Obama's Health Care Bill Passes: Religion in America Just Took a Big Hit!

It's widely acknowledged that when people don't need God they believe less. With the passage of President Obama's historic health care bill America just became more secularized. America is following in the footsteps of many European countries. It's about time. What skeptics have been wanting just happened in one fell swoop. Link

42 comments:

Zach the Lizard said...

How, exactly, does this bill make the US more secularized? I don't see that myself. As far as I am concerned, this bill is totally separate from religion, save for the fact there are religious (and atheists, such as myself) who are for and against it. I love the posts on religion, and even religion and politics mixing in bad ways, but I think this one is a bit of a stretch.

purbrookian said...

Yes....I'm glad it passed, but US healthcare delivery was 50 years behind Europe's before the bill, and after it, only about 47 years behind.

Single payer now!!

Brad said...

I'm with Zach...how exactly does passage of a this bill make the U.S. more secularized? Because conservatives and the religious right wanted it? This bill took over a year to pass with overwhelming Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress and a Democrat in the White House. Moreover, it took an extraordinary effort in appeasing and pressuring a pro-life democratic bloc of votes just to get it through - with a mere 7 votes to spare.

This adds to up to John just wanting to toss around a little political mud without any proof as to how it's a blow to religion.

John W. Loftus said...

Much research has gone into this.

Here is the conclusion of an essay
by Gregory Paul & Phil Zuckerman:

In the end what humanity chooses to believe will be more a matter of economics than of debate, deliberately considered choice, or reproduction. The more national societies that provide financial and physical security to the population, the fewer that will be religiously devout. The more that cannot provide their citizens with these high standards the more that will hope that supernatural forces will alleviate their anxieties. Link. There are many others.

Brad said...

Hi John,

Essays aren't evidence themselves. Where's the reasearch?

Robert said...

Paul and Zuckerman's conclusion rests on the claim that Americans are "afraid and insecure," and yet they provide no substantiation. They write that,

"In part to try to accumulate the wealth needed to try to prevent financial catastrophe, in part to compete in a culture of growing economic disparity with the super rich, the typical American is engaged in a Darwinian, keeping up with the Jones competition in which failure to perform to expectations further raises levels of psychological stress."

Accordingly, if Paul and Zuckerman are right, rising levels of inequality should result in higher levels of religiousity, and vice versa. But income inequality has been increasing in America since the 70's, even as religiousity has declined.

Mark Plus said...

@ Robert:

Accordingly, if Paul and Zuckerman are right, rising levels of inequality should result in higher levels of religiousity, and vice versa. But income inequality has been increasing in America since the 70's, even as religiousity has declined.

Actually Paul makes a more nuanced argument than that. America's economic hedonism currently plays a bigger role in atheizing the country than social democracy or scientific education about human origins. Even religiously conservative American business people want to sell us beer (the Coors family), pizza (Tom Monaghan, before he sold Domino's) and pretty much everything else (Sam Walton and his heirs) on the Lord's Day.

cecilia said...

Here is a link to Greg Paul's paper on the correlation between socioeconomic security and the level of secularism in a country:

http://www.epjournal.net/filestore/EP07398441_c.pdf

Paul gathers statistics on a number of factors that show a society's relative function or dysfunction. One of the things that is very strongly correlated to secularism is whether or not a country has some type of universal health care.

His work goes far to explain why, among all "1st world democracies" the U.S. has the highest level of religiosity - a big factor in that, according to Paul's work, is that we also have the highest level of socioeconomic insecurity.

Remember, though, Paul is not finding causation, only correlation.

I saw him speak in Northern Virginia last month - very interesting. One interesting point he made was about the irony of the ultra-religious in the U.S. adamantly rejecting evolution as an explanation for why life exists as it does on Earth while at the same time embracing what he termed "economic Darwinism."

Brad said...

Remember, though, Paul is not finding causation, only correlation.

Hi Cecilia,

Thanks for the link. The initial claims still feels thin.

John W. Loftus said...

Brad just think of it this way. When people had to worry about daily bread they were very thankful to God when they got some. Now with mass produced food and a modicum of wealth most people do not worry about it at all. They know they'll have food on the table everyday, and many Christians have dispensed with praying before they eat. Their main choice concerns what kind of food to get.

