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Old 03-05-2004, 09:09 AM   #1 (permalink)
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A christian nation??

Maybe this belongs in philo. Perhaps not, though, since this often comes up here in politics.



So i've heard the comments and the characterizations of the u.s. as being founded on christian values. From my admittedly limited religious schooling i find that hard to believe in light of the fact that christ seemed to despise those who put the pursuit of money over the welfare of their fellow human beings.
The passage "it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven"(to roughly paraphrase) comes to mind. I think jesus would probably not favor "letting the market handle it" when it comes to anything involving the quality of human existence, since letting the market handle it essentially results in excluding the people with the least money. In america we worship the market, not jesus. We worship the market like it is some some kind of polytheistic god of prosperity. Occasionally offering up sacrifices in the form of mass layoffs, and outsourcing- suffering be damned, we must feed the market. It seems ironic in this america founded allegedly on christian values that we use the economy as a measure of our success rather than the quality of life of all our citizens.

Which brings me to my main point. The idea of america as a fundamentally christian nation and by implied extension "god's country" is bullshit. I think it is used to justify positions and perspectives that otherwise make very little sense. America is blatantly on the opposite side of what jesus taught in so many instances that to claim america as a christian nation is like a pothead trying to claim sobriety because he doesn't drink.

Joint hanging off his lips he declines a sip from the bottle with a "No thanks, i'm straightedge"

50% plus divorce rates, poor people freezing to death under bridges, america declines to endorse gay marriage claiming "Sorry, but i'm a good christian".

It is very clear to me that america worships the almighty dollar at all times, while only invoking christianity when it is convenient.


What do you think? Does america have any claim on divine favor? Or is that something some christians need to tell themselves to help them sleep at night?
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Old 03-05-2004, 09:34 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I completely agree. The moral majority in this country uses the bible to justify limiting of social rights but feels no qualms about lowering taxes to the detriment of programs that feed the poor or educate the masses. There seems to be a great willingness in this country to force ones moral interpretation of the bible onto others but when it comes to funding programs that carry out the kind of selfless love that Jesus advocated the moral majority backs away saying "it's my money and i don't have to share it with the lazy shiftless poor."

The worst part is that somehow the leaders of the extreme right have convinced poor Christians to join their fight much to their personal detriment. Poor people in religious communities are voting to live without health insurance and send their children to failing schools because they have been convinced that the only Christian thing to do is to vote for the guy who is anti-homosexual, anti-abortion, anti-separation of church and state unfortunately this same guy seems all too often to also be anti-poor.

Of course most people (Christian or not) want to help the poor, they want good education for all, they want universal health care and they believe in the general message that Jesus delivered -- unfortunately too many of us are not willing to make a personal sacrifice.

Last edited by brianna; 03-05-2004 at 09:36 AM..
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Old 03-05-2004, 09:46 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by brianna
-- unfortunately too many of us are not willing to make a personal sacrifice.

