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cityboi

politics and religion should be separated

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now a days we see it too often. "you're only a faithful christian if you support George Bush and the republican party". I think people (christians) need to be careful about following someone or a theology that supports the death penalty while being pro life against abortion for morally and ethical reasons. A preacher at Woodland Hills Church in suburban St. Paul, MN has gone against the grain of what many evangelicals believe. He lost 1,000 members in his church becasue of his stance on Christianity and its relationship with America. The requests came from church members and visitors alike: Would he please announce a rally against gay marriage during services? Would he introduce a politician from the pulpit? Could members set up a table in the lobby promoting their anti-abortion work? Would the church distribute voters guides that all but endorsed Republican candidates? And with the country at war, please couldnt the church hang an American flag in the sanctuary? After refusing each time, the pastor finally became fed up, he said. Before the last presidential election, he preached six sermons called The Cross and the Sword in which he said the church should steer clear of politics, give up moralizing on sexual issues, stop claiming the United States as a Christian nation and stop glorifying American military campaigns. When the church wins the culture wars, it inevitably loses, he preached. When it conquers the world, it becomes the world. When you put your trust in the sword, you lose the cross.

I think a common concern is that the Christian message is being compromised by the tendency to tie evangelical Christianity to the Republican Party and American nationalism, especially through the war in Iraq. When we use religion as a reason to support the war in Iraq we are no better that muslim extremist who twist their religous beliefs as an excuse to kill people with suicide bombers. The pastor of Woodlands Church even has a book out, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church, which is based on his sermons. He said there were Christians on both the left and the right who had turned politics and patriotism into idolatry. The pastor first became alarmed while visiting another mega churchs worship service on a Fourth of July. The service finished with the chorus singing God Bless America and a video of fighter jets flying over a hill silhouetted with crosses.

The pastor said the role of Christians was not to seek power over others by controlling governments, passing legislation or fighting wars. I believe a bad seed has been planted inside the church by politicians who want to use the church as a means to put them in power. its sad that many people and christians dont see it but then again, All you have to do is speak against issues such as gay marriage and christians will get behind you 100%. The pastor said America wasnt founded as a theocracy, America was founded by people trying to escape theocracies. Never in history have we had a Christian theocracy where it wasnt bloody and barbaric. Thats why our Constitution wisely put in a separation of church and state. he said I am sorry to tell you that America is not the light of the world and the hope of the world. The light of the world and the hope of the world is Jesus Christ. The pastor of that church lambasted the hypocrisy and pettiness of Christians who focus on sexual issues like homosexuality, abortion and even Janet Jacksons breast-revealing performance at the Super Bowl halftime show. Christians these days are constantly outraged about sex and perceived violations of their rights to display their faith in public.

Those are the two buttons to push if you want to get Christians to act. And those are the two buttons Jesus never pushed. What do you all think about this issue. I do know years ago the church I go to use to have an American flag in the pulpit. That was taken out a long time ago. I happen to agree with the pastor 100% The church is being suckered by the republican party and they used the church to re-elect George Bush by baiting christians. Remember right before the 2004 election Bush said he was going to act on banning gay marriage? after he got re-elected he did nothing. Thats because he only wanted to try to get the christian vote. We know today, that christian vote was the reason he got re-elected. The perception is that conservatives are christians and liberals are sinners.

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I personally believe that every church that endorses individuals or parties for election should lose their tax-exempt status. Politics and religion should indeed be separate and all that has happened over the past 7 yrs is a clouding of that. People now believe that they must go the church and receive from the pastor who they should vote for. The even run their church vans to take people to polling places. The church needs to stay out of the way of politics.

We even had a church here in NC that tried to expel members who voted Democratic insteed of the church suggested Republican. This has got to stop, and people if you're going to vote, research who's running and what their stance is before going to the ballot box. Otherwise, don't bother.

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I personally believe that every church that endorses individuals or parties for election should lose their tax-exempt status. Politics and religion should indeed be separate and all that has happened over the past 7 yrs is a clouding of that. People now believe that they must go the church and receive from the pastor who they should vote for. The even run their church vans to take people to polling places. The church needs to stay out of the way of politics.

We even had a church here in NC that tried to expel members who voted Democratic insteed of the church suggested Republican. This has got to stop, and people if you're going to vote, research who's running and what their stance is before going to the ballot box. Otherwise, don't bother.

