Archive for ‘Religion and government’

June 15, 2011

‘Traditional values’ take a slip in the polls

by thoughtfulconservative

“Traditional values” didn’t do too well in the latest CNN poll of American adults. For the first time in 18 years since the question has been asked, the percentage of adults thinking that the government should “promote traditional values” dropped below 50 percent.

via ‘Traditional values’ take a slip in the polls | Keen News Service.

What the heck are “traditional values?”

CNN did not explain what it meant by “traditional values,” but in political discourse, it emerged as code for “anti-gay.” The right-wing Traditional Values Coalition defines traditional values as including the view that homosexuality is an abomination, but also includes views that are anti-abortion, pro-death penalty, and pro-religion.

And of course, these folks are usually conservative and therefore Republican. I’ve got it now.

But since the question was first asked, in 1993, responses have fluctuated dramatically.

Might they fluctuate so much because CNN doesn’t tell them what they mean by traditional values so folks have to guess. What kind of polling is this? Could this low point be just another fluctuation? What will the author say if it’s back up to say 56 per cent next time?

Notice Question 21 page 7 in the PDF file. Sixty-three per cent feel the government is trying to do too much to try and solve our problems. Maybe people are starting to figure out that government cannot promote traditional values.

June 15, 2010

Inserting religion into politics

by thoughtfulconservative

I wrote the title purposely. It’s bound to get people’s dander up.

I probably could have written “Religious values and politics” and increased folks’ blood pressure just as much.

“Moral values and politics” may have been a little more acceptable.

So how about “Values and politics?”

Am I far off base here? Don’t we all have values? Don’t we want to see all Americans embrace those values?

Isn’t equality for all men a value? Isn’t honesty a value? Try this list:

“…care and responsibility, fairness and equality, freedom and courage, fulfillment in life, opportunity and community, cooperation and trust, honesty and openness.”

Not bad. And that was a liberal.

Aren’t all of our laws an expression of values? Don’t we all hold certain actions to be right or wrong? We may not agree on the rightness or wrongness, but I think we all have actions we consider right or wrong.

And we all express our approval or disapproval of actions.

If you approve of smoking, you contend it’s freedom of choice. If you disapprove, it’s because it’s a health hazard.

See how it works? Even though we might disagree when it comes to defining values above, most of us could agree with them. So when he says conservatives don’t have those values, is he a “hater?” Is it wrong to now express disagreement based on values?

That seems to be what happens when religious conservatives express disapproval of a lifestyle or choices made by a group of people. We’re “haters.”

Now I agree that religious conservatives haven’t always been smart or convincing in their expression of their values. But does that mean they’re “haters?”

Because I think homosexuality is wrong, it doesn’t mean I hate anyone. I disagree with their lifestyle choices (yes, you read that right, choices) same as I would anyone else’s lifestyle choices. I don’t hate anyone I haven’t met, for one, and you would have to do a lot to make me hate you, like kill one of my kids or something.

I don’t hate them, but I could be called a “hater.” I don’t fear them, but I could be called a “homophobe.”

Substitute any thing else you like.

Well, I didn’t want to go on this long about this because I really wanted to talk about what Mitch Daniels said and the repercussions of it. Because after this post some folks may then be surprised how I feel on the subject.

Maybe in the next post….

June 4, 2010

“How Christian is Tea Party Libertarianism?”

by thoughtfulconservative

Jim Wallis, of Sojourners and the author of God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It which I reviewed awhile back (There is no link anymore, once again thanks to Google), wrote a post simultaneously posted on Huffington Post and God’s Politics on the Tea Party.

I can agree with Jim Wallis on some things, but on most things I would disagree. From this article, it doesn’t appear as though Mr. Wallis knows what the Tea Party is.

This comes out immediately in the title. Mr. Wallis links Tea Parties with libertarianism. My sense is that there are some Tea Partiers that are libertarian there are some who are not libertarian, mostly Republican with a few independents and even Democrats. That’s not to say that libertarianism is not an undercurrent as he points out has been evident in the Republican Party.

I hold some viewpoints in common with libertarianism, but I’m not libertarian.

