Opinion

The Bill of Rights, Thomas Jefferson, and the danger of ‘God-given rights’

Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

(RNS) — When Virginia ratified 10 of the 12 proposed amendments to the Constitution on December 15, 1791, it became the 10th state to do so and gifted America with an enduring legacy, the Bill of Rights. We celebrate that heritage today.

But for President Trump and many religious Americans, those rights are not secured by the Constitution or “We the People.” Instead, they are a gift from God.

Trump is marking Bill of Rights Day and Human Rights Week with a proclamation that invoked our “God-given rights” three times. Trump has made similar claims many times, but so have other presidents, including President Obama. Roy Moore’s entire career is based on his idea that “Our rights are given by God.” He even argues that religious liberty “comes from God, not from the Constitution.” Premising our rights on some supernatural benevolence is dangerous.

The danger of God-given rights

History has shown us that what is given by a god can be taken away by those who speak with or for that god. Slavery was God’s will, until it wasn’t. Segregation and anti-miscegenation laws were meant to keep the races separate, as God intended. The opposition to same-sex marriage was largely based in religion: “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” Progress in many important areas of human rights has long been opposed by those claiming to know God’s mind and executing God’s will. True, religion helped in some of these causes, but the opposing justifications were nearly always situated in divine law.

Human rights are absolute and universal; not susceptible to religious whim and fancy. Simply by virtue of being human — just because you were born — you have certain inherent, inalienable rights.

God-given rights depend on geography. Do you live in Indiana, India, or Iran? They depend on those who claim to know God’s will. Do your leaders think Muhammad’s, Martin Luther’s, or Martin Luther King Jr.’s interpretation of God’s will is correct?

God-given rights are so problematic because they depend solely on a particular individual’s interpretation of his god’s word. Perhaps the interpreter adheres to some higher authority, such as a pope or an author of the Bible. But at the end of that line of spiritual authority, a human being is claiming to know “God’s will.” One person’s belief is suddenly given the weight of divine law. A fallible human is claiming divine sanction.

This is moral relativism, which is often maligned by religious leaders, masquerading as moral absolutism. It is far better to premise human rights on the simple fact of being human, than to put them into the hands of one person claiming to speak for a supernatural being that may or may not exist.

The founders enshrined a social contract in our Constitution. We agree on the rights we keep and the rights we give away to the state, and, if one breaks the social contract, we agree on which rights of theirs we can take away. John Jay, the first chief justice of the Supreme Court, wrote, “Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of government, and it is equally undeniable, that whenever and however it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights in order to vest it with requisite powers.” He penned that sentiment in the second of the Federalist Papers, those letters written to the citizens of New York by Jay, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton to convince the people to ratify the recently proposed Constitution.

The godless Constitution and the Declaration of Independence

One of the major objections some had to the new Constitution was its “cold indifference towards religion.” Curiously, Trump’s proclamation relies on that indifferent Constitution to support the “God-given rights” claim. The proclamation’s second sentence proclaims that: “From the Declaration of Independence, to the Constitution, and through the Bill of Rights, our country and our people have always known the true, God-given nature of liberty and the ability of law to safeguard it against the state.”

The Constitution, which the Bill of Rights amends, is not really indifferent; it’s simply godless. The Constitution’s three mentions of religion are exclusionary: banning religious tests for public office, prohibiting the government from aligning with one religion over another and religion over nonreligion, and guaranteeing the freedom of thought and belief. In other words, the Constitution keeps God out of the business of government and government out of the business of worshipping God.

Trump’s reliance on Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence is also curious. Jefferson did not cite a god as the source of our rights and even the “endowed by their Creator” phrase did not appear in his draft of the declaration. It was added later by Ben Franklin or John Adams. Elsewhere in the declaration — relying on “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”— and in writings penned both before and after the declaration, Jefferson rejected the idea of God-given rights.

Much of the declaration consists of a list of King George’s crimes. Two years earlier, in 1774, Jefferson published a precursor to that list in “A Summary View of the Rights of British America.” Jefferson explained that he wrote the list “with that freedom of language and sentiment which becomes a free people claiming their rights, as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate.”

He eschewed honeyed phrases and undue deference: “Let those flatter who fear; it is not an American art. To give praise which is not due might be well from the venal, but would ill beseem those who are asserting the rights of human nature. They know, and will therefore say, that kings are the servants, not the proprietors of the people. Open your breast, sire, to liberal and expanded thought.”

As secretary of state, Jefferson wrote an “Opinion on the French Treaties” in 1793 and espoused a view of human rights founded on human nature: “Questions of natural right are triable by their conformity with the moral sense & reason of man. Those who write treatises of natural law, can only declare what their own moral sense & reason dictate in the several cases they state.” Our rights, even those based in natural law, are the product of “liberal and expanded thought,” not divine revelation. Those rights are discoverable by human reason and our innate moral sense.

Jefferson also seemed to recognize that God-given rights can be taken away by the men claiming to speak for god when he wrote that “the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of god.”

Rights are not bestowed, not by magistrates, kings, or even by gods. Rights are asserted. Once they are asserted they must be defended.

I’ve dedicated my career to defending the wall of separation between state and church, to defending the rights protected in the religion clauses of our First Amendment. On the 226th anniversary of that amendment and our Bill of Rights, I’ll celebrate the rights We the People have, and then I’ll get back to work defending those rights.

(Andrew L. Seidel is a constitutional attorney and director of strategic response at the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a national state-church watchdog and nonprofit with 30,000 members. The views expressed in this opinion piece do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)

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Andrew L. Seidel

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  • God given rights are simply a way for the self appointed Mouths of God to assert their dominion over others, while simultaneously asserting that no restrictions should apply to themselves.

    I have had many ammosexuals tell me that their right to unlimited guns of whatever type and ammunition in whatever quantity is a god given right. I’ve searched my concordance throughly, but there is to mention of either rights or guns.

  • Excellent piece.

    Consider a “god-given right” such as free speech. Clearly, that includes blasphemy.

    And, of course, the different sects differ on what rights are “god-given”.

  • Whereas, Almighty God hath created the mind free;

    That all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burdens, or by civil incapacitations tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and therefore are a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, who being Lord, both of body and mind yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do…

    …Be it enacted by General Assembly that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief…

    …and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right.

    — Thomas Jefferson, Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, 1777 (enacted 1779).

    Jefferson could not possibly have made it more explicit that he viewed the right of religious freedom, the first and the foremost of the Bill of Rights, as God-given. And this Statute so exemplified his philosophy that it is one of the three accomplishments that he directed to be inscribed upon his tombstone.

    Why do these revisionists even bother???

  • I really like this Andrew Seidel fellow. He’s a huge blessing to American Christians.

    You see, we Christians are way too complacent. We got it too easy. We think we got tons of religious liberty around here, and our grand-babies too. We think we are magically protected from losing our constitutional religious freedoms.

    That’s where our buddy Seidel comes in. Just like Old Scratch, Seidel knows just how fragile our religious freedoms really are, even right now. He knows that we careless Christians are MUCH closer to the brink than what it seems.

    So Seidel is graciously sharing his heartfelt FFRF hatred, essentially giving Christians a free Tornado Warning of what his ilk intends to do to us. He’s a truly gracious guy.

