28th February 2008

“Religious moderates make the world safe for fundamentalists, by promoting faith as a virtue and by enforcing an overly pious respect for religion.”


13 Responses to “28th February 2008”

  1. Victor Pedraz Says:


  2. Chris Says:

    I wonder if Anon is Sam Harris because this is the main thrust of Letter to a Christian Nation. The point here is that an environment that is friendly to faith is necessarily one in which it is difficult, if not impossible, to criticize fundamentalist faith. Both moderate and fundamentalist faith rely on a gentleman’s agreement (if you will) that I won’t attack your unsupportable ideas if you don’t attack mine.

    Second, and maybe more importantly, the religious moderate is, by definition, one who has already excised from their version of the holy book those passages that are incompatible with life in the modern world. Moderates do this instinctively, casually. Because your average moderate has no trouble reconciling the creation story in the bible with the proven fact that earth is 4.5 billion years old, they find it nearly impossible to square their moderation with the literalists world view. In short, they find it very very difficult to accept that large numbers of people actually think this way. That blindness cannot help but give cover to fanatics, hiding in plain sight.

    I hope I did that justice.

  3. Victor Pedraz Says:

    I believe you did it justice. The same can be said of our political climate. Aquiessence of any lind is not constructive. Therefore one , or we, must re act to statements that are a s vague as this.

  4. Critic Says:

    Chris: Agreed.

    Although I would add that, anecdotally, I have seen an increase in quiet grumbling of religious moderates against the wakco fundies (perhaps even our oxymoronic Christhinker?). No data to back that up, just a personal impression based on recent conversations I’ve had.

    Having said that, it is still imperative to hold moderates, as a group, responsible for the excesses of the fundies for the very reason stated in todays AQoTD. Until the moderates are as loud and politically active as the fanatical right wing – but fighting DIRECTLY against the beliefs and actions of the fanatical right wing – they are accomplices in every atrocity committed by the religious fundamentalists.

    This is not guilt by association, it is guilt by aiding and abetting. Racketeering by implied consent.

    Until the destruction of human society through the perpetuation of ignorance is halted by the religious moderates, it is the fault of ALL religion and ALL religious persons.

  5. Terence Meaden Says:

    “Religious moderates are not to be trusted. Some of them give birth to fundamentalists of the future—and the latter once in power create states that enforce their extreme views on the moderates too. It took centuries for the violent, fundamentalist, blinkered, Christians to be disempowered in the west. Let us beware of the new dangers posed by the resurgence of fundamentalist religion wherever it is being seeded, wherever skulking, wherever preparing itself against the legitimacy of true humanity as most justly argued and represented by the freethinkers, the non-theists, the honourable scientists who are ever solving the entirely natural origins of our world and our universe”. GTM.

    One warning from among many:
    “So let us be blunt about it: we must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government. Then they will get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God.” Gary North, “The Intellectual Schizophrenia of the New Christian Right” in Christianity and Civilization: The Failure of the American Baptist Culture, No. 1 (1982), p. 25.)

  6. Critic Says:

    …there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government.

    Once again TM pulls out a quote that zeroes in on the evil that is modern day christianity.

    If that does not send a chill down your spine – you are not paying attention. These are the kinds of people the Bush administration has consistently put in powerful positions. It is an agenda that can only be characterized as evil. Which is the same as saying it is religiously motivated.

  7. Chris Says:

    To continue with the danger of moderation. When the baptists want to build a new church in your community most people will be either pleased or at least unopposed, as long as it doesn’t cause a burden with traffic, parking, etc. Then they expand and add on a private school. Most people will be pleased or at least unopposed…bla bla bla. Hey! It’s a new school! Schools are good and this one will teach “values”. Ok, probably not a disaster. If any of this spins into extremism it’s not going to be a big problem because christian fundies are largely marginalized in our society – simply aren’t listened to by big enough percentages to do more than drive republican politics further into the wilderness.

    Now they want to build a mosque. There will be a little grumbling. Aren’t these the people that steer planes into buildings? Then people will leap to defend Islam. You can hear it…”religion of peace, don’t blame all for the crimes of the few, the Koran doesn’t allow violence…” Moderates jump on board. It’s a religion, after all. Faith is good. The mosque get built.

    Then they want to add a school to the mosque. There will be some grumbling, the school gets built. They sue the state to get an exemption to teaching standards on religious grounds. It’s not a school. It is, in fact a madrassa. They get what they want by intimidation, by accusing anyone that questions of being “islamic racists”. They attract people that won’t assimilate. They exist, unwatched and unchecked while their imams preach anti western rhetoric. They begin to chafe at western labor laws. Start asking for prayer breaks at work.

