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Random rant on US perception of religion

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We can still make religious topics in here, right? That's not banned yet?

I'm not trying to complain about anything here... I'm just trying to shed light on a topic most people either probably don't think about... or easily dismiss upon hearing.

The US prides itself as being accepting of all different forms of religion. And while I would agree it's better than many other countries in the world, I still think it doesn't quite live up to its hype.

There is a very strong push towards Christianity (and other similarly related religions) which may not be apparent to most people here... since most people here tend to follow those doctrines. But really... the push is so strong it has infiltrated the government in numerous ways and continues to dictate and/or influence many of our laws.

One trivial example is the inscription of "In God We Trust" on US currency. While I agree this is a silly thing to get upset about, it also is a thing that shouldn't be. The phrase did not appear on paper currency until 1957 (though it appeared on coins much earlier than that).

It seems like a harmless phrase, but it imposes a sensibility that's difficult to explain. The best way to illustrate the problem with it is to replace the test with a similarly tinted phrase of a different denomination.

A particularly outrageous example (given the country's current general view towards Muslims) would be "All Praise Allah". Can you imagine the outcry that would exist if that replaced "In God We Trust" on US currency? I mean it's practically an identical phrase, so there should be no problem, but it would cause such a scandal if it was seriously proposed and considered.

An even larger imposition is the requirement to swear an oath on the bible before giving testimony in court. Again while this seems harmless to most... for someone who does not follow the teachings of the bible this is at best meaningless or at worst a blasphemous and damnable offense.

Christianity in particular is not very flexible when it comes to worshiping false idols. In fact, a significant portion of the Old Testament is full of stories of God smiting nonbelievers. Yet by requiring a Muslim to swear on the Bible you're asking (or rather, legally requiring) them to do exactly that.


Though what really startles me about the current situation is not the above mentioned platitudes toward God, but rather the intermingling of arbitrary Christian dogma into federal and state law.

The most prominent example of this is marriage equality. There is literally no reason same-sex marriage should be illegal anywhere (apart from personal religious beliefs or bigotry - neither of which should factor into lawmaking policies). Yet currently it is only legal in 15 states. And many of those states just legalized it in 2012-2013.



Anyway ramble ramble ramble. I could go on but I think you get the picture. I guess my point is.. a lot of this is taken for granted by people who agree with/follow those doctrines. But for those of us outside of it, it's startling to see this when you really look at it.
All the Atheists I know really don't have a problem with these things.
closed account (o1vk4iN6)
Some quick Google search: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affirmation_in_law
Was trying to find a movie clip where a guy is asked to swear on the bible in court but he says something like "I'm not christian" and such.
I'm in favor of a constitutional amendment that explicitly bans religious doctrine from government. The bill of rights implicitly does so, but as Rick Santorum so elequently arrogantly put it "it's freedom of religion, not freedom from religion"
I consider myself agnostic and while I agree the U.S. does have strong ties to Christianity, we were settled by puritans after all, I really do believe most of the U.S. is progressive and accepting of others (with a few exceptions).
As far as "In God We Trust" on money, my perspective is it's ok because it doesn't specify which god. And the bible in court is more of a TV thing now, I believe it's really a British tradition that carried over, but isn't enforced in the U.S.
I always thought the bible swearing was the other way around! i.e. You are not required by law to do it in this country but that you are required by law to do it in the USA.

From the other side of the pond, it seems clear that America as whole is not accepting of non-Christian religion and that parts of the US are so Christian that they are basically extremists. =/
Your politicians seem to mention God an awful lot, whereas in the UK, it's fairly rare to hear a politician mention God. Even if all religiously influenced laws were removed from the USA tomorrow, that fact alone would still mean religion (and by religion I basically mean various kinds of Christianity) was playing a non-trivial role in US politics.
closed account (iw0XoG1T)
l belong to a Christian denomination that historically refuses to swear. I been in court and have refused to swear -- and I can say with certainty that US courts have no problem with an individual refusing to swear.

This is not a comment on your point--just saying your example is very flawed.
This is not a comment on your point--just saying your example is very flawed.


Well that example was part of my point, so I'm glad you pointed out that I'm incorrect about it.
Mormon, chwsks?
As this is a forum populated by very liberal viewpoints -- meaning most of you will disagree with me -- I'll keep it brief.

