Columns Jana Riess: Flunking Sainthood Opinion

How the Democratic Party lost its soul—and can regain it in the age of Trump

A palm painted with the U.S. democratic party symbol.

Recently I wrote a column outlining several reasons Republicans should be worried for the long-term health of their political party. In a nutshell, demographics are not on their side.

For example, religious people are more likely to be Republican—but what’s growing fastest in America is nonreligion, and nearly seven in ten Americans who leave organized religion, or never claimed it earlier in life, vote Democratic.

Likewise, white people are more likely than nonwhites to be Republican, but whites are losing market share a little more each year as the United States becomes more racially diverse. In the 1960s, more than 8 in 10 Americans were white. By the 2060s, that’s projected to be fewer than half.

Lest you think I am letting the Democratic Party off the hook, however, let me be clear: Democrats are in every bit as much trouble as Republicans are, but for different reasons. That’s because Democrats have largely forgotten about core moral values that once defined the party.

The social psychologist who has built a career on this argument is Jonathan Haidt, who in The Righteous Mind outlines five core “foundations” of morality. (He later added a sixth, but for simplicity’s sake here let’s discuss the original five.) Liberals excel at two moral foundations: Care and Fairness. Care means having compassion on the less fortunate and standing up for the underdog, even at great personal cost. Fairness means an emphasis on justice, equal rights and freedom from oppression.

This is why liberals like programs like Affirmative Action, which appeals to both those foundations, and why they are furious about how Trump is handling immigration. He is harming people who are weak and vulnerable, including innocent children who did not ask to be brought over the border. Harm to innocent people is a major trigger for the Care foundation to kick in.

Where liberals fall short is in the other three moral foundations, which may have cost them the 2016 election—since conservatives traditionally uphold all five moral foundations. Those are:

Loyalty: This includes values like team play, military service, patriotism and sacrifice for the group or nation. Liberals are more concerned with individualism and making sure the group or nation doesn’t rob the individual of rights. Conservatives, by contrast, emphasize cooperation and sacrifice for the greater good.

Authority: This is respect for leadership and social order to stave off chaos. Conservatives emphasize that authority is necessary for a civilized society, while liberals are primarily animated by avoiding authority’s abuse.

Sanctity: Haidt defines this as a concern for social purity and the idea that some things are just sacred. The Right has set the terms for this conversation so that “sanctity” is attached to some things but not others: “sanctity of life” connotes a position against abortion but not necessarily against the death penalty, for example. But at least conservatives talking about sanctity at all, even if inconsistently. Liberals have largely abandoned this language and score lowest here of all five foundations.

Conservatives, then, have a built-in advantage when it comes to winning elections: their moral palate is broad enough that they have something positive to say about all five moral foundations. That is, conservatives also uphold care and fairness. Liberals, at best, speak positively about only two of them.

When Haidt first began his research, he received hate mail from liberals who dismissed conservatives out of hand as narcissists who cared only about their own self-interest. Reactions like these are fine—so long as liberals want to keep losing elections. If they would rather start winning, they need to pay attention to values they used to care about.

Think of John F. Kennedy, asking young Americans to forgo their individualism and “ask, rather, what you can do for your country” (Loyalty). Think of Franklin D. Roosevelt, strengthening American power and uniting disparate factions under his leadership (Authority). Or think of Harry Truman enlisting religious leaders in the fight against communism. He did so not only because he realized he needed to tie the global struggle for democracy to deeply held religious ideals in order to motivate his followers, but also because he believed in the connection between religious faith and democratic ideals (Sanctity).

When was the last time we saw a Democrat actively court religious leaders—not merely in a calculated way to achieve a political end, but because he or she sincerely tied that political end to sacred principles?

Democrats have ceded the moral high ground in these three areas over the last several decades, but right now is a perfect opportunity to learn from their mistakes. That’s because of the bizarre fact that conservatives have elected a man who pays lip service to their values but does not himself believe in them. Jealous for Loyalty, Trump demands it of others but does not extend it himself—as evidenced by his undisguised fascination with America’s enemies. He cares more about sitting down with dictators and thereby being perceived as powerful than he does about showing Loyalty to the nation.

