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Should the president consider an atheist for a Supreme Court position?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on May 5, 2010

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Photo of Randy Fitzgerald

“Sure, I believe so. … You should have separation of church and state, so religion should have nothing to do with it.”

Photo of Roopnarain Khemraj

“No … I’m a religious person, Hindu by denomination, and I don’t believe the atheist point of view. I have nothing against them - they can do what they want as long as they don’t impose their belief upon me.”

Photo of Kirstie Fine

“I don’t think he should consider it, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he did.”

Photo of Laura Schmidt

“I think that he should definitely consider it because I think that an atheist could bring some valid points into some issues that are going on today.”

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Comments

Flap Doodle 4 years, 11 months ago

He should nominate his bomb-making buddy, Bill Ayers. Wouldn't that be a confirmation hearing stuffed with jolly fun?

Stuart Evans 4 years, 11 months ago

Roopnarain.. atheism isn't a belief system. it's a lack thereof. How does the lack of belief in an invisible man make for a poor choice as a supreme court justice?

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 11 months ago

I don't agree with that. Atheism is a belief that there is no supreme being, and that is a belief system, although simplistic.

An agnostic takes no position on the matter, claiming that it is unknown and unknowable, and thus would be the one having no belief system.

Stuart Evans 4 years, 11 months ago

I think of agnostics more as the "I'm not sure" crowd. But you could be right, I do firmly believe that there is no god(s). but that's a disbelief.

parrothead8 4 years, 11 months ago

Actually, an agnostic is "One who holds that the existence of anything beyond and behind material phenomena is unknown and (so far as can be judged) unknowable, and especially that a First Cause and an unseen world are subjects of which we know nothing." So, an agnostic believes that we can't KNOW there is a God/dess, but doesn't deny his/her existence.

An atheist is "One who denies or disbelieves the existence of a God." So, in fact, there is no system of belief, just a simple denial of existence.

I can find no evidence that an atheist would make an unacceptable Supreme Court Justice, as long as s/he knows the laws of the land.

*Definitions courtesy of the Oxford English Dictionary.

nobody1793 4 years, 11 months ago

We need more midget wrestlers on the bench.

Ceallach 4 years, 11 months ago

"and that it was written with the intent it be adapted over the course of time?"

Got a reliable source reference for that statement?

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 11 months ago

The source reference for that statement is within the Constitution itself, I think he's talking about how the Constitution can be amended as needed.

For instance, there have been Constitutional Amendments so that Blacks can no longer be slaves and are now equal citizens, and women now have the right to vote.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 11 months ago

Clip and paste here, I'm not an expert:

Unlike amendments to most constitutions, amendments to the United States Constitution are appended to the body of the text without altering or removing what already exists, although nothing prevents a future amendment from doing so.

Ceallach 4 years, 11 months ago

Surely you are not including Tom Cruise!

Stuart Evans 4 years, 11 months ago

the more I think about Roopnarain's comment.. I think.. I don't really have anything against Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Mormons, Hindus, Romans, Greeks, Pagans, Satanists, et al. "as long as they don't impose their belief upon me."

how does one impose disbelief on someone else?

grammaddy 4 years, 11 months ago

Sure, why not?! I'm not as concerned about their religious views as I am about their interpretation of our Constitution. We might actually get somewhere on the evolution/ creation issue.

whats_going_on 4 years, 11 months ago

speaking of trying to impose beliefs on other people........

bruno2 4 years, 11 months ago

Obviously, they wouldn't know where to find it, or what it was.

Kirk Larson 4 years, 11 months ago

The atheists aren't going anywhere, but the agnostics might if you show them the way.

akuna 4 years, 11 months ago

A perfect display of the hypocritical compassion of some religious people. Your God would be ashamed of you.

sourpuss 4 years, 11 months ago

Actually, AreUNorml, Atheism is a belief, the belief that God does not exist. Agnosticism is the wishy one where a person cannot prove through observation if God exists in terms of having agency in the world. Atheists are hardcore about their belief that God is false. However, there is obviously no religion built around atheism because religion is structured around the social expression of faith. Atheists are not particularly interested in that so they have no social conventions for it, save maybe the Darwin fish.

In terms of the question, I would prefer a logical and somewhat compassionate person on the Supreme Court, and I don't especially care about the person's views on the afterlife. I want the judge to care about -this- life and doing the right thing for the country. I don't need someone imposing their belief in Grandpa In The Sky (or the absence thereof) on me. Whatever the person's faith, as long as he keeps it to himself, fine with me.

Ceallach 4 years, 11 months ago

"because religion is structured around the social expression of faith."

If you read comments from self-proclaimed atheists you notice they are very public about their expression of faith in themselves. By doing so they set themselves up as the final authority on what is right or wrong. Sounds godly (or ungodly) to me.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 11 months ago

You can be faithful, religious, and believe in God, and believe that there is no afterlife at all. There is no conflict in that statement, and some sects of Judaism take that point of view.

Kirk Larson 4 years, 11 months ago

Recently read: "Atheism is a belief like baldness is a hair color."

verity 4 years, 11 months ago

We must have been reading the same thing and that is absolutely correct.

"Atheists are hardcore about their belief that God is false." That doesn't even make sense. If there is no god/God how can he/she be false? And hardcore---what do you mean by that? I just see no more reason to believe that there is a god/God than I do that Santa Claus exists. That's it.

"If you read comments from self-proclaimed atheists you notice they are very public about their expression of faith in themselves. By doing so they set themselves up as the final authority on what is right or wrong." The second sentence does not follow logically from the first.

jayhawklawrence 4 years, 11 months ago

I would have a problem with an atheist who has an agenda to remove religious influence from our government institutions. I think the ACLU has supported this type of atheist.

