Friday, January 21, 2005

Is America a Chirstian Nation?

Sometimes I lead a Sunday discussion for all the "old men" in my neighborhood. (High Priest Group) Believe me, age wise, this bunch is way past the village elders. I turned down my AARP membership some years ago but I am usually the youngest in the crew of white and balding heads. This past Sunday the lecture was titled: Jesus Christ: "the Way, the Truth, and the Life". As I read the "lesson" material the question: Is America a Christian Nation?" came to mind.

At the first opportunity I asked the class if American was a Christian Nation.
I received the Universal mummer of yes and the wagging of many snow covered brows.

"Why?" (the trap question)

"Because we are founded on Judeo-Christian teachings, on the Ten Commandments!"

"Oh really? Tell me which of the Ten Commandments American laws enshrine?"

Nervous silence

"What laws support the "No other Gods command?"

Nervous laughter.

"How about, "No graven images"?

This was getting serious. I went on.

"How about "No taking the name of the Lord in Vain"? In which state is that law enforced?’

"Are we required by law to "Keep the Sabbath (Saturday) Day holey"? I don’t think so.

"Honoring father and mother? This commandment might have a promise, but there is no statute to back it up."

"Thou shalt not steal? Well finally, and there are laws against murder too, but I think Hammurabi beat Moses to the punch on those. I"ll bet these "natural" laws were in force in the caves of the Neanderthal."

"As for the rest - "False Witness", only if your in court, under oath, and not a popular Democrat President."

That one got a few laughs!

"And as far as Coveting goes - I dare say it’s part of our Puritan Ethic."

Well, by this time the Ten Commandment line was about spun out so one eager participant explained, with great patience to the delinquent discussion leader (me), " that America was a Christian Nation because the majority of the people in it accepted Jesus as the Son of God and Savior of the World."

I replied that, "Satin and all his devils know that Jesus is the Christ. Did that make Hell a Christian Country?"

By this point they were thinking, and this is were the real advantage of discussion things with a group with real wisdom pays off.

Some old fellow spoke up,"We are a Christian nation because we follow the example of Christ."

The claim was followed by a flood of supporting evidence. Americans feed the hungry (think the Tsunami victims) Americans shed blood to bring freedom to others (think Iraq) Americans take care of the orphan and the poor (think our government and private assistance programs). It was pointed out that in America private donations to aid South Asia exceeded US government ones. Even government donations are from the taxes Americans pay to care for their fellows. We discussed how a Christian nation would not persecute those who held different beliefs. HOw such a nation would love the turth, and freedom, and justice. Someone mentioned the story of the Good Samaritan to illustrate that those who follow Christ can not be bigots. Thus the discussion moved away from the tense first few minuets into a discussion of how we individually and collectively need to live Christlike lives if we are to be a Christian Nation.

At this point I ventured that Christlike did not mean only church going. "I’ll bet the priest and the Levite that walked past the suffering man at the road to Damascus were regular church attenders." All agreed; Christian meant the way we lived our lives, not the things we said or the meetings we attended."

I was reminded of the question that every teacher - perhaps particularly history teachers - get asked so often; "When am I ever going to use this stuff." The stuff we learn by attending church meetings and reading scriptures is useless unless we live by what we learn. That is the whole purpose of studying - to learn what to do. There is no sanctity in the study, only in the application of lessons learned.

And so we ended our discussion with another question. "Are we a Muslim Nation, a Buddhist Nation, a Hindu Nation, a Stoic Nation, a Taoist Nation?"

The answer: "Only by being truly one can we be the others!"

28 comments:

A_Shadow said...

'Tis an interesting concept, one that I have found to be interesting when discussed. But I would somewhat disagree. At least with branding us a christian nation. I know that we would be "christlike", but when put to those terms it spells disaster to me. It's more of a matter of tact and politically correctness (which I usually hate), but it seems that the things that we can be found doing are discussed in most religions, aren't they? I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, but don't Alla and Buddha also preach kindness to fellow man and other similar teachings? That's just my two cents on that.

On a side note about the Sabbath: I take exception to religions putting a specific date as the sabbath. I don't know about everyone else, but when I read the Ten Commandmants it said (approximately) keep one day out of the week holy, don't let you, anyone of your house, a servant or even one of your oxen work on that day. But it doesn't say WHICH day you should observe it on. Saturday is observed for Jews, and Sunday for most Christians, I just take exception because our fair state practically shuts down on a day that isn't necessarily the day for it. And the majority of the people here-abouts won't even celibrate holidays if it falls on that sabbath day...

Anyways, to be christian you need not attend church, you merely need to believe and be christlike. This is my opinion of course... But I can't remember really the last time that I went to church, but I do remember learning that the church was the members, and not the building or meeting. Just some more random comments...

Afflatus said...

Church it seems is a sunday affair. To truly have religion you must live what it teaches you. There is a difference from knowing and doing.
As far as this "christan/ any other religion" nation..... its irrelivant. It does not matter what we do as a nation. It matters what you do personally. If this nation was claimed "a satan worshipping nation" and you lived here would you be damned because of it?
Its sad that this nation doesn't follow our religious views............But then again, do you?
-Change yourself before you try and change others-

Dan Simpson said...

A-shadow, I have to say that your complaint makes absolutely NO sense to me whatsoever. As for placing a date on the Sabbath, look to the Bible. For the Jews it is Saturday, because in the Old Testament that was the day it was set on, the seventh day. In the New Testament the Sabbath (or the Lord's Day) was changed to Sunday, the first day. That is why Christian's hold the Sabbath on Sunday.

Now, you may say, why does it matter what day the Bible sets up the Sabbath, but that would be a stupid question as if you don't care what the Bible says then why care about the Sabbath at all.

Second, as to the state shutting down on Sunday, what is your point. It annoys you that people try to follow their religious beliefs? Why?

I will insert one of my biggest rants here. So many people do not understand how this country was originally set up. The Constitution (aka the first ammendment freedom of religion), only meant that the Federal governmnet was restricted from either establishing or restricting religious freedoms. The fact is that these geographic areas (states) were already set up, for the most part, according to religious designations. States were allowed to make laws according to religious beliefs.

Secondary to that is the fact that still laws can be passed that have behind them religious or moral foundations, if the state can show a important enough reason. I, for one, like the idea of "blue laws", as laws REQUIRING the closure of business either on saturday or sunday are called. The South is full of them. Guess what else other places have, dry counties. Yup, entire counties were alcohol is illegal.

Very little frustrates me more than the argument, or insinuation in this case, that a church runs this state, or any state for that matter, if the majority of citizens belong to a church, and share similar stances, then of course the laws will reflect those beliefs, its called voting.

A_Shadow said...

I think I can appreciate your comments, but I also think you misjudged me. It bothers me that the state shuts down on Sunday because that means that I can't do many of the things that I do, because of them. The point of laws isn't to represent the majority, which you seem to be trying to establish (that would be mobocracy, not democracy), the point is to represent all equally. So it's fine for there to be "dry" counties, that's really irrelevent to what I'm talking about.

It's more a fact that someone arbitrarily set the date and decided that most of the state should shut down. I respect that people represent and believe in what they do, that's not the grievance. The problem is that they encourage to change the lives of those that DON'T believe because they are the majority. For instance: many people who aren't mormon (finally pinning them down as an example of this) were encouraged not to go trick-or-treating because Halloween was on a Sunday. I find that call very bothersome, and that goes beyond just believing what you do. I haven't seen another church issue that statewide call. That's what bothers me about it. It is beginning to affect my life. My beliefs don't affect your life.

It doesn't keep me up, but it does ruffle my feathers a bit. I think that you'd understand a bit better if someone like the Evangelists came into Utah and started restricting things based upon their faith, though not legally and with the authority of the government, but the pressure of it is still there.

Beef Jerky said...

