where religion and politics meet

Everyone has a worldview. A worldview is what one believes about life: what is true, what is false, what is right, what is wrong, what are the rules, are there any rules, what is the meaning of life, what is important, what is not.

If a worldview includes a god/God, it is called a religion. If a bunch of people have the same religion, they give it a name.

Countries also have a worldview, a way of looking at life that directs government policies and laws and that contributes significantly to the culture. Ours used to be Christianity. Now it is secularism, which is practical atheism.

Some of us are trying to engage the government, the culture, and the people who live here to see life again from a Christian perspective and to show how secularism is both inadequate and just plain wrong.

A religion is not a culture, though it creates one. It is not what you prefer, like your taste in music or your favorite movie. It is what you believe to be true. Because it deals with things like God, much of its contents is not subject to the scientific method, but the reasons why one chooses to believe in God or a particular religion certainly demand serious investigation and critical thinking.

Every human being has the duty to search for and learn the truth about life. Education and science used to be valuable tools in this search, but science has chosen to answer the foundational questions without accepting the possibility of any supernatural causes, and education no longer considers the search to be necessary or worthwhile.

poligion: 1) the proper synthesis of religion and politics 2) the realization, belief, or position that politics and religion cannot be separated or compartmentalized, that a person’s religion invariably affects one’s political decisions and that political decisions invariably stem from one’s worldview, which is what a religion is.

If you are new to this site, I would encourage you to browse through the older articles. They deal with a lot of the more basic issues,

For now I want to focus my writing now articles specifically addressed to Christians. So most of my new posts will be on my other website listed below. I will continue to write and post short responses to newspaper columns and letters and even other articles as the inspiration hits me.

Visit my other websites theimportanceofhealing blogspot.com where I talk about healing and my book of the same name and LarrysBibleStudies.blogspot.com where I am posting all my other Bible studies. Follow this link to my videos on youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCb-RztuRKdCEQzgbhp52dCw

If you want to contact me, email is best: lacraig1@sbcglobal.net

Thank you.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

What Religious Freedom Really Means in America

Did you know that when our Founders were writing our Constitution, they debated whether they should add a list of rights to it? 

They were afraid that if they listed these rights, the government might think that these were the only rights that the people were entitled to.  They also thought that the government might think that government was the one who gave them these rights.  And some thought also that there’s no point in saying that we have a right to something if there is nothing in the Constitution that gives the government the power to restrict that right.  

They used the example of freedom of the press.  They asked why they should have to say that the press is free if there is nothing in the Constitution that gives the government any right to restrict that freedom.   By saying that the press has a right to be free might suggest to some that the government has power to restrict the press in some way if they wanted to.

Eventually they decided to list some of these rights, and so the first ten amendments to our Constitution are called the Bill of Rights. 

Among the first rights to be named is that “Congress shall make no law . . . prohibiting the free exercise [of religion].”  The statement is absolute, no law shall be made, and the exercise of religion shall be free.  And since this is part of the First Amendment, it is as if to say that this right is at the foundation of who we are as a people.

But this statement, this right, only makes sense under certain conditions.  For our country to recognize the importance of free exercise of religion among the first rights listed in guiding our country says a lot about our country that needs to be heard and discussed today.  

I submit that this one statement in the First Amendment defines our nation in at least three ways.

Some people today will want you to think that what the Founders of our nation intended is not important today.  They will say that our Founders could not foresee the many ways that our nation would change over the years, and therefore we have to change our understanding of the Constitution and our country to adapt to new circumstances.

On the contrary, to change the intended or original nature of our country to conform to modern thinking is, frankly, a form of treason.  When nations fight wars, the primary goal is not to kill people.  They only kill people in order to achieve that goal.  The goal is essentially to change the government of the nation they are fighting against. 

One side wins, the other side loses, and the winner imposes its will on the loser.  Maybe it takes control of some land or absorbs that nation into itself.  If it can be done peacefully, all the better.  We may talk about things like conquest or retaliation with regard to war, but what it boils down to is changing the government of another nation, whether changing its leaders or changing its policies,

When people in our own country try to change our government, our country, from what it was intended to be to something else, then they are doing the same thing as if another country had attacked us and imposed its will on ours.  It isn’t any less insidious or treacherous if it is done slowly over generations than if it is done quickly through a coup or a war. 