I like you, Disch, but I think you are deceived by the current social trend of believing that every citizen is a qualified armchair philosopher.

The US prides itself as being accepting of all different forms of religion. And while I would agree it's better than many other countries in the world, I still think it doesn't quite live up to its hype.

No nation will ever live up to some ideal hype -- since there will always be bigotry of some kind. What you miss is this:

(1) The US really is the de-facto standard of multiculturalism. No other nation covers such a diverse collection of people living and working together as we do.

(2) Bigotry comes, for the most part, from economic and class issues. Any sociologist can tell you this. Some, such as racism and the like, is a generational issue, but the root cause remains the same, both then and now.

There is a very strong push towards Christianity (and other similarly related religions) which may not be apparent to most people here... since most people here tend to follow those doctrines. But really... the push is so strong it has infiltrated the government in numerous ways and continues to dictate and/or influence many of our laws.

The vast majority of the people in the US are Christian. And Christians typically consider it part of their faith to try to help others to see the light, as it were. So, yes, there is a bit of a pro-Christian way of thinking in our society.

That is a far cry from the claim that some ambiguous "push" towards Christianity has infiltrated the government.

Sadly, you're just spouting propaganda. Sorry.

One trivial example...

Yes, the vast majority of people believe in God. We here in the US believe in government that is most pragmatic for the most good for most people. So you poor atheists will have to learn to live with everyone else's delusion. Fortunately for you, you are equal under the law, and always have been. (Which is different from the treatment you may regularly receive from ignorant people!)

A particularly outrageous example...

And misplaced, since the idea is something that will never happen. "Allah" is a foreign word. Why would we put a loaded, foreign word for "God" on our national currency? This has nothing to do with religion. Just pure common sense. It's a red herring designed to puff up your argument and indignation.

An even larger imposition is the requirement to swear an oath on the bible before giving testimony in court.

Where, today, does anyone do that? Can you name a place that isn't in some small, backwoods town where everyone is Christian? Can you name two?

How about this: Can you name a place where a non-Christian has been forced (and this is your argument -- that somehow people are forced to do this) to swear on the Bible? Or that he or she has been abused in some way for refusing to do so?

It is patently obvious that "swearing on the Bible" is an old tradition designed to get people to make an oath over something they hold dear. We think that that used to mean something (supposedly), but again, in modern society oaths are meaningless. Our society is one in which lying is acceptable in almost any circumstance, except, ostensively, in cases where purjury is an issue -- as in court. Whether there lies a bible before you or not means nothing to the liar.

Christianity in particular is not very flexible when it comes to worshiping false idols. In fact, a significant portion of the Old Testament is full of stories of God smiting nonbelievers. Yet by requiring a Muslim to swear on the Bible you're asking (or rather, legally requiring) them to do exactly that.

I don't know where you've been, but Christians are shockingly flexible when it comes to worshiping your favorite idol -- both in and out of church. The Bible may forbid it, but you can't argue both points.

Asking a Muslim to swear on the bible may be offensive to him (or her), but it is not tantamount to asking him to worship false idols. Besides which, we've already hashed this point as 'not the case'.

Though what really startles me about the current situation is not the above mentioned platitudes toward God, but rather the intermingling of arbitrary Christian dogma into federal and state law.

Woah, you're startled now? Something new and different has happened?

This is just a vague prelude for...

The most prominent example of this is marriage equality. There is literally no reason same-sex marriage should be illegal anywhere

Ah ha! We get to the point of your rant.

You are angry that some (large number of) people think it inappropriate and offensive to have same-sex marriages.

(apart from personal religious beliefs or bigotry

Apart from your own, you mean?

There is far more to the issue than the moral underpinnings of a young, self-righteous, 'eat drink and be merry'/liberal-minded person.

I'm not, frankly, interested in debating anyone here on the pros and cons of same-sex marriages.

I am, however, going to point out that there is much more to the issue than you present. Or than you seek to use to dismiss the other side as close-minded, bigoted, brainwashed religionists.

Now, I know that most of you will disagree with me and my opinion (which, BTW, you can't infer much from this posting, though that won't stop you). Since we are all on the internet, the one true arbiter of truth, apparently, everyone gets to say what they want and tally their population bias into reason and sensibility. Which usually results in the personal abuse of those who disagree...

