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>> that the opposite of a secular society is a theocracy<<

What else? Define one as black and one as white so maybe a lot of people forget about the 254 types of grey between.

Hey, Sandy P., if you're still around, this is for you.
The Myth of the Scandanavian Model

Steamy, steamy in here. A blogfight a day saves the sauna for a week.

I've seen much worse thought experiments than atheism and much worse religions than Christianity. But it turns out that separation of church and state is like separation of kitchen and toilet. Even when you have it the disputes over eating out and sitting down will not cease :-)

Some interesting facts about the difference (in years!) between the US and Europe regarding the economy, by European Chambre of Commerce in Brussels:
http://www.eurochambres.be/publications/index.shtml#es

Another study, this time by Timbro, the swedish think tank:
http://www.timbro.com/euvsusa/

@americanbychoice - I don't think that the Grundeinkommen is a slippery slope, the other way round, it's the solution. It can be financed from the necessary reform of the United Nations (see links above), a single tax on fossile energy exploitation and nuclear waste storage cannot only help to scrap all previous taxes, but also to abolish the nightmare of the sink-or-swim society which is paralysing Europe back into collectivism.

@Niko - What I said above, it could make all the concerns over redistribution details null and void.

neocon, I'd seen the Timbro study but not the Eurochambres study - fascinating stuff, thanks very much.

For readers who find loading a .pdf file to be a pain (it's only 4 pages, but has some graphics), let me summarize:

-2003: EU income (GDP per capita) was achieved in the US by 1985

-2003: EU employement level was achieved by US in 1978

-2003: EU productivity (GDP per employed) was achieved by US in 1989

-2002: R&D investment (R&D per capita) was achieved by US in 1979

The forecast isn't great either, but the year in which the EU can reach US levels varies with the variable plugged into the models.

@Niko
>>(BTW, do you watch The Office?)

Never saw it. I think it got cancelled after the first season. Take off on a Brit comedy, if I recall.

Gotta hit the grocery store - homemade chicken noodle soup on today's menu.

@ Francism
Several problems with Grundeinkommen: It would make the lazy German Youth lazier. Why go to work, if it is their "right" to stay home if they can live on the "Grundeinkommen? Using the Un to collect Taxes on anything would be like leaving my store open and inviting looting. They just tried to get control over the internet. Well, one of the good things (or bad) would be a lot less traffic since it would get too expensive for most people. While I dom't like a minimum Wage , since it is inflationary, at least it does reward someone for working rather that for just being around to collect money.
After all many young Germans believe that technology should be able to develop robots to do all the work and distribute income to Humans.

Germany has many problems that can't be solved with a simplistic solution.
When I was European director for my company, (Now retired) I always looked at trendlines to look at the future.
Trndlines in Germany(EU) don't look good. Very few new companies springing up, Foreign and domestic Investment going elsewhere, Productivity is horrendeous, Demographics threaten to bankrupt the the social fibre of the country. etc.
I know, they will invent more Taxes to pay for their structure, which has it's own problems like Braindrain, people fleeing from the oppression of the tax system even while the Government pleads that it is only for their own good.
Remember, egal wie man's anschaut, someday you have to pay the piper.

Trendlines are the best indicators of the future.

@ commenters

The conversation going on here is fascinating. Just for clarity, here is what David actually wrote that is causing so much discussion:

"Germany within just a few decades will become a lagely sclerotic society with decreasing reliance on Christian and family values."

Now I don't want to put words in Davids mouth, but this looks like his statement was intended as a description of current social trends in Germany. First of all, it is an undeniable fact that Germans do have a low birth rate and Germany is an aging or "graying" society. Furthermore, the Christian church has been losing members and influence over the past few decades and families are not sticking together as they used to (divorce rates are higher). In much of the west, there has been a clear deterioration of traditional values. As Davids co-author and someone who does not go to church or consider himself a Christian, I find this sentence to be entirely accurate and in no way offensive at all. It is a simple statement of fact.

As far as "not leaving any children behind." It is an interesting thing to say about Germany since there are so few children to begin with! That is sad, that is tragic, that is also true. Hopefully it will change.

Look at the US, we have our problems too. Now we have an unemployment rate of 4.9%, which is becoming very dangerous. The magic number to hit is 4.6%, at which inflation will again rear it's ugly head.
My point is simply, that balance is always needed instead of going into extreme directions foolheartedly.
Grundeinkommen, where everyone is happy and gets together singing coom bay yah would be one of those directions.