Moreover, the president who called himself the “law and order” candidate has proven that he sees himself above the law. In his brief time in office he has accumulated a long list of ethics violations, revealing just how shallow his regard for Authority is. His legal troubles have been bottomless.

And we don’t even need to delve into the irony of Trump, an adulterer, being the poster child of conservatives who are enamored of the Sanctity of marriage and family.

In short, the president is vulnerable. That, combined with the aforementioned weakness of the Republican Party as the nation’s demographics shift toward Democrats, should make for a reversal of power.

But I fear that liberals, having long accustomed themselves—ourselves—to speaking with less than one-half of a moral language, will falter.

If liberals cannot regain our fluency with all five elements of morality, we will remain a fractured den of individualists whose best days are behind us.

 

Postscript: I would love for every person in America to read Haidt’s book, but there’s also a shortcut at YourMorals.org. You can take a brief questionnaire about your own moral foundations and see where you are strongest and weakest. Your results will be added to the database of several hundred thousand people who have taken the test, and compared with theirs to see where you fall compared to liberals and conservatives.

About the author

Jana Riess

Senior columnist Jana Riess is the author of many books, including "The Prayer Wheel" (Random House/Convergent, 2018) and "The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church" (Oxford University Press, 2019). She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University.

58 Comments

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  • But at least conservatives talking [sic] about sanctity at all, even if inconsistently. Liberals have largely abandoned this language.

    In this age of Trump that sentence is utterly laughable. I stopped reading after that. I need no further lecturing from someone who can’t even recognize the absurdity of that sentence.

  • “For example, religious people are more likely to be Republican – but
    what’s growing fastest in America is nonreligion, and nearly seven in
    ten Americans who leave organized religion, or never claimed it earlier
    in life, vote Democratic.”

    As Hillary Clinton found out, projecting short-term trends out forever lead to bad decisions.

    The fallacy above is an example of the linear projection fallacy which crops up in a wide range of disciplines:

    http://www.krusekronicle.com/kruse_kronicle/2007/11/economic-fall-7.html#.W4A8tL3WSP8

    https://books.google.com/books?id=GtSV7rG6Iu4C&pg=PA39&lpg=PA39&dq=projecting+trends+fallacy&source=bl&ots=SeZO0TWNZV&sig=0lyzsTZuJReTofTp_IUXZs0qxKg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj82-fkl4bdAhUHvlMKHWBmAVYQ6AEwBnoECAkQAQ#v=onepage&q=projecting%20trends%20fallacy&f=false

    https://files.ifi.uzh.ch/hilty/t/Literature_by_RQs/RQ%20107/2016_Dorr_Common_errors_in_reasoning_about_future.pdf.

    In this example the projection fails to take into account – among other things – the fact that one of the highest reproducing segments of the population is the one which adheres to an organized religion.

  • You do a pretty job of illustrating how the Democrats came a cropper in 2016, laughing at the sanctity of life until all the people who saw it differently voted for the other candidate.

    It is difficult to see how a pro-abortion pro-LBGT kiss-everyone’s-b-tt candidate could topple the current Administration.

  • John 1:3 “there was nothing that was made that was not made by God” includes the idiom; don’t do as I do, do what I say. Therefore, Trump does not have to practice what he preaches, just like nine out of ten fathers have said to their kid, at some point in their life.

  • As a libertarian (ideology) and a Libertarian (political party), I feel this analysis excludes third ideology and third party. As a two time Gary Johnson voter, as well as noticing that lots of people voted for either Gary Johnson or Evan McMullin in 2016, can the Libertarian Party take notes from this to replace the Democratic Party as the major alternative to the Republican Party? If libertarian/Libertarians can gain more fluency in all six elements of morality and outpace progressives/Democrats and conservatives/Republicans, a new era of politics in America will emerge.

