Bishop McElroy decries extremism on religious freedom, calls for solidarity in American politics

WASHINGTON (RNS) — In an address at Georgetown University, Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego criticized both extremes in the fight over religious freedom and called for public consensus based on solidarity to heal our nation in this hyper-partisan age.

McElroy is one of the most brilliant minds in the Catholic hierarchy today, with a doctorate in political science from Stanford University and a doctorate in moral theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Not surprisingly, the 63-year-old bishop is frequently spoken of as a possible successor to Cardinal Donald Wuerl in Washington, DC, who is past retirement age.

McElroy gave his speech on November 16 at a conference at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs celebrating the 50th anniversary of the death of Rev. John Courtney Murray, the Jesuit who was one of the most influential American theologians of the 20th century. But McElroy was not interested in looking backwards. He wanted to talk about “the issues of the Church and our nation at this moment in our history.”

He began by looking at religious freedom, the issue which made Murray famous. Murray was silenced by the church for writing about religious freedom but later he became one of the main authors of "Dignitatis Humane," the document on religious liberty at the Second Vatican Council.

“During the past decade, the issue of religious liberty has become deeply enmeshed in the bitter divide which grips our nation and corrupts political and moral dialogue,” asserts McElroy.

Of the two contending forces, “The first seeks to minimize the scope of religious liberty, and specifically reduce the freedom of religious communities to the freedom of worship,” he said. “The second seeks to maximize the exercise of religious conscience in society, undercutting the legitimate role that government has in advancing the common good.”

The Catholic tradition rejects both approaches, he said.

In response to minimalists who deliberately undermine the freedom of the church by reducing religious expression to worship, he says, “The Church must emphasize that a robust appreciation for the specifically religiously inspired works of faith communities in health care, social service and advocacy for the marginalized lie at the core of the Gospel imperative, and any realistic notion of religious liberty in the United States.”

On the other hand, the maximalists “seek to undermine the legitimate authority of the state by endorsing an ever expanding notion of individual rights of conscience in the public sphere without due regard for the governmental pursuit of the common good.”

“This, too,” he says, “is a distortion of the Catholic doctrine of religious liberty.” The church must reject both extremes.

Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego. Photo from the diocese of San Diego

McElroy finds support in Murray’s position that “The right to conscience in public expression is ultimately rooted in the dignity of the human person and the pursuit of the common good. And the public order, that part of the common good which falls to government, is a wholly legitimate pursuit of government even when that common good necessitates restrictions upon the public actions of believers acting in the light of their conscience.”

The church “must defend absolutely the rights of conscience to internal belief, point to the moral warrants for the robust freedom of religious communities, and outline the nuanced Catholic teaching on the rights of believers to act upon their beliefs in society,” says McElroy. “But the Church must be equally dedicated to defending the corresponding governmental right to—at times—restrict conscience-driven actions in pursuit of a genuine common good.”

This balanced position by the church is especially needed in the toxic atmosphere of American politics.

McElroy notes that Murray’s writings about the nature of American society in the 20th century focused on the concept of the public consensus which lay at the heart of American political life.

“For Murray, the key element of the concept was its foundation in concepts of natural law which undergirded American society in fundamental ways, and provided a linkage between the history of American politics and Catholic thought,” explains McElroy.

According to Murray, this consensus “was the glue which held America together, through common moral and spiritual values rather than ties of blood or nationalism,” reports McElroy. “Murray wrote that there was a continual need for reconversion to the public consensus in American society in order to embrace anew the principles of freedom, civic unity, truth, civil conversation, and support for the fundamental institutions of American governance.”

Without this conversion, “Murray argued, the United States would confront a spiritual crisis in the temporal realm, a hollowness in American society and culture, an emptiness of the soul,” says McElroy. “We are living in just such a spiritual crisis; for our national soul has truly been hollowed out.”

McElroy calls for a renewed public consensus based the principle of solidarity. The principle of solidarity is the recognition “that we are all debtors of the society of which we are a part.”

