published Friday, July 27th, 2012

David Cook: Grand, tragic suit over prayer

Despite the tension — U.S. District Judge Harry S. "Sandy" Mattice called it "as emotional as it gets" — Thursday's preliminary hearing on the constitutionality of the Hamilton County Commission's prayer policy was a grand thing.

It was the American experience.

Two citizens — both under 30, dressed in coats and ties, one with a red pocket handkerchief — are attempting to change a government practice that's been in place as long as people can remember.

Using the Constitution, they're seeking an equal place at the table. Freedom not to pray. Their struggle is reminiscent of the long struggle of the American minority in this nation with its motto: In God We Trust.

During Thursday's hearing, the Declaration of Independence was quoted. Abraham Lincoln was mentioned.

The courtroom was a generational dichotomy: Lots of folks looked to be over 60; others under 25. One man walked through the packed courtroom wearing a blue necktie with a cross on it.

So despite the fact that — without some act of God — one side is going to lose, we must not lose sight of the democratic aspect of this lawsuit, which symbolizes what it means to be an American.

The making of a more perfect union.

Yet Thursday's hearing was also incredibly tragic.

It left me haunted with one question: What has become of Christianity in Hamilton County?

"Excluded."

"Unwelcome."

"Extremely out of place."

"They don't want me there."

These were the words plaintiff Tommy Coleman used during his testimony to describe his experience as an atheist attending the commission meetings. Coleman and Brandon Jones are suing the commission, asking for a moment of silence to replace the evangelical opening prayers that usually mention Jesus' name.

But I wonder if this lawsuit is not really about prayer. It seems more about the experience of being non-Christian in a very loud Christian society.

"It was clear he was there to attack us," Coleman testified about Calvin Nunley, pastor of Christ Family Church in Soddy-Daisy.

In June, after Coleman and Brooks had filed their suit, the commission invited Nunley to open its meeting. Nunley's prayer mentioned salvation, the cross, sin and end times.

"Lord, it is a tough day ... a time when people would be unthankful, unholy and ungrateful ... a time of lawlessness when men and women would choose to go their own way and ignore what is right," he prayed.

It sounded like an altar call. It belonged in a church.

"If they don't like our prayers," said Verna Donohoe, who was in court to support the commission, "then don't come to the meeting on time."

Commissioners Fred Skillern and Larry Henry said the prayers were part of a long-standing tradition. Both said the prayers helped them make decisions. Skillern said his constituents are in favor of prayer.

"The mass majority at Hardee's do," he said. "Every day, they tell me to keep it up."

I hope Skillern and Henry pray before making decisions. I sometimes pray before writing columns. But I don't stand up in the newsroom to do it.

Prayer should happen in a personal way. Jesus said not to pray in public. Go home. Shut the door. Don't use it publicly as a way to divide.

"I felt really out of place," Amira Laham, who was in court Thursday, said about her experience attending a commission meeting. "Ostracized."

She's Muslim. Since Friday, when Ramadan began, she's been fasting from dawn until dusk. No food. No water.

The lawsuit begs us to expand our definition of prayer, to get past the single-minded idea that the microphoned prayer is more worthwhile than if each commissioner fell to bended knee — or fasted from food or drink, or just sat in silence — before each meeting.

Jesus asked his followers to be servants, the last one in line, the least of these. To turn the other cheek, and to place the needs of others before one's own.

The commission — with all its talk of Jesus — should seek reconciliation, not victory. Its point should not be to defeat. It should lose, in order to win. Instead, it bullies and excludes.

America is better than that.

about David Cook...

David Cook is the award-winning city columnist for the Times Free Press, working in the same building where he began his post-college career as a sportswriter for the Chattanooga Free Press. Cook, who graduated from Red Bank High, holds a master's degree in Peace and Justice Studies from Prescott College and an English degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. For 12 years, he was a teacher at the middle, high school and university ...

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Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.

The very attempts to defend the conduct are meaningful enough.

July 27, 2012 at 12:22 a.m.
John_Proctor said...

To paraphrase the old but true saying, "Jesus save me from your followers."

July 27, 2012 at 6:55 a.m.

The initial response of commissioners and of those who offered invocations was defensive and inappropriate. They should model their prayers on those deemed acceptable for legislative invocations in the U.S. for more than 200 years: charitable, focused on good government, and sensitive to religious diversity. This can be accomplished without compromising the distinctive features of Christian prayers.

Though their initial response was unhelpful, constitutional protections for free speech and free religious expression should not be abandoned in this case, as the plaintiffs are suggesting. The suit is not grand and tragic. It is reactionary and wasteful, and it could have been avoided by the plaintiffs having a better grasp of American history and the Constitution and by both sides exercising common courtesy. (The Golden Rule comes to mind.) To sacrifice basic American liberties because you take offense at the use of those liberties by people with whom you disagree is ill-advised. The plaintiffs should develop thicker skin and a deeper appreciation of the First Amendment.

“In light of the history, there can be no doubt that the practice of opening legislative sessions with prayer has become part of the fabric of our society. To invoke divine guidance on a public body entrusted with making the laws is not, in these circumstances, a violation of the Establishment Clause; it is simply a tolerable acknowledgment of beliefs widely held among the people of this country.”

[SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES 463 U.S. 783 Marsh v. Chambers No. 82-23 Argued: April 20, 1983 --- Decided: July 5, 1983 Held: The Nebraska Legislature's chaplaincy practice does not violate the Establishment Clause.]

*http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0463_0783_ZS.html

July 27, 2012 at 8:45 a.m.
conservative said...

"The commission — with all its talk of Jesus — should seek reconciliation, not victory. Its point should not be to defeat. It should lose, in order to win. Instead, it bullies and excludes."

So, "reconcilliation" in the view of this Liberal is to give in to two atheists who want no prayer at all?

July 27, 2012 at 8:45 a.m.
Yano said...

Face it, the commissioners will never settle for inclusive, respectful prayer. They will stick to fire and brimstone, arrogance and pride and exclusion and damnation. Anybody who doesn't like it is supposed to not be there.

Like David Cook says, tragic.

July 27, 2012 at 9:18 a.m.
librul said...

Good one, Mr. Cook.

"There are two visions of America. One precedes our founding fathers and finds its roots in the harshness of our Puritan past. It is very suspicious of freedom, uncomfortable with diversity hostile to science, unfriendly to reason, contemptuous of personal autonomy. It sees America as a religious nation. It views patriotism as allegiance to God. It secretly adores coercion and conformity. Despite our constitution, despite the legacy of the Enlightenment, it appeals to millions of Americans and threatens our freedom.

"The other vision finds its roots in the spirit of our founding revolution and in the leaders of this nation who embraced the age of reason. It loves freedom, encourages diversity, embraces science and affirms the dignity and rights of every individual. It sees America as a moral nation, neither completely religious nor completely secular. It defines patriotism as love of country and of the people who make it strong. It defends all citizens against all unjust coercion and irrational conformity.

"This second vision is our vision. It is the vision of a free society. We must be bold enough to proclaim it and strong enough to defend it against all its enemies."

-- Sherwin T Wine, service, The Birmingham Temple, Farmington Hills, Michigan, October 21, 1988, quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, "The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom".

So ...

It is clear that the vision of our founding fathers is under attack in the Hamilton County Commission room. It remains to be seen whether our judiciary is up to the task of defending it.

July 27, 2012 at 9:23 a.m.

The founders knew nothing of such rigid dichotomies and bigoted caricatures. In light of America’s religious diversity, they adopted policies of accommodation, courtesy, and compromise. The failure of both sides to grasp this is responsible for the acrimony.

July 27, 2012 at 9:48 a.m.
Leaf said...

I'm not enough of a constitutional scholar to be able to predict who will win the case. However, I know something about common courtesy and being a good host. A good host makes his guests feel welcome, whoever they are. Obviously non-Christians were not made welcome by the commission. That is ungentlemanly and non-democratic behavior.

The word 'politics' has the same root as the word 'polite'. I think we've forgotten that.

July 27, 2012 at 10:17 a.m.
librul said...

Au contraire WWWTW - the founders were painfully aware of rigid dichotomies and bigoted caricatures and of the centuries of pain and suffering caused by them throughout European history. This was precisely why they opted for a government of the people where all are considered equal and which derives its just powers from the consent of the governed, not the decrees of any one ruler or religion.

The fact that they comprised an exclusively prosperous, white man's club which formed a government in which women were not allowed to participate and blacks were just considered animal property and Native Americans just troublesome savages ripe for extermination certainly does give us reason to see their supposed "accomodation, courtesy and compromise" as extending only to the members of their little club. They were not perfect nor was their government. But it was at least given a mechanism of refinement and improvement.

But we are seeing a resurgence of things anathema to all the refinements of the last 220 years. A resurgence of imperial ambition, and of the basest forms of discrimination. The possession of more wealth by the richest 400 people in America than the next 160 million citizens combined and a high court that has affirmed their right to use wealth to determine the outcome of elections and policies of our government - these are poisonous to democracy. There is a resurgent undercurrent among our newly burgeoning plutocratic class which, it is clear, does not think everyone should have the right to vote, or equal access to government, or equal treatment under the law or the right to freely assemble and seek redress of their grievances. The gathering clouds are quite dark and to say America is at a tipping point is an understatement indeed.

But in their day, the founders were well educated and open-minded and bitter enemies of the absolute corruption associated with monarchy married to any single religion. And I do believe they would have strong words of censure for our far less enlightened commissioners.

July 27, 2012 at 11:03 a.m.

I would hope that if exposed to the modern world, that many (though not all, no, not all) of the founding fathers would adapt and recognize the inequalities they themselves perpetuated.

However that's water under the bridge, since they certainly would not have us subsume our own reasoning and consideration to what we believe their will to be. Their own actions show that they were quite willing to make a declaration or two of their own rather than rely on the historical precedents.

And yes, they know a lot about the problems of religion, being familiar with Oliver Cromwell, the Puritans, the Thirty-Years War, the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation, the Crusades...and even their own colonial histories.

Anyway, the County Commission's own defenders have effectively guaranteed the practice will end, because their own support is expressly based on their theocratic desires. As such the judge will have to ignore the stated preference which violates established laws and protocols.

And you can bet Congress would be in trouble if they tried to make a religious statement of dominance in their invocation. In fact, some erstwhile Christians were quite adamantly opposed to such a thing, though in that case it was just their fancies about the Muslim faith, not a real concern.

July 27, 2012 at 12:46 p.m.
LibDem said...

Once again, politicians have made Christianity a cheap campaign poster.

July 27, 2012 at 3:11 p.m.

librul said... The fact that they comprised an exclusively prosperous, white man's club which formed a government in which women were not allowed to participate and blacks were just considered animal property and Native Americans just troublesome savages ripe for extermination certainly does give us reason to see their supposed "accomodation, courtesy and compromise" as extending only to the members of their little club. They were not perfect nor was their government. But it was at least given a mechanism of refinement and improvement.

But in their day, the founders were well educated and open-minded and bitter enemies of the absolute corruption associated with monarchy married to any single religion.

If you could only learn to read in context, you would understand that I didn’t use "accommodation, courtesy and compromise" to describe their every decision or action. They certainly had feet of clay, committing several injustices, oversights, and failures of courage. The context of my statement shows that I was referring to their admirable efforts to establish religious freedom among a denominationally diverse citizenry accustomed to state churches. Their model has been adapted by other countries, as well as the states here in America when they eventually disestablished their own state churches. In no way did the founders ignore or reject the positive role of the Christian religion on good governance. Far from it. There are plenty of scholarly works which present a much more balanced and accurate picture than the baseless assumptions you have bought into. Still, begin by reading what they actually wrote (and practiced) with regard to the role religion in society (http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/)

“Rigid dichotomies” was in reference to your idiotic construal of reason as the enemy of faith. None of the founders were so simplistic or historically ill-informed as you (or the ridiculous diatribes that you read as sources rather than the writings of the founders themselves). (Cutting and pasting quotes out of context doesn’t count as having read their writings.) The Bible and the classics formed the core of their education, which took place in schools and universities begun and led by Christian scholars and clergy. They knew better than to marginalize religion – certainly not the religion that had given their civilization its greatest universities, scientists, artists, composers, and philosophers – thinkers like John Locke, who applied Christian doctrines (e.g. original sin) to address important public issues such as the need to limit the power and scope of governments. Locke regarded the pitting of faith against reason as misguided and unenlightened. http://www.libraries.psu.edu/tas/locke/bib/ch0i.html

July 27, 2012 at 9 p.m.