The poor and uneducated are always more religious, so it stands to reason that when people have their health needs taken care of they will be less religious too, and this is what the health care bill promises.

Robert said...

@ Mark Plus

"Actually Paul makes a more nuanced argument than that."

Where's Paul's argument that we can read it?

@ John Loftus

America has undoubtedly increased in secularization over the past couple decades, while none of the factors Paul and Zuckerman say increase it have actually occurred in America. In fact, the factors they say account for America's religiousity have only grown more acute. Health care, inequality, etc. You also mentioned "many other" studies that support them. What are they?

Mark Plus said...

@ Robert:

Gregory S. Paul has a whole website devoted to his research:

http://gspaulscienceofreligion.com/

Paul presents a popular exposition of his "Triple Threats" to theism thesis (evolutionary theory, a social safety net and economic hedonism) here:

http://www.gregspaul.webs.com/questionssolved.pdf

Regarding the last of the Triple Threats, Paul writes:

"Although socioeconomic circumstances remain sufficiently primitive in the United States to encourage correspondingly primitive levels of popular religiosity, the nation's exceptionally aggressive corporate-consumer, mainstream culture is sufficient to propel a delayed, Americanized version of the secularization process."

Look at how readily youngsters will consume commodified myths which crowd out participation in mainstream religions, for example Avatar or Twilight. How many women obsess over Stephanie Meyers's vampire fantasies and don't go to church, for example?

Gandolf said...

Howdy Zack, i agree the bill maybe is totally separate from religion,but i also agree with John its a big hit on humans need for adopting religion.

Traditionally often religion has feasted on the presence of the needy!,those that need help, but found help hard to find.People suffering through bad health who maybe havent been able to afford health insurances etc,find themselves (stuck between a rock and a hard place) with not a lot of choices left.

These needy folk lacking choices were often happy hunting grounds for faithful wishing to convert more followers to its bigoted faith beliefs.

It was a great plan,it worked like a charm .You needed to learn to tow the line and submit to following god,and if you were lucky enough somebody might bother to see some of your health needs might be met.

Dont tow the line and submit to god faiths agreeing to getting involved in also promoting their group,and you sooner or later might just find yourself dropped and forgotten, still struggling alone and fighting to survive like a dog! on the street.

It was a great scheme while the general public lacked any other choices.It helped keep certain countries stuck-fast with the presence of a faith majority.


I think Johns right, this bill isnt such great news for the old manopoly of the faithful.

Its a severe hit towards helping nullifying their age old bigoted armory of faith which traditionally relied so heavily on having a continuious flow of people downtrodden and needy without options of anywhere else to turn to for some help.

This is good news for humanity.

Rodney said...

If secularizing America requires that people turn to government to plunder each other, then I just might be willing to limit how far I take my atheism in the first place...

Why not just directly show religion to be erroneous instead of moving toward a system that hasn't been shown to be as responsive to healthcare needs? (yes, I know this bill isn't socialized medicine at all)

Sabio Lantz said...

I agree with:
Zach the Lizard
Brad and
Rodney

John, I suggest unlinking your political and economic speculation with religion and stick to what you are best at.

If these decisions harm the economy and everyone's livelihood, the social insecurity will strengthen religion.

But agreeing with Rodney, either way, sometimes RELIGION is NOT the most important issue !

Robert said...

@ Mark Plus

Paul's argument seems contradictory. On the one hand, "social Darwinism" - of which America is apparently a prime exemplar - promotes its religiosity. On the other, its "economic hedonism" promotes the precise opposite. Paul fails to address this.

Quoting Paul, America's "exceptionally aggressive corporate-consumer, mainstream culture is sufficient to propel a delayed, Americanized version of the secularization process."

When did this culture arise? When was its impact felt? These seem especially germane questions to his thesis, but Paul does not say.

Some of Paul's analysis is pretty risible. "Fading were the days when capital needed a vast, God-fearing, docile labor force. Capital's new aim..." As if "capital" was some kind of monolithic force, single in will, able to point society in any direction it chooses. This is the language of discredited Marxian analysis.

Ross said...

