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Personal Faith and Politics

I never want to impose my religion on anybody else. But when I make decisions I stand on principle. And the principles are derived from who I am. I believe we ought to love our neighbor like we love ourself. That's manifested in public policy through the faith-based initiative where we've unleashed the armies of compassion to help heal people who hurt. I believe that God wants everybody to be free. That's what I believe. And that's one part of my foreign policy. In Afghanistan I believe that the freedom there is a gift from the Almighty. And I can't tell you how encouraged how I am to see freedom on the march. And so my principles that I make decisions on are a part of me. And religion is a part of me."

--President, George W. Bush
Third Presidential Debate, Tempe, AZ, October 13, 2004

Secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square. Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Williams Jennings Bryan, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King - indeed, the majority of great reformers in American history - were not only motivated by faith, but repeatedly used religious language to argue for their cause. To say that men and women should not inject their "personal morality" into public policy debates is a practical absurdity.

--Senator, Barack Obama
Call to Renewal Conference, June 28, 2006.

Examining the church and state debate on its most intimate level, how personal faith affects the decisions of individual politicians, raises new questions:

-Should a politician be expected to keep separate his/her personal faith from the political arena?

-Or, should we expect a politician to make decisions based upon his/her faith and moral values?

What do you think?


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He will try to use his influence to change it, but until it is changed, he will enforce it. Thank you

Church and state should be completely separate. Period. History has shown us the catastrophic consequences when they're not. We've let religion sneak into our government too much already. Keep it up and before long we WILL have a theocracy.

One can be moral without being religious. A truly moral person refrains from harming another out of concern for the would-be victim, not out of concern for him or herself.

Morality is doing the right thing simply because it's the right thing to do, not out of fear of eternal hellfire and damnation. That is just pure selfishness.

There is a lot of doctrine and dogma within the three major religions that have absolutely nothing to do with morality, and I don't want my leaders imposing that dogma on me, my family or my community.

"History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government."
- Thomas Jefferson

"There is not a shadow of right in the general government to intermeddle with religion. Its least interference with it would be a most flagrant usurpation."
- James Madison

"I mix religion with politics as little as possible."
- John Adams

"Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as foolish, and by the rulers as useful."
- Alexander Hamilton

Regarding the never-ending quest to maintain separation of Church and State, it would be enlightening to expose the beliefs of the much flaunted founding fathers and their mythological legacy... IE, that somehow they were just noble statesmen seeking to excise the religion they were dominated by in Britain in favor of a legal separation here. The founding fathers in the main were true believers in the theology of John Calvin. the Washington family (not unlike the Bush family dynasty) were dedicated to establishment of a nation based their understanding of the plurality of their concept of "chosen" and the entitlement that it bestows on it's faithful... sort of God's "natural law" at work but exclusively bestowed on the wealthy. America's cultural fabric is tightly woven around Calvin's theology that summarily places the rest as "not chosen" and thus relegated to a perpetual "have not" status. After all, the have nots weren't chosen (Dan Quayle likes to tout this model at party fund raisers) The "messiah" of American economic theory.. Adam Smith wrote into his 1776 essay (Wealth of Nations) the "gospel" of Calvin. Later, Max Weber wrote about the morphing of that "Christian" doctrine into the American Economic practices, as if the laws of Moses handed down at Mt. Sinai included the unrestrained rights of the "chosen" to extract wealth from the rest as entrepreneurs.. no matter many are denied food, shelter, medical care in the process... all because the "Chosen" Calvinists are entitled to extract wealth... a high standard of living... while the masses aren't.. as the rest are not chosen in their social model.

That is why America cannot embrace the same social construct as our neighbors to the North (Canadians)as they simply commonly declare that "we all are in this thing called society together" and thus, all are to share in the endowment of the "creator" ignoring Calvin's construct that indicates if one is having a "problem" it's their fault somehow... IE, not being "Chosen" ... that's why America has no concept of universal health care, or legitimate retirement program. Universal education has also been a blister on the Calvinist's backside. Next year's election frenzy is already invoking references to the late "Great American" "man of the people" Ronald Reagan. Reagan was life-long devout Calvinist who was dedicated to eliminating free education, universal retirement and universal health care in America. I recall the response that Haynes Johnson gave to Larry King's question (circa 1989 ) of how to sum up the Reagan's Presidency.. Johnson replied: "Ronald Reagan came to Washington with a big jar of Vaseline in his hand and asked the country to bend over." Bush and Cheney brought a barrel of oil instead. It's time to expose how America is and always has been a theocracy -- John Calvin would be proud indeed.

Bill, I am so very happy to see you back on PBS, we need you! As for a personal faith involved in politics, I agree that it's impossible to completely ignore an intrinsic part of who you are; on the other hand, the fundamentalists want our Nation governed by the precepts of the Bible...there's a big difference in those two. If your beliefs, whether religious or simply humanistic, give you certain morals, that's one thing...unless someone is brain-dead, they will naturally bring some set of values to the table. But to influence the courts by one particular religious community's convictions, is obviously wrong!

Bill was obviously impressed with the talented Ms. Harris-Lacewell who steered through some very troubled waters with considerable grace. She turned some well chosen metaphors and showed just enough edge to make her points without scaring white people too much. It will be interesting to see how often such a telegenic and authoritative commentator appears elsewhere in the so-called liberal media; not very often I would think.

I think it is fine to have a personal faith or belief, but if an elected representative is to represent the 'whole' of a population, which will obviously include beliefs of every stripe, then a definite NO to using religious tenets as a guiding principle in politics unless these principles are also universally held by everyone who is being represented in the first place. Yes, the founding fathers were definitely religious, everyone back then was, but they also knew the reality that they came from whereby they were persecuted for their beliefs. They were very wise to insist that religion and state be very separate, imo.I mean, really! Look at any country in the world where religion and state are joined at the hip. Maybe god could make it work, but people sure can't.

I take a dim view of most religions because they seem to cherry pick their way through their holy book to justify an agenda or position while ignoring admonitions that are not profitable.

For example, let's just say that all the laws of the land followed biblical principles as it seems right wing Christians promote:
Banks would have to go out of business because the bible says, "neither a borrower nor a lender be" and ALL debt would be forgiven...The bible addresses the issue of money management & usury waaay more often than it condemns the so-called sin of same-sex relationships and other silly concerns. I don't recall Jesus speaking of that issue but he did address money a lot. So, all these corporate-lobbied Christian politicians are really pretty hypocritical in turning a blind eye to some very wonderful wisdoms. Basically, to me, the whole idea of religion mixing it up with politics is scary in the extreme. I would say, please point me to anywhere in the world where any Abrahamic sect has created lasting peace & justice and EQUALITY for all. Patriarchal insanity...and women are always the losers.

For Melissa Harris-Lacewell to describe slavery and Jim Crow as "a moment in American history" is delusional as well as disturbing. Slavery lasted for more than the first 100 years of the republic, and Jim Crow lasted for most of the second. How this can be interpreted as only a moment is beyond me.

The poor in America and elsewhere would be better off with an ounce of solidarity than tons of compassion from US leaders.
Imperialism violates all the Ten Commandments.
The nation has made an idol of wealth, meanwhile embracing fundamentalist Christianity -- hypocrisy so deep it drowns everything.
What is there to choose between the pieties of incumbent representative of the oil companies and the candidate of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange?

Adam Fann,

While the Bible may not promote slavery (although methinks one could find plenty of support in the Old Testament), I do recall from my churchgoing days that the Apostle Paul admonished slaves to obey their masters.

Tony R.

"I believe that God wants everybody to be free. That's what I believe. And that's one part of my foreign policy. In Afghanistan I believe that the freedom there is a gift from the Almighty. And I can't tell you how encouraged how I am to see freedom on the march."

This is why I HATE King George W. Bush so much. He believes that "God" wants everyone to be free. And he IMPOSES HIS OWN RELIGIOUS belief on other countries. How can we as Americans allow this??? IT IS HUBRIS of the HIGHEST ORDER! And is exactly the reason why the United States is so HATED by other countries. When Americans vote for candidates who seek to impose their own religious beliefs and/or values on other peoples or countries we represent the WORST of human values. Bush believes people want to be free. But his understanding of "Free" is so limited that he only understands "Free" within the context of a capitalist , market driven economy that enriches a few and impoverishes and exploits the masses. Countries must be allowed to determine for themselves what their notion of "Free" is without fear of another country imposing it's own idea of what "free" is. George W. Bush is a simpleton and reductionist on global affairs. He reduces the complexities a country faces and justfies all of his ghastly mistakes and ineptitude with the notion that he is "rightly" making another country "free." But the tragedy in all of this is that King Geoge W. Bush represents millions of Americans who also share his simplistic sermonizing and moralizing methodology. These are predominantly, Christian and right wing Jewish voters many of whom also do a disservice to democracy for being "one issue" voters. In the end, our democratic heritage shrinks at an accelerated pace everytime American voters go to the poll and choose to vote for a candidate who expresses sanctimonious and reductionist views of the world using Jesus as the torch bearer for "freedom." George W. Bush, in many ways, embodies the anti-christ. He's the antithesis of what Jesus preached. How ironic...

