Christianity and torture

In a perfect world, I wouldn’t even have to write this post, because our government wouldn’t torture people and religion would have no influence on politics.

But in a world where Bush came to power thanks to “values voters” and proceeded to piss on the Geneva Conventions, it actually does matter to American politics what Christians think about torture.

From the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel:

“Who would Jesus torture?”

The Rev. Neal Jones thinks he knows the answer to the question posted on the bumpers of some passing cars: No one.

He and his parishioners at Columbia’s Unitarian Universalist Fellowship say they are alarmed about the detention, treatment and trial of terrorist suspects and worry that the continuing debate will lower America’s stature in the world.

“To me, it’s our Christian duty to criticize our government when it is going astray,” Jones said. “That is our prophetic duty.”

Although a lot of conservative Christians would hedge at calling the Unitarians “Christian,” politically I’d much rather be lumped in with this guy… especially after what a representative of my own church had to say about the matter:

The Rev. Aris Metrakos, pastor of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church on Sumter Street in Columbia, said he understands those tactics can be terrifying. “But that is how we extract information from bad people who are trying to destroy the world.”

The former Navy aviator said he believes Christians, who by faith are taught to treat all people with love and dignity, must balance their faith with the reality that America is in a battle with nihilists “who want to destroy civilization.”

“The Orthodox Church view is that the world is a paradoxical place,” Metrakos said. If people don’t believe that, “then they need to go back and listen to the 9/11 (emergency and rescue) tapes.”

This is a ridiculous oversimplification and hardly a dogmatic view of the church; I haven’t seen any church councils say so at least.

At any rate, I know I’m probably preaching to the choir about what Christians ought to be thinking regarding torture; any Libertarian Christians here most likely feel the same way. But nonetheless, more churches need to be addressing the issue, and if they’re not willing to GTFO of politics in the first place, at least need to stand with their actual Lord and Saviour in refusing to harm/torture people.

posted by Stuart Richards
  • Rick Rajter

    I’m a libertarian Christian, and certainly don’t condone torture.

    BTW. I doubt Bush is a Christian. He, like most of the higher ups in any religion, is probably just using the religion card for guaranteed votes. In reality, he’ll do whatever the hell he wants and just use religion as his excuse.

  • http://www.lpnm.org Joseph Knight

    You mean Jesus didn’t say “Coerce unto others as I have coerced unto you?”

    Well, here’s a handy little tool for Stuart, et.al.:

    http://www.theadvocates.org/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=LS&Product_Code=A318&Category_Code=AUD

  • http://www.lpnm.org Joseph Knight
  • matt

    I wish my church were more vocal in criticizing torture and war. They do it, but I don’t think they do it often enough.

  • matt

    Ideally, as the influence of Christ on the world grows, torture will become more and more unthinkable. Judging by the state of the american church today, this might take another millenium or so.

  • IanC

    Matt; the problem is that the influence of the church *IS GROWING* not that it is receding. America is quite possibly the *MOST* Christian nation in the world, aside from some South African countries. That last bit is somewhat ironic considering that in South Africa there are gangs roving the streets asking one simple question: “What religion are you?” — if you answer incorrectly, you are shot & killed. (Amusingly both Muslim & Christian gangs are doing this.)

    Even moderate christianity has its own brunt of the fault; by legitimizing the *very existance* of fundamentalist christianity, by endorsing it as ‘christian’ … in effect *PERMITS* the atrocities committed by fundamentalist christianity. The problem with Christianity is simple; it is ‘dominionist.’ Always has been and always will be.

    Think: What is the difference between “Deus Volt!” and “Allah Akhbar!”? By result? None.

    I’m sorry for the strong rhetoric, gentlemen… but these are simple truths that are NOT spoken enough.

  • Matt

    The influence of CHRIST, IanC, not the influence of the Church. Much of the Church is, as you’ve so aptly pointed out, ridiculous and harmful. That being said, the Christian story is the story of a man who preferred to die rather than to defend himself through violence. A lot of us hear that story and are inspired to imitate him.

    Now I’ll grant you, many who call themselves Christians manage to justify war. I’m thinking both of the gang in the white house and the gangs on South Africa’s streets. That being said, I think it can be argued that the overall influence of Christianity has been such to make the world less violent than it otherwise would have been. Now that’s difficult to prove, and I doubt I’ll convince you, but know this: given my class, upbringing, and temperment, I would probably be in Iraq right now if it wasn’t for the influence of the Christian story.

  • Timothy West

    Christianity, like all other revealed religions, torture and make people lead unnatural lives using fear of death and forced conformity.

    biggest oxymoron = “Libertarian Christian”. I never have been able to figure that out. In my personal experience, the most ‘christian people’ I have ever met have not been christians.

    mankind would finally start to get along if they threw these backward middle age superstitions overboard. But there’s no money in peace.

  • http://www.lpalabama.org/blog/14 paulie

    biggest oxymoron = “Libertarian Christian”. I never have been able to figure that out. In my personal experience, the most ”˜christian people’ I have ever met have not been christians.

    Actually no, the oxymoron is actually NON-libertarian Christian.

    (the reverse is not true, however; non-Christian libertarian is not an oxymoron).

    http://www.geocities.com/vonchloride/anarchist-jesus.html

    or

    http://www.anti-state.com/redford/redford4.html

    Christian torture? C’mon folks, Jesus WAS tortured, if you believe what you say you believe.

