Do Christian conservatives believe in the First Amendment?

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Most Americans, religious or not, agree on the importance of religious freedom as enshrined in the First Amendment, though they disagree about specifics. Should the government promote religion? Give special tax breaks to religion? Favor one religion over another? Favor religion over non-religion? My answers are no, no, no, and no, and also no to the claim that the United States was founded as a Christian nation.


American interests often trump religious freedom abroad. Take our oil-rich ally Saudi Arabia, for example, probably the most theocratic country in the Middle East. Our government doesn’t loudly protest Saudi Arabia’s denial of basic human rights to women, as it imposes Islamic law on its citizens. Although 15 of the 19 hijackers responsible for 9/11 came from Saudi Arabia, we attacked Iraq even though Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with it. We attacked Iraq because, well, I’m still not sure.

While I often don’t know what we should do about complex foreign policy, I do know what we should not do either abroad or at home. We should not tell citizens or governments how to interpret holy books. Regardless of race, color, creed, gender, or sexual orientation, I think we can all come up with many good reasons to condemn suicide bombings. Unfortunately, our government came up with a bad reason. Presumably after delving deeply into nuances in the Koran, our State Department pronounced recent Iraq suicide bombers to be “enemies of Islam.”

Written By: Herb Silverman
continue to source article at washingtonpost.com

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  1. Note to self: Just read the article. Do not read the comments section. There will always be theists banging away with the same old rancid arguments and it will just put you in a foul mood.

    • In reply to #1 by justinesaracen:

      Note to self: Just read the article. Do not read the comments section. There will always be theists banging away with the same old rancid arguments and it will just put you in a foul mood.

      ” ThomasBaum
      8/27/2013 5:38 PM MST
      Herb Silverman

      You asked, “Did Jesus come to bring peace or a sword?

      Jesus did come to bring the “sword” but it is not the man-made sword that you seem to think it to be.”

      ( Like this one? Must be the magic man made sword. Proxy threats made for their imaginary friend! )

  2. It looks like the old “chemical weapons story”, has been revived to justify further propagation of civil unrest and civil wars in Syria etc.!

    I suppose the politicians who messed up on the banking crisis, deperately need some foreign distractions – regardless of the danger, death, and misery it brings to thousands of people.
    We may have no money for investment in infrastructure, health or education, but tin-soldier politicians funding miltary adventures: – no problem!

    • In reply to #2 by Alan4discussion:

      I don’t agree with everything Chris Hedges says, and he seems misinformed about the New Atheists. However, I do like the title of his book “War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning” Is Syria a Falklands, an Iraq or something else? Even if there are WMDs, that’s not the problem. The problem is the tub-thumping, death-glee Hollywood approach to the situation that’s too readily accepted.

    • In reply to #2 by Alan4discussion:

      It looks like the old “chemical weapons story”, has been revived to justify further propagation of civil unrest and civil wars in Syria etc.!

      I suppose the politicians who messed up on the banking crisis, deperately need some foreign distractions – regardless of the danger, death, and misery it brings to thousands of people. We may have no money for investment in infrastructure, health or education, but tin-soldier politicians funding miltary adventures: – no problem!

      I don’t understand, Alan. Are you suggesting that recent events in Syria involving the use of nerve gas are all a work of fiction, in a Wag the Dog-type ruse to deflect attention away from home-grown political crises and the unpopularity of the Lib/Con coalition?

      Is this sort of thing all fakery?

      • In reply to #14 by Katy Cordeth:

        I don’t understand, Alan. Are you suggesting that recent events in Syria involving the use of nerve gas are all a work of fiction, in a Wag the Dog-type ruse to deflect attention away from home-grown political crises and the unpopularity of the Lib/Con coalition?

        I am suggesting that as with numerous atrocities throughout the world, it is unclear who was responsible for what, and the simplistic attribution of this to the regime which is trying to put down various rebel groups and establish some sort of order, is about a pretext to attack a targeted regime, on a similar underlying agenda of the war-mongers and clandestine suppliers of weapons who have propagated civil wars in Iraq, Afganistan, and various North African Arab States before aggravating the situation by openly intervening.
        There were also clandestine supplies of weapons to various South Amercan dictatorships and the IRA in the past. Some of us can recognise a media propaganda war directed against particular regimes. The big picture is the propagation or civil wars affecting millions, not just cherry-picked local atrocities affecting hundreds.
        Margaret Thatcher demonstrated the political benefits of covering-up a grossly incompetent cost cutting policy over the Falklands, (and at home) with a macho about face where she spent a fortune and got lucky!
        She could just as easily have had a “Vietnam” type defeat!
        It’s amazing how many “Hurray Henries” mindlessly swallow propaganda and become cheerleaders in support of dubius miltary adventures.