Well, there is a huge difference between choosing to make a personal sacrifice and having it forced on you by the government in the form of taxes that they, not you, decide how to spend.
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Old 03-05-2004, 09:58 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally posted by Lebell
Well, there is a huge difference between choosing to make a personal sacrifice and having it forced on you by the government in the form of taxes that they, not you, decide how to spend.
No, there's not. Not when you vote for a person who advocates cutting welfare and education and art programs and working against universal health care and social security all in favor of giving you back some tax money. Your argument would be valid if the majority of Christians (and hell the majority of PEOPLE) took their tax return money and spent it on helping the poor and disenfranchised -- but we don't. And if you're not claiming some moral superiority as a Christian than i don't fault you quite so much for buying that big screen tv but if you're going to act as if you live jesus' message everyday you have to do more than just preach about who you think deserves to go to hell -- you have to support the programs that help the poor. It would be nice if we didn't need such programs -- if the haves among us were willing without government intervention to help the have nots -- but clearly that is not the case.
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Old 03-05-2004, 10:05 AM   #5 (permalink)
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First off America is not solely a christian nation. But hey the people who colonized America came here for religious freedom. You can clearly see the Judeo-Christian influence in our founding, laws, and moral constructs. I'd say America is more of a theist nation then a secular nation, it just so happens that the majority of the people (maybe plurality) are Christian.
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Old 03-05-2004, 10:11 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by brianna
No, there's not.
I guess we'll have to agree to disagree then.
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Old 03-05-2004, 10:52 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by brianna
No, there's not. Not when you vote for a person who advocates cutting welfare and education and art programs and working against universal health care and social security all in favor of giving you back some tax money. Your argument would be valid if the majority of Christians (and hell the majority of PEOPLE) took their tax return money and spent it on helping the poor and disenfranchised -- but we don't. And if you're not claiming some moral superiority as a Christian than i don't fault you quite so much for buying that big screen tv but if you're going to act as if you live jesus' message everyday you have to do more than just preach about who you think deserves to go to hell -- you have to support the programs that help the poor. It would be nice if we didn't need such programs -- if the haves among us were willing without government intervention to help the have nots -- but clearly that is not the case.
The government has no place giving my money to someone else period. You want to force me to do what you think is good, at gunpoint, often quite literally.

Yet people whine about the religious right? When they threaten to close your business or take your house because you haven't giving to the church or prayed lately then come whining about it. Thats what the IRS does.
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Old 03-05-2004, 11:18 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ustwo
The government has no place giving my money to someone else period. You want to force me to do what you think is good, at gunpoint, often quite literally.
i'm not trying to force you to do anything, i'm just saying that people who claim to live by the bible should be as willing to support programs that help the poor as they are to go out and protest at abortion clinics.
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Old 03-05-2004, 11:23 AM   #9 (permalink)
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The government has both a legal and moral right to take a portion of private incomes to spend on public goods... and I do not think America is a Christian nation, there seem to be two America's, the America of the youth, the students, the politically conscious workers - and then the conservative, christian right America, which is repressive, intolerant, and mistrusts everyone.

It is very hard for these two countries to reconcile themselves into a common purpose.
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Old 03-05-2004, 11:41 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by brianna
No, there's not. Not when you vote for a person who advocates cutting welfare and education and art programs and working against universal health care and social security all in favor of giving you back some tax money. Your argument would be valid if the majority of Christians (and hell the majority of PEOPLE) took their tax return money and spent it on helping the poor and disenfranchised -- but we don't. And if you're not claiming some moral superiority as a Christian than i don't fault you quite so much for buying that big screen tv but if you're going to act as if you live jesus' message everyday you have to do more than just preach about who you think deserves to go to hell -- you have to support the programs that help the poor. It would be nice if we didn't need such programs -- if the haves among us were willing without government intervention to help the have nots -- but clearly that is not the case.
I say let Darwinism rule, let the weak perish, thin the heard.

As Ustwo has said, why should I be forced to help anyone?

If someones "art" cannot support them, should I have to endow them? I think not.
Im not even getting into welfare, work or let yourself die, its simple.

Call me cruel, call me evil, does not matter to me....Being weak is a choice.
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Old 03-05-2004, 11:43 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mojo_PeiPei
First off America is not solely a christian nation. But hey the people who colonized America came here for religious freedom. You can clearly see the Judeo-Christian influence in our founding, laws, and moral constructs. I'd say America is more of a theist nation then a secular nation, it just so happens that the majority of the people (maybe plurality) are Christian.
true enough, but the religious condition during the periods of colonization and intensive european settlement of the new world in the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries was quite complex from a socio-political perspective. the conflicts over english state religions were localized. religious wars between catholic and protestant monarchies in europe went global and poured over into trade and colonization, touching all facets of society as nation-states developed. persecution was rampant within factions of christian religions, and the mediterranean region was rife with religious conflict between christian, jewish and muslim societies.

