continuing proofs America is wacko

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continuing proofs America is wacko

Post by halfwise on Wed Feb 22, 2012 5:33 pm

Since it's popped up on various threads, I think it's time to gather all the proofs together. This is to celebrate nutball cultural trends that will only be seen in America. Typically around here when the president leans to the left, the wackos in the right get stirred up, and vice versa. Given the current president we lead with a politician from the right (being elected indicates a social trend, and my guess is he may be re-elected). There's sure to be some equal wackiness from the left, they've just been a little preoccupied acting smug for the last few years.

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/02/no-do-si-dos-here-indiana-republican-rips-girl-scouts/

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Re: continuing proofs America is wacko

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Wed Feb 22, 2012 5:42 pm

Wow! Thats insane, but at least everyone else seems to recognise its insane.
But would be good to know from an inside perspective on America just how religous it is, looking in from the outside there times when the US seems almost indistinguishable from countries run by religions. And that is frightening. But is it accurate?

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Re: continuing proofs America is wacko

Post by halfwise on Wed Feb 22, 2012 5:57 pm

Not accurate. The majority either have a sane approach to religion, or don't feel it's seemly to talk about it. There is a vocal somewhat crackpot vein, strong enough to tip elections, and loud enough to dominate the conversation. But it only takes about 5% to tip an election. Because these votes can be counted on if you just say the right thing, many politicians will go after this vote. The rest of the population is, well, I wouldn't say balanced in the way they go about choosing a candidate (they are typically too misinformed to make a wise choice), but their buttons are not so easily pushed.
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Re: continuing proofs America is wacko

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Wed Feb 22, 2012 6:07 pm

So in your view would someone get elected in the US who is openly athiest and who did not say God Bless America all the time because they did not believe in God?

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Re: continuing proofs America is wacko

Post by Eldorion on Wed Feb 22, 2012 6:12 pm

American is not a theocracy by any stretch of the imagination, but in much of the country being Christian is an unofficial requirement for office because many voters won't vote for a non-Christian. Heck, it was only fifty years ago that we had our first Catholic President. Every other President has been a Protestant. You've probably seen the hand-wringing over Romney being a Mormon. A ton of people freaked out when a Muslim was elected as a mere Representative.

Incidentally, this event in 2007 marked the first time there had ever been a Muslim elected to Congress. That year, 2007, was also the first year that a member of Congress openly admitted to being an atheist, something he hadn't mentioned for more than 30 years of public service. That's not surprising since, according to one study, anyway, religious Americans distrust atheists as much as they distrust rapists.

The U.S. Constitution prohibits religious requirements to hold public office and the Supreme Court affirmed this as early as the 19th century. However, a handful of states still have religious tests written into their constitutions, although these are overridden by the U.S. Constitution and are therefore not enforced. Nonetheless, this has no bearing on how many American citizens think and vote about non-Christians.
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Re: continuing proofs America is wacko

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Wed Feb 22, 2012 7:36 pm

I'm not sure if that helps or muddies the waters Eldo!

Are you saying that at the current time in the US a non Christian could not get elected President? If so that would seem to me to make the US no different to any other nutty religous state.

In the UK it is unusual to know what religion the PM is, or for anyone to really care, a sure fire way not to get elected here is to bring religion into your politics.

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Re: continuing proofs America is wacko

Post by halfwise on Wed Feb 22, 2012 7:57 pm

In America two strains are often linked together: blind faith in religion, and blind faith in America. Those most likely to get elected must show a starry-eyed faith in America, which means they must cater to a starry-eyed faith in religion. I don't see religion being decoupled from politics any time soon. What keeps it slipping into theocracy is that every single founding document and voice says they should be decoupled. So people are free to worship as they please here, and they keep coming for that fact....they just won't do well if they run for high office.
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Re: continuing proofs America is wacko

Post by halfwise on Wed Feb 22, 2012 8:04 pm

And while I don't think there will be a change in religion/politics (many would claim there's no reason to change it) I still hold out hope for two things that should change america for the better and are common sense enough they may happen.

1. Who ever brings a civil suit and loses should pay all legal costs of all involved. This would greatly reduce the sue-happy culture we have here, fixing the health care crisis along the way. It's largely due to doctors needing to protect themselves from lawsuits, so their costs are exorbitant.
2. The Dominique Strauss-Kahn case made it clear the French are right: journalists should not be able to take pictures or even report the names of suspects in criminal cases. It amounts to guilty until proved innocent.