FranZ,

You must have had a huge drug overdose today if you think the US is going to submit to taxation by the UN.

You would be better served if you said taxed by the EU.

@americanbychoice - Work is not a value, only achievement is. If people long for achievements because they are bored of being lazy then they are more likely of success than if they go for work because they sheepishly chose the least repulsive of the available survival options. You can also work a lot and achieve nothing.

@joe - Do you believe it was a pipe dream that the United Nations could live up to its democratic ideals? Or were all these speeches to the General Assembly just opium-for-the-diplomats and I listened too much to your President?

@franzism
So you advocate as the "simple" solution to all problems the total redistribution scheme of "Grundeinkommen"?
By the way, do you enjoy or would you enjoy being at home receiving a portion of the well earned compensation of the working public?
I see from your link that Marx is apparently your hero?
I guess, to each his/her own.

With your attitude, will you eventually be paying the piper or wait for a handout from the piper?
Good luck!!!

FranZ

Well when you have the majority of the nations of Europe, lead by the chocolate summit, who do not want to reform the Human Rights Commission, I would say it is more than a pipe dream. It is maddness of the first order.

Of course, your comment sounds so European.. meaning, if we cannot fix everything why fix anything.

@ Franzism
To some people work is a virtue and Value.
You better define Achievement. By your definition, I can't really tell what that would be, even though I believe I know.
Define "success" as well. Very ambiguous.

necon,

Those are two very telling studies. They however are of no interest to the Europeans. The Europeans are not and do not want to be Americans that is why they are Europeans.

Those who want to be Americans come to America.

If they never catch up or remain in a state of decline as noted by The Frau of Germany, about her own nation so what?

It just slows down the rate of growth of other nations but those nations will continue to grow and improve their own standards of living.

It is just not that important.

After reading Medienkritik's statements and Mr Steyn's article, I admit I do not get the point. What is the relation between demographics and Germany's social model, or between demographics and Western Civilisation? Is the success of our civilisation due to our multiplying? Why this senseless extrapolation of current trends? 2050 is 44 years from today. Who would have correctly predicted the shape of today's world in 1962?
On a personal note, my girlfriend is Chinese. Will that make our children Germans, or Chinese, or pre-destined Ahasverian migrants? In the company I work for, our team assistant is Croatian. My colleagues are from Germany (one born in Romania, married to a Mexican; one married to a Hongkongnese; one, yes, married to a German) and Argentina; my boss is from Portugal. We all live in Germany and work all over the world.
If family values were so all-important, where does that leave India, a growing country with a large Muslim minority, all of whose citizens are family-oriented? China employs a one-child policy, and family values are increasingly replaced by the installation of a welfare state shaped along the lines of a social-democratic model. Does that make China a worse country than India?
This talk is laughable. Islamic hordes will not run us over any more than the yellow peril did 100 years ago.

FranzisM
>>Work is not a value, only achievement is

Bingo! Therein lies the problem. Work has intrinsic value regardless of the success of its goals in that it engages man in the world. It is in and of itself a value and therefore considered a virtue. The intrinsic value of the goals, however, it another matter.

>> Do you believe it was a pipe dream that the United Nations could live up to its democratic ideals?

The pipe dream is that the UN had democratic ideals.

@RayD
>>Furthermore, the Christian church has been losing members and influence over the past few decades and families are not sticking together as they used to (divorce rates are higher). In much of the west, there has been a clear deterioration of traditional values. As Davids co-author and someone who does not go to church or consider himself a Christian, I find this sentence to be entirely accurate and in no way offensive at all. It is a simple statement of fact.

What offended people is not the statement of fact, but the implied causality between the waning influence of Christianity/Judeo-Christian values and the decay of German society. Both are empiricaly demonstrable but the objecting posters here do not agree that one leads to the other. What I think they miss in their analysis is what Nietschze predicted vis a vis the "God is Dead" idea - it will be replaced with something and it will probably be the state. They also miss the concept that the Judeo-Christian value system does not require a belief in a diety - ask any of my athiest friends. conservative/libertarians, every one.

Tischgrill

Because your own little world is "in Ordnung", then there are no real problems, right?

Islamic hordes will not run us over

No, they will not run you over, they are already amongst you. Most of them do not really want to adapt, their numbers are growing, your numbers are not. This is simple math. But don't let reality bother you.