So what our Founders intended for our country is essential in deciding everything we do as a country.  Politicians and courts and Presidents can act as if what the Founders intended for our country isn’t important, and there is nobody to compel them to try to keep or restore our country to its original settings, but people need to learn what our country is supposed to be like and keep talking about it and keep judging the things that are happening in our country as to whether they are right or wrong based on that information.

So what exactly does the right to free exercise of religion mean for our country?
1)         It means that religion, as understood by the Founders, was consonant with the highest values of our country.  Countries have values just like people do.  If our country was founded to be a secular country, as we are constantly being told, then there would be a value system higher than that of religion or religious values, and free exercise of religion could not be promised.

But free exercise of religion is a right, so government has no authority to restrict it.  So the Founders assumed a religious nature for our nation.  John Adams famously said that “our Constitution is made for a religious and moral people.  It is wholly unsuited for any other.”

We are being told today that religious people must restrict their rights or conform their actions to public demands because it is necessary for the rights of other people.  Our Founders saw no conflicts between religion and other people’s rights. 

Notice that the rights affirmed in the Bill of Rights are all things that people are free to do without the intrusion of government or things that the government cannot do to its people.  There is nothing that compels anybody to do anything for or to somebody else.  Now we are told that people have rights to things that require other people to do things for them, whether by their actions or by the government taking their money and using it to give things to people that they now have a right to have.

The very idea of a secular nation is shown to be wrong by the mere fact that these rights were considered to be given to us by God.  Atheists and secularists don’t like anything about religion and God influencing public policies, but the whole idea of human rights as found in the Constitution is based on God and a particular understanding of that God. 

So, yes, it was religion that influenced the very idea of a free nation, our nation.  This fact alone should prove that the idea of the separation of church and state is wrong as it is currently understood.  The Founders’ views of God showed them that independence was the right course of action.

2)         The right to free exercise of religion means that the Founders had a particular religion in mind.  The Founders weren’t philosophers who hypothesized: what about this religion, or that religion?  They knew that there were all kinds of religions in the world and that they have competing ideas of truth. 

Religions all have very different practices on what is normal or moral behavior.  In India, they used to burn alive the widows of their newly deceased husbands in one huge bonfire.  It was the English who governed the country and who reintroduced Christianity back into India who were responsible for ending that practice.

Religion isn’t just about doctrines, what you believe about a God who is out there somewhere.  Religion is a whole encompassing worldview that defines your views of truth and falsehood, right and wrong, good and evil, good and bad, worthy and unworthy. 

Laws are based on these kinds of values.  You can’t promise on the one hand that religious exercise is free, and then, based on an entirely secular worldview of moral relativism and cultural equivalency, make laws that limit what religious people can do. 

That may sound like religious people are given a blank check to do all manner of things in the name of their religion.  But the moral code of Christians was well known, to the Founders and to the public.  

The moral code for our country was basically summarized by the Ten Commandments, which we used to display in our schools, court houses, and in the public squares, plus the general command to love your neighbor.  Our nation felt quite safe allowing and even promoting this free exercise of religion.

Our First Congress had Bibles printed to be used in all the public schools.  I am reading now the basic reading books used in our public schools during the 1800s.  They are very explicitly Christian in their content.  Much of it could be used just the way they are in Sunday School, the teaching arm of the Christian Church. 

Christian morality gave us love thy neighbor, compassion, helping people in need, mercy, kindness, forgiveness, giving, self-sacrifice, honesty, integrity, hard work, responsibility, respect, courage, self-control, discipline, humility, trust, honesty, loyalty, faithfulness, patience, promoting marriage, saving yourself for marriage, having children only in a marriage, and working through hard marriages rather than breaking up a family.

I’m not saying that these virtues are not found anywhere else, but Christianity was the value system which embraced all of these virtues, and they were equally embraced by our country.   No, not everybody lived by these virtues, but these were all considered to be virtues and the right way to live. 

So when the Founders said that the free exercise of religion is a fundamental human right, they had Christianity in mind. 

But if free exercise of religion is a fundamental human right, then it must apply to all religions and not just to Christianity.

So this leads to the third meaning of religious freedom in our country.

3)         The right to free exercise of religion in our country would also mean that our Founders were not expecting or planning to create a diverse nation where everybody under the sun would or could come here and “do their own thing.”  There are religions that have practiced human sacrifice, the burning alive of widows, honor killings, and female genital mutilation.  So, no, I do not believe that they were dreaming of an America where everybody could come here and freely practice their religion from back home.  They were thinking of those people who already constituted this new nation.

