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July 7th, 2014
Why I Now Remain Silent During the Pledge of Allegiance
Four years ago I wrote an article explaining the sordid history of the pledge of allegiance and the modification I made to its words to make it more palatable to me. For a couple of years I used this version whenever I found myself at an event or meeting in which those present were invited to verbally demonstrate their allegiance.
Now I don’t say any pledge at all.
Honestly, I have simply grown tired of seeing people wear their supposed love of freedom on their sleeve. Whether it’s attending a patriotic event, expressing gratitude for “living in the freest country,” saying the pledge of allegiance, participating in a parade, or a variety of other superficial activities, these are devoid of any substantive meaning without corresponding actions. In short, many talk the talk but few walk the walk—or, in Tom Paine’s words, there are too many summer soldiers and sunshine patriots.
While I take issue with the pledge itself—both its history and its textual composition (why do so few find it odd that they are pledging their allegiance to a piece of cloth or symbol of the state?)—my primary motivation for abstaining altogether from saying the pledge is to encourage people to think about their regurgitation of the same. In other words, I want people to focus on the “walk” and see how without it, the “talk” is worthless fluff.
I am extremely active in political issues, having now made it my full time (and then some) career. I’ve written several books on liberty issues, I regularly speak at events or in interviews to provide a liberty perspective on current events or public policy, and I founded and now operate a successful “think tank” that is changing the political landscape. It would be very difficult to accuse me of being “unpatriotic” or in opposition to the “liberty and justice for all” that the pledge calls for—and, let’s be honest, that’s the initial thought the average American would have upon seeing somebody refuse to make the pledge. (If you don’t believe me, research the reactions made to Barack Obama when he didn’t put his hand over his heart during the national anthem. Oy.) Given that my public identity is so closely tied to my political persona, those who observe me standing silently during the pledge—while every other person is acting like a “good citizen” and performing as expected—are led to wonder why. This initial confusion can give way to greater consideration to the problems presented in my previous article on the pledge. In my experience, those with whom I discuss the pledge often change their behavior as I did several years ago.
I pledge my allegiance cautiously and conscientiously. I do not pledge it to a group of politicians and bureaucrats that routinely violates my rights and the rights of my friends and family. I do not pledge it to an institution that has harmed, starved, occupied, and killed millions of innocent individuals. I do not pledge it to a theoretical governmental system (the “Republic”) that has failed to protect and preserve liberty and justice. I do not pledge it to an indivisible nation, for I believe in the right of secession as did the founders. I do not pledge it to a symbol or a tangible item.
I pledge my allegiance to God and my conscience. I am loyal to my family and friends. I am committed to the truth. Because no political system is perfect, and because they are almost always overrun by conniving individuals seeking power and fortune, I withhold my allegiance from them preferring to focus on immutable principles. My allegiance is freely given to the cause of liberty, desiring for all people the enjoyment of their unalienable rights.
As I think about the thousands of times I’ve said the pledge throughout my life, my thoughts turn to the people who said it along with me—mostly good and sincere people, no doubt. But most of these individuals made no effort to defend the liberty and justice they claimed to revere, and, to the extent that they had any interest in political issues, often voted for or supported politicians and policies that violated these ideals. Clearly, reciting the pledge is a pathetic barometer of one’s understanding of and commitment to the principles upon which the Republic was founded.
Abigail Adams once wrote to her husband, John, that “we have too many high-sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them.” I’m inclined to agree with her, and therefore have decided to let my actions speak for themselves.
139 Responses to “Why I Now Remain Silent During the Pledge of Allegiance”
January 10, 2016
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People always get very riled when I ask, “Why should God bless America when it has replaced Him with the president and/or military?”
Hey, Conner! Where’s your “tweet this” button?!?
I’ll wait to listen to this later (I love SoundGecko!). Just wanted to say welcome aboard with us who don’t say the pledge. I was in the boy scouts (leader training) and they did the flag ceremony and I refused to participate. I thought I would get people asking me questions. Everyone was silent. I guess you have to be public about these things.
How about this pledge. http://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/a-new-pledge/
In other words… “Look at me! I’m very special!”
I cant tell you how many people I have met who have refferenced the government as necessary evil, yet still pledge allegiance to it. By their own admission, they know that it is a corrupt organization that is in their own words “evil” yet they pledge allegience to it… to evil! Evil is still evil, even if you deem it necessary.
Great post Connor, I agree 100%
Most people will not notice if you are silent during the Pledge. So if you truly want to provoke a reaction and promote awareness, try not standing.
And if you really, truly believe this, try having your kids not stand for the Pledge, every single day for 12 years.
It’s what my family has done. I’m here to tell you it works.
I’m just wondering which part of the Pledge that you are having a problem with.
Is it the United States of America? Or perhaps do you have a problem with us being a republic? Is it that you are opposed to us being one nation under God? Indivisible? Do you have a problem with liberty? Or is it the justice for all?
It seems my friend that you have been chasing this Libertarian tail for so long now that you have perhaps caught up with the liberal side of government which I despise.
If you choose to not stand and or repeat the pledge that is your choice, but don’t look for me for one to stand in your defense when that day comes.
I’m surprised it took eight hours to finally get a comment like that… how anybody can read into my statements anything remotely close to what Jhan just said is laughable.
You really are full of yourself Connor. I’ve read some good and bad from you over the years, will you next stomp on burn or urinate on the flag out of your own righteous indignation?
It’s not being “full of myself” to point out that your interpretation of my position and remarks is completely off base and perhaps a bit too reactionary. This is only further demonstrated by your suggestion that the logical conclusion of my position must be a desecration of the flag itself.
Again, you’ve missed the point entirely if these are the conclusions you’re drawing, even if in jest.
You are wrong.
Defending the political rights of all (including the self indulgent and small minded) is what the patriot does. The irony, of course, is that Connor dishonors the very patriot who afforded him that right.
Connor, you are a pipsqueak compared to men like this.
So raising a flag on a Japanese island affords me the right to… defend liberty from violations by my own government? Sorry, I’m not following your logic.
I am very curious as to your stance on gay marriage. And if your idea of “freedom and justice for all” is in line with your religious views. I see you as a missionary first and foremost for your brand of god…
Maybe some other time, Simon. I prefer to keep things germane. (You’re welcome to google, though.)
Thanks, Connor, for sharing the sentiments of an honest man.
Honesty is when you don’t let other people’s words become your own merely because you’re expected to, when those words don’t reflect the real complexity of your thoughts and emotions on the subject.
Patriotism is when you look around the country you live in, see the inherent goodness of the people and the strength of our resources, and believe in defending it against REAL threats. This often means defending it from the politicians whose governmental system the Pledge suggests we ought to blindly follow, defending your good neighbors and your good land from the politicians and their corporate owners who care not one bit if they destroy all that is good about this country.
Those politicians use our good intentions against us. They like it when we say the Pledge unthinkingly. They want children to recite it every morning while looking at a piece of fabric that has no inherent meaning, being taught to view that flag, not as a representation of past sacrifices and intended unity, but as a sacred symbol that asks knee-jerk reactions. Politicians wear that flag on their lapels with no more love of country than the most anti-American Soviet of the 1980’s, and demand the waste of young lives in military exploits that do nothing to defend our national interests. Politicians like it when we adore “god” in the same way–unthinkingly allowing religion to lead people around by the nose, so that the purchase of a few famous preachers can dictate the tenor of political discussion.
I don’t say the Pledge, either, because my patriotism dictates that I fight with all my might against the group-think of corporations and their puppet politicians, and because my patriotism has its own voice, thankyouverymuch.
Patriot who afforded Connor the right? I thought our nation was built on the concept that God endowed us with our individual rights, not a military conscript (no matter how brave).
I prefer to recite the 2nd paragraph of the Declaration of Independence written by a true patriot who understood the proper role of government and individual rights. As opposed to the pledge that written by a Christian Socialist who obviously had no understanding of the 3 fundamental individual rights of Life, Liberty, & Property.
BTW Jhan ad hominem is not an argument. It convinced no one of your grasp of the issues involved.
I’m pretty sure Jhan didn’t even read the article because he attacked things that Connor already specifically addressed. I bet he just read the title and his prejudices moved him to skip reading something that would make him upset and he went straight to attacking Connor.
I’m still waiting to read Ken’s response as to how raising a flag in Iwo Jima has anything to do with defending Connor’s right to free speech.
This reverence for State and might is ridiculous. Have you two ever considered that the traditions of our fathers might be just that- tradition? Have you ever considered that we should be more loyal to truth than to tradition? I understand that it’s hard but start by having an open mind and heart.
Sounds a lot like the reasons why Jehovah’s Witnesses do not say the ‘Pledge of Allegiance’, as they as an organization believe in loyalty to Jehovah.
Thanks for the thought provoking article Connor.
I’m not sure if I’m ready to join you yet or not, but I have been struggling with some of the same things.
I don’t much like the concept of pledging my allegiance to anyone or anything, and I certainly don’t believe in the “indivisible” part among other things.
I found a version of the pledge of Allegiance sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
I don’t know if that figures as an endorsement, but it seems pretty close, as the choir sings for conferences, and figures large in LDS public relations. From what I know the choir members must be temple mormons in good standing. So, its not a violation to say it or sing it apparently.
Pledging one’s allegiance to “the Republic for which it stands” means reaffirming one’s fidelity or loyalty to the nation we call the United States of America. Few among us do not have some disagreement with one or more of the various levels of government or elected officials. However, unlike many foreign governments our “nation” is not defined by the individuals who govern, it consists of “We the People” and the freedoms that hundreds of thousands have shed blood to preserve and defend. It consists of the land that is our home. Refusing to publicly affirm one’s loyalty to one’s own country could be construed by some as the act of a traitor. If not this “Republic” then to what country do you offer your fidelity.
I’m pretty sure Jhan read nothing more than the article’s title.
@Saxoclese Why would you offer your fidelity to any country? Some instead seek to secure the blessings of liberty for themselves and their children, and for that cause pledge their allegiance.
@Steve I was raised to love my country and to take pride in being an American. This nation is certainly not perfect, but it is my homeland. In my generation we don’t take those things for granted. The “blessings of liberty” that you hold dear, do you really think you would have those if you lived anywhere else in the world? They are, in fact, a gift granted to you because of where you live.
There is a point where being an extreme libertarian begins to resemble selfishness and self-centeredness in my opinion. When we cannot see “the common welfare” for our own self interest then I believe the pendulum has gone too far the other way. I view “extremism” in any area of political thought such as that represented by refusing to pledge allegiance to one’s country as having the potential to be injurious to us all. Your view may be different.
@Saxoclese My view is indeed different. I understand your view though as I was raised on the propaganda as well, but I’ve come to honor and respect individual liberty and over the collective and by championing the individual all are benefitted as a result. I’m not content to simply ride on past glories while the present burns. Since you’ve played the extremist card I’ll have you know I’m not an extremist to believe that our nation is failing. I’m not an extremist to believe politicians have nothing but their own power and money grubbing agendas that fly in the face of basic economic law, reason, and logic. I’m not an extremist for being reticent to pledge to a system of government that has sold my young children and future generations into slavery through massive debt, regulations, asinine laws, etc.
