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Andy Walker

Religion and Politics

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It is my view that religion is consumed at different levels of mental health. For healthy people religious ideology is consumed as containing useful psychological information "do unto others..." "Love thy neighbour" etc.

At lower levels of mental health the individual (or country or community) is unable to function without incontestable "rules" governing their behaviour and activity. This is where we find fundamentalism. Fundamentalists also tend to use their religion to project what they don't like about themselves - hence the fixation with sexuality and sexual morality.

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Andy it is not a "fixation" with sexual morality.

Rather it is a belief that God Himself created the family as the cornerstone of society. An intact two parent family is clearly the best way to nurture and raise children.

Fundamentalists also believe that (and the Bible teaches) that God intended his gift of sex to be solely within marriage and of course one of the Commandments prohibits adultery.

There is abundant sociological evidence that when the family breaks down society itself suffers.

Even if there was no God, following the rules of sexual morality and the preservation of the family unit would be worthwhile.

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Andy it is not a "fixation" with sexual morality.

Oh yes it is...

Rather it is a belief that God Himself created the family as the cornerstone of society. An intact two parent family is clearly the best way to nurture and raise children.

If that's what he believed, why didn't he stay with Mary rather than leave it so poor carpenter to bring up his son?

It's so clear that Bush, Blair and many others from an 'intact two-parent family' have been responsible for millions of deaths.

There is abundant sociological evidence that when the family breaks down society itself suffers.

Even if there was no God, following the rules of sexual morality and the preservation of the family unit would be worthwhile.

Abundant sociological evidence??? Like, er, where?? The rules of sexual morality (as espoused by various religious communities) deny the humanity of many, are massively out of step with the modern world in which people live rather longer than the 35 odd years they could expect to live before modern science stepped in.

It's the imposition of sexual morality (increasingly by the press) that leads to many difficulties of government. Did, for example, Clinton's 'activities' make him a bad leader, or any worse than he already was? For John Major, his 'activities' may have actually added to his reputation. Both have been vilified for them.

Repressed sexuality is actually a route to insanity. That some christians repress their own sexuality, Tim, might lead them to insanity. :D

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The Heritage Foundation has complied a whole series of summaries of the sociological studies that have appeared in various peer-reviewed journals.

Children raised in non-intact families have, for instance, a much higher crime rate than children raised in the type of families that God ordained.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan was prescient when he attributed many of the problems in the black community to the break-down of the family. And that break-down was accelerated by some of the social welfare legislation of the sixties.

By the way, where in the world do you get the statistic that Bush and Blair have been responsible for "millions" of deaths? (Which of course is irrelevant to the discussion. More relevant: every presidential assassin came from a fatherless home.)

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Hm … the Heritage Foundation isn't exactly a neutral, scientific body, though, is it.

Scandinavian societies traditionally have a very low incidence of marriage, and a very high incidence of single-parent families … and generally very stable family life, with low incidences of social problems (including teenage pregnancies and abortions). Having the wealth of the society more evenly divided certainly seems to have something to do with this, but long-term cultural factors probably have a role to play too.

Scandinavia was always sparsely-populated, so there often were insufficient priests to go round, in the days when these societies were still religious. However, children were still needed to be born (to work on the farms!), so it was quite common for the priest to come round every couple of years and 'regularise' all the relationships. One consequence of this was that couples who failed to produce children could often just separate amicably, without having to get into drawn-out fights about property and inheritance (which are what marriage is really all about, isn't it - the property and the inheritance, that is, not the fights!).

When the Scandinavian societies became secular and threw off the dead hand of the church, stigmatisation of unmarried mothers quickly disappeared. Astrid Lindgren, for example, who wrote Pippi Longstocking, had an illegitimate son when she was 18 in the 1920s, but carried on with her life anyway. It took until the late 1950s, though before the attribution of 'illegitimate' to a child really lost its meaning.