  • “Slavery was God’s will, until it wasn’t. Segregation and anti-miscegenation laws were meant to keep the races separate, as God intended.”

    Thanks for making these points, Andrew Seidel. As he sentenced Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter for breaking Virginia’s law forbidding interracial marriage, Judge Leon Bazile explicitly cited God’s law and divine command as the basis for his sentence, stating,

    Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.

    When Maurice Bessinger appealed to the Supreme Court for the right, based in his “religious freedom,” to discriminate against African-American customers at his Piggie Park barbecue establishment, he explictly cited the bible and its well-known support of slavery as the basis of his “right” to discrimate on grounds of race.

    The Supreme Court found his argument frivolous.

    As Jason Sokol reminds us in his book There Goes My Everything: White Southerners in the Age of Civil Rights, 1945-1975 (NY: Knopf, 2006), as Lester Maddox brandished his ax handle and threatened African-American customers who expected to be treated equally in his establishment, he quoted bible verses. The longstanding practice and defense of slavery by white Southerners, and white Southern resistance to racial justice in the 20th century, were deeply rooted in the bible — which approves of the practice of slavery.

    As Thomas Jefferson repeatedly stated in his writings about religious freedom, the concept of religious freedom is necessary to protect vulnerable minority groups in a pluralistic secular democracy against the desire of those in the majority who have all power in their hands (Christians fit that description in the U.S. at present) to trample on the rights of the minority, to coerce the minority to adhere to the dictates of the majority. In his bill for religious liberty Jefferson states that religious liberty is“meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan, the Hindu, and infidel of every denomination.”

    The Jeffersonian concept of religious liberty has been stood on its head by right-wing Christians in the U.S. today, as they claim a persecution that does not exist, and a fictive “right” to oppress those who disagree with them and their highly selective reading of the bible.

  • It’s difficult to understand how an individual, or organization working to keep government out of religion and religion out of government can be characterized as hatred. I consider it a necessary and noble endeavor to protect constitutional religious freedom. Take care not to conflate freedom and privilege. All the best and Merry Christmas ??

  • Merry Christmas to you too, of course! It’s the season.

    Of course, any organization that deliberately mis-characterizes the Bible as “a hate-filled book” or “a violent, racist book,” is very likely already overloaded with hatred (and probably hallucinogenics as well.)

    American Christians definitely better be watching out for such extremist groups, and under NO conditions allow them to sell their extremism in the public marketplace unchallenged.

    https://gallery.mailchimp.com/875516bd36f33f4d358b8e1b3/files/df166a9e-041a-49e2-b0f9-8e43d0773852/KY_Governor_Bevin_DB_edits.pdf?utm_source=Master+list&utm_campaign=e8bd3b78a5-PR&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c424ccfb80-e8bd3b78a5-

  • I don’t see postmodern relativism which shifts with the winds of human self-interests as much improvement over the concerns of this article. FFRF sounds more and more like a hate group against anyone with religious beliefs.

  • Apparently you entirely missed this section of the piece:

    “God-given rights are so problematic because they depend solely on a
    particular individual’s interpretation of his god’s word. Perhaps the
    interpreter adheres to some higher authority, such as a pope or an
    author of the Bible. But at the end of that line of spiritual authority,
    a human being is claiming to know “God’s will.” One person’s belief is
    suddenly given the weight of divine law. A fallible human is claiming
    divine sanction.

    This is moral relativism, which is often maligned by religious
    leaders, masquerading as moral absolutism. It is far better to premise
    human rights on the simple fact of being human, than to put them into
    the hands of one person claiming to speak for a supernatural being that
    may or may not exist.”

    Also, FFRF is not in any way a “hate group”, let’s be very clear about that. “Rights for all” includes religious people.

  • Thank you Mr Seidel for that very informative article. Government entities should be reading this article. Indeed, the will of the people is important. But change will not come until our government officials begin to listen to us.
    They are dominantly biased towards the Christian religion. The will of the people need to be enlightened of this so that they may see the prejudice of our government and hopefully vote for equality.

  • Your post is an absolutely classic example of projection. It is in fact certain folks calling themselves “Christians” who are the extremists and the dangerous folks. It is NOT mainstream Catholics or Protestants.

    If you think the OT is not filled with hatred, violence, and exhortations to violence, you obviously have not read it.

    In fact, there are many American Xian groups that are strong proponents of church-state separation and the views of this author. There is one large Baptist organization that supports these ideas, for example–I forget the exact name. And do you recall a fellow named Roger Williams?

    With every post you make, floydlee, you reveal your profound ignorance of religion and of the constitution–and even more importantly, of the reasons Xians of all stripes who love liberty should be strong proponents of keeping religion and govt separate.

  • It is always ironic when religious believers of a theocratic bend use moral relativism as an epithet and description of beliefs besides their own.

    There is no greater moral relativism then in their faith. Any act, no matter how immoral and repugnant which can be justified as the will of God. Arbitrarily following authority is not moral absolutism or even morality.

    “FFRF sounds more and more like a hate group against anyone with religious beliefs.”

    Your ignorance of their efforts is duly noted. When people are beholden to imposing their religious beliefs on others, those who uphold principles of religious freedom can be seen as a hate group to them.

  • When one is devoted to attacking principles of religious freedom, as you do so often, upholding democratic values can be seen as hateful to them. Those who value freedom and civil liberties hold no such opinions.

  • You have never failed to use the Bible for hateful purposes. If you find such assessments insulting, maybe you should re evaluate to what purposes youbseek biblical endorsement of.

  • And some added words from Thomas Jefferson, not a contemporary NT scholar, but indeed a very learned man:

    “And the day will come,
    when the mystical generation of Jesus,
    by the Supreme Being as His Father,
    in the womb of a virgin,
    will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva”

    Letter to John Adams, from Monticello, April 11, 1823.

  • Perhaps what we see with Jefferson is the growth of a man towards a better understanding of human rights. Men can grow and change and expand their understandings.

  • “God-given rights depend on geography. Do you live in Indiana, India, or Iran?”

    Please leave non-Western cultures out of the picture. Law (including human rights) is directly or indirectly related to the Vatican’s history of operating law colleges between the Gregorian Revolution and the Europe’s Age of Enlightenment.

    Even an Andrew Seidel looks very Christian when he comes to India. Not Seidel’s fault–just that conceptually, law has not moved very far from its Vatican roots.

  • Perhaps what we see here is simply a more or less deliberate misunderstanding at best, or misrepresentation at worst, of Jefferson and of all the founders in service of a completely new agenda. People today are particularly susceptible to this because though they vaguely revere the founders, few actually bother to read our founding documents, let alone the wealth of background material behind them, such as the surrounding debates, the Federalist Papers, the personal papers of the founders, and so on. They simply take the word of whatever talking head Google pulls up first.

    I doubt that anyone here has ever read even an excerpt from the standard legal work that ALL the founders studied from, Blackstone. If they did, the founders’ philosophy of human rights would be crystal clear. While they had problems with Blackstone for other reasons (he was a monarchist and opposed the revolution), the Declaration itself was 99% Blackstone — the God-given rights of man.

    If one doesn’t like such a philosophy then fine, figure out and advocate honestly for a different one. Don’t try to re-write history.

