Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Question of the Day

A recent Wall Street Journal poll indicated that Americans are far more uncomfortable with the idea of electing a Mormon or an evangelical Christian than they are a women or a black person.

Is religious bigotry a greater probem than sexism or racism?


Dropzone said...


Denis Navratil said...

dropzone, would you mind offering some reasons for your answer?

Michael Gibson said...

A person's sex/race will have less of an effect on their decision making than their faith. My oldest friend was/is raised Mormon, and they are some of the kindest people you could find. On the other hand, I think that their faith would get in the way of their ability to make a fair decision.

Denis Navratil said...

Michael, are you saying that faith prevents a person from making fair decisions? I am not sure if that is what you are saying, but if you are, I would ask if you have faith in anything, and if so, does it prevent you from being fair?

Pariah Jeep said...

Denis - when you are done trying to have a conversation with Michael Gibson that is based on facts and reason, I have a cat that is interested in learning differential equations and quantum mechanics.

By the way, have you ever heard anti-Catholicism referred to as "the thinking man's anti-Semitism"?

Caledonication said...

I guess this:
"A person's sex/race will have less of an effect on their decision making than their faith. My oldest friend was/is raised Mormon, and they are some of the kindest people you could find. On the other hand, I think that their faith would get in the way of their ability to make a fair decision."

Answers this:
"Is religious bigotry a greater probem than sexism or racism?"

Caledonication said...

You know what will be really funny?

When Mike grows up, gets out in the real world and realizes that he is being ostracized for being a white man.

(No offense Mike, just making an observation)

Michael Gibson said...

Denis - I never said faith would 'prevent' a person from making a fair decision, how ever it could. Sex and race may have an effect, but religion will be more likely to push someone's reasoning to one side or the other. For example, pro-life v. pro-choice. I do not want to argue for one or the other at the time, but pro-lifers have (in general) a heavier religious background. A similar situation is happening with gay marriage. I know this is obvious, but I think it just lends some credibility to my point.

I am not a man of any particular faith, however I can say that I do not disrespect any faith or person's of faith. Every religion has truth and wisdom in its teachings,.

Denis Navratil said...

Michael, thanks for your comments. I find them particularly interesting and I hope you will stay with this exchange for a while. I disagree with you but hope to do so respectfully.

While you did not write that faith would prevent one from making a fair decision, you did say that your Mormon friends faith would "get in the way of their ability to make a fair decision." Thus, religion, or at least Mormonism would impair one's ability to make a fair decision about abortion or gay marriage.

Yet your ability to be fair is not impaired, presumably because you do not belong to a particular faith.

Why is it that you think that people who belong to religions are less capable of being fair than the non-religious? Could it be that some people, influenced by religion and rational thought, have different, perhaps better, ideas than you do concerning fairness? Was Stalin more fair than Martin Luther King?

Michael Gibson said...

Maybe fair wasn't the right word for me to use now that I think of it a little more closely. I do not believe that someone should right into law decisions based on faith, because not everyone is of that faith. Would it be acceptable for a Hindu president to right an amendment to the Constitution stating that we can not eat the meat from a cow. We were given freedom of religion in the Constitution. Therefore, politicians and lawmakers should avoid any policies that are based on faith.

I am not saying that being a person of faith makes you irrational. I believe that religion can be used as a great tool to help someone through life. However, it should not be imposed onto other people through laws or policies.

Denis Navratil said...

Michael, regarding the Hindu president: We have a constitution and we have a process for changing it. I would have no problem with a Hindu president proposing a no-cow-eating ammendment, as it would have zero chance of becoming law. But if he followed the process as proscribed by our constitution, great.

Michael, we all, I suspect, utilize our knowledge and beliefs when participating in public life. Some may have their views shaped considerably by religion while others may have their views shaped by a militantly secular public school system. But lets be honest. People can have their views shaped by all manner of things including but not limited to religion, schooling, experience, drugs, television, selfishness, mental illness, etc... Some people will be able to participate in public life in a fair and logical manner, while others, not so much. I don't think it is a stretch to suggest that someone who's neighbors second cousin got screwed by their insurance company might use that annecdote to support the concept of universal health care. Would this kind of entirely secular "thinking" be fair?

When you write that religion "should not be imposed onto other people through laws or policies" I agree with you. Of course, we are not really talking about imposing religion on people, we are talking about imposing laws on people, and we do that all the time in this country.

