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Author Topic: Would you live in a Religious State?
Bob_Scopatz
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Suppose you had the opportunity to live in a country where the laws were derived completely and unequivocally from the Scripture you most believe in. Suppose further that your particular denomination was in charge of the country and made the rules for everyone. Suppose even further that you and everyone else would be subject to the laws derived by clergy who were selected from the branch of your denomination that you most identify with.

Would you welcome it?

If you had the chance to vote this type of government into power, would you do it?

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Scott R
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My interpretation of my religion, or theirs?
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beverly
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Hmmm, if my religion were in charge of a country, I don't think they would run it the way you described, so my answer is no.
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Mabus
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Same situation as Beverly. It just isn't the way we do things. Besides which, I don't think anyone in the churches of Christ has ever claimed to have a comprehensive blueprint for society--generally, the impression I get is that we rely on having an outside government.
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beverly
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There is a bit of info on a society primarily lead by leaders of "the church" in the Book of Mormon and how they handled some difficult moral decisions. This story is somewhat closely paralelled in OSC's book "Earthborn".

Basically, when it came to religious matters, the government did not regulate things at all. They left those decisions to the church. The laws dealt with non-religious issues like fair treatment and punishing murderers, theives, etc.

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PSI Teleport
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It doesn't seem like there's anyway it could work, short of Jesus coming down and running things.
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twinky
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Being non-religious... no.
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A Rat Named Dog
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The people who get the biggest charge out of enforcing my religion on others typically have some very strong disagreements with me on the particulars of what that religion should entail. So no, that sounds like hell [Smile]

A religious state derived from my own narrow interpretation of my faith would hold as one of its highest values the freedom of religion [Smile]

[ March 19, 2004, 08:42 PM: Message edited by: A Rat Named Dog ]

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skrika03
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I believe Jesus will one day return to rule, but he'll be over all the earth and not individual nations. Not quite sure how that will work. But the short answer is "no".
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mr_porteiro_head
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I don't think my church would accept the job it it were offered.

But I *would* have problems with somebody else dictating thier interpretation of my religion into the law, so I would vote against it.

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aka
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I agree that freedom of religion would be the first principle required in such a state, and free agency in general. The state should not promote or sponsor one religion above others, even, or promote religiousness above non-religiousness. Given that, I don't even think it makes sense to call it a religious state. So I guess that means my answer is no.

However, suppose something happened sort of like in Folk of the Fringe when civilization fell. Then I would certainly expect to find most Mormons quietly staying civilized, despite the lack of any civil authority, and building things back up that were torn down by others. I would certainly join them, and I believe they would be organized and run by church leadership, by the priesthood and relief society, as they are now, except with a lot of new callings like power engineering, farming, or garbage collection added on. It would be natural and it would work. Maybe once the recivilized areas were large enough to include significant numbers of nonmembers, we would just go right back to being a democracy.

Folk of the Fringe was a great book. The whole thing. Especially Pageant Wagon. [Smile]

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aka
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I think the main reason religion should not be promoted by the state is that no religion can survive in a true form a concerted campaign of paid advertising. You can't serve both God and Mammon. The state is always Mammon. Religion should stay free of that. It has to come from the heart, or else you do it a real disservice.

Maybe that's another reason missionaries have to pay their own way (or otherwise scrape up the funds) to be missionaries. If it were something the church routinely financed, then it wouldn't be coming from their heart so much, would it? It would be something other than pure service, perhaps.

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Stan the man
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Heh, never. I may Baptized and Confirmed Roman Catholic, But I could never live happilly if it ruled soley based on their interpretation of the Bible. I would probably be ousted for believing differently.
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newfoundlogic
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I would say no because extremism breaks out too easily. In a theocracy power is usually determined by who is the most religious and this leads to stricter and stricter interpretations, look at Iran and pre-9/11 Afgahnistan.
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TomDavidson
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It's amazing how many religions believe that, following an apocalypse, their religion will be uniquely suited to rebuilding the world.
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Xavier
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I was thinking the same thing Tom. Why the LDS would survive and be civil when the rest of the country are raving barbarians I have no idea.

It worked in Folk of the Fringe as a plot device, but thinking it would actually happen that way seems awfully silly to me.

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Teshi
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I think, that within a highly religious state, I would either become very very passive and pious, which I would hate in myself, or I would spend my time trying to get around whatever restraints were put in my way, and wanting to help the radicals fighting against the state (because there always are some) but being too worried about penalties to be truly dedicated myself.