I was extremely impressed with the interview of Melissa Harris-Lacewell. I grew up in the south and went through the trauma and violence of desegregation. I feel that a whole generation of all races was thrown away to right historic wrongs. Ms Harris-Lacewell makes me think that sacrifice was not for nothing. We will never go back to the bad old days and we will hopefully not make a new group like Hispanics a segregated group.

Unless I'm mistaken, doesn't the New Testament, basically say it's better for a person to pray quietly rather than to make a grand show of it?
Jimmy Carter is known to be a christian, but one who displays his beliefs through actions, such as helping the less fortunate, rather than draping himself in a flag & carrying a cross in the public square, like Bush has done.

My perspective may be a bit different in that I live in Canada.
Religion is not as predominant an issue here compared to the U.S. but we are, by no means, dismissive of it. I am an atheist but believe that I learned a great deal from reading the Bible when I was younger. What I remember is not so much the religious aspects as much as the morality of the stories. There I learned about characteristics like truthfulness, decency, honour.
The idea of trying to help out the less fortunate from time to time matters to me but not from a religious perspective but rather because it is the right thing to do.

The job of congressmen and senators is to represent the views of their constituents--not to pursue their own agenda. Though I respect their opinions and preferences, they are not more important than mine, and it is their responsibility to respond to what I want -- not what they want (even if their preferences differ from mine). However, our representatives seem to misunderstand what it means to be a representative. No where is this misunderstanding more obvious than in the support for the war in Congress. Though an overwhelming majority of Americans want an end to the war, almost half of our elected representatives continue to support it. Have we forgotten what a representative Democracy is supposed to be--a government of the people, by the people, and for the people? As Americans, we cannot elect representatives and assume that they will speak for and act on what is important to us. We must tell them what is expected of them, and then hold them accountable for doing it.

Those who are elected or appointed to government office represent ALL of their constituents, not just their co-religionists. They are therefore obligated to serve those with views other than their own. Democracy does not just mean that the majority rules; democracy respects the rights of the minority too.

In spite of the efforts of some to overturn the Constitution, we do not yet live in a theocracy. America does not need ayatollahs in public office.

Regarding the quotes from pres. Bush and Mr. Obama;
1)Mr Bush can say all of that and more but by discriminating against American citizens all human beings, the way he does so regarding ones sexual identity and orientation, well he is
not telling the truth.
He is imposing his religion and he isn't treating everyone like himself. He is also setting up his compassionate Christian social services so they can further be denied basic services.
Love the sinner hate the sin is just an excuse to punish those religious persons don't like.
2) Mr Obama is correct that a leader will bring "his"faith, and his version of morality to the job. This is always going to be the case; But this does not mean that subscribers of the mainstream religions have the right to twist laws towards their belief system. It also does not give them the right to impose their belief on the rest ot the people of America and the world, like pres. Bush has.

The central question of a person keeping their faith separate from their decision-making is interesting.

One's belief system is inevitably going to come into play when they make decisions. Just because someone is an adherent to one faith over another does not make that person a zealot as some posters would claim. Regent is an accredited law school, and they apparently come out quite capable. The point of contention it seems is whether or not they have an agenda - and even though I am a Christian myself, I would think they do to an extent.

I am concerned that some of those more zealous types would like a theocracy that would impose one set of rules on everyone else, much as sharia law has in some mainly Islamic nations. But I think that most of the people involved are not of that mold - I share their viewpoints that some of the laws passed in recent years are an affront to humanity and to morality, religion notwithstanding.

Most of the people in Congress are people of faith. But this does not appear to be an issue with most people. There was a fear in 1960 that Kennedy, as a Catholic like me, would be subservient to the Vatican. This obviously turned out to not be the case.

If those who have expressed such open hostility towards religion would open their minds to exactly what the faiths represent in their original form (namely, respect for all life, honesty, respect for elders, and so forth) perhaps their fears of a Christian sharia court would be allayed.

Bill, I shared your concern about the radical minions being produced by Pat Robertson's university. You asked Mr. Gillespie for his opinion on this issue and he didn't feel there was anything to be concerned about. I take exception to his response and can only point to the growth of fundamentalist religion over the last 25 years. There is something disturbing about average people surrendering their entire existence to this segment of religion that brings back memories of tragedies of events like Jonestown in the late 1970s.

Should a politician be expected to keep separate his/her personal faith from the political arena?

It seems to me that to expect anyone to keep separate the personal faith from the political arena is an idle question. You can't expect anyone who is brainwashed to have the discernement to separate those things. It's the "faith" that should be challenged. No one who operates on faith vs. logic and reason should be elected to a leadership position in this country. But poor us! About half the population operates on faith! Is there any hope?

Thank you so much for your efforts and insights.

I find it ironic, that a law school, which teaches the amendments, and constitution can also teach its student to go out and fight to break down the wall between Church and State. I would like to know if they teach their students the amendments, or have them read the constitution? Or do they leave that part out, and if they do how can the American Bar Association hold them as an accredited law school? The same people who fight for "freedom" in Iraq and Afghanistan are the same people who fight for the sacred wall of seperation to be brought down. Do they too, also not see the irony in that?
History has taught us that "church" and state must always be kept seperate, and as some of the middle east currently shows us, why current events prove why "church" and state must be kept seperated.
I guarentee our founding fathers are rolling in their graves to know the state that America is heading, and seeing all of their hard work, and the era of the enlightenment, is heading back towards the dark ages.

The recently-minted law graduate's endorsement of faith-based legal systems would certainly be supported by the men dispensing justice under one such system - Sharia law. Of course, if she were unfortunate enough to have grown up under one of the more extreme cultural applications of Islamic law, e.g. the Taliban, she would have had to trade her graduation gown and gear for a burqa and her future law career for an illiterate subservient life at home. Not in Christian America? One American interpretation of Christian faith seeks to turn the clock back to the 17th century (rather than the 7th century) and is found only 325 miles from Virginia Beach - in Lancaster County, PA.

Your show is one of the few bright lights at the once-proud PBS.

I tend to agree with the post by dorothea. Thomas Jefferson fought long and hart over the issue of separation of church and state - and for good reason. Personally I would do away with the national slogans of "Under God" and "In God we trust." Let's face it the three main religions: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam have had centuries of bad blood between them - thanks primarily to the Roman Catholics. I can say that honestly because I was raised Catholic (now a Buddhist). I could see certain factions of Islam getting tweaked at a nation professing to do "God's work" while their leader starts his own "crusade" against "non-Christian" countries for purposes other than national security. All religions have their profits, and everyone of them have worthwhile things to say to all of us, so what's the big deal weather his/her name was God, Jesus, Allah, Mohamed, of Buddha. We need more enlightenment and less name calling/figure pointing. Watch the PBS special on the Inquisition. Watch the documentary "Why We Fight," "Freedom to Fascism,"and "Who killed the electric car?' Get informed. Go to your window. Stick you head out and yell "I'm mad as hell and ..." Ok, sorry...got it little carried away.

I was hoping that Bill would challenge Nick Gillespie's comments more strongly, and point out the logical inconsistencies of libertarian political and economic positions, besides the moral ones.

For example, Gillespie's comment "you know how to live your life" (as justification for free markets, lack of government regulations, and removal of government's role in enforcing human and civil rights) requires the addition of "if you're a straight white male citizen", since that's the only group who has that privilege unencumbered by social and sexual politics. Gillespie seems to believe that everyone in this society is in the same position and has the same freedom to create wealth, work where they want, choose when and where to access health care and affordable housing, etc.

Gillespie's conditional statement "as long as you're not interfering with anybody else" is the typical libertarian argument that ends in a conundrum; for example: a)companies (and people) should be allowed to hire whom they want; and 2) people should have the right to work where they want to. How do libertarians meet Gillespie's condition, or resolve the logical and practical disconnects of their positions?

Gillespie's wistful harkening back to the way things were in "the 17th century" and the "founding of the country" is bogus (or else shows his true political colors): this was not a democracy then. The only people who were allowed to govern, vote, make laws, and had the kind of freedom that libertarians advocate for were (again) white male property-owners: an oligarchy. Hopefully, we've come a bit further in civic enlightenment and democracy since the 17th century. In addition, if we reverted to those "good old days", we would have to revert to the level of scientific, medical, technological, and social knowledge of the 17th century. Are libertarians also Luddites?