@Cheraphy
Shall I report you now or later for your rabid, anti-mormon preliminaries?
I know Mormons better than you do. Mormons swear (take oaths) all the time. What they don't do is cuss or wander around OMGing everything, as they consider it offensive language.

You would be more likely to be correct if he were Jehovah's Witness or Quaker, whose people have run into legal troubles because they won't take oaths of any kind before worldly powers.


@Disch, all
This is the reason we don't like religious threads on this forum. The example stands before us.

I also don't think that hot questions like same-sex equality vs religion will prove to leave anyone here feeling like it has been an uplifting, informative topic.

The real fact is, discussions like this tend only to polarize the fora, entrench people further into their own version of truth (right or wrong, or even both), and leave everyone with a bad feeling, and ultimately cause a breakdown in civility with each other.

Find a more appropriate place for this kind of discussion, please.
Not here. I like it here. We are known for being one of the nicest places on the net. History of religious/hot-button issues on the net is not too old to teach us a thing or two.
Duoas wrote:
I'll keep it brief.

*giggles* Sorry, but this must be one of the longest non-article posts on this forum.

The real fact is, discussions like this tend only to polarize the fora, entrench people further into their own version of truth (right or wrong, or even both), and leave everyone with a bad feeling, and ultimately cause a breakdown in civility with each other.

I agree with you on this point. I disagree with most of what you said, but I'd rather avoid a prolonged debate. I would like, however, to make a few points.

Can you name a place where a non-Christian has been forced (and this is your argument -- that somehow people are forced to do this) to swear on the Bible? Or that he or she has been abused in some way for refusing to do so?

While it isn't common for this to happen, it occasionally does. This isn't common practice, though, and I believe this was only one recent incident. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brad-friedman/black-voter-in-philly-for_b_781742.html

I don't know where you've been, but Christians are shockingly flexible when it comes to worshiping your favorite idol

Depends on the Christians. There's such a wide diversity of protestant divisions that it's nigh-impossible to make blanket generalizations like that. I agree with you on the point that painting all Christians as "close-minded, bigoted, brainwashed religionists" is wrong on many levels.

Ah ha! We get to the point of your rant.

This was NOT the point of Disch's rant. The point was his frustration at the government for allowing the passage of legislation which has some religious motivation to it (even though the use of god in the pledge of allegiance and on money I believe was a cold war propaganda effort).

@Cheraphy
Shall I report you now or later for your rabid, anti-mormon preliminaries?

For someone so sensitive to ad hominem attacks, you sure enjoy toeing the line. Cheraphy wasn't attacking your faith specifically. He did put down Rick Santorum, but last I checked Rick Santorum wasn't a paragon of the Mormon faith, was he?

I've said my piece.

-Albatross
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I like you, Disch, but I think you are deceived by the current social trend of believing that every citizen is a qualified armchair philosopher.


Hahaha. I never made any claims of being qualified. I just enjoy discussion.

Actually most of your points I agree with. My "swear on the Bible" example was already pointed out as being erroneous, so I'll admit to fault on that.

That is a far cry from the claim that some ambiguous "push" towards Christianity has infiltrated the government.

Sadly, you're just spouting propaganda. Sorry.


Yes I'll admit to using loaded language. It was a rant after all.

Though I don't think it's propaganda... and that's kind of my point. I think it gets dismissed as propaganda, but is a valid point. To someone like myself who lives outside the mainstream culture, it's a little unsettling to see. Unfortunately it's extremely difficult to explain it to someone who lives inside the culture.

If I had to sum it up... it's that it's a double standard. But it gets tolerated not only because it's supported by the majority of the population, but also because it's just the status quo, and has been for over a century.

My point was not to isolate specific examples, but to outline the mentality as a whole.

And misplaced, since the idea is something that will never happen. "Allah" is a foreign word. Why would we put a loaded, foreign word for "God" on our national currency?


I'm aware that "Allah" is arabic for "the God", but it's also a name... a proper noun. A Muslim still refers to him as "Allah", even when speaking English. In that regard, the name is no more foreign than "Jose" or "Pierre".

Furthermore... it isn't a loaded word... that's my point. It's just another denomination's name for their god. How is that in any way loaded or offensive? That's the double standard. You see "Allah" as a loaded term... but don't see "God" as a loaded term. To someone like myself... the two are completely interchangable.