There are different definitions of atheism and it is probably not as well defined as people think.

If you don't believe in a deity I don't have a problem with that, but if you are personally offended by a Christmas scene on the front yard of the Post Office, I am personally offended by you.

We are less as a nation if we lose our religious heritage to the arguments of lawyers.

I don't have a problem with atheism in some forms, but the kind of atheist that would serve on our Supreme Court is probably not the kind that would be good for our country.

I believe that the belief in or the respect of belief in a supreme being, a loving God, is fundamental to the health of our nation and an essential part of the promise of America. It is something that we can come back to when we fail. It is part of the conscience of our nation. It can be our strength in tough times when we lose our way.

Are we talking about an atheist with an anti-religious agenda or simply one who does not personally believe in a deity? I think we have to be very careful to determine what kind we are dealing with. The wrong kind could hurt us as others have in the past.

We cannot afford this.

Stuart Evans 4 years, 11 months ago

"I would have a problem with an atheist who has an agenda to remove religious influence from our government institutions."

there isn't supposed to be any religious influence on our government institutions...

bruno2 4 years, 11 months ago

"I would have a problem with an atheist who has an agenda to remove religious influence from our government institutions." Is that so? I have a problem with anyone who has an agenda to insert religious influence in our government institutions, and so did the founding fathers. I thought you right wingers were all about defending the Constitution. I guess that only extends to the clauses you support. Would that make you fair weather friends of the Constitution?

boltzmann 4 years, 11 months ago

Don't worry, Tom. Maybe someday there will be a Christian on the Supreme Court and maybe even, maybe, in the White House. :)

grammaddy 4 years, 11 months ago

Got a link? I'd like to know how you came up with "80% white middle-class Christians"?

Corey Keizer 4 years, 11 months ago

Misquoted percentages, misquoted quotes... what standard are you judging your intelligence on?

Opinions don't mean your smart... they just mean you have something everyone else has.

local_interest 4 years, 11 months ago

Wow! Shooting off your mouth and making up statistics as you go along. Does it bother you that "your" percentage has dropped 10% (I rounded down) since 1990? Wonder why all those people would no longer want to be counted in the Christian lot. Could it be associated with making up stuff to fit your agenda, and not following "the good book"?

Stuart Evans 4 years, 11 months ago

I somewhat agree with Tom. I found my own graph.

http://api.ning.com/files/qbQtG0SwmJVQIpRFqCXWReTENi1nnccT-cm29RtMQ79DSWXmtWJrBb7tA8iI5fSSVQhytMVRdH6xKTKZ*G3aK-Zv0MUrINo6/christian_oppression_pie.png?width=350&height=355

preebo 4 years, 11 months ago

We already have a representative body... that is the legislative branch, the House of Representatives to be exact.

Kirk Larson 4 years, 11 months ago

He may be saying "to heck with the ~80% christian", but he would be saying "Yes!" to the 100% christian, other, or neither. THAT's what secularism means. It's good for everyone, not just your particular clique.

Corey Keizer 4 years, 11 months ago

Good job with the copy and paste there champ.

bruno2 4 years, 11 months ago

  1. Agreed, 2. Agreed, 3. Agreed, 4. Compared to Bushisms, nothing, and he corrected himself and said 47, 5. You missed his point, 6. Dumb statement, 7. Like maybe Gates, 8. Sure that wasn't W, sounds like his "Hawaii has always been an island", 9. Missed that one, what's the context, 10. Agreed.

So what does this have to do with an atheist on the SCOTUS?

parrothead8 4 years, 11 months ago

I'll agree with Tom that 80% of Americans identify as Christians (it's actually something like 76-78%), but to claim that all of those are also white and middle-class is ludicrous, bordering on ignorant.

75% of Americans identify as Caucasian. Approximately 45-50% of Americans, based on 2005 income levels, are part of the middle class.

The fact that about 15% of the U.S. population identifies as Hispanic, and most of them are Catholic, makes it even more difficult for the U.S. to be composed "80% of white middle-class Christians."

If Hispanic Catholics make up 10-15% of the population, the middle class makes up 45-50% of the population, white people make up 75% of the population, and Christians make up 78% of the population, there is no way that 80% of the population are "white middle-class Christians."

esteshawk 4 years, 11 months ago

Not 80% of America is white middle-class Christian.

This might help explain your blatent fear of Obama - he represents a changing demographic that you are either blind to or willfully ignoring.

pagan_idolator 4 years, 11 months ago

I agree jayhawklawrence - it would be awesome to have a maypole on the post office lawn on Beltane!

pagan_idolator 4 years, 11 months ago

I agree jayhawklawrence - it would be awesome to have a maypole on the post office lawn on Beltane!

pagan_idolator 4 years, 11 months ago

why the double posts? Am I doing it wrong?

ebyrdstarr 4 years, 11 months ago

Why? Why would it be good to have someone with some kind of religion or spirituality no matter what the faith? I don't understand this view some people hold that believing in ANY kind of religion is inherently better than not believing. One can be quite the moral person, with a strong sense of right and wrong, without believing in some higher power.

BorderRuffian 4 years, 11 months ago

Define 'moral.' How do you determine what is right or wrong? How do you determine your own ethics?

jonas_opines 4 years, 11 months ago

By thinking about them. Or listening to others.

I'm not sure I see how that's any different from picking a book and saying that it holds all of the answers.

For that matter, maybe we could just pick a book. I pick The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

ebyrdstarr 4 years, 11 months ago

Moral- "of or concerned with the judgment principles of right and wrong in relation to human action and character." (American Heritage Dictionary)

The truth is we all determine our own ethics. Anyone who claims to rely on the bible to know what is right and what is wrong still has to apply his or her own judgment on some level. That book is full of contradictory messages about what is moral and just. Ultimately, we all decide for ourselves which behaviors are right and wrong. Some people ascribe their ultimate decisions to a religious text or higher power. I don't.

