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Thread: What is right, religion, faith, and where do we go next? (AIB Rapture)

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    What is right, religion, faith, and where do we go next? (AIB Rapture)

    JordanB made some good points in the rapture thread, but it got me wondering about what people truly believe in regards to faith, religion, the right way to live your life, and the whole heaven and hell thing.

    What are your thoughts on this?
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  2. #2
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Well, I managed to stay out of the Rapture thread since it went spiraling off into a somewhat heated debate with some pretty hard thumpin on the Bible-thumpers. I found it humorous that there's a site dedicated to indexing a Rapture. I don't believe in a rapture where people are suddenly sucked-up like in the movies, and I sure as hell don't believe that we can predict it. For those of you familiar with the Bible, Revelation is probably one of the most difficult things to read and understand as it is laced with imagery and symbolism throughout (it contains discussion of the 'end days'). I'll be the first to say I don't understand most of it.

    I am an active Christian, so I was somewhat offended by remarks made in the other thread. Just about every religion (even your secular humanists and such) have their dark moments. Most Christians (myself included) don't go around thumping people on the head with Bibles telling them that their going to hell. You will also find that most Christians are embarrassed by jackasses like "Dr" James Dobson and that guy that gets his rocks-off to gay teletubbies and SpongeBob.

    Now, to answer the question. I believe in a heaven AND a hell. It seems silly to believe in one, but not the other. I also have a real issue with hypocritical & hollier than thou Christians (I call them Sunday morning Christians). I believe Christians should be compassionate and examples of the best of humanity, which is why I consider myself a liberal Christian. I think we need to spend more time helping people out and less time telling people that they are evil and going to hell. I think someone doing good works does a lot more to forward Christianity than preaching on a corner.

    How my Christian view affects my politics:

    I believe that all religion needs to stay as far away from government as possible.

    I'm OK with legalized abortion. I don't like it, but I don't think it's the government's place to prohibit this.

    I don't think we should have prayer in public schools, but that perhaps a "metatative moment" would be OK and not offend anyone.

    People getting their panties in a wad over "God" in the pledge and on money need to get a life. I don't know how they survive everyday life if they are that easily offended.

    I don't have a problem with the 10 Commandments being displayed, so long as other historical law references like the Hamarabbi Code, Magna Carta, and Bill of Rights are right up there with it.

    I support social welfare programs, but we must be careful that we give a lift rather than a crutch. Are we really helping if we aren't giving people a way to improve themselves?

    I vote about 25% republican and about 75% democrat.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Suburb Repairman

    I'm OK with legalized abortion. I don't like it, but I don't think it's the government's place to prohibit this.
    Why do you think this? (just wondering, not saying your wrong or right).

    What about the legalization of marijuana or other drugs?
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  4. #4
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    Why do you think this? (just wondering, not saying your wrong or right).

    What about the legalization of marijuana or other drugs?
    Moderator note:
    Be careful with this thread folks....make sure it doesn't end up violating:

    Quote Originally posted by Cyburbia Rules
    2.16 Religion, proselytizing and witnessing
    Messages that describe and discuss personal faith and beliefs are permitted. Proselytizing and witnessing are discouraged. Forcibly pushing a brand of religion, or lack thereof, on other users, is not permitted.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by NHPlanner
    Moderator note:
    Be careful with this thread folks....make sure it doesn't end up violating:

    [Disclaimer] I am just asking general question, and as stated before, when it comes to religion, I personally do not judge others or push religion choices onto others. I did post this question as a question to better explore the diversity in beliefs. Even though I am catholic, there are several aspects of the Catholic Church that I don’t agree with, and I don’t hide these. As for the abortion question, I thought that it was interesting that he does not agree with it, but does not feel that the gov. should prohibit it. As for marijuana I think that it should be legalized and regulated by the federal gov. I have no intention on debating any of the answers, but I do feel that it is more than acceptable to further inquire about statements expressed on here without judging. [/Disclaimer]
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

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    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Off-topic:
    michaelskis, I agree with Repairman on the abortion kick.