  • No where in the Bible does God condone Slavery, you people are pathetic in your thinking , because you decend from Edomites and dwelled in the cliffs and caves of Europe, you think you are qualified to know God’s to know and interpret God’s words, not one of you so called gentlemen quoted one passage to back up any of your contentions about God and Slavery. Slavery is a white European concept of enslaving a man for their enrichment.Most of white America is living off of income passed down through history from monies earned from slave wealth in the U.S.A. all of those inheritances you people pass on to your kids came from my ancestors hard work at the hand of a bunch of evil racist men claiming superiority , Africa’s 25 dynasty and education and technology we’re far more advanced than America is today comparatively, now you just had a snippet of the truth now run tell that. Excuse my spelling I have no time to run spell check you get my drift donkeys.

  • The Bill of Rights says freedom OF religion, (a generally religion-supportive but no state-religion) government. The FFRF extremists want freedom FROM religion, a quarantine and a hostility against religion, via government. IOW, haters.

    The FFRF extremists even get uptight when they see the normal historical phrases in the Declaration of Independence, because such phrases challenge their unjustifiable addiction to atheism.

    “… the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

  • Have I complained of any alleged “insults”, Spuddie? Nope, I have not. But if you disagree, provide the quotation.

    Meanwhile, I never fail to use the Bible for purposes designed to oppose and destroy your current addiction to No-Good Atheism. (Atheism is always No-Good, and that’s on its best day.)

    There’s certainly nothing wrong with such usage, is there?

  • The only purposes of the Bible seen in your posts are to enable behaving badly to others and to make threats of a supernatural flavor to those who disagree with you. 🙂

  • If FFRF is so horrible and anti-religion, it ought to be easy for you to come up with, say, 2 quotes from the site that illustrate that.

    How about it, floydlee? Think you can do it?

    You are also unaware of how vicious inter-religion differences can be, and how toxic.

  • I suspect that those who know more than I will tell you that the Age of Enlightenment could not have happened had not Islamic scholars protected and maintained the works deliberately destroyed, whenever possible – think Library at Alexandria – by the agents of Christendom.

  • Okay, I’ve already verified FFRF’s unusual extremist hatred towards the Bible itself, and gave a clear link to their official letter thereof. That’s one good example.

    But you want two good examples. So let’s go down to Clemson University, and see what kind of football games the FFRF loves to play.
    (FFRF needs to be ejected from the field for flagrant fouls, false starts, and failure to get an exorcism!!)

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/04/22/sad-power-atheists-temper-tantrum.html

  • Definitely.

    The folks who are whining about “Christianity” being somehow in danger, or their rights being threatend, clearly have no idea of the history of warfare between different sects. They obviously think *their* version of Xianity is the one that will eventually reign supreme.

    And of course, it is those same folks who pose the most significant threat to the rights of others.

  • You obviously don’t read carefully. Or you don’t understand simple English. Do you see where I said “come up with 2 quotes from the site….”?

    But you couldn’t do that, could you? Instead, you once again did what evangelical types love to do, and BORE FALSE WITNESS.

    As for your link to fox news, that also speaks volumes about your knowledge of what os real news vs fake news. Nothing from Fox news has any reliability whatsoever. But there are a few konservative news sites that have some reliability–a small number, it is true, but a few. It’s interesting that you were unable to find anything from any of those sites either.

    If, in fact, the major news sources were doing “fake news”, there would surely be a site somewhere that would document that fake news, showing exactly how it was fake. That there are no such sites, speaks volumes about the allegations of “fake news”.

    Floydlee, do you understand that you’ve earned yourself even deeper negative credibility here?

  • Whether you appeal to Nature or to Nature’s God, either way one is appealing to rights inherent in our natures. But only one of the two recognizes an authority above the State: “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.” (Peter & John before the Sanhedrin)

  • Having read the Wikipedia entry I accept that there is dispute. However – it does seem that any destruction prior to 3BCE was only partial and there is considerable evidence that further destruction was religiously inspired.

    That said you might want to read some of Jim Al-Khalili’s work (he’s not a Muslim) about the vital part played by Muslim scholarship in saving the texts which inspired the Age of Enlightenment.

  • Thank you, Andrew Seidel, for the excellent article. We need to think about the fact that the right to religious freedom is, and always has been, a relative right and not an absolute right. As a democratic society, we have the need and the right to make laws that provide for the safety, security, and fair and equal treatment of all members of our society. Religious freedom for one cannot limit the freedom of another.

    And that is where the problem lies – we no longer know how to draw those lines. While we are concentrating on religious freedom issues of those who oppose LGBT marriage, I believe there is more social change that is creating the high level of social tension and divisiveness we are experiencing. That includes (and is exacerbated after the horrific Trump campaign) attitudes toward women, people of different races, people who are neither Christian or Jew, people who see and experience the loss of opportunity from an economy that no longer provides decent paying jobs with any kind of security, and so many other ways including the new realization that LGBTQI people are our fellow Americans and members of our families, neighborhoods, clubs, churches, work-places.

    Where are we going to find common ground, respect for one another, concern for our neighbors and our society? Have we forgotten that with individual rights and liberties there must also be a working, functioning society with room for all our differences?

  • Calling the FFRF an “extremist group” is utterly ridiculous. Of course the people who want to violate the constitution and break the law by promoting teacher-led prayer in schools, and similar violations, don’t like them, because the FFRF stands up for the constitutional rights of students. It really annoys the zealots.

  • I don’t think the destruction was even partial. The works of Ammianus Marcellinus tell us that the Alexandrian libraries were destroyed by Julius Caesar’s armies. He had actually been to Alexandria in the early 300’s and saw the Serapeum before it was destroyed, and remarked that “in it have been valuable libraries” (past tense even then).

    And even before him there was Athenaeus of Naucratis who wrote of Alexandria in the late 100s AD: “And concerning the number of books and the establishment of libraries and the collection in the Museum, why need I even speak when they are all in the memory of men.”

    In any case, there is no mention of any still-existing Alexandrian Library by any ancient writer after the time of Julius Caesar.

  • Oh, we do hate Fox News with a passion, yes? I bet your pal Hillary does too.

    But I digress. Long ago, I read The Gulag Archipelago by Solzhenitsyn. I marveled at the Commies’ zeal to take away the religious liberty of Christians, folks just trying to worship God and cope with life. Glad I lived in America.

    However, there’s a law of nature. You take religious liberty for granted, you lose it. FFRF is here to enforce that law. They love archipelagos.

    I do love surfing the FFRF site, by the way. It’s like examining creek-water for dangerous bacteria & parasites — you just know you’ll score big. Here’s an anti-Christian example for you: https://ffrf.org/outreach/nothing-fails-like-prayer

  • I accept that the differences of opinion on this are real and I, in hindsight, am sorry I added that particular comment.

    The fact is still that all religions have, at different times and in different ways, sought to suppress non-supporting thoughts (and some are still doing so).

    The idea that law has Vatican based-roots is to deny the Code of Hammurabi, the Pharanoic Law etc. and that claim that Vatican-maintained colleges were the only means by which the old ideas that fuelled the Age of Enlightenment were not lost is dubious.

  • HAHAHA! Floydlee, you still don’t get it that every post you make further undermines your credibility, and increases the credibility of FRFF!!