The founders didn’t accept the evil government of their time they fought against it. They didn’t pledge their allegiance to the Union Jack, they made their own flag that said “Don’t Tread On Me”. They didn’t go along with it they broke away from it. They didn’t call people “extremists,” they were the “extremists,” simply for believing in the possibility of a better world. We need to continue in the philosophy of freedom and not rest on our laurels.
For years, I’d privately harbored similar sentiments. To another people, more than a thousand years ago, to whom was raised a similar standard… it wasn’t the cloth, not even what pigmentation it bore to which they rallied — it was the principles, the ideas, the cause, to which they rallied. I find your reasoning sound. It grates on me to hear people around me blithely pledge their allegiance (which no one should take lightly, let alone perform while on ‘auto-pilot’) to a flag. It used to bother me that the Jehovah’s Witness in my elementary school classroom wouldn’t recite the pledge along with the rest of the class – now I wish I might have joined her in silence, albeit for probably different reasons.
I have to wonder if Robert Heinlein hadn’t freshly closed his Thomas Paine, when he penned the following:
“Both for practical reasons and for mathematically verifiable moral reasons, authority and responsibility must be equal – else a balancing takes place as surely as current flows between points of unequal potential. To permit irresponsible authority is to sow disaster; to hold a man responsible for anything he does not control is to behave with blind idiocy. The unlimited democracies were unstable because their citizens were not responsible for the fashion in which they exerted their sovereign authority… other than through the tragic logic of history… No attempt was made to determine whether a voter was socially responsible to the extent of his literally unlimited authority. If he voted the impossible, the disastrous possible happened instead – and responsibility was then forced on him willy-nilly and destroyed both him and his foundationless temple.”
Among a generation so starved of responsibility and accountability, there’s no breath to waste on a pledge that outsources one’s own.
– Alan M. Taylor
@Steve Your views are certainly not what I would call mainstream. Now that you are riled up I am picking up on not only extremist views, but a good deal of paranoia and hatred as well. Someone who is not an “extremist” does not deny being an “extremist” and then try to prove that fact by issuing a stream of hyperbolic extremist statements. to wit:
“the present burns” “our nation is failing” “nation that has sold my children into slavery”
“(all) politicians have nothing but their own power and money grubbing agendas that fly in the face of basic economic law, reason, and logic”
Most of the government regulations are for yours and my well being such as those issued by the FDA and FAA. Most of the laws you call asinine are for yours and my protection, or to protect public property. The government of Nazi Germany was evil. The government of the United States of America is NOT(with the possible exception of Ted Cruz and Mike Lee).
I feel sorry for dichotomous thinkers like yourself who see everything as black and white, good or evil, right or wrong. It must be a very frustrating way to live. The real world is not like that. You have more liberties and freedoms than anyone anywhere else on the planet, and yet you live in anger and fear and hatred toward the very country that affords you these luxuries. Playing the persecuted martyr must have some kind of payoff that I don’t understand or you and your kind wouldn’t keep persisting with this kind of nonsense. The true patriots who signed the Declaration of Independence against a real despot paid with their lives, their health, and their wealth and property for the liberty and freedom they cherished. They did a lot more than just make a lot of noise and call attention to themselves while annoying the rest of the reasonable folks who have to put up with their self centered blather.
@Saxoclese I interpret from your statement above that you have no desire to discuss my concerns or for me to address yours. The ad hominem attacks gave it away 🙂 Should you care to try and understand where I’m coming from read on. The signers of the Declaration seceded from a government much less overbearing than our present one. It is a mistake to equate the relative ease and good times of living in our modern technological world with liberty. Is debt slavery? Do government regulations protect people or corporations? Are we as a nation becoming more or less moral, self sufficient, kind, etc.? What are the consequences if we are not? Can a government legislate morality, self sufficiency, kindness, etc.? As to your assertion that I live in fear and hate everyone, all I can say is that I’ve never felt more at peace with things. I no longer believe a democrat or republican guy is going to make things better for the world. Raising my children with kindness will. I no longer believe laws and government regulations will make me or the world less fat, more equal to others, give me my dues, or make me more safe. Raising my children with kindness will. In short does government make men and the future or does the individual?
I believe I understand your views perfectly. I can also see that you have taken those views to an illogical extreme. Extremists can never see that in themselves. It takes “middle of the road” folks to point it out to them, and of course they never believe it anyway.
Let me ask you some questions. Would you do away with all government regulations? If not which ones would you keep?
Would you repeal the Civil Rights Act and all of its laws designed to prevent racial discrimination?
Would you dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency and allow individuals and corporations to do as they like with our land, water, and air?
The role of government as we Democrats see it is to help and protect people. If you don’t believe that the government helps to make you and your children more safe you are totally ignorant of the thousands of rigorous requirements that food, drugs, automobiles, airliners, cribs, car seats, seat belts, air bags, electrical appliances must meet before they are allowed on the market. Again it is not all black and white. The points you make do have some validity, but taken to their illogical extreme serves no purpose whatsoever other than to give you a false illusion of being Don Quixote lashing out at the windmills of “big evil government”. Have a nice day. I have enjoyed helping you see yourself as others who are not inside your Ultra Conservative LDS Bubble see you.
You do realize ad hominem attacks are not a valid argument don’t you? You keep attacking my character without addressing the points raised.
By the way I’m not ultra conservative. In fact I’m a political atheist as I think conservatives and liberals trying to run my life and run other’s, do so immorally and mostly illogically.
Now to your points:
1) Civil Rights Act – I don’t believe a decree eradicates racism, education, societal ostracism, peaceful parenting, and economic pressures do.
2) EPA – Just look into the private vs government farming of endangered animals for reference. Ownership of land always results in better conservation of resources. As to corporations, they are a creature of the state right?
3) For the thousands of little regulation you mention, your argument makes it sounds as if 1 people are stupid and can’t assess risk and 2 businesses are out to kill people. Both of those points may be true for some people or some businesses but laws and regulations will not do much to save them from themselves either (the market, parents and communities, and charities will be more beneficial). Take the FDA and all the “safe” drugs they’ve okayed from large pharmaceutical corporations (enjoying massive protections against their wrong doing, remember creatures of the state) while they reject proven remedies from small or outside sources.
It’s interesting that you invest omniscient and omnipotent powers to the government when the government is not a thing of its own, it is merely an armed bureaucracy made up of people like you and me (aside from their penchant for control). A small body of men making decisions on how people should live is expedient, but hardly ever altruistically motivated.
If you choose to respond maybe you can address the arguments I’ve made, as I’ve done with yours, instead of resorting to name calling. If you want to continue the personal attacks I’ll just bid you a good day and leave it at that.
It seems to me that there are two (or possibly more) ways of viewing the pledge. It can be viewed as pledging allegiance to a “bunch of politicians and bureaucrats,” because that’s who is running America (poorly), or it can take on the meaning that you want to give it.
A flag is a symbol, and pledging allegiance to a symbol means that you are pledging to what the flag symbolizes. Choose what the flag could mean to you. The Pledge says that it symbolizes the Republic, which to me encapsulates our freedoms and ideals (the Republic was made to protect those things). One nation under God–I can go with that. Indivisible–we are all Americans, whether in New York or New Mexico, and are unified in that way. It’s a bond. The interpretation of it meaning non-succession need to apply here . With liberty and justice for all–who wouldn’t want to pledge allegiance to that ideal?
I just think you can remain silent to make a statement–like turning a flag upside down. Or you can do it in a way that is meaningful to you personally without being a sell-out. The flag is a symbol. Nobody has defined what the flag has to mean to you, and the words in the Pledge can be very applicable if you want them to be.
I just have to applaud Steve (the commenter) here. The level-headed way with which he responds to Saxo’s attacks are admirable, and his responses excellent.
I have mixed feelings about the article. I personally do enjoy the pledge because of how I feel when I say it: I feel a desire to be better and work harder. I can understand where you’re coming from, though I personally may not agree with it.
1) Without the Civil Rights Act there would still be whites only drinking fountains, lunch counters, restrooms, etc. in the south. There would still be open discrimination in housing, employment, schools, and voting rights. The entrenched racism in the south would not have abated on its own. It is a fantasy to think that “education, societal ostracism, peaceful parenting, and economic pressures” would have done what was accomplished by law.
There are times when the rights of a minority in our nation need protection. That is very apparent in the present with the fight for equality of the LGBT community. Human rights are not something that the majority gets to decide by a vote. They are rights. Government has an important role in moving our nation forward away from past discrimination and inequality. Waiting for all parts of society to mature and develop compassion in order to provide “liberty and justice for ALL” through education and parenting takes too damn long.
Now back to the question you so adeptly avoided. Would you repeal the Civil Rights Act? Yes or no.
2) “Ownership of land always results in better conservation of resources.” You have got to be kidding. Private ownership of land results in the exploitation of resources to accrue personal wealth. Think of what Yellowstone National Park would be today if the Federal Government had not set aside that area to be preserved and enjoyed by all. Watch Ken Burns “America’s Best Idea” if you don’t understand that concept.
3) This comment hardly merits a response. Do you really believe “the market, parents and communities, and charities” can monitor the production of meat and produce all over the nation as well as the FDA?
You are beginning to make “straw man” arguments by twisting what I have said into something absurd and then arguing against that which you said I said or sound like. I did not say I think people are stupid, nor did my comments imply that. One doesn’t have to be stupid to think that the FAA can far more effectively inspect aircraft maintenance than an average citizen. Nor does appreciating the work done by the FAA mean that I believe the Airlines are out to kill people.
Once again, would you eliminate the EPA and let people and corporations do what ever they want to the environment in order to make the greatest profit possible. Yes or no?
I recited the words through in my mind, wondering if perhaps the pledging of allegiance to the republic for which the flag stands is a bone of contention. Connor speaks of the right of secession, and I wonder if some might balk at the pledge because they want to hold open their option of revolting against America.
Pierce, the ‘under god’ part of the pledge is problematic for me. In a pluralistic culture its difficult to know who or what one is talking about. For atheists in particular ‘god’ should not be part of the pledge, if that is what it means to be an american. For a Hindu and some varieties of Pagans a more fitting term might be ‘gods’. One nation ‘under the sky’? might be more fitting?
Who is defining liberty and justice for that matter? I am not sure that a uniform sense of both could be applied to all cultures.
I think Steve is referencing the ‘tragedy of the commons’, an idea advanced by Garrett Hardin. A theory that states, “…individuals, acting independently and rationally according to each one’s self-interest, behave contrary to the whole group’s long-term best interests by depleting some common resource.”
An example might be the clouding of water from hundreds of people going down to the riverside, verses one person collecting water for use for all. Or it could be someone boating, while someone else is washing clothes, while another is using the water for a mining operation.
I think the theory might have some weight as far as efficient use, or perhaps maximal use, but there is a possibility that a particular resource could become depleted for economic reasons in the final use.