Tischgrill,

culture is not about race or ethnicity, it is about values. western values have in the past mean western european and american. this will become less so as european adhering to those values no longer care about them. "western" have now largely mean "american" rather than "european". i am fine with it because with time, others will join the americans to continue these values. this is what Steyn speak of in his article in the other post. like all things, change and adaptation is inevitable. likely, it will be seen as values of freedom and morality, rather than comfort and relativism. a new name will be applied to replace "western." perhaps "american" will do. with regard to religion, what religion does provide for is a bulwark against moral relativism. "american" will continue to mean tolerance for religion but not to a point of cultural suicide.

@Tischgrill
You wrote: What's the relation between demographics and the German social model?
Please take economics 101.
Someone has to pay for the social benefits. If the recipients are equal to the people paying into the system, what do you believe is the outcome?
1) lower benefits drastically
2) increase Taxes (Revenue) drastically

Of course you can stick your head into the sand and wait until the time comes. Be sure to paint a Bullseye on your ass that sticks out for easy identification.

I thought I would use this lively thread to let everyone know that the History Channel is repeating its broadcast of the “Mini Ice Age.” This is the broadcast that I alluded when I told FranzisM about the French employing exorcist from the Vatican to drive out Satan from the glaciers that were threatening their villages 500 years ago. It is a fascinating story of how Europe's climate became colder during the middle ages, causing a calamity of events from the Black Plague to the Irish Potato Famine. Of course, there was no USA back then. This Ice Age had nothing to do with Kyoto or CO2.

The broadcast will be on 8pm Eastern/ 7pm Central Time. I don’t know if the History Channel is available on Sat in Europe or Germany.

There were references in this thread to the TIMBRO study, a study by a Swedish think-tank. The bottom line is that if Germany were a U.S. State, its average income would be on par with Arkansas. An American poor person has $9,000 more in disposable income then a Swedish poor person. Here is a link to a Wall Street Journal article on the study:

www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110005242

If you want to sift through the raw data, do a search using TIMBRO as a key word.

@americanbychoice - As for definitions, I suggest we use these from Wikipedia instead of a private language.

I did not say the Grundeinkommen would solve all problems, I said it would abolish the nightmare of the sink-or-swim society. And financed by an energy tax it is not a redistribution scheme, unless you count the prehistoric creatures that turned into fossile resources as participants of the economy whose graves are robbed when fossile energy is exploited. We all pay for energy, but today we do into the pockets of the robber barons who accidentally happen to sit on the wells and spend the ransom for their outlaw nuclear programs. Who or what is going to take over when the OPEC tyrants go on the ashheap of history?

I may be a Hartz IV locust waiting for the monthly cheque, I may be the boss of the Arbeitsministerium, or I may be entirely independent from the employment-bureaucratic complex. It does not matter for the purpose of this discussion anyways. And I mentioned Karl Marx, as you seem to expect, not because he was the Messiah (Adam Smith isn't either) but because he made his most important political statement - "I am not a Marxist" - when his nephew Paul Lafargue criticized that the proletariat was all wrong to campaign for a right to work instead of a right to be lazy. Lenin praised work as an intrinsic value and we saw where it got him - into a society that is nothing but a huge work camp and quells any creative engagement of individuals with the world.

I understand that Americans do not perceive the sink-or-swim society as an existential threat. After making it over that scary ocean, things could only get better. But Europeans do, or otherwise we would all have emigrated long ago.

@joe - "Of course, your comment sounds so European.. meaning, if we cannot fix everything why fix anything."

You got me, existentialism is indeed quite European, but I'm working on a way to outsource it. And I agree, the UN Human Rights Commission is a nightmare too. Expecially since it chose Cuba as its face it has become so locked on Gitmo that it should be called a Unlawful Combatants Rights Commission. That must have been viagra for crazy Old Castro, a flashback of his young days when he could wave his finger as fervently as Ahmadinejad.

Maybe, if Angela Merkel succeeds to outsource the issue of Gitmo from the United Nations, this corrupt body can be gradually pushed to engage itself with actual human rights violations across the world.

I for one think the Germans and for that matter all the euros should have whatever tax rate they want. I am really indifferent to this.

I do think if they expect other people in the world to support their live style then they have a serious drug problem.

Note the easy answer from Europe is always raise taxes. It is even better if they can raise someone else's taxes and not their own.

This must explain why they have so much in common with the Left in the US.