A few years after the Constitution was ratified, the United States went to war with four Muslim nations on the northern coast of Africa.  They were hijacking our ships and taking our sailors captive.  Our leaders couldn’t understand why they were doing this, so in talks with them, the Muslim leaders showed them from the Koran that it was their duty as Muslims to wage war against the infidels.  That’s what Muslims do.

So while our leaders believed that freedom of religious exercise is a human right, I don’t believe for a minute that they expected, wanted, or would have allowed massive migration of Muslims into our country, knowing that there would inevitably be a clash of cultures at some point. 

If you read the early writings, you know that there were some Muslims in our country.  But you also know that our Founders fully expected that differing ideas would be fully debated, and the truth would win out.  They did not understand religions as personal preferences like one’s taste in music or food.  Religion was about truth.

Christian exercise was not muted so as not to offend those of other religions.  The country took a stand as a Christian nation as evidenced by the use of the Bible in its public schools.

As for the idea of diversity and the mass migration of differing cultures into our country, if you read the Preamble to the Constitution, you will see that our government was founded to form a more perfect Union
[how can diversity create union?],
establish Justice,
which would mean the securing of our rights, like having free exercise of religion,
insure domestic Tranquility
[how can you have tranquility when everyone disagrees on what is right and wrong, good and bad],
provide for the common defense,
which would mean keeping our government and our country from changing into something they were not intended to be,
promote the general Welfare,
which means to promote what is best for the citizens of our country before that of the rest of the world,
and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,
which means to see that we don’t ruin the future for our children because of something that we want to do today. 

We shouldn't do things that endanger our nation’s future, like accumulating massive debt that can’t be paid down or bringing in masses of people whose values are very different from our own.  Immigration is forever.  Hundreds become thousands become millions. 

Government exists for the happiness and security of its own people.  Happiness is their word.  In modern political speech, you could use a slogan like America First.

Conservative Christians and lawmakers keep trying to pass laws to protect religious freedom.  I believe that is a mistake.  By trying to pass these laws, they are saying that the First Amendment didn’t really address these issues, and we are trying to get something that wasn’t a part of the original plan. 

On the contrary, they need to reassert all that the First Amendment promises, that the First Amendment is enough to guarantee them these right.  They should be challenging the assumption that our Founders intended our nation to be a secular nation and that religion, specifically Christianity, has no place in our public policy. 

It is often noted that John Adams and our Congress stated once that our country was not founded on the Christian religion.  But this statement was made in 1797 in dialogue with the Muslim pirates before we went to war with them.  We had been paying them tribute, buying them off, to keep them from attacking our ships.  

When you see the context of their statement, you understand better the point of the statement.  They were trying to avoid giving them any further reason for hostile action. 

Muslim countries are run by the Koran.  That is their highest law and forms their legal system.  Christianity does not form our legal system or spell out the form of our government.  So what they said was factually true, but perhaps a little incomplete. 

Christianity is not related to our government like the Koran is related to the government in Muslim countries.  But Christianity did form the basis of our moral values as evidenced by the Declaration of Independence and the high place the Bible had in our public schools.

Christians are concerned today over the increasing government restrictions on religious freedom.  They would do better if they focused on what kind of nation we were founded to be. 

Even if we were founded as a Christian nation, should or can we still insist on that since we have become a very diverse nation since then? 

The choice is either being a Christian nation or a secular nation.  If we choose to be a secular nation, then we are no longer the nation that was started in 1776.  We should change our name so as to not confuse the two nations with each other. 

We will become increasingly diverse with very little to bind us together.  We can expect to have continual strife as major cultures, value systems, and truth systems clash, with nobody willing to compromise.  Frankly, that is a dim prospect for the future of our nation. 

As a secular nation, we have no choice but to bring in as many different cultures and religions as possible.  Diversity is our strength, so we are told.  But expect then to have a society continually at war with itself, with every group fighting for its own truth, validation, and piece of a shrinking pie.

Apart from a major religious revival, as in Christian revival, it is getting harder and harder for many to make the case for returning to our Christian roots, because there are so many people here now who have brought their other worldviews, i.e. religions, here.  Since 1965, our leaders have focused on diversity in our immigration policies, so any kind of national consensus keeps getting harder to attain.

But Christianity lost its foothold in America, not because it proved unworthy or because Christians became indifferent to their religion, but because the court called supreme ruled its exclusion from public life, and lawsuits, court rulings, and a few generations of children growing up under the new rules made it seem passé or at least marginalized in modern America. 

