8 of 34 people found the following review helpful
You'll Get Fooled If you Believe This Nonsense,
This review is from: We Won't Get Fooled Again: Where the Christian Right Went Wrong and How to Make America Right Again (Paperback)As one of the most hard-lined secularists one could ever meet, I find books such as "We Won't Get Fooled Again" tragically and intellectually misguided, but, equally so, I am also an ardent believer in religious freedom. People should be able to believe and worship as they see fit and it isn't anyone's business otherwise; indeed, the United States was founded on the principle of religious freedom. However, this holds true only so long as religious people do not drag their religious beliefs into the public square and, of course, politics. Sadly, religious people and the religious right have become so misinformed about the founding of America and its leftwing--classically liberal--values that it is frightening. However, these two authors seem to see it differently, for as they note "this is the `culture war' that has convulsed our country in recent decades, transforming it from a free constitutional republic founded on biblical precepts into a godless, collectivist empire in which Christians themselves, as well as biblical truths, are being increasingly disenfranchised" (Moore).
The United States was not founded on biblical precepts but rather Enlightenment ideals. This is demonstrably wrong and it shows that these two authors either lie or are simply not educated enough to understand this all too often overlooked point. That's right, the United States was founded on Enlightenment values (classical liberalism) which is "the philosophy committed to the ideal of limited government, constitutionalism, rule of law, due process, and liberty of individuals including freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and free markets" (Wiki). These ideals are unquestionably Enlightenment left-wing principles. So, when I read what the authors had to say I simply cringed, for it really demonstrates the ubiquitous ignorance that so often manifests itself within the religious and conservative minds.
There is, however, a kernel of truth for the founders did indeed intend a separation of church and state. Not simply to keep religion at bay but also to keep religion from the corrupting influence of politics. Religion sold its soul with its sickly amalgamation with the political right, and it has cost both of them dearly. Religion was once the bastion of liberal ideals: feeding the poor, helping the downtrodden, administering to the hopeless, providing medical care and education. Sadly, most religious people are now mean, selfish, and possess a spirit of tyranny; the notion that America should be governed by religious precepts. Nothing could be further from the truth and books such as this one only add on layers of confusion and ignorance. The problem with most religious people and with the Christian Right is that it is a culture of ignorance, and has embraced the lowest common denominator; that being, all of America's problems will be solved if everyone adopts a particular religious worldview. It is not a trifling matter that many biblical precepts, as the authors like to put it, have been rendered null by the light of modern science. I recommend that people avoid this book and instead read some actual history to gain a better understanding of why the United States is indeed a secular constitutional republic.
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Showing 1-10 of 27 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 4, 2012 6:39:12 PM PST
Steve, it is quite obvious from your comments that you didn't read the book since you offer no actual examples to substantiate your points which have nothing to do with the actual subject matter in the book. Why are you writing reviews for books you don't read?
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 4, 2012 9:08:54 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 4, 2012 9:25:07 PM PST
If you knew your American and European history then you'd likely not be making such comments. However, I'll play along; what, in particular, about my review gave you troubles? Perhaps I can clarify a thing or two but I need to know to what it is you're referring.
P.S. This is all I needed to know (I copied this from one of your reviews): "There are far too many Christians who have been conned into believing that there is a de facto "separation of church and state" in our nation which prohibits them from bringing their faith into their politics." I suspect this is why you left your comments. Not that you really believed that I didn't read the book-that's a clichéd staple here on Amazon-but rather it is that I wrote something with which you disagree. You need to understand the Enlightenment, and how it affected eighteenth-century thinking. To claim otherwise is to demonstrate one's ignorance to the world. It is astonishing how poorly educated the average Christian actually is, and they wonder why democracy has stopped functioning.
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 7, 2012 1:47:15 PM PST
Freudian Shrimp says:
If you decide to follow Mr. Thomas's advice and begin brushing up your American history as it relates to separation of church and state I suggest beginning here: Jefferson and Madison on the Separation of Church and State. You can't beat original sources.
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 7, 2012 4:21:58 PM PST
A great suggestion for a book; if nothing else, I will certainly order a copy. As for Craig, he isn't interested in comment or dialogue-his mind is already made up. From where I sit, it is really tragic that our republic and its democratic institutions have stopped functioning. It is people like Craig who do not have the requisite information to know when someone is lying to them who are to blame.
