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willerror's Avatar Comment 3 by willerror

No way is Obama a Muslim; he's only moderately Xian. After reading an excerpt of his autiobiography in Time, or Newsweek, and learning his parents were not religious, I suspect his embrace of Xianity is only b/c he decided to be a public figure. Religion was treated as any other mythology when he was growing up, he wrote. I too am a little turned off by his appeal to it now, but that's life in these United States. I have to be a realist about it. That said, I think he might be friendlier to non-believers of all stripes than anyone else, precisely because of his upbringing.

Fri, 23 Feb 2007 13:20:00 UTC | #20656

Xavier's Avatar Comment 6 by Xavier

A possible interpretation of this poll is that atheists, being open-minded and inclusive, would not consider religion a disqualifying attribute whereas the closed-minded religionists are more concerned that their fiefdom retains its social and political dominance than they are about selecting the more appropriateperson or policies for their leader. If this is the case it suggests that almost half of those polled are atheist.

Far more concerning is that more that a tenth would not support a candidate only because she is female!

Fri, 23 Feb 2007 13:34:00 UTC | #20661

Planeswalker's Avatar Comment 7 by Planeswalker

goldmineguttd: Ah, okay. I just thought I'd heard he was a Muslim... But that must have been someone else who were considering running for president or something.

Fri, 23 Feb 2007 13:40:00 UTC | #20662

helen sotiriadis's Avatar Comment 8 by helen sotiriadis

i have a question.. if faced with a dilemma.. to uphold the constitution or to serve one's higher power, god whatever.. what would a religious president do?

Fri, 23 Feb 2007 13:43:00 UTC | #20663

Bizarro Dawkins's Avatar Comment 10 by Bizarro Dawkins

"i have a question.. if faced with a dilemma.. to uphold the constitution or to serve one's higher power, god whatever.. what would a religious president do?"

Considering the ambiguity concerning a higher power rather than specifically the God of the Bible, I will not say that your question is flawed. I will say however that there never will be a conflict between the Biblical God and the Constitution. Considering that the Constitution is based on biblical concepts, there will never arise a contradiction between the two documents. I cannot say the same for a number of other religions, but your question does not logically apply to Christianity.

Fri, 23 Feb 2007 13:58:00 UTC | #20665

AJ Rae's Avatar Comment 11 by AJ Rae

A possible interpretation of this poll is that atheists, being open-minded and inclusive...


If I thought someone would use their religion or faith delusions to make decisions I wouldn't even contemplate on voting for them. Of course, no sane politician would ever say they get guidance from God. If a politician went to church regularly I wouldn't vote for them.

Fri, 23 Feb 2007 14:00:00 UTC | #20666

moudiwort's Avatar Comment 12 by moudiwort

Hm, Muslims - it seems - are not considered eligible by the Gallup pollsters themselves. ;-)

Fri, 23 Feb 2007 14:05:00 UTC | #20669

the great teapot's Avatar Comment 13 by the great teapot

Bizzaro or is it spock.

Christianity says There is one God. Worship him alone.
The constitution of the USA I believe claims to be secular. Ie you can worship a 100 gods if you like.
That took me about 1 second of thought. I can not be bothered to waste any more time on your stupid christian logic, but I am sure there are 100's more examples.
Have a nice day. I hope never to hear from you again.

Fri, 23 Feb 2007 14:16:00 UTC | #20670

Mroberts3's Avatar Comment 15 by Mroberts3

When talking about someone like Obama, my concern isn't if his faith is real, but rather how he puts religion as a whole in the context of our democracy. In other words, I don't care about how religious a politician is as long as he upholds the separation of church and state, and doesn't make policy decisions for all of us based on his own faith.

In addition, I hold no grudges against people who fake or embellish religious belief to get elected. First off, its about the only way to get a rational thinker in office. Not all politicians are just power hungry, some really want to serve their country but couldn't even dream of getting elected without professing SOME religious belief.

And from a practical standpoint, I would rather have intelligent and capable people in office regardless of how the campaign played out. Sure, I'd rather them not lie, but we have to be realistic in our religiously dominated political arena.

Fri, 23 Feb 2007 14:25:00 UTC | #20672

IPV4's Avatar Comment 18 by IPV4

I know this article is unrelated but needs to be posted on the RD website. Its about the egyptian that is getting 4 years in prison for bashing islam on a blog. I believe this country is also an american ally. Isn't that a bit critical for Bush to spread democracy in Irag but yet one of his major allies violates many of the democratic tenets?
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/22/AR2007022200269.html

Fri, 23 Feb 2007 14:44:00 UTC | #20675

kkant's Avatar Comment 19 by kkant

Bizzaro writes:
"I will say however that there never will be a conflict between the Biblical God and the Constitution. Considering that the Constitution is based on biblical concepts, there will never arise a contradiction between the two documents."