    Rajter is right; Bush and his ilk are the farthest thing from true Christians – they are what William Blake described as people who worship Satan and call him Jesus and Jehovah.

  • http://www.lpalabama.org/blog/14 paulie

    Stuart, out of curiosity, how did you come to be Eastern Orthodox – are you of East European ancestry, or did you convert?

    My own people were mostly Jews, Pagan/Shamanists and Buddhists, but a few Eastern Orthodox as well. That was before Hitler killed most of the Jewish ones and Stalin beat and terrorized the religion out of the rest, whatever their religion to start.

  • Timothy West

    Jesus did not believe in private property. How does one reconcile that with libertarianism?

  • Mike G

    But in a world where Bush came to power thanks to “values voters”

    We can thank the “values voters” for THOUSANDS of people killed since 9-11-01, HIGH gas prices, HIGH unemployment, freedoms and liberties going down the drain, and America losing the respect and gaining the hate of other countries. All of this because “values voters” and their views on horsesh*t topics such as abortion, gay marriage, and family values. The government has NO BUSINESS GETTING INVOLVED IN THESE ISSUES, yet the “values voters” want LAWS to enforce their fundamentalist Christian beliefs on everyone else, and God help those who go against them. To think that MY privacy, freedoms, and liberties are being taken away, and my hard earned money paying HIGH taxes and gas prices, just because of some idiot’s pro-life ideals, or some lazy parents who want the government to raise their kids with dumb laws. To the over-zealous values voters, I give you a one finger salute.

  • http://www.lpalabama.org/blog/14 paulie

    Tim – read my links, please.

    I know it’s kinda long, but it reconciles everything quite well.

  • http://www.lpalabama.org/blog/14 paulie

    Mike G:

    More accurately that would be “voters who vote the wrong values”.

    I’m a values voter (when I vote) but not in their sense.

  • Mike G

    “voters who vote the wrong values”

    Paulie, I like that! To the fundamentalists, that would be a political burn :-D

  • Matt

    Everyone is a “values voter”. The term is embarrasingly meaningless. Everyone votes for the advancement of causes they value, it’s just that our moral discourse sucks, so people can go on valueing the most trivial tripe without being confronted.

  • Timothy West

    Yech. If Jesus was a anarchist, that’s just double the reason to never do anything he says.

  • http://www.lpalabama.org/blog/14 paulie

    Well, did you read it?

  • Matt

    I checked out the links, and they make some sense to me, but I think it’s absolutely neccessary to stress exactly what kind of anarchist Jesus was. To co-opt e language of our current POTUS, Jesus was a Compassionate Anarchist.

  • Timothy West

    so people can go on valueing the most trivial tripe without being confronted.

    yeah, the LP went on for a long time like that before someone pointed out to them they were all a bunch of failures and that government had grown a gazillion times while they were running around patting each other on the back about how moral and noble they all were. I hated to be rude, but somebody had to let em know.

  • Timothy West

    Paulie, I got through 3 minutes of it. All I could take.

    people can go on valueing the most trivial tripe
    people can go on valueing the most trivial tripe
    people can go on valueing the most trivial tripe
    people can go on valueing the most trivial tripe
    people can go on valueing the most trivial tripe
    people can go on valueing the most trivial tripe
    people can go on valueing the most trivial tripe

    One mans tripe is another mans scrapple.

  • Matt

    Of whether or not Jesus was an anarchist, I’ll never be sure, but I am sure that he didn’t go around valuing tripe that was trivial.

  • Timothy West

    he wrote a gospel about it, The Book of Tripe. Nobody read it.

  • IanC

    Matt — I judge all things, men, religions, ideologies, et al, by their impact on the world; the effects of their acts.

    It was Christ who said, (paraphrasing) “If you do not have a sword, sell your cloak to buy one.” Think on that.

    Christianity has always been and will always BE *DOMINIONIST.*

    All dominionism is the enemy of freedom.

    “Christian” Libertarianism is effectively an oxymoron.

    Those whom espouse the moderate, ‘compassionate’ aspects of christianity (all dominionist religions as well, but this discussion is christianity), in effect are apologists for the evil that is historically associated with Christianity.

    That’s just plain fact.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deus_lo_volt

    It is historical fact that more *christians* than arabs died in the first, and each subsequent, crusade. It is also fact that at the time, Islam was a faith that was as close to wholly tolerant of others as existed in the western world.

    Freedom requires the abandonment of dominionism.

    Out.

  • Pavel

    Is it wrong now merely to own a sword?

    Better to think on the response of Jesus when about to be taken captive by the Romans. He told his followers to sheath their weapons and not to resist in his name. To quote Tertullian: “Christ, in disarming Peter, unbelted every soldier”

  • http://LibertarianChristians.Org Bryan Morton

    “Jesus did not believe in private property. How does one reconcile that with libertarianism?” Timothy West ”” 2006-10-28 @ 11:24 pm

    Tim, I’d like for you to quote a few chapters and verses to show how you came to the conclusion that Jesus didn’t believe in private property. A few simple points will set you straight. The very fact that it’s a sin to steal indicates a belief in the fact that property can and does belong to someone specific and that it’s ownership can be wrongfully transfered. Christ’s admonitions for believers to voluntarily give of their personal property also disproves your assumption. Combine that with the number of times in both the Old and New Testaments where the personal pronouns indicative of ownership such as mine, yours, his, hers, ours and theirs are used by God, the profits, the apostles and Christ, and it’s impossible to defend your assessment. It’s also not oxymoronic to be a libertarian Christian, unless you’re confusing libertarian with libertine.

