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Obama’s Not A Muslim: Not That There Is Anything Wrong With That

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The misapprehension that Barack Obama is a Muslim demonstrates more than simple confusion about the basic fact of the president’s religion.

It, and to an extent even the correction of the matter by the White House and others, also conveys a pernicious anti-Muslim bias that should have no place in American thinking.

The problem isn’t only that close to 20 percent of Americans mistakenly identify Obama as a Muslim, it is also that that misconception apparently has grown over the last year in proportion to the decline in the president’s political standing. That makes clear the implication that being labeled a Muslim is really just another political epithet.

For Obama’s adversaries to claim they believe him to be Muslim is particularly absurd given the obsession conservatives had with statements made by his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, during the 2008 campaign.

The Wright controversy notwithstanding, however, it’s clear that the term Muslim has traveled a disgraceful trajectory in the years since no less than George W. Bush would go out of his way to laud Islam and its followers. Bush, a conservative Republican, once repeatedly sang the praises of Islam, and of Muslims, in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

“Here in the United States our Muslim citizens are making many contributions in business, science and law, medicine and education, and in other fields,” Bush remarked on one occasion in 2002. “Muslim members of our Armed Forces and of my administration are serving their fellow Americans with distinction, upholding our nation’s ideals of liberty and justice in a world at peace.”

There also appears to be at least the suggestion that Obama would be unfit to serve in office if he were a Muslim. The White House strangely seemed to reinforce that particular implication. By so quickly releasing a statement calling the president a “committed Christian,” the president’s aides almost seemed to take on a tone of rebutting slander.

The matter of a president’s religious preference as a criterion to be eligible for office should have been settled 50 years ago with John F. Kennedy’s major speech addressing his Catholicism and his subsequent election.

The details surely have changed, but the spirit of JFK’s remarks to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association during the 1960 campaign ring as true, and apparently, sadly, remain just as required, as they did then.

Rather than defensively deny what amounts to an allegation of being Muslim, Obama, instead, ought to have cribbed this line from Kennedy: “So it is apparently necessary for me to state once again not what kind of church I believe in — for that should be important only to me — but what kind of America I believe in.”

Let me just add that, in this, I have a particularly personal interest. I am a non-Christian myself. To use Obama’s phraseology, I have been a “committed Buddhist” for a number of years. My faith means much to me, has seen me through quite a lot, and I believe the world is a better place for having available the teachings of the Buddha. Although I have no interest in pursuing any elective office, it pains me to think that avenue is closed to me simply because I do not worship Jesus Christ.

In the midst of the current anti-Muslim hysteria, let me close, simply, with another prescient passage from Kennedy’s Houston speech:

For while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been, and may someday be again, a Jew— or a Quaker or a Unitarian or a Baptist. It was Virginia’s harassment of Baptist preachers, for example, that helped lead to Jefferson’s statute of religious freedom. Today I may be the victim, but tomorrow it may be you — until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped at a time of great national peril.


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About Scott Nance

  • eric

    No its not a contest. But truth is swept under the rug by the ever righteous christians pointing fingers at the muslims. Killing is not ok. Extremists are doing the killings and the followers of extremist thinking. Religion is not trutworthy,its manmade. I personally believe in me. Whoever my maker is I will learn when I die.

  • Sorry, Baronius, my humor is not coming across. I was being lighthearted.

    Church historian, how interesting. :)I’ll try not to pester you with a million questions!

  • Baronius

    I thought I’d explained this clearly enough. I was having problems with remote access (something about the comment filter) so I used a slightly different name. Most BC locals know that my screen name comes from Cesar Baronius, church historian. I didn’t think it would stump anyone.

  • Then, you need to sit down and have a talk with him, because he didn’t come across as being very religious. 🙂

  • Baronius,

    What! You were Ceasar? LOL!!!

  • The notion of an “inerrant church” just makes me roll my eyes and sigh. The same “inerrant church” that endorsed the Inquisition?

  • Clavos

    Cesare! Buon giorno!

  • Baronius

    Jeannie, that was me, Cesar Baronius. The comment filter has been giving me problems from remote locations.

  • Ceasar,

    Here you are, claiming to know Christ and all about his followers and what jerks they were…if you really knew, Christ, you wouldn’t be flinging mud…you would be gracious and respectful of others, just like Baronius.

    :O Notice I didn’t say, me

  • Cesar,

    With all due respect, I don’t know what denomination you are.

    Have you personally read the Dead Sea Scrolls?

    See, this is why , religion is such a touchy subject…

  • Cesar

    Jeannie, the Twelve are listed repeatedly. Mary Magdalene wasn’t one of them. I personally never held it against her that she was a former sinner, because all of Jesus’s followers were sinners.

    The Twelve were jerks. One of them stayed by Jesus’s side while he died, ten of them deserted him, and one of them ran off and killed himself. We don’t respect them because they were perfect; we respect them because they became holy leaders of the Church. We don’t disrespect Mary Magdalene because she wasn’t one of the Twelve; we respect her because she was holy.

    Handy, you’ve hit on a real problem for non-Catholics. You can’t have an inerrant Scripture without an inerrant Church which collected it. Either the specific people who compiled the Bible were guided by God (which I believe) or they weren’t (which you believe), but there were specific people who made judgement calls about Holy Scripture. As for believing that the fans of Paul tried to elbow out Peter in the 3rd century or whatever, well, that’s just speculation. There’s no historical or textual evidence to support it.

    I remember hearing a biblical theorist talking about Jesus’s supposed brothers, who he claimed were de-emphasized by later generations. But they’d missed one line of the Gospel when they scrubbed it clean, he noted, and that proved that they’d scrubbed it clean badly. No, it proved that they hadn’t scrubbed it clean, because it was still in the text!

    The thinking really is in line with conspiracy theorists.

  • I didn’t answer, Glenn, because the question has no bearing. As to harmonization, if you reread my post, you should know what I think.

    I’ve been plain enough.

  • Baronius,

    I just wanted to get your take on the subject of Magdalene as one of the Twelve, not just a close follower.

    I went to a Roman Catholic parish school, taught exclusively by nuns. It could not have been easy for the sisters, forced to tell the children that Mary Magdalene was a *fallen woman*.

    I never believed that story.

    So, when this type of information started revealing itself, I thought there must be a grain of truth here. She was smeared by the Catholic Church, it was political.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger and Zing –

    Can the “justification by faith” and the “justification not by faith alone” verses be harmonized? Zing doesn’t think so, and I’m not sure about what Roger thinks.

    But this is how they ARE harmonized: It’s like food and water. We are kept alive by eating food, right? Surely, and we can see this in Scripture as well. But is food in and of itself enough? No, for we need water, too.

    So it is with faith and works. There is no doubt that faith is crucial to justification before God…but faith is in and of itself insufficient before God.

    Thus the statements of Paul and James are justified.

    And Roger – you did not answer. Are you a “non-denominational Christian” as I suspect?