Well, A_Shadow, all I can say is when in Rome, do what the Romans do. If I don't want to open my store on Sunday for religious reasons, then I won't. If it bothers you, then maybe you could consider moving to a place that is less "pious." The law cannot force me to keep it open; it's my perogative. I don't mean to be mean, but that type of attitude always has bothered me. In fact, my very first post on my own blog (losrayitosdelsol.blogspot.com) talks a lot about a topic similar to this concerning Utah. Anyways, what can I say? If something bothers you, do something to change it. If I go to India, will they allow me to eat beef? I suppose I might be able to, but it might also be slightly difficult to do so because of local customs. To fix that, I'd either deal with it or just leave. No hard feelings though, eh?

Lysis said...

Dannyboy and Beefjerky - Please don’t go to the store on Sunday if you don’t want to. If you ever own a store, please don’t open it on Sunday if you don’t want to. But please don’t allow any government to put in place statutes that force me not to go to the store if I want to or open my store if that is my desire. For American to be a “Christian Nation” it must not force any religion or religious practice on those who resent or do not accept them.

"Konw this, that every soul is free
To choose his life and what he'll be:
For this eternal truth is given
That God will force no man to heav'n.

"He'll call, persuade, direct aright,
And bless with wisdom, love, and light,
In nameless ways be good and king,
But never force the human mind.

"Freedom and reason make us men:
Take these away what are we then?
Mere animals, and just as well
The beast may think of heav'n or hell.

"`May we no more our pow'rs abuse,
But ways of truth and goodness choose;
Our God is pleased when we improve
His grace and seek his perfect love."

LDS Hymnbood - pg 240, Text: Anon.,

Gorge Bush agrees, Osama does not! How about you?

Dan Simpson said...

I'll respond to each of the, in my opinion, ridiculous arguments in turn.

First, democracy represents everyone equally. If you really think this is how our country does, or should, work, you are sadly mistaken. Everyone, that fits in the guidelines, gets a vote. Those in the minority lose. The views of the majority are expressed in representative, law, and constitution. To form a government otherwise is to create a country that will not last. You cannot represent (in law) everyone's views.

You also miss my point. I am not saying that people should shun you or look down on you if you disagree with their beliefs. My point is that you cannot expect a majority of ANY community to bow to the desires of the minority. I don't care if the beliefs are religious, secular, economic, or just nonsensical. The way our country is set up allows for communities to establish their own dictates (within wide boundaries set up by the constitution.) My further point was that originally, the constitution gave no protection whatsoever to the individual from state establishment of religion. The founding fathers realized that those were decisions that should be made on a local level.

Lysis--You misunderstand my point in part and then just paint it in a bad light for the rest.

My point is not that all law should keep stores from being open, or that you should not be allowed to go to a store on Sunday. My point is that a community should (and is constitutionally) be allowed to make such laws. Why are beliefs that are backed up by religious convictions worth less in your mind than other beliefs? You say that our country should not enforce laws based on religious convictions. If person a were against drugs based on their religous beliefs, and person b were against drugs based on a social health aspect, your premise would allow/approve of restriction based on the second belief, but not on the first. Why? If I believe something to be right or wrong, I can and should vote that way. And unless a law crosses the constitutional line, it should not matter in the least why the law was passed. A few examples of laws that I think fit under this argument.

Polygamy
Marriage between cousins/siblings
pornography
Drugs
Alcohol
Sexually oriented Businesses
Prostitution
Gay Marriage/adoption etc.
All Blue laws

There are many various reasons why people stand opposed,or in support of the preceding things. It is ridiculous to state that if your opposition is religously based that you should not push your beliefs on others.

Lysis, the second part where you twist the argument horribly is where you try to tie the idea of free will/agency into it. To claim that it is wrong to create laws to enforce moral stances because it goes against agency is such a bastardization of the principle that it boggles the mind. One does not have to allow/condone every action in order to allow agency. To make something illegal does not take away agency, it merely holds people accountable for actions.

If, as a state, Utah were to outlaw alcohol (a completely constitutional idea), then there would be nothing wrong with that. As a population, we would have decided that we did not want alcohol here. The reasons would not truly matter. It would not be wrong of the state to do such a thing.

I will always believe that we have an obligation to make our political/voting decisions based upon our moral beliefs. When morals are taken out of politics, we are all in trouble.

As George Washington said in his farewell address.

"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to plitical prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. . . And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, REASON AND EXPERIENCE BOTH FORBID US TO EXPECT THAT NATIONAL MORALITY CAN PREVAIL IN EXCLUSION OF RELIGIOUS PRINCIPLE."

Though it is not my goal to offend anyone with my voting, or opinions, I have to say that if there are individuals offended by my stances that coincide with my religious beliefs, I am completely and unashamedly unapologetic.

Lysis said...

DannyBoy -

Our county is not a democracy; it is a Republic and it is not ruled by the majority but by the law. These laws are enshrined in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, but they do not originate there. To quote Cicero, “they are co-eternal with the mind of divine Jupiter . . . what is right and true is also eternal, and does not begin or end with written statutes.” In America, and any other land of law, when statutes expressing the views of majority are found to be unjust they are struck down in protection of the minority. This was the fate of “Sunday Closing Laws” in Utah.
America has lasted quite a while even as the unjust will of the majority, reflected in statutes have been struck down again and again by the court system. A system established under the Constitution for the protection of the rights of the minority.

In the same vain, I agree with you that America should not bow to any minority who demands privileges contrary to just Law. However if the Constitution did not “originally” prevent individual states from establishing religion, it dose now. The Amendments that expanded the protection of the Bill of Rights in the Federal Constitution to all citizen in all states were a wonderful and just refinement of a flawed document. The Constitution did not originally
prevent states from declaring blacks lesser humans with lesser rights. Even the Constitution can and should be corrected to match Natural Justice.

Communities should be allowed to consider their standards in enforcing statutes, but should, and
are, not allowed to make laws that treat people differently. It’s called equal protection. If stores
can be open on Saturday they can be open on Sunday. (Consider this - No one can rape anyone on any day. - There is an obvious difference between these two situations)

Dannyboy - let me give my opinions on your list of laws that you seem to claim should be accepted because they are passed by the majority:

Polygamy - I think Polygamy is probably OK for people who what to be Polygamists, but I don’t think God should keep one out of the “Celestial Kingdom” for choosing not to practice.

Marriage between cousins /siblings - I think there may be some health problems here - if there are not, who cares.

Pornography - I think it’s OK as long as it doesn’t exploit children or other helpless people.

Drugs - definitely evil.

Alcohol - obviously evil

Sexually oriented Businesses - no one’s business but those who want the product, as long as no one is exploited against their will.

Prostitution - no one’s business but those who want the product, as long as no one is exploited against their will.

Gay Marriage/adoption etc. - I can see not reason that the state or its laws should prevent people from choosing their loves or should dictating that they can’t be parents if they would be good ones.

All Blue laws - all out!

I’m not saying my opinions on any of these are right, and I would be glad to hear justification for any such laws - but if you can’t provide the justification based on Natural Law, by the power of reason, then what your religious beliefs are have no effect. There must be more than religious belief to back law. Just Laws must be based on Natural Laws, Would you support the laws of
the Taliban just because a majority of Utahan’s did? On the other hand you can push your beliefs on others if those beliefs are just; but just religious does not mean just.

I agree with you on “free will”. If I implied that laws should not curb free will I was wrong. I
meant that the religion of one group should not curb the freedom of another. Religion should not be forced by civil law. But civil law should place such curbs on free will as morality, and justice based on natural Law demands.

As for you comments on alcohol, I agree, there are plenty of reasons for outlawing alcohol, but there are no reasons for outlawing it for some, or on some days, and not for or on others. Though many religious beliefs are moral, just because a belief is religious does not
automatically make it moral.

I agree with George Washington as long as the religion in question is REASONABLE. As long as religious beliefs do not offend, one has no need to apologize, but sham on anyone who uses either the majority or murder to force their religious beliefs on others in violation of natural Laws and in an unreasonable or arbitrary manner.

The day on which we shop, the length of our beards, the books we read, and the Gods we reverence are not within the reasonable realm of civil control. These choices are protected by the Bill of Rights and other just laws from all whose numbers of power might position them to
oppress. As President Bush said last week. “We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler [even the majority] and every nation: The moral choice between oppression which is always wrong, and freedom which is eternally right.”