  • Pavel

    I am saddened to read the words of Fr. Aris quoted in the article. For another view of the Orthodox Church and non-violence, please visit:

    http://www.incommunion.org

    It is a very good resource on peace from an Orthodox perspective. I believe those who are non-Orthodox may find it valuable as well. I especially like the quotations section, which has a wealth of quotes on peace from theologians and saints:

    “The world is going mad in mutual bloodshed. And murder, which is considered a crime when people commit it singly, is transformed into a virtue when they do it en masse. The offenders acquire impunity by increasing their ravaging.” -St Cyprian of Carthage

  • Timothy West

    As you know the bible contains enough material either dispose of or advance almost any argument one can make. if Is start posting shit, you will do the same, and before long we will have convinced nobody.

    The only thing that will happen is that we will fill the blog with much wasted effort. It should also be noted that I dont intend to spend much time dicking with the Bible, as I have rejected Christianity for myself. I think it is a immoral religion practiced by charlatans the same thing I think about any religion that has a “Good Book”. They all have contributed much more death and misery to the human condition than they have helped.

    I dont consider the Bible holy or worthy, it’s just another form of government.

  • Timothy West

    Christians cannot speak of being “pro-private property” without also insisting that any understanding of private property is subordinate to the common good, to what is often called “the universal destination of goods.”

    I hink there’s enough evidence in what that bearded white guy said to justify this statement. Jesus was not antiproperty in the sense that he thought that one should not have clothes or a plave to live, etc. – but the common good was always more important to Jesus than private property rights.

  • http://www.hammeroftruth.com/about Stuart Richards

    Stuart, out of curiosity, how did you come to be Eastern Orthodox – are you of East European ancestry, or did you convert?

    Well, I’m Scottish-American, so yeah. Converted. Or rather, converting… I’m a catechumen. But it’s weird, because half my family ended up converting to some version of Orthodox independent of each other.

    Tim, as far as what Jesus believed, it’s irrelevant because Jesus was apolitical. He believed in changing hearts and lives, not laws or thrones. That’s why (from a Christian standpoint) His message is so incompatible with any sort of dominionism. Unfortunately, some people who chose to tarnish His name have done so with their actions.

    Interesting little tidbit… my friend who started introducing me to Orthodox Christianity changed his registration from Republican to Libertarian the other day. Apparently most of the Orthodox he knows are Libertarian? The two are very compatible.

  • paulie

    I checked out the links, and they make some sense to me, but I think it’s absolutely neccessary to stress exactly what kind of anarchist Jesus was. To co-opt e language of our current POTUS, Jesus was a Compassionate Anarchist.

    Hey, I’m a compassionate Anarchist too.

    I hope I don’t go out like JC, ’cause my daddy can’t make me get up again after that.

    TW,

    Sorry, got no idea what your response had to do with Redford’s article.

    yeah, the LP went on for a long time like that before someone pointed out to them they were all a bunch of failures and that government had grown a gazillion times while they were running around patting each other on the back about how moral and noble they all were. I hated to be rude, but somebody had to let em know.

    Sorry to be equally rude, but it ain’t growing any slower because you all are running around patting yourselves on the back about how practical and mainstream you are. WWJD?

  • paulie

    Sorry to be equally rude, but it ain’t growing any slower because you all are running around patting yourselves on the back about how practical and mainstream you are. WWJD?

    Perhaps instead of chasing the money changers out of the temple he would have asked for a more reasonable exchange rate.

    Of whether or not Jesus was an anarchist, I’ll never be sure,

    Read the link?

    It was Christ who said, (paraphrasing) “If you do not have a sword, sell your cloak to buy one.” Think on that.

    That “sword” was a metaphorical one, to cut through popular delusion. Literal swords are a different matter.

    the common good was always more important to Jesus than private property rights.

    There’s no conlict. In fact the two are necessary for each other.

  • paulie

    Sorry to be equally rude, but it ain’t growing any slower because you all are running around patting yourselves on the back about how practical and mainstream you are. WWJD?

    Another problem with this:

    If all you accomplish is making government grow more slowly, it still grows. Is it really preferrable to be choked to death more slowly? If those are my only choices, just get it over with!

    But you aren’t even doing that.

  • paulie

    BTW if you read Redford’s article, it disproves that Jesus was anti-property. Several good examples, such as the stoty of the grapeyard.

  • matt

    Saying that Jesus was an anarchist is technically accurate but practically misleading. IMHO, the article paulie posted wraps up an excellent case. It systematizes much of what I’ve been saying for years.

    The flipside is that saying “Jesus was an anarchist” creates almost more confusion than it dispels. Jesus was against coercion, no doubt about that, but the term “anarchist” today conjures up a silly pop-culture hodgepodge that makes the term “classical liberal” look unambiguous by comparison. Yes, Jesus was an anarchist in the pure sense of the word. He was no Sid Vicious.

  • paulie

    True, Redford does specify Market Anarchist.

    It’s true that the term Anarchist is too broad, encompassing anti-property anarcho-syndicalists and anti-everything anarcho-nihilists as well as market anarchists.

    At the same time the term libertarian is too broad as well, encompassing not just anarchists and true minarchists, but a whole hodgepodge of confused quasilibertarian and Republitarian beliefs.

    My views have about as much to do with Sid Vicious as they do with Neal Boo!rtz, Eric Dondero or Julian.

  • IanC

    Paulie — that sword bit was neither figurative nor metaphorical but material.