A commitment to solidarity “will demand a rejection of the tribal element of politics which sees voting as the opportunity to advance the well-being of our race, our class, our religious community at the expense of others,” says McElroy. “It will entail a purging of the inherent human tendency to allow anger and wedge issues to destroy our ties as Americans. A spiritual conversion to solidarity among citizens demands that we reject the increasing habit in our political culture of attributing all differences of opinion to ignorance or malice.”

This renewal of public consensus requires three norms:

  1. We must become a people which treasures civil dialogue and seeks shared truth.
  2. We must turn from political warfare to governance.
  3. We must build up rather than destroy the institutions which are necessary for our political life.

“The sickness in the political soul of our nation will only be healed if society undertakes a massive regeneration of the political ties which unite us as a people and begins to see these ties as more important than the divisions which tear us apart,” says McElroy.


  1. Lots of nice words, but the real question boils down to this:
    Either we allow discrimination in the public square on the basis of religious belief, or we don’t allow it at all. Finding exceptions where we will allow it– and we all know what THAT is about– merely underlines why we have those laws in the first place.
    The other real question is how much of McElroy’s position is principled, and how much of it is jockeying for Catholic supremacy?
    Birth control: if you think it is wrong, don’t use it. But do you expect the state to support your family because you can’t afford the children you have?
    Abortion: If you don’t like it, don’t have one. But if you oppose birth control and family planning, then you are simply pro-abortion hiding behind an anti-abortion banner.
    Same Sex marriage: If you don’t like gay marriage, don’t get gay married. I won’t invite you to my wedding, nor will I expect a gift. But to work as hard as the RCC did to stop gay marriage, thereby denying those religious people who support it the freedom of religion that the RCC claims for itself, is the height of hypocrisy.

  2. “But the Church must be equally dedicated to defending the corresponding governmental right to—at times—restrict conscience-driven actions in pursuit of a genuine common good.”

    And, yes, there is a need for a balance.

    I am Catholic and think the Catholic Church powers-that-be have a big lesson to learn in being citizens as well as representatives of a faith. They have to find how they can act within the laws and for the common good of people who do not agree with all the Catholic Church espouses. And “people who do not agree with all the Catholic Church espouses” includes tens of millions of Catholics.

    I don’t know what will happen to the huge network of Catholic branded services – but I do not want the Catholic brand to run out of business the non-Catholic brand when it comes to health care, services for sex slaves, help after natural disasters, adoptions, etc. A problem of freedom and agency occurs when the Catholic brand imposes its religious limitations on both the populations it seeks to “serve” and the population it employes to provide those services.

    I am concerned with the government using government funds to support organizations with a particular religious belief that will then discriminate in hiring/firing people based on the adherence of a citizen to the “rules” of a religion. If government money is involved, should discrimination be allowed? This includes people who provide services at Catholic hospitals that receive federal money, and professors at universities where students receive subsidized government loans for education, for example. It means adoption services to help children without a home to find one. It means some recognition in the common market places for good and services that we do not discriminate against those who participate in that market place based on skin color, hair color, gender, ethnic origin, sexual preference, etc.

    I think I go too far in fearing the over-stepping of religious groups. But I don’t know where the balance lies.

  3. “Of the two contending forces, “The first seeks to minimize the scope of religious liberty, and specifically reduce the freedom of religious communities to the freedom of worship,” he said. “The second seeks to maximize the exercise of religious conscience in society, undercutting the legitimate role that government has in advancing the common good.”

    The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must
be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an
irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.

Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love, 1963.

  4. “The Church must emphasize that a robust appreciation for the specifically religiously inspired works of faith communities in health care, social service and advocacy for the marginalized lie at the core of the Gospel imperative, and any realistic notion of religious liberty in the United States.”

    John 3:16 ESV
    “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
    The “core” of the gospel message is to glorify Christ.

  5. ““But the Church must be equally dedicated to defending the corresponding governmental right to—at times—restrict conscience-driven actions in pursuit of a genuine common good.”
    Acts 5:29 – English Standard Version
    But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.

  6. ““We are living in just such a spiritual crisis; for our national soul has truly been hollowed out.”

    Isaiah 60:12 English Standard Version For the nation and kingdom that will not serve you shall perish; those nations shall be utterly laid waste.