While the statement itself isn’t as old as the rest of the pledge, there is no doubt that God was present in the minds of almost all of the founders of the country–even though they had different ideas about what God is. They believed–and a majority of people today still do–that our rights come from a huge power rather than man, and that philosophy separates us from monarchies, socialists, communists, dictatorships, etc. I’m not sure how that fits into an athiests’ philosophy, but they are the ones diverting from historical context, so they will need to figure out how that may apply to them.
Hindus might ultimately believe in a pantheon of gods, but they often speak of God to summarize deities or atman, so they are welcome to interpret it that way.
For the rest of it I think you’re over-thinking it. I honestly don’t know why a person has a problem with everybody receiving liberty and justice. Those are principles or ideals, and that is all the pledge is concerned with
I meant higher power
If good men are able to restore liberty and justice to this republic will you then pledge your allegiance?
From what I understand many of the ‘founding fathers’ of the US were deists. They differ from bible literalists significantly, such as rejection of prophets and prophecy, rejection of supernatural intervention of god on part of humanity. As such they reject the idea of miracles. Also feel that prayer is futile. Many of the founding fathers were also masons, which many modern christians reject as heresy and occult. There were times in history when it really was necessarily that they keep their affiliation as masons a secret.
I never objected to liberty and justice for all. I am just not so certain that the general public or the government knows how to achieve that. First of all, the notion of liberty differs among individuals and across cultures. Notions of justice also differs. Someone at work told me that he witnessed a stoning in another country. That is a notion of justice that itsn’t legal in the US. He also watched a young man loose his hand for stealing.
I would say that atheist notions of morality are a closer match for modern notions of morality. For instance, the original constitution says nothing about God, and had to be amended to include any statement about god. The constitution supports elected officials, where as Christianity idealizes hereditary monarchy.
Again, in this context it doesn’t matter what somebody else’s notion of liberty and justice is (especially in a backwards Arab country). Americans believe in those principles and can pledge allegiance to achieving them based on their own beliefs and understanding.
I understand that many founders were deists. I haven’t been talking about Christianity having an exclusive claim on anything. My case has been that you can make the pledge what you want it to be, and that it is better to view it as something that captures the spirit of our founders rather than an assessment of today’s politicians
Very few of the Founding Fathers were deists and all believed in God. There were a few who were not thrilled with organized religions of the day (George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were among those at odds with much of organized religions – LDS Church members have an understanding of why that is) but that does not make them deists. Jefferson and Franklin were both potentially deists according to broad definitions of deism but according to strict definitions (such as defined by Sir Stehpen), they were not or were only partially. Thomas Jefferson, probably the most deist of the lot, believed in miracles. The Founding Fathers all recognized the important role that faith and religion played in the country. They all recognized that without belief in God and without religion, the United States of America would fail. No one was forced to believe, of course, but belief in God is respected and protected.
You should read the book American Gospel by John Meacham for a balanced analysis of the role that faith and religion played and play in our nation.
Steve, I have addressed your arguments as you have asked. Now it is your turn to answer my two questions that are both valid and germane to the discussion at hand.
Saxoclese is absolutely right.
Jared, It doesn’t seem reasonable that the writers of the constitution felt that religion is what would prevent the country from failing. The constitution does NOT mention religious faith at all, except in EXCLUSIONARY terms.
“…no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” (Article 6, section 3)
So how could your statement below be true?
“They all recognized that without belief in God and without religion, the United States of America would fail. ”
IF any christian believed in miracles, it would be the virgin birth. Here is what Thomas Jefferson said about the virgin Birth.
“And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with all this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this the most venerated reformer of human errors.” — Jefferson’s letter to John Adams, April 11 1823
Well, why bother having a pledge if one can make it mean anything one wants? It seems like a pretty difficult thing for an atheist to do, per the general consensus meaning of the word ‘god’. It also seems to fail on many accounts as to how it even fits with other documents related to the founding of the united states.
Digging a little deeper, I just discovered that the words ‘under god’ was not present in the pledge until 1954. So, perhaps this was NOT something central or of immediate conscious importance. The original composition was in 1892, by Francis Bellamy, a christian socialist. So the consciousness of the founding fathers is probably not directly present.
Back to you Steve. . .
“Digging a little deeper, I just discovered that the words ‘under god’ was not present in the pledge until 1954.”
I actually acknowledged that in my July 13, 2014 at 11:55 am comment, and I feel that it addresses your latest response.
” So, perhaps this was NOT something central or of immediate conscious importance.”
Perhaps not to Bellamy, but it certainly was the founders as well as a majority of people that came after the founders. And not that this is huge, but the pledge was amended to include the statement, after all.
“It also seems to fail on many accounts as to how it even fits with other documents related to the founding of the united states.”
I can’t really understand why you would try to argue this in terms of historical America rather than current-attitude America. Historical America believed in God, pure and simple. Most people were Christian. Including God in discourse was a normal thing to do. You say that it doesn’t fit with other documents, but you are going to really have to give a good explanation for the Declaration of Independence.
There is no need to re-write history in order to support the now-popular atheistic view. In my mind, it is atheists who have departed from the American tradition regarding this matter. They are absolutely free to do so. But that does not mean that we need to sanitize tradition, history, and spirit just because it doesn’t fit in with their philosophy. It is their job to make that work for them if they care that much, just like it would be my job to make the pledge situation work for me if I was a Jehovah’s Witness.
I always skip the phrase “under God” because it was not part of the original Pledge of Allegiance. It was a Republican addition.
62 years is along time to go to add ‘under god’. Its like coinage and bills to add ‘in god we trust’, seems pretty late to add. Perhaps belief was so universal that it was just a ‘given’, so perhaps that is why it was not initially included.
Laws of nature, and natures god, that sounds pretty consistent with Deist notions of ‘god”. The ‘creator’ being impersonal, impartial and not intervening for humanity or in any way after creation. The declaration of independence is a letter of separation, especially separation from the King. The British had a long history and belief of the divine right of Kings, as did many countries. Why would these people want to recreate that in their constitution? The constitution is clear that it wants elected officials, ones WITHOUT religion as a qualifier for service and leadership. The bible generally models monarchies, not elected officials for their leaders. How could the writers fail to specify this in the constitution? They could have clearly stated that some religious belief is necessary to be president or members of congress or any government office. Since this isn’t necessary an atheist or pagan or whatever can serve in any office. I don’t read a christian bias in the document.
No matter how you dress it up, God-language was used by founders and by many that came after, and belief in God was the prevailing attitude of most Americans. The phrase in the Pledge is of the same language and Spirit of things like the Declaration.
There’s not a Christian bias in the Declaration, and there is not one in the pledge. The name of Christ is not present, so I don’t know why Christianity is really being discussed in this sense.
I pledge allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America. I love the symbolism of the flag. But it is symbolic – not the foundation of the Republic, and it’s not the inspired documents that the Lord gave to the Founding Fathers.
The symbols of our Republic have been co-opted by corrupt Gadianton Robbers. As long as people like Barack Obama and Harry Reid wear flag pins on their lapels, I’ll always feel like the flag has been hijacked.
I don’t really say the pledge out loud any more either. And I struggle with singing the National Anthem as well, as much as I love the symbolism of the song.
I am not sure I understand. I advanced the idea that perhaps the founding fathers had a difference sense of the word ‘god’, almost verging on atheistic. So, you now saying that they didn’t mean it necessarily in a christian sense either? As many christians or mormons understand the word god today?
I’m saying that it makes absolutely no difference what individual beliefs were about God. Can you explain what that would have to do with what I summed up on July 16? Because to me, that’s what our conversation is actually about. I don’t see how it’s about how people chose to personally interpret God. It is that the word “God” and the concept of God was present with them and in things like the Declaration. In fact, I think what you are bringing up strengthens what I said about different beliefs in America. They interpreted God in their own way (be it deist or Christian), and we are free to do so today. What I feel you are missing in all of this is that these concepts were not officially defined by the people who used them because they mean different things to different people–nevertheless they are still important concepts.
Side note: Deism is not on the verge of atheism. The words themselves are opposite in nature. The Declaration acknowledges intelligent design and that God endowed us with certain rights. That is not an atheistic statement.
The establishment clause in the Constitution is crystal clear in its meaning and intent. That is where religion is concerned, our government can have no position whatever.
Those who would have children pray in public government funded schools, use government funds to pay tuition for religious schools, or place the christian ten commandments on a government lot in front of a government building fail to grasp this simple concept.
They mistakenly believe this government neutrality toward religious symbols and practices is “ant-religion”. It is not. Any display or practice which could be interpreted as pro-Christianity violates this principle, just as any that is pro-Jewish, pro-Muslim, pro-Hindu, etc.
The fact that most of the founders of this country considered themselves Christians, does not make this a Christian nation. It is a nation which welcomes all religions equally including those with no religion as defined in its constitution.
Your understanding of the Establishment Clause (EC) has taken you much further than what it was intended to do, so I’m not sure you’re really that crystal clear on its meaning or intent. You are right about two things:
1. The government can have no position whatever as far as adopting a state religion
2. This is a nation which welcomes all religions equally
The context that you provided, to me, is contradictory to what was said and done by those who wrote the EC. For example, the word “God” being used in official documents like the Declaration. The context of the founders not wanting to be subject or compelled to be a part of a state religion or church, like how the English were with the Church of England, is clearly what the concern was and what was happening at the time. To say that the E.C. was meant to silence children from saying prayers in school is not only absurd, but completely unhistorical. It is a modern bias.
The Establishment Clause is immediately followed by the Free Exercise clause, which is something that is never brought up by folks like you in this kind of discussion: “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” And yes, this means in public as well. There was no stipulation for that. Government neutrality means that the government cannot compel people to belong to a church, not that it has the power or responsibility to compel individuals to be neutral in their public display of belief.
Here is the exact wording: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. . . .”
So tell me, Sax, when a person is praying in school or when the people running a courthouse want to include the Ten Commandments in their decor, at point point has Congress made a law respecting an establishment of religion?
What I will not argue against is that there is a certain level of tackiness that people can reach in making on outward display of their religious beliefs. And though my threshold for religious fervor is much higher than an atheiest’s, even I don’t have a very high threshold for what I feel is tacky. But using the EC to try to limit tackiness is not right either.
The main thought behind Deism is that god, if he/she exists, did not intervene after creation. Cannot be reached by prayer, and cannot be directly revealed. Very different from what many religious people believe. Most christians believe god performs miracles on a regular basis, perhaps even daily. So, it does tend to have a more atheistic quality that most religion. One is only able to grasp ‘god’ through science, observation and reason. Not through revelation. Deists don’t tend for form organized religious movements or participate in organized religion, of if they do, the dont generally accept group think.
About the establishment clause, if someone posted the wiccan rede in a court house, that would be a violation of the EC. That simple statement implies a particular belief, and a particular sort of theology. As far as prayer goes, that violates it also, if its using public funds. I remember in grade school , the teacher instructing us in prayer. Even as a child I knew that was not right. I rather resented having to do that, that was something one did on ones own time. It would be like a teacher instructing students in mantra to hanuman. Or what about if students were instructed on summoning wiccan gods during school time? The EC doesn’t matter if a belief is common or not, what business does a public school have in promoting any religion?
