Archive for July, 2022

July 20, 2022

Progressive Christianity

by Neil Rickert

My main intention, in this post, is to link to two recent posts that seem worth reading. Both posts were on the “Progressive Christian” channel at Patheos.

The first of those posts is by James McGrath:

When growing up as a young Christian, I saw Jesus as taking liberal and progressive positions. And James pretty much agrees with this. It always seems strange to me that most American Christians are so conservative. They could not have gotten that conservatism from reading the Gospels. Even the early church practiced a form of Christian communism. There are still modern progressive Christians, with Martin Luther King having been just one example. Yet most American Christians seem very conservative and seem hostile to the liberal ideas that Jesus taught us.

The link blog post goes into some of the history of this. Or, as the summary by James McGrath puts it:

TL; DR: The core of Christianity was progressive from its beginning, and today’s progressives continue that tradition.

The Establishment Clause

The second post I want to highlight, is by Fred Clark:

That title is weird. The post is really about the establishment clause of the first amendment to the US. Constitution, and about why it is so important.

Some people seem to think that there is a tension between the establishment clause (often described as separation of church and state), and the freedom of religion clause. Recent supreme court decisions have use the freedom of religion clause to override some decisions based on the establishment clause.

Fred argues, correctly in my opinion, that there is no tension. The establishment clause is an integral part of freedom of religion. If the state can impose religious requirements, then that imposition is against freedom of religion.

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July 6, 2022

Fred Clark on the culture war

by Neil Rickert

I was not intending another post so soon after my last one. But then I read Fred Clark’s latest post at his “Slacktivist” blog. It is brilliant.

My apologies that his actual post is on Patheos, which means that it is loaded with far too much advertising. But it is still worth reading.

Fred goes after the religious right, that grossly immoral minority that had the gall to refer to itself as “the moral majority”. To illustrate, here is a sample paragraph:

“Winning” power politics in opposition to public opinion — in opposition to the will of the majority of citizens and voters — isn’t a “culture war.” It’s simply the denial of democracy. The “Christian Right,” in other words, is exploiting the undemocratic features of our politics to impose undemocratic results on everyone else.

Please take the time to read that entire post. It hits hard, and is on target.

July 6, 2022

Marbury vs. Madison was wrongly decided

by Neil Rickert

Back in 1973, when Roe v. Wade was decided, I had a mixed reaction. On the one hand, I liked the idea that women should be able to make their own choices on abortion. On the other hand, it seemed to me that the court had made a mistake and that this was a serious overreach.

Part of my concern, at that time, was that the states were considering the question. And Roe v. Wade shutdown those normal political processes whereby a people can settle such hard questions. For the main part, the American people came to accept Roe v. Wade, although there was some political objection which seemed mainly religious. But now, in its recent Dobbs v. Jackson decision, the court has thrown out the original Roe v. Wade decision and has once again short circuited normal political processes. This has thrown the nation into turmoil.

I’ll note here, that I am not a lawyer. The USA was established as a system of representative government. The legislators were supposed to be ordinary citizens. It was never intended as a system of rule by lawyers. So ordinary people ought to have a say in government.

Marbury v. Madison

Marbury v. Madison was an historic case. It was not so much the question being resolved that made it historic. It was historic, because it is the case where the Supreme Court in effect claimed the right to be the final decider of what is constitutional. And it is that aspect of the case that I am questioning.

As far as I can see, the constitution does not give the supreme court the authority to decide what is constitutional.

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