    I am a practicing Catholic. The Catholic church believes life is created at conception and therfore, termination of that life is wrong. I agree with the Catholic Church, however!!!!!!! I can't and don't want to force my beliefs on life and abortion on others who do not have those similar beliefs.

    I believe there are cases when abortion is appropriate: mother's life/health is in danger, baby is brain dead or mortally retarded in the womb, victim of incest, rape, etc. Those are special exceptions. For my wife and I, we will not use abortion as a contraceptive, but we do believe the above options are necessary when grave situations occur.

    As for the Pro-choicers: the "my body, my choice" crowd. I believe they are correct and are able to make the decision that they feel is the proper one. I will never judge someone for their choices in life, they will know if they made the right decision....they don't need me telling them my opinion.


    Back on topic:

    Religion is a supportive thing. It's great to meet the diverse parishners and participate in the community of the church. My current church has wonderful priests who give probably the best homilies I've ever heard. I have trouble with the concept of heaven and hell. I can't see an eternal ending decided for my soul based only upon my less than 100 years in the physical world. I believe that I will be a poor parent if I don't take my kids to church because I have a responsibility to expose them to the ideas of the church so that they are able to decide if they find value in religion for themselves as they mature.

    In my basic understanding of all the worlds major religions, the ultimate goal is to perform deeds that benefit community, nature, family and your spirit will reach perfection. With that understanding, all major world religions are equal. They just have different paths and rituals to reach enlightenment.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

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    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    [Disclaimer] I am just asking general question, and as stated before, when it comes to religion, I personally do not judge others or push religion choices onto others. I did post this question as a question to better explore the diversity in beliefs. Even though I am catholic, there are several aspects of the Catholic Church that I don’t agree with, and I don’t hide these. As for the abortion question, I thought that it was interesting that he does not agree with it, but does not feel that the gov. should prohibit it. As for marijuana I think that it should be legalized and regulated by the federal gov. I have no intention on debating any of the answers, but I do feel that it is more than acceptable to further inquire about statements expressed on here without judging. [/Disclaimer]
    I understand where you're coming from, and no one has crossed the line yet....this topic just has the potential get off track.....just want to make sure people don't cross the line in terms of the Forum Rules and Policies.....
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  8. #8
    I can't bring myself to accept the idea of heaven or hell, that's a decision based from my intuition and a continuing education to understand the bible as historical and cultural documents. I think there is an afterlife but I don't think it's cut and dry. As for religion, my parents raised us with the freedom to develop our own ideas about what religion, if any, is right for ourselves. I've been to a few churches in my time and can say I wouldn't return to 99% of them. When I was a kid I would go to Catholic church once in a while with my friends, I went out of a nutural curiosity about the religion because my nieghbor was a priest.

    I like Quakers
    Today I'm reading about Quakers and have gone to a few unprogrammed meetings (read liberal quakers). I appreciate the emphasis on works, sorry Paul. Quakers seem to get more done with fewer people. I also like the fact that Quakers are accepting of indigenous belief systems and think that travel and crosscultural experience is transformational to a persons growth and understanding of the complexities of the world. But we don't need Quakers for that! It's all the do-gooder stuff they do like helping with sanitary conditions without shoveling their beliefs down locals throats. I like works, I respect others faith and belief systems.

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by boiker
    In my basic understanding of all the worlds major religions, the ultimate goal is to perform deeds that benefit community, nature, family and your spirit will reach perfection. With that understanding, all major world religions are equal. They just have different paths and rituals to reach enlightenment.
    I agree with you completely on this. I was raised Luthern, and watched as several people would push their religion off onto others. I took the RCIA classes when I was finishing up college, and now I am Catholic. Although the I feel most ‘connected to God’ during the Catholic mass, there are some church teachings that I don’t agree with. I agree with your choices in regards to abortion, and that abortion should not be uses as birth control.

    I also believe in other aspects of other religions, such as there is a physical force (call it t he holly spirit or name of your choice) that interacts with everything in the environment. This also connects well with Feng Shui, and trying to find a balance in life.