  7. Exercising my rights to reality once again:

    Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

    A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

    e.g. Taoism

    “The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother’s womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. “

  8. ” “that we are all debtors of the society of which we are a part.” No. We are in debt to Christ, who died for our sins so that we can once again have access to the Father.

    1 Peter 3:18-20 ESV

    For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit…

  9. The balance lies in keeping purely theological concerns out of the civil laws the govern all of us, and not demanding exceptions to those laws becuase one claims it’s about religion.

  10. So? Does McElroy give any examples? Does he have the courage to do so?

    Does he stand up for the Little Sisters of the Poor? Or the florists, bakers, and photographers?

    He says the State MAY sometimes restrict religious freedom. Does he give a single specific example of when the State may NOT stomp on religious freedom?

  11. Your “balanced” position is the hard-line atheist, totalitarian position.

    Beware the man who offers you his position as a compromise between your position and his position.

  12. Politics aside, the current divide in American culture is over the definition of moral vales. Even if you largely remove political or governmental considerations from the formula, the people themselves are deeply at odds over what the “common good” entails. Civil discourse? Certainly. A limiting of cultural (as opposed to political) warfare? Unlikely at best. Building up as opposed to tearing down the institutions which are necessary to our political life? Great, if we can agree on what those institutions are. Again unlikely.

  13. Unscholarly rantings repeated ad nauseam to no effective end.

  14. I’d say the same, but i would add especially beware the man who wants to use the civil law to enforce his theological beliefs on people who dont share them. But then i believe in religious freedom not theocracy.

  15. Sandi – you don’t understand debt.

    If you choose to buy me a Rolls-Royce without consulting me I am not in your debt.

    You will have decided to waste your money.

    There is no basis in morality which requires me to respond, in any way, to your unrequested outlay.

    When religion relies on pathetic guilt-tripping for converts it exposes itself as immoral and unworthy of respect.

  16. I see you as part of the problem. What makes you think you are serving Him? Your faith is squandered if all it does is allow you to employ twisted logic and circular reasoning to condemn people who are not willing to do the same.

  17. Some of the scholarship required to put the kibosh on religion. Get back to us when you finish perusing:

    1. Historical Jesus Theories, – the names of many of the
    contemporary historical Jesus scholars and the titles of their over 100 books
    on the subject.

    Early Christian Writings,

    – a list of early Christian documents to include the year of publication–

    30-60 CE Passion Narrative

    40-80 Lost Sayings Gospel Q

    50-60 1 Thessalonians

    50-60 Philippians

    50-60 Galatians

    50-60 1 Corinthians

    50-60 2 Corinthians

    50-60 Romans

    50-60 Philemon

    50-80 Colossians

    50-90 Signs Gospel

    50-95 Book of Hebrews

    50-120 Didache

    50-140 Gospel of Thomas

    50-140 Oxyrhynchus 1224 Gospel

    50-200 Sophia of Jesus Christ

    65-80 Gospel of Mark

    70-100 Epistle of James

    70-120 Egerton Gospel

    70-160 Gospel of Peter

    70-160 Secret Mark

    70-200 Fayyum Fragment

    70-200 Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs

    73-200 Mara Bar Serapion

    80-100 2 Thessalonians

    80-100 Ephesians

    80-100 Gospel of Matthew

    80-110 1 Peter

    80-120 Epistle of Barnabas

    80-130 Gospel of Luke

    80-130 Acts of the Apostles

    80-140 1 Clement

    80-150 Gospel of the Egyptians

    80-150 Gospel of the Hebrews

    80-250 Christian Sibyllines

    90-95 Apocalypse of John

    90-120 Gospel of John

    90-120 1 John

    90-120 2 John

    90-120 3 John

    90-120 Epistle of Jude

    93 Flavius Josephus

    100-150 1 Timothy

    100-150 2 Timothy

    100-150 T-itus

    100-150 Apocalypse of Peter

    100-150 Secret Book of James

    100-150 Preaching of Peter

    100-160 Gospel of the Ebionites

    100-160 Gospel of the Nazoreans

    100-160 Shepherd of Hermas

    100-160 2 Peter

    4. Jesus Database, –”The JESUS DATABASE is an
    online a-nnotated inventory of the traditions concerning the life and teachings
    of Jesus that have survived from the first three centuries of the Common Era.
    It includes both canonical and extra-canonical materials, and is not limited to
    the traditions found within the Christian New Testament.”