The defense of reason that makes more sense to me is Robert Reich's book "Reason: Why Liberals Will Win the Battle for America." If Gillespie and thinkers of his ilk used more "reason" and less advocacy for maintaining the economic and political privilege of a small group of society, they might make more of a contribution to political thought in the US.

Religion and Politics- Hmm-It's a personal pet peeve of mine- I've been watching the spainish inquisition and well- I don't believe it was only for religion- I felt power and money had more to do with the loss of their freedom than the belief in any religion. As of now I am reading American Fascists by Chris Hedges and then the NY Times(Sunday) had an article on the amount of money and time that is spent by politicians on religion. I am well aware our country was founded on the freedom of religion and the right of expressing your personal worship. But TOO MANY TIMES it has been used to hurt and hinder those who beliefs are different. Should it be seperated? Yes everyone should respect how religion is worshipped individually, not by the collective group. It has no business in politics. The politicians are to protect and respect our privacy to religious worship. Not to enforce it.

As for the early comments made by a blogger re: Nick Gillipse. I found that jealousy and envy of the classes always seems to POP UP when the libertarians are mentioned. I'm sure your know other polictical parties have wealth also. SO, What do I do to help the poor? Personally I donate and every person of wealth I know does the same. You give Money, Time and Intervention. You praise and reward personal achievement. And do not support a welfare system that encourages those who are truly helpless at that time to stay on it. It's hard to go to work when you make more money staying home, pumping out kids and collecting a government hand out than working at a department chain store. I will not even name the store because we all know one of these places.
As for Mr. Gillispe, though I may not agree with everything he says, I do enjoy his magazine REASON. It is witty, honest and liberating to read in a world filled with censorshipped newspapers and predjudicial magazines. It's about real Americans and real freedom.

PS. Thank you Bill Moyers for your show. I look forward to it every Friday. Even when I have to turn off a Mets game to watch you. Thank you- Boy did our country miss you.

Nick Gillespie's libertarian beliefs should have been challenged more extensively when the topic turned from religion to economics. Gillespie was a good interview subject on the subject of separation of church and state but woefully lacking when it came to economics. Perhaps this area should be revisited on a subsequent Journal?

BILL MOYERS: But, you know, the free market creates great wealth. But it also kicks a lot of people off the road and into the ditch. What do we do about them if you're a libertarian?

NICK GILLESPIE: I actually-- I-- first, I disagree with that. I think that the free market creates a lot of wealth and that everybody is better off as a result of it. There are cases where people have-- you know, where people don't do as well as others. But in general, it raises the overall level of income, the overall level of wealth, and more importantly, the overall level of opportunities and options in people's lives.

Gillespie's weasel word - "overall" - sticks out like a sore thumb at a time when statistics consistently show the rich getting richer and the poor, poorer. Money is power so the rich are becoming more powerful whilst the poor are losing it. There goes any opportunity for libertarian freedom - except for the well off, of course, presumably the class Gillespie belongs to. Freedom for the rich. Nothing new here, I'm afraid.

I've lived and worked most of my adult life overseas, in countries that have social safety nets. Back briefly in the U.S., I find the vaunted freedoms here scary - freedom to be homeless, to be undereducated, to be sick without adequate medical care. Social safety nets are created by governments that give people what they need and want whilst the libertarianism that Gillespie espouses allows the powerful to have anything they desire.

Calls for minimum government without addressing what results when regulations are removed that stop the powerful from committing gross abuses against those with less power - governing the workplace, corporations, policing, etc., etc. - are irresponsible. A prerequisite task of creating a more egalitarian society in terms of remuneration, power, etc., to avoid abuses by the powerful, seems to make sense before attempting to downsize governments in order to achieve personal freedoms. Most citizens, I believe, would be in favour of minimum government on these terms, but not before.


Nick Gillespie's libertarian beliefs should have been challenged more extensively when the topic turned from religion to economics. Gillespie was a good interview subject on the subject of separation of church and state but woefully lacking when it came to economics. Perhaps this area should be revisited on a subsequent Journal?

BILL MOYERS: But, you know, the free market creates great wealth. But it also kicks a lot of people off the road and into the ditch. What do we do about them if you're a libertarian?

NICK GILLESPIE: I actually-- I-- first, I disagree with that. I think that the free market creates a lot of wealth and that everybody is better off as a result of it. There are cases where people have-- you know, where people don't do as well as others. But in general, it raises the overall level of income, the overall level of wealth, and more importantly, the overall level of opportunities and options in people's lives.

Gillespie's weasel word - "overall" - sticks out like a sore thumb at a time when statistics consistently show the rich getting richer and the poor, poorer. Money is power so the rich are becoming more powerful whilst the poor are losing it. There goes any opportunity for libertarian freedom - except for the well off, of course, presumably the class Gillespie belongs to. Freedom for the rich. Nothing new here, I'm afraid.

I've lived and worked most of my adult life overseas, in countries that have social safety nets. Back briefly in the U.S., I find the vaunted freedoms here scary - freedom to be homeless, to be undereducated, to be sick without adequate medical care. Social safety nets are created by governments that give people what they need and want whilst the libertarianism that Gillespie espouses allows the powerful to have anything they desire.

Calls for minimum government without addressing what results when regulations are removed that stop the powerful from committing gross abuses against those with less power - governing the workplace, corporations, policing, etc., etc. - are irresponsible. A prerequisite task of creating a more egalitarian society in terms of remuneration, power, etc., to avoid abuses by the powerful, seems to make sense before attempting to downsize governments in order to achieve personal freedoms. Most citizens, I believe, would be in favour of minimum government on these terms, but not before.


Dear Editor:
I am not surprised that the American people were lied to. I feel that this is a common occurrence in America—especially when there is a risk for controversy. The American people deserve the blame for voting the Bush administration into office, but for little else. In this day an age, expecting the American public to read—or even think independently for that matter—is wishful thinking. Just because Americans are given the right to bare arms does not mean that all Americans will tote AK-47’s everywhere they go. Just because Americans are given the right of free press and free speech does not mean that Americans will responsibly embrace these rights.

Sincerely,
Mike Schneider

Aw, look mate. Everyone acts from their innermost principles - whether those be religious, rational or whatever. But not everyone is a politician. The question here relates to politicians and politicians must stand on "polity" as their faith. In the case of the US of A that 'polity' is your Constitution. That is the sine qua non of your politicians' faith - unless they run on a platform of amending or scrapping it (but US presidents actually swear to uphold it...so that last exception won't work). Who cares what their personal 'moral' principles are, as long as they do the job they swore they would do? Remarkably, that's the situation most workers in the US are expected to uphold...company policy. G'day from an observer down under.

It’s always about control from the perverted leftist, the religious right, the fanatical suicidal zealots, and the humanist secularist. Those who quote the dead with a convenient vehicle of a sort of general soft message of morality. With a glazed over look of being blinded by mere inexperience of the world in they’re classism, ethnic identity, regional relations to the ambiguity of culture and the land. The attempts of trying to objectify humanity in all its variables, hypocrisies and inconsistencies are an anathema. Faith is in things hope for and things not seen there for faith is blind and unsubstantiated but necessary for a healthy emotional survival to avoid the constant contemplation of death. There will never be a separation of church and state because that is human nature and the struggle will be eternal or as long as there is all this over population. In terms of politicians they are nothing more then failed lawyers turned semi-motivational speakers or very bad sales men. Our little popular media appointed leaders shouldn’t even be mentions with in the same breath as a Buddha or Jesus. But you could mention them in the same breath as Mohammad who founded a religion by war, pillage and rape through three continents and continue to do it till this very day. In they’re eye we have always been muslims waiting to not to be converted but reverted. I fear that we will need a serious degree of Christian militancy to again counter the invasion of the savage hordes from the filthy east. “Gods reasoning is not man’s reasoning”- Old Testament, and that means that sometimes people have to die. I don’t see how the viewer could focus on just an incompetent disjoined government especially when they’re popular vote doesn’t even count. In his old age Thomas Jefferson called for constant revolution because tyranny, which was in England developed here, it’s called government keep it or get rid of it do something or shut up and do nothing complaints aren’t solutions.

[ Why is this blog censoring me? My post has been ignored for more than 24 hours. Don't you think others can argue affectively against me? I resubmit it...]

Why is Bill Moyers allowed an hour-long conservative bashing show each week, paid for by public dollars? In his biased reporting, if it isn’t secular, it isn’t good; the administration couldn’t just have policy differences, they are liars and thieves. His guests always agree with him, and are one sided, never countered by another opinion. If you’re liberal and tune in, you’re going to hear exactly what you want to hear, unchallenged arguments about how terrible conservatism is, whatever the topic.

