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Andy Walker

Religion and Politics

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Dr. Waller: you are a PhD and do not understand what I said which is that studies show the significant factor in crimes is not socioecomic status but family stability?

Research indicates that young males even from the lowest income level do not usually commit crimes if raised in a home with both biological parents.

I hope you can understand that sentence. If not let me know and I will try to make it easier for you.

I have read digests of numerous studies. I doubt you have read anything about this subject.

Your attempt to refute me through ridicule does not work, Dr. Waller! People engage in ad hominen attacks (classified as a logical fallacy) when they cannot refute the argument.

Edited by Tim Gratz

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Tim, I don't agree with Ed's ad hominem attacks, but I do think he's got a point.

Seen from my perspective up here in northern Europe, I'd say that the United States is a very difficult laboratory to use if you want to find things out about human behaviour, on account of the gross inequalities that exist there. In other words, the distorting mirror on human behaviour that inequality and injustice presents makes it extremely difficult to sort out what is cause and what is effect.

On the other hand, as a matter of practical politics, encouraging the cohesion of families must be a good idea. The question is whether the institution of marriage is the right vehicle for it. A Swedish academic recently came up with a way to cut the Gordian knot on the issue of whether gay people should be permitted to marry - just abolish marriage for everyone, then there wouldn't be an issue! He wasn't advocated abolishing the civil protections marriage is sometimes associated with in some countries, by the way.

When the Myrdals in Sweden were helping to set up the current welfare state here, they saw the provision of high-quality day nurseries as an essential element in promoting the cohesion of families. In other words, if you make day-care provision cheap and of very high quality, you enable all sorts of social benefits, including the possibility of women being able to earn the money which will take them out of poverty.

Before our youngest daughter was born we took part in a parenting course at the local maternity centre. There were 7 couples taking part, of whom only two were married (both immigrants - if you count me as an immigrant). All the women, apart from my wife, were having their first child, but only one of the men was. Many of them had children of their own who were not that far in age from the woman they were with now.

The point is that this was taking place in the affluent surroundings of Sweden. There's absolutely no evidence that the lack of marriages causes social problems here, or that the rather involved and complicated relationships people get into does either. If you factored extreme poverty into the equation, together with an unbalanced view of the place of marriage in society, I'm sure that you'd get the problems too … as night follows day.

Edited by David Richardson

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Mr. Richardson, thank you for a thoughtful post that attempts to analyze the issues involved. I don't want to comment on it until I can study it some more but your point of view and facts certainly merit consideration.

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More from "The Case for Father Custody":

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.

Yes but 'sexual disloyalty' exists in other areas than the 'ghetto.' as you refer to it. By your argument, where are all the middle-class criminals who having been brought up by their mother have resorted to crime? Yes, maybe as you say their is an association between lack of father figure and criminal behaviour but is most definately not as simple as that. Why do people from disadvantaged backgrounds commit crime? For all sorts of reasons, just as people from wealthy backgrounds commit crimes for all sorts of reasons. It just so happens that the wealthy people commiting crimes in the US for example actually run the country and are white - therefore they get away with crimes far worse than the average street criminal who might rob a liquor store (or off-licence as we call them.) What makes these people commit crimes such as stealing tens of millions of dollars, sending thousands of young men to their pointless deaths, invading other countries and blowing innocent men, women and babies to pieces in the process? Maybe it is the same attitude than reinforces the divisions in Amerivan society which keep the poor people living in their ghettoes without aspirations or hope then whine on about reasons for them committing crime - such as having no father figure. Then lock them all up in prison as a solution. Crime is a money making industry for the wealthy in America - the wealthy shareholders of the private companies that run prisons, the insurance industries etc make money from crime. As do gun companies, lawyers etc. I wonder how many people from the 'ghetto' benefit in this way?

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In an earlier post, Gavin wrote:

I would prefer my 'leader' if I must have one to be rational therefore not to believe in any god.

Here is a biography of famed John Hopkins neurosurgeon Benjamin Carson, a commited Christian:

http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/printmember/car1bio-1

This is one of the medical miracles he performed which you may recall:

In 1987, Carson made medical history with an operation to separate a pair of Siamese twins. The Binder twins were born joined at the back of the head. Operations to separate twins joined in this way had always failed, resulting in the death of one or both of the infants. Carson agreed to undertake the operation. A 70-member surgical team, led by Dr. Carson, worked for 22 hours. At the end, the twins were successfully separated and can now survive independently.

I do not mean to be too snide but I suspect Dr. Carson's intellect and rationality exceeds that of John, Andy, Gavin, Dr. Waller and me put together.

Anyone who says a rational thinker cannot be a Christian simply demonstrates his own irrationality. The existence of many Christians and practicing Jews of the highest intellect demonstrates that whoever claims no rational person can be believe in God is either blind or dishonest.

You will notice that Dr. Carson was raised by a single-mother and he experienced the same problems (low academic performance and rebellion) that is often the result of broken homes. But fortunately his mother turned him around. (Somehow I suspect God had a litte to do with it as well.)