An exercise I often use to introduce visiting Americans to Sweden is to show them a picture from the local paper of a family, who are all dressed up, and are usually photographed in some area of natural beauty. Americans rarely guess that these are wedding pictures … and that the bridesmaids and pages are the couple's own children. If people get married at all (and far fewer than 50% of them bother), they usually wait until the children are 9 or 10. It's also becoming more and more common for the husband to take the wife's family name, rather than the other way around … and it's also common for each person to just keep the name they were born with, despite being married. Homosexual couples are now allowed to adopt children too, although this still isn't that common.

So … if the proposition is that it's the one-parent families, or divorced families that are somehow causing the social problems, the example of Scandinavia seems to disprove that. It would seem more likely on this evidence that social problems stem from the economic structures of society than from the types of relationships people have.

Edited by David Richardson

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David, although the Heritage Foundation is a conservative think tank the studies it reported were from well-established secular journals and the peer-reviewed articles were written by social scientists without any apparent political allegiance or agenda.

More later.

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sociological studies that have appeared in various peer-reviewed journals.

Have been in peer-reviewed journals myself, as have many people I knew when teaching at uni. I know the value (or lack of) in this work. It's amazing fun, but don't take it as the truth!

Children raised in non-intact families have, for instance, a much higher crime rate than children raised in the type of families that God ordained.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan was prescient when he attributed many of the problems in the black community to the break-down of the family. And that break-down was accelerated by some of the social welfare legislation of the sixties.

Odd that a (rich) white man should be writing about (poor) black folk as though he knew them, wouldn't you say? Maybe there's a little more to it than just 'observation'? I'll wager that there's a whole lot more people from 'god-ordained' relationships who lived in inner-city poverty who also have a higher crime rate than those who don't live in such areas, and more than from non-god-ordained families outside this area.

By the way, where in the world do you get the statistic that Bush and Blair have been responsible for "millions" of deaths? (Which of course is irrelevant to the discussion. More relevant: every presidential assassin came from a fatherless home.)

Small point here: I never said Bush and Blair were responsible for millions of deaths; it was them and people like them (check the record). I'm not sure of their combined record. Bush has hit the 2000 mark in American lives alone in one campaign....

How many of the leaders of the combatants of WW1 in 1914 were from non-god-ordained families? How many of them from poor families??

I notice no response to the Jesus and Natural father vs Stepfather question... Or is this another "don't do as I do, do as I say" number?

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I wrote:

Daniel Patrick Moynihan was prescient when he attributed many of the problems in the black community to the break-down of the family. And that break-down was accelerated by some of the social welfare legislation of the sixties.

To which Mr. Waller replied:

Odd that a (rich) white man should be writing about (poor) black folk as though he knew them, wouldn't you say? Maybe there's a little more to it than just 'observation'?

Mr. Waller is an educator? This is one of the more ridiculous comments I have seen here (then again, that ain't saying much!). By Mr. Waller's premise, a criminologist cannot write about the recidivist rate unless the criminologist is himself or herself a repeat offendor? Obviously there was more to what Moynihan wrote than "observation"; he had studied the statistics and the relationships.

You know what? I'll bet you ten to one Waller's never read Moynihan's report.

It's also clear he has not read the Bible. God always remained Jesus' Father and unlike his natural father, God was always with him (until Jesus' death). When Jesus took on all the worlds' sins on the Cross (including all of mine), it became necessary for God to turn His back on His son, so his son could pay the price (atonement) for our sins. It was His abandonment that really killed Jesus. As he was dying, Jesus cried out (paraphrising without checking the actual scripture) "Father, why have you abandoned me?"

Any father can understand the sacrifice God had to make first to allow his son to suffer the agony of the cross, and then to abandon him. It demonstrates of course God's supreme love for us that he sacrificed his son to save us the penalty for our sins.

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I take it Gratz meant the Moynihan Report (1965), the one that suggested that "Negro unemployment" was linked causally to separation (ie unemployment rates increased a year before the separation rate increased) (see Ch 3).

Never read it :lol:

And the bible... being a former member of a christian church and living in what is still a predominantly christian culture for a number of years, my acquaintance with the bible is stronger than Gratz might imagine.

