Letters to the Editor

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GOP: Government according to the Bible?

Letter by Craig Long, Tacoma on Feb. 22, 2012 at 9:07 am with 34 Comments »
February 22, 2012 9:56 am

I remember when it was prudent to refrain from invoking the Bible or testifying how Christian, or what type of Christian, a candidate might be. John F. Kennedy, a Catholic, proclaimed he wouldn’t be beholden to the Vatican were he elected president; he would serve as president according to the Constitution.

It was understood this was how it is. After all, governmental powers and limitations are constructed by the Constitution, not the Bible. Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich would have you believe government should be run in accordance with biblical principles.

This is opposite what the founding fathers imagined. The “no religious test” clause, Article VI, paragraph 3 of the Constitution, affirms this. Had they intended to promote religion as an arm of government or government as an arm of religion, they would’ve specified it. They didn’t.

To the contrary; they were careful to discourage church-state relationships. Santorum and Gingrich pompously proclaim otherwise.

Leave a comment Comments → 34
  1. whitecap says:

    Mr. Long…I’m curious which biblical principles you would find so offensive? Love your neighbor as yourself? Turn the other cheek? See past your biases (the Good Samaritan). Be a loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, good, kind, generous person? Help the poor? Care for the sick? Feed the hungry? Pursue justice? Avoid adultery, drunkenness, hatred, dissention, debauchery? Don’t want to get too lengthy here, but I’m wondering which of those wouldn’t be a good thing to see more of in government?

  2. aislander says:

    Every president has referred to God and the Bible when discussing the unique history of the United States of America, so anyone’s doing so at this time is nothing new.

    I think the true objection that statist secularist have to religion is that our Judeo-Christian grounding gives us the means to govern ourselves as individuals, thereby needing less supervision by government…

  3. Spiderweb says:

    The objection is to making Christianity a qualification/litmus test for office, which is what some elements of the GOP appear to be trying to do.

    “the true objection?” ROFLMAO!!! No, you’re personal opinion is not the “true” one, it is only your opinion. Just love it when people post an opinion with “true” or “real” in front of it, like that makes it authoritative.

  4. Anothermoniker says:

    “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

    “which biblical principles you would find so offensive?”

    A loving God that kills everyone on earth wasn’t real nice

  5. aislander says:

    No one is talking about a religious test imposed by government before allowing candidates to run for office. That is a straw man argument.

    However, individuals are perfectly within their rights if they choose not to vote for an atheist or agnostic, due to lack of religious affiliation, or for any other reason that matters to that individual–such as having religious affiliation.

    If a candidate believes that proclaiming certain principles gives potential voters information that will help them make a decision, he is also within his rights to provide that information.

    By the way, the words “I think” at the beginning of a sentence indicate that the rest of the sentence represents an opinion. This IS the Opinion section, is it not?

  6. “I’m curious which biblical principles you would find so offensive?”

    Whitecap, the ones you list are not strictly biblical, or even only religious; they are universal, and widely accepted in modern secular societies. And even some of them are intended in the bible to benefit only the in-tribe members.

    From the ones that are problematic, the first commandment comes to mind. Very unconstitutional.

    It’s a big book; plenty of rules and values. Very convenient for picking and choosing and manipulating, in the absence of objective criteria and critical thinking, and presence of blind faith and obedience to authority.

  7. Anothermoniker says:

    “Help the poor? Care for the sick? Feed the hungry? Pursue justice?”

    When did the Republican Party start doing any of the above, without complaining?

  8. aislander says:

    So…MM…how is that government’s imposing a religious test? People have a right to their opinions, after all.

    I personally do not believe that Obama is a Muslim. I think HIS deity is government, and Trinity was convenient camouflage…

  9. whitecap says:

    None of my detractors has answered the final question I posed so I’ll ask it again: Of the biblical principles I listed in my first post, which would you not like to see more of in government?
    roussir…of course these have become widely accepted (I’d disagree with you that they are universally accepted). But I’d ask you, at what point in history did they become widely accepted and where did they originate? You might have to go back to the influence of the Catholic and Orthodox churches in western civilization to find the answer to that.

  10. SadujTogracse says:

    When did the Republican Party start doing any of the above, without complaining?”

    And who thinks the only way to help the poor and care for the sick is through taxation? There is this thing called charity that you may have never heard of, it is actually a much more efficient way of helping others than through forced taxation.

  11. whitecap, it would be great if the principles you listed were practiced by everyone. I don’t object to them, they also aren’t strictly Biblical. They are more common sense.

    Unfortunately all of those principles are not practiced by everyone. They certainly aren’t all practiced by the current Presidential candidates. What I object to is the constant touting of their Christianity, and by extension (if not outright) how un Christian their opponents are. They should keep their faith quietly to themselves.