The Christian Church needs a religious revival in America, and it often tells us that our hope is not found in politics.  But if we don’t challenge the assumptions about our nation’s history and founding, that revival will do very little to change our country, because our schools, our government, and our courts will still be doing things based on secularism, because they believe that is how our country is supposed to be.  And they will still be restricting the way that the Church can interact with society and what the Church can say publicly.

The Church needs to challenge the thinking that it is forbidden for it to talk politically and to be involved politically.  Our country is a representative country, and Christians must insist on being represented as well.  It’s not humility to let the heathen, the atheists, and the secularists run the country, the schools, the media, and then mourn that our country is going to hell.  The Church needs to challenge the idea that schools and public life must be devoid of anything having to do with God. 

All those lawsuits about crosses in public places and Christian organizations in public schools need to be challenged and thrown out.  Christians need to become more vocal.  This is their country too, and the country that their children will grow up in.  This is the country that used to be the leader of the free world, a light to the nations, an example of what freedom and religious freedom can do for a nation.

There may well have to be acts of civil disobedience where people defy a government edict, law, or regulation, and the Church needs to be ready to stand with these people when this happens and force the government to back down.

Jesus said that if someone strikes you on the cheek, you should turn the other one to him.  If someone strikes me on the cheek, I will try to do that.  But if someone starts striking my wife or my kids, I will try to stop them.  And that it takes force, I will use it. 


If Christians think it virtuous to let the heathen, the secularists, and the atheists take over their country, that’s one thing.  But for the sake of your children and grandchildren, you need to fight to get back the country that our forefathers left to us, what some famous people from our past called “the last best hope of earth.”

8 comments:

  1. Congress shall make no law . . . prohibiting the free exercise [of religion].

    Let's expand that ellipsis, shall we:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

    The very first clause in the First amendment is about making no law respecting an establishment of religion. The very, very first thing. To reuse your own words: Since this is the very first clause of the first part of the First Amendment, it is as if to say that this right is at the foundation of who [Americans] are as a people.

    You left that part out. That absence is significant to your thesis, because the free excise of religion is actually the second part of the First amendment. Not the first.

    How would you go about reconciling the actual first clause with the rest of your thesis?

    Christian morality gave us love thy neighbor, compassion, helping people in need, mercy, kindness, forgiveness, giving, self-sacrifice, honesty, integrity, hard work, responsibility, respect, courage, self-control, discipline, humility, trust, honesty, loyalty, faithfulness, patience, promoting marriage, saving yourself for marriage, having children only in a marriage, and working through hard marriages rather than breaking up a family.

    Christian morality also gave us the idea that a bride that is discovered to not be a virgin on her wedding night should be stoned to death. Deuteronomy 13-21:

    13 If a man takes a wife and, after sleeping with her, dislikes her 14 and slanders her and gives her a bad name, saying, “I married this woman, but when I approached her, I did not find proof of her virginity,” 15 then the young woman’s father and mother shall bring to the town elders at the gate proof that she was a virgin. 16 Her father will say to the elders, “I gave my daughter in marriage to this man, but he dislikes her. 17 Now he has slandered her and said, ‘I did not find your daughter to be a virgin.’ But here is the proof of my daughter’s virginity.” Then her parents shall display the cloth before the elders of the town, 18and the elders shall take the man and punish him. 19 They shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give them to the young woman’s father, because this man has given an Israelite virgin a bad name. She shall continue to be his wife; he must not divorce her as long as he lives.

    20 If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the young woman’s virginity can be found, 21 she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done an outrageous thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father’s house. You must purge the evil from among you.


    Not only is this barbaric - it's also confused. It's as if the authors of the bible didn't realize that it is perfectly possible for a virgin woman to have sex for the first time without ripping her hymen and bleeding all over the bedsheets. If her partner is patient, gentle, caring and careful, then there's no reason for that at all.

    This is a sign that religion doesn't spawn a culture, exactly. Rather, religion and culture have a mutual feedback loop. The culture in place at the time and location where Deuteronomy 22 was written had flatly incorrect ideas about human sexuality. These flatly incorrect ideas made it into the scripture of the time because the scripture of the time was a codification of the cultural norms and beliefs. Once codified in religion, the culture gets frozen in that shape - and it can take a very, very long time to thaw.