Should that also apply to non-profit groups? I know a lot of non-profit groups like NOW, Right to Life, NAACP, Heritage Foundation, Sierra Club and many others support and endorse individual candidates, drive voters to polling places while handing them pamphlets explaining the issues and who to vote for, as well as many other instances of bias. I don't see how that would cause them to lose tax-exempt status, or if it does, it should be applied to all non-profits. Of course, that would probably be deemed restricting free speech.

The church where we attend rails against all politicians, no matter what stripes they wear, depending on the particular issues. Personally, I feel God is above politics, and preachers, pastors, (whatever) who lower themselves to political pandering aren't worth listening to.

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Well I'm from the home of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson... and we know how they are.

There was a specific reason separation of church and state is in the Constitution, but it doesn't mean we as individuals and collectively not be spiritual. The forefathers for the most part believed in God and Christianity, but they weren't like people today who feel they're superior because they're Christian. We are also a nation of religious freedom, but that seems to also be ignored. If you're not a certain way, believe a certain thing, then you're evil. Who asked for a new Crusade?

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Should that also apply to non-profit groups? I know a lot of non-profit groups like NOW, Right to Life, NAACP, Heritage Foundation, Sierra Club and many others support and endorse individual candidates, drive voters to polling places while handing them pamphlets explaining the issues and who to vote for, as well as many other instances of bias. I don't see how that would cause them to lose tax-exempt status, or if it does, it should be applied to all non-profits. Of course, that would probably be deemed restricting free speech.

The church where we attend rails against all politicians, no matter what stripes they wear, depending on the particular issues. Personally, I feel God is above politics, and preachers, pastors, (whatever) who lower themselves to political pandering aren't worth listening to.

I think where the distinction comes in is like in the case of the church here in NC, when membership starts to be restricted based on a member not voting the way decreed by the church. Personally, if a church wants to speak on an issue, that's one thing; but to outright try to force members to vote for particular candidates is wrong. The electorate needs to educate themselves on the politicians running for office and determine which one they are most comfortable/supportive voting for. If any non-profit/tax-exempt organization starts to bar/revoke memberships based on one's voting history (which should be private anyway) they should lose their non-profit/tax-exempt status. Who you vote for is an individual's choice and should be respected regardless if your views differ.

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Its not a hard concept. God belongs in a church, mosque, temple etc etc. Not in public schools or government institutions. If some parents feel so strongly about God impacting their child educationally, put your kid in private religious school. Government institutions that insist on displaying The Ten Commandments or starting meetings with prayer should know that they have citizens in the community that are not Christian and its intimidating, wrong and disrespectful to shove it in a fellow taxpayer's face who may not share the same faith. When religious leaders go over the line promoting a certain political viewpoint they should be called on it. In today's polarized political climate the current administration does not have much incentive to rein in this type of pandering though. Turning out the conservative megachurches is a sure bet every time. The biased ministers or what have you, get around this thorny issue by couching their sermons with terms such as " family values" and "patriotism" although any intelligent person can see right throught it. They might as well be passing out GOP buttons down the pews rather than the collection plate.

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I know it was said earlier, but I see... the megachurches with the politically biased preachers are just our version of the extremists in mosques.... how come the government doesn't see it that way?

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I think where the distinction comes in is like in the case of the church here in NC, when membership starts to be restricted based on a member not voting the way decreed by the church. Personally, if a church wants to speak on an issue, that's one thing; but to outright try to force members to vote for particular candidates is wrong. The electorate needs to educate themselves on the politicians running for office and determine which one they are most comfortable/supportive voting for. If any non-profit/tax-exempt organization starts to bar/revoke memberships based on one's voting history (which should be private anyway) they should lose their non-profit/tax-exempt status. Who you vote for is an individual's choice and should be respected regardless if your views differ.

I agree with you that a church should NOT tell its members how to vote, but its also their "right" to do so. Being tax-exempt does not equate to "receives funding from the government". It just means that they do not make a profit, so they have no business tax to pay. Trust me, you do not want government stepping in and telling private non-profit groups what they can and cannot "suggest" to their members, or risk losing tax exempt status. Urban Planet is non-profit (I'm pretty sure), and I don't think they should be monitoring our discussions to make sure we're not pushing any political agenda. Personally, any church that is THAT restrictive of its members is a joke (and probably a pseudo-cult :P ), but just like flag-burning, its their right (the whackjobs).