For: “That edifice of character is built in families, supported by communities with standards and sustained in our national life by the truths of Sinai, the Sermon on the mount, the words of the Koran, and the Varied faith of our people. America moves forward in every generation by reaffirming all that is good and true that came before - ideals of justice and conduct that are the same yesterday, today, and forever.” George W. Bush, “2nd Inaugural Address”

A_Shadow said...

Making the comment that we don't support and represent everyone equally sounds a little Hitler-esque when taken into account with your other comments there, Dannyboy. The problem I'm having with that argument that you raise, about minorities not being represented, is that it flies in the face of the Civil Rights movement. If we didn't care about minorities, why did we enforce desegregation? You're basically saying to me that if the majority voted in a tyrant, that's tough for the minority. And the whole point of our form of government is the JUST rule of the majority. I don't see us trying to exploit the minority, like you seem to be claiming and advocating. That's the whole point of the laws and legal system, as Lysis pointed out, isn't it? To keep the "little guys" from getting stepped on. Whether that be small business or minorities.

I also don't agree with the statement that you can't represent everyone's views in the law. Absolutists might argue that if the law is true and just, no one could argue with that. The point is saying that even they know that when they argue with it, they are wrong. That Saddam knows that torture is wrong, but he does it anyways doesn't mean that the laws don't apply to him. It doesn't mean that they aren't just and right. He just has it in his twisted little mind that it's ok.

I think your interpretation of the local authority is a little scewed. It is every local government's right to ADMINISTER itself. And why not? Why should New York City dictate what Layton City can and can't do? Why should their police officers be responsible here? But our government is set up that all of the statutes throughout the line from small towns to the constitution can't conflict with each other. Thus you can't have southern states with slavery, EVEN IF THEY WANT IT AS A POPULACE, because the constitution no longer allows for it.

Your arguments for church sponsored laws are a bit weak. The reason that someone that could prove that it is unhealthy to smoke would more likely be listened to over someone who believes that God thinks it a sin is that there is more proof. Try talking to a fanatic Muslim and ask him why all Americans should die. Don't they believe it's because Allah told them to? But we have other evidence to contradict that, don't we? If he could prove that we were some pestilence that, merely being near, would kill someone. There might be a bit more to argue on about the killing of Americans. But it's their baseless religious beliefs that we be killed. It's not so much that religion has no basis, but you can't have a baseless argument no matter where it comes from. I ask you to prove to me somehow that God would strike me down for going to a business on Sunday. There isn't any proof anywhere in the Bible that it's a crime. But there is a sound religious argument against Murder. I believe that the doctrines of a religion can't conflict with that of science and the natural laws of the world. Therefore, if one or the other is proven to be right, the other can't disagree (one would be wrong).

I'm not sure that I fully understand that list of arguments that represent your cause... Polygamy is a crime? Why is that? Isn't it legal for Native Americans to smoke peyote (sp?)? Isn't that because of their religion, regardless that there's a law that bans the use of hallucinegens? So why shouldn't someone be able to marry more than one, women or men, in order to serve their religious beliefs? Do you hold that stance because of your own religious beliefs? If you can close your stores on sunday because of the way you believe, why can they not marry multiple people for their beliefs...?

"It is ridiculous to state that if your opposition is religously based that you should not push your beliefs on others."

And there, I think, is the main flaw. Why needest you push your beliefs on others? I come here to share my thoughts and opinions to better understand the world around me, and myself internally. If you've come to push your ideas upon someone, I think you are in the wrong place. The Moors pushed their empire throughout Southern Europe and Northern Africa, driven by religion, and their path was carved by the sword. Do you really have that much faith and belief in what you are saying here that you would feel it ok to enforce your beliefs that way? That, I think, would be a sad thing indeed. The masses of this country do put up their plans for what they feel is right, as well as the minorities do. But we don't support injustice over justice no matter who brought it forth.

I do agree that we need guide the laws of the country with our morals, but that's GUIDING it. We're not permitted to DICTATE to the country where to go based off of one persons set of morals. Quite frankly, your beliefs are a minority, in my opinion. And in the end, religion will play a smaller role in the guidance of the country. What a splendid thing if all we had to do as a people would be to worry about the spirit. But we have corporeal and temporal things to worry about. Our morals and beliefs will guide that, but I find it hard to believe that, if confronted with imperical evidence, you would deny it in favor for your religious beliefs. I suppose that's a question we all would need to answer.

A_Shadow said...

Pardon my ignorance in this case, but what are blue laws? I found a small definition, but I'd like to know it from what you are refering.

Dan Simpson said...

There are so many things that I have to respond to.

A-shadow, let me just begin with this idea. If you would actually read my posts, we could skip a lot of this argument. You see, you are arguing things that I did not say, and misconstruing most of the others.

Maybe if I begin with this it will help. I of course believe that the constitution is the controlling authority here. When the constitution does not allow a law because of its religious overtones, then I agree with that. What needs to be understood here is that the constitution does NOT ban all laws that have religious overtones. There is a balancing test done when any law gets brought before the Supreme Court to see if it fits into the required standards.

Lets try to hit these in list fashion.

1. I am Hitler-esque because I don't believe that we represent everyone equally.

Here is your first misrepresentation of what I said. I said that not everyone is represented equally in law. Take for instance gay marriage. This last election eleven states had ammendments on their ballots about banning gay marriage. These passed in each state. Do you think that those who were in support of gay marriage would say that their state laws represented their views? Of course not. They did get to vote, their opinions were counted, but they failed and their views are not codified in law.

If that sounds like Hitler to you, then you must have a problem with the idea of voting.


2. Minorities and the civil rights movement.

This one makes no sense. I was talking about THE minority, not minorities, i.e. blacks.

3. I'm basically saying that if the majority votes in a Tyrant, that's too bad for the minority.

I have no idea where you are going. Throughout my post I talked about the controlling law of the constitution. Unless the majority changes the constitution to allow tyranny (which frankly would be such drastic and far reaching changes that it would no longer be the constitution) this would be impossible.

I don't know if you truly do not understand how the constitution works, or if you are ignoring that information to make a point. The majority cannot simply vote in a tyrant, nor can they vote in laws that will take away people's constitutional rights, at least if they do these laws will be overturned.

(This seems like a good place to put this in. Lysis, there is no such thing as the constitutional right to go to a store on Sunday.)

4. You claim again that everyone's views can be codified in law.

Please explain to me how everyone's views on Abortion can be codified in law at the same time. You are also claiming that everyone that disagrees actually knows what is right. So then we all already know truth, we are just not admitting it. If this is true, then I would like you to give us a list of all truth.

The fact is that many people still disagree, and truly believe in their heart that they are right. The way our system works is that when a majority of these people agree, then that is how voting puts in representatives, presidents, and ammendments.

5. Our government is set up so that all statutes from small town on up will agree.

This proves that you do not know how state and federal law interact. There is an entire body of law called "Conflict of Laws" on which law will be used in a given case. Marriage, prostitution, and gambling are but a small sample of laws that are drastically different based on the local decisions of state citizens.

As far as slavery goes, lets repeat together, the constitution does not allow certain things. There is a whole other area of laws and regulations that CAN be put into place, based on local belief or opinion, that the constitution says nothing about.

6. Religion isn't as convincing as science.

That is an interesting point, but it has nothing to do with anything that I said. My point was that an individual may vote because of religious convictions, or he may vote because he has been convinced by scientfic evidence. In the end it doesn't matter because each person is allowed to vote based on his/her own beliefs no matter their foundation or origin.

For example. Say there was an ammendment on the ballot about pollution. One man may vote for the ammendment because the science has convinced him that it is needed. The other may vote for it because he believes that God has commanded that he be a wise steward of the land. It doesn't matter, the man who votes for religious reasons has every right to base his vote on those religious beliefs.