out of this context, the largely unregulated and wild american colonies presented a refuge for groups seeking religious freedom, but that did not necessarily mean they were tolerant in offering reciprocal freedom to others who did not fall in line with their beliefs. the plymouth colony and other new england settlements were established by fanatic separatists. they were violently opposed to papists, for instance. a large community of portuguese jews settled in port royal jamaica, and were victims of intense anti-semitism, even in the lawless haven of buccaneering and privateering. it was worse in north america.

soon after declaring independence, the united states found itself facing a serious threat to commerce with muslim pirates in north africa. islam was a real and serious threat to the new nation, and christians did not tend to even recognize it as a legitimate religion.

the founding fathers were not referring to jews and muslims when they framed the first amendment. many of the signers held the common view that the slave trade was actually moral, because captive africans were baptized and therefore saved. their world view and moral standards did not consider other religions. freedom of religion was part of a larger compromise to unite the states so that they could survive in the world arena, but it was focused on the many protestant varieties of christianity that conflicted and co-existed in north america.

that the open wording of the simple phrase allows broader interpretation today when our perceptions have matured is a testament to how good the basic framework of the constitution really is.

christianity is actually a pretty scary religion to those not in it. while jesus christ was a social radical who preached love and tolerance, a number of caveats to his simple message have been added since his martyrdom. stemming from catholicism, all christian religions share the basic tennet (or threat) that the unbaptized are condemned to hell: either you believe what we believe and do it our way, or you burn in the fire. and we're praying for the day when our guy will rise from the dead and give you what for.
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Old 03-05-2004, 11:45 AM   #12 (permalink)
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i agree with you there strange, america has pretty much divided itself into two.

let me compare Britain and the States for examples of a christian country by nature, and a christain country by thought.

for thousands of years, britain has been a christian society, our basic laws and morals are based around it, along with our whole society.
this is where religion becomes the state, and what the induvidual choses to believe after that is their choice. this can be seen in most european cultures.

in america, what we see is a very large area where religion has put itself away in a corner and not done much while the rest of the country has done it's own thing.
but, because everyones in the same boat, everyone gets overly annoyed at each other, because, in theory, religion is just an extra thing, seperated from the state.
but, because america is based upon governing practices set out in britain and other european nations, you still have the last bit of general nastyness when the two cultures combine, especially because both are so powerful.


ok, that was a complete and utter ramble about general rubbish, but in answer to your question, no, americans don't have any divine right to call on, just superimposed beliefs.
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Old 03-05-2004, 11:46 AM   #13 (permalink)
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The amount the government spends on welfare is paltry compared to what it spends on social security, medicare, defense, and paying interest on the debt. Is making a bunch of rich foreign investors richer a better return on our money than say, skill training for unemployed/unskilled labor that will return to the workforce a much more productive member than when he left it?
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Last edited by Sparhawk; 03-05-2004 at 11:50 AM..
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Old 03-05-2004, 11:51 AM   #14 (permalink)
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I figure religion is important to a lot of people. A large percentage of them seem to need to inject it into the public lives of the rest of us. We're more tolerant of them than they are of us.

They do form a significant political voice however and so they are set up to be used by smart politicians - just like many other special-interest groups. I distinguish between the actual constituents and the politicians who manipulate them wisely, IMO.
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Old 03-05-2004, 11:56 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ustwo
The government has no place giving my money to someone else period.
that would leave us to believe you own stock in halliburton since you aren't outraged at the government pouring your tax dollars directly into their bottom line...

i agree with your statement, the government has no business spending my tax dollars anywhere outside the government. and that goes double for private corporations - they have plenty of business opportunities on the open marketplace.
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Old 03-05-2004, 12:01 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by reconmike
I say let Darwinism rule, let the weak perish, thin the heard.

As Ustwo has said, why should I be forced to help anyone?

If someones "art" cannot support them, should I have to endow them? I think not.
Im not even getting into welfare, work or let yourself die, its simple.