    See, if FRFF really were as bad as you say, it would be no problem for you to cite statements from its web site showing that, and cite some actions it’s taken to damage religious liberty.

    I have to thank you for making something clear: what you object to is the efforts of FRFF opposing *your* (et al) attempt to impose religion on others!

    And floyd,you would really do yourself a big favor if you did some research about religious wars –wars between sects==and how they can be the most vicious of all. That is precisely why the Founding Dads wanted to make the public square neutral–they understood how damaging, and how divisive, is the attempt of one (always narrow) group to impose its views on others.

  • No, that’s not what I meant. Rather: a lot of Christian theology got incorporated into Western law during the time that the Vatican ran law colleges.

    Another way of putting it is this: law has many roots or sources. Christian theology is a very big root or source of law.

    A few examples:

    The former British colonies received Western law during the British law. Western law contains the phrase “God-given right”. This very phrase is troublesome, because only a God with the property of intentionality will give rights. (Intentionality is a topic in the philosophy of mind). The “gods” of the Indian traditions do not have the property of intentionality. They are not the sort of entities who go about giving rights.

    Or take the issue of human rights. Literature surveys show that human rights started out with the poverty debates between the Franciscan and Dominican order of monks in the 13th century. That sort of debate could never happen in a non-Vatican culture.

    One human right is freedom of conscience. Conscience is a technical term in theology. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has given humans the faculty to discriminate between His teachings and Satan’s teachings. This faculty is conscience. None of this works in non-Abrahamic cultures.

    Then there is the question of a jury. Juries arose in order to reduce a blood debt. If I have understood correctly, this blood debt arises because strictly speaking it is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who judges the accused; the human jury is doing the work of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and that is the source of blood debt. None of this exists in a non-Abrahamic culture.

    Penalties for perjury are very strict in Western law. Why? Because the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was considered to be implicitly participating in each and every case. He is offended because the perjurer is bearing false witness. After the Age of Enlightenment, many individuals became atheists; nevertheless the strict penalties for perjury are still in place.

    The “gods” of the Indian tradition are not considered to be participating in any case. These “gods” have not issued any injunction against bearing false witness. (Aside: quite a few Indologists consider us as lacking ethics in consequence!) Penalties for perjury are therefore adjusted according to the perjurer’s motivation to deceive.

  • I agree that Christianity took over the culture wherever it went – often incorporating what it could contort itself to accommodate from previous traditions. In the UK a church within a circular boundary is almost certainly sited on a pre-Christian “sacred” place. Christianity is, as you imply, a ravenous beast devouring everything in its way, re-using what it can claim credit for and destroying or discarding (with penalty) that which it cannot assimilate.

    In the UK we still get subjected to the silliness of living under “Christian morality” when much of that morality pre-dated Christianity. And, whilst you may be right about monks’ debates I suggest that they were merely rehashing debates, perhaps with a slightly different emphasis, that had taken place for many centuries. As I understand it a lot of the learning that fuelled the european Age of Enlightenment was preserved by Islamic scholars – and much of it came (mainly to Spain) through Islam from Greece, India and China. Also – don’t forget that the Old Testament includes limits on the treatment of slaves (without condemning the practice) and even suggests penalties for those who overstep the rules. That is in the realm of human rights is it not?

  • To this I would add that these classical “old ideas” that supposedly inspired the Enlightenment thinkers would not by themselves have led to the rights-based civilization we take for granted today. The classical philosophers had some concept of “natural rights” (and certainly a far more rudimentary list than ours) but by no means did they consider them the same for everybody. Slavery was a perfectly natural institution to them, for example, because they could observe inequality all about them in nature. “Justice is equality,” wrote Aristotle, “but only for equals.” It took the Judeo-Christian concept of the Imago Dei, unheard of in classical culture, to make human rights universal.

    Perhaps this is why the Enlightenment thinkers were so lukewarm about slavery when it resurfaced in Europe during the age of exploration, and why a fervent Christian abolitionism was necessary to get rid of it once and for all — at least in the west. Despite all efforts to the contrary it’s still going strong in the part of the world where those “Islamic scholars” that supposedly saved the west are in charge.

  • maybe It sounds like a hate group to you because you don’t want to be told that your religion,s authorities stops at your church door and the door of your family home, and does not automatically include other people who don’t share your beliefs.

  • Nature’s god does not necessarily mean the judaeo Christian god, nor the three inone god, much less the god that died for your sins.

    But if you are going to talk about Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness as a positive good for YOU, let’s talk about my marriage and the positive good that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness have for me.

  • “But I digress. Long ago, I read The Gulag Archipelago by Solzhenitsyn. I marveled at the Commies’ zeal to take away the religious liberty of Christians, folks just trying to worship God and cope with life. Glad I lived in America.”

    Let me fix that for you.

    “But I digress. Not so Long ago, I read The Nashville Declaration. And before that, The Manhattan declaration. I marveled at the Fundelibangelists’ zeal to take away the religious liberty of liberal Christians, gay people, atheists, and folks just trying to worship God and cope with life. Glad I lived in America.”

  • More words of wisdom from Thomas Jefferson et al.:

    “Nineteenth-century agnostic Robert G. Ingersoll branded Revelation “the insanest of all books”.[30] Thomas Jefferson omitted it along with most of the Biblical canon, from the Jefferson Bible, and wrote that at one time, he “considered it as merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams.” [31]

    Martin Luther once “found it an offensive piece of work” and John Calvin “had grave doubts about its value.”[32]

  • Remember, my last post to you has a direct example from the FFRF website.

    It’s now up to YOU to respond to it. Don’t ask for cites unless you’re prepared to respond to them.

  • But nobody has ruled out “Nature’s God” being intended to mean the Judeo-Christian God, either. I dare you to try it, but you know you ain’t got the goods.

    Meanwhile, I’m glad you’re able to say, “let’s talk about my (Ben’s) ‘marriage.'” Certainly the Bible says something about it. But that can all be discussed piecewise as new threads pop up. We don’t have to hash it all out right now.

  • On the contrary, floydlee, that post you are referring to was a wonderful example of how evangelicals (et al) are unable to read and/or understand simple material.

    Here is the link you provided:
    https://ffrf.org/outreach/nothing-fails-like-prayer

    And what do we see at that link? It’s material about an award in a contest called “Nothing fails like prayer”.

    Or were you referring to this link from that highly credible outfit, Fox news?
    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/04/22/sad-power-atheists-temper-tantrum.html

    EVERYONE–except, perhaps, evangelicals and religious extremists–understands that you cannot trust anything you see at Fox news, because it’s been shown numerous times to be wrong, to outright lie about news.

    Even if we accept that the Fox news story is accurate, it concerns only a letter of complaint FFRF sent to Clemson about a practice at Clemson football games–a practice that’s probably illegal.

    floydlee, the language in the Fox news story is a giveaway–it’s hardly an objective report.

    Once again, you’ve made a fool of yourself.

    Please keep posting, floydlee, since your posts show others the quality of your (et al) thinking.

  • Seidel is obviously indebted to Jefferson for his human right to call himself a constitutional attorney. A Higher Power would no doubt file a disclaimer against Seidel’s claim to be a constitutional lawyer.