  • Possibly the church hierarchy who decided which books to include in the New Testament and which not to, were human and had human prejudices and failings, and therefore left some good stuff out and included some questionable stuff.

    Elaine Pagels makes a pretty interesting case for the importance of several of the Gnostic Gospels.

    I’m not a believer, but I find the history of the Bible and its relation to actual events [or not] fascinating.

  • Baronius

    “about the link, she does bare some thought, wouldn’t you agree?”

    Not really. It’s an example of the conspiracy-theory approach to biblical scholarship. It speculates that something happened without any evidence, and offers the fact that there’s no evidence as proof that there’s a cover-up.

  • Baronius,

    I think you hit upon an excellent idea yesterday when you said, “I wish BC had a religious section.”

    :)and…about the link, she does bare some thought, wouldn’t you agree?

  • I suppose it was rather unfair, Baronius, you’re not guilty of that; you know however my way of driving points across.

    I apologize and will try to be more judicious in the future.

  • Baronius

    Jeannie, offbeat biblical theories are a dime a dozen. I assure you, your link isn’t going to shake me to my core.

  • OK, I don’t want, Baronius’s head to explode, but…Mary Magdalene: Author of the Fourth Gospel?

    I have to go outside now…orders from hubby. :)I spend way too much time here.

  • Thank you! roger, no offenses… 🙂

  • Baronius

    Roger – What? In what comment did I fail to recognize my indebtedness to Paul? Why would you even say that?

  • Paul harmonized it, zing, by making works the fruit of faith. And “love” was the most important harvest.

    But you’re right. “Righteousness by faith,” which is Paul’s theology, stands in direct contradiction to “righteousness by works” (which was the vestige of the Old Testament theology.

    It’s amazing, however, how Baronius or Glenn, both Christian, fail to recognize their indebtedness to Paul. Again, if it weren’t for Paul, there would be no Christianity to speak of. And that’s not a biblical but a historical account.

  • And in that sense, Paul was the true founding father of Christianity. If it weren’t for Paul, the only possible converts would have been the Jews. And we all know, listen to Ruvy, with what meager results.

  • You’re right, zing. James had more power in the “clique” as you had put it. Most of the apostles/disciples were against spreading the Gospel to the Gentiles. Paul disagreed and he was overruled.

    Consequently, he had gone on his own and established Christian churches, yes, for the Gentiles, throughout Greece.

  • Baronius

    If you cite a specific case that I’m familiar with, I could tell you how I understand it.

  • I didn’t mean any insult, Jeannie. But OK, I’ll watch it from now on.

  • zingzing

    baronius, that doesn’t explain how the opposite ideas “harmonize.” nor does it explain how all the (hundreds of) other contradictions within the text of the bible “harmonize.”

  • The Bible is not a “book” but an anthology. It started as oral tradition, then was added to and written down by dozens of authors over several centuries. So trying to pretend that it “can’t” contain error or contradiction is just a silly game.

    If there is a God, he gave you a brain, intending you to use it, not to selectively turn it off when faced with religious contradictions and paradoxes.

    Human error is built into all religions. It doesn’t invalidate them, but denying the existence of the error comes close to invalidating the denier’s intelligence.

  • Baronius

    Zing, it’s not as crazy as it sounds. James, the dude, carried more weight than Paul. James, the book, is on equal footing with Paul’s writings.

  • zingzing

    “James did have more authority than Paul, but they were both apostles and we are to give their statements equal weight. Furthermore, their statements must not conflict. They MUST harmonize…”

    james said “justification not by faith alone” and paul said “justification by faith.” or that could be backwards, but i don’t care.

    so.. james has more weight than paul. so you listen to james. but you must give equal weight to their statements, even though they conflict. so you listen to both. but james, having more weight…

    oh, fuck it. that doesn’t make any sense to me. that’s how most christian explanations of the conflicting ideas in the bible come off to me. just another conflicted mess, presented as a circular explanation that seems to trick you guys and confuse us. unless you’re talking about james’ power within the jesus clique, in which case, this is all meaningless.

    which it is. it’s just a story.

  • Thanks for the link, #109!


  • well, now I’m a number… better than nothing!

  • Roger,

    I was commenting on the subject of this article, If you have something to say, say it directly. not by veiled insults


  • #105

    The New Testament is quite explicit about the nature of the struggle:

    “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

    Ephesians 6:12, King James (Paul’s epistle)

    The following link provides all manner of translations, the meaning of the Greek (Koine) terms involved, as well as a number of commentaries.

  • Baronius

    Jeannie – I was answering the 100/101 question. You wanted an example of violence in the Koran and I provided it.

  • I have no idea why some commenters use my understanding of Islam – and I repeat, only my understanding, to infer therefrom that I’m dead-set against it, that I have no respect for Muslims, or that I’m necessarily against the mosque business. If I were against any of those things, I would have spoken on those issues directly rather than hiding behind Koran’s interpretations to insinuate my agreement or disagreement.

    Totally unwarranted, making those kind of connections. It’s as if all of a sudden the correct understanding of Koran was the main order of business, the uttermost thing on everyone’s mind, rather than the practical issue(s) at hand.


  • Baronius,

    Parts of the Bible also read that way. You aren’t waging a Roman Catholic Holy War…

  • Handyguy,

    I’m having a *Jihad* right now!

    The root of this debating and arguing is all over a, Community Center!!!

    I am going to go out on a limb now…all alone and say, “Since he majority of Muslims in NYC, just happen to be Black, isn’t there a possibility that this is also a motivator for the vile hatred that is being fostered in this country right now?”

    This occurred to me while listening to a description of the proposed Community Center. If I’m wrong, please say.

  • Baronius

    excerpts from Surah (Chapter) 8 from the Online Quran Project:

    Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): “I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instil terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them.” This because they contended?against God and His Messenger. If any contend against God and His Messenger, God is strict in punishment…. It is not ye who slew them; it was God…. Say to the Unbelievers, if (now) they desist (from Unbelief), their past would be forgiven them; but if they persist, the punishment of those before them is already (a matter of warning for them). And fight them on until there?is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in God altogether and everywhere; but if they cease, verily God doth see all that they do.

  • Jihad can mean an internal, spiritual struggle. It is not just a word for holy war.

  • Jeannie – the Jihad, the Holy War, is in the Koran. There is no such term or its equivalent in the New Testament. The Crusades and Christian Holy Wars were instituted by the Roman Church, not by the New Testament writings.

    That’s the best argument I can give you. If you remain unconvinced, so be it.

  • Roger,

    You said, “The militancy of Christianity can be explained away by its institutions. But Islam’s militancy appears inherent in the faith itself, as though embedded in the Koran.”

    and I asked for, a passage in the Koran that proves this absolute statement. absolute in the fact that you, claim knowledge of the Koran…

    I didn’t claim this knowledge, so the burden of proof is not with me.

