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Chris Hedges: The Christian Right’s War on America

Posted on Feb 6, 2007
Robert Scheer, James Harris and Chris Hedges

From left to right: Truthdig Editor Robert Scheer; Truthdig contributing editor James Harris; author Chris Hedges.

Robert Scheer and James Harris speak with Chris Hedges, the veteran journalist and author of the new book “American Fascists,” about the threat of the radical Christian movement, and about how getting it right on Iraq ended his relationship with The New York Times.

Listen to the full interview (running time: 44:56 / 41.1 MB)

Full transcript:

Harris: James Harris sitting down with Mr. Robert Scheer, and special guest on the phone is Chris Hedges, the author of the new title “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.” Chris is currently a senior fellow at The Nation Institute, and a former correspondent for The New York Times. Chris, how are you today?

Hedges: I’m all right—just flew in from Seattle.


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Harris: Let’s start by talking about your 2002 book, “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning.” In this text, you talk about nations and their behavior during wartime. Looking back at our behavior over the last three and a half to four years, as we’ve been at war with Iraq, how have our citizens and our president—how have we behaved?

Hedges: Well, the book, because I spent almost 20 years covering various wars around the globe, the book tried to explain the patterns of war—what happens to individuals and societies in war, and how they react. Unfortunately, we reacted in the way that most countries react when they go to war. It wasn’t just the Bush administration that pushed us into war. The media was completely in complicity with very few exceptions. The population at large got off on it; the cable news channels pumped out this garbage over 24-hour news cycles with graphics and drum rolls. And this was part of the whole sickness that happened to the country after 9/11, where unbridled nationalism—which I think is a disease—was unleashed. It brings with it—it really is just a form of crude, self-exaltation, but it brings with it a very dark undercurrent of racism—racism towards Muslims, towards anyone, including the French, who disagreed with us. And our society was really enveloped with this sickness. It really was a sickness that I had seen on the streets of Belgrade. It wasn’t a new sickness to me, but of course it was disturbing because this time around it was my own nation. And that euphoria lasted basically until the war went bad, or until people realized that it was going badly. And then we forgot about it. There’s a kind of willful amnesia that is also a pattern of wartime society—certainly something I saw in Argentine society after their defeat in the Falkland war. And now these very cable news channels and media outlets that sold us the war virtually don’t cover it. They pretend the war doesn’t exist, and they feed us this trivia and celebrity gossip that unfortunately in American society is consumed as news.

Harris: The situation that constituents, that the media was complicit in starting the war, I think some people may take offense to that. How was that received at the time, and what do you say to the criticism of, “Chris Hedges, I think you’re crazy.”

Hedges: Well, as one of the very few people, along with Bob Scheer, who was speaking out against this war, I can tell you that it was a very lonely position to be in. And I worked at the time for The New York Times. The New York Times acted as nothing less than a stenographer for the Bush White House—pumping out the lies used to justify the war. And there were reasoned, thoughtful, well-informed voices questioning, for instance, whether Iraq was trying to reconstitute a nuclear weapons program, or whether it actually had WMD, or whether it was actually a threat or had links to al-Qaida—and they couldn’t get into the mainstream media at all.  I think you’d be very hard-pressed—with the exception obviously of the alternative press. But we live in a country where the press, like everything else, has become completely corporatized. I think it’s something like 80 percent of American newspapers are controlled by six or eight corporations. And it’s pretty hard to break through that wall. So there were people around the edges, and there were a few of us even within the mainstream who spoke out against the war, but our voices were pretty much drowned out in this cacophony of war rhetoric and fear.

Harris: I don’t know if you know the name Scott Ritter—you probably do.

Hedges: I know Scott.

Harris: I remember at the time hearing Scott Ritter say, without reservation, that there are no weapons in Iraq, but still we went in; still Colin Powell stood before the United Nations and showed them the video, showed them the footage where there were weapons in Iraq. And Scott Ritter all along said, “There are no weapons.” I do blame, and in retrospect say that there should have been more effort to bring these stories to the forefront. Are you suggesting that propaganda was used by the media, perhaps by the government to suppress these types of stories?

Hedges: At the inception of any war, the press is part of the problem. That’s a pattern I certainly saw—and there are almost no exceptions to that. When your nation goes to war, there’s a kind of knee-jerk kind of response on the part of most of the press that their job is to boost morale, maintain the myth of war, vilify the enemies. And that goes all the way back to the Crimean War when the first modern war correspondent was invented.

Harris: Chris, a lot of people may not know that you are a graduate of Harvard Divinity School, and your new text, “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America,” I like your perspective, because you, obviously from an educated standpoint, can speak to the theology around this war.

Hedges: I look at the religious right, the radical religious right, those people who want to create a Christian nation, as a mass movement. I don’t give them much religiosity at all. I think they have acculturated the Christian religion with the worst aspects of American imperialism and American capitalism. They prey on the despair of tens of millions of Americans in this country who have been completely disenfranchised and shunted aside with the creation of this American oligarchy. That is the engine of the movement. These people, their lives have become train wrecks, their communities have been physically obliterated with the flight of manufacturing jobs, or they live in these soulless exurbs, in places like Orange County, with no community center, no community rituals—you know, they don’t even have sidewalks. And they’re lonely, and they’re alienated, and they’re lost. And that’s the fodder that demagogues use to amass totalitarian movements. And they do that by offering these people a world of magic, of belief in destiny and miracles and angels, that Jesus has a plan for them. And they essentially remove them from the reality-based world. That’s what creationism is about. And everybody who’s written about despotic movements, from Hannah Arendt to Karl Popper to Fritz Stern to Robert Paxton, cites this despair as being the kindling that allows despotic, totalitarian movements to tear apart the open society. So for me the radical Christian right is very much a manifestation of the inequities and the injustices that plague American society. We now live in a country where the top 1 percent control more wealth, or have more wealth, than the bottom 90 percent combined. The absolute destruction of the working class—and much of my family has been a victim of this—has now been accompanied by an assault on the middle class. So anything that can be put on software, from engineering to finance to architecture, can get outsourced, where it’ll end up in India, where they’ll work for a third of the wages, with no health insurance, no benefits. These kinds of assaults against the working and middle class are absolutely deadly to a democratic state. And that’s something that even the Greeks wrote about. I mean, Plutarch and Thucydides understood that.

Harris: Clarify for me, though, the relation to the evangelical right, or evangelists in general. I understand the preying on a particular class—because they’re vulnerable. When you live without for most of your life, you’re vulnerable to anything that looks appealing to you. How are the evangelists using this to influence government? Because you seem to be implying that they have a profound effect on the way that American government works.

Hedges: Well, they are. When this notion of a new political religion was first articulated in the early ‘80s by people like Pat Robertson, the proponents of this were on the margins or fringes of American society. They’ve now moved into the corridors of power—into the House of Representatives, the Senate, the executive branch and the courts. And they’ve received under the Bush administration hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money. They’ve gone a long way toward setting up hermetic, closed indoctrination systems through Christian radio and television. They’ve brought the teaching of this mythology of creationism into public schools in places like Kansas. The advances that this movement has made in the last 20-25 years, is frightening. There’s no question that unless we begin to rectify the imbalances within this country, this will become the dominant political force. And it is a force in which all who do not subscribe to this narrow, frightening ideology—which bears many similarities with classical fascist movements—and all those who do not submit to these so-called Christian leaders, will at best become second-class citizens.

Harris: As a country, aren’t we open to this by virtue of the phrase “One nation, under God”? We’ve never been—you may argue otherwise—we’ve never been terribly eager to disassociate ourselves with religion. All of our presidents, except for one, practiced some sort of religion. So the fact that 20 million or how many other million Americans find interest in this practice of evangelism isn’t really that shocking, is it? Is it problematic, Chris Hedges, when you see church and state joining hands like this?

Hedges: Well, of course. Because it essentially serves the same purpose as the fusion of party and state, which is what totalitarian movements do. The state implements the policies of the party; they become essentially one entity. And that is by its very definition what a totalitarian state consists of. I think we have to remember that this new political religion is a radical mutation from traditional fundamentalism, or traditional evangelism. Evangelical leaders in the past, like Bill Graham, always warned their followers that—and he of course got burned and used by Richard Nixon—to keep their distance from power. And fundamentalists have traditionally called upon their followers to remove themselves from the contaminants of secular society, and to shun political activity. This is something we have not seen in the past. And yes, the nation has had certainly a Christian component to it, but there was always that understanding that religious belief was a private, internal affair, and not something that would be propounded by the state. And of course the architects of the Constitution were terrified of going back into the kind of tyranny and repression that was practiced by the puritan states, and more importantly by the religious states in Europe, because they understood the danger of that sectarian violence. And I think we should also be clear that the early Christians in this country, most of them were Deists, which these radical Christians would consider as heretics, the notion that you could find God in nature, as Jefferson and others believed.

Scheer: If I could just interrupt for a second, I feel like—this is Bob Scheer—I’m sort of a bystander to a very interesting discussion about a world that I don’t inhabit. I know James here is a practicing Christian.

Harris: Yes, I am.

Scheer: And Chris, I know you’re a person who’s been involved with religion.

Hedges: My father was a minister and I graduated from seminary.

Scheer: And so when I’m sitting here thinking: Well, what about all those other Christians—I know I traveled around with Jerry Falwell once and wrote a piece for the L.A. Times. Almost everyone I ran into, even in Lynchburg, Va., everywhere, they said they thought the guy was something of a charlatan. “Why is he on TV? Why is he getting all this money?” And this came from other “born-again” ministers and other evangelical people. And I’ve looked at some of the polling data and so forth, and evangelicals, I think, were a bit disillusioned with George Bush’s use of religion. Isn’t there a tradition of skepticism? Isn’t this what the Protestant religion was all about—skepticism of too organized, too powerful a church?

Hedges: I think you raise a really good point. Even within a single congregation, people are not going to walk in lock step. But I think that what’s happened is that with this notion of the creation of the Christian state, it has managed to overcome these doctrinal schisms. When I would attend an anti-abortion event, I would see Priests for Life, Catholic priests with people from the Salvation Army, with Baptists, with fundamentalists, with charismatics, and traditionally fundamentalists have always looked at charismatics as Satan worshippers, because they speak in tongues. But they’ve all managed to come together—although these factional disputes remain, and these differences remain—under this notion that our goal is to create the Christian state. There is a very ruthless core of people who are better described as dominionists. One thinks of Dobson, Robertson, LaHaye, Benny Hinn. These people who are pushing through a radical Christian agenda, who essentially control all Christian radio and television, and who have been quite ruthless—as we saw in the Southern Baptist convention—in pushing aside those people who don’t accept that particular political agenda, even if they’re born again, and even if they subscribe to some of the hot-button issues, like thinking that homosexuality is a sin. And they count on the sympathy or support or tacit acceptance of 80 to 100 million evangelicals in the United States, because they have been very effective in using the religious vocabulary and religious iconography—in the same way that they wrap themselves in the American flag. But I think that when you look closely, which is what my book tried to do, at what their belief system is, it is really a theology of despair. It is about bigotry, intolerance, there’s not only a lust for violence, but a kind of pornographic fascination with violence. There’s a cult of masculinity. There’s a war on science, a war on truth. And what they do, like many totalitarian movements, is speak in a language that’s comforting to the rest of us, but hollow out the definitions so they mean something else. It has a kind of newspeak quality, so peace is war. The concept of liberty, for them, as it is defined, is not our traditional definition of liberty, but liberty that comes with giving yourself over to Jesus and complete submission to Jesus Christ. And of course, in their minds, leaders who speak to Jesus. So yes, there is a great deal of skepticism. And I actually think that the most virulent opposition will rise not from the liberal church, but from within the evangelical movement itself. But these people are well financed, oftentimes by corporate interests—Wal-Mart—a lot of right-wing foundations. They’ve harnessed the power of modern communications systems and they’ve locked tens of millions of followers in closed systems of indoctrination, where they get their news, their spiritual guidance, their health and beauty tips, their entertainment, all filtered through this ideological prism.

Scheer: In your [most recent Truthdig column] you refer to your original mentor, James Luther Adams. That paragraph that caught my attention—because your book has not been easily accepted this time around, right?

Hedges: No.

Scheer: It’s interesting, when I look at your place in American letters, on the one hand you’re often celebrated as this brilliant person, you get awards, high prestige, and then every once in a while you hit some third rail, whether it was the graduation speech on the war [which resulted in your dismissal from the N.Y. Times], or when you mention Israel, even in pieces for our site, we seem to get a lot of mail, and now with this book. And when I was thinking of the criticisms of your work, I was thinking you wrote something about Adams. You wrote:

His critique of the prominent research universities, along with the media, was no less withering. These institutions, self-absorbed, compromised by their close relationship with government and corporations, given enough of the piece to be complacent, were unwilling to deal with the fundamental moral questions and inequities of the age. They had no stomach for battle that might cost them their prestige and comfort.

Is this what you’re experiencing with some of the criticism that you’ve been getting?

Hedges: Yes, although that’s not a new phenomenon, because when I was speaking out against the war, I was on the news staff of The New York Times, and I had been at The New York Times for 15 years. I knew what I was doing—that it was a kind of professional suicide. But at the same time I felt that it was morally incumbent upon me as someone who spoke Arabic and spent seven years in the Middle East, and because I had a platform because of my book—to avoid those questions or not answer them, or give non-answers to them, was not morally defensible. And then of course after I was booed off this commencement stage in Rockford, Ill., I was given a formal reprimand by the paper, and told to stop speaking out against the war. And at that point I knew my relationship with The New York Times was over, because I didn’t want to be muzzled for [the rest of] my career. And that comes out of the church. It comes out of having a father who was in the civil rights movement, the antiwar movement, and finally the gay rights movement. And as a young boy I watched him take a lot of heat for that—not only from people in the community, but from the institutional church as well. And it was a pretty good reminder that you don’t get rewarded for taking a moral stance. And the sooner you learn that, the happier you are.

Scheer: What about the criticism of your current book? It seems petty in a way—again coming often from the universities. How do you respond to it?

Hedges: I try not to focus on it. I’ve had to deal with the Israeli lobby for so long that I really try and shut it out and try not to read it, because a lot of it is just completely untrue and unfair, and I don’t want to burn up a lot of energy. I’d rather just put the blinders on and keep going and say what I have to say. I don’t like it, obviously, and I especially don’t like it when it devolves—as it usually does—into character assassination. We saw that with the response to Jimmy Carter’s book [“Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid”]. Nobody actually talked about the book; they talked about it as a controversy, at best; and usually they went after him. I sort of plow ahead. I’m not going to pretend that it’s pleasant. But at the same time I try not to waste a lot of emotional energy on it.

Harris: Do you validate or recognize any of the criticism that you’ve received? Does any of it mean anything? How do you support this? How do you stand by this point when there’s really no proof of that?

Hedges: Well, there is proof. We know Tim LaHaye has formed an organization where he matches donors with these organizations—groups like Sam’s Club have brought evangelical chaplains into their plants. There is evidence to that. And that relationship between these neocons and Christian radicals, there’s evidence within the Bush White House itself. I’m sure Cheney laughs at these people, but he finds them convenient allies. And of course, when you get people to believe in a system of magic and miracles and healings, then you don’t need health insurance; you don’t need unemployment [benefits]; welfare doesn’t matter, because as long as you get right with Jesus, you’re going to be taken care of. And I think there’s plenty of evidence to support that relationship between these sort of Straussians, like Richard Perle and others, and these Christian radicals who essentially get out the vote in places like Ohio.

Scheer: Is that an alliance that can hold?

Hedges: It’s always an uneasy alliance, and Paxton, in “The Anatomy of Fascism,” writes that, unlike communism, there’s no such thing as a purely fascist movement. Fascist movements make alliances with conservative sectors of society and often very uncomfortable ones. You saw that in Nazi Germany with Hitler and the German industrialists.

Divisions between the Bush White House and the Christian right arose over the issue of immigration, where Bush sided with the corporations—angering many within the base of the Christian right, because there’s a real backlash against immigrants within the Christian right. So it’s an uneasy alliance, but they both need each other. And in fact, this nonreality-based belief system, this ideology that is now peddled into the homes of many marginalized and desperate Americans, is one that plays into the hands of corporations that really want to defang the federal government. [The corporations] find in the ideology that’s promoted a very convenient vehicle to do that.