I can see how it violates your interpretation of the EC, but you did not explain how it conflicts with the actual definition of: “Congress has made a law respecting the establishment of religion”–which is the actual establishment clause. At what point was Congress involved making laws?
Personally, I feel that it’s up to the people running those institutions to determine the amount of professionalism that should exist under them. For example, a principle should decide on prayer, and if parents have an issue, they can raise their voices. That’s how it’s done with almost anything else. What doesn’t have to happen is redefining the establishment clause to make it mean something that it does not.
@Pierce. I would suggest that you study the supreme court decisions that have molded the constitutional interpretation of the establishment and free exercise clauses we are discussing here. The issues involved are far more complex than you make them out to be.
The root concept behind prohibiting Congress from making any law respecting the establishment of a religion is that Congress cannot promote any religion, nor can it prohibit any religion. The outgrowth of that is that if Congress, one branch of government cannot do so then it follows that no other branch, arm, or agency of government is permitted to either. When a judge places the ten commandments on the courthouse lawn, he is in effect in his position as an agent of the government promoting Christianity on government property.
When children are lead in group prayer in a public funded state owned school, those agents of the state who are in charge are promoting Christianity. I suppose if an LDS prayer was given over the school pa system each morning, most of the parents in this area would not object, but what about the parents and children who are not even Christian, let alone LDS? How would “your kind” feel if officials in a public school began requiring a Muslim prayer each morning, a Wiccan one, or perhaps a prayer to satan? If that door is opened even a crack in a public school, then all religions must be given equal time and emphasis.
The government and all of its agencies remaining completely neutral and “hands off” where religion is concerned which stems from the establishment clause is part of the genius of our founding fathers many of whom fled from countries where there was no religious freedom because of the meddling of the government. In a way, the free exercise of religion is much like the old saying, “Your freedom to swing your fist ends at the beginning of my nose”.
People want to make things more complex than they need to be. I think it’s funny to hear that all religions *must be given equal emphasis. That’s rubbish founded in being PC and removes individual and group decision making. I’m not really interested in some liberal interpretation of EC. I believe that politicians have used it to advance their own agendas. I’m interested in the clause itself and why it was given.
The only real government meddling to me is telling a religious person what they can and cannot do. Your version of government “hands off” actually requires putting more hands in to enforce.
By the way, I don’t believe that prayer should ever be a requirement of anybody. And if I didn’t like what was going on in the classroom, I would do what I just described. I wouldn’t need to rely on a misunderstanding of a reading of the constitution.
Praying to Satan? You are really grasping at straws there.
Pierce. I’m sorry you fail to grasp the concept that as far as the government is concerned no religion is to be favored or discouraged over any of the others. Where religion is concerned, the government’s role is neutrality. I know that offends those who maintain that this is a “Christian nation” founded by Christians and that Christianity should be favored. There are many countries around the world that have a government supported religion. In Germany public taxes go to fund the Catholic Church. In many Eastern nations, those who are not of the “state religion” are persecuted or driven out by the state authorities. Think about it. Is that what you really want?
The inherent meaning of the establishment clause is that NO religion should be given emphasis by any governmental body. It does not mean that they must all be emphasized equally. That is just nonsense. The actual concept is than no religion may be favored over any other. If a prayer before a state gathering is permitted, the policy must be that all prayers from all denominations and religions are permitted and welcomed—even if the majority of the members in the room are of the same faith.
I know that in this state that is has a large LDS majority in some areas, that is a bit difficult for some to accept. Religious folk can practice their religion in their homes, in their churches, and even in public places as they choose. That is the “free exercise thereof”. They cannot impose their religious rituals or practices on others in schools, in government offices or government meetings. Their “free exercise” must be balanced by the limits on government provided in the “establishment clause”. This is what the Supreme Court has tried to do over the past 200 years to find the appropriate balance between the two important concepts.
I’m sorry that you fail to grasp the concept that when the founders wrote the Establishment Clause, they weren’t worried that a kid would pray in school. They weren’t concerned about the decor a certain courthouse would choose. 10 commandments aren’t just Christian, by the way.
“those who are not of the “state religion” are persecuted or driven out by the state authorities. Think about it. Is that what you really want?”
That’s not what we’re talking about. That actually IS what the EC is about. You’re talking about creating rules about how people simply express religious belief, or even history/culture/tradition for that matter (like Christmas decorations and expressions), with supporters throwing out the phrase “separation of church and state!!!” and using a heavily expanded and far reaching interpretation of the EC to sanitize the public of religious expression.
“Their “free exercise” must be balanced by the limits on government provided in the “establishment clause”
It already is: ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. . . .’
That’s it. That’s the balance. It has nothing to do with individuals or groups of people expressing beliefs, participating in cultural traditions, etc. So stop pretending it has to do with the EC. Because unless you can show me a law or prove that there is a religious test being issued that requires religious participation, then you need to look elsewhere to support your ideas.
BTW, I don’t support public prayers in schools. And I think it’s weird that Christians fight tooth and nail for the 10 commandments being displayed when most don’t honor the Sabbath. But even more than that, I don’t support this faulty interpretation of the EC, liberal court opinion be damned.
And I think that’s all I have to say about that.
Pierce. It is obvious neither of us is going to agree with the other on this topic. I would respectfully repeat my previous suggestion to study the Supreme Court Decisions with regard to these parts of the Constitution. At least that way when you address these issues with others, you will have some foundation for your arguments besides what the Constitution says verbatim.
It is very important to understand that the framers of this document left the language as broad as possible so that the concepts could be expanded upon by future generations to deal with circumstances they knew they would not have the foresight to envision.
Free exercise? perhaps thats what you see in the placement of the 10 commandments in a court house. But that is just too close to using the court houses to endorse the abrahamic faiths.
“Praying to Satan? You are really grasping at straws there.” No, that’s not too absurd. Joy of Satan ministry of Oklahoma is a recognized tax free religious institution. The government cannot prohibit its expression. I am not sure if its this organization or another, but one has responded to the placement of the 10 commandments on government property. It sounds like some people are taking it as a joke, but the protesters don’t seem like they are joking.
You’re simply leaving out the idea that other people in the area and those who run the courthouse don’t want it there. Whether it’s a courthouse, school, or business–most of the people would not want a symbol of evil because a very small minority group wants to make a statement. Again, you don’t need to use a bogus interpretation of the Constitution in order to do what needs to be done. Plus, there are plenty of state and city governments that can decide what they want to do in their own local.
The problem with the politically correct crowd is they feel that they need to pander to everyone for anything in any instance. It’s easy to do when you have “equality” on your side. But not when it overrides common sense. This example surpasses common sense in the name of being PC. It’s not convincing.
And though you may feel it’s irrelevant, Judeo-Christian symbolism has a long history in this country and in the courtroom. That is the reason that I don’t mind these kinds of symbols in this context (they also have to do with law). I simply disagree with feeling the need to sanitize our history and tradition in the name of being PC. If I went to another democratic country that had used a popular religious symbol in the courtroom native to their culture, I would not find it offensive. For example, if I went to a country that had a statue or picture of Thesis, a goddess of Greek mythology with her sword (oh my!) and balancing scales, I would be fine with it. Oh wait, that’s this country too…
@The Real Pierce. Chanting the right wing mantra “PC” is a specious strawman argument at best. At worst it is just sophomoric and indicates a lack of understanding of constitutional principles. What’s more, IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU AND WHAT YOU WANT OR PREFER. (sorry for shouting, but you don’t seem to get it otherwise)
What it IS about is that the government of this country cannot show favoritism to any religion, sect, or denomination. Neither can it show disdain or disapproval. If any one religion or sect is allowed to “advertise” by putting a symbol on government property, then an equal right MUST be afforded to all religion or sects regardless of their minority status in that community. Thankfully the voices of reason in our courts have seen the wisdom in not permitting that door to open even a crack. Those who want their religious symbols shown in public can do so on their own front lawns or on their church property. That is their right under the free exercise clause.
Now study up. There will be a test on Friday. 🙂 http://infidels.org/library/modern/church-state/decisions.html
Well, unfortunately the constitution does not specify “most of the people would not want a symbol of evil”. It simply protects religious freedom, especially that of a religious minority. You pointed out a fault of the liberally minded, they think of perhaps what other people might need or want. Mormons however, are only sensitive to their own freedoms, and fight for their own freedoms. They do not feel any pain other than their own when it comes to impingement of their own rights, or advancing there own agenda.
If you count a image of a baphomet as being evil it is your judgement, and your perception only. If you look online and in other sources I am sure you could find alternative explanation of its meaning. There is a site which extensively comments on the connection between John, 3:5 and a baphomet. The name has to do with ‘wisdom’.
The imagery of a baphomet conjures up ‘natures god’. That fits pretty well with the declaration of independence, and the writers deeply held Deism. Deists rely on observation and reason. Christians hold moral reasoning with suspicion. (Gen. 3: 5-7) Mormons hold mans nature with contempt. (Mosiah 3:19) The streets in Washington DC form a pentagram, did the founders of the US do this on purpose? The white house completes a significant point of the star. I think you need to do more homework about the founding fathers, and symbolism used in the US. For example the obelisk for the Washington monument, occult symbolism on US bills.
The treaty of Tripoli clearly states that the US is NOT founded on Christianity.
“…As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion…”
Last comments on this.
The PC movement is not a strawman. It definitely exists and people try to parade the constitution in front of it at one time, and completely disregard it at others in order to promote their version of fairness. Your belief/understanding in the EC has been handed down to you through several court case rulings that you cited. That is valid. I believe that people (politicians and judges included) have departed significantly from the original intent of the EC that they tout in their decisions. You do not. It’s really as simple as that.
Telling a stranger to “study up” is also sophomoric. I have indeed studied up. It doesn’t mean that I eat it up.
“They do not feel any pain other than their own when it comes to impingement of their own rights, or advancing there own agenda.”
That’s what’s going on here?? At what point in this conversation could my view as a Mormon (really just an American–I haven’t brought up any kind of Mormon doctrine) cause pain or infringe on rights?
“I think you need to do more homework ”
Wow, two condescending jabs in a row from you and your compatriot! The funny thing about it is that the whole proceeding paragraph doesn’t have anything to do with what we are talking about. This is a strawman in the most classical sense of the word. You started with ” Mormons hold God’s nature with contempt” and then proceeded to list pentegrams, stars, obelisks, and occult symbolism on US bills in order to somehow demonstrate your claim (which does not tie in, and doesn’t make sense). It is the most bizarre strawman argument I have encountered. At what point has the LDS church sought to remove these things? Your whole point better supports my position: we should keep these things as they are part of our history and tradition. By the way, several early Mormon temples used what you called “occult” symbols, such as the pentagram. It wasn’t considered occultish in their minds. But by all means, please keep punching the scarecrow.
“The imagery of a baphomet conjures up ‘natures god’”
Your diligent research apparently stopped with Templars. It’s like saying “the swastika conjures up an image of Brahman.” Since then, the image has almost exclusively been adopted by the Church of Satan , and therefore conjures up a different image. Their “9 Satanic Statements” include unbridled indulgence, the acceptance of sin, that humans are less than animals, and vengeance. I think it’s pretty understandable why that’s not a great decoration for a COURTHOUSE. It also doesn’t have any kind of existing history our foundation in our country. Sax slammed me for using the term “PC.” But here is a great example of people who check their reasoning at the door in the name of “being fair.”
