Onward Christian Soldiers (General Order what now?)

alex01thumbI was browsing HuffPo today, when I came upon an article about a topic which has been bugging me (US soldiers trying to convert Iraqi and Afghan Muslims to Christianity via Chick Tracts and witnessing coins), but since I couldn’t find anything about it after last May, I thought it was old news. Guess not.

“The special forces guys – they hunt men basically. We do the same things as Christians, we hunt people for Jesus. We do, we hunt them down […] Get the hound of heaven after them, so we get them into the kingdom. That’s what we do, that’s our business.” – Lieutenant-Colonel Gary Hensley, chief of US military chaplains in Afghanistan

AnappalledAmericansayswhat — what?!

Well. Well. There’s a problem here. There is very definitely a problem, and I don’t know why more attention isn’t being called to this, because it is just no.

The idea of witnessing is an archaic one, going back to the days when religion was a main societal identifier. The way to make sure that your people spread their culture and protected their own interests was a convert-or-kill scenario. As a device of preservation back then, it served its purpose. Now…now it verges on gravely insulting self-righteousness. It’s like saying, “You are not living your life properly; I am going to heaven and you are not. Let me interfere with your life to make it more like how I think it should be. I am right and you are wrong. I have God on my side, and that makes me right, because God cannot be wrong.”

Is it just me, or is that a terrible imposition to put on another human being? But the principle alone is not what cooks my chicken. Oh no. Oh, no. The fact that uniformed representatives of the United States are doing it, now that is what just pisses me off. When you put on the uniform, it’s not supposed to matter if you’re a man, a woman, gay (just so long as you don’t tell anyone since homosexuality makes you a security risk…or something), straight, black, white, brown, rich, poor, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Shinto, agnostic, atheist, or Wiccan. You are a soldier, and you are expected to act as such. You are a peacekeeper or a warrior, not – NEVER – a crusader. It’s a “check-your-personal-convictions-at-the-door” sort of thing. In private, hell, I don’t care if you sacrifice chickens to Voldemort, but you do not push your beliefs onto others. You just don’t. Aside from being rude, in military service it’s a violation of General Order One. Thou shalt not proselytize. (Or Carlin’s commandment: Keep your religious convictions to your own damn selves.)

It’s another example of Reza Aslan’s cosmic war principle. We, as American Christians, are Good. They, as Iraqi and Afghan Muslims, are Evil. We must convert them to good, as it is our duty as American Christians, and we are a Christian Nation. (We are not – the Treaty of Tripoli‘s Article XI states “As the government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion…”) Am I the only person who’s angry about this? We’re supposed to be the shining beacon of freedom, oppressing none and allowing all viewpoints to shine! Does that suddenly change when our soldiers are overseas? “Sorry, we don’t like your religion. You’re going to have to change it.” Religion is an intensely personal thing, not to be trifled with by outsiders who think they know better. (That, and it’s illegal to try and convert Muslims to any other faith in Afghanistan. When we go to someone else’s house, don’t we have to play by their rules?) I’m prickly enough when people try and convert me to their religion of choice, and I shrug when they say my refusal to submit to them (submit, conquer, it’s a power game) will result in my eternal torment.

The point is, as Americans we don’t tolerate religious oppression and illegal activity at home. Why should we tolerate it in our representatives abroad?



  1. Mmmm…Shining bacon of freedom…

  2. And so it begins….

    Im SO glad, the younger generation, Gen Y is what I like to call them, but Im so glad, that they question, question, question..EVERYTHING!!!

    maybe, we’ll get to the truth of the matter of all of this religious stuff…

    One can hope…

    Keep pressing for the truth, its out there, THEY just don’t want us to find it…

    Too Late.

  3. The Religious Right has just pissed on everything that our founding fathers sought to bring to this country…

    They have twisted and manipulated the masses…and thank the heavens above…some are not buying it…

    not for one second…

  4. Wow… I love seeing people try to rewrite history. Even more distressing are the commenters who have either bought it our encouraged it. Fact check folks: The treaty of Tripoli (which first off was a minor treaty dealing with piracy in the island nation and is less then one page so I wouldn’t call it definitive proof of anything) does not have the clause the author referenced above. Where this clause does in fact occur is in a translation of the Arabic version of the treaty, as translated back into English by a man named Barlow. And while the Barlow translation is the one “on file” since 1787, there have also been documented failures & gross error, including the one referenced above, if his translation on record since 1800. However since it was such a minor treaty no one bothered to update it. Google it.

    So, the linchpin of the authors contention is a flawed translation of a minor treaty. Hmmm… now lets look at the important documents, like, I don’t know, maybe the Declaration of Independence which uses the phrase “Divine Providence”, a clear Christian reference. Added to that the overwhelming abundance of statements from our founding Fathers:

    We Recognize No Sovereign but God, and no King but Jesus! [April 18, 1775] John Adams

    “The general principles upon which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principals of Christianity… I will avow that I believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.”
    • “[July 4th] ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.” Both quotes also by John Adams

    Here’s good old George Washington for you:
    “While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.”

    “Cursed be all that learning that is contrary to the cross of Christ.” James Madison

    And here’s one for all you that want to change the world without Christ:
    ” If moral precepts alone could have reformed mankind, the mission of the Son of God into all the world would have been unnecessary. The perfect morality of the Gospel rests upon the doctrine which, though often controverted has never been refuted: I mean the vicarious life and death of the Son of God.” Benjamin Rush

    And to sound the death knell, my personal favorite:

    “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” That would be good ol’ Patrick Henry for you.

    Folks… you’re wrong if you think America was founded as anything other then a Christian nation. And you’re wrong if you want to change that. What you need is to know Jesus Christ as Savior. And you can make fun of that all you want but some day, in the not to distant future, you will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and will have to give an account for your rejection of Him. And there will be no ACLU, no Barack Obama, no liberal student group, no lawyers, no liberal professors and no God-hating atheists there to help you.

    Kudos and God’s richest blessings on those brave men and women who are fighting these wars against terror not merely with bomb and bullet but by proclaiming the unchangeable Word of God. If someone knew the cure for cancer… you’d want them to tell you at any cost. No one would call that “imposing” their knowledge on you. A far greater cure is at stake here. You want a better world…? That would be one where everyone knew Jesus Christ as Savior.

  5. Tommy: I see what you did there.

    Michelle: Yep…I am very definitely a part of Generation “Why?”. It’s kind of this problem I have, that I need to understand everything that’s put before me, even something as boggling as religion. (I see it as a problem because sometimes things don’t have a “why”…like math. 1+1=2. Why? It just is, deal with it.) Besides, I don’t blindly put my trust in authority figures. Not anymore. Not since sixth grade. 🙂

  6. This article demonstrates nothing other that the author’s total misunderstanding of the military and what it means to serve. I would suggest that the author try putting on a uniform sometime before commenting on those who do.

    General Order #1 prohibits consumption of alcohol in theater get your facts straight.
    Open homosexuality is prohibited because of the detrimental effect it had on unit cohesion and combat effectiveness.

  7. Alex,
    also, nice job. You can assume always that I think you did a nice job unless I post a “Special Comment” saying otherwise. “You, sir, young lady,…”

  8. Bear: Actually, the linchpin of the author’s contention is General Order One and Afghan law. Also, I don’t appreciate your attempt at bullying me with your deity – I cannot follow anyone, or any system, with such a brutal and capricious attitude and cruel history. As stated in the entry, I don’t take kindly to people thinking they know what’s best for me, nor do I take kindly to people trying to push their beliefs on me. In the Missing The Point Olympics, you just brought home the gold.

    “Kudos and God’s richest blessings on those brave men and women who are fighting these wars against terror not merely with bomb and bullet but by proclaiming the unchangeable Word of God.” That is a cosmic war you are talking about, not an earthly one. And there is no way to win a cosmic war aside from not getting involved in the first place. It is a war of absolutes, of Good and of Evil, and such things cannot be measured by man, and are subjective in any sense. (Psst – you can’t fight a war against a concept; that is, “terror”. You will lose. It’s like fighting a war against apathy. Terrorism, on the other hand…and even the efficacy of that is doubtful.)

    Your contention that atheists hate God is false – atheists simply do not believe in any God or gods.

    You think I’m going to hell? Fine. Whatever helps you sleep at night. I will not argue religion, as it is pointless – but I disagree, sir, and I respectfully request that you stop preaching to me.

    Will: In the Missing The Point Olympics, you just tied with Bear for gold. The author is planning on joining ROTC when she gets to college, though that’s hardly relevant. I may not be a chef, but I know a badly-prepared dish when I taste one. It was no rebuke of the military – I respect people who serve because I realize that it takes uncommon courage and fortitude to do so – it was a rebuke of rampant religious fundamentalism in the armed forces that violates military code and Afghan law. And does the military stand for crushing the cultures and lives of those who we invade and the countries we keep the peace in? I’m sorry, are we led by Cortez? You know what else are “threats to unit cohesion”? Women and blacks. (Welcome to 1950.) As long as you can keep it in your bloody pants it shouldn’t matter.