    But that being said, there is one thing that I think everybody in this discussion can agree upon:

    Christian ideology has absolutely no place in the political arena. Be it because Jesus was apolitical or because dominionism is the greatest evil facing the world today…

    It doesn’t matter; the result is the same. :)

  • paulie

    No, it wasn’t.

    And Christian ideology is OK in the ANTI-political arena.

  • Timothy West

    Sorry to be equally rude, but it ain’t growing any slower because you all are running around patting yourselves on the back about how practical and mainstream you are. WWJD?

    Never cared would he would do. Jesus is a curiosity to me nothing more. I regret that people spend their lives in mental slavery to any revealed faith.

    Lets give it 2 election cycles to see how things turn out? We havent even had our first election yet.

  • matt

    Well, the Church has historically been the driving force behind the hospital, the university, and much of the charitable/humanitarian tradition in the western world. You’re altogether free to be disinterested in the man, I think a dispassionate look at his influence leaves him looking pretty impressive. Especially in the light of the fact that, aside from a few medieval Jews, no other faith has ever spoken out against war and oppression as vehemently and frequently as the Christian one.

  • Julian

    A few bad acts of Christians appears to nullify all the good acts of Christians. I will admit there are false Christian wolves in sheep’s clothing but not all Christians.

    If I commit some horrific act in the name of my family, does that mean you Christian slammers will blame my entire family for my behavior? According to the dialogue here, the answer has to be a resounding yes.

    Maybe the way to eliminate Christians (and Jews) so many of you hate is to install Islam as a state religion, or maybe even look for totalitarian leaders such as Hitler, Stalin, Mao & Kim. Would you Christian bashers feel better about your belief system?

    Some of you are hypocrites, not the Christians.

    The one great teaching of Christianity is no one is exempt from redemption if they so choose. Christianity, unlike Islam, is not a religion of conversion by the sword. They don’t advocate the murder of Jews as the “religion of peace” does. It is a religion of attraction, not by violent submission.

  • Timothy West

    Its just like all the other good book religions: it uses the fear of the unknown and fear of death to control people and make them slaves inside their own bodies.

  • http://www.reformthelp.org Carl

    Tim: Regarding Jesus being anti-property, I think you (and others) mistake the qualifications to be a personal follower of Jesus while he was alive vs. Christian in general. As any LP volunteer knows, people who volunteer and then don’t follow through can be a royal pain. Jesus limited his inner circle to those willing to drop everything immediately.

    After the crucifiction, the disciples went back to their jobs for a time.

    The idea of priests not owning property goes back to Moses. The Levites were not allowed to own farms.

    While Jesus was alive, the disciples were sent out on their own. During this time they were to rely entirely on the charity of the towns they entered. This limited preaching to those willing to be hospitable to strangers, and willing to pay for the info. (principle of revealed preference)

    Regarding Christianity and force in general see:

    http://holisticpolitics.org/PowerOfMercy

  • paulie

    Tim:

    “WWJD” has nothing to do with whether you believe Jesus ever existed, much less whether he was God. It’s about the teachings that are attributed to Jesus in the Bible.

    He is an ideal of human action and principle. I’m personally not a fundamentalist of any religion; but I don’t have to believe that the Bible has to be literally true to understand that it has some worthy moral lessons.

    In short, Jesus had a lot good to teach us, regardless of whether you regard him as your Lord and Savior, just a wise Rabbi, or even merely an instructive fable. The teachings are more important than the history (except to fundamentalist Christians and evangelical atheists).

  • IanC

    Julian — your entire argument is one giant straw-man. I won’t go into it further in this forum.

    Matt — historically speaking, the christian church set back hospitals, universities, and the economy in general by millennia. Medicine was left as the ‘cliff-notes’ version of the works of Galen for *CENTURIES* because of christian viewpoints on medicinal research. Intellectualism & Philosophy were restructured to emphasize neoplatonic christian perspectives, as opposed to natural thought & development. If the church and christendom in general had succeeded totally, we would still use the roman numeral system as opposed to the hindji (read; arabic — it was imported from Arabia to Europe *FROM* India.) Further, moneylending was seen as a sin against god. Our modern capitalist world would essentially be against the cross.

    It is not faith that is the problem. It is not even spirituality that is the problem. It is the dominionist heritage of Abraham that is the problem.

  • Timothy West

    In short, Jesus had a lot good to teach us,

    I accept nothing but by what I can personally observe and judge during my life. My choice is only right for me. I rejected all revealed religions when I was 20 years old. Since then, I’ve seen only had my belief strengthened by my life experience. I dont need to read what Jesus said when I know the underlying motive of WHY he said what he did by natural observation.

    Every person makes their choice, mines worked out for me.

  • matt

    Your points are chrystal-clear Ian. Clearly, Christianity is retrogressive and societies should grow progressively weaker from prolonged exposure. Clearly, it’s an advantage to be either briefly exposed or not at all.

    /Sarcasm off

    This holds up incredibly well on message boards, but not so nicely anywhere else. The nations of the world that for hundreds of years referred to themselves collectively as “Christendom” aren’t and have never been perfect, but even you must admit that they’re well above average. I prefer to ascribe this to the influence of Christianity rather than to some type of racial superiority, but you’re welcome to explain the moral, technological, and cultural success in any other way you choose.

    Just remember that “dominionism” must be bad.

