious liberty, even though those words do not appear there? Similarly, the First Amendment guarantees the principle of the separation of church and state – by implication, because separating church and state is what allows religious liberty to exist.

    This is precisely what Jefferson both inferred in his writing of it and argued vehemently for, so did I might add most all of the founding fathers Christians included & powers that be at that time, This exact point was argued and laid to rest 200 years ago. The only reason it is brought up today is ignorance of the law, the Constitution and its implied principle.

  26. Sherman:

    You just can’t make it that easy.  rolleyes 

    Spocko:

    “If you wanna piss with the big boys….”  You kill.

    Regards,

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