Our rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness
can only be secured by a state strictly separated from religion

30 December 2009

In Praise of Consumerism

By Diana Hsieh

CSG supporter Joseph Kellard published a letter to the editor in USA Today in defense of consumerism -- always under attack during the Christmas season by Christians and their secular humanist offspring. The letter is entitled "Buying is a virtue":

The perennial rants against Christmas consumerism fail to acknowledge man's highest virtue: production -- the virtue that makes consumption possible, sustains his life and uplifts his spirit. ("You can't buy the real gifts of Christmas," The Forum, Dec. 21).

Productive individuals must exercise other virtuous behavior, particularly rationality, honesty, efficiency and love of hard work.

When productive individuals buy cars, computers, iPhones and other material goods, they celebrate their highest virtues. And they develop well-earned self-esteem, happiness and pride.

In contrast, the stereotypical insatiable consumer is essentially a social conformist, motivated to keep up with the Joneses and who has never learned to appreciate the inseparable connection between productivity and virtue.

However, when that connection is made, consumerism is something to celebrate.

Joseph Kellard
East Meadow, N.Y.

Read more...

28 December 2009

What Have the Personhood Folks Been Up To?

By Gina Liggett

I'm taking a break from my investigation into the Religious Left and have decided to focus on what the Colorado Fertilized Egg Gang has been up to lately.

And those Fertilized Eggers have been really boiling and rockin' and rollin'!

They've been working on their public relations campaign to come across as... more, more... well... well... better at expropriating intellectual property rights as well as attempting to violate individual rights. In particular, they have a YouTube announcement of their intent to try to get another constitutional amendment on the Colorado ballot for 2010.

In their attempt to grovify themselves across a broader spectrum of the electorate, they've selected the works of singer/songwriter "Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers" as their rallying really-cool song. Playing loudly in the backgroud, Tom Petty's, "I Won't Back Down" introduces their rejuvenated attack on the culture. They are going to try again in 2010 to get another Personhood Amendment on the ballot in Colorado.

Because I really dig "Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers" and really disagree with the Personhooders, I sent an email to the record company informing them that Mr. Petty's song was being used to advance "Colorado Personhood USA's" agenda to grant full legal rights to fertilized eggs. If the rock group is in agreement with this agenda, then that is their own business and their right, and I acknowledged as much in my email. But I would be very surprised if this Colorado Religious Right activist group had obtained proper permission to propagandize with this incredibly groovy song.

So, who are the players now, and what scrambled eggs get rights in the next election?

Let's be clear: these activists are not to be underestimated.

They have studied very carefully why their amendment failed by about 75% in the last Colorado election. They are not going to make the same mistakes twice.

So they've altered the language of their proposal. Previously, the key wording referred to rights of "any human being from the moment of fertilization." Now, they have altered the wording so it is more palatable to the general electorate:

An amendment to the Colorado Constitution applying the term 'person' as used in those provisions of the Colorado Constitution relating to inalienable rights, equality of justice and due process of law, to every human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being.
The key phrase is: "from the beginning of the biological development," rather than from "from the moment of fertilization," which is easier for many mainstream religious Americans to accept.

The next step is to get enough signatures, around 76,000 registered Colorado voters, to place the measure on the ballot.

Let us not underestimate these people. They may be your next-door neighbor, or the person in line at the supermarket, or your coworker. These are Americans who believe that those "at the beginning of biological development" have rights; and because of their religious beliefs, they maintain that somehow fetuses are people and the right to abortion is wrong.

Let me bring us back to the fundamentals of human existence in a rational way. The right to life only applies to the living, born human being. Ayn Rand, the genius novelist and philosopher of Objectivism cogently writes:
Rights do not pertain to a potential, only to an actual being. A child cannot acquire any rights until it is born. The living take precedence over the non-yet-living... Never mind the vicious nonsense of claiming that an embryo has "right to life. A piece of protoplasm has no rights--and no life in the human sense of the term... To equate a potential with an actual, is vicious; to advocate sacrifice of the latter to the former, is unspeakable...
We must watch these people because they are evil. Our true right to life is at risk.