    Can’t happen? Is happening. Ask France. Ask the U.K.

  8. Oxymoronic Christhinker Says:

    The Oxymoronic Christhinker here!
    Don’t have a lot of time, just checking in, so I’ll just have to say that I agree with the quote. Us religious “moderates/liberals/???” are indeed guilty of sheepishly averting our eyes to the theologically and philosophically dishonest words and self-serving political actions of the evangelical/fundamentalist/conservative/traditional/right-wing “party” of the Christian “subset” of religion (Critic: is that better than “shennanigans”? Did not intend to minimize or justify my “desperate” position!) As Terence Meaden points out in his “One warning from among many,” the (Southern) Baptists (Convention) are among the worst of the worst.
    Anyway, I agree with the quote, despite the fact that it feels a little like shooting myself in the foot, then handing you all the gun and saying, “Ok, now shoot me in the head!” 🙂
    Busy, gotta go, talk to ya later . . . Have a nice day!

  9. Oxymoronic Christhinker Says:

    Should have added “violent” to comment about the “fightin’ fundies” above.
    Later . . .

  10. Terence Meaden Says:

    Here follow some more warnings:

    The Myth of Moderate Islam The Spectator (U.K.)
    “Liberals have simply got to get over their instinct for tolerance. With the ascendancy of fundamentalism these leanings are suicidal. A bright line must be drawn between reasonable accommodations and allowing groups to simply assert privileges or claim insult and then using the courts to harass. They are deliberately and systematically creating a slippery slope atmosphere in which people are simply afraid to offend them and therefore tend to look the other way as they claim ever more privileges for themselves.” [probably the editor of the Spectator]

    “The church today has fallen prey to the heresy of democracy.” R.J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law (Nutley, NJ: Craig Press, 1973, p. 747.)

    “[We seek to] replace the heresy of democracy with Biblical law.” R. J. Rushdoony

  11. Critic Says:

    Here’s another bit of wisdom from Gary North,

    “The long-term goal of Christians in politics should be to gain exclusive control over the franchise. Those who refuse to submit publicly to the eternal sanctions of God by submitting to His Church’s public marks of the covenant – baptism and holy communion – must be denied citizenship, just as they were in ancient Israel. The way to achieve this political goal is through successful mass evangelism followed by constitutional revision.” Gary North, Political Polytheism: The Myth of Pluralism, p. 87

    How’s that for a warm fuzzy feeling of religion, eh, chrisThinker?

  12. Chris Says:

    Sounds like Gary North is channeling Mike “Burn the Constitution” Huckabee.

    Christhinker, correct me if I’m wrong but you seem from your posts to be one of these religious moderates. Forgive the seeming impertinence in this question but if your faith is compatible with modernity and science then on what foundation does it rest? Biblical scholarship, archeology, anthropology, chemistry, physics etc. make clear a few things about those book’s pedigree. Among these are that the creation story cannot be correct, that there was no global flood, that the books themselves were written by people that cannot have witnessed the events and were subsequently fought over until a consensus document was created. The book itself predates punctuation andwaswrittenmorelikewhatyouseehere. The fact that Mary was described as a virgin is down to a mistranslation of the Hebrew word for “young woman”. Such ambiguity cannot be the divine and unalterable word of any god. Not to mention that he didn’t bother to tell the Chinese who had the most advance civilization of the time.

    So I guess I’m asking how you maintain your faith, knowing that so much of it rests on quicksand. See, I was raised catholic and moderate. It was my education that split me away from belief. I’m very grateful. I’m curious how other moderates somehow avoid what was for me absolutely unavoidable. It makes me think that Dan Dennett is right when he says people don’t so much believe as believe in belief.


  13. Renshia Says:

    “So I guess I’m asking how you maintain your faith, knowing that so much of it rests on quicksand.”

    It is fear, fear based faith, It is the no lose scenario. if you believe in god, and your wrong you lose nothing, but if you don’t and there is you can lose everything.
    Again this is the double speak the religious live by, they always say one thing, but it always means another..
    They say that you have nothing to lose, but they never mention that it is a waste of what life they could have had. they never see how there focus on a myth blinds them to all that is around them. They say embrace life, embrace god, But there is no life in myths other than what they give to it.. all there is is the eternal hope of death, that they look forward to, hoping somehow they have earned the right to be allowed into heaven.
    What a waste of energy.