    5. Josephus on Jesus

    6. The Jesus Seminar,

    – books on the health and illness during the time of the NT

    8. Economics in First Century Palestine, K.C. Hanson and D. E. Oakman,
    Palestine in the Time of Jesus, Fortress Press, 1998.

    9.The Gn-ostic Jesus

    (Part One in a Two-Part Series on Ancient and Modern Gnosticism)

    by Douglas Groothuis:

    10. The interpretation of the Bible in the Church, Pontifical Biblical

    Presented on March 18, 1994

    11. The Jesus Database- newer site:


    12. Jesus Database with the example of Supper and Eucharist:

    13. Josephus on Jesus by Paul Maier:

    13. Historical Jesus Studies

    14. The Greek New Testament:

    15. D-iseases in the Bible:

    16. Religion on- Line (6000 articles on the
    history of religion, churches, theologies,

    theologians, eth-ics, etc.

    The New Testament Gateway – Internet NT

    Writing the New Testament- existing copies, oral tradition etc.

    19. JD Crossan’s c-onclusions about the
    authencity of most of the NT based on the above plus the c-onclusions of other
    NT exegetes in the last 200 years:

    20. Early Jewish Writings- Josephus and his books
    by t-itle with the complete translated work in English

    21. Luke and Josephus- was there a c-onnection?


    22. NT and beyond time line:


    23. St. Paul’s Time line with discussion of
    important events:

    24. See for a list of JD
    Crossan’s books and those of the other Jesus Seminarians: Reviews of said books
    are included and selected pages can now be viewed on Amazon. Some books can be
    found on-line at Google Books.

    25. Father Edward Schillebeeckx’s words of wisdom
    as found in his books.

    27. The books of the following : Professors Gerd
    Ludemann, Marcus Borg, Paula Fredriksen, Elaine Pagels, Karen Armstrong and
    Bishop NT Wright.

    28. Father Raymond Brown’s An Introduction to the New Testament, Doubleday, NY,
    1977, 878 pages, with Nihil obstat and Imprimatur.

    29. Luke Timothy Johnson’s book The Real Jesus

    Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for
    Jesus of Nazareth [Hardcover]

    Bart D. Ehrman

    Large numbers of atheists, humanists, and conspiracy
    theorists are raising one of the most pressing questions in the history of
    religion: “Did Jesus exist at all?” Was he invented out of whole cloth
    for nefarious purposes by those seeking to control the masses? Or was Jesus
    such a shadowy figure—far removed from any credible historical evidence—that he
    bears no meaningful resemblance to the person described in the Bible?

    In Did Jesus Exist? historian and Bible
    expert Bart Ehrman confronts these questions, vigorously defends the
    historicity of Jesus, and provides a compelling portrait of the man from
    Nazareth. The Jesus you discover here may not be the Jesus you had hoped to
    meet—but he did exist, whether we like it or not.

    From the studies of Armstrong, Rushdie, Hirsi
    Ali, Richardson and Bayhaqi————–

    The Five Steps To Deprogram 1400 Years of Islamic

    ( –The Steps take less than two minutes to finish-
    simply amazing, two minutes to bring peace and rationality to over one billion
    lost souls- Priceless!!!)

    Are you ready?

    Using “The 77 Branches of Islamic “faith” a
    collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the
    essential virtues that reflect true “faith” (iman) through related
    Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings.” i.e. a nice summary of the Koran
    and Islamic beliefs.

    The First Five of the 77 Branches:

    “1. Belief in Allah”

    aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah,
    Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your self-cleansing neurons.

    “2. To believe that everything
    other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these
    things and subsequently they came into existence.”

    Evolution and the Big Bang or the
    “Gib Gnab” (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible
    and the “akas” for Allah should be included if you continue to be a

    “3. To believe in the
    existence of angels.”