Didn’t Bill already become very wealthy on his previous public dollar shows? Why are we continuing to pay for such “thoughtful”, “nuanced” liberal tripe? His shows wouldn’t make it on any commercial network, because it wouldn’t get ratings. He’d have lower ratings than Olberman or Scarborough does, both of whom barely holding on to a show.

Maybe Rush, Glenn Beck or that idiot Savage should get a PBS show for balance?

Bravo, A. Whitten!

For those of us aware of it, faith is an inner-knowing, a reaonsed acceptance of a greater power in this universe, a power for good, a positive, loving, accepting power for the whole of humankind.

We are not blind, nor do we accept our faith blindly. Quite the contrary. We doubt. We fight against it, fight to hold it fast. In light of the Darfurs of the world, the Jim Jones posturers who are ego-driven, ours is a struggle to find--and keep--some faith-based (oh, that phrase and the prostituting of it!)center in the face of madness.

We are neither naive nor ignorant. We are critical thinkers. Some of us are profoundly intellectual. We are able to see past human emotions of rage, envy and self preservation. We recognize that drive, deep within us, to honor the very real intuiting that tells us that the suffering of one of us--anywhere on earth--diminishes us all. We are responsible.

We can grow past the labels of "Christian", "Muslim", "Hindu", "Jew" and embrace that force for good, sacrifice for it.

Your post reminds us all that the worth of faith lies not in the label we give it. It lies not in the wearing of that label one day a week in some church or mosque or temple. The truth of whole faith lies within us; the "moral compass" too often lifted up falsely for convenience in political or religous rhetoric, too seldom lived out in a world given to an "Us against them" philosophy.

We are, all of us, in this together. When we rise to accept the faith that would have us embrace our common humanity--whatever we choose to label it--we might rise above the lies, the greed, the intolerance that leads us from one inhumane debacle to the next. The Falwells and the Robertsons among us will lose their power to corrupt what is best in us.

And we will no longer have the need for blame, for trying to justify what we have done in the name of God.

As a Christian, I find the use of my religion to justify random acts of war and exclusion to be as illegitimate as insisting that the universe was created 6,000 years ago. My personal belief informs everything I do, on some level. Those who claim to be Christian and yet do everything within their power to beat the drums of war, trash gays overtly and other minorities covertly, undermine science and ignore potential catastrophes lurking on the horizon for our children, are a dangerous lot. Too often, religious faith is veiled in ignorance. I have yet to find many shining examples of the poor, homeless Nazarene who founded my faith--at least within the grand mega-churches that dot the landscape.

I worship a God who is not intimidated by science. I worship a God who cares for the poor and demands, through the very laws of nature itself, that we preserve the limited resources of this small planet. Are we the center of the universe? I seriously doubt it given the grand scale of hundreds of billions of galaxies. Nevertheless, we are part of the Great Chain of Being and intricately attached to it in every fiber of our being. For those who use their Christian faith to exclude others and to amplify ignorance, I say (in every sense) shame on you!

The world sees through that smoke screen. If you were more loving, as Jesus was loving, then maybe the criticism seen on this website would be diminished.

If your faith is filled with legalistic fury, please leave it at the courthouse door. However, if your faith informs your belief that every citizen is worthy of respect and all the basic protections granted to those much more wealthy, then please bring it with you to whatever public office you occupy without proselyting. If you vote based on God-guns-gays, then we have a completely different understanding of our faith, and I would greatly appreciate it if you wouldn't tarnish Christianity by inflicting such horrid views on the general public.

I believe the basic and deeper problem today with what is called the "christian right wing" is that they are not Christian. Nobody has manipulated language as well as the right wing in the U.S.Christians follow Christ who said "love one another." WWJD? He would not start a war in Iraq. Real evil is evil that looks good and attractive to people from the outside, but is rotten on the inside. In my opinion, that's the modern republican party.

"Should a politician be expected to keep separate his/her personal faith from the political arena"?

In as much as the belief is peculiar to a specific religion, yes, of course, if the politician professes to be a true democratic leader. Religions have have a number of basic guiding principles in common, however, including the golden rule and a number of the 10 commandments. The media tends to highlight religious differences, not the commonalities. Compliments of Information Clearing House for the following assemblage:

Confucianism
Do not do to others what you would not like yourself. Then there will be no resentment against you, either in the family or in the state. Analects 12:2

Buddhism
Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. Udana-Varga 5,1

Christianity
All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye so to them; for this is the law and the prophets. Matthew 7:1

Hinduism
This is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you. Mahabharata 5,1517

Islam
No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself. Sunnah

Judaism
What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellowman. This is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary. Talmud, Shabbat 3id

Taoism
Regard your neighbor's gain as your gain, and your neighbor's loss as your own loss. Tai Shang Kan Yin P'ien

Zoroastrianism
That nature alone is good which refrains from doing another whatsoever is not good for itself. Dadisten-I-dinik, 94,5

Religion is and always has been a mechanism for inclusion or exclusion of the dreaded or revered "other". If you subsitute any other word for a diety, let's say, flower, the absurdity of religion with all its baggage becomes self evident.

Well Nelson, that was a thought provoking post. I don't necessarily agree with you, but you raise some good points. I think that the more humans abandon their idea of 'God' as an entity in the heavens, as envisioned in the Bible, and begin to see 'God' as everything, the closer we will come to the reality of the situation.

I can't understand evil or any such concept because it would have to exist outside of the totality, outside of what is. Everying, every atom and molecule that exists, is part of the greater thing. It is that greater thing, with its 'ten thousand' parts, which I would (reluctantly) call god. It is you and I, the sun and moon, the asphault on a hot summers day, and the layer of ice on a frozen pond...nothing can be which is not part of the one.

Hence, I reiterate my idea that evil cannot exist, and that all that is, simply is part of the whole.

Anyway, I appreciated you comments.

?
WHO AM I?
These are questions pondered thru the ages by philosophers, scientists and those
seeking spiritual enlightenment.

A fifth century B.C. philosopher, Parmenides, held that reality consisted of a
single unchanging substance,without beginning or end, and that our senses are
unreliable in perceiving reality; the world we think we know is just illusion.
This is much like the pot attempting to comprehend the potter. One might say
that which is, is. This is how we reference GOD.

We have come to associate our identitiy with the physical body and its attributes
of gender,ethnicity,religion,social status,politics and knowledge. As the physical
body has a finite lifespan of a century or so it is not a permanent vessel to contain
this life-form. Attending the funeral of a loved one you instantly know that that person
is no longer present, what remains is just lifeless flesh. The life form that animated that body is part of an eternal entity, now separated from the physical form and world for which its physical body was designed.

Two of the great myths of our time are religion and politics. A myth is not a literary creation or fairy tale, but starts with a central truth which is subsequently obscured and altered by layers of speculation, explanation or spin. This can be likened to formation of a pearl where a grain of sand enters the oyster which reacts by covering the sand with pearl. A myth starts with the truth or inspiration,the grain of sand, which is later covered over.Unfortunately, we believe most strongly in what we understand the least.

The political myth is the original truth that it was the tribal leaders duty to insure the wellbeing of his people; while today it is a reverse situation, where politicians and rulers
exist for their own benefit. The people are subservient.

The religion myth is that GOD wrote a book and gave it to man to study and memorize so salvation and passage to heaven could be earned. The original revelation or truth disclosed to the original seekers, like Abraham, Jesus and Mohammed, was that there is one GOD and only one GOD. Once these truths were written down at later dates, the original truth was covered by layers of speculation and explanation creating the myths present today.

Clearing the debris we have the basic truth: THERE IS ONE AND ONLY ONE GOD.

If this is true then GOD IS. That which is,is.

The basic truth: reality, GOD, I AM THAT I AM, creator, are all ideas that we cannot really comprehend. The GOD of the bible is a myth (remember the pearl), where He capriciously created storms, poverty, death, etc. to punish us. If we remember that this physical body has evolved for temporary life on earth and the real life is in us and is eternal and joined with GOD, we can grasp that we are all ONE, with and in GOD.

Thus GOD cannot be up there or somewhere else but here and now.

This realization that we are all one with each other and the earth with all its animate and inanimate forms can change the way we view the problems we face every day. The woman squatting in squalor on the ground in Africa is our sister and our status is limited by her condition. We are our brothers keeper. Our Father which art in heaven is here, but we cannot see.

We live in a world of myth, fantasy and illusion. To observe this simply close your eyes and the depravation of vision input creates a temporary confusion in your mind which attempts to fill the void with images and illusion. To enhance this one can now enter a meditative state, observing your thoughts without emotional involvement. This brings us a little closer to reality.

