Alabama’s “Ten Commandments Judge” Roy Moore Rebuked for Remarks He Made at Pastor for Life Luncheon

RoyMooreBY ELAINE MAGLIARO

Nine years after he was forced out of his position as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Roy Moore was re-elected in 2012. Moore—known as the Ten Commandments judge—was first elected to serve as chief justice in 2000. Three years later, however, a state judicial panel removed him after “he refused to obey a federal judge’s order to remove a 5,200-pound granite Ten Commandments monument from the lobby of the Alabama Judicial Building.”

After being re-elected in 2012, Moore said, “It’s clear the people have voted to return me to the office of chief justice.” He added, “I have no doubt this is a vindication. I look forward to being the next chief justice.” Moore told his supporters to return home “with the knowledge that we are going to stand for the acknowledgment of God.”

Evidently, Moore wasn’t kidding about standing for acknowledgement of God. That would be his God—the God of the Holy Scriptures. Last Friday, Raw Story posted an article about the speech Judge Moore gave at the Pastor for Life Luncheon on January 17th. The luncheon was sponsored by Pro-Life Mississippi. During his speech, Moore appeared to imply that the First Amendment applies only to Christianity because neither Buddha nor Mohammed created man. Moore said, “Everybody, to include the United States Supreme Court, has been deceived as to one little word in the First Amendment called religion. They can’t define it. They can’t define it the way Mason, Madison and even the United State Supreme Court defined it, ‘the duties we owe to the creator and the manner of discharging it.’ They don’t want to do that, because that acknowledges a creator god. Buddha didn’t create us. Mohammed didn’t create us. It’s the god of the Holy Scriptures.” He added, “They didn’t bring the Koran over on the pilgrim ship. Let’s get real, let’s go back and learn our history. Let’s stop playing games.” Moore said that talking about God in law just isn’t “politically correct”—and claimed that’s the reason why America has “lost its way.”

Later in his speech, Moore talked about the “pursuit of happiness”—which he said meant following God’s law because “you can’t be happy unless you follow God’s law, and if you follow God’s law, you can’t help but be happy.” Moore continued, “It’s all about God. We’ve made ‘life’ a decision taken by man…taken ‘liberty,’ and converted it to ‘licentiousness. We’ve taken ‘pursuit of happiness,’ and reduced it to materialism.”

Alabama’s Chief Justice Roy Moore Speaking at Pastor for Life Luncheon

According to Raw Story, Moore’s remarks at the luncheon “earned him a rebuke from the American Civil Liberties Union.” Susan Watson, who is the executive director of Alabama’s ACLU chapter said in a statement, “Chief Justice Roy Moore is sorely misguided in his belief that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution only applies to Christians. It applies to everyone, regardless of his or her religious belief or non-belief.”

Moore faced criticism again after Raw Story posted a video of his speech at the Pastor for Life Luncheon. In a telephone interview on Monday, Moore said he believes that “religious freedoms in the First Amendment apply to all faiths.” He claimed that his “speech was aimed at describing what he believed were the biblical foundations of the United States.”

SOURCES

Alabama Chief Justice: The First Amendment Protects Only Christians (Talking Points Memo)

Alabama’s chief justice: Buddha didn’t create us so First Amendment only protects Christians (Raw Story)

Alabama Chief Justice Thinks The First Amendment Only Protects Christians (Huffington Post)

Oh, Alabama. Not Roy Moore Again?: The Ten Commandments chief justice is back, and he has not evolved. (Slate)

Alabama chief justice: Constitution does, in fact, apply to non-Christians (Raw Story)

Roy Moore wins chief justice race (AL.com)

Roy Moore: First Amendment applies to all faiths (Montgomery Advertiser

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40 Responses to Alabama’s “Ten Commandments Judge” Roy Moore Rebuked for Remarks He Made at Pastor for Life Luncheon

  1. “He claimed that his ‘speech was aimed at describing what he believed were the biblical foundations of the United States.’”

    Riiiiight.

    Pull the other one, “Judge”.

    I guess you skipped over the bits of history where the writings of Madison and Jefferson discuss the express creation of a secular government or that both men were deists and that Jefferson was so appalled by the magical thinking nonsense he found in the Bible that he rewrote “God’s law” to remove the contradictory and mystical gibberish.

    Also, as a technical theological matter, neither Buddha nor Mohammed claimed to have “created man”. If you’re going to disparage other religions? Maybe you should learn about them first, dingus.

  2. Elaine M. says:

    Gene,

    Roy Moore’s twisted history: Islam and Buddhism don’t have First Amendment protection, chief justice says
    Kyle Whitmire
    5/5/14
    http://www.al.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/05/roy_moores_twisted_hisotry_isl.html

    Excerpt:
    According to Moore, the government and the Supreme Court should define religion as James Madison and George Mason did – “The duties we owe to the Creator and the manner of discharging it.”

    “They didn’t bring a Koran on the pilgrim ship, Mayflower,” he said. “Let’s get real. Let’s learn our history. Let’s stop playing games.”

    OK, Judge. Let’s get real, indeed. Let’s learn our history and stop playing games.

    When Moore quotes Mason in his speech, he takes that little snippet from the Virginia Declaration of Rights, which Mason wrote with help from Madison. (Section 16, which addresses the relationship of government and religion, is generally agreed to be primarily Madison’s work.)