    A major item for neuron cleansing.
    Angels/de-vils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g.
    Hitt-ites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big
    birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No
    “pretty/ugly wingy thingies” ever visited or talked to Mohammed,
    Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as fairies
    and “tinker bells”. Modern devils are classified as the demons of the

    “4. To believe that all the
    heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However,
    apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore.”

    Another major item to delete. There
    are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as
    there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc.
    are simply books written by humans for humans.

    Prophets were invented by ancient
    scribes typically to keep the un-educated masses in line. Today we call them
    fortune tellers.

    Prophecies are also invali-dated by
    the natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.

    “5. To believe that all the
    prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad
    (peace and blessings be upon him) alone.”

    Mohammed spent thirty days
    “fasting” (the Ramadan legend) in a hot cave before his first contact
    with Allah aka God etc. via a “pretty wingy thingy”. Common sense
    demands a neuron deletion of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic
    vi-olence i.e. turning Mohammed’s “fast, hunger-driven”
    hallu-cinations into horrible reality for unbelievers.

  18. What he should have addressed:

    Here’s what the bishop needs to
    address ASAP before his religion implodes:

    The inadequate response to the inappropriate conduct of many
    priests, the emotional stress on the victims, the resultant $1 billion in
    lawsuits and bankrupt dioceses.

    The lack of talent in the priesthood, the lack of Vatican
    response to the historic Jesus movement, the Church’s continuing to cling
    to original sin and the resulting subsets of crazy ideas like baptism and

    The denial of priesthood to women, the restriction of priesthood
    to single men (unless they are former Episcopalian priests), the continued
    chain of Vatican “leadership” by old white men and natural
    “birth control” leading to many unplanned pregnancies and resultant

    Uncontrolled suffering of the elderly and infirm that need not be
    and unrealistic dogmas such as the Immaculate Conception, Assumption,
    atonement and papal infallibility.

  19. By “addressed” it seems you mean the Church should change teachings on areas of disagreement you have with the Church.

    There are more than enough writings from theologians and Church Father’s, in some cases, dating to the 1st Century which cover many of the areas you mention.

    By the way the Priesthood is open to married men in the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church. You can cross that one of your Festivus list.

  20. Not my disagreement but with Science and 21st Century reality. Make that Roman Catholics if you need differentiation considering the Bishop making the commentary.

    And theologians from the 1st century? You might again move to the 21st century theologians. Some of said thinking:

    Baptism as reviewed in theology classes in many major
    Catholic universities (e.g. Notre Dame, Catholic U.)

    “Baptism does not erase original sin since the sin does not exist.

    Yes, the old “laundry of the soul,” approach to
    Baptism is no longer accepted.

    Infant Baptism is only a rite of initiation and commits parents and
    godparents to bringing up the child in a Christian home.

    Yes, but, since baptism is now celebrated at Sunday
    Eucharist, all the members of the parish family are encouraged to pledge their
    support and care for the faith life of the newly baptized. (A manifestation
    of this is persons volunteering to teach other people’s kids the
    basics ofCatholicism.)

    Other areas updated by Catholic theologians of the 21st century:

    1. There was no physical resurrection
    (i.e. Heaven if it exists is a Spirit State)

    2. And it therefore follows there was no
    ascension and no assumption.

    3. There is/was no original sin. A&E
    were fictional characters living in mythical land.

    4. Jesus was crucified but details of the
    deed have little historic verification.

  21. It is interesting that McElroy should choose John Courtney Murray SJ as his inspiration. It was widely believed that Murray was a close associate of Avery Dulles and the American deep state. In fact Murray was used by the CIA in order to exacerbate the Cold War which was a concoction of the Military Industrial Complex of which Murray and his Jesuits profited. It began with the transformation of Georgetown University as a training school for America’s deep state. Murray and the Kennedy family Cardinal Cushing coordinated the Vietnam intervention by influencing the Kennedy administration. So sixty years later McElroy comes along with his false teachings which will unite what is left of the Catholic Church USA with the permanent warfare American Empire. McElroy will imitate the famous John Kennedy dictum that when it comes down to either obeying the Church’s moral laws or the US constitution he will side with the American State.