    “Government should protect you and me from those who would do us harm, threaten our rights, and take away our civil liberties, whether they be foreign or domestic enemies, unscrupulous businesses or corporations, or individuals” Gary Johnson in a quote advocating for limited government and government non-interference from all six elements of morality. The non-aggression principle, self-ownership, limited government, republicanism, etc combine to form interesting libertarian versions of the foundations of authority/respect, in-group/loyalty, and purity/sanctity as well as care (especially the term bleeding heart libertarianism deals with care) in addition to their expertise in fairness/proportionality and freedom/liberty.

    The porcupine/hedgehog (Libertarian Party and libertarians) are becoming a more and more viable option against the elephant (Republican Party and conservatives) and the donkey (Democratic Party and progressives). Also, liberalism can refer to either the porcupine/hedgehog if classical/market or donkey if modern/social, but lots of people use the vague term liberal without clarifying which. Mary Ruwart has written books and recorded speeches on the morality of Libertarianism with reference to all foundations, like the book Healing Our World: The Other Piece of the Puzzle/In An Age of Aggression/The Compassion of Libertarianism (subtitle depends on book version) and her CDs on Secrets of Transforming Environmentalists/Judeo-Christians/Liberals/New Agers into Libertarians which is outreaching to said groups.

    I also recommend Brian Patrick Mitchell’s Eight Ways to Run the Country. He differentiates eight ideologies Individualism and Paleolibertarianism (Libertarian duo), Paleoconservatism and Theoconservatism (Conservative duo), Neoconservatism and Communitarianism (Communitarian duo), and finally Progressivism and Radicalism (Progressive duo). They are the Libertarian Individualism, Constitutional Republicanism, Plutocratic Nationalism, and Progressive Democracy quadrants respectively.

    Okay, back to moral foundations:
    Care: cherishing and protecting others; opposite of harm
    Fairness or proportionality: rendering justice according to shared rules; opposite of cheating
    Loyalty or ingroup: standing with your group, family, nation; opposite of betrayal
    Authority or respect: submitting to tradition and legitimate authority; opposite of subversion
    Sanctity or purity: abhorrence for disgusting things, foods, actions; opposite of degradation
    A sixth foundation, liberty (opposite of oppression) was theorized by Jonathan Haidt in The Righteous Mind, chapter eight, in response to the need to differentiate between proportionality fairness and the objections he had received from conservatives and libertarians (United States usage) to coercion by a dominating power or person. Haidt noted that the latter group’s moral matrix relies almost entirely on the liberty foundation.

    Researchers have found that people’s sensitivities to the five moral foundations correlate with their political ideologies. Using the Moral Foundations Questionnaire, Haidt and Graham found that liberals are most sensitive to the Care and Fairness foundations, while conservatives are equally sensitive to all five foundations. Libertarians have been found to be sensitive to the proposed Liberty foundation. According to Haidt, this has significant implications for political discourse and relations. Because members of two political camps are to a degree blind to one or more of the moral foundations of the others, they may perceive morally-driven words or behavior as having another basis—at best self-interested, at worst evil, and thus demonize one another.

    Researchers postulate that the moral foundations arose as solutions to problems common in the ancestral hunter-gatherer environment, in particular intertribal and intra-tribal conflict. The three foundations emphasized more by conservatives (Loyalty, Authority, Sanctity) bind groups together for greater strength in intertribal competition while the other two foundations balance those tendencies with concern for individuals within the group. With reduced sensitivity to the group moral foundations, progressives tend to promote a more universalist morality.

    Various scholars have offered moral foundations theory as an explanation of differences among political progressives (liberals in the American sense), conservatives, and libertarians, and have suggested that it can explain variation in opinion on politically charged issues such as same sex marriage and abortion.

    The two main sources are The Pragmatic Validity of Moral Pluralism and Mapping the Moral Domain. In the first Haidt and Graham describe their work as looking, as anthropologists, at the evolution of morality and finding the common ground between each variation. In the second they describe and defend their method, known as the Moral Foundations Questionnaire. Through various trials and a participation population that consisted of over 11 thousand people, from all ages and political beliefs, they were able to find results that supported their prediction.

  • Some “Researchers postulate that the moral foundations arose as solutions to
    problems common in the ancestral hunter-gatherer environment, in
    particular intertribal and intra-tribal conflict.”