The truth is the key to unlock the myth of religion. Religion is a real part of our world where we seek refuge and truth in the illusion; religion seeks to explain the unexplainable. Reading the bible with the insight of the basic truth of ONENESS will enhance our interpretation of the scriptures. We all have needs: if hungry we seek food; if
distressed we seek relief in the form of pills,drink,companionship , or religion. We should study the scriptures not worship them. Seek first the Kingdom (truth) and all will be added.

We may think we know and understand, but this,too, shall pass away.



Vic, you've got it right. Defending the rule of law, and the drafting of new laws based on two basic principles of an enlightened society; reason and compassion, should be a politician's only concern.

And good god, one could write a book on the condescending ridiculousness of the Bush quotation above.

As a community college professor, I'm often surprised to find pro-Church-State opinions among other public school teachers since, IMO, it is blatantly anti-constitutional and flies in the face of the philosophers who founded public ed. in the US. I'm Jeffersonian in that I support his Bill for Religious Freedom:

"No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities."

Recently, a union-busting group on my campus promoted alternatives such as The Christian Educator's Association International. This is a group that would differ with Jefferson's proposed bill (I guess it never passed?)...but still opt not to pay taxes.

I suggested that people who don't subscribe to Jefferson's Bill of Religious Freedom should work, say, at Phoenix U, USC, Yale or BofA - just don't pass any two-dollar bills.

If my union promotes religious freedom, it's right-on, as far as my educational/constitutional orientation is aligned.

However, the response I got was that I was "stereotyping and coming dangerously close to hate speech." How's that for the old switcheroo? When Moyer's program mentioned that the DOJ civil rights office was now prosecuting cases of religious discrimination, it certainly rang a cold, shivering chord in these old bones.

g

"I recommend that anyone who wishes to learn the facts about Robertson read this book: The Most Dangerous Man in America: Pat Robertson and the Christian Coalition, by Robert Boston. (1996; Prometheus Books, 59 John Glenn drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197)

In his 1986 presidential campaign, Robertson claimed that he was a "combat Marine" who had served in combat during the Korean War. This claim was a lie, typical of others told by Robertson. However, this was one lie that he could not get away with -- there were Marines who knew Robertson and who knew the truth.

The following is a chapter from the book The Taking of Hill 610 And Other Essays on Friendship, by Paul N. McCloskey, Jr. (1992; Eaglet Books, 580 Mountain Home Road, Woodside, CA 94062). In this chapter, the author lays out the facts of Robertson's Marine Corps service. Pat Robertson's father was a US senator who intervened with the Marine Corps to have his son assigned to duty in the rear, away from combat. Robertson served in Korea as the "liquor officer" -- responsible for keeping the officers' clubs supplied with liquor. There he also was known to drink himself and to frequent prostitutes -- he even feared that he had contracted gonorrhea."


The leader of Regent leads by example, indeed.

Mr. Gillespie left me with the impression that libertanism is anarchism for those who've already got theirs.

Religion is personal but all our actions affect others. "By their actions you shall know them" is a good guide.
Another: "If a TV Camera followed you for 24 hours, say, the last 24 hours, will they have recorded actions, symbols, assertions or nothing that you believe about your faith"?
If your actions do not represent you, you are a phony, why should any listen? [The "you" does not refer to Mr. Moyers, it's the impersonal "one".] In short, I am not interested on what anyone says they believe. Actions speak louder than words.

I have struggled all my life to understand religion and the concept of faith. My parents were not religious people but my mother exposed me to religion as a young boy. I believe at the time she felt it was necessary for a childs normal development to have some sort of basic Christian indoctrination. I recall attending Catholic mass and being very creeped out by the whole thing. It felt more like a claustrophobic funeral ceremony than anything else. I dont know how anyone can come away from that with anything other than nightmares. Then my mother exposed me to the Methodist church which was much more light, airy and uplifting. But I still felt that something was wrong. Even at that age I just didnt buy into the delusion.
I truly believe that most adults involved in religion or church, deep down inside they really dont believe it, they just dont have the courage to say so. Pretending to believe and attending services makes it easier to get along in society. And I am sure it is a good place to establish contacts.
While the basic message of Christianity sounds good, these fundamental principles are rarely practiced. I have witnessed more hate, bigotry, greed, murder and genocide based on religious differences than for any other reason.
I just dont understand how a fully functioning, reasonably intelligent adult can base their life on the murky and fantastical campfire stories of a bunch of bronze age Sumerian goat herders. There are five year old children walking around today who know more about the world than the people who lived at that time. And yet their words are taken as wise and holy. They didnt know anything.
If humans are ever to evolve into a prosperous, peaceful, just and caring race, that treat one another kindly and with respect we must learn to leave religion behind us. Leave it in the Dark Ages where it belongs.

Daniel Fjeld

I detest Pat Robertson and his ilk so much that I was not able to watch Bill Moyers in its entirety Friday night as he examined the influence of the religious right in the White House and beyond. I felt the same way about watching its segment on Mormonism. I watched part of it in increments.

The threat of the subrogation of the state to religion -- any religion -- is, to me, like returning to the Dark and Middle Ages. Mankind has fought long and hard to plow its way from the torturous path of kingly and papal tyranny through to the Magna Carta, on to the Renaissance, to the Reformation, Age of Reason and Age of Enlightenment only to have all those centuries hard-fought-for rights, cultural and scientific advancement rendered worthless by the institution of a George Bush presidency. Bush, a cerebrally inept and incurious man with many psychological
debilitations, has with much help, attempted to return humanity to its most repressive and intellectually bankrupt past. I can barely watch it happen. Pat Robertson's flock literally taking up residence in the White House is a sort of blasphemy to me except not of the religious kind but of an intellectual variety. It is almost more than I can endure.

Of course, to close one's eyes to its occurrence is to remove oneself from perhaps having some influence to prevent the backward motion of history. When three of nearly a dozen Republican candidates actually raise their hands to indicate they do not believe in evolution reflects the catastrophic danger these people present. Perhaps the law of historical gravity will prevail and present culture will not fall on the sword of the ignorance of drunken religious bliss. Perhaps, we will be saved this time by an intellectual messiah of reason rather than be sacrificed at the alter of stupidity.

Dear Mr. Moyers,

Enjoyed your visit to the LBJ Library in Austin a couple of years ago. Again, "Thank you for keeping critical thought alive in this country." So happy to see you back on the public discussion and debate scene.

It seems to me that religious faith or philosophy, for that matter, whether or not it exists and functions within a structure of some kind, does by its very nature inform who a person is and what a person chooses to do. That would include political action.

But if one is also an elected official, that is, with power to act delegated by the people, they are accountable not only to their own conscience, but also to the people who have entrusted them with power over their own lives. Therein lies the crux of the matter and the source of tension within the individual who finds themself in such a position.

It seems to me that the basis on which any decision would be made, therefore, would be the Founders' documents: the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which includes "Freedom of Religion" (not Freedom FROM Religion).

As I have always understood it, this "Freedom of Religion" was meant to simply guarantee that each person would be assured their right to worship according to their own conscience, and at the same time, gurantee that the nation would never be torn asunder by wars over religion, as Europe had seen. It did not mean that any ordinary citizen or elected official was expected to disengage his or her religious faith from their political life.
It did mean that no elected official or government could use their position of civil authority to impose their or any other form of religious belief on others.

As I used to tell my high school Confirmation students often, "My right to act as I freely choose ends when the rights of another person begins".

So as I would see it in the current debate, a politician who is moved by their faith-values and beliefs has also a moral obligation to respect the right of their constituents to be represented. So what are they do to when there is a conflict between their conscience and that of a majority of constituents?(And "majority" is important here, of course).
An obvious case in point is the ongoing abortion debate in this country (and others).

Many politicans of faith as well as their constituents believe strongly that an unborn human life is in process of development from the first moment of conception. Accordingly, they also believe that an unborn child shares in the guaranteed "Right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" protected by our Founding documents and traditional way of life.
Others believe strongly (even many of religious faith) that in the first stages of existence, that "new life" is merely a group of cells, an undeveloped and indistinguishable life form, but not a human being. Their position as to when it would become "protectable" under law or even if it should be protected at all is not clear, however.

Still others would look the other way as a nearly fully developed and viable "fetus" is destroyed by one method or another based on the will and choice of the mother.
Such is the variety of belief in many places today.

We know that the practice of disposing of an unborn or newborn child is nothing new to human history and was practiced by the ancient Greeks, for example. If the child were a girl, she was simply left outside to die of exposure to the elements. Only boys were chosen to live. This was an acceptable way of life in their society, but such an action today in this country is still seen as a grave neglect of care for a child whose right to proper treatment and life is guaranteed by law. Moral consensus among peoples change with time and place.