    Oh, and I don’t mind being corrected when I’m wrong, but: “Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the term also refers to a multi-page United States Central Command order that prohibits consumption of alcohol, sexual activities with local and third country nationals, offering food considered haraam under Islam to local nationals, and proselytizing by United States Department of Defense personnel while in a combat zone and certain pre-deployment training activities.”

    Read the whole damn sentence on Wikipedia before you accuse me of getting my facts wrong. Here’s the official text itself:

    “5. PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES: In accordance with and in addition to USCENTCOM GO-1A
    and MNC-I GO-1, the following activities are prohibited: […] p. Proselytizing any religion, faith, or practice.” Source.

    This one’s more recent: “3. PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES: In accordance with and in addition to USCENTCOM GO-1B, the following activities are prohibited: […] I. Proselytizing of any religion, faith or practice.” Source.

  9. First off, I’m awarding you 5 internet points for this. I laugh at those who seem to think that, because our Founding Fathers were Christians (just like, oh, most of the white population in the colonies at that time were), that automatically makes us a Christian nation. Even as the 1st Amendment guarantees freedom of religion, and the Constitution also lays down separation of church and state. How can we be a Christian nation without out violating our own guidelines for government?

    I’ve got so much more to say on this but my mind is not complying right now, so I leave you all with the reminder of the last time converting Muslims by force was attempted. And we all know how the Crusades turned out.

  10. Hey! I never got any internet points! Alex, the Usurper!

  11. Oh

  12. SNAP!

  13. Who gives a crap? Why can’t all you people just respect the fact that not everyone believes what you do and agree to disagree.

  14. At least then we could have some silence

  15. Lets not forget about Ben Franklin’s intrest in



  16. Alex, I like your brain…

    keep the truth and don’t ever let “them” change you!!

    Tommy, this gal rocks!!

  17. Alex: If you are going to put yourself and your selfish (“I’m right, you’re wrong!”) opinions in the public eye, you had better get used to refutation. Agree or disagree, these posts are, and should be, an opportunity for discussion. Discussion does NOT mean: “agree with Alex or don’t post!” If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen! – Next – before publishing anythind else, get your dictionary out: apparently, you don’t know the meaning of the word “chaplain.” Infantrymen have their jobs, artillerymen have their jobs, airmen have their jobs, and chaplains have their jobs. You have the right to your atheism, and he has the obligation to his job.

  18. Wes, check out the rules. Keep it friendly.

  19. Alex, excellent article and rebuttal back to Bear and Will. You are wise way beyond your young age.

  20. Tommy,
    Kudos to you on finding Alex and giving her a venue in which to shine. She gives us older ones hope for the next generation.

  21. Wes: I don’t know what you mean – I enjoy debate, and was building on my earlier points – that, and Bear and Mike had completely missed the point of the article, which is that forcing one’s religion onto others is impolite in any case, distressing when practiced by American representatives overseas, and likely to make us more enemies in the Muslim world, which we need like a hole in the head. When it comes to matters of fact, I will defend my sourced facts. I may be an unpaid blogger, but I have journalistic integrity. I’ve been critical, but nonconfrontational.

    Also, you assume too much. I am no atheist. I am agnostic, and it vexes me greatly when people assume there is no difference. And the chaplain he may be, but he is also an officer, and is bound not only to his God but by the military code, which includes the order that forbids proselytizing. My “uncle”, for lack of a better word, is a priest, and yet he does not spend his time trying to rally his congregation to convert those who’d rather be left alone.

  22. I think it was my use of the phrase “OH SNAP” that might have derailed things. Sorry!

  23. The fact that uniformed representatives of the United States are doing it, now that is what just pisses me off.
    ..Why dont you go face to face with one of them and express how pissed off you are at him….why because you are a cowardly liberal.

  24. Too bad you got the whole story wrong and since the incident was filmed and aired on Al Jazera you should maybe do some….research.
    It is nice of you to say that you could have no part in the armed forces with their barbaric history …since you sleep under the blanket of the security they provide ..you have that choice.
    Witnessing is ordered in the Bilble and is not outdated…but, hey ..they’re not choppin heads off!

  25. You’re dancing on the troll line. Keep it friendly, please.

  26. Jerry: Sure, when I’m in my ROTC, you bet your ass I will. Hey, if I ever meet one of the guys so accused, I’ll speak my mind. What are they going to do, beat on a teenaged civilian girl just for disagreeing with their practices?

    PS. It takes no great courage to accuse others of cowardice. Remember that. (Also: Nice strawman, not even letting me respond to the question before saying “BECAUSE YOU’RE A COWARD THAT’S WHY.”)

    Liz: Actually, it was filmed by an independent documentarian and aired on Al-Jazeera because it’s of great import to the network’s market – the Muslim world. (Al-Jazeera is based in Qatar, our ally, and is not “Osama’s Personal Youtube Account”. That’s just most of the exposure we Americans get of it. Actually, it’s a very reliable news outlet with bureaus in more countries than several American networks combined.) And I was referring to Judeo-Christian/monotheistic religions in general about the bloody history, not the armed forces. With the armed forces…it’s kind of a given, they certainly don’t sit around practicing their basket-weaving. I already explained why witnessing is ordered in the Bible in practical terms. Surely with so many Christians in the world today we need not be worried about the religion and culture dying out? 🙂

  27. I, as one, do not agree with this article. If there were no need for religion in this world, then the world would be perfect. If the aetheists and agnostics think their life is wonderful without God, then they are either blind or numbed by their life’s choices. Look at the Muslim culture, feminist, equal, just America! Women are forced to cover their faces, walk behind men, and have complete submission to abusive, heartless husbands! Look at the terrorists! Does this look like a country that’s on the right track? Really? If you think the answer is pressing our politics on them, that’s wrong. True change can only come from the heart, and the heart is where God will start. God is using this battle to spread Christianity.

  28. So many christians so few lions…….

  29. I’ve got to go with Alex on this one.

    The actual heart of this article comes down to this one simple point.

    There’s a separation of Church and State.

    I happen to be Pagan (which really won’t help Alex here – sorry for that) but when I go to work, I’m a representative of the company. It wouldn’t do for me to start telling customers why they should convert to my religion, because in that place at that time, I’m not representing me and my personal ideals, I’m representing the company which has impartial ideals.

    Even the heavily Christian companies don’t ask their employees to convert people. At the very least I would say that would be considered rude.

    Using that analogy, the Soldiers don’t represent themselves when they go overseas. They represent the State. (Notice, not the Church.) The aforementioned Chaplain that goes with the soldiers is there to provide moral support to the SOLDIERS, not to preach to the civilians who are there.

    Using my same analogy from before, say a Priest gets hired to work with me (he needed the extra cash in this economy) should I be subjected to his attempts to convert me just because he’s Christian? I’d like you to consider how quickly I’d win that debate with HR saying that he was creating a hostile work environment for me.

    Also, if you’re thinking he’s just being “nice”, what if I asked the reverse? What if I tried to convert him while he was on the clock? Would he appreciate it?

    Arguing with Christians is difficult, Alex, because a great many of the hard core Christians believe that their faith in God puts them at automatically right.

    There is a simple truth to religion – and that is that we won’t know the truth until we’re dead. Just as the Christians say that they know they’re right because God is in their hearts, I want you to know that the Spirit that I worship is in my heart, and he gives me hope. I respect all people who have been drawn to different faiths – if they’ve been touched by the light of their faith, then they deserve to be there, and I wish them well. Why can’t the Hard Core Christians do the same?


    PS: When I’m talking about the Hard Core Christians, I mean the really evangelical ones. If you personally are a Christian and haven’t tried to preach to anyone, then I’m probably not aiming my ire at you.

  30. Spent 21 years in the military, Right-wing religious types stand out, oblivious to who they offend. Convinced it’s their job to shove their version of Christianity onto anyone they can corner (spend a few months trapped on a ship with some!) They live in a world we wouldn’t recognize. I think it’s a type of mental illness.

    It is the responsibility of the units, chain of command, to know what these people are up to, and reign them in, give appropriate punishment, or transfer them out. The Army is so big they don’t seem to care, that just gives the locals more “ugly american” views to ruin whole generations in these countries, to think this is what Americans are all about.

    This is not the directive of the U.S. Military, to witness people of other religions! Especially in places where the punishment can be severe! Think that punishment needs to be pointed out to these well-meaning idiots.

  31. Christianity – good. Catholic Church – Bad. Christianity comes from Christ so should not a Christian follow Christ’s teachings? If they do I have no problem. But like all religions they have been used and abused for power and oppression. the catholic Church is the biggest evil force on the planet. Now all fundamentalists of any religion are bad, so why do I single out the Catholic Church. because they are way way stronger, richer more powereful and more centralized then any other fundamentalist org. They have been a superpower for centuries and have accumulated unbelievable wealth. And everyone should let one old guy, the Pope, rule and run their lives? Why? He is nothing special believe me.

  32. this is off-topic, but everyone must watch the movie rendition. it shows why we should not use torture. the best line in the movie is where one guy asks if out of all the men they tortured, how many resulted in stopping an attack (none) then he says but each time you torture or kill an person you create 10 or 100 real terrorists. Once again congrats to the geniuses Bush and Cheney and all the poor fools who bought their hateful spewed crap and voted for them.

