Tag Archives: James Dobson

National Day of Prayer not needed

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May 7th was the so-called National Day of Prayer. It is an ad hoc “day” sponsored by the religious right front group Focus on the Family to misinform us all about the erroneous claims that fundamentalist Christians are being persecuted in the United States. President Bush made a public spectacle of the “event” but President Obama only continued the proclamation part. That is a good sign, but there are other reasons to drop the National Day of Prayer.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State have several reasons posted on their website including:

Americans don’t need the government to tell them when or how to pray.

Americans have the right to pray for whomever they want and in what manner they like. But we don’t need an officially designated government proclamation to do that. Our people are free to engage in worship whenever they want. Allowing government to set aside certain days for prayer and worship implies that the state has some say over our religious lives when it does not. It is simply not the business of government to advise when, if and how people pray.

What’s wrong with national day of prayer?

Denying a request for a religious proclamation, Thomas Jefferson wrote:

“I consider the government of the US. as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises.…. I do not believe it is for the interest of religion to invite the civil magistrate to direct its exercises, its discipline, or its doctrines; nor of the religious societies that the general government should be invested with the power of effecting any uniformity of time or matter among them. Fasting & prayer are religious exercises. The enjoining them an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the times for these exercises, & the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets; and this right can never be safer than in their own hands, where the constitution has deposited it….[E]very one must act according to the dictates of his own reason, & mine tells me that civil powers alone have been given to the President of the US. and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents.”

Jan. 23, 1808 letter to a minister named Samuel Miller

Finally, this video from comedian Lewis Black, while a bit dated, expresses why I don’t like my elected officials to hold their religions on their sleeves:

Lewis Black on Politics and Religion

Sarah Palin: Just another religious right whack job

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John McCain’s pick as Vice President is Alaska governor Sarah Palin. Besides her good looks, youth, and lack of experience, Palin also brings along an unhealthy religious obsession seen in many evangelicals like President Bush. If McCain was trying to distance himself from Bush, he goofed in picking Palin.

Palin believes that actions are either commanded by a god or influenced by one:

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told ministry students at her former church that the United States sent troops to fight in the Iraq war on a “task that is from God.”

In an address last June, the Republican vice presidential candidate also urged ministry students to pray for a plan to build a $30 billion natural gas pipeline in the state, calling it “God’s will.”

Palin asked the students to pray for the troops in Iraq, and noted that her eldest son, Track, was expected to be deployed there.

“Our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God,” she said. “That’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for, that there is a plan and that plan is God’s plan.”

“God’s will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built, so pray for that,” she said.

“I can do my job there in developing our natural resources and doing things like getting the roads paved and making sure our troopers have their cop cars and their uniforms and their guns, and making sure our public schools are funded,” she added. “But really all of that stuff doesn’t do any good if the people of Alaska’s heart isn’t right with God.”

Palin: Iraq war ‘a task that is from God’

Palin also is anti-choice and believes in “creation science”. Also like many high moral Christians, she has skeletons in the closet such as her 17 year old daughter being with child outside of marriage.

As you can probably guess, James Dobson, president and founder of Focus on the Family, is estatic about the pick:

Dobson: You know, Dennis, the things that concern me about John McCain are still there. I made those comments not just based on emotions, but based on his record and some of the things that took place—embryonic stem cell research, and other things, the campaign finance, and other things. Those are still there. So, there’s still concerns. But I tell you, when I look at the choices that are ahead and what the implications are for this country, and now especially with this selection, with just an outstanding V.P. candidate as a running mate, I tell you what I am relieved and very excited.

Dobson: “I Would Pull that Lever” for McCain-Palin

Religious Right Grasping at Straws

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On October 4th, Dr James Dobson wrote in an op/ed article in the New York Times that “if neither of the two major political parties nominates an individual who pledges himself or herself to the sanctity of human life, we will join others in voting for a minor-party candidate.”

This was a shot across the bow of the GOP because the current front runner – Rudi Giuliani – failed the so-called “value voters” litmus test.

But why not support one of the other GOP candidates. One who seems up their religious alley is Mike Huckabee. He agrees with their views on abortion and gay marriage and he was one of the few GOP’ers who said he didn’t believe in Evolution.