The abortion debate is perhaps more diffult for most people to resolve when the "life form" is in the earliest stages of development. The propositions in the debate have most often been made by philosophers or theologians, people expressing defined values and/or religious "truths" or faith. In the field of science, where fact based on evidence is the foundation of certainty, "belief" is no longer required for some. For them, the "scientific facts" speak for themselves and spirituality has nothing to do with the arguments. But sometimes scientific debate rages within its own boundaries of thought processes and research making consensus and scientific certainty an unattained goal.

I think it can be stated that scientists in general, for example, have yet to agree to define objectively and factually, the moment at which a group of cells can be said to be a "human life", a "human being" endowed with all those
"inalienable rights" guaranteed by the Constitution and Bill of Rights, including the Right to Life.

The abortion debate has gone on for literally decades, and is only one example of many that involve the influence of religious or philosophical values in legislating.
When the citizenry in this country have come to a true consensus of opinion, or to a true majority opinion with regard to the abortion issue and others, legislators will have either a more serious difficulty or an easier choice in voting for or against such laws. Their own consciences will either resonate with or oppose that concensus with regard to abortion and other issues, among them perhaps even the practice of the death penalty--the "other" pro-life issue. So concensus may not make their decision any easier.

I suspect that until then, the philosophical and theological debate will continue to go on, as will debate about the proper relationship between the faith of elected officials and the power they have been given to act in the name of their constituents.
And the people of this nation will sort out their values and beliefs they hold in common. Ultimately, each one will make that decision for themselves as one bill after another comes up for their consideration and vote. For those who legislate in the name of the people, their challenge will be to reconcile the right they have to their own conscience informed by faith or philosophy, the facts as presented by the best expertise they can summon, and the convictions of the majority of their constituents under the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Such is the nature of representative government.

Our Founders did not guarantee that the "great American experiment" would be easy to implement, even though they knew it was preferable to life under a tyranical monarchy. I think it can be said that they trusted that the same God who is the origin of the rights they sought to secure before men would also protect and guide the fledgling nation they had brought to birth. And no matter if the basis for it be faith or philosophy, I think every American also bears hope in their heart that the nation will continue to struggle together toward that Vision of our Founders. As we journey through our history, I hope that in the last analysis it is the one belief upon which we can all agree.

Mr. Moyers, thanks for your honest and insightful reporting and commentary. In my opinion, you were too deferential to Mr. Gillespie's claims in your follow-up segment to "Faith and Politics," particularly in not debating his counterclaim to your worry on free markets and income disparity. I also wished you had pressed him in his wish to remove government from "the boardroom." PBS features have shown many different corporate actors working in symbiosis, unfettered by strong government regulation, to create a perfect storm of fraud and deception in, most visibly, the Enron scandal (Frontline's Bigger Than Enron, for example). The deregulated energy markets in California were manipulated and emasculated government watchdog agencies did nothing. In this era, after the systemic failures we've seen in the private sector and the greatest income inequity since the Gilded Age, you must be more vigilant in questioning Gillespie's ideologies. Particularly in health care, no respected expert could argue that a free market approach is fairer and more efficient to a nonprofit system. I urge viewers to read Paul Krugman's analyses of health care and free market ideology for more information. Thanks.

I'm wondering how many of the commentators voted for the present administration not once, but twice. This administration has had 8 years to tailor the law enforcement (or lack of it) to their own ends, many of which are at odds with the fundamental ideals set forth in our Constitution. Wake up America and vote, Vote, VOTE.

The crux of this issue for me came when one of the new grads from Regent stated that she was not out to push her brand of religion on others, but to show people the truth, or as she put it "gods truth". That says it all for me.

What she considers truth, I consider her opinion, not fact or truth. So, instead of taking her law degree and practicing it to make sure the law of this country is represented in whatever capacity she chooses, she is going to push "gods law" in seeking to define justice.

That is not only wrong, especially in our secular democracy, but it speaks of pushing an agenda that is not in the best interest of the law itself. The bible afterall, to simplify it, is just a book; not the law of this land, and certainly not the blue print for how the country is run.

When will people understand that the true intent of people like Robertson, Falwell, etc. is not just to have a piece of the pie, but to make the pie, bake the pie and eat the pie. There is no compromise here in terms of what they think is right or wrong.

There is absolutely no place for one's religious belief when it comes to the law/politics of this nation. It can guide YOUR morals, but not mine or anyone else's. And making it into law only pushes the constitution to the side and ignores the freedoms of the masses.

I am a Southern woman, a mother of three, grandmother of seven. I'm a mainstream Methodist who attends church regularly. Unlike George W., I had no "epiphany" in my forties that either sanctified or certified me as a spokesperson for Christ. I did not exchange one addiction for another.

There is a difference between faith and religiosity. We would be wise to know that difference.

What this administration, along with the Robertsonisn/Falwellian/Dobsonian crowd, has done is to co-opt religious faith, bend it to suit personal/political aims and narrow the moral universe to a singular war against "the liberal homosexual agenda", desperate women and anyone whose faith is not of the right-wing fundamentalist variety.

This is not religion. It is certainly not faith.

There is a nexus where faith and public policy meet; a healthy one where personal faith informs our politics--and religiosity does not dictate them.

It's about humane policies at home and abroad. It's about community over conflict, tolerance over condemnation, understanding over ignorance. It's about serving rather than being served.

And it is, always and ever, about "The least of these..."

If our faith informed our politics we'd have been investing our national treasure in programs for public health, public education, a decent standard of living for every citizen both here and abroad.

Religiosity, Bush-style, is about power, about dominance and personal wealth; a doctrine that panders to the basest human instincts: greed and intolerance.

What we need is not less faith--it's less self-aggrandizing religiosity.

What emerges from the discussion always is which church is the one we are to separate from in state matters? Fact is religious controls must not be implemented in public policy. Would it be the massive Catholic Church, Pentacostals, Mormons, et al? Where has anyone considered the range of thinking of Jews here, most of whom rebel at the idea of government excessively in our lives. One final comment: one of the commentors here praised how Regency University was helpful to development of Young Republicans and College Republicans. Reality is that the so called College Republicans for the War could not find a recruiting station to back up their phony ardor.

I'm truly afraid that we are witnessing the end of democracy as I have known it...

When communism failed we witnessed the disintegration of the USSR...

with what now appears to me, as the failing of our democracy...

I'm starting to believe that the USA must divide...

I find religion based institutions of education that have a political agenda absurd and disturbing. The paranoid personality, especially that oriented toward excessive religiousity, is, unfortunately attracted to such education. The fact that Pat Robertson, et.al., and President George W. Bush have sought to populate our U.S. Dept. of Justice with a large number of officous and obstreporous law school graduates is appalling in view of the Constitutional structure of our nation.
A note about the idea of God: if God created the entire universe and we are but a very small part, and if God is still active in this universe why is Earth, one planet in a solar system at the edge of a medium sized galaxy among millions of galaxies (or maybe billions) so important? Because humans who wrote the Bible think they are more important than anything else, regardless of the circumstantial evidence to the contrary.
Additionally, if God created the universe, it certainly doesn't need money. Humans, such as Pat Robertson, imbued with faith and having large corporeal needs, seem to desire wealth for their own purposes.
What, at least, our American society, needs is public servants who put ethical humanitarian actions and needs before the desires and needs of a pseudo-religious con game.

Dear Mr. Moyers -
Thank you for saying what I know is true - that Condoleeza Rice is a liar.
I watched Charlie Rose's interview of her, and my one criticism of your
show last night is that you defended Rose. He did not pursue her or
challenge her, and by his implicit acceptance of her statements, he
validated them. He could, for example, have asked her in exactly what way
the Iraqi people had asked us to be there. He did not. He could have
asked exactly what intelligence of other countries supported Bush's
assertions of WMD in Iraq. He did not. etc. Nonetheless, you said things
that no other public figure of your stature has had the courage to say, and
I applaud you. I disagree with Mr Reason, however, in his assertion that
the religious fanatics in this country are not a danger - they are
retrenching, and will not yield.

I cant believe the man behind Reason magazine doesnt vote! Whats wrong with the liberals? I understand that candidates dont appeal to you, but anyone can see Gore was a better choice than Bush!

During the kidnapping and killing of Aldo Moro, Giulio Andreotti, the then Prime Minister and a catholic, had to sign the law that permits abortions. He did sign because otherwise the government would have fallen. He thought it more important for Italy to have a government than for him to have a good conscience.
Interviewed this week about how he feels about this, he said he hopes to be forgiven.

Your program tonight claimed to be getting to the heart of the matter regarding the Iraq war and terror, but never once mentioned the injustice in Israel/Palestine.
King Abdullah II of Jordan told our deaf Congress that the lack of peace and security in Palestine fuels terror worldwide. It is THE core issue, he said.
Singapore's PM begged Bush to bring justice to Palestinians. Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu, as well as Arun Gandhi, say the situation in Palestine is worse than apartheid in South Africa. They ought to know. President Carter was brave enough to criticize Israel in his book, "Palestine: Peace, not Apartheid." Where are your balls, sir?