I'm not sure that I agree with this conclusion, but it's still an interesting question to raise. It also means that for once the US is playing catch up with Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the UK. Our system isn't perfect, but it works pretty well. As someone who has spent more time in hospital visitor lounges than I care to remember, this issue is close to my heart.

Brad said...

"Paul and Zuckerman's conclusion rests on the claim that Americans are "afraid and insecure," and yet they provide no substantiation."

Latin America has seen its share of totalitarianism, communism and big governments and yet Christianity is spreading rapidly in this global region - this seems to undercut John's fundamental argument.

Gandolf said...

Rodney said... "If secularizing America requires that people turn to government to plunder each other, then I just might be willing to limit how far I take my atheism in the first place..."

Why?... do you personally feel its cheaper paying higher taxes to allow for all the multitude of many church groups to all claim their rights to tax exemptions ?.Some of the money disappearing into fraudulent faithful folks bank accounts,while you pick up the tab! to try paying more tax to cover roading etc etc.

And then when their faith bigotry helps cause disharmony and hatered overseas with muslims etc,you personally dont mind? paying higher tax to try to help pay for more weapons for wars?.And coffins to bury lost loved ones.

Guess its your country,and its you that lives there Rodney.And if Americans think its for the best,then we who live elsewhere in very different situations! shouldnt be the ones to complain.And we are not complaining about our situation,like Ross states it seems to work out pretty ok.

Even countries like Sweden seem to be doing mighty fine! with a health system where i think about 70% of the money is financed through tax revenue.

Sometimes being tight stingy and mean,can comes back to haunt you and smacks you real hard in the face later in some other way.

Sarah Schoonmaker said...

Like many here, I don't see the necessary correlation between religion and the new health care bill. Saudi Arabia has state funded healthcare and it's one of the most religiously extreme nations. As for Christianity, I think one could argue in favor of socialism using the Gospel.

cecilia said...

Saudi Arabia may provide national health care but the residents' of Saudi Arabia lead a very stressful, insecure life because of the oppressive nature of the regime.

The whole point of Paul'S "Successful Society's Index" in which he takes several factors into account and relates them to religiosity is to show that in "functional" countries (note: he is comparing countries, more specifically, he is comparing Western-style democracies) secularism is much higher. Saudi Arabia is most decidedly dysfunctional and not remotely a "successful" society. (And, therefore, it is not one of the societies Paul studies.)

Paul's work compares the U.S. to countries like Sweden, Denmark, Japan, etc. and we come up short. One of the things that Paul contends is that where people feel economically secure (basically where they are middle class and don't worry about falling out of the middle class) they are much less religious. And one factor that certainly helps one to feel secure is not to have to worry about going bankrupt because of a health crisis. According to Paul's studies the U.S.has the highest level of religiosity AND the highest level of socioeconomic insecurity compared to other Western-style democracies. Where one goes with that conclusion depends more on one's political/economic philosophy I suppose than one's religious views (or lack thereof).

And, note, that Paul is not suggesting that greater socioeconomic security causes higher rates of secularism he is just noting the correlation. But clearly if one feels socioeconomically secure one may feel less need to cling to an imaginary, magical friend.

So, although I am strongly in favor of the health bill (and, indeed, other pinko-commie efforts to improve socioeconomic security in the U.S.) it is not because I think that it will diminish the hold of religion (but over the long haul, as in Europe, that may be a side effect). However, one may take the ideological position that our greater economic freedom is worth what we trade-off in socioeconomic insecurity. If you believe that our greater socioeconomic mobility is worth the price you probability would not want to live in Sweden or Denmark, even if there are more secularist there. I don't believe that our greater socioeconomic mobility is anything but a myth.

As for the idea that the best approach to diminish the hold of religion is to educate people (along the lines suggested by Dennett) - I don't buy it. First of all, good luck making that happen (hello, Texas school board). Second, if people are clinging to their religion out of economic insecurity I don't see how "educating" them will change that.

Indeed, the popularity of prosperity Christianity in this country is undoubtedly linked to socioeconomic insecurity.

But there are certainly atheists who buy into some type of prosperity doctrine: they just rely on different scripture for their beliefs (I am thinking of the gospel according to Ayn Rand).

bart said...