LibDem said... Once again, politicians have made Christianity a cheap campaign poster.

Indeed. Been going on for a long time. It’s part of why politicians want to keep us in the dark about the real thing. It will cause us to look elsewhere for a messiah.

July 27, 2012 at 9:12 p.m.
Easy123 said...

wwwtw,

"They knew better than to marginalize religion – certainly not the religion that had given their civilization its greatest universities, scientists, artists, composers, and philosophers – thinkers like John Locke"

The Church had a monopoly on education. Think how much more advanced society would be if all those scientists and philosophers didn't have to fall in line with Church doctrine for hundreds of years. Galileo comes to mind. All these people excelled in spite of Christianity, not because of it.

July 27, 2012 at 10:48 p.m.
librul said...

WWWTW - Don't complain about other's inability to "read in context" since it's very difficult to discern any contextual consistency in your brief posts.

July 27, 2012 at 10:59 p.m.

Some of the founding fathers, you might find, were quite aware of the negatives of religion and churches as well.

Others were perhaps less perspicacious.

July 27, 2012 at 11:23 p.m.
jriddle said...

WWWTW said... "Though their initial response was unhelpful, constitutional protections for free speech and free religious expression should not be abandoned in this case, as the plaintiffs are suggesting... To sacrifice basic American liberties because you take offense at the use of those liberties by people with whom you disagree is ill-advised."

That presumes there's some "right" to have government endorse one's religious practices, and that if one is precluded from securing such privileged official status for said religious practices over those of everyone else, one is being oppressed.

You will find support for granting this privileged status in custom (which is what the court found in Marsh v. Chambers), but there's no escaping the fact that it stomps all over the principle of religious liberty, and in a most brutal manner. We can debate the advisability of these prayers in the abstract, but there's absolutely no case to be made for anyone's rights being violated if this practice of granting privileged status to them was to be ended.

July 28, 2012 at 2:39 a.m.

happywithnewbulbs said... Some of the founding fathers, you might find, were quite aware of the negatives of religion and churches as well. Others were perhaps less perspicacious.

One or two were atheists. A few others were influenced by Deism. The overwhelming majority saw the positive contributions of religion, specifically Christianity, to good government, even if their own beliefs actions were not always consistent with its teachings. It was state-established denominations (i.e. Anglican or Roman) that they had a problem with. Their concern was not only with the negative effects of such establishment on the health of the republic, but also on the declining health of the churches in England and France, for example. Again, reading the texts of their debates, correspondences, proclamations, and explanations of the First amendment makes this abundantly clear.

They never conceived of removing prayers or invocations from the affairs of state, hence their funding of chaplains in Congress and their support of Inaugural invocations and, surprisingly to us, church services in the chambers of the Supreme Court and the House of Representatives (attended regularly by President Jefferson). http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/rel06-2.html Franklin suggested that the Continental Congreess open with prayers by local Christian clergy. The first of them went like this:

“O Lord our Heavenly Father, high and mighty King of kings, and Lord of lords, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers on earth and reignest with power supreme and uncontrolled over all the Kingdoms, Empires and Governments; look down in mercy, we beseech Thee, on these our American States, who have fled to Thee from the rod of the oppressor and thrown themselves on Thy gracious protection, desiring to be henceforth dependent only on Thee …

“Be Thou present, O God of wisdom, and direct the councils of this honorable assembly; enable them to settle things on the best and surest foundation. That the scene of blood may be speedily closed; that order, harmony and peace may be effectually restored, and truth and justice, religion and piety, prevail and flourish amongst the people. Preserve the health of their bodies and vigor of their minds; shower down on them and the millions they here represent, such temporal blessings as Thou seest expedient for them in this world and crown them with everlasting glory in the world to come. All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Savior. Amen.”

Reverend Jacob Duché, Rector of Christ Church of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (The Prayer in the First Congress, A.D. 1774, September 7, 1774)

July 28, 2012 at 11:20 a.m.

jriddle said... We can debate the advisability of these prayers in the abstract, but there's absolutely no case to be made for anyone's rights being violated if this practice of granting privileged status to them was to be ended.

An invitation to prayer is not an endorsement, nor is it a grant of privileged status. As conceived and practiced by Benjamin Franklin and the other founders, it is an exercise of constitutional freedoms guaranteeing free speech and freedom of religion. None of the founders agreed with everything that was prayed, but they valued freedom and religion too much to exclude religious speech in the form of prayers from constitutional protection. Their sensibilities were not so fragile as to preclude religious speech or prayers, even when they must have bristled at the content of them.

Where is the evidence (historical or legal) that religious speech at public meetings and ceremonies was excluded from First Amendment protections in the era of the founders?

July 28, 2012 at 11:27 a.m.
lkeithlu said...

WWWTW, conducting SECTARIAN prayer is an endorsement and a grant of privileged status.

July 28, 2012 at 11:36 a.m.
godvsgood said...

So tell me CONSERVATIVE, silent prayer is NOT prayer??? You stated - "So, "reconcilliation" in the view of this Liberal is to give in to two atheists who want no prayer at all?". Or are you just trying to keep the bulls41t going? The plaintiffs are NOT trying to eliminate prayer. (But there is certainly merit for that!)

Leaf...that's the most eloquent comment yet. Very thoughtful and insightful response!

July 28, 2012 at 11:37 a.m.

whats_wrong_with_the_world, in other words, they recognized the problems with religion. Thanks for noticing, you don't need to be quite so one-sided in your presentation, you can try to recognize they were able to see the situation rather than attempt to co-opt them to your side.

But actually they VERY EXPLICITLY conceived of removing prayers and invocations from affairs of state. You're getting so caught up in your own hyperbole that you don't realize your mistake.

From Article VI of the US Constitution:

"but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

I know, I know, you want them to be on your side, so you can claim "Ah hah, look these great people agree with me" but your own argument is not backed up by a clear view of the details, not that it's a good argument in the first place. It's really bad to try to rely on such an argument, as I said, they would be the first to say that you shouldn't do that.

Besides, the real prohibition here comes from the Tennessee Constitution, not the US Federal one. Why do you ignore it? Our state has very explicit provisions, and yes, it turns out that inviting specific people to pray is a problem. You as an individual are fine to pray at a public meeting. The county commissioners acting in the capacity of their office (as they have done in regards to their prayers) are not.

Why?

Because the state says this:

That all men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience; that no man can of right be compelled to attend, erect, or support any place of worship, or to maintain any minister against his consent; that no human authority can, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience; and that no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment or mode of worship.

Sorry, but they've bucked that trend way too much.

July 28, 2012 at 11:48 a.m.

JonRoss, no JonRoss, intolerance of intolerance is not intolerance.

Keep reaching for that bit of sophistry, the more you try it, the more you show how you'd rather present yourself as a victim than admit your own faults.

July 28, 2012 at 11:54 a.m.
Easy123 said...

JonRoss,

The people of those cities also have the right to free speech. They have every right to criticize and boycott this company for it's egregious bigotry.

"Especially when you look at the horrible issues these cities have because of the leftists that control them."

False assumption based on zero evidence.

July 28, 2012 at 12:07 p.m.

Please identify what threats they have made. Give us specific examples of their exact words.

Have they threatened to burn down Chik-Fil-A's? Confine Chik-Fil-A executives into a concentration camp till they die? Put bulls-eyes on lists of Chik-Fil-A executives and presented them as a hit list?

No?

What precisely have they done and said? Can you provide an example of any form of official action on their part?

Or are you of the opinion that alleged "Christians" are not to be criticized for anything, that such is forbidden, that no disapproval can be expressed of them for their conduct? No disagreement is tolerated with the ways of the Right-wing? Or it seems you're just concerned that you don't get to persecute the Muslims for false reasons, so genuine criticisms of admitted positions of Christian intolerance aren't allowed. See your problem is you have people like Michelle Bachmann making wild accusations against Muslims, which you endorse wholeheartedly, even when they're shown to lack substance, then want us to accept that you're persecuted when a belief that actually has substance is the subject of criticism?

Right, keep playing your victim game.

But no, those cities don't have horrible issues because of the leftists. They have issues because their ability to act is restrained by rural and suburban communities that drain the cities resources for their own benefit.

Just check the flow of tax dollars.

July 28, 2012 at 12:16 p.m.

lkeithlu said... WWWTW, conducting SECTARIAN prayer is an endorsement and a grant of privileged status.

Again, familiarity with the words and practices of the Constitution’s authors and proponents can clear up your confusion as to what they meant by “Sectarian.” (The library of Congress site linked above is a good place to peruse a sampling of those documents. I think they also have links to, if not pages containing, the full texts on the site.)

The founders’ concerns were that ministers’ salaries not be supported with tax money, that religious opinions not be a legal qualification to serve in public offices, and that any one denomination not be promoted or excluded from the opportunity to participate in public prayers and other matters of state related to religion (i.e. military chaplaincies). If you can prove that such is happening at the commission, you have a case. Otherwise, you don’t have legal or historical grounds to muzzle the invocations, as the court will likely decide. The new policy is in line with historical, bi-partisan interpretations of the First Amendment. If practiced consistently, it will clear up a lot of the confusion. I bet they’ll even allow you a turn to lead in a moment of silence if you ask them. Why violate the Constitution and exclude others? The religion clause of the First Amendment is pluralistic. Your alternative is exclusionary.

July 28, 2012 at 12:24 p.m.
Easy123 said...

JonRoss,

You mean their hate of bigotry.

July 28, 2012 at 12:26 p.m.
Easy123 said...

JonRoss,

Now you're getting it!

July 28, 2012 at 12:32 p.m.

JonRoss, really, you can produce evidence of this hit list then? As opposed to recognizing their intolerance and not being silent on it, even though that upsets you, it's not actually a threat.

I guess you feel you're a victim of persecution since you don't get to persecute others.

But hey, what should we do about the people injured or damaged by Chik-Fil-A's conduct? Have you heard how they've dismissed women from jobs on account of their gender?

I guess you want them to have the right to do what they want though, that's very important to you. You have to be free to be intolerant of others, otherwise you're not being tolerated.

Your sophistry continues to be hysterical.

whats_wrong_with_the_world, the commission's own conduct reveals the nature of their actions as they invited specific speakers, the details of which have been related numerous times, they even chose to have their attorney say a prayer, the wording of which was quite explicitly intolerant and rejecting of others who questioned them. Not to mention the words of their own supporters who believe that the prayers ARE the place to deny others.

The commission's attempt to implement a neutral option was reactionary, and that puts it into question, since they only did it as a way to try to cover their asses.

And that's not even getting into the actual results. It is possible to have a policy that seems neutral on its face but is actually implemented in a discriminatory way.

Sorry, but their actions speak for themselves.

July 28, 2012 at 12:32 p.m.

happywithnewbulbs said... But actually they VERY EXPLICITLY conceived of removing prayers and invocations from affairs of state. You're getting so caught up in your own hyperbole that you don't realize your mistake. From Article VI of the US Constitution: "but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

Having trouble finding the words “prayer” or “invocations” that article (or anywhere in the Constitution). A little help? Would be ironic if they WERE prohibited there since the sessions that adopted the Constitution opened with prayers. This whole controversy at commission meetings could be resolved over a meal with a genuine effort to mend fences and heal bruised egos. Maybe David Cook could say grace.

It's really bad to try to rely on such an argument, as I said, they would be the first to say that you shouldn't do that.

But … they themselves DID that – allow invocations and public prayers. (See quotes and links above.) Can you prove otherwise? You have yet to do so.

That all men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience; that no man can of right be compelled to attend, erect, or support any place of worship, or to maintain any minister against his consent; that no human authority can, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience; and that no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment or mode of worship.

The new policy addresses your concerns. When they force you to attend or financially support a church, or agree with the content of the prayers, then you’ve got a case.

July 28, 2012 at 12:39 p.m.

wwwtw: Then you need to look up the history of that provision. Believe it or not, there was a time before you could take office (or be anointed as king, if you want to consider that), that you had to have the support of the Church.

That's why there is no religious test that can be required. Can they pray? Sure, but they can't require it in any form.

We're talking about the founding fathers in that respect though, not the County Commission.

The County Commission is bound by the state Constitution, which I mentioned above, and it offers other prohibitions. And no, the commission can't admit they made a mistake, that's beyond their capacity.