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 10, 2012 11:36:57 PM PST
No Steve probably did not read this book so he really has no idea of its actual contents.
I do have the book and I did read it and though I wouldn't classify it as a scholarly piece (the authors don't promote it as one) I do recommend it to Christians who are influenced by the big names in Christian activism. One could be COMPLETELY ignorant of the Constitution and American history and still find the information in this book relevant for TODAY. You don't need to have an advanced degree in American History or Political Science and you don't need a law degree to understand the point of the book or, say, learn from actual transcripts included in it that Ann Coulter is a fraud.
Steve is a Bible hater - he calls it fiction - and he's attacking me in the comment section of another book he most likely has not read. He's looking to boost his inflated ego by smearing anyone who has any faith. He's probably the type that likes the sound of his own voice. Conversing with Steve is a no win situation. He doesn't converse, he gets on a soapbox and rails......
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 11, 2012 8:06:49 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 11, 2012 8:15:43 AM PDT
Unlike many other people on Amazon, I am not afraid of a little debate or even a complete mischaracterization from the likes of you. Although your words here are quite petty, there isn't any substance or even a hint that you've actually read this book. However, I don't engage in that inane Amazon staple of accusing others of not reading this-or-that book. If you say that you've read it, then fine-you've read it. Now, let's discuss some of its finer points and why you think that "one could be COMPLETELY ignorant of the Constitution and American history and still find the information in this book relevant for TODAY."
Sorry but I am going to challenge you here. Are you certain about this point? To make such a statement shows me clearly that you haven't any clue as to what you're talking about. How is religious belief relevant to the US Constitution? Aside from its granting religious freedom, religion has little to nothing to do with it, but I'll await your answer on this one. The problem with people like you is that you do not appear to understand the US Constitution. And, so it seems, this is why the authors can make statements such as "time and again, judges have attempted to redefine marriage by thwarting long-standing legislation by and now even voter ratified state marriage amendments" (Jackson and Deace), and you seem to think its perfectly okay.
Here's the rub: the US Constitution protects the individual or the minority (not meaning race) from the tyranny of the majority; meaning, of course, that the majority does not get to vote away the rights of the individual or minority. This is why people like you and these authors are constantly confused about the Constitution because they and you simply do not understand it; otherwise, they would not have written such absurd statements. Thankfully, our founders understood that true democracy can never work-they called it mob rule-and therefore created the United States as a secular constitutional republic. Don't believe me? Why do you think Jefferson wrote that "Governments are instituted among Men?" It was a rejection of the divine right of kings. However, if you actually understood anything about your own country then you'd know this, right?
You need to do yourself and everyone else a favor; get off of the Bible-thumping bandwagon and start reading books that reflect reality. Here and the other blog you have continuously misunderstood points. It's as I've always said: innuendo, irony, and subtlety are lost on the obtuse. Indeed, everything needs to be spelled out for you. If you, like these authors, believe that the Bible is inerrant than you have a lot of explaining to do, and this is exactly why I say you are responsible because you do not live by all of its principles-only the ones you happen to like. You can pass yourself off any way you choose, but, believe me, the better educated readers on Amazon see through your thinly veiled lack of education.
P.S. Who's on a soap box?
P.P.S. One additional point: religious people claim that judges are redefining marriage, but religious people are attempting to redefine the constitutional foundations of our republic. This is why people like me will always attack people like you because we believe in the liberty of the individual and we do not make their business our business. People like you are trying to ram your subjective moral beliefs down everyone's throats.
Posted on Mar 11, 2012 6:04:30 PM PDT
Dr. Doctor says:
If there is "a kernel of truth for the founders did indeed intend a separation of church and state," Could you please explain how one of the less-religious founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson (whose Letter to the Danbury Baptists produced the quote "separation of Church and State" used by Justice Hugo Black) was found in Church IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, several days after penning said letter,? (http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/rel
Yes, President Jefferson, the great Enlightenment figure, was attending church services on the floor of Congress where John Leland preached a sermon on the text "Behold a greater than Solomon is here. Jefferson was present. " (http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/rel
Is there a conspiracy at the Library of Congress "trying to ram your subjective moral beliefs down everyone's throats?" Is the LoC misinterpreting the Enlightenment ideals and the ideas of the founding fathers?