John, I love you like a brother in unbelief, but you need to re-think this one.

The victory of the socialists isn't a victory over the Christian religion. Rather, it is the victory of one form of Christianity over another. Make no mistake, this was a movement of faith. How many times have you heard its proponents from the president on down refer to the teachings of their faith or their belief in Jesus which tells them to be their brother's keeper, to care for the needy, or for the sacrifice of one's parochial desires to that of the many. This was a great victory for the Christianities of the ilk of Rev. Wright, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton, the National council of churches, and the many Catholic clerics who adhere to various forms of liberation theology.

As Obama said last week, "I believe this bill will pass because it is the right thing to do." I would respond, By what standard? Did your faith teach this to you? Why does your understanding of the teachings of Jesus require my acquiescence?

I would submit to you that faith, from whatever premise and political perspective, is a fundamentally flawed epistemological method for knowing truth or making decisions. A rational mind requires freedom to judge and act apart from the force of governmental power such as that imposed under this bill.

As you know from my previous articles while a contributor to this fine site, I am both a non-Christian and an atheist. As such, I oppose all faith based tyrannies over the mind of man.

Bart Willruth

John W. Loftus said...

Bart, you know I respect you and your arguments. Keep in mind I'm not commenting on whether the health bill is good for America. I don't know what's in it. I only know that when our needs are taken care of then we'll believe less. And I think the health needs of the poor will be met at least better than they are right now because of it. Whether it's good for our economy yet I can't say.

And I don't see a direct connection with socialism and faith, although I'm not a socialist either, and neither is the American economy. Look the definition up.

Cheers.

cecilia said...

@bart: you state "The victory of the socialists isn't a victory over the Christian religion. Rather, it is the victory of one form of Christianity over another."

With respect to the health care bill: it is not in any way, shape or form "socialist" - not by a long shot - so there is no "victory of the socialists over" anything here in the U.S.

But, for the sake of argument:
- I will stipulate that any government involvement with health care is "socialist"
- And I'll further stipulate that a country like, say, Sweden, whose government is involved in health care is "socialist"
Also:
-Sweden is a very secular country

If "socialist" health care represents a "victory of one form of Christianity over another," how then do you explain the very, very low level of religiosity in Sweden (and other "socialist" European countries)??

Just because one can find "socialist" sentiments in the Bible does not mean that socialism = Christianity.

How is it that you explain avowed atheists like me who support the health care bill (and, egads, think it is not socialist enough)? You portray us as under the sway of dogmas and doctrines of some other dreaded "-ism" (in this case socialism) and as people who clearly are incapable of rational thought. Very clever. Any way you cut it, everyone who supports the health care bill is either brainwashed by Christianists or by socialists.
Only those who oppose it are rational.

bart you also say: "A rational mind requires freedom to judge and act apart from the force of governmental power such as that imposed under this bill."

You are clearly under the influence of an extremely dogmatic and doctrinaire "-ism" - probably "Objectivism." One that I was particularly enamored of, oh, about 30+ years ago myself. Wisdom and experience has led me to see reality as much, much much less black and white as that cartoonish "philosophy" I thought was so cool back when I was 20.

Robert said...

Gregory Paul and his defenders here are simply begging the question about feelings of economic insecurity. They assume that if a country lacks institutions such as universal health care, the citizens therefore feel "afraid" and "insecure".

No evidence is provided to support this claim, however. No studies or experts are cited. If we're indeed skeptics, we should proportion our views to the evidence. And since no evidence is provided, we should not accept the claim. Does anyone disagree?

Paul maintains that social dysfunctions in America such as homicide, incarceration, adult mortality, abortion and divorce are a result of America's socio-economic system. This is another tremendous claim, which, unsurprisingly, is submitted without support. High levels of homicide, adult mortality and incarceration in fact have been positively associated with America's relatively draconian drug laws.

Let's see some evidence for your views. Show us how lack of health care, or even the prospect of losing it, correlates positively with religiosity. This is your claim, now support it.

John W. Loftus said...

Robert, it's been supported here quite well enough. It stands to reason when you just think about it. And the proof will be in the pudding, so to speak.

Just watch the polls from when it gets enacted into our social system.