  22. I will admit there are some Catholic theologians, Priests, Bishops and even Cardinals out there espousing views on various matters but that does not mean that those are official teachings of the Church. That is not new, it has gone on since the beginning of the Church.

    None of the areas you cite are official teachings of the Church and are, in the best case, opinions expressed by various Catholics which have no Magesterial standing.

    You seem to base your adherence to those beliefs that they are more recent and science.

    Is it your opinion that more recent beliefs should take precedence over earlier beliefs?

    Is science able to answer questions outside of the material and natural world? If yes, how does it do so?

  23. And the questions you have that Science and Common Sense cannot answer are?

    Let us all march to the New Magisterium based on the reality of the historic Jesus and his movement and its foundations i.e. Gentile money, the whims of Pilate, the swords of Constantine and Paul and his historic epistles, leaving out the embellished ones.

    The new Magisterium of Reality and the gift of Future unencumbered by prophets and prophecies.

  24. God loves us one way or the other. It is our sin that He does not love.

  25. I would say if you were a Christian, you would understand, but I don’t have enough time to explain things to you today, as you have not been forthcoming in any questions that I have posed of you.

  26. Give, you owe the very air that you breathe to the goodness of God.

  27. No Sandi – you are plain and simple wrong.

    Even if God existed – and you are unable to produce either worthwhile evidence or reasoned justification of need to support your hypothesis – I would owe him nothing.

    You misunderstand “owe” as you misunderstand “debt”.

    I owe if I have agreed to perform something conditional upon an action which, subsequently, has been done.

    That is why children owe their parents nothing.
    They had no say in their conception and that simple fact removes any debt. If the parents look after the child well – good – that is what they should do – in other words the debt is owed to the child because it was forced into its life without the possibility of refusal. Parents who provide well for their children are discharging the debt they owe the child.

    This means that, in the scenario you envisage, God is the one who does the owing – not me, not you and not anyone else either. And every time those he forced in to existence are needlessly harmed it would be your God failing to protect his creation – in other words God failing adequately to discharge the debt he owes.

    This is simple logic applied to basic morality. It is rationally irrefutable – so I will get a “lol”?

  28. No. We owe God, period. You should be thankful for the very air you breathe.

  29. Why do you think that we owe your God – what and why?

    And I’m aware that you haven’t even tried to use reason – just a non argument – an irrational unsupported statement devoid of justification.

  30. First of all, he isn’t “my God”. He is God. There is only one God.
    He created you. He sustained you throughout your life. He died for you even though you have chosen not to accept that gift.
    He loves you with an everlasting love.
    If you don’t like the way I answer questions, don’t ask.

  31. I don’t expect to “like” your answers – though I do expect that the answers you give will expose the absence of rational justification to any reader who is tempted to agree with you.

    You never let me down.

  32. The last paragraph, the quote of McElroy is a description of what the country undertook two times. The parting of ways with England and again at the parting of ways between the North and the South.

    It appears that we are at another similar junction in time. What will God answer to this parting of ways?

  33. Indeed but if you need added clarification:

    Common sense is sound practical judgment concerning everyday matters, or a basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge that is shared by (“common to”) nearly all people.[1] The first type of common sense is sometimes described as “the knack for seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done.” The second type is sometimes described as folk wisdom, “signifying unreflective knowledge not reliant on specialized training or deliberative thought.” The two types are intertwined, as the person who has common sense is in touch with common-sense ideas, which emerge from the lived experiences of those commonsensical enough to perceive them.[2]

    See also Aristotle’s thinking on the subject.

  34. “Reality” – ah yes – that’s another word I think you totally misunderstand.

    “Debt”, “Owe”, “Reality”, “Know”, “Faith” – they’re all words that have a simple meaning which many religious folks misuse to try to persuade themselves and others that 2+2 can equal 759.1/2 if you want it to do so.

    And still no attempt to make a rational response – just unsupported statements with no link to logic or evidence.

    And you claim I have difficulty with reality – as you say – lol!

  35. Perhaps we should be more thankful that we are alive to breathe it.

  36. “I would say if you were a Christian, you would understand . . .”