7. The bible does not set forth crimes pertaining to the Sabbath.

You simply do not know the Bible. Though I think this argument is off topic. This is a doctrinal question. If you are truly interested I can give you places in the Bible that talk about what can and cannot be done on the Sabbath. If you are interested in my beliefs, I can give you other sources. One problem with your argumentation is that you blow everything to its biggest possibility. If I believe that it is morally wrong to shop on Sunday, that does not mean that I think God will strike you down, or damn your soul for eternity.

8. The doctrines of religion cannot conflict with Science and natural law.

I have to say that this one is a puzzler. Religion is based on faith, not proof. Science is based on what we know and understand now. I would never throw out a religious belief based on scientific "evidence".

9. Why the list of different laws polygamy etc.?

This was a list of laws that are based on people's beliefs. Many feel prostitution is wrong, morally. Polygamy is considered immoral. These are illegal based on people's beliefs. Drugs, alcohol, marriage, all are areas where laws are based on moral judgements. In fact, you could say that those of us who feel these things are wrong have pushed our beliefs on those who feel that they aren't. I am sure that someone who wants to smoke pot feels like an oppressed minority. You know what I say to that, too freaking bad.

10. "It is ridiculous to state that if your opposition is religously based that you should not push your beliefs on others.

Here you quote me and state it as my main flaw. You ask why I feel the need to push my beliefs on others. Well, because I think that I am right. Much like Lysis has said before, show me I am wrong and I will change my position. Should I feel bad that I pushed my belief that George Bush would be a better president that Kerry on others? Should I feel bad that I pushed my belief that gay marriage is wrong on others? And, if your answers are no, then yes, explain why the one is okay, but not the other. When I vote it is always my intention to have my beliefs solidified either in law or by my choice of representative. And it is my hope that those that disagree with me lose, and are forced to live with my choice.

And, I have no idea why you feel that the Moors have anything to do with my argument. I am talking about beliefs codified by law, not by fire or the sword.

11. We're not permitted to DICTATE to the country where to go based off of one persons set of morals.

Thats right, it takes a majority. If you think that a majority of people cannot dictate based on morals, look to the eleven states that just amended their constitutions to ban gay marriage.


Please, if you wish to respond (which I encourage greatly) at least respond to my arguments instead of asking me to defend conquest of the moors, Nazi Germany, and torture by Saddam. Attack MY points.

And in case you missed it again, the constitution trumps. That is why a majority in a state cannot create laws for slavery, or misygony (sp) laws etc.

By the way, I am talking about blue laws as in the laws throughout the South that close businesses on Sunday.

Dan Simpson said...

Lysis, I had to respond to some of your specific points.


1. but should, and
are, not allowed to make laws that treat people differently. It’s called equal protection


I'm sorry, but you are just plain wrong. Laws can be made that treat people differently. They are scrutinized under very specific guidelines. If the difference is based on race they have to pass what is called strict scrutiny. This is when a law is narrowly tailored to reach an important state interest. Gender, age, can all be used to create laws. They just have to pass certain tests.

2. You give your opinions about my list of laws based on people's moral beliefs. But you don't seem to make a point here. At least you don't refute my point. These laws were passed because a majority of the people felt these activities were wrong. They are all constitutional laws. They prove my point that laws can be made and enforced based on moral stances.

You say that laws must be based on natural law. So, you claim drugs are inherently evil. If you would show me the justification, under natural justice, that says an individual cannot smoke marijuana. I personally don't think someone should be able to smoke pot, but I would love to see the natural law reasoning for such a restriction.

A_Shadow said...

Well I think that in all your claiming that I missed your point, you've missed mine. But that's ok, let's start over with your new points so that you can understand.

I rather like the point by point system anyways...

1. "I said that not everyone is represented equally in law. Take for instance gay marriage. This last election eleven states had ammendments on their ballots about banning gay marriage."

"They did get to vote, their opinions were counted, but they failed and their views are not codified in law."

Let's start with that. Unless I'm horribly misunderstanding you, still, you are arguing here that because the minority lost and didn't get their views across that the majority was right and they win. The problem that I think you've been having with my arguments is that they've been based the whole time upon the premise of justice and not what the majority decides is right. That's why the example of the Moors, etc. Just because it was passed through the senate, or is on the law books doesn't make it just. If the roles were reversed and Gays were the majority and they decided to outlaw straight marriages, you wouldn't find that the least injust? I haven't been arguing the merits of democracy in putting up laws, I've been arguing about the just ability to do so. I do believe that those 11 states are wrong. And not because I believe it morally right for Gay marriage, but because I believe that I read NO WHERE in the constitution that gave the states the right to dictate who could marry who. I am very familiar with the constitution, and marriage is as much a religious right as anything else and should be treated as such. I don't gripe about losing those 11 states, I just wish that we wouldn't have such a period of prejudice added to our country. We all know that in the future they are going to be able to marry, because that is just. Being the majority does not make you just, and that's what I've been arguing that's contrary to your specific points.

2. "This one makes no sense. I was talking about THE minority, not minorities, i.e. blacks."

I brought this up as a point of how a minority has swayed the opinion of the majority. Can you think of a better example? I wasn't singling them out as the only example, merely the best one. It could be prayer advocates, or whomever that is a minority. But their voices are heard as loudly as the majority. That is justice.

3. "The majority cannot simply vote in a tyrant, nor can they vote in laws that will take away people's constitutional rights, at least if they do these laws will be overturned."

Apparently you aren't understanding what you're saying here, because you've given plenty of examples of how the majority can take away peoples rights. It's their right to practice religion. Freedom of religion. That includes, in my eyes, marriage. Voting in a tryannical administration is as easy as voting in anyone else. What are the liberals screaming about these days? The fact that there are so many conservatives in the Supreme Court, Legislative and Executive branches. If the majority wants it, then they will have it. I don't argue that point, I'm arguing the justice of it. Just because you can, doesn't mean that you should. And that is something that can be applied to many arguments. And if you need a list of those points, I can gladly provide them.

4. "Please explain to me how everyone's views on Abortion can be codified in law at the same time. You are also claiming that everyone that disagrees actually knows what is right. So then we all already know truth, we are just not admitting it. If this is true, then I would like you to give us a list of all truth."

Now here you have blatantly disregarded my comments. I suppose I could have been more clear. I never mentioned that everyone's views can be codified in law. You are fabricating that point. My points have been directed that the majority is not right simply because they are the majority. My comment about people knowing in their hearts if they are wrong or not deals with absolute truth. I'm pretty sure that we can concede that even Saddam knows that torture is wrong, or did you miss that point? EVERYONE knows that murder is wrong. That's a universal and natural truth. Russians, Englishmen, the French and even Iraqis know that torture and murder and launching chemical attacks on other countries is wrong. I don't see an example of something else. You're opinions have been proven wrong, correct? Then it is likely because you realized the TRUTH. That's what I'm talking about. When you are confronted with the truth, you will recognize it. If you were to walk around thinking that the sky is gray and murky all of the time, and then was shown that the sky is actually blue, you can't deny that. That's the point there. That's also the point of why religion can't disagree with science. God didn't create a world with gravity and then write in the Bible that such a thing doesn't exist. There is no room for truth to disagree, so one is right and one is wrong. And thus far, I haven't seen a disagreement with religion and science.

5. "As far as slavery goes, lets repeat together, the constitution does not allow certain things."

Case and point. Thank you for repeating it. That's my point in saying how Texas can't up and decide to be a slave state. You can't have a law passed in a state that conflicts with federal law, no matter what the majority says there. If the constitution says that slavery is illegal, Texas can't have slaves. If the constitution bans gay marriage, Massachussets and Sacremento can't have licensed gay marriage. EVEN IF THE MAJORITY THERE WANTS IT. That was my point.

6. I appreciate your example here about your opinions on religion vs. science. I wasn't fully understanding that point as you meant it, in this case. I can agree with that to an extent, but anything that I would disagree with it on wouldn't be right. I still haven't found a passage of the Bible that conflicts with science. That's not entirely correct, but I just think someone took a little creative interlude. I'll ask before I'm judged, then I'll know.