    American legal theory is more tightly connected to natural law (“We hold these truths to be self-evident ….”).

  • I have voted democrat in every election except the 2016 election. I support many programs that the left supports, ending poverty, equality, the environment, universal healthcare. What has made me no longer willing to vote democrat is their hate, hypocrisy, superiority complex, and every extreme method/ideology they have had over the past 5 yrs. This does not mean that I fully support the republicans either, but in this day and age, they are needed to reel in the insanity consuming this country. The simple fact that the dems/left has been persistent in their twisted sense of what is right or wrong. The SJW movement, the anti-Israel movement, the current manifestation of civil rights, the need to change something without regard to ramifications is really what bothers me most. I will not nor can I vote dem this election either because they have not changed, they have doubled down. I do not support the current methods they employ or their base.

  • Any third parties or third party candidates you were and/or are interested in if you Walked Away from the Democrats?

  • You have this stereotype in your head of a hateful Democrat, but it is not a true one. Which congressional district do you live in? There is a good chance that the Democratic candidate for Congress is very far from the cliche that you are thinking of. Most of them are normal, serious, civic-minded individuals who want to make a difference to help people.

  • If there were way more lower case l libertarian Democrats to match over even exceed the amount of lower case l libertarian Republicans and stopped giving away the foundation of liberty to the Libertarian Party and some Republicans alone, then maybe more people would be okay voted for rather than against the Democratic Party.

  • I haven’t read the book but I will. What struck me in Ms. Riess comments is that I think Repubs and Dems have different definitions of Loyalty, Authority and Sanctity. It isn’t that Dems have abandoned those three areas, they just define them differently. In regards to loyalty I think for the Repubs it is “my country right or wrong”. For Dems it is admitting that there country can do wrong and loyalty is to the idea behind our country NOT to a particular administration. In regards to authority Dems place a greater emphasis on personal authority what we also call autonomy then on figureheads. As to sanctity? Well that is also defined differently. For example the sanctity is placed on the individual human for Dems and for Repubs it is placed on a doctrine or talking point. There are other differences with these three areas as I am sure others can point out.

    The bigger problem I see is that Dems have let Repubs define these terms and it is time they step up and show how their definitions are immoral. As Ms. Reiss pointed out some of the duplicity and hypocricy. Another set of terms, I think Dems place a higher value on person honor and integrity and Repubs have dumped those words in favor of winning whatever the cost!

  • If Trump doesn’t practice what he preaches, if he behaves badly, then he shows the Dems that he is unworthy of the job, One of the definitions of sacred which is what sanctity is about, is that it is something worthy of being reverenced or esteemed. If you demonstrate with your words and actions you are unworthy then there is nothing sacred about you, and you can be challenged, questioned and removed from office.

    That is the difference in meaning I am talking about in my first post. For the Conservative sacred just means it is something of or about a God or gods or religion.

    We also know that children learn more about what they should do by watching what their parents and other adults do. Do you really want your children or grandchildren or neighbors kids to grow up behaving like Trump and believing that what they do doesn’t count?

  • 2016 huh? Not exactly a long track record and now in the age of Trump you go back to the republican party? Your arguments for doing so leave a lot to be desired.

  • The Dems did not vote for him.

    Why would he care they think he is unworthy of the job when he knew that when elected?

  • “It isn’t that Dems have abandoned those three areas, they just define them differently.”

    Just like they did with abortion.

  • To go into a bit more detail on the poll Jana linked to in her postscript, for how Liberals and Conservatives did on the five categories, on a scale of 0 to 5:

    Harm: L 3.7, C 3.1
    Fairness: L 3.7 C 3.1
    Loyalty: L 2.1 C 3.1
    Authority: L 2.1 C 3.3
    Purity: L 1.4 C 3.0

  • The problem with your take on how the Democrats define loyalty is that you have them giving the loyalty to abstract ideas rather than the actual nation that embodies those ideas, however imperfectly. Your reference to “my country right or wrong” reminds me of a quote from G.K. Chesterton: ” ‘My country, right or wrong,’ is a thing that no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying, ‘My mother, drunk or sober.’ ” You would have Democrats rejecting the mother in support of the abstract concept of motherhood.

