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12 January 2009



Hmm, wasn't Rick the guy who said he wasn't homophobic because, when people protested, he gave them "doughnuts and water"? A more interesting spin on the some of my best friends are x line.

And, with separation of Church and State and all, explicitly Christian prayers are wholly inappropriate for the inauguration.


I never realised Obama was solely representing the followers of the christian god. To pray in any shape or form is a slap in the face to those of other faiths and no faith. It's kind of like saying "we're right, you're wrong".
I'd rather see religion kept as a private matter. This sort of behaviour made it easy for Bush to go to war by claiming god told him to.

Beat Attitude

Hi Billy... for the sake of the old days mate ;)

it IS saying "[we think] we're right, you're wrong" to those who do not subscribe to those beliefs. But so is everyone who publicly acts upon a set of beliefs or suppositions saying that they think they are right whenever they act according to those beliefs. Simply doing that does not disrespect the people who do not believe it. It is a neutral statement of difference. Or, from another perspective, it is impossible for us to act publicly on any set of beliefs without "offending" others who disagree with the nature of what we do or say.

Is the act of challenging someone's belief (directly or indirectly) disrespectful? In that case, atheist belief is a "slap in the face" of every theist.

Religion is a public matter because it deals with proposed truths relevant to the general public. Is this what you're suggesting: that people believe whatever they like and then keep quiet about it, unless it's in line with your own way of thinking?

All these prayers will suggest is that Obama is ostensibly a Christian, that the country and political infrastructure is significantly founded on and guided by Christian principles. Politicians constantly make statements of belief and we are entitled to agree or disagree with them. Somewhere along the line everyone's got to take a stand, even if it's a bow-legged stance with a foot in distant camps...

The people who might say they've been "slapped in the face" have NOT actually been slapped in the face. They have simply been at disagreement with some aspect of the government to which their allegiance is expected. Grown-ups can handle that tension, even though it's not quite as sexy and newsworthy as a good ol-fashioned face-slappin'. So I think your statement is tautological hyperbole.

PS Wanna come to a ceilidh?


Hi Beat,

Not saying a prayer offends no one - other than those who wish to impose their way on others. I dont see how you get the conclusion that people must be in line with my way of thinking. I will however absolutely oppose any one who goes to war because "god says so". That is not a justification.

This is also unconstitutional, as America was not built on christian principles as you imply. Many of the founding fathers were not actually christian either.

Now, as for face slapping, in some states you are discriminated against if you are an atheist, muslim or gay. This divides the country. Then we have the creationists that get special treatment to allow them to propagandise. This is all religious motivated - it has nothing to do with fairly seving the people - all of the people.

Would you be so supportive if it was a satanic prayer? If not, then are you not displaying double standards here? Satanists have the right to be represented too don't they? Would you be prepared to overlook that offense to be fair, or would not having a prayer be the most acceptable option? I'll let you decide.

I'll pass on the ceilidh thanks - my ankle is still not right after the last one I attended at St Silas many years ago - dont know why. I prayed and everything :-)



"All these prayers will suggest is that Obama is ostensibly a Christian, that the country and political infrastructure is significantly founded on and guided by Christian principles"

Which it isn't. Jefferson was a child of the enlightenment. Obviously the Founding Fathers talked about God a lot but, given that (disgracefully) being a Christian is (in effect) a prerequisite for running for the Presidency (even in the 21st century), this hardly indicates that they were trying to build a Christian nation. IIRC Lincoln wrote a pamphlet in his youth attacking Christianity that he was encouraged to destroy for the sake of his career.Surely they very much did not want to create a country that had a national religion like England? And :

"And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter"
And, if Obama is every US citizen's president, prayers to Allah, Zeus or anyone other entity wouldn't be appropriate at inauguration either (which is not the same thing as saying they would inappropriate *generallY* from a political figure).

Billy may also note, as regards the inappropriateness of "slap in the face" imagery, that monotheists ( certainly the religious right) try to curtail everyone else's rights whereas most atheists very much are willing to live and let live.


Hi Ryan,

This absurd notion that America was founded on christian principles seems to be propagated the the rather intolerant religious right (anyone else see the campaign to out Obama as a muslim?). As I'm sure you know, it's not Just Jefferson who was not a christian. Others included George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, Thomas Paine, Ethan Allen and James Monroe.
As you say, the right want to dictate to others what to think. We see them trying to use politics to get creationism into science classes (it is part of their wedge strategy). If creationism had any scientific merit, it would be taught in science classes. To date there is not one creationist piece of research published in any peer reviewed scientific journal - because it simplly is not science (1). The aim of course is not the "teach the controversy", as scientifically, there is *no* controversy, but to enforce literal biblical teachings on young minds.

(1) Actually, a creationist friendly article did appear in one minor journal. How it got there was quite telling. The editor had creationist sympathies, abandoned protocol and put a rather weak article in the journal without sending it for peer review. Had he done so, it would have got rejected. He s rightly no longer an editor for that journal.


Yeah, I'm a fan of Gore Vidal's essays on American history. Of course, worth stressing that only 10% of UK anglican clergy believe in creationism - 10% too many of course- but an indication that those fundamentalist evangelicals (tautology? ;-))) who claim to speak for the silent majority are talking characteristic nonsense. Although I believe the phrase "the silent majority" came from Homer's description of dead, which is perhaps apt.


