American Civil Liberties Union activists demonstrate in front of the Supreme Court, Monday, June 4, 2018 in Washington. The Supreme Court has ruled for a Colorado baker who wouldn't make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in a limited decision that leaves for another day the larger issue of whether a business can invoke religious objections to refuse service to gay and lesbian people. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Religious liberty: A US birthright for conservatives and progressives alike

(RNS) — As Americans pause on July 4 to celebrate the anniversary of their independence, the world’s oldest democracy should take stock of its ongoing debates over religious freedom. A cornerstone of the Bill of Rights, the First Amendment's guarantee against coercion in matters of belief and conscience is an American birthright and a gift to everyone.

While untold millions suffer under repressive regimes that restrict freedom of belief and conscience, Americans contest religious freedom as though it were a matter of life and death. In recent days, Supreme Court rulings on a travel ban, abortion and other hot-button issues inspired joy and sorrow alike among advocates, partisans and everyday citizens who perceive their fundamental rights to be at stake.

So where do we Americans stand when it comes to religious liberty? Are we entering a new phase around the issue? We hear the loudest cries from professionalized interest groups, but what does religious freedom mean in everyday American life?

The cultural acceptance and legal codification of the sexual revolution has partially recast religious liberty as a safeguard for social conservatives. They appeal to the First Amendment, delighting in the concept of religious freedom as they uphold their religious beliefs about the purposes of marriage and sex. Such is the case for business owners who serve LGBT customers but who can't in good conscience lend their craft to celebrate unions they believe are not marriages.

Religious conservatives’ delight in religious liberty leads to progressives’ squeamishness about the concept. Many progressives worry that religious freedom gives license to ignore duly enacted laws and is a smokescreen for discrimination against protected classes. Human Rights Campaign, for example, frames Title IX exemptions for faith-based colleges and universities as an example of "hidden discrimination" against LGBT students, not a legal protection for genuinely held beliefs about human sexuality.

In the three years since Obergefell v. Hodges mandated legal recognition of same-sex unions as marriages, there has indeed been a clash between LGBT rights and religious freedom. But it is not insurmountable, and we should put it in context. Social conservatives generally accept that same-sex marriage is the law of the land. Their efforts are now aimed at making sure that LGBT rights do not infringe upon their own beliefs and practices in churches and faith-based institutions.

The problem arises when U.S. Christians — the majority religion in one of the world’s freest countries — sanctimoniously act like they are being persecuted, especially without acknowledging the treatment LGBT people have received. But social conservatives are, for now at least, losers in a culture war even as they retain considerable social, political and economic clout. From a culture-war perspective, the religious liberty debate amounts to a debate over how badly the winners can punish the losers. For example, should a wedding vendor who declines to serve a same-sex couple be socially shamed? Forced out of business? Imprisoned?

While same-sex marriage is now among the constellation of issues that generate conscience claims among social conservatives, these cases are still likelier to involve abortion or contraception, as they have for decades. In that timespan, the courts have generally ruled that people should not be forced to participate in activities forbidden by their religion.

But the religious freedom clause is by no means the exclusive concern of conservatives. From Massachusetts to Michigan to California, people of faith have invoked religious freedom to defend actions more commonly associated with progressive religion. A Unitarian parish in Bedford, Mass., put environmentally friendly solar panels on its 200-year-old meetinghouse. When a zoning board cried foul, Unitarians invoked religious freedom, as they believe in sustainable alternatives to practices that contribute to climate change. Likewise, interfaith groups in California and Michigan were inspired by a faith-fueled coalition in Seattle to build tent cities for homeless people. The groups relied on religious-liberty defenses when local government prohibitions stalled the projects.

While contemporary debate is often polarized, the truth is that there are lessons to be learned on both sides.

Religious conservatives need to realize that they are not the only ones who believe religious freedom is a sacred right. And progressives, whether religious or not, should not dismiss the concept outright.

The social changes brought on by changing attitudes about sex and marriage are far-reaching, and we have barely scratched the surface of examining unintended consequences. Thus, along with this revolution has come increasing religious freedom demands from the sexual revolution’s dissenters.

Religious convictions need to be respected. We need to be as generous as possible to people who believe that marriage is between a man and a woman and that sexual relations are properly reserved for such unions. Opposition to contraception, abortion and same-sex marriage are normal tenets of major world religions. That is not going to change.

Further, we should all celebrate our freedom from coercion in matters of belief. We should extend this freedom as graciously and widely as we can. To the greatest degree possible, we should not compel fellow citizens to act against their consciences.

The debates will continue, as they should among free people striving to form a more perfect union. But on Independence Day, let us remember that religious liberty is not a bludgeon but a birthright. Everyone can appeal to the First Amendment, and that’s something we can all celebrate.

(A frequent commentator on religion and politics, Jacob Lupfer is a writer and consultant based in Baltimore. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily represent those of Religion News Service)


  1. I uphold the constitutional right of merchants and artisans to refuse business on religious grounds because I don’t want the state to take it upon themselves to judge people’s consciences. If a baker says he can’t, in good conscience, bake a cake for a gay couple, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt — not for his sake so much as for my own.

    But let’s be honest about all this. Most of these decisions aren’t really about conscience but personal prejudice. There is no precept in Christianity — none at all — that says one shouldn’t engage in normal commerce with people whose lifestyle one disapproves of.

    What I find offensive is the dishonesty of the religious right. They make compromises when it suits them — like when they want to rationalize voting for a moral train wreck of a president — but when it comes to personal behaviors they don’t like, suddenly morality is a hill worth dying on. At the end of the day, their claims of conscience are nothing more than a transparent attempt to use freedom of religion to justify bigotry that’s no longer protected by law.

  2. I uphold the constitutional right of merchants and artisans to refuse business on religious grounds because the state is forbidden by the First Amendment to take it upon itself to judge religious consciences.

    To read the comments of posters on various topics at Religious News most of their decisions aren’t really about conscience, or logic, but personal prejudice. That’s the way of human beings – they begin with a decision and back their way into it with various rationales and reasons.

    There is a fundamental precept in Christianity, in Judaism, and in Islam not to participate in others’ sin.

    Everyone makes compromises. Had a member of the religious right voted for the opponent of what you call “a moral train wreck of a president”, they would have been voting for another Justice like Kennedy, for a party whose platform considers abortion a basic human right, for another four years of kicking the can down the road with North Korea, and a candidate whose lack of ability to accept personal responsibility was legendary.

    At the end of the day calling claims of conscience “nothing more than a transparent attempt to use freedom of religion to justify bigotry that’s no longer protected by law” may itself constitute bigotry.

  3. I calls ’em as I sees ’em.

    I may well have my prejudices. Most of us do. But, happily, as I made clear in my post, I affirm the right of conscience even when I believe that right is being abused.

    No one has anything to fear from me. Would that all others could honestly say as much.

  4. Businesses aren’t individuals. They are creations of government, permitted to operate for the public good, and must abide by rules set down by government for how they operate. These rules include workplace safety, a minimum wage, and non-discrimination in hiring and serving the public. No individual employee’s personal beliefs can override the duty of a business to abide by the rules for businesses.

  5. I would work harder on getting the last election behind you.

  6. “I uphold the constitutional right of merchants and artisans to refuse
    business on religious grounds because I don’t want the state to take it
    upon themselves to judge people’s consciences.”