  • http://www.reformthelp.org Carl

    IanC — one of the oldest statements of libertarian philosophy can be found in the Bible. (Samuel’s curse to the people for demanding a king.) The Biblical legal system was set up to support a very informal system of government — something akin to the American Wild West.

    Regarding medicine — the Bible says little on the subject but is says plenty on the subject of hygiene and quarantines. To this day these are still our best defenses against disease.

    During the Middle Ages, few had access to the Bible, and the Church hierarchy had put itself above the Bible (esp. the Old Testament). When Constantine supposedly “legalized Christianity,” what he actually pulled off was a merger between the major religions of his day. Try to find Chistmas trees, Easter eggs or Sunday worship in the Bible. Not there.

  • http://www.reformthelp.org Carl

    The Agorists credit SEK for counter-economics, but the idea is much older. It’s in 1 Corinthians 6.

    Robert Heinlein’s writings are loaded with Biblical references.

    Look on your globe and map out the countries that have managed stable democratic/republican governments for long periods of time. Compare this to the map of countries whose primary religion is Bible based (Protestant Christian or Jewish).

    Yes, there is plenty of ugliness in the histories of these countries. There is ugliness everywhere. People in this country need to study more non-Western history.

    Muslims put a bag over women’s heads. The Chinese used to bind their feet. The Hindus used to toss widows into their husband’s funeral pyre. And modern feminists have the temerity to single out Western Civilization/Christianity.

  • paulie

    IanC:

    Everything you say against Christianity is an indictment against the Church, not the actual religion laid out in the Bible.

    Further, the moral lessons of Jesus don’t depend on whether you accept his divinity or any form of revealed truth.

    This part is certainly true:
    Further, moneylending was seen as a sin against god.

    Thus they had the Jews do it, and now blame the Jews for being bankers and professionals – but back then the measure of wealth was in land, and Jews were not allowed to own land.

    “Our modern capitalist world would essentially be against the cross.”

    No, just as Carl pointed out (good points BTW) against the bureaucracy of the Church.

  • IanC

    Paulie; the religion IS the church. The bible has little to do with the religion itself. Never has and really never will. The bible is so self-contradicting you can prove anything from it. And once again; the message may appear to be purity and light, but it’s implementation is almost universally “Other.”

    Carl: Compare Abrahamism in general to that same message. And going further back, what happened to the Roman republics? Or the greek democracies?

    Further — take a look at industrialization, the “Age of Enlightenment”, and the fall of the stranglehold of the church on european society.

    It has been clear that the ascendancy of Europe is from two sources: the possession of gunpowder weapons & the will to use them, and the economic vitality provided by the corporation (an entity that began as early as the 1400′s IIRC.)

    As Christianity has SUBSIDED, the world has IMPROVED.

    Fewer than 1% of Europeans visit church as much as 1x every other month. Compare to the US.

  • IanC

    Carl — please note that my primary statements were of a nature specifically associated with the church & the faithful, and their impact on the world.

    It is nothing more than a semantical ploy to attempt to dissociate the teachings followed (however imperfectly) from the impact of those following those teachings.

    After all… through the letters of Paul, the bible *DOES* state that the Pope is God/Jesus’s ‘will on earth.’ During the time the Universal Church (Catholic) was singular in nature, all results of christendom can be specifically relegated to it.

    Also, please further note that I did NOT exclude other religions from the impacts they had. Nor am I a feminist.

  • http://www.reformthelp.org Carl

    IanC: the word “Pope” is in the Bible?

  • matt

    IanC, I’m wondering whether or not you believe that participation always confers endorsement. I participate in the Church Universal because of my attatchment (by faith) to Jesus.

    I would suggest that participation and endorsement are different. In the case of Christianity, that means me agreeing that group x (roman catholics or what-have-you) are right (or mostly right) in their claims about Jesus. I participate with them in spite of their flaws, in the hope that eventually the Church Universal will become even more humane (by becoming more internally consistent). I believe that it is already more humane on average than any other religion, but that can be left aside for now.

    I participate in the American political process and pay taxes to boot, but I certainly don’t want to be associated with the US’s negative impact on the world. The Church thing is analagous, I think.

  • IanC

    Carl: Nice ploy. :) Paul most certainly was, as was the text (can’t provide the quote but you can certainly do a little digging to find it) which stated that Paul was to be the ‘heir’ as it were, to Jesus — that Paul was to lead the church and his words were to be considered as having the authority of Christ’s own (Probably this was in the letters of Paul, but *THOSE* made it into the bible and thus are part of its teachings.) Paul established the Papacy. The Catholic Church & role of the Pope through Paul are inherently part of the religion.

    Matt; I don’t substitute “individuals” for “the organization.” Moderates do make up the majority of Christendom, the Nation of Islam, and Judaica in general. However; the organizations, by recognizing fundamentalists/extremists as *PART OF THE FAITH*, endorse their existance.

    You and I do NOT do the same with our current government. We both, I’m certain, object to the criminality of our current Authority.

    (cont’d)

  • http://www.codemonkeyramblings.com MikeT

    IanC sounds more like a libertine trying to justify himself in minarchist terms than a libertarian. Only a fool who knows little about Christian scripture or traditions, or who has a wildly hedonistic take on libertarianism (ie libertarianism is an excuse to be a libertine) would make statements like libertarianism and Christianity are incompatible. But then, what do you expect from most of our critics, who generally cannot be concerned with actually learning any of this stuff?