Evolution is a complex issue. It’s a complex issue to discuss the origins of life. And that’s really the question as I interpreted it and understood it. What are the origins of life? Do you believe that life is the result of some metaphysical accident that happened eons ago and there has been this ongoing process of mutation and random selection that has resulted in life as we now know it? And if so, then it’s probably going to keep changing, and who knows where, how and when. And that’s fine, people can certainly believe that.

There are others of us whose basic premise of the origins of life is that there is a God and that he is the dynamic behind it – that there is a prime mover, as some of the ancient philosophers used to speak. I subscribe to that. And as I said last night, for me, it’s as simple as “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth.”

A science book that I read today is dramatically different from the science book I would have found in the school classroom 50 years ago or 100 years ago. But the origin of life as it is expressed in the Scripture is consistent and has been now for several thousand years. I can embrace that, and to me it is not a conflict with science; it can be compatible with science.

Whither Social Conservatives? A Conversation with GOP Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee

So why don’t people like Dobson get behind Huckabee?

Because in one recent poll Huckabee is 6th among GOP contenders.

Would the religious right want to hitch their wagons to someone who probably won’t win the nomination? If the guy lost then their supposed “power” would be suspect.

However if they could get a front runner to change their attitude and court them and then they end up losing to the Democrat then the right can say they caused that person to lose because they were being taken for granted. They can spin how powerless they really are.

See how politics works.

See also For a Trusty Voting Bloc, a Faith Shaken

Et tu, Berlinerblau

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Jacques Berlinerblau writes in the column “Georgetown/On Faith” on the Washington Post-Newsweek website:

Query: Can an atheist or agnostic commentator discuss any aspect of religion for more than thirty seconds without referring to religious people as imbeciles, extremists, mental deficients, fascists, enemies of the common good, crypto-Nazis, conjure men, irrationalists, pedophiles, bearers of false consciousness, authoritarian despots, and so forth? Is that possible?

Nonbelievers of late have been churning out loud, unsubtle, anti-religious manifestos. The world would be a better place, they all seem to suggest, if religion and all of its associated personnel were simply to disappear. In this regards the new nonbelievers seem stuck in the ‘90s—and by this I mean the 1890s. This calls attention to one glaring problem with atheism and agnosticism today: it lacks new ideas. The movement abounds in polemicists, but has not produced a thinker of real substance since perhaps the days of Jean-Paul Sartre.

Secularism: Boring (Part I)

When I read something like that it’s easy for me to simply dismiss it as it almost always comes from some Christian fundamentalist with no clue about atheism or secularism.

In this case Berlinerblau is one of us – a nonbeliever. He is on the advisory panel of the Secular Web run by the Internet Infidels and he wrote the book “The Secular Bible: Why Nonbelievers Must Take Religion Seriously” (Cambridge:2005).

All beliefs have insider dissenters who for one reason or another would rather their comrades not be so “uppity”. It seems that people like Berlinerblau want nonbelievers to be meek and silent like a servant in a colonial household in the early part of the 20th century.

While I agree with Berlinerblau that there are some extreme views within the nonbeliever community, I think he paints with a too large a brush. Most of us don’t call believers imbeciles, pedophiles etc… (on a daily basis) and we don’t lump everyone into one large group as Berlinerblau appears to do to nonbelievers. Most nonbelievers will agree that the late Madalyn Murray O’Hair had far worse things to say about religion and even other nonbelievers that anything coming out of the books by Dawkins and Harris et al… and she got all the press she wanted.

However the nonbeliever commentaries that I have seen and read have dealt with specific views and specific actions of believers that might seem to be stupid or irrational. See practically any post of this blog for examples of that.

Yes, I did call Dennis Prager a turd but as Ann Coulter would say – I was just expressing an invective….

I have met some atheists and other nonbelievers who I didn’t personally like because they were buttheads socially, but doesn’t it seem every movement has buttheads leading the charge that opens the doors for the rest of us?

Now if we start seeing extremists on the other side being put in their place by more moderate voices, I might sign on to Berlinerblau’s ideas. It just seems that nonbelievers are the ones being asked to tone our criticism down or that we need to be silent so as not to offend those who might agree with us on church state separation.

It isn’t my job to make believers who agree with us on church and state issues to feel better about themselves and their silly beliefs especially as they remain silent when people like James Dobson or Pat Robertson have free reign for their stupid comments in the name of their religion.

I say lets see some compromise from their side.