Read more...

24 December 2009

Merry Christmas!

By Diana Hsieh

Onkar Ghate published an excellent essay on the joy of Christmas in US News and World Report. It begins:

I'm an atheist, and I love Christmas. If you think that's a contradiction, think again.

Do you remember as a child composing wish lists of things you genuinely valued, thought you deserved, and knew would bring you pleasure? Do you remember eagerly awaiting the arrival of Christmas morning and the new bike, book, or chemistry set you were hoping for? That childhood feeling captures the spirit of Christmas and explains why so many of us look forward to the season each year.
That joyful spirit of Christmas, Ghate argues, is part and parcel of a commercial Christmas. It's nowhere to be found in a truly Christian Christmas.

So ... May you enjoy all the delights and pleasures of a secular, capitalist Christmas!

Read more...

23 December 2009

The Religious Left: The Audacity of Obama's Anti-Capitalism

By Gina Liggett

Obama's Economic Ideas are Mystical Mumbo-Jumbo

President Obama may have chosen as his official home church the same one attended by his political opposite, the Religious-Right-placating G.W. Bush. But to meet his true spiritual needs, Obama has surrounded himself with spiritual advisers that come straight from the Religious Left, like his former pastor Black Liberation Theology-proponent Jeremiah Wright.

Let's take Bishop Vashti McKenzie of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. This enthralling minister really works the congregation into a lather, preaching in a dramatic, rhythmical, and provocative vocal style. Once listeners are primed like an intoxicated audience at a rock concert with Bible quotes and thanks to Jesus, she begins to screech her circuitous point that "although we have deprivation... and... wounds... nothing can get in the way of God's love." The riveting sermon is tapped off with soulful gospel music that could convert even an agnostic.

But there's more to Bishop McKenzie than bringing Jesus to life at the pulpit. She's vehemently anti-capitalist, as exemplified by her speech, "Who Benefits," in which she links AIDS in Africa, the war in Iraq, "predatory" lending, and the pharmaceutical industry with purported evils of the profit motive. She never makes a logical argument defining profit in the first place, or why the profit motive is bad, but instead relies on explicit innuendo and her charismatic presentation style to transmit her disgust of American capitalism. She simply says, "if we track the money, we'll find out... Follow the money..."

And THISSSSSZZZZZ-AAAHHH, is one of Obama's closest advisers.

The notion that pursuing wealth for one's own benefit is cold and thoughtless comes from the religion shared by Obama and McKenzie. Obama aligns his ideals for the country with Black Liberation theories of social disorder, in which America is a zero-sum battle between social classes (from his book, "The Audacity of Hope," p. 215):

After all, the problems of poverty and racism, the uninsured and the unemployed, are not simply technical problems in search of the perfect ten-point plan. They are also rooted in societal indifference and individual callousness -- the desire among those at the top of the social ladder to maintain their wealth and status whatever the cost, as well as the despair and self-destructiveness among those at the bottom of the social ladder. ... I am suggesting that if we [Christian] progressives shed some of our own biases, we might recognize... the call to sacrifice on behalf of the next generation, the need to think in terms of "thou" and not just "I."
Obama is appallingly ignorant of business and capitalism, characterizing them as "winner take all." In a March 2008 speech, he chastised companies for their audacity to be profitable: "[T]he real problem is not that someone who doesn't look like you might take your job; it's that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit."

In his book he at least acknowledges America's economic achievements and the kind of social system that made this progress possible:
It takes a trip overseas to fully appreciate just how good Americans have it; even our poor take for granted goods and services -- electricity, clean water, indoor plumbing, telephones, television, and household appliances -- that are still unattainable for most of the world... Our greatest asset has been our system of social organization, a system that for generations has encouraged constant innovation, individual initiative, and the efficient allocation or resources.
However, Obama undertakes no philosophical analysis whatsoever to explain how the social system created these life-enhancing things. So, it's easy for him to evade facts, formulate irrational ideas, rattle off lots of data in a clever way, and come up with floating, conflicting, and mystical explanations that conform to his Black Liberation worldview.