    Here’s the full text from Section 16: “That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity toward each other.”

    If there’s any wonder why Moore would excise what he wanted from the context of the full quote – leaving out all that inconvenient business about forbearance, love, and charity – you haven’t been paying much attention to the High Chief’s career. You can’t talk about love and maintain that quivering sneer — certainly not Moore, who has argued that the court has the “power of the sword” to prevent homosexuals from perverting the minds of children.

    The colonies, in which Madison, Mason and their fellow founding father and Virginian, Thomas Jefferson, came of age, were a hodgepodge of competing denominations, many of which were just fine using the power of the government to enforce a particular brand of belief. This was particularly true in Virginia, where all three men witnessed the Anglican Church persecute other denominations, particularly Separate Baptists. And we’re not talking about the Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas nonsense TV talking heads today call persecution, but rather, Separate Baptist clergy jailed for sharing their beliefs, as Madison witnessed and decried early in his life. The lesson they learned from what they witnessed was that established religion and government were a toxic mix, and one should not be left in charge of the other.

    Moore can argue if he wishes that the founders were comfortable with varying degrees of Christianity and not questioning the God the creator’s role in government, and he’s right that the pilgrims didn’t bring the Koran with them over on the Mayflower. However, Jefferson did keep a copy of it in his library, and it’s worth noting that Muslims believe they worship the same deity as Christians and Jews. If Moore wants to cling to his Creator God argument, then he must be willing to make room for Muslims in it, too, which his pulpit pabulum all but shows he is not.

    After Patrick Henry proposed a tax to support “Teachers of the Christian Religion,” Madison wrote the “Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments,” in which he revisited the establishment clause in the Virginia Declaration of Rights, and emphasized again that there was no need for government to advocate for religion.

    “To say that it is, is a contradiction to the Christian Religion itself, for every page of it disavows a dependence on the powers of this world,” Madison wrote.

    Henry’s bill died quietly, and later Madison ushered through the Virginia General Assembly the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. Written by Jefferson, it insisted “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics or geometry,” and it all but outlawed religious belief as a litmus test for holding office. When government endorses one religion over another, it only corrupts the religion it hopes to support, Jefferson argued.

    Jefferson cared so much for the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom that he had it listed among the three life accomplishments inscribed on his tombstone, along with authoring the Declaration of Independence and founding the University of Virginia.

  3. eniobob says:

    This may be a trend with Judges having disapproval not just locally.

    “Survey: Majority of Americans want term limits for Supreme Court justices, think high court is too political”

    http://www.salon.com/2014/05/07/survey_majority_of_americans_want_term_limits_for_supreme_court_justices_think_high_court_is_too_political/

  4. pete says:

    just imagine how it must feel to have the next twenty years of your life, or whether or not someone fills your veins with poison, in the hands of Judge Roy Moore.

    that’s what they call a “come to jesus” moment.

  5. OroLee says:

    “You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”
    ― Anne Lamott

  6. Lee P. Black says:

    A truly great man in our time. We have more like him, just not as well educated, but willing to follow given the opportunity. God bless America.
    Lee Black,
    Pensacola, Florida

  7. There are some truly great men and women who have come from Alabama. Roy Moore is not one of them.

    There are also some from Alabama who are a sorry lot. Roy Moore is one of them. He is not well educated, no matter how many years his behind warmed a classroom seat. As Judge Bazelon once observed, the time one spends in a classroom seat does not guarantee the inculcation of knowledge. That sounds about right.

  8. Lee P. Black says:

    Forgive my ignorance friends. I only meant to support his enthusiasm for the gospel of Jesus Christ and its freedom found in our constitution. I am only an ignorant fool and not a trusted teacher of men like others. I have only a faith grounded in the word of God and His actions in my pathetic life to guide me around such characters that pop up in our tangled web of history. These people may do certain things that compel me to rally about them and at times I am seen to support them…Although putting the ten commandments on display sounds like a good idea since it reminds us how to behave in Christ and how we have been freed from its penalty through faith in Christ… And he is a judge.
    Lee P. Black
    Pensacola, FL

    • Mike Spindell says:

      “Although putting the ten commandments on display sounds like a good idea since it reminds us how to behave in Christ and how we have been freed from its penalty through faith in Christ… And he is a judge.
      Lee P. Black”

      Mr. Black,

      The Ten Commandments are not binding on Christians and never have been since Paul wrote his “Letter to Galatians”. Paul taught that the path to salvation came only from Jesus Christ and all previous teachings of the Jews were nullified. In fact, to be technical, the very teachings of Paul directly violated the first three commandments. Paul believed in a three part God consisting of the Father (God), the Son (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit. The Jews believed in a unitary God, indivisible. This was made clear by the idea of a New Testament, which from Paul’s perspective nullified not only the Ten Commandments, but the entire 613 Commandments of the Torah.

      The most holy prayer in Judaism is the “Shema” (this is similar in Islam), which is translated as:
      “Hear Oh Israel, the Lord God is One” which means there is only ONE God, indivisible. This is clearly not Christian teachings.