Harris: Have you seen Alexandra Pelosi’s movie on HBO?

Hedges: No.

Harris: She talks about the evangelicals and the extremist nature of their approach. So if you haven’t seen it—

Hedges: I don’t own a television.

Harris: A traditional man. A traditional man.

Hedges: No, I’m a freak.

Harris: [Laughs]

Scheer: We lump all these evangelicals together. But first of all, there is a racial divide.

Hedges: Yeah, and you know, the black church has been very wary of this movement traditionally, because this movement comes out of the John Birch Society, like Tim LaHaye, and the World Anti-Communist League, all the way back to the Klan. Jerry Falwell got his start as a racist demagogue who got up and talked about how desegregation was going to destroy the white race. That’s how he made his money, that’s how he built his church. And he went back in a kind of Stalin-esque purge and destroyed copies of almost every sermon he preached over a 10-year period, because it was so virulent and raw. He still preaches, in my mind, bigotry and racism. It’s just that he’s turned it on others, like homosexuals or liberals or feminists or immigrants, or whatever. But this man, he has the profile of a classic demagogue. And I think the African-American church has been very wary of these people—with good reason. Now, this movement realizes it has to bring African-Americans into the fold. So if you listen to “Focus on the Family,” this very popular radio program run by James Dobson, during Black History Month, every day they fall all over themselves to celebrate black history. I went to an event called Patriot Pastors in Ohio—this rally where they had adopted as their symbol an American flag with a Christian cross superimposed on it. They had a choir singing hymns while we watched video clips of American soldiers in Iraq. But they began by showing pictures of Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, because they’re trying to co-opt the civil rights movement and present themselves as the natural heirs of the civil rights movement. Now not a lot of people of color were in the audience. Most of the people of color were sitting up on the podium. But one of the stars of the Christian right, a guy named Rod Parsley in Ohio, is being heavily promoted and bankrolled by people like Dobson and others because, although [Parsley’s] white, 40 percent of his congregation is African-American. So yeah, the African-American church traditionally has been sympathetic on issues such as homosexuality, on some of the hot-button issues. But as African-Americans they get institutional repression, because they’ve been a victim of it. They’ve been very wary of this movement because of the antecedents of the movement, and because they understand in a way that perhaps even whites who are at the same economic level don’t always understand, the way institutions work in places like the urban ghetto—to make sure that poor people remain poor.

Scheer: You know, one reason I don’t panic—I’m reading you and all that, and I think it’s probably that I’m just kidding myself—I just assume capitalism will triumph and that these people are at war with capitalism, for better or worse.  For instance, just the whole question of creationism—that you can’t have good science if you embrace creationism, you just can’t, and then you’re not going to be competitive with people who are doing good science, and it seems to me that, and I think this might be naive on my part, you know I’m very old-fashioned, but I have this idea that somehow they are out of step with the modern world, whether it’s controlling the lyrics in music or ... images that are shown on television or blaming Hollywood for everything. I guess I always assume they’re going to lose. Tell me why that’s wrong.

Hedges: They present themselves as a traditional movement, but they’re a distinctly modern movement, in this sense: that they promote an ideology that’s superstitious, magical and primitive, but they can only do it by co-opting the language of science, and there’s a huge industry of creationist scientists who will “prove” through scientific jargon and pseudo-science that the creation myth in Genesis is true. They don’t have a problem with technology itself, and I think that creationism serves the same role eugenics served in Germany, which was a pseudo-science about measuring people’s skulls and all this garbage, and they set up huge institutes. It was a way of turning lie into truth, of making facts interchangeable with opinion, of removing people from a reality-based world into the world they want them in, but at the same time the process of sort of building a machine is not going to interfere with that. And we’ve seen [that] Islamic groups which originally were, for instance, very distrustful of the Web have now adopted it. So I think sometimes you can have the marriage between very primitive superstitious belief systems and very advanced technology. I think one could argue that fascism in Nazi Germany did that.

That’s the first point. The second point is that this movement cannot come to power unless there is a period of prolonged instability or a crisis. I covered the war in Yugoslavia and we heard all these stories about ancient ethnic hatreds. The war in Yugoslavia had nothing to do with ancient ethnic hatreds; it had to do with the economic meltdown of Yugoslavia in the years leading up to the war, which, again, created deep despair and dislocation which the nationalist demagogues like Milosevic or Tudjman played upon. And I think that if we don’t enter a period of crisis, this movement can make creeping gains, as it has, but it probably can’t take power. But if we suffer another catastrophic terrorist attack—and I spent a year of my life covering al-Qaida for The New York Times, and there was not an intelligence chief that I interviewed here or abroad that didn’t talk about an eventual attack as inevitable—should we suffer a series of environmental disasters, or an economic meltdown, if we watch petrodollars become petroeuros, if we enter a prolonged period of instability, especially if people become afraid, then I think this movement does stand poised to reshape the country in ways that we’ve not seen, probably since our founding.

Harris: Chris, aren’t people already afraid? I mean, you look at this event that happened in Boston, where they posted these little electronic devices around the city, and Homeland Security was alerted, traffic was shut down. Aren’t we afraid right now?

Hedges: I think we’re paranoid. I think there’s a difference. I think we’re paranoid and they work to make us afraid. But I lived in Israel when the suicide bombings began. I was in Sarajevo during the war. I know what it’s like to be afraid. And you start thinking with another part of your brain. You reach out to people like Dick Cheney, who talk tough and promise to stomp the vermin out—if we’ll just give them the power to do it. That’s the appeal of an Ariel Sharon at a moment like that. That’s the appeal of a Slobodan Milosevic. So you’re right that they’ve worked really hard to try and make us afraid, but real fear, to be gripped with fear, in the sense that, “If we get on the subway it could blow up,” that’s another state and another level. And if we reach that level, especially with instability, especially with chaos, then we’re in trouble.

Scheer: As you know, the Intelligence Estimate Report, which the Washington Post had, and even [Sen. John] McCain said in his questioning of [U.S. Army general in charge of Iraq operations George] Casey—that the last two and a half years have been a disaster. And then you’ve got [Sen. Joseph] Biden coming along with this plan to partition—the old imperialist model of “divide and conquer”—and break Iraq up into three states. As probably the most experienced person who’s looked at this thing, what do you think is going on, what’s going to happen, how do you see it?

Hedges: Well, let me stress the issue of partition. Because partition presupposes that Sunni, Shia and Kurds are divided up into neat little areas—and that’s not true. There are 1 million Kurds in Baghdad alone. A partition plan would mean the dislocation of millions of Iraqis and probably murder of many Iraqis—in the same way that we saw the disasters that befell India and Pakistan during the partition plan. Because they’re mixed together. You have a huge Arab population up in the Kurdish north in Kirkuk. A partition plan like that is going to be a bloodbath.

So, what’s going to happen? A lot depends on Iran, because if—well, we’re losing the war and we’re going to have to leave, is the short answer. But the wild card becomes a hit against Iran, because a hit against Iran would ignite a Shiite uprising throughout the Middle East and become incendiary within Iraq. Whatever constraints had been placed on Shiite forces in Iraq until now would be lifted. Iran, which I’m sure is supporting the militias, would do everything in its power to turn what is already a hell into a nightmare of unimaginable proportions for American troops there. It would ignite a regional conflict, I fear, because you have Hezbollah, which is Shia; Pakistan has a huge Shia minority; Bahrain is Shia; there are 2 million Shia in Saudi Arabia—most of whom work in the oil sector; the Straits of Hormuz would get shut down. Iran does not have the capacity in a conventional sense to hit us; they might find a way to hit us in a nonconventional sense. But they certainly can hit Israel. Israel would hit back. And we’re already fighting a proxy war with Iran in the Middle East now. It happens to be a proxy war that we’re losing, because Iran backs Hezbollah; they back Hamas; they back the Shiites in Iraq. And in all of those fronts, we’re not doing real well—us or our Israeli allies. So this proxy war, which is already under way, would devolve into a full-fledged war, and I think it does have the possibility to ignite within the region, something that comes pretty close to this catastrophic Armageddon that many people in the Christian right see as a great sign, because it’s the end of history and the return of Jesus Christ.

Scheer: Now why doesn’t that scare many of the Jewish—and if they’re not Jewish, secular—neocons? I don’t get it.

Hedges: Because the neocons have built an unholy alliance with a group that’s—these people are anti-Semites, and I think the smart ones know it. But it has built an alliance between messianic Jews and messianic Christians, who believe that they have been given a divine right to rule one-fifth of the world’s population who happen to be Muslim. And that alliance is very convenient. It’s shortsighted on the part of the Jews, but for now it works. And I think that’s where they converge. There is a horribly racist element towards Muslims and a belief that we can impose through military might massive social engineering to create a Muslim Middle East which we can control, and that is amenable to our interests. And that, the messianic Jews and the messianic Christians share.

Harris: Do you think the media has done a good job of making us hate Middle Easterners? If we see someone who looks Middle Eastern, even the most educated, I think we all question, we all say, “What are their intentions?” Do you think I’m a bit off base with that question, or that thought?

Hedges: No, I think the things we say about Muslims in this country could not be said about any other ethnic group. I think the racism is raw, the ignorance is appalling. The way we denigrate their culture, their religion, talk about how they only understand violence, or that they want their children all to be suicide bombers, it’s just a huge advertisement to our incredible lack of understanding and appalling ignorance. And for somebody who’s spent so much time in the Middle East, it’s almost impossible to counter. The notions that all Muslims—who are one-fifth of the world’s population, most of whom are not Arab—[the notion that they] all think the same way, or that there isn’t a moderate center, or that Algerians are the same as Iraqis—you don’t even know where to begin.

It’s so vast, and it’s pervaded the mainstream to such an extent that I think you raise a good point. We’ve turned 1 billion people into a caricature or stereotype—and not a very pleasant one. And it’s ominous, if we should have another catastrophic terrorist attack, it’s going to be pretty ominous for Muslims in this country. And ominous for us because once again we’ll be responding or at least supporting a violent response, probably, in the Middle East, without any kind of cultural understanding or sensitivity. And all we’ve done since the war in Iraq is essentially dumped gasoline over the best recruiter that al-Qaida has—the conflict. And it comes because we’re walking blind into an area of the world we know absolutely nothing about, and dealing with people we’ve turned into cartoon figures.

Scheer: Basic to that cartoon image, when people talk about Islamo-fascism—which Bush seems now to have accepted—is a very simple, crude idea of religious evolution, that they didn’t have the religious reformation, that there’s an arrested development to the Muslims. And that takes all responsibility off other people who interacted, say, with Afghanistan, with Indonesia—the role of foreigners. And the example I think of is Afghanistan, which was not particularly given to a virulent form of fundamentalism, at least not in Kabul, where, under the king, women could get doctorates and be gynecologists, and so forth. [There, under Jimmy Carter,] we weighed in on the fundamentalist side. It seems to me that that was a perfect example; it wasn’t that they reread the Koran. It wasn’t that they did or did not suddenly discover the reformation. But in fact they were responding to a set of circumstances. And I think that could be said about Iraq, which was, after all, a primarily secular country at one point.

I don’t know if you agree with that, but I just wonder what happens when you have discussions with people who are in the State Department, or pundits commenting on all this. What do they say to that?

Hedges: Well, the State Department actually isn’t the problem. The best Arabists in the government are in the State Department and in the intelligence services. Because they speak the language and they spend time there. They get it. And I have friend who are Arabists in the State Department. They’re pretty lonely figures, because nobody in the Bush administration gives them the time of day. Oh, the issue of the reformation: Islam itself is so varied; there are mosques in India where men and women pray together; Egyptians could drink me under the table, for the most part. The notion that there is any kind of strict Islamic code that is pervasive throughout the Muslim world is just not true. Most Muslims, although that moderate center is under attack, do not live lifestyles that are particularly different from most mainstream Christians. So I think you’re right. Fundamentalism, and Karen Armstrong has written about this, is very much a response to essentially despair—to being pushed, like the Christian right, to be pushed into corners where you don’t have any hope. Where the only hope you have if you’re a kid locked up in Gaza, the only way that is left for you to affirm yourself, is through death. And they are responding to real conditions around them, and real conditions of oppression. And that is far more influential in fueling their belief system than the reformation.

I think you’re right. It’s the conditions that they live in that form the ideological belief system, rather than antecedents. Because Islamic scholarship is quite profound, and certainly rivals the great Jewish thinkers, or the great early church fathers. This is a religion that has deep and an incredibly rich intellectual tradition. It’s just not a tradition we know about.

Harris: Thank you, Chris. That was Chris Hedges, who is currently a senior fellow at The Nation Institute, and former correspondent for The New York Times. He’s also written the new and controversial title “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.” For Bob Scheer, this is James Harris. And this is Truthdig.

Chris Hedges graduated from seminary at Harvard Divinity School and worked for many years as a foreign correspondent for The New York Times, where he also served as Mideast bureau chief. Hedges’ latest book, based on two years of reporting, is “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.” He is also the author of the bestseller “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning.”

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By walker, February 15, 2007 at 11:27 pm Link to this comment
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“Creator” doesn’t necessarily mean the Biblical God.

And to claim you know anyone’s soul is the height of arrogance.

The reality of it is that no one knows whether there is a god or not, and to claim you do is sheer goofiness. You can believe there is a god, or you cannot, but that’s as far as it goes.

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By Logician, February 15, 2007 at 7:32 pm Link to this comment
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Re#53707 by hume:

I’ll save you some time, hume.  Reread the last two sentences of my reply in #53413.  Robert Price’s book is the clearest summarization of this entire discussion.  Every source you’ll need to get started will be in that book. Why waste my time when you should have the intitiative yourself?  Oh, yeah, it’s easier to just categorically deny them.  Don’t have to get off the couch to do that, eh?  And poisoning the well: that’s so junior high.  I have faith you can do better than that. 

As I said, I have no problem with those who chose to believe in fairy tales.  If it keeps you out of my hair, believe, baby, believe.  But the second you attempt to legislate any aspect of my (or anyone else’s)life based on your fairy tales, you will raise the ire of myself and any other free man.

I’m not claiming an invisible guy in the sky tells me how to run other peoples lives, hume.  The burden of proof rests upon you.  Show me your god, show me in fact any proof whatsoever of your god or in any of your fairy tales and I’ll bow my knee. And don’t tell me it’s a matter of faith.  If that’s all you have to offer about this, then stay on the porch and let the big dogs play.

Re#53692 by John.

Point taken.  When I lived in Greece I have to admit it was very nice.  The wine dark Mediterranean lit by the rosy fingers of dawn were enchanting, to say the least.  I was thinking more of the hand to hand combat and the sicknesses and general lack of hygiene. I mean, we’re talking sans air conditioning here!  You get the idea.

I bow to your graciousness and reply that a good start is to return religion to its proper place: out of politics.  America was founded with secular laws for the express purpose of protecting people from religious persecution.  If it doesn’t stay that way, I fear it will fall, if it isn’t already falling due to faulty economic policies. 

I went to school here in the midwest and don’t remember ever being hassled over religion.  Of course, I grew up in what is politically correct to call an ‘ethnic’ neighborhood.  We just thought we were poor.  I played with Jews, Catholics, Protestents, you name it.  Some kids went to their religious classes on some days, others went on other days.  It was no big deal.  Yeah, we talked about what we thought about our respective churches, we even had the same goofy arguments George Carlin talked about: Can God make a rock so big even He Himself couldn’t lift it?

But it wasn’t in school.  We all knew school was about science and math and reading and history and all that, not about our faiths.  We weren’t being programmed in our churches to question everything being taught in science class.  The tenor of these rightest churches is distrubing. 

As you know from the fall of the Roman Empire and others, when the system gets so big it can’t control its various parts, the whole will eventually fall.  We need more people in the public arena willing to say no to these hideous hypocrites and start pulling this country back from the brink. 

It starts with the willingness to look people straight in the eye and say: “So you believe in God?  Good for you!  Now leave your God in your private house, do your praying in private, like the Bible tells you to, and let’s reason together as equal citizens of this country, not as religious enemies.”  In this age of extremism, I freely admit I’m afraid that’s just wishful thinking.  You and I can do so, but mathematically, when you compare two to the rest of the population, the odds aren’t favorable.  Too bad, really.  America seemed like a really good idea, at the time.

Again, John, thank you for your graciousness.  I think it would have been fun to sit in the neighborhood with you and hear your answer. Could God lift that rock, or not?