    All men are created equal is an ablative absolute phrase and there is no legitimate way around this. This is the purpose for the phrase and your statement is egregious.

    Your case is on the docket,waiting for the Judge. God will be defending His Right when your case comes up. Good luck.

  • Well stated, yet in all honesty we got to admit that evolution of rights even in society unaffected by religion is a slow process. In other words, gays weren’t marrying not only because “god” was a part of legal equation.

  • Fair enough. Happy to help sort this out. The founding authors of the United States Constitution established a secular government. This means that people of all faiths, or no faith, have equal and identical rights as American citizens. It also means that no particular faith may be either supported, or opposed, by the government. So while you may be a person of faith, there may also be another person of faith whose views are entirely different from yours, and you don’t agree with them at all. (And they don’t agree with you either!) Nevertheless, both of you, as religious people, are safely protected from each other’s religious views, as far as government matters are concerned. You are free from other peoples’ religions. (Or non religion.)

    The separation of church and state is a brilliant idea that protects everyone. So when you see “Freedom From Religion” you should understand that your own personal religion is protected from any other religion trying to impose their religious views upon you by the government. You are free from someone else’s religion. It doesn’t matter how popular or unpopular yours or theirs it is. And you are entirely free to practice your religion as you see fit. (As long as you’re not breaking other laws. You don’t get to say “My religion allows me to drive 120 miles an hour, anywhere I want to go.)

    These are very important things. I don’t know what your faith is, but it doesn’t matter. No one can deny you a job, housing, a bank account, a car loan, a place for your children in school, or anything at all, based upon your religion. Those are your rights. They are the rights of all Americans, faith or no faith.

    Hope that helps. Merry Christmas!

  • “It’s material about an award in a contest called “Nothing fails like prayer”.
    Good! You found the direct FFRF link. You DO see their anger & hate.

    FFRF wrote, “the (Supreme Court’s) Greece decision is a blow to secularism.” So FFRF is all angry and hating on it, and sponsors a “contest” based purely on attacking people’s personal belief in the reasonableness and efficacy of prayer, (a belief that is held by even some Non-Christians. )

    So it turns out that the FFRF doesn’t just openly hate the Bible. They ultimately hate prayer too. Like the FFRF website openly states, they DO specifically exist to “promote Non-theism” (their own words.)

  • Hey, you gave the invitation to discuss it Ben. I’m the guy who keeps telling you to leave your “spouse” (hmm), your mama, and all family members, out of our RNS debates. And to extend the same courtesy & respect to all other posters.

    When you’re ready for THAT, you just let me know and I’ll jump right to it. Otherwise…

  • Well, if “God” is the ultimate judge, then you have nothing to worry about, right? What’s the problem?

  • “In the 1790s, in the waters off Tripoli, pirates were making sport of American shipping near the Barbary Coast. Toward the end of his second term, Washington sent Joel Barlow, the diplomat-poet, to Tripoli to settle matters, and the resulting treaty, finished after Washington left office, bought a few years of peace. Article 11 of this long-ago document says that ‘as the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,’ there should be no cause for conflict over differences of ‘religious opinion’ between countries.

    “The treaty passed the Senate unanimously…”

    Jon Meacham, “A Nation of Christians Is Not a Christian Nation”, NEW YORK TIMES, October 7, 2007, available free at http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/07/opinion/07meacham.html.

  • It has never stopped you before, knowing nothing about the subject you are talking about. So feel free to discuss my family, as when you told me I was not honoring my parents by being gay. Your opinion, of course, and irrelevant to the actual subject matter.

    They weren’t honoring me by being homophobes— straight A son, summa cum laude, multiple degrees, athlete, musician, artist. They had similar problems with all of their male children: nothing to do with being gay, everything to do with being them. But my foster parents, very conservative church going Christians? Loved me as one their own, never had the slightest issue with the subject, loved and honored by me and their bio children, who also loved and honored me as their brother.

    I will bring in my family when appropriate, and I have. I just did. You are free to do the same, or not. I don’t care.

    Just as you are free to ignore your Bible whenever it is inconvenient. In point of fact, I had guessed over a year ago that you had been married before. I also guessed that you had one child out of wedlock as a young man. May be true, may not be. I don’t really care.

    You are not as careful with other facts, your words, or your causes as you think. Just as other virulently homophobic people here eventually reveal what is going on inside their heads.

  • The following rights are under attack by fundamentalist Christians:
    1. The right to public education

    2. Access to government services for people of all faiths/beliefs
    3. Personhood of women
    4. Access to open commerce

  • Well, you’ve put your finger on your own mistake. In your mind, “promoting non-theism” is synonymous with “hating Christians.” Do you also think that “promoting Christianity” is synonymous with “hating non-Christians,” or does that standard not apply to you?

    Your comments make it abundantly clear that all you’re doing is labeling anyone who’s not in your tribe as, by definition, “hating” your tribe. That’s a sad way to approach the world.

  • That term seems clear: people are free not to believe in a religion. It doesn’t prohibit believing however.

  • Floydlee, do you believe in restricting other religions, like Islam? There certainly are Christians, such as Moore, who believe that muslims should not serve in congress.

  • Floyd, why do you believe the FFRF has so much power? Polls continually indicate that the majority of our country believe in a God so culturally I can’t see a sudden anti-religious push.

  • Races and people always mixed throughout time and Scriptures.Bigots do not read.Ruth was not an Israelite.Joseph was not an egyptian.Nor was Moses.The Samaritan?The Israelites are made up of many races of people.Cult like behavior has led people astray.To believe in anything a their leaders say.Instead of reading or asking God to see what he says.

  • Historians familiar with early U.S. history, having studied the founding fathers and their beliefs and behaviors, have concluded — rightly, I think — that “Nature’s God” is not the “God” understood by mainstream/orthodox Christianity.

  • It means that purely theological concerns are not to be incorporated into the law that governs all of us, including, and especially, if one does not share those purely theological concerns.

    Want to believe that god has a son? Be my guest. Tell me you’ll use the law to force me to believe it too? Expect a fight.

    Want to believe that god hates gay people? Be my guest, though it doesn’t make you look all that good, tell me you will use the law to disadvantage me in society, that your love, Life, faith, family, children, morality, and assets are more important than mitne? Expect a fight.

    It’s pretty simple. Your right to your faith is absolute. So is mine.

  • all physical pestilence, plague, and famine, are by Diving Decree. whether it be, rat infestations, war plagues, cancer plagues, terrorism, crime, addiction, holocausts, slavery, drought producing famine or fire plagues..,

    ELOHEEM, also commanded for The Multitude of all known nations to stay within their own assigned tribe. and any deviation from The Word of ELOHEEM, revealed you were screwing up again.

    sorry but none of you, are in charge of THEIR Physical Story of Creation again. you only, have mental free will. which ELOHEEM, does not interfere with human free will or mental stupidity. so you, are not exactly ANGELS, Angels, or angels. since you physically, do as commanded but not commanded what to think and say also. depending on your beliefs or disbelief’s and unfortunately most beliefs, are actually disbelief.

    if you, get commanded into slavery. it is because you, did not screw up enough to be outright killed. but all crime, and terrorism, is a result of this whole world’s lack of loyalty to G-D.

    from Noachide laws, to The Laws Given to Moshe gives a wide range to be within. and as wide as that range is, this world cannot contain themselves within that range.

    if everyone believed in The Same G-D, there would be no hostility on earth. and there would be peace and goodwill to all men(males/females) on earth. hostility only verifies you, are all worshiping different g-ds.