My prediction is that you will see less people believe. That's a prediction that can be proven wrong, although I understand other factors may be at play as well.

Robert said...

John, if you review the links provided you'll find that Paul does not support his claims with any evidence, studies, comparitive research, or opinion polls; it's all assertions.

Also, if one is to believe Paul, then America should not be experiencing the increasing secularization it has, because the reasons alleged to promote religiosity have not only not been alleviated, but they've actually in some cases grown more acute.

Your prediction that "less people will believe" is not hard to make given current trends, but how would you control for other factors besides passage of the health care overhaul bill to ascertain a positive correlation between the two?

Sorry John (and others), but it doesn't seem you're applying your skepticism to Paul's claims.

bart said...

John

The Western progressive/socialist movement emerged from the liberal Christian social gospel movement and postmillennialism. Using the teachings of the gospel imperatives of self sacrifice and duty to others, it proclaimed the possibility of perfecting society, indeed, the moral necessity of doing so. As such it is a utopian movement which if codified into statute requires such things as coercion, theft under color of law, redistribution, and the removal of personal choice in favor of the will of the majority.

I would agree with you that meeting people's needs may diminish religious belief, but is not the cure worse than the disease? This method of secularization bypasses the persuasion of argumentation with a bland offer of security. The end result of this may indeed lead to a reduction of religious belief, but it will lead to nihilism, an abandonment of values and motivation. It assumes that most people are too stupid to be persuaded by good arguments (probably true) but that the goal of secularization is worth any means necessary.

Regarding the meaning of socialism, it is a good bit more involved than a dictionary definition. It is fundamentally a system whereby the economy (in its broadest sense) is dictated by government. As such, it is by nature collectivist. The rights of the individual are disposable by the leaders "speaking" for the people as a whole. Freedom, then, is by necessity tenuous and relative, subject to the whims of either a democratic majority or an autocratic elite, both of which are forms of tyranny which the founders tried to prevent with the constitution.

Under Italian Fascism or Germany's National Socialism, the program called for people's needs to be met including government provided medical care, retirement, unemployment income, subsidized housing, rent control, food distribution, etc. Private property was allowed, but the use thereof was controlled by bureaucrats. Business were only free insofar as they served the interests of the state. Wages and profits were controlled. Permission was required for virtually any activity. Individual freedom was squeezed for all but those in power. Why? Because the individual was seen as the property of the collective. This premise had a nasty outcome for those viewed as anti-social elements.

International socialism (communism) just bypasses the private property bit and controls everything. The individual, her choices, and all interaction take place at the behest of the political elite.

Forgive me for getting a bit exercised about this, but it is serious business. The premise that the individual must serve the state rather than that the state must serve to protect the rights of the individual has dangerous political implications as it is extrapolated. The health care bill (as well as its percursors) is based on this shift of premises. It will inexorably lead to the destruction of the American system which will be (is being) replaced by something else. My bet is on the Fascist model. There are not many of its ideals which are not evident here today.

Contrast this to what DeToqueville found when he came from France in the 1820's to discover America. He found a nation of small towns filled with farmers, shop keepers, and laborers going about their daily work with virtually no sense of a governmental presence except when one would violate the rights of another. He noted that the greatest threat to this free land would occur in the event that people would discover that they could vote largess for themselves from the public treasury. This would be the death of the American republic. Well, they discovered it. The imperatives of the gospel are the moral force employed by the salesmen of this authoritarian system. "It's the right thing to do. After all, didn't Jesus teach that to whom much is given, much is required? And those who have should share with the poor?"

The gospel morality written into law is destructive of freedom and motivation.
Bart

cecilia said...

