What a difference an ocean makes

The Christian Institute reports that, unlike their counterparts “across the pond,” British Boy Scouts may soon end discrimination against atheist members.

The Scout Association is considering adopting a new “atheist” promise for the first time in its 105-year history.

Currently, in order to join the Scouts youngsters must pledge: “On my honour, I promise that I will do my best, To do my duty to God and to the Queen, To help other people, And to keep the Scout Law.”

And the [Girl] Guides are also thinking of rewriting their promise to love God and serve the Queen.

Don’t expect the American Scouts to follow suit any time soon.

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The New Bigots

Here’s an interesting transcript, published by newsbusters.org (“Exposing & Combating Liberal Media Bias”). It’s from an interview with Rick Warren on CBS This Morning, which newsbusters describes as “hounding” Warren on his anti-gay bigotry. Apart from one or two asides, though, most of the post consists of excerpts from the original transcript, including this particular nugget:

WARREN: The problem is that ‘tolerant’ has changed its meaning. Tolerant used to mean, I may disagree with you completely, but I’m going to treat you with respect. That’s what tolerant means. Today, to some people, tolerant means you must approve of everything I do. That’s not tolerance. That’s approval. There’s a difference between acceptance and approval. Jesus accepted everybody no matter who they were. He doesn’t approve of everything I do or you do or anybody else does either. So, you can be accepting without being approving. That’s an important point.

I originally wrote this as an exercise in imagining a society in which Christians were “tolerated” the same way Christians have traditionally “tolerated” gays, i.e. being given verbal “respect” while not allowing them to practice anything unless everyone else agreed with it. On re-reading the full transcript, however, I’m beginning to wonder if we’re seeing a shift in Christian tactics.
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Religious right to meddle

The Conservative Hideout is all up in arms about what they call a “war on Christians.”

Notice that there seems to be a war on Christianity under way? Well, the folks at Hobby lobby have noticed, as they went to court to escape the the ObamaCare regulations that require them to provide coverage for the abortion pill. Unfortunately, it seems that at least one federal judge seems t think that Religious Freedom really doesn’t exist.

By “Religious Freedom” (capitalized), the writer of course means Christians having the power to control women’s lives with or without their consent. The idea that women might also be entitled to religious freedom (in the sense of actual, you know, liberty) does not seem to occur.

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OMG, Biblical Christianity is dying!

Now this is more like what I was expecting yesterday: overblown Christian hysteria in reaction to Election Day’s free reality check. Writing for forbes.com, Bill Flax weeps and wails over the imminent demise of Biblical Christianity in America.

And it’s all a terrible misunderstanding. Christians never wanted a culture war, you see. They just wanted to be left alone. If only those mean old liberals had just given them the chance to stay quiet and neutral on issues of society and morality.

In the election’s aftermath, the culture war looks like a rout. Few ever relished this fight; most preferred simply to be left alone. We aren’t community organizers. Sadly, neutrality was not realistic. No, being Switzerland was never an option. By not defending America’s heritage of limited government, free markets and biblical morality, we’re being overrun a la Belgium.

Yes, those poor disorganized believers who were barely able to raise billions of dollars and initiate successful drives to add anti-gay amendments to the constitutions of roughly two-thirds of the states in the Union—they aren’t community organizers. They’ve never defended limited government, free markets, or biblical morality. They’re all just weak and helpless victims here.

Come on, work with me on this one.

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Christian parents suddenly decide secular education is better

Forget about “teach the controversy” and all that stuff about allowing teachers the “freedom of speech” to share their religious opinions. According to the LA Times, Christian parents want the public school system scrubbed clean of any curriculum that even hints at having religious overtones.

Yoga is taught at the local YMCA; at nearby Camp Pendleton, it is used to help Marines who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder after having been in combat.

But soon after yoga teachers began leading students at five elementary schools in twice-weekly sessions of stretching, breathing and relaxing, four dozen parents protested to the school board, saying yoga is a system of spiritual beliefs.