      I wish you comfort and joy in your Christian faith, but you simply can’t have it both ways when it comes to the Ten Commandments. As a Christian, were you through your lifetime to continually violate all of the Commandments of the Torah, yet at life’s end found Grace and forgiveness through deep belief in Jesus Christ as your Savior, you could enter the blessings of eternal life. From a Jewish perspective though, in the same situation, your “Eternal Life” would be quite problematic in the eyes of the Eternal. This is why Christianity and Judaism are two separate religions and the Ten Commandments are not relevant to Christians.

      My point is that not only does this misinformed Judge not understand the United States Constitution, but he also does not understand his own religion and thus I see him as unfit for his role as an arbiter due to his limited ability to understand the most basic principles.

  9. Too bad he’s a judge who doesn’t understand the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment, but just because you’re a judge doesn’t mean you understand the law. Happens every day.

  10. LPB,
    Roy Moore’s faith, nor yours, is the issue. This is a free country and you can believe anything you want. The issue is whether he, or you, can foist your own religion onto the public marketplace with public money, to the exclusion of other faiths. Or for that matter, exclusion of people who regard such faith as superstition. The constitution guarantees both freedom of speech and freedom of religion. The constitution does NOT guarantee, or even allow, the government to advocate for or against any religion. The unauthorized act of placing a huge stone monolith in a public space, damaging the beautiful and fragile architecture of that space in the process, would get the average person thrown in jail, regardless of the subject matter inscribed.

    If you recall, in Wisconsin, the governor wanted to charge protesters with criminal vandalism for using painter’s blue masking tape on the walls to hang their signs, despite the fact the tape peels off, leaving no residue. Imagine what he would have done had they hauled in a four or five ton rock and plunked it down in the rotunda of the Wisconsin Capitol building.

    Regarding the public money part. It doesn’t matter who paid for the rock in the first place, when it was brought onto public property, taking up space, it became a public issue. If Roy Moore and his supporters wanted it to be put up for public view, he could have bought some private property across the street and put it up. Property across the street from the state capitol grounds is far too expensive, you say? Well shiver me timbers, that is exactly the point. He wanted free space at public expense to proselytize his religion, on some of the most valuable real estate in Montgomery.

  11. As for the ten commandments. If you will go back and take a look at your bible, there are actually something like six hundred commandments. I am not sure how those ten got singled out, as if they were the ONLY commandments. One of the best expositions on biblical commandments was written into the TV drama, “West Wing” in which the fictional President Bartlett explains some of them:

  12. Living in a state bordering the Gulf of Mexico, I am sure that Roy Moore finds it hard to resist eating shellfish. Crab puffs, shrimp, crawdad gumbo and the like. Or BBQ pork. I am sure that pork chops are NEVER on the menu at his home or in the state capitol cafeteria. Gotta follow those biblical commandments, y’know.

  13. Mike Spindell says:

    The following illustrates my point about Christianity and its relevance to the Ten Commandments.
    From David Berkowitz’s (Son of Sam) perspective he will enter Heaven and he his correct in his religious belief from a Christian perspective.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/13/son-of-sam_n_5314336.html

  14. Lee P. Black says:

    Forgive me friends, I am not what you would call a well educated man. On the other hand learning is generally a good thing so I am trying to head in that direction… Please allow me to explain myself…
    1) A promise was made to Eve… “he shall bruise His heel but He shall crush his head…” Who is the capital H in he… Christ
    2) Abraham was given a promise and he believed it. Why didn’t God give him the law right then. Instead He went ahead and justified Abraham by his faith apart from the law.
    3) The law brings a curse to all those who disobey. Not only that but Adam’s curse now falls on all of us. Now what. Thanks be to God for Abraham’s seed. Not seeds plural, but singular… seed. This seed is Christ.
    4) Christ is the only one who can keep the law, that is He needs no sacrifice…
    5) The blood of bulls and goats never took away anyone’s sin. It shows you need saving because you broke the law. And only Christ could die and pay for your sins. So how was Abraham justified through faith? Faith in the future work of Christ. How did he know Christ? “Let us make man in our image.” Christ was there from the beginning. If you know the Father you know the Son.
    6) Now that our hearts are changed what shall we do? Go back to living under the law?…The law has been fulfilled through Christ. Now we will do good works. In fact Christ’s works are done through us. It’s as if we have kept the 10 commandments ourselves perfectly. Christ gave us His cloak of righteousness to cover our breaking of the law. So now when I do not covet, I am not feebly trying to keep a commandment in my own strength but rather Christ is performing a good work through me.

    So why is putting up the 10 commandments a good idea.
    1) To remind Christians of their constant need of the Savior.
    2) An opportunity for Christians to see a list of good works to do in Christ.
    3) To warn the wicked of their impending judgment.

    for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!
    Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Gen. 15:6
    announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” Gen. 12:3; 18:18; 22:18
    as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Deut. 27:26
    Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” Hab. 2:4
    “Let us make man in our image…” Gen

    Lee P Black
    Pensacola, FL

    • Mike Spindell says:

      Lee P. Black,

      Your education is not at issue here. My father was one of the smartest people I’ve ever met and he dropped out of school in the 9th grade. However, your premises can be called into question.

      “1) A promise was made to Eve… “he shall bruise His heel but He shall crush his head…” Who is the capital H in he… Christ”

      That is a made up interpretation by Paul and his followers to give the impression that Paul’s teachings were an extension of Judaism, when in fact there is nothing in Paul’s teaching that relates to Judaism at all, except that Jesus was Jewish. Paul’s teaching violated the first three of the Ten Commandments.