7. I never really claimed that he'd strike you down, but I have had that reaction. People that believe that you are supposed to keep Sunday holy tend to have the feeling that if you slip just one day, Satan will own your soul. That's just a little too God-fearing for my taste. But in reality, this subject pertains to my original objections. And I'd like to see those passages, because when I read the Ten Commandments, I didn't see a list of things that you couldn't do on SUNDAY. I saw a list of things that you couldn't do on the Sabbath.

8. My comments here mainly state that they'll never disagree. I don't anticipate science replacing religion with the understanding of how to keep your soul for being damned. But I've hardly found a good Energy Conservation doctrine in the Bible. Maybe I haven't looked hard enough. The point is that the Bible mainly deals with the soul and mind and how to best get to Heaven. It doesn't have a lot to do with dictating what's right and wrong once you get into the realm of science. The points can be argued, but it isn't written out one way or another. I think that was the point. But when it comes to the natural world, Science is the governor. It shouldn't,and can't really, have jurisdiction over religion. And visa versa.

9. Ok, I can understand that. It's a list of examples, but just because they exist in reality, doesn't make them right. I personally wouldn't want to take multiple wives, but if we are to speak of any form of justice here, why not? It's their belief. I find it would be hard for a pot addict to give a reason for why the banning of Marijuana would be detremental to his equal treatment. I think the opposite is highly likely.

10. "You ask why I feel the need to push my beliefs on others. Well, because I think that I am right. Much like Lysis has said before, show me I am wrong and I will change my position."

So what were these beliefs? I only ask because I wonder if someone were shown to be wrong, would they recant for their previous oppressions? If you really do FORCE your beliefs on others, and are later proven wrong, do you feel any regret or anything? I think my only regret would be that I didn't share mine, or that they didn't feel it wise to follow. But I am far from oppressive with mine. I do feel my beliefs to be right, and yes - I vote that way, but that's not my oppression of those that disaggree. That's meeting in a common ground for the justice of all. I represent what I feel, they represent what they feel. Who wins and loses has nothing to do with who's right and just. I voted against the banning of Gay marriage, not because I agreed with Gay marriage, but because it is injust to deny someone that right.

11. And just to restate one last time. I'm not arguing their ability to do so, it's the justice in it. That's what I'm arguing. If the masses voted in Saddam, that would be one thing (a failing of democracy, likely), but that wouldn't make him a just and worthy choice. Just because a choice was made, doesn't make it right.

Dan Simpson said...

I also like the list system. Let me respond to yours.


1. I think that the majority is right when they win.

This is an oversimplification. I don't claim that majority=justice. I am claiming that the way that our system is set up, the majority makes the decisions. Here is an important place to understand some Constitutional law. There are MANY areas of law that the Constitution just does not address. (Off the top of my head I can think of gambling, prostitution, and yes marriage, despite what you say later it just isn't in there.)

When the majority's decisions do not conflict with Constitutional law, then they get to dictate laws. This is how our system works, and I believe in it whole heartedly. Though we may find ways in which our Constitution needs to be tweaked in the future, I would challenge you to point to an area where our Constitution still allows injustice. If it does not, then the majority's decisions are not unjust.

2. "not because I believe it morally right for Gay marriage, but because I believe that I read NO WHERE in the constitution that gave the states the right to dictate who could marry who"

Well, let me enlighten you. The Constitution works conversely to this comment. If it not specifically given to the Federal government, then it is a power the State holds. This is actually one of the arguments AGAINST the defense of marriage act, that the federal government was overstepping its bounds in enacting ANY marriage legislation.

The states can and do regulate marriage constantly. How old you must be, who you can marry, all of these are regulated by the state. Also something you may want to think about, according to law marriage is defined as between one man and one woman, so legally gay people could not be 'married', the actual definition of marriage would have to be legally changed.

Marriage as a religious right has also already been decided. When the supreme court decided the polygamy case over 100yrs ago, they set forth the idea that states can regulate marriage, even though there are religious overtones. Another thing you must understand, the religious portion of marriage cannot be regulated by the government. For example, if a man and his brother wanted to declare themselves before God as married, whatever. The problem comes in when they desire the government to recognize the marriage.

3. "We all know that in the future they are going to be able to marry, because that is just"

I don't know that, in fact I hope the day never comes. And I disagree that it will be just.

4. "you've given plenty of examples of how the majority can take away peoples rights"

Sorry, I don't believe that this is possible in our system today. Well, it may be possible, but it would happen so rarely that it almost doesn't matter. The only example I can think of in our system today where people's rights have been taken away unjustly is abortion.

Majority's, as a rule, can take away rights. But a community, be it city or state, will not be able to because of the protections of the Constitution.

5. "I never mentioned that everyone's views can be codified in law. You are fabricating that point."

"I also don't agree with the statement that you can't represent everyone's views in the law."

"Making the comment that we don't support and represent everyone equally sounds a little Hitler-esque"

"The point of laws isn't to represent the majority, which you seem to be trying to establish (that would be mobocracy, not democracy), the point is to represent all equally."

These are all your comments. Never do you mention justice, you make claims about how law works. The fact is we are not represented equally in the law. We each get an equal vote, and then the majority view is represented in law.

Example: Prohibition. When the amendment was sent around to the various states many people did not want it passed, they got a vote, but when this amendment was added to the constitution and became LAW, this law did not represent them. The were not represented equally in this law, the majority opinion was represented. Exactly the same could be said to the repeal of this amendment.

"I also don't agree with the statement that you can't represent everyone's views in the law."

Let's look at this comment of yours again. How can you represent everyone's views in the law? Please answer this question, even if the rest is ignored. Please tell me how everyone's views can be represented IN THE LAW.

6. "EVERYONE knows that murder is wrong. That's a universal and natural truth"

How are you defining murder? Is it anytime anyone is killed? Is it the definition under federal law? A certain states law? Because they are not the same.

Some states consider a death caused by a drunk driver to be 2nd degree murder (defined as murder), and some as manslaughter (not defined murder). The reason I make this distinction is not to split hairs, it becomse an important distinction for several reasons.

First, when is killing just? (I am not trying to start an entire new thread on this question, just to show that this is a question with intricacies, and if anyone calls me a relativist they will get a punch in the mouth.) Self-defense, revenge, war, suicide, punishment, etc. People disagree. I agree with you that there is an eternal truth answer to all of these questions, but the fact is you state it as if everyone agrees on all of these when they don't

7. "I didn't see a list of things that you couldn't do on SUNDAY. I saw a list of things that you couldn't do on the Sabbath."

You are really ignoring previous conmments here. If one believes in the New Testament, then the Sabbath is now Sunday. Though the law of Moses may no longer be in affect for such a person, there are still strictures on activity on the Sabbath. My point was that there are restrictions on activity on the Sabbath for someone who believes in the Sabbath, whether that be Saturday for a Jew, or Sunday for a Christian (with the exception of seventh day adventists who still have the Sabbath on Saturday.) If you don't believe in a Sabbath, I cannot prove that you should or shouldn't do anything on such a day. But, I can base voting on these beliefs as long as the laws passed do not conflict with constitutional law. And as I mentioned before, there is no constitutional right to going to a store on Sunday.

8. "I find it would be hard for a pot addict to give a reason for why the banning of Marijuana would be detremental to his equal treatment"

I think you mean equal protection, but I will give you the argument. Bear in mind, I don't think that there is anything wrong with banning marijuana, but you asked for an equal protection argument.

If you can go and buy alcohol once you are of the legal age, why can't I buy marijuana. Alcohol is intoxicating, addictive, can lead to dangerous activity, and is extremely harmful to the body. You are allowed to choose your intoxicant, but I am not allowed mine.

9. "I do feel my beliefs to be right, and yes - I vote that way."

Then you use force to push your beliefs on others. Plain and simple. You use the force of the law and the constitution. After the vote, do you then sit down with the losers and come up with a plan whereby we can all be happy, or do you then wait until they are convinced that your course is right before your vote is enforced? No, a vote is a gesture of force. Unless you do not vote with opinions, then your vote is FORCING your opinions on others. They can still disagree, that is what makes us a free country, but your opinion is still enforced upon them. Someone may have voted for Kerry, but my opinion won, and was FORCED on them.