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By amos_hart, February 15, 2007 at 5:26 pm Link to this comment
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Yes, of course, our laws are laws of men. I quoted the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
The document says plainly that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are rights that come from the Creator and are bestowed on all men. Our laws are enacted to secure these rights and are, of course, of men in the sense that men make them. That in no way diminishes the fact that, in the mind of the signers, the rights enumerated (and others) came from God as a primary source. The point I was trying to make is that Christians have a fortiori an obligation to respect and cherish God’s gifts. Thus, there is a built in (Christian) bias against abridgment of liberty. I believe such moral force exists scarcely in any other country. Secular Humanism makes man himself the source of his liberties. Man gives them and man can take them away. What God gives is in indeed inalienable. Presumably, the signers were quite aware of the distinction. It is this simple fact that should give the Chris Hedges’ among us considerable comfort. It is the reason for my belief that dominionism is not the bugaboo that Hedges and his ilk fear. I am far from being a dominionist, but I don’t fear James Kennedy, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, et al because I know their souls. They are patriots, not schemers and traitors intent on subverting the republic. They are intent on using the political process to enact legislation that accords with their consciences. That is their God-given and constitutional right, not to mention responsibility. So you express your views and allow them theirs also. That’s the ways it’s supposed to be.

BTW, I commend you for naming names and providing factual information. It’s not that difficult. I hope Hedges will get the knack some day himself.

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By Blade, February 15, 2007 at 1:01 am Link to this comment
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What native American “Indian” tribe donned white shirts, purported to be bullet proof, and threw themselves into battle?  Wasn’t there some sort of bullying involved? Some “Fascist” behavior?  It’s been a while since I read about this “movement” that occurred in the latter half of the 19th century. In bad times people will believe almost anything, since reality is more than one can bear.

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By hume, February 15, 2007 at 12:54 am Link to this comment
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Nice rant. So when do we get to the logic?

I would think someone trained in philosophy could at least spell it correctly. A couple of posts ago you had “patients.” Now you say your background is physics and “phiolosophy.” I thought patients had physicians, not physicists or physiologists, but maybe that’s just my “feeling,” which, as you point out, is all my faith is.

You said you read “legends and tales in their original language,” and that you “found the [external] sources for all the the tales in both the Old and New Testaments.” Please enlighten me. Which ancient languages and sources did you read? Let’s exclude Hebrew and the Bible, since they can’t be used to make your case. Until you prove your competence and cite your sources, there’s no point in refuting your charges re originality and plagiarism. But, for the record, I dispute them categorically.

I also “feel” that you are neither truthful nor a worthy opponent. Likely, you have a personal problem that you project onto the religious community and attempt to exorcise by your “logic,” i.e., your intemperate and irrational attacks. If you really know anything about psychiatry, you will understand the dynamic. But I invite you to prove me wrong, so step up to the plate, “Logician” and hit it out of the park.

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By John, February 14, 2007 at 10:04 pm Link to this comment
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Logician: Had forgotten Socrates had been a soldier - okay. My background is in anthropology, with philosophical leanings. I tend to be careful to point out that the notion many have of considering pre-modern (and non-western, including Greek society of Socrates’ time (which was Mediterranean, not ‘Western’ or ‘European’ - ‘Europe’ hadn’t been invented yet - but never mind) societies being ipso facto more ‘brutal’ than what exists today is not necessarily true, but won’t argue the point.

Anyway, Ga, Logician, I think we’re on the same page here, but shouldn’t expect (or need) to agree about everything, just on the matter at hand. You’re right: the Here & Now is the point, and what we need to agree on is how to take care of business. The only really serious questions on which we have to come to some agreement, philosophical and otherwise, are, and always have been: What is important about the present situation and what do we do next?

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By Logician, February 14, 2007 at 10:27 am Link to this comment
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Re#53414 by Ga:

Smoking! Clear, concise, factual, and oh, so right!

A tip o’ the hat to ye, man of the truth.  In this fog of stupidity enveloping the greatest experiment in governance in human history, it’s a breath of fresh air to read your rebuttal.

Too bad it’s dust in the wind.  I have watched others like you talk to those like Amos and seen the glaze of fervor cloud the believers’ eyes till those eyes were opaque.  That opacity bounces the images of reality off the front of their eyeballs and the only images reaching their occiputs are reflections of the lies they have been fed by the most nefarious of con artists to walk this earth.

So I do appreciate the chance to read your work and others who also fight the pure fight of reason.  I fight also to remember that while I feel we’re all wasting our time, even the most pernicious of these foul institutions did acknowledge, not apologize, but at least acknowledged, their awe-inspiring stupidity when they ‘reinstated’ Galileo. 

Keep on trucking, Ga.

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By amos_hart, February 13, 2007 at 7:15 pm Link to this comment
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Well, what did you intend to say, if I misunderstood you? Probably others did as well. BTW, when you assert questionable notions, the burden is on you to provide confincing evidence. Otherwise, skeptics just dismiss them. Am I obligated to find evidence for the fact that the earth is square just because some bozo says it is? Enough said, I hope.

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By John, February 13, 2007 at 6:19 pm Link to this comment
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Roxy)Hart: “One would think an occasional fact might whet the reader’s appetite.”

Give us an occasional fact, Roxy.

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By Ga, February 13, 2007 at 5:11 pm Link to this comment
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I will concede to your point re: illegality and violence, and shall tone down my own rhetoric and use of the term “fascist” to make sure that I do not make unsubstantiated claims. My point was though, to rebut your call that “Blaming the Christian right for the evils of society is simply paranoia.” I meant, and thought I said, that that is not the charge.

This whole thread is based upon the charge that the Christian Right is looking more and more like a move toward fascism:

A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.

A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a system of government.

Oppressive, dictatorial control.

So, by definition, violence is not necessarily involved. Indeed, fascism and dictatorship can, and has, come “lawfully.”

You state:

“No Christian of my acquaintance imagines that his views or morals take precedence over our God-given rights as reflected in the laws of this country. Period.”

Contrary to your belief, the laws of this country are laws of man and not laws of God. The Declaration of Independence refers to “Nature’s God,” our “Creator” and to “divine Providence,” bit more importantly is states that “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed,” and that it is by the “Authority of the good People of these Colonies,” that we have a right to be a free and independent nation.

There is no Christian doctrine in our Constitution. All of our “principles of government” are secular in nature and have been developed by and for Men—Men of various religious backgrounds, of course, but they chose to leave Biblical references out of the Constitution, didn’t they?

The basic tenet of the many Christian groups alive and well and seeking power is nicely stated by D. James Kennedy:

“Our job is to reclaim America for Christ, whatever the cost. As the vice regents of God, we are to exercise godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government, our literature and arts, our sports arenas, our entertainment media, our news media, our scientific endeavors—in short, over every aspect and institution of human society.”

This is known as “Dominionism,” and it is based solely on strict, narrow, Biblical literalism. It is well documented. There is no need to debate its existence nor what it wants.

You also said: “Let’s back up about 50 years.” and went on to ask historical-based questions, with regard to debating “morals” and “values”. However, with regard to someone else you say: “whatever Christians may have believed about the matters you cited has no relevance today.” You cannot have it both ways.

Christians believe that their way, the Biblical way, is the only way, and that lack of absolute adherence to the infallible Bible, the church and the Pope, are the causes of all the evils of society.

End of debate.

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By Logician, February 13, 2007 at 5:02 pm Link to this comment
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Re#53198 by hume:

To reduce an argument over the conduct of fanatics to a challenge to prove I am “anything other than a brain floating in a vat,” as you did in #53010 is a favorite of apologists who know they cannot justify the behavior of radicals. When real problems arise, we need to get past the useless arguments of ‘a-priori,’ etc. and accept the world as it exists before our very eyes and try to make life better for each other. Imposing a code of behavior you can’t even correctly interpret from a book of plagiarized fairy tales is going to make anybody’s life easier.  A good start is to tackle poverty, ignorance, sickness, etc, not telling people if they’ll just believe in a plagiarized fairy tale, everything will be okay, if not in this life, then in the complete fantasy of ‘the next life.’

My disciplines are in physics and phiolosophy, so don’t try the wide-eyed response of ‘there’s so much you don’t know about dimensions. The point is we live in this dimension and it’s time to stop pretending completely evidenceless beings from ‘above, outside, beyond’ our dimsnsion exist and we need to control other people’s behavior because of it. And citing past ignorance as justification for present stupidity is, oh, just priceless. 

Having read the Bible and other legends and tales in their original languages as part of my studies, I, as well as many others, have found the sources for all the tales in both the Old and New Testaments. Not one, NOT ONE of the tales in the Bible is original, nor even plagiarized with any skill.  Do not use this book of second-hand fantasies to explain anything.  Don’t talk to me of a god that isn’t even an original concept.

I am weary of people who try to use a book they know next to nothing about to justify their ‘feelings,’ ‘God’s love,’ God’s infinite power.’ It’s comfortable to feel there’s something ‘out there’ to protect and guide us, but no evidence exists to prove that, not even within the plagiarized fairy tales themselves; and your ‘feeling,’ which is all faith is, is no justification to rule other people.

Try reading some history books in English, for a start.  Read about the stellar conduct of your fellow fantasizers who perfected the art of gutting humans in the name of almighty Jesus Christ. Then for a quick, authoritative and very entertaining education, read Robert Price’s “The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man.”  His style, humor, and wit will educate you in spite of yourself. 

Re#53248 by John:

A simple history text will show you, John, that Socrates was a great war hero before he was venerated as a thinker.  His fellow soldiers respected his strength, endurance, and exceptional sword skills that reduced his opponents to worm food with elan.  That text would also tell you about the brutal living conditions of the day, something I really don’t think most college professors could cope with. (And to be brutally honest, nor could I. That’s why I so respect the man and his goals.) Try your local library.

Again, the argument over what constitutes reality is why the common man laughs at people who think for a living.  You can spend eons arguing over it and prove only that you have tenure.  What is important is the here and now. 

Here’s a bit of ‘reality,’ for you, John: you and I agree 100% on what needs to be dealt with.  Dealing with this filth takes more than a ridiculous waste of time over what constitutes ‘reality.’ That’s what torqued my jaw in the first place.  If we are to answer hypocritical con artists leading the gullible with plagiarized fairy tales, we need a dynamic, working philosophy they can understand and use, not some wimpy word games that won’t do anyone any good. 

Because you are right, John: the Christian Right IS leading us in the direction of fascism and we cannot lie about and let them do so like the world did with Hitler et al.

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By roxy_hart, February 13, 2007 at 4:11 pm Link to this comment
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John (aka Mr. Knowitall)
You say Hodges is saving his facts for his book. How do you know? If so, why did he rave on for 40 minutes with nothing but his imagination to back up his charges? One would think an occasional fact might whet the reader’s appetite. As it is, he has spread his propaganda to the four winds without a shred of verifiable evidence. Skeptical readers are unlikely to bother with it all. Surely you must know that most people on this thread will never read the book and never know whether he ever backed up his assertions. Propaganda by any other name is still propaganda. And yellow journalism is still yellow journalism. Nice spin job, but no cigar.

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By luke, February 13, 2007 at 1:14 pm Link to this comment
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Life of liberty:
You say you are an “ex-Christian evangelist.” I therefore presume you once advocated what you now recant and despise. Not too reassuring, I’m afraid. Were you mistaken in your previous life, or are you mistaken now? Were you a dissumalator then or are you one now? To aequately compensate for misgivings about your integrity, you really need to cite an occasional verifiable fact. “Desert sky-gods of death,” you say? “Devine right to do any evil”? It’s a bit like flying saucers and Darth Vader. By the way, they truly do exist and Vader is really pissed at you. He intends to create a literal hell on earth just for you and your ilk. So, if I were you, I’d get out of Dodge, fast.

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By Skruff, February 13, 2007 at 10:08 am Link to this comment
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Comment #53255 by amos_hart on 2/12 at 7:46 pm
Nice try, but your facts are questionable”

I’m not lecturing you.  Check the facts yourself, HOWEVER your post indicates you mis-read, or mis-stated my post.

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By lifeofliberty, February 12, 2007 at 10:18 pm Link to this comment
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Excellent comments by Hedge. As an ex-Christian evangelist, I can say with assurance that the religious right seeks nothing less then a literal hell on earth, because it will mean the ultimate expression of their faith and salvation.  The “end times” and the return of Christ.

Their ignorance to history, interpretation and the manipulation of their alleged “faith” in desert sky-gods of death is leading directly to the destruction of the earth and a great many of it’s people.

Religious fundementalism is a cult, steeped in superstition, fear and ignorance. It’s attraction is exactly what Hedges states: despair.

Religious fundementalist hate life itself - this is a very real phenomenom, and seek to take life and it’s enjoyment from anyone and everyone that would choose anything other then their fear based reality.

It is an exceedingly dangerous movement because they are trying so desperately to create a monotheistic empire in their image, one which embraces fear, oppression, racism, bigotry, intolerance, manipulation and control.  And they will do quite literally anything, to get it.

Last of all, they believe they have the divine right to do any evil, any act to accomplish their goals. The duplicity is lost on them, of course.

We’ve got a hell of a fight on our hands, nothing less then life itself if we hope to survive their utter stupidity and evil arrogance.

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By amos_hart, February 12, 2007 at 8:46 pm Link to this comment
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Nice try, but your facts are questionable. The WCTU most emphatically DID support women’s right to vote, despite your assertion that it supported “a woman’s second-class citizenship.” Your assertion that Massachusetts executed incorrigible kids as late as 1860 surely requires a verifiable source. Furthermore your assertion that Christian groups favored child execution as late as 1860, segregation as late as 1963, debtors’ prisons as late as 1970, and discrimination against women is not acceptable on the face of it. Cite your sources, if you have any.

In any case, whatever Christians may have believed about the matters you cited has no relevance today. Does the fact that Ptolemy believed the sun rotated about the earth bring eternal reproach on science? Christian people have striven throughout history to understand God and his ways, just as scientists have striven to understand the cosmos. Natural theology is man’s attempt to understand God. Christianity is composed of fallible mortals, just as is the scientific community. Both realms are subject to error. Truth is a process of discovery in the light of science AND theology. Don’t expect perfection from Christians any more than you expect it from atheists. And don’t let your prejudices blind you to the possibility of truth, even from those who believe the Bible has relevance for today, despite our all too human imperfections

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By John, February 12, 2007 at 8:24 pm Link to this comment
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roxy_hart: I too would like to hear more about Sam’s Club. Perhaps we should read the book. Hedges is not being inarticulate - he’s just not reproducing his book in the interview.

amos_hart: Communist regimes, although officially atheist, were not inspired by Nietszche.
There is plenty of morality in non-Christian regimes. Buddhist regimes are not ‘depraved’, although professing Buddhism does not insure morality either. To confuse morality with simple obedience to authority has been the root of a lot of evil - in the 3rd Reich, for example.

Skruff: the progressive changes you mention were supported by many Christian groups also - the desegration of schools, for example, was supported by the Southern Christian Leadership Council and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., if I remember correctly, and I’m not at all sure it would have come about if it had not been.

Logician: You will have to dig up some evidence to convince me that Socrates was “a stone cold killer”, and explain to us what you mean by saying that “he lived a life of brutality”. And the argument of “running into a brick wall”, although effective in many ways, does not sufficiently deal with the fact that the ways different people see reality are indeed quite different - otherwise this whole discussion would seem to be irrelevant.  You still haven’t convinced us that your mind and senses accurately mirror ‘reality’. This is positivism and naive materialism, both of which Marx, for example (there are plenty of others, including many philosophers of science), broke with.

Perhaps a few fewer insults and a little less prioritizing of one’s ego over finding truth might lead to a more thorough consideration of the rationality of the subject matter and to the discovery/creation of mutually acceptable facts, on the basis of which we might actually be able to DO something beyond reaffirming our individual dogmas - the possession of which, in this discussion, seem to be the exclusive property of neither ‘atheists’ nor ‘Christians’. The subject and the danger, may I remind you, is that of a Christian Right that may be leading the US, cynhically and/or sincerely, in the direction of fascism. THIS is what needs to be dealt with.

Sorry to be such a wet blanket, but this really isn’t my sort of party.

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By Amos_Hart, February 12, 2007 at 7:11 pm Link to this comment
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Here is what George Orwell said about “fascism.”