      “2) Abraham was given a promise and he believed it. Why didn’t God give him the law right then. Instead He went ahead and justified Abraham by his faith apart from the law.”

      No. According to the Torah Abraham was to father a mighty people and then they would be given the law. Abraham’s mission was twofold. The first to recognize that there was only one God in the universe. The second was to understand that the one God did not require human sacrifice, which every other religion at that time required.

      “3) The law brings a curse to all those who disobey. Not only that but Adam’s curse now falls on all of us. Now what. Thanks be to God for Abraham’s seed. Not seeds plural, but singular… seed. This seed is Christ.”

      The concept of original sin is not a concept of the Torah, but of Paul. Jews do not believe in “original sin”, or that we are all born sinners. Christians do but that is only their interpretation of a Torah they didn’t write.

      “4) Christ is the only one who can keep the law, that is He needs no sacrifice…”

      What law are you talking about? According to Paul all the Torah law was abrogated and the only way to be saved is through Jesus. Paul “freed” Christians from the 613 Commandments of the Torah, so you can’t use any of those commandments to justify your beliefs.

      “5) The blood of bulls and goats never took away anyone’s sin.”

      What you don’t understand is that the Torah is not about sins, it is about living life based on God’s commandments. It is about making this world into a heaven, rather than waiting for heaven after you die. Paul’s religion is completely separate from Judaism in that it is only focussed on life after death.

      “Now we will do good works. In fact Christ’s works are done through us. It’s as if we have kept the 10 commandments ourselves perfectly. Christ gave us His cloak of righteousness to cover our breaking of the law. So now when I do not covet, I am not feebly trying to keep a commandment in my own strength but rather Christ is performing a good work through me.”

      You state this and this is Christian teaching, but it is not what Christianity really believes and you know it. Someone can be a terrible person throughout their life, but if at its end they accept Christ, they are saved from all of their sins. Thus a Christian need not follow any law to attain the “kingdom of heaven”, only truly accept Jesus in the end. This is why Christians have through the ages tortured and killed people in Christ’s name, because they know that they will be “saved” if in their heart they’ve accepted Christ.

      Now here is where the failure of your argument exhibits itself and frankly as a Jew what I see underlying it is that I and other non-Christians such as Muslims and Hindus, are considered by people like you not to be important in this country.

      “So why is putting up the 10 commandments a good idea.
      1) To remind Christians of their constant need of the Savior.
      2) An opportunity for Christians to see a list of good works to do in Christ.
      3) To warn the wicked of their impending judgment.”

      I’m a Jew I pay taxes as well as you do. Why do I need to be reminded about Christ in public buildings for which I’ve payed my fair share? Your number “2” is false because you and I both know that “good works” mean nothing when salvation is at issue. As for number “3” I assume you mean the “wicked” as everybody who doesn’t believe in Jesus as savior. Well I don’t believe in Jesus as savior and I’ve lived a good, moral life, have done more good works than most people. I am anything but wicked and I don’t believe in Jesus as a savior. Yet I’m far closer to death than I am to my birth and if there is a heaven above I’ll be in it. As will many other people of faiths like Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Atheism.

      “for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

      This was Paul’s teaching but he never knew Jesus. Jesus brother and Jesus’ disciples did know Jesus and what he believed. They strongly disagreed with Paul’s teachings. As it said on the cross Jesus was crucified for calling himself “King of the Jews”. Calling himself that violated Roman Law and that is why he was crucified. Jesus died for breaking Roman, not Jewish law.

      I wouldn’t deny you your faith and I truly hope it gives comfort to you, but please don’t try to pass your faith off on to me. I’m almost 70 and I’ve spent much time in my life contemplating what life is all about and I find it tiresome when people try to preach their beliefs to me and when they try to foist their beliefs onto American institutions, when our Constitution forbids it.

  15. Then learn the difference between these two terms: theocracy and secular state.

    The Bible is not U.S. law nor is it a basis of U.S. law. The Founders and Framers, by their own writings and the formulation of the 1st Amendment made the U.S. a secular state from inception. You want to follow the dictates of the Bible in your own life? Fine. No one is stopping you. Using the government to force others to follow the dictates of the Bible (or any religious text or tradition) is not allowed.

    Keep your god (and any others) out of government. Free Exercise allows people to make their religious decisions to be a matter of personal conscience and their choice so long as their practice does not interfere with the rights of others. The Establishment Clause prevents government from endorsing a religion or showing favoritism for one tradition over another.

    This isn’t a “Christian nation”, Jesus doesn’t sit on the Supreme Court, God isn’t the President and the Holy Ghost isn’t in the halls of Congress. The U.S. was founded as a nation of laws – secular laws – not men (although the currently encroaching fascism is changing that, but that is a different tale) and not religious dictates from the Bible or any other religious text or tradition.

  16. Lee P. Black says:

    Forgive me friends, no offense intended. If I may ask a question.
    If there were an area on the globe where Christians found legal habitation as a nation they could call their own to govern would it be allowed for them to live there with the ten commandments posted on public property???
    If I may ask another question… Why did Adam and Eve clothe themselves in fig leaves…
    Why does God refer to himself as our? “…make man in our image” Genesis 1:26
    Why was Abraham told to offer his son as a whole burnt offering if no human sacrifice was required?
    Forgive me… How do you know Jesus was crucified???