  • Yes Dems look at the abortion issue quite differently placing a greater emphasis on the living–i.e. the needs of the living woman over a fetus. AND they are concerned about the needs of mothers and children, thus supporting access to health care for all, and social service programs that feed, clothe and shelter the less fortunate, and education and job training programs and transportation programs that help people get and keep jobs. Things that the “pro-life” folk ignore and would trash (and are trashing) if they get the opportunity.

  • There’s a problem with your insistence that Dems place a greater emphasis on the living, and that is that babies are separate living individuals from the moment of conception, most of whom will if left alone in their natural environments (their mothers’ bodies for the first nine months, their families after birth) growing into adults capable of taking care of themselves and raising their own children.

  • “Yes Dems look at the abortion issue quite differently placing a greater emphasis on the living–i.e. the needs of the living woman over a fetus.”

    Indeed, those who’ve passed through the Magical Birth Canal:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNgwsT295G8

    On one side, no rights. On the side, rights. Right inure in less than 12 inches.

    It’s a miracle of definitions!

    Oh, the fact that if they’re 18 or over they can vote enters into it.

    Perhaps we should read the script:

    https://www.democrats.org/party-platform

    “Democrats are committed to protecting and advancing reproductive health, rights, and justice. We believe unequivocally, like the majority of Americans, that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion—regardless of where she lives, how much money she makes, or how she is insured. We believe that reproductive health is core to women’s, men’s, and young people’s health and wellbeing. We will continue to stand up to Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood health centers, which provide critical health services to millions of people. We will continue to oppose—and seek to overturn—federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment. We condemn and will combat any acts of violence, harassment, and intimidation of reproductive health providers, patients, and staff. We will defend the ACA, which extends affordable preventive health care to women, including no-cost contraception, and prohibits discrimination in health care based on gender.”

    Golly, it sure reads like they really really like abortion.

  • No, it’s an honest question. I want to understand how it is that you believe that Democrats define abortion differently than Republicans or others. Oh please is just a put off that feels like you have backed yourself into a corner with the claim and can’t really answer what the difference in definition actually is.

  • I responded to Susan Humphreys.

    The Democratic Party’s platform not only does not even suggest that there is a moral issue with abortion, it supports the government funding abortion. It considers it healthcare, like the removal of a malignancy.

    The word “life” does not even appear.

    In the last year the party has been involved in an internal battle over whether someone who does not support abortion can even be a Democrat.

  • Interesting analysis. I think the loss of direction is because the “left” (across all of the western world not just the US) lost its way when it adopted neoliberalism. The “left”, be that the Democrats in the US or New Labour in the UK, became libertarian ie. socially left wing, economically right wing. Voters were left with no viable economically left wing parties to vote for.

    The economic right wing element of the “left” has systematically crushed the economic left wing viewing it with at least as much hostility as the “right”. The economic left is reawakening after devastating election losses for the neoliberal left, but the latter would rather have a right wing government eg. Republican, Conservative to protect their benefactors (the rich, corporates, bankers etc.) than allow the economic left a shot (eg. stymying Bernie Sanders in the US, Jeremy Corbyn in the UK).

  • You have to be joking about Republicans being superior in military serviice. How many of their big mouths in Congress and on Fox News have actually served in the military? And have you looked closely at how the military budget works, about how war corporations profit from it and about lucrative Republican tiies to the war corporations. And the devastation US military interventions and arms sales are causing throughout the world? Syria, Yeman, Ukraine (the US hored Erik Price’s private army to help the fascists there_.And at the mobster type loyalty demanded i the Trump regime?

  • Know they aren’t Doug. Shortly after conception that fertilized egg has to implant in the Uterus beforee it can become a fetus that may or may not develop into a baby capable of living on its own.. Many fertilized eggs are expelled at this point.Many implanted eggs also never make it to full term.

    Your ignorance is inexcusable.

  • Wrong Doug. Dems can distinguish between ideas and people. You don’t seem to understand what abstract ideas are.