  • if it is changeable, it is not nor was not the truth. if it is untrue to ELOHEEM, it is not the truth. truth, cannot actually be changed.

  • check The Book of Esther and others, where they were given the right to defend themselves. or how about Daveed’s, choice of a modern military weapon against goleeath?

    a firearm, is just another method of stoning people to death with high speed stones. rockets are nothing more than self propelled arrows with propelled killing stones on the end. so you, are still killing each other with sticks and stones.

    a large portion of the death sentence in scripture, is death by stoning and/or being stoned.

    so it becomes obvious that none of you, are even close to being very articulate in reading applied scripture.

  • Or we’re just not adept at thinking that bullets are just high speed Stones, rockets are just explosive arrows, or that because we have big beards and talk in apocalyptic gobbledygook, we must be Old Testament prophets.

  • It doesn’t matter how orthodox his beliefs about God were. He considered human rights to be God-given.

  • An excellent question, floydlee, and I commend you for asking it. Qs-and-As are a partoicularly good way to explore an issue so that all can learn.

    Perhaps you;ve heard the concept “the right to be let alone”. The main way my rights are being threatened right now is by people who want to open public meetings with prayer. Why is that necessary? That forces me to show respect for something that I do not respect. I’ve read of people who, for example, remained seated during prayer, and got lots of dirty looks, kicked chairs, shoving, etc. I’ve often wondered, why don’t those who pray simply ignore those who remain seated? How is remaining seated threatening to those who stood for prayer?

    And what about prayers from, say, Muslims? We know that the most vocal Xians hate and fear Muslims, and would protest very loudly at the idea of a Muslim praying before such a meeting (or, for expl, in Congress).

    There was a story just today about Webster Parish Schools Superintendent Johnny Rowland, who has been accused of preaching to students in violation of the law. If I were a student I’d be angry as hell at being forced to listen to his preaching–especially since (1) he’s probably preaching lots of stuff that it purely his own interpretation, and (2) he’d be mad as hell if his students had to listen to, say, Mormon or Muslim or Jewish preaching.

    Similarly, I don’t like the idea of the gummint erecting crosse on public land. If it’s so important to erect a cross, do it on your own land, and I won’t care one bit.

    Similarly, the Supreme Court has said that women have a right to abortion. Yet evangenitals are trying as hard as they can to eliminate that right. And of course, just about every effort has been turned back by the courts–because they are all blatantly illegal.

    We have friends who are serious Xians. They attend a church we know to be quite conservative. She , often reads the bible, I guess for inspiration, to feel peaceful, etc. Getting them to talk about their beliefs is like pulling teeth–they just don’t like to do it. They have kids who are very open about sex-before-marriage, living together, one is getting divorced, etc. We’ve talked with them about their kids, and they never say anything about sex, divorce, abortion, etc. They know that the son of one of their friends is gay, and it does not appear to bother them.

    We’ve eaten with them often, and they say grace before every meal. That’s fine with us, and we respect it and bow our heads–it’s their belief, and we try to be respectful to them. (They know we’re non-believers.) (And I might add, they almost always say something about those who are less fortunate than us 4.)

    There is simply no such thing as “god-given rights”.. If there were such a thing, we’d be able to find it clearly in the bible, wouldn’t you say?

    OK? Does that begin to give you an idea of how I feel threatened?

  • Good stuff, Spuddie. See also my comment above to floydlee:

    There is simply no such thing as “god-given rights”.. If there were such a thing, we’d be able to find it clearly in the bible.

    In fact, it seems to me that the simplest, most effective response to anyone uttering their drivel about “god-given rights” ought to be “please tell me where in the bible I can find that list.”

    I’ve interacted with these yahoos for many years, and as stupid as the “god given rights” crowd is, I am 99% positive that anyone uttering that phrase would be smart enough to understand the foolishness of responding to the challenge.

  • If Jefferson’s god was not the orthodox God, it stands to reason he did not consider human rights to be “God-given”.

  • It stands to nothing of the sort. Jefferson’s God need only be a transcendent source to be the giver of God-given rights.

    To argue that Jefferson did not believe in God-given rights when he plainly wrote of such is either patent dishonesty or foolishness. Take your pick.

  • Up until Jefferson’s declaration that all men are created equal, the political theory was the “divine right of Kings”, who had the power over life and death, and backed by the Church.

    Everyone living outside of Africa today has a small amount of Neanderthal in them, carried as a living relic of these ancient encounters. A team of scientists comparing the full genomes of the two species concluded that most Europeans and Asians have approximately 2 percent Neanderthal DNA. Indigenous sub-Saharan Africans have none, or very little Neanderthal DNA because their ancestors did not migrate through Eurasia.

    On one level, it’s not surprising that modern humans were able to interbreed with their close cousins. According to one theory, Neanderthals, Denisovans, and all modern humans are all descended from the ancient human Homo heidelbergensis. Between 500,000 to 600,000 years ago, an ancestral group of H. heidelbergensis left Africa and then split shortly after. One branch ventured northwestward into West Asia and Europe and became the Neanderthals. The other branch moved east, becoming Denisovans. By 250,000 years ago H. heidelbergensis in Africa had become Homo sapiens. Our modern human ancestors did not begin their own exodus from Africa until about 70,000 years ago, when they expanded into Eurasia and encountered their ancient cousins. What in the____ The Bible’s 35 hundred year old story of the creation becomes pretty absurd at this point. At least be honest about this! DNA and molecular evidence is an accepted science all over the world, and is no longer guesswork.

  • My argument is, if there exist “God-given rights”, then why have so many in history been denied them, as well as so many people presently living in third world fascist theocracies?

  • all of your post is sheer bs, but especially the last paragraph. One finds fights and divisions within the same houses of worship, let alone ‘ if everyone believed the same God.” There are much hate even among those who claim to believe the same God

  • If “Human rights are absolute and universal” why have so few societies respected what we 21st Century North Americans considered those rights to be? Would you find them today in North Korea or Saudi Arabia? In our own country, an unborn baby is obviously human, yet has no legal rights at all, or they fluctuate arbitrarily according to jurisdiction, or from week to week according the latest judicial ruling or legislative prerogative. Nothing is universal or absolution about human rights except that they are everywhere impeded.

  • Looking in perspective, 23rd century progressives, presuming humanity doesn’t go extinct, will hold our view of rights in the same regard as we do many of the 17th century progressives’ views, as hopelessly outdated.

  • My guess is that a believer would reply something like “because men are sinful and seek to deny god and his blessings”.

  • So what? Everybody knows that! What has that got to do with Jefferson’s growth in understanding of human rights?

  • Are you kidding? “All men are created equal” has been called an “immortal declaration”, and possibly the single most important phrase of the United States Revolutionary period. Thomas Jefferson first used the phrase in the Declaration of Independence as a rebuttal to the going political theory of the day: “the Divine Right of Kings”. It took a little while to acknowledge that it term “all men” included people of color and women were also part of “mankind”

  • Ah, yes. Much thanks for response.