As an prime example, in a speech also entitled, "The Audacity of Hope," given at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Obama espouses the contradictory notion that individuals can pursue happiness while living in a society that requires God-inspired sacrifice for the benefit of collectivist categories of people. He said,
It is that fundamental belief, it is that fundamental belief, I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper that makes this country work. It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams and yet still come together as one American family. E pluribus unum. Out of many, one. In the end, that is God's greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation. A belief in things not seen. A belief that there are better days ahead. I believe that we can give our middle class relief and provide working families with a road to opportunity. I believe we can provide jobs to the jobless, homes to the homeless, and reclaim young people in cities across America from violence and despair.
Obama Performs a Perfect Marriage of Religion and Leftism

Obama finds the perfect pragmatic model for carrying out his good works: FDR's huge federal government. He says in his book (AOH, p.176):
FDR led the nation to a new social compact -- a bargain between government, business, and workers that resulted in widespread prosperity and economic security for more than fifty years...[T]hat security rested on... a job that paid enough... a package of health and retirement benefits from his employer, and a government safety net -- Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, unemployment insurance..... ut his compact also rested on an understanding that a system of sharing risks and rewards can actually improve the workings of the market.
Obama Thinks Big Government ROCKS

Obama actually believes that government is better at managing people's lives than individuals themselves in a free market.
[A]lthough the benefits of our free-market system have mostly derived from the individual efforts of generations of men and women pursuing their own vision of happiness, in each and every period of great economic upheaval and transition we've depended on government action to open up opportunity, encourage competition, and make the market work better...
Retirement and Health Care...

As an example, Obama disparages the "Ownership Society" for legitimately exercising their property rights concerning retirement and health care (AOH, p. 179). His ignorance of economics is also evidenced.
Take the [Bush] Administration's attempt to privatize Social Security... that the stock market can provide individuals a better return on investment... But individual investment decisions will always produce winners and losers... What would the Ownership Society do with the losers? Unless we're willing to see seniors starve on the street, we're going to have to cover their retirement expenses... In other words, the Ownership Society doesn't even try to spread the risks and rewards of the new economy among all Americans. Instead it magnifies the uneven risks and rewards of today's winner-take-all economy.
And in a July 2009 news conference on health care he rambles on and on, tossing out mind-numbing "this" and poor-Joe-family "that" and how government can somehow sort it all out, because the "American people need some relief." Obama says, "The House suggested a surcharge on wealthy Americans. And my understanding, although I haven't seen the final versions, is that there has been talk about making that basically only apply to families whose joint income is $1 million."

As we know, the House passed in October a multi-billion dollar bill that in fact surcharges "wealthy" Americans to help pay for it.

Economic Recovery...

And you can follow the progress of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, delivered right in the comfort of your own home by Obama and his Congress for a few billions and billions of dollars. Follow how it's going to create jobs, save jobs, spur economic activity and economic growth. To borrow Bishop McKenzie's words, "follow the money."

Financial Reform...

As far as the financial sector goes, Obama doesn't hesitate to place full blame on Wall Street for the financial crisis:
We were on the verge of a complete financial meltdown. And the reason was because Wall Street took extraordinary risks with other people's money...(H)ear my words: We will not go back to the days of reckless behavior and unchecked excess at the heart of this crisis, where too many were motivated only by the appetite for quick kills and bloated bonuses.


And get ready for this one from September 2009: "We have a host of members of Congress, but there's one that I have to single out because he is going to be helping to shape the agenda going forward to make sure that we have one of the strongest, most dynamic, and most innovative financial markets in the world for many years to come, and that's my good friend, Barney Frank." [emphasis mine]

Just to remind you, despite warnings going back to 2001 that the quasi-governmental lending giants Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac were on the brink of an insolvency that could spread to the whole financial system, the now-Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Rep. Barney Frank, said everything was just fiiiinnnnne. Obama ignores this fact and argues instead for sweeping regulatory control over the financial markets.