Edited by Tim Gratz

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Tim - I don't know if you missed my post where I explained that initial comment but this is what I said:

'If a leader can make such an irrational decision to believe in a god what other irrational decisions are they capable of? This is my point. If they are devoutly religious then many of their decisions and actions are therefore grounded in irrationality.'

Of course, religious people can make rational decisions. But they also clearly demonstrate irrationality - especially if they are devoutly religious and their actions are guided by 'god.'

Incidentally, I'd be interested to hear your response to my most recent post (4th Nov)

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I contend that abortion is as abhorrent as slavery and that there are raciual undertones in the abortion movement.

It is indeed true that slavery was one of the main moral issues of the 19th century. The problem for Christians was that slavery appeared to satisfy their own economic self-interest. Large numbers of people, including religious leaders, owned slaves. At the time, slaves were seen as cheap labour. Other, non-slave owners, invested heavily in the slave-trade. These investments generally returned healthy profits. Others obtained work from the slave trade (sailors, shipbuilders, etc.). The general public also believed slavery was good for them. For example, it was argued that it resulted in cheaper consumer goods.

A small minority objected to slavery on moral grounds. For example, members of the Society of Friends and the Unitarian Society, argued that their reading of the Bible suggested that God was against slavery. However, supporters of slavery pointed out that even though Jesus lived in a society with slaves, there is no record of him condemning this activity.

Quakers and Unitarians also argued against other “immoral acts”. For example, they were also opposed to child labour and believed that the state should take action to relieve the suffering of the poor. They were also in favour of universal suffrage and trade union rights as they believed it would enable working people to improve their standard of life by group action. Once again, the established church argued that there was no evidence of Jesus speaking out against these things.

Although they referred to the Bible, Christians were making “moral” decisions based on perceived economic self-interest. Slavery, child labour, limited suffrage, etc. kept wage rates low and profits high.

Campaigners against slavery realized that it would only be brought to an end by applying economic, rather than moral arguments (the same was true of the debate over child labour). Therefore they used the arguments of people like Adam Smith to attack slavery. In his book Wealth of Nations (1776), Smith claimed that slavery was inefficient. That people who were paid wages worked much harder than those being threatened with a whip.

This argument became clearer in the 1790s when sugar produced by non-slave labour in India became cheaper than that being produced by slave labour in the West Indies. Smith argued that it was clear that capitalism had reached a stage where paid labour was more efficient than slave labour. This was the same argument that Robert Owen made about child labour. He quoted facts about the extra productivity he achieved by not employing young children. He sent them to school instead. He never used references to the Bible although he did talk about the need to develop a socialist society.

William Wilberforce used Adam Smith’s arguments in his campaign to bring an end to the slave trade. This was not a moral issue. For example, Wilberforce was a strong supporter of child labour. He had been unconvinced by Owen’s economic arguments. He was also against universal suffrage, trade union rights, gender equality, etc. Wilberforce was in fact your typical Tory.

Conservative historians have attempted to portray the struggle against slavery and child labour as a moral issue. In truth, it was primarily an economic issue. Only a small minority of Christians believed that slavery and child labour was morally wrong.

Tim Gratz has tried to argue that the campaign against abortion is similar to the campaign against slavery. That abortion in the 21st century is similar to the 19th century campaign against slavery. This is of course nonsense. There are two major moral issues that people living in the developed world face. One concerns the way we treat the poor. That means the people dying of starvation in the underdeveloped world and the people who live stunted lives in our own countries. Like with slavery, most Christians decide their views based on economic self-interest. Only a minority treat it as a moral issue. As a result, the majority support policies that increase their own personal wealth and income and oppose those policies that would help to reduce inequality.

The second major moral issue today concerns the future. Should we be pressurizing our politicians to be making decisions that are good for our children, grandchildren and those not yet born. In other words, policies that will save the planet from destruction. This is exclusively a moral argument. It is very difficult to argue that this measures would achieve short-term economic gain. It is why environmentalists are having so little impact on the consciousness of the population.

Why then does Tim want to argue that it is abortion that is the major moral issue. He is not alone, it is a common cry of the Christian Far Right. These are of course people who are opposed to any attempt to reduce inequality. Nor are their believers of global warming. Instead they demand cheaper fuel do that they can drive around in their cars. They are even willing to send troops to invade other countries to ensure their supplies of oil.

People like Tim therefore concentrate their moral concerns on the unborn rather than the living. Helping the living poor costs money. Stopping abortions has no personal economic implications for the Christian Right.

To support their case, they have to argue that abortion is murder. In fact, according to Tim’s description of abortion, it is torture followed by death. This of course has nothing to do with reality. It is just an attempt to disguise the fact that the Christian Right is made up of immoral people who are completely unconcerned by the plight of the poor and the dispossessed. They are on the side of the strong over the weak. What is more, they are hypocrites of the worse kind, because they try to pretend to be followers of Jesus Christ, that well-known supporter of the rich and powerful.

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