Since you stated "ubiquitous ignorance that so often manifests itself within the religious and conservative minds," Does your ignorance concerning this "separation of church and state"issue demonstrate that you, yourself are a right-wing fundamentalist?
Although "your words here are quite petty",Perhaps "you need to do yourself and everyone else a favor"; get off of the Enlightenment-thumping bandwagon and "start reading books that reflect reality."
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 11, 2012 9:55:58 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 11, 2012 10:01:32 PM PDT
It's too bad that your post ended so badly because it started so nicely. Nevertheless, you simply do not understand what Jefferson was doing or what he believed. Moreover, if you think the Enlightenment was a "bandwagon" then I do not know how to help you. Tragically, you, like so many other right-wing Bible thumpers, fail to understand the meaning behind the wall of separation. Here is a quote from one of the letters from the Danbury Baptists to Thomas Jefferson:
"Our sentiments are uniformly on the side of religious liberty: that Religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals, that no man ought to suffer in name, person, or effects on account of his religious opinions, [and] that the legitimate power of civil government extends no further than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor."
Do you notice that it states "[...] between God and Individuals [...]" and not between government and God?" What do you think they meant about religious liberty? If government got into legislating religion then no one's beliefs would be safe. Can you really be this misinformed? You are so obtuse that you're defending a letter that actually proves my point. Moreover, to claim that Thomas Jefferson was religious is to show to the world your lack of historical knowledge. Jefferson was a deist and the Declaration of Independence clearly reflected his beliefs. It also reflected the clockwork nature of Newtonian physics.
If you are so willingly flippant about the Enlightenment then it is no wonder that you are confused about the founding of this nation. Indeed, never mind, Rousseau, Voltaire, Paine, Franklin, the Social Contract, Locke, Hume, etc. According to you, none of these extremely important Enlightenment thinkers even matter, so we can simply dismiss them and the period in which they lived simply because it's a "bandwagon." You are tragically misinformed and yet you reflect perfectly the decayed state of the American education system. Here's your homework: go back and reread my posts. Why do you think Jefferson wrote that "governments are instituted among Men?" Why do you think "men" was capitalized? If you think America was founded on Christian principles then you are dumb; there isn't any other way to put it. Let me leave with one other quote from the treaty of Tripoli (1797):
"Art. 11. 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 Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan 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."
It is time not only for you to seek and education but also a time to start reading books that reflect reality...
P.S. I do not think anyone has ever said that there weren't religious services--the historical record is clear, but this simple fact does not mean what you think it means.
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 12, 2012 4:05:38 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 12, 2012 4:11:07 PM PDT
Dr. Doctor says:
Thanks for your typically evasive response. I have known of that portion of the Danbury Baptist Letter. And the letter continues..(because a text, without a context, is a pretext)
"But sir, our constitution of government is not specific. Our ancient charter, together with the laws made coincident therewith, were adapted as the basis of our government at the time of our revolution. And such has been our laws and usages, and such still are, [so] that Religion is considered as the first object of Legislation, and therefore what religious privileges we enjoy (as a minor part of the State) we enjoy as favors granted, and not as inalienable rights. And these favors we receive at the expense of such degrading acknowledgments, as are inconsistent with the rights of freemen."
Notice the Baptists are complaining about a government and laws adapted at the time of the Revolution...(ie-Our ancient charter- the laws of the State of Connecticut where there was an establishment for the Congregationalist denomination (Baptists paid Taxes that went to Congregationalist Churches.)
The Baptists knew that their religion was the minority religion (as a minor part of the State) and their religious freedom was allowed and granted by the majority Congregationalists (we enjoy as favors granted). The Baptists were aware that the Congregationalists, as the majority, could take away their religious freedom. Therefore the Baptist's religious freedom was NOT an inalienable right.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. Or prohibit the free exercise thereof. Therefore, Congress can't make a Law "establishing" a national Christian denomination or any denomination for that matter.(as Connecticut had an establishment for Congregationalism.) Nor Could Congress make laws limiting the exercise of religion.
So, unlike you, I'll directly answer your Questions.
Do you notice that it states "[...] between God and Individuals [...]" and not between government and God?"
Yeah, I noticed. Religion's etymology means to Re legare-to bind back (to God). God loves you as much as me, and we must individually, by God's grace and our will, bind back the relationship between God and man. Did you notice this intelligent phrase was penned by a Right-Wing Religious?