The Audacity to Take Our Money

Obama contradicts himself again and holds back some love of FDR, and decides to go for a kind of middle-ground way to implement his Religious Leftism. He claims that neither Democratic New Deal policies or Republican Reaganomics will work in today's global economy. He writes, "But our history should give us confidence that we don't have to choose between an oppressive, government-run economy and a chaotic and unforgiving capitalism." (?!) -- [my own facial tic, sorry]...

Blah Blah Blah...

"We should be guided by what works." "(I)nvestment" in education, "provid(ing) many students and parents with more direct help in meeting college expenses... [I]nvest[ing] in our future innovators -- by doubling federal funding of basic research over the next five years... It's hard to overstate the degree to which our addiction to oil undermines our future... It undermines our national security... And then there are the environmental consequences of our fossil fuel-based economy... What we can do is create renewable, cleaner energy sources for the 21st century... [We should] demand that 1 percent of the revenues from oil companies with over $1 billion in quarterly profits go towards financing alternative energy research and the necessary infrastructure."

But What of the Individual?

The Religious Left has big plans to create an egalitarian and "just" America by doing good works of Jesus. Obama and Congress are going to accomplish this by a massive wealth re-distribution scheme and lots of borrowing. And they're going to sell it to America by invoking the power of envy and religious indignation.

If only we could convince them to read Ayn Rand's "Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal" and Andrew Bernstein's, "The Capitalist Manifesto: The Historic, Economic and Philosophical Case for Laissez-Faire." They would learn that statism and freedom are mutually exclusive and incompatible.

I like the way Dr. Bernstein puts it: "Is a human being a sovereign individual who owns his life, mind, effort and its products -- or is he a slave to society, who can control his life, dictate his thinking and expropriate his property?"

And the final word on capitalism I take away from Obama and give to Ayn Rand
If there were such a thing as a passion for equality (not equality de jure, but de facto), it would be obvious to its exponents that there are only two ways to achieve it: either by raising all men to the mountaintop--or by razing the mountains. The first method is impossible because it is the faculty of volition that determines a man's stature and action; but the nearest approach to it was demonstrated by the United States and capitalism, which protected the freedom, the rewards and the incentives for every individual's achievement, ... thus raising the intellectual, moral and economic state of the whole society.

Read more...

17 December 2009

Conservative Sees the Light on Pragmatism

By Diana Hsieh

Crossposted with permission from The American Individualist.

Conservative Sees the Light on Pragmatism
By Joseph Kellard

Over at the conservative commentary site townhall.com, I was intrigued to read "Principle vs. Pragmatism," a column by Ken Connor, who is unknown to me.

Halfway through reading this column, I thought that perhaps a conservative has come to see the light about the destructiveness of pragmatism. Heck, he even invokes Aristotle:

"The truth of the matter is that when it comes to the most fundamental questions about human society, culture, and government, the middle ground is not a sensible place to occupy. When it comes down to the fundamentals, things are either right or they are wrong; to suggest that they may be right for me and wrong for you is nonsense. Moral relativism comes into conflict with the Law of Non-Contradiction when operating at the level of fundamental values."

But, alas, the light this conservative was seeing came from Heaven.

"There are, as our forefathers recognized, certain universal and self-evident truths. Human beings, for example, have been endowed by their Creator with an unalienable right to life. It is, therefore, wrong to murder an innocent human being, regardless of whether they are in the womb or in a nursing home. The act of murder is wrong regardless of who makes the decision to carry it out (mother, doctor, family) or how it is denominated (abortion, mercy killing, euthanasia). The character of an act is not changed by the rhetoric that accompanies it or the person who performs it. Such an act cannot be both right and wrong--right for you and wrong for me. It is either right or wrong--period.

"There are certain principles that define the world view of Christian conservatives, principles that we are unwilling to budge on …"

Connor goes on to invoke God and "other principles" that he and other Christians will not compromise on, without noting what those alleged principles are exactly.