Either way, I think I would be very unhappy.

[ March 19, 2004, 10:45 PM: Message edited by: Teshi ]

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eslaine
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Yeah, and looting, and killing anyone who tried to stop me, yeah, and striking hard against the religious state, ooh that would be sweet, yeah, and maybe if they all had death rays, yeah, that's good, death rays and stone knives, yeah, and--

Um. Nevermind.

*whistles*

[ March 19, 2004, 10:40 PM: Message edited by: eslaine ]

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Belle
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No. I would not for many of the reasons listed here. Mainly for the ones newfoundlogic mentioned.
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Occasional
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I think the apocolypse thing works with Mormons because it has already been proven in the past that they are able to work things out as a group left relatively alone. They also have a very specialized system of organization built within its structure. True, it would hardly be the only "civilizing" society that could exist. But, I do think it would be one of the first to regroup.
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blacwolve
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I am currrently having problems with my religion (I no longer believe in it and despise most of it's members) precisely because they would love to run the country and would take that opportunity to be quite evil.

The last straw was our lesson at small group a few weeks ago. The text was the beginning of Matthew 7, you know, "do not judge that you might not be judged." The lesson? Why that passage really is telling us TO judge.

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aka
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Yeah, I think it's the heritage that makes me feel that way. Early Mormons, after many members were murdered by mobs and most had their property looted and destroyed, just built handcarts, packed them with what they had left, and pushed them across the country to a rather desolate place where they could live in peace, then farmed and irrigated and built it up into a beautiful new home. I'd like to think if we had to, we could do it again. [Smile]

[ March 20, 2004, 12:23 AM: Message edited by: aka ]

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Geomancer
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Let's just say that my religious position is fairly nonexistent. I don't think total Agnosticism would bode well with most normal people... I don't think I'm in a position to dictate people's religions...
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Shigosei
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No, I would not want to live in a religious state. That way lies the witch trials.
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Bob_Scopatz
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(((blacwolve)))

Spoils a perfectly good religion, doesn't it?

I don't know if this is a new thing for them, but the Baptists in the US are heading in exactly the direction you indicated. I'm not sure what denomination you are in currently, but it sounds like they're going that way too.

I wasn't strong enough at the time I saw this (the last presidential election) to fight them. I'm not sure I'm strong enough now -- or have the street cred, you know -- but I am sure with every fiber of my being that they MUST be stopped. Ideally, they'd stop themselves.

I think there's one thing though, that should happen.

I think no-one should choose a candidate based on religious affiliation or statements about their religious beliefs. Any candidate that would make such things part of their platform is actually feeding this movement in the US.

We've all stated that we wouldn't want to live in a country that was run under religious laws. So why would we vote for someone based on their religion?

I assume we actually WANT secular control. So, ones religion is (or ought to be) irrelevant. Just so long as we can judge a candidate's ability in areas that matter, we should discount the religion side of things.

No?

Or is that skipping a few steps in logic?

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Shan
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My goodness, Bob - you're philosophical on this gorgeous A.M.

We've seen what hapens when religious leaders also hold the secular reins of power. Usually it ain't a good thing. On the other hand, what do we make of such leaders/movements as those that MLK Jr. or Ghandi led?

It seems that people want religion separated from civil government - for good reasons. Yet, when difficult tasks loom, they want that spiritual foundation to bolster and guide the decision making process.

How do we reconcile those two thoughts?

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Bob_Scopatz
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We demand more of our leaders.
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Shan
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Are you replying to the philosophical comment or the reconciliation comment.

I won't be able to respond coherently unless I get some clarification.

(Wanders off to make coffee)

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Raia
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My answer is also "no." I agree with many of the reasons that have already been mentioned here, but also, I have spent my entire life living in a country (well, a few, but for all intents and purposes just one) where my religion has been a distinct minority among members of the community. Especially in England (sorry AGAIN to those of you who live there), the Christianity was such an integral part of society that I felt quite suffocated at times.

It's not that I didn't/couldn't make friends and associate with non-Jews; I had many Goyish friends (though, to be fair, I don't know just how much of that was due to the fact that the Jewish population in Coventry, later Oxford was sadly lacking), but even some of them felt that their predominantly Christian society was a bit too intense, and not open to other faiths.