I have pasted in the abstract of Paul's article in case anyone is interested in seeing how he came to his conclusions. When I saw Paul speak last month he stressed that he was not proposing causation but was proposing correlation and there is a big difference, it is very important to remember that difference. So here is the abstractc:


"Abstract: Better understanding the nature, origin and popularity of varying levels of popular
religion versus secularism, and their impact upon socioeconomic conditions and vice versa,
requires a cross national comparison of the competing factors in populations where opinions
are freely chosen. Utilizing 25 indicators, the uniquely extensive Successful Societies Scale
reveals that population diversity and immigration correlate weakly with 1st world
socioeconomic conditions, and high levels of income disparity, popular religiosity as measured
by differing levels of belief and activity, and rejection of evolutionary science correlate
strongly negatively with improving conditions. The historically unprecedented socioeconomic
security that results from low levels of progressive government policies appear to suppress
popular religiosity and creationist opinion, conservative religious ideology apparently
contributes to societal dysfunction, and religious prosociality and charity are less effective at
improving societal conditions than are secular government programs. The antagonistic
relationship between better socioeconomic conditions and intense popular faith may prevent
the existence of nations that combine the two factors. The nonuniversality of strong religious
devotion, and the ease with which large populations abandon serious theism when conditions
are sufficiently benign, refute hypotheses that religious belief and practice are the normal,
deeply set human mental state, whether they are superficial or natural in nature. Instead popular
religion is usually a superficial and flexible psychological mechanism for coping with the high
levels of stress and anxiety produced by sufficiently dysfunctional social and especially
economic environments. Popular nontheism is a similarly casual response to superior
conditions."

And here are the 25 indicators he used:

Homicides
Incarceration
Suicides (2 age groups)
Under 5 mortality
Life expectancy
Gonorrhea infections(2 age groups)
Syphilis infections(2 age groups)Aortions 15-19 year old
Births 15-17 year old
Fertility
Marriages
Marriage duration at divorce
Divorces among married couples
Alcohol consumption
Life satisfaction
Corruption indices
Adjusted per capita income
GINI income inequality
Human poverty index
Employment levels
Average hours worked
Resource exploitation base
% of population who are foreign born
Cultural fractionalization
Accept human descent from animals
Accept human descent from animals compared to absolutely
believe in God

And then he relates his Successful Societies Scale to degree of religiosity as measured by:
Absolutely believe in God
Bible literalists
Attend religious services at least several times a month
Pray at least several times a week
Absolutely believe in an after life
Absolutely believe in heaven Absolutely believe in hell
Agnostics and atheists
Accept human evolution from animals

and so on and so forth, so, that is his methodology. Under this methodology the U.S. does not have a very high Successful Societies score. You can read his article to see exactly how the scores fall out. As they say, it is what it is.
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

Nonchai said...

John,

for those atheists like me who think it is morally the right thing to do to support a government that wants to introduce fair and affordable healthcare for everyone, you should think of the great harm your comment potentially does to such a fragile venture in your country - particularly given the USA situation and the terrible FOX news network. Your're just providing them with more cannon fodder.

Do you really want to have pastors up and down your country sermonizing against the idea of the healthcare bill ?:

"see -heres the solid proof that the healthcare bill is an just atheist wedge. Dont support the bill - it will make the USA more godless!!"

Support the bill because of your compassion for people in the USA who go bankrupt due to lack of insurance. Support it because sometimes dealing with healthcare publicly works out better for all of us, and less expensively.

It is a good thing NOT because of any side-effect of reducing religiosity, but because it is both pragmatically and morally of benefit to a society. Dont use it as just more "grist to the mill" in your war against fundamentalism.

I really think sometimes you need to just sit back and take a deep breath before just rattling off yet another hasty posting. Particularly when it is a merely self serving post. Less ME ME ME please and more on-topic posting I beg you. Otherwise your blog - in my opinion will start give off the impression of some one who refuses to take on critique, or maybe even refusing to change ones mind. Something you accuse others of doing. I know this is harsh but this is the impression I am more and more left with these days.


Take a leaf out of Luke Muelhausers blog , and be a little more critical of your own positions. Luke has often done the intellectually honest thing and reversed a position on encountering criticisms and corrections from people posting on his blog.

And you never did take that advice about just taking a break from posting this blog. Surely you could do with a rest ?.

John W. Loftus said...

Nonchai, I really do not give a damn what you think about anything.

Go offer your uneducated and pompous advice somewhere else.

Or, better yet, achieve the status of an expert like I have and then you can express an opinion that people will listen to.

John W. Loftus said...