  33. hey bear – the guys you quote believed in slavery too. I guess thats also OK with you

  34. Hey, everybody: mind your manners (and I say that in a most friendly way). If you disagree with the girl writing this blog, Tommy will slap your hands and warn you to “keep it friendly.” Only agreeing is allowed, at least until the girl is old enough to join the real world, and find out that not everything is as the Left have taught her by proselytizing their atheistic agenda in the public school systems. One can’t blame Alex: she is probably just another naive victim of so-called “liberal” “educators,” who strive to convert unsuspecting students to their anti-religion agenda. Without proper guidance, many students fall prey to their Left-wing recruiting methods. Alex: while you’re still young and intelligent, explore other svhools of thought, from sources other than the avowed Left. One day, hopefully, your eyes will be opened.

  35. Wow. This became a popular article.

    Alicia: Thank you for your comment. It’s nice to see people speak up rationally. For further understanding of Muslim culture, particularly Pakistani, I’d recommend the book Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. In short, it’s a true story of an American mountain climber (Mortenson) who fails to summit K2 and is sheltered in a remote mountain village, and to repay them, he vows to build them a school…and that operation turns into an entire charitable foundation with schools built, several especially for girls, in the remote regions of Pakistan…and the “woman-hating” Islamic clerics are, with one exception who just wanted money from Mortenson, perfectly fine with it, even the education of (gasp) women. It’s a fascinating read, and I can’t recommend it enough. Cheers. 🙂

    Karen: Hey oh – remember what Tommy said, keep it friendly.

    Coyote: Thank you so much for that comment – it pretty much captured all of what I’d intended to say but couldn’t quite find the words. There’s a difference between work life and home life. (I’ve found most if not all of the Pagan religions I’ve taken a look at to be gentle and peaceful, especially the tenet of Wicca that’s called the Rede: “An it harm none, do what thou wilt.” It’s a principle I try and practice anyway.)

    Robin: Thank you for backing me up. As I don’t have any military experience of my own yet, I was unsure if this would be received well by those who have served – but I see that you, and likely quite a few other soldiers, know what I’m talking about.

    Goodone: I don’t think any religion or belief system is inherently “evil” – only the people who practice it can make it such. My family does not exactly have a sterling view of Catholicism, so I see where you’re coming from. To quote George Carlin (again – he’s just so quotable!), “I have just as much authority as the Pope, but not as many people who believe it.” And Rendition is a very good movie.

    Wes: I think Tommy saw your comment as verging on a personal attack, is why he pointed it out. ‘Scuse you, but I was old enough to join the real world when I was twelve. I’m not exactly shielded in a cocoon of liberalism, though I was raised progressive. I’ve read and analyzed Ann Coulter for an AP Government course and I make it a point to listen to those whose views I disagree with. I like to understand things, especially things that seem so alien to me – like religion, racism, and hardcore conservative thinking. I try and put myself in the mindset of Hannity, of Beck, and see through their eyes. It’s quite an exercise!

    I’m an agnostic. I was raised by my family with no religious preference, and I saw no discrimination or bias in my school systems as I grew up. A friend of mine wears a kippah every day to school. A female Muslim friend of mine shuns the hijab, while many others I know wear it. Many of my classmates wore cross necklaces or t-shirts proudly proclaiming Christian messages. Just because religion is left for Sunday school and not weekday school does not mean that the teachers are teaching against religion. If you want a little religion in your schooling, that’s why we have religious schools. For those who are quite comfortable with Engle v. Vitale and Abington School District v. Schempp, we’re fine with the church/state barrier in public school as it is, and I for one resist being told what to think rather than how to use the brain-mechanism that is my mind.

    Good chatting with you! 🙂

  36. first the treaty of tripoli artical xi was thrown out

    they where trying to appease the pirates which did not work by the way
    and we sent the marines in ie the marine song

    second you has better go back to school as take a look at our founding fathers
    as our govt was being formned they quoted bible verses back and forth

    the arguments where so intense that franklin called for a day of prayer

    third the seperation of church and state in NOT in our constituition never was

    that came from a letter from jefferson in response to two christian groups not wanting
    another christian group to have influence andthat the govt cant take sides one over the other

    did not patrick henry say our country was founded on the gospel of jesus christ

    My name is Kirk A Watson
    i am a christain {sinner saved by grace}…. i believe that Jesus Christ is the son of the living god…. he was the literal word of god spoken forth and became flesh and walked upon this earth…. he was crucified DIED AND WAS RAISED BY GOD THE FATHER ON THE THIRD DAY…. he is the only way to heaven THERE IS NO OTHER WAY PERIOD.
    *******************to be saved*****************
    i am nothing he is everything to my last breath i will point to JESUS …..HE IS THE DOOR..HE IS LOVE AND MERCY..
    many evil ones envoke his name and do not follow him
    it is god that will judge them not you or i for we cannot see the heart and its intent..it is writen whosoever shall call upon th name or the lord SHALL BE SAVED..

    kirk a. watson

    your seeming lack of concern for history is disturbing

    i recomend retraining

  37. Mr. Christopher, thanks for a very detailed exposition of arguments on this. It’s a subject worth addressing, to be sure. Allow me to make a few points.

    First, let me be abundantly clear on something. I DESPISE CHICK TRACTS!!!!!!!!! I’m Catholic and know that Chick tracts are GROSSLY ANTI-Catholic, so I have no love at all for this message being propagated be it from soldiers or beauty pageant contestants.

    Having said that, this activity falls well within a soldier’s right to freedom of religion provided that it doesn’t jeopardize the mission. Whether or not it jeopardizes the mission is a decision for military commanders, not bloggers.

    This is evangelization, Mr. Christopher — the kind that enrages me — but it is protected activity. Your last comment which calls this activity “religious oppression” frankly is far more dangerous to my Catholic faith than the Chick tracts being given by soldiers.

    Many blessings.

    Lisa Graas

  38. Lisa: Actually, it’s been me, not Tommy. 🙂 And, as explained earlier, though it may be used in the name of “religious freedom”, evangelization falls under the category of “prosyletizing”, which violates the military’s General Order One (as cited above) and Afghan law. Therefore, it is not protected in the armed forces, though it is protected here (though a severe annoyance to non-Evangelicals). I said it was “religious oppression” because some soldiers are trying to convert the Muslims of Afghanistan – which is not only robbing them of the respect they ought to be afforded as civilians and human beings with their own valid thoughts and opinions, it is making them uncomfortable with both the American presence and the Christian religion. I don’t see how your faith is threatened by my honest opinion that people everywhere should be free to pursue their own religion without interference, but if I offended you, I’m sorry.

  39. Kirk,
    thanks for reading and commenting. Please check the rules so we can keep having you over.

  40. Kirk: Thanks for your comment. Article XI was thrown out? Cite your source, please; I’ve never heard that before. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Gee, sounds like separation to me. I never said the Founding Fathers weren’t religious, but they did not intend religion to play a part in governance. As for Patrick Henry’s quote, MLA citation, please. (He never signed the Constitution, either.)

    PS. I’ve already said I don’t like being preached to. Chill with the fire-and-brimstone, if you would. You’re not making me any more kindly inclined to becoming a convert – in fact, you’re driving me away from my own “salvation”. I need no validation from an outside source to let me know I’m living my life properly. Also, please chillax on the caps lock and check your spelling. It’s hard to hold a civilized debate when I can barely decipher what you’ve typed.

  41. Ah, Alex, grammar-copping never works out, truts me.

  42. of course they did not want one govt church because if u remember the pilgrims left england because of that

    second go read about the pirates of tripoli and ALL of our atrticals to them

    third the statment you said is a PROTECTION of religion from govt intrusion

    as far my faith statement it must have struck home because
    i clearly pointed out it was MY faith statement this givesa clear point of ref on me
    it will never change just because u wish it to

    and proof my goodness umm shall i say library of congress … lol lol lol
    u can see for ur self

    but if u wish i cant post it here but it would be very long

  43. Tommy: Force of habit – I’ve been a Grammar Cop all my life.

    Kirk: 1. Exactly. The pilgrims hated it in England, so why would they or the colonists after them want to have religion in government, considering how well it worked out before?

    2. Got any recommendations? I’m always looking to expand my reading list.

    3. It also means that Congress shall make no law instituting an establishment of religion…which itself implies the latent separation between church and state. One leaves the other well enough alone. Theocracies aren’t fun for anyone. Except for the priests. Ever read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, or seen the film adaptation? Very good, but very scary.

    4. Um, no. I don’t care if you worship Jesus, Yahweh, Allah, Mother Earth, Ahura Mazda, or Ricardo Montalban. Seriously. I don’t care. Just don’t push it on me. That’s what I’m trying to say – it’s you telling me “You are living your life incorrectly, you need to do what I’M doing,” and that has always irritated me. The people who say that don’t know me from Adam – how can they, or you, say my life is wrong? “You disagree with me, therefore I’m right” is just so mind-bogglingly fallacious an argument that it doesn’t even have the semblance of rationality.

