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Source: (consider it) Thread: Tim Farron
Paul.
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
quote:
Originally posted by Paul.:
quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
I wonder if there's some way for a Christian public figure to explain that a certain behaviour may go against your religious tradition, but it doesn't mean that the people who engage in it are 'bad' in the popular sense.

But I think it does boil down to '"bad" in the popular sense'. Certainly that was always my understanding as an evangelical. To be honest I don't think I've ever come across a Christian who thought it not bad in the popular sense, who didn't also think it not bad in any sense. What would that look like? Something like a food restriction?
But consider premarital (hetero)sexual relationships. Some Christians might see those as sinful, i.e. against God's holy law, yet concede that a colleague or neighbour who lives 'in sin' isn't an especially bad person - or no worse than the rest of us, since we all fall short of God's standards.


First, the premarital heterosexual sexual relationship also being wrong is one of the common 'defences' evangelicals will use. But I also think that not being an especially bad person is missing the point. Because we're talking about act(s) that are considered wrong. Now you may reject the distinction between calling the act bad and the actor but crucially that's the distinction the evos will make. So if you ask an evangelical whether sleeping with your unmarried partner is wrong, they're not going to say "no" on the basis that you're otherwise a good person.

quote:
More broadly, I feel it's seriously problematic for Christians (regardless of what any of them believe is or isn't a sin) to expect non-Christians to live according to some set of religious standards. What this does is secularise Christianity, because it reduces a saving faith in Jesus Christ to a question of 'lifestyles'. The Victorians and Edwardians fell into this trap, and in the long run the Church was undermined.
Well not expecting secular people to live up to Christian standards seems to be exactly Farron's position. But that doesn't mean he thinks it's a moral rule that doesn't apply to everyone, merely that it's one that we shouldn't legislate.

quote:
This being the case, I don't think it's at all wise for evangelicals to elide spiritual understandings of sinfulness with secular, popular, cultural notions of what's 'bad'.
They, and indeed I, would say that it's not them that are eliding those understandings but you, or the culture, that is making a false distinction between spiritual and non-spiritual notions of 'wrong'. There is a distinction, or principle, about where it makes sense to draw the line about where we try to legislate.

Remember that evangelicals believe these things are clear from the Bible and that the Bible is the revealed word of God. But there's a difference between believing something is definitively wrong and believing that it's your place to try to get everyone to comply by means of law. A common idea is that it's up to God to sort all that out at the Second Coming or whatever - "one day every knee shall bow" as the song has it.

And this idea works both ways of course. Plenty of people judge the actions of Christians based on their (the non-Christian's) own standards/beliefs. Not allowing women to be priests for example, is seen as discrimination plain and simple and they're not going to give a pass to those whose beliefs differ because they believe that the idea of equality should apply to everyone.

quote:
Atheism isn't 'bad' in our culture, but it's certainly a 'sin', according to our religion!
But if you believe your religion to be true then you'll believe that the culture have got it wrong and that atheism is bad.

quote:
But it's amusing to imagine that Mr Farron conjured up visions of his evangelical friends every time a journalist asked him an awkward question. I wonder if Mrs May thinks about the CofE in similar situations!
I've no idea if he does. It was just an attempt to make sense of his statements.
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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Paul.:

First, the premarital heterosexual sexual relationship also being wrong is one of the common 'defences' evangelicals will use. But I also think that not being an especially bad person is missing the point. Because we're talking about act(s) that are considered wrong. Now you may reject the distinction between calling the act bad and the actor but crucially that's the distinction the evos will make. So if you ask an evangelical whether sleeping with your unmarried partner is wrong, they're not going to say "no" on the basis that you're otherwise a good person.

I happen to believe it's sinful. But in a general conversation with non-Christians I wouldn't want to confuse that with a secular understanding of what's 'bad'. I don't see what purpose that would serve.

And TBH, I tend to the view that no one is righteous anyway.

quote:
Not expecting secular people to live up to Christian standards seems to be exactly Farron's position. But that doesn't mean he thinks it's a moral rule that doesn't apply to everyone, merely that it's one that we shouldn't legislate.

My sense is that the 'moral rule' can't apply to everyone, since only those who inhabit the Kingdom are bound by the laws of that Kingdom. I don't have to obey Chinese laws unless I'm actually in China.

quote:
[It's] you, or the culture, that is making a false distinction between spiritual and non-spiritual notions of 'wrong'. There is a distinction, or principle, about where it makes sense to draw the line about where we try to legislate.

Remember that evangelicals believe these things are clear from the Bible and that the Bible is the revealed word of God.



I do understand that some people see the state and the Kingdom of God as ideally coterminous. The ancient Israelites were the Chosen People of God. And since the time of Constantine many Christians have identified with the idea of the 'Christian nation', regardless of whether or not the state makes particular behaviours or beliefs legal or illegal.

But others would argue that the NT gives no encouragement to the 'Christian nation' idea. The notion of a vaguely diffusive, nationalistic concept of 'Christian values', which involves behaving in a certain way but has very little to do with faith isn't something presented by Jesus himself, nor by St. Paul. And various commentators, some of whom are evangelical, have indeed found the notion unhelpful and unbiblical, for a variety of of theological and historical reasons.

quote:
If you believe your religion to be true then you'll believe that the culture have got it wrong and that atheism is bad.




Yet what is primarily 'bad', ISTM, is that our nation is not made up of people who are faithful servants of the Most High God. Our behavior is secondary - unless we believe that people are saved by works rather than by faith. And salvation by works rather than faith (regardless of what behaviour constitutes good works) strikes me as a secularising form of Christianity in the long run, despite being very attractive to many different kinds of Christians today.

Be that as it may, I think evangelicals in British politics need to develop a secular, post-Christendom theology of public service that they can argue in a way that won't upset a theologically illiterate populace. It's difficult. Maybe someone ought to write a book on it. But if it's deemed to be impossible then evangelicals will have to leave politics to other people.

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Paul.
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
I happen to believe it's sinful. But in a general conversation with non-Christians I wouldn't want to confuse that with a secular understanding of what's 'bad'. I don't see what purpose that would serve.

And TBH, I tend to the view that no one is righteous anyway.



