Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Theocracy Polls

Here are the results of the recent polls. Shuck and Jive readers appear for the most part to know the importance of separating church and state. I wonder how these results would compare with the country at large? I can think of no reason except theocratic (or prejudice) for basing U.S. law on the bible, officially endorsing Jesus Christ, denying marriage to same-sex couples, or teaching intelligent design.

Upon What Guide Should the United States Base Its Law and Governance?
The Holy Bible
5 (5%)
The U.S. Constitution
83 (89%)
Don't Know
5 (5%)
Don't Care
0 (0%)

Should the United States Government Officially Endorse Jesus Christ as Lord?
Yes
9 (9%)
No
81 (89%)
Don't Know
0 (0%)
Don't Care
1 (1%)

Should Civil Marriage Be A Right For Same-Sex Couples?
Yes
63 (69%)
No
25 (27%)
Don't Know
0 (0%)
Don't Care
3 (3%)

Should Intelligent Design be Taught Alongside the Theory of Evolution in Public Schools?
Yes
24 (25%)
No
68 (72%)
Don't Know
1 (1%)
Don't Care
1 (1%)






30 comments:

  1. All right, fess up. Who are the 5-9 theocrats and/or Canadians?

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  2. Ahh, Canadian terrorists infiltrating my blog poll, eh?

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  3. I know some Canadians who think we should stop pretending in the whole freedom of religion thing already and get on with it, eh? It's tempting: I think Jesus would give a much better State of the Union speech than George W. Bush.

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  4. I wonder what kind of response you would have gotten if you asked:
    "Should the United States Government Officially Endorse a Formal Recognition of God?" instead of
    "Should the United States Government Officially Endorse Jesus Christ as Lord?"

    Any opinions?

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  5. Hey Rachel,

    I think more people would say yes to that. I would still vote no. My reason is that "God" is a meaningless term outside of a specific faith tradition or speculative philosophy. Using it discriminates against those who do not affirm it. There is no need for it.

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  6. Dear John,
    Your remarks strike a potentially fatal blow at the concept of the divine origin of our rights granted in the Declaration of Independence, and unlocks the door for an easy entry of future tyranny.

    "If Americans should ever come to believe that their rights and freedoms are instituted among men by politicians and bureaucrats, then they will no longer carry the proud inheritance of their forefathers, but will grovel before their masters seeking favors and dispensations--a throwback to the Feudal System of the Dark Ages. We must ever keep in mind the inspired words of Thomas Jefferson, as found in the Declaration of Independence:

    'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.' "

    -Ezra Taft Benson, Former Secretary of State of Agriculture

    What do you think?

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  7. Rachel,

    That was cute. Touche.

    John,

    Do you think its roughly the same 25% that want to teach ID in school that also want to define marriage as only between a man and a woman?

    But then they want the constitution to be their legislative guide, not the bible.

    Humm...

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  8. Hey Rachel,

    Thomas Jefferson was a Deist at most. The tyranny that Jefferson was against was the tyranny of creed. Jefferson's god was a god of his own making, the god of 18th century Enlightenment. I don't think you can get much more secular than Jefferson in his time.

    All laws have been made by human beings whether attributed to divine beings or not.

    Jefferson was a forerunner of secular humanism. We don't need gods or creeds to govern justly. If Jefferson were alive today, he might have written something like this:

    "All human beings have evolved with consciousness and as such have an understanding that humankind has certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

    You don't need a divine being to value humanity and human rights.

    If you must, you could do like 12 step programs and affirm a "higher power." That higher power would be whatever the individual understood it to be. Gravity, Universe, Evolution, No-Thing, Goddess, Flying Spaghetti Monster, Oxygen, Wisdom, Truth, Love, Allah, Jesus, etc.

    That is how I understand Jefferson's "Creator" and other references to "God" in government. It is an undefinable term that refers on the practical level to human rights.

    The real issue, as I see it, is that there are many in our country who are moving us toward a theocracy, more specifically a creedocracy, in which the "Creator" is to be defined as some form of a Christian Creator. In this situation human beings who do not affirm this deity become second-class citizens.

    That is the tyranny from which Jefferson and our Founders wanted to avoid.

    Hey Jodie,

    You got my point of the questions, of course. ID and discrimination against gays is an expression of a religious creed.

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  9. Concerning poll #1...

    Upon What Guide Should the United States Base Its Law and Governance?


    I think the "I don't know" crowd scares me the most.

