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This Month's Scripture Verse:

Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
This too is meaningless -- Ecclesiastes 5:10


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For Feb 26, 2014

This post consists of comments which were blocked from a number of different conservative blogs. Please note that because there is less editing in the writing of comments, there can be more errors made than in the regular blogposts

Feb 19

To Collin Hansen's blogpost on the debate between Science and Religion as seen in the Ham-Nye debate on creation. This appeared on the Gospel Coalition Blog.

Why do we insist on portraying the interaction between Science and Religion as a tribal rivalry? We, on the Christian side, seem to speak and act as if we have everything to teach those on the side of Science and nothing to learn from them. However, history shows that such a position is not only wrong, it brings discredit to the Gospel.
And why is it that we have described the debate with Ham and Nye in such a way that both those who side with religion and those who side with science are monoliths. Ham represents only 1 exegetical approach to interpreting Genesis. There are other Christians who believe in inerrancy who would have had a significantly different debate with science than Ham did.

On the other side, there are scholars who could have thrown penalty flags on Nye for some of his comments. For example, Nye seemed to have said that those societies that rely on oral traditions have the same whisper down the lane issues with the oral transmission of information that societies relying on written traditions have. That is not the case.

And both sides proved inductively that scientists coming from either side of that debate can make positive contributions to research.

So again, why do we portray the interaction between religion and science as a tribal rivalry?


Feb 21
To Russell Moore's blogpost on Christian Businesspeople denying public services to a same sex wedding ceremony. This appeared on the Gospel Coalition blog

I would like to offer a different perspective here. First, we should note that us Christians have been taught to emphasize personal holiness and morality while deemphasizing the significance of social morality--the latter concerns sins committed by groups. As a result, a greater quest for personal holiness can lead us to a more spiritually vigilant state and the more vigilant we are about ourselves, the less aware we are of how what we do impacts others. That being said, there are other issues here besides the personal accountability of the person doing photography.
Second, a businessperson who offers some public service must now realize that that public competes/conflicts with personal liberty. One cannot deny public services to groups without being in danger of practicing discrimination.

Third, if one businessperson can refuse to provide public services to a specific group, then there is no reason why other businesspeople can't refuse to provide public services to the same group. And the more who refuse to provide public services to the same group, the more inaccessible those public services are to the people in that group. In other words, the refusal of one businessperson to provide public services can set a precedent for others. And if such a precedent is established, what happens to the individuals in the group who need the public services being denied?

Now, if Christian businesspeople refuse public services to participants in a same sex wedding ceremony, how much more can they refuse services to a couple in a same sex marriage. After all, what is ceremonially celebrated in a wedding is actually practiced in the marriage. In the ceremony, we say words. In the marriage, we perform actions. Thus, there should be a stronger reaction to the marriage than the ceremony. And if that is the case, then why shouldn't Christian businesspeople feel free to refuse provide lodging, provide housing, or provide food service to a couple in a same sex marriage?

Is the above a realistic possibility? Consider that both Kansas and Arizona are considering bills that allow people to refuse to provide public services to same sex couples if those providing the services have religious reservations.

Now suppose that Arizona and/or Kansas passed the above legislation. How similar would what would be practiced in those states be to what was practiced during Jim Crow?

Now, certainly the person's conscience must rule the day here. But realize that the state has a valid interest in protecting any legal group's access to public services. Thus the state has a valid interest in identifying and combatting discrimination and thus eliminating group privileges in favor of promoting equality. On the political Left, we have had people go to jail, voluntarily in some cases, because they followed their conscience. Now for the person in this dilemma, would they like to rethink?


Feb 25

To Andrew. Walker and his blogpost on the consciences of Christians who are asked to provide public services to same-sex weddings. This was posted on the First Things blog

Speaking as a Christian Fundamentalist, the typical view expressed here by fellow Conservative Christians shows a strong tendency in many of my fellow Fundamentalists that they can only see what is happening to them. And the problem here is that it prevents them from doing something very Christian: loving one's neighbor.
We have been taught to focus so strongly on personal holiness that we have become hyper-vigilant as to our own spiritual state. So personal holiness becomes like a mirror that keeps growing and growing as we notice something else about ourselves that needs fixing. And we allow this to happen oblivious to the fact that our mirror can become so big that we can't see our neighbor.

The point being that one's scruples over whether one is supporting a sinful wedding is not the only issue. And, in fact, if Christians are truly concerned about not participating in sinful weddings by providing goods or services, then there would be other weddings to boycott too. Those weddings would include a Christian marrying a nonChristian or a wedding where at least one of the partners was divorced for unbiblical reasons. 

What my fellow Christians want here is legal protection of their religious liberties. But the corollary to that is that others could deny public services to gays as well so that such public services become impossible to obtain for some or even all homosexuals. This is where Christian businesspeople who want to refuse gays public services are starting to emulate the Jim Crow laws of the past and even present.  And that a number of states are considering legislation to expand the right to refuse public services to gays for all businesses provided they can demonstrate their religious scruples as being the cause for their decision proves the corollary. 