I'm still bumping on this idea that you have a separate secular understanding of 'bad'. I'm wondering if this is largely a semantic difference so I'd like to try to clarify.

When you say that there's a separate secular 'bad' do you mean the set of things that are commonly agreed to be bad that are shared regardless of religion? Because that's not what I've been taking it to mean. Coming from the starting point of you thinking Fallon could've cited it as a theological matter as a defence, I assumed that you mean that the idea of 'sin' is somehow different from 'secular bad'. So something could be presented as technically a sin but we could all (christians and non- alike) agree it was 'bad'. I realise this may not be what you meant but it's what I took it to mean.

And since for me 'sin' is really just another word for 'bad' (there are shades of meaning but fundamentally) I responded that I didn't think this would work.

If we're using "secular bad" to mean the category of things generally agreed to be wrong then I probably mostly agree with your statement here - and definitely agree it makes little sense to speak to non-Christians about something being wrong when the basis for its wrongness is something they don't share.

Agree about no-one being righteous.

quote:
quote:
Not expecting secular people to live up to Christian standards seems to be exactly Farron's position. But that doesn't mean he thinks it's a moral rule that doesn't apply to everyone, merely that it's one that we shouldn't legislate.

My sense is that the 'moral rule' can't apply to everyone, since only those who inhabit the Kingdom are bound by the laws of that Kingdom. I don't have to obey Chinese laws unless I'm actually in China.


OK. Back when I believed this, I would have said that since God is ultimately in charge we're all Chinese but we're not all delegated to be police or judges. The concept of the 'Kingdom of God' for me, was something that ultimately applies to everyone but only some currently acknowledge.


quote:

quote:
[It's] you, or the culture, that is making a false distinction between spiritual and non-spiritual notions of 'wrong'. There is a distinction, or principle, about where it makes sense to draw the line about where we try to legislate.

Remember that evangelicals believe these things are clear from the Bible and that the Bible is the revealed word of God.



I do understand that some people see the state and the Kingdom of God as ideally coterminous. <snip>



I haven't been arguing for a Christian state. It's possible to believe "this is the standard by which God wants everyone to live" without adding, "and we need to enforce this by law".

quote:
quote:
If you believe your religion to be true then you'll believe that the culture have got it wrong and that atheism is bad.




Yet what is primarily 'bad', ISTM, is that our nation is not made up of people who are faithful servants of the Most High God. Our behavior is secondary - unless we believe that people are saved by works rather than by faith.



Again I would have agreed with this. I wasn't advocating salvation by works. I was merely saying that when I, in former guise as an evangelical Christian, when I would say, "gay sex is a sin" didn't mean anything fundamentally different from my non-Christian neighbour saying, "cheating on your partner is bad". It's wrong behaviour I thought shouldn't be engaged in. My reasons for thinking it wrong were different (God said so). Whether or not I'd think it wise to say it to non-Christians was different, better first as you imply to convince someone that they need to follow God. Fundamentally though I didn't have a different category of wrong called 'sin' which is 'wrong but OK really if you're not a Christian'.

At least not consciously. I have to be honest and say that I now think that there was some cognitive dissonance. I remember struggling with the idea that the only reason I could see it was wrong was 'God said so' unlike most other sins where I could see the harm being done. That's at least partly why I've ended up where I am now, not an evangelical and probably not a Christian (still believe in God, fuzzy about anything else).

So maybe, in practice, I did have a non-secular bad category, at least for things like gay sex where I had to invoke God to explain why it was wrong, but it never felt like I did. And that's the mindset I'm casting myself into when I'm trying to understand where someone like Farron is coming from.

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Matt Black

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Svitlana's comments in her past paragraph, if followed through, would produce an odd dichotomy, in that I expect the majority opinion on these boards would be in favour of evangelicals (and indeed all Christians) applying Biblical injunctions to feed and clothe the poor and hungry, apply justice etc in the public sphere but not on (as interpreted by con evos) sexual matters.

[ 22. June 2017, 10:18: Message edited by: Matt Black ]

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Leprechaun

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quote:
Originally posted by Matt Black:
Svitlana's comments in her past paragraph, if followed through, would produce an odd dichotomy, in that I expect the majority opinion on these boards would be in favour of evangelicals (and indeed all Christians) applying Biblical injunctions to feed and clothe the poor and hungry, apply justice etc in the public sphere but not on (as interpreted by con evos) sexual matters.

Yes, but there is quite a library of Christian liberal thinking about this!

The liberal sees that there are certain roles for the state (in creating a stable society) and certain roles for individual choice (in matters of personal morality) and that the state's role is to mitigate for the freedom of the individual (by making sure they have enough to eat etc.) So I think there's actual thought here which allows for the distinction - it's not just that feeding the hungry is popular and banning abortion isn't.

On the left and right it seems to be quite a novel idea that one wouldn't force everyone to do what you think is right by means of the law/state. But really it's an idea with quite a pedigree and I would like it back!

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lilBuddha
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Giving to the poor =/= taking from the LGBT+
ISTM, Louise and mdjion have encapsulated it best.
A politician with anti-LGBT+ thought and an infective overall record, stated his separation of belief and practice in an unconvincing manner.
It is as simple as that, as much as you might like to bemoan "The Libruls have lost the plot".

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Matt Black:
Svitlana's comments in her past paragraph, if followed through, would produce an odd dichotomy, in that I expect the majority opinion on these boards would be in favour of evangelicals (and indeed all Christians) applying Biblical injunctions to feed and clothe the poor and hungry, apply justice etc in the public sphere but not on (as interpreted by con evos) sexual matters.

In certain cases there may be an overlap between approving of something for religious reasons and approving for cultural ones (e.g feeding the poor). In other cases there won't be. So yes, there's may well be a dichotomy. Each Christian's point of dichotomy will be different.

Abortion is a perfect example of how 'reasonable' Christians may make a separation between their faith and the secular context in which we live. AFAIK, few liberal Christians try to make a theological case for the righteousness or holiness of abortion. They present 'a woman's right to choose' in largely secular terms. True, the primacy of the woman's well-being over that of the foetus has a long pedigree, and that probably has a theological justification. But 'well-being' is now such an elastic term that it's probably difficult to make one theological argument fit all possible definitions. It's therefore simpler, ISTM, to see abortion as a secular good, not a spiritual or theological one.