If you don't agree with forcing opinions, you don't agree with a regime of voting. Otherwise our government would be set up in a sort of round table style, where we would discuss until we had a unanimous consensus before we acted. You may think that system would be better, but I do not.

12. "I'm not arguing their ability to do so, it's the justice in it."

Well, you have argued both (see previous comment about the law), but if you want to just argue justice that is fine. I think that our Constitution is just, with only a very few caveats. When a community or state passes laws voiced by the majority that override the opinions of the minority, I think that it is just, unless they conflict with the constitution.

Anonymous said...

Dannyboy says:

"The majority is right when they win."

A few responses:

It is not logical to try to determine an "ought" from an "is".

"Effective, needed representation will happen naturally in those bodies comprised of SENSITIVE, COMPASSIONATE, and HONORABLE members with discerning judgment who care about the needs of ALL people. There are not likely to be such bodies. Therefore mechanisms are necessary to prevent 51% of the people from controling 100% of the decisions in a democracy simply by having majority rule that allows them to win every vote without having ever to take into account the needs of the 49%. WHEN THOSE NEEDS ARE INTOLERABLEY AND UNREASONABLY IGNORED AND THWARTED, THERE IS THE TYRANNY OF THE MAJORITY."

"Tyranny of the majority" is a concept that Hamilton, Jefferson, Adams acknowledged -- The Federalist papers makes an analysis of the issue.

"Understand the true American as a pilgrim of hope wherever he happens to be placed on the nation's electoral map, and it's no surprise that the dealers in the "true religion" package their "majoritarianistic schemes of deliverance" in the manner of real estate speculations, or the 5 steps to personal salvation that lie along the same yellow brick road as the 12 steps to drug rehabilitation and the 237 steps to financial well-being. These dealers in "spiritual Amenities" rely on the same plentiful natural resource of "credulous infatuation" to hawk their wares." . . . those who habitually promise much but deliver "substantially none" of the material advertised."

Dan Simpson said...

Anonymous, why do you bother to post when you refuse to read what has been written? That statement was what A_shadow claimed that I was saying. The paragraphs following it showed why that wasn't my point.

If you can't bother to read what I write, don't claim to be responding to it.

support_trondheim_bomb said...

I've always had fantasies of someone stepping up to speak at an NRA meeting, the speaker beginning, "How many of you people here are christians, in that, you claim to follow the teachings and examples of the saviour, jesus the christ?" and see possibly all of them raise their hands, and then the speaker say, "how many of you fellow christians would, if threatened in your own home by a burglar with a gun fixed in your direction, would shoot the burglar supposing you had a gun in your own hand?" Wow itd be great to see all those cowards signifying their support of the issue of self-defense in such a situation. The speaker continuing; "How many here are familiar with the parable in the gospels of the holy bible in which jesus teaches of turning the other cheek, giving your coat and robe when mugged and being asked only for your coat?"
Im begining to notice that murder is constitutionally defendable as long as there is a fear of dying. Who could possibly live with themself after putting to well use their right given to them by the second amendment? who could go on living knowing that they've taken a mans life in their own house because they were so very afraid to be dead? Being dead isnt a bad thing. Tons of respectable people are dead. Being a murderer, living with that experience with only the comfort of the constitution defending your terrible sin, when in your heart you know that what you've done is pure evil, according to the bible. According to the very mouth of jesus christ your saviour and redeemer, who died for that life you took. Thats definately a bad thing.
Many people beleive that because the constitution was divinely inspired, they stand by seeing the constitution as holy doctrine. I love the constitution, it is the blueprint of a great nation. But the constitution is contrary to the bible and the words of christ. In a scenario like the one with the burglar, you can only go with one descision or the other.
Is america a christian nation? America is a nation of good christian people, but... living the american lifestyle locks each individual in a box. Each individual is engulfed by the media, television's put a thought inside our heads, and we are found in a box we cant escape. Many people who think outside that box and voice what they have to say, and what they say is just as outside of the box as the people who said it, when other people hear it, they CANNOT understand it. It makes absulutely no sense to them. You might often times even here people say, "How could you say that? thats just... unamerican!" Yeah... now your getting it.
God bless america. God bless this great land. God forgive america, forgive the decline of american morality. Forgive us of our blindness, our life of lies, our hypocracy. Forgive us, and let us rise up not the proud and hateful liars we have transgressed into, but a humble god-fearing people who love our neighbors and our god more than our money and even our own lives. God bless america, God Forgive america, america, turn to God

Silver Lining said...

Thank you Anonymous for bringing up the concept of tyranny of the majority. The Founding Fathers indeed feared this and wrote about it in the Federalist Papers. I intended to quote from them, but I promised my daughter a trip to Target, and my son needs a hair cut. Forgive my negligence. In fact, in our representative democracy/ republic, not everyone had a vote to begin with. I don't mean just women or blacks either. Not every white male had the right to vote. Part of this was meant as protection against tyranny of the majority.

I bring this back up, because in reading A_Shadow's and Dannyboy's discussion, I have been lead back to an issue of my own. It is not off topic, so I would appreciate what anyone might say given the context of the discussion. I have written to one of my senators recently. You see, she was just re-elected. I did not vote for her. She has recently participated in some actions as a Senator that have bothered me for several reasons, and I posed the question to her regarding in what way I had representation in the United States Senate. I agree with Anonymous that ideally, representatives should seek to the best of their ability to represent their entire constituency. I know this is not always possible. In which case, I agree with Lysis that law and justice should be the governing factors. Imposing your view because you can smacks of tyranny of the majority. Voting your view into law because it is right and just and legal is something entirely different. We hope that most of the time these two situations are one and the same.

There are some issues my senator and I will never agree on, and I know that her re-election means she will be voting contrary to my interests on those issues. However, it seems to me that the reality of the situation is what DannyBoy has posed, that whoever wins does what they want to. This seems to me to be a failure of representation. I asked my senator to please let me know in what way I had representation in the senate as she clearly has no regard whatsover for the fact that millions that she is supposed to represent are not being represented. Her viewpoints are those that are represented. In theory, I should revolt I suppose as I am without representation, though I imagine the answer here is that I had the chance to vote; I have to live with the decision. Still, I pose again, what representation do I have, and what represetation SHOULD I have. I hope she writes me back. I don't expect that to happen though.

Anonymous said...

"When the majority's decisions do not conflict with Constitutional law, then they get to (change the Constitution and)dictate laws." --My ( )addition.

Has the constitution been changed, Dan?
Will the constitution change in the future, Dan?
What forces cause a constitutional change, Dan?
Does a constitutional change have anything to do with the majority "dictating laws"?
How inviolable is the constitution? Dan?
You describe . . . "I think the majority is right when they win", as an oversimplification of your positiion.
Your claim, that the Constitution will not change in the future because it NOW has achieved nearly complete "justice",
should be followed with this caveat, "unless the majority wants it to."
All of your equivocation/explanation leaves us simply with "I think the majority is right when they win."

Patronization and Ad hominem do not good arguments or rebuttals make.

My comments, then and now, still await a response.

Lysis said...

So many great points – its hard too keep up, but I am learning. I would like to comment quickly to Shadow and Dan, and then more broadly to our friend anonymous and to Silver Lining. And I have a word for the “bomb” I do hope everyone will consider everything.

First to A_Shadow:

1. I think you made a great point about Saddam (and his ilk) doing what they know is wrong. The evil of such injustice is that it, like premeditated murder, is willfully and purposely done in defiance of Law.

2. I agree with you that we should have recourse to the protection of the Constitution at any level – and the reality of the appeals system seems to support us here. I would remind Dannyboy that any law that violates a constitutionally protected right can be appealed to a federal jurisdiction.

3. I also agree with you that religious belief alone should only require compliance in the behavior of members of that religion. Science is a flawed method of discovering truth, but, as Galileo explains, when the “truths” of observed science conflict with the “truths’ of religious faith – it is legitimate to look to some misinterpretation of “God’s will” as reason for the conflict.