My position has been that the EC has been derailed, and that religious (and mythical and “occultish) things can have a place in our tradition and culture, and that we do not need to now set out to whitewash it. If a Christian group was setting out to remove the symbols from our money, I would be just as much against them.
I also have made no claim that Christianity has an exclusive claim on the foundation of this country. I believe that the passion for this idea comes more from the other side in their attempt to completely erase the relevance of Christianity and its influence from the foundation.
Parting question Pierce. What makes you think you are more qualified to ascertain the founders original intent in writing the constitution that the brilliant scholars of constitutional law* who have risen to the highest office of their profession who render the decisions that become part of the laws of our nation?
* with the exception of Clarence Thomas of course, not because of his race but because he is incapable of any original thought other than to say “Me too” every time Scalia opens his mouth.
All I have done is quote what is actually in the Constitution and discussed the context in which it was given. If you want to get down to what is Constitutional, then you read the actual words of the Constitution. Some things do need clarifying. But most things do not. This, to me, is clear enough. It’s not a matter of “what does it mean that a law should not be passed?” or “what qualifies as a religious test?” People just want to use it–because it deals with religion–for their own agenda, so they invent a “separation of church and state” so that now there can’t be Christmas lights on a building.
I believe that they covered what was actually of substance and could be detrimental to a functioning government and people’s rights, and this was based on their experiences with British custom and history. If it was about public prayer, then Benjamin Franklin wouldn’t have asked for an opening prayer at the Constitutional Convention!
I am not more “qualified,” but if Barack Obama can be considered to be a constitutional law authority, then you have your answer.
“the swastika conjures up an image of Brahman”
Actually it does, the original swastika is very hindu.
“At what point has the LDS church sought to remove these things? Actually YOU said that most people don’t want this type of symbolism. So, its not a matter of removing, but banning expression of things you don’t agree with.
“Whether it’s a courthouse, school, or business–most of the people would not want a symbol of evil .”
I am curious however, how you object to the use of pentagrams in a satanic context, but not in an LDS context. About the nine satanic statements, the indulgence part sounds correct, but here is what it says about humans.
“Satan represents man as just another animal, sometimes better, more often worse than those that walk on all-fours, who, because of his “divine spiritual and intellectual development,” has become the most vicious animal of all!” so its not quite correct, as sometimes humanity is better. I am not endorsing it, but it does seem true. I know of no other creature which has created the atomic bomb or used it. The LDS church as I understand it used to have the ‘oath of vengence” which is now removed.
I don’t think the COS represents the whole of satanic and pagan belief. The pentagram is used by wiccans, although its orientation is different. Its used in the Bahai faith, as you mentioned its limited use in the LDS faith, the order of the eastern star is used in Freemasonry. In math it represents the golden ratio very well, the golden ratio is thought to represent divine order in many artistic and philosophical traditions. In Asia its used to represent the relationship between the 5 elements.
“I also have made no claim that Christianity has an exclusive claim on the foundation of this country. ” Actually, I quoted from the Treaty of Tripoli (1797) which states that the US is in no sense founded in the Christian faith. This was submitted to the senate by President John Adams.
I didn’t object to the use of pentagrams….
I stopped doing the pledge several years ago – for many of the reasons mentioned here. I “stood” with everyone else but eventually realized I was doing that because I didn’t want to stand out. Now, I don’t stand. I’m being authentic, with my actions matching my convictions. However, I’m with Hifi. Sit. Be authentic.
Thank goodness some people in power can understand cultural and historical significance for faith-related things in the public arena.
The article about the 9/11 cross made some generalizations that just are not true. The cross is in no way a universal symbol of hope and healing. Extreme orthodox jews view the cross as an idol, and something to be avoided. Obviously some atheists objected to its exclusive use. I am sure there may be others who find its use incomplete, or its privileged use to be wanting.
For the LDS, the cross isn’t really one of hope or healing. Here is what former President Hinkley said about the cross “…the cross is a symbol of the dying Christ, while our message is a declaration of the living Christ.” So, I find this reference interesting, but difficult to understand. I suppose that LDS people would support it as a general christian symbol, even though there isn’t the same type of embrace of this symbol.
I would say that you are correct in that an LDS person such as myself supports it as a general Christian symbol, even if we don’t as the institutional church. However, I would also qualify that further by saying that I would have supported pretty much any symbol that people were rallying around to be included in the museum.
It wasn’t the article that stated that the cross beams provided hope and healing for all people, but the judges. Obviously, they weighed the impact that it had on the many, many people involved in the rescue/clean up of the towers. It is silly to criticize the specific wording used to convey that in order to downplay its significance.
The fact of the matter is, and my point has been, that things like this have historical significance to individuals and to our culture. This is just another recent example of atheists trying to sanitize history and the freedom of expression. These judges saw through it and didn’t fall for a faulty interpretation of the Constitution.
By the way, the atheists were certainly welcome to gather their volunteer forces around something that gave them hope during that horrible ideal and have a claim on including that in the museum. They didn’t.
People do hold on to religion for hope, but sometimes it invokes other feelings that are not so positive. http://skepticfreethought.com/blog/2011/09/911-changed-the-face-of-atheism-in-america/
I have attended an atheist meeting a number of years ago, generally they are very positive. But they do tend to see much of what is wrong in the world having its origins in religion. I got the general sense that atheists are pretty individual. Some have been working on a universal symbol for atheism. How can anyone say that atheists DIDN’T rely on their ‘faith’?
I just don’t care. I’ll be honest. I don’t care whether or not some atheists (I am not sure that I have heard of a group of atheist responders) relied on their ‘faith’ and couldn’t find it within themselves to recognize the cross for what it was to people around them. That has nothing to do with the many who did identify with the cross, whose stories we do know and are uplifted by. This conversation is why bringing up the politically-correct agenda is not as futile as Sax made it out to be. Look at the mental gymnastics you have to go through to tell people why the cross beam monument is inappropriate.
And why should the “offended feelings” of atheists trump the feelings of the majority who did find it inspiring? Last I checked, freedom of expressing religion was actually protected in the constitution. The freedom of of not being offended is not.
Let’s accept this court decision for what it is, an end run around the establishment clause by viewing something that is clearly a religious symbol—a cross as “genuine historical artifact” and a “symbol of hope and healing” and therefore having a “purpose that was secular”. Such semantic tap dancing by the three judge panel would make Bill (Bojangles) Robinson proud.
“The three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court ruled Monday that the cross recovered from the rubble of the World Trade Center was more of a “genuine historical artifact” than a symbol of Christianity.”
“The judges noted that the cross — comprised of a 17-foot steel column and a crossbeam — became a “symbol of hope and healing for all persons” in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy.”
“The judges concluded that the “stated purpose of displaying The Cross at Ground Zero to tell the story of how some people used faith to cope with the tragedy is genuine, and an objective observer would understand the purpose of the display to be secular.”
A cross, the universal symbol of Christianity for over 20 Centuries is “an historical artifact” so let’s put one in every statehouse, school room, and courthouse since any objective observer would understand it to have a secular purpose. Give me a break!
I would have a difficult time arguing against religious expression for individuals and private organizations, churches, congregations, covens, sanghas, etc. But as for government endorsement, and using public funds to advance any particular religion, I would strongly disagree.
Connor, like you, I lost my desire to pledge allegiance to the flag or to the empire for which it stands long ago. After examining my tour of duty in Fallujah in 2004, I came to the conclusion that our nation was wrong in its foreign aggression. I began to feel sorrow and grief for even participating in the events Operation Phantom Fury. I now cannot bear any comments saying we live in a free country. It really gets my blood boiling. There is no freedom in this country, it is a LIE!
Heath, thank you for having the intellectual honesty and the courage to speak out against US aggression. It’s always a breath of fresh air to hear a veteran take a position contrary to the typical jingoism we’re accustomed to hearing.
“No freedom in this country”. Give me a break. Name one country in the world whose citizens have more rights and freedoms than we do here in the US.
So according to a right wing think tank Hong Kong has greater “economic freedom” than the United States. Is that really your best argument? How about the civil rights and civil liberties of its citizens? How do they compare to ours? Let’s discuss that comparison. Those are the rights and freedoms that really matter not how much government spends or regulates business.
I guess you are right about one thing, there is at least one think people can do in some US states, that is not allowed in Hong Kong.
One of the things that thrilled me with the LDS Church was the emphasis the defense of the Constitution. I think this may have been one reason for considering service in the military, which I did undertake 40 years ago. Despite these things in the last 10 years I have been resistant to participating in the pledge, even though I still sing the anthem. Perhaps it is how very far we have strayed from our principles. Not sure. Don’t like to push hard against something my heart is dead-set against.
Thanks, Connor. Shared your piece on FB.
One think? Really? Gay marriage will be coming to Utah very soon. Hooray! Bigots and homophobes, eat your heart out. We are going to have equality in the land of Zion.
Book of Mormon
“And there was a strict command throughout all the churches that there should be no persecutions among them, that there should be an equality among all men;”
That is the only verse I could find in LDS scripture concerning ‘equality’. But in context it only protects the believer, as the chapter says that unbelievers were persecuting the ‘church of god’. There is no statement here that requires the church to do likewise for anyone else.
GREAT show of peaceful resistance. Pledging to a flag?? Thats ridiculous. The flag means nothing, absolutely nothing to me now. OK well it does mean the Empire and Bankocracy and Fiat Currency pusher and Warmongers United and Force and By any means necessary and Military Industrial Complex Inc.
I haven’t stood up for the pledge in a while and for sure never putting my hand to my heart to pledge something that doesn’t exist. We should pledge to the Constitution and Declaration of Independence (all in their original intent). The Republic? The people think we are a democracy and the legislation acts like it. Democracy is MOB RULE. Thanks for sharing this, I cringe when grown men and women stand up and pledge to a flag.
I think we should all be aware that the Secret Combinations are ABOVE us and yet the people pledge to those Gadiantons. I mean look at public schools, it is the 10th plank of communism!!! Its Communist Schools. People think they can “force” everything through the government. I think that whoever runs this blog is fulfilling his duty to SOUND THE TRUMPET of WARNING! Thanks! We have no tower but you can still be a Watchman.
Andrew Bradley, you are absolutely right. We should do away with all “free public education” so than only the children of well to do families can have an education. We must bring back child labor in factory sweatshops at peasant’s wages for the children who can’t afford to go to school. We must completely stop educating students with the goal of providing them with the skills and know how to join the workforce and become productive members of society. To do any of these things would plunge our nation into the horrors of a Communistic society.
Communism’s 10th Plank:
“Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labour in its present form and combination of education with industrial production.”
The Frazier Institute out of Canada put out “An Index of Freedom In The World”. It is a combined ranking of personal and economic freedom.
1. New Zealand
3. Hong Kong
7. United States of America and Denmark (Tied)
If you count just personal freedom there are 16 countries with a higher ranking than the United States.
