Archive for the Politics Category

The West Wing on Religion

Posted in Atheism, Christianity, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 1, 2008 by carriedthecross

Anyone who knows me knows that I love the West Wing. I watch very little TV, but I could watch the West Wing all day long. During the show’s run, it spoke eloquently about religion many times. Here are some favorite intersections of the West Wing and religion:

In this scene, President Bartlett lays the smack down on a Christian radio show host who calls homosexuality an abomination. Bartlett eloquently points out that evangelicals ignore many other uncomfortable portions of Leviticus:

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Religious Unaffiliation on the Rise

Posted in Atheism, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2008 by carriedthecross

The New York Times front page has an article Americans Change Faith at Rising Rate, Report Finds. The article is based on a report by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. It mostly centers around the idea that denomination loyalty is eroding and that many Americans have switched from the faith group in which they were raised.

What I find interesting–and encouraging–is the number of Americans who are unaffiliated (atheist, agnostic, or nothing in particular) is rising substantially.

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I cannot help but become excited by the idea that religiously unaffiliated Americans are the fourth largest religious group. I look forward to the day that American atheists and agnostics have the same amount of weight as American Christians or American Jews. It is saddening, and in fact infuriating, that to be a viable candidate for public office (especially for the presidency) an individual must bend over backwards to affirm their belief in some transcendent father figure who wants to impose his morality on America via the nations Commander-in-Chief. The idea that a presidential candidate must pass a religious litmus test is just pathetic.

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Re-evaluating Policy as an Atheist #3: Abortion

Posted in Ethics, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 7, 2008 by carriedthecross

Abortion. Perhaps the most hot-button issue among evangelicals.  You don’t have to walk past many cars at my college to see an “Abortion is Murder” bumper sticker.  The Honors Seminar at my school last year did a session on abortion.  The students taking the seminar were required to read a pro-life and a pro-choice article before listening to a speaker on the topic.  One problem: only one side of the issue was honestly presented.  The speaker was an avid and open pro-lifer.  The pro-life article was well written and substantiated.  On the other hand, the pro-choice article looked like it had been ripped out of a 6th grade civics class.  A blatant straw-man, the pro-choice article they chose was filled with spelling and grammatical errors and full of poorly defended claims. 

Why do I mention this?  Because evangelicals are almost unanimously opposed to abortion.  Even the most liberal among them.  When asked about abortion by Barna Group, 94% of evangelicals and 73% of born-agains took the position that abortion should either be illegal in all circumstances or in all but a few special circumstances. 

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For much of my time as a Christian, I was firmly planted in the pro-life camp.  As a high school student, I remember railing against abortion as the greatest attack on the sanctity of life since the Holocaust. During college, I became more sympathetic to the pro-choice movement.  It seemed to be an oversimplification of the issue to claim that all abortions were morally wrong.  Most of the arguments I heard from Christians were from the breed of ad populum (in one class, a group presentation once included photos of aborted fetuses; while these photos did little to substantiate their case, it did rile up like minded pro-lifers in the class).

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Political Debate: How the Religious Right Stole It

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , on January 29, 2008 by carriedthecross

I’m not old enough to remember the days that Congress enjoyed sustained approval ratings above 70%. I’ve never known a Democratic Senator that was able to debate a Republican on the floor and then discuss strategies for synergy over drinks at night. Instead, I’ve grew up during the era of the so-called Conservative Revolution. American political forces are polarizing: Bill & Hillary Clinton, George Bush, Newt Gingrich, Edward Kennedy. So what happened?

Perhaps I will sound biased, but hear me out. The root of the change seems to be, in my mind, the rise of the religious right. When I listen to many of the Republican candidates speak on healthcare, they are quick to contrast American values with European values. When professors at my university bring up world politics, they inevitably point to Europe as the opposite of America. But there are conservative and liberal countries in Europe. Much like America has “blue states” and “red states,” Europe has “blue nations” and “red nations.”

So what is the x-factor? What delineates between American conservatism and European conservatism? The religious right. For the past several decades so-called social conservatives in America have taken a stranglehold to the Republican party. So why is this important?
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