    5. The LoC is a big place…trust me, I’ve been. A simple citation/link would be fine. 🙂

  44. so again ur saying by me just saying what i believe im pushing it on you

    that is completly insane that means that only what YOU want said can be said?

    no chance ever i say what i please period if you dont like it dont listen
    but ill not shut up just be cause YOU say im pushing it on you

    as for loc ill get right on that give me till weekend cause its a lot of info

  45. Sir, you’re well on your way to getting an Associate’s Degree in Putting Words In People’s Mouths. You can say, “Hey, I’m a Christian. I happen to disagree.” That doesn’t bother me. I welcome dissent. What does bother me is you being all “AAA REPENT SINNERS OR YOU WILL BURN IN ETERNAL HELLFIRE, JESUS SAYS SO.” Caps and all.

    Seriously. Please respect my beliefs or lack thereof by not telling me I’m going to burn in hell, or that I’m wrong and everything I say and think is wrong ’cause I don’t have Jesus in my life. You can think that flying monkeys are going to stab me with pitchforks in a field of poppies for all eternity, but I don’t want to know that you think that, and I don’t want you to follow me around shouting that I’m trying to “persecute” you because I disagree with you and your interpretation of the Christian faith. That said, I await your research with bated breath. (And what about those Tripoli books…?)

    This is no longer interesting to me; it’s like banging my head against the wall. Until you have something substantive to add to the discussion, I shall ignore your future posts. To tide you over ’til then, have some verse from a holy Book meant to complement and complete your own:

    “There can be no compulsion in religion.” The Qur’an, 2:256

    “To you your religion; to me mine.” The Qur’an, 109:6

  46. again your lying i did not say what you typed
    it seems it convicted your spirit as ie the results of you atacks on me after i just quoted the bible directly from it but no worries they ddi that same to paul and peter
    and jesus and he did say they did this to me they will do it to you
    so attack all you wish you do nothing but honor me
    i quoted scripture if you dont like it to bad that is not my problem it is yours


  47. you see thats why i quoted it so when u attack you attack it not me
    and thus show the world the spirit within you
    you see we are not allowed to add anything only quote what it says
    it will do the rest as i am nothing and christ is all


  48. …ignoring my point and requests in the name of the faith, I see. (I’m sure that’s just what Jesus would do, instead of listening to me and countering my points with well-thought-out responses instead of just “I’m right, you’re wrong, and you’re going to hell.”) Well, good luck with that. (And I never attacked you – only your assumptions about me and mistaken historical understanding. But your persecution complex seems to be in full-swing, and really, who am I to deprive you of the obvious joy you take in claiming to be oppressed?)

    “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

    But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” – Matthew 6:5-6

    There’s your Scripture.

    Good day, sir.

  49. assumtions i never mentioned anything about you

    i recomend you seeking help freind you seem to have a complex that leaves you unable to argue a point with getting upset or taking quotation from the word personally ..unless of course they strike home

    i wish you well as as the afore mentioned replies prove you hostile and absurd
    remarks about me and what i said

    as i never said you where going to hell only god judges not me
    and as far as the command not to pray in public to garner the admaration of man
    is tantamount to quibbling { ie to argue and inteject irelevent facts }

    as it has no bearing what soever to what was and is my faith statement wich had nothing at all to do with you and your resulting attempts to say it was addressing you
    personally as i was quoting scripture

    but it is written the word is sharper than a two edged sword
    which is why we are not do interject our own opinion at all as it will do it all on its own
    none can make anyone follow christ because one must come on their own free will
    after they have heard the word it can never be forced

    but to say that it is wrong for a follower to even speak it tp others has been tried before

    can yo usay ROME

    in the end each of us must choose to accept christ or reject him

  50. i wish you no ill will

  51. The 1797 Treaty of Tripoli, specifically article XI, is commonly misused in editorial columns, articles, as well as in other areas of the media, both Christian and secular. We have received numerous questions from people who have been misled by the claims that are being made, namely, that America was not founded as a Christian nation. Advocates of this idea use the Treaty of Tripoli as the foundation of their entire argument, and we believe you deserve to know the truth regarding this often misused document. The following is an excerpt from David Barton’s book Original Intent:
    To determine whether the “Founding Fathers” were generally atheists, agnostics, and deists, one must first define those terms. An “atheist” is one who professes to believe that there is no God; 1 an “agnostic” is one who professes that nothing can be known beyond what is visible and tangible; 2 and a “deist” is one who believes in an impersonal God who is no longer involved with mankind. (In other words, a “deist” embraces the “clockmaker theory” 3 that there was a God who made the universe and wound it up like a clock; however, it now runs of its own volition; the clockmaker is gone and therefore does not respond to man.) Today the terms “atheist,” “agnostic,” and “deist” have been used together so often that their meanings have almost become synonymous. In fact, many dictionaries list these words as synonym. 4

    Those who advance the notion that this was the belief system of the Founders often publish information attempting to prove that the Founders were irreligious. 5 One of the quotes they set forth is the following:

    The government of the United States is in no sense founded on the Christian religion. GEORGE WASHINGTON
    The 1797 Treaty of Tripoli is the source of Washington’s supposed statement. Is this statement accurate? Did this prominent Founder truly repudiate religion? An answer will be found by an examination of its source. That treaty, one of several with Tripoli, was negotiated during the “Barbary Powers Conflict,” which began shortly after the Revolutionary War and continued through the Presidencies of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison. 6 The Muslim Barbary Powers (Tunis, Morocco, Algiers, and Tripoli) were warring against what they claimed to be the “Christian” nations (England, France, Spain, Denmark, and the United States). In 1801, Tripoli even declared war against the United States, 7 thus constituting America’s first official war as an established independent nation.
    Throughout this long conflict, the four Barbary Powers regularly attacked undefended American merchant ships. Not only were their cargoes easy prey but the Barbary Powers were also capturing and enslaving “Christian” seamen 8 in retaliation for what had been done to them by the “Christians” of previous centuries (e.g., the Crusades and Ferdinand and Isabella’s expulsion of Muslims from Granada 9). In an attempt to secure a release of captured seamen and a guarantee of unmolested shipping in the Mediterranean, President Washington dispatched envoys to negotiate treaties with the Barbary nations. 10 (Concurrently, he encouraged the construction of American naval warships 11 to defend the shipping and confront the Barbary “pirates” – a plan not seriously pursued until President John Adams created a separate Department of the Navy in 1798.)

    The American envoys negotiated numerous treaties of “Peace and Amity” 12 with the Muslim Barbary nations to ensure “protection” of American commercial ships sailing in the Mediterranean. 13 However, the terms of the treaty frequently were unfavorable to America, either requiring her to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars of “tribute” (i.e., official extortion) to each country to receive a “guarantee” of safety or to offer other “considerations” (e.g., providing a warship as a “gift” to Tripoli, 14 a “gift” frigate to Algiers, 15 paying $525,000 to ransom captured American seamen from Algiers, 16 etc. 17). The 1797 treaty with Tripoli was one of the many treaties in which each country officially recognized the religion of the other in an attempt to prevent further escalation of a “Holy War” between Christians and Muslims. 18 Consequently, Article XI of that treaty stated:

    As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion as it has in itself no character of enmity [hatred] against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen [Muslims] and as the said States [America] have never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries. 19
    This article may be read in two manners. It may, as its critics do, be concluded after the clause “Christian religion”; or it may be read in its entirety and concluded when the punctuation so indicates. But even if shortened and cut abruptly (“the government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion”), this is not an untrue statement since it is referring to the federal government.
    Recall that while the Founders themselves openly described America as a Christian nation (demonstrated in chapter 2 of Original Intent), they did include a constitutional prohibition against a federal establishment; religion was a matter left solely to the individual States. Therefore, if the article is read as a declaration that the federal government of the United States was not in any sense founded on the Christian religion, such a statement is not a repudiation of the fact that America was considered a Christian nation.

    Reading the clause of the treaty in its entirety also fails to weaken this fact. Article XI simply distinguished America from those historical strains of European Christianity which held an inherent hatred of Muslims; it simply assured the Muslims that the United States was not a Christian nation like those of previous centuries (with whose practices the Muslims were very familiar) and thus would not undertake a religious holy war against them.

    This latter reading is, in fact, supported by the attitude prevalent among numerous American leaders. The Christianity practiced in America was described by John Jay as “wise and virtuous,” 20 by John Quincy Adams as “civilized,” 21 and by John Adams as “rational.” 22 A clear distinction was drawn between American Christianity and that of Europe in earlier centuries. As Noah Webster explained:

    The ecclesiastical establishments of Europe which serve to support tyrannical governments are not the Christian religion but abuses and corruptions of it. 23
    Daniel Webster similarly explained that American Christianity was:
    Christianity to which the sword and the fagot [burning stake or hot branding iron] are unknown – general tolerant Christianity is the law of the land! 24
    Those who attribute the Treaty of Tripoli quote to George Washington make two mistakes. The first is that no statement in it can be attributed to Washington (the treaty did not arrive in America until months after he left office); Washington never saw the treaty; it was not his work; no statement in it can be ascribed to him. The second mistake is to divorce a single clause of the treaty from the remainder which provides its context. It would also be absurd to suggest that President Adams (under whom the treaty was ratified in 1797) would have endorsed or assented to any provision which repudiated Christianity. In fact, while discussing the Barbary conflict with Jefferson, Adams declared:
    The policy of Christendom has made cowards of all their sailors before the standard of Mahomet. It would be heroical and glorious in us to restore courage to ours. 25
    Furthermore, it was Adams who declared:
    The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were. . . . the general principles of Christianity. . . . I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God; and that those principles of liberty are as unalterable as human nature. 26
    Adams’ own words confirm that he rejected any notion that America was less than a Christian nation.
    Additionally, the writings of General William Eaton, a major figure in the Barbary Powers conflict, provide even more irrefutable testimony of how the conflict was viewed at that time. Eaton was first appointed by President John Adams as “Consul to Tunis,” and President Thomas Jefferson later advanced him to the position of “U. S. Naval Agent to the Barbary States,” authorizing him to lead a military expedition against Tripoli. Eaton’s official correspondence during his service confirms that the conflict was a Muslim war against a Christian America.