In some cases Christians choose to act or work on behalf of a cause which they see as a secular good, but not necessarily a spiritual one. Farron seems to have actively supported gay rights. It's unclear that he believes LGBT sexual behaviours or SSM to be completely righteous in a religious sense, but he presumably believes there's a secular good to be gained in liberalising the law on these matters. I think that's a reasonable 'dichotomy' myself, although others seem to disagree.

[ 22. June 2017, 20:05: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
Abortion is a perfect example of how 'reasonable' Christians may make a separation between their faith and the secular context in which we live. AFAIK, few liberal Christians try to make a theological case for the righteousness or holiness of abortion.

It should be noted that for Protestants, the idea that abortion is unrighteous or unholy is younger than McDonalds' Happy Meal. In 1975 you could be considered a conservative Evangelical and publish things like "Abortion is not murder, because the embryo is not fully human — it is an undeveloped person". The idea that there is a unified Christian position on abortion, even coming at the question as Christians, is a fairly recent fallacy.

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stonespring
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:

Abortion is a perfect example of how 'reasonable' Christians may make a separation between their faith and the secular context in which we live. AFAIK, few liberal Christians try to make a theological case for the righteousness or holiness of abortion. They present 'a woman's right to choose' in largely secular terms. True, the primacy of the woman's well-being over that of the foetus has a long pedigree, and that probably has a theological justification. But 'well-being' is now such an elastic term that it's probably difficult to make one theological argument fit all possible definitions. It's therefore simpler, ISTM, to see abortion as a secular good, not a spiritual or theological one.

Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, and Episcopal priest, was the former president and dean of Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA, one of the more prominent (and more liberal) Episcopal seminaries in the US.

She has been reviled by the pro-life media (many of the articles about her also criticize her for being in a same-sex marriage) for her argument that the religious left (or at least the part of the religious left that she identifies with) should reclaim the theological argument about abortion and preach that abortion is a blessing.

She is in particular known for the speech quoted here:

http://www.choicematters.org/2009/04/abortion-is-a-blessing/

Here is a video of her speaking to the National Organization for Women:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jO9DRY3MDOs

Here also is a story of an interfaith group blessing a clinic where the provision of abortions is central to its mission:

http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2015/10/clergy_group_blesses_cleveland.html

And here is the "Theologies Program" of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, of which many US Mainline Protestant Churches are members, which encourages theologians to make a positive argument about why keeping abortion (and other reproductive services) legal and accessible is imperative from the morality of their religious tradition. Look also under the "Religious Resources" tab for perspectives from different faiths and denominations, as well as prayers from those different traditions for women who choose to have an abortion and for other people involved in abortion and reproductive health:

http://rcrc.org/theologies-program/

Although I know less about the "Religious Institute," it appears to be an effort supported by many liberal denominations to inform religious theology, preaching, ministry with pro-reproductive-and-sexual-rights advocacy. Here is their "Open Letter to Religious Leaders on Abortion as a Moral Decision"

http://religiousinstitute.org/open-letter-to-religious-leaders-on-abortion-as-a-moral-decision/

...which because of its interfaith nature uses pretty broad and vague language, but here is an interesting quote:

“the sanctity of human life is best upheld when we assure that it is not created carelessly.”

There are many churchgoing people in the US with moderately liberal politics who would not call abortion a blessing but would prefer to call it a necessary evil, or at best something morally neutral, but something that it would be good to prevent through increasing access to contraception and through indirect methods like reducing poverty, improving education, empowering women, etc. However, younger religious progressives, especially ones that have been exposed to the politics of modern university campuses, appear to me (though I am no expert) to view defending and providing legal abortion as a holy calling.

Part of this is because, as abortion has become arguably the defining shibboleth of Republican and Democratic politics at the national level (there are exceptions to the rule at the local level, though they are decreasing, especially among Democrats), abortion (together with LGBTQI+ rights) has also become the defining shibboleth of how many (though certainly not all) US Christians in progressive denominations believe they should apply their faith in the political sphere.

Note that I am mostly talking about the more socially liberal of the mainline Protestant denominations, who tend to be represented far beyond their numbers in the media as "the religious left," and less so about progressive Evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholics, although there are some progressive members of those groups who make similar theological arguments.

Note also that the movement to use religious language to defend the goodness of legal abortion services is highly intertwined with Planned Parenthood in terms of funding, volunteers, and networks of support. In my opinion, this is not because of some great abortion industry conspiracy as the pro-life media would suggest but rather a natural consequence of the polarization I have mentioned in both politics and religion. Planned Parenthood in many parts of the US is often the only easily accessible provider, not only of abortion services, but of all kinds of sexual and reproductive health services - and this is precisely why it lies at the center of not only the political, but also the religious debate over abortion in the US. I have my qualms about Planned Parenthood's founder's ties to Eugenics and about the ethics of PP being paid for transporting aborted fetal tissue to research centers, although this technically is not selling fetal body parts - but, as with many other areas in the US where the "market" (including nonprofit actors like PP) has filled a vacuum where government has declined to be very directly involved, PP is very often if not always what you work with if you are supporting or opposing abortion rights in the US, from a secular or a religious perspective.

Finally (for real this time) note also that I do not necessarily agree that defending and providing legal abortion is either holy or a Christian calling - although I do believe that Christian morality as I understand it requires a society to make abortion legal and accessible in many cases - at least until reproductive technology allows an unborn child to be gestated to birth outside of a mother's body at any stage of pregnancy (insert your allusions to Brave New World here).

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stonespring
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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
It should be noted that for Protestants, the idea that abortion is unrighteous or unholy is younger than McDonalds' Happy Meal. In 1975 you could be considered a conservative Evangelical and publish things like "Abortion is not murder, because the embryo is not fully human — it is an undeveloped person". The idea that there is a unified Christian position on abortion, even coming at the question as Christians, is a fairly recent fallacy.