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof... Obviously making a law prohibiting a religion from discussing politics would in essence be "respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof".

I'm totally with you on thinking these people are wrong, and everyone should be leaving these churches in droves...

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I agree with you that a church should NOT tell its members how to vote, but its also their "right" to do so. Being tax-exempt does not equate to "receives funding from the government". It just means that they do not make a profit, so they have no business tax to pay. Trust me, you do not want government stepping in and telling private non-profit groups what they can and cannot "suggest" to their members, or risk losing tax exempt status. Urban Planet is non-profit (I'm pretty sure), and I don't think they should be monitoring our discussions to make sure we're not pushing any political agenda. Personally, any church that is THAT restrictive of its members is a joke (and probably a pseudo-cult :P ), but just like flag-burning, its their right (the whackjobs).

There's no law that states that tax-exempt or nonprofit organizations must be politically neutral. However, there is a constitutional mandate against government legislating religious dogma into law (bans on gay mariage, stem cell research, abortion, teaching of Creationism, etc.) Likewise, there are laws against voter intimidation and disinfranchisement, such as threatening the religious with damnation if they vote for a particular candidate. For a church, there is a fine line between what is legal and what isn't in this matter, and wise churches avoid the issue altogether.

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The roles of the church and the state in our society and the entire idea of separation of church and state is a very interesting subject indeed. I have studied some works of the Founding Father and on the Founding Fathers to pick up some very interesting ideas. I have come to interpret that, while the Founding Fathers set up the entire idea of the separation of church and state to protect the various faiths against persecution and to prevent the establishment of any one church as the official or "right" religion to follow, but the Founding fathers knew that America was primarily a nation of religious people and that they couldn't necessarily stop religion in general from mingling occaisionally with politics.

Thomas Jefferson, in his "Notes on the State of Virginia," 1781, wrote:

"God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God?"

"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." --John Adams, October 11, 1798

"Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers."

--John Jay

However, there is a constitutional mandate against government legislating religious dogma into law (bans on gay mariage, stem cell research, abortion, teaching of Creationism, etc.)

The U.S. Supreme Court, in Abington Township v. Schempp (1963), wrote:

The state may not establish a "religion of secularism" in the sense of affirmatively opposing or showing hostility to religion, thus "preferring those who believe in no religion over those who do believe." ... Refusal to permit religious exercises thus is seen, not as the realization of state neutrality, but rather as the establishment of a religion of secularism.

The U.S. District Court, in Crockett v. Sorenson (W.D. Va. 1983), wrote:

The First Amendment was never intended to insulate our public institutions from any mention of God, the Bible or religion. When such insulation occurs, another religion, such as secular humanism, is effectively established.

These cases present an interesting hurdle in the way of those who advocate legal abortion, no creationism in classrooms, etc.

Let's just take the issue of abortion, for example. You have the pro-lifers that are usually Christian, Jewish, etc. and the pro-choicers that are part of the aforementioned "church of secularism".

At the end of the day, though, you just have to do what is right, no matter what side of the issue it falls on.

Likewise, there are laws against voter intimidation and disinfranchisement, such as threatening the religious with damnation if they vote for a particular candidate. For a church, there is a fine line between what is legal and what isn't in this matter, and wise churches avoid the issue altogether.

Exactly.

If you ask me, the best path for a church to follow with regards to politicans and politics altogether is for them to refrain from endorsing candidates or a specific ideaology altogether--much as my church has done.

I myself am a Methodist--the same denomination as Bush. Methodism is odd among the churches in that it has rules that can support both ideaologies (liberalism and conservatism). The Book of Disciplines (the Methodist rulebook, so to speak) allows for Methodists to become conscientious objectors (something typically associated today with liberals), but our President--whose foreign policy and attitude towards war is anything but conscientious objection or pacifism-- is also a Methodist.

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The U.S. Supreme Court, in Abington Township v. Schempp (1963), wrote:

The state may not establish a "religion of secularism" in the sense of affirmatively opposing or showing hostility to religion, thus "preferring those who believe in no religion over those who do believe." ... Refusal to permit religious exercises thus is seen, not as the realization of state neutrality, but rather as the establishment of a religion of secularism.