    For example, when writing to Secretary of State Timothy Pickering, Eaton apprised him of why the Muslims would be such dedicated foes:

    Taught by revelation that war with the Christians will guarantee the salvation of their souls, and finding so great secular advantages in the observance of this religious duty [the secular advantage of keeping captured cargoes], their [the Muslims’] inducements to desperate fighting are very powerful. 27
    Eaton later complained that after Jefferson had approved his plan for military action, he sent him the obsolete warship “Hero.” Eaton reported the impression of America made upon the Tunis Muslims when they saw the old warship and its few cannons:
    [T]he weak, the crazy situation of the vessel and equipage [armaments] tended to confirm an opinion long since conceived and never fairly controverted among the Tunisians, that the Americans are a feeble sect of Christians. 28
    In a later letter to Pickering, Eaton reported how pleased one Barbary ruler had been when he received the extortion compensations from America which had been promised him in one of the treaties:
    He said, “To speak truly and candidly . . . . we must acknowledge to you that we have never received articles of the kind of so excellent a quality from any Christian nation.” 29
    When John Marshall became the new Secretary of State, Eaton informed him:
    It is a maxim of the Barbary States, that “The Christians who would be on good terms with them must fight well or pay well.” 30
    And when General Eaton finally commenced his military action against Tripoli, his personal journal noted:
    April 8th. We find it almost impossible to inspire these wild bigots with confidence in us or to persuade them that, being Christians, we can be otherwise than enemies to Musselmen. We have a difficult undertaking! 31
    May 23rd. Hassien Bey, the commander in chief of the enemy’s forces, has offered by private insinuation for my head six thousand dollars and double the sum for me a prisoner; and $30 per head for Christians. Why don’t he come and take it? 32

    Shortly after the military excursion against Tripoli was successfully terminated, its account was written and published. Even the title of the book bears witness to the nature of the conflict:
    The Life of the Late Gen. William Eaton . . . commander of the Christian and Other Forces . . . which Led to the Treaty of Peace Between The United States and The Regency of Tripoli 33
    The numerous documents surrounding the Barbary Powers Conflict confirm that historically it was always viewed as a conflict between Christian America and Muslim nations. Those documents completely disprove the notion that any founding President, especially Washington, ever declared that America was not a Christian nation or people. (Chapter 16 of Original Intent will provide numerous additional current examples of historical revisionism.)

  52. ran out of room source above is David Barton’s book Original Intent:
    read it and you will understand

    i am currenly ref l.o.c with many many ref for you but its taking a bit of time as there is a huge amount of data backing me up

  53. So when you quote Scripture at me, it’s Word of God, but when I quote it to you, it’s “quibbling”. I see. You may believe that God will judge you – I believe we only judge ourselves, and I try and live my life as best I can. I’m not saying it’s morally wrong or whatever for a Christian to speak about their faith, but, as stated in the article and several times by myself in the comments, in context, done by American soldiers in Afghanistan, a) it’s against military code and b) it’s against Afghan law. And on a personal level, I don’t really care to know what religion anybody is – which is why I get annoyed when people tell me, unsolicited. As I have stated several times before. Is there anything hard to understand about that? If I wanted to know if you were a Christian, I would have asked you. Not everybody has faith as a large part of their life. I’m one of those people who just doesn’t care about it until it’s shoved in my face.

    Thank you for the excerpt from Barton’s book – a quick Googling lets me know that he is a pastor hired by the RNC as a political consultant, so of course he’s against the separation of church and state. I’m looking for neutral sources – people who have no vested interest in either side no matter how it plays out. If I used DailyKos and (gasp) Al Jazeera as my only sources, would you take me seriously, or assume I was just cherry-picking from liberal, anti-American sites?

    For example, here’s an article refuting the claims made in that book, but since it’s from PositiveAtheism.org, you probably won’t take it seriously, since I don’t have any sources from the Christian side of things refuting the book right now. (It also points out that Barton himself has conceded that the Patrick Henry quote you referenced earlier is questionable at best, if not blatantly fictitious. Sorry.)

  54. they said the same thing to paul , peter and jesus
    and liek them i will never shut up

    as for your sources are you kidding me firsst you say u want netral sources then you bring up an atheism source

    you true spirit is showing again u want it JUST your way
    and i say THAT IS NEVER going to happen

    besides thier is no neutral on this if you dont accept christ then you have made a choice ITS THAT simple

    so i can follow YOU or follow peter, paul, james, john, our founding fathers. who followed christ….hmmmm it a no brainer again you loose outright

  55. People who oppose separation of church and state only do so if it’s their church in bed with the state.

  56. People who oppose separation of church and state only do so if it’s their church in bed with the state.

  57. I added that source only to show you how ridiculous it is when you only use one side of an argument…like you are doing with that Barton book you gave me as your source for your argument! I welcome reasonable debate – blindly partisan sources, when used seriously (again, I used that article to exemplify how easy it is to argue when you only find people who agree with you), are a bloody joke. Apparently, the point was missed.

    And as for my true spirit, your true spirit is showing that you’re being intellectually cowardly and shouting that there are only black and white in the world – you are pitting me against Jesus, his Apostles, and the Founding Fathers…basically equating me with Satan. Good show! (slow clap) Just because I don’t want your religion pushed on me doesn’t mean I have something against Jesus. On the contrary, I like the guy. He was a historical figure with some great ideas. I like his revolutionary spirit. But just because I don’t believe that he is God doesn’t mean that I’m a terrible person. I live my life by the values that Jesus promoted – that is, being nice to people, and fairness, and kindness, and honesty, and decency. Do you?

    This is about abiding by military code and Afghan law. If you want to change the law, go on and give it a try. I believe in the rule of law and the equality of Justice. You’re taking one of my many points and running with it like a star quarterback to the complete opposite edge of the field of what my article is actually about – that is, that these soldiers are breaking the law, and they should really stop.

    PS. “I can follow you or I can follow Jesus, Jesus is right, you are wrong and stupid,” is really not helping you any as a debating tactic, just so you know.

  58. lol lol lol lol

    your a trip you really are

    first it was YOU that said that i said u was going to hell …..thats a lie

    second you say to use net sources which in fact is impoosible due to nature of disscussion ie you follow christ or you dont

    third when i point out that that treaty was invaild you use a source that is not net
    then use a source that was atheistic thats ok but you cant complain about what i use if you do it also

    fourth if one disagrees wiith you all you can do is attack and belittle

    also i DID serve 15 yrs how many did you because if you did youd know we have chaplins of many faiths that teach thier respective faiths i

    now since you seem to have to have last say i await your huffing about this or that

    and i grow weary with your ramblings so i think ill employ Matthew 7:6
    and say peace to you and goodbye

  59. 1. “If you don’t follow Jesus you follow demons”? Sounds like an implication of hell.

    2. In your black-and-white world, there is no neutral. Happily, some of us live in Grey World, where there is such a thing as religious neutrality.

    3. I was pointing out the flaw in your argument with the PositiveAtheism.org article – I was indicating that using sources that are themselves biased is no basis for a rational argument – and you seem to have missed the point even though I pointed out the point in my last comment!

    4. Seeing as I only became eligible for military service not six months ago, the only experience I have in the military is how much time I spend playing Call of Duty. I am an eighteen-year-old girl who happens to have perfectly valid opinions and disagrees with your interpretation of military code, Afghan law, and the Christian faith. Hey – for a while there, I was keeping pretty calm, but don’t you get frustrated as all get-out when you’re misrepresented, too?

    Ok, well, nice chatting with you, hope to do it again sometime! Peace be with you, Kirk. Stay frosty. 🙂

  60. Alex, Alex, Alex (Tommy, Tommy, Tommy): You have completely missed or skirted around Kirk’s point: you have read some statements of his that he never made: “It’s you telling me ‘You are living your life incorrectly, you need to do what I’M doing’,” and ” ‘You disagree with me, therefore I’m right’,” and ” ‘AAA (sic) REPENT SINNERS OR YOU WILL BURN IN ETERNAL HELLFIRE, JESUS SAYS SO’.” Alex (and Tommy), did I miss something? I went back and tried to find where Kirk made those statements, and didn’t find them. What I did find was a man making his “Faith statement” – his belief and the reason he practices his religion. You seem to have some paranoic attitude that his belief was an attack on you, so you (apparently) fabricated those statements and attributed them to him. I’m sure that Kirk “get(s) frustrated as all get-out when (he’s) misrepresented, too.” As an up-and-coming blogger recently said (reference on request), Alex (Tommy): “your persecution complex seems to be in full-swing, and really, who am I to deprive you of the obvious joy you take in claiming to be oppressed?” (To use the full extent of my foreign-language skills: I think the words you are searchng for are “touche” and “mea culpa.”)