As far as tax financed public education is concerned it there are other alternatives. I know of many poor families who live in the bad parts of major cities in the US that homeschool because they don’t want to send their children into gang and drug infested public institutions. With what is available on the internet and with such tools as computers children can be educated for far less money and receive a far superior education than what is available from public education.
Let’s look at some of the factors that lower the “personal freedoms” score of the U.S. shall we? Those factors include the discrimination against women, and discrimination against homosexuals. They also include prohibitions on smoking in buildings, drinking and being intoxicated in public, as well as many other public safety concerns. Do those sound familiar here in Utah.
What lowers our economic freedom score has to do with regulation of banking, interstate commerce, and wall street trading for the public good. There is also the matter of taxation to provide roads, public services, education, and defense.
I would love to see all of the libertarians move to their own island where personal liberties and freedoms are taken to the extremes that they clamor for. I am confident they would quickly realize that such a utopian society putting the individual above the group welfare helps no one and is detrimental to all.
I generally agree with you as to some of the causes for lower personal freedoms in the US. The only exception I might have is the part about discrimination against women. Legally speaking I believe conditions are virtually equal between the sexes. My opinion is based upon a number of national studies I have read over the last 15 years. In fact several of the studies say women have a slight advantage (legally). Now if you are talking about culturally I would say you are correct.
You failed to mention several other factors which have a greater effect on our personal freedoms such as our tax rates and laws as well as the NSA collecting and storing all our electronic data down at the South end of the Salt Lake Valley. Also, the militarization of our local police forces and the US Patriot Act. Since 9-11 there has been a constant assault on our personal liberties, all in the name of protecting us.
As far as economic freedom is concerned I would ask that you go back to Connor’s article entitled “Raising Taxes Is The Wrong Approach” in April of 2013. I made the first comment which illustrates what I believe is the number one problem.
Your attitude/ frustration with libertarians is puzzling to me. How do libertarians take “personal liberties and freedoms to the extreme”? Perhaps you misunderstand what libertarian philosophy is? Libertarian philosophy has freedom and responsibility inseparably connected. You might be mistaking it for libertine philosophy? Libertine philosophy is where you have the freedom (license) to do what ever you like without the responsibility.
Your last line shows that you favor collectivism over individual liberty. What you call “group welfare” is just an abstract. A group or community is only a collection of individuals who have something in common. For example when one talks about the medical community they are talking about a group of individuals who are involved in the medical profession. When leftist talk about putting the “group welfare” above that of the individual they are going back to the old philosophy of pagan fatalism. Pagan fatalism is where the group would sacrifice the individual for the good of the tribe. An example would be a tribe or society sacrificing (kill) the proverbial virgin to the gods so that they would have good crops, the etc….
Libertarian philosophy does not sacrifice one or the other. It protects and honors the rights of the individual which in turn protects the group because the group is made up of individuals.
I was asked to read a political blog for my High School Gov and Cit class and respond to the opinion the writer expresses. I’m a little nervous posting something like this, and I’ve never really shared my opinion with strangers, but I think sometimes people’s focus get a little bit off from what the real point of something is supposed to be. We all have to choice to decide if we want to say the pledge of allegiance or not, but for me it would make me sad not to say it. I’ve always been taught that symbols can have powerful meaning, and when I say the Pledge of Allegiance everyday in school, I don’t feel like I am saying it to a piece of cloth, I turn to the piece of cloth because it represents a part of what I believe in. I guess it doesn’t seem like it very often, but I believe that we have been so blessed as a country to have all that we have and I hope people realize that. I don’t understand exactly where you are coming from by saying you don’t like to say the pledge, so please know i’m not arguing with you, I just wanted to share how I see the pledge.
The Preamble to the Constitution reads: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
The founding fathers used the words “promote the common welfare” as one of the purposes of the Constitution which they used to set up our system of government. One of the purposes of government is to help people. In order to do that they use a portion of the taxes paid by its citizens.
My understanding is that if libertarians had their way there would be no taxes used to help their fellow citizens. In other words they believe their “individual economic freedom” comes ahead of the Christian ethic to help their fellow man. To me this is a selfish and self centered attitude which can be summed up as “I’ve got mine, so screw everyone else”.
Group welfare is not an abstract. It means the well being of every man woman and child in this country. When those on the left refer to putting “group welfare” ahead of the individual it does not mean the same as “pagan fatalism”. That is nonsense. It means that each of us gives just a little bit to help those less fortunate than ourselves. This is what being a Christian really means.
What is termed the “General Welfare clause” in the US Constitution actually appears twice. First in the preamble and secondly in Article 1, Section8. The preamble is a general statement but Article 1, Section 8 actually defines what is meant by “General Welfare” and specifically lists things Congress has power to collect taxes for and spend money on. If you read Article 1, Section 8 there is no place where it allows for your interpretation of “promoting the general Welfare”. In other words the “founding fathers” did not intend what you say they intended. In fact James Madison (AKA “Father of the Constitution”) specifically stated that congress could not spend money on charitable purposes, public education etc….
Later generations of political and social leaders pushed for a broader interpretation of this clause so that they would be able to make… “One of the purposes of government is to help people.” Again it was not the “founding fathers.”
Your argument about libertarians and Christian ethics, besides being a straw-man argument is really quite sad. You seem to believe that the only way a person can get help is by having the government take a lot (what you erroneously call “each of us gives just a little bit”) from each of us “to help those less fortunate than ourselves.” Obviously you didn’t go back and read my comment back in April of 2013 or you would see that it is not just “a little bit”.
In the late 1970’s or early 1980’s I read an article by the economist Walter Williams. He did an analysis of the US governments welfare (entitlements) budget. He found that the government’s budget was over $40,000.00 for each individual being helped. He was also able to determine that the value of goods and services actually getting to the individual was just about $4,000.00, which is just about 10%. What happened to the other 90%? It was used for administrative costs (the bureaurocracy). In fact he called those working for the welfare system “welfare pimps”.
True Christian charity is people helping people without the force of government or force of any other agency. That is libertarian philosophy.
Let’s cut to the chase Gary Hunt. How much in taxes do you think you should pay to your local, state, and federal governments? Specifically what do you think your taxes should only be used for. Answer these questions honestly and let’s go from there.
Couldn’t anyone help others? Why does it have to be christian charity?
Yes, anyone can help others. I didn’t say it had to be only Christian charity. I was just responding in the context of which it was presented by Saxoclese. I think if you go back and read what Saxoclese said and my response it should be obvious.
Gary Hunt there is a question on the table.
Why the impatience? I will answer your questions when I have time to get to the table and give you a thoughtful answer. Some of us have to spend time making a living and taking care of our families.
Actually you asked two questions.
How much in taxes do you think you should pay to your local, state, and federal governments?
This is a loaded or complex question which is impossible to answer. I would have to obtain detailed budgets from each government entity (city, county, state and federal). Then I would need to go through each of these budgets and take each of the expenditures, and classify them, according to my opinion, as either legitimate or illegitimate. This would be an impossible task for any person. So my honest answer to you would have to be I don’t know. I do know that 67.13% (refer to my April 13, 12013 comments) is way too much.
“Specifically what do you think your taxes should only be used for.” (?)
This is another loaded or complex question. This question, like the first, fits into the same category as “in a perfect world” or “if you were king or queen of the world what would you do?” We don’t live in a perfect world and I’m not (and don’t want to be) the royal, all powerful, leader of the world. If we lived in a perfect world it is obvious we would have no government. I’m not perfect so to put me in the position of being an all-powerful leader of the world would obviously not be wise.
So the best response I could give is to say that it is immoral when government takes money (property) from one person and gives it to another person. Some examples would be the “welfare pimps” as I mentioned in a previous comment and corporate welfare such as the “TARP” or what many call the “Billionaire Bailouts” because most of the money went to the proverbial “1%”. These bailouts publicly were said to be over $700,000,000,000.00 during “W” Bush’s administration and over $700,000,000,000.00 during the first term of the Obama administration. More recent reports have put the cost of the bailouts by the Fed at over $12,000,000,000,000.00. All of these costs being charged to the current and future taxpayer’s of America. I could go on with more examples where government is used as an instrument plunders the taxpayer to enrich the rich and well connected but I think you get the picture.
From what I have seen on this blog, is that the general LDS feeling is that ANY tax by the US government is too much, even if its 1/2 a percent. But tax in the form of the LDS tenth is appropriate, plus additional offerings. Otherwise people should only give to charity as they see fit, or it they see fit. Otherwise, they can be as selfish as they want to be, no matter how much their business may depend on tax breaks and public infrastructure. I can see how the two questions are loaded and difficult to answer because you don’t know, and perhaps any answer might not be honest.
Gary Hunt, I was able to find your April 13, 2013 comments. Do you really believe your figures show that on average the government(s) are taking 67.13% of every person’s income? If that is the case, I won’t waste my time trying to correct your logic, since you will neither understand nor agree with the facts I present.
You appear to be against all taxes because they take away your “economic freedom”, and yet you cannot articulate what services governments provide that are necessary for your own health, safety, and well being, nor what you are willing to pay for your share of those services.
The main difference between us is that I do not begrudge a portion of the taxes that I pay going toward education, providing food and services to those living in poverty, and helping those who are out of work because of the downturn in the economy. Taking money and giving it to others includes paying the salaries of U.S. servicemen and women, paying teacher’s salaries, paying the salaries of those who work in the FAA, FDA, CDC, and other agencies that provide for our health and safety. That is hardly “immoral” in my view.
I taught school for 32 years and saw how many of Utah’s children qualified for free breakfasts and free or reduced price lunches who otherwise would go without that nutrition every day. Is that immoral for the government to take people’s money and feed children so the don’t come to school hungry and undernourished.
I also understand that most of the “bailouts” paid by our federal government prevented a total economic breakdown which would have been economically devastating to rich and poor alike. They also saved the U.S. auto makers GM and Chrysler.
The facts show that even though 100% of the bailout money has not yet been repaid, the government as of September 19, 2014 has realized a net profit of 40.6 billion overall. This is hardly adding to your children’s and grand children’s debt.
The “negativism” toward our country and its government shown by yourself and other so called “libertarians” is appalling. If you want complete freedom from government control and regulations why don’t you try moving to a place like Columbia. You will be afforded all of the freedom from government you like in a country like that. If you ever made it back alive, you just might have a newly gained respect for what your country and its form of government have to offer.
As a teacher you should know the importance of comprehension skills. That is why the first paragraph of your response puzzles me, because either you didn’t use your comprehension skills when you read my April 13, 2013 comments, or you are trying to use a “straw-man argument”, which as you know is a logical fallacy. Another possibility is that you didn’t read what I said. If you go back and read what I said you will find that I talked about government spending not taxation. I used the spending figures for each level of government – city, county, state and national – which I am subject to. My question is, was it poor comprehension, you are trying to use a straw-man argument or failed to actually read what I said which caused you to make the errors in your assumptions in the first paragraph of your response? I ask that you be totally honest. I will even give you the benefit of the doubt that there may be some other possibility which I am not aware of.
The remainder of your comments are based upon false assumptions and you use so many logical fallacies that It would take too long to list and explain them. However for anyone interested, here a link to a good website http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/ which talks about and clearly defines logical fallacies.