    I strongly disagree. We cannot let religion be used for people to be laws unto themselves. You are right that religion is being used as an excuse here and that it is merely a gloss on personal prejudice.

    My feeling is that if someone is so overwhelmed by religious belief to violate basic codes of conduct for open commerce and civil rights laws then they should find more legal ways of doing business to suit those needs. There are plenty of avenues for business such as membership clubs, word of mouth, doing business only with select and exclusive venues and referral.

    The public should never have to navigate through the personal prejudices of vendors to get goods and services on the open market. We did that already. It was terrible.

  7. Let me quote the esteemed Constitutional originalist Anonin Scalia on the subject as to whether religion is a get out of jail pass for laws of general application

    “To make an individual’s obligation to obey such a law contingent upon the law’s coincidence with his religious beliefs, except where the State’s interest is “compelling”–permitting him, by virtue of his beliefs, “to become a law unto himself,”–contradicts both constitutional tradition and common sense.”

  8. When religious conservatives contemptibles whine about the slightest infringement to their so-called “religious freedom,” I see the term as a euphemism for “religious fiefdom,” which is obviously what they are lusting after.

  9. I hear you. For me, the bottom line is that once we set a precedent for the state deciding that this decision was made conscientiously and that one wasn’t, the right of conscience becomes meaningless. I find that to be the greater danger.

    Sometimes we have to put up with things that are repugnant for the sake of the greater good. Just as pornography is part of the price we have to pay for free speech, bigotry is part of the price we have to pay for freedom of religion.

    I respect that you disagree.

  10. Work on whatever you like. I fully support your right to work.

  11. Jacob Lupfer says, “… We should all celebrate our freedom from coercion in matters of belief. We should extend this freedom as graciously and widely as we can. To the greatest degree possible, we should not compel fellow citizens to act against their consciences.”

    Excellent sentiments. (Gotta love the Bill of Rights, no?)

    But the Democrats hate all that. The Gay Goliath hates all that. The Liberal PC-Police hates all that. Period.

    Just ask Baronelle Stutzmann. A Christian florist serving gay customers and hiring gay employees. See how Gay Goliath and his allies paid her back. In her own words: -my-religious-beliefs.html

  12. “They make compromises when it suits them — like when they want to rationalize voting for a moral train wreck of a president …” points to where you might expend some effort unbending an erroneous analysis and judgment on your fellow citizens.

  13. Exactly. It’s silly enough to argue that a business has a right to religious conscience, sufficient to refuse service to members of the public it somehow “disapproves” of… but to argue that government itself, in the form of government workers, is entitled to exercise religious discrimination in dealing with the public, is to demolish the First Amendment entirely.

  14. It’s foolish to assume we really know others from their posts on these boards or have any meaningful insights to offer them about personal improvement. So how about you tend to your own internal growth and I’ll tend to mine?

    Now, as I’ve observed that you like to have the last word, go for it. I’m getting on with my day.

  15. Baronelle Stutzmann met all the requirements you specified there.

    But, umm, she didn’t self-repeal her constitutional Bill of Rights religious freedom when she opened her small floral shop.

    Like Lupfer wrote, “the courts have generally ruled that people should not be forced to participate in activities forbidden by their religion.”

    It’s as simple as that, folks.
    Welcome to the 1st Amendment.

  16. The Hobby Lobby case ran a small armored vehicle through your argument.

    Corporations are persons, businesses may be individuals, and

    the “Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.”

    The law provide an exception if two conditions are BOTH met.

    First, the burden must be necessary for the “furtherance of a compelling government interest.”

    Under strict scrutiny,

    a government interest is compelling when it is more than routine and does more than simply improve government efficiency. A compelling interest relates directly with core constitutional issues.

    The second condition is that the rule must be the LEAST restrictive way in which to further the government interest.

  17. For shame, Bob. You’re the one who always argues that Supreme Court precedents are irrelevant and only temporary until the “will of the people” overrides them.

  18. It’s not for shame.

    That precedent is good and binds.

    So the Congress, acting within its constitutional powers, fashioned the remedy referenced which you were oblivious to.

  19. I find the greater danger is the idea that one’s “conscience” here involves deliberately harming others. Religious based persecution of others quickly becomes state based persecution by permitting its laws protecting people to be undermined on such rationale.

    The need to discriminate against others in the name of their faith is not an interest worth protecting. The need for open commerce and civil public interactions is far greater.

  20. Only if one is illiterate.

    rules include …non-discrimination
    …serving the public. No individual employee’s personal
    beliefs can override the duty of a business to abide by the rules for

    The First Amendment never extended a right to harm others in the name of your faith. Discrimination in open commerce is afforded the same level of First Amendment protection as witch burning, pogroms and human sacrifice. (See Reynolds v. US)

  21. He’s wrong on a lot of subjects. Too bad for you the Bill of Rights doesn’t extend a right to harm others in service of your faith. Baronelle Stutzmann was a bigot who got what she deserved for being malicious.

  22. If someone demands that a person with sincere religious beliefs violates her or his conscience, and puts the full weight of the government behind it, that would appear to constitute “religious persecution”.

    As the Obama Administration found out, under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act the presumption that “the need for open commerce” (the need for “civil public interactions” is not within the purview of the Federal Government) is no longer assumed.

  23. When are you getting yours for being malicious?

  24. Perhaps, but under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act – introduced by Congressman Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on March 11, 1993, and in the Senate by Ted Kennedy (D-MA) the same day, passed by a unanimous U.S. House and a nearly unanimous U.S. Senate – three senators voted against passage – and which President Bill Clinton signed it into law

    you would have to demonstrate that the substantial burden on a person’s exercise of religion is necessary for the “furtherance of a compelling government interest” – under strict scrutiny, a government interest is compelling when it is more than routine and does more than simply improve government efficiency and – it relates directly with core constitutional issues, and that the rule be the least restrictive way in which to further the government interest, witch burning, pogroms and human sacrifice notwithstanding.

  25. My religious freedom, or yours, is not much more than freedom FROM all the other religions, including quasi-religions like devotion to (for instance) the writings or principles of Karl Marx, or Ayn Rand, or John Locke, or Miscellaneous Loonies. But, that kind of separation of churches and state is on the way out for now. It appears to have peaked in the second half of the twentieth century.

  26. How do you know the baker deliberately harmed the buyers? Read other people’s minds much?
    Serious question- if the baker is gay, and a hateful, right/wing, trump loving Christian (your own words used to describe me) asked the said gay baker to decorate the top of the cake with God himself striking gays from the face of the earth – you would actually expect the said gay baker to comply?

  27. SHS was scum for doxxing them in public. It was an invitation to attack by wingnuts far worse than her inconvenience.

    The restaurant had as much right to not serve her as they would for someone inappropriately attired or disruptive. It was not an act of discrimination nor based on the class of person she was. It was based on the content of her public persona. Her character. No laws were being broken.

    You have certainly supported far worse actions against individuals. So your indignation here isn’t worth squat.

  28. Oh. So you support the baker not serving the gays then. Got it.

  29. Sorry, but there isn’t any law that requires anybody — not even business owners — to participate in gay wedding or gay reception events (thus forced by gov’t to violate their own religion if their religion forbids gay marriages), not even tacitly with goods and services. Constitutional religious freedom is for real, folks.

  30. Illiterate or dishonest?

    “It was not an act of discrimination nor based on the class of person she was.”