Adrienne Sanders 4 years, 11 months ago

WTF? Someone's religious beliefs or lack of them should not enter into consideration at all. There's SUPPOSED to be a separation of church and state for pete's sake. The fact that this question is getting asked at all is ridiculous. Just because someone doesn't believe in a higher power has nothing to do with whether they're a moral person capable of making logical decisions based on the law of this country- in fact they're probably better able to do so than a religious person who's going to be biased by what "God" thinks they should do, as sometimes the US laws don't mesh with what God says.

The fact that this even needs to be asked really creeps me out.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 4 years, 11 months ago

RIGHT tf ON!~) What actions have we seen on EARTH that have been beauteous and filled with grace from the powers that be? What religious sect has left gorgeous marks upon our future and the future of the planet? What is immoral about an animal not inclined to believe in a being beyond our understanding? The golden rule is all that matters.

We get to interpret what we can see and understand. That's what we get! We CAN GET NOTHING MORE, beyond beliefs which we cannot prove.

The current "God" is money. It is not concerned at ALL with the golden rule...only with the golden calf.

Get real.

crissamber 4 years, 11 months ago

Why should it matter if he's an atheist?

“No … I’m a religious person, Hindu by denomination, and I don’t believe the atheist point of view. I have nothing against them - they can do what they want as long as they don’t impose their belief upon me.”

That mans comment really came off as ignorant to me...

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 11 months ago

You must think that Jews are ignorant too. Do you ever wonder how so many of them became doctors, lawyers, and college professors? Especialy considering how few of them there are in the first place.

Stuart Evans 4 years, 11 months ago

I don't wonder at all. As a people, Jews are goal & results oriented. This allows them to persevere through tribulation and complete their tasks. I don't think this is because they have any direct line to god. I think it has more to do with their persecutions that they've overcome. On the other hand, there's some pretty lazy Jews out there too.

gatekeeper 4 years, 11 months ago

Just why is this guys comment not ignorant? He doesn't think an athiest should be allowed on the supreme court. That's pretty ignorant. He has nothing against them, but he doesn't think they should be allowed the job because they aren't religious. That's extremely ignorant.

crissamber 4 years, 11 months ago

No I don't think Jews are ignorant. I said the man came off as ignorant... Because he did, maybe he didn't mean it, but it was ignorant.

bruno2 4 years, 11 months ago

His law clerks would be found to have not graduated from law school.

booyalab 4 years, 11 months ago

I was about to post a serious comment, until i saw autie's above. Nice one. I almost forgot, this is on the street.

booyalab 4 years, 11 months ago

I was about to post a serious comment, until i saw autie's above. Nice one. I almost forgot, this is on the street.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 11 months ago

I have a problem with getting to serious in here too.

Newell_Post 4 years, 11 months ago

Roopnarain:

Hindu is not a "denomination." Denominations are subdivisions of protestant Christianity.

Also:

".....no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States..."

    --  United States Constitution, Article VI, section 3

bruno2 4 years, 11 months ago

"Denominations are subdivisions of protestant Christianity." Not so Newell. Denominations are subgroups of any faith. In Hinduism, the major deity or philosophical belief identifies a denomination, which also typically has distinct cultural and religious practices. The major denominations of Hinduism include Shaivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism, Smartism and Halumatha.

Adrienne Sanders 4 years, 11 months ago

I wonder what the result would be if you did an opinion poll asking if people would rather have an atheist supreme court justice or a Hindu supreme court justice.

Ricky_Vaughn 4 years, 11 months ago

Way to tell the Hindu about his own religion...this is exactly why we need an atheist on the Supreme Court!

esteshawk 4 years, 11 months ago

Newell Post, I think actually quoting the Constitution instead of just saying "that's un-Constituational" is not allowed in this chat room.

Boston_Corbett 4 years, 11 months ago

I'm saying Spacehog is my nominee. He will bend some of those justices' minds to see the light of God.

He can then write a book titled: "Fear and Loathing around that damned conference table." :)

bruno2 4 years, 11 months ago

I can't believe the BS questions the LJW has been asking lately. Last week we had the birthers, this week it's the religious right. What crap. In any event, the religious beliefs, or lack thereof, of a candidate or nominee are of NO legitimate consideration for SCOTUS for any other government position. I seem to have to post the founding fathers thoughts on religion on a daily basis these days, sometimes more than once, but here you are again, read and learn.

“...the government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion…” -- Treaty of Tripoli, ratified by President John Adams “Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst.” -- Thomas Paine “…our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry” -- Thomas Jefferson “…religion and Government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.” -- James Madison “The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity.” -- John Adams “The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.” -- Benjamin Franklin

BorderRuffian 4 years, 11 months ago

Still, nowhere in the Constitution is a clause specifying 'freedom FROM religion.' Mostly, the Constitution restricts government from INTERFERING in religion.

bruno2 4 years, 11 months ago

Exactly, and allowing religious representations on public property, unless all religions are given equal access (e.g., Christian crosses, Jewish stars, Muslim moon and stars, etc. as in National Cemeteries) , is covered under that description. Alito made the ridiculous remark that the cross in question was not a representation of Christianity in justifying their seriously incorrect ruling.

esteshawk 4 years, 11 months ago

Ruffian- The Constitution reads "Congress shall make NO law respecting the establishment of religion." It is inherent in being able to choose your own religion that choosing none is an option. If people are upset about the government requiring health insurance, what would happen if the government required religious belief? - Talk about Big Brother.