Okay, that's not part of the America is Wacky theme, but there may be some connections.
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Re: continuing proofs America is wacko

Post by The Wobbit A Parody on Thu Feb 23, 2012 12:08 am

I feel that any official state religion is bad. I don't want the government teaching religion to my children, except in an historical context.

But let me say again (this may have come up in an old thread) that while most religions are responsible for at least SOME bad things, that's not because all religions are bad. I'm Lutheran, and I will freely admit that Martin Luther was anti-Semitic. That was about him as a person, with prejudices that were common in his time and place. His prejudices had nothing to do with his protests against the Roman Catholic Church, which became Lutheranism. It's true that Lutherans in Germany under Hitler did very little to protest The Final Solution. But that was despite my religion, not because of it.

It is as wrong to say that "religion is bad" as it is to say that "the absence of religion is good." While the 21st century is seeing a lot of death caused by minority religious fundamentalists, let's remember the cataclysmic genocides of the 20th century were caused by atheists: Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot. Those governments were not bad because they were atheist ones, but the absence of religion did nothing to make those governments good.
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Re: continuing proofs America is wacko

Post by Eldorion on Thu Feb 23, 2012 5:10 am

I'm not trying to say that all atheists are amazing, wonderful people; because the reality is that all groups have different sorts of people in them. Also, unfortunately, all groups have their violent wackos too. However, the difference between someone like Stalin or Mao and, say, the Inquisition or the Crusades is that Stalin wasn't killing because he was an atheist or in the name of atheism. Their ideologies were atheistic (though Soviet Communism had enough of its own "saints" and holidays that some scholars consider it to effectively be a religion) but it was other components of those ideologies that drove Stalin and Mao to mass-murder. Things like the Inquisition and the Crusades were inherently religious, though there were of course other factors at play as well. On the other hand, I don't really care to bring up such examples of either theists or atheists, because I think it's rather underhanded to make statements about a group based on their most extreme members (not saying that you're doing that, Paul!).

Also, going off on a tangent here, I mentioned Stalin and Mao specifically because Hitler wasn't an atheist. As far as I know his beliefs (insofar as we understand them at all) are hard to classify since Hitler drew from so many different (and contradictory) belief systems. He was definitely not a mainstream Christian - for example, he denied that Jesus was Jewish - but he espoused certain elements of Christian theology. For example, members of the Nazi Wehrmacht wore these belt buckles. The inscription translates to "God [is] with us".



In any event, on the original topic of the thread, I don't think it's controversial or unfair to say that it is not good to restrict who can hold public office on the basis of religion (either a specific religion or having religious beliefs of any sort), either formally or informally. That's not a criticism of religion; it just worries me when a society shuts people in a minority group out of political participation.
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Re: continuing proofs America is wacko

Post by David H on Thu Feb 23, 2012 7:32 am

A lot of the vocal atheists I've met over the years have been pretty nutty, to the point that I tend to lump them with the other proselytizing religious beliefs.

A candidate answering the question of his religion honestly when asked is one thing, but personally I'd never vote for anybody who made their religious faith or lack of faith a part of their platform, and I think a lot of Americans feel the same.

A president is understood to have personal beliefs, but he still is expected (or at least hoped) to be objective and impartial That's what would scare me most about an atheist. Just give me a good old fashioned agnostic please!
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Re: continuing proofs America is wacko

Post by Eldorion on Thu Feb 23, 2012 7:58 am

David H wrote:A president is understood to have personal beliefs, but he still is expected (or at least hoped) to be objective and impartial That's what would scare me most about an atheist. Just give me a good old fashioned agnostic please!

I'm not entirely sure what you mean there, David. Are you saying that you're scared an atheist President would be unable to be objective and impartial in his or her decision-making?
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Re: continuing proofs America is wacko

Post by halfwise on Thu Feb 23, 2012 12:42 pm

I think I understand what David is saying. Crusading atheists aren't any better than crusading religious zealots. Agnostics are saying right up front they don't know, so they can't crusade!

An agnostic candidate may actually have a chance at the presidency. An atheist, never.
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Re: continuing proofs America is wacko

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Feb 23, 2012 12:47 pm

Surely having someone who looks at the evidence and comes to as balanced a view based on that as possible is a better sort of person to be President than someone who thinks, in spite of all the evidence, the world is only 6000 years old was made in a week by a superbeing and that people are made out of some dust and a takeaway rib order? And even more so if they have access to nuclear weapons.
Sorry but for me choosing to believe these things in the face of overwhelming evidence puts a person into the same category as someone who still believes in the Sandman or the Tooth Fairy.