Absolutely hilarious. OK, let's start with the 10 commandments. Commandment 1: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Now onto the US Constitution, the first amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Bizzaro, explain how these two statements are not contradictory.

toomanytribbles writes:
"if faced with a dilemma.. to uphold the constitution or to serve one's higher power, god whatever.. what would a religious president do?"

Great question. A seriously religious Christian president would advocate the death penalty for anyone who works on the Sabbath. Among other barbaric nonsense. Fortunately, none of our presidents have really taken their Christianity seriously.

Fri, 23 Feb 2007 14:49:00 UTC | #20676

Chrysippus_Maximus's Avatar Comment 20 by Chrysippus_Maximus

Um...

"Family and religious life

While working at the corporate law firm Sidley & Austin in the summer of 1989, Obama met Michelle Robinson, an associate attorney at the firm.[118] Michelle and Barack Obama were married in 1992 at Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ by their pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.[119] They have two daughters, Malia, 8, and Natasha, 5.[118] A theme of Obama's keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and the title of his 2006 book, The Audacity of Hope, was inspired by one of Rev. Wright's sermons.[120] In the book, Obama describes his non-religious upbringing:

I was not raised in a religious household. My maternal grandparents, who hailed from Kansas, had been steeped in Baptist and Methodist teachings as children, but religious faith never really took root in their hearts. My mother's own experiences as a bookish, sensitive child growing up in small towns in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas only reinforced this inherited skepticism. [...] My father was almost entirely absent from my childhood, having been divorced from my mother when I was 2 years old; in any event, although my father had been raised a Muslim, by the time he met my mother he was a confirmed atheist, thinking religion to be so much superstition.

Obama writes that his religious convictions formed during his twenties, when, as a community organizer working with local churches, he came to understand "the power of the African American religious tradition to spur social change":

It was because of these newfound understandingsĀ–that religious commitment did not require me to suspend critical thinking, disengage from the battle for economic and social justice, or otherwise retreat from the world that I knew and lovedĀ–that I was finally able to walk down the aisle of Trinity United Church of Christ one day and be baptized. It came about as a choice and not an epiphany; the questions I had did not magically disappear. But kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side of Chicago, I felt God's spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to His will, and dedicated myself to discovering His truth.[121]"

Barak is a United Church of Christ follower... not even close to Muslim or Atheist.

Fri, 23 Feb 2007 15:03:00 UTC | #20677

Bizarro Dawkins's Avatar Comment 21 by Bizarro Dawkins

You are all demonstrating a very shallow knowledge of the Bible. In the New Testament (which is the covenant we are now under), there are very few commands regarding government and politics, that is, whith the exception of a particular verse that commands us to respect the government. Of course, I imagine you would all like to gloss over that because it doesn't fit your strawman bible.

The New Testament does not make commands involving governments; it makes them regarding people. Freedom of religion is in itself a biblical concept. Nowhere in the New Testament will you ever see examples of forced conversions, nor do any of the apostles (or Jesus for that matter) advocate government control of religion, or religious control of government for that matter. Think about it: would a conversion forced by the government really be a true conversion? God wants US to make the choice of our own free-will, and this is clearly manifested in the fact that under the New Covenant, little is mentioned of politics.

There is therefore no conflict between freedom of religion and the Bible, nor is there any other conflict between the Bible and the Constitution.

And no, God is not mentioned explicitly in the constitution, but this does not negate the fact, that is, the fact that the vast majority of historical and legal experts agree with, that America was founded on Judeo-Christian ethics.

Fri, 23 Feb 2007 15:07:00 UTC | #20678

kcjerith's Avatar Comment 22 by kcjerith

Bizarro Dawkins, it depends on who you ask, in terms of politics and the bible. If you asked the Russian writer Tolstoy he would claim, and make a strong case, that the Constitution is in direct conflict with the bible. Why? Because when jesus says don't judge and Tolstoy argues that means there should be no courts at all. Tolstoy was an anarchist because he thought that is what Jesus was advocating. I believe the book was called My Confession, My Religion. Of course this isn't the exact point you where talking about in your last post, but one can claim that the Constitution and bible are at odds.

Fri, 23 Feb 2007 15:28:00 UTC | #20679

the great teapot's Avatar Comment 23 by the great teapot

@Bizarro
So the old testament has nothing to do with christianity.
Why then is it in the christian Bible?
It must be the longest( and most boring) preamble ever written.
Thank god the Koran doesn't have the bible in it's foreward.