The U.S. District Court, in Crockett v. Sorenson (W.D. Va. 1983), wrote:

The First Amendment was never intended to insulate our public institutions from any mention of God, the Bible or religion. When such insulation occurs, another religion, such as secular humanism, is effectively established.

These cases present an interesting hurdle in the way of those who advocate legal abortion, no creationism in classrooms, etc.

They don't present a hurdle at all. By allowing abortion and forbidding Creationism in public schools, government is not forbidding an individual's choice to oppose abortion or believe in Creation. That is what those court cases sought to prevent. It is not "hostility to religion" to establish laws on grounds other than religious beliefs, unless laws are made that prohibit an individual's right to practice whatever religion they like. No one is talking about doing that.

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I think where the distinction comes in is like in the case of the church here in NC, when membership starts to be restricted based on a member not voting the way decreed by the church. Personally, if a church wants to speak on an issue, that's one thing; but to outright try to force members to vote for particular candidates is wrong. The electorate needs to educate themselves on the politicians running for office and determine which one they are most comfortable/supportive voting for. If any non-profit/tax-exempt organization starts to bar/revoke memberships based on one's voting history (which should be private anyway) they should lose their non-profit/tax-exempt status. Who you vote for is an individual's choice and should be respected regardless if your views differ.

a church has no right to know how someone voted in any given election, nor do they have the right to require you inform them of how you vote. if a church does so, i suggest to anyone that belongs to said church to leave it and it will fail.

politics and religion do not belong together. but as far as christianity is concerned, in order to truly follow what jesus taught, you should be against abortion, against the death penalty, and against war. i will admit, that i was born and raised catholic and attended catholic school for the majority of my elementary and high school (basically from 2nd grade through high school). i don't consider myself fully catholic in that i have other beliefs and disagree with some of the beliefs of the church, but i do know the catholic church like the back of my hand. many christians do not think of catholics as christian, yet in order to be christian, you simply have to believe that jesus was the son of god and died for our sins and rose from the dead 3 days later. that's the most basic tenet of the christian belief system. after that, each denomination has their own beliefs and interpretations of the bible, some literal, some more interpretted (which are the ones i tend to believe). but christians are supposed to believe in jesus and model their lives after him (the whole WWJD thing). jesus believed in peace and love and was against violence. he did not believe in the eye for an eye routine of the old testament (which is basically what the death penalty is). that's why i don't understand why so-called christians are so vehemently opposed to doing away with the death penalty.

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i should have also added my thoughts on creationism and the pledge of allegiance...

first, creationism has no basis on science and the intelligent design theory is not a scientific theory. it does not belong in science classes anywhere.

second... the pledge of allegiance... one nation under god. i don't know if anyone has noticed, but our money says "in god we trust". also, our country was founded for religious freedom, mainly by people who were christians, but separatists from the church of england who found it too much like the catholic church and wanted real change. our country was founded under god to an extent. don't change the pledge.

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Being Spiritual and Being Religous are not the same thing.

Some people who call themselves "Christian" are not spiritual people but gladly use that religion as justification to push their moral "values" (if you can call them moral) on everyone else. Truely spiritual people have no need to do this and you won't find them trying to interject religious dogma into politics.

I like this quote from Bonnie Raitt. "Religion is for those who are afraid of dying and going to Hell, Spirituality is for those who have already been there." Think about it.....

People should think twice before quoting the Bible, Koran or other human created document to justify an action against others. It's no surprise that all of the major violence and wars in the world are based on religious divisions and very bad leaders that have succumbed to the religious extremists.

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a church has no right to know how someone voted in any given election, nor do they have the right to require you inform them of how you vote. if a church does so, i suggest to anyone that belongs to said church to leave it and it will fail.

Sure they do. They're privately owned and can deny membership to anyone for any reason. I've even heard of some churches asking for tax information to make sure you "tithe" their required amount. Just try and sue a church for asking for your voter information and see how that goes. Yes, we definitely should keep religion out of our political system (we see how successful theocracies are in the Middle East), but you cannot keep politics out of religion.