4. As for conflicts between those of different beliefs; I feel that we learn best by pushing against the positions of those with whom we disagree. If we are wise enough to change our positions when shown a better way, we benefit. For this reason I welcome all here in Agora. Let’s just leave our swords at the door.


Now Dannyboy2 : (I will leave it to A_Shadow to deal with your point by point to their post)

I appreciate your explinations and have learned a lot by them. I think this is a wonderful digression. It is interesting that a post intended to encourage religious unity has shifted into a debate on the Constitution. I’m glad it has.

1. I bow to your greater knowledge of the law and agree that there are and should be varing levels of scrutiny in assessing the Constitutionality of laws and the jurisdictions of courts. However let’s go back to the original comment you made that lead us down this road.

“. . . as to the state shutting down on Sunday, what is your point. It annoys you that people try to follow their religious beliefs? Why? . . . States were allowed to make laws according to religious beliefs. . . if the majority of citizens belong to a church , and share similar stances, then of course the laws will reflect those beliefs, its called voting.”

I understand that “religion belief” constitutes a group provided with a higher level of protection under the Constitution and by the courts. Establishing “your” Sabbath as the one I am forced to reverence is not just. I believe this has already been to court in Utah and the court ruled that business have the right to open and customers to visit in spite of the will of the majority and the legislature of Utah. To sight Beef Jerky – In this “Rome” what the Romans do is protect the rights of the minority from the religious proscriptions of the majority.

2. As to your “list of moral beliefs”. I was just giving my opinion on all of them. I believe that as time passes the courts and the laws of Utah and American will come to support my opinions. Time will tell. Already, laws against sodomy and adultery have been struck down or rendered moot.

As for the use of drugs – you list my objections in your subsequent post. And as for alcohol being legal, I can only say, “two wrongs do not make a right!”

In summary to Dannyboy – I don’t care why you vote for a law. Rock, paper, scissors, will do if you chose. But when you and your majority do make their decisions they will have to meet a higher standard to be just. I think there are many laws on the books “where people’s rights have been taken away” Abortion is the most egregious, but the eleven states preventing people who love each other from having the protection of marriage is another example. Once again, “time will tell” but I look to see all eleven state constitutional amendments defining marriage struck down by the courts interpretation of the Constitution in the months to come. Even if they are not, neither the will of the majority nor the will of the Court can make them just if they are not. Or – I admit – unjust if they are just. I think gay marriage is OK and that an independent (from the will of the majority and their legislatures) judiciary will agree with me. As they did with Sunday closing laws.

Support_trondheim_bomb:

I have long considered the question on the justice of killing another person which you present. I began this discussion by chucking most of the Ten Commandments. And at this time I would like to chuck the “thou shall not kill” one as well. I think that there are mitigating circumstances to even this law. I do not believe that self defense is unjust. Although a person may chose to do as they pleas in interpreting the words of Jesus on this point, I think there are reasons for taking another life. I do not think we should surrender to evil, but that we should fight against it, although always with wisdom and compassion.

Anonymous and Silver Lining:

I am grateful for the Constitutional amendments that defend my basic rights. As time goes on these rights will be better understood and defended. The minority is thus protected from an unjust majority by an evolving and living document. I applaud Sliver Lining’s letter to her Senator. That you will be ignored does not diminish the value of your decent. The Senator needs to know that she has unjustly claimed to represent you.

I have long held that the Declaration of Independents, which enshrines the natural rights of all men and the natural laws that protect them, is the greatest of America’s founding documents. Weather our Constitution works or our government is just, or the will of the majority should be obeyed must all be measured against these principals. If a God, or a King, or a Majority, defends the rights of the people then it is as (or more) legitimate than Constitution of the United States. That government is based on the consent of the governed improves the chances for justice but does not guarantee it. Time will tell.

Dan Simpson said...

Anonymous, I did not try to respond to your argument before because it didn't deserve one. You hadn't bothered to actually talk about my arguments, but merely what someone else had said about them.

As far as your new comment, you are right to an extent. A big enough majority can change the constitution. With a changed constitution it would be possible for the majority to do that which is unjust. I cannot argue against that. If all of a sudden 2/3 of the house and senate wanted slavery, as well as 3/4 of the states, then it would be inserted into the constitution. Of course this would not be just.

These hypotheticals are all wonderful demonstrations of your intelligence, but they do not speak to my point. I do not defend the decisions of the majority in the past (i.e. slavery, segregation, japanese concentration camps), I am speaking to the constitution, and the state of constitutional law today.

Not only that, but I have yet to have someone respond to that. You are speaking in possibilities. You are right. By having a document that allows itself to be amended, we have a government that can be changed. This can be done for the good, or it can lead to horrible things. I have always admitted that "a" majority can work tyranny. My argument is that in our current system it would be nearly impossible for that to happen.

If we want to talk in hypotheticals, then what we really need is for everyone to be good. That would be the best. If everyone made the right decisions and choices, we wouldn't have any of these problems. That is all fine and good, but I am talking about our current system.


Silverlining-- I don't blame you for being frustrated. But I have to say that though I would be similarly frustrated if those that I didn't vote for got into office (see eight years of Clinton), I still think the system works well. The only way to have all of our ideas represented all the time would be for every person to get a say in every decision that our government made. That is simply not feasible in a large country.

Our system is not set up for everyone to like every decision. It would be impossible to get a consensus on everything. (believe me, I know that you know all of this, I am just working through the ideas)

The only thing I can say to your discontent is that it is inevitable in a representative system. I have to say that the discontent, yes, even when it is I who have lost, is right and good. It encourages action and participation. It encourages thought and discussion and argument. The discontent, I believe, is what foments progress. In whole, the discontent is necessary for a good system.

Dan Simpson said...

Lysis. I really liked this last post of yours. We will have to disagree on some things, gay marriage being one, but that won't be new, we still disagree on capital punishment.

You have made the same point that I have all along and, frustratingly, no one has noticed. I agree whole-heartedly that every law will have to conform to the constitution. My point about conflict of laws was in reference to the HUGE area of law that is simply not covered by the constitution, i.e. gambling. States can differ on these laws, not all laws must conform to each other.

I will have to admit that I am unfamiliar with Sunday closing laws in Utah going to the Utah Supreme COurt. I do know, however, that the South still has blue laws. So, the Supreme Court has not spoken out against it.

I only have one question for you. It hearkens back to drug laws. You have stated that laws must have backing in Natural Justice and reason. You also state that drugs are bad and laws against them are just. Please explain to me the natural law foundation for a law against marijuana usage.

Lysis said...

Natural Laws against Marijuana use:

Dannyboy, I will begin by quoting you. “[Marijuana] is intoxicating, addictive, can lead to dangerous activity, and is harmful to the body.”

I would make laws against the use of Alcohol and not legalize Marijuana. As I said above, two wrongs do not make a right.

I feel natural law condemns the use of these intoxicating and addictive drugs because their harmful effects are not limited to those who use them but are inflicted upon the innocent. Stoned and drunken people cause auto and industrial accidents, they abuse and neglect their spouses and children, they engage in stealing and intimidation in order to finance their addictions. Such crime leads inevitably to murder. The wasted childhoods of their children creates a cycle of disaster which spreads like ripples on a pool.

Drunks and Stoners us up the resources that should go to feeding and educating their children in wasteful and harmful assaults on “the temple of their spirit, their body which is the image of God entrusted to their care.

Marijuana is an “entrance level drug”. Its use inevitably leads to far more harmful and dangerous abuses. I have studied the disastrous effects on the social and economic fabric of China when that nation became polluted with opium addiction. The use of cocaine and heroine in this nation leaves our people vulnerable to criminal foreign powers and to the influence of organized crime foreign and domestic. As citizens of our national community, we have an obligation to contribute as much as we can to the mutual success of our nation. Disabled by drugs, robed of our minds, our creativity, and our reason by mind, (spirit), altering drugs; we fail in our responsibility to humanity. We are robbed of treasure when that treasure is never produced, we are made vulnerable when we are not committed or capable of our own defense, we commit crimes against our own potential and those who we deprive of what we might have done for the benefit of others.