The Supreme Court - one of the three branches of government, and ultimately, the most powerful (no one can overturn them), - in 1947 found "a wall of separation between the church and state".

whats_going_on 4 years, 11 months ago

I was thinking that too; LJW has been asking some drama-inducing questions lately. Pointless ones, to boot.

ms_canada 4 years, 11 months ago

Took this foto at 6am Aug. 13. wanted to put a foto of my chipmunks on here but theyare so darn small you could not see them. Anyway, I remember when John Kennedy was running for pres. and the big hulabaloo about his being Catholic. Comments like, "We don't want our country run by the Pope, etc." Well, he was elected and the Pope stayed out of the US. Was JFK a good president? that is for you to judge. Time will come when your children or grandchildren may ask, "was our first black President a good one?" also. Only time will tell. An atheist Supreme Court Justice??? If he has an agenda, you can bet it will be well hidden and only come out when it is too late. We always take our chances and make the best choice we can and then leave it up to God/Allah/Jehovah or fate.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 11 months ago

It's not up to "we". The justices of the Supreme Court are nominated by the President and then confirmed with the "advice and consent" (majority vote) of the Senate. But you're sure right about trying to make the best choice and then leave it up to whatever.

bruno2 4 years, 11 months ago

So Christians don't have hidden agendas? What paranoid nonsense!

independant1 4 years, 11 months ago

Let us pray for our first catholic president. (Sister Benedicta)

It worked.

ms_canada 4 years, 11 months ago

Took this foto at 6am Aug. 13. wanted to put a foto of my chipmunks on here but theyare so darn small you could not see them. Anyway, I remember when John Kennedy was running for pres. and the big hulabaloo about his being Catholic. Comments like, "We don't want our country run by the Pope, etc." Well, he was elected and the Pope stayed out of the US. Was JFK a good president? that is for you to judge. Time will come when your children or grandchildren may ask, "was our first black President a good one?" also. Only time will tell. An atheist Supreme Court Justice??? If he has an agenda, you can bet it will be well hidden and only come out when it is too late. We always take our chances and make the best choice we can and then leave it up to God/Allah/Jehovah/Shiva or fate.

ms_canada 4 years, 11 months ago

There is something wrong with this forum this am. I did not, like several others above, not mean to post this twice. "Editor: please fix the problem.

missmagoo 4 years, 11 months ago

Guess that would eliminate the need for "In God We Trust"

jhawk0097 4 years, 11 months ago

We did fine w/o it for almost 200 years.

denak 4 years, 11 months ago

Ideally, a person's religious beliefs, or lack thereof, shouldn't matter. It should be his or her understanding of the Constitutition based on 200+ years of case law that should matter.

With that said, I think the reality is that religion does matter in this country and I think the President would be foolish to try to nominate an individual who doesn't have a religious affliaction. If he picks someone who is openly atheistic, he is going to get a fight on his hands. And considering the long debate on health care reform, the country really can't afford to be side tracked with a circus nomination process.

If religion must come into this process, then he should pick somene who confesses to a generic, non threatening Protestant point of view. That should be enough to satisfy those who want someone who is "religous" but enough also to satisfy those on the left who are afraid that someone who is "religious" will take away their reproductive rights.

Dena

UlyssesPro 4 years, 11 months ago

As long as that atheist is pro life. ;)

But seriously, religious issues in the court are really the least of our problems. What about that new campaign finance bs? We need an anti-corporate judge more than an atheist.

Now what about a vegetarian judge? That's something to get excited about.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 11 months ago

That would probably be a good idea, but the Senate would never confirm that appointment.

beatrice 4 years, 11 months ago

“No … - they can do what they want as long as they don’t impose their belief upon me.”

I love it. Someone saying "no," and following it up with the idea that they don't want others to "impose their belief." Well, by saying "no," isn't that exactly what you are doing, Mr. Khemraj, imposing your beliefs on others?

I don't care if he selects a vegan lesbian librarian atheist of non-anglo descent, as long as the person is wise rather than foolish, and as long as they put country above party.

Ceallach 4 years, 11 months ago

Put country above party? Whoa now bea, that's radical thinking!

yourworstnightmare 4 years, 11 months ago

Absolutely not. Atheists have no place in America. The Constitution says so. By "separation of church and state" the founders actually meant the opposite if you read it in the context of the American English of 1780.

They meant that the state and the church should together be separated from atheists and free thinkers.

It is often misinterpreted as "separation of the church from the state". This is wrong. The founding fathers clearly meant the opposite.

bruno2 4 years, 11 months ago

Worst you ignorant fool! Where does the Constitution say anything like what you state. Here's what it does say:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

For you personally, the words of the founding fathers, see if you can misconstrue these tidbits:

"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church & State." -- Thomas Jefferson “...the government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion…” -- Treaty of Tripoli, ratified by President John Adams “Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst.” -- Thomas Paine “…our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry” -- Thomas Jefferson “…religion and Government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.” -- James Madison “The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity.” -- John Adams “The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.” -- Benjamin Franklin

Kirk Larson 4 years, 11 months ago

I always liked Franklin's "More good has been done by the construction of lighthouses than churches."

bruno2 4 years, 11 months ago

So what part of Jefferson's "wall of separation" don't you understand? I am sure you will not reply and are far too self-important to admit your willful ignorance.

yourworstnightmare 4 years, 11 months ago

bruno2,

I forgot to use my sarcasm font. Everything you say is correct. I was in fact mocking the absurdity of those who deny what the Constitution actually says by using "context of the late 18th century" lame excuse.

It was meant to be mocking humor. However, the fact that I was taken seriously speaks to the extreme positions taken by nutty right-wing christians. Compared to what they actually believe, my sarcastic posting seemed plausible.

bruno2 4 years, 11 months ago

Thank you for the clarification, and my apologies for flying off the handle. It really didn't sound like you, but I did take it seriously.