...the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-fighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley’s broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I do not know what else ... Except for the relatively small number of Fascist sympathisers, almost any English person would accept ‘bully’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist’. That is about as near to a definition as this much-abused word has come.

For me “fascist” is simply a useless word, subject to gross misinterpretation and used to slime one’s opponent. Try to find words that communicate clearly, if infact, that is your intent. If you wish to rabble rouse, then, of course continue. But don’t expect to communicate anything other than your own personal affect to anyone who expects to hear reasoned argument. “Fascist” is a show stopper.

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By Charles Lamar Wilson, February 12, 2007 at 6:03 pm Link to this comment
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I regret that you said nothing about the
  ” NEW WORLD ORDER” gangs.  These people are
  the central bankers;the religious right;
  corporate media;the mega corporations;the
  zionist and the vatican. They have been
  working for world control for centuries.
    The only thing that will save us from
  these criminals is truth. We must educate
  the people about what the Federal Reserve
  is. And how” We The People ” became the
  slaves to these criminals.

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By hume, February 12, 2007 at 5:40 pm Link to this comment
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Yes, I see your point. The nature of reality is a matter for children, and useless college professors, not us serious grownups who must “live a full, authentic life based on truth.” No doubt, Hume and Kant must be included among the useless, and the various epistemological perspectives are indeed a “province of idiots.” Indeed, I have no doubt that you do, in fact, prove your case for reality by slapping fools that disagree with you in the face. But please tell me, what planet do you live on where that is tolerated? On the planet Earth, the authorities take a dim view and lock your butt up. Or do you just provide that mode of care to your “patients” who can’t slap you back. I would dearly love to have you enlighten me on your next visit to this planet.

By your non-logic, you conclude that reality is what you perceive. Can you perceive X-rays, radio waves, atoms, dark energy? Certainly not with your five senses alone. In the case of dark energy, no one has seen it, but it appears to be “out there,” based on inference alone. To someone living in the 15th century, electromagnetic energy was unimaginable, not to mention preposterous. To someone, such as you, living in the 21st century, notions of God, miracles, and the spiritual realm are equally preposterous. You are blinded by your own hubris, little man. The Bible speaks of a God who must exist in many more dimensions than you do dimensions that you cannot even imagine. He is therefore able to do what appears to you as miraculous but what for Him is ordinary. Do a thought experiment to open up your closed mind. Imagine yourself a two-dimensional being having only width and length. You could not perceive a three dimensional being if he stood a millimeter from you, unless he chose to break your plane. If he did, you would only see a line, a circle, or some two-dimensional object, although most of it would be hidden from you. Point is, to know reality is not as simple as you propose.

Oh, in closing, save your condescension and bluster for the junior high set. We adults aren’t impressed with your juvenile attempt at abstract thought. “Logician” indeed.

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By Jon B, February 12, 2007 at 11:17 am Link to this comment
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“If the liberties of the American people are ever destroyed, they will fall by the hands of the clergy.” - General Marquis De Lafayette (1757-1834

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By Logician, February 12, 2007 at 10:07 am Link to this comment
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Re#53010 by Hume

Thanks.  You pose an interesting question, at least to fools. It’s a favorite of junior high school aged children first discovering their abilities of abstract thought.  And it’s a staple of every useless college professor too stupid to understand what he’s read but just cunning enough to slither around in the education system long enough to get tenure.

My answer to you is the same as it was to every other fool posing this old, tired, simple minded chestnut.  The utterly ridiculous exercise of epistemologically “proving” reality is the province of idiots who are too timid to live a full life.  I step up to these fools and slap them in the face. 

In the shocked silence that ensues, I state, with the conviction of a man tired of silly affectations, “That’s reality. To claim I cannot prove reality nor that I exist is just chickens**t posturing.  You should be spending time learning how philosophy can help us forge new paths for humanity instead of trying to impress us with this crap.”

I was right then, and I am right now.  Socrates was a real man, who perspired, urinated, defecated, and eructated. He was a stone cold killer highly honored in his society for that as well as his thinking ability. He lived a life of brutality that would scare the pants off the ivory tower pansies who spend their useless lives twittering over such stupid word games.  He developed his philosophy as a dynamic system in order to live a full, authentic life based on truth, not on silly posturing about proving the unecessary. 

Hume, run into a brick wall.  Really, no pun nor insult intended.  There’s your proof. I need no justification for reality. Quit wasting your time on ridiculous word games and get on with the rest of your life.  There are people in this country who want to regulate every single aspect of your life, if they decide to let you live, based on a fairy tale most are too illiterate to read.  If they are not stopped, you and I will lose the freedom to discuss these things.

Whatever you yourself are capable of doing in the defense of reason and freedom is appreciated. Even if it’s just not breeding any more.

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By Skruff, February 12, 2007 at 7:32 am Link to this comment
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Comment #52858 by amos_hart on 2/10 at 12:29 pm says”

“....the Christian Right is intent on imposing its morals on everybody else. And what morals would those be? Are you talking about abortion, religion in the Public Square, homosexuality, gay marriage? Let’s back up about 50 years. Was abortion an option when neither mother nor baby was in medical jeopardy? Was it permissible to read the Bible and pray in public school? Was homosexuality promoted as an acceptable life style? Was gay marriage even conceivable as an option? Who, in fact, has imposed “their” morals on the rest of us?”

I love this argument, and have seen it in its many generic forms. 

The path discribed above is usually referred to as “progress”

As late as the 1860’s parents in Massachusetts could bring their offspring to the local courthouse and have them executed under “stubborn child law” In the early twentith century women were forbidden to vote.  in 1963, the elementary school I attended in a suburb of New York City was desegregated. In the early 1970’s Maine stopped jailing debtors. Every one of the above change in laws was fought by self-identified xtian groups. these groups from the KKK to the WTCU claimed that the laws imposing segragation, a woman’s second-class citizenship, and the ownership of children were justified by the bible.

Most of the republic has come to disagree.

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By kikz, February 12, 2007 at 5:07 am Link to this comment
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religion is tyranny of the mind.

“Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.” - Denis Diderot

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By Fadel Abdallah, February 11, 2007 at 10:55 pm Link to this comment
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Wars and trying times have a way to bring out the best and worst in human beings, depending on the metal they are made of. Chris Hedges and Jimmy Carter are two outstanding examples of the first best type. Fanatic Christians, fanatic Jewish Zionists, fanatic Muslims and fanatix atheists are examples of the second worst type. They are too many for one to be able to list here.

You’re one of my few heroes Chris Hedges. Your noble and courageous fight to expose the forces of darkness and regression of human civilization is mostly appreciated as the highest patriotic act in the service of America and humanity at large. People like you can only be winners in the long run!

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By amos_hart, February 11, 2007 at 5:33 pm Link to this comment
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You dispute my view that what is compassionate is a matter of opinion by pointing out that my examples are “overly simplistic. Obviously, I did not intend a dissertation in support of my position, so your criticism is largely gratuitous. You may assume I am aware that the question of abortion is complex. You may also assume I am aware that Planned Parenthood’s default position is abortion. Abort unless there are compelling reasons not to. There is, in fact, a presumption that the mother’s rights are primary. Otherwise, why the constant yammering that the woman has a right to do what ever she wants with her body? My point simply was that opinions vary widely on the morality of human actions. The word “compassion” implies a moral judgment. There is no reason to assume unanimity of opinion as to its meaning or implications, absent a moral frame of reference. How you can contest that is truly puzzling. Surely you are aware of the atrocities committed in the name of Nazism and Communism. How do you explain the brutality of those Godless regimes, both of which took inspiration from the atheist Nietzsche? Clearly, Solzhenitsyn, who witnessed the Gulag firsthand, blames the banishment of God and Christian morality from the Soviet Union. I don’t argue that a Christian frame of reference insures moral behavior. I argue that its loss insures depravity. With what would you replace it? Secular Humanism? What compels anyone to accept any value system that is not founded on authority? If I reject Humanism, am I free to establish my own value system? The mistake you make is that you live in a country shot through with Christian values, and you assume they will persist without Christianity. The Soviet Union shows you otherwise, and atheist philosophers tell you otherwise. Open your eyes and ears and avoid the abyss yawning before you and your children.

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By Hume, February 11, 2007 at 4:09 pm Link to this comment
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Nice diatribe. But tell me, out of your trove of wisdom, just how it is that you know your five senses tell you anything about “reality” (your choice of words). Prove to me that you are anything other than a brain floating in a vat and that there is in fact a reality other than which exists in your brain. And tell me just what that reality is. Since you have no truck with the “slimy filth of religion,” you must have some other means of justifying your view that reality exists and that you are capabable of knowing it. But then again, maybe you are as insane as your “patients.” You just assume a reality with no justification. I do trust you will take this small oportunity to “save the future” from the scourge of religion. Write soon.

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By roxy_hart, February 11, 2007 at 2:42 pm Link to this comment
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Hedges says he was reprimanded by the New York
times. That speaks volumns. Maureen Dowd, Paul Krugman, and Frank Rich are tenured lefties, but Chris can’t cut it with his own unique style of “journalism.” Perhaps it has something to do with what he regards as “proof.” Scheer says “there’s really no proof of that” [presumably meaning Hedges diatribe against the evil Christian Right]. Heges responds with some inarticulate rubbish about Sam’s Club, neocons and the Bush White House. If that’s proof then he should have no problem with magic, miracles and angels. Further on, he says,“I think we’re paranoid.” I most heartedly agree with his self diagnosis. Is he really ready for prime time?

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By DSmith, February 11, 2007 at 6:19 am Link to this comment
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I don’t know who said it first but it’s a great comment about our pious and righteous religious brethern…“The bible says the meek shall inherit the earth, but how long will they remain meek after they do?”

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By fitfree, February 11, 2007 at 1:23 am Link to this comment
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I disagree with the statement about the black church. The black church has not always been sympathetic to homosexuals. I grew up in the black church and I certainly don’t remember homosexuality even being discussed. In fact the subject was taboo.  I don’t consider myself a Christian but I do believe in Creation and only a man and woman can create children.

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By Allan, February 11, 2007 at 1:02 am Link to this comment
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Apparently you have not seen many of the right-wing “born again” posts around the ‘net, or studied what is commonly recognized as fascist behavior.

Fascist behavior is being ultra-nationalistic, beating the war drums in favor of wiping out those “Godless liberals/muslims/Democrats/gays/Ay-rabs/whatevers” who speak ill of your chosen leaders…

Fascist behavior is calling anyone who disagrees with you “Anti-American/Saddam-loving/camel-jockey-loving/queer-loving/tree-huggers” who are “lending aid and comfort to the enemy”.

Fascist behavior is controlling the media, the courts and the appointments in government to favor a select few people at the top of the power and wealth pyramid over the rights of the general public.

Fascist behavior is ignoring human rights in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

Fascist behavior is using the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.

Fascist behavior is when corporate power is protected - The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite… while at the same time labor power is supressed- the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

Fascist behavior is openly hostile to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked… and science is perverted to deny proven fact when compared to superstitious belief… such as “Creationism”.

I actually heard one of the televangelists once say “God created fossils to fool us…”

Give me a break!

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By John, February 10, 2007 at 9:29 pm Link to this comment
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“You see, Ga, we have five senses.  We use these senses to navigate the world in which we live.  From birth we learn how to interpret the messages these senses give use in order to have a safe and relatively pain free existence.

But religion teaches us to utterly deny all those senses and believe in what does not exist.  Religion teaches us to behave in a way that directly contradicts the world our senses tell us exists.

No human mind can do this and remain sane.  We experience the world as it is and know it to be.”

This is a naive dogmatic materialism, based on the bad philosophy which sees knowledge and understanding to be a simple matter of the ‘objective’ reflection of ‘the facts’. It is bad philosophy and bad science. One might as well posit the opposite and say that ‘what exists’ is that which appears in the mirror. 

“...the most dangerous enemies of American freedom and prosperity…”

To focus on, and privilege, American (or Chinese or Bilivian) all the time is to destroy it - you cannot oppress others without damaging yourself. Any argument that starts short of the global is ultimately futile. To understand the global requires understanding it from the points of view of all who participate in its production - THEN one applies rationality, intersubjectively. ‘Reality’ is not some objectivity available to individuals living and reasoning within their own heads. It is essentially a democratic production (not that of American imposition, a la Bush & co.), with the only force being that of the best argument, as judged consensually (Jurgen Habermas). Or do you want a Philosopher-King? The pyramid of arrogant and illegitimate Power and Wealth has been so steepened by ‘science’ and the Industrial Revolution that pre-modern conquerors of all stripes look like pikers by comparison. It only relatively matter who sits on the top of this pyramid - Hitler was a particularly bad example of what can happen when maniacs climb to its top, and maniacs have to be dealt with - but NOBODY, and no group (such as the US polity and the global wealth -elite, which happen to be concentrated in the United States)of the politically/economically privileged, is/are capable of, or good enough, to control this control system - put Jesus himself on the top of this pyramid and he’d fuck it up. Control freaks be damned - the pyramid itself must be undermined. Neither technocrats not the US Constitution will save you.

So we need to keep on talking - rationally, and with a little more humility. ‘WE’.

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By Anchorage Activist, February 10, 2007 at 8:03 pm Link to this comment
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While Chris Hedges correctly condemns our predatory foreign policy, our war against the working class, the atomization of the middle class, instead of appropriating the blame at the feet of the neocons where it rightfully belongs, he sets up a “Christian Fascist” straw man and uses it to vent his virulent bigotry against fundamental Christianity.  By referring to Christian ministers like Jerry Falwell and his followers as fascists, he attempts to lay an intellectual foundation which could be used by others as justification for an eventual nationwide pogrom against fundamentalist Christians in the USA. The political and economic persecution of the white nationalist movement in this country, as personified in the Anti-Defamation League’s latest hatchet job against the so-called “KKK resurgence”, is merely a dress rehearsal for a similar future campaign against Christians.

Hedges mocks faith because it can’t be proven.  Yet he undoubtedly engages in dozens of expressions of faith daily.  When he deposits a letter in the mail, he expresses faith that the Postal Service will deliver it, without requiring proof of a successful outcome in advance.  Another indication that Hedges is selectively targeting fundamentalist Christians.

If Hedges’ intent is to promote more dialog and unity between right and left, he has failed miserably.  He has, in effect, told us 80 million evangelical Christians that we’re the enemy.  How can there be a coherent dialog with such a bigoted extremist? Extremists on both sides are laying the foundation for Thomas W. Chittum’s “Civil War Two”. And who knows.  Maybe we need a national catastrophe to humble us and knock all this hate out of our system. I would hope we could stop ourselves short of it.

By the way, it WASN’T Christians who rammed those planes into the WTC towers.

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By James R. Rodgers, February 10, 2007 at 7:33 pm Link to this comment
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In my opinion, the interviewers, for the most part, seemed to view born-again Christians as enemies of civilization. Should we Christians hide in church buildings, not venturing out to exercise our constitutional right to participate in and influence society? If we do participate, should we be extirpated? Christ told his apostles and all who follow them to be salt (corruption-preventer and food-flavorer) and light (sharing God’s truth as revealed in the Bible). Many statements in the interview are not factual, but I’ll mention just one: the assertion that most of our Founding Fathers were deists. Further, the interview exudes enmity and a desire to whip up intolerance toward those who take the name “Christian” seriously, toward those who dare to espouse biblical views in the marketplace of ideas. I was made a child of God by the mercy and grace of God. I was converted by Christ’s work FOR me and his Holy Spirit’s work IN me—not by my working for him (reference Ephesians 2:8-9, the Bible). The Spirit of God changed my attitudes and actions for the better by first changing the inner me. I pray every day, as the apostle Paul urged pastor Timothy to do, “for kings and all those in authority, that we might live quiet and peacable lives in this world.” Am I a war monger? God’s kids (not just anyone who wears a Christian label) are not baleful tyrants but lovers and proponents of all that is good. Conversely, they hate all that is evil and do anything lawful to oppose it. The existence of counterfeit Mona Lisa paintings is itself proof of the existence of the real thing. The same is true in the spiritual and moral realms, which influence the social realm. That marvelous thing called Western Civilization was produced by Christianity. Although “marvelous” doesn’t mean perfect, Western Civilization beats by a country mile the pagan cultures and empires preceding it. America, which was created as a Christian Republic (the only one in history), was for many generations a good example of Western Civilization. But she has backslid far indeed. Western Civilization is being changed for the worse by statism, secularism, immorality, false science, New Ageism, Socialism, Communism, secular libertarianism, and other “improvements.” (I’ve been a Christian libertarian since 1967.) As long as backsliding continues, the consequent problems (social, moral, political, monetary, economic, financial, spiritual, national defense, et al) will keep worsening.