But neither of these are the point, right? They are just a smokescreen because his flimsy argument is rubbished by the things people write in response. He has no comeback for example against

there's a whole lot more people from 'god-ordained' relationships who lived in inner-city poverty who also have a higher crime rate than those who don't live in such areas, and more than from non-god-ordained families outside this area.

This moves away from racist thinking attributed to Moynihan - that the problems of America's black population are their own fault - and provides sound reasons to acknowledge that economic circumstances are the key determinant (which, as we all know, is a marxist argument).

So all he has left is invective (the switch from Mr Waller to Waller - although quite what my father's doing on here I'll never know, I wasn't aware he'd upset Gratz) and playground mocking "bet he hasn't even read it" followed by a Nelson [Simpsons] laugh. And I was told he was a right wing intellectual (cue Nelson's laugh!)

Dr Waller

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Excuse me, Dr. Waller, it was not clear to me that you have a doctorate. (I too have a doctorate degree but it is not common for either JDs of PhDs to insist on the use of the term "Dr.") (Oops-I see you insist on the doctorate designation because you hold a PhD--but this is FAR from common among PhDs.)

But you are so wrong on the SUBSTANCE of your comments.

Moynihan was NOT a racist and he was not attributing problems to blacks as a race. The same problems of the inner-city increased among the general population as a result, I believe, of the geometric increase in the divorce rate and the creation of fatherless homes as a result of the ill-conceived liberalization of the divorce laws.

If you have actually read Moynihan's report I find it incredible you can characterize it as "racist".

And your question about why God only gave Jesus a step-father demonstrates a profound theological ignorance, despite your claimed familiarity with the Bible. The whole question was preposterous in the first place. You intended God to have Mary "divorce" Joseph (to whom she was betrothed) so God coulld live on earth as Jesus' father? I mean the question was nonsensical in the first place.

The argument that there is a causal relationship between broken homes and societal problems is far from "flimsy", Dr. Waller. If I can I will go so far as to suggest that minds far more brilliant than yours have so concluded after doing far more research on the subject than you have. For you to characterize the argument as "flimsy" without investigating it simply demonstrates ignorance on your part, your doctorate degree notwithstanding.

An organization called Civitas issued a thirty to forty page report on this. Unfortunately I cannot find it on the Civitas web-site but I will make further inquiry.

http://www.civitas.org/development.html

Edited by Tim Gratz

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The evidence is strong that most young male criminals and juvenile delinquents (at least in the US) come from broken homes.

Certainly MOST children from broken homes do not necessarily become delinquent or promiscuous but the evidence seems fairly persuasive that being raised in a fatherless home significantly (by a factor of two or three times) INCREASES the probability that the child will become involved in anti-social behaviour; will drop out of school before graduation, etc.

And you might be interested that William Bennett once said (and I suspect he still believes) that divorce is a greater threat to the American family than is homosexuality.

If someone wants, I'll try to find and link the studies refered to in the Heritage Foundation report.

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The evidence is strong that most young male criminals and juvenile delinquents (at least in the US) come from broken homes.

I'm sure that this statistic accurately represents the situation in the USA. However, what it doesn't do is to establish a causal link (i.e. that they're criminals because they come from broken homes). The next thing to do is to see if there are any other factors which could explain this incidence (and, without having researched it, I wouldn't be surprised if socio-economic factors do just that).

There's plenty of historical evidence that the incidence of crime goes down as neighbourhoods become richer. London, for example, was a much more dangerous place in the good old Victorian days than it is now. I remember once, too, reading the school diaries which all state schools were obliged to maintain until the early 1920s from the (then) rural town of Dartford, just outside London. In the 1890s it was quite common for parents to come round to the school and thump the teacher or throw a brick through the window, if the teacher had said anything that little Johnny took exception to. When I was teaching in Dartford in the late 1970s, this would never have happened (though I don't know if it does now).

Again, without having the figures in front of me, I wouldn't be surprised if there were far more broken homes now than then. Homosexual pedophiles were fairly common in those days too.