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  10. Sorry John,

    I am in stark disagreement with you. It is absurd to even worry about the issue of separation of church and state. The candidates, Romney, Huckabee, and Tacredo were picked by the inside (Elite) group to distract the populace, through the media, into being worried about separation of church and state, inorder to attract more followers to the Dems to get Hillary in office. You really need to watch the documentary America: Freedom to Fascism, or visit the Michael Journal from Canada to learn more.

    Thanks Jodie, I like what you pointed out.

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  11. Well, everyone, I'll go out on the limb, here. (laughing) I was one who voted for the option to include a discussion of ID in our public schools. For me, it's a matter of academic freedom, and encouraging our young people to question the established orthodoxy.

    Not all scientists are Darwinian. Some have questions and intellectual problems with macro-evolution, not variation within a species.

    I was taught at a secular college by two professors with graduate degrees from Harvard who were proponents of ID. I see no harm in allowing kids to hear and evaluate these various arguments and positions.

    My thinking is that the decision is best left to parents, educators, to the local school districts.

    However, I'm also a proponent of gay marriage, and the ordination of partnered GLBT brothers and sisters in the church.
    So, there's not neccessarily a connection between these two positions, folks. :)

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  12. Hi everyone; greasons seetings and everything. Rachel, worrying about separation of church and state is "absurd," but thinking that Huckabee is part of a big conspiracy to elect Hillary isn't? That's way too far down conspiracy-land for me. I think we do have to remain vigilant to not allow our government to become a theocracy; it could happen y'know.

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  13. Also, I have to agree more with Rachael. I certainly don't feel that we are a Christian nation, or that all of the founding fathers were believers in Jesus Christ. And, certainly there should be no discrimination based on anyone's creed.

    But, the truth is our country has been founded in Judaeo-Christian heritage. Even our common law reflects this. We weren't established as a secular state either where there can be no mention of God or religion in the public square.

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  14. In 1800, Thomas Jefferson, running for President, wrote a letter to his friend Dr. Benjamin Rush, which he asked Rush to hide until after the election was over, fearing reprisal by the churches. A sentence fragment is inscribed on the wall of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington and is misleading.

    Jefferson wrote:
    "I promised you a letter on Christianity, which I have not forgotten. On the contrary, it is because I have reflected on it, that I find much more time necessary for it than I can at present dispose of. I have a view of the subject which ought to displease neither the rational Christian nor Deists, and would reconcile many to a character they have too hastily rejected. do not know that it would reconcile the genus irritabile vatum [angry priest] who are all in arms against me. Their hostility is on too interesting ground to be softened. [...] The successful experiment made under the prevalence of that delusion on the clause of the constitution [First Amendment], which, while it secured the freedom of the press, covered also the freedom of religion, had given to the clergy a very favorite hope of obtaining an establishment of a particular form of Christianity thro' the U. S.; and as every sect believes its own form the true one, every one perhaps hoped for his own, but especially the Episcopalians & Congregationalists. The returning good sense of our country threatens abortion to their hopes, & they believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly; for I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

    Jefferson was not only not a Christian (he did not believe in the divinity of Jesus), he actively fought against the big churches that wanted to force their way into government. Both Jefferson and Madison fought to keep religion out of government and vice versa, as Madison put it: "the purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe with blood for centuries."

    In the Declaration, Jefferson struggled with whether or not to put in the "Creator" reference. He specifically did not want the Christian God (in which he and a lot of the founders did not believe) in the Declaration, but wanted an appeal to the ideal of Nature. He was to some extent a believer in general revelation, the idea that scientific study of nature could be just as valid a window (if not more) into the mind of God as the Bible. Therefore, he very consciously makes his appeal in the name of "the Laws of Nature and Nature's God", a deist (what we would now call Unitarian) God.

    Were the founders products of what happened to be a society with an established Christian church? Sure. They were all white men as well. Saying that they founded the country on Christian values is no different than saying they founded it on "white values" or "male values". They consciously decided to push that aside in the name of Liberty.

    Again, the Constitution does not mention God. The only times religion is brought up (Article VI, First Amendment) is to prohibit government from getting involved.

    As an aside, I hate the term "Judeo-Christian values". It's designed to sound slightly more inclusive than it is. The logic is that Christianity sprung from Judaism. Fine. Then let's be honest and say that we're taking over the nation in the name of "Judeo-Islamo-Christian values". It's not fair to leave out that entire tradition.