Flap Doodle 4 years, 11 months ago

Does Dear Leader's illegal alien aunt still need a job?

yourworstnightmare 4 years, 11 months ago

snack_crap_pop,

The president is near! The president is near!

RiverCityConservative 4 years, 11 months ago

I think it would be great, but it should not be a litmus test.

esteshawk 4 years, 11 months ago

The Constitution specifically prohibits it as a litmus test. (Article VI)

verity 4 years, 11 months ago

Who knows, we might have an atheist(s) on the Supreme Court right now.

Just from comments on this board, I get the idea that there are a lot of people who are atheists, but don't necessarily go around proclaiming it to the world.

As for the question---Dumbest. Question. Ever. Religion or lack of it has nothing to do with judging what is constitutional. Since when do we have a religious test for holding a public position? Isn't that unconstitutional?

Stuart Evans 4 years, 11 months ago

the estimates are about 16% of the population being atheist or agnostic. with those figures, it seems odd that 99% of our elected officials are religious. Me thinks some of our elected officials are probably lying about their beliefs to pander to the 84% who are religious.

werekoala 4 years, 11 months ago

Wasn't there a study a few years back that said more people would vote for a homosexual for president than an atheist? I always thought that was funny... The way we order our prejudices. Like we hate Messikins, but REALLY hate them Ay-rab Mooslims. But at least they ain't homersexshuls. That's just nasty. But even that's better than someone who doesn't believe in Gawd.

I guess what I don't get is this:

From the perspective of a Christian, why is an atheist more objectionable than, say, a Hindu? They both deny the existence of your God, right?

Why is it somehow better that the Hindu has A supernatural belief, even though you think it's competely wrong (and perhaps even inspired by the Devil)?

verity 4 years, 11 months ago

I'm not sure who said this, so I can't attribute, but---you're all atheists, I just believe in one less god than you do.

whats_going_on 4 years, 11 months ago

I was thinking about the second original comment up there.

If he doesn't want an athiest appointed because this person apparently is going to impose beliefs...what if it were a Christian person? Would he feel the same way? They are of a different religion, so would he again assume that they are going to do the same? What if he/she were Muslim? Even though it's HIS belief, it's still apparently imposing a belief, which he claims to be against.

Makes no sense.

somedude20 4 years, 11 months ago

is there any real proof that "God" and "Jesus" exists? No other than stories and hoaxes there is no proof. Ladies and gentleman, the Bible is not proof just like "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is not proof of alien life. So, what then makes religious people more right than non believers? I can't disprove it (but the Royals have a DeJesus) so then there should be no problem with it. The court, hell this country is littered with people pushing their religious values all of the time

Ceallach 4 years, 11 months ago

The Bible is one thing, but you really need to stand down when it comes to The Hitchhiker's Guide! We don't need the kind of trouble that would stir up.

tomatogrower 4 years, 11 months ago

Why should their religion matter? The constitution does not belong to any one religion.

beatrice 4 years, 11 months ago

That is right. It belongs to all Christians. Just ask them.

Bill Lee 4 years, 11 months ago

Questions about religion and politics just bring out the worst in people. 90% of the posts above are a total waste of time and effort.

Ceallach 4 years, 11 months ago

"90% of the posts above are a total waste of time and effort."

I believe that is a stated requirement in the users guide to all things LJW.

leapinlemur 4 years, 11 months ago

Better question: Should the President (or anyone) care about what beliefs or lack of beliefs a Supreme Court Justice has?

In my opinion, if you even mention your beliefs in the context of this position you should be disqualified.

Ceallach 4 years, 11 months ago

Well, as long as Whoopie agrees that changes everything . . . I didn't even know she had been a slave.

Corey Keizer 4 years, 11 months ago

I think he should. It'll balance things out. You Christians have enough people in politics right now, and in the courts.

thusspokezarathustra 4 years, 11 months ago

Thomas Jefferson 1786, "therefore, the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to the offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow citizens he has a natural right;"

ivalueamerica 4 years, 11 months ago

I think the very question is absurd to ask in this day and age. Religion has no place in setting law.

And the more the churches want to be involved in politics, the louder the cries of tax the church will be raised.

TAX THE CHURCHES

bruno2 4 years, 11 months ago

Considering the electioneering from the pulpit happening in the religious right churches, their tax-exempt status should have been revoked long ago.

somedude20 4 years, 11 months ago

One of the best examples of that is the movie "Whats the Matter with Kansas." Some church around Wichita threw out their "preacher" because he preached from the pulpit and all that junk. Well, he started preaching at that Cowboy Land" place for a few months before it closed. Now the kicker is that the "Cowboy" place took a lot of money from the preacher and his "flock" Got Karma?

funkdog1 4 years, 11 months ago

More than ten percent of Americans now identify themselves as atheist or agnostic. This is not a "small percentage." Those who identify themselves as Jewish make up only a little over 2 percent of the country.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/14/AR2007091402199.html

esj2003 4 years, 11 months ago

Europe is way ahead of America in this category. Only 30-something percent of the British still believe in a God. Give it a Google.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 11 months ago

I'm not so sure the polls are all that accurate. That's just the way the pollster's question was answered. Another contributing factor is in exactly how the question was phrased in the first place.

For instance, if I were to condruct a poll and ask, "Are you prejudiced against any minorities?", I am sure that the majority would answer "No." But deep down, that's not the way many people really think.

thusspokezarathustra 4 years, 11 months ago

If the far-left should take a lesson from a far-right media shill because she happens to claim to be an atheist then the far- right should take a lesson from the Center for Progressive Christianity because they are Christians.