    I also believe in heaven, and the after life.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

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    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by The Irish One
    It's all the do-gooder stuff they do like helping with sanitary conditions without shoveling their beliefs down locals throats. I like works, I respect others faith and belief systems.
    I have come to believe that what you REALLY believe will be shown in your "works". Folks who say they "believe" in x, y, or z but never DO anything about it don't really believe in it. Where you put your time, money, and energy shows what you really and truly believe in. All that other stuff -- their "religion" -- I think of that as "a working mental model". I think all religion is an attempt to come up with a mental model for how things work. For example, forgiveness is a very practical thing but it is counter-intuitive and many people will not try it without being "sold" on it. But foregiveness is not ...um...just "for" the person you forgive. No, it probably does the person who is doing the forgiving more good than the person being forgiven: it means you are no longer putting your psychic energy and what not into this negative thing, letting it drain the life out of of you. Some people carry so much psychological and emotional baggage around that it is like most of their mind (soul, whatever) is zoned as a "graveyard" and you cannot put new development there. Forgiveness is like rezoning it and letting new development occur and having a fuller life because of it.

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Moderator note:
    You should be okay with this thread. There's no problem with discussing and debating personal beliefs and religion in general. The rule is there to prevent obnoxious witnessing, preaching, and seeking of converts. Roundtable discussion of religion is fine, but the online equivalent of street preaching or JW/LDS-type door-to-door witnessing is not.

    OK OP: "Let's talk about spirituality, religion and G*d."
    OK OP: "Why do some Catholics put a greater emphasis on Mary than God?"
    OK OP: "Do you keep a Kosher diet? Why?"
    Bad OP: "I saw the light and have accepted Jesus as my personal lord and savior, and I want you to, also."
    Bad OP: "[The Bible Thread] I will now post the book of Genesis. 1) In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth ..."

    OK followup: "I'm a Christian, because ..."
    OK followup: "I'm an athiest, because ..."
    OK followup: "I believe Christianity is the only true faith, because ..."
    OK followup: "I have to disagree. I don't think there is a Trinity, because ..."
    Bad followup: "You are all fools! Christianity is the only true faith, and those that do not accept Jesus as their personal savior and the King James Bible as the holy word of God will be cast into the lake of fire!"
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Yes I hate abortion and can't imagine why anyone would like it. It's a brutal practice. Yet, outlawing it means going back to the days when women were sitting on newspapers and getting impaled on rusty coathooks. That's even more brutal.

    So abortion should be legal, but women need to be given better options to make it easier for them to chose not to abort their children. When Clinton was elected, he said he wanted abortion to be "safe, legal, and rare" and abortion rates went down under him. They've gone up under Bush.

    As for drugs... I think all should be legal. Not just harmless ones like weed. Yes, drugs are harmful to society, but the drug war is even more harmful. America now has the highest incarceration rate in the world. A greater percentage of Americans are behind bars than Russians, North Koreans, or Chinese, and that's a grave problem. Prohibition was silly and it was repealed. The drug laws are just as silly and, too, need to be repealed.

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    Cyburbian MitchBaby's avatar
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    Call it a personal observation, and please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, and I do not seek to offend anyone by saying this at all... I've found that American's, in general, are far more religous than Canadians. I'm spiritual, not religous. too much has happened in my life to attribute it to chance, but I'm not willing to place a title, worship, or conform to a specific line of thought. However, I find that more American's are willing to conform to strong religous beliefs and sometimes that puzzles me.

    What is it about the culture, society, etc that makes the difference so pronounced? For example, in Canada, most people though not all support same sex marriage whereas in the USA, the percentages are almost exactly reversed and most of the time its associated with the religous population.

    Call it a question and a comment rolled into one...
    Mitchbaby: Proud to be a :canada: planner and a :canada: surfer

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    I am not religious myself, but that is my choice and I don't want anyone to tell me who or what to believe in. I have the same feelings when it comes to religious people - if someone is religious and that gives them strength then thats good, as long as they don't foist their views upon me.