        The Iraq “Weapons of mass destruction”, with puppet UN inspectors running around looking for them, should be a clear reminder of the duplicity of government clandestine activities, and the stuff fed to their media stooges.
        Some of us also remember the Iran-Contra affair! (Look at the benefits that gained for the Iranians!)

        • In reply to #15 by Alan4discussion:

          In reply to #14 by Katy Cordeth:

          I don’t understand, Alan. Are you suggesting that recent events in Syria involving the use of nerve gas are all a work of fiction, in a Wag the Dog-type ruse to deflect attention away from home-grown political crises and the unpopularity of the Lib/Con coalition?

          I am suggesting that as with numerous atrocities throughout the world, it is unclear who was responsible for what, and the simplistic attribution of this to the regime which is trying to put down various rebel groups and establish some sort of order, is about a pretext to attack a targeted regime, on a similar underlying agenda of the war-mongers and clandestine suppliers of weapons who have propagated civil wars in Iraq, Afganistan, and various North African Arab States before aggravating the situation by openly intervening.

          Oh my goodness, you’re actually defending Bashar al-Assad and his regime. Most dictators want to “establish some sort of order”, Alan; that’s sort of why they have secret police, death squads and big-ass armies at their disposal. They want that order to be on their own terms, though.

          You’re quite correct that it’s not clear at this particular moment who was responsible for the nerve gas attacks on Assad’s enemies (although if ever the principle of Occam’s razor were appropriate I think it is here, even if you consider it “simplistic”). That’s precisely what U.N. experts are currently trying to determine.

          The big picture is the propagation or civil wars affecting millions, not just cherry-picked local atrocities affecting hundreds.

          That doesn’t mean atrocities affecting hundreds should be ignored though, does it?

          The Iraq “Weapons of mass destruction”, with puppet UN inspectors running around looking for them, should be a clear reminder of the duplicity of government clandestine activities, and the stuff fed to their media stooges.

          Yes there were no WMDs in Iraq, but most data at the moment, even if it does arrive via the media and eyewitness accounts, points to somebody’s using nerve agents against those who want to see Assad ousted from power. Conflating the Iraq debacle of the early part of the last decade with what’s going on at the moment in Syria is disingenuous.

          • In reply to #16 by Katy Cordeth:

            Yes there were no WMDs in Iraq, but most data at the moment, even if it does arrive via the media and eyewitness accounts, points to somebody’s using nerve agents against those who want to see Assad ousted from power. Conflating the Iraq debacle of the early part of the last decade with what’s going on at the moment in Syria is disingenuous.

            Not at all!
            Various “rebel” bunches of gangsters have highjacked Syrian army weapons to use against the regime, so it is far from clear who used these and for what agenda.

            There is a difference between defending a particular government and defending the right of a nation state to be free from foreign armed terrorist gangs. The perversely named “Arab Spring” is already delivering the fruits of death and misery in other states where the pseudo-liberators have clandestinely of blatently injected their meddling fingers.

            There has been a total lack of interest in greater atrocities in Africa and elsewhere, where there is no hiddlen agenda. – not even in Somalia where pirates regularly attack international shipping!
            The Iraq “Weapons of mass-destruction” scenario, is indeed a warning of deluded groupthink in politics, where hidden agendas and confirmation biases have been worked on by well funded propagandists.

            The UN is supposedly investigating this, but Western political leaders are already talking of military intervention without waiting – as they were months ago each time the rebels faced a set-back.

            As I pointed out on an earlier discussion, expecting to get something better simply by collapsing a regime, is pure wishful thinking which is very unlikely to happen in the real world.

            However, I see the price of oil has risen as a consequence of the threats, so some priorities are operating as usual!

          • To the moderators,

            Sorry. I know this topic isn’t about Syria. If you decide to remove some of the comments posted by Alan and me, do you think you could give a heads up first and I’ll find a more appropriate thread and transfer them to that one myself.

            Thanks.


            In reply to #18 by Alan4discussion:

            In reply to #16 by Katy Cordeth:

            Yes there were no WMDs in Iraq, but most data at the moment, even if it does arrive via the media and eyewitness accounts, points to somebody’s using nerve agents against those who want to see Assad ousted from power. Conflating the Iraq debacle of the early part of the last decade with what’s going on at the moment in Syria is disingenuous.

            Not at all!