Since Connor's basis of morality is God's arbitrary commandments and not the one-and-only reality from which principles are rationally derived, Lord only knows what those "other principles" of his may be, but you can safely bet that they are not a proper foundation for freedom.

Read more...

14 December 2009

The Religious Left: Obama and Black Liberation Theology

By Gina Liggett

New Home Church is Politically Correct for Religious Leftist Obama

President Obama finally found a home church last June after breaking his 20-year-old spiritual ties with his former pastor, the venom-spewing Reverend Jeremiah Wright. The First Family now belongs to the same non-denominational Christian church attended by former President G.W. Bush, Evergreen Chapel at Camp David. It was probably more politically palatable for Obama to align with a church open to hundreds of military personnel with sermons delivered by a Navy Lieutenant chaplain, than to join another church that proselytizes Black Liberation Theology.

As we know, for decades the Religious Right has been bludgeoning the wall separating church and state. Now the Religious Left has made its national debut, with President Obama as the poster child. While leftist Christianity may seem like an oxymoron because of the Marxist influence on the American Left, it's actually a perfect marriage of irrational ideas. Defenders of capitalism and freedom have at least as much cause to worry about the Religious Left's agenda as the puritanical obsessions of conservative evangelicals.

The newly-empowered Religious Left is egalitarian, tribal, anti-reason, and deeply anti-capitalist. And unlike the Religious Right which focuses on the soul and the glory of heaven, the Religious Left promotes activism in Jesus's name in the here and now. In examining Black Liberation Theology, which has been our President's spiritual bedrock for over 20 years, it becomes very clear where he will take America -- despite the eye-rolling stunt to appear more worthy of the title "Commander-in-Chief."

Foaming at the Mouth: What the Reverend Wright Says to America and Obama

Months before the 2008 Presidential election, the media let a spitting, scratching cat out of the bag: Reverend Jeremiah Wright. YouTube videos of his pugilistic, outrageous sermons shocked many Americans, ultimately leading to Obama disavowing his relationship with the fire-breathing Reverend.

You may remember Reverend Wright's infamous sermon in the late fall of 2001 in which he blamed American friendship with Israel for the 9/11 attacks by Islamic terrorists:

Last year's conference in Africa on racism, which the United States would not participate in because somebody dared to point out the racism that still supports both here and in Israel. I said that dirty word again... Don't be skerd! Don't be skerd! You don't see the connection between 9-1-1-0-1 and the Israeli-Palestinian?! Something wrong?! You wanna borrow my glasses?"
Or how about the "chickens come home to roost" sermon in which the Reverend expands his sphere of contempt for American foreign policy and his blatant multiculturalism to imply that America deserved 9/11.
... We have moved from the hatred of armed enemies to the hatred of unarmed innocents. We want revenge, we want paybacks, and we don't care who gets hurt in the process. Now, I asked the Lord, "what should our response be, in light of such an unthinkable act?" ... I heard Ambassador Peck on... Fox News... This is a white man... and an ambassador! He pointed out that what Malcolm X said ... was in fact true: that America's chickens are coming home to roost! We took this country, by terror, away from the Sioux, the Apache, the Arawak, the Comanche, the Arapaho, the Navajo. Terrorism! We took Africans from their country to build our way of ease and kept them enslaved and living in fear. Terrorism! We bombed Grenada and killed innocent civilians, babies, non-military personnel. We bombed the black civilian community of Panama with stealth bombers and killed unarmed teenagers and toddlers, pregnant mothers, and hard-working fathers! We bombed Qaddafi's home and killed his child. Blessed are they that bash your children's head against a rock! We bombed Iraq! We killed unarmed civilians trying to make a living! We bombed a plant in Sudan to pay back for their attack on our embassy, killed hundreds of unarmed people ... We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon. And we never batted an eye... We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans. And now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas has now been brought back to our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost! Violence begets violence, hatred begets hatred, and terrorism begets terrorism.
And then there is Reverend Wright's best example of what he thinks the American political system and capitalism are all about:
Who cares what a poor, black man has to face every day in a country and a culture controlled by RICH, WHITE, PEOPLE. ... Jesus was a POOR, BLACK man who lived in a country and who lived in a culture controlled by RICH, WHITE, PEOPLE. ... It just came to me within the past few weeks why so many folks are hating on [candidate] Barack Obama. He doesn't fit the model. He ain't WHITE. He ain't RICH. He ain't PRIVILEGED. ... Hillary fits the mold. Europeans fit the mold. ... Hillary ain't never been called a nigger. ... I'm so glad that I got a God who knows what it is like to be a poor, black man in a country and a culture controlled by and run by RICH, WHITE, PEOPLE. ... [Jesus] never let [his enemies'] hatred dampen his hope.
When the Reverend is not at the pulpit arousing the envy and resentment of his mostly-black congregation, he credits Black Liberation Theology in forming his views. The founder of Black Liberation Theology in the 1960s, James Cone, explains that it is essentially about doing Jesus's work for the poor and oppressed in the here and now, as applies specifically to black oppression in America. In a 2008 NPR interview he said:
Black Liberation theology sees God as primarily concerned with the poor and weak ... in society. It's not just for black people. ... Justice for the poor is the very heart of what God is about. ... The white church didn't talk about blacks struggle for justice. ... The gospel isn't about going to heaven; it's about justice and peace. ... Salvation in the Bible means being delivered from bondage. ... Jesus was crucified ... because he disturbed the consciousness of the people.
He also explains that it is blacks who don't love themselves, and that the justice Jesus fought for is for them too, in this way merging Malcom X's Black Power with Martin Luther King's Christianity.