    : O see?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    I suspect we’re at the beginning of a long discussion – but I’ve only got through Monday night before I go back stateside, so time is of the essence.

    I take it, then, that you are non-denominational? You appear to me to be one of those ‘non-denominational’ protestants who feels he can walk freely between denominations – for denominations do not matter to you. Am I right?

    And this is not a drill – I am going to bed now…good night!

  • I am making an institutional distinction, Jeannie, Jordan. There is nothing in the New Testament ever alluding to any militant stance – in fact, precisely the opposite is the dominant message (as exemplified by Christ’s life and works). Consequently, any militancy on the part of Christianity can be rightly attributed to the institution of the Roman Church which was just as much of a player in the international arena as any secular kingdom at the time. In fact, the Holy Roman Empire represented the Roman Church’s greatest outreach. Hence the Christian Crusades, Holy Wars, etc. – instigated by the authority of the Pope. So no, Jeannie, I don’t need any links. Read up some books on history of Christianity and the history of Europe.

    Jihad, however, a Holy War, is an important Islam concept. The very idea of a caliphate arises from the notion of Muslim’s intent to institute the rule of Allah in this here world. Surely, they’ve been strictly secular caliphates, Harun Al Rashid’s represents the finest, the Ottoman Empire being another; as well as those that are supposed to run on religious, Allah-prescribed principles. So yes, there is a strain within Islam. But the fundamental, non-secular brand of Islam aims at re-establishing the Kingdom of God on Earth (somewhat akin to the Jewish belief but without the second-coming of the Messiah – consequently, by their efforts). Which is why I argue that Islamic militancy is not institutionally-derived, which is the case with Christianity.

    And of course there are peaceful and non-militant Muslims, such as there as secular ones. But I’m addressing the fundamental beliefs.

  • One interpretation is that free will was accorded to humans in order to demonstrate to all and sundry that God’s “rule” is just. Hence the “human experiment” to preclude the possibility of another rebellion along the lines of Lucifer.

  • I’m aware of the fact, Glenn, that you used “we” to refer to your Church; I only objected to the fact you used it authoritatively.

    And yes, I would wager my eternal soul on faith rather than anything else. Any doctrine or dogma is just the architecture we construct to serve as edifice, a monument to our faith. And it’s grand and magnificent at times, but that’s all it is. Which is why faith is primary and is to be distinguished from the content of our beliefs. (Indeed, even a “pagan” with true faith is no less worthy in the eye of God than a most devout Christian, I’d say.) In this respect, Pauline theology is much more on target than James’s.

    As to “harmonizing things,” they are harmonized. Faith must express itself in works if it is to be true, which doesn’t detract from the fact that faith is primary and determinative.

    Paul’s epistle in First Corinthians on love as coming before everything else, as being the finest fruit of faith, is proof enough that Paul reconciled the different strains.

  • Baronius

    “How does that work exactly?”

    I don’t know.

    In the movie Bruce Almighty, God gives Jim Carrey all his powers, and gives him a couple of rules, one of which is that he can’t control people’s free will. Well, it’s a Jim Carrey movie, so all kinds of wackiness ensues. At one point, he’s trying to win his girlfriend back, and he asks God, “how do you get someone to love you without affecting free will?”. God answers, “let me know when you figure that one out”.

    I think that’s the whole thing. God has to let us love him, or we’re not loving him at all. The option to love him includes the option of not loving him. So he permits evil (which after all is just the act of not loving) without being its author.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    And Roger –

    The militancy of Christianity can be explained away by its institutions. But Islam’s militancy appears inherent in the faith itself, as though embedded in the Koran.

    But by their fruits shall ye know them, right? And would the Body of Christ be involved in wars that lead to the deaths of even one innocent life, much less millions of innocent lives?

    I think not!

    Let that be the beginning of your search for salvation, then! For nearly all protestant denominations have been stained at some point with the blood of innocents at some point in their histories, as have the different sects of Islam.

    Search for the Body of Christ with a most critical eye, Roger….

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Rog –

    ‘We’ is the Church of Christ (Tagalog Iglesia ni Cristo, or ‘INC’ for short).

    You ask “why must they harmonize?” – to which I ask, “why can’t they harmonize?”

    You seem to place much stock in ‘Pauline’ theology…but is that theology right? Are you willing to wager your soul on it?

    You’ll probably say that last question is a clear sign of a ‘doctrinaire’…but if you believe in an afterlife, then what is the most serious of all possible subjects? How to reach that desired afterlife, obviously.

    Roger, I learned a long time ago to question everything – that’s why I place so much stock in what is provable, and what is not. The matter of our eternal salvation is the most serious of all possible subjects, and so it is incumbent upon anyone searching for salvation to question everything.

    I can disprove Catholicism and protestantism to the point that I am supremely confident that salvation cannot be found with them. I can disprove all other religions to the same standard…except for the INC. The evidence for the INC is significant but not to the point of overwhelming – but just as importantly, I cannot disprove the INC as I can all other religions.

    So go ahead and call me a ‘doctrinaire’ if you wish. But those who choose religions with less of a critical eye than with which they choose a health insurance policy or a home to buy are doing themselves an eternal disservice of the greatest magnitude.

  • Jordan Richardson

    But Islam’s militancy appears inherent in the faith itself, as though embedded in the Koran.

    The problem with this is that it implies that Islam is a homogeneous religion. It isn’t. No religion is.

    All religions have various movements that contain more violence and conflict than others, like the Christian Identity movement or other such groups. They find justification for their violence in the words of scripture, just as Islamists find justification for their use of terror and violence in the Qu’ran.

    It’s not ingrained in the Qu’ran. If it were, the vast majority of Muslims would commit violent acts and would be militant. But they aren’t. The vast majority of Muslims are peaceful, compassionate, loving individuals who take their faith seriously. Will you suggest to them that they aren’t rendering a proper reading of the Qu’ran?

  • roger,The militancy of Christianity can be explained away by its institutions. But Islam’s militancy appears inherent in the faith itself, as though embedded in the Koran.

    Can you show a passage to back this statement up?

    I find this type of rhetoric very inflammatory, don’t you?

  • Jordan Richardson

    Wrestling with issues of conscience is submission to Islam though. That’s the point.

    Militancy is embedded in many faiths because of the notion of religious supremacy. How far that supremacy goes in a practical sense tends to be wrapped up in cultural and social ideas more than theological ones.

    And no, Muslims don’t accept “Christ’s ultimate sacrifice” as atonement. Why would they? They aren’t Christians…

  • They accept them as “prophets” insofar as they’ve lead exemplary lives. I don’t believe, however, they accept the idea of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice as atonement for sins.

    This idea seems foreign to Islam.

  • This does seem on the right track, Baronius. “Submission” (to God’s will) is the dominant theme, not wrestling with one’s conscience. In fact, it’s arguable that Islam is, when it comes down to it, a hedonistic type of religion.

    It’s a different culture, of course, which no doubt determines the content of their beliefs (or I should say perhaps, a culture which hasn’t been affected much by the ideas of Christianity).