    There are a lot of religious people in this world who get great strength from their faith (all faiths) and I respect that. And there are a lot of facets in many religions that I admire as well, its just not for me.

    For these reasons I have always been slightly suspicious of missionaries and the like. My mum was an RE (Religious Education) teacher here and used to have arguments on the doorstep with Jehovah's Witnesses when they came around, as she knew the pieces of scripture that they quoted from and could quote back. But thats not for me, although it was funny to listen

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    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    Yes I hate abortion and can't imagine why anyone would like it. It's a brutal practice. Yet, outlawing it means going back to the days when women were sitting on newspapers and getting impaled on rusty coathooks. That's even more brutal.

    So abortion should be legal, but women need to be given better options to make it easier for them to chose not to abort their children. When Clinton was elected, he said he wanted abortion to be "safe, legal, and rare" and abortion rates went down under him. They've gone up under Bush.

    As for drugs... I think all should be legal. Not just harmless ones like weed. Yes, drugs are harmful to society, but the drug war is even more harmful. America now has the highest incarceration rate in the world. A greater percentage of Americans are behind bars than Russians, North Koreans, or Chinese, and that's a grave problem. Prohibition was silly and it was repealed. The drug laws are just as silly and, too, need to be repealed.

    Wow. I agree with you 100% here.

    Despite my hard-line approach in the other thread, I must admit that I would agree with most everything posted so far. I do get offended when people imply (on other threads in the other forum) that only Christians can be political leaders.

    But: obsessing over every little vestige of religion need to, as you say, GET A LIFE. There can be "Fundamentalist Atheists," too, and they annoy me to no end. But, my post did acknowledge that it is not only the Abrahamic religions that do evil, so I don't see my points as being bigoted against Christianity per se (a certain kind of southern fundie protty, yep. In general, nope).

    I still have a problem with the concept of a loving god condemning a fallible human being to eternal hell. I find the Christian explanations for evil unconvincing (versus the Gnostic view that physical creation is inherently flawed, and that Jehovah is not the ultimate god of the universe).

    Especially if you accept the fundie viewpoint that only a narrow "born again" segment of the population will have eternal life and all that. Even accepting the notion that those who have "heard The Word and rejected it" are somehow to be eternally condemned, what about the millions (billions) raised in non-Christian societies?

    Edit: following up on Michelle's (and others') comments about "works," I am certainly a failure there, as well.

    I am a little bothered by "works" combined with hard-core preaching. Even if the works are well-intended, such proseltyzing can leave a bad taste in the recipients' mouth.
    Last edited by BKM; 02 Mar 2005 at 12:56 PM.

  16. #16
    I believe that it is every person's right to make their own moral decisions. Because of the way I feel about this, my view breaks with many members of my congregation (I am a Lutheran). I hate abortion, yet I think it should remain legal. I am against the death penalty because I believe that people can change. I have no problems with same-sex marriage. I believe that we all should treat all others with love and respect - no matter what color or religion. I don't preach to others, nor do I want to. I believe that if a person was meant to become a Christian, it will happen not because they were "convinced" to become one, but because of God's will. Nothing I can say or do can make someone convert or start believing what I believe. I respect other's beliefs, and even find them interesting.
    I tend to vote about 50% Republican and 50% Democrat (with a sprinkling of a third party here and there).

  17. #17
    Cyburbian
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    Well, as many of you know; I'm not religious at all. I was never imposed any belief when I was a kid, and I thank my parents for it, since that allowed me to build my own beliefs, based on my own experience. Sure my beliefs are strongly marked towards Catholicism, but it's mostly because of the cultural background of my country.