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By Logician, February 10, 2007 at 4:58 pm Link to this comment
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Re: #52460 by Ga

Have enjoyed your blogs, but must disagree with your final statement: “Obviously, they are not really delusional,...” 

You see, Ga, we have five senses.  We use these senses to navigate the world in which we live.  From birth we learn how to interpret the messages these senses give use in order to have a safe and relatively pain free existence. 

But religion teaches us to utterly deny all those senses and believe in what does not exist.  Religion teaches us to behave in a way that directly contradicts the world our senses tell us exists. 

No human mind can do this and remain sane.  We experience the world as it is and know it to be.  To live as if we are 100% mistaken about everything we know is to deny our very selves.  A person must forego what they experience and deny reality in order to follow any religion’s teachings.  Again, no human mind can do that and remain sane.

In other words, the person must believe in what isn’t there, and not deal with what is.  This is insanity, pure and simple.  That is why you will NEVER be able to reason with a believer.  They are insane.  They are incapable of dealing with reality, of understanding reality, of even seeing reality.

For over 25 years I made the mistake of trying to reason with these poor, insane unfortunates.  Even when shown incontrovertible physical evidence that the earth is almost 4 billion years old, they have looked me straight in the eyes and said, “I don’t believe it,” as if their denying it would make it not so.

I now work with people society has deemed insane and now I understand why I got absolutely nowhere with believers.  I see exactly the same denial of reality in my patients as I see in believers.  Now I understand that the only way mankind will survive is to eradicate superstition from the planet. 

So, Ga, save your energy.  Work not to convince the insane of their madness, work instead to cleanse the world of their effects.  Work toward eradicating the filth of religion from all humanity.  You cannot help the insane, but you can save the future.  Until we do, religion has insured we will have no future.

Keep up the good fight of knowledge against the slimy filth of relgion.

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By Allan, February 10, 2007 at 4:51 pm Link to this comment
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I certainly agree that some of the most dangerous enemies of American freedom and prosperity are within our borders… and they are experts at manipulating the media and public opinion.

As a TRUE conservative (as opposed to the fascist neo-conservatives), I am outraged by their attempts to hi-jack the conservative label and dictate the direction of our nation.

Anyone who points out their lies and distortions is promptly labeled a “dreaded liberal” or accused of “lending aid and comfort to our enemies”.

Everyone should be reminded that Joseph Goebbels used those same tactics very effectively some 70 years ago.

One of our great conservative politicians once said:

“Now those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth, and let me remind you they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyranny.”

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By Mark Sherman, February 10, 2007 at 3:44 pm Link to this comment
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A great and thorough interview.  If the profits of the corporate war makers were subtracted from the GNP, I believe that our economy would be exposed as going backwards. I’m going to read the book to see what I can learn.

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By amos_hart, February 10, 2007 at 1:29 pm Link to this comment
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You assert that the “Christian Right is becoming a fascist movement bent on imposing their definitions of ‘morals’ on the rest of us.” I would suggest that “fascist” is a decidedly inappropriate characterization. That term implies a disregard for democratic liberties and a violent pursuit of political goals by unethical or illegal means. There simply is no identifiable Christian group of any stripe that advocates a change in our republican form of government by illegal or violent means. In fact you will likely found this republic’s strongest defenders among what you call the “Christian Right.” As a wise men said long ago, we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. No Christian of my acquaintance imagines that his views or morals take precedence over our God-given rights as reflected in the laws of this country. Period.

The term “Christian Right” is, of course, pejorative signifying some amorphous “they” of whom you disapprove. You say that “They are unwilling to debate or compromise.”  If YOU truly wish to engage in meaningful dialogue, please say who specifically you are talking about and document your complaints. I am most willing to debate with you.

You say the Christian Right is intent on imposing its morals on everybody else. And what morals would those be? Are you talking about abortion, religion in the Public Square, homosexuality, gay marriage? Let’s back up about 50 years. Was abortion an option when neither mother nor baby was in medical jeopardy? Was it permissible to read the Bible and pray in public school? Was homosexuality promoted as an acceptable life style? Was gay marriage even conceivable as an option? Who, in fact, has imposed “their” morals on the rest of us? Those, of course, who have succeeded in replacing what was the norm 50 years ago with moral and cultural relativism. I believe what you conveniently and incorrectly characterize as fascism, is, in fact, a reflection of the democratic process at work. There are conflicting views about morality. Law is and always has been a reflection of moral values. Christians have a right and obligation to promote their values and views in the political process, as you do. Let’s dispense with the name-calling and paranoia if you really want meaningful dialogue.

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By Methodista, February 10, 2007 at 9:11 am Link to this comment
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One comment above
“So, keep on drinking that delicious Koolaid.”

Jonestown jokes, and the enshrinement of “drink the koolade” as a political put-down, is just so darned clever it makes one despair of literacy.

Nearly a thousand people, most of them poor blacks, drank their Jonestown poison at gunpoint—while a couple of suitcases of cash, foreshadowing Bremer’s pallets of cash—disappeared in the jungle.

It’s worth mentioning that the Guyana execution of Congressman Ryan put a damper on official oversight of the cess-pool of Mendocino County, where Timothy Stoen, Bush’s north coast campaign coordinator, is again ensconced—in the District Attorney’s office—in local government.

Like Jim Jones, anyway, Bush hides behing the skirts of Methodism—sign the SMU Petition (“As United Methodists, we believe that the linking of his presidency with a university bearing the Methodist name is utterly inappropriate,” etc.) here:

And just shut up about “koolaid”—it ain’t funny.

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By Allan, February 9, 2007 at 11:48 pm Link to this comment
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Hedges is obviously a well-educated and thoughtful man… no doubt the mortal enemy of both the evangelical movement AND the fascist movement in this country.

But then I am always pleased and somewhat reassured when I discover that another scholar agrees with my conclusions about the disturbing trends in this country.

People have conveniently forgotten that Adolf Hitler once said “My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter.” [Adolf Hitler, speech on April 12, 1922]

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By Julio, February 9, 2007 at 9:18 pm Link to this comment
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I’m my opinion three of you are traitors GW Bush is the greatest President of the USA since George Washington!

One must remember that during the revolutionary war most likely your ancestors were traitors and peaceniks like you!

America is in desperate need of a spirtual revival that Falwell & Robertson so wisely state!

God Bless America

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By amos_hart, February 9, 2007 at 6:13 pm Link to this comment
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You say the flaw in human nature is the GENETIC survival instinct of tribalism. I know of no scientific evidence for that proposition. If you are talking about Dawkins’ “memes,” he simply hasn’t shown a genetic basis for them. It would make more sense to argue that the flaw is in the genes, Dawkins “selfish gene” that strives to maintain itself at any cost. How you would propose to solve that problem, I do not know, since, in his view, it is the gene that is of paramount importance in the evolution of the species. Tamper with the genes and God only knows what the outcome may be. In any case, you have not cited evidence for the genetic basis of “religious sectarianism,” or “nationalism” for that matter.

You assert that “in the U.S. and Europe, Christianity has simply proven to be the most malignant, murderous form of human tribalism.”
I challenge you to cite your proof for your statement.  Have you perhaps overlooked Nazism and Communism? I would certainly regard Hitler’s obsession with the Aryan race as a form of tribalism. And despite whatever Marx’s ideals may have been, one must believe that Communism was another manifestation of tribalism. In any case, it was certainly malignant and murderous, which you find objectionable, I take it.

As for your premise that the least evolved among us are the most likely to be victims of demagoguery (Christian cults, in your view), there is simply no scientific evidence for that view. There is no evidence that any human group or individual is more highly evolved than another. That smacks of racism of the type promoted by Charles Darwin. And you are opposed to “tribalism”? If your premise had merit, one would expect that it would account for “irrational fear and hatred” across the board. So why single out Christians for your condemnation? I am afraid you yourself are an example of “irrational fear and hatred of ‘others’ who are not a part of” your tribe. But I don’t think you need be overly concerned about eugenic purification of your genetic defects, at least not as long as those right wing Christians maintain their own “primitive, vestigial, genetic survival instincts.” But be careful what you wish for…

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By amos_hart, February 9, 2007 at 4:15 pm Link to this comment
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Indeed you are correct. I did not say what I mean by “God.” I mean the creator and sustainer of the universe who is depicted in the Hebrew and Christian scruptures. I exclude from my definition any non-personal entities such as one finds in Eastern religions. Nietzsche was not specific in his “God is dead” pronouncement, but I believe it is correct to say that he meant the Judaeo-Christian God; certainly he meant the Christian God. That God has historically been of great importance in the U.S. with respect to our shared values. To quote Nietzsche again, “When one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one’s feet. By breaking one main concept out of Christianity, the faith in God, one breaks the whole.” Nietzsche popularized the notion of the “Ubermensch” who rejects God and universal moral law to find values in this world rather than in some supernatural realm. Both Stalin and Hitler admired Nietzsche. Certainly, Hitler found comfort in Nietzsche’s philosophy, if not inspiration.  I believe we may safely say that the fruits of the nihilism advocated by Nietzsche have been disastrous and that his attempt to find a new basis for human values was an abject failure. In this country, and in the West, there has been (historically) a reasonably clear consensus as to the meaning of God, whether he be the Hebrew or Christian God. Morality and values have been and are dependent on the notion of a supreme being who created the cosmos and man in it. Be careful what you wish for, my friend.

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By Timothy O. Villard, February 9, 2007 at 11:57 am Link to this comment
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This world would be a much better place if we had a hundred Chris Hedges and several dozen Robert Scheers.

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By jean, February 9, 2007 at 10:56 am Link to this comment
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“Christ followers DO NOT support VIOLENCE against non-Christians throughout the world. Anyone can talk-the-talk that don’t make them a Christian.  Few people walk-the-walk.”

!!!! Here it is again, albeit in cowboy lingo.  That’s why I repeat my query, which was prompted by the time-worn rationalization:

“Please don’t put false Christian’s [sic] words in my mouth.  Those who blow up abortion clinics or hate people who are different than [sic]them [sic] are not following Jesus.”

I’d be interested in what freethinkers have to say about Christians who reflexively call other Christians not Christian whenever the putative non-Christians do something embarrassing or disgusting. 

I’m fascinated by it because it presents the perfect and convenient defense every time, however tautological.  Seems to shortcircuit thought entirely.  Like a PR-skill picked up in Sunday school . . .

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By Rob Morrison, February 9, 2007 at 10:35 am Link to this comment
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I found the discussion very interesting and somewhat frightening.  My main problem is with how these fascists, for that is what they are, have usurped the term “Christian”.  When I hear what these so-called fundamentalists have to say I see nothing Christian about it.  What I see is hate and intolerance for anyone who doesn’t subscribe to their warped and narrow point of view.  And it is not just “Christian” fundamentalism that does this.  The so-called Muslim fundamentalists have much in common with the Christo-fascists:  hatred for difference, intolerance of independent thought, a total disregard for the meaning of scripture and a unique ability to use carefully selected scripture passages, taken out of context, to manipulate their followers who either can’t or won’t take the time to read and think for themselves.  the fundamentals of these faiths are totally ignored.  What you have are religious extremists, not fundamentalists, who are too ignorant of the core teachings of their own faith to deserve being called Christian, Muslim, Jew or whatever.

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By Ga, February 9, 2007 at 10:34 am Link to this comment
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Amos: “The current debate over abortion reflects a major disagreement about whose rights are primary, the baby’s or the mother’s.”

That issue is more complex than just that. Describing it in such a
“this or that” way is the overly simplistic way that all dogmatic people paint such issues. (We could debate this, but let us just say that the myriad of medical reasons justifying abortion makes such a binary desciption invalid.)

All too often, religionists, as well as dogmatic philosophers, think only in terms of right and wrong, us and them, good and evil. Things are never so cut and dried, never so clear.

One can easily have laws that govern society without a “God.”

Our Constitution is “Godless” in that there is no references to Biblical instruction in it. We need not all worship the same “God” or a “God” to debate and agree on rules of government that provide for “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

Stop thinking about your religious doctrine, and read the Constitution. There is no religious doctrine in the Constitution. Yes, the men who debated and developed it were, for the most part, religious men. They were not, though, as so many have been led to believe, “Born Again Christians.” (One has to study these men and their times to understand this.)

Amos: “Sadly, many today will not make value judgements about matters of behavior, even in flagrant cases of abuse of others. So compassion also has no clear definition.”

This too is wrong. We make value judgements every day of our lives. In how we drive, in how we wait in line at the bank, in how we act in front of other people. Etc., etc., etc. Most people know that everyone benefits by being nice and polite to other people. This is an understanding of what it is to be human, i.e. compassionate.

Yes, abuse happens. And by religious people as well!

“Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices.”
—Thomas Paine

We don’t need—I don’t—a “scripture” to tell us that stealing is not right. It is obvious that stealing and cheating and doing people bodily harm is not a very good way to live.

It is absurd (to put it politely) that “Christians” have some sort of monopoly of “how to behave.” They do not.

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By Brapp, February 9, 2007 at 7:29 am Link to this comment
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re: Comment #52575 by amos_hart on 2/08 at 7:04 pm

Mr. Amos Hart,
you quote, “if God is dead, everything is permitted”.  Which “God”?  Who defines “God”?  You go to great lengths to show how words like ‘compassion’ and ‘rational’ can be used by anyone, yet you leave out the most multi-defined word in history: God.
On 9/11/01 Robertson and Falwell said the attack was God punishing the USA because of all the “sin” coming from gays, liberals, feminists etc.  Sounds like they define God just like the terrorists do. 

For most of its history Christianity declared the Earth to be at the center of the Universe.  The Sun, planets, stars all orbited the Earth and it was perfect and God made it that way.  Am I to understand those Medieval Christians didn’t understand God, but modern Christians do?  because they’ve accepted what science has proven, or because of another reason?  but i digress.

Liberals think God wants us to help the poor.  Conservatives think God wants us to keep gays from getting married.  The Bible can be, and often is, used by anyone and everyone.

Maybe “rational” is potentially interpreted many ways.  But until humanity acknowledges that “heaven” “angels” “virgin birth” “miracle” and “god” are exactly fantastical, we will never be able to appreciate the truly rational, which, unlike “God”, has a definition: based on, or in accordance with, reason or logic.

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By A Guest, February 9, 2007 at 4:41 am Link to this comment
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Comment #51967 by lifewriter on 2/06 at 9:24 am

Muslims lean on the Taliban for their brand of totalitarianism

Which Muslim are you speaking for?
Have Muslims given you the authority? The whole 20% of world population? Really!
The Muslims themselves do not agree with totalitarianism so who or what is your source.

You know neither Muslims or their religion. You are showing your zombie da shrub propagandist skyfoxcnnabcbcc ignorance, racism and bigotry.

which brings me to the question of democracy in islam. the islamic version of democracy is shura. that is ( consultation) asked off the wise and the worked well at the dawn of islam.
  but considering today"s dirty politics;shura should be turned into democracy by a fatwa from the scholars. as shura does not have enforcing power;it cannot hold accountable any ruler who does not take his advisers advice. islam is equipped with the principle of fatwa and ijtihad;where scholars are asked to develope or even come up with rules that serve the collective best interest when new life facts arise.none of today’s pragmatic islamist rulers are the early muslims of mecca and medina.and unless rulers are held accountable in the here and now;and not only in the after life; the collective interests could easily fall victim to individual interests. power corrupts;and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
When you use Islamic terminology learn what it means. Juan Cole an Expert (much abused word like democracy) uses this term rather flippantly.
FATWAH: A fatwah or religious edict in Islam is not the mere expression of an opinion by an individual or a group, it is a well researched and referenced argument requiring the same level of scrutiny of source texts and precedents as a judgment passed in a court of law.

#52575 by amos_hart on 2/08 at 7:04 pm

Likely, mothers of suicide bombers believe encouraging their children’s deaths is compassionate in view of the rewards that await them in heaven.