That didn't really answer the question of would I like to live in a Jewish state, but the answer is no. There are too many problems surrounding an idea like that.

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Dagonee
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quote:
So why would we vote for someone based on their religion?
Becaue someone's religious beliefs ought to inform their entire being.

quote:
I assume we actually WANT secular control. So, ones religion is (or ought to be) irrelevant. Just so long as we can judge a candidate's ability in areas that matter, we should discount the religion side of things.

No?

Or is that skipping a few steps in logic?

It's skipping quite a few steps. There's a big difference between wanting a theocracy and wanting someone with similar values running the secular government.

Dagonee

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Teshi
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quote:
spiritual foundation to bolster and guide the decision making process
I don't think people want or demand spiritual justification, I think they are given it and they learn to accept it, and then to expect it. After all, not all governments can or do include religion in speeches and explanations, and they seem to function just as well. Religion is often an easy way to express feelings of anger, of sorrow etc., and people get used to that if they hear it a lot.

In Canada, I think religion is used less as an explanation (perhaps not at all, but I don't want to say that, because I don't listen enough to politics to really know) and so if someone did start using it, there would be unease. I know I feel uncomfortable whenever politicians mention God, because I'm completely unused to it.

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Bob_Scopatz
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Shan...reconciliation.

Dagonee -- I disagree. When a candidate plays the God card, he or she is stating more than a religious belief. Voters don't know what's really behind that. All they know is this candidate stuck a Christian fish on their pamphlets. What's that mean? That I want the Christian vote, for sure. But what else?

We have a judge here in town for whom it means establishing a system of justice based on the Bible (or rather his interpretation of it). I don't think people knew that about him when tney elected him. (Oh, and I'm serious, this isn't just hyperbole on my part.)

Why would people take the Christian label as shorthand for "this person shares my views?" It's just as bad as taking the Republican or Democrat label as an indication of shared viewpoints. Sure, the parties and religious affiliations stand for something but they mask a lot more that's of importance, IMHO.

As blacwolve has pointed out, there are definitely people (mostly from a scattering of evangelical sects) who would prefer a Christian-based theocracy in this country and who are working hard to make that happen. We've all pretty much agreed that we don't want that.

But we're not the ones working on a plan for the future.

If Christians vote the God card indiscriminately (and that's what I'm really most worried about -- voting for someone simply BECAUSE of their religious stamp of approval), who's agenda are they supporting? God's? Hardly. at least IMHO.

But they might be helping an eventual establishment of theocracy in America without even realizing it.

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Shan
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I think we are defining "spiritual" differently, Teshi.

I am not likening it to "religious dogma" - I am thinking more in terms of clear, ethical, principled behavior. Which is the result of some pretty good foundation laying. Which can happen whether you are a "humanist" or a "naturalist" or a Buddhist, or an agnostic, or a Catholic . . . or well - I'm sure you get the point.

Anyway - I don't mix religion with spirituality. The former is an institution where people with similar spiritual practices join together and encourge one another in the positive and beneficial expression of their spiritual practices. But you DON'T have to be involved in the former to achieve the latter.

[Smile]

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Dagonee
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A candidate's "playing the God card" is very different from a voter using someone's religion as one criteria for deciding whom to vote for.

The gap between those two represent the missing logical steps you asked about.

Dagonee

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Xaposert
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As long as my rights and the rights of others are protect, sure I'd live in it. Why not?

Actually, I'd probably end up living in it either way, if I was born into it. People aren't very free to change states if they don't like theirs. They can, but it's pretty difficult.

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Teshi
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Shan-

How does the spirituality show itself, though? It's different if the leader has morals inspired by spirituality or religion, but if the spirituality becomes explanation such as "God wills it" (only rarely so severe), then it becomes what I am talking about.

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Bob_Scopatz
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Dagonee...

I wasn't talking about using it "as one criterion." I was talking about using it as a primary criterion.

I have no problem with people looking for similarities between themselves and candidates on a number of dimensions. In that context, I think a shared religious viewpoint can be important and meaningful.

And that's not how a religious state comes into power. It comes into power when people vote their religion. Look at the Middle East the parties are different religious sects, essentially. And when the majority wins over there, Islamic law becomes the law of the land.

Complete with amputating limbs for petty crimes and stoning for adultery.