    A short lineout of my beliefs:
    -Abortion: I personally don't support it, but I have no right to enforce my beliefs on someone else, so it should be legal.
    -Divorce: Everybody makes mistakes, so we shouldn't be tied to them forever. Thankfully there is a new civil marriage law in Chile that permitts divorce.
    -Same Sex Marriage: You're free to do as you please and love who you want to love, so it should be legal so to protect the interests of the couple.
    -Heaven and Hell and the afterlife: Nope, this is your one shot, enjoy it while you can, and in the meantime, a better person is a happier person; so helping out others builds a better society, so it should be encouraged. (not only on the basis of "If you help others you'll go to heaven")
    -Drugs: Alcohol, tobbaco and Marihuana should be legal, but restricted to places in which the effects on others are minimized. (i.e. No smoking in public places). Harder drugs should also be restricted, but legal. Any crime commited under the influence of drugs should be heavily pennalized.
    -Bible thumping, Proselitizing, and witnessing: Stop shoving your beliefs on everybody! It's annoying!

  18. #18

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    Having been raised in the Golden Buckle on the Bible Belt, I was challenged quite early to defend a moderate, mainstream protestant version of Christianity from the attacks of the fundamentalists. In the course of doing so I realized a lot of things, including that I was not a heart a Christian, the Juadaeo-Christian-Islamic god seemed (and seems even more so now, after all the blood that has been spilled in his name during my lifetime) to be exceptionally arbitrary and capricious. Having left that scene behind, I found that a much more satisfying spiritual life comes from sitting and watching the world evolve. I guess you could say I am an animist. I certainly sense the spirit in many natural features.

    Re the pushbutton issues:

    Abortion: Sad, but it is not a matter for legislation, except as with any medical procedure, ensuring the competence of the practitioner, providing the means for those who need it, etc.
    Same-Sex Marriage: A society that fails to respect and encourage peoples' willingness to commit to each other, regardless of sex, is a society that isn't lasting much longer.
    Drugs: Sad, but legalization would be better than the current mess. Those who like to fight the war on drugs seldom do anything about the sources of drug abuse.
    Heaven/Hell: Tools for manipulation. Marx wasn't right about many things, but he came close on religion. Where I grew up the fundamentalist churches facilitated a pattern like this: get paid on Friday night, get drunk, leaving next to no money for food or clothing, beat the wife and kids because they need food and clothing, sleep it off, get saved (again) on Sunday > repeat cycle.
    Afterlife. The road goes on forever and the party never ends.
    Punishment: Imprisonment for any significant length of time is the most cruel and unusual thing I can imagine. Re the death penalty: see 'afterlife.' I think everyone who is to be incarcerated for more than a handful of years should be given the option of taking an injection and spinning the wheel of karma. They are more likely to find the lesson they need that way than languishing in a prison.

    We gain nothing by supressing freedom of speech, so let the bible thumpers do their thing. They would have no audience in a just society.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Big Owl's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SkeLeton
    Well, as many of you know; I'm not religious at all. I was never imposed any belief when I was a kid, and I thank my parents for it, since that allowed me to build my own beliefs, based on my own experience. Sure my beliefs are strongly marked towards Catholicism, but it's mostly because of the cultural background of my country.

    SkeLeton
    you made a interesting comment about being imposed no beliefs as a kid. I don't know that i would consider my parents taking me to church on sunday morning imposing a belief but more an interuption to a day that at the time could have best been spent elsewhere. i have always wondered that if i was raised something other then protestant - lutheran flavored would i still be that now. I did some soul searching in college and attended different religious services from Greek Orthodox to Catholic to Unitarian and so on. michaelskis you mention that he used to be lutheran and maybe there were others. but i wonder does hertige and culture have more to do with what we are and beleive then we wish to give it credit?

    On talking about bible thumpers and door to door evangilist, I see them as being no more entrusive then telemarketers and bad commercials. In college, my friends and i would go watch the Street preachers during lunch for the entertainment value. It was entertaining watching folks reaction to what was said. But the reason folks react the way the do is because relegion is so emotional wheather you are or not.

    religion and what people choose to believe is very intresting

    but i myself am against abortion; the death pentaly; illegalization of drugs; and the designated hitter(on a bit of a roll). I do not think that the goverment should be the one to make the choices for me in what is right and wrong. I am also agianst alot of things that are unethical, imoral, and just mean but are not illegal in the eye of goverment. I think that the welfare system could be done better by the community through non-profits, wheather they be churches, civic groups, or unions.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    Punishment: Imprisonment for any significant length of time is the most cruel and unusual thing I can imagine. Re the death penalty: see 'afterlife.' I think everyone who is to be incarcerated for more than a handful of years should be given the option of taking an injection and spinning the wheel of karma. They are more likely to find the lesson they need that way than languishing in a prison.
    Wow. An interesting take on this issue.