            Various “rebel” bunches of gangsters have highjacked Syrian army weapons to use against the regime, so it is far from clear who used these and for what agenda.

            There is a difference between defending a particular government and defending the right of a nation state to be free from foreign armed terrorist gangs.

            There’s a world of difference, probably down to the fact that a nation is comprised of its people, not its government. Members of a ruling body are part of that nation, but only by virtue of their citizenship, not because of any office they might hold.

            Attempts to protect the people of Syria from further attacks will be in defense of that nation and its right to be free from terrorist gangs. It just happens in this instance that the gang in question is the one that holds official power. This is why we have independent agents like the United Nations to which we entrust the final word on the legality of invading a sovereign nation if doing so is in the interests of its citizenry, even if the majority don’t welcome such intervention and support whatever tyrant holds power.

            The perversely named “Arab Spring” is already delivering the fruits of death and misery in other states where the pseudo-liberators have clandestinely or blatently injected their meddling fingers.

            I really hope that one day you’ll explain to me just what it was about the “Arab Spring” which irked you to such an extent that you can’t even bring yourself to mention it without using scare quotes, Alan.

            The contempt you and many others here at the Oasis have for it baffles me. You guys bleat on about how Islamofascism is set to take over the planet, but when ordinary people come together and try to bring democracy and liberalism into countries where Islam has massive power and control over the populace, you can’t even be bothered to show support for them. I’d love to know how your minds work.

            There has been a total lack of interest in greater atrocities in Africa and elsewhere, where there is no hidden agenda. – not even in Somalia where pirates regularly attack international shipping!

            Politics in Africa is squeaky clean and free from any hidden agendas or shadowy outside influences, is it? Lucky Africans.

            Your attitude reminds me of those who take issue with people collecting for animal charities, and tell them they have no right to waste their time in such a way when human beings are suffering; but when you inquire about the extent of their own charitable endeavors discover it to be nil.

            That there are greater crimes going on somewhere cannot be used as an excuse for ignoring lesser offences. One has to wonder about somebody who makes the argument that nerve toxins being used against children pales into insignificance in the face of the sum total of human suffering. It probably does. But so what? You take crimes against humanity as and when they come. If the West is capable of preventing more attacks on innocent civilians – by whoever is responsible – it has a duty to do so.

            By all means, damn the political establishment for not addressing these greater atrocities you speak of. But don’t try and use this apathy to justify your opposition when it does demonstrate willingness to become involved and do some actual good.

            I’m not really sure why you think piratical attacks against international shipping should be a bigger cause for concern than the deployment of weapons of mass destruction. Are you worried that a shipment of the latest model of iPhones will be intercepted and you might have to stand in a queue for one come Christmas? International shipping should take care of itself. It has the resources. The same can’t be said for ordinary Syrians.

            The Iraq “Weapons of mass-destruction” scenario, is indeed a warning of deluded groupthink in politics, where hidden agendas and confirmation biases have been worked on by well funded propagandists.

            You love your hidden agenda and conspiracy stuff, don’t you big guy.

            Yes, governments lie and obfuscate and get up to all sorts of despicable stuff. But that doesn’t mean everything they do has to have an ulterior motive. Question, by all means: cynicism about those to whom we’ve chosen to hand our countries’ reins is an inherently good thing. But it can be taken too far.

            If someone begins to suspect every political act and makes the prima facie assumption that the motivation of those involved must be different from the explanation given, that person runs the risk of turning into him.

            The Tea Party movement grew out of this sort of paranoia, and the pro-weapons lobby relies on the idea that the only thing preventing successive governments from imprisoning God-lovin’ Americans is zero tolerance of gun control legislation.

            Knee-jerk opposition to everything a ruling body does is just as childish as unconditional acceptance that the government is always right.

            At least the rootin’-tootin’, Sarah Palin-loving, queer-hating, minutemen types have the excuse of stupidity. Smart people who use past behavior of politicians to argue against their own opposition to involvement in humanitarian crises are an altogether lower form of life.

            The UN is supposedly investigating this, but Western political leaders are already talking of military intervention without waiting – as they were months ago each time the rebels faced a set-back.

            Yes, they were talking about intervening militarily without a U.N. mandate months ago. Did they go in though?

            As I pointed out on an earlier discussion, expecting to get something better simply by collapsing a regime, is pure wishful thinking which is very unlikely to happen in the real world.

            If said regime is killing its own people, I think it’s possible to say with a fair amount of certainty that collapsing it will result in things getting better for any potential future victims. That is if ‘getting better’ includes not being blasted into tiny pieces or having your nervous system dribble out of your ears.