    You said “I like to understand things, especially things that seem so alien to me – like religion,….” and “I make it a point to listen to those whose views I disagree with,” yet, you say: “Chill with the fire-and-brimstone, if you would,” and ” I need no validation from an outside source to let me know I’m living my life properly,” and “…but I don’t want to know that you think that….” To me, you seem like a tighyly-closed book, with a lot of blank pages that you prefer to remain wordless. – I didn’t read those attitudes and thoughts into what Kirk said: just that he was explaining his faith to you. At no point did I see him tell you that you were on the road to Hell, but that he felt this was the Way for him to avoid taking that road. As I mentioned earlier: if you are going to blog and allow for comments, you should thicken your skin, and limit your censorship to things like obscene language and racism, not people who, in a civil manner (despite what Tommy says) state their reasons for disagreeing with you.

    Next: You quoted from the book of Matthew. I’m sure that Tommy has already admonished you to stay on topic, because this was a bit off. Again – I failed to see where Kirk was praying. Praying and witnessing are two very different things, although they can, at times, be used together, when the situation calls for it. – I would ask that you read the rest of Matthew, and, when you get to it, think about what he says in chapter 28, verses 19-20: “Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” I realize that you are about to mention the UCMJ again, but that’s not my point. Right now, I am defending Kirk’s right (in a public forum, whether you want to hear it or not) and obligation (as a Christian) to validate his points by explaining his faith. You (again) accused him of doing something he was not doing (praying in public), and you were wrong.

    “If you want a little religion in your schooling, that’s why we have religious schools.” A fair definition of religion is “a belief based on faith, with little or no empirical proof that it is real.” If you can accept that definition (and I expect that you can’t – am I being too presumptuous?), then consider this: Darwin’s theory of evolution, practically the law of the land in our public school systems, has provided absolutely NO proof that it is real. As I pointed out on another blog recently: Darwinism is nothing more than a drug-induced hallucination suffered by Darwin one day when he passed out and fell into Lewis Carroll’s rabbit hole. It is simply amazing that so many seemingly intelligent people could believe in this far-fetched pipe dream, when you consider that there has NEVER been a single piece of hard evidence supporting it! – The emperorer’s wearing no clothes, and the masses are afraid to point that out, for fear of being criticized by the ignorant believers and the evolution proselytizers.

    As a paying member of the AOL community, I resent Tommy’s not-so-veiled accusations and threats (“Wes, check out the rules. Keep it friendly.” “You’re dancing on the troll line. Keep it friendly, please.” (what in the world is the “troll line?”) “Please check the rules so we can keep having you over.”) These appear to be houses on a one-way street: I didn’t notice any snide remark from Tommy to Karen Byington (although, fortunately, you spoke to her – thank you!), with her antagonistic, hateful comment: “So many Christians so few lions.” Apparently, if one agrees with the blogger and her chaperone, one can make all the nasty, vitriolic comments he wants. But if people who disagree with her dare express their views, they are met with reprimands and threats from Tommy. When you grow up, will Tommy still be standing over your shoulder with a big club? For that matter, what’s Tommy going to do when he grows up?

    Last: you and I have a tough row to hoe – two grammar cops lost in a sea of misspellings, atrocious grammar, and a lack of knowledge of sentence structure. I’ve learned to let most of it slip by, but it does tend to drive one crazy, doesn’t it? It sometimes makes me want to scream: “oh, SNAP!”

  61. Hi, Wes! Here’s a secret: I’m actually a terrible misanthrope. It’s like Linus said, from Peanuts: “I love humanity, it’s people I can’t stand!” Which is why sometimes, I get a little snippy. And thanks for noticing that I did call out Karen – if we’re going to be fair, we’re going to be fair. Not reprimanding people who step over the line, on either side, is no mark of decency.

    To be honest, in my short life, I’ve run into more than my fair share of people who try and push their beliefs on me, whether religious or political. Which is why when I want to know what god you worship or what ideology you follow, I’ll ask you for it (which is probably never). I like looking at people as people, not parts of groups, because I have preconceptions, misconceptions, and all sorts of connotations about groups. I don’t like groups, really. I try and avoid them if at all possible. (Which, sadly, is not that possible.) I overreacted. As an overemotional, wildly hyperbolic teenage girl with a tendency to exaggerate when I get annoyed (which is often), I do that. I’m trying to fix it. But it still bothers me, and I think that should be respected in and of itself. (Does that make sense?) I don’t know, it seems to me like people who don’t have religious beliefs are often made to feel like they don’t belong, like they should join one of those groups, and I don’t like being pushed that way.

    (The “troll line” is the thin line in between what some might consider “fanatical” beliefs and people just stirring up shit to stir up shit, is the best way I can think to explain it. An unsophisticated troll, for example, might go onto a gay rights website and call everyone there “fags”. Et cetera. Trolls are annoying at best – another symptom of John Gabriel’s Greater Internet F*ckwad Theory, which states that normal person + audience + anonymity = complete internet idiot/attention whore. Not that I’m accusing you of anything like this – on the contrary, you’ve been quite rational! – but that’s just an explanation.)

    Also, why do you keep addressing Tommy? It’s safe to say that he had no part in writing the article (I should know…since I wrote it!). If anyone should take the fall for my beliefs and overreactions and so on, it’s me (who is under no contract with AOL, and is doing this for…fun?). And I resent the implication that I need a chaperone. I am, last time I checked, an adult, or something approximating one.

    As for evolution (total non sequitur, as far as I can tell), I have to leave the house right now, so I’ll address your concerns when I return.

    Grammar copping is quite the chore, isn’t it?

  62. Wes,

    this ain’t AOL, it’s my happy place. Go read the rules, I think they’re pretty reasonable.

  63. Half of you so called “christians” wouldn’t know a christ like gesture if it bit you on the ass and left you a postit note…

    some athiests make better christians…

    half? I was being too kind….

  64. Grandpa Jake was right–the only thing religion ever does is cause wars.

    From my own point of view, it’s all a crock of shit–but hey, whatever gets you through the day. Being a nice person and not intentionally hurting anyone, is good enough for me. If one needs a book of fables like The Bible, and to attend a church and follow the teachings of that nice Jewish boy, Jesus–I got no beef with them. Just keep it away from me and out of the political arena.

    Tommy, when did you hire the ‘grammar cop’ known as Wes?

    Hi Michelle!

    Alex, keep up the good fight–you are doing great!

  65. Hi ya PCL…and I stand right beside you on all that!!

    I think we were all Gnostics in a past life…lol

  66. Damn straight, Texas. 😉

  67. Ooo! I missed that! Grammar-copping is strictly discouraged hereabouts! I won’t even grammar-cop a feel.

  68. “Hi, Alex – I’m back! Sorry: I’ve been busy, so I had to drop out of our conversation for a while. Thank you for your thoughtful response. – Now: you said “…it seems to me like people who don’t have religious beliefs are often made to feel like they don’t belong, like they should join one of those groups, and I don’t like being pushed that way.” That shoe fits on the other foot, too. Those of us with religious beliefs are often made to feel like Red Sox fans in Yankee Stadium. It all depends on whose blog one is on, and who else is there at the time. But we have to maintain our own points of view without reading too much into what others say. As much as we might wish to convert you, please don’t get on the defensive until we make active movements in that direction. We are supposed to be here to express our (opposing) points of view on a particular subject – without the freedom to express our beliefs, this blog cou ld become a dictatorship, and very boring. Accept our views and opinions, express yours, and keep the discussion interesting but non-paranoic (is that really a word? If not, I just invented it!). — Next: why do I keep addressing Tommy? Because it seems that he is not allowing you to control this blog. If he sees a potential problem, he doesn’t allow you to handle it, but, rather, jumps in ahead of you with his warnings (threats?). Apparently, he views himself as a big brother who doesn’t trust his little sister to be able to take care of her own problems. — Now: the “non-sequitur:” that’s not really the case here. You brought up education when you said “If you want a little religion in your schooling, that’s why we have religious schools.” I just wanted to point out that public schools are already teaching religion: the unproven religion of Darwinism. If one unprovable religion can be taught, then why not another? Christians help pay for these schools, and their children attend them, but they are given absolutely no say in the choice of religion to be taught. Either another, equally-valid, religion should be part of the curriculum, or the presently-taught religion should be withdrawn. If you want Christianity and other religions to be taught at home or in church, then the same should be applied to Darwinism. — Last: I won’t respond to Tommy separately, because, as I said, I keep seeing him over your shoulder, and I’m sure he’s there right now: Tommy, you may consider this your “Happy Place,” but AOL is mine – I pay the monthly rent to live here, and included in that rent are links to all sorts of places, including “Tommy Christopher’s Daily Dose.” I neither know nor care who supports your little home, but as long as it’s linked to AOL, it becomes my space to visit, bought and paid for. If that doesn’t work for you, then I suggest you so inform AOL, so they will stop directing their members to you. As I said before, I resent your attitude, especially when it is so one-sided. As I said to Alex, if you stifle or disallow open, civil, discussion, there’s really no purpose to it. If you don’t want a forum, then don’t allow for comments – if you do, then act like a grown-up, and accept that not everybody agrees with you! It took Alex to speak to Karen Byington earlier, because you were off “Being Happy!” — Now, let’s move forward: we haven’t even begun to talk about abortion or the illegal election of our non-natural-born U.S. citizen “President!”