It seems to me that what you would like is to have laws passed without the influence of religious conviction. If so, I think you are singling out religion unfairly. As I demonstrated earlier, religion is just one of the many influences that may result in someone advocating an illogical or unfair law.

Denis Navratil said...

Michael, I should add that I think religious influence need not always result in illogical and unfair laws. Religious influence can and has been a driving force for good in this country. The movement to abolish slavery was very much influenced by religion, and I doubt there are too many people who now lament that influence today.

Michael Gibson said...

It's all a matter of how far you take your beliefs. Sure, religion influenced the abolishment of slavery or laws against homicide. However, when someone wants everyone to believe in Creationism is where I draw the line. Being too far left or too far right in your politics won't work (at least in this country); religion is the same.

Denis Navratil said...

Michael, I am quite sure that there are people who would want everyone to believe in creationism. But I am unaware of any individual or group that is proposing any public effort to make that happen. Are you aware of any such effort? If so, please inform me of it.

You write "It's all a matter of how far you take your beliefs." So what is too far? Earlier you mentioned abortion. Suppose someone arrives at the conclusion that the growth inside a pregnant woman is a live human being, and that for religious reasons believes that it would be wrong to end the life of said human. Furthermore, this person supports restrictions on abortions and votes accordingly. Is this person taking their religion too far? If so, should they be banned from voting? What exactly are you trying to say Michael?

Michael Gibson said...

Abortion is a complicated issue. I am pro-choice, even though I am not sure that if I was a woman I would actually get an abortion. I just believe people should have a choice in whether or not they want to have a child. I know, if they were worried about not getting pregnant they shouldn't have had sex in the first place. But people can take the proper steps (using birth control and contraceptives) and still end up with a child. What about these people? Should they be forced into having a child because of a broken rubber?

I would never think of banning someone from voting, no matter what their beliefs. However, the President should be, in my opinion, centrist in their religious beliefs (this meaning that they understand the lessons taught by religion and can respect those lessons, but they still know that they need to be fair to the people that don't practice their religion.)

Denis Navratil said...

Michael, broken rubbers don't impregnate women. Men impregnate women. So I would frame the abortion question differently. Should people have to accept responsibility for their own behavior or should they be allowed to end an innocent life that inconveniences them?

But I still don't understand specifically what your objections are concerning religion in public life. It seems to me that some people might have views or political preferences, informed in part by their religion, that you disagree with, but not enough such that they should be banned from the political process. Well so what, there are people, religious and secular, who's political perspectives that I disagree with as well. That's life Michael.

Michael Gibson said...

I'm just skeptical of people (like Mike Huckabee) who use their religious background to get votes. I have a funny feeling that many Evangelical Christians will vote for Huckabee just because they have that common bond. His perspective is most likely based on what he has learned through the Bible, which is fine. However, he should realize that he should use other sources to back up his claims. For example, the Bible may (allegedly) say that marriage is something that should take place between a man and a woman. However, this should not be written into law, because not everyone uses the Bible as a guidebook to their life. People should be elected based on their political views, not their religion.

As for your abortion question...America was founded on the basis of freedom and being able to make choices. I understand where you are coming from with the "It's a human life" perspective. However, the woman's life is also a human life. What if it endangers her to have the child for whatever reason? Or maybe it doesn't endanger her, but she still does not want the child. Should she AND the child have to suffer through 18 years of life together. Imagine the kind of relationship that that mother and child would have.

Denis Navratil said...

Michael, you write that the notion of marriage being between a man and woman only "should not be written into law, because not everyone uses the Bible as a guidebook to their life." Well, I am 99% certain that it is already the law in the State of Wisconsin. But aside from that inconvenient fact, just how would you propose to change this law? Legislation? Lawsuit? Revolution? And Michael, I am sure you are aware that the ten commandments prohibit murder. Do we need to abolish our laws concerning murder also? So we are back to square one again with you Michael. You want to remove religious influence on public matters. How do you propose to do so? You have already ruled out disenfranchisement. Then what? Or is it that you simply want to complain about religious influence?