On second thought Nonchai, I see what's going on with you. You think I'm something I'm not. You think I am well-known and important to the atheist cause. That's why when I "mess up" you think it gives atheism a bad name. As far as I can tell I'm not what you think I am. Never claimed to be. I am who I am. I speak my mind. Don't judge me for something I'm not, okay? I am just one person in a sea of voices for reasoned living. An overwhelming number of people have never heard of me even among skeptics and atheists world-wide.

Now, even if you could convince me that I'm important to the cause of atheism why would that fact change what I do? I can only do what I do. Atheism is all about thinking for oneself, and I do that. Atheism is all about offering reasoned arguments, and I do that.

The cause of atheism will succeed no matter what I do. And people who are opposed to Obama's health care bill do not need an excuse to fight it. Did you even read here where Brad is not convinced of this argument? I doubt very much that other Christians who are so cocksure of their faith that this argument will not persuade them either.

You have indicated in so many words that I do not speak for you. Then relax. I don't.

bart said...

A further update

Self-proclaimed Evangelical, Jim Wallis, Christian, political activist, and one of Obama's spiritual advisors, founder of "Soujourners" magazine and author of "God's Politics" and daily blogger at "godspolitics" is shouting from the rooftops that the health care bill is a good first step toward the fulfillment of the gospel requirements of social justice, a code word in liberation theology to indicate a move to sicialism. He states that the gospel not only requires personal charity but a change in governmental structures to fulfill Jesus' commands. Lest one think that Wallis isn't representative of many Evangelical groups, Wheaton College is the repository for his archives.

Make no mistake, this bill is a huge boost and morale builder for millions of Evangelicals who now feel empowered to impose their beliefs on others.

Bart Willruth

Batreader said...

This is a weird viewpoint - Good Samaritan, Religious founded hospitals, Hospice care, the welfare state all good Christian concepts and - surely increasing healthcare provision should have a headline of "Obama's Health Care Bill Passes: Religion in America Just Got a Big pat on the back!"

Leonardo de la Paor said...

YO SHAYYA,

Just picture a naked, six-year-old female child & a fifty-four-year-old lecherous Arab and he putting his large PENIS between the child's thighs & using them like the sides of a vagina to ejaculate. Or picture this lecherous, naked Arab sucking the "pussy" of the naked, six-year-old female child until he "shoots" his load of semen all over the place. And Allah watching & approving of his prophet debauching this innocent, six-year-old child. Allah is some FUCKING god & so is his pervert prophet!!!

Leonardo

AISHA WASHING SEMEN FROM MUHAMMED’S CLOTHES
From the Hadith of Bukhari:

Volume 1, Book 4, Number 229:

Narrated 'Aisha:

I used to wash the traces of Janaba (semen) from the clothes of the Prophet and he used to go for prayers while traces of water were still on it (water spots were still visible).

Volume 1, Book 4, Number 230:

Narrated 'Aisha:

as above (229).

Volume 1, Book 4, Number 231:

Narrated Sulaiman bin Yasar:

I asked 'Aisha about the clothes soiled with semen. She replied, "I used to wash it off the clothes of Allah's Apostle and he would go for the prayer while water spots were still visible. "

Volume 1, Book 4, Number 232:

Narrated 'Amr bin Maimun:

I heard Sulaiman bin Yasar talking about the clothes soiled with semen. He said that 'Aisha had said, "I used to wash it off the clothes of Allah's Apostle and he would go for the prayers while water spots were still visible on them.

Volume 1, Book 4, Number 233:

Narrated 'Aisha:

I used to wash the semen off the clothes of the Prophet and even then I used to notice one or more spots on them.

Wyrm said...

Bart,

Your rhetoric concerning fascism is vastly overblown. You aren't going to convert anyone in the mushy center, much less anyone further left.

At one point even Hayek supported national health insurance.

Wyrm said...

As a followup to my post, the left would far prefer a single-payer system to what we got in the bill.

By the way, bad libertarian rhetoric sounds like this to me:

"and you know who else had socialized roads?!"

bart said...

Herr Wyrm
Yes, I know the left would have preferred a single payer system. But we got exactly what the insurance lobby paid for (passed entirely by the Dem majorities and signed by a Dem president): We have a mandate forcing all citizens to purchase health insurance and no public option. The stock prices of those companies is soaring since they have been guaranteed a profit by the alliance with government. This kind of business/government alliance was typical in National Socialist Germany and Fascist Italy in the 1930's.

bart said...