They'll have to be told by a judge not to do it, and grouse about it, and complain, and waste more money. About the only good outcome from that would be if they pulled a Judge Roy Moore and got fired en masse. Then we'd be free of their corruption in general.

That's a separate problem though.

And no, you don't understand why your attempt at appealing to them is wrong on two levels. See your argument is based on the premise that we must do as they did. That it why you are appealing to them. You think you can just say "Oh, but look at them, they did things this way, we should too" and even leaving aside the inaccuracy of your claims to supporting YOUR agenda, it's still a bad argument. You should know better. They would have. Notice how they said so. Can you find where?

And their new policy is too late, they're already on record for their real agenda, as such, their new policy is recognized for the sham it is. If they'd implemented it from the start, it might be believable, but not now. Sorry, but the rest of us don't have to be trusting fools. Especially when we've seen the words of the supporters of it, such as telling others to shut up, be silent themselves, or just leave. It's kinda hard to live down that kind of thing.

JonRoss, as opposed to the right-wing politicians that whip up fear and hysteria over others, falsely proclaiming to be the victims and seeking to defend themselves from others persecuting them for their own intolerance.

Yeah, all you want is freedom, the freedom to oppress others. Poor persecuted you, you're being so unfairly restrained. You're just worried about acts of violence, you don't have any intent to do so yourself. None at all. You're a peace-loving folk, who never suggests that homosexuals be put in concentration camps, never brings up the idea of secession...again, never ever ever has any sovereign citizen railed against the government and threatened violence. Never...except when they have.

July 28, 2012 at 12:44 p.m.

The actions of the founders clearly demonstrate that they did not interpret the Constitution as you do. That’s my point in referencing them. You can’t just interpret it according to whether or not you, as a citizen, approve of a particular exercise of the freedoms it recognizes. If you don’t like one of the Constitution's articles or amendments, there is a process for amending or removing it. And the process is DEMOCRATIC: it doesn’t by-pass the judgment of citizens by appealing to the oligarchy of court-created laws.

You have yet to reference a Constitutional provision (or ANY law) that prohibits prayer ANYWHERE. It's because you can't. Ante up.

July 28, 2012 at 1:01 p.m.

JonRoss, yeah, you're just interested in secession so you're free to prosper, not because you want the freedom to be the kind of dicks the rest of the US won't let you be. Sorry, but you played that card and loss.

whats_wrong_with_the_world, again, you are not understanding what I am saying, but just repeating yourself. I get that you believe the Founding Fathers are on your side, I consider you in error about that, but even leaving that aside, your premise is still flawed. Why? Please try to pay attention to what I'm saying: the actions of the Founders clearly demonstrate that they did not consider themselves beholden to the past, but were able to make their own decisions, not be bound to the chains of hte path.

Your point in referencing them is appeal to their presumed authority which serves to invalidate the very reason they acted as they did, as instead of actually having to consider your own conduct on its own merits, you can just cloak yourself with somebody else's authority.

Which reveals why it's silly to pretend we could amend things, not that we need to do so, as you wouldn't us do anything of the sort, you are so stuck on doing what you believe, and justifying it by appealing to the founding fathers that you can't even consider discussing things in any kind of reasonable terms on their own basis.

And no, that process of Amendment is NOT democratic, notice how there's no provision for citizen's referendums in it. Again, you are so dedicated to perpetuating your own myths that you don't realize how mistaken your claims are.

This is why your method of argumentation fails, you keep making appeals that rely on things that aren't true.

Not that the people can vote on things as they like, there's plenty of good reasons to show why that's a problem too.

July 28, 2012 at 1:12 p.m.
Easy123 said...

JonRoss,

Everything you say is B.S.

July 28, 2012 at 1:20 p.m.

JonRoss, yes, you want your intolerance and discrimination to prosper, otherwise you'd just be oppressed. And let's see, you just blamed the left/Progs/Dems for the country. Huh, I guess you are showing how the right/Cons/Reps idea of responsibility is holding everybody else accountable but never being responsible themselves.

But keep believing that the Mexican gangs would have been unarmed, that's the lie that you really have to live by. That's why you have to blame Eric Holder, because otherwise you'd be admitting there was a valid reason to investigate the chain of gun sales.

July 28, 2012 at 1:26 p.m.
Easy123 said...

JonRoss,

Thank you for proving my point again and again.

July 28, 2012 at 1:30 p.m.

happywithnewbulbs said... I consider you in error about that, but even leaving that aside, your premise is still flawed.

Allow me to be clearer: Where is the constitutional or historical evidence for your opinions? You provide none. Zero. Re-statement of your opinion or those of your friends doesn’t count as evidence.

The courts often invoke the actions of the founders to clarify the Constitution’s meaning. (See case cited above or any other constitutional case that has EVER come before the courts.) Can you cite constitution-related court cases that do not do this? Do your homework. Ante up.

"And no, that process of Amendment is NOT democratic"

I stand corrected. It is republican. However, it is clearly not accomplished through the courts, as revisionists like you assert.

After I return from doing a few (of the many) more productive things than argue with you logic-averse, evidence-deprived sophists, I’ll check again for your evidence. (I admit that I’m not optimistic that you’ll provide any.)

July 28, 2012 at 1:37 p.m.
Easy123 said...

JonRoss,

Everything you just presented is Right-wing propaganda. Geez, you are eat up with the dumbass.

You're brain is far past the pants crapping stage. It just accepts anything Fox News says. You're mind is compromised.

July 28, 2012 at 1:41 p.m.

JonRoss, no, I'm saying that your attempts to blame Eric Holder are fabrications. Supplying guns to Mexican gangs? It's like you'd have us believe they were handing them out of the backs of trucks. That was actually Reagan and the Contras.

July 28, 2012 at 1:56 p.m.

whats_wrong_with_the_world, actually I've pointed to several things you have overlooked and ignored in your representations. You've just blown past them in your single-minded dedicated to garnering their support for your agenda. That's why I won't bother with more. You believe they're on your side, and that's not going to change regardless of what I say.

Since I don't consider you open to reasoning, nor do I consider your attempt to appeal to their authority as valid, it's just not something I'm going to bother worrying about. You are a logic-twisting, cherry-picking advocate whose argument is based on what you contend to be evidence, but only proves that you think we must do as the founders did. So you aren't even open to a discussion of the concerns today, but stuck in a blind devotion to what you believe is the past.

And if you want to go with the Supreme Court, you can find numerous examples in their own dissents and repudiations of how false appeals to the "Founding Fathers" end up. Admittedly they couldn't say "So and So was a lying idiot who tortuously justified his own misconduct in a hypocritical pretense at the virtue of letting people be free to be as they are" but they did manage a few statements here and there.

But you don't care. You just want to appeal to an authority, and not be challenged on the merits of the actual situation. That's why you keep appealing to them. That way you don't have to argue anything for today. Just claim the dead are on your side.

And that's why the courts need to be involved, to be active, and not just hidebound sticklers for the past, because people like you would obstruct and prevent every improvement, every protection of rights, while falsely claiming that you are doing things the way they are meant to be.

You know why I know that's a lie? Because how the people you purport to follow didn't act the way you would have us act, but stood on their own. You won't, you'll just cling to them. And because of the decades of discriminatory legislation that followed the Civil War. The Courts spent far too long engaging in indifference, in a hands-off approach that followed exactly what you wanted.

That was not right. It lead to injustice and oppression. And you want to go back to that. Because you feel victimized by the Courts standing up to your desires.

You're just like JonRoss, pretending to be a victim. Pretending that the way to freedom comes from doing nothing. Pretending that you'd actually be open to the idea of genuine reform, and not obstructionist...as you are here, with your continued appeals to the past.

You think we can't notice how you're behaving? You think we'll believe you'd actually give credit to the notion of any kind of reform?

Nope. You'd go into hysterics about it, all while completely ignoring that those you seem to worship would be aghast at your reverence of them.

You'll never get past that. Ever.

July 28, 2012 at 1:58 p.m.
jriddle said...

WWWTW said... "An invitation to prayer is not an endorsement, nor is it a grant of privileged status."

It's not an "invitation to prayer" at issue, but, rather, a government-sanctioned prayer; it's not a matter of individuals exercising their liberties, it's a matter of government exercising a power it does not properly have (regardless of custom); and ignoring what I wrote, rather than engaging with it, doesn't advance your cause an inch.

July 28, 2012 at 2:17 p.m.
jriddle said...

Happywithnewbulbs, you make an important point, here, sort of the same one for which I was trying from a slightly different angle. We're not bound by the readings given to the words of The Great And Powerful Founding Fathers by those Great And Powerful Founding Fathers in their lifetimes. The fellows who preached that "all men are created equal" included neither women nor slaves--most of the population at that time--under that formulation. When we say "all men are created equal" today, we mean everyone--that principle has a much broader application than the founders were ever able (or willing) to give it in practice in their day.

As I wrote above, you'll find support for granting privileged status to a particular faction's religious exercises in custom, but "there's no escaping the fact that it stomps all over the principle of religious liberty, and in a most brutal manner." James Madison, the author of the 1st Amendment, recognized this, and opposed the move, by congress, to open its sessions with prayer.

July 28, 2012 at 2:48 p.m.

jriddle, indeed they'd rather just do what they think the founders did, regardless of the more foundational principle of deciding what to do based on standing on their own reasoning. That it coincide with what they want to do is to be expected, but it's not persuasive.

July 28, 2012 at 3:25 p.m.
lkeithlu said...

What it comes down to is that certain people (in this case Christian fundamentalists) hold their prayers because they assume that they are right, and the rest of us NEED to hear it. It's not a matter of exercising their religion freely, what matters is that they communicate to the rest of us what we need to hear. That other religious traditions are wrong, there is only one way to salvation, and all this is for our own good.

July 28, 2012 at 5:55 p.m.

happywithnewbulbs said... your single-minded dedicated to garnering their support for your agenda.

Call me rigid, but I, for one, favor using evidence to support my positions or to refute the positions of others. And you are correct that, in this thread, I have refused to allow name-calling to divert me from addressing the constitutionality of having invocations at county commission meetings, which is the issue at hand.

Since I don't consider you open to reasoning, nor do I consider your attempt to appeal to their authority as valid, it's just not something I'm going to bother worrying about.

“open to reasoning” (= agreeing with happy)

“appeal to their authority” (= provide a shred of evidence to support one’s positions)

“it's just not something I'm going to bother worrying about” (= I’m incapable of refuting your positions and addressing the supporting evidence for them, so I’ll just accuse you falsely and then go back to my nap.) (Looks like lkeithlu just woke up from hers.)

you think we must do as the founders did.

Not entirely, but what they did is germane to a discussion of constitutional law. The content and context of THE CONSTITUTION does apply to court cases challenging the CONSTITUTIONALITY of current practices. I stand in good company in believing so. Why is that simple principle so difficult for you to grasp? (Good luck in court.)

So you aren't even open to a discussion of the concerns today, but stuck in a blind devotion to what you believe is the past.

Not blind, but yes, an intractable devotion to the Constitution’s applicability to alleged breaches of legal rights in the present. Such vigilance is the price of liberty. But alas, you are unwilling to pay it.

But you don't care. You just want to appeal to an authority, and not be challenged on the merits of the actual situation. That's why you keep appealing to them. That way you don't have to argue anything for today. Just claim the dead are on your side.

For the umpteenth time, the practice of legislative invocations is constitutional. The Supreme Court has declared them to be so. Some people on both sides of the local debate are self-centered bullies. History is relevant to the present, and history is on the side of the court’s opinion, not yours. The burden of proof is on you to prove otherwise.

July 28, 2012 at 6 p.m.

… the decades of discriminatory legislation that followed the Civil War. The Courts spent far too long engaging in indifference, in a hands-off approach that followed exactly what you wanted. That was not right. It lead to injustice and oppression. And you want to go back to that … Pretending that the way to freedom comes from doing nothing. Pretending that you'd actually be open to the idea of genuine reform, and not obstructionist...as you are here, with your continued appeals to the past.

When those unjust laws were finally repealed, they were repealed though the constitutional process for doing so. The litigants and bill sponsors appealed to the Constitution and other founding documents. They didn’t simply report the experiences, opinions, and feelings of the aggrieved. The cases were decided by rule of law, not just personal sympathy for the victims. And there is a hierarchy with regard to rule of law. The Constitution happens to be the highest law of our land, so yes, it is pertinent to all legal matters. The courts (rightly) decided that those laws were incompatible with basic constitutional principles, and they overturned them on that basis.