    John McCain, and the tributes about him, show that he understood the difference between the “Office of the Presidency” an abstract idea, with the man who currently occupies the office, President Trump. McCain’s loyalty (eventhough he was a Repub) was to the office not to Trump.

    Many do believe in the idea of their “mother, drunk or sober”. Children who have suffered abuse from alcoholic mothers will rarely reject their mother. Which can cause them serious psychological problems as they grow up. The tension between love and fear/hate, and the need for acceptance is powerful.

    NOTE that I pointed out that sanctity is placed on the individual human and that for Repubs it is placed on doctrines.So your comment about motherhood is totally off base and shows you didn’t understand what i said.

    Doctrines by the way are not abstract ideas. They are concrete declarations of positions. The “office of the presidency” is an abstract idea that embodies lofty ideals, emotions, dreams etc. The rules outlined in our Constitution defining what the president can and can not do are concrete positions/rules/laws.

  • “I pointed out that sanctity is placed on the individual human and that for Repubs it is placed on doctrines”

    Or, to put it another way, Dems support “sanctity” for you if you can vote.

  • Science tells us that life commences with conception.

    The rest of that blather is just that, blather.

  • So you support Trump who is (according to his own claims) richer than the Clintons and who lies constantly? You have sold your soul to the Devil, and have allowed yourself to be manipulated to put more wealth in Trumps pocket.

  • My point is……
    At this point in US politics there is no good answer (republican or democrat) for voters to choose.
    I could flip the argument and say if HRC had won; you agree with a lying, incompetent politician who allowed her husband to abuse women.
    Without knowing you, I know you don’t condone any of that. But that is still how I bet you voted.
    From a morality standpoint As it relates to politics; i think we are screwed for a while; and I think our politicians reflect our society in general.

  • No, a political party should not be taking moral advice from religion directly or indirectly. Authority and loyalty should be earned and questioned…

    More importantly — Nothing is sacred…or should be

  • I don’t support abortion, and I’m a Democrat. What I do support is the sanctity of a person’s right to choose what is best for them and their family. In a perfect world, no one would get pregnant if they weren’t prepared to raise the child, but that’s not the world we live in. If conservatives really gave a damn about this issue, they’d rethink their “abstinence only” viewpoint for something a little more nuanced. Unfortunately, most of them only use the issue as a tool for virtue signaling.

  • There is no sanctity to support in supposed right to choose an action which offends decency, derogates society, and ends an innocent life even done in the guise of “what is best for them and their family.”

  • I don’t think Affirmative Action can unquestioningly be considered fair. It can only be considered fair when you consider people as groups. When you consider people as individuals, it leads to manifestly unfair results (e.g. a qualified Asian applicant loses to a less qualified Hispanic applicant in order to meet some target level of Hispanic employees).

  • Ms. Riess I have started reading Haidt’s book and from what I have gathered so far I think you missed the point of his argument. First he stresses in many places how Liberals and Conservatives have very different interpretations of words–such as loyalty, authority, sanctity AND care/fairness. His sixth addition to his list is an important acknowledgement of these differences.

    Overall I get the impression that Liberals/Dems don’t have to change their values they just need to become more open about using value laden language and using it effectively!

  • 1. The right is not supposed, it has been affirmed by the Supreme Court of the United States. 2. “Offends decency, derogates society” are subjective. My decency is offended when people try to obliterate people’s constitutional rights in the name of their moral system. Your morality may not be theirs and does not give you, or the government, the right to extinguish their legal rights. I submit that imposing religious values through law derogates our society. Again, value systems differ between groups and as such should not be canonized in law. This speaks to both the Fairness and Authority attributes described in this article. Our country’s legal system is based on the authority of the law, not on religious authority. 3. In this country, there is a legal definition of “life” that is encapsulated in the case law behind abortion. I won’t debate whether it is right or wrong, but simply state that it’s there, and abortion on one side of that line is legal, on the other is murder. I understand your moral disdain for the practice of abortion, but as a country, we have had to come to a compromise that takes into consideration much more than just morality, and the fact that neither side is happy with the outcome shows that it is truly a middle ground.