    This is part of the problem. Only Christians can understand you. Christianity might have a lot to offer but no one would know that listening to you.

    As for not responding to your questions, the two I found were, “Is English your first language?” and “Are you a Christian?”

    To your first question, I understand you perfectly. But I will die not knowing the answer to your second question, so will you.

  37. “McElroy is one of the most brilliant minds in the Catholic hierarchy today” what makes you state that?… he is more interested in politics than saving souls… see all his actions in his Diocese like mandating solar panels in all his churches, mobilizing for illegal immigration, spreading false hope for homosexuals not opening their eyes to repent, rather just “embracing” them; castigating faithful priests who preach truth in our society etc. etc. and now he wants to take away one of the rights that our founders fought for, and escaped to be able to have religious freedom as individuals.

  38. Obsessive compulsive are we? I have neither the time nor inclination answer you scholar for scholar, point for point, link for link. I noticed you referenced yourself in the 3rd person, which is never a good sign. I will note this, The Jesus Seminar was a highly subjective effort where the scholars endeavored to promote their pre-existing biases over legitimate methodologies; at least that is the assessment of a number of scholars whom I respect.

  39. Does the RCC ever clearly specify anything? That’s the Catholic way.

  40. Common sense for non Catholics is whatnatural law is for Catholics…

    It Seems good to me.

  41. My salvation is guaranteed Anton. I’m sorry yours isn’t. Become a follower of Christ and yours will be also.

  42. I am reminded of a time when the Roman church advocated for restricting the religious expression and freedom of conscience because of the threat to the establishment and a lone man on pain of death stood in Germany and said he would not recant nor go against conscience. Did Martin Luther not say here I stand I can do no other. My Lutheran chaplain just celebrated the 500th anniversary of the protestant reformation a few weeks back. He reminded me just how important our religious freedom is.

    Rome should remember that.

  43. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” First Amendment, Constitution of the United States.


  44. Religion is just ethics backed by an authority or law. The question is whose ethics. You might say we shouldn’t legislate morality but what happens in an nfl game when the refs don’t get involved.

  45. I would never argue that we should not legislate “morality” for all laws basically are set in place to rule in or rule out behavior. In fact the rule of law is a fundamental bedrock to anything that even approaches a civilization.

  46. And the names of the scholars you respect? Obviously, you are not well read when it comes to the studies of the NT and related documents of the 1st to 3rd centuries or the history of the time period. Might want to read the references provided to close the gap.

  47. That is a nice but inappropriate labelling in lieu of a point of view.

    Sorry, but religious freedom means it is improper to impose ones beliefs on the unwilling. It means your religion does not get to dictate my rights under the law.

  48. To continue your logic, if you think killing people is wrong, don’t kill people. If you think tripping blind people crossing the street is wrong, don’t trip blind people crossing the street. And so on.

    This is an interesting way to organize society. What you are saying – I guess – is that there is no objective right or wrong for us to struggle – in common – to understand. Rather, each person should merely ask what his or her personal preference is and then do or don’t do it. Ben, I don’t think your plan is working.

  49. Well, if you really want to take what I was clearly saying and argue it reductio ad absurdum, well, you succeeded admirably. This is why I would never go to a bible-believing Christian and ask for moral advice. Morality is a lost cause with them.
    If you want to commit murder or trip blind people, you are harming someone deliberately, with the intention of harming them. We rightly seek to control, within our limits, actions which deliberately harm other people.
    My marriage harms no one, but does enhance our lives. It harms no one’s marriage, no one’s family, no one’s faith. But it does OFFEND a certain class of so called Christian.

  50. Ben,

    You declare that “your marriage” to a person of the same sex “harms no one.” You declare it. There you go. If someone else is deeply concerned that such “marriages” are gravely harmful to society in general, for example for children, you don’t care.

    Now, apparently, today, you do care that blind people not be deliberately tripped. That is wrong. Why? Because you declare it. But tomorrow you may feel differently.

    You, apparently, do not see yourself as having a duty to work things out with other people in society about what is right and what is wrong. What you declare is true. What other people declare is false. And that is that. End of story.