If we had waited for your standard to be met – that laws are invalid if ANYONE wound up being offended by the exercise of constitutional freedoms or basic human rights – reform would never have come about. Since abolitionists and civil rights advocates argued that parts of the Constitution itself were unjust, they even appealed to a law higher than the Constitution – one that applies to all human beings. But you would really go nuts if you took the time to read the Declaration of Independence, where they identified the source of basic human rights. The identification of that source and those rights provided the crucial support for overturning slavery and Jim Crow laws.

You'll never get past that. Ever.

You still offer no evidence to support your opinions. You’re simply ignoring any evidence than undermines your silly positions. Your opinions are not authoritative when it comes to matters of law. Appealing to the Constitution is a far more reasonable standard. Of course, you DON’T KNOW its contents, and you’re too lazy to read or refer to it or its historical context, which explains why you are unable to use it to substantiate your opinions. (See my posts on other threads about the importance of reading documents and passages of documents IN CONTEXT.) You did cite one of the Constitution’s Articles which has nothing to doing with the topic at hand. The average 10-year-old could probably help you with your comprehension skills.

You’re correct. I will never accept the rule of men and ill-conceived opinions as more authoritative than the rule of law. Good luck in court. You would have to go back even before the time of the founders to reject rule of law. In fact, I dare you to read Lex Rex. You'll never guess who wrote it and who read it.

July 28, 2012 at 6:01 p.m.

whats_wrong_with_the_world, I can't find anywhere in this thread where you've been subjected to name-calling. Why are you complaining about that? Did you find it hard ignoring JonRoss's typical trolling or something? And it's funny, you just said a 10-year old could help me with my comprehension skills. Now that's what I'd call a personal comment that is true name-calling. Try not to be guilty of the crimes you complain about in others. You would be a lot less rude if you simply said that somebody didn't understand you. But you probably feel justified in that kind of characterization, without even realizing that it makes you look bad, not me. I actually find that a lot of right-wing commentators on this site make the same sort of claims, and when you make it as well, I come to the conclusion that I'm more likely to be right than wrong in my assessment of you. Unfair? Perhaps, but I'd be a fool to ignore what I can regularly see happening.

Anyway yes, you have been single-minded, unfortunately that's the problem because when somebody says something to contradict what you believe, you just don't listen.

See what you said about the founding fathers knowing nothing about "rigid dichotomies and bigoted caricatures" which have been disputed already in this thread. How much effort do you want put into refuting that? Do you really think they didn't know anything about history?

Of course it's still a poor argument to try to hang your hat on them as your authority, when they're not even around to say their thoughts, but you keep doing that.

Continued.

July 28, 2012 at 7:12 p.m.
Easy123 said...

JonRoss,

"Reagan never used taxpayer money to kill a U.S. citizen in an effort to subvert the constitution, unlike Barack Vladimir Obama."

Right-wing, Fox News, Conservative B.S. Propaganda. You're eat up with it. Once again, you're mentally compromised. What's it like being so misinformed?

July 28, 2012 at 7:17 p.m.

And hey look, now you're saying you have to follow the Constitution or else risk liberty. My problem with that is I've found that those who make such claims are the ones most likely to be the problem. So to me, one of the most important things we must be vigilant about is slavish devotion to the Constitution. Many abuses have been implemented due to that kind of reasoning, so we actually have to be more watchful. It's a pernicious attitude as "The rule of law" is far too often why we stray from actual justice. Especially since men are the creators of law, the law does not exist on its own. That's why it's so prone to be flawed.

But hey, go ahead and say I don't know the Constitution, that I'm too lazy to understand it, when you're the one who doesn't understand the real truth. It's the work of man.

As for the court cases, again, I think you have it wrong. Both sides made arguments based on the premises of the laws and documents. What tipped the scale? One important thing: Justices recognizing that the real problems could not be ignored by simply relying on bickering over interpretations of what the law meant.

That took a lot of moral courage though, and it still gets them flack. Because how dare the judges say something isn't actually right. How dare they be so activist and stand up to injustice. How dare they acknowledge reality! But they are the ones who paid the price, which you would have them ignore and have us suffer under injustice instead.

And no, my standard is not how you represent it. My standard is not that anyone can be offended and the law becomes invalid, where you found that, I don't know, but it's taking a flying leap of logic. Give me at least the credit to insist on valid reasoning. I've not exactly spent much time presenting my views explicitly, but I would hope I didn't have to dissuade you from completely making up false claims about them. Here though, I've mostly been expressing the faults I find in the arguments you've been making, namely that you are relying far too much on appeals to authorities and dogmatic interpretations of the law rather than considering the actual genuine situation. I find this to be a cause of a lot more injustice as people become so hung up on the way things were done in the past that they can't get anything done, even when something immoral is striking them in the face.

To me, the ill-conceived opinions here are yours. And no, I don't have to go back before the time of the founders to find people rejecting such notions as a blind adherence to the rule of law (though I can certainly find people who did recognize it very far back in history), but I can see them today.

The big problem is how many of them are libertarian-anarchists who consider the government to simply be evil, rather than a tool. A dangerous one, don't get me wrong about that, but a useful one as well.

It's funny, people can be wrong on both sides of an issue.

July 28, 2012 at 7:18 p.m.

JonRoss, oh so it's not a problem if no American Citizens are harmed, even if the Constitution IS subverted by explicitly violating actual law.

Your standards are interesting.

Too bad the Boland Amemdment is real and the actions of the Reagan administration in violation of it actually occured, whereas your complaints about Eric Holder are based on fantasies and fabrications.

But it's ok, Reagan just believed in his heart that it was true he hadn't done something, so the facts and evidence could be dismissed.

July 28, 2012 at 7:23 p.m.

Now see, that's name-calling. Are you having a problem with that whats_wrong_with_the_world?

July 28, 2012 at 7:45 p.m.

Easy123 said... The Church had a monopoly on education. Think how much more advanced society would be if all those scientists and philosophers didn't have to fall in line with Church doctrine for hundreds of years. Galileo comes to mind. All these people excelled in spite of Christianity, not because of it.

If democracy survives your gullibility and intellectual laziness, you will have proven the founders wrong about the importance of a sound education for democracy’s health.

More importantly, think how much more advanced society would be if Rome had given up thinking that it had to fall in line with pagan cosmology (Aristotle and Ptolemy) for hundreds of years. Christian scientists like Galileo are the ones who helped advance the West beyond those outdated theories, and the Christian religion is what inspired them to do so.

Galileo opposed biblical literalism, not Scripture itself. He held Scripture (“fairy tales” in your view) in very high regard and considered it authoritative when correctly interpreted (His literacy skills made the difference. Check into it.). He opposed Rome’s reliance on the pagans, not the value of Christianity for scientific study. http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/galileo/lettercastelli.html

Instances of Rome’s/Canterbury’s heavy-handedness points to another of the founders’ reasons for disestablishing denominational monopolies while not ignoring the importance of Christianity for our civilization’s greatest accomplishments. Unlike you, they ACTUALLY READ what Galileo and other scientific pioneers wrote about Christianity. This you must do if you hope to understand them. Regurgitating what your incompetent teachers told you about them won’t suffice. I’ll get you started on your homework, but I’m getting tired of doing it FOR you. Here:

Nancy K. Frankenberry, (Professor, Dartmouth College) (ed.) The Faith of Scientists In Their Own Words (Princeton University Press, 2008) [I think you can download it in PDF format]

David Marshall Miller (PhD, Cornell University), “The Thirty Years War and the Galileo Affair” (History of Science, volume 46, Part 1, Number 151, 49–74, March 2008)

Ronald L. Numbers (Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley) Galileo Goes to Jail, and Other Myths about Science and Religion (ed.) (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009). When Science and Christianity Meet, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003). ed. with David C. Lindberg

Karl E. Johnson, (Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Oxford College of Emory University) “The Curious Case of Galileo Galilei” Sightings, June 4, 2009).

David C. Lindberg (Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Madison), The Beginnings of Western Science: The European Scientific Tradition in Philosophical, Religious, and Institutional Context, Prehistory to A.D. 1450 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008). 2nd revised edition.

July 28, 2012 at 7:59 p.m.

JonRoss, you keep repeating your hyperbole, yet your claims of an attack or threats are groundless, and lacking in substance. Maybe you should back up your allegations first.

But no, while there is some wide leeway for the independence of a church and it's beliefs, separation of church and state does not mean that the government cannot react to the actions of a religion which are in violation of certain principles. I know you want to believe the contention that churches are immune from scrutiny but that's not true, whether you're Catholic, Mormon, or anything else.

whats_wrong_with_the_world, it's strange, you recognize the fault in adhering to the beliefs of others now, but you just got done belaboring the importance of it earlier.

July 28, 2012 at 8:17 p.m.

happywithnewbulbs said .. you're the one who doesn't understand the real truth. It's the work of man.

Of course, the Constitution is a fallible document written by fallible men, as they well knew from their Puritan religious training. Thus, they made sure that the Constitution is amendable, which I hold is a better course for correcting its errors than is judicial fiat. (republicanism vs. oligarchy)

And please, please lighten up. You’re probably a swell fellow. It’s just that when you accused me of supporting atrocities that I vigorously oppose (and not just in words), I wanted you to understand that ingenuity and social reform do not require abandoning rule of law or traditional religion. What you did would be like me accusing you of supporting the Reign of Terror since you, like the French Revolutionaries, want to toss the baby (religion) out with the bathwater (clerical authoritarianism). That, by the way, is the difference between the American Revolution and the French Revolution. It’s the difference between reform and revolution. I just don’t see the commission invocations as grounds for the latter.

My words were a bit strong. I apologize for offending you. I really do think Mr. Cook should initiate some sort of reconciliation luncheon to promote goodwill and understanding among parties to the controversy.

you recognize the fault in adhering to the beliefs of others now, but you just got done belaboring the importance of it earlier.

Whether or not you should adhere to someone else’s belief would depend on the content of that belief and its correspondence to appropriate verification (empirical data, rules of logic, Scripture, the Constitution, legal precedence, etc.). Merely human authorities, institutions, and documents (political, ecclesiastical, etc.) should never be given absolute authority. That belongs to “the big guy upstairs” and His revelation. Augustine played this idea out beautifully in City of God. The founders, BTW, got many of their ideas about the evils of absolutism from the Puritans (see Lex Rex) who got it from Augustine. (cf. John Locke, referenced above)

July 28, 2012 at 9:09 p.m.

I don't see that commission invocations as grounds for violence either. That's why you see people going to court, rather than engaging in armed protest. If they should take up arms, I would strongly disagree with that course of action and seek to deter them.

And I don't feel that we're talking about judicial fiat, I certainly do not see it that way. I feel we're talking about the courts being bound by artificial constructions in such a way that it perpetuates injustices, as has been done before, and prevents them from using their own human reasoning in what I see as a false appeal to perceived authority. Your argument has indeed been used that way, and I have seen the result. That is why I do not consider it an acceptable course, it is not better, if anything, I'd say it's a worse notion than just throwing a dart to decide the outcomes. Why? Because it relies on the notion of an appeal to an authority, and does not encourage dialogue but rather supports blindness. At least, when a human being says something you can say "No, you're wrong" but the course you suggest? Deters that option. I would not mind you being offended by the linking to the atrocities which you oppose, that's the point, to show something so offensive that you recognize the problem with the idea. And yes, I will certainly recognize and acknowledge that the Reign of Terror was excessive, as was the Soviet example in this century. But just as they were oppressive, so were the French Monarchy and the Russian Czardom. That can be the way of things, both sides can be flawed. I can recognize that. But the indifference to slavery, to segregation, those ere justified by your same arguments. Do try to recognize it instead of just getting upset at it.

Though if you don't mind, I'll clarify my last word that you quoted there, let me substitute "perils" for "fault" as that more exactly expresses what I wanted to say.

And here's the big problem with relying on what the alleged Deity says...the number of people who have different views of it. Yet that is treated as absolute authority. I much prefer human figures I can justly disagree and oppose rather than appeals to the glory and wonder of God which I'm expected by all too many to never question.

That's why the County Commission invoking prayers in the way they have is dangerous, it's fostering their own human attitudes of being unchallengedable. Just look at the defenders of the conduct who react with their outrage to daring to speak against the prayers.