The problem with the German Social Model is that there *is* a German Social Model. The US does not have one. We can't even get unanimity on law systems (most states practice English based common law but Louisiana, at least, is still Roman/French based). The only limits on variability is the broad framework of the US Constitution and that policy can't be so stupid as to cause the entire state's population to head for the borders. If it is, you get W. Virginia where medical torts policy became so unbalanced that all the obstetricians left the state. Really, they all went. Medical torts policy then improved in the state of W. Virginia.

In contrast, Europe, and Germany is no exception, is all about creating systems that harmonize and mush things down to a common approach. Taxes should be harmonized, work rules should be harmonized, time off should be harmonized (no siesta, no short vacations), etc. This wouldn't be so bad if politicians were competent but why struggle to pass good policy when it is so much easier to pressure those with good policy to get in line with everybody else? This way you don't have to work so hard because your electorate can't easily compare the current state of things with how it could be. I believe that part of the reason that the US is so demonized in the EU is that demonization aids the project of harmonization. If the US were perceived to be like the EU and not some bizarre, freakish, gun nut jesusland then studies like the devastating Timbro one which asked how EU states would rank if they were member states of the US (answer: not well at all) would be devastating. Political careers, even entire parties, are on the line. Major US system elements cannot be considered a valid option for Europe lest the people elect themselves a new elite.

Turning to the issue of the "separation of Church and State", this subject is only addressed in the 1st amendment and only ambiguously. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" is the relevant clause. The linguistic difficulty is whether the verbal emphasis should be put on the word "an" or "establishment". The former interpretation allows for general support for religion over irreligion while the latter is the interpretation of the "wall of separation" faction. This issue is contentious in the US and not settled law with US conservatives lining up behind the former interpretation and US liberals the latter.

Germany is in need of a new set of values. I say this because the current set simply aren't sustainable (see: demographic crisis). Christian values served it sustainably in the past and could do so once again. Muslim values too are sustainable from a demographic point of view. The problem is that they're not compatible with modernity. If Germany is in a multi-decade slide, the muslim world is in a multi-century slide and they know it. The only reason Europe was not fully conquered by the muslims was that the Ottoman and Iranian factional infighting diverted enough military might that the project of conquering all of christendom was delayed sufficiently for Europe to retain its liberty. Today, the situation is rather different. Right now, there are no other sustainable values systems on offer for Germany as the vast majority of jews are actively hostile to exporting their values. I hope Germany chooses wisely.

@FranzisM -
I did not say the Grundeinkommen would solve all problems, I said it would abolish the nightmare of the sink-or-swim society.

If it is what it sounds to me like, then it will indeed abolish that. Taking away "the nightmare of a sink-or-swim society" takes away the motivation to swim; this leaves you with the nightmare of the sink society. It's your society, but that doesn't look like a trade up to me.

And financed by an energy tax it is not a redistribution scheme, unless you count the prehistoric creatures that turned into fossile resources as participants of the economy whose graves are robbed when fossile energy is exploited.

I note that those creatures do not pay the tax. That being the case, it must come from those who consume the energy.

There is a bottom line reality that any model which hopes to succeed must contend with - humans consume, therefore humans must produce. Energy, food, textiles, wood, minerals, and so on - each person consumes more of almost everything than they themselves will ever produce, so whatever it is that they do produce must exceed (due to systemic losses) an equivalent value of what they consume. That formula is inescapable. You can try to tweak and twiddle and adjust the values until on paper it looks like the model's going to pan out, but reality will not have its values twiddled; if input is less than or equal to output, it fails.

The USSR learned that when Pietr gets two pairs of shoes each year whether he produces or not, he tends not to. If Germany would like to learn that also, it is certainly free to do so.

Who or what is going to take over when the OPEC tyrants go on the ashheap of history?

Me. I've been preparing to become Supreme Global Dictator for the last six years; my forces will mobilize in 2011 to have me on my throne by 2015. (Now accepting applications for the spring 2011 offensive against Nunavut. Applicants with dog sleds preferred).

Of particular interest to me though is just how are the OPEC tyrants going to find themselves on the ash heap in the first place? Will Europe talk them onto it?

Maybe, if Angela Merkel succeeds to outsource the issue of Gitmo from the United Nations, this corrupt body can be gradually pushed to engage itself with actual human rights violations across the world.

I envy your idealism. I can no longer sustain such hopes.

@joe - Puuu-leaze. This is politics, if you want to have all sports with no doping you have to go for the Olympics instead. Don't you know that there are other parts of the world that need the Grundeinkommen much more than Germany does? Note also that I also propose to cut all other taxes. The single tax model is better than its reputation, its only disadvantage was that transactions are not really the best place of the economy where to collect the tax.