MojoCatnip 4 years, 11 months ago

I heart bruno2! Critical thinker! Accurate and pertinent information! So refreshing! Take that suckas!

tomatogrower 4 years, 11 months ago

Again this is a great column about why religion and government should not mix. Jon Meacham The Religious Case for Church-State Separation

http://www.newsweek.com/id/236904

verity 4 years, 11 months ago

A great article.

Many people of faith think the same way.

ebyrdstarr 4 years, 11 months ago

I apologize in advance if my response to this comes off as snarky, but I just can't figure out a way to formulate my question without it seeming obnoxious.

Are you seriously saying it just never occurred to you to think that an atheist could be a good and moral person?

I guess if that really is what you're saying, I don't care if I do seem obnoxious because that would be a really offensive and obnoxious attitude to have about atheists and agnostics.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 4 years, 11 months ago

All one needs is a belief in the golden rule. The rest is BSpeculation.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 11 months ago

A bit of trivia - the golden rule is pretty much a religious statement, right out of the Jewish Talmud:

"What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour. This is the whole Torah; all the rest is commentary. Go and learn it." - Hillel, Talmud, Shabbath 31a

ebyrdstarr 4 years, 11 months ago

How about some more trivia: the golden rule in some form or another can be found in pretty much every major and minor ancient philosophy and religion. Ancient Egypt, Greece, India, etc. It's a golden rule because it has seemed to transcend most cultures and religions.

notaubermime 4 years, 11 months ago

If one is not capable of independently determining what is right and wrong... how does one know which religion to believe in?

jayhawklawrence 4 years, 11 months ago

There are a few people on here today who think they are real smart on this issue and were offended by my comments. I used to think that being smart was not believing in God. I know now that that was the stupid time in my life.

Our religious heritage is woven into the fabric of our nation.

Almost everyday before I leave for work I pray and open my businessman's topical Bible. Before I do I ask God for guidance and insight. Here are the words I found today.

When You Need Healing:

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53: 4,5

I am sorry that some of you still fear the influence of religion in our nations institutions. For me it is the hope of our nation.

Stuart Evans 4 years, 11 months ago

This is one of the reasons I know that there is no god.

"According to UNICEF, 24,000 children die each day due to poverty."

I'm sure there must be a heavenly point to that really awful fact....

jhawk0097 4 years, 11 months ago

Can't have a conversation about atheism w/o a "reformed" Christian popping in. Hi Kirk.

jonas_opines 4 years, 11 months ago

"I used to think that being smart was not believing in God. I know now that that was the stupid time in my life."

I wonder what you'll know about yourself 20 years from now?

Stuart Evans 4 years, 11 months ago

why oh why can't we have a 'Like' Button?

pagan_idolator 4 years, 11 months ago

We get it jayhawklawrence - the only religion you think belongs in government is Christian.

Stuart Evans 4 years, 11 months ago

if you need one, there are about 2,500 or so to choose from.

banksie 4 years, 11 months ago

While we are throwing out TJ quotes here is a gem:

"A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government."

-Thomas Jefferson

igby 4 years, 11 months ago

First and foremost, lawyers are all scumbags at heart, regardless of how you slice them, they're all bought and sold like hookers. That's why it's almost a given that all political fanfare be given to the selection of the most high corrupt head of the most high court of whores. It doesn't matter who's on the court because all are bought and paid for. Why should their belief of God or not have any bearing on the selection.

TopJayhawk 4 years, 11 months ago

No. Like it or not, believe it or not, this country was founded on a belief in God. Now everyone come out of the woodwork and make fun of me. But if you read the Constitution and especially the personnal writings of the Founding Fathers, it is clear.

bruno2 4 years, 11 months ago

See my response to KS below and shut up.

TopJayhawk 4 years, 11 months ago

No. Like it or not, believe it or not, this country was founded on a belief in God. Now everyone come out of the woodwork and make fun of me. But if you read the Constitution and especially the personnal writings of the Founding Fathers, it is clear.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 4 years, 11 months ago

No kidding? You mean...like just about every OTHER government? I guess that makes us special!~)

bruno2 4 years, 11 months ago

TJH, I have indeed read the writings of the founding fathers, extensively. From your statement, it is abundantly clear to me that you have not. So, for your edification and reading enjoyment, I offer a few direct quotes for your consideration the put the lie to your declarations. I suspect you will remain pig-headed in your beliefs regardless of having the proof of their falsehood in front of you. If so, you are willfully ignorant and I can be of no further assistance to your rehabilitation.

Benjamin Franklin

“I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life I absented myself from Christian assemblies.

The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason: The Morning Daylight appears plainer when you put out your Candle.

Lighthouses are more helpful than churches.”

Thomas Jefferson

“Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the common law.

Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.

Religions are all alike - founded upon fables and mythologies.

The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

The clergy, by getting themselves established by law and ingrafted into the machine of government, have been a very formidable engine against the civil and religious rights of man.

History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.

The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.”

James Madison

“The civil government … functions with complete success … by the total separation of the Church from the State.

Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize, every expanded prospect.

During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.”

independant1 4 years, 11 months ago

There are no atheists in a foxhole.

Why mess with the balance?

5 Catholics 2 Jewish 1 Episcopalian 1 Protestant

There is no argument in the world carries the hatred that a religious belief one does. The more learned a man is the less consideration he has for another man’s belief. (Will Rogers)

KS 4 years, 11 months ago

This country was founded on Judeo/Christain philosophy. If you don't like the club, give up your memebership and leave.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 4 years, 11 months ago

Why, that's mighty Rodeo/Cristain of you. pa'dn'!~)

bruno2 4 years, 11 months ago

BS, KS. One more time, read it and weep:

Let’s let the founding fathers speak for themselves: "I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church & State." -- Thomas Jefferson “...the government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion…” -- Treaty of Tripoli, ratified by President John Adams “Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst.” -- Thomas Paine “…our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry” -- Thomas Jefferson “…religion and Government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.” -- James Madison “The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity.” -- John Adams “The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.” -- Benjamin Franklin

America was founded on religious freedom, not Christianity.

independant1 4 years, 11 months ago

You mean I read all that crap in western civ for nuttin?