    (1) Okay, I went to public school. Siblings too. Graduated. But it has holes in it, and we all saw kids falling down the holes. Anyway, no Christians attacked our right to public school. They still don’t. But some folks weren’t happy with poorer and at-risk students falling in holes. Hence local “Charter School” efforts, which is A-Okay. So please tell me how nasty Christian Fundies took away YOUR right to a public education.

    (2) Everybody in my town can run for City Hall or apply for welfare. One set of rules for all who show up at the Federal Building, State Legislature, Medical Clinics, School Board, etc. So tell me which exactly government services are being denied to YOU by us Christians.

    (3) The local Muslim women are NOT complaining that the local mosque is denying their personhood. The local pro-life women deny that abortion restrictions deny their personhood. They say the abortion industry hurts women’s personhood and leave scars. “Aborted babies” produce “Aborted women.” You agree?

    (3) In my hometown, commerce is simple. Got the money? Then you got the commerce. Need a yacht? Need 5 fireplaces and 50 acres? Kewl. What about YOUR hometown?
    We Christians denying you a yacht or something?

  • 1) Our Secretary of Education wants to destroy public education in favor of corruption and violating 1st Amendment freedoms of its citizenry. Denial is a very silly thing here.

    2) If Fundies had their way, government officials can deny access to various services because their religious beliefs prevent them from treating certain people as human beings. You stuck up for a disgraced judge who pretty much proclaimed that he would not treat anyone of other faiths in a fair and equitable manner. He even had a big symbol of his sectarian prejudice plopped down on public land.

    3) “Muslims are doing it” is not a refutation of anything. Show me where Fundamentalist Muslims in American have the political clout to give their religious beliefs color of law like Evangelical Christians do. I also don’t see a Muslim groundswell for attacking women’s personal intimate choices under color of law like you guys have. (Thanks to Republican bigotry most are Democrats)

    4) Hmmm, for a while who has been making arguments about refusing goods/services in open commerce based on personal prejudices? Making arguments about the “separate but equal” marketplace? Claiming treating certain customers as inferiors is good enough for open commerce?

  • Because a lotta people are rejecting God right now. You reject God, reject God’s Word, AND you got a little power over people (legal-political-economic), you can then deny people their God-given rights. Wouldn’t be the first time.

  • I think that perhaps you may be unaware of the hegemony of Christianity in western culture. “Marriage” as we use the term is directly rooted in the European traditions of the Roman Catholic Church. In turn that sprung from the Greeks & Romans for whom religion & civil law were essentially entwined. Other cultures of the time did not necessarily follow the same traditions of “marriage”.

  • The biggest problem I have with, “God given rights” is that everyone has their own god (or gods, goddesses, non-binary deities, etc). There are literally tens of thousands of versions of the Christian God alone & many are mutually incompatible. This alone is enough to render the argument false.

  • Let me do that first issue. Most folks who visit City Hall or State Legislature don’t even notice when an opening prayer is given. So kudos to you, but — you’ve honestly lost NO rights.

    Once, during a debate on the issue, I studied about 100-120 State Legislature prayers dating back to the 1800’s. Long story short, our state’s prayers are good. Didn’t denigrate anybody. Rarely drama, but never trauma.

    We’ve also had guest “pray-ers” invited. Jewish, Muslim, Unitarian (which meant a watered-down warmed-over atheist prayer which wasn’t really a prayer). But hey, they all got their turn.

    And there’s the USSC Marsh decision. It means that government prayers are okay if careful. So your rights are not violated.

  • (1) Oh please. Education Secretary DeVos hasn’t done anything to hurt the public schools in my state. They all function the day after Trump’s election the same way they function the day before Trump’s election. Business as usual. If you check the schools in YOUR hometown, you’ll see the same thing. Scratch this one off.

    (2) Scratch this one off too. The 10 C’s haven’t truncated anybody’s religion or atheism for that matter. Besides, Moore’s 10-C gig was ended two decades ago. So nobody’s threatening your constitutional rights with the 10 C’s today, correct?

    (3) So, you are blowing off the voices of Muslim women? Refusing to listen to them? Such anti-Muslim sexism, tsk tsk. Besides, it’s hard for black women to retain a positive view of their personhood after the Racist Vampire Red Roomers over at Planned Parenthood get done with them. That’s for sure!!

    (4) I’m all for open commerce. But leave it at commerce. You try to force me to participate in an event of YOUR religion, that openly disrespects, denies, and negates MY own religion, the answer is No. Christians, unlike Atheists, support the Bill of Rights.

  • 1) The only reason DeVos has not done anything yet is because she is blitheringly incompetent at her job. Not for lack of trying, just lack of effectiveness.

    2) Kim Davis and Roy Moore have a lot of support for the cretinous attacks on the civil liberties of others they did while holding official government power. You supported such illegal denial of access attacks yourself.

    3) Yup. You only brought them up in a “whataboutism” sense of deflection. So I take them seriously here as much as you do. Not at all, an irrelevance to the topic.

    You base your entire support of a given support of a political candidate based on how much they vow to attack female personhood. In fact most Evangelicals here used that stance to support a pedophile/bigot/embezzler who ran for office last week. 🙂

    4) You are all for open commerce provided that all customers are heterosexual christians. For anyone else, it becomes a lot more closed. Your religious freedom never extended to a privilege to attack others in the name of your faith. Christians like yourself crap on the Bill of Rights constantly. Especially when undue privilege is denied to you under it.

  • What you’re unable to deny, is that “promoting non-theism” CAN be synonymous with “hating Christians”, as the history of atheist celebrities and organizations have well-proved over the years.

    I never said that all non-theists are haters. But, like I said, some promoters of atheism have been haters.

    FFRF? They’re just one more group that happens to qualify. It’s okay for you to own up to it already.

  • American Christians have proven more than once, that complacency leads to disaster. We used to believe that Roe v. Wade would never happen. We used to believe Windsor and Obergefell would never happen. We thought “the majority” or whatever, would never let such things happen.

    We thought biblical Christianity’s opponents “didn’t have any power”. We thought we were magically protected from losing our constitutional religious freedoms. Each time, fatally too late, we found out (or are now finding out) that we got it wrong.

    Time for Christians to wake up and get pro-active!

  • YOU want to talk about ignoring the Bible when it’s inconvenient?
    YOU wanna talk about ignoring the words of Jesus, the words of Paul, the words of God? Yes, please invite that discussion.

    (Excuse me though, while I snicker about you thinking I had a son outta wedlock. VERY sorry to disappoint you, Ben. Whoever’s been giving you psychic lessons, you better get a refund!)

    However, on a more serious note, I still stand by what I said. And I still want the name and phone number of that so-called half-baked “COGIC minister” who committed High Treason against his church and his Bible. I only need five minutes on the phone with him, Ben, that’s all. (I’ll tell him you sent me. Does that help?)

  • I’m a Bill of Rights supporter, I don’t call for restricting other religions. But we need to be asking WHY a person believes that Muslims shouldn’t serve in Congress (which very few do, and obviously I’m not among them).

    Is it from simple religio-phobia or white bigotry, or are there security risks/issues, that makes a person say what Moore said? Gotta ask.