Let’s discuss charity. You put on your “white hat (liberal/leftist/collectivist/statist)” and say… “The main difference between us is that I do not begrudge a portion of the taxes that I pay going toward….” By inference you put the “black hat” on me (and all libertarians) and say that I don’t want to help the poor etc…. and that if we (libertarians) had our way that everyone in the world would be unsafe, starving, naked and homeless. This is quite frankly the tired old mantras (straw-man arguments) of the leftist, conservatives and statists. Let me recommend a good book entitled “From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State” by the historian David T. Beito. It explains in detail how all these social services were handled by society (privately) prior to the states extensive involvement. These mutual aid societies were far more extensive, flexible and efficient at helping society and even the poorest of the poor. Now I’m not saying they were perfect, just much better than the state.
Let’s talk about education. It is obvious from your comments you assume that I and those evil libertarians, who’s attitudes and beliefs you find “appalling” want everyone besides the rich and other libertarians, to be dumb and uneducated. You also seem to believe that the state is the only means by which a good education could be had unless you’re rich. As I have mentioned before in previous comments there are other alternatives (some of which I listed) which are less expensive and vastly more effective that state schooling. I ran across an interview of a gentleman named James Tooley. He wrote a book entitled “The Beautiful Tree: A Personal Journey Into How the World’s Poorest People are Educating Themselves”. Mr. Tooley is a professor of education policy at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne (United Kingdom). He was hired by the World Bank to evaluate and make recommendation regarding the condition of education in the third world’s poorest regions. Just for the record he is not one of those evil libertarians. This book is based upon his findings. His findings are quite amazing and contrary to what he expected to find.
The picture you paint of the horrible world that you believe would exist if we were free and didn’t have the security of benevolent state there to take care of us demonstrates your inner fears and are based upon the fear mongering and lies of the state. H. L. Menken once said “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” My study of history over the past four decades confirms his observation in fact, the stronger the state, the weaker the citizen’s safety, health and wellbeing. The only exceptions are the elites of these societies.
The ad hominem and straw-man attacks in your final paragraph are quite frankly offensive. I love the people of our country. I have lived in six different states have traveled to most states and have greatly enjoyed each area where I have lived/worked and loved the people I came to know. Even my six years in Southern California. I grew up loving the founding people, principles and documents which were the foundations of this nation. I still do even over time realizing the documents and people were not perfect. However, what I do have negative feelings towards are the people who do and would corrupt these founding principles and philosophies started many years ago.
By the way you never did give me a justification or explanation of what happened to other 90% of the welfare budget.
To be continued…
How much in taxes do you think you should pay to your local, state, and federal governments?
“So my honest answer to you would have to be I don’t know. I do know that 67.13% (refer to my April 13, 12013 comments) is way too much. ” You also write: “That leaves us 32.8% to live on”.
There is nothing wrong with my level of comprehension.
Your point is well taken. I did make an error in my statement. Here is a more detailed explanation of the message I was trying to convey.
I do know that government spending levels of 67.13%, of which 52.7% is derived from actual revenues and the balance of 14.43% is from deficit spending. This leaves 43.29% to live on plus $3,864.00 added to each person’s share of the federal government’s debt load. It is a basic economic principle that deficit spending leads to inflation, which in turn increases the cost of living and thus reduces the buying power of the 43.29%. In other words inflation is described by many economists as a hidden tax.
You have demonstrated the fact that you have good cognitive skills and that in fact you actually read my April 13, 2013 comments. Then obviously you were using a straw-man argument to intentionally misrepresent what I actually said.
Now let’s talk about bailouts. You are correct in that some of the money has been paid back and perhaps there was a profit. How were the companies able to pay the money back? There are two means by which this can be accomplished. First the company could raise the price of their products (penalize the customer) which can be very risky. If they raise it too much they lose their market share and actually take in less money overall. The second method would be to cut their expenses. The majority expense of a company is their labor costs, which includes salary and benefits as well as reducing their labor force. The company also has to be careful with this because they have labor contracts which need to be honored or renegotiated. The bottom line is that the consumers and employees bear the cost until the company gets back to solvency.
The TARP funds which were the $700 billion plus bailouts are the ones being paid back. You did not address the $12 trillion in bailouts which have not to my knowledge been paid back. If you question this amount perhaps you could read the PBS article where they report that Bloomberg News put the figure at $12.8 trillion. Another report lists a study by the Levi Economics Institute of Bard College which, as of November 10, 2011, puts the cost at $29.6164 trillion. I am sure some of this will be passed on to future generations.
Finally in the last paragraph you suggest that I move to Columbia to live and be afforded all the freedom I desire. There are several problems with your suggestion. First you are using another logical fallacy called the false dilemma. Besides being another dried-out and old mantra which is used by both the left and right, I have chosen to use a third alternative by staying and trying to work to regain the freedoms we have lost. Your suggestion is like telling a slave to escape from one plantation and volunteer to become a slave in another plantation. Where’s the logic in that?
First. If you are going to be throwing statistics at me, you need to back them up with links to the original sources. Second you are really overworking your “logical fallacies” response. I know it is far easier to do that than respond directly to the points that I made. By creating your own “inference” from my comments, then labeling that “inference” as a strawman argument and arguing against that, you are in fact arguing with yourself. This I find entertaining, but it does little to move the discussion forward.
1. I wrote: “You appear to be against all taxes because they take away your “economic freedom”, and yet you cannot articulate what services governments provide that are necessary for your own health, safety, and well being, nor what you are willing to pay for your share of those services. ”
This comment is based upon my observation of all of your negative comments concerning taxation. The way you appear to me is an honest and forthright statement. It is not a strawman argument. Is there any part of the remainder of that statement that is not true?
2. I wrote: “The main difference between us is that I do not begrudge a portion of the taxes that I pay going toward education, providing food and services to those living in poverty, and helping those who are out of work because of the downturn in the economy.
I deduced the fact that you “begrudge” taking money from one individual through taxes and giving it to another because you called it “immoral”. Is there any part of that comment that is not true?
3. I wrote: The “negativism” toward our country and its government shown by yourself and other so called “libertarians” is appalling.
Is there any part of that statement that is not true? Do you, or do you not make repeated negative comments about our country’s government.
4. I wrote: “If you want complete freedom from government control and regulations why don’t you try moving to a place like Columbia. ”
I am not suggesting that this is the only alternative to your continuing to live, albeit uncomfortably, in the U.S. with all of its “taxes” and “government regulations” that intrude upon your personal “liberties”. I suggested this as an example of your views about freedom from government taken to their illogical extreme. I also made that suggestion to try to get you to develop a little gratitude for the country you have the privilege to live in—warts and all.
The bottom line for me is that while chatting with you I have developed a new sense of gratitude that I don’t have to live within the same thick vapor of negativism toward my national government.
Are these the links you re looking for?
If you are looking for the government spending figure as I said in my April 2013 comments I went to the official websites of each government entity and obtained their figures.
Before I spend any more time responding to your latest comments I would ask that you answer one question. Obviously you have a negative attitude and are in fact appalled by libertarian philosophy. Why are you hanging out at a libertarian blog? I want a totally honest answer.
I spent hours looking for your “official websites of each government entity” and couldn’t find one. Perhaps you could provide those links as well.
I’ll answer your questions even though you avoided mine completely.
1. I do not consider myself to have a negative attitude—especially where my nation and its government is concerned. There are those with whom I disagree, and I like to address our differences frankly and directly. That is not negativity, that is conviction.
2. I do find some libertarian views to be quite extreme and representative of dichotomous thinking. I hold that my views are more centrist, albeit a bit more to the left and I believe that shades of grey more accurately represent reality. I believe that if libertarians all got their way to the illogical extremes in their rhetoric, this nation would become a nightmare. In other words I don’t believe libertarians think things through which requires much more thought than regurgitating ideology.
3. I enjoy having intellectual “discussions” with those with whom disagree politically because I have the opportunity to learn why they think the way they do.
Now while I study the links you did provide, please answer my point on point questions.
Thank you for your response. Here are the links to the US government websites. It took me about 15 minutes to get to these pages and do the math to come up with the statistic listed below.
US Population July 1, 2013 = 316,128,839 (Est.)
US Gov’t Spending 2013 = $3,454,605,000,000
US Gov’t Income . . . . . . . = $2,775,103,000,000
US Gov’t Deficit . . . . . . . . = $648,805,000,000
US Gov’t spending per capita = $10,927.84
US Gov’t income per capita = $8,778.39
US Gov’t Deficit per capita + $2,149.45
to be cont’d…
Here are some more links and figures. It took ma about 20 minutes this time.
Median household income = $51,939.00
Average household size = 2.59 persons per household
$10,927.84 x 2.59 = $28,303.11 (US Gov’t spending per household)
$28,303.11 divided by $51,939.00 = 54.49% (US Gov’t spending)
$8,778.30 x 2.59 = $22,736.03 (US Gov’t receipts per household)
$22,736.03 divided by $51,939.00 = 43.77% (US Gov’t receipts)
I used the same methods for the state, county and city that I live in. The data is on their websites. The only difference I found was that the state, county and city are required to have balanced budgets so there is no deficit spending.
I will respond to your comments (September 28, 2014 at 4:03 pm) and answer your questions one at a time.
You state that I am … “overworking your “logical fallacies””…. How can one overwork logical fallacies? A person’s understanding of them and how people use them is vital for their survival. This along with such methods as deductive and inductive logic and the trivium help each of us gain understanding of the world around us. This understanding helps individuals protect themselves from what is called “intra-species-klepto-parasites” (humans preying on other humans).
The remainder of that same paragraph really is confusing to me. I have gone over my comments several times to see if what you say is valid. I do not see any validity in what you say. The best I can come up with is that what you are saying is akin to the rapist blaming the rape victim for the rape. In other words transference. Perhaps I am wrong. You will have to come up with a better explanation to show me how.
Ideally I would love to have 100% economic freedom, which to me is defined as voluntarily using my money and other property as I see fit or according to my own will. Now I realize that, as I have stated before, we do not live in an ideal world. Also I have stated that I would start with Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution. It clearly defines what the national government could spend money on. I would be a lot happier if we used the constitution (as intended by it’s authors). In other words, not ideal but I could live with that.
Here’s a good article by professor Walter E. Williams. I agree with what he says. I also agree with what Madison and Jefferson say regarding the “general welfare clause” of the US Constitution. I also believe that local governments should follow the same principles.
By the way I did misquote professor Williams in an earlier comment. I used the term “welfare pimps” where he actually uses the term “poverty pimps”.
I hope this articulates the principles I follow to judge government programs. I ask two questions. Does this program take from one person to benefit another? Does this program directly benefit all taxpayer equally? Now if this is not enough, you could give me a list of programs which you believe are justified and I will give you my judgment and explain why I think it is either justified or not according to original US Constitutional principles. However, I ask that you do them one at a time and give me time to respond.
Let’s cut to the chase Gary. I’m getting tired of the obfuscation and pseudo intellectual discourse.