Did I ever say between government and God? No, just another one of your rabbit holes.
What do you think they meant about religious liberty?
They meant their Federal Government had made an inalienable promise that the federal government would not interfere with an individual's conscience to worship (or not worship) as they pleased, but their state government granted NO SUCH PROMISE.
If government got into legislating religion then no one's beliefs would be safe. Can you really be this misinformed?
No. I'm not misinformed. The Federal Government was NOT into legislating religion, but State Governments were legislating religion all over the place. Could YOU BE so misinformed? As far as the founding fathers were concerned, the state's practice of legislating religion was of no consequence. Jefferson letter to the Danbury Baptist's was saying that the federal government won't be in the religion business in any way, positive or negative.(Congress(the federal Government) won't declare an established national religion, and it will not make any law limiting religion either-hence a wall of separation) If you wish to corroborate Jefferson's Constitutional stance concerning the first amendment, I suggest you read Jefferson's letter to Benjamin Rush on September 23, 1800.
Also, Did you not notice that later in the letter the Baptists said that POTUS "is not the national legislator" and that "the national government cannot destroy the laws of each state."? The Founding Fathers and the people recognized the supremacy of States Rights as the States were/are the entity that CONSTITUTES the Federal Government. As I am a libertarian/classical liberal/WHIG, I would suggest YOU should re-read the 9th and 10th amendments specially the parts about rights being reserved to the states and the people?
Steve-"Moreover, to claim that Thomas Jefferson was religious is to show to the world your lack of historical knowledge."
In your typically disingenuous manner, You suggest I claimed TJ was religious when I actually said TJ was "one of the less-religious founding fathers." You don't appear to have read what I said, I know...you're just executing your usual diatribe without actually responding to my argument. I'm not surprised.
I gave you the Jefferson reference, concerning TJ's attendance at Church in the House of Rep., because today, Progressive Ideologues and Federal Justices consider the phrase, "separation of Church and State" to mean the prevention of any form of religious activity from using Federal Funds or using Federal Property. This is NOT the interpretation that TJ had in mind, as his ACTIONS, as previously cited, prove otherwise. If you adhere to this progressive argument, I would suggest you start explaining.
Steve-"According to you, none of these extremely important Enlightenment thinkers even matter"
Wow! I'd like you to show me where I said that (meaning you should provide my direct quotes, not your quasi-intellectual presuppositions),but I know I'm interrupting your usual diatribe again.
I've done my homework, and it seems I've read ALL the Enlightenment thinkers you listed, I wasn't diminishing their contribution to the founding of our great nation. You wish to decentralize God from the founding of this nation because you think religious people are deluded and you think, by extension, they're wrong. I think you over-emphasize and centralize the Enlightenment Figures contribution to the founding of our nation. Therefore I used a variation of your words, "Bible-Thumping" to express your overemphasis on Enlightement figures' contribution to the founding ie.-"Enlightenment-thumping". Maybe you recognized this and didn't care because you could jump down some non-existent rabbit hole. Or maybe I was too cryptic for your intellectual level. Either way-my bad-I won't give you the benefit of the doubt anymore. Either way, Philosophically,much of Enlightenment Philosophy is now considered Invalid/Incoherent and self-refuting.
Steve-"If you think America was founded on Christian principles then you are dumb; there isn't any other way to put it."
Wow! Now that's a well developed argument. It's extensive. And I see, in normal anti-christian fashion, you've brought up the Treaty of Tripoli.
So one quick question, Was the Treaty of Tripoli part of our founding documents? I Didn't think so.(that was a rhetorical question; remember, no benefit of the doubt)
I'm not claiming the US was founded "on the Christian Religion." There is/was emphasis that the Federal Government, constituted by the states, should have no bearing on religion(positive or negative) as Jefferson and I have previously stated. Your Conscience to worship, any God or No God at all, be your guide.
But the Constitution and The Declaration of Independence have Christian principles as part of their underlying basis.
Name another world religion in 1776 that believed "all men are created equal"(MEANING EQUAL IN THE EYES OF GOD) and are endowed by their creator with "inalienable rights?