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Re: continuing proofs America is wacko

Post by Eldorion on Thu Feb 23, 2012 4:23 pm

halfwise wrote:I think I understand what David is saying. Crusading atheists aren't any better than crusading religious zealots. Agnostics are saying right up front they don't know, so they can't crusade!

I suppose I can understand that, but it sounded to me that David was worried about having any atheist as a President, as if all atheists are crusading zealots. Unless I really misinterpreted him, I find that a bit presumptuous, but I'm not sure why else David would be fearful of having any sort of atheist President. Sadly - and I'm speaking more generally here, not about anyone in this thread - a lot of people tend to act as if any atheist who is open about their beliefs is "angry" or "militant" even if they aren't saying anything more extreme than what mainstream religious leaders say.

It often feels like a lot of Americans don't recognize that there are moderate (for lack of a better word) atheists out there who aren't trying to "convert" or oppress everyone. I find that assumption to be as nonsensical as assuming that all religious people are out to convert or destroy believers in other faiths. It's simply not true of the majority of people, and making sweeping generalizations about millions of people based on the few atheists (or believers) any given person happens to know personally is supremely fallacious.

An agnostic candidate may actually have a chance at the presidency. An atheist, never.

At this point in time I doubt an agnostic would have a chance of becoming President either. For that matter, I would be shocked if a Christian who simply didn't mention their religion was elected because they would become a target for all sorts of malicious rumors. It's true that the word agnostic doesn't have the same pejorative meaning that the word atheist does in America, but in the end, it still usually means someone who is not religious and who does not actively believe in God. Agnosticism isn't just a watered down or milder form of atheism. It's a philosophically distinct approach, though I doubt the distinction is all that well understood by most people.
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Re: continuing proofs America is wacko

Post by David H on Thu Feb 23, 2012 8:41 pm

Sorry if that came across wrong. These discussions usually go better face to face over beer, but the internet doesn't give us that option.

My basic point is that I believe a person's religion as such has no business in the political discussion, any more than race, sex, or ethnic background. However I make the distinction that crusading zealots for these or any other issues can pose a serious threat to all our freedoms. No Zealots For President!

The second point that may have overshadowed this is that I've known a lot of people of different faiths, including Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Wikkans, Native Americans, Atheists, Unitarians, and others I'm sure I'm forgetting (not to mention all the sub-sects Rolling Eyes) Within each there are really good and often brilliant people. And then there are the zealots, and in my opinion the Atheistic zealots are hardest to deal with.

I certainly didn't mean to condemn all Atheists, but remember that I grew up in the 60s and 70s during a time of unrest. I've known people who claim that all ethical codes are false and use atheism to justify violence. I've seen people tell grieving relatives that they'll never see their dead spouses and children again. Whatever your personal beliefs, that's just cruel! In the end, atheism is just another faith-based system and has no more right to dictate dogma to others than any other religion. Most people get that.

And my point about Agnostics was admittedly a little obscure, but it's just that I've never known a zealous Agnostic! Very Happy
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Re: continuing proofs America is wacko

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Feb 23, 2012 8:54 pm

Hard to be an agnostic zealot I'd imagine- how do you rile people up over the slogan "I dunno know, maybe?"

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Re: continuing proofs America is wacko

Post by halfwise on Thu Feb 23, 2012 9:21 pm

Ya gotta understand, it's fun for an atheist to bait someone who's religious, because religion isn't based on logic, so you have all sorts of fun devising logical arguments to make the religious uncomfortable.

I may be atheist, but I think it's fundamentally unfair to argue the point with someone who has religion, unless they are trying to inflict their viewpoint on me. Then anything goes. But going around trying to convince people out of the blue that there's something wrong with their religion is a personal attack. Abuse, pure and simple.
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Re: continuing proofs America is wacko

Post by The Wobbit A Parody on Thu Feb 23, 2012 9:42 pm

Eldorion wrote: Things like the Inquisition and the Crusades were inherently religious, though there were of course other factors at play as well. On the other hand, I don't really care to bring up such examples of either theists or atheists, because I think it's rather underhanded to make statements about a group based on their most extreme members (not saying that you're doing that, Paul!).

In any event, on the original topic of the thread, I don't think it's controversial or unfair to say that it is not good to restrict who can hold public office on the basis of religion (either a specific religion or having religious beliefs of any sort), either formally or informally. That's not a criticism of religion; it just worries me when a society shuts people in a minority group out of political participation.

Eldo-

I absolutely agree with you. There should be no formal or informal requirement for any religious beliefs for anyone in public service. The American Founding Fathers were all Deists anyway. Not a lot of talk about Jesus from them, which is fine.