Now decades past the Civil Rights era, Reverend Wright has exploded the tenants of "Jesus Justice" into a tirade of rage against what he considers the symbols of an evil America: war (regardless of the reasons for it): cultural repression (regardless of American ideals of freedom and individual rights); and racism (regardless of the fact that America has eliminated the evil of slavery and made quantum leaps in correcting past legalized oppression of blacks).

Yet still, proponents of the various permutations of Black Liberation Theology profess that America should be transformed into a society characterized by:
1. Mysticism: That Biblical Scripture, not a Constitution, should be the law of the land.

2. Socialism: That taking care of the "poor" and "oppressed," rather than promoting capitalism and the freedom of individuals, should be the social mandate.

3. Racism: That identity is based on race, rather than on the metaphysically given primary, the individual; and

4. Multiculturalism: That we should consider as morally equal to America all societies, such as World War II-era Japan and Germany, Palestinian terrorists, primitive tribal societies, dictatorial Libya, etc. etc.
Obama Disavows Wright but Not the Ideas

If there is any doubt about whether or not the Reverend Wright had a profound influence on Obama's present-day thinking, there should not be. In a 2007 interview, Obama said:
During this holiday season and during this political season I'm continually reminded that the values that I learned at Trinity (Wright's church) and as part of the UCC (United Church of Christ) community are values that can't just stay in church but have to be applied outside of church. ... I realized that Scripture and the words of God fit into the values I was raised in... [W]hat was intellectual and what was emotional joined, and the belief in the redemptive power of Jesus Christ, that he died for our sins, that through him we could achieve eternal life -- but also that, through good works we could find order and meaning here on Earth and transcend our limits and our flaws and our foibles -- I found that powerful.
As a poignant summary of Obama's creed: "Race is a central test of our belief that we're our brother's keeper, our sister's keeper ..."

How the theology of Obama translates into the policies of his Administration will be the subject of my next post.

Read more...

10 December 2009

A Joke

By Gina Liggett

The Reader's Digest June 2009 issue ran an article featuring 10 jokes chosen by a panel of comedy legends (Sid Caesar, Montal Hall, Arthur Hiller, Rocky Kalish, Hal Kanter, Gary Owens, John Rappaport, and Matty Simmons). Readers could vote for "The Best Joke in America." My favorite was number 9, submitted by Mitchell Hauser:

A priest, a minister, and a rabbi want to see who's best at his job. So they each go into the woods, find a bear, and attempt to convert it. Later they get together. The priest begins: "When I found the bear, I read to him from the Catechism and sprinkled him with holy water. Next week is his First Communion."