Fri, 23 Feb 2007 15:30:00 UTC | #20680

kcjerith's Avatar Comment 24 by kcjerith

Oh and just because the "new covenant" occurred doesn't mean all of the old rules are out, didn't jesus (or what ever fictitious person the bible claims) that he was here not to destroy the old laws but to fulfill them. or something like that. Of course you might respond that he meant something else. This brings us to the problem, that Dawkins and others have brought up, we can cherry pick the bible to suit whatever needs or motives one desires be it political, as in the case of Tolstoy, or personal.

Fri, 23 Feb 2007 15:31:00 UTC | #20681

NeoGothic's Avatar Comment 25 by NeoGothic

Bizarro, (what an apt name BTW) although now defunct, the Treaty of Tripoli of 1797 in Article 11 states explicitly:

"As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."

The US of A is NOT a "christian" nation in any sense, nor are any of our legal documents, i.e., the constitution, based on anything religious. The founding fathers' religious beliefs were at most deist beliefs. The United States is, to quote another person's comment from another article on this site, "a legitimate child of the Enlightenment", specifically divorced from the values of christianty in specific and organized religion in general. Please do your research.

Fri, 23 Feb 2007 15:32:00 UTC | #20682

MelM's Avatar Comment 26 by MelM

I would not have expected the percentage to be as high as 45% for atheists. Interesting!

Ask about "end of days"
Besides the usual religious concerns, I think a question that needs to be asked by reporters and commentators is about a candidates "end of days" or eschatological beliefs. As Harris points out, this could be a disaster for defence but it should also be clear that a foreign policy designed around "end of days" could also be especially disasterous. If someone refuses to answer citing "freedom to exercise religion" (a gimmick popular with religionists lately), this should not be allowed.
I don't remember hearing about Bush's eschatology; maybe no one asked. Ouch!

Eschatology:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eschatology

Faith is a vice!

Fri, 23 Feb 2007 15:38:00 UTC | #20683

the great teapot's Avatar Comment 27 by the great teapot

Bloody hell Neo gothic why didn't they write the constitution in english? So we could all understand it.

Fri, 23 Feb 2007 15:41:00 UTC | #20684

Yorker's Avatar Comment 28 by Yorker

21. Comment #22846 by Bizarro Dawkins

Hello Bizarro,

There's something about your name that places you low in my list of persons to hold in high regard, it shows a certain lack of imagination. Personally, even if my real name was Fred Dawkins, Jack Dawkins or even Richard Dawkins, I would avoid using it to comment here for the very reason I berate you.

I can't speak for others, but your accusation of scant biblical knowledge is certainly true in my case - a fact I'm just a little proud of. When I was young, I studied the Christian guide-book long enough to realise it was largely nonsense and considered further study would be a waste of valuable learning time. I feel it was a wise decision because in 63 years of life, I've never had cause to regret my youthful choice.

Fri, 23 Feb 2007 15:42:00 UTC | #20685

mmurray's Avatar Comment 29 by mmurray

"You are all demonstrating a very shallow knowledge of the Bible. In the New Testament (which is the covenant we are now under),"

This, of course, is your interpretation. The Old Testament is still followed by a lot of people and their literal interpretation of Genesis is what drives a lot of the concern in these discussions.

The Old Testament god is viscious, nasty and jealous of His followers. I never did work out why he changed ? Did one of the angels run an anger modification course in heaven ?

"the vast majority of historical and legal experts agree with, that America was founded on Judeo-Christian ethics." And Judeo-Christian ethics was founded on a core of ethical ideas that are common to humanity and a natural outgrowth of our evolution as a social species.

There are some good ideas here -- lets keep them and throw away the madness. You have come halfway along that path by rejecting the nastiness of the Old Testament. You now have to just discard a lot of the New Testament.

Michael

Michael

Fri, 23 Feb 2007 15:42:00 UTC | #20686

helen sotiriadis's Avatar Comment 30 by helen sotiriadis

yorker said: I can't speak for others, but your accusation of scant biblical knowledge is certainly true in my case - a fact I'm just a little proud of. When I was young, I studied the Christian guide-book long enough to realise it was largely nonsense and considered further study would be a waste of valuable learning time. I feel it was a wise decision because in 63 years of life, I've never had cause to regret my youthful choice.

i like this. bizarro's accusation of shallow knowledge of the bible insinuates that it is somehow of great value to immerse oneself in the intricacies of these texts. i see the bible's value as a piece of human culture, a work of literature, but certainly nothing that i'd spend endless hours contemplating.

Fri, 23 Feb 2007 15:55:00 UTC | #20687

Graham's Avatar Comment 31 by Graham

Spinoza...I'm still hopeful when Obama says "that religious commitment did not require me to suspend critical thinking" and "It came about as a choice and not an epiphany". I wonder if this might be a political choice to tread the fine line between associating himself with the religious majority while maintaining an intellectual preference for reason over faith?