As I said, they've been the best argument against it.

As for the Constitution being Amendable, I don't consider the methods or systems of it to be adequate, nor does I consider it particularly good in many respects. There are better examples to be found in certain state constitutions, which have more participatory government and better expressions of rights. Though I will say Alabama's is an example of how not to do things.

July 28, 2012 at 9:30 p.m.
Easy123 said...

Wwwtw,

Nothing in your post refuted anything I have stated.

July 29, 2012 at 1:05 a.m.

happywithnewbulbs said... I feel we're talking about the courts being bound by artificial constructions in such a way that it perpetuates injustices, as has been done before, and prevents them from using their own human reasoning in what I see as a false appeal to perceived authority. Your argument has indeed been used that way, and I have seen the result.*

You couldn’t be more wrong. It was Supreme Court decisions that upheld slavery and it was Constitutional Amendments (13-15) that abolished it and gave former slaves their rights as citizens. Courts then gradually overturned Jim Crow laws based on those Amendments, not on the basis of being personally offended about those unjust laws. It was your approach (and your party) that propped up all sorts of injustices against minorities and women. Who was your civics teacher? http://blackhistory.com/content/60916/13th-14th-and-15th-amendments

You don’t realize it, but you, too, are appealing to authority. The alternative to rule by law, is rule by men, which is how absolutism is defined. Men and laws are fallible, but lawmakers can be voted out when they enact unjust laws. Supreme Court justices cannot. You’re stuck with them until they die, retire, or are impeached. This is why abolitionists were unsuccessful for so long. Yours is the slow train for redressing injustices and SLAVEHOLDERS AND BIGOTS LOVED IT. It contributed to causing the bloodiest war in our history. Great Britain was able to abolish slavery much earlier, without that sort of bloodshed, because of Christian moral reformers going to the mat against the moral evil of slavery.


“God save this Court.” What’s your recourse when you allow yourself to be offended when reach the Supreme Court opens with this brief invocation of God’s protection?

July 29, 2012 at 3:39 p.m.

Easy123 said... Nothing in your post refuted anything I have stated.

I’ll make it easier than 123 for you (again). PAGAN ideas held science back. You DO know that Aristotle and Ptolemy were not Christians, don’t you? (I’m learning not to assume that you have even such basic knowledge as that.)

The ROMAN hierarchy used YOUR method of reading the Bible: They twisted it and took passages out of context to support their faulty, PAGAN ideas about cosmology. (See above for names of those who developed those wrong ideas.) ROME is not the equivalent of CHRISTIANITY. The majority of CHRISTIANS have never accepted ROMAN authority. Never. You’re simply too Eurocentric. You should get out more.

The Bible should not be used to support or refute scientific theories. Both Fundies and Secularists trip over this. Neither has been taught to read literature, thus the blind acceptance and blind rejection of the Bible. You are ALL literalists. Very unfortunate.

BTW, which Christian ideas did Galileo and Copernicus oppose? Name them.

The Church had a monopoly on education.

The church had a monopoly on medieval education only because there was NO EDUCATION there before Christianity reached Europe. Europeans were BARBARIANS. They were illiterate, superstitious morons. There were no atheists being kept back from beginning universities or conducting their research. PAGANS were illiterate until Christians educated them. Also, since universities have become more secular, are you suggesting that the overall quality of education has improved? Empirical data strongly suggest otherwise.

July 29, 2012 at 3:57 p.m.

whats_wrong_with_the_world, first off stop lying about political parties and the past. The Democratic Party of today is not the party of the last century, let alone the century before that. I will certainly say that the Democrats of that day were in error in many ways, but do not presume to misrepresent the party of today as being that same party.

To try to claim so is outright disingenuous, please have the integrity to repent your falsehoods. I know, it's a common myth among the Republicans to try to continue to do that, but you can be better than that. Or do you just want to convince me even more that I'm correct by continuing with your mendacious accusations?

But actually you just showed me RIGHT, because those Supreme Court decisions were based on the very premises you have endorsed, namely the idea of following the law.

You don't realize it, but you're giving examples that show exactly what I said. I question your civics teacher, because either they gave you an inaccurate version of history, or you just didn't read the decisions. They were not making decisions based on virtue, but avoiding that responsibility by adhering to the law.

And don't even make me laugh at your attempt to claim that rule of law is distinct from rule of man. It's not. Laws continue to be the work of man, and that is why your way to esteeming them is so fraught with peril.

And I disagree with you about the Supreme Court not being electable being a problem. I actually see the problem as the opposite, that those who answer to the voters as being the ones most subject to pressures to perpetuate injustices and discrimination.

The reason why abolitionists were so unsuccessful was because of entrenched powers including those in the Supreme Court, who were so enamored of following the laws in the way you have been supporting that they ignored the principle of rectitude. They didn't stand up for what was right, but found excuses to justify the status quo.

Moral cowardice was the issue, and your way is how they find excuses to justify it. Your way is how the slaveholders and bigots defended themselves, how they still argue today.

Great Britain, you may be surprised to know, does not have a written Constitution, and does not bind itself from rightness by false claims of prohibition.

That, and they didn't have the economic incentives. Ah the belly, the surest way to tear a man from principle. That's why I don't believe a man should take his virtues as absolute either, but be willing to question and challenge himself.

Also, you're mistaken about the Europeans of the time, and just using a blanket term to dismiss them. You can do better than that. You don't have to call them illiterate, superstitious morons. That's just giving into chauvinism.

July 29, 2012 at 4:31 p.m.
Easy123 said...

wwwtw,

"PAGAN ideas held science back."

This is false. Early science originated from pagan ideas. Before astronomy we had astrology, before chemistry we had alchemy, etc. These pagan ideas were the worlds's first attempt at science and scientific inquiry.

"ROME is not the equivalent of CHRISTIANITY."

False. Rome was Christianity. Without the Emperor Constantine, Christianity would have never made it out of the desert. Rome was the Church and the Church was Rome.

"The majority of CHRISTIANS have never accepted ROMAN authority."

Prove it! This is garbage.

"The Bible should not be used to support or refute scientific theories. Both Fundies and Secularists trip over this. Neither has been taught to read literature, thus the blind acceptance and blind rejection of the Bible. You are ALL literalists. Very unfortunate."

But the Bible does have scientific inaccuracies and omissions . And I've been taught to read literature. The millions of translations and meanings only add the the incoherence of the Bible. Because apparently only YOU know how to read it correctly. Very ignorant.

"BTW, which Christian ideas did Galileo and Copernicus oppose? Name them."

Heliocentrism, mostly. A better question would be why the Church opposed so many of Galileo and Copernicus' ideas. Both authors were in the Index Librorum Prohibitorum. Their works were PROHIBITED BY THE CHURCH! You're trying to give credit to "Christianity" for the discoveries of Galileo and Copernicus because they were Christians but the Church BANNED their works and actively denied their discoveries.

"There were no atheists being kept back from beginning universities or conducting their research."

This is an absolute lie. Heretics and blasphemers were being excommunicated, exiled and murdered.

"Also, since universities have become more secular, are you suggesting that the overall quality of education has improved? Empirical data strongly suggest otherwise."

Yes, overall quality of education has improved since the Middle Ages. Please try to argue otherwise. I'd love a good laugh.

Again, nothing you have said has refuted anything I have stated.

July 29, 2012 at 4:45 p.m.

*they ignored the principle of rectitude. They didn't stand up for what was right, but found excuses to justify the status quo. Moral cowardice was the issue, and your way is how they find excuses to justify it. Your way is how the slaveholders and bigots defended themselves, how they still argue today.

“Rectitude,” “right,” and “moral” according to whom. You’re not trying to legislate morality are you? (jk) You have no basis for defining those terms other than what you borrow from Christianity or those you pull out of thin air. As defined by whom?

Great Britain, you may be surprised to know, does not have a written Constitution, and does not bind itself from rightness by false claims of prohibition.

You. Have. Got. To. Be. Kidding. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitu... It does not have just one. However, it is a constitutional, parliamentary monarchy. Parliament (the most direct federal representatives of the people) trumps the executive and judicial powers. That has been the case for the better part of a millennium. You are officially hopeless.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magna_carta http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supreme_...

That, and they didn't have the economic incentives. Ah the belly, the surest way to tear a man from principle.

Which is why Wilberforce and the Christians responsible for abolishing British slavery pursued economic, as well as political, moral, and spiritual avenues for ending that (and other) abominable practices. Are you familiar with the specifics of their story?

Also, you're mistaken about the Europeans of the time, and just using a blanket term to dismiss them. You can do better than that. You don't have to call them illiterate, superstitious morons. That's just giving into chauvinism.

Which ones could read before Christianity arrived? Which ones did not believe in superstition before Christianity arrived? Ante up. Granted, some of them continued in that unfortunate estate, but some is better than none.

July 29, 2012 at 6:02 p.m.

Easy123 said...

Early science originated from pagan ideas. Before astronomy we had astrology, before chemistry we had alchemy, etc. These pagan ideas were the worlds's first attempt at science and scientific inquiry.

The Scientific Revolution and its cosmological breakthroughs were the topic of discussion. Pagan ideas were rejected by those who made the breakthroughs, and “the church” was wrong for clinging to them so steadfastly.

False. Rome was Christianity. Without the Emperor Constantine, Christianity would have never made it out of the desert. Rome was the Church and the Church was Rome … Prove it! This is garbage.

The Roman hierarchy has been and still is wrong about a lot of things. Please tell me you know about the other (and earlier) Christian traditions who rejected Roman supremacy (e.g. the churches in the entire eastern portion of the Mediterranean). And that most Christians today are not Roman Catholics. If you deny that Eastern Orthodoxy exists, you clearly have no idea what you are talking about. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_...

But the Bible does have scientific inaccuracies and omissions . And I've been taught to read literature.

LOL. The Bible is not a science textbook. You and the Fundies have SO VERY MUCH in common. You just can’t seem to break the engagement. Literature 101: Know the genre and purpose of the document before reading it. History 101: Avoid anachronisms.

The millions of translations and meanings only add the the incoherence of the Bible. Because apparently only YOU know how to read it correctly. Very ignorant.

I don’t have all the answers. But I do know that you can’t hope to learn science by reading poetry and wisdom literature. Understanding that principle would represent a MAJOR leap forward in your ability to understand what you are reading. Don’t let the sun go down before making the leap.

July 29, 2012 at 6:59 p.m.

["There were no atheists being kept back from beginning universities or conducting their research."] This is an absolute lie. Heretics and blasphemers were being excommunicated, exiled and murdered.

Which ones attempted to establish universities? Heretics and blasphemers are not the same as atheists. Answer the questions I asked, not other questions that you would rather answer.

Yes, overall quality of education has improved since the Middle Ages. Please try to argue otherwise. I'd love a good laugh.

Could you translate that into Latin or Greek? Does the average college graduate know as much about history or literature or logic or moral philosophy as those of the Middle Ages? (You’ll need to set aside your anachronisms here.) The literature and logic deficiencies of today are abundantly evident in your preposterous comments about ancient literature and its teachings.

Again, nothing you have said has refuted anything I have stated.

I’ve refuted all of it, but you can neither read nor think clearly, and your head is lodged firmly in the sand. You don’t know rudimentary information about history or religions or philosophy or literature, therefore, your ability to understand logical discourse about them is seriously impaired. Please do your homework.

July 29, 2012 at 7:01 p.m.
Easy123 said...

wwwtw,

"LOL. The Bible is not a science textbook."

So I would assume your god isn't a scientist either, correct?

"I don’t have all the answers."

You haven't presented ANY answers.

"And that most Christians today are not Roman Catholics."

Catholicism accounts for AT LEAST half of all Christians worldwide (over 1 billion worldwide). Your assumption/fact/stat is false.

"Which ones attempted to establish universities? Heretics and blasphemers are not the same as atheists. Answer the questions I asked, not other questions that you would rather answer."

How can you start a university when you are being persecuted for speaking out about your beliefs (unbelief in a deity)? Your question was very poor. You aren't looking for truthful discussion. You only want to hear what you feel will further your argument. DON'T ASK BAD QUESTIONS.

"Could you translate that into Latin or Greek? Does the average college graduate know as much about history or literature or logic or moral philosophy as those of the Middle Ages? (You’ll need to set aside your anachronisms here.) The literature and logic deficiencies of today are abundantly evident in your preposterous comments about ancient literature and its teachings."