    As I say, I do not believe a system where each person is his or her own standard is working very well in our country. The alternative is to work very hard to come to a consensus about what is right and what is wrong.

    Also, let me acknowledge that what “bad” behavior should be punished by the state (via elections, legislation, judges, prisons and so on) is an additional topic. But first we must come to a consensus about right and wrong. Your original examples gave one the strong impression that personal preferences should be the standard.

    Best wishes, Taylor.

  51. You don’t to say “best wishes”, dear, after calling my life, my love, and my marriage a threat to society and everything good and holy.

    You are absolutely entitled to an opinion. You are not entitled to make up “facts”. My entire life, 67 years, I have been listening to you god botherers declare that my life is exactly that: harmful. Every bit of evidence we have says that YOU are LYING: that’s it. Lyin’ for Jesus, even if it makes the baby Jesus cry.

    Thereare decades of research showing gay gay people make good parents. There are your own declarations that marriage strengthens society-x but only if it is heterosexual and Christian.

    Of course I care if blind people are tripped. I might feel differently tomorrow? How dare you? (Oh. You’re that kind of Christian).No, I don’t think so, because I am am moral person. AParrently, you need god to tell you that tripping blind persons is bad. Honey, You don’t need religion. You need empathy. And obviously, as you declare, whatever your god tells you, well that’s moral. And if gay people have suffered prisons, murders, ostracization, suicide, substance abuse, destroyed lives, families, careers, and marriages, well that’s the price other people pay for your “morality”.

    No. It isn’t moral. It never has been. And more and more people in the civilized world see you for who you are. 62% of the votes in Australia decided that gay marriage was a good thing. 20% of the eligible voters didn’t vote, also indicating their extreme disagreement with you. They “worked it out with other”, and decided thatYOU ARE WRONG.

    Of course I care if blind people are tripped. That is why I have stood up to christobigots like you, bullies like you, authoritarians hiding behind religion like you. You are so damnably blind that you don’t care if you have eyes, let alone eyes that can see only your book. I also care greatly about gay kids killing themselves because of the toxic messagesyou spew towards people whom you don’t know, clearly know nothing about, and who have done you and intend you no harm. I care about the harm done to gay people everywhere under the guise of your religion, with your lies, distortions, half truths, and god bothering, for 2000 years, and all for the “crime” of being different.

    You know who doesn’t care about any of that?


  52. “first we must come to a consensus about right and wrong. ”

    Does The Golden Rule work for you? Treat others as you want to be treated?

  53. I was so outraged, it didn’t occur to me to go there. Thanks.

  54. Dear Ben,

    I did not know you were gay. I did not know you were married. I did not say anything about the Bible or Christianity. You have – with great emotion – jumped to conclusions.

    Look – I was thinking – and am thinking – in terms of a social consensuses of what is right or wrong. How do we – as a society – go about the business of coming to a consensus?

    You have reiterated several times that each of us can or should have our own opinion – That each of us has a “right” to our own version of right and wrong. You simply reject the notion of a social consensuses.

    In that case, there is no point for me to keep trying to get through you to you. I now know that no matter what I say, you will stand there with your arms folded, reiterating over and over again that you have a “right” to your own opinion as long as you agree with yourself. If I disagree with you on anything, I am automatically worthy of your great upset.

    Again, best wishes and good luck with your approach to life,

  55. “Your “balanced” position is the hard-line atheist, totalitarian position.”

    That is not a totalitarian position. It is the position of the framers of the constitution.

  56. No, thst isn’t what I was saying at all. I brought up same sex marriage because I don’t use birth control and I’M not planning on an abortion. Nowhere did I claim that it’s all a matter of opinion.

    The issue is dominionism, placing one faiths purely theological concerns into the civil law that governs all of us in a secular democracy where religious freedom is paramount. That was the whole point of my initial posting. You’re the one that brought up moral relativity.

    On some issues, we are never going to achieve consensus, especially when it is a question of purely theological concerns. The best approach, the right and wrong approach, is to let people live their lives according to their own faiths, and not seek to impose those faith based decrees on people who don’t share them.

  57. Southern Protestants considered civil rights laws to be “purely theological concerns” of religious fanatics like the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

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