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    1. I omitted the first part of the First Amendment, because it wasn't relevant to my article. I'm told my articles are too long as it is. Establishment of religion at that time had to do with having a national church, like they had and still have in Europe, e.g. The Church of England, the Lutheran Church in Germany, the Reformed Church in the Netherlands.
      As for the Deuteronomy quote, yes, that part made it into the Bible, but that is hardly Christian morality. Christians believe that much of the Old Testament law is no longer binding, like the laws about sowing different seeds in a field or having different kinds of cloth in a garment.
      I don't have documentation handy (it's been a long time since I studied this.), but my understanding is that Jewish morality was unique among the nations of the time. So this was not something they picked up from the culture of the time.
      Thanks for taking the time to write.

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  2. To be clear: I take it for granted that you do not believe that a woman who is discovered to not be a virgin on her wedding night should be stoned to death on her father's doorstep. I take it for granted that most Christians do not believe this.

    It's still there in the text. Christians have just decided to ignore it, because our culture has evolved to the point that we, rightly, recognize that this practice would be abhorrently immoral. The world has corrected the Bible.

    It is not well worthy of note that of all the multitude of [Biblical] texts through which man has driven his annihilating pen he has never once made the mistake of obliterating a good and useful one? It does certainly seem to suggest that if man continues in the direction of enlightenment, his religious practice may, in the end, attain some semblance of human decency.

    But lets look at something that Christians today do set great store against. The ten commandments. No mean source, since you refer to it yourself, with the following claim:

    The moral code for our country was basically summarized by the Ten Commandments, which we used to display in our schools, court houses, and in the public squares, plus the general command to love your neighbor. Our nation felt quite safe allowing and even promoting this free exercise of religion.

    Let's take a look at the first three.

    1 And God spoke all these words:

    2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
    3 “You shall have no other gods beforea me.
    4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
    7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.


    So the first commandment is contradicted by the second clause of the First Amendment. As you put it: Congress shall make no law . . . prohibiting the free exercise [of religion]. An American citizen is a Hindu, that citizen will likely worship Vishnu or Shiva or Brahma or Krishna or... Well... A lot of options, really. Hinduism is kind of weird.

    But the point is that a Hindu American may worship freely any god they choose before Elohim. Which is in direct contradiction of the first commandment.

    The same goes for the second commandment: A Hindu can create images of whatever they like and worship at them however they like. Congress can make no law against it. This is in contradiction with the second commandment.

    The third commandment is not to misuse the name of Elohim. Congress would have to pass a law respecting an establishment of religion to enforce the first commandment. So the first clause of the first amendment is in contradiction with the third commandment.

    The first amendment directly contradicts elements in the ten commandments. If your claim that America is founded on the principles established in Christianity, and in the ten commandments in particular... Then that seems a bit surprising. If, on the other hand, the founders intended for government to remain neutral on the subject of religion (i.e. secular), then it isn't surprising at all: It would be expected. Something something Bayes' Theorem something.

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    1. The Ten Commandments are generally understand as having two distinct sections. The first lists responsibilities toward God and the second those toward other people. Our nation didn't make the Ten Commandments the law of the land, but it did influence common morality and many laws. Businesses used to be closed on Sunday to honor the Christian Sabbath. Look again at the third part of my article. I don't think our Founders envisioned our country mass importing people from all different cultures and religions of the world. This only started in 1965 when Congress changed our immigration laws. Prior to that, almost all our immigrants came from Europe, what you could call Christian countries.

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  3. This whole thing of yours seems to be based on the notion that secularism is in opposition to religion.

    This isn't the case. The 'secular' is just neutrality regarding religion. Neither for, nor against.

    A Christian can be a secularist without contradiction. A Christian can believe that one should give to God what is God's, and give to Caesar [i.e. the secular power] what is Caesar's.

    No atheist or secularist in America is trying to take away any American Christian's right to privately practice their religion however they see fit.

    The conflict comes about when a Christian in America attempts to impose their religion on someone else. A Christian is free to believe that marriage is an inherently religious ceremony, a covenant that a man and a woman pledge to one another and to God. That Christian is free to hold the view that the notion of 'gay marriage' is an oxymoron and an affront to God. That Christian is free to abstain from gay marriage.

    However, that Christian is not free to impose that Christian belief on non-Christians. Your freedom to swing your arms ends at the point where your fist would come into contact with my nose: The freedoms of our hypothetical anti-gay-marriage Christian citizen end where the freedoms of another citizen begin.