Richard Heckler 4 years, 11 months ago

Absolutely !!!!!!!!!!

It's called diversity.

jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

The founders were likely Deists of some sort, but not necessarily Christians.

However, they clearly believed in religious freedom, and crafted the Constitution to protect it.

"All men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator, ..." is the only place I'm aware of religion in the founding documents, and it isn't in the Constitution proper.

They certainly didn't intend for this to be a "Christian nation".

Stuart Evans 4 years, 11 months ago

my brother and I share the same creators; mom & dad.

Jay_lo 4 years, 11 months ago

"All men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator..."

I am seeing arguments that Atheism is a religion and thus the rights of those with this belief must be respected by not forcing them to endure any form of favortism by goverment towards any other religion. Does this practice not indeed allow favoritism for the beliefs of the Athiests?

As the statement above reads, "and endowed by their Creator". If Atheists truly believe that they have no Creator, then how can they also believe that this applies to them and their so called religious beliefs.

I think that the nation is already catering to the views of the Atheists to such an extent, that there would really be no need to have someone who specifically shares their viewpoint on the Supreme Court.

jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

If you believe that all men were created equal, ... then it shouldn't matter what they believe.

bruno2 4 years, 11 months ago

Lo, "their Creator" may be the Big Bang, an alien, the flying spaghetti monster, whatever, you still don't get to decide for them AND you have no right to limit their rights...

ivalueamerica 4 years, 11 months ago

jay-lo, you show great ignorance.

I am a Christian, but I can certainly imagine that a non Christian was created. Perhaps the creator is scientific, perhaps it is his own consciousness. I am so dissapointed that so many of my fellow Christians can not for one moment think that anything but what they see, think, feel and believe is the only way anyone can see think feel or believe.

Christians like you scare me and I would much rather see an Athiest on the Supreme court than a closed minded false witness such as yourself.

Jay_lo 4 years, 11 months ago

I am glad that I am so ignorant that I scare you.

They were just questions for debate. I thought maybe someone might like to make a logical argument as to their validity or nonvalidity, but I see that all that it did is bring out the name callers who for some unknown reason consider themselves the perfect Christians with all the answers, that everyone needs to pattern themselves after.

Persons such as yourself are the ones I would call closed minded. I said "If Atheist truly believe", I did not say "I believe," and yet you chose to read it in a totally different context so that you would have the chance to jump up on your high horse and call me a false witness, closed minded and ignorant.

I nearly appreciated bruno2's answer because it made sense right up to the point where they stated that I had no right to limit their rights. Again, I never said that I was in favor of doing so, I only questioned how "they" could not believe they had a creator, and yet could expect rights afforded to those who were created. I did, upon writing that statement have a short sided view of what creator might entail, thinking only in terms of some type of being.

The only statement I made was the last one, which I will stand by simply because it is what is currently happening in America. Legal challenges by Atheists and others against anything remotely resembling a public display of belief in anything, almost on a daily basis.

bruno2 4 years, 11 months ago

Some valid points lo, but Jafs had it right. The fatal flaw in your logic is that the founding fathers believed all men are endowed by their creator. Therefore, this was a statement of their (the founding fathers) beliefs, and not dependent upon the beliefs of any other of the "all men". Atheists don't have to believe anything to be afforded (and to expect) the same rights. As far as an assault on public display of beliefs from atheists, I don't buy it. They don't seem to care if you have a big tent meeting and sing hallelujah, they just don't want their tax dollars to pay for it nor their government to endorse it. Makes sense to me.

independant1 4 years, 11 months ago

that's a boatload of crap, when in Rome...has a nice ring

when I was out of country, was coached on how to observe custom, saved a lot of disrespect, misunderstanding, trouble. learned a boatload of crap. including all the wars USA didn't win. Also learned people want to come here and if already experienced our nacent culture (everything goes) wanted to come back. It's called freedom

there is not much so christian in xmas, the most successful retail celebration of the year, that the casual passerby visitor or citizen need not be offended by a manger scene for crissake. no need to get oones panties in a bind.

the one thing i couldn't do in phillipines was the oxtail soup. only served at the highest of celebrations. the soup was great but when you dip the tail vertebra in the shrimp egg sauce it smells like $h1t. i guess that's just the payback you back for slaughtering the beast that ploughs the rice paddy. but i gagged my way through to show respect. avoid that stuff if you have a weak stomach or easy gag reflex. they didn't get that one from the spanish.

wait a minute I found an obscure tidbit of hsitory about a ship of Atheists that were forced out of Babblonya and formed a colony in what is now greenwich village, ny

If you can take the hot lead enema, then you can cast the first stone. (Lenny Bruce)

pagan_idolator 4 years, 11 months ago

I don't get my panties in a bind when I see a manger scene. I don't mind if people decorate their homes and businesses for Christmas complete with the sweet little baby Jesus. I DO mind if they have those same things at the courthouse, post office or any other government building. I would ask Christians how they would feel if they went to the post office on say, Yule, and there was a giant pentacle with a statue of Odin or a Goddess and a giant sign stating Happy Yule! I am Wiccan, it is the path I have chosen for myself and I respect other peoples choice of religion. I don't feel the need to impose my beliefs on other people either on my own or through public displays on government property. Also - and this is just a personal pet peeve so feel free to ignore it - I hate when people use X instead of Christ. A little respect can go a long way to mending the gap between us.

pagan_idolator 4 years, 11 months ago

I should add I also respect people whose choice is to not believe in a Deity or Deities

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 11 months ago

Using the X for Christ is not a disrepectrul thing. And I can prove it because I know how to clip and paste from Wikipedia:

Martin likewise relates the use of "Xmas" to his growing concerns of increasing commercialization and secularization of one of Christianity's highest holy day.[14] Bratcher posits that those who dislike abbreviating the word are unfamiliar with a long history of Christians using X in place of "Christ" for various purposes.