A lot of conservative Evangelical Protestantism's movement towards fierce opposition to legal abortion in the US came from the time when leaders of the Evangelical Religious Right realized that Conservative Roman Catholics, who were the main leaders of the anti-abortion movement prior to this point, were natural allies of theirs in their political campaigns for school prayer, against LGBTQI+ rights, against all kinds of sexual liberalism in the culture at large, and against the eroding of traditional gender roles. Religious groups that long had been fiercely anti-Catholic began to see the RCC as a needed partner in opposition to secularism. In later decades, they (and Conservative parts of the RCC) would also come to see the Mormon Church as a powerful and useful ally, despite their much greater theological differences with them (and their continued belief (shared by many here on the Ship) that Mormons are not Christians.
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Matt Black

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Svitlana, the dichotomy to which I was referring was not the spiritual - secular one but, rather, that the more liberal voices are quite happy for evangelicals to wear their faith on their sleeves in the public square when it comes to social action such as feeding the poor but as soon as the conversation switches to sexual ethics, they're expected to STFU.

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Louise
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I don't know anyone who's been killed by being poor and being fed (unless you're stuffing them with cream cakes). I certainly do know or know of people who've been killed or badly harmed by conservative religious positions on abortion and same-sex relationships. Savita Halappanavar, for instance, would be alive right now if it wasn't for a state that bought into religiously-promoted 'pro-life' dogma. I am old enough to know people directly harmed by being unable to get safe abortion access pre-1967.

I know a woman just like me, who tried to kill herself as a teenager because she was same-sex attracted, growing up a few years earlier than me, going to the same school with the same teachers and but being faced by the wall of ignorance and cruelty to LGBT youngsters that came from conservative religious sexual beliefs. I see how things have changed for the better in my lifetime precisely because those attitudes have been fought and to large degree overturned.

I'll certainly give you a round of applause and regular donations if you feed the poor, but if you want to push pro life/anti-gay forms of Christianity, you're on your own. You've no right to do that without the people who are harmed by it pushing back and opposing it, and yes, refusing to vote for your man and help him get elected.

It's a bit much to expect people whose lives (or whose friends and relatives lives) are harmed by those attitudes, to be all nice and polite about it and pat folk on the back for it the way they do for feeding the poor! There is a very important difference.

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Matt Black

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I get all of that but I think there are a lot of con evos who don't. (I accept that 'a lot' is rather vague and anecdotal...)

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stonespring
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To clarify: Are some people saying here that if a politician is Orthodox Jewish or Muslim (or any faith, for that matter), and says that s/he supports all laws pertaining to gay rights, but believes that gay sex is a sin, they would rule out voting for them precisely because of that religious belief and not because of any other words or actions by that politician?
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Leprechaun

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quote:
Originally posted by stonespring:
To clarify: Are some people saying here that if a politician is Orthodox Jewish or Muslim (or any faith, for that matter), and says that s/he supports all laws pertaining to gay rights, but believes that gay sex is a sin, they would rule out voting for them precisely because of that religious belief and not because of any other words or actions by that politician?

That is what Tim Farron is claiming happened to him.
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stonespring
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quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
quote:
Originally posted by stonespring:
To clarify: Are some people saying here that if a politician is Orthodox Jewish or Muslim (or any faith, for that matter), and says that s/he supports all laws pertaining to gay rights, but believes that gay sex is a sin, they would rule out voting for them precisely because of that religious belief and not because of any other words or actions by that politician?

That is what Tim Farron is claiming happened to him.
But with Farron there were some past votes (abstentions, etc.) that may have indicated that although he was on the side of gay rights he had some misgivings about throwing his unequivocal political support behind it. Much has been discussed here about voting for a Christian politician who differentiated between his/her political support for gay rights and his/her religious beliefs on the sinfulness of gay sex. There has been some discussion about a Muslim or (I would presume) Orthodox Jewish politician with similar political stances and religious beliefs, but I haven't heard anyone say that they would rule out voting for a politician of any faith, regardless of party or other political positions, regardless of that person's other words or actions, who believed that gay sex was sinful. The long history of (hateful) questioning whether Jewish politicians were really on "our" side, which has also happened more recently with Muslim politicians (especially more traditional Muslim ones), not to mention similar past issues with Catholic (JFK anyone?) and Mormon politicians, has me very concerned that someone would rule out voting for someone because of a religious belief that the majority of the members of a certain religious groups believed was required, especially when that politician does not live out his/her faith in a way that is harmful to anyone (I am not talking about Farron here, but more generally).
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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by stonespring:
But with Farron there were some past votes (abstentions, etc.) that may have indicated that although he was on the side of gay rights he had some misgivings about throwing his unequivocal political support behind it.

Well, that's the rub, isn't it? If you're gay (or just someone who cares about how gay people are treated) are you going to support a leader who's support of your rights as a citizen is grudging, half-hearted, and unreliable? You might, if that was the only support on offer, but those days are gone.

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The references above to the existence of theologies of abortion are interesting, so thanks for those.

One thing I've noticed is that American Christian liberalism appears to be much more robust, productive and even more extreme than its British equivalent (to the extent that there is one). As stonespring implies, this must be partly in response to the highly visible, vocal and self-confident evangelicalism that the USA is so famous for.

The paradox for Christian liberalism in the UK is that it too would probably be stronger if evangelicalism were stronger. But intense secularisation has rendered almost all forms of British Christianity irrelevant, and despite fearfulness about the 'rise' of conservative evangelicalism, it really isn't significant enough to create any serious backlash among moderate or liberal Christians.

But despite the weakness of British evangelicalism Tim Farron's religious affiliations did raise fears. In future the solution might be for British politicians like him to abandon the small, mysterious denominations that frighten outsiders, join the CofE (not its evangelical wing) and cultivate a low-key, bland religious image. Mrs May's 'respectable' CofE churchgoing didn't alarm journalists, which meant she didn't have to confront endless questions about 'sin'. Consider Mrs Thatcher, who switched to the CofE from Methodism. Methodists are harmless, but a secularised society doesn't know that.

[ 24. June 2017, 18:30: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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stonespring
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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
quote:
Originally posted by stonespring:
But with Farron there were some past votes (abstentions, etc.) that may have indicated that although he was on the side of gay rights he had some misgivings about throwing his unequivocal political support behind it.