And thanks for the parenthetical at the end of the first paragraph. I would not want Islam to be judged by their terrorists any more than I would want Christianity to be judged by "christian" groups like the KKK.
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Re: continuing proofs America is wacko

Post by The Wobbit A Parody on Thu Feb 23, 2012 9:47 pm

halfwise wrote:Ya gotta understand, it's fun for an atheist to bait someone who's religious, because religion isn't based on logic, so you have all sorts of fun devising logical arguments to make the religious uncomfortable.

I may be atheist, but I think it's fundamentally unfair to argue the point with someone who has religion, unless they are trying to inflict their viewpoint on me. Then anything goes. But going around trying to convince people out of the blue that there's something wrong with their religion is a personal attack. Abuse, pure and simple.

I agree, Halfwise. Conversion attempts in either direction are always offensive. And any religion must always, by its nature, be a matter of faith. If a religion could be proven to be true or factual, it would be science. Or logic, as you say.
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Re: continuing proofs America is wacko

Post by Orwell on Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:08 pm

When people say they are praying for me, I want to punch them in the face. People should worry about saving their own souls, and leave mine out of it. I don't want to be mixed up in other people's delusions. It's insulting and dictatorial and ideological and plain rude. Religion is an insult to intelligence and an invasion of privacy. I mean it kindly though. Very Happy


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Re: continuing proofs America is wacko

Post by Eldorion on Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:31 pm

David H wrote:Sorry if that came across wrong. These discussions usually go better face to face over beer, but the internet doesn't give us that option.

My basic point is that I believe a person's religion as such has no business in the political discussion, any more than race, sex, or ethnic background. However I make the distinction that crusading zealots for these or any other issues can pose a serious threat to all our freedoms. No Zealots For President!

No worries, David, and I hope I didn't come off as too defensive. Smile I think I agree with you about the role of religion in politics and what it should - or shouldn't - be. I think there's a role for people who try to create positive change based on their religious beliefs (though I don't always agree that the specific changes some people want are positive), but that role is not as the leaders of the country, especially not such a large and diverse one. I think we're on the same page here.

I certainly didn't mean to condemn all Atheists, but remember that I grew up in the 60s and 70s during a time of unrest. I've known people who claim that all ethical codes are false and use atheism to justify violence. I've seen people tell grieving relatives that they'll never see their dead spouses and children again. Whatever your personal beliefs, that's just cruel! In the end, atheism is just another faith-based system and has no more right to dictate dogma to others than any other religion. Most people get that.

Most of the people I know and/or who I interact with on a regular basis and whose beliefs I'm aware of are religious, and most of them Christian. However, the people I know whose religious beliefs I'm aware of are only a fraction, and probably a fairly small one at that, of all the people I know. Religion is not a topic of conversation for me very much in real life and I agree that people who are in-your-face about their beliefs, whatever they are, are generally obnoxious and out-of-line. I love a good debate about serious topics but that should be between people who all want to have that kind of conversation.

However, I don't agree with your statement that "atheism is just another faith-based system". Perhaps I am being pedantic here, but atheism isn't faith-based. It's also not really a belief system; the only thing that ties atheists together is a common lack of theistic beliefs. There are plenty of atheists who are spiritual or religious. Humanism and the like are philosophical belief systems, though, so like I said, I'm probably being pedantic. Razz
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Re: continuing proofs America is wacko

Post by Eldorion on Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:36 pm

The Wobbit A Parody wrote:And thanks for the parenthetical at the end of the first paragraph. I would not want Islam to be judged by their terrorists any more than I would want Christianity to be judged by "christian" groups like the KKK.

Agreed, and I think that's the most important thing to keep in mind. I know it's easy to leap to conclusions and generalizations based on a few outrageous examples of any group - not just religions - and that's something that I try to actively watch my thoughts for. I'm sure I don't always succeed but I like to think that I'm better about it than I used to be.
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Re: continuing proofs America is wacko

Post by David H on Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:59 pm

Eldorion wrote:However, I don't agree with your statement that "atheism is just another faith-based system". Perhaps I am being pedantic here, but atheism isn't faith-based.

All I'll say is that from where I sit, believing something isn't appears to be just as much a matter of faith as believing something is .

And if you want to discuss it some more, you need to come over here and buy me a beer Smile
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Re: continuing proofs America is wacko

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Feb 23, 2012 11:07 pm

But what about purple splongerous zones? I dont believe they exist either, seeing as I just made them up, doesnt make it an act of faith though surely?!
And I only have buckie. drunken

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