Marijuana was not always against American Law - it was made unlawful because of the damage it caused. Look at the disasters that have come on European nations who have taken the unwise and evil step of allowing its use.

Apollo said...

I agree with A_shadow. Christian nations are disasterous. Look at how England turned out. We need to be king but firm. When we get bombed, will we just turn the other cheek? Of course not! 9/11 is a perfect example of that. Turning the other cheek is admitting defeat, and with the U.S. as "the monster that needs to be killed" we can't accept one. that's why we need to fight back. Have all the christians you want, but do not brand us with a name that we can't live up to without being whiped off the map, literaly!

Apollo

A_Shadow said...

I'm sorry to do this to you, Apollo, but if you feel that my comments were against the Christian community, then you are mistaken. I do, however, appreciate the support. I'd just like to point out that I wasn't being anti-Christian. That would be a little odd since I am one...

As for turning the other cheek, I can understand where you would see that as a loss. But then, I would argue that you missed the point of that exercise. God is always trying to teach us how to be humble. That, I think, would be the premise behind his telling us to turn the other cheek. He would always have us spread his word through giving, good works, and humility. Never by the sword, by blue laws, or by oppression. What lesson would be taught by a good Christian forcing religion down someone's throat? Nothing. That's why he teaches against it.

Indeed, to get a response on the bomb's comment as well, I don't really believe that God is a pacifist. We are in a war of sorts against the forces of darkness, but I don't necessarily believe that war is to be fought with weapons of mass destruction and torture. I think what we did in Iraq had to be done. I know that's going to sound like a double standard, but tell me what other option we had. I don't believe, however, that in the bomb's scenario that killing in self defense is just. I understand the arguments for it, but I have close to ten counter points of why -I- wouldn't do it. I wouldn't prosecute someone who did, but I don't believe in killing for self defense. I do believe in killing for the defense of another, though. Part of justifying the war in Iraq.

Because if you think about it, have the gun be pointed at your child. If you really want to toy with God's absolute will of "Thou shalt not kill." you need to think about what is going to be at stake. I would kill someone else to save anyone of you, if it came to that. But I will seek an alternative first. And if there is one, and God doesn't see fit that saving my child was a just cause to murder, then I suppose I will have nothing but to accept my punishment. And I don't think that I will have any regrets. But I say that to all of you knowing that I will always seek the alternative first.

I mainly needed to put my two cents in on the bomb's comment.

support_trondheim_bomb said...

marijuana; not addictive. I personally beleive that the reason people intoxicate themselves with alchohol is a lot less respectful than the reasons why some people, lets say, rastafarian smokers, smoke marijuana. But if i had to share what i think quickly, i'd say; "put all the alchohol, marijuana, cocaine, lsd, and caffeine in the world on a self-destructing spaceship bound for andromeda!"

just had to lay that down.

ARight. Gun pointed at child. Well, senor shadow, i am going to tell you in all honesty exactly what i would do. If i am to suppose that there is a gun in my hand, id forget all my ethics codes, everything i stand for, what i am(human), who, i am, forget it all in a blink, and shoot the guy! If i didnt have a gun, i'd be on him with my teeth ripping out the veins of the wrist of his gun-bearing hand and then begin working on biting his head off.

defendable? well...sure. A literal bloodthirsty monster i'll've become. Is it right? i dont know. I dont care who you are, i'd call it manslaughter to the one millionth degree, but i did it for the right reason. Or at least, i did it because i will not have my childrens life literally threatened right in front of me and not do anything about it. Living with that guilt, i would have to say, would be inconceivably unbearable compared to living with the guilt of tearing the opposeur to shreads. I would then let my fate fall into the hands of the law.

Tell me lysis, you see i either let my fate fall into the hands of my opposeur, (back to the scenario with the gun pointed at oneself), or i let my fate fall into the hands of the law. Whats the difference? they are both going to treat me unjustly. One alternative simply done to less of my favor. Wow. I am now finally seeing what justice has to do with all this. When all you guys were talking about whats unjust and what isnt, i thought, what does justice have to do with anything?

But then, that was because it was when it was asked if it is just to let him kill you. Well, who the devil inflicted upon you the authority to inflict justice on your brother? Is it the fact that he has tresspassed on your precious dirt? violated your fences and walls? He's in your house, you however dont know that he's stolen anything yet. All you see is the gun in his hand. He sees the gun in yours. You have right of way because its in your house? Right of way, (right of shot) ...right of murder. If he shot, he'd be a murderer. Youd be a victim. If you shot, youd be an honorable citizen. He'd be a dead robber. Bet his familys gonna love that one. Whats it gonna say on his death certificate? Reason of death: got 'justiced robbing a house. thats whatcha get, man.

heh, nobody ever thinks of the shot-red-handed-robber's family.

One thing lysis said that bothered me was, (paraphrasing)theres always a reason to take a man's life.
Well yeah, theres always a reason to lie, theres always a reason to cheat, theres always a reason to steal, and theres always a reason to kill.

lastly,
someone said, do you expect america to just turn the other cheek after something like september 11?
No. No way, nobody expects that. Theres malice in every american heart, and we are a republic. it would be a miracle if we just turned the other cheek. It would take more than a christian nation. it would take a miracle.


a miracle...

A_Shadow said...

Thank you for that, it's so pleasant to have someone a little less bound up in the rules to debate with. I know, we oft don't think about the family of the "robber", but he doesn't seem to be thinking about anything but "no one's home, or their asleep, I'll get in, steal, get out, no harm no foul". And then he broke into a house in Texas, was blown away, and the shooter is deemed a hero. Yeah, a little bit of creativity on my part. I guess it comes down to each person at that point. I would have to deal with the shooter based off of my own values, but I think he has every right to defend himself. If we all abided by the ten commandments, we'd never have that situation. If you wish to identify your cause to the letter of the law, then you would be wrong no matter what circumstances. It says "Thou Shalt NOT Kill". Not "Thou shalt not kill except on Tuesdays", not "Thou shalt not kill except when unleashing a can of whoop ass on an unjust dictator responsible for the torture and murder of thousands a year." It says THOU SHALT NOT. The end. So I think it comes down to you and what kind of God you believe in. I am personally willing to burn forever and ever if I feel I've done the right thing. If someone's threatening the life of a child, then I would most definately take him out. But you're right, it's a tough call.

When talking this over with my father, he said that you are really only ever thinking about one thing in a firefight: You want the shooting to stop. I've heard that from plenty of soldiers too. But as much as I don't like needlessly invading countries, if there was a draft, I'd most likely go. I feel that I need to help protect everyone. That counts for Iraqis, Americans and yeah, even the French.

Again, going back to your authority comment (about who the devil gave you the right to judge your brother) no one did. Again, it comes back to the letter of the law. God said things along the lines of "Thou shalt not judge thy brother lest thou also be judged" and "How can you see to remove the splinter from your bothers' eye when you can't see past the log in your own?" No judging, regardless of circumstances. But it's in human nature, as much as I fight the base nature of mankind, I can't fight that one. I do judge people, but I rarely act on it. And then you ask yourself what it is to judge. I would say that we have all, for the most part, judged that Saddam was evil. But what if I judge whether or not your clothes are fashionable...? I can't tell you about that one. I can really only live to the best of my ability and the best of my judgement. And since I judge before thought, often, I'm probably screwed if we go with the letter of the law approach.

But to actually respond to your first comments, the most common Marijuana users (to my knowledge) are teenagers, mostly. There have been studies on that, and they tend to make sense. Kids have money and are bored, therefore they do drugs. More or less... Same reason kids seem to drink. If you ask them, they'll usually say that they don't know why they started or that everyone else was doing it. But I tend to agree that if kids have the oportunity for something like that, they'll do it. I haven't met very many people who abstained from even "experimenting" with it. And I know enough people that are adicted to it to just pile it with every other substance that is adictive. It's a subtle thing, for sure, not going to hook you on once or twice (unless you have genes that would be like the alcoholism for MJ), but if you're doing it as a social thing, you're going to notice that it's not there when you stop.

My Blog said...

This past Sunday the lecture was titled: Jesus Christ.