The word "Christ" and its compounds, including "Christmas", have been abbreviated in English for at least the past 1,000 years, long before the modern "Xmas" was commonly used. "Christ" was often written as "XP" or "Xt"; there are references in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as far back as AD 1021. This X and P arose as the uppercase forms of the Greek letters χ and ρ used in ancient abbreviations for Χριστος (Greek for "Christ"), and are still widely seen in many Eastern Orthodox icons depicting Jesus Christ. The labarum, an amalgamation of the two Greek letters rendered as ☧, is a symbol often used to represent Christ in Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Christian Churches.[15]

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and the OED Supplement have cited usages of "X-" or "Xp-" for "Christ-" as early as 1485. The terms "Xpian" and "Xtian" have also been used for "Christian". The dictionary further cites usage of "Xtianity" for "Christianity" from 1634. According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage, most of the evidence for these words comes from "educated Englishmen who knew their Greek".[8]

In ancient Christian art, χ and χρ are abbreviations for Christ's name.[16] In many manuscripts of the New Testament and icons, X is an abbreviation for Christos,[citation needed] as is XC (the first and last letters in Greek, using the lunate sigma);[17] compare IC for Jesus in Greek.

pagan_idolator 4 years, 11 months ago

I did not know that. Not sure if it makes me feel better or not tho.

independant1 4 years, 11 months ago

As if history wasn't written badly enough, let's rewrite it even worse.

Take my point one step further, this is a culture founded upon judeo christian stuff/philosphy. Over time stuff evolved into less than religious observance/festivities nonetheless observed.

It the vikings had stayed and colonized the scene on the courthouse lawn would surely be different.

So I say, that statue of mother earth or Odin ain't so offensive that you need get your panties in a bind.

But america's new wave favorite pastime is bashing only chrstiainty/all flavors, painting all things christian bad and tagging it to the republican party. There are as many christian democrats as christian republicans. The manger scene on the courthouse lawn ain't a gnit on a gnat. It's a benign tradition that's lost alot of if not most of it's original meaning.

We ignore Animist,Hindu,Budist,anything not christian,Muslim (if not downright scared) bashing. It's almost as if we hate our roots but everybody else roots don't seem to bother us.

Now how bout we become equal opportunity bashers get those muslims straight about freedom of religion/human rights? Or do they take better care of thier woman and shelter them from the brute world? Sharia law for all?

Winter Holiday bawhumbug. MERRY XMAS!

The kicker is, what other countries eschew their heritage and cultural symbols? Uh let's see uh Canada/nope, umm Switzerland/nope, uh Denmark/nope, uh how bout Saudi Arabia/uh uh,Venezuela/nope,Cuba/maybe they don't allow anything xristlike.

While we're at it how about the big taboo of illustrating anything or criticism of symbols and things muslim? Open season on things Christ and christian bashing, where's equal opportunity when it comes to things islamic? That culture and their political systems are still locked in previous century (can't decide which one 16th, 18th?).

But then who gives a rat's petutie? (ROEDAPPLE)

This is america, anything goes (except when it comes to offending muslims, muslim symbols, illustrating you know who etc)

I say get em all or leave em all alone. Later, I'm gonna draw a picture of ____h but don't worry I own't show anyone, wouldn't want to offend.

jayhawklawrence 4 years, 11 months ago

I want to see a return of prayer in public schools.

I would also like to see the "Pledge of Allegiance" recited at the start of the schoold day. I have nothing against minor modifications.

I think an emphasis on exercise at the start of the school day and more emphasis on physical discipline would be a good idea in the worlds most obese and out of shape nation.

We have many social ills because we are not doing such a good job.

Letting a small minority of Christian/God haters pummel our courts with the help of the ACLU does not appear to have been helpful.

pagan_idolator 4 years, 11 months ago

Would it be okay with you jayhawklawrence if those prayers were to Allah, or Odin, or Morrigan? How about if they were Jewish prayers? Or can they only be prayers to the Christian God? The social ills are largely due to not such a good job in the home. If the percentage of Christians is 80% then we should be having a small amount of social ills according to your logic. Can Christianity be brought down just by not allowing prayers in school? I somehow doubt that. Just because I am not Christian does not mean I am bashing it. I would not expect you to be made to observe my religious rites and rituals any more than I should be made to observe yours. I agree there is a certain amount of Christian bashing that goes on but it is not bashing to not follow a certain religion and to not want a government sanctioned religion. I can always tell when certain people are newly converted to Wicca - they seem to go through a period of hating all things Christian. It takes awhile for them to understand that they don't have to be a Christian but that they also don't have to hate the Christians either. As it says in the Wiccan Rede: You must live and let live, fairly take and fairly give. There is room for us all.

esteshawk 4 years, 11 months ago

Yes - there are nine justices, and atheist's make up about 15% of the population. Means we're due for some representation.

jayhawklawrence 4 years, 11 months ago

If Obama were to appoint an avowed atheist to the court, it would be the end of his political career.

We are not talking about someone who doubts the existence of God. We are talking about someone who has an agenda to destroy the influence of religion in our government institutions and they will succeed where people are naivete and easily manipulated.

There are always plenty of these kinds of people that can be recruited to work for free.

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