  • 1 – As a matter of moral and natural law, killing innocents is not a right.

    Yes, the Supreme Court’s Justice Blackmun fashioned a “right” out of penumbra.

    The Nazis passed a plethora of bad laws.

    That’s the nature of positive law – it may violate rights and human decency.

    2 – “”Offends decency, derogates society’ are subjective. My decency is offended when people try to obliterate people’s constitutional rights in the name of their moral system.”

    You mean like when we declared our independence from England using the words:

    “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.” ?

    Let’s rephrase what you’re saying: “I get upset when people who disagree with me want to change laws I like.”

    Your sentiments are no more moral than that.

    3 – I never contested what the law said. I simply pointed that ordinary decent people using nothing more than common sense and science do not believe for a millisecond that an abortion does not terminate a life.

    As to “… but as a country, we have had to come to a compromise ….”, hogwash. When it was up to the electorate few states had liberal abortion laws, and some outlawed them altogether.

    The “compromise” was fashioned by none other than Justice Harry Blackmun, who then spent the rest of his life trying to defend the very bad decision.

  • Re Positive vs Natural Law: You seem to be much more educated in the philosophic background of law than I, and I’ve no doubt you could debate circles around me on this point. However, I would say that in our system of government and law, the US errs on providing the greatest amount of freedoms possible to avoid discrimination against individual’s nuances of morality. Most of the moral basis of laws in America are of such a universal nature that we avoid this, but once we delve into gray areas, US law errs on the side of permissiveness.

    That being said, you’ve again based your rebuttal on the “killing of innocents”. Again, there is a legal definition of “life” that is encapsulated in the case law behind abortion. Your objection is based on your interpretation of natural law. Given the variation of views on how natural law applies in this case, the courts have continued their tradition of erring on the side of personal freedom. And yes, I do get upset with people who want to change the laws I like, in the same way that you do. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, and implying that there is is counter to a productive debate.
    On your third point, you’re painting everyone that disagrees with your viewpoint as an irregular indecent person, which is an invalid ad hominem attack. Then you ignore the fact that yes, we did as a country come to a compromise. You have to acknowledge that we as a nation have a variety of opinions on this issue, and that the correct stance for law to take is the most permissive one, bound only by the universal natural laws that the courts are comfortable with.

  • “However, I would say that in our system of government and law, the US errs on providing the greatest amount of freedoms possible to avoid discrimination against individual’s nuances of morality.”

    On the topic of abortion, the Constitution is silent. You can confirm this for yourself:

    http://constitutionus.com/

    Anything not specifically mentioned and handed to the Federal government is, under the 10th amendment, in the hands of the states or the people.

    The states had, as I described, for the most part banned or very much restricted abortions.

    When Roe v. Wade was decided that voice and freedom was stilled, and the personal opinions of a handful of individuals was substituted.

    If the US errs on the greatest amount of freedoms, that decision should be voided.

    The notion that anything in the Constitution is intended “to avoid discrimination against individual’s nuances of morality” is completely ungrounded. People are free to advocate for, and legislators to pass, all sorts of things which discriminate against or promote various people’s morality.

    The only limitation is in the First Amendment, which prohibits the establishment of a religion – along the lines of the Church of England.

    “Again, there is a legal definition of ‘life’ that is encapsulated in the case law behind abortion.”

    In fact there is not. That is why in some states you can be tried and convicted for fetal homicide, as long as it not an abortion.

    “On your third point, you’re painting everyone that disagrees with your viewpoint as an irregular indecent person, which is an invalid ad hominem attack.”

    No.

    If you accept the scientific consensus that life – all life not just human – begins at conception, then you’re in favor of ending a human life, in this case one which has done nothing wrong and which cannot defend itself.

    If you believe being favor of that makes you a regular decent person, you’re surely entitled to try to sell that proposition.

    And I am entitled not to buy it.

  • Incredulous!
    I know a few white people I believe love God, most of them are democrats. I’m a democrat. I know a few black people I believe love God. I’m black too. I thank God I’m no longer religious.