Well, that's the rub, isn't it? If you're gay (or just someone who cares about how gay people are treated) are you going to support a leader who's support of your rights as a citizen is grudging, half-hearted, and unreliable? You might, if that was the only support on offer, but those days are gone.
That is why I said that Tim Farron was different from my hypothetical of a political candidate who, unlike Tim Farron, was unequivocal in his/her support for LGBTQI+ rights, but admitted that s/he believes gay sex is sinful. I asked whether the people here who would not vote for Tim Farron would also rule out voting for this hypothetical candidate. I also asked whether this would also be true if the hypothetical candidate were Muslim or Orthodox Jewish. Assume that the hypothetical candidate aligns with your policy preferences in all other areas. The only reason you would have for ruling out voting for this candidate is that s/he said that s/he believes that gay sex is sinful. If someone would rule out voting for someone simply for that reason, I, a queer man that likes to think of myself as pretty progressive in terms of my politics, would find that to be a pretty bad form of religious discrimination.

And I, personally, WOULD rule out voting for someone if they said they believed that interracial sex was sinful, even if they said it was for religious reasons. If I were voting in the US back in the days when many states had laws against "miscegenation" and several large and prominent religious groups preached that interracial sex was sinful, if a politician said that they opposed miscegenation laws and supported legalized interracial marriage and full rights in society for interracial couples (in addition to full support for racial equality in general), but his/her religious beliefs were that interracial sex was sinful - I think I still would rule out voting for that politician, even if s/he were from a religious minority with a history of being discriminated against for their beliefs.

So what I'm asking is, in these two hypotheticals - an otherwise pro-LGBTQI+ rights politician today who believes gay sex is sinful - who may indeed be from a religious minority like Islam or Orthodox Judaism - and an otherwise pro-racial equality and interracial marriage politician in the past whose religious beliefs were that interracial sex was sinful - would anyone here rule out voting for that politician?

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In the UK I don't think 'interracial sex' has ever been seriously posited as a theological problem, although it has of course been socially and culturally undesirable. It's never been against the law AFAIK. There have been mixed-race relationships here since at least Tudor times, and many marriages.

Describing interracial sex as 'sinful' would therefore make no more sense to practising Christians and Muslims (who come in all colours in modern Britain), etc., than it would to the generally irreligious majority. And the rate of interracial unions is quite high now. Where it isn't high, e.g. among Asian Muslims and others, this has more to do with religious differences than race. White converts to Islam have little difficulty finding spouses, so I understand.

But the whole political package would be a problem. Virulent racism is unattractive to most voters. Moreover, it's inevitably attached to extreme right wing parties, whose appeal is also limited. Adding a strange, unknown theology to the mix would just make things even worse! So no, I wouldn't vote for such a person!

Having said that, I'm under no illusion that mainstream British politicians are all about racial equality, or that they'd happily marry their children off to Nigerians or Bangladeshis....

With regards to Muslim or Jewish politicians whose beliefs about homosexual sins go against the culture, I wouldn't refuse to vote for them. But I don't think an openly conservative believer would get very high up in our political system. Sadiq Khan wouldn't be the mayor of London if he'd publicly shared the same views about homosexuality as over half of all British Muslims.

However, I once went to hear a Muslim local politician give a talk in which she accepted that although certain sexual relations were haram in Islam that didn't mean she couldn't respect or work with people who had a different view. The university crowd accepted her answer, and she went on to talk about other things. I was very impressed with her.

[ 25. June 2017, 02:10: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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mdijon
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quote:
Originally posted by stonespring:
To clarify: Are some people saying here that if a politician is Orthodox Jewish or Muslim (or any faith, for that matter), and says that s/he supports all laws pertaining to gay rights, but believes that gay sex is a sin, they would rule out voting for them precisely because of that religious belief and not because of any other words or actions by that politician?

quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
That is what Tim Farron is claiming happened to him.

As others have made clear that account doesn't quite add up for Farron.

But as a general point it's an interesting one - would any of us vote for a politician that had accepted to vote according to our wants or needs but clearly had underlying beliefs that we found problematic.

I think it would come down to trust. If they have these underlying contrary attitudes, can we depend on their support for us irrespective? Circumstances can change, and then what they believe may become relevant. If I trusted that their approach made their supportive stance predictable despite changing circumstances then I might vote for them.

Politicians are claiming to be leaders who will respond to circumstance and challenge. It is their character and belief that we are voting for as well as policy. Leaders can't simply be transferable cut-out figures attached to a policy position.

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When issues like these are spoken about in the context of possible legislation, there's generally a cry for a conscience vote. All well and good, but that's usually accompanied by a complete lack of understanding by many that a person's conscience will normally coincide with their religious views. Farron seems to have gone that extra step of saying that my religious views and conscience are against this, but I shall still vote in favour because I believe that to be the wish of a majority of the population at large. That's a good approach.

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Leprechaun

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quote:
Originally posted by Gee D:
Farron seems to have gone that extra step of saying that my religious views and conscience are against this, but I shall still vote in favour because I believe that to be the wish of a majority of the population at large. That's a good approach.

I think it's more than just majoritarianism. He believes that people should have the freedom in as many areas to act by their own conscience not that of the government. Croesos' post demonstrates that there has been a sea change in liberalism here; from that classical liberal view which values freedom, to a sort of progressivism that says you must personally be able to applaud every type of progress. I think we will be the worse for the loss of the original tradition because it does mean that minority views have no space, not even private space.

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Matt Black

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But what about Louise's point, where a view expressed, even if not acted on, can cause actual harm?

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Gee D
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quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
quote:
Originally posted by Gee D:
Farron seems to have gone that extra step of saying that my religious views and conscience are against this, but I shall still vote in favour because I believe that to be the wish of a majority of the population at large. That's a good approach.

I think it's more than just majoritarianism. He believes that people should have the freedom in as many areas to act by their own conscience not that of the government. Croesos' post demonstrates that there has been a sea change in liberalism here; from that classical liberal view which values freedom, to a sort of progressivism that says you must personally be able to applaud every type of progress. I think we will be the worse for the loss of the original tradition because it does mean that minority views have no space, not even private space.
Much of that is what I was trying, obviously clumsily, to say.

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Leprechaun

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quote:
Originally posted by Matt Black:
But what about Louise's point, where a view expressed, even if not acted on, can cause actual harm?

Are we really willing to ban even privately holding views which may cause actual harm if expressed? It's pretty draconian. I'm not sure I'm even willing to countenance banning their expression, never mind the private commitment to them.