    The interesting question is – does it have a bearing, and if so, how – on the militant nature of Islam? The militancy of Christianity can be explained away by its institutions. But Islam’s militancy appears inherent in the faith itself, as though embedded in the Koran.

  • Jordan Richardson

    And considering the fact that Muslims consider everyone from Adam to Muhammed to be prophets, I’m pretty sure there are several examples of wrestling with Allah’s authority and will.

  • Jordan Richardson

    To question God, or to think of him as suffering, is to blaspheme.

    Not true.

    Islam encourages questions about the nature of Allah and his will. Islam teaches that any question that arises for a purpose should be voiced out and Muslims should work to get an answer for it. The discovery of answers to questions about the nature of Allah and his commandments is a part of the process of clarification and, from there, true submission becomes the goal.

  • Jordan Richardson

    God “permitted” evil, according to your theology, but didn’t “create” it. How does that work exactly?

  • Baronius

    Jordan – Any religion that believes in suffering has to explain it. Some religions don’t believe in suffering; they have to explain why we perceive suffering. But those that believe that suffering exists have only a limited number of possible explanations.

    Judiasm, Christianity, and Islam are similar in that they believe in one good G-d and in suffering. The Jewish tradition is to wrestle with G-d, to try to talk him out of things or to try to understand him. Not as equals – but as servants he deigns to listen to.

    The Christian tradition is moved by the idea that Christ’s suffering freed us from sin. We can unite our suffering to His and offer it up as penance for our sins.

    Islam has no comparable notions. To question G-d, or to think of him as suffering, is to blaspheme. There’s no similar sense of empathy, that G-d’s been through it too. On top of that, G-d created evil, not just permitted it. This makes G-d similar to the Calvinist perception that some people are precondemned to Hell. Both Islam and Calvinism focus on the theme of G-d’s authority, rather than his love.

    These distinctions may seem small, but on long journeys even the slightest difference in navigation will result in significantly different destinations.

  • Zedd

    Ruvy’s god has to be really really small. If he is is only consumed with a few million people and his relevant interaction with humanity only began 5000 yrs ago, then he is not the god of the universe.

  • Who is “we”? And why must they harmonize? There are strands in any movement. Not to knock down your spirituality, Glen, you are being as doctrinaire about your religion as you tend to be about politics.

    Well, I don’t bow to any narrowly-defined Catholic doctrine which is clearly self-serving, to no doctrine if fact.

    That’s where you and I differ, about “the word of God.” The Old and New Testaments aren’t the only “version.” Gita was another. And so on and so forth.

    Pauline theology is BTW the dominant theology of the Protestant churches – those who broke away from the Catholic dogma, remember, so you don’t have the monopoly on interpreting the scriptures. And to my thinking, that theology is closer to reflecting my idea of true spiritual life.

    I would have thought you’d understand the nature of my statement. I could of course discuss biblical exegesis and hermeneutics with you, but this was not my intent.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Zing –

    No, that’s not right. James did have more authority than Paul, but they were both apostles and we are to give their statements equal weight. Furthermore, their statements must not conflict. They MUST harmonize – for if we do not harmonize the statements within Scripture that otherwise seem to conflict with each other, then we are in danger of picking and choosing which Scripture we believe, and which Scripture we ignore.

  • zingzing

    not to nitpick, but reconcile the following: “We don’t see one statement by an apostle as being ‘more powerful’ than another statement.”


    “James had more authority than Paul.”

    maybe i miss your meaning, but it seems like you put james above paul, and therefore your first statement isn’t true. i’d say there’s many ways that people cover up for the inconsistencies in the bible, and some of them are rather mysterious.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Rog –

    We don’t see one statement by an apostle as being ‘more powerful’ than another statement. We see there being no conflict between what Paul and what James said.

    In fact, we believe that James had MORE authority than Paul did. Why? Read Acts 15. There was a debate that involved apostles and elders, and it was James the brother of Jesus who delivered the judgment that settled the matter. The decision involved sending Paul and Barnabas to Antioch…and I think you must agree that normally, the senior sends the junior and not vice versa.

    AFAIK, there is no other instance of an apostle delivering a judgment concerning a debate, conflict, or issue that divided apostles and elders of the Church. James had more authority than Paul.

  • I didn’t say “faith alone,” Glenn. True faith expresses itself in works. Still, Pauline doctrine of “justification by faith” is more powerful than James’, which is basically perpetuating the Old Testament tradition.

    Just like Christ broke away from the Ten Commandment and the Old Testament tradition, so has Paul.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    The “faith alone” premise is not a Biblical teaching. Please read this verse from James 2:24 –

    Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

    Now the ‘faith alone’ crowd espouses the belief that if a person truly has faith, then he will have works – and they have many verses to back up their contention, such as the verses that show that works alone cannot save. But it seems to me that although they’re trying to arrive at the same conclusion (of works that God will accept), they’re teaching a ‘lazy’ interpretation, for a person who may have faith but is not edified on the importance of works will probably have fewer works than the person who has faith and is often reminded of the crucial nature of works.

    ‘Faith alone’ is insufficient before God, as the verse I quoted above clearly shows.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Jordan –

    To try to understand God or to try to do God’s will? I think there’s a distinction here, one that makes Christianity and Islam more similar than you’d allow for.

    Jesus isn’t God, but He did say, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord but do not do what I say?”

  • Jordan Richardson

    Islam’s focus is on submission. It’s very much in the spirit of Christianity to try to understand God, but the Muslim’s priority is to serve

    To try to understand God or to try to do God’s will? I think there’s a distinction here, one that makes Christianity and Islam more similar than you’d allow for.

    Christians are constantly told how mysterious God’s ways are, how unreachable God is, etc. Only through accepting Christ’s sacrifice can Christians hope to grasp God’s will for their lives. That’s not so different than the fundamentals of Islam.

  • PS: If you’re not a “good Jew” by Ruvy’s definition, you’re out of luck.

  • #68 “It is not a collective experience.”

    Right on, Zedd. For Jews it was a collective experience. Hence, “the Children of Israel,” etc. One must be part of the community (as Ruvy ably argues) to be “saved” – actually it’s a foreign concept in the Old Testament. It’s the entire community which is part of the covenant and delivered to “the Promised Land” (again, concrete use and not metaphorical, because we’re talking here about a people to be delivered from slavery in Egypt).

    Not so with Pauline theology of “salvation by faith” – a theology which the Catholic dogma conveniently ignores because it makes salvation independent of the Roman Church – which makes it a natter of individual conscience and a personal relationship with Christ.

  • Zedd

    OMG what a stalker. He’s so crushing on me.

    Clav for the last time, you are not my type.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Baronius –

    I thought you were listing only those four events (the Thirty Years War, the French Relgious Wars, the Ustashe genocide in WWII Yugoslavia, and the Inquisition).