No, I can't. I would bet there are more language scholars now than the whole Middle Age combined. Did the average Middle Age college graduate know about evolution, Darwinism, gene theory, gravity, DNA, ecology, general relativity? How many highly educated physicians were there in the Middle ages? You always neglect the sciences and medicine when you speak of the Middle Ages. Why is that? Maybe because you are acutely aware it is a thorn in the side of your argument. You know as well as I do, the average HIGH SCHOOL graduate has more general scientific/medical knowledge than the average Middle age university student. You cling to the idea that, somehow, Middle Age university education trumps a modern university education. I'm not sure if it's your love of the time period or your general lack of common sense but you are absolutely wrong.

"I’ve refuted all of it, but you can neither read nor think clearly, and your head is lodged firmly in the sand. You don’t know rudimentary information about history or religions or philosophy or literature, therefore, your ability to understand logical discourse about them is seriously impaired. Please do your homework.'

Again, you have refuted nothing I have stated. You have even gone so far as to concede my first two points. I've done plenty of homework. Your arrogance has blinded you. You ignore blatant facts and make the rules as you go. You are oblivious to the fact that the majority of Christians throughout history did and do not view the Bible as literature and will never do that. Please, wake up to reality. Step into the real world and out of your world of "expertise" on all things literature, religion, history, and philosophy.

July 29, 2012 at 7:31 p.m.

whats_wrong_with_the_world, according to whom? That reveals something about you, that you keep looking for external sources to validate morality. Which what I've been talking about, people looking to rigid forms and definitions to the point where they absolve themselves of responsibility.

And look at your own source, in its introduction it explains the situation with the United Kingdom. If you keep refuting yourself without realizing it you're going to make me think you're hopeless.

Good that you acknowledge how even Christians had to deal with people's real issues rather than just point to some authority to guide them though. Otherwise the OTHER Christians who were scouring the Bible to justify their own views (and still are) would have been unmoved by any persuasion. Which is why it ended up in a war in this country.

Finally, the problem is that you called a large group of people illiterate, superstitious morons. If you want to learn about the advancement of Bronze and Iron Age cultures in Europe, fair enough, you were just on Wikipedia, you can go back to it, and start with a little reading. Check out Bronze Age Greece. Work a bit in Italy. Learn about the Etruscans. Oh wait, you weren't counting them? Why not? Oh wait, that'd be because you'd have to realize that a lot of learning did come from those sources. Not that they were perfect themselves, they were the original ones who dismissed others as Barbarians, but you know the Italian and Balkan Peninsulas are part of Europe.

They aren't the only ones though, you could look up Tartessos,

And do look up the research on Stonehenge. It appears you presume literacy is related to intelligence, that's why you called them morons. That's not valid at all in historical terms, and only reflects your continuing chauvinism.

But no, instead of respecting that they may have had valuable cultures, you just dismiss them as morons because they weren't literate, or they had superstitions. Do you not realize how offensive that is? Just because somebody doesn't have the sophisticated tools and knowledge of this modern day doesn't make them a moron.

But go ahead and call them morons. It says a lot more about you than them.

July 29, 2012 at 8:52 p.m.
Sarvepalli said...

The Founders were specific about the nation's national motto and it isn't "In God We Trust". It's "E Pluribus Unum".

July 31, 2012 at 11:42 a.m.

Easy123 said... So I would assume your god isn't a scientist either, correct?

Assigning God some job description is just as idiotic as looking to the Bible for information about science. You’re grasping. Again.

Catholicism accounts for AT LEAST half of all Christians worldwide (over 1 billion worldwide). Your assumption/fact/stat is false.

Around 50% is a lot closer to being < 50% than is your dumb assertion that Christianity = 100% Rome. I’m guessing math wasn’t your forte either.

How can you start a university when you are being persecuted for speaking out about your beliefs (unbelief in a deity)? Your question was very poor. You aren't looking for truthful discussion. You only want to hear what you feel will further your argument. DON'T ASK BAD QUESTIONS.

Okay, I’ll make it even easier for you: Name the atheists who were being persecuted for speaking out about their unbelief in a deity. If you can’t, then once again, you’re pulling it out of your derriere .

"Could you translate that into Latin or Greek? Does the average college graduate know as much about history or literature or logic or moral philosophy as those of the Middle Ages? …” No, I can't. I would bet there are more language scholars now than the whole Middle Age combined.

And the average college graduate? (My actual question that you chose to avoid.) There are more language scholars today largely because the population is exponentially larger now than it was then. (Statistics were apparently the most difficult among your math courses.) I hope you’re not asserting that the modern interest of western scholars in languages magically appeared out of thin air with no connection to the Middle Ages? Your anachronisms exceed your ability to count them. The rest of the world guffaws at Americans’ ignorance or foreign languages.

Did the average Middle Age college graduate know about evolution, Darwinism, gene theory, gravity, DNA, ecology, general relativity? How many highly educated physicians were there in the Middle ages? … the average HIGH SCHOOL graduate has more general scientific/medical knowledge than the average Middle age university student …

Repeat lesson for History 101: Avoid anachronisms. You’re on your way to failing, young man, if you can’t dispense with this childish habit. Whatever empirical science was being done, however lacking they might have been in modern instruments, was being done by Christians. You’re blaming Wednesday for not being Thursday. Idiotic.

the majority of Christians throughout history did and do not [sic] view the Bible as literature and will never do that.

Prove it. Unlike you, the overwhelming majority of both Christians and non-Christians know that when Jesus said he was the door to salvation, he was not being literal. Your ignorance never ceases to amaze me.

July 31, 2012 at 1:01 p.m.

happywithnewbulbs said...

you keep looking for external sources to validate morality.

That’s the hard work of establishing and maintaining “justice for ourselves and our posterity.” It’s an ongoing work that requires eternal vigilance, intelligence, and common morality, but that you are too lazy to engage in civil dialogue about those pre-requisites for civilization. Our country chose a path that is neither purely democratic (mob rule) nor oligarchical (your preference). You’re hoping for a handful of enlightened individuals to rise to power whose personal feelings about justice happen to coincide with your own. It’s lawless government by individual feelings and opinions. Such was the course of action taken by the ideologues of numerous totalitarian regimes throughout history. No thanks.

When rule of law is abandoned, you’re rolling the dice that someone who agrees with your version of morality rises to the top to impose his or her and your opinions on the masses. Over the last couple of centuries, embracing rule of law has pretty much defined what it means to live under free, participatory, modern civilized government. Absolutism is the alternative which most modern democracies left behind. It‘s mind boggling that you want to return to it.

And look at your own source, in its introduction it explains the situation with the United Kingdom. If you keep refuting yourself without realizing it you're going to make me think you're hopeless.

There is more than one document on which British law and government is based. The British do not, as you suggest, line their bird cages with constitutions and common law once they have adopted or consented to them. They adhere to rule of law, not legal fads and mood rings.

Yes, Greece and Rome were far ahead of the Germanic tribes of Europe. I was speaking of those tribes, whom the Romans called barbarians. That moniker was a slight over-reach, but, before Christianity reached them, they did not know how to read. Christian monks taught them how to read, and without the influence of Christianity, they wasted far too much energy and resources with their senseless, violent tribal behavior. Most non-Europeans would agree that Europeans have never quite mustered the ability to shake several of those wasteful, violent habits. But you lay the entirety of blame for Europe’s injustices and horrors at the feet of a religion, most of whose adherents never set foot in or subscribed to Europe’s version of the church – view which, though all too common, is quite uninformed and simplistic.

July 31, 2012 at 1:08 p.m.

Why don't we refer you back to Wikipedia:

But actually YOU are the one who is engaging in anachronisms, judging the past by the standards of today. And very chauvinistically. You did call people morons not so long ago.

Actually, empirical science predated Christians AND there was a period in the Middle Ages when the Muslims were a lot further ahead.

Your bias is showing. Do look up Al-Razi and Ibn-Sina.

July 31, 2012 at 1:09 p.m.

happywithnewbulbs said...

But actually YOU are the one who is engaging in anachronisms, judging the past by the standards of today. And very chauvinistically. You did call people morons not so long ago.

You are correct that my characterization is not PC, however, I do find tribalistic blood-feuds and superstition to be moronic. Sue me.

Actually, empirical science predated Christians AND there was a period in the Middle Ages when the Muslims were a lot further ahead.

Muslim scholars, were indeed, further along than scientists in Europe. However, their scientists fell behind when they could not turn loose of many of Aristotle's scientific assumptions. Copernicus, Galileo, and other Christians did, and that had much to do with sparking the scientific revolution. There is debate among scholars as to what constitutes "empirical science" and thus there is dispute about when it actually began. When the barbarians destroyed or lost much of the work of ancient natural philosophers (as they were called), there was something called a Dark Age. As Christians recovered those texts, with the help of some Muslims scholars, they valued and used them, however, they were, unlike others, also willing to challenge them.

Granted these qualifications, it is not true that the advance of science by-passed or was impeded by the contributions of scientists who were Christian. They ushered in the scientific revolution, and what you guys asserted earlier in this thread, that those scientists were atheists or dismissive of the Bible, is balderdash. Admit it.

July 31, 2012 at 1:27 p.m.

As for hard work, hard work is in continually seeking the truth, not resting your laurels and saying "Oh these guys who came before us got it right" and letting injustice slide because well, somebody else is responsible.

That's the height of laziness, looking for excuses to do nothing. You're hoping that others set up a system of justice and laws that actually serves that purpose, rather than taking it within your own hands. Such is the actual course of action taken by numerous totalitarian regimes throughout history. No thanks. I don't care to play that gamble, it's a rigged game anyway.

When the appeal to outside authorities like the "rule of law" becomes the order of the day, no longer is a man answerable even to himself. You're subsuming yourself to the risk that another got things right and that they rose to the top, becoming accepted by others. Over the last couple of centuries, the reality is that more people have rejected the false appeals to authority, and the abrogation of responsibility that comes from binding oneself to another's will. Not that people haven't managed to exploit it, not that they aren't doing it today. But it's false and abusive, you just don't realize it.

It's mind-boggling that you don't recognize that you're the one who wants absolutism, not me. An absolute adherence to what somebody else did, whereas I want a person to have to answer for themselves, not turn to another for all the answers.

That's the opposite of an absolute.

The British have oft bound themselves to the past, but that was frequently to their detriment. The rotten boroughs, the other abuses? Were often a result of resting on past authority rather than daring to stand for justice on their own.

And you continue to show bias. You think a literate culture is a sign of superiority, and that's your own anachronistic views coming out. Now you're coming up with the Europeans as mostly Germanic? Well, that's another error, especially given that you're relying on outside views of them anyway. You're basically taking the Roman views of them as Barbarians and not judging for yourself. Thank you for demonstrating my point.

But no, I don't blame the entirety of Europe's injustices and horrors at the feet of a religion, your views of me are the ones that are uninformed.

For one thing, I'm not limiting my concerns to Christianity, I find the problems in other religions and motivations as well. They're just not coming up here because they're relatively distant.

Want to know why I don't spend my days chasing the specter of Sharia law? Because it's not here, and while I sympathize with say the couple in Mali who were stoned to death for adultery, I really can't go fix the world's problems. A bit less than responsible of me, but I'd tear myself up inside if I tried to fix everything.

July 31, 2012 at 1:30 p.m.

whats_wrong_with_the_world, you don't get to bring up something UNMENTIONED in your original post and claim that's why you called them morons. You said "illiterate, superstitions, morons" with no qualification or limitation that even came close to implying that your opprobrium came from violence.

Which isn't even accurate anyway, but that you're trying to manufacture another concern as a belated reason just discredits you further. Stop trying to cover your mistakes. You weren't suggesting such a thing at the start, and that means you can't be believed that is now what you were talking about.

But I do thank you for admitting that the problem was in NOT turning loose of the past. Now if only you follow through, and realize that the others which you blindly praise had the same problem. The untruth is the assertions you try to make that the Christian Church did not impede or obstruct the development of science.

It did, and still does. Fortunately it's a lot less centralized in power now, so it doesn't always, but then again there's still some rather terrible examples who manage quite well.

Of course, they're not the ONLY ones, there's plenty of other interests who prefer to blind their eyes if possible.

And please do note, I said nothing about the personal views of the scientists.