    I always thought some peoples religion out the same book had the wrong god. Believing the lie they’ve confused religion with righteousness. Subsituting care, fairness, loyalty, authority and sanctity
    for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, meekness, faithfulness and self control.

    The Bible says only a few are going to barely find the way.

    Matt. 7:13-14, 1Peter 4:18.

  • God breathed into… and man became a living soul. That same God will also take that last breath from your body and you will lay down dead as a dead dog. I have read and concur with a Jewish teachings that a fetus is a human animal until that first breath then becomes a human being. I don’t know. I do know my bible instructs me if I love God to love my neighbor, the people I see everyday.

    It amazes me how a peoples will practice their religion on the suffering of others. That young struggling mother is our neighbor. If I will be willing to provide a way to nurture this family I should strenuously encourage her to have the child but must respect her decision. If not, pray and keep walking.

  • That there is a “Jewish teachings that a fetus is a human animal until that first breath then becomes a human being” is not at all clear.

    What I think you mean is that there was at least one or more rabbinical opinions along those lines.

    They did not make it to Christianity when the split occurred.

    But that is irrelevant, since the moral offense in a Judeo-Christian context is violating God’s creation, not murder.

    I have no obligation to respect a decision to end a human life that has done nothing.

    That’s a cop-out, not a moral conclusion.

  • Hi Bob,
    In love, the moral issues of which you speak are important to we Democratic christians. I live in the beautiful USA a free country. I value my freedoms and respect those of others. I will not support the legislation of “moral values” I practice my faith in God before man. I willl legislate respect for individual freedoms that do not violate the rights of the community.
    So, a homosexual couple should receive the same civil benefits as a heterosexual couple including a legal marriage. Vulgar recorded music should be illegal in public spaces. If someone wants to stand and curse it’s their right but they don’t have the right to annoy me with someone else’s cursing. I’m working out own salvation, praying for yours, trusting God and thanking Jesus for working it out.

    Joy2u, from Mississippi.

  • “I will not support the legislation of ‘moral values’ I practice my faith in God before man. I willl legislate respect for individual freedoms that do not violate the rights of the community.”

    Most behavior legislation – bans on murder, theft, incest, and so on – legislate moral values. It is inherent in the process of making laws.

    Same sex marriage violates the rights of the community, which did not vote to approve it, and to whom the decision belonged.

    Since that is the case, there is no reason “…. a homosexual couple should receive the same civil benefits as a heterosexual couple including a legal marriage.”

    Prior to the Supreme Court’s outburst in its fairly recent latest enthusiasm for zany ideas, this one apparently founded on former Justice Kennedy’s belief that people have a basic right not to be lonely, the electorate voted on the matter in each state.

    I have never found that right in the Constitution or anywhere else.

    However, while it was still up for a vote, same sex marriage was a distinct minority choice in the states.

    Americans, who generally are pretty fair folks, did seem disposed to providing some sort of civil package that gave many of the legal rights of marriage.

  • Abstinence only and most of us wouldn’t be here. Some parents might have been married when children can along, but wouldn’t have been if not for that oldest child.

  • We should work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. I cannot force my beliefs upon another independent soul. Unlike most conservatives my Bible is a mirror while they think it’s a window. I’ve dropped my stones long time ago. I don’t have God’s prospective or His power. I do have his hands, feet and pockets. He instructed me to love you with them. He judges my heart. Let God be God😇🖖🏾

  • While you and I cannot force our beliefs on others, the state – whose job it is to pass just laws – can pass laws which reflect a moral order.

    In fact, it is the state’s duty to do so.

  • Republicans and sanctity? Huh? What?
    Republicans support a man, Trump, facing multiple lawsuits right this minute, from different women he has assaulted in various ways.
    The law says he can be deposed. Thanks to Republicans going after Bill Clinton.
    Parents stripped of their babies the majority of Republicans and those against abortion feel is perfectly OK. OMG! They committed a misdemeanor. I don’t care if they ARE running for their lives and they are protected by our constitution, grab their kids!
    Perhaps Republicans should ask Putin for advice? The president does.

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