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  15. I agree with Grace....sorta. I have no problem with ID (ie. Creationism-Lite) being taught in schools, outside of science classes. But I interpreted the "alongside the theory of evolution" to mean that it would be taught as a scientific theory, which it clearly isn't.

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  16. Hi Grace,

    At the risk of reopening a subject everybody is tired of, I think its OK to teach ID as long as its taught as religion not science.

    Reasonable people can disagree on this, but my reason for saying I don't want ID taught in public schools is because except in really small homogeneous communities, I don't think the public school system is a good place to teach religion. People get too emotional about how religion is taught to their kids.

    Best to just stay out of it.

    Just out of nosiness, in what fields did your Harvard educated professors have degrees?

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  17. Fly,

    Maybe we have to agree to disagree. I'm feeling that the whole purpose of this concept of the seperation of church and state was to prevent the establishment of a state supported church, which did lead to such bloodshed in Europe, and also to prevent govt. from being able to control and interfere in the affairs of any church.

    But, yet, the constitutions of every single state in the U.S. reference God, as well as the Declaration of Independence.

    I'm feeling we need to find some middle ground here between the secular progressives, and the extreme religious right.

    But, hey, Fly, I want you to know from my heart, that even if we totally disagree, I love you as a brother in Christ.

    As far as I"m concerned, our unity with each other is in Jesus, not in agreement concerning all these political issues, or even whether ID should be taught in the public schools, or not. :)

    God bless!

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  18. Hi, Jodie,

    They were both biologists.

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  19. Grace,

    Actually I'm not surprised.

    No wonder there is so much confusion in the popular literature.

    There seems to a concerted effort among some religious organizations to have their members go through the motions of getting advanced science degrees only to promote religion with scientific credentials. It's dishonest and muddles people's thinking.

    ID appeals to the supernatural to explain natural observations and so by definition it is not a science.

    Science and religion got divorced centuries ago, and so far that has been a good thing for both. I don't think they are ready to reconcile. Maybe in a few more centuries, who knows.

    Come think of it, philosophically it is like the separation of Church and State. Its a good thing, both for the Church and for the State.

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  20. Rachel, worrying about separation of church and state is "absurd," .

    Hey guys, that was absurd of me to make that statement. Let me explain to you what I really meant.

    I am worried about separation of church and state. If you read some of my previous comments on other blogs, I said there is a war happening between religious, pseudo-religious, and secularists.
    What do I mean by that?
    Religious people are those who understand Christ teachings of love, compassion, and goodwill to all men. He also taught that everyone is allowed to worship how they wish. His concept is a Universal principle. I consider Reverend Shuck a religious person even though he seems to favor scientism or some other New Age religion. I am a Deist just like Jefferson and A. Einstein, which John and flycandler elogantly explained. I consider myself religious. I love all people and I respect their freedom.
    So who are the pseudo-religious people. These are extreme fundalmentalists who believe that their religion is the only religion that should be practiced on the face of the Earth. They don't fully comprehend the teachings of Mahommad, Christ, Buddha, etc. Do I think Extreme Fundalmentalists of the Islam or Christianity faith will win this battle, NO. I believe the extreme fundamentalist who want NO GOD in the picture will win. These are pseudo-religious secularists people who have lost thier way due to material wealth. In gothic terms, they are posessed by demons and they want to enslave the world and create some kind of Utopia and ultra human, just like Hitler. We are not free unless we have a right to life, liberty, and property, including worshipping how we wish.

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  21. And just to set things straight. I don't believe ID should be taught as science either. But as John mentioned in an earlier blog, I believe that we should have a religion/cultural curriculum made mandatory for our students. Do you think that will happen? They don't even make ecology mandatory.

    As for civil marriage for GBLT couples, I'm undecided.

    Personally, I think marriage is overrated and that we should do away with and of the legalites or government invlovemnet. It should be strictly a person thing between two people-spritual or whatever.

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  22. Science and religion got divorced centuries ago, and so far that has been a good thing for both. I don't think they are ready to reconcile. Maybe in a few more centuries, who knows.

    I don't think they will ever reconcile. Science is materialistic. Religion is transcendental.

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  23. Did anybody watch the video America: Freedom to Fascism?

    If so, what did you think?

    I really want to believe it's not true!

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  24. Hey All,

    I am sure thrilled you are all here with all these varying and important viewpoints.