July 31, 2012 at 1:38 p.m.

happywithnewbulbs, Rome. Is. Not. The. Equivalent. Of. Christianity. (Your earlier, misguided claim which I have repeatedly and abundantly demonstrated to be devoid of truth.) Your use of “the church” is slippery – a Roman usage, and half the world's Christians consider you Euro-centric for misusing it that way. (Talk about chauvinism.)

You sir, are a solipsist and an anarchist, and civil discourse with such a person about how we are to order our lives together in a community is fruitless. Maybe in a future thread, you might offer your own definition (since that apparently is the only one that matters) of a term you keep using but never explaining: justice. All you offer are ill-informed, false accusations. I realize that your view of justice changes from day to day (maybe minute to minute), but let’s see what you come up with. Good day.

July 31, 2012 at 2:21 p.m.

Keep trying to dismiss the importance of Rome and the power of its hierarchy, especially at the times in question. We are talking about history, not modern day in that context. It's not even the entirety of the problem, as many small local churches can fall into the same trap, so I consider that a somewhat less than important distinction. It's just as bad in principle that local Community Baptist decides to follow some flawed interpretation as massive international Roman Catholic Church. In practice, well, there is some more impact on the whole, but does that truly make the crime any less? I'm not sure.

Besides, if you really were aggrieved and not just posturing, I'd be glad to amend my words, and not doggedly stick with them regardless. Heck I'd be just as glad to apply my words to all religions if you want. But you? You I foresee sticking with your insulting a whole culture group as morons till the end of time.

You may label me, but ok, I'll label you. You are a close-minded person who seeks to blame others for failing at civil discourse when it's you who goes around with your ears stopped up screaming about how others are so bad an terrible. You put words and concepts into other people's mouths, then complain that other people are defining you. You offer ill-informed false accusations, and don't even realize it.

And yes, justice is evolving, justice is never fixed in some single firmament, but a flowing and changing thing that needs continued adaption. I know you think you're criticizing me, but you're really just validating my position and showing your own lack of understanding is the problem.

Justice isn't served by locking it up into a single fixed position. That's what leads to abuse. That's been the whole point of what I said.

And no, I don't say my view is the only one that matters. I am quite willing to hear other's views on it. But...I do not pretend that it's a good thing if I let somebody else decide for me what justice is. I don't control. I just choose to be responsible for it.

You, on the other hand, seem to want that. Which only leads to you being able to blind yourself when things go wrong. After all, somebody else picked it, not you, and they must know better.

July 31, 2012 at 4:34 p.m.
Easy123 said...

wwwtw,

"Assigning God some job description is just as idiotic as looking to the Bible for information about science. You’re grasping. Again."

You're rather dense. I'm saying it would appear your god has no clue about science. You said yourself that there was no science in the Bible.

"than is your dumb assertion that Christianity = 100% Rome."

I never said Christianity was 100% Rome. But it was, and you know it, the epicenter of the entire religion. You somehow believe Eastern Orthodoxy was somehow superior to Roman Catholicism during the Middle Ages.

"Name the atheists who were being persecuted for speaking out about their unbelief in a deity. If you can’t, then once again, you’re pulling it out of your derriere ."

Terrible question. You're moving the goal posts. I have no "names" but I'm sure you have heard of the Inquisition, right? Do you know what heresy is or do I need to explain it to you? You really have no perception of what actually happened in the time period that you love so dearly.

"There are more language scholars today largely because the population is exponentially larger now than it was then. (Statistics were apparently the most difficult among your math courses.)"

You have just proven my point. Language is more important now than it ever was. Why didn't you mention Spanish or French? Probably because you know how commonly spoken those languages are by even the most average of college students.

"Whatever empirical science was being done, however lacking they might have been in modern instruments, was being done by Christians. You’re blaming Wednesday for not being Thursday. Idiotic."

IT DOESN'T MATTER THE RELIGION OF THE SCIENTIST. Remember you said it yourself:

"is just as idiotic as looking to the Bible for information about science"

The only way for these scientists to study AT ALL was at a Christian institution. Their were no other universities. Why don't you understand that? You are giving Christianity the credit for all these discoveries when they are the ones that had a monopoly on education. It had nothing to do with Christianity. All the scientific findings went contrary to the Bible. How can you possibly give Christianity credit for this? MORONIC.

"Prove it. Unlike you, the overwhelming majority of both Christians and non-Christians know that when Jesus said he was the door to salvation, he was not being literal. Your ignorance never ceases to amaze me."

http://www.gallup.com/poll/148427/say-bible-literally.aspx

30% view it literally while another 49% believe in some literal interpretation but not all.

I never claimed to take the entire Bible literally. That is a straw man argument.

It's almost pitiful how blissfully ignorant you come off. Your arguments from authority make me giggle. And your misrepresentation of my position is common for Christians. You folks love those straw men.

August 1, 2012 at 3:06 a.m.

happywithnewbulbs said...

Justice isn't served by locking it up into a single fixed position. That's what leads to abuse. That's been the whole point of what I said.

Okay. Let’s see. Apparently you’re hung up on the word “define.” I’ll re-phrase. Explain what you mean when you say that the current commission invocation policy is unjust or in violation of someone’s rights. And does that principle apply to any other person or to any contemporary situation other than your own?

Your unwillingness to articulate your meaning is simply a weasely way of refusing to apply the same standard in more than one situation. Using a revolving meaning for words like justice or rights means that you can define them in a way that always benefits you or privileges you above anyone else. If everyone defines them for themselves, then a multilateral respect for justice and rights becomes impossible. Call it anarchy, totalitarianism, absolutism, or autocracy, your meandering philosophy of justice fulfills the dreams of every tyrant, and it has a long, bloody history of results that you are too ignorant to recognize. You will eventually need to look beyond the world of your own navel. I’m so glad that history’s moral reformers were much smarter than you and your unreflective ilk when it comes to establishing legal rights and justice.

August 1, 2012 at 10:28 a.m.

Easy123 said...

You're rather dense. I'm saying it would appear your god has no clue about science. You said yourself that there was no science in the Bible.

Your presumption to know what an infinite being knows and doesn’t know reveals your real desire: to be God yourself. Consider this possibility: God didn’t reveal all information about everything that could possibly be known in a single book (or a single collection of books). The Bible itself (and most rational people) acknowledges the impossibility of your naïve request. You are unable to shake your fundamentalist desire to make the Bible an encyclopedia –a reference source for every type of available knowledge.

it was, and you know it, the epicenter of the entire religion. You somehow believe Eastern Orthodoxy was somehow superior to Roman Catholicism during the Middle Ages.

the epicenter It was nothing of the sort. superior to Orthodoxy wasn’t superior, but it refused to be controlled by Rome. There were dissenters from Rome’s claim to primacy from the beginning – a fact easy to deduce by reading anything other than Roman or atheist propaganda. Equating Rome with the entirety of the religion is a convenient, simplistic excuse for your Euro-bigotry and laziness to explore Christianity’s history outside the west. Again, I’ll start you on your homework assignment, but I have seen precious little evidence that you are interested in any challenges to your own misinformed opinions.

http://www.ds-wa.org/oriental-and-eastern-orthodox-churches.html

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0802821642?ie=UTF8&tag=jesundpla-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0802821642

Heresy does not equal atheism. Heretics of Christianity often believe in a god, just not the God of the Bible. Like your own version of the “God” you reject, the god of heretics is one that meets their half-cocked ideas about the way he SHOULD be.

You have just proven my point. Language is more important now than it ever was. Why didn't you mention Spanish or French?

Foreign language study is very important, but schools are failing to make sure students can speak ANY of them. Modern languages are important, but ignoring Latin is partly responsible for the limitations of students’ ability to effectively use their native tongue. You’ll probably deny the connection, but it’s unclear that you know much about the development of languages.

elementary and secondary: http://www.cal.org/projects/executive-summary-08-09-10.pdf

colleges: http://chronicle.com/blogs/worldwise/deficiency-in-foreign-language-competency-what-is-wrong-with-the-u-s-educational-system/27558 http://chronicle.com/article/Traditional-Language-Programs/126368/ http://www.higher-ed2000.ucr.edu/Publications/Brint%20et%20al%20%282011%29.pdf

August 1, 2012 at 12:26 p.m.
Easy123 said...

wwwtw,

"God didn’t reveal all information about everything that could possibly be known in a single book (or a single collection of books)."

Your presumption to know what an infinite being knows and doesn’t know reveals your real desire: to be God yourself. Would you like to try again? You are making the same claims.

"the epicenter It was nothing of the sort."

You're deluded if you believe any different.

"but I have seen precious little evidence that you are interested in any challenges to your own misinformed opinions."

Providing links about Eastern Orthodoxy is not evidence. I am fully aware there was Christianity outside of Rome. BUT ROME WAS THE EPICENTER OF THE RELIGION.

"It doesn’t matter to you, but it did to them"

No, it didn't. They were born into a region where Christianity was the only option. Their scientific discoveries were not, in any way, related to their religion.

"Whose alternative universities were not permitted to form, or failed to develop because of this “monopoly”? Who else showed any interest whatsoever in such an endeavor? If you want to call the Christian voice in the educational wilderness of Europe “a monopoly,” go ahead, but it’s quite a stretch to call a brand new enterprise a monopoly."

You obviously don't know what a monopoly is. There is no competition in a monopoly. That's the whole point. There were no alternatives! It's not a stretch whatsoever. It is literally the definition of 'monopoly'.

"All of these supposed repressed medieval atheist intellectuals are a flight of your imagination. Where and when did they attempt to start a university?"

I haven't made this claim. You have fabricated it.

August 1, 2012 at 12:54 p.m.
Easy123 said...

"Not according to those scientists. Prove them wrong. Ante up. (You won’t because you can’t.)"

This isn't an argument. They had to reconcile their work with the Bible. They had to make it fit to avoid persecution.

Just one example:

"Biblical references Psalm 93:1, 96:10, and 1 Chronicles 16:30 include text stating that "the world is firmly established, it cannot be moved." In the same manner, Psalm 104:5 says, "the Lord set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved." Further, Ecclesiastes 1:5 states that "And the sun rises and sets and returns to its place" etc."

All these verses speak against heliocentrism. Thank Galileo. Blame the Bible.

"Again, I’ll help with your math. 70% who reject literalism (viewing ALL of it as literal) constitutes a majority (my claim). Your claim of 0% is flat wrong. Even the 30% of literalists know that Jesus isn’t a lamb."

Again, I'll help you with YOUR math. 30% believe the Bible literally. Another 49 % believe that some is literal and some isn't. The rest believe in to be fable, history, etc. None of those things lend support to your claim. These 70 % don't reject literalism. They view some parts as literal and some not. That wasn't your claim.

No one believes that Jesus was really a lamb. But no one has made that claim either. You're making things up as you go.

"You don’t claim it, but your every reference to the Bible reveals that literalism is your default method of interpretation."

Straw man argument. It is not my default method. I've heard every interpretation. And it's still incoherent simply because their are so many interpretations.

"I’ll bet you a steak dinner (or vegetarian alternative of your choosing) that you can neither define it nor apply it to anything I’ve said"

Deal:

"The Bible should not be used to support or refute scientific theories. Both Fundies and Secularists trip over this. Neither has been taught to read literature, thus the blind acceptance and blind rejection of the Bible. You are ALL literalists. Very unfortunate."

You commonly claim your expertise in "reading literature". You support your claim of non-literal interpretation of the Bible with nothing but your own ability/expertise. You claim to know how to interpret it simply because you feel that you were taught how to read literature.

You are appealing to your own perceived authority/expertise on the subject.

August 1, 2012 at 1:06 p.m.
Easy123 said...

wwwtw,

Forgot one:

"Heresy does not equal atheism. Heretics of Christianity often believe in a god, just not the God of the Bible. Like your own version of the “God” you reject, the god of heretics is one that meets their half-cocked ideas about the way he SHOULD be."

But atheism does equal heresy. Again, you are claiming to know the will and nature of god. Didn't you just attempt to chastise me for doing the same thing?

August 1, 2012 at 1:21 p.m.

Wwwtw, your attempts to blame me in order to deflect responsibility for your own conduct continues to show your true worth, despite your attempts to be sanctimous.

If you had an honest inquiry, you could have done it without the commentary. And there's no need to ask, if you'd paid attention to this discussion, you'd have seen my position already.

it's an endorsement that gave specific preference. Their amended position was a belated attempt to deflect this, but it's too late. They should have chosen that course from the start, not cover their butts later.