            In the short term, things don’t usually improve after a revolution. Only a fool would expect utopian perfection to follow in the aftermath of massive societal upheaval. That doesn’t mean revolution should be discouraged.

            I’m guessing you don’t own any Che Guevara t-shirts, Alan.

          • In reply to #21 by Katy Cordeth:

            Attempts to protect the people of Syria from further attacks will be in defense of that nation and its right to be free from terrorist gangs. It just happens in this instance that the gang in question is the one that holds official power.

            You really should do your homework rather than making naive assertions! ONE OF THE less extreme GANGS holds official power. The other terrorist, criminal and jihadist gangs have killed far more people than this one atrocity.

            For those who do not understand the basics of civil wars, – armed gangs of terrorists are civilians, usually in civilian dress, and they cannot be quietly arrested by policemen.

            This is why we have independent agents like the United Nations to which we entrust the final word on the legality of invading a sovereign nation if doing so is in the interests of its citizenry, even if the majority don’t welcome such intervention and support whatever tyrant holds power.

            They have just withdrawn the UN investgators before their work was finished, in view of the threats of air-stikes, prior to properly evidenced conclusions being reached or the UN debate begun! The hidden regime-change agendas apparently can’ t wait for the UN. – Just as in Iraq!

            As with Iraq, the faith-thinkers of the US miltary and CIA are persuading gullible politicians to rush into things they don’t understand.

            The contempt you and many others here at the Oasis have for it baffles me.

            There is a regular contempt here for asserted ignorance!

            You guys bleat on about how Islamofascism is set to take over the planet, but when ordinary people come together and try to bring democracy and liberalism into countries where Islam has massive power and control over the populace, you can’t even be bothered to show support for them. I’d love to know how your minds work.

            Only the utterly gullible expect civil wars to automatically lead to stable liberal democracies! For most of the rebels, secular or liberal democracy is not even on their agenda! You need to bother with research on the subject instead of wish-thinking, so as to use evidence and reasoning!

            http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/aug/28/us-bombing-in-syria-would-benefit-jihadists/?page=all

            Islamist rebels in Syria, the lead force in the armed opposition, would benefit from a U.S. bombing campaign against the Syrian regime and advance their goal of seizing power in Damascus, analysts said Wednesday.

            Gen. McInerney said the Free Syrian Army, which is tied to a handful of effective militias, is the best credible check against growing jihadist forces.

            “All the others are either radical Islamists or Muslim Brotherhood or al Qaeda,” he told The Washington Times.

            The Obama administration in 2012 endorsed an umbrella group that includes the Free Syrian Army.

            The puppet government for the attempted regime-change agenda is being selected.

            http://aclj.org/war-on-terror/why-doing-nothing-syria-better-minimal-attack

            Let’s not forget the New York Times report from April:

            In Syria’s largest city, Aleppo, rebels aligned with Al Qaeda control the power plant, run the bakeries and head a court that applies Islamic law. Elsewhere, they have seized government oil fields, put employees back to work and now profit from the crude they produce.

            Across Syria, rebel-held areas are dotted with Islamic courts staffed by lawyers and clerics, and by fighting brigades led by extremists. Even the Supreme Military Council, the umbrella rebel organization whose formation the West had hoped would sideline radical groups, is stocked with commanders who want to infuse Islamic law into a future Syrian government.

            Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of.

            As I pointed out earlier; There are lots of ways to make matters much worse for the people of Syria.

          • In reply to #23 by Alan4discussion:

            In reply to #21 by Katy Cordeth:

            .Only the utterly gullible expect civil wars to automatically lead to stable liberal democracies! For most of the rebels, secular or liberal democracy is not even on their agenda!

            So we we should have stuck with Louis XVI to avoid Robespierre; The British Raj to avoid the partition (+- 1 million dead); Batista to avoid Castro; The Shah to avoid the ayatollahs; Mubarak to avoid Mursi; Saddam to avoid the current mess there, etc?

            We stuck with papa Hafez after he killed up to 55,000 civilians including women, children and elderly in 1981 and now we have dearest son Bashir in the sequel or is it a remake?

            Granted, John Kerry’s earnest -we already have all the irrefutable evidence you could ever want- interventionist ministrations have a déjà vu all over again ring to them.

            However, I think we could all stand a bit more “homework” on this topic.