Edited by David Richardson

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David I have read a report that said that when income was factored out the key issue was whether the young male was raised in an intact home.

Here is an interesting quote from a book (available on-line) called "The Case For Father Custody":

A judge will try a divorce case in the morning and place the children in the mother's custody. He will try a criminal case in the afternoon and send a man to prison for robbing a liquor store. The chances are three out of four that the criminal he sends to prison grew up in a female headed household just like the one he himself created that morning when he tried the divorce case.[1] He can't see any connection between the two cases. The time lag prevents him: the kids he placed in the mother's custody were toddlers and the criminal he sent to prison was in his teens or twenties. Toddlers don't rob liquor stores.

Besides most fatherless boys don't grow up to rob liquor stores and most fatherless girls don't grow up to breed illegitimate children. Therefore what? Therefore the legal policy of giving custody to mothers is OK? Therefore we can ignore the increased probability that fatherlessness will create delinquency?

This is the "safe drunk driver argument." Most drunk drivers don't get in accidents. They get home safely and sleep it off. Therefore drunk driving is OK.

It's not OK. And exiling fathers from families is not OK. The fact that will not go away is stated by sociologist David Popenoe in his recent book Life Without Father:

The negative consequences of fatherlessness are all around us. They affect children, women, and men. Evidence indicating damage to children has accumulated in near tidal-wave proportions. Fatherless children experience significantly more physical, emotional, and behavioral problems than do children growing up in intact families.

Popenoe by the way is a well-respected sociologist from Rutgers University.

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More from "The Case for Father Custody":

A green turtle--a reptile--begins its existence as an egg and never learns it has a mother or a father. Its mother's participation in its existence consists of conceiving and gestating it and burying the resulting egg in the sand. After remaining there and maturing awhile, it emerges from the sand and waddles down to the water to find a meal--or to become a meal for some other creature. It is self contained and lives on its own inherited resources or it dies.

Mammals came into existence during the Age of Reptiles. Mammalian mothers cherish their young, feed them from their own body, protect them, educate them. If you have a cat with kittens you can witness how mammalian motherhood works--how meaningful motherhood is, and how irrelevant merely biological fatherhood is once the father has performed his minuscule sexual function. Motherhood enables the kitten to have an infancy. This is the relationship which Judge Noland understands and seeks to preserve by awarding custody to mothers.

The kitten has no childhood. After a rather short period of helpless infancy, the kitten is almost suddenly a mature adult capable of fending for itself like the baby turtle after it emerges from its egg.

It was John Fiske, the nineteenth century American historian and philosopher, who pointed out what made human beings special-- and more successful than other mammals: the prolongation not only of infancy, but the creation of a whole additional era of life, childhood, something unknown in any other species--so that human children can enjoy an enormously long period during which they are protected, cherished, educable, playful, exploratory, sensitive and aware, a period during which they can reach out and learn about and come to love the world they live in.

It is fatherhood which makes childhood possible. It is father absence which creates ghettos and gangs and messed-up kids--boys trying to find their identity through violence, girls trying to find their identity through sexual promiscuity, which will lead to the violence of the next generation. They need real fathers, "sociological fathers," not mere studs interested in sharing a one- night stand with Mom.

Sociological fatherhood is real fatherhood, as Margaret Mead says, "a social invention." In the ghettos the biological fathers are seldom sociological fathers. They aren't good for much because Mom's sexual disloyalty denies them the role of sociological fatherhood. Lawmakers and politicians don't understand what Margaret Mead tells them, that fatherhood is a social invention, that it must be created and maintained by society.

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David I have read a report that said that when income was factored out the key issue was whether the young male was raised in an intact home.

Oh please!!! :lol:

And when I factor out all the damage it's done I think war is a great way to to keep a lid on population expansion :lol::lol:

More.. If I factor out all the money, I find that we're a pretty equal society in terms of income :lol::lol:

Tim, give up the day job! You career as a comedian is calling!

What your quote says is that income is the key variable. In using it to advance your argument, you've just agreed with an aging revolutionary marxist (that would be me). I can dine out on that for months!

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