"I found a bear by the stream," says the minister, "and preached God's holy word. The bear was so mesmerized that he let me baptize him."

They both look down at the rabbi, who is lying on a gurney in a body cast. "Looking back," he says, "maybe I shouldn't have started with the circumcision."

Read more...

07 December 2009

Religious Right Takes a Deep Philosophical Breath

By Gina Liggett

For two decades, the Religious Right has reveled in the successes of their crusade to erode the wall separating church and state. Since America's sharp Left turn in 2008, they have not been so quick to gloat. Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, said, "I'm not grieving over Barack Obama's victory, but over the loss of things that I've fought for, for 35 years," particularly concerning abortion rights and advancement of the so-called homosexual agenda. The Religious Right itself seems to be taking a soul-searching sabbatical, to get back in touch with its deeper mission: to live by the rule of God.

In October over 500 evangelical Christian leaders attended a conference at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary on "renewing the evangelical mission." Many felt that evangelicals had veered from the mission of Jesus. As one pastor put it: "The missing ingredient is not the primacy of the mind and doctrine. It's the willingness to suffer."

To this point, attendees sang a hymn with the words, "We spurned God's way and sought our own, and so have become worthless." I'm not sure if in this context "worthlessness" pertains to human beings or to evangelism's usefulness to society. Indeed, one pastor lamented, "We've become useless in a society that desperately needs us."

Another theologian urged pastors to talk less about fulfilling individual potential and teach more from Old Testament prophets like Prophet Joel, who urged repentance before God. Others argued for embracing Christian Reconstructionism, a movement emphasizing the total reformation of society according to God's Law. Yet another pastor, spoke of his frustration in getting evangelicals of differing perspectives to collaborate on goals such as fighting abortion rights.

But in the end, all conferees agreed that Scripture should be the foundation for whatever direction Christianity is to take.

In a well-publicized coming-together, another prominent group of Catholic and Protestant leaders announced in November their joint document called The Manhattan Declaration: a Call of Christian Conscience. It states:

We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good and to call upon our fellow citizens...to join us in defending them. These truths are: the sanctity of human life; the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife; the rights of conscience and religious liberty.....We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
As defenders of Christianity's 2000-year-old legacy of "proclaiming God's word," they claim that it because of Christian "obedience to the one true God...who has laid total claim on our lives..." that the moral good has manifested in society (e.g., babies being rescued from ancient Roman trash heaps, and the emergence of modern democracy).

It is in this spirit that the Christian leaders have drawn their philosophical line in the sand:
(W)e will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar's. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God's.
These two events, the writing of the Manhattan Declaration and the Gordon-Conwell conference, have made it clear that the Religious Right is getting back to its philosophical roots: that truth and human society should be "grounded in Holy Scripture."

Contrast this with Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. Ayn Rand integrated the inescapable axiom that "existence exists" with the fact that humans rely on their faculty of reason to survive, validating that the moral good is the pursuit of human life-enhancing values.

In direct opposition are the Christian beliefs of a dual universe consisting of a mystical God ruling over humans, the reliance on Scripture as the source of truth, and self-sacrificing service to God's laws as the moral good. These fundamentally irrational ideas are anti-life in the most profound sense of the term, and can lead only to tyranny.

The Christians are returning to their philosophical roots. It is time for rational individuals to follow the religious right's example of philosophical introspection. But let's become grounded in a philosophy that holds as absolute--not God--but reason, reality and rational egoism.

Read more...

06 December 2009

Restart

By Diana Hsieh

With some very welcome help from Gina Liggett and Ari Armstrong, posting to Politics without God will resume Monday! Of course, I'd prefer a cultural shift to universal respect for the proper wall of separation between church and state. Since that's not likely, I'm glad that we're jumping back into the fray.

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