The above is what your zombie propaganda tells you. You have drunk the I want to be your zombie media outlet.

Suicide is against the law of Islam and as such there would be no “rewards that await in the heaven”

By the way how many “mothers” have you talked to?

About rationality and the pseudo psychology talk; I once had an individual telling me that I thought sugar was sweet because I was programmed to think so and as such I was adding it to my cup of coffee. He was a researcher at one of the brit over blown and so called “Prestigious academy”. You can make a guess at my reply.

I had a catholic teacher telling me I would end up in inferno because I did not worship her god.

When I pointed out to a Christian that Gandhi did not make it through the maze of neck high judeo christian propaganda required by Nobel worthless prize because Gandhi supported a Palestinian state. He said to me “What about your soul”. I failed to see the connection but than I was called uncivilised, a big danger?.......... and he was very worried about my soul.

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By John Thorne, February 8, 2007 at 9:42 pm Link to this comment
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For the record, I think Mr. Hedges has got it about 90% right. Totalitariansim and fascism may well be on the way, but they’re not quite here yet - go read about Stalin’s Soviet Union and the Third Reich and then look around for comparisons - as Hedges usefully does, though I think he’s jumped the gun. I also think there are a lot of other elements in US culture and history and the current US economic position in the world that should not be ignored - Marx is still useful here, though don’t go thinking I mean the distortions his ideas have suffered by dogmatic marxist-leninists - as he focusses on the ‘contribution’ to the current US political craziness made by indeed quite-scary dogmatic and/or cynically manipulative people of the Christian Religious Right.

However, I find it continually frightening that, as we face truly horrible developments about which we have to DO something (and I don’t mean pessimistically retreating into our love affair with/faith in the standard US consumerist opium of the people), that so many comments posted here go off on ego-driven tangents about Faith vs. Reason etc. and the evils/wonders of Christianity per se. Intelligent theological and philosophical debates are fine - but in the meantime we’ve got a real problem here and we’ve got to do something about it.

I believe that the Bush Administration, taken as a whole, is the most dangerous president the world has ever had - but it’s only the tip of the iceberg, the body of which is not just ‘Christianity’ or ‘religion’. Neither Democrats, nor Christians, nor atheists are going to get us out of our predilection for self-destruction. And by ‘we’ I don’t mean ‘Americans’ - it is just another form of US popular arrogance to suppose ‘Americans’, or even ‘American’ political and economic forces, are uniquely responsible for something like what many Christians (or maybe ‘Christians’) predict to be Armageddon.

We simply cannot afford, in any sense, to continue to live as we have been doing. The problem with the privileged, everywhere, is that they will not tell themselves the truth and will not act on it honestly - the virtue of the poor and weak and powerless, who are not any ‘better’ in any absolute sense, is that they can see this every day of their lives. And here Hedges is right - dogmatic and blind religious escapism endangers   this ‘virtue’.

‘WE’ are global or we are nobody worth talking either to or about.

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By amos_hart, February 8, 2007 at 8:04 pm Link to this comment
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“A government/state based on rational thought would be compassionate, scientific, pollution-free, peaceful.” I applaud your noble sentiments but don’t share your faith. First of all,  who decides what is “rational”? I expect Hitler thought genocide was rational in light of Darwin’s racist view of humanity. Stalin no doubt thought that the slaughter of 100 million souls was rational in light of the views of Karl Marx. And Sadam Hussein surely never admitted to irrationality, despite his extensive criminality. In the world of academe, you will find fundamental disagreements about the nature of rationality. Likewise, in the world of science, you will find no substantial agreement on it’s meaning, despite whatever claims are made for the “scientific method.” In any case, a “rational” view of the universe today is quite different than it was a hundred years ago. So rationality is not a stable commodity, whoever it’s keepers may be

Secondly, who decides what is compassionate? The current debate over abortion reflects a major disagreement about whose rights are primary, the baby’s or the mother’s. Likely, mothers of suicide bombers believe encouraging their children’s deaths is compassionate in view of the rewards that await them in heaven. Liberals argue that it is compassionate to provide social services to the needy, while conservatives argue that welfare strips them of dignity and self reliance. Sadly, many today will not make value judgements about matters of behavior, even in flagrant cases of abuse of others. So compassion also has no clear definition.

We have seen that what is “peaceful” is a matter of opinion. To the Communists, peace was the triumph of Marxist ideology over Capitalism. As in Orwell’s “1984,” words are manipulated for political purposes. And your noble sentiments are subject to the same fate as were equalite, fraternite, and liberte during the French Revolution. I’m afraid your solution is no solution. Nietzsche recognized that, if God is dead, everything is permitted. That, my friend, is the crux of the problem. Murphy was an optimist.

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By Ga, February 8, 2007 at 6:10 pm Link to this comment
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“But are such fundamentalist fringe groups (the parallel jihadist in the Islamic World) simply the inevitable reaction against a modern world that rejects God completely.”
—Comment #52466 by Richard Meraz

Is that a question or a statement? (I am glad that we can remain civil and actually debate these issues. I, for one, am not unable to be convinced of something by way of reason.)

I see no evidence of ours being a world that rejects God completely. On the contrary, the majority of the world’s people do believe in God—which I would present as evidence that this world does not reject God.

If, though, one simply viewed the world through “popular culture”—televison and movies and music and magazines and advertising—then one surely will percieve the world as “rejecting” God if you think that God needs to be part of overall society.

This is the mistake that many religionists make (and not just Christians): that seeing a lack of explicit references to God in popular culture means that society rejects Him.

But popular culture, or the “public” part of society, those places where all types of people gather and share their views, are going to be a mish-mash of views. Some you will like, some you will not like. This is generally known as (and tolerated as) “freedom of speech,” said speech sometimes will contain speech you do not like.

Now, the reference, “Christian,” covers many religions: Potestant, Cathlic, Methodist, Quaker, Baptist, etc. It is a partucular sect, though, generally calling themselves “Christian,” that we are talking about—the “Born Again” type.

The fault of these latter types is that they truly believe that America must have a society in which “God” is explicitly part of all of society—and by that they mean a particular adaptation of Biblical instruction: school prayer, no homesexualiy, no sex education, no birth control, no immigration, no welfare, etc., etc., etc. (And that is just the beginning of the a long list.)

These people hide behind words and phrases like “christian nation,” “activist judges,” “states rights,” “pro-life,” etc.

These people do not want debate, as they already have determined, before hand, what is right—and that by their interpretation of the Bible is the only way for all to live.

These people are those that insist on such notions as the world being 6,000 years world, period. End of discussion. Therefore, science is wrong. And why teach our children science if it is wrong?

That is why I fear them. Their way is a way of self-imposed ignorance and slavery to a single book.

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By Steve Meikle, February 8, 2007 at 5:23 pm Link to this comment
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Mr Hedges’ straw man comments on the nature of creationism are not going to help things.

They are misrepresentations which may encourage any intelligent christian who is trapped in the Religious Right mindset, as I was, to think that the only alternative to it is heresy.

His equation of creationism with magic is ignorant, a classic straw man.

HIs ridiculing of the fact that God has a plan for all men is the very cherry picking of scripture he condemns the rightists for doing

Such will only persuade them that they are an embattled and persecuted holy remnant, which they are not

I am a convinced creationist, and a vigourous opponent of the relgious right, for the Bible forbids trying to bring about the kingdom of God by means of “the flesh” (ie human endeavour). Also the Bible makes it clear that the Law of God was given for another purpose than that espoused by the Religious Right, therefore the Religious Right’s need to impose the Law of God on the world is heresy, as St Paul’s letters to the Romans and the Galatians make perfectly clear.

As Mr Hedges misreprestents creationism, and fails to distinguish it from abuses thereof (I see no need for it to be forced into schools) he will encourage the Religious Rightists in their heresy.

I for one reverence the Holy and Terrible Lord God ALmighty to dare encourage the blasphemy of the Religious Rightists by such means

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By Don Stivers, February 8, 2007 at 4:26 pm Link to this comment
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I am amazed that you publish letters with fake names.  In some cases, it is warrented.  Are these guys ashamed to sign their names to their opinions? 

Come on people.  Where is your spine?

Sincerely, Don Stivers

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By Alan, February 8, 2007 at 4:00 pm Link to this comment
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To Ga #52465 on 2/08 at 9:35 am,

I will give you my honest answers to your questions but first I want to make a few points.

Point 1. - Ga, Christ followers DO NOT support VIOLENCE against non-Christians throughout the world. Anyone can talk-the-talk that don’t make them a Christian.  Few people walk-the-walk. 

Point 2. - Christians are mindful of the prospect of Armageddon but DO NOT wish for it.

Point 3. - Rabblerowzer, Christ followers are NOT obsessed with the notion of hastening Jesus’ return….We believe, that time has already been appointed by the Lord.

Ga, at our first exchange you were pleasent but I detect a mild irritation now.  As I stated in my first post to you, “No, I don’t loathe you being an atheist. I actually understand your belief.  I just don’t share it”.  Oddly enough I have friends that are atheist.  One was a very close friend from Junior High, remermber I’m fifty. He was a life long friend who has passed on. 

Here are the answers you wanted:

* Do you or do you not believe that your religion is the sole and only correct religion and that all non-believers are going to Hell?  I don’t know.  I think if you reject God, you will be seperated from him.

* Do you or do you not believe in Jesus’ Second Coming?  YES.

* You are absolutly not willing to live in tolerance with others. Period.  YES I AM!  As I posted earlier, We are all free to accept or reject the Lord.  I think that’s the meaning of life.

* Just as your attempts at “Witnessing” here has shown.  You got me, yes I have attempted bring a little light to the dark thoughts expressed here.

Ga, if you are really interested in honest conversation leave me a way to contact you.  I have another close friend who is an atheist.  Every now and then we discuss religion, without contempt or condimnation.
I’m not here to push religion.  Religion comes in many forms…Many are dangerous.  Following Christ is choice not a religion. 

Ga, I stumble when I walk.  I still sin in mind and deed.  I’m no better than anyone else.

You don’t have to be Christian to be in the radical right.  I believe truth is often found somewhere between left and right.

Being liberal dosen’t make you a communist.

Blessings and peace to you Ga.  The rest of you, may you find what you are looking for.  I challenge you to look for good…I’ts easy to see the bad.

Yours in Christ,

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By Mark, February 8, 2007 at 2:20 pm Link to this comment
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Chris Hedges is great on war issues, but like the religious right, he also wants to force his beliefs on me. He wants to force me to pay for the welfare state, for public education, for medical research, etc., etc.

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By Fredkc, February 8, 2007 at 10:59 am Link to this comment
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Since it is in our nature to prefer a stand-up fight against “demons large”, it’s not suprising that, on the way, comment #52298 by Diane (6th one) got blown into the weeds.

I always get nervous when subjects become radicalized. Differing views, that offer a pendulumn to society, once given this treatment become a wrecking ball instead, tearing things up every way they swing.

Both sides forget you are only as free as you are willing for the next man to be, and you forget it at your peril.

I have had a life-long love of Christianity, but also a revulsion of Churchianity. Probably the reason I’ve found both sides of this scary from git-go.

I would offer the litmus test I’ve developed, for what it’s worth.

If it is about your relationship with your creator, and/or your behavior towards others, I’ll happily respect that as your religion, or anything else you wish to call it. The minute it’s about how I, or others should behave it becomes something else entirely. It becomes politics, and we all know where that leads.


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By Richard Meraz, February 8, 2007 at 10:41 am Link to this comment
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What do you suggest to Christians who are inclusive by accepting the validity and orthodoxy of other revelations (Transcendent Unity of Religions) while affirming there own exoterism; who understand the necessity of a secular (but hopefully wise) government in a multi-cultural, religiously-plural country; who value the contributions of science and reason while lamenting the loss of other ways of “knowing”.  How do we constructively participate in this debate.  I believe your critique of the fundamentalist Christian (rather than fundamental) is not directed at this Christian.  But are such fundamentalist fringe groups (the parallel jihadist in the Islamic World) simply the inevitable reaction against a modern world that rejects God completely.

-Richard Meraz

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By Ga, February 8, 2007 at 10:35 am Link to this comment
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Alan: “If all those questions were for me post a method we can continue offline.”

No. Answer here. All you “Christians” answer here.

Do you or do you not believe that your religion is the sole and only correct religion and that all non-believers are going to Hell?

Do you or do you not believe in Jesus’ Second Coming? (“These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.” etc.)

Etc. etc.

This is the point. This is what is wrong with all fundamentalist religions: You are absolutly not willing to live in tolerance with others. Period. Just as your attempts at “Witnessing” here has shown.

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By Ga, February 8, 2007 at 10:22 am Link to this comment
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“Blaming the Christian right for the evils of society is simply paranoia.”

That is NOT what most of those who you call “religion haters” are saying.

We are saying that the Christian Right is becoming a fascist movement bent on imposing their (your?) definitions of “morals” on the rest of us.

Their rhetoric has been becoming more and more drastic and intolerant of late.

The Christian Right is a movement that wants to impose their will, their views, etc. etc. upon everybody else. That is the truth, in their own words, but their own actions. They are not willing to debate or to compromise. They believe so strongly that they can appear delusional to many people.

Obviously, they are not really delusional, yet they are uncompromising and intolerant and have shown that they support VIOLENCE against non-Christians throughout the world.

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By Chris, February 8, 2007 at 9:34 am Link to this comment
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I have another idea. We could just advocate severely reducing the power and scope of the Federal government and returning to federalism and local government so we no longer have to fear a particular group ‘capturing’ and imposing their value system on the entire nation.

If the central fear is one of power from the central state, it would be far more preferable to decentralize that power as much as possible so it would be far more difficult for any one group to impose its values on another.

This would seem like a far easier and less divisive means of solving this problem of various factions playing vying for control of the powerful central government than attempting to seize control of the state ourselves and impose our values on those who do not share them.

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By Lefty, February 8, 2007 at 9:26 am Link to this comment
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Re: Comment #52365 by Amos_hart on 2/07 at 7:00 pm

“Question for religion haters:

“Just who was it that was responsible for the horrendous atrocities described by Solzhenitsyn in the “Gulag Archipelago” and why did they happen? The Soviet system was atheistic to the core. What then accounts for the hideous evil done in it’s name? (Don’t give me Marxist crap unless you’ve read the book.) Could it be that there just may be a flaw in human character, as documented in Judaeo-Christian scripture? Could it be that what the “Christian right wing” and the Soviets of yesterday have in common is a fallen nature? I suggest we all have a capacity for evil, which crops up in all human institutions. Blaming the Christian right for the evils of society is simply paranoia. If you want to know who the problem is, just look in the mirror.”

Yes Amos, there is a flaw. It is the primative, vestigial, genetic, survival instinct of tribalism. Religious sectarianism is just one very common manifestation of it.  Nationalism would be another among many tribalistic human behaviors.

However, your comment that “Blaming the Christian right for the evils of society is simply paranoia” is a false premise.  In the U.S. and Europe, Christianity has simply proven historically to be the most malignant, murderous form of human tribalism.  Perchance, it could have been something else.  But, things didn’t turn out that way.

My premise is that the least evolved, most primative, amont us, who retain the strongest form of this vestigial, genetic instinct, are the most likely to be the victims of demagoguery - recruited into the tribalistic, Christian, cult, with its irrational fear and hatred of “others” who are not a part of them.

Which begs the question - are the self appointed leaders of Christianity equally tribalistic, or merely demagogues exploiting the ignorant, superstitious fears of their followers?  Perhaps both.

How does the joke go - “You give me your money and I’ll make sure that God gets it.  Oh . . . that Mercedes Benz I’m driving . . . well, you don’t expect me to bring money to God in a Chevy, do you!”

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By George, February 8, 2007 at 9:16 am Link to this comment
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There is a war against US citizens from within.

That is true.

But this article is working for those who war on our nation from within not against them.

The New World Order, Luciferians, are the bad guys.

Your article attacks Christians.
You have it backwards.

This administration is not Christian and does not work for Christians.

But they are being used to attack Christians by this sort of misrepresentations presented here.

The bad guys are Illuminati with all their associated evil.

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By stonehinge, February 8, 2007 at 8:13 am Link to this comment
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Jon B:

What is the source of that Vidal quotation?  That is the most accurate indictment of the Judaic fraud I have ever seen.  Thanks for posting.