    “No laws were being broken”

    Missed that, huh?

    I support discrimination against SHS for being SHS. A terrible person.

  31. Not according the courts in those cases. If their religious beliefs are so easily offended, they should not have engaged in open commerce.

  32. Oh. Interesting.

    Maybe the gay guys were terrible people.

    Slippery slope my friend.

  33. “When a believer demands that I, a nonbeliever, observer his taboos in the public domain, he is not asking for my respect, but for my submission.” T Paine

  34. Why do you think Justice Kennedy kicked the can down the road on both the Phillips and Stutzmann cases, when he could have slammed the door forever in favor of Gay Goliath?

    You already know why. The legal backup wasn’t there for him, because the courts already insist on gov’t not forcing people to participate in events that violate their own religion.

    It’s the same principle by which the gov’t does NOT get to force JW children to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Religious Freedom is everybody’s constitutional birthright.

    So just because I sell you flowers or hire you as a employee, does NOT mean the gov’t gets to force me to participate in any Gay Weddings, Black Masses, Druid Boo-Boo, or any other **event** violating Christianity.

  35. There are more holes in this analysis than I could find in a mountain of Swiss cheese.

    Starting with your current marriage, Mr. Lupfer. Was your divorce for any reason other than adultery? If it wasn’t, jesus says you are living in adultery. Does that make your second marriage a “real” marriage, or just shacking up with a legal imprimatur. And has anyone of these Good Christians (TM) refused to service the second marriage of a good Christian?

    “Such is the case for business owners who serve LGBT customers but who can’t in good conscience lend their craft to celebrate unions they believe are not marriages.” If this is true statement, then what exactly is their objection to it? You call it a celebration. They don’t approve, god doesn’t approve, and it isn’t a real marriage. And what about those gay people who are Christian and getting married in their own churches that DO approve? Are you saying that their “right of conscience” is superseded by the Good Christian’s (TM)?

    These Good Christians (TM) are claiming the right to discriminate on the basis of religious belief, which is exactly the SAME THING they were doing when they promulgated, manned, funded (and told a lot of lies) to pass the marriage bans, thereby violating the religious freedom of the many individuals, churches, ministers, and entire denominations that wanted their gay parishioners to get legally married. What about THEIR GODDAM RELIGIOUS FREEDOM? Where were YOU in all of that? And if someone wanted to refuse service on your second marriage, or on your third, where are you going to stand, Mr. Lupfer? What if One of these Good Christians (TM) refuses to serve interracial weddings, or interfaith weddings, or atheist weddings? Where do these “rights of conscience” end, or do they just end with gay people?

    Either these laws mean something, or they don’t. Demanding an exception to them merely underlines why we have them on the first place. If you are going to claim that religious discrimination ought to be OK in this case, and on this case only, then let’s do away with the farce of non discrimination laws entirely. Except that the first time one of these so called Christians has he same thing done to him, you will be able to hear the screaming into next week.

    But if you are going to insist that THIS ONE INSTANCE receive legal imprimatur, then let’s do the obvious: they MUST post a sign in their window, on their website, on their printed materials, and by their cash registers, exactly who they will or won’t serve, and why. My guess is, first they will whine and complain that the government is compelling speech, and will seek to get that compromise tossed, because they won’t like the consequences. for all but a handful of the handful of vendors who claim this “right” those signs will soon disappear, and they will go back to doing what any good businessman does, engaging in sound business practices, and not appearing, at least publicly, to be total aholes.

  36. Religious freedom in the Unite States is a lot more than freedom from other religions.

    It not only involves the freedom to hold and maintain a religion, or irreligion, it provides that religion can be presented in the public square, the marketplace of ideas, and in the voting booth.

  37. That, of course, is applicable to a demand that all men wear in kippa in public as a matter of law.

    But in American constitutional law it also applies to non-belief.

    So, when – and this is just a wild example out of thin air – a homosexual couple seeks out a baker known for his hard Christian beliefs, unwilling to bake a Halloween cake because of religious scruples, and demands a special custom cake for a same sex wedding, that demand of a nonbeliever on the believer is not a request for respect but a request for submission.

  38. “Was your divorce for any reason other than adultery? If it wasn’t, jesus says you are living in adultery.”

    Well, no.

    The passage in question has been interpreted variously. The word being translated is not “adultery” but the Koine word “porneia”. “Porneia” is pretty nasty stuff. Incest would be porneia. Sodomy would be porneia. Bestiality would be porneia. The pagan temple prostitutes enaged in porneia.

    So, the exact meaning is a long discussion, but that is enough to make it clear you need a bit horsepower to offer theological criticism than you possess.

    The Christians in question are claiming a right not to participate in any way in something which, in their religious beliefs, is an abomination.

    The many individuals, churches, ministers, and entire denominations that wanted their gay parishioners to get legally married can exercise THEIR GODDAM RELIGIOUS FREEDOM by baking cakes, writing ceremonies, performing ceremonies, or whatever pleases them.

    If the author shows up at a Catholic parish, for an example, with a divorce and no annulment, the pastor will refuse service on a second marriage.

    If the author shows up at a bake shop and asks for a cake emblazoned “Second Marriage”, some percentage of bakers could very well object to taking the job.

    Yes these laws mean something.

    They just do not appear to mean what you want them to mean, that you’ve been a large mallet with which to bash people who disagree with you into submission.

    And, if the courts find the law HAS given you a large mallet, rest assured that law is going to have red concentric circles painted on it with its days numbered.

  39. Kennedy made it clear he did not think much of the bakers claim. It would not have been decided in the ratio it was if that were the case.

    “It’s the same principle by which the gov’t does NOT get to force JW children to recite the Pledge of Allegiance”

    Not even close. There is no duty to recite the pledge. There is a duty not to discriminate in open commerce.

    Besides you would gladly impose your religious beliefs in public schools. You want your decision sectarian beliefs to replace science lessons.

    The florist has the same duty to serve gays as a racist one would have to serve you. Racism has plenty of religious support. Dearly held beliefs are not a get out if jail free card.

  40. Nope. But you certainly are if you think they are the same thing. 🙂

  41. Umm, the florist DID serve gays, remember? She hired ’em too, no hesitation, no problem.

    But Gay Goliath is so fanatic & sicko that he will put ordinary gay citizens out of a job, he’ll remove their daily food right off their dinner tables, merely to bash and crucify a 70-year-old Christian grandma who humbly asks to not participate in a gay marriage because of her religion.

    No legal excuse for Goliath’s mess!!

  42. “Starting with your current marriage, Mr. Lupfer. Was your divorce for any reason other than adultery? If it wasn’t, jesus says you are living in adultery. Does that make your second marriage a “real” marriage, or just shacking up with a legal imprimatur.”

    Ben, am I missing something? Are you personally attacking the authors marriage(s)?

  43. It’s a matter of “How come he gets away with X and I can’t get away with Z?”

    It’s a favorite ploy among children.

  44. LOL! I pointed out to Tater yesterday that we all discriminate every day in one way or another, and he didn’t agree. And here he is today approving discrimination. Too funny.

  45. LOL. yeah, it’s okay when he does it because I’m an evil conservative.

  46. In fact, that’s pretty close to the same language used by the CCRC members that the SCOTUS found so offensive that it voided the commission’s decision completely.