  17. Lee P. Black asks: “If there were an area on the globe where Christians found legal habitation as a nation they could call their own to govern would it be allowed for them to live there with the ten commandments posted on public property???”

    Answer: Who knows. Depends on what kind of laws they make for themselves in that particular theocracy.
    **************************************
    Lee P. Black asks: “Why did Adam and Eve clothe themselves in fig leaves…”

    Answer: They probably didn’t. Fig leaves make lousy clothes, since they don’t do a thing to keep one warm in winter or protect from sunburn in the summer. Not very good for protection from wind and rain either. Early people wore animal hides.

    ********************************************
    Lee P. Black asks: “Why does God refer to himself as our? “…make man in our image” Genesis 1:26
    Why was Abraham told to offer his son as a whole burnt offering if no human sacrifice was required?”

    Answer: Stuff gets lost in translation from one language to another. The early writers wrote down what they believed they understood, not because they heard it directly. Bearded old guys told them what they thought they heard, and the writers transcribed what they thought they heard. Then through a half dozen or more ancient languages by translators of varying skill. If things got scrambled, don’t be too surprised.

    Abraham may have been nuts if the story is true. Parents like that still exist today.
    See: Yates, Andrea.
    **********************************************
    Lee P. Black asks: “How do you know Jesus was crucified???”

    Answer: We don’t. We only know what we were told, as written down by people long after he died, if he lived at all. Having said that, it was a typical way the Romans kept the locals under control. Torture and murder troublemakers in one of the most brutal ways possible, then leave their bodies to rot in the sun beside the roads as an example of what happens when you make trouble for the establishment. That lends the story considerable credibility.

  18. “If there were an area on the globe where Christians found legal habitation as a nation they could call their own to govern would it be allowed for them to live there with the ten commandments posted on public property???”

    Again, see the definition of the word “theocracy”.

    The rest of your questions are not grounded in law but theology and the best answers you would get here would be from a comparative religion standpoint. They are not germane in the context here, but here you go:

    “If I may ask another question… Why did Adam and Eve clothe themselves in fig leaves…”

    This is a loaded question that presupposes that Genesis is a literal story when it is not. Biblical literalism is a byproduct of modern Christian Fundamentalism and contrary to most of the history of the Christian religion and its assorted theological dogmas which understood and taught the Bible as allegory and parables for teaching moral and ethical lessons and not the literal historical truth.

    “Why was Abraham told to offer his son as a whole burnt offering if no human sacrifice was required?”

    Again, a loaded question that assumes the Bible is a history text instead of a religious text assembled post hoc to the events it alleges to describe – sometimes several hundred years after the fact.

    In addition, both of these questions hinges upon a matter of theological interpretation and dogma (which on a sectarian basis is highly variable). They are about as valuable for probative purposes as asking how many angels can dance on the head of pin.

    “Forgive me… How do you know Jesus was crucified???”

    That’s the story, however, whether he was or was not is irrelevant. The tale of his crucifixion has shaped Christian belief (note the word “belief” as opposed to the words “empirical fact”) since it was first retold and eventually set down. In that regard, its veracity is secondary to the measurable (and variable) sociological and theological effects it has had over history.

    If you don’t like these answers?

    Forgive me.

    It’s what Jesus would do.

  19. pete says:

    I’m not certain of this but I recall hearing a story that when they were updating the old testament from an older hebrew to a newer form that they had twenty scholars separately translate the books and when they checked all twenty translated exactly the same way. Therefore, nothing lost or changed in translation.
    At least that’s what I recall, couldn’t tell where I heard or read it though.
    I’ve also heard of a possible mistranslation of the whole “camel through the eye of a needle” thing. (something about only a small difference between the way “camel” and a type of rope made of camel hair). is written.

    but then those years of being forced to attend vacation bible school and revival may have broken something. I still get an empty vacant smile when hearing “Michael row your boat ashore”.

  20. Tony C. says:

    I agree with Pete in regard to translation; the translation is correct in Genesis. As I understand it, the Genesis lines referring to multiple Gods are likely cribbed from an earlier Indian creation story that had multiple Gods, a society referring to itself as “we” and “our”, without grammatical correction for the unitary God (or the implication that God is clearly speaking to a peer other than himself).

    I disagree on the “camel through the eye of a needle” comment; that is fully intended to be ludicrously impossible, and imply a rich man simply cannot get into heaven, in the eyes of Jesus if he is rich he is selfish by definition.

  21. Tony C. says:

    Of course, if camel-hood begins at conception, then it is pretty easy for a camel (as a fertilized camel egg) to pass through the eye of a needle. 🙂

  22. Pete,
    When I was in grad school, we had to learn two languages. I got off easy on one, because they accepted a computer programming language as one of them. I chose French for the other because of the number of cognates. What I wasn’t prepared for is the fact some words and phrases simply don’t translate. Here is an example: French purists are upset there is no word in French for “weekend.” Many English words are creeping into use in French-speaking areas. The bureaucrats in charge of keeping the French language “pure” are fighting a losing battle. Here is another one; the German word “Gestalt” has no equivalence in English other than a lengthy explanation.