    Rachel wrote:

    "Religious people are those who understand Christ teachings of love, compassion, and goodwill to all men. He also taught that everyone is allowed to worship how they wish. His concept is a Universal principle. I consider Reverend Shuck a religious person even though he seems to favor scientism or some other New Age religion."

    I am going to take that as a compliment. Thank You! Although I do wince a bit at the words scientism and New Age. But I have been called many things far more graphic.

    I do consider myself a Christian, but not much of one. Maya Angelou said famously that someone came up to her and said, "I am a Christian!" Maya responded: "Already?"


    Rachel,

    I am going to do a post on that film you recommended. I saw it last night and it gave me a lot to think about. Thank you...

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  25. Jodie,

    I can understand how you might think in this way. But, honestly, I don't think this is where these professors were at. They has started as theistic evolutionists, but then became persuaded concerning ID, by examining evidence that they felt did not best fit into a Darwinian paradigm.

    They were totally accepting of microevolution, variation within a species, but not persuaded of the truth of macro-evolution, the transitions between species.

    I'm by no means an expert in this field, and it's been awhile since I"ve even studied all of this. But, if I'm remembering correctly, I was able to understand why sincere, informed people might disagree.

    For me, this is one of those issues that is not central to the gospel, and I think folks in the church especially, should just agree to disagree. Either way, I don't see the whole matter as some kind of litmus test.

    I definitely don't think, though, that the churches should host things such as "Evolution Sunday." To me, this is very exclusive and even insulting toward folks who are persuaded concerning ID. Should they all just sit home that week? :)

    I think it would be far better to host open forums where people of all persuasions can freely debate, share, and discuss together in a respectful matter. To me, this would be a much better way to show openness, and the love of Jesus Christ toward each other, and as a witness to the world as well.

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  26. **ID appeals to the supernatural to explain natural observations and so by definition it is not a science. **

    I think this gets at the heart of the conflict between the two. By definition, science looks for natural causes to natural occurances. In order to include something like ID, science itself has to be redefined. I think it was at the Dover trial where Michael Behe admitted that if science was re-defined to include ID, then astrology would also fit as a science.

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  27. Glad you mentioned Evolution Sunday. It is now called Evolution Weekend. It will be February 8-10, 2008. 521 scientists from around the country are lending their expertise. 586 congregations have signed on. Has yours?

    If religion has anything to do with telling the truth, then Evolution Sunday is certainly part of religion.

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  28. If religion has anything to do with telling the truth, then Evolution Sunday is certainly part of religion.

    Here, here! I agree absolutely. ID is an appeal to the "God of the Gaps" that has long since been repudiated by philosophers and theologians as untenable. It is essentially an unscientific falsehood, perpetrated on the faithful by those who are desperately trying to fight a rearguard action against the juggernaut of evidence in favor of scientific evolution. I think that churches have a duty to promote evolution precisely because so many people have tried to make opposition to evolution a religious issue.

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  29. Grace, the Alabama state constitution requires segregated public schools. It is unenforceable by the state because the Federal Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board that it is in violation of the U.S. Constitution and the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection.

    Similarly, inclusions of "God" in state constitutions (or, as in the case of Texas and Arkansas, a prohibition on atheists holding public office) are considered unenforceable and meaningless. "In God We Trust" is allowed on currency because the courts ruled that it is used so often that it has no specific religious meaning anymore.

    God was consciously left out of the United States Constitution and with very good reason. Think about it: would you want Congress declaring that we are a "Muslim Nation" or a "Scientology Nation"? We ignore this gift of the founders at our peril.

    My point is this: I want government the hell out of my church and the church the hell out of my government. As a member of a minority group within the Christian faith (let's not kid ourselves, Presbyterians), it is almost certain that the "brand" of Christianity imposed on us would not be my own.

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  30. God was consciously left out of the United States Constitution and with very good reason. Think about it: would you want Congress declaring that we are a "Muslim Nation" or a "Scientology Nation"? We ignore this gift of the founders at our peril.


    Yeah, it's funny how those who think that "God" or "religion" should serve as the foundation of the nation always happen, by the sheerest of coincidences, to mean their God and their religion. You're right that the same people who say they want God or religion to be center of American public life really want to establish the primacy of their own beliefs. The minority, or those who don't conform, are of course excluded, and deliberately so. Any attempt at giving religion a central place in society is fundamentally undemocratic because it deliberately excludes those with differing beliefs from the officially pronounced faith. But maybe that's the whole point--the idea is to exclude and make into second class citizens those people with differing beliefs.

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