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What to do in your second term

Congratulations on your re-election, Mr. President. I’m glad you got a second term, because there are still a few items that need to be finished up from your first one. And now that you don’t have to worry about being re-elected, I hope you’ll have the time, the freedom, and the will to fix some of our worst problems:

  • Transparency. We cannot afford to elect a government that can be blackmailed by anonymous power brokers with big bank accounts. We the People need to know who is writing the actual text of our laws, and who is profiting from them.
  • The Constitution. I know you’re busy, but can we have our Constitutional rights back, please? Particularly the First and Fourth Amendments? Bin Ladin is dead, yet as long as our nation remains so terrorized that we won’t take our families on board airplanes without government agents fondling our kids, the terrorists are winning. I’d like to live in a FREE country again.
  • Wall Street. It shouldn’t be legal to cheat people out of house and home. Nuff said?
  • The deficit, aka tomorrow’s taxes. Yes, that needs to come down, but can we start with wasteful “defense” spending? It’s one thing to speak softly and carry a big stick, but that stick gets kind of hard to carry when it reaches sequoia proportions.

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Daily dose of irony

Writing on the Minnesota Public Radio web site, Prof. Savage of the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity decries the breakdown of traditional gender roles.

But, as advocates of gay marriage point out, marriage as an institution is not exactly the exemplar of stability it used to be. The sad fact is that the same factors that have contributed to its fragmentation — a misunderstanding of the complementarity of men and women, the divorce between the procreative and unitive dimensions of the sexual act, promiscuity, etc. — are at work in the breakdown of traditional marriage as well.

You see what happens when you forsake the original Biblical commandments for the roles men and women are supposed to play? St. Paul is quite clear that correct, Biblical gender roles are essential, not just for society and social institutions like marriage, but for salvation as well (at least for women).

Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection. But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man, but to be in quietness. For Adam was first formed, then Eve; and Adam was not beguiled, but the woman being beguiled hath fallen into transgression: but she shall be saved through her child-bearing, if they continue in faith and love and sanctification with sobriety.

By the way, did I mention that Prof. Savage’s first name is Deborah? Speaking of the “breakdown” of traditional, Biblical gender roles…

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The problem of purpose

I want to continue looking at the Bad Catholic’s post at Patheos because there’s a lot of interesting stuff there. Like this introduction:

Any philosophy that claims that there exists nothing supernatural cannot grant purpose to suffering.

If some natural, secular purpose could be granted to the man suffering, then his pain would cease to be suffering and begin to be useful pain.

He goes on to compare the young athlete’s muscular aches and pains, endured for the sake of fitness, with the inescapable aches and pains of old age, as an example of useful pain versus pointless suffering. In order to be suffering, he says, suffering “requires the lack of a natural, secular answer.” And by “answer” he means “a good reason”—some overriding benefit good enough to justify the means used to achieve it.

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Is Christianity killing the GOP?

One reason why the separation of church and state is a good idea is that uniting religion and politics tends to do more harm to both than either could self-inflict on its own. Indeed, many of the early settlers in America were people who came here to escape from the Christian nations of Europe, which is why the very first amendment in the Bill of Rights contains a prohibition against government establishment of religion. But the same phenomenon applies on a smaller scale as well, and the current woes of the Republican party may be a case in point.

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Luke 4 (the longer text)

And the devil, taking Jesus up into an high mountain, showed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, “All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.”

And Jesus answered and said unto him, “Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”

And he departed from thence, and the devil was filled with rage. But as he lingered upon the mountain, behold, three of Jesus disciples approached him and said, “O great one, give us this power also, that we may have power over the kingdoms of the world. For we are not mighty like our Lord, and we fear lest our preaching be without effect, because of our weakness.”

And the devil said, “Behold, to you I shall give great power, and you shall build mighty empires, and at your word rulers will rise and fall. But there is a price you must pay.” And they said unto him, “Tell us.” And he saith unto them, “Behold, one day a man will arise who worships many gods, yea even a god with many wives. And you shall command your followers, that they obey this man and make him their ruler, for by such blasphemies does my own power grow.” And they said unto him, “How shall we do this? For our people will never elect a man who worships many gods having many wives.” And the devil said, “Go, for I will raise up a ruler before him, who will be different from his predecessors, and I will stir up hatred and enmity against him (for in hatred and enmity are my strength) and your people will vote for anyone just to be rid of him.” And they said unto him, “May it be as you have said.”

And their names were James and Jerry and Pat. And he gave unto them great power, and wealth, and many followers, and they commanded them to elect whomever their party proposed, even a ruler who worshipped many gods having many wives, and they obeyed, for they had grown accustomed to obedience.

And the devil was well pleased.