The gospel of Jesus Christ is not Play-Doh.
It has a form and a structure built and established upon the doctrines,teachings and traditions of orthodox Christianity. The gospel does not accommodate us we must accommodate the gospel.

I heard Gene Robinson preaching at St Marys
I was hoping for some doctrinal or theological teaching some insight that I and others had overlooked, but his whole reasoning amounted to this - He "felt" it was okay for him to practice homosexuality. This according to the sermon he preached was his theological position on the matter.

For me this is not doctrine it is play-doh.


I was at the same service , Jimmy; did +Gene CLAIM that he was going to convince doubters of the liberal position on sexuality? He was amongst friends (largely). I'm not sure that saying the gospel is predicated on the doctrines, teachings and traditions of Christianity, rather than the other way around, is "orthodox" in the sense you mean it either.

Andrew T

Well said, Jimmy. ME-ology rather than theology seems to be the order of the day in certain quarters.


By definition, the Eucharist if for the faithful. I would not expect an *evangelical* preacher to try and convince doubters of the merits of Christianity in a communion sermon either. Hope you at least took communion at the St.Mary's service, Jimmy; Donatism is a heresy.
Andrew - attending the eucharist and expecting the celebrant to convince you of particularities of their faith, as if to watching a politican on TV, seems like ME-ology to me.

Beat Attitude

Has anyone else a sense of impending reducto ad hitlerum?
Veering wildly off topic, straw men falling from the sky, random and unexpected shells a-flying? Read the signs, people: it's only so long til we hit a Nazi...


Hey, don't start Couleteresque
America is a Christian Nation nonsense if you can't end it, Greg.


Hi Beat,

Which strawmen are you referring to? Don't you think the American constitution is relevant to the topic of the thread?

Since you mentioned Nazi.... (Nah, I'll hold back just now - Gott mit uns :-) )

Beat Attitude

"that the country and political infrastructure is significantly founded on and guided by Christian principles"

does not reduce to "America is a Christian Nation", which of course IS nonsense.

To quote famous Americans or founding fathers who may or may not have rejected certain ancilliary (or fundamental) aspects of Christianity does not preclude the above statement.

Creationism is a straw man in this discussion. It is of such a tenuous connection to two preachers saying a prayer at the inauguration as it would be to say "Eric Clapton is playing at the ball. He wrote "tears in heaven", I don't want any religious connotations at MY party, thanks very much."

I'm not keen to get involved in a discussion where my posts seem to cause nothing more than a generic buzzing noise in the ears of my interlocutor.

Plus I'm kinda busy promoting the Big Jig 2, which still has tickets available. Invite your friends. Go to www.thejiggers.co.uk/bigjig or see the facebook event: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/event.php?eid=60413570856

many thanks, and sorry I can't stay out and play for longer :)


"does not reduce to "America is a Christian Nation", which of course IS nonsense."

The point that has been made is that it is not "significantly founded......on christian principles". I don't recall anyone saying it was a "christian nation" Although, functionally it is. Perhaps a wee strawman of your own creeping in there?

"To quote famous Americans or founding fathers who may or may not have rejected certain ancilliary (or fundamental) aspects of Christianity does not preclude the above statement. "

This does not address the point I was making - that the founding fathers were not setting up a state based on christian beliefs - you should read some Paine on Christianity.

"Creationism is a straw man in this discussion. It is of such a tenuous connection to two preachers..... "

Well,it is actually relevant, as the religious right (comprising the Young earth creationists, pro gun lobby homophobes, anti-islamists, hell fire preachers, pro death penaly... etc) who in particular want these prayers, have the aim of enforcing creationist doctrine - I can pull out a sack full of quotes if you like. Creationism is in effect religion. The creationist ploy as I have said is to enforce literal biblical teachings. The first Amendment states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion". This I fear is a slippery slope to promoting one particular religion, so I would say it is very relevant.

Do you think your religion deserves special treatment? That's what this is really about. If prayers were dropped, who do you think would be most vocal?

Getting back to my original point, not saying prayers offends only those who think they have a god given right to jack boot their agenda on everyone else. America needs to build bridges. The *specific* promotion of christianity divides! Why is it not enough for the religious to pray in private? Do they believe that their god only hears public prayers?

What is your take on religious based discrimination in America? Do you not feel this sends out the wrong signals?


Define "Christian principles" then. Really hope you aren't arguing some variant of any "Good" is really Christian to claim people and institutions for your team that you're not, if one cares about intellectual honesty, really entitled to. Is the Enlightenment Christian too? I would say that quoting American founding fathers is at least an attempt at (y'know) providing evidence for one's arguments instead of flat assertions like "that the country and political infrastructure is significantly founded on and guided by Christian principles".

In the interest of honesty, you should also point out that there's no booze at BJ2 too ;-)(Burns will be spinning in his grave!).

Beat Attitude

Try the devil's advocate method for answers. "if one cares about intellectual honesty"...honestly, Ryan!


I do not give a free pass to nonsense just 'cause you're a cool-guy-for-an-evangelical, Greg ;-),I don't think that pointing out that the trilemma argument is absurd makes me a bad Christian so I'm not really keen on failing to critise flat assertions on the alleged Christian character of America.*Stating* that America is founded on Christian principles etc but not justifying the statement is pretty reductio. Perhaps the buzzing noise is not necessarily the fault of the listener? :P

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