Mr.Moyers,

It would seem almost necessary to call you by given first name, for you present so candid a broadcast style.

As a fan of yours I was one of many growing up who thought there was a bridge to cross between Christian belief and news presentation, one you had already crossed and perhaps pioneered.

We now see that path has been hijacked, and it's become a bridge to nowhere. As we chat here, more levees flooded and failed in America, neglected by a government wasting it in Iraq. We've learned absolutely nothing since even Katrina, how short a learning curve the world sits on. That curve is the precipice of a cliff that can spiral back to Robber Baron times.

All of the things making America strong then-oceans, resources, dominance of a Hemisphere, are now possible disadvantages in a global model as we use up the reserves to sustain this lifestyle of excess and fail to engage other lands honestly from a point as equals.

That being said, I'll speak directly to the program topic next.

Thank God Bill Moyers is back on PBS. He seems more subdued, but still presents some GREAT jounalism. This IS Free Press, not "Fee Press". I hope PBS gets back to it's roots. I also wish Bill Moyers wasn't on opposite Bill Maher(however, I'll watch 'Real Time' later on On-Demand).

A couple more comments...

1. It seems that Libertarians are part radical-right, part anarchist, and far from centrist. Them that has, has, and later, even more. Them that don't, don't, and later, even less. Any party that woos them, just to get their votes, is the Republican Party, whether they say they're Democrats or not. Taking care of our own isn't just the domain of religion, and will never be easy or painless, and will never be accomplished the Libertarian Way. Creating a healthy and disproportionately large middle-class will also never be easy nor painless and, also, will never be accomplished the Libertarian Way. Libertarians say they believe in free markets, which really means they believe in business without boundaries or borders (including regulation). There seems to be something fundamentally wrong, lacking, and/or unsustainable with that core belief.

2.Whoever, above, said "his brand of atheist, which gave rise to the Nazi Holocaust" is mistaken. Hitler, and many of his associates, considered Christianity to be fundamental to their cause; as do many of today's radical-right.

3. I don't think AIPAC, the Heritage Foundation, or other radical-right organizations have lost influence. Last I checked, they are alive and well, at least here in Colorado, in Washington and the corporate media (CSPAN, too).

My take on Gillespie and his belief in "The Free Market":

Progressives Trust But Verify

Libertarians Trust

Republicans Trust and Discourage Verification

It's not Bush's faith that I have a problem with. It's the way he USES it...completly cynical.

also the notion that god talks to him. as Lincoln said, we all hope that god listens to us. but Bush sees himself as gods instrument....and that is what makes him dangerous.

> THAT GILLESPI GUY CLAIMED HE WAS NEITHER A LIB OR CONSERVATIVE BUT, SPENT THE ENTIRE INTERVIEW BASHING THE PRESIDENT. PBS IS WAY TO LIBERAL FOR ME

Jane - Gillespi is the editor for Reason magazine, which usually follows the libertarian line of thought. I guess you could think of them as 'social liberal, but fiscally conservative'. They're known to not be too friendly to any form of government power, and Reason wasn't too kind to Clinton, either. ;-)

THAT GILLESPI GUY CLAIMED HE WAS NEITHER A LIB OR CONSERVATIVE BUT, SPENT THE ENTIRE INTERVIEW BASHING THE PRESIDENT. PBS IS WAY TO LIBERAL FOR ME

> No disrespect to Michael Gorsuch, but he should be ashamed of his brand of atheist, which gave rise to the Nazi Holocaust.

Adam, where on earth are you getting any of this? 'my brand of atheism'? I don't recall claiming that I am an atheist. I do recall making a few statements about distinguishing between when to go with your religious views and when to put them aside.

> So much for Darwin, Michael Gorsuch.

When did I mention Darwin, Adam Fann? If you really want to know, I think the idea of living life by Darwinian principles is absurd. I have read my previous comment a few times over, and I still can't find the word 'Darwin' (or evolution) anywhere in it.

> Oh, by the way, the bible does not support and advocate the concept of slavery. Maybe you shouldn't speak of things you know nothing about.

I didn't speak of Biblically condoned slavery. I only spoke of Biblically condoned child killing. I think we can all agree that _that_ is going a bit too far, and is probably outside of what most what considerable a reasonable action.

References:

Deuteronomy 21:18-21
Matthew 15:3-4
Mark 7:9-13

People need to know that this isn't just about Regent University and the Department of Justice, and that the phenomenon of neoconservative Republicans infiltrating key positions isn't confined to government.

Mr. Moyers, I hope you'll follow this piece with an in-depth look at Morton Blackwell's Leadership Institute -- particularly, its Journalism program, the same one that Jeff Gannon/J.D. Guckert used as a stepping stone to the White House Press Corps.

Thanks to institutions such as Regent University, groups like the Young Republicans/College Republicans, and organizations like the Leadership Institute, there has been a well-financed, organized effort to tip the scales of democracy in this country in place for years.

Remember, I am only citing examples. Think of a hydra, or a pack of hydrae. Or if you're a Trekkie, think Borg.

Civic-minded Americans are finally waking up to their strategy of multiply and conquer, working to expose every strand of the web jokingly referred to as the VRWC or Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.

It exists, and many of us won't rest until it is swept away.

Nick Gillespie, in his comments, divides Americans into two groups: "religious" and non- "religious". Not only is this simplistic, it demonstrates a lack of Faith. There are no "brands" of Christians. One is either a Christian or one is not. We Christians have allowed ourselves to be defined by whoever drapes themselves in the robes of our faith and yells the loudest. The "Way" of Christ was never meant to be difficult. We tend to relegate Love and Forgiveness to some kind of spiritual scrap pile and allow power, greed, lust and pride to vein our faith like fat in a pork-chop. All we need to confess, as Christians, are the ancient creeds. (Google the Apostle's Creed and the Nicene Creed) I blame the clergy for letting down Christianity by not speaking up for our basic tenets and allowing individual and special interests to bastardize what is the most caring and unifying ideas that mankind has ever known.

More about Monica Goodling, now one of the most famous Regents graduates: ...“You have a Monica problem,” Ms. Ashton was told, according to several Justice Department officials. Referring to Monica M. Goodling, a 31-year-old, relatively inexperienced lawyer who had only recently arrived in the office, the boss added, “She believes you’re a Democrat and doesn’t feel you can be trusted.” ... Ms. Goodling also moved to block the hiring of prosecutors with résumés that suggested they might be Democrats, even though they were seeking posts that were supposed to be nonpartisan, two department officials said.
And she helped maintain lists of all the United States attorneys that graded their loyalty to the Bush administration, ...
-- http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/12/washington/12monica.html

I was really encouraged by the piece on Regent University. It is comforting to know that so many Christian lawyers are being trained and getting into government service. And, the ACLJ is winning some key battles against the ACLU. God Bless America!!

A an American Neo-Pagan I find myself on both sides of this argument. On one hand, I do believe in a deity, though I call Her Goddess and am unaffiliated to the "god" of Abraham that is the center of the Judeo/Christian/Islamic sects. Atheists, on the other hand, want to condemn my religion along with the Abrahamic patriarchies, though nothing in my religion creates the problems they normally ascribe to "religion." The Abrahamists designed their religion to denigrate mine, so I don't have many friends in that camp either. This gives me a unique perspective on the necessity of a wall of separation between Church and State.

Our Constitution is a remarkable document. It creates a social contract in which we all agree to act as if we come from an even playing field with no favor or advantage to any group over another. No matter what belief we hold privately, we agree to come together in recognition that merely being human endows each individual with a set of rights delineated therein, as well as any rights not specified but still reserved to the people. As Americans we agree to separate our public action from our personal belief. Our democracy demands the objective application of the principles in the Constitution, and those are far less ambiguous than our conservative friends would have us believe. My morality will obviously dictate my behavior, but I have agreed not to impose that behavior on those who choose otherwise. As an American, I have a right to oppose any move to restrict my expression of faith or to penalize me for it. I hate what Falwell and Dobson represent, but I respect their right to take take those positions in their private lives or their churches, but they don't have a right to bring it into the public discourse. They are in violation of our social contract when they try to institutionalize their bigotry. Most of the positions advocated by the Religious Right have little or nothing to do with Christian scripture, but the people who follow them know too little of scripture or American History to understand how dangerous it is to bring religion into government. Hitler used Christianity to manipulate the masses, too, and everything he did was technically legal because his group had exploited the fear of the Germans to put through new "laws" that gave them unlimited authority, the same way Bush exploited 9/11 to push through the "Patriot Act" in spite of its complete corruption of Constitutional guarantees.