More for Wyrm

You state that I am vastly overblowing the parellels between Fascism/National Socialism and our new health care bill. You are missing the point. This is only the latest iteration. That system is built on the premise that rights belong to the collective rather than to the individual. The state is the personification of the collective will. Nat. Socialism and Fascism wanted control over every area of life. Examples of what they called for and what we have:

Government controlled and provided retirement benefits.

Government controlled education standards.

Government controlled wages, both minimum and maximum. We now have both now that there is a pay czar.

Government takeover of the banking system.

Government regulation of interest and credit.

Government control of large industries (see GM, Chrysler, Citi, AIG etc)

Government establishment of monopolies.

Government controls of profits.

Government imposed rent controls.

Government provided safety net with welfare for the poor.

Now government control of the health care system.

Hollywood has skewed our impressions of Fascism with its concentration on the war period and ethnic cleansing, but that version of socialism was an entire program of central control. Each bureau had a Fuhrer with vast powers. We call them Czars today, but the functions parallel. We have largely bought into that system, though in a softer version.

I'm trying to encourage thinking in principles. Once a premise is accepted, it will eventually be extrapolated fully. If you buy into that premise, fine, but just recognize the implications. Our individual freedom is quickly eroding.

Bart Willruth

Wyrm said...

Bart,

You've started on Hollywood of all things?

What is particularly new really? We've had SS since the 30s, income tax before that, taxes on land and property before then, etc.

Yet somehow we never crossed the bridge to fascism. Or did we?

You are sounding like a crank.
There are reasonable libertarians - I recommend EconLog.

bart said...

Wyrm

I am misunderstood again. I don't know if it is because of my weakness in communicating, a lack of historical knowledge on the part of my hearers, or the brevity required by the limits on length of response by this site.

I am not taking on Hollywood. What I was attempting to communicate is that most of the populace are not historically literate and tend to get their "feel" for the past from A/V images, ie movies and documentaries. For reasons of entertainment value, when these productions deal with the Italian and German experience in the first half of the 20th century, they gravitate to the spectacular; the war years and/or the holocaust. This emphasis, while valid, results in a dearth of knowledge of the period prior to the outbreak of these hostilities.

Watching Fascism qua its political and economic functions as it impacted daily life is like watching grass grow. It is like a wet blanket slowly suffocating individualism and forcing conformity into the dictates of the bureaucratic elite. It simply isn't entertaining to watch someone with their hat in hand attempting to obey an exponentially expanding list of rules and regulations. The streets were not constantly filled with uniformed marching SS troops. Life looked normal, yet more and more decisions were made by the state rather than left to the individual.

Whether or not you are aware of it, the philosophical impetus for the various forms of socialism (Fascism, Communism, or the Progressive New Deal) emerged from the same soup. The interplay between the U.S. and Europe in the 30's went both ways; American Progressives had a strong influence on German and Italian ideas. But since most people only have the slightest knowledge of the period, they know nothing of this.

FDR knew very well that Progressivism was repugnant to the constitution and actively sought to diminish its historical understanding and authority. The constitution presupposes individual rights and liberty. Progressivism assumes collectivism. There is no middle ground between these. This is an either-or dichotomy.

The New Deal was the first wave toward the transformation of America. The Great Society of the late 60's was the second. The third wave is in progress now and if not halted will culminate in the system adopted in pre-war Italy and Germany.

Calling me a crank is a foolish ad hominum attack and requires no response. If you are unable to debate conceptually, there is no point in pursuing this discussion.

Space forbids expanding this post further, but I would suggest that you google Father Coughlin who pushed for a US economic revolution under the banner of social justice in the 1930's. Also check the German American Bund (National Socialist movement) of the 1930's and learn of their social justice agenda. They were able to fill Madison Square Garden with a Nuremburg style rally. Yes, these movements were discredited, yet their agendas have become mainstream over the years.

Never underestimate the power of an idea when it has taken hold in the popular imagination.

Bart Willruth

Mark Plus said...

Gregory S. Paul presents his thesis on an atheist talkshow here:

http://www.box.net/shared/static/6e44z451vy.mp3