  69. Hi all! Never posted here before, but I’m a friend of Alex’s. I may be joining in on debates every now and then with obnoxiously long posts. Often about subjects quite tangential to the original article. Just doing my duty as your friendly neighborhood godless socialist agnostic humanist internet troll. FUNTIEMZ.
    My subject today will be the comments from Wes about evolution.
    Apologies in advance to everyone else for this page-eating monstrosity.

    Wes Robertson:
    I’m not going to waste my time refuting specific creationist claims because every creationist challenge to evolution has been solidly answered many times by many scientists. The only reason these “arguments” persist is because creationists generally don’t take the time to do any research and often don’t understand the explanations even when they do find them. If you want me to deal with the supposed arguments against evolution, please email me, because I don’t want to spam up this page with such nonsense.

    I’m also not going to take up space outlining the evidence for evolution because… Well, it’s impossible. Not because it’s not there, but rather because there is so much of it that I wouldn’t even know where to begin.
    People spend their entire lives studying evolution. Students have to take full college courses to even begin to understand the basics of the theory. Tens of thousands of peer-reviewed scientific papers, not to mention entire textbooks, have been written on the subject. Evolution is the foundation of biology and all its daughter fields, and is supported by hard, factual evidence from almost every other branch of science.
    The claim that evolution is “unproven” is shamefully ignorant, maliciously manipulative, and shockingly arrogant. It displays a profound misunderstanding of the scientific process and a total lack of decent science education. Oh, and it’s wrong. It is a complete, flat-out, bald-faced, unequivocal LIE. Sorry if I’m coming on a little strong, but have I made my point yet?
    If you want proof for evolution, go back to school. Get a decent education and do some actual research.

    Evolution is a sound and fully mature scientific theory. It is not labeled as a “fact” simply because it encompasses not just one, but a vast number of concepts and mechanisms. The components of the theory of evolution, are, however, fully factual and scientifically proven. It is not based on mindless dogma, it is based on the sound methodological principles of science. Evolution is no more a “religion” than optics or car mechanics. All scientific fields use the same methodology, and you can’t just reject one because you find it personally distasteful.
    If you want to reject evolution, be honest about it and reject the rest of science too. I’ll be glad to take your car, your house, your possessions and your money when you move to a dirt hovel in the middle of the wilderness.

    Evolution and creationism are absolutely not equally scientifically valid. They are NOT on par in terms of evidence, logic, ability to offer reliable predictions, or anything else that matters in a science classroom. To tell students that they are is dishonest and dangerous.

    Furthermore, even if your claims about evolution had any merit whatsoever, how exactly would you go about incorporating the creationist story into schools?
    Do you teach young earth-creationism or old-earth creationism? Day-age or gap interpretation? Intelligent design? And what about all the other religions? I’m sure there are plenty of Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and Pagans who contribute to our schools as well. Should we teach their creation stories in class as well? What about religions that have no issue with evolution because they see God as working through natural laws instead of violating them, like Deism?
    And should we incorporate religion into the rest of our education? To be Biblically consistent, if we teach creationism, we should also teach the story of Babel in language classes, change the curricula of geophysics classes to cover catastrophism and the Noachian flood, and teach doctors how to perform exorcisms.

    Of course, you may say we should just forget the religious specifics and teach intelligent design.
    But the problem with intelligent design is that it isn’t a science.
    Intelligent design relies entirely on negative argumentation; that is, evolution can’t explain this, therefore it must have been designed. These negative arguments rely on a false dichotomy (how do you know there isn’t another, perfectly natural explanation besides evolution? etc), and also make intelligent design an unviable “science.” Because it can offer no positive claims, it can make no predictions, and cannot generate hypotheses for study. This becomes obvious once one reviews the scientific literature and finds that intelligent design “research” does not exist.
    But the biggest problem with intelligent design is that it destroys science at its most fundamental level. This is not poetic hyperbole; intelligent design is simply incompatible with the basic requirements of scientific inquiry. At what point are you justified in saying that something is designed? How can you quantify the line between something that could have arisen from natural processes and something that coultn’ve? There are plenty of natural phenomena that were at one time thought to be only explicable through god, but which were later found to have perfectly natural explanations. When do you stop researching something? Just because you don’t have an explanation now doesn’t mean you’ll never have one. When do you halt research? Intelligent design is a universal, one-size-fits-all explanation, and is therefore can never be a part of science. Whenever some question seems too hard to answer, scientists could just give up and say, “I don’t get it, it must be God.” And scientific progress would come to a screeching halt.

    I certainly haven’t dealt with everything I wanted to discuss, but this post is already far too long, so I’ll just have to stop here and leave the rest for later. I’d also be more than willing to continue this discussion through email so as not to totally monopolize Alex’s blog space.

  70. “Meredyth:” (My understanding is that Alex’s blog space has a lot of room left, so I won’t try to hide my beliefs and arguments from the prying eyes of others who might think less of me for them.) You said: “If you want to reject evolution, be honest about it and reject the rest of science too. I’ll be glad to take your car, your house, your possessions and your money when you move to a dirt hovel in the middle of the wilderness.” I can see my car (and believe me – you do NOT want it!) and watch it work; I can see my house and observe its livability; they take my money at the grocery store: these are hard facts – Darwinism is nothing more than a pseudo-science, with absolutely NO hard proof. – You then demean my education and research, while ignoring the fact that you sound like a brainwashed second-grader yourself. I watch “The Wizard of Oz” as often as I can, but I still don’t believe that it’s a true story. It’s just a fantasy, much like Darwinism – a concoction of a very active mind, but entertaining, as long as I know where to draw the line of belief. – The claim that evolution is “proven” is shamefully ignorant, maliciously manipulative, and shockingly arrogant. It displays a profound misunderstanding of the scientific process and a total lack of decent science education. Oh, and it’s wrong. It is a complete, flat-out, bald-faced, unequivocal LIE. (source of modified, corrected quote available on request)! Whether or not Intelligent Design is scientifically viable brings up the following question: Who invented science? If Milton Bradley (not the baseball player) invented the game of Monopoly, didn’t he have the right to set the rules, design the play money and game pieces, and name the properties? If Intelligent Design is real, didn’t the Designer have the right and ability to name the laws (gravity, etc.) and processes for establishing science? If anything has been proven by science, accept that the Inventor of science allowed that proof. The only real question is who invented science? God? Darwin? Meredyth? Alex? Please don’t say it was Tommy! –
    I’m not going to waste much time debating with you – the simple fact is that you aren’t listening, and have no intention of doing so! None of your points have ever been proven; everything you say about Intelligent Design can just as well be said about Darwinism. You refuse to even consider the opposing point of view (which is very unscientific!), and you will not respond directly because you don’t have a persuasive argument to back up your myths. – Those of us who believe in Intelligent Design don’t know how God did it. Seven days to Him may have been seven billion years to us. He may have used a primordial ooze or papier mache. We just don’t know, and don’t try to second-guess Him. We believe, and we accept that He may have used any of several ways to accomplish what He did, which may very well include creating DNA, and other “discoveries from the scientific community.” We are not anti-science, we simply believe that science doesn’t have all the answers, and that manufacturing them doesn’t make them real. Carefully read what I wrote, then try to THINK, rather than listen to all the myths you have been told to believe. If you THINK, you will, sooner or later, come to the realization that you have absolutely NO physical proof – no smoking gun, as it were. It’s all supposition – a nice story for gullible people to fall for and enjoy, but just that: a story, concocted in the mind of Charles Darwin and automatically accepted as gospel (a little humor here) by others. If you want to believe in a story, try “Alice in Wonderland (small wonder that Darwin and Lewis Carroll were contemporaries, and, probably, friends).” At least it’s more plausible, because it starts out with a hole in the ground, and goes downhill from there. To summarize: there is absolutely NO empirical or other proof that Darwinism is correct, which makes it a “faith-based belief” only. As such, maybe it should not be taught in schools! And before you atheists start crying about all of the so-called “proof,” think about it scientifically – a strong belief is not even close to being a scientifically-proven fact. To put it another way: if “unsubstantiated belief” in Creationism is not an acceptable subject for schools, then neither is “unsubstantiated (scientifically or otherwise) belief” in Darwinism and other atheist myths. It’s not for nothing that it’s known as the “THEORY” of evolution – it is just that: a theory, with absolutely no basis in fact whatsoever. It’s so sad that children should be fobbed off with second-rate myths such as Darwinism and the “theory of evolution!” Too bad about the atheist community: they are so frustrated at having to cry “scientific proof,” over and over again, and yet not being able to come up with any scientific proof that “there is no God.” As far as they are concerned, all scientific discoveries came, not from God, who created everything from DNA to broccoli, but from two lonesome atoms floating through space until they bumped into each other, and created some sort of primordial ooze, which, in turn, created dirt, monkeys, vegetables, and, finally, “carbon dating” and Charles Darwin, whose “theory” remains today without an iota of empirical proof, scientific or otherwise. Talk about far-fetched, wishful thinking! And they laugh at us? I hate the phrase: “LOL,” but that definitely calls for one! LOL!