    In my original comment listing those four conflicts, I said:

    If we count ONLY strictly religious conflicts including the Thirty Years War, the French Relgious Wars, the Inquisition, and the Ustashe genocide in WWII Yugoslavia…

    I can see your confusion, because when I used the word “including”, said word can be read exclusive or inclusive of other conflicts…and I had meant it to be inclusive of other conflicts.

    As for the conservative estimate – here you’ve got me, because for the Thirty Years War I used the median estimate, but not for the remainder of the conflicts.

    So the cause was my failure to clarify when I used ‘including’, and my intellectual dishonesty for using a median estimate and calling it a conservative estimate. I sincerely apologize and am grateful to you for sticking to your guns, as it were. And NO, I don’t enjoy giving a mea culpa and eating a heaping helping of crow (it sucks, really)…but if I don’t do the right thing, then I have neither honor nor integrity.

    Now that the groveling is done, my original point STILL stands that mainstream “Christianity” is still responsible for more deaths in the Name of God than any other religion in the history of humankind.

    (One wonders if I’ve actually proven my point or if the last statement was only sour grapes….)

  • Clavos

    Not apologizing to you Clav though :p

    None expected, or wanted, Zedd. I don’t want to be forced into having to be nice to you.

  • Zedd


    #49- your theology is wrong and Muslims believe in the teachings of Jesus.

    True Christianity is a personal journey. Above all else it is based on the belief that one is saved by grace, lest they should boast. That it is not their good deeds that make them righteous. So we should shhhh (to paraphrase).

    It is not a collective experience. If you are engaging in apologetics or biblical hermeneutics, this is probably not the proper forum and you may not be the best messenger.

  • Baronius

    I get it. Neither of us displayed particularly good reading comprehension.

    You added up multiple events to get a *mean* estimate of 15 million, and you called it a conservative estimate.

    I thought you were listing only those four events (the Thirty Years War, the French Relgious Wars, the Ustashe genocide in WWII Yugoslavia, and the Inquisition). From that same Wikipedia page, I took the conservative estimates for the first three: 3m, 2m, and .5k. Elsewhere, the estimate for the death toll of the Inquisition was 50k, and I rounded up to a total of 5.6 million dead.

    Then we talked past each other.

  • Zedd

    Okay, I must come across as really rude. I apologize. I really am not. However I really don’t want to be all chummy on BC, its weird to me. At least not too much. That stuff hearkens back to the chat rooms from back in the day (AOL). Things always ended up getting a little creepy.

    So when I just comment on the topic and ask direct questions please don’t be insulted. I enjoy learning and I really enjoy discussing politics especially reading opposing view points.

    Not apologizing to you Clav though :p

  • Glenn Contrarian

    And as an aside, I did not include the Taiping Rebellion (which was a religious war that led to 20M deaths in China) because those who initiated it based their beliefs on an erroneous understanding of OT Scripture and IMO was therefore not closely related to the mainstream “Christian” wars of Europe and do not belong for the purposes of this discussion.

  • “It’s nobody’s business what religion, President Obama practices or doesn’t practice.”

    Except that there has been a tradition in American politics, Jeannie, especially with respect to the highest office, that a conspicuously religious person is a person of higher moral standing. It’s a bunch of crack, but that’s conservative America for you.

    Consequently, the voices you’re hearing on the subject of Obama’s faith or lack thereof are the very same voices, and the intent is to discredit him as not qualified to hold office (just like the birthers had tried to do).

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Baronius, Baronius, Baronius –

    It would startle me if Glenn properly researched a topic

    Ah. So…let’s first look at your reply:

    Glenn, you’re right; the problem is that one of us is ignorant of history. You give a conservative estimate of the death toll of those four events at 15 million. Wikipedia gives a conservative estimate of 5.6 million.

    You say Wikipedia gives an estimate for the death toll of these conflicts at 5.6 million? But WHERE in Wikipedia are you getting this particular estimate?

    The Wikipedia article on the Thirty Years War – as far as I can see – does not itself give a total for the number of deaths…but it DOES link to a different article – a List of Wars and Disasters by Death Toll which (for the Thirty Years War) gives a range of 3M to 11.5M total deaths…and this article references PRECISELY the same article where I got my information from in my previous post. The reference used by the Wiki gives a median death toll for the Thirty Years War of 7.6 million, which is considerably more than your claim for the total of the four conflicts.

    The same references variously give estimates of 2-4M for the French Religious Wars, 3-4M for the “Deluge” of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, 1-2M for the Crusades, 1M for the Albigensian Crusade, 900K for the Persecution of the Waldensians, 15-20% of total population for the Cologne War, 300-600K in religious strife in Ireland from 1641-53, 100K for the Dutch Revolt (Catholicism v. Calvinism)…

    …need I go on? Those I listed add up to a range of 16 to 20 million deaths. And it can be as easily proven that religion played a significant role in nearly every war NOT listed until the 1700’s.

    The most destructive of those events, the Thirty Years’ War, you describe as a religious war. Sometimes it was, sometimes it wasn’t.

    But if YOU would read the Wiki article, you would have seen the following quote: “Initially the war was fought largely as a religious conflict between Protestants and Catholics in the Holy Roman Empire, although disputes over the internal politics and balance of power within the Empire played a significant part.”

    It started with religion…with a conflict between trinitarian “Christians”.

    In the above research, I’ve provided references (which you did not choose to do). Are you going to admit your error? Or are you going to do what modern conservatives seemingly always do and double down on your claims despite their obvious falsity?

    Lastly, you derided the connection I drew between Martin Luther’s strongly anti-Semitic writings and the conduct of the majority-Lutheran population of Nazi Germany. Others here easily saw the connection. You CHOSE not to…as always, none are so blind as those who refuse to see.

    On a related matter, about a month ago in a different thread you felt you’d found me to be wrong on something, called me out, and said you’d wait on my ‘apology’. I remember reading that and knew for certain that I could prove you wrong, but I didn’t get an opportunity to post the research obviating your error. Would you care to remind me what the controversy was so I could point out to you YOUR error?

  • zingzing

    baronius: “god told me to end tyranny in iraq.” –mr. george bush.

    it certainly wasn’t the entire reason, nor do i believe god spoke to george bush, nor do i believe that even he believes that, and i do think he had daddy issues and was listening to people quite willing to lie to him so that he could lie to the american people, but he used his christian belief to justify his idiocy, greed and bloodlust.

    but you knew that.

  • Baronius

    “religion isn’t always benevolent…as we saw on 9/11, and as we saw with the invasion of iraq and as we’ve seen countless times throughout history.”

    Huh? I thought we invaded Iraq to keep the price of oil low, or drive it up; or it was some Freudian obsession of Bush Jr’s; or it was all about neocon expansionism. I didn’t know it was about religion. Oh, I almost forgot – it was all a plan to make the public forget that we couldn’t find bin Laden. (Although if it was, then I don’t know why Cheney and the neocons were planning it from the day they showed up in the White House. No matter.)