  47. Nobody ever accused Tater of being self-aware. He cracks me up.

  48. Oh Spuddie, you’re arguing with Evangelicals on here who consider gay people to be vermin that should be eradicated, not human beings. Haven’t you figured it out by now that floydlee, Bob Arnzen et al would shove gays into gas ovens while singing praises to Christ? They’ve helped RNS to become infamous as a home for Evangelicals who hate gays. They’re here every day spreading that hate.

    Just as there were Evangelicals who went to their grave believing in the inferiority of black people, there are Evangelicals who will go to their grave believing in the inferiority of gay people. It’s tied so completely to their Christian faith, that they can’t imagine giving up their prejudice. They are beyond reaching just as racists are beyond reaching. Some people are too far gone with their hate.

  49. Please forgive me for chuckling just a little. I don’t know if you are old enough to have seen the Carter-Reagan debate on TV (at the time, I was a Democrat hoping for Carter’s re-election.)

    The turning point was when Carter went on the attack, only to see Reagan quietly smiling & chuckle with a light-hearted, “There you go again.” They say that’s when Reagan won the presidency.

    There are no gas ovens in this forum. None of the gay and straight posters here are inferiors. A nobody like me has no power to make RNS “infamous.” So, like old RR, I can only chuckle a little and say, “I respect you Tuesday, but try to keep things real.”

  50. So far no one has suggested that “gay people … (are) … vermin that should be eradicated, not human beings.”

    You’re the first.

    RNS is hardly “infamous as a home for Evangelicals who hate gays”, unless you’re a JoeMyGod regular like yourself, which is infamous as a home for folks who hate “christianists”, “religionists”, and other people otherwise known as the majority of Americans.

    The discussion has ZERO to with “believing in the inferiority of gay people”.

    That’s a propaganda bit disseminated prior to Obergefell v. Hodges to make disregarding commonsense, natural law, and the reasons for marriage look “reasonable”.

    Most of the hate emanates from your side of the debate.

  51. Your meme that engaging in commerce means giving up all your constitutional rights is both contrary to law and contrary to American values.

    It is, in fact, fascist.

  52. Sometimes I actually run across the script he’s post from.

  53. In the case of JW and the Pledge of Allegiance no one’s constitutional rights were infringed upon (BTW, as a teenage JW in school I didn’t do the pledge). Right now the SCOTUS is the arbiter and since it will soon have a solid conservative majority we may likely see it favor Christians down the road. I personally call it selective discrimination.

  54. It was petty and taking the low road. Focus on Trump.

  55. True on all accounts. But RNS is also home to people who tell those folks FTS. The point is not to change their mind. The point is to show that there are people who do not take their nonsense at face value and are not going away.

  56. The florist considered gays to be social inferiors. People unworthy of the full range of her services.

    Much like Ollies BBQ from Katzenbach v. McClung served black people, just not inside the restaurant.

    Your need to pretend this behavior is distinguishable from how vendors treated people under segregation is always laughable. You are even using the same arguments as segregationists. Seeking sympathy for people of low character who sought excuses for being malicious SOB’s.

    She got what was coming to her. She deserved her fate. She broke the laws and was too spineless to accept the consequences of her actions. So what?

  57. Yes, he is, Parker. It’s a tactic he uses. It works exactly the way Shawnie5 explained it, but there is a distinctly personal, intrusive, angry element to it.

    My belief is simple: Don’t make posters’ family members (like Ben’s mom or Ben’s spouse!) into talking points. Leave them out. But Ben, in his anger, thinks it’s okay to cross this line. It’s a tactic.

    Didn’t work on poster Diann, for she had never been divorced. Didn’t work on me either because my divorce & remarriage of 23 years ago had been submitted (by me) to senior clergy leadership for their Scriptural evaluation. (Umm, there are two Bible exceptions, not just Ben suggests.)

    The best way to respond may be to just ignore Ben’s tactic. But I see a lot of divorced Christians out there. Gay Goliath cleverly tries to exploit their situations to silence their biblical opposition to gay marriage. But their imperfect voices, just like my imperfect voice, are needed here and now..

  58. Or reading, or history, or religion, or philosophy, or government, or …

  59. That describes everything associated with Trump. Especially the staff which haven’t fled by now.

  60. I’ve done that several times when I discerned he was factually in over his head. Copy and paste some of it into Google and it takes you directly to Wikipedia. ?

    Good thing he’s not in school doing that. He’d get an F for plagiarism in the first place, and using a crap source in the second.

  61. It’s also eerily reminiscent of ancient Rome, where Christians could not participate in the trade and craftsman guilds without being “open-minded” and observing the obligatory worship of each guild’s selected “gods.”

    Tacitus ultimately blamed Nero’s persecution of Christians on their “hatred of humanity.” Projection was as common then as it is now.

  62. Businesses ARE individuals, the individuals that own and operate them. A business license does not override those individuals’ 1st Amendment rights, whether of speech or religious exercise.

  63. Breeding out of wedlock is forbidde by some religions. How dare you force women to breed against their will, in violation of their religious beliefs, by restricting access to abortion in any way whatsoever?

  64. He’s actually had no more turn in the first part of this term than Obama.

    He’s simply gotten a lot more negative press.

    One of the things businessmen learn is to cut losses fast.

    If you hire someone, and they don’t work out, get rid of them.

    Don’t put them in charge of affairs in Libya – someone might get killed.

  65. Then stop requiring abortion providers to tell patients lies about life beginning at conception.

  66. Stop meddling in the free speech of abortion providers and their clients.

  67. Or in your case to demonstrate that there are those who copy and paste the latest scripts from the DNC without thought, support, or much of anything else except loyalty to the Lost Cause.

  68. May we see your evidence in support of “The florist considered gays to be social inferiors.”?

    Can we hope that you’ll be getting what’s coming to you?

  69. Stop the torture and killing of gay and trans children. I do not respect those who disagree.

  70. “We need to be as generous as possible to people who believe that marriage is between a man and a woman and that sexual relations are properly reserved for such unions.”

    No, we don’t. Keep your homophobia in the bedroom, Christian scum.

    “Opposition to contraception, abortion and same-sex marriage are normal tenets of major world religions. That is not going to change.”

    Well, it had better, if those religions expect to keep existing. Thinking people want nothing to do with such backward beliefs.

  71. Give me your number. You’re okay with killing innocents in the womb.

  72. It always interesting to see the dramatic responses by our socialist friends here. They can have a really well thought out argument in which you feel like you can have an adult conversation and “maybe” learn something; and when they reply to your a response – the come back with some crazy sht like: “christians are going to put the gays in gas chambers”. With those types of responses – they not only display there lack of historical perspective, but they lose all credibility.
    That being said, I will still pray for them.

  73. You’re okay with killing innocents out of the womb.

  74. How polite of you not to refer to me as “he/she/it”, like your friend Bob Arnzen does.

  75. The difference between reason and propaganda is the explanation.

    Their leaders make them mad so they don’t have to think.

  76. Nope. Stop being so inflammatory. Later.

  77. Nice weather we’re having, ain’t it?

  78. No, I don’t. Hillary won the popular vote.

  79. So what.
    Presidents are elected by the electoral college.
    Learn how the country works.
    Plus, 25% of her votes came from illegals; so she really didn’t.