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Sure they do. They're privately owned and can deny membership to anyone for any reason. I've even heard of some churches asking for tax information to make sure you "tithe" their required amount. Just try and sue a church for asking for your voter information and see how that goes. Yes, we definitely should keep religion out of our political system (we see how successful theocracies are in the Middle East), but you cannot keep politics out of religion.

privately owned by who? i'm not too informed with the ways of the more conservative christian denominations, but if the catholic church ever started requiring you vote based on their recommendations and requiring you tithe 10% of your income to the church, they wouldn't have any church-goers... that and it goes against the whole idea of christianity.

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I briefly went to a conservative Baptist church (not affiliated with the southern Baptists), and people in the church always said to give what you could. They were never offended if you gave nothing.. they knew some people were struggling financially, and they were just glad you were there.

The pastor NEVER said a thing about giving money. But he never talked about politics either. I believe he's a conservative man, but he just didn't discuss politics at all, especially not from the pulpit. And he didn't only serve those that agree with him. He preaches at prisons and jails constantly and has a program for recovering drug/alcohol abusers every Friday night. His message was of loving one another, no matter the background... not trying to change the constitution to exclude certain groups of people from enjoying the rights that Christians enjoy.

If an evangelical christian church can do this here, why can't they seem to figure it out in the rest of the country?

And no, a church is not privately owned.. as if it were some company. The church is owned by its members.. and if the members want to vote for a yellow dog (haha, sorry those of you from the south), they shoudl be able to without reserve from other members.

If a church is a privately owned entity, then all churches should lose tax-exempt status. After all, you're not taxing the religion, just the privately owned donations and buildings.

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privately owned by who? i'm not too informed with the ways of the more conservative christian denominations, but if the catholic church ever started requiring you vote based on their recommendations and requiring you tithe 10% of your income to the church, they wouldn't have any church-goers... that and it goes against the whole idea of christianity.

We checked out a Catholic Church that did just that, require you to tithe 10% of your gross income when you sign up (they didn't ask for income verification). Needless to say we didn't go back, but it's a pretty big parish in the burbs and still growing. It's the only one I've heard of that were that strict about it. I think the more radical churches are not the traditional religions like Methodist, Catholic, Episcopalian, etc.., but moreso the "non-denominational" mega-churches that are springing up around the country. And many of them, from what I hear (I've never attended one), are VERY strict about membership expectations. Even though they market themselves as being more "open, fun and friendly" than the older denominations. People are surprisingly buying their sales pitch in droves.

Megachurches - via Wikipedia (not to be deemed as totally accurate) :D

In other words, I agree with you runawayjim that it's sad, but it's not going away.

snowguy, I mean privately owned as opposed to publicly owned (like a public school or library). I think in the case of the Catholic Church, all the property and possessions of any particular church are owned by the local Diocese to which that church belongs, and are tax exempt. At least I'm guessing that's how the ownership is set up. But it's still "privately-owned".

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I personally believe that every church that endorses individuals or parties for election should lose their tax-exempt status.

Wow, that is an awesome idea. Unfortunately, it would never pass since religion pulls way too many of these guys strings...

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Why is it that Muslims who want their goverments to be run by Islamic law are considered fanatics, but Christians who want to control our government, are just the "far right"? To me I see no difference in each group. Both want to force their views on their societies. Both want control. Both should be kept as far away from government as possible.

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Why is it that Muslims who want their goverments to be run by Islamic law are considered fanatics, but Christians who want to control our government, are just the "far right"? To me I see no difference in each group. Both want to force their views on their societies. Both want control. Both should be kept as far away from government as possible.

you hit the nail on the head... however, i don't have a problem if an entirely muslim country has islamic law, so long as civil rights are kept, including those of women to be free thinkers. and so long as non-muslims can freely practice their own religions.

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The NAACP ran into some problems not too long ago.

"The NAACP is organized under section 501

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The IRS also targeted a California church that had the nerve to urge its congregation to vote for John Kerry in 2004.

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Why is it that Muslims who want their goverments to be run by Islamic law are considered fanatics, but Christians who want to control our government, are just the "far right"? To me I see no difference in each group. Both want to force their views on their societies. Both want control. Both should be kept as far away from government as possible.

Personally, I think you're a fanatic if you're either far right or far left.

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Yeah, but I don't see today's far left attacking Americas well established institutions at the rate that the far right whackos are doing it.

They are both just as extreme.. but one doesn't believe in destroying their own country for personal gain.

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