  • Baronius

    Heh – first I’d have to read the book…

  • Yes, Baronius

    That would be great if you wrote an article!

    no pressure…

  • Baronius, we welcome articles about religion in our Culture section, in case you’re moved to write one.

  • Baronius

    I wish that BC had a religion section. There are at least 5 cans of worms that I’ve opened, and it’s going to get confusing if I try to reply to each one. Oh, well, let’s see where this goes.

  • Baronius

    Jeannie, there’s a book that came out recently, God Is Not One. I haven’t read it yet, but the author’s theory is that all religions don’t teach the same thing. The author, Stephen Prothero, argues that each of the major religions addresses a different question:

    “…religious folk agree that something has gone awry. They part company, however, when it comes to stating just what has gone wrong, and they diverge even more sharply when they move from diagnosing the human problem to prescribing how to solve it….Christians see sin as the human problem, and salvation from sin as the religious goal. Buddhists see suffering (which, in their tradition, is not ennobling) as the problem, and liberation from suffering as the goal. Confucians see social disorder as the problem, and social harmony as the goal. And so it goes from tradition to tradition…”

    Actually, that’s kind of an answer to Jordan’s comment, too. Islam’s focus is on submission. It’s very much in the spirit of Christianity to try to understand God, but the Muslim’s priority is to serve. There’s a different perspective.

    I see by the comment preview # that a couple of comments have been added. I better stop yammering and submit this.

  • zingzing

    “My bet is that Islam is worse, because it teaches people to aspire to be like its conquering founder, whereas Christianity teaches people to be like its martyr founder.”

    and you would lose that bet.

    and all that stuff that followed showed a profound misunderstanding of both islam and christianity. you handle one with a steak knife and the other with powder puffs, yet can’t get a grasp on either.

    (and god is dead? that’s some statement there. i know, i know… but i never quite grasped how god can be his own son. or jesus is god and impregnated his own mother or whatever is going on there. sick stuff.)

  • I don’t want to gang up, Baronius…but please answer, Jordan.


  • Baronius,

    The longer I live, the more I am convinced that Religions and all of it’s nuances does not really exist, except to control and amass tax-free wealth from it’s parishioners.

    No longer Catholic or Catholic-Lite, I am now Agnostic.

  • Jordan Richardson

    The Christian believes in a God who became one of us, while the Muslim believes in a God whose ways are unquestionable. The Muslim God created evil, but the Christian God died to free us from evil.


    So in terms of Christian theology, God’s ways are perfect because He is omnipotent and omnipresent and omniscient, yet you think this differs from the theology of Islam how? Because Islam’s Allah’s ways are “unquestionable?” How is this any different than “Do not test the Lord your God” or other such passages?

    Next, who in Christian theology “created evil?” You suggest that Islam’s deity did it and imply that the Christian God had nothing to do with its creation but everything to do with deliverance from it.

    Come on. Really?

  • I named two people other than Catholic Saints to pose as, blessed.

    I am disappointed with your response. 🙁

  • Baronius

    Jeannie (re: #22) – By all accounts, John Lennon was a jerk. But yes, everyone has strengths and weaknesses in their behaviour, and some people are better than others. We all fall short of who we should be, though.

    It wouldn’t shake my faith if it turned out that Christians were responsible for more deaths than Muslims. (It would startle me if Glenn properly researched a topic, but it wouldn’t shake my faith.) I know that there have been a lot of lousy Christians and a lot of decent non-Christians. My bet is that Islam is worse, because it teaches people to aspire to be like its conquering founder, whereas Christianity teaches people to be like its martyr founder. The Christian believes in a God who became one of us, while the Muslim believes in a God whose ways are unquestionable. The Muslim God created evil, but the Christian God died to free us from evil.

    And still, somehow, we manage to hold on to our lousiness. I’d put the better moments of the saints up against any other religion, though.

  • Baronius

    Deano – I didn’t know that. Interesting.

  • Deano

    Glenn & Baronius,

    Don’t know if it is included in your calculations but the Taiping Rebellion in China (1850-1864) killed an estimated 20 million people. The Taiping were led by a failed clerk who converted to Christianity and thought he was Christ’s younger brother. It was a very strange version of Christianity that the Taiping sect preached, but it probably qualifies…

  • Baronius

    Glenn, you’re right; the problem is that one of us is ignorant of history.

    You give a conservative estimate of the death toll of those four events at 15 million. Wikipedia gives a conservative estimate of 5.6 million. The most destructive of those events, the Thirty Years’ War, you describe as a religious war. Sometimes it was, sometimes it wasn’t. (Sometimes it was Muslims killing Christians, by the way.) Most of your comment is devoted to Luther’s anti-Semitism, implying that Christianity is responsible for the Holocaust. But the fact that you don’t come out and make the argument suggests to me that you realize how fallacious it is.

  • John,

    It’s a community center.

    🙁 You are playing into someone’s hands if you support this bigoted,small-minded thinking that says other-wise.

  • John Lake

    Re: #29
    If it were up to me I wouldn’t remark on the President’s religion — but the subject came up…
    I am now looking into the developers of the proposed Mosque and their backgrounds. If I come up with something, this should make a good article.

  • Zedd,

    Well, that’s a relief!

    I love reading your comments and even though I’m too shy to jump in, I’m listening.

    : )

  • Zedd


    I got you mixed up with someone else. Sorry.

  • Zedd,

    You must have addressed #38 with the wrong name.

    I have no idea what you are saying.

  • Bill B

    While I get the societal dynamics it’s still amazing to me that a candidates religious affiliation matters at all. I suppose problem number one is that what they SAY during a given campaign seems to hardly resemble what they actually do when elected.

    With that in mind shouldn’t the way in which whatever they stand for is imbued with ethics and morality be enough? Why must they profess to be an adherent to this (usually Christian of course) or that religion?

    While I believe in God I am not an adherent to any specific religion. I could care less what if any religion a given candidate is. What he or she stands for is what’s important. And of course whether they actually do what they say on the campaign trail; a rare breed that is.

  • Clavos

    The religious types have been killing each other for centuries?

  • Zedd


    You really have to go to the Holocaust? You are the only descendant of slaves on this thread but it didn’t dawn on you that that may be a really good example of Christians gone bad? Way to represent :op

    Have you been shunned into not wanting to sound like Al Sharpton or Black Ruvy? It’s okay, we are at home on the bed with the laptop or at Barnes and Noble, eating cheese cake or one of those sinful cup cakes or Starbucks, sipping away…. We are in our own lives. There is no cool kids table.

    We don’t have to go to Germany to find numbers that are significant enough. 10 million Native Americans in the Americas, 10 million Africans under the sea and more on the soil… since you wont say it.

    I believe if we face these things head on, without emotion, they will become senseless much sooner.