  80. Of course it does. The entire point of a business entity is to shift liability of its operations away from the individuals running it. The entire notion of the “corporate veil” is to discourage and disavow the notion that a business and individual are one in the same.

    Of course the ironic thing is Libertarians believe businesses have rights, but individuals do not. They oppose civil rights legislation and its enforcement but support the ability of people to buy their way out of responsibility and liability for their actions.

  81. Nonsense numbers, no source. There are efforts in play to abolish the electoral college, given the extent of foreign meddling in this most recent election.

  82. Your argument may be legally sound. However it is logically and morally absurd.

  83. I think something else is going on here. Certain posts from both Evangelicals and what they call libs are purposely engaged in increasing the hate between them.
    This is a political tactic for creating the consciousness for supporting an autocratic state which is their purpose. They may even be posting with different names on both sides of questions. This process was instituted in Russia 10 years ago with amazing success. It is now happening in Europe, South America, and here.

  84. Did you know that fascism is an autocratic government or dictatorship that enforces “Free Enterprise”?

  85. Then how come this government can require me to participate in Christian prayer recitals in government functions. I am not forced to unless as a citizen I wish to participate in the government function.

  86. Negative reactions to evil government officials is one of very few ways to resist this government,


    Actually it involves dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition and control of industry and commerce.

    Free Enterprise’s (capitalism) characteristics include private property, capital accumulation, wage labor, voluntary exchange, a price system, and competitive markets.

    Voluntary exchange and competitive markets are incompatible with state control of industry and commerce.

  88. “The entire point of a business entity is to shift liability of its operations away from the individuals running it.”

    should read:

    “The entire point of a corporation is to shift liability of its operations away from the individuals running it.”

    A certain corporate form was recognized in England in the 15th century and the modern form in the 17th. It is world-wide since it is essential to capital formation. Various states have other forms such as limited liability partnerships that have similar characteristics (the Revised Uniform Partnership Act).

    The “corporate veil” means a corporation is treated as a separate legal person, which is solely responsible for the debts it incurs and the sole beneficiary of the credit it is owed. The “corporate veil” can be pierced and often is when criminal activity is involved. The IRS proceeds for collection from officers/shareholders on a regular basis.

    The courts do not operate under the illusion that corporations are not run by real people who make real decisions.

    In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, 573 U.S. ___ (2014), the Supreme Court ruled that closely held for-profit corporations can be exempted from a regulation its owners religiously object to under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

  89. There is nothing about 25% of Hillary’s voters being illegal in the constitution.

  90. Okay, you don’t like other people having free speech, when it comes to accessing family planning services that affect their ability to live and express their religious liberty.

  91. Okay, you don’t like abortion, contraception, or gay marriage. Tough noogies.

  92. Christians need to understand exactly how hated they are, and why.

  93. Stop suppressing abortion and contraception, fascist.

  94. Stop forcing abortion providers to lie to their patients, fascist.

  95. Bigotry and insults are “Bob Arnzen”‘s forté. Along with his dishonesty. And there he is posting with at least his eleventh account.

    “Bob” got the boot from DC for his various shameful misdemeanors. His opioid addiction didn’t help much either.

  96. Shawnie, you disgusting, rancid bigot and lecherous old cougar, stop hating on Spuddie. He knows vastly more about the topics that come up here than you do, in general.

    And get that rash on your legs treated already. It’s embarrassing when you scratch there in public like that.

  97. Now there is irony in extremis from Bobose Arnzen Carioca, now on at least his eleventh account from which he posts hate and malice most of the time.

  98. Says the black guy who forgot how interracial marriage used to be illegal. #ThatsSoChristian

  99. As long as the government doesn’t favor one over the other.

  100. I just hate discrimination regardless of the source. Whether cakes, flowers, wedding locations, refusing to serve Trump officials or those wearing MAGA hats. I appreciate the (legal) right to refuse service but in these cases it’s immature and petty.

  101. Organizing political parties, running for office, and voting are probably more productive and American.

  102. No, I am not attacking the authors marriages. That wasn’t my point at all. I really don’t care about his marriage or marriages. That’s his business. Not mybusiness. But he did bring this up in a previous column.

    My point was very simple. Mr. lupfer could go to a hyper religious vendor, seeking services for his second marriage. He might let it slip that his first marriage ended in divorce. The vendor might ask him, was it for adultery? If it wasn’t for adultery, then the vendor would be perfectly within his rights, according to the logic applied only to gay people Thus far, not to provide Mr. Lupfer services. The same logic would apply to anyone who is not a member of the vendors type of Christianity. The real point is that the logic seems to apply only to gay people, and not to people that reject the entirety of conservative Christian religious beliefs— muslims, Jews, Mormons, Catholics, atheists, Hindus, Buddhists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and anyone else. I find it extremely telling that the logic is only applied to gay people, and not to all of the other people such a vendor might believe are going to be consigned to hell to burn forever. It’s amazing how limited the delicate conscience of such a vendor is.

    I’ll say What I have said before many times. Either the laws which prohibit discrimination on the basis of religious belief in public accommodations should apply to everyone, or we simply should not have them.

  103. In short, you feel free to attack our lives whenever you feel like it. But don’t we dare apply the same logic to you.

  104. In short, you got somebody to tell you that your divorce was OK. You then get to claim that you were imperfect, but look it over there, those people are even more imperfect.

  105. Yeah, it is a terrible thing to demand consistency. What’s sauce for the gay goose is also sauce for this kind of propaganda.

  106. Indeed you are not attacking the author’s marriage(s). That would require knowledge of his circumstances, religion, and what-not that you don’t possess, as your additional “adultery” references demonstrate.

    Your point was very simple.

    If A can do X, why can’t I do Y?

    While you may find it “extremely telling that the logic is only applied to gay people”, the difficulty your and smack into is that is not only applied to gay people.

    For example, the vendor in the Masterpiece Cake case refused to bake Halloween cakes.

    In short, you’re simply ticked off and not making a great deal of sense communicating that.

  107. If you actually read what he posted, he wrote that his divorce passed muster in his particular denomination AFTER he went to the trouble of vetting it with its competent authority.

    Absolutely missing is any indication that this decision binds anyone but himself or anyone outside of his denomination.

    You really are not paying much attention to what is actually being posted.

  108. In what way did he communicate he felt “free to attack our lives whenever you feel like it”?

    Nothing like that appears in his posts.

  109. To make your case you might want to give us some idea for your source for “minority rights”, speaking of consistency.

  110. That’s it? thanks?

    Well, you’re welcome.

  111. Ben, while we disagree – I respect you being able to discuss these topics civically (at least with me).
    The real reason why I asked you that question is that I was disappointed that you personally attacked the author; at least the way I read your response.
    I’m a newcomer here, but know who can discuss intelligently without getting personal and those who are intentionally jerks. I put you in the first category and was disappointed that (I felt) you fell short.
    I hope that makes sense.

  112. Thank you for that. Again, it wasn’t an attack on the author, but simply pointing out that he would be out raged if someone did the same thing to him that he seems to think it is ok to do to gay people. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” seems to be a Christian principle that flies out the window whenever it is applied, or rather not applied, to gay people.

    I am not a jerk, and except for a very few people – and they know exactly who they are – I will be civil to anyone, even if I disagree with them. But if I see a pile of scheiss, I’m not going to pretend it’s a bunch of roses. And I simply will not tolerate the idea that as a gay man, I should simply know my place and not be uppity.