  71. Okay, to make this more organized, I’m going to list what I understand your major points to be and then I will reply to each of them. Feel free to correct, clarify, or add to said points as necessary.
    (I apologize if some of this is repetitive, but since a good portion of your post was basically a repetition of what you said before, I’m not really sure what else to do.)

    1. You can see your car work, but you can’t see evolution work, therefore evolution is unscientific and invalid.
    2. God created the natural world, therefore we should always defer to him when studying it; he could have made things any way he pleased and we should presume to elevate our human knowledge above his divine plan.
    3. I and all other scientists are simply repeating a dogma created by one naturalist 150 years ago. Everyone automatically accept(s/ed) his idea without a second thought, and we are now unwilling to listen to any argument that goes against this dogmatic belief.
    4. Refusing to consider and give equal weight to all proposed hypotheses for a certain natural phenomenon is unscientific.
    5. Evolution is “just a theory” (kill me now) and there is no empirical, factual proof for it.
    6. Evolution is more or less an atheist plot to disprove God and by extension get our children to reject God.

    1. Once again, you fail to understand basic concepts of the operation of science.
    Science is useful exactly *because* it allows us to have knowledge about things we cannot directly observe. It allows us to expand out knowledge beyond out limited bodily senses. If science only gave us information about things we could directly observe… It wouldn’t be telling us much of anything, would it?
    I know you can experience the fact that your car moves when you put gas in it and turn it on, but you can also see that there is a diversity of organisms in the world, all of them uniquely suited to their environment with a specific set of biological adaptations. You can know these from your direct personal experience. But what is important is not the initial crude observations, but rather the not-directly-observable mechanisms that produce the results you DO observe. Science lets you explore those mechanisms. You can no more see the hydrocarbon molecules reacting with oxygen, dissociating, and forming CO2 and H2O molecules than I can set up a magical time-travelling camera to record evolution. If the two competing theories for the movement of your car are direct divine intervention and chemical combustion, neither can ever be confirmed or disconfirmed if you reject outright all knowledge not derived from direct observation. The same goes for evolution. I suppose you’re welcome to reject this type of knowledge and decide you prefer to not believe evolution, but please be aware that if you choose to ignore that evidence then you also have no basis for belief in atomics, chemistry, astronomy, geology, germ theory, history, or anything else that relies on that type of information.
    (also, see point #5 for explanation of scientific proof)

    2. I guess I don’t disagree with this, but I’m not sure how it’s relevant to the discussion. God could have chosen to create the diversity of life any way he pleased, yes, but what’s to prevent us from discovering his method? If he chose to create a world that conforms to a universal set of natural laws, there’s no reason why we can’t strive to better understand those laws. If he’s making shit up as he goes, I guess there’s not much we can do, but there does seem to be more evidence for the idea of stable universal laws than the idea of god supernaturally intervening in the development of the universe in significant ways.
    Saying that god could have made stuff any way he wanted does not really have anything to do with the specific nature of his method or if we can know anything useful about it.
    Basically… No matter what mechanisms the universe follows, if those mechanisms are consistent, science works.

    3. The “dogmatism” of “Darwinism” is not an honest portrayal of either history or science. Scientists still aren’t really sure how you guys came up with this one, since it has essentially no basis in reality.
    Darwin began as a creationist, and only developed his theory after vast amounts of evidence convinced him that his current belief about the way the world functions was not valid. He also faced huge criticism when he introduced his theory, and it underwent intense scrutiny by the scientific community of the time. It is only used as an “assumption” now because it has been thoroughly examined, consistently supported, and not challenged in any serious way by any other competing scientific theory. Science continues to critically examine the theory of evolution in every experiment that in any way involves the application of this theory. Data has no preference for one theory or the other, so if the data are not consistent with the current paradigm, something would have to be done. If a significant amount of evidence that unequivocally went against evolution were ever to amass, the theory would be reexamined and either revised or replaced by a better theory. This evidence has yet to surface. Evolution, though subject to constant minor revision and addition, has not developed any major flaws that would require such a reexamination. Scientists only “assume” evolution when designing their experiments because there is no serious evidence against it, making it a robust and useful framework of thought.
    Evolution is not any more “dogmatic” than chemistry or physics, and if you believe otherwise you are simply ignorant of the history, development, and current functioning of science.

    4. This is just silly. I do not need to give the hypotheses “my bread grew mold” and “a unicorn pooed on my sandwich” equal weight. If I am at all aware of reality, one of these hypotheses is clearly absurd, and need not be considered in a rational analysis of the situation.
    I do not need to give ID and evolution equal weight because one is scientific and the other clearly is not. I HAVE considered the opposing view, and I have determined that it is not applicable to science and therefore should not be scientifically pursued. This is not “unscientific” if you know anything at all about science.
    ID appeals to a supernatural power that intervenes in the world in ways that contradict otherwise constant natural laws. It therefore cannot be studied by science. End of story. There’s really nothing else to it.

    5. The smoking gun, the missing link, the physical proof, the alligator-duck, the ape giving birth to a human. Can I give you a scholarship to college instead?
    Science doesn’t deal in certainty. I’m sorry if you find that unsatisfying, but we can only tell you what is most likely, not what is absolutely True. You’re not going to find The Truth in evolution or anywhere else in science. That’s what you have Jeebus for. How shiny for you.
    Science can’t give you the kind of proof you want, but neither can my chocolate bar tell me how to correctly conjugate Spanish verbs.
    You just don’t seem to really understand what “proof” and “empirical evidence” consists of in science. You toss around the phrase “scientifically proven,” but you apparently are unaware of how to actually go about scientifically proving something.
    I really do HATE linking stuff instead of using my own words, but the page I’m going to give you takes barely a minute to read and describes the nature of scientific proof probably much more clearly and concisely than I can: http://atheism.about.com/library/FAQs/evolution/blfaq_evolution_evidence01.htm
    Evolution is strongly supported by inferential evidence. That’s how science does stuff. If that’s not good enough for you, you’re just a big whiner.

    6. I am sick to death of seeing evolution equated with atheism, rejection of god, decline of moral values, blah blah blah blah (BTW if you bring up Hitler ima hafta punch you in da face for failing hardcore at thinking, kthxbai). Plenty of religious people find evolution acceptable, and plenty of scientists believe in god. And none of them are going around raping goats and eating babies, so just STFU.
    Quite frankly, I think atheists are as retarded as you are (OH WAIT FOR THE BURNS). We cannot have absolute certainty about the nature of the universe either way, and anyone who thinks they can is deluded. Scientists especially should not “believe in atheism” because it, just like religion, requires you to be absolutely certain about something you cannot gather evidence for. In fact I tend to sympathize more with religion than with atheism (for lots of anthropological and philosophical reasons that are a better subject for another time).
    So yeah. You suck, atheists suck, moral relativists suck, (Hitler sucks,) the crusades sucked, and finding dead spiders in your shoes really sucks too. The thing is, none of this has anything to do with evolution.
    True, evolution does not *require* god, but neither does it *deny* god. It simply doesn’t deal with god. Again, you yourself admitted that evolution could be the tool god himself created to shape life. Evolution isn’t any more atheist than your stapler is. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is just being an asshole, and you have permission to kick them in the shins no matter which “side” they belong to.

    Also, If your religious belief is so weak that some natural phenomenon that does not seem to absolutely require god annihilates your faith, your precious Jeebus is probably going to be pretty annoyed.

    So either stop believing in your microwave, or acknowledge that science is the most effective tool we have for learning about the natural world, accept that evolution is the only scientific theory we have to explain the diversity of living organisms, recognize that evolution does not conflict with or damage God any more than the heliocentric universe did, and GET ON WITH YOUR LIFE.

    (PS: You get all in a tizzy because I’m “not listening,” but you totally failed to even acknowledge almost half of the points in my post, specifically those dealing with the teaching of ID and creationism in schools. I’d be interested to hear your reply to that section of my initial post)

  72. […] On the heels of a report that Donald Rumsfeld included Crusade-esque cover sheets on his intelligence briefings comes a jarring follow-up to the story of proselytizing soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. […]

  73. It’s impossible to have a rational discussion with a religionists because religionists are not rational.
    A religion is sometime a source of happiness, and I would not deprive anyone of happiness. But it is a comfort appropriate for the weak, not for the strong. The great trouble with religion — any religion — is that a religionist, having accepted certain propositions by faith, cannot thereafter judge those propositions by evidence. One may bask at the warm fire of faith or choose to live in the bleak uncertainty of reason — but one cannot have both.

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