  3. In reply to #3 by PERSON:

    In reply to #2 by Alan4discussion:

    I don’t agree with everything Chris Hedges says, and he seems misinformed about the New Atheists. However, I do like the title of his book “War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning” Is Syria a Falklands, an Iraq or something else? Even if there are WMDs, that’s not th…

    I agree with a lot of what Hedges says on politics but on atheism he makes about as much sense as Sarah Palin does when talking about, well anything. I read his book I Don’t Believe in Atheists and I couldn’t believe it. I’m critical of people like Harris and others on various issues and was expecting a coherent critique somewhat similar to a chapter in one of Scott Atran’s books Talking to the Enemy where he does an excellent job of taking various quotes by Dawkins and Harris and shows how the evidence doesn’t support their claims. But Hedges book was nothing like that it was a long rant that attacked not just atheists but even a lot of theists. Essentially anyone who wants to make the world a better place is guilty of Utopianism according to Hedges and hence no better than Hitler. That’s not really an exaggeration. His book was literally incoherent IMO. I started writing a discussion topic I was going to submit but the more I wrote the more I realized the book was so incoherent there wasn’t even much point in refuting it.

  4. The First Amendment and Christianity are fundamentally incompatible. God is absolutely, violently, clear that you shall have no other god before him. In permitting freedom of religion, The First Amendment abets the breaking of gods law among US citizens so no true Christian could possibly support it.

  5. Who gives a fuck if they believe in it? They are bound to ABIDE by it by virtue of being an American Citizen. It is the FIRST amendment after all. I mean even if you subscribe to the horseshit that “America was founded as a Christian Nation”, you have to see that those founding fathers chose as the FIRST order of business for the new nation a freedom of/from religion.

  6. If you ask an Iraqi, why the war, they will tell you oil.
    Evidence they are right:

    1. Iraq has #2 oil reserves on the planet. This oil costs only $1 a barrel to extract and it is “sweet” (pure).
    2. Obama announced wind-down of the the war on the same day a big auction sold off Iraq oil properties to American and European oil companies. Mission accomplished.
    3. The war continued long after Saddam was dead, so it could not have been about Saddam.
  7. The Puritans left England for America not because they couldn’t be Puritans in their mother country, but because they were not allowed to force others to become Puritans; in the New World, of course, they could and did.
    ~ Gore Vidal 1925-10-03 2012-07-30

  8. In reply to #11 by Roedy:

    The Puritans left England for America not because they couldn’t be Puritans in their mother country, but because they were not allowed to force others to become Puritans; in the New World, of course, they could and did.
    ~ Gore Vidal 1925-10-03 2012-07-30

    Don’t tell us that, Roedy; tell h5r2, the person who in the comments section of Herb’s article wrote,

    >

    Christianity did not find its way into the Constitution. There is no mention of any religion. Though pilgrims left England to escape religious persecution, that didn’t stop the pilgrims from persecuting those in this country who did not share their religious faith. If you can point to any place in the Bible that promotes religious freedom, I’d like to hear about it.

    Liked by 8 readers

    This is someone critical of religion and its place in the Constitution yet believes the Pilgrim Fathers were refugees fleeing religious persecution rather than fanatics trying to export their own brand of intolerance because England was too religiously diverse for their tastes. c.f: Boston martyrs

    I wonder why this idea still so prevalent in the US.

    A lot of the other posts are from Christian types who are insistent that Jesus never forced himself on anybody. I’ve honestly never thought that the beardy deity was a rapist, so I don’t get why they’re so defensive.

  9. Do Christian conservatives believe in the First Amendment? Not really, nor do they believe in the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Thirteenth, Fourteenth (they really hate this one), Fifteenth or Eighteenth amendments. But boy howdy do they ever believe in the Second Amendment.

  10. The Syrian situation is parallel to the Iraq invasion in that the United States wants to act outside international law for reasons of its own. The UN Charter is quite clear that UN member states can only take military action against another member state if it is authorized by the Security Council. As in many other instances where action against member states could be justified , notably against the inveterate offender, Israel, the veto-holding members of the Security Council are not in agreement and so action will not be authorized. Government lawyers are acting for their governments and their opinions are worthless in such cases without validation by the UN.

    • In reply to #20 by Alan4discussion:

      I see the UK parliament now shares my view on Syria, having rejected their gullible/devious leaders’ agendas.

      Thank the heavens they saw fit to consult you before making their decision. Let us hope public opinion in the US goes against action being taken in Syria too. Better a tyrant in power than even more instability in the Middle East, eh?

      I wonder if you’ll change your opinion about military intervention in Syria if proof does emerge that Assad’s regime was responsible for the chemical weapons attacks, or if your view that “local atrocities affecting hundreds” should not be of concern to us will hold fast.

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