  113. You lost Roe v. Wade. Get over it.

  114. A republican or parliamentarian government and free (uncontrolled) enterprise creates a process that leads to a fascist dictatorship with the economic winners (oligarchs) controlling the government. Russia has reached that stage. The U.S. is headed that way. This also describes Nazi Germany, fascist Spain, and fascist Italy. Usually this includes a dictator, but the corporate oligarchs still have power. They run the government and control the economy. The U. S which is an oligarchy without a dictator yet, could be called an “Inverted totalitarian”government, a term created by Sheldon Wolin.

  115. The Declaration of Independence, you mean?

  116. I wanna hate on Spuddie! Everybody needs a hobby!

  117. Umm, exactly how do homophobes do that?

    (Just curious, I’ve never heard that line before. Please offer specifics.)

  118. Sorry Ben, but honestly? You have no clue what it’s like to humbly sit your arse down in front of serious Bible-believing senior clergy and ask to fully evaluate your marriage, divorce, or remarriage, knowing that whatever is decided will affect your life and ministry.

    So you go set an appointment, put your gay marital situation up on the biblical evaluation table like I did my marital situation, and then we can dialogue better about divorce, remarriage & the Bible.

  119. Charlotte says, “Well, it had better, if those religions expect to keep existing.”

    Believe it or not, you’ve just channeled Hillary Clinton. In an April 2015 speech regarding abortion rights, she argued the standard pro-abortion line, but then she added, “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.” And her overall speech left no doubt as to what force would do the changing: the government.

    That’s when you know for sure that the constitutional religious freedoms of Christians, Satanists, Jews, Atheists, Muslims, and Buddhists are ALL in peril. That’s why I was forced to support Trump.

  120. Puhleeze. You’ve evidenced no genuine concern for consistency whatsoever — where the topic is conservative criticism of the Pope’s more lenient stance on divorce you’ve certainly graced the discussion threads with your usual measure of sarcasm and malice. You and your friends simply want to do what you want to do and have everyone pat you on the head for it. If all Christians took the scripture’s hard line on x you’d still be just as resentful of its hard line on y.

    Not that I don’t get where you’re coming from — I felt something similar once when I wished to marry an unscripturally divorced man, and considered family members and acquaintances who were divorced and remarried for one reason or another. Why can they do x and not me? But what you miss when you’re on the outside looking in is that this is the wrong question altogether. Whatever someone else is doing, or whether or not it’s justified, or how and when God deals with it (there’s a big difference between being saved and “getting away with” something), the big question is what does God require of me? Is what I am contemplating scriptural? Will this choice bring me closer to God or farther away, bring glory to His kingdom or shame?

    You have yourself demonstrated in your actions one big way that the church brought shame upon the Kingdom by taking the easy road on divorce — giving the enemies of the Lord occasion to blaspheme, as Nathan put it when he rebuked King David. And make no mistakes that those enemies of the Lord no more worried about the “consistency” of God’s people than you do— they hated God’s law altogether and wished it gone.

  121. By refusing to acknowledge gay marriage, duh.

  122. So now you want the Evangelicals to persecute those who are secularists, respect science, and won’t tolerate the state using Christianity to regulate societies moral values.

  123. That chuckle may have been due to his Republican supporters deal with the enemy Iran to hold the hostages until after the election.

  124. Puhleeze.

    No, no, no, and no to your first paragraph entirely. I don’t wish to get patted on the head for anything; that is simply your story to justify YOUR malice. I think I’m pretty consistent, and I have certainly been with YOU. I don’t want a pat on the head. What I want is what I have said to you many, many times before. Keep your goddam and godammning religion OUT OF MY LIFE. And out of the lives of millions of people, and not just gay people, who simply don’t wish you to be there. It’s pretty simple.

    The big question for YOU is what does YOUR god require of YOU? that’s the entire issue. I don’t believe in your god, whatever that word believe means, and I really don’t give a damn what your god tells you. If your god has a problem with how I live my life, let him tell me, and not YOU. But so far, all he is told me is that dominionist Christians, such as yourself, the mouth of Bob, Floyd Lee, Sandimonious, and several others who post here, refuse to live by the rules that he has given you, refuse to demand that other people who believe as you do Live by the rules that you claim he has given you, and have declared war on me and mind for the last 2000 years. There’s nothing else in what you have to say, except that.

    And you prove in your third paragraph that is just completely what it is about. Control of others so that your own faith can be shored up, reinforced, validated, confirmed, buttressed, augmented, and forced upon other people.

  125. It’s true that no one can legally be forced or prevented by the government to participate in any social function. It can and should be illegal to discriminate against anyone because of sexual orientation regardless of your religion. A moral person or religion would treat all humans with respect. You can challenge the actions of someone, but not for the characteristics they are born with. An organization, or business that is open to the public should not discriminate.

  126. What kind of persecution would that be?

    Declining to enter a contract for the creation of an artistic floral or edible arrangement? Which you would not want, and would dissuade others from buying as well, if I WANTED to create it for you?

    I think the early Christians would say, Yes, I’ll take THAT persecution, please! So would I.

    But perhaps we’re a sturdier lot than people who require six figures in damages to pay for treatment for shock, high blood pressure, impaired digestion, insomnia, migraines, resumption of smoking habit, acute loss of confidence, weight gain and loss of appetite (simultaneously, no less!) and, of course, feelings of mental rape — from the inability to obtain said edible creation.

  127. The solution, of course, is not to have uncontrolled enterprise.

    That’s why we have anti-trust laws, laws against price-fixing, the FTC, the Consumer Protection Agency, a raft of banking laws, and on and on.

    Russia does not have those laws. The USA and Western Europe do, which is why while it was headed that way in the early 20th century it no longer is.

    Corporate oligarchs did not call the shots in pre-WWII Germany, Spain, or Italy.

    Given your education I am not surprised that you have read Berkeley Wolin, a founder of the Berkeley School of political theory.

    While he provided some interesting insights and was a thought-provoker, overall his theories – in my own opinion – are too overlaid with a leftist tinge and lack of rigor in economics to be of much real use.

  128. The only two things you’ve been “consistent” about is (a) using the same canned phrases a bazillion times over and (b) turning every discussion thread regardless of its starting point into a screed about the gay.

    If you want religion out of your life, don’t join one. You might also want to keep your ears and mouth away from the keyhole of the church door for your own comfort. If your goal is for us to quietly withdraw from public and commercial life, though, I’m afraid we must decline, for we are citizens equal to everyone else.

    So…my call for greater fidelity to the scriptural view of marriage and divorce is about control, while your call for the same thing is about… consistency? Excuse me while I take a sip of coffee to force down a gag.

    But thank you for demonstrating that my final point was just exactly spot on.

  129. You are citizens equal to everyone else? Absolutely.

    And so are we. And that,s the part that you hate. You declared war on us, and now you’re considerably butthurt that we are fighting back.

    It’s called “homobigotry” and you seem to be well acquainted with it, as your sneering comment about us being “disordered” a few days ago demonstrates amply. It’s not about what the Bible May or may not say about the subject, and never has been. I will not be joining any religion, but your desire is indeed to force yours upon us.

    It annoys you no end that we are no longer silent and acquiescent in the face of the slander and lies promoted by people like you, who still believe that we are second class citizens and should accept our marginalization, oppression and denigration from the confines of our closets.