Regarding abortion and such: Americas founding was not based on unlimited and unregulated choice as you suggest. But that aside, you ask a good question about the health of the woman. Now you realize this is a different question. If the woman's life is endangered or likely to be lost because of the pregnancy, you are now dealing with one life vs another and I see no reason why the babies life should be elevated in importance above the woman's. This is not an endorsement of abortion necessarily but an acknowledgement that an aweful decision must be made either way. The question about 18 years of parent/child indifference or neglect is easily resolved. Adoption.

Michael Gibson said...

Murder and gay marriage are two completely different issues. For you to compare them is ludicrous. Why not let two men or two women marry? What harm will that do? Murder obviously harms people. If it hurts you to see two people who are in love with each other, then you need to go see a shrink.

What about the costs of having a child? Even if you give the child up for adoption, you will have a lot of medical debt to pay off. An abortion costs around $500 if taken care of properly. I don't believe given birth comes with this low of a cost. Another problem arises when the mother needs to miss time from school/work because of her child. Do we need a higher drop out rate? Do we want children in foster homes? Do we need more people in this country at all? This is a difficult issue to talk about, but if the woman, child, and planet will suffer, why not avoid it all?

Denis Navratil said...

Michael, you are not answering the question. What do you propose to eliminate or reduce the religious influence on public policy? If you don't want to answer that question just say so.

Now you write that comparing murder and gay marriage is ludicrous. I would agree. I didn't write that the act of murder is comparable to the act of men marrying each other. Think Michael. The reason I brought up murder and laws against murder is because murder is prohibited by the ten commandments, ie the laws are influenced by religion. And you think that gay marriage bans "should not be written into law, because not everyone uses the Bible as a guidebook to their life." Thus, using YOUR logic, we should also revisit our murder laws because not everyone believes in the ten commandments. But you prefer to twist this around and suggest that I think that the acts of murder and gay marraige are comparable. Nice try. And what makes you think I am hurt by two people who love each other. Not in the least. You realize, I hope, that you are losing the logical argument here and now you are engaged in personal attacks. This is usually a clear sign that you are losing the argument.

Regarding your questions "Do we need a higher drop out rate? Do we want children in foster homes? Do we need more people in this country at all? This is a difficult issue to talk about, but if the woman, child, and planet will suffer, why not avoid it all?

I am not surprised, given your affection for abortion, that you would have little regard for human life. "Do we need more people in this country at all?" Wow Michael, do we need old people who are not productive? How about the sick that are slowing us all down? Can't we just rid ourselves of all these bothersome people? Your philosophy is scary Michael.

Michael Gibson said...

Honestly, I cannot answer as to how one would remove religious opinion from public policy. I realize it would be nearly impossible. I am just of the opinion that politicians need not flaunt their religion.

Where in the Ten Commandments does it state that two men can not marry? Is this considered adultery? I honestly do not know. Yet there is still a very clear ethical difference between murder and gay marriage.

Regarding abortion...This is exactly my point. Why when we already have people suffering because of old age, disease, poor health care, etc. should we bring more people into the world? It will only make our problems worse. I say that we take care of the people who are already here before we go around telling people that they need to have that child.

Denis Navratil said...

Michael, if I had any hair, I would be tearing it out right now. I never said that the ten commandments forbids gay marriage. The point of the ten commandment reference was to indicate that there is religious influence on our laws that most sane people do not find objectionable, like not murdering people.

Regarding the issue at hand - what to do about religious influence - you finally came around to a non-committal sort of answer. You realize that it would be nearly impossible. Great, but do you yet realize it would be morally wrong (if you believe things can be morally wrong) ill-advised, discriminatory, intolerant and dangerous to even try?

Otherwise,I share your distaste for those who flaunt their religion, especially those who do so to collect votes.

Michael, if it OK to eliminate the unborn child, would it be OK to elimate those old people on whom we spend most of our health care dollars?

Michael Gibson said...

Again, it is all a matter of the extent to which you take the influence. Murder, Rape, Adultery, and Theft are all things that are taught in the Bible as being wrong, and I agree with that, but there has to be a point where we draw the line.

I already stated that I believe dealing with the matter at hand (elderly people with healthcare needs) should be taken care of before telling people that they can't get an abortion.

On a sidenote, you may say that abortion is wrong because you are killing a living organism. Are you opposed to vasectomies as well? That cuts off the flow of sperm, which are also living organisms.

Caledonication said...

I vote for Mikey as our moral compass.

So shall say one, so shall say all?