    Sexual promiscuity, materialism, drug and alcohol abuse, corruption, divorce and many more things are rising in America, but “Christianity’s influence has never been greater.” Bullshit. Christianity has never been weaker, and people like Ian cannot grok the difference between Christianity and our deism-based civic religion with its bland, non-judgemental god who acts like a cosmic sugar daddy while his kids run amok. Jesus himself said, by their fruits you will know them, and America is wildly screwed up.

  • IanC

    My argument previously was that fundamentalism, dominionism, are legitimized in their existance by the popular acceptance of moderate religion. I.e.; “These good things come from the church! People are charitable, and it teaches kindness to one another… now just ignore the one guy in the back torturing the infidels.” Fundamentalism drives the ideology of the american christian church; fundamentalists are the dominant power. It is for this reason that men in the bible belt can beat a gay man to death and get let off the hook, “Because he were lookin’ at me funny yer honor, and it was an *ack-see-dent.* Honest.” (After all; gays live in *SIN* — they have it coming.) My over-arching point is that our society would be far, far better off were it in a state of non-dominionist atheism as is being cultivated in Europe.

    Time and again, still focusing here on christianity, Christians have come out AGAINST progress. “If god meant man to fly, he’d have given him wings.” Etc.

  • IanC

    MikeT: I am faithfully monogomous, and have been since I was a teenager with the same woman. I have never in my life so much as put an alcoholic drink, tobacco, marijuana, hallucinogen, etc, to my lips. I disapprove of the practices in general and do not permit them in my household. (What you do on your own time and on your own property, however, is *YOUR BUSINESS*.) I mostly live an entirely ascetic existence.

    I’ve never so much as gone to a party, and most nights and weekends I stay at home. My idea of a ‘wild time’ is re-reading a good book for the fourth time.

    But, yeah. I’m a ‘damned libertine.’

    MikeT; based on political influence, regular church attendance, and self-identification, Christendom’s seat of power is indeed the good ol’ US of A. That’s plain fact.

    This post simply to reinforce my position with some plain facts.

  • Timothy West

    deism-based civic religion with its bland, non-judgemental god who acts like a cosmic sugar daddy while his kids run amok.

    Sweet. One persons amok is another persons freedom.

  • paulie

    IanC:

    Sounds like you need to get out more :-)

    Paulie; the religion IS the church.

    Far from it.

  • IanC

    Paulie; remember where I said I judge things by their impact on the world?

    If all people in a group agree that they’re all part of the same group, and one in ten of them are sadistic killers, what does that say *ABOUT THE GROUP*?

    That summarizes my position about the religion as opposed to its teachings. Even if 9/10ths of christians all agree that love, light, and tolerance is the way to go… but they all accept that the other 1/10th are still christian, and that 1/10th practice hatred, bigotry, and mass-scale aggression, then the ENTIRE religion has a basis in mass-scale aggression.

    It’s like how lieutenants and captains in WWII would “Walk Around the Hill” because Official Military Policy was that torture was not to be used. Did their code-book approve of it? No-sirree. But the responsibility still lies on them.

    Religions are living things which transform over time. Christianity and christendom have nothing to do with “Christ.”

    ‘Nough said.

  • IanC

    Oh, and Paulie — I know. If I’m gonna be a libertine I might as well get the perks of it, right?

    roflmao.

  • Mike G

    Did anyone see the “Opus” comic in the Sunday newspapers yesterday? It showed Opus the penguin wearing a too-too with the words “values voter” on the front. Hilarious!!

    BTW…. “Christian basher”???? I just call them as I see them….

  • Matt

    As far as the whole 1/10th vs. 9/10ths thing goes, I think you’re right, it’s absolutely crucial for me as a Christian to criticize other Christians who condone or practice torture. I’ve done this long and hard, and almost lost a friend or two in the process, just because I find it that crucial. What I don’t do is make judgements about whether other people are or are not Christians. I am not the gatekeeper of the Christian club. Christianity is about accepting the truth of Christ. Many people do this imperfectly (i.e. in a way that condones torture), but that’s not something I can fix. How could I? Should I excommunicate them until they come around? Perhaps a little torture? No. None of this suits Christ, or me. I’ve seen a good many Christians who, when confronted with the truth that torture and coercion don’t suit Christ, have changed their minds. Not everyone’s there yet, but I’m not going to hang my head in shame just because not everyone has a full-grown faith in Christ (yet).

  • Matt

    And I must give you props on the stoic existence, IanC. Turns out even I’m a libertine compared to you!

  • http://www.hammeroftruth.com/about Stuart Richards

    I never said anyone is or isn’t a Christian. I can only speculate on my own relationship with Christ; I don’t know what God thinks of anyone else.

  • IanC

    Matt; if a significant portion of christendom throughout history was in accordance with what you portray, in addition redacting the presence of dominionism, I would have not one leg to stand upon: I admit this freely.

    Only problem is, as I have discussed previously; I judge a thing by its impact upon the world — and the impact I see of christendom (I’m being specific but non-exclusionary), is a history of cultural repression, ideological recidivism, and two-faced bigotry. The vast, vast majority of christians only ‘poo-poo’ the violations of their own principles that exist in the form of fundamentalist christians.

    It is the same reason why most of us LP’ers present despise republicans. It’s not really the vast majority of republicans we despise. Just the ones running the show. The same applies with Christianity through history. What we now call ‘fundies’ have always been the ones running the show.

    Same problem, really, applies to libertarianism. The loudest voices always win out.