And the problem with your idea of justice and rigjts being set to some external definitions means that it forces a fixed way on all situations and circumstances. Using a rigid meaning for them, especially derived from external sources is what allows them to be abused and exploited by others. After all, it was respected sources who defined them, and who are we to question their wisdom? That is what prevents understanding and mutual respect, because it leads to people thinking their way is right but ignoring the responsibility to consider actual situations and circumstances.

Tyrants are actually the ones who most be love your system since it takes away from individuals and lets outside forces determine things without question or consideration.

I'm glad history's real reformers were strong enough to not be bound by rigid authoritarian tradition, but disappointed that people like you have just replaced one master for another without realizing it. Instead you praise the way you have blinded yourself.

August 1, 2012 at 1:28 p.m.

Easy123 said... You're deluded if you believe any different … I am fully aware there was Christianity outside of Rome. BUT ROME WAS THE EPICENTER OF THE RELIGION.

Again, you offer no evidence. Just a ladder useful for historical cherry-picking.

No, it didn't [matter to them]. They were born into a region where Christianity was the only option. Their scientific discoveries were not, in any way, related to their religion.

Allow them to speak for themselves about the role faith played in their work. Tossing aside their own statements about their faith simply because the corner religious cafeteria had yet to open is just more anachronistic malarkey. Because Francis Bacon, like Galileo, had been taught how to read more than one genre of literature, he could observe that natural philosophy (science) “is, after the word of God, the surest remedy against superstition, and the most approved support of faith.” (Novum Organum)

Again, I ask: Which Christian ideas did Galileo and Copernicus oppose?

There is no competition in a monopoly. That's the whole point. There were no alternatives! It's not a stretch whatsoever. It is literally the definition of 'monopoly'.

I repeat: The church had a monopoly on medieval education only because there was NO EDUCATION there before Christianity reached Europe. It was something NEW, a voice crying in the west’s educational wilderness. It was not a monopoly in the sense that they were stifling the competition. You haven’t provided evidence that they did anything of the sort.

All these verses speak against heliocentrism. Thank Galileo. Blame the Bible.

Thankfully, Galileo was too literate to follow your recommendation. He, instead, blamed the Jesuits’ blind devotion to Aristotle. Scroll to the paragraph just below the one from which you cut and pasted:

”Galileo defended heliocentrism, and claimed it was not contrary to those Scripture passages. He took Augustine's position on Scripture: not to take every passage literally, particularly when the scripture in question is a book of poetry and songs, not a book of instructions or history. He believed that the writers of the Scripture merely wrote from the perspective of the terrestrial world, from that vantage point that the sun does rise and set. Another way to put this is that the writers would have been writing from a phenomenological point of view, or style. So Galileo claimed that science did not contradict Scripture, as Scripture was discussing a different kind of "movement" of the earth, and not rotations.[52]”

August 3, 2012 at 11:48 a.m.

happywithnewbulbs said...

And the problem with your idea of justice and rigjts being set to some external definitions means that it forces a fixed way on all situations and circumstances. Using a rigid meaning for them, especially derived from external sources is what allows them to be abused and exploited by others. After all, it was respected sources who defined them, and who are we to question their wisdom? That is what prevents understanding and mutual respect, because it leads to people thinking their way is right but ignoring the responsibility to consider actual situations and circumstances.

I'm glad history's real reformers were strong enough to not be bound by rigid authoritarian tradition


“One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters they were in reality standing up for the best in the American dream and the most sacred values in our Judeo-Christian heritage, and thusly, carrying our whole nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in the formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.” – Martin Luther King Jr. April 1963

August 3, 2012 at 12:01 p.m.

Still relying on others, whats_wrong_with_the_world? Sorry, but that won't give you cover, it just means you're doing the same thing I've said you've been doing. Cloaking yourself in the authority of others.

But at the same time Martin Luther King was saying that, other people like George Wallace or Strom Thurmond were saying exactly the opposite. That their sacred value and heritage were enshrined in Segregation, that that was the Constitutional Right, and that federal interference was violating their freedom.

And they're still saying it today, in case you haven't noticed Rand Paul.

But do keep picking quotes up. That's the best way to show you have to rely on others for your arguments in a way that brooks no discussion or dialogue.

After all, who would dare to argue with Martin Luther King?

Do you think I don't know what you're doing?

August 3, 2012 at 12:43 p.m.
Easy123 said...

wwwtw,

"Again, you offer no evidence. Just a ladder useful for historical cherry-picking."

Again, if you do not believe that Rome was the center of Christianity during the Middle Ages, you are delusional. You have presented nothing to the contrary other than the fact that Christianity was going on outside the Roman Empire. It's mind boggling that you totally ignore the importance of Rome on the spread of Christianity. Where was the center of Christianity during your beloved Middle Ages?

"Allow them to speak for themselves about the role faith played in their work."

You said yourself that the Bible should not be used in science. How do you reconcile this? How can you give their religion credit for any of their scientific discoveries? Islamic people were making discoveries as well. Do you give Islam credit for their discoveries?

"It was not a monopoly in the sense that they were stifling the competition."

That isn't the full definition of a "monopoly". Lack of competition is the definition of monopoly.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/monopoly

The Church didn't have to "stifle" any competition to be considered a monopoly. They had exclusive rights to education at that time, in that region.

"You haven’t provided evidence that they did anything of the sort."

Because you have moved the goalpost again and you don't know the definition of 'monopoly".

"He, instead, blamed the Jesuits’ blind devotion to Aristotle."

It doesn't matter who Galileo blamed. I have already presented the Bible verses that directly contradict heliocentrism. Galileo was attempting to reconcile his discoveries with the Bible. He had to make his discoveries fit in with the Bible to avoid conflict with the Church and his own religion. What would have happened if he came out and said "The Bible is wrong about this."?

You are making the same attempts at reconciliation with your arguments.

August 3, 2012 at 1:09 p.m.

happywithnewbulbs said...

But do keep picking quotes up. That's the best way to show you have to rely on others for your arguments in a way that brooks no discussion or dialogue. After all, who would dare to argue with Martin Luther King? Do you think I don't know what you're doing?

I’m demonstrating that I’m far from being alone in having ability to understand some pretty simple principles that seem to have eluded you. Those principles include: that the past applies to the present, that our legal system is based on Judeo-Christian morality, and that the founding documents of our government are relevant, nay essential, for deciding legal and policy questions today. Like King, I’m invoking the “democracy of the dead.”

You, after all, think the U.S. founders were winging it when they set up our government. They, however, knew how to distinguish legitimate appeals to authority from fallacious or inappropriate appeals to authority. When the British usurpers committed such fallacies, they didn’t ridicule or ignore the wisdom or authority of the past. They demanded respect for the rights guaranteed by the Magna Carta, the English Constitution, and, ultimately, by God. King and many other effective reformers argued similarly.

August 3, 2012 at 11:53 p.m.

Easy123 said...

Again, if you do not believe that Rome was the center of Christianity during the Middle Ages, you are delusional. You have presented nothing to the contrary other than the fact that Christianity was going on outside the Roman Empire. It's mind boggling that you totally ignore the importance of Rome on the spread of Christianity. Where was the center of Christianity during your beloved Middle Ages?

The power-center of western Christendom, yes. The head and the heart of Christianity itself, not by a long-shot. Rome did not (and does not) speak for all Christians. It dropped the ball when it comes to accounting for phenomenological language on the Bible, a mistake that Galileo and most Christians avoid. Even Rome has owned up to the error of its ways on that issue. You, however, still embrace their less accurate way of reading texts.

** You said yourself that the Bible should not be used in science. How do you reconcile this? How can you give their religion credit for any of their scientific discoveries? Islamic people were making discoveries as well. Do you give Islam credit for their discoveries?

“the role faith played in their work” refers to their professed religious inner-motivation for scientific study, not to some practice of using of Bible verses to confirm or refute their findings in astronomy or physics. Muslims, too, were motivated by religious faith to conduct science. But their limitations prevented them from producing the Scientific Revolution. (see earlier post)

*They had exclusive rights to education at that time, in that region.

It wasn’t a legal matter at all. Using “monopoly” to describe their method of operation bears very little correlation with what they actually did.

He had to make his discoveries fit in with the Bible to avoid conflict with the Church and his own religion. What would have happened if he came out and said "The Bible is wrong about this."?

For that question to have any pertinence, you would have to show some indication from his own writing or from that of his contemporaries that he did believe the Bible to be wrong about something. Otherwise, you are projected your own cynical rejections of the Bible onto him. More anachronisms.

August 4, 2012 at 12:43 a.m.
Easy123 said...

wwwtw,

"The head and the heart of Christianity itself, not by a long-shot."

You're delusional. Name a city with more influence on the spread of Christianity. Where is the Vatican? Have you heard of the Holy Roman Emperor? What about Constantine? The Pope? The fact that ROMAN Catholicism accounts for over half of the Christians worldwide and that percentage was much higher during the Middle Ages? Nothing you are presenting has proved anything you are saying.

"You, however, still embrace their less accurate way of reading texts."

This is you attempting to reconcile the Bible with modern science. And you're talking to me about anachronisms?

"professed religious inner-motivation for scientific study..Muslims, too, were motivated by religious faith to conduct science. But their limitations prevented them from producing the Scientific Revolution."

And this is you elevating Christianity above Islam to make Christianity look superior. You fail to realize that scientists worldwide were making similar discoveries about heliocentrism, etc. as Galileo and Copernicus. That quote alone shows what your true intentions are.

"It wasn’t a legal matter at all. Using “monopoly” to describe their method of operation bears very little correlation with what they actually did."

I never said it was a legal matter? Who is being too literal now? The Church had a monopoly on education. I gave you the link for the definition of the word. The Church had "exclusive control" over education at the time. It bears a DIRECT correlation to what the Church did.

"For that question to have any pertinence, you would have to show some indication from his own writing or from that of his contemporaries that he did believe the Bible to be wrong about something."

No, I wouldn't. I've given you verses directly from the Bible that would contradict heliocentrism. The Church knew these verses. That is who Galileo's work was banned. That is why there was controversy over his discoveries. I made it very clear that no matter what Galileo thought, he had to make a concentrated effort to reconcile his discoveries with the Bible.

"Otherwise, you are projected your own cynical rejections of the Bible onto him."

I'm not projecting. But you are reaching. His discoveries were direct conflict with Psalm 93:1 & 96:10, 1 Chronicles 16:30, Psalm 104:5, and Ecclesiastes 1:5. The Bible was wrong but you would never admit it. You will chalk it up to "literalism" or misinterpretation. Why is it only the controversial verses are the ones misinterpreted? Five verses from three separate books of the Bible we misinterpreted? What are the chances of that? Would you ever admit that maybe, JUST MAYBE, your Bible is what it is? A collection of copies of copies of copies of copies of oral tradition written in Bronze-age Palestine with numerous historical and scientific errors.

August 4, 2012 at 1:21 a.m.

Wwwtw, no what you are doing is seeking outside authority in order to take cover for yourself and discourage argument. That pretty simple principle continues to elude you. Probably because it would require that you own up to the conduct. You don't want to use the documents as useful tools for dialogue, but rather to defend your own ways in a manner that allows no consideration or change. You lock discussion down.

I think nothing of what you misrepresent my beliefs of the founding fathers to be. Winging it? Not at all. They were informed and studied. But they were willing (somewhat anyhow) to see the needs of the day, and did not bind themselves to the past. They even detached themselves from their original failed attempt (the articles of confederation) when that wasn't working. But you? Today you would bind yourself and the rest of us to what you claim is their rule. To get your way. In a means that you can't defend for yourself, but must continually seek the support of others who are no longer around to dispute you. That's why you are also so disparaging of me, because that way you don't have to own up to anything. Somebody else is always the responsible party.

How nice.

Thankfully I don't have to agree or play your game. I can continually say no to the country ty commissions attempt to foist their religion on us. And no, I don't believe for a second that they'll tolerate or welcome others.

Just like I don't believe you'd accept for a second the idea that justice doesn't come from binding yourself to others but that injustice all too readily follows from that path. Why? Because when you give yourself up to another, whether it be God, Jesus, George Washington, Marx, Lincoln, Stalin, or Hitler, you let them decide for you. Or rather you pretend to do so.

Just so you can sleep at night.

August 4, 2012 at 1:25 a.m.
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