@Doug - I don't understand your concept of motivation. Kids learn swimming because they're bored of sitting on the lawn, not because they are kicked into the water.

Of course one could imagine a scenario in which production goes down, living costs go up, people become dissatisfied and look out how to make more money in addition to their Grundeinkommen. The same scenario is also fitting for the case that energy resources reach a limit. Living costs would go up, reliance on the Grundeinkommen would go down, until the stable equilibrium is restored.

You may want to live your own thought experiment just as much as everybody else, but in reality no individual can legally claim ownership of the planet, even the United Nations only can if that claim is based on a political legitimacy that it still needs to achieve. But if it does, or more precisely if the Western cultures can push UN reform into that direction, then it can come to the point to make such a claim, and the OPEC tyrants would have to pay taxes like any other resource-exploiting business.

Well, timing is everything, via Vodkapundit:

From the Sunday Strib editorial page (not on the web, alas) a little mini-demi edit:

Does religion make you happy and successful? Or are happy, successful people more likely to attend church? Economist Jonathan Gruber recently studied the question – measuring religious observance while controlling for socioeconomic factors such as income. He found that regular formal worship really does seem to improve a family’s economic outcomes, increased children’s chances of graduating from high school and reduce the likelihood of getting divorced or going on welfare. ...

Gruber’s findings, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, can’t quite explain the link between faith and happiness.....


http://www.lileks.com/screedblog/06/010906.html

Even better, a report on the vaunted ice core test just came out.

Guess what????

What the earth is doing is natural.

--There are no "Christian values" that are unique to Christianity and that are not considered to be valued by atheists as well.---

We value our faith in something bigger than we are, atheists value themselves, since they are their faith.

--Murder is forbidden in all societies and by all religions--

I think a few WTC families might disagree w/that.

---
Christians are baptized when they're still babies. That's at a time when they can't think for themselves yet, so they essentially never have a choice of becoming Christians or not. Later on, they have become so brainwashed by Christian propaganda everywhere around them (Narnia!) that they never leave the Church.

If people had to voluntarily decide whether to become Christians or not, at an age of 21 or above, there wouldn't be many Christians left.---

We don't kill them if they decide to leave the religion...but others do.

There are people who convert over 21 every day, what are you talking about?

Ever hear of "Jews for Jesus?"

I don’t think we have to imagine a scenario in which production goes down, living costs go up, people become dissatisfied and look out how to make more money in addition to their Grundeinkommen. I think we already have that. It is a place called Germany. This scenario has already spread to france or it might be where the Germans caught it. Regardless, it is trying to take over much of Europe.

The answer we see is to make all Europeans the same. Sounds good to me. Of course, a reading of history would lead one to believe the Europeans have tried this several times before under different names.

This might work for Europe, this time.

The rest of the world should just continue to wait to see how it is going to turn out before we all jump over the cliff following the euros.

FranZ,

Invest in energy stocks.

--@Niko - If the FF's of my secular Republic based the Constitution on the Bible how come they did not mention it? What three lettered word is not found anywhere within? --

Why don't you go a little further back, say 7/4/1776?

@ Franzism
Possibly you also need to study economics 101?
Some facts without getting too detailed:

The consumer always pay the price. If you taxed OPEC, they would simply raise the price of oil to cover the added expenses. YOU PAy!

If you tax individual countries, they will have to recover the cost through very high taxation, YOU PAY!

This whole scenario sounds like a typical German ploy. Why make something simple when you can make it expensive and bureaucratic? Giving money to the UN in order for them to give it back, silly. Why not distribute it yourself without the additional costs involved?

It sounds like the author went to School in either Somalia or Ethiopia. He doesn't make sense.

I recommend instead my suggestion about making robots do all the work, selling the products and redistributing them among the populous who are staying at home enjoying "La Dolce Vita".
That at lest has some merit, I will have to agree, not much though.

@hingerl: "Honey, you failed to grasp my point: Murder was also forbidden in the Soviet Union, but Stalin and his fellow-commies murdered nonetheless, just like the Christians who were killing Jews. So much about your reading comprehension skills."

I don't know what Marx had to say about it, but in "practical" Communism, those among the elites spreading Communism, or engaged in the service of same, were totally free of moral constraint. They had license to do absolutely anything; neither law nor religious or social censure applied to them. Lenin was absolutely clear on this point, and it was a fundemental value of the Soviet Union. The only thing such people could not do was act against the wishes of their betters in the Communist elite structure. Other than that, they absolutely did have the right to murder, or any other form of predatory behavior that they wished to indulge themselves in.