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By Joe R., February 8, 2007 at 7:42 am Link to this comment
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I have not finished the book yet but what I have read so far is right on the money with my own experience with the religious right.  I dropped out of my church during the 2004 election cycle because of the propaganda and misinformation that was being introduced to the congregation by the right wing nuts.  It was like they couldn’t wait to burn their first witch.

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By Carl Baydala, February 8, 2007 at 7:38 am Link to this comment
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I think man is essentially a selfish creature. In light of this I think he goes through life making bargains that will benefit him in some way. The whole idea of religion is someting that must be sold and also purchased. The seller, the promoter of a religion obviously has in mind the gaining of a convert. The seller, if successful gains from influencing another human being and gains his mental obedience. He controls his new convert in a way. The convert for his part has agreed to accept a new religion and all that if offers. He his hoping that it is filled with benefits that will make his life more complete and fulfilling. I think this is a large step for a human being to make; to give oneself into a religion. It is a bargain after all. The only real problem with the arrangement of course is that is based on faith.  Faith in the hereafter is a huge belief.  I cannot imagine personally agreeing to something that I cannot feel or touch or even envision. But, some people are OK with this notion. This article talks about Evangelical Christianity and the people who have accepted this faith; they refer to the underclasses and the people who are vulnerable.  Easy targets as it were for this religion and what it represents. I think what this brand of Christianity really represents is simply some people taking advantage of others.  The bargain has been completed between those who apparently believe and the new set of believers ( the people talked about in the article ) Each party to the bargain is gaining something. If they are both satisfied with their agreement then no one should be concerned. But, society should be concerned I think because what we are really dealing with here is a form of false advertising and belongs in the realm of consumer protection legislation. I think that is what Evangelical Christianity really is. A faulty product, and often dangerous product if used inappropriately. I think the states should assign warning labels to anyone thinking of purchasing this product.

Mr. Baydala

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By stonehinge, February 8, 2007 at 7:16 am Link to this comment
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OK Dr. Dr. Knowitall, I agree with your premise. 

Given that, how do you propose we survive the next two years, or the next six months for that matter? 

Any idea how we can force this administration to abandon preemptive, first-strike aggression in favor of old-fashioned diplomacy? 

Any idea how we can wean the Democratic leadership off that Zio-con sugar-teat?

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By stonehinge, February 8, 2007 at 6:50 am Link to this comment
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Given what I have seen of Mr. Hedge’s insightful articles, I took the time to read the transcript of his commencement speech, which includes the harassment from students and, apparently, from faculty as well. 


It is unfortunate that we have no way to identify the individuals responsible for the harassment.  Were that true, we might have a chance of seeing what went wrong.  We need to know what influences came to bear such that students graduating from an American Liberal Arts college chose to behave in such a reprehensible manner. 

But, given that we may never know that, we can say that there can be no excuse whatsoever for the response from the Times!  How the management decided to censure a speech grounded entirely in classical Greek reference is beyond my imagination.

Shame on Rockford College—Disgrace to the NYT.

Honor to Chris Hedges for courage and determination.

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By Brapp, February 8, 2007 at 6:42 am Link to this comment
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Re: comment #52365 by Amos_hart - Question for religion haters:

The Soviet system featured worship of The State instead of The God.  It was a substitution: one insane ideology for another.  It was not based on rational thought, hence the brutality and ultimate failure. 
A govenment/state based on rational thought would be compassionate, scientific, pollution-free, peaceful.  Let’s work together to make it happen in the USA.

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By rabblerowzer, February 8, 2007 at 6:34 am Link to this comment
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The economic interactions that exist between the U.S. and the foreign governments financing our debt is commonly called Symbiosis. Symbiosis can be benign or malignant depending on the situation. The dominant party in the symbiosis can be called the host and the weaker party the parasite. If both parties benefit equally from the symbiosis then it can be called a mutually beneficial association. If however, one party grows stronger at the expense of the other, then the association can eventually be fatal.

China for instance is using the symbiosis to develop its industry, technology and military capabilities. The United States is using the symbiosis to feed the Military Industrial Complex while outsourcing our industry and technology. China is increasing its economic and military power, while the United States is entirely focused on increasing its military power. Our leaders apparently believe we can continue our world dominance with military might alone, and they might be right, but only if we win the perpetual wars of conquest they have planned. That’s why the Bush Regime is so adamant about victory in the middle-east.

The rabid right recklessly bet the farm on the outcome of this little war, with the prospect of more and bigger wars just over the horizon. Perhaps we now have no choice but to “Go for Broke,” but the consequences for America and the entire world could be Armageddon. Since our ability to wage war is now dependent on the kindness of strangers, we could find ourselves between a rock (China) and hard place (Russia) if our benefactors decide to pull the plug on our wars of aggression to prevent Armageddon. Though many Americans are obsessed with the notion of hastening Jesus’ return, the rest of the world may not be so inclined.

We might be heading for the ultimate economic “Slap Down.”

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By Jon B, February 7, 2007 at 10:55 pm Link to this comment
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This is a quotable quote, not from the news (un)fit to print. For your mind sake, jettison that nyt and other be-my-zombie media.

Gore Vidal (1925 - )

“When the white race broke out of Europe 500 years ago,... inspired by a raging sky-god, the whites were able to pretend that their conquests were in order to bring the One God to everyone, particularly those with older and subtler religions… what prosperity we have ever enjoyed in the past was usually based on slave or near slave labor.

From a barbaric Bronze Age text known as the Old Testament, three antihuman religions have evolved—Judaism, Christianity, Islam. These are sky-god religions. They are, literally, patriarchal—God is the omnipotent father—hence the loathing of women for 2,000 years. The sky-god is a jealous god, of course. Those who would reject him must be converted or killed for their own good. Ultimately, totalitarianism is the only sort of politics that can truly serve the sky-god’s purpose. Any movement of a liberal nature endangers his authority and that of his delegates on earth. One God, one King, one Pope, one master in the factory, one father-leader in the family home.

Evangelical Christian groups have traditionally drawn strength from the suppressed. African slaves were allowed to organize heavenly sky-god churches, as a surrogate for earthly freedom. White churches were organized in order to make certain that the rights of property were respected and that the numerous religious taboos in the New and Old Testaments would be enforced, if necessary, by civil law.”

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By Amos_hart, February 7, 2007 at 8:00 pm Link to this comment
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Question for religion haters:

Just who was it that was responsible for the horrendous atrocities described by Solzhenitsyn in the “Gulag Archipelago” and why did they happen? The Soviet system was atheistic to the core. What then accounts for the hideous evil done in it’s name? (Don’t give me Marxist crap unless you’ve read the book.) Could it be that there just may be a flaw in human character, as documented in Judaeo-Christian scripture? Could it be that what the “Christian right wing” and the Soviets of yesterday have in common is a fallen nature? I suggest we all have a capacity for evil, which crops up in all human institutions. Blaming the Christian right for the evils of society is simply paranoia. If you want to know who the problem is, just look in the mirror.

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By Alan, February 7, 2007 at 7:09 pm Link to this comment
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Comment #52252 by Ga on 2/07 at 10:29 am

“Please don’t put false Christian’s words in my mouth.”

If all those questions were for me post a method we can continue offline.  If they were not for me….My bad.  Your initial quote threw me off.

Blessings to you, Alan

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By DHFabian, February 7, 2007 at 7:02 pm Link to this comment
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Probably the most troubling thing of all is the fact that the Christian Right’s PR campaign has been so successful in America, that a good many people confuse it with Christianity. And the Christianity taught by Jesus probably wouldn’t sell, anyway. It’s an irritating religion, telling people that they have to let go of their preoccupation with wealth and material goods, daring to say radical Leftist stuff like, “It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to get into heaven.”  All that stuff about “Blessed are the poor”, and sharing everything we have with those who have less, is simply antithetical to everything that America is. Giving to the poor takes away their incentive, as we know. Then there’s all that foolishness about peace, which is clearly a disincentive to expansionism, at the least.

Give the Christian Right some credit here!  They made Christianity palatable to the Western state of mind, and profitable to the “chosen”—-the Pat Robertsons, etc.

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By Collin Brendemuehl, February 7, 2007 at 3:42 pm Link to this comment
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Well, as I stated int he earlier post, all the wing nuts with their religious bigotry, full of lies and misrepresentations are coming out of the woodwork.
So let’s deal with some of the falsehoods.
1.  There is NO theocracy threat.  The few dominionists who hold to this position do not have enough support or numbers to accomplish it.
2.  Evolution does not conform to the scientific method.  It’s worthy of discussion but not as being “scientific”.
3.  Our nation was founded upon Liberalism combined with (Christian) Natural Law.  You can’t leave Christianity out of our history.
4.  It is the Left that is killing people, far more than failing Christians ever did.

There could be a lot more, this is adequate for the momemnt.

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, February 7, 2007 at 3:14 pm Link to this comment
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I don’t think there’s much left unsaid re: religion and gov.  The argument now, on TD, is to me a little boring.  It’s really fruitless because neither side will ever yield, no matter what Hedges, Dawkins, Harris or Sullivan say.  I’m no sure, now, that it really matters.  What is important, however, is that Americans allowed their government to be hijacked and seem powerless to do anything about it.  There aren’t enough Jews or Muslims in US to have done it and certainly not enough atheists, so it seems reasonable, through numbers alone, that the Christians are guilty.  So what.  Let’s stop bitching and take it back. We’ve got the constitution on our side.  “Onward sectarian soldiers, marching as to war, with the Constitution, going on before.”

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By Diane, February 7, 2007 at 2:30 pm Link to this comment
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I too, never have doubted that God existed and I believe in Jesus Christ.
I also believe in evolution and am more interested in the New Testement then the Old.
I was brought up Catholic, but have trouble supporting all the church’s teaching’s.

I have seriously have thought about and read about the religious right, evangelicalism and fundamentalism.
What I have come to realize is that their version of God and Jesus and religion in no way shape or form resmbles mine in any way.
Their “christianity” seems so cold cruel and their God and Jesus seems so harsh and mean.
It appears at times that they have forgotten that the New Testament and Jesus teachings even exist.
The mega church’s and the services they have on tv are disgusting and revolve around money.
It makes me sick to see that on tv.
These people scare me and I hope that we as a country contine to separate church and state because I do not want to be part of the evangelical religion!!

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By Darrell Champeau, February 7, 2007 at 2:17 pm Link to this comment
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I thought the writer of this artical Chris Hedges put on a very good case. I always chuckle at these blogs and the writers believing they alone have a monolpy on the truth and if they don’t make others see it point by point that nothing less then chaos is to be expected. I fear he is correct in his conclusions of escalating factional war in the Middle East….but sure hope not because Bush’s war in Iraq is surely lost! God misled him? He didn’t listen to Him?
  Many of the comments are off the topic of the Right wing Christians highjacking the presant Christian voters and instead chalenging the existance [or not] of a God in the first place! Please save that for another time and topic in that my limited available time would be better spent on the topic at hand rather then going off on some other tangent!    Old Darrell

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By Robert M. Castle, February 7, 2007 at 12:32 pm Link to this comment
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We think, therefore we are.  When we stop thinking, we are in deep trouble. People of faith have stopped thinking about the proof, or lack thereof, of their convictions and instead attempt to prohibit any and all informed debate on the subject. Their religious beliefs become ironic; i.e. characterized by often poignant difference or incongruity between what is believed and what actually is.

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By Kol Klink, February 7, 2007 at 11:54 am Link to this comment
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Reply to Dennis…
Margaret Sanger was perhaps many things but definetly not a Nazi. She was an avowed Socialist. As you may know Socialists were, for Hitler, the root cause of Germany’s loss in the first world war. Margaret was raised in a Catholic household. Her mom had 18 pregnancies and 11 children survived. Sanger also condemned the Anti-Semitic Nazi program as “sad and horrible.”

As for your contention that the loss of belief in the Juedo/Christian God and morality was due to ‘radical’ German Philosophers…well, its pure baloney. The Spanish Inquisition took place long before, and in the total absence of German Philosophers. During the inqusition Christians took it upon themselves to torture, maim and kill Jews and all others that were ‘ratted out’ as ‘non believers’ by their neighbors, friends, family members and even their own priests. This sort of lunacy and excess by ‘religious leaders’ is why our founding fathers insisted on seperation of church and state.

Nietzsche (a German Philosopher) had it right. ‘Religion is the opiate of the masses’.

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By Ga, February 7, 2007 at 11:29 am Link to this comment
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“Please don’t put false Christian’s words in my mouth.”

Like, what, specifically, did I say you said beyond assuming that you adhere to “Christian” ideas of suppression of sex and sexuality and other so called “sin”? So, you are okay with allowing women access to abortion, gays to marry, teenagers to get sex education?

What about science? Is evolution the “devil’s work”? Is global warming “a hoax”? Do you really have “dominion” over all live on the planet so that it does not matter that species are going extinct all over the planet?

All this should be about philosophical debate, were we—Christian and non-Christian alike—get together to find common ground.

But, you—and correct me if I am wrong—believe that you and Christian doctrine are the one true way to live and all people must live the way you want!

There is a large enough population of Christians that want to decide everything for everybody, who do not want to even think about this in any other way. Like the Terminator—These people will not stop short of total domination. Perhaps not you—although you really have not said otherwise—but many Christians truly believe in armegeddon and the coming of Christ in a holy war that will result in the KILLING of all non-believers.

Do you understand this? Go here:
for an example of how many Christians LOVE that fact that there is an increasing amount of war and death in the world because it will hasten the coming of Jesus!

When people believe that the ends justifies the means, it means that lies, killing, faking, famine, etc. etc. are totally acceptable, if such things brings about “Gods plans.”

You, personally, may not believe this, but many “Christians” do. I have cause to be fearful of and a right to be against these “Christians”.

P.S. You never did say WHY you came to believe the way you do. Is the answer that you have judged all religions and have come to a conclusion? Or have you simply been taught that one particular religion?

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By Jean, February 7, 2007 at 11:01 am Link to this comment
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“Please don’t put false Christian’s [sic] words in my mouth.  Those who blow up abortion clinics or hate people who are different than [sic]them [sic] are not following Jesus.”
            —Person suffering from chronic and banal delusion, shared by many.

Tell this to these Christian terrorists.  They’ll say that You are not following Jesus, or the right Jesus.  Which one?  A legitimate question: the peaceful guy (ok, I’m down with that, sounds great!)? Or the meanie who told his mother to go beat it back down the road (thanks for nothing, boy)  He’s anything you, in your marvelous human imagination, need him to be.

I’d be interested in what people have to say about Christians who reflexively call other Christians   not Christian whenever the putative non-Christians do something embarrassing or disgusting.

I’m fascinated by it because it presents the perfect and convenient defense every time, however tautological.  Seems to shortcircuit thought entirely.  Like a PR-skill picked up in Sunday school . . .


If not, then address an admittedly less interesting question:  why don’t these people know grammar and punctuation?  Are the Christian-cultist schools not up to snuff?  Or is it the fault of our degenerate, evolution-riddled public schools?  My money is on the latter.

Yours in reality,

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By rabblerowzer, February 7, 2007 at 10:06 am Link to this comment
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The radical Christian movement described as “American Fascists,” is just the tip of the iceberg. There are millions of American Fascists and most of them are in no way religious. They are part of a socio-economic class that supports Militarism and Corporate Fascism for purely economic reasons. There are millions of Americans invested in, employed by and wholly dependent on the Military Industrial Complex. Militarism and Corporate Fascism is their bread and butter, and they will do anything to protect their economic self-interest. And yet, none of them see themselves as war profiteers.

Militarism and Corporate Fascism is the actual basis of our social, political and economic system. This carefully constructed perpetual War Machine has evolved ever since the Civil War, and today we see the self-cannibalizing results. We are eating ourselves alive.

Marching under a false banner of Conservatism, most Republican politicians are simply criminals engaged in a Campaign of Corruption to oppress and rob nine out of ten Americans for the sake of the ten per cent who profit from their corruption. Empowered by bribes from America’s richest Americans, and backed by millions of fanatically loyal middle-class war profiteers, they are waging a class war that is destroying our country.

Democratic politicians have eagerly joined the feeding frenzy provided by the pork barrel Military Industrial Complex, and why not, that’s the only system we have.

Self-Cannibalism is good. Start with your fingers and toes, and eat slowly.