  12. whitecap, if you look in the Supreme Court building, you will see art work that depicts several of the many sources of our secular law that our society has adopted and codes of conduct that individuals have adopted for themselves. The Ten Commandments is just one of many.

    Some of them come from codes written long before the Israelites developed their kingdoms and put their laws in writing and certainly long before Roman Catholicism or Orthodox religions were founded. The Ten Commandments are some of the most succinct in format, but the basic principles were established long before they were put in writing.

    In the USA, we base our personal conduct on laws, religious beliefs, philosophy, personal meditation, how-to books and a number of other guides to living. Deciding which actions should be made illegal or should be enshrined as something government wants to interfere with is not a religious discussion, but a secular one. Does it fit in with our Constitutional principles is the overriding question.

    Debauchery and adultery, for example, are not illegal if they do not harm others, and they even are not even a barrier to many Republicans who support Gingrich, or any number of state and local candidates. Gingrich just had to get all of his adultery and divorces in before he became a Catholic and followed the Pope’s declarations on that issue.

  13. Anothermoniker says:

    That’s “AM”, aislander. Are you alphachallenged?

    I’ll claim “slippery slope” on your question, since that is a popular right wing answer and I don’t wish to confuse anyone further.

    By the way…on the other thread – The Vatican is a Christian Theology. Interesting that the leader of the Republican campaign is a member of that theology. Another slippery slope, I’d say.

  14. Anothermoniker says:

    Let’s look back to the good old days, before LBJ got the government included in caring for the sick, poor, etc….

    How about the early 1900s? Life was wonderful for the poor then, huh?

    Haves and Have nots. Just the way the Republicans want it.

  15. SadujTogracse says:

    Exaggerate much?

  16. whitecap:
    “None of my detractors has answered the final question”

    I said “the ones you list …are universal, and widely accepted”, which means none is found offensive, therefore you had at least one answer to your question.

    But you chose to disregard my point – offense is found with some of the ones you do not list, which are really bible- or religion-specific (e.g no other gods, women are inferior, other tribes are inferior/slaves/have to die, do not question authority, etc.). Therefore, we object to the bible packaging, and would rather go with the secular propagation of the values on your list.

  17. Anothermoniker says:

    Of the hundreds, maybe thousands of principles in The Bible, we only get to comment on the few that one person lists and that makes “biblical principles” all OK?

    Conservative politics at its best.

  18. “But I’d ask you, at what point in history did they become widely accepted and where did they originate?”

    Most, if not all, of them are from earliest human history, as they are essential for the successful functioning of any society (therefore, universal). IIRC, some of them (e.g. empathy, “love your neighbor”) have even been observed among primates.

    However, only in recent history, they have transcended the tribal/religious/national in-group level, and have been attempted to be applied to humanity as a whole, or at least to larger diversified groups (the US constitution is a great example of these efforts).

    I’ve seen the argument/hipothesis that this is actually a (social) evolutionary advancement.

    The liberals mostly support this movement, while the conservatives appear to be opposing it (example – civil rights).

  19. whitecap says:

    tuddo…I appreciate your thoughtful answer, but in my original post I focused on this statement made by the letter writer:
    Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich would have you believe government should be run in accordance with biblical principles.
    Because I don’t see that as a bad thing, I listed a number of biblical principles and asked which ones he wouldn’t want to see more of in government (personally, I’d like to see more of them in every area of life). I’m wasn’t suggesting that besides biblical principles there might not be other sources for guidance in our behavior. I think if some posters on here did not have such an aversion, if not outright hostility, to anything religious, they’d have to agree me.
    And, tuddo, while you may be right about Gingrich and his past not being a barrier to some Republican voters better be careful before throwing too many of those stones because you can be sure some of them will hit the Democrats too.
    Anothermoniker…different name, same crappola. I won’t get into a lengthy history lesson here for you, but since you mention the early 1900s, why don’t you read a little about the efforts of a Republican president named Theodore Roosevelt. And as for your suggestion that LBJ got the govt. started on social programs, after you get done reading about Teddy, maybe you should take a look at a little known guy people called FDR.

  20. Btw, the “bad” rules and values also were essential at the time (e.g. destroy your enemy). It is that times change. That particular rule is not very useful when both tribes owe each other money, or have nuclear weapons. Also, multiply and use as much resourses as you can. That also does not look good these days.

  21. sandblower says:

    whitecap, it’s easy. Just say run the government using widely accepted principles and leave out any reference to biblical.

  22. Fibonacci says:

    Theodore Roosevelt would not be nominated on the Republican ticket of today. He would be labeled a RINO and would not pass Tea Party muster. For that matter,I don’t think the Republicans of today would nominate, Lincoln, Nixon, or Reagan either. None of them would pass the “do nothing for anyone but the rich” test.