    Another thing, language changes, and it changes far more rapidly than people know. One of the reasons the publishers of the famous MMPI psychological test revised it was language changes. The MMPI was first published in 1942, and revised in the mid-1980s. The second edition was published in 1986 as the MMPI-2. In the intervening four decades, many of the questions on the old MMPI were incomprehensible to anyone under fifty or sixty years old. Example: There was a question about one’s “deportment.” That is a word that has almost completely disappeared from our lexicon, but in the 1940s, it was an important grade on every kid’s school report card. I have noticed recently that test-takers are calling on test proctors more frequently to explain what some of the words on the MMPI-2 mean, simply because they are falling out of use, and the test-taker has literally never heard of words in common use thirty years ago.

    Some of the words in the King James version of the bible have come to mean the opposite of when they meant in 1601. Following the London fire, Sir Christopher Wren was tapped to oversee rebuilding. He designed St. Paul’s Cathedral, among other works. According to historians, Sir Christopher was told the following:

    When architects’ drawings for the rebuilding of St. Paul’s Cathedral after the fire were submitted, Sir Christopher Wren was told that his design had been chosen because it was “at the same time the most awful and the most artificial.” A modern architect would hardly think such a verdict complimentary. Far from being disparagement, it was the highest praise. “Awful” correctly meant inspiring awe, and “artificial” designed with art. As late as the beginning of the nineteenth century weddings were described as “awful ceremonies.”

  23. Lee P. Black says:

    Forgive me friends for my ignorance but how can we make a valid argument without some acceptance of the presuppositions of our own statements?
    Was Jesus a real historical person or not. And if not, does the theology at least that has since developed in the Christian community make a sort of interesting presuppositional lifestyle guided by a set of principles found written somewhere in history. To accept a set of so called principles to guide your life doesn’t mean you have to accept the information blindly nor have it in an acceptable structure where you can accept its validity but rather you accept what part of it you can and the rest you shelve for the time being, working out a lifetime of studying, testing and accepting or rejecting in a cycle that forms your own personal belief system with eventually others coming along testing your arguments using conversation and debate.
    So I hold to my presuppositions because I have found them worthy and unequaled.
    Socrates would agree I think that when some idea bears out to be proven then the debate is ended. And in my own feeble mind I work through my belief system finding fault sometimes with my interpretation of what I hold true and eventually get around to correcting it. My behavior may also need correcting because sometimes my behavior and belief go hand in hand. Until then what can be done???
    The real question here then must be… What am I proving??? That the life I live does or does not at any given time reflect the belief system I am adopting.
    Just examine any life,(“A life not examined…”) and you will see at some certain point what they are believing at that particular time. Even hypocrisy might reflect some kind of system. Possibly one based on deceit. One might be careful buying a used car from any card carrying member though. Ultimately it really doesn’t matter what people say, it’s what we do. A tree is known for its fruit.
    The Ten Commandments is a belief system. If we all agree they reflect our own systems it would seem reasonable to accept their adaptation into our public venues. Balaam had a desire for money and in the end it destroyed him.(Jude) The love of money was his belief system. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. He knew he had to obey God and bless Israel but he also wanted the money. Again a tree is known by its fruit. These are simple things that can be perverted with the hardening of ones heart. Speaking of trees… Have you noticed the roots go down and the leaves go up. How simple. I need simple. Forgive my babbling.
    Lee P. Black
    Pensacola, FL

  24. “Was Jesus a real historical person or not.”

    Irrelevant given the history of the theologies that evolved around his tale. Is there hard archaeological proof he was a historical person?

    No. There isn’t.

    The rest of that isn’t worth addressing as an argument as it is solipsistic opinion assertions of belief, not assertions of proof back with evidence. You can opine all you like but that does not make it a cogent argument or right in any way, merely your opinion.

    However, as a suggestion, if you really think money is the root of all evil? Stop going to church. Organized religion is a scam to concentrate money. The Gnostic Christians didn’t believe in churches and organizations and thought only one thing was important: the individual’s relationship with God. Which one could establish without Bishops or Ministers or churches or tithes or any of that nonsense. But then without hierarchical control systems men couldn’t religion as a political weapon against other men. And you can’t have that. For this reasons, the Gnostic tradition faded from prominence and was replaced at the bidding of Constantine with what became the Roman Catholic Church based in the Pauline tradition of Christianity – which as discussed above is less about Jesus’ teachings than it is about pro-Roman propaganda. The very same Roman Catholic Church that later caused the schism that led to the Protestant Reformation and the multitude of Christian dogmas that evolved from Protestantism – very few of which focus on the teachings of what can reasonably be argued to be the words of Jesus himself. Most don’t even realize the Old Testament isn’t even a Christian book at all, but Jewish (and as pointed out above should not apply to followers of Christ whose dictates by comparison to Judaic law are quite simple and few: love one another, take care of the weak and the poor and the sick).

    But if you want to follow a bunch of old Jewish rules Jesus himself was allegedly in part rebelling against you go right ahead.

    They still are not part of the tradition of American jurisprudence nor are the a foundation for our laws. If you want a theocratic Christian state, I suggest you start with trying to get the 1st Amendment overturned as well as all the subsequent explanatory and supplemental cases in the history of American jurisprudence.

    I estimate the chances of that getting accomplished by political process – even as corrupt as it is today – to be somewhere in the range of zero.