Painting with a broad brush necessitates making some points that aren’t true for the whole. And instead of looking at the Tea Partiers, Wallis seems to be rebutting libertarianism, or those things that Tea Partiers believe that are the same as what libertarians believe. those points Wallis contends are:

  1. The Libertarian enshrinement of individual choice is not the pre-eminent Christian virtue.
  2. Not so. Although perhaps not a virtue, individual choice is the foundation of Christianity. We come to Christ by our individual choice. We are exhorted to live Christ-like in this world, but are not forced to do so. We are our brother’s keeper, but again that’s a choice we make as the Holy Spirit directs us, not one that the government, or anyone else can coerce us to do.

    Wallis tries to prove his point by going to the Old Testament prophets, but we must remember that Israel was God’s people on earth, something only a Christian dominionist might contend today. God’s People on earth should exemplify these characteristics, but all political parties fall short here.

  3. An anti-government ideology just isn’t biblical.
  4. Mr. Wallis erects somewhat of a straw man here, as he says later, “Of course, debating the size and role of government is always a fair and good discussion, and most of us would prefer smart and effective to ‘big’ or ‘small’ government.” I think that’s what the discussion IS about as I believe wanting to get rid of all government is called anarchy. And I think most clear thinking Tea Partiers and Libertarians would concede some taxes are necessary. They just think taxes are too high.

    He then puts on his rose colored glasses and states, “a power-hungry government is clearly an aberration.” Apparently he and I are not examining the same government. Eminent domain, police abuse, bureaucratic malfeasance seems pretty common.

  5. The Libertarians’ supreme confidence in the market is not consistent with a biblical view of human nature and sin.
  6. This might be the area I agree with most and it’s not limited to libertarians; many conservatives feel the same way. In a previous post I thought aloud about some things concerning government regulation. Wallis gave me this food for thought:

    Should big oil companies like BP simply be allowed to spew oil into the ocean? And is regulating them really un-American? Do we really want nobody to inspect our meat, make sure our kids’ toys are safe, or police the polluters to keep our air clean? Do we really want owners of restaurants and hotels to be able to decide whom they will or won’t serve, or should liquor store owners also be able to sell alcohol to our kids? Given the reality of sin in all human institutions, doesn’t a political process that provides both accountability and checks and balances make both theological and practical sense? C.S. Lewis once said that we need democracy not because people are essentially good, but because they often are not. Democratic accountability is essential to preventing the market from becoming a beast of corporate totalitarianism…”

    Some would argue we were fine for hundreds or thousands of years without government regulation, but I’m not sure that’s a valid argument. Others have argued that regulation is the cause of some of these problems.

  7. The Libertarian preference for the strong over the weak is decidedly un-Christian.
  8. He shows his hand with this sentence:

    “[P]rivate charity is simply not enough to satisfy the demands of either fairness or justice, let alone compassion.”

    There you have it. Jim Wallis’s position as succinctly as you can get it. Private charity is not enough. We have to redistribute wealth by government decree.

    And here, oddly enough, is where Wallis could possibly come closest to agreeing with conservatives and libertarians.

    “When the system is designed to protect the privileges of the already strong and make the weak even more defenseless and vulnerable, something is wrong with the system.”

    The system could be construed as being the government in some arguments.

  9. There is something wrong with a political movement like the Tea Party which is almost all white. …would there even be a Tea Party if the president of the United States weren’t the first black man to occupy that office?

This is his big finish? To answer the second question first, who knows? McCain was not that popular among conservatives or libertarians, so maybe, maybe not. And it’s hard for me to label a whole movement racist when there are African-Americans at the rallies, although no doubt as Wallis says, there are probably some racists attached to the movement. We even have an African-American writer taking the libertarian side on The Civil Rights Act (though most African-Americans would no doubt dispute that he is a valid speaker for the African-American community)!

It seems as though Mr. Wallis needs to learn some more about the Tea Partiers as part of his “dialogue.”

<a href=”″>God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It</a><img src=”; width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” />

April 29, 2010

National Day of Prayer

by thoughtfulconservative

[Ed. note–This would have been part of one of the columns I would have submitted to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.]

As a Christian and a conservative, stories like this from the April 17 Journal Sentinel always catch my eye.