Note that Ialamism has adopted this same principle. Those engaged in jihad are freed from the Sharia and the other constraints that bind all other Muslims.


@Sandy P

>>"Why don't you go a little further back, say 7/4/1776?"

Sure, why not? That document was written by a Deist, not a Christian. Our founding fathers were men of the Enlightenment, and they believed in freedom of religion. Freedom of religion continues to be the bottom line for me, including, as in my case, the right not to believe in any religion. Try to take that right away from me, or to make yourself a little more equal than me because of your religion, and you'll have a fight on your hands. That right is not negotiable, as far as I'm concerned.

@ TM Lutas

“We can't even get unanimity on law systems (most states practice English based common law but Louisiana, at least, is still Roman/French based). “

Didn’t you read or saw Stephen King’s The Green Mile. They don’t guillotine them in Louisiana. They fry them like in the other red states.

Louisiana adopted the Code Napoleon only for its probate law. Remember in a Street Car Named Desire, Stanley Kowalski kept on babbling about “community property?” In a community property jurisdiction, all marital property is divided 50/50 between husband and wife.

In Common law states, the courts usually look at a totality of circumstances when dividing up marital property.

Louisiana is not the only community property state. Most of the South West adopted the Code Napoleon from the Mexicans, who adopted from the Spanish, who were occupied in the early 1800s by the French.

Helian, he was arguing God was not in the Constitution. I pointed out it is in the Dec of Inde.

>>"Helian, "Freedom of religion continues to be the bottom line for me." That is perfectly fine. However, some folks in the comments seem to believe that it should be freedom from religion, more specifically The Right To Be Not Offended(tm)."

I see, Christianity has now become so weak and flimsy in America that we have to create another minority, another hyphenated interest group, the "Christian-Americans." After all, if some anal school teacher snaps at a student for saying grace at lunch it will certainly be the death knell for Christianity. Excuse me, but wasn't this sort of thing what conservatives were supposed to be opposed to, lo now these many decades?

>>"Helian, he was arguing God was not in the Constitution. I pointed out it is in the Dec of Inde."

Fine, God is in the Declaration of Independence. Allow me to point out that the God you're referring to is not a right wing Christian God, but the God of a Deist, Thomas Jefferson. And since your comments about God in the Declaration were made merely for the sake of vindicating historical accuracy, allow me to note a few more historical facts, with reference to our founding fathers.

Washington revealed almost nothing to indicate his spiritual frame of mind, hardly a mark of a devout Christian. In his thousands of letters, the name of Jesus Christ never appears. He rarely spoke about his religion, but his Freemasonry experience points to a belief in deism. Washington's initiation occurred at the Fredericksburg Lodge on 4 November 1752, later becoming a Master mason in 1799, and remained a freemason until he died.

To the United Baptist Churches in Virginia in May, 1789, Washington said that every man "ought to be protected in worshipping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience."

After Washington's death, Dr. Abercrombie, a friend of his, replied to a Dr. Wilson, who had interrogated him about Washington's religion replied, "Sir, Washington was a Deist."

Even most Christians do not consider Jefferson a Christian. In many of his letters, he denounced the superstitions of Christianity. He did not believe in spiritual souls, angels or godly miracles. Although Jefferson did admire the morality of Jesus, Jefferson did not think him divine, nor did he believe in the Trinity or the miracles of Jesus. In a letter to Peter Carr, 10 August 1787, he wrote, "Question with boldness even the existence of a god."

Adams, a Unitarian who denied the dogma of the trinity, flatly denied the doctrine of eternal damnation. In a letter to Thomas Jefferson, he wrote: "I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved -- the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!"

Called the father of the Constitution, Madison had no conventional sense of Christianity. In 1785, Madison wrote in his Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments: "During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution."

Dr. Priestley, an intimate friend of Benjamin Franklin, wrote of him: "It is much to be lamented that a man of Franklin's general good character and great influence should have been an unbeliever in Christianity, and also have done as much as he did to make others unbelievers." Read Franklin's autobiography to get a real sense of his stance regarding religion.

Thomas Paine, freethinker and author of several books, influenced more early Americans than any other writer. Although he held Deist beliefs, he wrote in his famous The Age of Reason: "I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my church."

"Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is no more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifiying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory to itself than this thing called Christianity."