    Now if you want to talk about historical personages, there is always Buddha. There are many contemporary writings about Buddha including some by people who actually knew him. He was a historical person without question. The thing that would really blow your mind? Is that the teachings of Buddha and those most evidenced as attributable to Yeshua ben Nazareth (if he was a real person and not an literary liturgical amalgamation) have a lot in common. A lot. In fact, I bet Buddha and Jesus would have really liked hanging out together. But I digress.

  25. Lee P. Black says:

    My dear sirs:
    If I may…. I am only a partially literate fool. But please tell me… where may I go to find your wisdom? I am seeing pieces and parts everywhere but certainly there is a place you call home that guides you to keep your heart from murder or lust… in literature maybe or possibly a specific religion. You seem to know the teachings of Christ and Buddha do you follow either of them? Or maybe Socrates.
    We all have a group of no no’s that we will not do. You must have a list that you adhere to that helps you sleep at night knowing others have a similar though more or less complete list under their pillows. Is there no way you can know certainty in these matters. My friends I would urge you to lean not on your own understanding. Find God who is the creator of all beings and ask Him for forgiveness. Forgiveness for what you ask? Why that secret list you’ve been breaking. Though they knew God they did not worship Him as God but creepy crawlies instead. Romans1
    Far be it from me to push anything upon you. These are merely urgings that must be dealt with before judgment day. As for the 10, I think we all agree that they are an adequate list for each of us to adhere. Be careful not to become wise in your own eyes and miss this great salvation…
    Lee P. Black
    Pensacola, FL

  26. pete says:

    O S

    my favorite are people with “chinese language” tatoos. just ask them which chinese language.

  27. pete says:

    i have my own list, lee

    rule #1 never admit to a felony (although it is acceptable if pleading to the lesser of two or more)

    rule #2 whenever possible always try to know where the other persons primary loyalties lay.

    rule #3 always bring gas money.

    (i’ll have to think about the others, i’ve never thought about writing them down)

  28. Lee,

    This is a place where people are encouraged to think for themselves and not to let others do their thinking for them. A place where all are encouraged to learn how to think, not told what to think. The marketplace of ideas is a school, not a church. I’m familiar with the works of a great many wise teachers and I derive something of value from all of them, but to expect a man not to rely upon his own understanding of logic and empirical evidence over unfounded belief is . . . unreasonable.

    Besides, I really like the part of pete’s secret list about strippers and Jägermeister. The 17th Commandment if I recall. Very exciting.

  29. Pete,
    I first encountered Sheldon Kopp’s Eschatological Laundry List shortly after he published it in 1972. A whole list of truths worth noting. If Judge Moore wanted to put these 43 items up on a big rock in the state capitol, I would help him set it up myself.

  30. pete says:

    they’ll need a bigger rock

  31. Tony C. says:

    LPB says: …but certainly there is a place you call home that guides you to keep your heart from murder or lust…

    Not really. Lust is good adult fun, and without having done it or ordered it, I fully and personally can understand circumstances in which killing another person may be a necessity to protect myself or others.

    There is no literature or religion to which I subscribe, I trust no man with telling me how to live my life, and do not believe anything ever written by a human came from anything other than a human mind; their own or something related to them.

    LPB says: We all have a group of no no’s that we will not do. You must have a list that you adhere to that helps you sleep at night knowing others have a similar though more or less complete list under their pillows.

    I have no list; and I think it foolish waste of time to make one. I have arguments for positions, nothing more, so that I understand what is fair in generalized circumstances.

    Something like the list of commandments: Don’t kill, steal, lie or covet: Is silly. There are good reasons to kill people, good reasons to steal or lie. Coveting, jealousy, are human nature and can lead to beneficial acts. I can spin plausible hypotheticals for every one of those that results in a benefit to others, or all of mankind.

    Which leads me to:
    LPB says: Is there no way you can know certainty in these matters.

    No, there is not. Life isn’t simple. Our goals are numerous and complex and need to be balanced between self-interests, societal interests, present interests, future interests. A simple list of prohibitions is useless in the face of such a complex balancing act in which new situations are constantly being presented, new inventions constantly made, and new decisions constantly required. Like the (much simpler) game of chess, life requires a collection of strategies and understandings, not hard and fast rules that are never violated. How the pieces move in chess is akin to physics in the real world, they do not define the game, just what is physically possible from a given situation; and playing the game is applying those rules of physics to achieve a desired outcome. Therefore. I can tell you do not murder, and do not sacrifice your queen for a pawn. But Google “queen sacrifice” and you will find that is not a hard and fast rule at all. Read your silly Bible and you will see Moses ordering the genocidal murder of women and children that have harmed nobody.

    There is no list of rules in chess that leads to a win, there is no list of rules in life that leads to a win. There are strategies. We can learn tactics. We can increase the probability of happiness in ourselves and creating it in others. That’s it.

    LPB says: My friends I would urge you to lean not on your own understanding.
    Then you are no friend of mine, stop calling yourself one. Rationally speaking, in order for you to urge me toward that, you must be leaning on YOUR own understanding. Therefore. You are urging me to lean on YOUR understanding instead of my own. Therefore. You are claiming your understanding is superior to mine, and urging me to regard you as a superior intellect over my own. Therefore. You are urging me to subjugate myself to your control. Therefore. You are no friend of mine, you pretend friendship and caring in order to exert control over me; you are attempting to commit a fraud, telling me I am intellectually inferior, and your truth is right and mine is wrong and I am too dumb to think for myself. Screw you.