A Wisconsin federal judge on Thursday found the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional, saying it violates the First Amendment prohibition against laws respecting an establishment of religion.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Barbara B. Crabb of the Western District of Wisconsin was a victory for the Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Since then the group also wants to expand the prohibition to holidays like Good Friday.

Now since I am a Christian, you would think that I would be dismayed by this decision. You would be wrong. It doesn’t concern me that much at all.

The reason is simple: I don’t need the government proclaiming a day of prayer for me to pray. I don’t need the government declaring a holiday for it to be a holiday. I don’t need an amendment to pray in school. I don’t need a tax deduction to contribute to worthy causes.

So am I not troubled by this? Am I not concerned by the erosion of morality in the country?

Certainly. I remember the 50’s and 60’s and while certainly far from perfect, America was a much nicer place to live in than now. And while one can never go back, it would be great to capture part of that time today.

Is it because I don’t believe America should pray and exercise religion more?

Not at all, but that’s a matter for the individual, not something that can be legislated or proclaimed by the state. Nor anything that should be.

But if America, and especially America’s Christians, needs proclamations and legislation and a favorable environment for Christianity to be great, then we’ve missed the message of the Bible.

I’m not a judge, nor a constitutional lawyer, but I know establishment of religion when I see it.

This is not a decision against prayer, nor a decision against prayer for the government. I pray for my government and its leaders every day. I don’t need a proclamation for that.

It’s a decision to keep government out of places they don’t belong.

And I’m always for that.

December 7, 2009

Letter from Jesus

by thoughtfulconservative

Taken from Vibrance!:

Dear Child,

It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that people are attempting to take My name out of the Christmas season.

How I feel about this celebration may be best-understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own:

I don’t care what you call the day so much as I do that you get along with and love one another.

If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn’t allow a scene depicting My birth, simply put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all My followers did that there wouldn’t be a need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.

Don’t worry about people calling the tree a holiday tree instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can remember Me anytime you see any tree.  I mean, you could decorate a grape vine if you chose to; I taught about one when I was on Earth, explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our tasks are (it’s in John 15).

If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth, any of these would be good choices:

1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.

2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don’t have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.

3. Instead of writing the President complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, write and tell him that you’ll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up… It will be nice hearing from you again.

4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can’t afford and they don’t need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.

5 Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.

6. Someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless.  Since you don’t know who that person is, give everyone you meet a warm smile; it could make the difference.

7. Instead of complaining about what a retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them warm smiles and kind words. Wish them a Merry Christmas even if they’re not allowed to say “Merry Christmas” in return. Then stop shopping there on Sunday. If the store has less traffic and makes less money on that day they’ll schedule fewer people, perhaps even close and let their employees spend Sunday at home with their families.

8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary– especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name.

9. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no “Christmas” tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don’t know them, buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the Salvation Army or some other charity which believes in Me and they will make the delivery for you.

10. Finally, if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don’t do things in secret that you wouldn’t do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine.

Don’t forget; I am God and can take care of Myself.
Focus on loving Me and doing what I have told you to do.
I’ll take care of all the rest.

Check out the list above and get to work; time is short.
I’ll help you, but the ball is now in your court.

And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love and remember :


December 23, 2008

Quick Hits

by thoughtfulconservative

Emptying out my drafts folder:

Top 9 Good Habits For A Deep Recession – These are good habits when there’s no recession.

From the Pew Research Center, The Religious Makeup of Congress – a nice graphical representation of the religious beliefs of the Congress compared with the American public as a whole.

By the director of new media in Obama’s Minnesota campaign, Developing a New Media Strategy for Campaigns Large and Small. This, of course, would not contradict experienced hands as Wigderson and Fraley who tell me, depending on the campaign, that a candidate needs to go door-to-door, but would be in addition to that.

How Can Facebook Crack its Advertising Problem? One problem with Facebook–it appeals to older folks like me who aren’t enticed to click the ads.

Cory Leibman has resurrected Eye on Wisconsin. Cory is a “progressive,” but he’s also a thinker and I like to read thoughtful folks like myself. 🙂

Massachusetts has a new marijuana law.

It sounds simple, but David Capeless, president of the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association, said the new policy presented a thicket of questions and complications.

There, now I feel better.

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