One other thing has to be added here. The reason why Christians do not have these scruples over other unBiblical weddings is because of the exaggerated gulf between heterosexual and homosexual sins Conservative Christian leaders have created in the minds and hearts of their flocks. It isn't that homosexuality, and thus same-sex marriage, is not strongly condemned in the Bible. It is whether the degree of difference between heterosexual sexual sins and homosexual sins has been unBiblically inflated so that the decision to participate in sinful heterosexual weddings is tolerable but participating in same-sex weddings is equated with attending idol worship at a temple. Is there a difference between the two? Yes. Does it justify saying yes to one and no to the other?

Consider that our society has experienced a growing tolerance to homosexuality. Back in the day, homosexual practices were criminalized. Then homosexuality could be an adequate reason to terminate employment--their means of making a living and possibly supporting a family. Then, it was just that homosexuals were not allow to marry the person of their choice. Now that that barrier is falling, some are calling for the institution of Jim Crow laws against homosexuals. Regardless of the legal form of discrimination practiced, those in heterosexual relations have advantages over those in same-sex relations. And perhaps, keeping that hierarchy and heterosexual privilege, if not domination, is the reason for conservative ministers to associate the right to refuse public services solely with religious liberties and to promote the new Jim Crow laws.


To Joe Carter's 4th blogpost on what liberal evangelicals should know about the economic views of conservative evangelicals found in the Acton Blog.

This installment of telling liberal evangelicals about the economic views of Conservative evangelicals is simply more of the same. We can't afford to find fault with the system nor are we allowed to challenge those with wealth and power to change. Rather, the impetus for change is mostly placed on the poor. And yet Conservatives insist that they are not blaming the poor. 
Looking at point #9, the assumption seems to be that wealth inequality is not related to social mobility. And this is an odd assumption considering that we live in a world of finite resources. In addition, it is an assumption considering social mobility here is harmed by the outsourcing of jobs overseas. And the motive for the outsourcing of jobs overseas is to increase the wealth of those with wealth and power which increases wealth disparity or income inequality.

In addition, while the first factor for increasing income mobility was, at least, just partially covered. Let's look at the rest. The correlation of income mobility with both the percentage of 2 parent households and better schools is a correlation. They have effects on each other such that the lack of income mobility can lower the percentage of 2 parent households as well as the quality of schools just as the converse is true. There is a symmetric relation here. And one of the factors for the lower percentage of 2 parent households has to do with the criminal justice system and the inequitable waging of the War On Drugs. That is because this war is waged mostly in poor, minority neighborhoods. Michelle Alexander documents this in her book, The New Jim Crow and video presentations can be found at


But Jim Crow II, as it is sometimes called, is never mentioned by conservatives.

In addition, where there is little to no hope of economic mobility, not only is the percentage of 2 parent households harmed, so is the quality of the schools because much of student education occurs outside of the class and school building. It occurs at home and if the household environment is tumultuous, student performance is harmed along with the student behavior and thus the quality of the schools.

But don't blame the Maximize Profits system that reduces all people into objects of profit. Instead, we will opt for voluntary help, factor #4, rather than mandate that those who are succeeding have a degree of responsibility here. And that brings to #10 and a moral economy. 

A moral economy is not one that reduces all human value to an extrinsic value. Rather, there is a sometimes fluctuating balance between recognizing the intrinsic and extrinsic value of each person. Our current economy only recognizes people as having an extrinsic value. And that is illustrated in our wage labor in a world job insecurity and maximizing profits. Note that a wage laborer, or worker, is paid a certain amount per unit of time. This makes his/her labor power a commodity much like the cost of a unit of raw material. And note that when a manufacturer can buy raw material at a cheaper cost, then  the manufacturer does business elsewhere; so the same goes for the labor power. When an employer goes elsewhere because they can cut costs by employing cheaper labor, the worker becomes disposable. And the only way that the worker can keep his/her job is to underbid the competition even if that underbidding leads to poverty wages. And we should note that poverty wages often involves gov't subsidies for employer payrolls. Of course, the problem with this description is that in the US, minimum wage provides a floor for a worker's poverty wages. That the moral economy of which conservatives boast.

One more point, that Krugman says something different in 2013 than he did in 1990 does not imply that he changed his mind. The change could be explained by a change in the conditions.

What we have to recognize is that the free market is not free. It is controlled and manipulated and is there to serve the interests of those with wealth and power. And as Carter praises the likes of Milton Friedman who believed that those driven by greed to the extent that they hoard wealth others need just to live should be free from gov't constraint to run the free market. And that the introduction of Friedman's economic views often required military coups and violence to install and maintain. Chile in '73, Argentina a few years later, and Russia in the 90s are prime examples.

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