I understand the idea of putting Allah on US currency is it's purely hypothetical and will not happen (at least not in our lifetimes)... but despite the absurdity of the example, it really is the only way to illustrate my point.

Can you explain to me why an Atheist or a Muslim should be any less offended by "In God We Trust" on their money... than a Christian would be offended by "All Praise Allah" on their money? Therein lies my discomfort.

For the record: neither phrase offends me. I'm just trying to shine light on a point that gets glossed over by our culture.

Ah ha! We get to the point of your rant.

You are angry that some (large number of) people think it inappropriate and offensive to have same-sex marriages.


That actually wasn't the point, it was just another example. Though that is one example of something that actually does get to me. I have at least one other that really bothers me, but I don't want to focus on side points.


But allow me to rephrase what I said earlier.

I wrote:
There is literally no reason same-sex marriage should be illegal anywhere


A more level-headed way to phrase that is:

"I have yet to hear any reason why same-sex marriage should be illegal apart from religious dictations or bigotry"

You mentioned "pros and cons" to same-sex marriage, but I have yet to ever, in my entire life, hear of a single con (at least not one that didn't apply equally well to heterosexual marriages). Maybe I just haven't been talking to the right people.

Which usually results in the personal abuse of those who disagree


I think you're being overly defensive. My original rant was loaded, granted, and I apologize for that. But I'm genuinely interested and concerned in this topic.

EDIT: my original post said "over offensive" but that was a terrible typo. I meant to say defensive. Whoops.
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As I'm not really in the mood for debating this topic anymore (I've done entirely too much of it in the past, never gets anywhere), I would like to agree with Disch.

There is definitely an implicit expectation in this country to be of a Christian denomination, and you stick out like sore thumb if you're not. It leads to unnecessary negative attention for simply not believe what the majority do. But this is totally fine in most situations, if some random Joe Shmoe gets offended because I don't believe in his God, then I whatever. He can be offended all he wants. But it doesn't just end there, there have been several times where people get screwed over in legal or political situations because it became known that they are not Christian.

And yes, the gay marriage debate is most definitely religion oriented. I'm glad this country is making progress there, but it shouldn't be as big of an issue as it is being 2013. Find me any reputable source that still provides evidence that being gay is a choice. The gender lines in general are starting to erode away as we understand more about them.

So basically, I agree with Disch. This country's claim of freedom religion is entirely superficial while our courts and government allow religion to influence them.

There's my 2 cents.
ResidentBiscuit wrote:
Find me any reputable source that still provides evidence that being gay is a choice.


Quite frankly I don't see what whether or not it's a choice has to do with it. Even if it is a choice, why would that make a difference?
Both Disch and Douas have good points.

topics such as gay marriage or abortion often drift towards religious debate. I personally believe in separation of religion and laws. With gay marriage, it is quite ridiculous it is still illegal in some states. But in the end, its another case of a minority gaining more rights, it may take time but it will get there.

closed account (iw0XoG1T)
@Albatross you cited the Huffington post?

I live in Philadelphia have been asked to swear, have refused, and the court had no problem. I don't read the Huffington post just like don't watch fox news.

That incident is about voter disenfranchisement -- the headline is just a cheap-way to increase views. Anyone from Pennsylvania would recognize that this incident has noting to do with religion.

Please take a look at this: http://xkcd.com/1283/

@Cheraphy
I'm Mennonite.
Oh cool. I've never knowingly met one before. I'd love to discuss the finer details of your religion sometime O:

(and, tl;dr on this thread but who ever asked if they should report me now or later, neither. I have several mormon friends and of all the christian's I've ever met, they tended to be the nicest and the most true to their religion's tennents.)
chrisname wrote:
People like you only use democracy as a tool to maintain the position you have
This really shows your true colours and hypocrisy.
Thankfully you're a dying breed.


This is exactly what Duoas was worried about. Can we please keep the personal attacks out of this?
Oh wow. I didn't even make the connection that Santourum was a mormon. I knew Romney was. I was just pointing out a politician who said something stupid.
@Disch
You're right, I don't mean to make things too personal. I can't sincerely apologise to Duoas for what I said though. I stand by it.
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