  • Norman

    So there are 60+ comments above this, but…

    I would just like to go on record saying that I am a Christian and a paleolibertarian, and I am against torture, the loss of Habeas Corpus, the Iraq War, the War on Terror, the Patriot Act, government involvement in marriage in any way, the application of strict religious values in government, and pretty much anything the Bush administration does at this point.

    Freedom forever,
    NH

  • matt

    And it’s your judgement on Christianity’s impact that I have to question. Crusaders and flat-earthers get a lot of press. Perhaps they are the loudest. Perhaps they influence the conversation more profoundly than their (sane) counterparts. Whatever they do to the conversation, however, their effect on the world itself is much different. You must be at least partially aware that the phenomenon of widespread english literacy is more primarily the result of the Church than of any other group. You must be aware that Christians (especially, Gasp! conservative ones) are the greatest per-capita givers of charity on planet earth. Certianly the abolition of slavery in England was a primarily Christian enterprise, etc.

    The loudest voices today are the voices on mindless patriotism. Personally, I blame the asinine Christian publishing industry for this, just as monarchy and papacy could have been blamed in the time of the crusades. What I can’t do, won’t do, is throw the baby out with the bath

  • IanC

    The primacy of English as the new lingua franca has far more to do with British Imperialism than Christianity. Attempting to associate it with the church is just plain silly. A few quotes on ideology:
    “If god meant man to fly, he’d have given him wings.”
    “It is sacrilege to consider that the earth might revolve around the sun.”

    That the earth is flat *was an ideology enforced by the church as a whole.* The greeks and romans *KNEW THE EARTH WAS ROUND* and that *THE EARTH REVOLVES AROUND THE SUN.* Aristotle even estimated the diameter of the earth.

    The works of Leonardo daVinci in autopsying the human body were sacriligious to christianity, (excommunicable even) yet sponsored modern medicine in addition to the results of Dr. Pasteur.

    Christians giving charitably is great & all. If only their beliefs didn’t make it *NECESSARY* to receive charity – this being an underlying principle of libertarian market ideals.

    Add in the Crusaders (whom are seen still as christian idyl.)

  • IanC

    (Cont’d)
    Let us also not forget what the world was like when the Church Universal (Catholic Church) was at its primacy; a world of squalor, suffering, and poverty. (This focuses, again, on Europe.)
    As the Age of Enlightenment dawned, what happened? Atheism became a problem the church sought to combat. Deism replaced christianity (the idea that there is a god, whom is unknown but present… i.e.; non-christian) for a great number of men including Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, etc. (not ALL of the Founding Fathers but a number.)

    And what was the result of this dissociation of humanity in Europe from the Church? The quality of life index *SKY-ROCKETED.* What it meant to be *POOR* changed altogether. Average life-expectancy increased 50%, (compared to todays increase of roughly 120% of the medieval period life expectancy). Things have only continued to *PROGRESS* as the influence of the church has faded. Also; the bible specifically endorses slavery in many places.

    .. I’m out.

  • matt

    Substitute “Protestantism” for “Enlightenment” or “Deism” in 70, and you’ll get much further in explaining why things improved when they did.

    Besides that, we could play ping-pong with non-sequiters all day and not get too far. Here’s one: did you know that John Calvin was the first lawmaker in the history of Europe to make domestic violence a punishable offence? How about the Christians who outlawed the British slave trade? I hear a lot of legitimate criticisms of Catholicism from you, but the rest is rather shaky.

  • matt

    And yes, most of the founding fathers were deists. Patrick Henry wasn’t, and he’s my favorite anyway, since he was an antifederalist. Deists had the biggest influence on the Constitution, no question. That being said, even the deists were profoundly, if incompletely influenced by Christian ethics.

  • Andy

    I love how the articles dealing with faith and politics always spark the most passionate and numerous comments. Jesus was a libertarian. He never coerced anyone into His way of thinking, or forced his way of life onto anyone. He lead by example, practiced what he preached, questioned religious authority and died for all of it. A simple man leading a simple life, never traveling more than 100 miles from where he was born has had the greatest impact on human society in the history of the world.
    I am a Christian Libertarian not because of the church I go to or the political party to which I belong but because of the relationship I have with Christ and the way I treat others.

  • IanC

    Matt — re: Protestantism… sorry, no. Look up “The Second Awakening” when you get a chance. (Link: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~ma95/finseth/evangel.html)

    Further: Deism is not a form of protestantism. Yet further: In overarching terms this obfuscates the fact that in all forms during the Age of Enlightenmint/Reason, western society took a massive turn TO the secular FROM the religious, and this resulted in massive improvements across the entire spectrum.

    Re: Christian morals et al; this touches on a wholly separate subject. Check out Richard Dawkins & “An Evolutionary Theory of Right and Wrong” (I’ve only read an extensive OpEd on the text, and can supply *that* via e-mail on request.)

    One could strongly make the argument that the founding fathers were striking out AGAINST christianity as it then existed; after all, they refused a state religion, and they also — rightly!! — turned down attempts at endorsing required tithes in Virginia.

    (cont’d)

  • IanC

    Re: Slavery: Slavery has been endorsed by christianity ENTIRELY for all but the last two hundred years. Something OTHER than the religion itself provided the impetus for this movement.

    Interesting that the abolitionist movements happened at the same time as did the rise of Humanism (which is in and of itself a term for atheism!)

    Humanity would be far, far better off with a truly secularist society that embraced the god of all atheists: “Reason.” (Probably’ll never happen; but a man can dream at least.)