Wasn't the problem in the examples Louise gave precisely that those moral views had become institutionalised?

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Matt Black

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I'm not gay so not sure I'm best qualified to answer that question ie: institutionalisation of such views is/ was the only problem with them? I would suspect thought that there is more to it than that: eg:I can envisage the following scenario: 'benign' Party A tells 'malign' Party B that he agrees with Party B's stance on a certain issue even though he (Party A) personally do anything to 'implement' that stance. Party B however is quite able and willing to implement that stance and, having had it reinforced rather than challenged by Party A, proceeds to do so.

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lilBuddha
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If Farron's view we're privately held, we wouldn't be having this conversation.
The case against Farron has been presented with a great deal more balance than the faux persecution one you two are attempting to present.

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Leprechaun

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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
If Farron's view we're privately held, we wouldn't be having this conversation.


I think you mean were.

quote:

The case against Farron has been presented with a great deal more balance than the faux persecution one you two are attempting to present.

I'm not trying to make a case that anyone is being "persecuted." Rather saying that I fear this marks the end of a certain type of politics that contributed something positive. Some people actually believe in pluralism; shocking but true.

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
Are we really willing to ban even privately holding views which may cause actual harm if expressed?

Which isn't what's being discussed. "Privately holding views" is a very different question from "entitled to hold a position of political leadership".

Riffing off of stonespring's earlier post about racial discrimination I'm reminded of how a lot of Segregationists would claim to accept the legal right of black people to vote while crafting laws that were facially neutral on the question of race (e.g. literacy test, poll taxes, etc.) which somehow managed to consistently disenfranchise the black vote.

I can't speak to Mr. Farron specifically, but in general good faith trust in politicians should be earned, not assumed based on politically expedient public statements. Given the choice, why not choose leaders whose support of your legal rights is unequivocal?

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Leprechaun

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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:


I can't speak to Mr. Farron specifically, but in general good faith trust in politicians should be earned, not assumed based on politically expedient public statements. Given the choice, why not choose leaders whose support of your legal rights is unequivocal?

Speaking of Mr. Farron specifically, the chair of the Lib Dem LGBT group did think he had supported LGBT rights unequivocally.
Read Here

But on your more general question, it's an interesting one, and like Matt, not being LGBT I find it difficult to answer. I can see others would feel that way.

Nevertheless, I can also see it as praiseworthy that someone protects my rights without agreeing with my moral behaviour. It's not a direct parallel I know, but I am much more likely to vote for an atheist candidate who is deeply committed to free speech like Nick Clegg than one who I have, on the face of it, some shared beliefs, but I don't believe is committed to freedom at all like Theresa May. That someone who disagrees with me is willing to protect my rights - I think it's a good thing. YMMV.

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
I'm not trying to make a case that anyone is being "persecuted." Rather saying that I fear this marks the end of a certain type of politics that contributed something positive. Some people actually believe in pluralism; shocking but true.

Political parties take positions. They're for certain things and against certain other things. A phony "pluralism" that insists anything is acceptable is just a formless, pointless mush. If someone votes against extending discrimination protection to cover sexual orientation people are allowed to take that into account when judging their sincerity about supporting the equal rights of homosexuals. "Pluralism" does not entitle anyone to a position of political leadership.

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Leprechaun

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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
I'm not trying to make a case that anyone is being "persecuted." Rather saying that I fear this marks the end of a certain type of politics that contributed something positive. Some people actually believe in pluralism; shocking but true.

Political parties take positions. They're for certain things and against certain other things. A phony "pluralism" that insists anything is acceptable is just a formless, pointless mush. If someone votes against extending discrimination protection to cover sexual orientation people are allowed to take that into account when judging their sincerity about supporting the equal rights of homosexuals. "Pluralism" does not entitle anyone to a position of political leadership.
Who is talking about entitlement to leadership?

Rather, someone should not be ousted from their position of leadership whilst they have always voted in favour of their party's policies, because of personal views they may or may not hold. Particularly a liberal party. A party committed to pluralism should be committed to that.

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
"Pluralism" does not entitle anyone to a position of political leadership.

Who is talking about entitlement to leadership?

Rather, someone should not be ousted from their position of leadership whilst they have always voted in favour of their party's policies, because of personal views they may or may not hold.

You're talking about entitlement to leadership. How someone is entitled to retain a position of political leadership regardless of their views or actions.

quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
A party committed to pluralism should be committed to that.

Ah, the old 'your commitment to pluralism means you have to endorse my opposition to pluralism' dodge. [Roll Eyes]

[ 26. June 2017, 14:29: Message edited by: Crœsos ]

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Leprechaun

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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
"Pluralism" does not entitle anyone to a position of political leadership.

Who is talking about entitlement to leadership?

Rather, someone should not be ousted from their position of leadership whilst they have always voted in favour of their party's policies, because of personal views they may or may not hold.

You're talking about entitlement to leadership. How someone is entitled to retain a position of political leadership regardless of their views or actions.
I'm not sure you know what entitled means. Clearly he was not entitled to the leadership; he had to stand in an election and be voted into the position.

He had a right to be judged in terms of how he implemented his party's policies despite his personal views. Particularly he had a right to be judged in line with the principles for which his party purported to stand.

I guess you could use the word entitled here, but it wouldn't really be a normal usage.

quote:
Ah, the old 'your commitment to pluralism means you have to endorse my opposition to pluralism' dodge. [Roll Eyes]
Sorry. Can't parse this or see its relevance.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:

He had a right to be judged in terms of how he implemented his party's policies despite his personal views. Particularly he had a right to be judged in line with the principles for which his party purported to stand.

And the public have a right to determine whether they believe that behaviour was merely expedient or will remain consistent.

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:


Riffing off of stonespring's earlier post about racial discrimination I'm reminded of how a lot of Segregationists would claim to accept the legal right of black people to vote while crafting laws that were facially neutral on the question of race (e.g. literacy test, poll taxes, etc.) which somehow managed to consistently disenfranchise the black vote.

I can't speak to Mr. Farron specifically, but in general good faith trust in politicians should be earned, not assumed based on politically expedient public statements. Given the choice, why not choose leaders whose support of your legal rights is unequivocal?