Call me cruel, call me evil, does not matter to me....Being weak is a choice.
And the point of the state is that you are not allowed to make this choice, you are forced to contribute to the social fund, whether or not you wish to. I wonder, do you extend your views to children and the elderly? (grannies too old to work...? let her die...)
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Old 03-05-2004, 12:32 PM   #17 (permalink)
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The founding father in many ways used Manifest Destiny to legitimze our movement westward. Christianity or Religion in general has always played a large role in american politics. Now yes it is a rather manipulated and distorted religion they wave. To say we were founded on Christianity, i wouldn't quite believe that. I think it played a role as many other factors in history did. Jefferson himself created his own Bible he blacked out and ripped certain parts of the Bible he didn't agree with. Now that's not really christianity as the common folk know it. America has/will use our Distorted Christanity to create this or that rite, so that we are often the "Savior" of the world. We are about as Christian in practice as a saddist, so many deviant buisness practices you can't even name them all...oh well. Onward Christian Soilders...what the fuck ever.
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Old 03-05-2004, 12:41 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
I say let Darwinism rule, let the weak perish, thin the heard.

As Ustwo has said, why should I be forced to help anyone?

If someones "art" cannot support them, should I have to endow them? I think not.
Im not even getting into welfare, work or let yourself die, its simple.

Call me cruel, call me evil, does not matter to me....Being weak is a choice.
Being weak is a choice is not Darwinism.. Being weak because you are born weak is Darwinism..

You're talking Nietzsche.. don't raise up people because they can either raise themselves up or not. To do so for them is artificial and wrong.
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Old 03-05-2004, 01:01 PM   #19 (permalink)
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ok let's get on task folks -- this issue of this thread is not weather or not you should be forced to fund social programs. The discussion point that filtherton raised is whether or not it is hypocritical for some American to insist that we are a Christian nation when we appear to value monetary gain above Christian principles. If we agree that the country is not obligated to adhere to Christian beliefs in regards to money than we should also acknowledge that the Christian moral code should not be imposed upon the country.
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Old 03-05-2004, 01:13 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Quote:
weather or not you should be forced to fund social programs
Answer: NO. But by not funding them, the citizen revokes access to them
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Old 03-05-2004, 01:19 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Thank you, brianna.

I don't think it can be claimed that christianity was a motivation for the development of america. At least not in the "america was made by and for jesus" kind of way. Clearly, genocide and the amorality of the old west was far from what one might assume christ would want. I don't think a case could be made by anyone (except maybe someone in the christian identity movement)that slavery was something christ would have endorsed.
Manifest destiny and slavery are both hugely important factors to consider when you think about how our country was formed. Where do these things fit in with the "Judeo-Christian influence in our founding, laws, and moral constructs"?

If i were in the process of studying america's history and somebody told me that the formation of america was largely influenced by christianity what would i be able to infer about christianity based on solely that info?
Judeo chrisitan values are, among other things: genocide, slavery, war, class division, xenophobia and racism violent resisitance to any form of labor or civil rights, subjugation of women etc. (I'm leaving out all the positive things people usually think of to make a point. I'm not trying to claim that america is unredeemable.)

I'm not saying christianity hasn't played a role. Just that anyone who claims that america is founded on christian values isn't telling you the whole truth, and is probably selling something.
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Old 03-05-2004, 02:02 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by reconmike
I say let Darwinism rule, let the weak perish, thin the heard.

As Ustwo has said, why should I be forced to help anyone?

If someones "art" cannot support them, should I have to endow them? I think not.
Im not even getting into welfare, work or let yourself die, its simple.

Call me cruel, call me evil, does not matter to me....Being weak is a choice.
Weren't you forced to help people in the military?
Where's the darwinism in that? Darwinism would be letting the "weak" people of kuwait and iraq fend for themselves.

Being weak isn't a choice. In fact, i double dog dare you to go into a special ed class at your daughter's school and inform one of those kids that they only have themselves to blame for their weakness.
I know some people love to think that everybody has the exact same abilities and opportunities because it soothes their conscience, but I think it is a product of faulty reasoning to believe that everybody has what it takes to be self sufficient.
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