    As for me, well Keith Ellison is a Muslim congressman, he’s definitely okay, except he’s a Democrat, which is far worse than being a Muslim.

  • Thank you. Yes, I think my understanding of conservative and religious minds is good enough to parody conservatives of all stripes.

    Your argument that there is such a thing as “god given rights” would have some credibility if you could cite some biblical passages to support your case.

    Umm….the god-given right to own slaves? Is there any passage that abrogates that right?

  • Precisely why i deleted the post. Someone warned me “vengeance is mine saith someone who mistakes himself for god.”

    He was true to his mother, his family, and his conscience, something useful to you only if it justifies malice towards gay people.

    I dont claim to be psychic, just someone who listens carefully.

  • floydlee, let’s make this simple:

    do you think there is a god-given right for a woman to use birth control?

    The Catholic church would say “definitely not!”

    Most mainstream Prot denominations would say “of course.”

    What do you think? Is there such a right? Cite scripture, please, to support your answer.

  • What “vengeance”? I only wanted to compare some official notes for a minute. Official church business only, Ben. Strictly in-house and all cordial & pleasant, ya know. (sotto voce: “Heh.”)

    But please notice something, Ben. You DID delete the post about him, oh yes. And you did it precisely to keep him out of a public RNS debate that you didn’t want him dragged into. You don’t want your COGIC pal criticized by another COGIC who knows exactly how and where he treasoned out his Official Manual.

    So that’s all I’m asking, Ben. Simply don’t drag friends and family into our RNS discussions. Allow all of us posters to keep beloved friends & family out of the boxing ring.

  • But that’s just it, Christians have been very pro-active for quite a while. Many question religion’s or at least Christianity’s hegemony in our culture; these would not doubt be the “biblical Christianity opponents”. Should they not get heard?

  • Sure. 1 Cor. 7:21 (b). Certainly we black slaves understood it. “If you have a chance at freedom, go ahead and take it.”

    The entire American slavery show was based on buying and selling slaves. But, umm, what does 1 Timothy 1:9-10 say about anybody, anywhere in the world, who buys or sells slaves?

    Wait a minute, I forgot. In America you could simply KIDNAP blacks and make them slaves. But what’s this Exodus 21:16? Do we see a death penalty for kidnapping and enslaving a person?

  • Not a friend at all. Never saw him until the day, and didn’t meet him then.

    But I do respect his religious beliefs, because he doesn’t try to use them as a weapon or a justification for malicious behavior. I also respect his conscience— that is, his conscientious decision that his family and his mother were also important to him, rather than blind obedience to what someone thinks a book says.

    do you?

  • BTW, I am well aware of what your intention was. No Sotto voce necessary. It’s why I deleted the post.

    Your second wife isn’t harmed by her inclusion in our discussion. We don’t know her name, or even yours, for that matter. And After all, You have a letter some men wrote that told you it was fine to ignore what Jesus had to say about divorce and remarriage for any reason except adultery.

    This good man would only be opening himself up for attack.

  • but didn’t you omit one important point, namely, that (folks calling themselves) Christians believe that a prayer has no effect, no point, unless it mentions Jesus?

    The Marsh decision is important, and I’m glad you pointed it out.

  • I don’t have time at this time to check out your info, so I’ll take it as accurate–pending further checking, of course.

    But what about my earlier point, asking you to name some “god given rights” and of course, to cite biblical passages supporting your ideas.

    I’ll be waiting.

  • I see….
    Another argument for separation of church and state and lessening the role of religion in public life. I am not USA born, and seeing those church run schools was a shocker when I came here 10 years ago

  • 1. Re “their anger & hate”–you would do well to look up the definition of “psychological projection”. I see ridicule and laughter.

    2. “all angry and hating on it”–are you a mind-reader? I see opposition, dislike…but “anger & hating”? Again, that looks very clearly like projection.

    3. What on earth makes you think FRFF “hates” prayer? Couldn’t it simply be ridicule, laughter? You are obviously not familiar with Occam’s Razor, or Hanlon’s Razor. Sad.

    Prayer does not work. Period. And, like every other religious concept–from ALL religions–it is not testable. When prayer does “work” in the direction pray-ers want, they say “it works!” When it does not work, they have some rationalization.

  • “Jefferson’s God need only be a transcendent source to be the giver of God-given rights.”

    Says you.

    We disagree on the identity of the source, the sole point of my original comment.

  • Okay, so you’re trying to soften your position to saying that SOME people who are non-theists hate Christians. That’s a massively lighter position, and one that gets you nowhere near supporting your previous posts. Nothing about this article is hateful toward Christinas, as others have been repeatedly pointing out to you.

    Yes, some atheists hate Christians. This FFRF attorney isn’t one of them, and you have no evidence to the contrary.

  • You don’t have to reject something that has zero evidence for existence to be a despot. There’s no need to invoke mythical superstitions if reality is what you want, but they are a good way to terrify, bully, and influence the superstitious, the credulous, and the gullible.

  • ‘The Jeffersonian concept of religious liberty has been stood on its head by right-wing Christians in the U.S. today, as they claim a persecution that does not exist, and a fictive “right” to oppress those who disagree with them and their highly selective reading of the bible.’-William D. Lindsey

    Since a non-/mildly selective reading of the clearly selected writings making up the bible hasn’t yet served humanity as a successful/one-stop solution to existence, Jeffersonian objections would appear to be simply another matter of smouldering ontological/teleological/cosmological aesthetics.

  • To say that the rights are “God given”and secured by the constitution are in no way contradictory.
    To say a right is God given states that it is inherent in our person from the time of our creation, and no one, including a government can change that, though many governments try.

    If they are god given, a government may try to infringe on these rights, but as Nelson Mandela showed us, they are part of our dignity and can’t be stolen.

    The statement in the article , that if rights are given by God , they can be taken away by God ignores a bigger problem in that if they are given by government, they can surely be taken away by government. Look around the world for myriad example.
    What we recognize under another term “human rights”is Rights fundamental to our existence. This is really what God given rights are.

    This article is a con-job to confuse the truth and twist words around. George Orwell would be proud.

  • Truth didn’t change, time changed the circumstances. The first statement remains true.
    Logic is a casualty

  • The laws of nature or of God give us our rights as the founding fathers believed. They knew if the government could grant you your rights then the government could take them away. Our Declaration of Indepence does not suggest we overthrow God, but that we overthrow an abusive government. Like Thomas Jefferson said, it doesn’t matter if you believe in one god or 100 gods, just as long as it doesn’t rob from me. The entire world believed in slavery and all men were wrong. A lot of Christians were responsible for helping end slavery here in the US and in Europe. Yet slavery still exists and I don’t hear many cries to end it. Where’s the demonstrations to end sex trafficking? We’d rather destroy ghosts and shame statues so we can make headline news. Stop the propaganda.

  • “Simply by virtue of being human — just because you were born — you have certain inherent, inalienable rights.” Says who? Without a power above all human consensus, you’re just a bunch of atoms in a configuration that temporarily seems to violate entropy, albeit not in the long run. We want the same thing (although we may not view the exact same list of options as rights!), namely that government is on notice that it cannot grant or revoke rights, but merely respect or fail to respect them.

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