But thinking that something is a sin in religious terms can be quite separate from thinking that something should be illegal.

Adultery, in my religious belief system, is a sin. But that doesn't mean I'd make adultery illegal if I were PM. Atheism is also a sin in that belief system, yet I wouldn't ban atheism, or somehow try to disenfranchise atheists!

Politicians in (so-called) democracies exist in social and cultural contexts that they're expected to reflect in some way. In times of rapid change it must be difficult for them to get with the programme. Some will try to turn back the tide, but that's usually a lost cause, unless the society itself is already engaged in that struggle.

That being the case, in a society and culture as secular as mine (Britain) I can't see any sign that a British politician who had illiberal personal beliefs about sexual behaviour would get enough support to impose them on the population at large. Conservative God-botherers may be our modern bogeymen but their numbers here are tiny, and they have no silent majority behind them; the silent majority don't even call themselves Christians anymore.

The USA has a much larger and more vocal evangelical presence so I suppose liberals have to be more alert there. But American religiosity seems to lead to another problem for politicians; rather than religion being a burden for them, they seem to pretend to be more religious than they are. And then when they win office they don't turn America into a fundamentalist dystopia. Secularisation continues apace, as it does in the UK.

[ 26. June 2017, 20:02: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
Riffing off of stonespring's earlier post about racial discrimination I'm reminded of how a lot of Segregationists would claim to accept the legal right of black people to vote while crafting laws that were facially neutral on the question of race (e.g. literacy test, poll taxes, etc.) which somehow managed to consistently disenfranchise the black vote.

I can't speak to Mr. Farron specifically, but in general good faith trust in politicians should be earned, not assumed based on politically expedient public statements. Given the choice, why not choose leaders whose support of your legal rights is unequivocal?

But thinking that something is a sin in religious terms can be quite separate from thinking that something should be illegal.

Adultery, in my religious belief system, is a sin. But that doesn't mean I'd make adultery illegal if I were PM. Atheism is also a sin in that belief system, yet I wouldn't ban atheism, or somehow try to disenfranchise atheists!

Yes, but you can also understand why adulterers and atheists might wonder whether your (hypothetical) publicly expressed contempt for them means that you'll be less zealous in defending their rights. There's a huge gap between "I won't actively do anything to harm those people" and "I will actively support those people as fellow citizens/subjects with full rights".

quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
Conservative God-botherers may be our modern bogeymen but their numbers here are tiny, and they have no silent majority behind them; the silent majority don't even call themselves Christians anymore.

You can't be a "silent majority" if you're making a bunch of religious declarations.

quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
The USA has a much larger and more vocal evangelical presence so I suppose liberals have to be more alert there. But American religiosity seems to lead to another problem for politicians; rather than religion being a burden for them, they seem to pretend to be more religious than they are. And then when they win office they don't turn America into a fundamentalist dystopia. Secularisation continues apace, as it does in the UK.

This would be more convincing if the current crop of American politicians weren't trying to enforce a "Muslim ban".

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stonespring
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In terms of the questions I asked, I repeat that my hypothetical "totally pro-gay-rights politically but personally has a religious belief that gay sex is sinful" candidate is not Tim Farron, despite the topic of this thread, so the particulars of his case do not apply to my question of whether anyone here would rule out voting for that hypothetical candidate (even if every policy position of that candidate aligned with yours).

I think I disagree with Louise that a religious belief in the sinfulness in gay sex is so harmful that we should choose only political leaders that reject it, regardless of their actual policies. But I do believe that a religious belief in the superiority of one race or in racial segregation should disqualify a politician from my vote (aside from, say, a belief from a Jewish politician that Jews should only marry Jews - which, given the possibility of conversion, is not really a belief in racial segregation anyway, and has nothing to do with political policy regardless). And although I would not rule out voting for a politician that opposed women's ordination in his/her faith community, I would also rule out voting for a (ostensibly male) politician who politically supported women's rights but stated a religious belief that women should remain at home to raise children whenever possible or that women should not run for political office. And anyone who has a religious belief that LGBT+ people should be criminally punished for expressing their sexual orientation/gender identity in a society that is overwhelmingly or completely of their faith group, but assents to LGBT+ rights laws in a religiously diverse society, would not receive my vote, because the belief in the sinfulness of gay sex and the belief in the criminalization of homosexuality in any hypothetical society are very different things in my mind.

Part of the reason I am having this discussion is to help unpack why I, as a gay white affluent half-Latino US male who has never experienced much discrimination in his life, not even from personal interaction with clergy and others in the RCC (in my sheltered bubble, I admit), think this way. I suspect it has a lot to do with sexual orientation, although being something that a person cannot change, is something that a person can choose to not act on sexually for religious reasons, just as someone who had a brief and tragic marriage at a naive age early in life may choose to never remarry for religious reasons. Race and gender-assigned-at-birth (despite advances in trans rights) are much more inflexible in terms of a person's ability to escape the effects of the identity imposed upon them by society (no matter whether or not they embrace that identity), because of the phenotypic expression of those traits in one's appearance (rather than behavior) - and, in the case of race, because it is linked to ancestry, which, like appearance, is difficult to escape the effects of in terms of society's prejudices, unjust though they may be. So yes, I am saying that sex is different, although sexual orientation is about much more than sex, I know.

As unlikely as my hypothetical case may sound, there are many politicians who personally are pro-gay rights and vote accordingly, but do not want to risk a) being cast out of their religious communities completely (even if their voting record, as in the case of many RC politicians, has already impaired their communion with their religious community), b) deal with doubt on religious issues like the rest of us and therefore are uncomfortable taking a public theological stance at odds with their religious group, or c) do not want to alienate, not only people from their religious group who may vote for them, but the network of people of the same faith that they work with frequently, not just friends and family but also community leaders that it is important to maintain ties with as part of their job as a politician (especially here in the US).

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
Adulterers and atheists might wonder whether your (hypothetical) publicly expressed contempt for them means that you'll be less zealous in defending their rights. There's a huge gap between "I won't actively do anything to harm those people" and "I will actively support those people as fellow citizens/subjects with full rights".

By that logic, I shouldn't vote Labour at the moment because Corbyn is an atheist, and is therefore publicly contemptuous of religious people, and can't be depended on to 'actively' support their religious rights.