First of all your two questions make a glaringly false assumption, that everyone in the United States has the same level of need. Second, the conditions in 2014 are not the same as they were in 1788.
One final question:
Would you be willing to allow persons in the United States to die of malnutrition, disease, and lack of shelter in order to fulfill your ideological standard of the government not taking money from one person to help another if the resources of religious groups and charities were not enough to go around?
This question requires a very simple yes or no answer. Yes you would be willing, or no you would not.
You stated … “I’m getting tired of the obfuscation and pseudo intellectual discourse.” If you are tired of it, quit doing it!
The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology defines the word “obfuscate” as to “darken, obscure”. This same dictionary defines the word “pseudo” as meaning “false”.
I have gone back and read all the comments we have exchanged. The fact is you are the one who is guilty of using the tactic of obfuscation by your repeated use of straw man arguments. Here is a good explanation of this type of argument from Wikipedia.
“A straw man is a common type of argument and is an informal fallacy based on the misrepresentation of an opponent’s argument. To be successful, a straw man argument requires that the audience be ignorant or uninformed of the original argument.
The so-called typical “attacking a straw man” argument creates the illusion of having completely refuted or defeated an opponent’s proposition by covertly replacing it with a different proposition (i.e., “stand up a straw man”) and then to refute or defeat that false argument (“knock down a straw man”) instead of the original proposition.
This technique has been used throughout history in polemical debate, particularly in arguments about highly charged emotional issues where a fiery, entertaining “battle” and the defeat of an “enemy” may be more valued than critical thinking or understanding both sides of the issue.”
You also stated the following…
“One final question:
Would you be willing to allow persons in the United States to die of malnutrition, disease, and lack of shelter in order to fulfill your ideological standard of the government not taking money from one person to help another if the resources of religious groups and charities were not enough to go around?
This question requires a very simple yes or no answer. Yes you would be willing, or no you would not.”
This question and statement is a good example of what is called a false dilemma. The key word here is false (pseudo). Here is a good explanation of false dilemma from Wikipedia.
“A false dilemma (also called black-and-white thinking, bifurcation, denying a conjunct, the either-or fallacy, false dichotomy, fallacy of exhaustive hypotheses, the fallacy of false choice, the fallacy of the false alternative, or the fallacy of the excluded middle) is a type of informal fallacy that involves a situation in which only limited alternatives are considered, when in fact there is at least one additional option.”
What is the libertarian answer regarding how we should deal with poverty? It is to pull out your wallet, roll up your sleeves and use your creative to come up with voluntary methods and means to solve this problem. In other words, true charity. To shove this responsibility onto your neighbor by using the power of the state to achieve your goals is what is immoral and by definition is not charity.
I have given you the names of two books which demonstrate that the libertarian way to handle education and social needs is not only possible, but is more efficient and successful. I hope someday you will put forth the effort. It will be worth you money and time.
These are my last comments to you. I see no reason to continue our discussions.
I wish you well.
You sidestepped the question one more time Gary. I truly believe you would sacrifice human lives in order to serve your ideology. That is what I would label extremism. You are simply not honest enough to admit it.
If all government support to its citizens in need were to stop tomorrow and you and your ilk were to pull out your wallets, roll up your sleeves and use your creative [sic] to come up with voluntary methods and means to solve this problem, then people would starve and die of illness, and exposure to the elements. This is truth and reality whether you admit it or not.
Again the false dilemma. I reality, the nightmare scenario you paint only happens when governments overextend themselves and try to do all, be all and then they collapse from their own overextension and weight. Peaceful transition takes time and is realized one person at a time. History bears this out. So you do not need to worry about waking up tomorrow in a libertarian nightmare. Go on sleeping until our civilization collapses.
I do not sacrifice other to serve my ideology. However you do. I do have to say this about the state. There are three things that it does well. First it lies, second it steels and third it murders on a mass scale. Just ask the 500,000 children who died from American foreign policy. I am sure you would agree Madeline Albright that it was worth the sacrifice.
Well Gary you have helped me achieve my goal of finding out how libertarians think and why they think the way they do. I have a new sense of gratitude that I don’t have to live inside your head.
I very much agree with Connor here, and came to many of these same conclusions a few years back. I’m astonished at how many people blindly recite this pledge to a piece of cloth, almost as some form of idolatry really. Especially in modern times when the flag represents the current government more than any ideals upon which the nation was founded, and the current government has departed widely and deviated away from many of the honorable founding principles. It makes more sense to take an oath to the Constitution like our servicemen (oh and -men includes women, just as mankind includes all humans) rather than pledge to flag that represents a vacillating government.
and if pledging is true patriotism, I am not sure that being patriotic is so admirable. Why should being devout and loving one’s own country be a desirable thing? I understand loving God and your neighbor but not blindly loving a non intrinsic entity formed by man. We should find a new label like patriot, but describing one who is beholden to principles and hopefully truth. See I am devout to the principles of liberty, freedom, equality not to a country or government. per se.
“. . . and to the republic for which it stands. . . “
I read all the comments from this thread, but some of the ones from the beginning are what interest me the most.
Saxoclese, you seem to appeal to the great liberties and freedoms that we now enjoy because of the “true patriots” and the country in which we live. Here’s some of my questions: What exactly is a “true patriot”? You seemed to have your own definition in mind, or sense of what one is when you said “The true patriots who signed the Declaration of Independence against a real despot paid with their lives, their health, and their wealth and property for the liberty and freedom they cherished.” What about modern-day true patriots? Are there any? What would that look like? Perhaps there is more to a “true patriot” that you have considered, and that is more inclusive of people like Connor.(Or someone else, if you disagree with what he believes in taking a stand for)
The founding fathers and all those who have contributed to what our country is now- they fought not just for themselves, but for others as well- at the cost at their own lives in many cases. Now days, sacrificing your physical life is rarely necessary, but it seems like we should be doing more than just “be grateful.” (This is in response to where you said that “’The “blessings of liberty’ that you hold dear, do you really think you would have those if you lived anywhere else in the world? They are, in fact, a gift granted to you because of where you live.”) To prove our gratitude from the previous generations, shouldn’t we fight to insure the liberty and rights of those who will come after us? A country is never in a static state- it is always in motion, and tending towards something. Who makes sure it doesn’t become something we don’t want it to be?
As for reciting the pledge- it is a bit odd that young children are taught to memorize it word for word, before they even know what “liberty” or “justice” is. The pledge is a repetitive and meaningless stream of words for so many people- regardless of the content of the pledge. That is to say, even if it was agreeable to pledge yourself to such things as stated in the pledge- how is mindlessly reciting it making a difference, especially when so many people lack the understanding of its meaning?
Also, you said the following: “The role of government as we Democrats see it is to help and protect people. If you don’t believe that the government helps to make you and your children more safe you are totally ignorant of the thousands of rigorous requirements that food, drugs, automobiles, airliners, cribs, car seats, seat belts, air bags, electrical appliances must meet before they are allowed on the market.”
What is a government? It seems like “the government” is often used as an all-encompassing word in reference to, for example, laws that are made- with little emphasis on the people and important process behind these decisions. It has undeniable power for good or bad– but where does this power come from, and how do we affect what happens within the government?
Sorry if that was a lot of questions- I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I do think they are some of the more essential questions to really consider- instead of debating about “extremes” and trivial matters. But, then again…I may be wrong, and am open to other opinions of people who have given it some thought as well.
I am in high school, and I have long ago ceased reciting the Pledge each morning. In fact, I remain seated during the daily recitation. Each time, I cannot help but feel sorry for all the people around me saying it; I cannot help but feel sorry for all these people who have been brainwashed and manipulated into this mindless patriotism (I often refer to it as “nationalism,” as it is often taken to those extremes).
The Pledge of Allegiance is, I truly believe, a method of controlling the minds of young people. As we all know, children are the easiest to control, and they will conform to the views of their elders because they have no one else to turn to. Over time, after years of being spoon-fed ideologies on a golden platter, they often keep these views, and the politicians and elite use this to their advantage. The reason so many people think the United States is a free country that provides “liberty and justice for all” is because of this ideological brainwashing.
My parents have tried to persuade me to think otherwise about this. They both “love this country” and think that pledging one’s allegiance to it is a good thing. I do not know whether or not they are also oblivious to what is actually going on, or if they just choose to ignore it out of either fear or hope. I once debated with my father about it for hours, but neither was able to convince the other. My views have strengthened on the matter, actually.
Out of 128 comments, an “Anonymous” high school student nails it.
The thing that gets me with the idea of “brainwashing” and the “Pledge of Allegiance” is this…
If you were to say that people were “brainwashed” with religious ideology from a young age, say a Utahan growing up in a predominantly LDS community, rather than indoctrinated, you would get a defensive response saying that it isn’t brainwashing. I’ve been through this argument before.
Let’s look at the definition of “brainwash”
Brainwash- make (someone) adopt radically different beliefs by using systematic and often forcible pressure.
synonyms: indoctrinate, condition, reeducate, persuade, influence, propagandize, inculcate
I would choose the term “indoctrinate” more readily. By definition, Indoctrinate-teach (a person or group) to accept a set of beliefs uncritically. To teach or instruct (someone).
synonyms: brainwash, propagandize, proselytize, reeducate, persuade, convince, condition, program, mold, discipline;
Two terms, same outcome, no matter how you see it. Difference lies in the delivery and one term provokes more of a response from the entity receiving it.
Just a thought…
We are not pledging alegience to a piece of cloth. It is our flag, a symbol of our country and our way of life, FREEDOM. We are facing the flag while giving the pledge, thus we are pledging our alegience to our country and our countrymen “to” the flag. The greatest part of why I pledge to the flag my alegience. Another importnt reason that YOU might want to think about is that in many other countries that are not free like we are here, the citizens belong to the government and MUST pledge their alegience to the leader of their country. They could be killed for not going along. Here, you have the freedom to pledge or not pledge. I think you are being foolish. Of course, in THIS country, that is your right.
What exactly do you mean by ‘freedom’? I often hear people say that, but it seems to mean something else than what I think. I very rarely, if ever feel ‘free’ in the USA, and I was born here, and I have often wondered what the…. about freedom. Its some sort of slogan that people seem to repeat in such a way that it becomes meaningless….
You are entitled to your opinion. Have you ever served your country?
Splendid article. The pledge is even worse than you state. The Pledge of Allegiance was the origin of the Nazi salute and Nazi behavior under German socialism (see the work of the historian Dr. Rex Curry) http://rexcurry.net You should avoid the anonymous bulletin board known as wakipedia as they will not discuss this topic. The American socialists Francis Bellamy and Edward Bellamy influenced German socialists and other socialists globally.
Interesting, however I never did the pledge in that way. When did it change to the hand over the heart? And what is the origin of that? The article also mentions the alteration of the swastika to look more like an ‘s’. That is an ancient symbol, and many don’t know the difference between that and the original. To many its forever a bad symbol since its alteration. Even though it had a much longer period of use which had nothing to do with Nazi.
I thought about this blog yesterday as i sat through the pledge of allegience at a ward Independence Day activity. Prayers are better than pledges. Thanks Connor for being an educator, a peaceful fighter, and an example.
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