I know people in this country who voted for Bush because they thought God wanted GWB as president. I think we're in trouble if that's the calibre of thinking that goes into a decision for who will lead this nation.

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HRE
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quote:
I know people in this country who voted for Bush because they thought God wanted GWB as president.
Bob, would you disagree with a similar statement?

"I know people in this country who voted for Bush because their ministers/pastors/preachers told them that God wanted GWB as president."

That rings a bit more true in my mind.

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beverly
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quote:
I know people in this country who voted for Bush because they thought God wanted GWB as president. I think we're in trouble if that's the calibre of thinking that goes into a decision for who will lead this nation.
I don't think that is necessarily a bad thing. I think it can be a bad thing. I think it is more dangerous when it is a situation of a religious authority saying, "God wants such and such to be president". I think the church to which I belong tries to steer clear of anything like that.
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Slash the Berzerker
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I certainly wouldn't want to live in a state run by the Mormon's. It's tough enough to find a good bar in Utah, and the Mormon's there at least pretend not to run the state.
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BookWyrm
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Here's a little snippet from someone in power now that has made a declaration:

http://newsobserver.com/news/story/...p-3035454c.html
Panel cuts 'sexual orientation'
Raleigh council member objects to more inclusive mission statement

By SARAH LINDENFELD HALL, Staff Writer

RALEIGH -- City Council member Mike Regan said his religious beliefs prompted him to speak up against a council-appointed commission's request to update its mission statement to add that it would advocate for all people regardless of sexual orientation.
Regan said Friday that he was surprised when commission chairman Eugene Weeks and the rest of a three-member council committee reviewing the request went along with him this week. Other members of the committee are Philip Isley and Thomas Crowder.
The full council will consider the Human Resources and Human Relations Advisory Commission's requests Tuesday. The council also will consider the commission's recommendations to change its name to the Human Relations Commission and trim the number of members from 18 to 13.
Regan said that adding "sexual orientation" to the mission statement legitimizes a behavior that he said the Bible calls abhorrent.
"I'm the kind of Christian who believes every word of the Bible literally," said Regan, who represents central North Raleigh. "I've read the Bible several times, and my first allegiance is to God, who is my king. I need to stand up for his laws and ordinances before any other. And I think that our city, our state and our country will be better off if we follow his laws and ordinances."
The commission's current mission statement says that it "seeks to serve as an advocate for all people regardless of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex or age in pursuit of human and economic relationships."
The proposed statement adds disability, marital status, economic status and sexual orientation. It also changes the word "sex" to "gender."
The commission advises the council on human services and human rights issues. A city ordinance already forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation. The ordinance -- which also prohibits discrimination based on age, handicap, sex, race, color, creed and national origin -- was amended to include sexual orientation in 1988.

---paragraphs cut for brevity----
At least one council member said "sexual orientation" belongs in the mission statement.
Janet Cowell, a former commission member, said the group has evolved from focusing on relations between African-American and white residents to developing a broader definition of diversity.
"I believe that sexual orientation should be included," Cowell said, "and that everyone who lives in Raleigh has the right to be treated in the same way and not be discriminated against."

Notice the parts I made bold? A direct quote of his stance and how he will determine what laws he will follow/advocate and in what order. THAT is rather scary

[ March 20, 2004, 12:52 PM: Message edited by: BookWyrm ]

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beverly
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Slash, there is a majority of LDS in Utah, so it is not surprising that many aspects of this state reflect LDS ideals. If there were a majority of LDS in the States, you might have a hard time finding a good bar anywhere in the good ol' US.

[ March 20, 2004, 01:18 PM: Message edited by: beverly ]

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katharina
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It's all relative. Texas has entire dry counties - no bars anywhere.

*grin* Besides, Slash would have been king growing up in Utah. Girls there are programmed to never say no if someone asks for a date. Can you imagine?

---

No, I'm glad we do not live in a theocracy. I just had a discussion with a fellow ward member about how advertising a ward activity as a good place to meet someone to make out with was not a good idea. I can't imagine if that was the head of secular life as well.

[ March 20, 2004, 01:30 PM: Message edited by: katharina ]

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Bob_Scopatz
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kat...how are they with handing out figs or apricots?

HRE & beverly, anyone claiming to know what God wants in an election is fooling themselves. Anyone preaching that kind of thing is fooling their followers (if the followers are foolish enough to buy into it).