Fortunately, I don't take that view!


quote:
You can't be a "silent majority" if you're making a bunch of religious declarations.



The religious conservatives in this case are the vocal minority. It's the irreligious who are currently the 'silent majority'.

But if the silent majority were Christians they would still be 'silent'. It's their political leaders who would be speaking on their behalf

quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
The USA has a much larger and more vocal evangelical presence so I suppose liberals have to be more alert there. But American religiosity seems to lead to another problem for politicians; rather than religion being a burden for them, they seem to pretend to be more religious than they are. And then when they win office they don't turn America into a fundamentalist dystopia. Secularisation continues apace, as it does in the UK.

This would be more convincing if the current crop of American politicians weren't trying to enforce a "Muslim ban". [/B][/QUOTE]

True. But by banning the Muslims they're keeping the USA a bit less religious. So there's always a silver lining, isn't there??

And Trump adores the Saudis, so he clearly doesn't see all Muslims as unworthy of his love!

[Biased]

[ 26. June 2017, 23:20: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
But by banning the Muslims they're keeping the USA a bit less religious.

But it isn't, necessarily. Because the ban only cares about their name, colour and country of origin. It doesn't take into account Muslims In Name Only, ex-Muslims or non-Muslims with suspicious sounding names.

quote:

And Trump adores the Saudis, so he clearly doesn't see all Muslims as unworthy of his love! [Biased]

He likes money. I doubt he truly gives a shit about religion at all. The countries on the list are ones with which he does no business and excludes those with a track record of supporting terrorists, but also supply oil.

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Doublethink.
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I think any country willing to put up massive billboards in praise of him could probably wrap Trump around their little finger.¹

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¹ Guardian

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All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. George Orwell

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mdijon
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
By that logic, I shouldn't vote Labour at the moment because Corbyn is an atheist, and is therefore publicly contemptuous of religious people

I don't think you can call it logic that leaps from "is an atheist" to "is therefore publicly contemptuous". You could say "in public disagreement with" but I don't see where you infer contempt.

If you had seen evidence with which to infer contempt then it would be perfectly reasonable to count that as a reason not to vote Corbyn.

And if you did count it as a reason not to vote Corbyn I wouldn't consider that anti-pluralistic or intolerant on your part, rather a reaction to Corbyn's (hypothetical) anti-pluralism and intolerance.

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SvitlanaV2
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It was Croesos who introduced the idea of public contempt, not myself.

I'm not sure why believing that adultery or atheism are sins means treating adulterers or atheists with contempt. I don't think it does, but if one insists that to disagree with someone is to be contemptuous towards them, then presumably that also holds for atheists in their treatment of religious people.

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mdijon
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Maybe Croesos is wrong about equating labelling as sin with contempt, but I don't see that you bring that out by linking disagreement with contempt. You would need to argue that calling something sin is the same as disagreeing and carries no greater weight. In which case I'm not sure why we would have the concept sin if it simply meant something we disagreed with.

The argument that we are all sinners isn't terribly helpful since there must be some reason for singling out particular groups and labelling them that way.

[ 27. June 2017, 14:02: Message edited by: mdijon ]

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Leprechaun

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quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:


And if you did count it as a reason not to vote Corbyn I wouldn't consider that anti-pluralistic or intolerant on your part, rather a reaction to Corbyn's (hypothetical) anti-pluralism and intolerance.

I think I would count it as such if it became something like a defining reason over and above his policy positions.
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SvitlanaV2
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mdijon

I agree that we should take contempt out of the equation.

What you seem to be saying, however, is that Christians, by virtue of their belief in sin, are unsuited to public office in secularised countries, because they're always contemptuous of someone. I'm not sure what can be done about the problem of sin, since our theologians are unlikely to abolish sin any time soon!

I'm beginning to agree that Christians should leave party politics to the rest of the population. Muslims could be better suited to it, since their religion doesn't seem to produce such anxieties about what an individual should or shouldn't believe. Perhaps Muslims in public life also work harder on their PR; it's hard to imagine a Muslim LibDem candidate being as flustered and awkward about their faith as Farron was.

Christians may be better suited to political activism.

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mdijon
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I'm fine with Christians in public office, I think though that once they have made public pronouncements on what they believe to be sinful it is very hard to put the genie back in the bottle and say it isn't relevant to them.

I also think that labelling sin has a different force to disagreement. To many the word sin will be linked to evil, hell and the devil.

It's hard to think of an equivalent secular label, but it doesn't seem to me that disagreement is a good equivalent.

I'm a Christian, I disagree with people who oppose mandatory labelling of trans-fats in food, but I don't describe their opposition as sinful. On the other hand I would describe corrupt deals between politicians and the press as sinful.

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mdijon
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quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:
And if you did count it as a reason not to vote Corbyn I wouldn't consider that anti-pluralistic or intolerant on your part, rather a reaction to Corbyn's (hypothetical) anti-pluralism and intolerance.

quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
I think I would count it as such if it became something like a defining reason over and above his policy positions.

That would perhaps be overvaluing it but not intolerant if the word is to have a narrow and political meaning - or I'll describe your intolerance of my intolerance of Corbyn as intolerant and we'll swirl around in vicious circle of meta-intolerance.

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:
I'm fine with Christians in public office, I think though that once they have made public pronouncements on what they believe to be sinful it is very hard to put the genie back in the bottle and say it isn't relevant to them.

In this case, however, the Christian concerned had no wish to make public pronouncements about what was 'sinful'; it was the media who insisted that he do so.

I thought it quite odd, and rather distasteful, that secular organisations were so keen to establish what Farron saw as God's will. The fantasist in me wondered if the Holy Spirit was getting to them; why else would they care? It's not as if the man was planning to establish a theocracy.

I wonder if it was all basically about generating viewing figures/sales/advertising revenue, etc. A dose of controversy about religion gets people going, and it's far more newsworthy than listening to the leader of a slightly boring minor party talk about a manifesto it'll never get to implement. Sex and sin? Far more interesting!

Mrs May's views about sex and sin might've been pretty fascinating as well (and equally irrelevant) if journalists hadn't felt obliged to ask her about more serious things.

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