These were the real thoughts of our founding fathers regarding religion. The real intellectual forebears of the Christian zealots in the U.S. and England who are so intent on stuffing their religion down everyone elses throats are the Tories (in the English sense of the term), not the American Whigs. To see what I'm talking about, get your noses out of blogs for a few hours and go back and look at some of the historical source material. Try, for example, the British Tory "Quarterly Review." The editors were ideological analogs of the modern American Christian supremacists, and despised the American founding fathers and their "silly paper Constitution."

Want to see how "moral" and "just" a Christian theocracy is in practice? Just read the history of the Papal States before they were mercifully put to rest by Garibaldi. They were at least as corrupt and abject as any modern Islamofacist dictatorship, and even more pathetic. Is that where you want to take us? Count me out!


@FranzisM -
Kids learn swimming because they're bored of sitting on the lawn, not because they are kicked into the water.

But that isn't what you were talking about, or you would not have characterized it as a "nightmare". You were talking about some level of success being a requirement in society (swimming), with the alternative being failure (sinking), and you seemed to be saying that the grummkltnlkwn removes failure from the available options. When people believe failure is no longer possible, most make much less effort to succeed. Instead of succeeding individually or in families, they can then fail collectively, bringing those who try to succeed shackled to them.


@hingerl -
My point is, this whole Christian values crap is all bullshit. It assumes that somehow the Christian religion is superior to other religions, e.g. the Jewish religion.

I can't believe no one called you on this - no, it assumes no such thing. What it assumes is that the values which built today's western societies grew out of their Christian heritage. What's bullshit is you trying to posture your virulent disdain as something more principled than simple intolerance.

What's so great about Christian values? What about Jewish values? Don't they have any values? Is it only Christians that have values? Or are their values somehow better than non-Christian values? What are Christian values, if I may ask?
[...]
What are Christian values. Please list 10 of them and I'll show you that they are not Christian values but universal values.
[...]
I'm still waiting on that list of "Christian values". I'm expecting at least 10 of them. And please don't list the 10 Commandments. They're not Christian, they're Jewish.
[...]
There are no "Christian values" that are unique to Christianity and that are not considered to be valued by atheists as well.

Well, duh. Just because they've been internalized by western society for hundreds of years now and are now embraced by most westerners (of any or no faith) does not change the fact that their roots are in Christianity. They did not exist as common values until the Christian faith brought them. You asked for 10, here's 10 that you could have found easily. Obviously, some only apply to people of Christian faith (your atheists aren't going to be very warm to #1), while others have become shared values of the wider society. If you wanted 10 off the top of someone's head though, here are the first 10 that occur to me.

1. The concept of separating religion from the state is also a Christian one, presented in the book of Romans.
2. Your mother taught you "the golden rule", did she not? Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you? Jesus' own words.
3. The lesson of the Good Samaritan - be charitable to those in need
4. Religion belongs to the people, not the priests
5. For ideas (or faith) to have real worth, they must be firmly rooted in you
6. You can't serve two masters
7. Beware of vanity; pride alienates us
8. Don't judge others, or you'll be judged
9. Live each day as though it were your last
10. Forgiveness is unlimited

Most of those I know are Christian, but a couple might be pre-Christian. Now, you promised to show that they are not Christian, but universal values, and I invite you to do so. I'm curious to see how you will illustrate that what you consider universal is not so because it was derived from the prevalence of Christian faith. Perhaps you will have examples pre-dating Christianity's influence?


@TM Lutas -
Turning to the issue of the "separation of Church and State", this subject is only addressed in the 1st amendment and only ambiguously. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" is the relevant clause. The linguistic difficulty is whether the verbal emphasis should be put on the word "an" or "establishment".

Fortunately, we have hundreds (if not thousands) of pages of the letters of the Framers, and we know of the history that served as the backdrop to the framing itself to answer questions about intent. That clause was meant to prevent the federal government from repeating something like the Church of England (which many of the founders had fled) - therefore, "establishment".

@joe - Why do you fear the Grundeinkommen will turn us into lemmings? It does as little make us all the same as the fact that breathing is tax-free. Try trading ideas instead of stocks, then you may become a bit more self-confident of your individualism. You won't fall off the cliff at the end of the world, yet Dante knew it is a sphere and not a cake. From the European point of view we have been lemmings ever since the emergence of civilisation, so if basic welfare is left to the whims of patriarchs they will be enabled to keep up the collectivism.