  • zingzing

    baronius: “Zing – 600 years.”

    yeah, sorry. dunno how i made that mistake. it was early? i was foggy from sunday celebrations in brooklyn (they are something to behold)? furthermore, i doubt you could really remove the religious zealots from the power and money-hungry who did stuff “in the name of” the various religions at play.

    still, i doubt that islam is any worse than christianity in its bloodlust. maybe islam has caught up some over the last few decades, but christianity has been a reason to kill for a long, long time.

    religion isn’t always benevolent. it’s warped by those who claim it. they’re only human. in the hands of men, it can easily become a twisted thing that provides the reasoning behind many unreasonable acts. as we saw on 9/11, and as we saw with the invasion of iraq and as we’ve seen countless times throughout history.

  • Well, I’m turning into a pumpkin…nite BC 🙂

  • : ) I’m sure it will be a very compelling article, Glenn. I can’t wait!

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Jeannie –

    Thanks – actually, I’ve got to put another article together about my experiences (and my son’s experiences) together. Give me a few days….

  • I never knew that about Martin Luther. Pretty stunning stuff. Of course, people at the time thought it was perfectly “Christian” to burn people at the stake or roast their entrails in front of them while they were still alive.

  • Handyguy,


    : )

  • Oh, Glenn,

    I was laughing when I first saw it…all could see was him blowing a gasket, poor soul

    Like me seeing something really insulting Obama…Obama mama can get really mad.

    How is life in the Philippians? Good I hope and your little boy? Did he get medical coverage? Not nosy, just wondering…

  • Jeannie, just to further clarify, on Seinfeld, the reference was, when Jerry and George are assumed to be gay by another character: “We’re not gay! Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” It was very funny, and served to defuse a ‘controversial’ issue while also gently mocking political correctness.

    So it seems wittily appropriate to use it in the present context.

  • John,

    I like you and enjoy reading almost all of your articles, but to #27, I say two things

    So what! Our President indeed attended Muslim School as a boy.
    BS! In any case, his Muslim background makes him more acceptable to those who still may determine to destroy us.

    : O It’s a community center for people who wish to practice the faith of their choosing, not a community center for people who want to plot our destruction.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Jeannie –

    It’s from the Jewish Virtual Library – I’m quite sure Ruvy knows about it already. But since I came out against Israel’s Gaza blockade, he doesn’t speak to me much anymore.

    But here’s the interesting sad fact – we’ve Lutheran churches everywhere in the states and we hear NOTHING about what their founder believed or how his writings were used by the Nazis against the Jews. Lutherans today simply don’t know the history of their church, and it’s politically incorrect to point out the parallels between Martin Luther’s writings and the persecutions of the Jews by the Nazis.

    I didn’t know all this when I was a Lutheran back in the mid-80’s….

  • John Lake

    If I may respond to the general topic:
    Our President indeed attended Muslim School as a boy. Later he embraced Christianity.
    The statement, “He prays daily” is hardly within the proper range for media updates!
    In any case, his Muslim background makes him more acceptable to those who still may determine to destroy us.
    He looks more and more like a one term president. I think he matched President Jimmy Carter in honesty and integrity. In other matters he may have well surpassed Carter.

  • OMG! I hope, Ruvy doesn’t look at that link.


  • Glenn,

    Oh good, you found those statistics. I tried last week but failed.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    handy and el Bicho –

    This isn’t a game of one-upmanship. This is a process of relieving a man of his ignorance of history. I do not ‘win’ by proving my point, because this is not a zero-sum game (i.e. “if one wins, someone else loses”). The only winner in this contest, if you must call it that, is the one who has a little more of the blindfold of ignorance removed from his eyes.

  • Glenn Contrarian


    I spent a doggone HOUR providing Baronius with the stats he asked for showing that mainstream “Christianity” had killed more people in the Name of God than any other religion…and Askimet kicked it back. Grrr….

    Okay, Baronius, here’s the short version:

    If we count ONLY strictly religious conflicts including the Thirty Years War, the French Relgious Wars, the Inquisition, and the Ustashe genocide in WWII Yugoslavia – and NOT counting many religious massacres of Catholic vs. Protestant, Protestant vs. Catholic, and either vs. Jews – the body count using conservative estimates approaches 15 million dead.

    But what about the Holocaust? Surely we can’t blame that on mainstream “Christianity” can we? Well, Baronius, surely you know that prior to WWII, Germany was mostly Lutheran with Catholicism running a distant second. Check out this quote from the FOUNDER of the Lutheran church:

    “What shall we Christians do with this rejected and condemned people, the Jews? Since they live among us, we dare not tolerate their conduct, now that we are aware of their lying and reviling and blaspheming. If we do, we become sharers in their lies, cursing and blasphemy. Thus we cannot extinguish the unquenchable fire of divine wrath, of which the prophets speak, nor can we convert the Jews. With prayer and the fear of God we must practice a sharp mercy to see whether we might save at least a few from the glowing flames. We dare not avenge ourselves. Vengeance a thousand times worse than we could wish them already has them by the throat. I shall give you my sincere advice:

    First to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians, and do not condone or knowingly tolerate such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of his Son and of his Christians. For whatever we tolerated in the past unknowingly ­ and I myself was unaware of it ­ will be pardoned by God. But if we, now that we are informed, were to protect and shield such a house for the Jews, existing right before our very nose, in which they lie about, blaspheme, curse, vilify, and defame Christ and us (as was heard above), it would be the same as if we were doing all this and even worse ourselves, as we very well know.

    Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed. For they pursue in them the same aims as in their synagogues. Instead they might be lodged under a roof or in a barn, like the gypsies. This will bring home to them that they are not masters in our country, as they boast, but that they are living in exile and in captivity, as they incessantly wail and lament about us before God.

    Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them. (remainder omitted)

    Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb. For they have justly forfeited the right to such an office by holding the poor Jews captive with the saying of Moses (Deuteronomy 17 [:10 ff.]) in which he commands them to obey their teachers on penalty of death, although Moses clearly adds: “what they teach you in accord with the law of the Lord.” Those villains ignore that. They wantonly employ the poor people’s obedience contrary to the law of the Lord and infuse them with this poison, cursing, and blasphemy. In the same way the pope also held us captive with the declaration in Matthew 16 {:18], “You are Peter,” etc, inducing us to believe all the lies and deceptions that issued from his devilish mind. He did not teach in accord with the word of God, and therefore he forfeited the right to teach.

    Fifth, I advise that safe­conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. For they have no business in the countryside, since they are not lords, officials, tradesmen, or the like. Let they stay at home. (…remainder omitted).

    Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them and put aside for safekeeping. The reason for such a measure is that, as said above, they have no other means of earning a livelihood than usury, and by it they have stolen and robbed from us all they possess. Such money should now be used in no other way than the following: Whenever a Jew is sincerely converted, he should be handed one hundred, two hundred, or three hundred florins, as personal circumstances may suggest. With this he could set himself up in some occupation for the support of his poor wife and children, and the maintenance of the old or feeble. For such evil gains are cursed if they are not put to use with God’s blessing in a good and worthy cause.