    Those days are over. And the sooner you come to grips with that reality, the better.

  130. I of course did not come up with the term disordered. That is how the Catholic catechism, to use the most widely understood example, describes ALL sexual immorality, not just yours. The various lusts and temptations that dog all of us. It ain’t all about you.

    Kindly refrain from telling me what I hate or what annoys me. Nobody wants you to be a second-class citizen, and you can be silent or not, as you please — it doesn’t really affect me much — but you’ll have to understand, eventually, that your complaints about belief and practice can not be taken seriously within the household of faith as long as you remain outside of it.

  131. I choose, in Christ, to live out my commitment to Him. I’ve submitted to biblical accountability that you are scared to do, and have never done, nor experienced. That doesn’t make me any better (nor any better-loved) than you, but it does mean that your “moral-relativism” schtick doesn’t work on me. I know where I’m at, thanks. (Do you know where YOU are at?)

    But there’s an oddity in your post. Neither myself, nor Shawnie5, nor Bob, nor Sandi, nor “several others”, were actuallyalive “2000 years” ago. So whoever it is that you are REALLY angry at, whoever it is that has “declared war” on your homosexual addiction, it must have been somebody who was running around causing trouble 2000 years ago.

    So I’m Google-searching right now to see if I can identify this person. Seems there WAS a religious fanatic who kept on doing unauthorized healings, mass conversions, etc. I should be able to locate a name (or more accurately, a Name) soon.

  132. “You declared war on us, and now you’re considerably butthurt that we are fighting back.”

    That’s called psychotic break with reality.

    The word “disordered” means “not according to plan”.

    Unless you’re suggesting that mammalian biology intended that every member be same sex attracted so that the species cease reproducing and die out, you can hardly argue with the conclusion that, like having no hearing, same sex attraction biologically is disordered.

    There’s no moral pejorative component to that assessment.

    Of course you will not be joining any religion, but your desire is indeed to force your vision of a society upon us, and religion is just the stalking horse you use to justify it.

    In the end the majority rules. With that in mind I personally would cease stabbing your thumb into the majority’s eyes, but you will do as you will.

  133. Well, so much for rational argument.

    It is all a big plot aimed at you personally.

  134. Who the person is from 2000 years ago? I guess playing stupid is your idea of an argument.

    Meanwhile, if your church elders had told you no, would you have divorced your wife? Would you have remarried?

  135. That’s not my style. At a recent County Council meeting, I stood, turned my back on the Council and stared at the praying citizens. It is disgustingly impolite to perform religious functions when those of differing religious belief or conscience are involuntarily involved. In a government environment it is also a violation of the separation of religion and state. This is true even if the Supreme Court doesn’t understand or care.

  136. I understand your commentary. Thanks for the exclamation. Glad I can put you back on the pedestal. 🙂

  137. Thank you. Sincerely. I appreciate it.

  138. Depending on the jurisdiction, standing and staring at the praying citizens could get you ejected.

    No, it is not “disgustingly impolite to perform religious functions when those of differing religious belief or conscience” while some choose to sit it out.

    The separation of church and state as you envision does not exist as a matter of law.

  139. A birthright for religious AND non-religious….

  140. “”Opposition to contraception, abortion and same-sex marriage are normal tenets of major world religions.”

    I can imagine this same writer 500-1,000 years ago:

    “Advocacy to torture, seizure of property and slavery are normal tenets of major world religions and are not likely to change”

  141. Debate Tactic #3,498 — when one has nothing to say, attempt to conflate one’s opponent with Clinton.

  142. I never understood why anyone would take marriage advice in 2018 from a wandering ascetic, celibate Jew in 30 CE.

  143. Gay Goose Sauce..great band name..I call it.

  144. “taking the easy road on divorce”

    You must not know many divorced couples…it’s a very torturous process fraught with pain.

  145. Just be sure to send me money in payment for the usage. The price of a new lumix camera will do. Say $1000.

  146. Evidence of this claim please and thank you./

  147. You doidnt address her request for a source for your claim.

  148. There are limits to free speech and religious exercise..always have been

  149. Your right to practice your religion freely ends at the point where your practice infringes on my right to NOT practice the tenets of your religion freely. Religions are bound to the Constituion just like everyone.

  150. Of course there are, you can’t shout “Fire!” In a crowded theater and you can’t carry out human sacrifice even if the sacrifice is voluntary. But that doesn’t mean those freedoms don’t exist, recognized and protected by the Constitution.

  151. No, for those of us concerned about freedom of conscience resistance is required. The separation of church and state is part of the constitution. It is the packing of the Supreme Court with Evangelicals that is causing the court to interpret it this way. This was founded as a secular nation with a majority of Christians.

  152. I only practice resistance when it has a reasonable chance of convincing someone of something besides that I am some sort of nutcase.

    This country was founded as neutral, not secular.

    The Supreme Court has been interpreting it that way since the founding.

  153. You said first that the freedoms do not exist…then you said they do?

    It’s quite simple — religious activities are like any activities. They are legal unless the violate the law. It’s legal for you to speak in tongues or worship a statue of L Ron Hubbard. It is not legal to do so on my lawn without my consent.

  154. “Religious convictions need to be respected”

    Scientologists have a conviction they can enslave and trap their clergy (the Sea Org) in hellish conditions under a Billion Year Contract.

    I guess we need to respect that.

    Some fundy Mormon sects have a conviction that men can marry and have sex with multiple underage girls.

    I guess we need to respect that.

    One Baptist sect has the conviction that god wants them to harass the bereaved at funerals with signs declaring God Hates F*gs!

    I guess we have to respect that.

    As comedian Patton Oswalt said: “We don;t have to respect religious beliefs. We have to acknowledge they are beliefs and reserve the right to say: “I acknowledge you believe that and I believe it’s f*cking stupid.”

  155. Time again for The Great Kibosh:

    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. “

  156. “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.” – Monty Python

  157. I’m not talking about controlling the economy to maximize corporate taxes. Those agencies that should be enforcing the laws you mention have been staffed by this administration with persons like Mick Mulvaney of the Consumer Protection Agency who has fought against the existence of that agency and is lobbied by payroll loan companies. Others are headed by persons from the industries they are supposed to control.

    The type of controls that are needed to keep capitalism from causing this to be a nation of, for, and by the wealthy are being gutted. In order to give citizens equal power over their government, it is necessary to reverse the Supreme Court decision that made corporations individuals who have the right to essentially buy elections. We need to return to a progressive income tax that prevents most of the wealth from going to the already wealthy. Social programs must be improved and increased to provide a reasonable living for all citizens. Health care and higher education should be well supported and free to consumers. With these changes the oligarchy will become permanent until a revolution.

    The last time that capitalism took us to this point was the depression of 1929. The Roosevelt administration didn’t create the New Deal to become socialist. It was to create a more just capitalist system that would prevent revolution.

  158. I personally am extremely pleased that Mick Mulvaney of the Consumer Protection Agency has fought against the existence of that agency.

    It was a hare-brained idea from its inception.

    Nor do I believe the type of controls that are needed to keep this nation one of, for, and by the wealthy are being gutted.

    I appreciate that some folks on your side of the discussion have been inconvenienced, but free speech doesn’t mean tilting the board until you think things are fair.

    Sixty years of a War On Poverty have not provided a reasonable living for all citizens. Making health care and higher education free would require funding that exceeds the current national budget.