@americanbychoice - That is why I suggest to collect taxes at a point of the economy where the market can best distribute the tax load on the consumers, without any requirement of bureaucracy. If the state-run oil companies of the OPEC tyrants cannot provide their service at market prices they have to make way for other competitors, after all they don't own the planet. Currently these businesses receive a right of preemption only because these resources are accessbile within certain national territories.

@Doug - You can have the swimming pool metaphor, but you're right swimming in shackles would not be a good idea. My point is that asceticism is each man's individual business, and not something that should be enforced by the state equally upon all men. If asceticism helps you to build up your motivation and to prevent instances of failure, then you must know you're free to live it in the most sane, safe and consensual way. But don't ram your asceticism down anybody elses throat without solicitation, because that would indeed be a nightmare.

@Helian - As much as I respect your Founding Fathers, that Masonic passion is a real pain in the neck. As a result, we see an image of God on every single dollar bill, as if the First Commandment was vain. No surprise that the Nazis could hit a German nerve when they were saying the Americans pray to the dollar. What an irony that we receive such an image from a country where it is also usual to mask the written name of God like a curse to avoid invoking Him in vain.

@Doug

>>"Well, duh. Just because they've been internalized by western society for hundreds of years now and are now embraced by most westerners (of any or no faith) does not change the fact that their roots are in Christianity. They did not exist as common values until the Christian faith brought them. You asked for 10, here's 10 that you could have found easily. Obviously, some only apply to people of Christian faith (your atheists aren't going to be very warm to #1), while others have become shared values of the wider society. If you wanted 10 off the top of someone's head though, here are the first 10 that occur to me."

Is that your idea of intellectual rigor? Just come up with a laundry list of "Christian values," and challenge someone to go on a wild goose chase to shoot them down? If you're really interested in getting at the truth, isn't that your job? You'll find your "Christian" Golden Rule in Confucius and Plato, among many others, along with several of the other items in your list. For a thorough fisking of the notion that our common moral values are "Judeo-Christian," read Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary. In fact, there is near unanimity on fundamental moral values in virtually all human societies. The key word here is "fundamental." I will be the first to admit that there are certain values found in the Bible not common to other cultures, such as the admonition to women to keep their mouths shut in church.

In fact, the struggle for liberty, in its religious and secular forms, is in no way simply an outgrowth of Christianity. Sometimes its strongest proponents have also been the strongest believers, as during the time of Cromwell. Sometimes the opposite has been the case, as during the French Revolution. Liberty as a value had much more to do with the nature of the
Germanic tribes that inherited the western Roman Empire than with Christianity. Otherwise a tendency towards greater liberty would have emerged in all Christian societies. That is far from being the case.

In general, I have no problem with Christianity or any other religious belief as long as I am accorded the same equality that I am willing to grant to others. By "equality," in this case, I mean refraining from using the power of the state to force my beliefs on others and demanding in return that so-called "Christians" refrain from stuffing their religion down my throat, in direct contradiction of Ephesians 2:8-9. One manifestation of this "Christian" force-feeding is the current form of the Pledge of Allegiance, which requires me to allude to belief in a deity. It happens that I volunteered to serve my country in the infantry in Vietnam at a time when putting your life on the line in that fashion wasn't particularly popular. I should be accorded the right to pledge allegiance to the country I love and am still willing to lay down my life for according to the accepted form without doing violence to my beliefs. Those beliefs are dictated to me by my reason, and I cannot, therefore, change them at will to accord nicely with the beliefs of the majority. I should also be able to carry coins in my pocket that don't affirm my "trust in God." The "Christians" who affirm the efficacy of the state as a means of "convincing" unbelievers would, of course, disagree with me. So much for the "liberty" they are always gassing about. It's the kind of "liberty" that only applies to them, and to people who think just like them.

I'd say you're not to confident of your religion if you need your money to remind you you're a Christian.

Calling upon God is not the same as making an image of Him. "In God we trust" is a statement of faith, but a sense organ in a geometric figure undoubtedly is an image.

The black helicopters only exist in your imagination, but once someone prints an image of God in reality, someone else will draw a caricature of the Church around it which will eat atheists if they walk in.

@ FranzisM,

Most countries couldn't afford a "Grundeinkommen" in the amount suggested.
Only in the Dictionary will you see success come before work.

I am posting this here, because I don't see another threat. I believe it is hilarious after the German MSM always betrays Amerika as doing nothing about the ecology. Is the following just a "mistake? I found it in Focus.

Mercedes zeigt in Detroit einen Diesel, der die strengen Abgasbestimmungen aller US-Staaten erfüllt.

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