    Seventh, I commend putting a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade, a distaff, or a spindle into the hands of young, strong Jews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow, as was imposed on the children of Adam (Gen 3[:19]}. For it is not fitting that they should let us accursed Goyim toil in the sweat of our faces while they, the holy people, idle away their time behind the stove, feasting and farting, and on top of all, boasting blasphemously of their lordship over the Christians by means of our sweat. No, one should toss out these lazy rogues by the seat of their pants.”

    Baronius, surely you know enough about the persecution of the Jews that began in 1930’s Germany to draw the obvious parallels.

    So…can you bring up examples of any other religion that has so much innocent blood on its hands? No, sir, you canNOT!

  • Baronius,

    Can you see it in the moment of Mahatma Gandhi or John Lennon? in other words…Does it have to be Catholic moments?

    : )BTW, that’s a very nice comment.

  • No, I’m wrong, El Bicho I guess they were both to Scott.

  • Baronius

    That’s a pretty intense question. My first thought is that the yardstick you’re using is one that’s come out of the Christian West. The whole idea of, for example, mercy on your enemies wouldn’t even make sense to an ancient Roman or Indian warrior. People are lousy at doing good, but even the idea of trying to do good is a fairly new one for us.

    In the modern world, the Germans fess up to what they did. The Turks deny what they did. In the old days, if you wiped out a civilization, raped their women, took the men as slaves, killed the kids, and salted the earth, you’d put up an obelisk proclaiming how great you are. You might even exaggerate the numbers to make it sound like you killed twice as many innocents.

    My second thought, a Christian doesn’t have to go to the Holocaust Museum to figure out how lousy people can be. We can look in the mirror. We know just how wretched a human being can be, but ideally we can also see ourselves through God’s help moving toward something better. You can see it in history, as well: the moment of a St. Benedict or a Mother Teresa.

    That’s it for now.

  • Read #8, that was for Scott.

  • EL Bicho,

    Seinfeld (while, it is NYC) is a little flippant for such an explosive subject.Don’t you think? and, How was I supposed to know this?

    But, please don’t misunderstand me, I was just adding my two cents and speaking to everyone, not Scott.

  • Jeanine, the subtitle references a Seinfeld episode rather than what you perceive it to be.

    I agree with Handy about the foolish “this religion didn’t kill as many people” game. There’s no glory having any spot on the list.

  • This game of dueling statistics aiming to prove Religion A is more murderous than Religion B is fairly useless.

    It’s of course disturbing that so many past and present wars and chronic conflicts can be summed up as “the infidels must die” and “my god is bigger than yours.” How do believers reconcile this horrific nonsense with the positive, moral ideas their religions are allegedly based on?

  • and the third one is this thread…

  • Nice…!

  • Mark

    “There are two novels that can transform a bookish fourteen-year-old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish daydream that can lead to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood in which large chunks of the day are spent inventing ways to make real life more like a fantasy novel. The other is a book about orcs.” – Raj Patel

  • You make a mistake in assuming that it’s just Christians who believe Obama to be a Muslim. It’s many of us who are Secular, Ayn Rand followers, Deists, Agnostics ect…

    Which just confirms the truism that there’s no monopoly on stupidity.

  • Zedd

    It must be me again….

    Weren’t people in an uproar not too long ago about his Pastor (Church of Christ) Jeremiah Wright? Did I dream that?

  • Baronius

    Zing – 600 years. Islam had been killing people for nearly a millenium by the 1400’s. If you count up all the witch trials, inquisitions, and pogroms in the history of Christianity, it wouldn’t equal the number of people that have died at the hands of Muslims in East Timor in the last few decades. How many “savages” were wiped out in the Americas in the name of God? A lot fewer than died in the name of the King of Spain, and way fewer than died of disease. I don’t know the numbers. I’ve never seen a comparison between deaths caused under the name of Islam versus Christianity. I’d be interested.

  • zingzing

    baronius, with a 1400 year head start, wars all over europe and the middle east in the name of christianity, wiping out entire “savage” cultures here in the americas, witch trials, inquisitions, pogroms… use your damn brain. christians have used christianity to demean, ostracize, torture and kill countless people. islam, if given the same time frame, might have caught up. such is the nature of religion. nasty shit, it is.

    (and no, atheism is not a religion.)

  • Scott,

    Don’t you agree? This conversation has no place in politics. faith is personal

  • It’s nobody’s business what religion, President Obama practices or doesn’t practice.

    and then, adding this subtitle implies that there is something wrong…

    This is why there will never be a government run religion in this country.

    Organized anything, taints the spirit!

  • Baronius

    “What religion has killed the most people in the Name of God? Not the Muslims, not by a LONG shot!”

    Glenn, I’d love to see some statistics on that.

  • zingzing

    “Those of us who are Libertarians don’t want Sharia Law to outlaw Marijuana…”

    i see…

  • What is this relatively recent addition to the tinfoil hat parade: the fear that the Obama administration [or other “scary” operators] are secretly planning to introduce Sharia law as a replacement for the Constitution?

    It’s laughable. And none of these wacko “theories” seems to require actual evidence. It is up to the president, or Justice Elena Kagan, or whoever, to prove the negative.

    Please: Get a life. Take your meds. Stop making the world a worse [if funnier] place.

  • Jordan Richardson

    It’s many of us who are Secular, Ayn Rand followers, Deists, Agnostics ect…, as well.

    If you’re adding “idiots” to that list, you’re getting warmer.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    1 – Obama’s been photographed eating pork and drinking beer. He’s not a Muslim, okay?

    2 – What religion has killed the most people in the Name of God? Not the Muslims, not by a LONG shot! That particular award belongs to mainstream “Christianity”…and the history stretches from before the First Crusade where the “Christians” massacred ALL the Muslims and Jews in Jerusalem to the Holocaust (where the majority of Germans were Lutherans (Martin Luther was a vicious anti-Semite)) to the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina where the Serbs were STILL trying to ethnically-cleanse the region of anyone of other religions e.g. Muslims.

    3 – FYI, I suspect you’d find it’s safer to walk around at night in downtown Teheran, Riyadh, Dubai, or even Damascus (but not Cairo) than it is to walk around in American cities of comparable size.

    4 – Obama’s dad was hardly devout. I really wish you conspiracy nuts would have the courage to check the ACCURACY of your claims….

  • You make a mistake in assuming that it’s just Christians who believe Obama to be a Muslim. It’s many of us who are Secular, Ayn Rand followers, Deists, Agnostics ect…, as well. Your argument only holds water when you can claim “bigotry” of Christians saying Obama is a Muslim.

    Those of us who are Libertarians don’t want Sharia Law to outlaw Marijuana, force Women to cover themselves in Burqas, our Gay friends hung, and Prostitutes stoned to death. We don’t want our country to be Islamicized which Obama, son of a devout Muslim extremist, seems fully intent on doing.