    LPB says: Forgiveness for what you ask? Why that secret list you’ve been breaking.
    There is no secret list for me, because I am not a simpleton that needs a recipe for life. So I am not breaking any rules, and I need no forgiveness. When I DO crave forgiveness, which has happened on a few occasions in my life when an impulsive act harmed another, I seek it from the person I harmed, not from MYSELF inside my head. And if forgiveness is not forthcoming and amends cannot be made, then I shall carry the burden of shame to my grave, as is deserved.

    LPB says: Far be it from me to push anything upon you. These are merely urgings
    How is “urging” different than “pushing”? This is classic fraudulent behavior, claiming you are not doing what you then immediately do. “I’m not telling you how to live your life, but if you don’t live it as I say you will live in misery and die alone.”

    LPB says: … that must be dealt with before judgment day.
    The only judgment days are meted out by man. Death is an oblivion for all, without pain, guilt, pleasure or happiness. Those that insist otherwise are lying and doing a disservice to all of mankind by promoting an excuse to not pursue justice against those that do harm to others, and leaving such harm unpunished reduces the risk and cost of perpetrating it, resulting in greater harm. You make yourself an enemy of mankind by urging people to trust in God to punish their oppressors. That does not help them, it harms them.

    That is the problem with all lies, not just the lies of religion. They present a false image of reality and that causes people to engage in pointless, counter-productive and dangerous activity, for themselves and others.

    LPB says:As for the 10, I think we all agree that they are an adequate list for each of us to adhere.
    Nope. I do not agree with a single one of them as an absolute. Not one. I can imagine a hypothetical situation that would justify breaking every single one of them. If I think hard, probably for a greater good that makes the world a better place.

    If I can steal something that is truly the property of an evil man, and by stealing it I prevent the slaughter of thousands of people that all believe is otherwise certain: Shouldn’t I steal it? What in your mind makes a property right to an object more important than the lives of thousands? Or the life of one child? Are you that kind of monster, that puts things above people, riches above lives?

    Suppose instead, for some reason, I must murder this evil man to foil his genocidal plans. Why is the life of one evil man worth sacrificing the lives of thousands of innocents?

    LPB says: Be careful not to become wise in your own eyes and miss this great salvation.
    More of “I’m not telling you what to do, but here’s what you need to do.”

    In my eyes, nobody is “wise” in the sense you mean it; nobody has a lock on the truth of life, morality, right and wrong. Some of us know more than others, but none of us are infallible. Including you, and certainly not the laughably mis-educated and ignorant fools that wrote the Bible you rely upon.

  32. Tony,
    I have a feeling you and Sheldon Kopp would have gotten along famously. That is an excellent elucidation of argument–I really like your analysis. Listening to The Amazing Randi on NPR driving home one afternoon, he talked about all the mail he got about his atheism. The gist of the mail he talked about said that if he were not religious, then he had no way of knowing right from wrong, or what is moral or immoral. Laughable, of course.

    As I have said before, the ethical person can be defined as one who knows the rules, and what one should do and not do. The moral person actually follows the rules. One of my acquaintances was a leading expert on ethics and lectured on ethics, internationally, for years. He published widely, and his publications have proven invaluable to more than one generation of medical and mental health professionals. However, he was caught in the act of a sex crime and arrested. He committed suicide before he could be tried. He knew his professional ethics better than anyone I have ever known, but he acted immorally.

    As Dr. Kopp points out repeatedly in his writings, when you take on a guru, you diminish yourself. In one of his books, Baba Ram Dass (Dr. Richard Alpert), describes seeking out a guru. For a time he followed the teacher he sought, believing the man had great teachings, but the experience turned out to be profoundly negative in the long run.

    Robert Heinlein does make one observation that I think we can all agree on: “Don’t forget to rub her feet.”

  33. Tony C. says:

    Chuck,

    To expand on Randi’s argument, if the Bible tells us to put to death our disobedient children (and it does), how does a modern person know that it is wrong to do that? Or the many other things stated in the Bible that the modern person rejects? Obviously they are not relying on the Bible when they reject it. Whatever sense of right and wrong people have is inherent, and sometimes reflected in the Bible, not learned from it.

    I believe the essence of that is a sense of fairness that arose in pre-humans; a sense of fairness is certainly present in Chimpanzees, Bonobos, and Gorillas. Many, many experiments show it to be so, and in my mind leave no room for any other conclusion: Great apes understand unequal treatment, unfairness, favoritism, and resent it, even to the point of spitefully taking a loss themselves to deny unfair rewards to another. That sense of fairness that ultimately lets humans determine right from wrong is inherent, not learned from some authority.

  34. Blouise says:

    “rule #3 always bring gas money.” (pete)

    Does cab-fare count? One has to have a way to get home after posting bail.

  35. pete says:

    Blouise

    it would have to. i don’t have the face for hitchhiking.

    rule #4 never argue religion with a preacher. (this could also be said as never argue with a true believer of any kind)

  36. Tony C. says:

    Tony’s Rule: Always argue with everything. But argument, not just denial or assertion.

    If nothing else, even against true believers, it is good practice. Time permitting.

  37. Lee P. Black says:

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