Governments are instituted by MEN, and therefore can be dissolved by MEN(that's the argument in the DOI). If rights are given by Governments, then governments can take them away, and they would be alienable (ie.-the concern of the Danbury Baptists). If rights are given by a creator, they're inalienable. MEN must choose to give up a limited amount of their rights to constitute a limited government which they can take back and dissolve the contract between Men and Government.
Here's some homework for you. What percentage of the signers of the DOI and The Constitution were bible thumping Christians? Wow! I guess the religious aren't so stupid after all.
By the way, Out of what culture did these Enlightenment marvels come? Was it India, the Orient, The Asian Steppes, sub-Saharan Africa, Australian Aborigine, Mayan, Aztec, or was it the Judeo-Christian Civilization of Europe?
PS- I'd bet my high school, undergraduate, graduate, and medical school education pedigree against yours anytime!
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2012 6:20:36 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 16, 2012 7:11:26 AM PDT
Here is the crux of your argument: "Therefore, Congress can't make a Law "establishing" a national Christian denomination or any denomination for that matter," yet you pass this off as gospel. In other words, this wall prevents government influence on religion but not religious influence on government. You are wrong. Because the First Amendment isn't clear, there is another interpretation, and, unfortunately for you, the Supreme Court also took this interpretation.
"In a landmark case, Lemon v. Kurtzman, the Supreme Court announced a three-part test it would use in determining whether the government's actions in a particular case violated the Establishment Clause. ... In [this] decision, the Court offered a three-part test, now referred to as the "Lemon Test," to determine when government involvement in religion becomes "establishment" or "promotion." For a national or state law to meet the requirements of the Lemon Test, it must first have a clear "secular legislative purpose." In other words, its goals must be nonreligious in nature. Second, its "primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion." Finally, any "excessive government entanglement with religion" must be avoided. The difficulty of meeting the standards set forth by the Lemon Test is that if a law fails to meet any one of its requirements, it is, according to the Court, unconstitutional" (thisnation.com).
Although this case is relatively recent (1971) it nevertheless reflects the secular nature of the form of government of the United States of America. And your misunderstanding explains why you wrote this: "So one quick question, Was the Treaty of Tripoli part of our founding documents? I Didn't [sic] think so." No, but it too reflected clearly the secular nature of our Republic. To deny this point is to deny everything for which this nation stands. Yet, this explains perfectly well why you so willingly dismiss the Enlightenment and its effects of the forming of our government. You have a myopic view of history and it prevents you from seeing reality. For a guy who claims to be straightforward with respect to answering questions you glossed over my points about the Declaration of Independence. This is unquestionably a document that embodies Enlightenment ideals-ones that religious people often misinterpret because they are always looking for signs of their beloved Jehovah.
And this statement really spells outs your fundamental confusion: "Name another world religion in 1776 that believed "all men are created equal"(MEANING EQUAL IN THE EYES OF GOD) and are endowed by their creator with "inalienable rights?"
Sorry, but this is so fundamentally backward that I scarcely know where to begin, yet if you understood the Enlightenment then you'd understand why. No, no, no. This had nothing to do with religion but rather the rejection of religious rule. In fact, "Thomas Jefferson first used the phrase in the Declaration of Independence as a rebuttal to the going political theory of the day: the Divine Right of Kings" (Wiki). What is the Divine Right of Kings, you ask? Great question, Doctor: "It asserts that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority, deriving his right to rule directly from the will of God" (Wiki). What do you think Jefferson was doing with that statement? He was placing the ordinary man on the same level as a sovereign. It was an indirect rejection of religion in government. So, you can keep calling the Enlightenment a bandwagon or you can start reading books that reflect reality. What do you think Jefferson meant when he said:
"[...] the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them [...]?" He was referring to Locke and the notion of natural rights. Notice they were using the word "natural" as it pertained to rights? This means of course nature-not heavenly. Notice that he said "nature's God?" This reflected his deist beliefs and the clockwork nature of Newtonian physics. Notice that he said "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed [...]?" It was a rejection of the Divine Right of Kings and an indirect rejection of religiously based politics. You can make whatever arguments you desire-including the adhominem attacks against me-but this will not help your case. For a guy who claims to be a doctor your understanding of history and the founding of this nation is limited...
P.S. Surely you recognize that one's academic pedigree doesn't have any bearing on the validity of their arguments? Besides, you don't even know my academic pedigree.