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By atheizzle, February 7, 2007 at 9:56 am Link to this comment
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“The Bible is not my Book and Christianity is not my religion. I could never give assent to the long complicated statements of Christian dogma.”
              -Abraham Lincoln

“Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man.”
      -Thomas Jefferson, in Toward the Mystery

We discover in the gospels a groundwork of vulgar ignorance, of things impossible, of superstition, fanaticism and fabrication.”
          -Thomas Jefferson

The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity. Nowhere in the Gospels do we find a precept for Creeds, Confessions, Oaths, Doctrines, and whole carloads of other foolish trumpery that we find in Christianity.”
              -John Adams

Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize, every expanded prospect.”
            -James Madison

So far as religion of the day is concerned, it is a damned fake… Religion is all bunk.”
          -Thomas Edison

The Bible is “a mass of fables and traditions, mere mythology.”
          -Mark Twain

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By atheizzle, February 7, 2007 at 9:19 am Link to this comment
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It’s so hilarious when Christians try to talk about academic subjects (like history) and then start spouting this nonsense that is so obviously deluded. Planned Parenthood was started by Nazi sympathizers? Now that is convenient, as you hate Planned Parenthood. This is a fun game, pick a group you hate, and then call them Nazis. Atheist Philisophers were responsible for the Nazi party. That’s rich. Ever heard this quote?

“We were convinced that the people need and require this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out.”

-Adolf Hitler, in a speech in Berlin on 24 Oct. 1933

Or, what about this one?

“We tolerate no one in our ranks who attacks the ideas of Christianity… in fact our movement is Christian.”

-Adolf Hitler, in a speech in Passau, 27 October 1928, Bundesarchiv Berlin-Zehlendorf, [cited from Richard Steigmann-Gall’s The Holy Reich]

Uh-oh! Someone just got owned, children. Can you say o-w-n-e-d?

The fact is, the Nazi Party used Christianity in the same way the Republican Party uses it today- to instill fear and encourage obedience.

So, keep on drinking that delicious Koolaid.

I can’t wait until the rapture- maybe with all the Christians gone, we can finally get started on making this world a better place to live.


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By Well Well Well, February 7, 2007 at 8:26 am Link to this comment
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Wow, this guy is right. I believe in god and I do not believe in the church today. Christianity has been hijacked and I hate it.

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By Lefty, February 7, 2007 at 7:47 am Link to this comment
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Re: Comment #52055 by Alan on 2/06 at 2:42 pm

“I’m not an American Fascists but I am a Christ following Christian.  I came to the full understanding that Jesus lived a perfect life, was crucified, died and rose again about 20 years ago.  I’m now 50.  I believe the Holy Bible to be the inspired word of God. 

“I hold, that we are all given the option (by our Lord) to follow or deny our creator’s will.  Though I am imperfect, I choose to follow Christ.  I expect some of you may fear and loathe me for my beliefs.  I hold no ill will in my heart towards you.  I view you as my brother or sister.

“Chris Hedges said, “if we enter a prolonged period of instability, especially if people become afraid, then I think this movement does stand poised to reshape the country in ways that we’ve not seen, probably since our founding”.  This sounds like “a revival of the faith” to me.  I too think it’s possible. 

“Mr. Hedges book title and description, “American Fascists,” about the threat of the radical Christian movement seems to imply Christian’s are anti-liberal.  I’m willing to hear your truths, are you willing to hear God’s truths?  My desire is that you would earnestly look for a creator before you proclaim, “there is none”.  Don’t let others decide for you….I didn’t.  Yours in Christ, Alan”


You are delusional, and you HAVE let others decide for you.  There is no invisible God in the sky.  There is no invisible demon under the ground.  Jesus Christ is a 2,000 old dead Jew, nothing more.  The Bible is a book of fables written by fiction writers.  Christianity is 100% pure mythology and fable based on ignorance, superstition and irrational fear of the unknown. 

Delusional Christian psychopaths have caused more death and suffering in the world, in the name of Christ, than any other cause.  Your “Jesus” paradigm, has been the cancer of every nation it has afflicted.  Christianity is the chief weapon of demagogues against the ignorant.  History has established that no “Christian” nation has ever been more than a nation of kings and paupers. 

The sooner the fraud of Christianity is dumped upon the scrapheap of mythology - where it belongs - the better off the world will be for it.

No one has decided that for me, Alan.  I can see it with my own two eyes, which remain wide open.

“Those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.”  - George Santayana

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By Alan, February 7, 2007 at 7:35 am Link to this comment
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To RAE 52117
RAE, thanks for your pity.  I don’t want it or need it.  At least it’s a benign emotion.

To Ga 52119
Ga, you need not fear me.  No, I don’t loathe you being an atheist. I actually understand your belief.  I just don’t share it. 

I do understand many people who call themselves Christians advocate many things that cause other people great fear.  The word says, “to fear the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…. It doesn’t mean Christians should try to cause others to fear the Lord.  The fact is we should appose spread bigotry, hate and fear.  Please don’t put false Christian’s words in my mouth.  Those who blow up abortion clinics or hate people who are different than them are not following Jesus.

To Jon B. 52139
Jon, You ask, if there is a god, then let god to speak for god self. If god is almighty as some delusional lot says, why are some crackheads speak in god’s behalf?  Everyone has something to say. I have been called to invite you to let the Lord speak on the Lord’s own behalf.  Read the Holy Bible, it’s a love story written for all of us.  Start with the New Testament then If you are interested read the Old Testament…. Peace to you.

Yours in Christ, Alan

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By Alice Wahl, February 7, 2007 at 7:02 am Link to this comment
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Maybe more of us ought to be repeating what the Jesus Seminar fellows have researched:  e.g. inconsistencies of different things (verses) in the Bible; consistencies between what Jesus said and what some of the Old Testament writers (Jewish prophets) wrote; what Jesus, himself, may actually have said vs. what gospel writers or Paul claimed that he said; the additions to what Jesus actually said made by the Romans like Constantine, etc. 

It is totally inconsistent with what Jesus actually said, to promote a Holy war against others (like the whole Muslim world).  Christian right (and George Bush), listen!

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By CTPatriot, February 7, 2007 at 5:40 am Link to this comment
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To dennis #52129:

What’s it like to live in your fantasy world, where facts can be dismissed and history revised so long as it suits your purpose? Planned Parenthood took root from people who were inspired by the nazi’s? Who told you that? Rush? Fox and Friends? Or did that come to you while you were smoking crack?

One can certainly argue the merits and morals of abortion. But to make such a claim about abortion being related to nazis and eugenics shows just how far dismissed from reality you are. You see, most people who go for abortions make that choice because the alternative of going forward with the pregnancy is something that they cannot handle on a very personal level - because they can’t afford another child, because they’ll get thrown out of the house by abusive parents, because the pregnancy was the result of an affair, and so on.

Out here in the real world where I live, people have abortions not because someone at planned parenthood decided they had the wrong genes and manipulated them into a bad decision, but rather because the alternatives were too difficult for that particular mother to face. And who are you to sit in judgement of them?

As for America being predominantly a chritian nation, if you mean that the majority of the people here are christians, you’re right. If you mean that our founders intended for christianity to be treated more equally than other religions or than no religion in this country, then you are sadly misguided. I believe most christians would agree with the former. It is only the fundamentalist evangelicals who seem inclined to think otherwise, and to try and turn our country into some kind of biblical wonderworld that is entirely antithetical to what the founders of this nation intended.

What you fail to see is that the result of your movement will be the same kind of religious tyranny that our ancestors fled from. Hedges is absolutely on target. I just hope he’s wrong about where things are headed.

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By Mike Bendzela, February 7, 2007 at 5:03 am Link to this comment
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Talk about “knee-jerk” reactions: what about the impulse to announce one’s christian beliefs in this article itself?

I began to lose interest in reading when the “critic” of the christian right announces he himself is a “christian.”

He doesn’t understand he’s a victim of the charlatanism he critiques.

1. Christianity as we know it comes from someone who never met Jesus but claims to have been visited by the risen Christ—“St.” Paul

2. The Gospels are about as unreliable as documents can get. They were written at least 40 years after the events they purport to describe. They get the whole slew of their ideas from Paul above, who was no authority of the career of Jesus. They continually copy each others’ ideas: “Mark” served as source for both “Luke” and “Matthew.” John serves up a whole new Jesus based on theology, not history. Finally, they were not even written by the persons named in their titles! How can one claim to be a member of a religion whose history is such a mass of contradiction and tendentiousness?

3. Christians must believe in superstitions and breaches in the laws of nature, based on the above absurd documents. A man born without the aid of sexual intercourse. Miracles involving curing blindess by rubbing spit on a man’s eyes, curing epilepsy by shouting at demons, and casting spirits into herds of pigs. Raising the dead, healing at a distance, turning water into wine….then, finally, being executing and then resurrecting from the dead and eating a fish at someone’s house.

How can any rational American subscribe to such beliefs? Why aren’t people embarrassed by them?

The career of Jesus is unknown and unknowable. The early church made sure only their version of events survives till this day. That someone claims to be “christian” on this basis is absurd and doesn’t deserve to be listened to when they claim to be critics of christianity.

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By Dan Campbell, February 7, 2007 at 3:05 am Link to this comment
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I usually look forward to reading the comments posted by some of the readers of the articles on Truthdig but I am deeply disappointed in what I have read here. I didn’t think the interview was that great but there were some reasonable points and views expressed that should be given consideration (whether you agree or not). Fascism is on the rise in this country and it is being promoted. I don’t care what your religious afiliation or philosphy; fascism is a threat to everyone and those who promote it are no less criminal than Hitler’s Nazis.
  In reading the comments on this interview I can see how and why Chris Hedges has come to his conclusions!!!

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By John Lowell, February 6, 2007 at 10:59 pm Link to this comment
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While certainly identifying much in modern God and country Evangelicalism that bears close scrutiny, all too frequently Hedges crosses a line into an anti-faith, conspiratorial mind set that loosens his analysis from its morings in truth. And his educational background at Harvard Divinity School does little to offer the knowledgable listener much in the way of comfort.

That there is a kind of Reichschurch phenomenon in being at the moment seems to me undeniable, however. It is indeed freightening to watch a DVD currently being offered by Jerry Falwell’s television ministry of a two part sermon by John Hagee given at Thomas Road Baptist Church recently. Titled “World Wat III”, one sees in its incitements, its Islam hating and its absurd biblical literalisms more an ideology than faith in Christ. Coupled with an uncritical loyalty both to the Bush Regime and its vision of presidential power and the raw fact of a Congress and a Middle Eastern policy wholly owned by AIPAC, we have something more than an incipient fascism on our hands. In my view a dictatorship was formally hatched with passage of the MCA. And if you don’t believe it, ask yourself if you see much evidence of a response to public sentiment in the mounting of the current escalation in Iraq. Given another 9/11 and you just might live to experience martial law, the suspension of elections and the real teeth of American fascism.
Don’t be surprized to see Jim Dobson, Jerry Falwell, and Richard Neuhaus cheer it on.

John Lowell

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By Jon B, February 6, 2007 at 9:41 pm Link to this comment
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To Alan #52055

If there is a god, then let god to speak for god self. If god is almighty as some delusional lot says, why are some crackheads speak in god’s behalf? Better yet, since when god has appointed a middleman to speak for him?

“I expect some of you may fear and loathe me for my beliefs” - FEAR? You gotta stop smoking that bad weed.

Earth to you.

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By dennis, February 6, 2007 at 8:50 pm Link to this comment
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The piece by Hedges is unconvincing and his knowledge of history and philosophical thought is somewhat lacking.  It was largely radical German philosphers and their destruction of God, in particular the Judeo/Christian God, and hence the basis for morality, that lead to Nazism.  Planned Parenthood was started by a woman who believed strongly in the ideas developed by those who were sypathetic to and those who developed the Nazi movement with its focus on breeding the master, superhuman race. America is predominately a Christian country and so if there were some plot that this paranoid, panic peddler Hedges is using to sell books it would have been excecuted a long time ago.  Relax, Christians are not out to eat babies.

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By amos_hart, February 6, 2007 at 8:45 pm Link to this comment
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There he goes again. Now, it’s the “Christian Right’s War on America.” This guy Hedges never cites a verifiable fact. He rants about “a huge industry of creationist scientists who will prove through scientific jargon and pseudo-science that the creation myth in Genesis is true.” Who the hell is he talking about? If it’s so, say who and what they believe. Then we can have an intelligent dialogue. I personally would love to take Hedges on, but he spouts nothing but propaganda. I can only assume that he is unqualified to debate scientific issues, despite his arrogant dismissal of “creationism.” That’s a big subject, dude. Cite some specifics and let’s get it on, if you dare. Print this if you dare, Truthdig.

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By Ga, February 6, 2007 at 8:18 pm Link to this comment
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Alan, I don’t “loathe you” for your beliefs, but I do “fear” you for your beliefs.

Do you loathe my being an atheist? How could you possibly fear me?

I would not want you to ever have to hide or be afraid with reagrd to your faith.

The thing is—and this you seem to not understand—is that many people calling themselves “Christians” advocate many things that cause other people great fear. Many “Christians” would be quite happy, it seems, to go back to a “God fearing” society in which women are suppressed and forced into very restrictive roles in society, gays and lesbians are repressed and made into criminals, where addicts and petty theives become outcasts that should be locked away in jail and forgotten, where only “their” religion is supreme and taught in school, where science and books are banned, where our government should be allowed to say what goes on in our homes and bedrooms, and defines what a “family” really is. (I could go on about other “Christian” doctrine that terrifies many.)

You say that all these things are okay because it is what “God wants.”

But, you know what? That is not okay. That is not good enough. That is your interpretation of God, not mine. Why should your interpretation be the only correct one?

You say you decided for yourself your beliefs. But did you really read about other religions and philosophies and really come to your own conclusion? Did you really say to yourself, “I have weighed all the evidence, and I have come to believe in the Holy Bible as the inspired word of God”?

Or was it that this is what you were taught as a child? Told to believe?

I feel sad for you, and I am sorry. And I fear you.

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By RAE, February 6, 2007 at 8:13 pm Link to this comment
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“I expect some of you may fear and loathe me for my beliefs.”

No, Alan (#52055), not fear nor loathing… PITY. You and millions like you make the fundamental error of confusing OPINION with FACT, of ASSUMING what someone or some institution tells you, or what you read in some ancient “religious” work, is the FACTUAL TRUTH without a shred of evidence to support your assumptions.

This is why I pity you. You hunger for the comfort and safety of “being with your Christ”... that He loves you and watches over you…it’s intoxicating to FEEL it’s all true… it’s empowering to BELIEVE and have FAITH. It’s also an ego trip of monumental proportions. It’s ridiculous to even contemplate that the God of all the Universe gives a rat’s ass about little old YOU!

But HOPE/WISHFUL THINKING is not a legitimate substitute for FACT. Legitimate opinions are grounded in KNOWLEDGE not glib assumptions.

Those “Alans” reading this won’t understand nor accept a word of it. Once they’ve “decided” to BELIEVE, their brains simply won’t process any information that contradicts firmly held assumptions. Lobotomy by Religion is not often a reversible operation. Once you’ve bought a lemon you must go on defending your choice… it’s less painful than admiting you’re a fool.

I don’t know whether there’s a God or not. I don’t know if Christ was who He said he was. AND NEITHER DOES ANYONE ELSE who uses EVIDENCE, REASON and LOGIC. The only people who “know” are those who ASSUME and BELIEVE and have FAITH. These are the folk who build fantasy castles in the air… AND THEN MOVE IN.

I pity you, Alan, not fear or loathe. You’ve been taken by the world’s biggest con, the ring is firmly planted in your nose, you can be led anywhere, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it now. You’ll just go on to your grave comforted by your belief in a fairy tale. Pity.

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By Collin Brendemuehl, February 6, 2007 at 7:56 pm Link to this comment
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Does anyone find the religious bigotry of the Left to be, at minimum, intolerant?


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By Skepticalus, February 6, 2007 at 6:59 pm Link to this comment
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I recall growing up in a right-wing evangelical family hearing that our Constitutional “freedoms” could be contrasted with the “one-party state” of the Soviet Union and how God favored our system. Now I hear that the right-wing Chritstian radicals are advocating a “one-party state” for our nation! I’m afraid that I don’t see the difference; Chritstian dictatorship is as distateful to me as any Soviet or fascist one!

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