I could believe that a preacher might legitimately say something like "Candidate X's positions are more closely aligned to our church's doctrine on the issues of marriage, homosexuality, social action, schools, ..." But that's a whole different kettle of fish from saying "God wants X to win."

That kind of statement belongs in the "God you Say" or the "It's Sacrilicious" thread.

Frankly, I can't tell the difference between something like that and any of the bizarre and hilarious statements that have been posted in those two threads. At their heart, it's just people making stuff up in God's name. At least here we know its all in jest and not intended to convince anyone of anything.

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Alucard...
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MY ANSWER: NO and YES:

If I were to live my life as it is now, then I would say no to your question Bob. The simple culmination of events that explain this decision is that I geared my life and the way I live it to take place in a capitalistic and secular society. It would be impossible to forego my current lifestyle and join a religious sect and hide from society at this point in my life.

However, once upon a time I was recommended to my Diocese as a potential candidate for entering the priesthood (Catholic). I received a call from a nice Father and gave him my reason for turning him down. I was more enamoured with the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony than I was with Holy Orders. I believed at the time (and still do)that my service in this life was to form a family and do my best to make it perpetuate and grow.

And there is a point to all this. I was faced with the thought of serving God directly within the church or by serving Him in what I considered my interpretation of what I meant to do. This all sounds so predestined that I hate to imply such a thing. Believe me, I do not. I did however make a silent promise to God that if He decided that I was not cut out to have a family that I would serve Him within the Church. But still, the event that would provoke such a drastic change would be if my family were whisked away from me by some catastrophe. I would NEVER want that to happen, but if it did, I could spend the rest of my days as a monk, shut out the world that I would most likely curse for a time, and spend the rest of my days in solitude.

This was far longer and more detailed than I meant it to be BTW...

Edited for clarity of the befuddled mind.

[ March 20, 2004, 01:52 PM: Message edited by: Alucard... ]

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Belle
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Raia, I'm curious. We send missionaries to England, it's considered a very atheistic place. Our missionaries were treated much worse in England than in any of the Central American countries they've been to.

They'd love to find someplace where Christianity was so stifling in England.

Bob, I'm with Dag, you are indeed leaving out a lot. Do I primarily vote for Christians? Yup. Mainly I want someone who values the things I do, but I'm not naive in thinking that any politician who claims to be a Christian actually lives out a Christian life. Many do, many use it just to get votes.

If I believed in my heart that a Jewish or atheistic candidate agreed with me on the issues that are important to me, then I'd vote for them in a heartbeat.

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dkw
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I have a question, and Iím trying to find a non-defensive way of asking it. Do most LDS really believe that other Christians donít think for themselves, theologically, but just believe whatever their pastor tells them? I keep seeing statements that seem to imply that on this forum. Iím a pastor. I serve two congregations. It is not my job to think for my parishioners, or tell them what to think. It is my job to support, encourage, and resource their own theological reflections. If, in a Sunday sermon, I give people something new to think about, or suggest a different way of looking at things, I consider it a success. The conclusion is up to them.

Edit to add: any clergyperson who tells the congregation who to vote for is risking his or her church's tax-exempt status. The church-state line can get fuzzy in places, but that is clearly across it.

[ March 20, 2004, 02:06 PM: Message edited by: dkw ]

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katharina
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It's not doctrine. I think...it's human nature. I hear Americans talk about being the only free country all the time, and it's the same phenomonon - part of having it good is that you tend to feel no one else could.

It's not part of the church. It may be part of the culture, but so it getting married after knowing each other for six weeks. Sorry about that.

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Belle
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Thanks for your post, dkw.

I totally agree with you, I get some of the same vibes and I didn't want to mention it, and thanks kat for clarifying.

I've never been told who to vote for in church. I've been told to pray for our leaders, and to prayferfully consider who to vote for. But I've never, ever been told "Vote for candidate X."

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newfoundlogic
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I don't think people should ever use religion to justify any political belief especially in America. The reason for this is very simple. Not everyone holds the same religious belief. Even for those who claim its "Judeo-Christian" value they leave out Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and any number of other religions. Personally, as a Jew I've never bought that it is "Judeo-Christian" values, I think the first part has only been included for politcal correctness. I think that even if the 1st admendment doesn't actually say it, it does intend to prevent government from imposing any religion on people. That's why I hope people will evaluate their political positions separately from their religion.
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