  • IanC

    Andy: Regarding your comment on Jesus… two words:

    Guatama Buddha.

  • paulie

    Jesus was a libertarian. He never coerced anyone into His way of thinking, or forced his way of life onto anyone. He lead by example, practiced what he preached, questioned religious authority and died for all of it. A simple man leading a simple life, never traveling more than 100 miles from where he was born has had the greatest impact on human society in the history of the world.

    True.

    Guatama Buddha.

    The same essential message, and the same impeact in the East that Jesus had in the West.

    Doesn’t mean that all, or any, who claim to follow them are perfect or even close, and both have been used to excuse evil power games that could have hidden behind any religion, philosophy or ideology but are really about control, not what they claim to be about.

  • IanC

    Paulie — hit the hammer on the nail with that one didn’t ya? (Note the reversal of roles. Only a mild pun.) Certain philosophies or ideologies lend themselves far, far too readily to such absolutist control.

    Mainly I see most religions — *ESPECIALLY* revealed religions — to be about little more than social control. (Yes, that’s a personal, subjective, statement. Please don’t try to debate it. :) )

    I suppose part of my own beliefs & ideology are leaking through here: Although it is indeed open to just as much potential for abuse, it is my belief that “reason” as a goal tends to limit/arbitrate the vast majority of fundamentalism/dominionism.

    Hence why I’m a libertarian atheist.

  • http://www.lpalabama.org/blog/14 paulie

    Atheist evangelical fundamentalists are just as bad as any religious fundamentalists.

    The marxist commies are officially atheist. They just put the state in the role where all other cultures put religion.

    Here’s the way I see it: at heart, all religions are about connecting with a higher truth and living a better life, as well as being kind to others.

    However, to keep people’s attention span they develop rituals, stories as a way to explain and make their point, and hierarchies to create a community for believers and keep the message going from one generation to the next.

    Here’s where things get messed up, because control freaks seize these institutions as a means of gaining and expanding their power – but if it wasn’t religion, they would find other structures to do it.

    Lastly, they set the true purpose of religion completely on its head by getting their followers to go to war over the comstic differences between religions; what Blake called Satanism disguised as Xian

  • Andy

    Ian
    Your goal of “reason” works great as a driving force behind a free market and a limited government. However “reason” will always put individual desires and needs ahead of others in social situations. A society of people only doing what is best for themselves will fall apart. Ideally, our country would let “reason” control the economy and the government and let “compassion”, as promoted by religions, control society.

  • http://www.reformthelp.org Carl

    IanC — The American Revolution began in pulpits. See the latest issue of Liberty.

    The movement to banish slavery worldwide began within the Anglican Church. Much of the growth of the British Empire during the 1800s began as naval bases set up to enforce a shutdown of the Arab slave trade. The colonial remoras followed.

  • IanC

    Andy: Ever heard of “Enlightened self-interest”?

    There are times when the best-interest of the individual IS to subsume his own immediate goals for the long-term benefit of all. Any “reasonable” person understands this. Your argument there is flawed. (John Nash, Ph.D. ring a bell? http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/economics/laureates/1994/nash-autobio.html )
    (Think: “A Beautiful Mind”.)

    Also, Andy — please reference Richard Dawkins & “An Evolutionary Theory of Right and Wrong” (re: morality in nature.)

    Carl — your counterpoint regarding the Anglican Church endorses *MY* position; the Anglican Church itself represented a shift towards the secular side of the spectrum. Your counterpoint regarding the British Empire, that entity being other than christian in nature, also endorses my positions. NOTE: The *BIBLE* endorses slavery. Abolitionist movements may have taken the guise of christianity, but had to have their impetus in something other than the teachings of the Bible

  • IanC

    Carl — re: American Revolution & pulpits.

    Almost all politics was engaged in the pulpit, in those days. Politics is today seen as an almost entirely secular thing (which is all to the good.)

    Also note that the Revolution itself represented a strong step towards the secularization of society.

    However, unlike your other counter-points (*s*), this one I actually had to refute.

  • matt

    Just for fun, I’d like to add that much of the good that’s been attributed to deism (in regards to England and the Colonies) not only stems from Protestantism in general, but from a specific stream of protestantism with a name that’s now used almost universally as an insult.

    Puritanism.

  • http://www.originaldrugmanualforkids.com JT Barrie

    Yeah, but Jesus didn’t have a ticking bomb scenario where only one person held in detention knew where it was and torture would have saved thousands of lives. Jesus had it easy because he didn’t have the responsibility that our politicians have for protecting the lives of millions of people. Of course when Jesus returns and punishes all the bad people, torture will no longer be necessary. But until he cleanses the world of our enemies and people we don’t like, we should fight fire with fire.

  • Matt

    I’d laugh harder, but one of my distant cousins hit me with that basic argument one time. I was pissed to say the least. If it matters, I think that the Christian publishing industry is mostly to blame for creating a climate where people can toss around such trip with straight faces.

  • IanC

    Matt; a tiny bit of agreement here. “Turn the other cheek” applies across the board, right?

    I always found it interesting that the “ticking time-bomb” scenario has been so trouted as the cause of making torture legal.

    Back in WWII, torture was strictly disallowed, and a court-martialable offence. It still happened in limited circumstances by Allied forces upon Axis forces.

    How can this be? Because if it was *so incredibly necessary*, some people were *WILLING TO CONDEMN THEMSELVES* to save others.

    Ticking time-bomb scenario = jury acquittal. ***NOT*** legalization.

    It’s so silly.