    As the dollar increases in value and unemployment dips to historic lows, your arguments deflate rather drastically.

  159. Christianity was a hare-brained idea from its inception. Watch your ego deflate rather drastically, along with your tax-free profits from the collection plate.

  160. Have fun going out of business, with that strategy.

  161. Respect Roe v. Wade, you nutcase.

  162. The War on Poverty began as the ideas of President Johnson in 1964. It worked fairly well until Ronald Reagan took office and cut taxes for the rich. Until that time 25 years it made progress. Like when Reagan cut taxes for the rich we are again short in the budget for social programs.

    If you compare the average income in the U.S. to that of the countries that do provide these services you will find that our average income is at least as high. To provide Higher Education and Health Care for all would be affordable if we resumed taxing the rich.

  163. You might go looking for some facts supporting “It worked fairly well until Ronald Reagan took office and cut taxes for the rich.”

    What it did was hand people money, remove their incentive to work, institutionalize handouts, and otherwise ensure that the recipients would be permanent voters for the Democrats.

    Yes, if we increase taxes – and not just on the rich – and reduce our defense budget down to the percentage of say Denmark, you are correct.

    How things would work from there with North Korea, Russia, Iran, Western Europe, and so on without being a super power would prove very interesting.

    I don’t believe our current bargaining position would remain for long.

  164. Your religion won’t remain for long.

  165. That’s been my mantra – I don’t have to respect your beliefs but I respect your right to hold them and express them. Remember, take gods out of the picture and you are left with philosophies and ideas – that’s all they are to me and definitely not ‘sacred’.

  166. “I can imagine…”

    Your rhetorical opponents discredit themselves in the same way you win all your arguments — in your imagination.

  167. Article II of the United States constitution and the 12th amendment.

  168. I didn’t mean that divorce is the easy path.

    My own parents divorced, I am aware of the pain of it.

    I meant that many churches have taken the easy path of winking at it instead of addressing it.

  169. No, we’re going to ensure that all restrictions on abortion and contraception are lifted, because they might have a chilling effect on free speech. We wouldn’t want that, now, would we?

  170. I’ve thought a lot about this as I’ve discussed abortion on this page.
    I would prefer to leave the law stand; maybe send back to states….
    But I would prefer the “choice” crowd discern that abortion is wrong; that way, they can peacefully accept the decision as their own. Any attempt to overturn Roe versus Wade would just raise holy hell and cause us to be more divided than we already are.

  171. There is nothing “wrong” about exercising one’s right to freedom of expression regarding what goes in or out of one’s own body. Get over it.

  172. As the great Michael Scott would say, “that’s what she said”.

  173. Darn right. Stop suppressing my free speech, dude.

  174. I would think the best path would be to try to neither wink nor condemn….just help the hurting people.

  175. It’s not about “winning” arguments….it’s about having a dialogue.

  176. Nothing to expand….you have not demonstrated how it applies.

  177. I agree… in any case the biblical issue is not really as much with divorce itself as with remarriage.

  178. If re-marriage is what is best for the person, then what the Bible allegedly says about it is irrelevant

  179. If you’re not a person of faith, I suppose so.

    Certainly a generation of research on the effects of divorce, remarriage and illegitimacy upon children is generally irrelevant to people set on doing as they please, so no reason why scripture should be any different.

  180. Indeed. I have always wanted to see what would happen to the European nations and their “generous social safety net” once they’re on their own for defense funding.

  181. The Crimea should have given them a hint.

    Of course Herr Hitler wasn’t taken seriously until he took out Poland and Czechoslovakia.

    Those who learn nothing from history are doomed to repeat it.

  182. Bobby Jose Arnzen Carioca, you’d do well to pay more heed to the warning in your last line.

    Your Herr Trump already has evangelicals like you marching under his thumb and following along no matter what actions he deigns to take, and you yourself are diligently wiping his backside with your tongue for him on command.

  183. Says the raging homophobe: “Homophobia now, homophobia forever!”

  184. Even if you are a person of faith..why would this not be it better to just be lonely?

    “Certainly a generation of research on the effects of divorce, remarriage and illegitimacy upon children is generally irrelevant to people set on doing as they please, so no reason why scripture should be any different.”

    No one is saying divorce is not can be. But are you saying that it is statistically better for a divorced person to never re-marry? Is there any evidence on this?

    I can only speak anecdotally….but most re-married people I know are quite happy.

    Often, young people make the mistake of marrying before they have matured. Thus, a second marriage,…often in their 30s may turn out better.

  185. Bible-believing Christians generally frown upon divorc/remarriage because Jesus taught that remarriage following a divorce for any reason other than sexual immorality/adultery is itself adulterous. Some don’t find His teaching pleasant, but then again He warned us that following Him would generally involve taking up some cross or other — sometimes more than one.

    While in the US half of first marriages end in divorce, the figure jumps to two-thirds for second marriages and three-fourths for third marriages. People don’t seem to learn from interpersonal mistakes very well but rather tend to bring the same flawed patterns into subsequent unions that they brought to the first.

    Statistically the safest situation for children, as well as the one that produces the best outcomes for a child’s physical, mental, and academic health, is living with their own married biological parents. On the other hand, children face the highest risk of abuse and other poor outcomes when living with one biological parent and another unrelated adult.

    I think Jesus had the right idea all along.

  186. “Bible-believing Christians generally frown upon divorc/remarriage because Jesus taught that remarriage following a divorce for any reason other than sexual immorality/adultery is itself adulterous.”

    Not sure ALL denominations hold to that. Plus, I have read many scholars explain it’s not the same thing as modern times.

    “Some don’t find His teaching pleasant, but then again He warned us that following Him would generally involve taking up some cross or other — sometimes more than one.”

    Jesus said some things (Or some writer said he said some things). Some I agree with..others I do not. The Gospel writers have their opinion. I have mine.

    “While in the US half of first marriages end in divorce, the figure jumps to two-thirds for second marriages and three-fourths for third marriages.”

    What source is that from? I’d love to review it. That seems contrary to my experience.

  187. Of course not all denominations hold to that, which is what my original point was about. But Jesus’ teaching on the subject had nothing to do with the “times” but with the design of creation — the fact that God created the male/female duality for the purpose of coming together in marriage and that it is therefore wrong to separate what God joins together. That would be true of any times, ancient or modern.

    I have no problem with people openly and honestly repudiating the scriptures and the teachings of Jesus. What I have a problem with is people repudiating them AND then coming to the church door and shouting though the keyhole that we need to change them.

    As to the remarriage statistics, check out dot html

  188. Nope. By the way, I’m sorry for delay. Important question there for many people.

    At NO time does Jesus ever tell remarried people to split from each other if their previous divorce didn’t meet the biblical exceptions.

    Piling on a second divorce won’t fix whatever wasn’t right about the first divorce. God still hates divorce itself.

    Instead, get with some trustworthy mature Christian clergy or leaders and let them assist you in repentance, prayer for forgiveness, and God’s blessings on your current marriage.

  189. As always you can and will twist your bible in service to you. So when jesus said “no divorce” he didnt mean it — what god has joined etc– it was really more of a suggestion? God hates divorce but doesnt care of you do?

    To my mind itt makes your faith the real tinsel.

  190. No legal excuse for homophobia.

  191. Yoh don’t respect gay people at all.

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