I have a right to habeas corpus endowed by nature and only named in the Constitution. The Constitution didn't create my rights it only described them, and the Patriot Act cannot presume to suspend it. The fact that everyone in Congress doesn't seem to know that or act accordingly frightens me. That the people who are supposed to enforce our laws commit those violations is horrifying.

The fact that Christians, the most favored group on the planet for the last 2000 years, are crying persecution is a sick joke. It isn't persecution to take away an unfair advantage they should never have been given - it's justice. The idea that so many Americans don't know that their revisionist history is a carefully constructed lie is pathetic. I want to know why schools who teach demonstrably false information are accredited to issue diplomas and law degrees. Any politician or member of the military that places loyalty or zealotry before their allegiance to the Constitution has violated their oath of office and should be instantly removed from their position.

Churches should not discuss political issues, not should they advocate for particular laws or elections. If they do, let them pay taxes. The irony is that their political participation is idolatry, just as the 10 Commandments they want to display everywhere are graven images. If they actually observed and understood their own scripture, we wouldn't be having these problems. People are reacting emotionally because they haven't learned critical thinking skills.

Pray to whomever you want, or don't, but don't expect me to listen to or participate in those prayers, let alone subsidize or enact them into law. If I were in the majority, would you want to be subject to my prayers? Of course, I wouldn't expect you to because we all have the same rights. That's what it means to be an American.

Gillespie is so wrong abut "free", borderless markets - they create wealth for the elites - they create poverty for a lot of the rest and they do not consider health and safety and environmental health at all. They only benefit the rich period. They drive wages down and outsource jobs from the U.S.

I think the word he was groping for when he grudgingly admitted that the government should do a few things "...like some highways..." is INFRASTRUCTURE. And, in the case of the USA's, it's in shocking condition, thanks to anti-government zealots like him and also the rathole $$ of the Iraq debacle.

As a former Christian and now a proud atheist, I agree with those who feel that an elected official should leave his/her religious beliefs out of decisions pertaining to official government business, and everything else for that matter. Reason is much preferred over emotion, which is what religious belief is based on (fear, guilt, and wishful thinking). One has only to study history to understand the hazards of religion.

Familiar as I am with the subject matter, because it is the focus of a website I co-direct, Bill Moyers' report tonight on the religious right was chilling -- especially picturing that sea of law school graduates pouring into courthouses and statehouses.

Although it would have cluttered the narration to explain that opening scene a little better, the chilling details are worth knowing. The so-called national day of prayer has been co-opted by Focus on the Family and allied religious right organizations. They deliberately stage prayer events at government venues, most notably this year, with President Bush. Viewers and readers who want more details on the religious right's management of the National Day of Prayer may find it in a recent report on JewsOnFirst.org.

I am a Vietnam veteran and a proud United States Marine. I can remember vividly being chewed-out in Vietnam when I was overheard asking, "what are we fight hear for?" My Top Sergeant replied, "We are here so that these people can vote in free elections and practice their belief in God." His comment resonated and stayed with me all these years. It seems to me, that if we are to protect those cherished rights in America, we must hold dear that fundamental precept of the separation between Church and State. I want my candidate to be talking policy and issues--not theology.

You cannot simply separate that from their professional life. Anyone who tells you they can, is not a true Christian.

Is it Christian to lie under oath to Congress, and to only hire Christians and "loyal Bushies" for the Justice Department, and to only work for one political party when your employment in the DOJ mandates nonpartisanship? Is it Christian to make torture legal? Is it Christian to imprison people forever without charges? Is it Christian to lie us into war? ...

If it's not, then your religion is being misused for deadly, illegal, and evil ends.

I need to add that no one can separate their faith (if they have one) from their values, but no faith should ever take precedence over our shared laws and Constitution---that's the problem. The Regent graduates repeatedly speak of how God's law is above all, yet they are going into public service. It's not reconcilable, and as we see, our shared laws and rights are suffering because of it.

Plus, lying and crime is not part of any religion's values yet we see way too many professed "people of faith" committing crimes while in public service. Neither is killing, and "people of faith" brought us into this horrendous Iraq debacle. The Pentagon itself is now full of people who speak of "crusades" and being "holy warriors"--it's wrong, criminal, and immoral.

this entire discussion is absurd and accepts rumors and innuendo as indisputable fact but the disaster is most evident when attempting to understand any of these statements accurately.
i invite everyone who is interested, to enquire into the etymological origin and development of the word, "god". (not the "Name") hint!!!

I find this whole episode of this program offensive, not that Christians are allowed to be offended. It seems to be casting all Christians in a "Take over the World" plot. What have atheists and anti-theists been doing for all these years?

A true atheist really wouldn't care about the religious people, I was an atheist for many years. I thought their morality was ok, it was really in the interest of everyone to follow some moral standard, since that is always getting blurred. That's beside the point though.

Point is, a person doesn't practice religion, Christianity is their reasoning, it's who they are, not what they do. You cannot simply separate that from their professional life. Anyone who tells you they can, is not a true Christian.

No disrespect to Michael Gorsuch, but he should be ashamed of his brand of atheist, which gave rise to the Nazi Holocaust. It's a fact that his policies regarding the "Pure Race" were born out of Darwin's Origin of Species, which was designed to prove that only the best should be allowed to survive. When we are all animals, what is it to slaughter them when they are seen as inferior? So much for Darwin, Michael Gorsuch. Oh, by the way, the bible does not support and advocate the concept of slavery. Maybe you shouldn't speak of things you know nothing about.

I'm with reese.

The show on now is excellent and chilling--i don't know if Christians realize that millions of us non-Christians are furious and dismayed and scared that every Federal Agency is now full of people who want to make this a Christian theocracy. It's appalling and dangerous. Faith-based funding was bad enough, and also geared towards Christians. Now we have career civil-service positions subjected to religious litmus tests.

I have no problem with people having a faith that they use to get them throught their lives.

Just don't impose your standards on me.

We have recently seen what FIVE Catholics on the Supreme Court can do to a woman's right to choose. And we all know that the Catholic Church is adamantly against ALL abortion AND birth control except for the rhythm method. Are we willing to let this court majority continue to impose THEIR moral standards on the rest of this country?

If bush is a Christian then I'm Bugs Bunny..

I expect all government representatives to act _rationally_. If they must make a decision or set policy, and there is a conflict between their religious faith and reason, then reason must come first.

Example: if this country is built on the principal of seperation of church and state, one does not ever attempt to cross that line. One does not authorize 'faith based initiatives' or what not.

Now. Let's talk about Obama's 'personal morality'. That has limits, too. There are Biblical references to being good to your neighbor. That's a good thing, and it is reasonable. There are also Biblical references that ask us to _murder disobedient children_. This is unreasonable (to put it lightly), and is therefore unacceptable.

Mr. Obama is clearly only naming the important religious figures that have thrown away the darker scripture and striven to do good. Let us not forget that 9/11 was pull off by religious folks who were committed to changing the world. Bush is also a religious man, and look what he did to Iraq.

So, to be clear: I have no problem if my representative is religious as long as he doesn't let the irrational pieces of his religion interfere with his public service.

As a fervent atheist or you could say anti-theist I am aghast at Christians claiming ownership of our moral standards. The history of the Catholic Church is such that Catholics should be ashamed of their religion. A clear example of how human and societal development is responsible for our moral values is illustrated by the fact that while the bible advocates and supports the concept of slavery we mortals have come to realize that such a concept is in-human and immoral. So much for the word of god.

I respectfully disagree with Barack Obama. You can't have it both ways; either we separate church and state, or we allow politicians to inject their own opinion of morality into law.

That is the defining point, I think. It is law, after all, that politicians write and defend. Law is a social tool for maintaining order in societies, not a means to further ones religious concerns. Take those up with your deity, and leave god out of politics.

I am deeply concerned with the rise of the Christian politic, because it marginalizes those of us who don't believe in God (as he is classically defined). A lawmaker represents all constituents, not only those with whom they agree.

A person of faith should be able to enter the world of public affairs and lead a constituency, but he/she must remember who isbeing served, who elected whom, and to whom is the elexted official responsible. If the people being represented want something that is in contrast with the personal religiousd beliefs of the elected official, he/she must obey the will of the people, or resign in protest.

The Governor of Virginia, Mr. Kaine, opposes capital punishment. The majority of the people who elected him support capital punishment. Governor Kaine has said he will enforce the law of the land. He will try to use his influence to change it, but until it is changed, he will enforce it. This is a good model. Use your influence to try to change laws you consider to be unjust, but, as an elected public official, you may not break the law in the name of conscience. Private citizens may do that, but not public citizens.

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