  23. Whitecap, are you insinuating that those principles wouldn’t exist had it not been for the bible? Come on now, it’s common sense. I don’t need a book to tell me that I’d better not kill someone for fear of being tortured for the rest of eternity.

    I noticed you left out countless other “principles” from the bible that are certainly a little less desirable:

    “If a man is caught in the act of raping a young woman who is not engaged, he must pay fifty pieces of silver to her father. Then he must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be allowed to divorce her.” – Deuteronomy 22:28-29

    “When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again.” – Exodus 21:7-11

    “A man or a woman who acts as a medium or fortuneteller shall be put to death by stoning; they have no one but themselves to blame for their death.” -Leviticus 20:27

    “If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife, both the man and the woman must be put to death.” -Leviticus 20:10

    “A priest’s daughter who loses her honor by committing fornication and thereby dishonors her father also, shall be burned to death.” -Leviticus 21:9

    “But if this charge is true (that she wasn’t a virgin on her wedding night), and evidence of the girls virginity is not found, they shall bring the girl to the entrance of her fathers house and there her townsman shall stone her to death, because she committed a crime against Israel by her unchasteness in her father’s house. Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst.” -Deuteronomy 22:20-21

    “Make ready to slaughter his sons for the guilt of their fathers; Lest they rise and posses the earth, and fill the breadth of the world with tyrants.” -Isaiah 14:21

    Should I go on? That sure is a whole lot of raping and killing for something you believe should be implemented as guidance within out government, Whitecap.

  24. Anothermoniker…different name, same crappola

    from….whitecap….different name, same crappola?

  25. Every president has referred to God and the Bible when discussing the unique history of the United States of America, so anyone’s doing so at this time is nothing new.

    Except, of course, when a contending presidential candidate starts invoking Satan:

    Rick Santorum is no stranger to out-there remarks, but his 2008 comments that ‘Satan has his sights’ on Americans even turned Republican die-hards like Rush Limbaugh and Chris Christie against him. For the second time, The Daily Beast rounds up ten more of Santorum’s craziest comments.

    “This Is the Spiritual War”

    In 2008, then-Senator Rick Santorum gave a speech at Ave Maria University where he declared “Satan has his sights on the U.S. ” “Satan is attacking the great institutions of America, using those voices of pride, vanity, and sensuality as the root to attack all of the strong plants that has deeply rooted in the American tradition,” Santorum said. Santorum defended the comments, saying they were “not relevant” to this campaign. But within hours of the speech surfacing, Rush Limbaugh said Santorum’s comments were “not the kind of stuff you hear a presidential candidate saying,” and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie—a moderate Republican—said “anything you say as a presidential candidate is relevant.”


  26. whitecap says:

    I know beerBoy, I stooped a bit low on that one. I find MM’s approach to expressing his opinion on these issues extremely annoying.

  27. whitecap says:

    tburki…it’s fairly typical and not unexpected that someone would come up with a list similar to yours. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. You may notice that the biblical principles I listed (as opposed to Old Testament laws that you listed) if practiced or if used as the basis of laws or policies would in no way violate the Constitution or any laws of the land that come to mind off the top of my head.

  28. whitecap says:

    roussir…you sound like a reasonable, thoughtful, well-spoken, and knowledgeable person and I’m getting hit by too many comments here to go on at length. You say:
    “…we object to the bible packaging, and would rather go with the secular propagation of the values on your list.”
    I cannot deny the influence of the Bible and of Christianity on the mores, values, morals, and laws of western civilization. Therefore, I will continue to do the “bible packaging”.

  29. Anothermoniker says:

    whitecap…it’s fairly typical and not unexpected that someone would come up with a comment similar to yours.

  30. Anothermoniker says:

    Whenever a person challenges you about a select few phrases from The Bible and refuses to discuss other phrases, pull out the ever-favorite of the Bible quoters – “you’re taking it out of context, you have to read the whole thing”

  31. Thanks for the compliments.

    The modern western civilization is more influenced by the values of the Enlightenment, which is in reverse to most of the religious (and specifically, Christian) values and ideas (just think – modern science!). If you think otherwise, I would really have to question your education. It also will be a bigger topic than may be resolved on a forum like this.

  32. whitecap says:

    roussir…come on amigo, you know the Enlightenment can’t be summed up as simply as that. And so, I do think otherwise (though not entirely). But since I am a fan of succinct posts, I do heartily agree that it’s a bigger topic than can be resolved here. Thanks for your posts, they add something to the dialogue. MM, take note.

  33. whitecap, I purposely just said Republicans, knowing full well that there are Dems that don’t exhibit “Biblical” ethics, too. I have to throw out some red meat every once in a while so the people who see me as a godless liberal socialist can have a little bit of fun, too.

  34. whitecap says:

    tuddo…amen to that

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