    If our hypothetical Christian has the secular job of issuing marriage licenses on behalf of the secular government, and that secular government decrees that gay marriage is to be legalized and permitted, then that Christian is entirely within their rights to refuse to do their job. And if they refuse to do their job, then the secular government that employs them is entirely within their rights to terminate that employment.

    If a Christian resigns a position that would require them to contradict their faith, then that's their right to the freedom to exercise their religion as they see fit. No atheist or secularist will ever argue that the government should track that retired Christian down at their place of residence and force them to do the thing that they resigned from doing. This doesn't happen.

    No Christian Church is ever going to be forced to hold or officiate a gay marriage. Churches are not the government, and can choose which religious services they will or will not provide on freedom of religion grounds.

    What happens instead is that when a Christian attempts to use government power and influence to impose Christian religion on others, secular people point out that this is against the law. The Christians feel entitled to do what they're doing, so they bleat and complain and make the kind of bad arguments that you are making here, arguments that omit significant facts and ignore significant tracts of nuance and complexity. These arguments don't work, and the Christians walk away with the belief that they're being victimized, when in reality all that has happened is that they have been prevented from victimizing others.

    And so we're left with the current situation in America. Many Christians are stuck in the mistaken belief that they are being persecuted by the secular government, when in reality all that is happening is that Christians can no longer get away with misusing privilege and power for religious purposes in the way that they used to.

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    1. Secular does not mean being neutral toward religion. A religion is a complete description of reality. Read my blurb at the top about worldviews. Secularism is a worldview that excludes God. It creates a value system that encompasses every aspect of life. It is basically a god-less religion. When government now requires Christians to do things that they believe is wrong, it is because our country has traded its Christian worldview for secularism. The bit about Ceasar is not really applicable. The United States was a new thing in history, totally unlike anything in Bible days. We have representative government. We don't have kings and rulers and Caesars imposing their will on the people. We have people that we elect to represent us. And Christians have representatives as well as anybody else. And, yes, at some point churches will be forced to perform gay marriages, because in a secular society civil rights trump religious ones. All we need is somebody to sue a church for denying a ceremony.

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  4. But it's okay. Because as the culture will change, religion will change too. This always happens. To quote the inimitable Mr. Clemens once again:

    The methods of the priest and the parson have been very curious, their history is very entertaining. In all the ages the Roman Church has owned slaves, bought and sold slaves, authorized and encouraged her children to trade in them. Long after some Christian peoples had freed their slaves the Church still held on to hers. If any could know, to absolute certainty, that all this was right, and according to God’s will and desire, surely it was she, since she was God’s specially appointed representative in the earth and sole authorized and infallible expounder of his Bible. There were the texts; there was no mistaking their meaning; she was right, she was doing in this thing what the Bible had mapped out for her to do. So unassailable was her position that in all the centuries she had no word to say against human slavery. Yet now at last, in our immediate day, we hear a Pope saying slave trading is wrong, and we see him sending an expedition to Africa to stop it. The texts remain: it is the practice that has changed. Why? Because the world has corrected the Bible. The Church never corrects it; and also never fails to drop in at the tail of the procession - and take the credit of the correction. As she will presently do in this instance.

    Rest assured, Larry. Christianity is not going anywhere. Give it a generation or two, and I'm sure that everything over which Christians currently rail (such as gay marriage) so bitterly will become the cultural norm. Clever theologians will discover new and improved interpretations of the texts and the practices, and hand-waving excuses to do away with the beliefs of today.

    Once Christianity wakes up to the fact that they've lost the cultural battle again, they'll do what they always do. They'll turn around and join the procession, following everyone else. And in a generation or two after that, once memory has faded enough to become fuzzy, they'll be taking credit for the normalization of all that is anathema to the Christians of today.

    Which is cynical and hypocritical. But also, I think, a good thing. Secular culture will, slowly and gradually, drag religion into a position of becoming consistent with basic human decency. We did it with stoning. We did it with slavery. We did it with interracial marriage. It's happening with gay marriage, right before our eyes. And so it will continue, so long as there remain Christians addicted to judgement and sanctimony and power.

    You're welcome. :)

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    1. This is the first I heard about the Roman Catholic Church having slaves.
      As for the second part, I have a number of books about the effect of Christianity on the world, on how Christianity changed if tor the better and not the other way around.
      But, yes, where Church and culture meet, each changes the other. When I went to Bible school, you couldn't dance, go to movies, play cards, drink, and a few other things. Now Christian magazines have movie reviews. Some denominations have accepted gay marriage, but I wouldn't expect any more to do that.
      Thanks again.

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