After a quick scan of the United Church of Christ web site I see they are one of the most vocal churches in support of inclusive rights and gay marraige. If the President has to appear to have some religion then this doesn't appear too bad, at least for now.

Incidently, on reflection I think we may be looking at the survey from a glass is half empty perspective. Given the often cited perception of the rising tide of the religious right in the US it is quite heartening that almost half the population would be happy to see an openly atheistic President. Let's continue to fill the glass which is already half full.

Fri, 23 Feb 2007 16:01:00 UTC | #20688

MelM's Avatar Comment 32 by MelM

Fri, 23 Feb 2007 16:02:00 UTC | #20689

kkant's Avatar Comment 33 by kkant

Bizzaro writes:
"You are all demonstrating a very shallow knowledge of the Bible."

And you are demonstrating a very dishonest "knowledge" of the Bible. God gave you a COMMAND: "Kill anyone who works on the Sabbath". Who do you think you are, Bizzaro, to pretend that this COMMAND doesn't apply to you? The Old Testament contains GOD'S WORD--how dare you blaspheme it by denying it.

Religious freedom? In the Bible? What a laugh. No, actually, the LAW OF GOD says not to worship other gods. The 10 commandments still apply. If this were a christian country, we would make laws against other gods just like we have a laws against stealing and murder (even if all those christian laws were "personal" as you claim). In fact, our constitution goes in exactly the opposite direction: we forbid the government to make laws against any other gods. This is an anti-Christian tenet, both in letter and spirit.

The old testament and the 10 commandments are a part of the Bible, they are God's word. I understand why you want to sneakily and dishonestly try to deny that, since there is so much in that part of the Bible that is so embarrasing to anyone who isn't a complete barbarian. But that doesn't make your denial true. If you want to be a Christian, you have to defend the old testament--that is as much god's word as the new. So, once again, answer me this: does the first commandment from god contradict the first amendment of the US constitution?



Michael writes:
"You have come halfway along that path by rejecting the nastiness of the Old Testament. You now have to just discard a lot of the New Testament."

Rejecting the Old Testament is not "halfway along the path", as Mr Bizzaro's posts demonstrate admirably. Theists only reject the OT as an intellectually dishonest way to pick and choose what part of God's word to accept, in an attempt to artifically win an argument for God as a whole.

Fri, 23 Feb 2007 16:03:00 UTC | #20690

Graham's Avatar Comment 1 by Graham

I'm pretty sure there have been no black, jewish, hispanic, women or homosexual presidents (possibly bi?), but I'm not so sure there hasn't already been an atheist president. I suspect there probably has.

Barak Obama's religiosity seems to have grown in proportion to his political ambitions and since both his parents were agnostic or atheist I remain sceptical of his own beliefs and a little cynical about someone who appears to use a religous image simply to get elected.

Fri, 23 Feb 2007 16:06:00 UTC | #20654

Planeswalker's Avatar Comment 2 by Planeswalker

Isn't Obama a Muslim? Then wouldn't it benefit him more to say that he is Christian?

By the way, it could be pretty cool to see some religious politician getting elected as president, and when he have his first speech, he says "Hah! I was bluffing! I'm actually an Atheist! And there's nothing you can do about it!"

Fri, 23 Feb 2007 16:09:00 UTC | #20655

goldmineguttd's Avatar Comment 4 by goldmineguttd

Isn't Obama a Muslim? Then wouldn't it benefit him more to say that he is Christian?

It's kind of disturbing that you think that. Have you been watching Fox News?

He's a Christian, and I've read parts of his book, and his take on religion in public discourse is pretty similar to Dennett's. I'm supporting him, he's the best we can expect.

Fri, 23 Feb 2007 16:21:00 UTC | #20657

Graham's Avatar Comment 5 by Graham

As an interested observer north of the border I would tend to agree with you goldmineguttd. It's an interesting dilemma on whether to "out" his potential sceptisism or whether to go along with the possible religious role playing to increase his electoral chances.

Fri, 23 Feb 2007 16:28:00 UTC | #20658

the great teapot's Avatar Comment 34 by the great teapot

re comment 30
The Bible may have cultural worth. But as for a work of literature -it is very patronising to suggest it has any.
The bible is a translation of a translation of a translation..
I recently tried and I repeat tried to read the book of Job. The essential message can be understood by reading the 1st and last pages alone, the intervening pages ( and there are many)are repetetive horseshite and impoosible to understand horeshite at that. But then I supoose the thicker the book the more impressive it looks.

Fri, 23 Feb 2007 16:32:00 UTC | #20691