Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Christopher Hitchens on Religion in America

Sorry for my lengthy absence from the blog. In my effort to get back into the swing of things I thought I would start out nice and slow. The following is a video from a debate that included anti-religion extraordinaire Christopher Hitchens, in which the topic of religion's role in the American founding is mentioned. Of course, Hitchens takes his predictably anti-religion sentiment a bit too far (IMHO) but it is still interesting to watch. He has some good points:

19 comments:

Angie Van De Merwe said...

VERY GOOD, Thanks, Brad!
He has some very good points indeed! I just read where Pamela Geller was asked to step down from witnessing against CAIR in imposing "foreign law" in Alaska!!! We ARE at WAR for sanity as well as civility!!!

Brad Hart said...

In fairness, yes, Hitchens makes some interesting points, but he also oversimplifies pretty much everything. As some on this blog are fond of pointing out, Hitchens immediately resorts to the standard Jefferson/Madison card, ignoring the FACT that there were many extremely religious founders.

This video clearly gives a one-sided, oversimplified view of things.

But yes, still interesting.

jimmiraybob said...

Brad,

Good to see you. Hitchens is always entertaining and informative and certainly speaks his mind - no misconstruing where he stands on religion. I think that, given a chance, he would likely flesh out the simplifications but it's not really a format for extensive detail.

I don't think that he resorts to a "standard Jefferson/Madison card" when speaking specifically about "two giants" shaping religious liberty at the founding/framing interval. I don't think that there's any obligation to point out that there were founders/framers that did not believe in or trust in the kind of religious freedom/liberty that is incorporated in the Constitution, although I think that it would be instructive. There's was not the "winning" position, at least regarding the federal constitution which he's referring to.

I don't think that he's making the point that there weren't passionately religious founders. He does infer, just prior to bringing in M & J, that in fact, religious passions did run high. So high in fact that it threatened a union.

I think that it would have been instructive and relevant to bring up Roger Williams, for instance, as a point of comparison/contrast and to illustrate that there is not necessarily a disconnect with being passionately religious person and seeking a separation of civil and religious authority in insuring religious liberty. But again, in a talk like that the clock is ticking and tocking.

Pinky said...

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Hitchens' comments are concise and not scholarly; but, what he points out in this short clip is undoubtedly based on easily access fact. It's easy to take shots at what he has to say from this distance. I'd like to see what his opposition has to say that isn't blather.
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His comments show how our politicians give in to the pressures of voting blocks to obtain office.
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Thanks for posting the clip.
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Jason_Pappas said...

He seems to think that the Civil War was a religious war. I have no doubt that religion played an important role in the Civil War and even a greater role than it did in the Revolution. But I wouldn't go as far as to claim that the Civil War was "fought over whether Christianity could or could not justify slavery?" This implies it was to settle a theological issue. What historian sees the Civil War as a religious war?

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Jason, Probably the Civil War was/is considered in some segments of society as a religious war because it was thought it was another natural law affirmation...for all people...globlist would like this one...I imagine.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Whereas, the South believed in the biblical witness of sanctioning slavery...

Pinky said...

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Many scholars believe the Civil War was heavily a religious war in the minds of most Suthenas--the bulk of them claiminh their defeat was God's chastisement for not being as obedient to Him as was required of God fearing Christians. Do you know about the enormous distribution of religious tracts that were circulated to the Johnnie-Rebs during the war. And, what about Robert E. Lee holding prayer meetings with the troops?
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Jason_Pappas said...

My knowledge of the Civil War is weak by my standards. I am aware of some of the southern tracts on religion's justification for their position. I don't have a good feel for the centrality of religion in their motivation. Is there a good review of this subject? I know this isn't the blog for this discussion but since Hitch mentioned it I thought I'd ask.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

pinky,
the problem with biblical christianity is that everything that doesn't work out is considered "God's judgment". God's will is FATE..cause if plans do work out then it was God's will...sometimes the rationale is it was not in God's will...passivity to "government", that is leadership is what the "good" christian is/does...
This gives the progressive or those "who know better" a way around religious conviction. Social networking,leadership and goals are what the real political world functions in and on....not "God"...

jimmiraybob said...

Jason,
Regarding religion and the civil war, I'd recommend starting here - Religion in American History blog, religion and the civil war tag.

Jason_Pappas said...

Thanks, jimmiraybob. That should gets me started.

Jason_Pappas said...

The subject (religion in the Civil War) is huge. There is the obvious needs of religious consolation required by every fighting man facing death. Hopelessness begets pleas to God and trust in divine providence. That's to be expected in every war. What I’m looking for is whether or not religion underwrote (or caused, or drove, or rationalized) the cause of the Union or Confederacy.

For example, I know the Confederates would boast that their constitution was the Christian constitution because of explicit references to God such as “invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God” while the Union had a secular constitution in their view. These days it is generally viewed as crass if not arrogant to claim that “God is on our side.” The differences between the Revolution and Civil War make an interesting comparison on the ways religion was used or abused, depending on your point of view.

Let me look deeper on that blog and others for some pointers on religious politics.

Pinky said...

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I think you will have to--eventually--come to the place, in any honest study, where it is realized that the "big money" of slavery used its influence to have organized Christianity support its interests in owning human beings for purposes of economic production.
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That's the way it is with almost every aspect of oppresion--money buys preachers in the same way it buys politicians--plain and simple.
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Angie Van De Merwe said...

@Jason, It sounds like you have good material for a dissertation! Interesting!

@Pinky, You "dismiss profit" as if profit is innately evil, which it isn't! Are human rights those that supercede profit? Well, that also depends on one's view of "capital". Human capital also makes for profit, as without the right people in the right place, then no company, or organization succeeds!

So, capital is a neutral term, not a negative one like those that don't like capitalism.

As to the question of local versus central, the debate is one of personablity versus consensus. Beauracratic organizations tend to loose hold of the details, because their focus is on organizational goals/purposes. And the demons are in the details...as you have stated before! People become "lost" in beuracracies, which become Leviathan to individual liberties. This is what "STATISM" is about.

Interesting, thanks, Jason and Pinky!

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Pinky,
As to 'human nature", yes, perverting one's right to profit without consent is what slavery is about. But, business ethics in our country protect from such abuses, UNLESS, profit is such a focus/goal and one doesn't have to worry about business ethics, because or relgious protections under the FIRST AMENDMENT! Then, corruption becomes inevitable, becasue the Church ceases accountablity to government's protections of individual liberty!

Pinky said...

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Angie, I'm not sure why you think I dismiss profit. I've been in business for most of my life and think making a profit is great. Whatever other reason there is for being in business depends on making a profit.
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Angie Van De Merwe said...

Pinky,
You deserve an apology, then.

I understood you to say that oppression comes from profit, as to the preacher, as well as the busniessman. That is not necessarily true.

Oppression comes from those that seek to undermine the "rule of law" as it pertains to consent of the employee. (and one can find ways around the law, too, if that is one's "purpose"). That means that goals of profit are tempered by the human/humane.

Pinky said...

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Hey, Angie, I suggest you read James Madison in Federalist # 10 to see what he has to say about the causes of oppression. I'd almost count him as the most important Founding Father and, so, I give his comments a great deal of force.

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