    I've always felt that long term imprisonment would be far worse than death, so....I kinda agree.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    Punishment: Imprisonment for any significant length of time is the most cruel and unusual thing I can imagine. Re the death penalty: see 'afterlife.' I think everyone who is to be incarcerated for more than a handful of years should be given the option of taking an injection and spinning the wheel of karma. They are more likely to find the lesson they need that way than languishing in a prison.
    I am against imprisoning nonviolent, victimless criminals (ie. drug dealers) but for some people it is in society's best interest to have them locked up. Do you really want murderers and rapists walking amongst us? The reason people should be imprisoned is because they are a threat to society. Some people are simply violent people who do not value life in the way mainstream society does, and they simply do not belong in mainstream society.

  22. #22

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    Its true that some people are simply that way.

    But I take the Constitution literally when it says "cruel and unusual." And being locked away IS cruel and unuusal by any measure. The truly violent, deranged, cannot be released back out into society, but they should be a given a choice.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    .

    But I take the Constitution literally when it says "cruel and unusual." And being locked away IS cruel and unuusal by any measure. The truly violent, deranged, cannot be released back out into society, but they should be a given a choice.

    Or as Lazarus Long so aptly phrased it "It is not punishment unless it is cruel and unusual" What also comes out in other Heinlein works is that you must not be inhumane when administering punishment.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  24. #24
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    I would describe myself as being an agnostic with a Church of England background. I have no problem with going to Evensong (I actually quite like it), but don't ask me to believe in anything metaphysical. I would believe in God if I could, but I can't reconvince myself of his existence.

    As far as my political persuasions go:

    - Imprisonment - I'd far rather offer Ostracism as an alternative - as a true-born Britisher, I don't care if our criminals want to mess up other people's countries - at least we wouldn't have to pay for them.
    - Capital Punishment - I can see a place for it - if you guillotine a terrorist (or someone else who would still cause you problems if you ostracised them), you won't get their friends and relatives whipping up a campaign for their release.

    - Mental Health - removing the right of two quacks to lock up someone they deem "insane" without their or their next-of-kin's consent, except in cases where that person has actually committed a crime.

    - Abortion - I don't like it as a concept, and, besides, I do not advocate policies which reduce the size of the labour force - I'd rather it weren't an option except in a minority of serious cases (such as rape, *serious* deformity (and I'm not talking cleft palates here), uterine cancer etc).

    - Drugs - I'd liberalise drugs laws - if you turn up for work stoned, of course your employer has every right to take exception to that - if it's something which only affects your spare time, it's up to you.

    - Same-Sex Marriage - I wouldn't do it myself, but I have no objection to it. Further more, gay couples should not be discriminated against when it comes to adoption.

    - Religion and educational establishments - I'm not happy with people subverting schools to teach potty fundamentalist ideas - I don't see that it's reasonably possible to draw the line between okay religion and fundamentalism in education, so I would bar all religious groups from owning, running, or teaching in schools; furthermore, I would agree with the French in banning people from wearing large religious symbols: religion really should be a totally private matter.

    - Health and Dentistry - I'm a typically old-fashioned Brit on this one: I want it all to be state-owned and pay-grades linked to the Civil Service - I'm not impressed by the incursions of the private sector into this.

    - Benefits - they should be at decent levels, available to all except first-generation immigrants within their first 12 years in the country.

    As for who I vote for, so far I've been 80% Tory, 20% Labour. In May, or whenever it's going to be called, I'll be voting Lib Dem out of total despair at the other parties' policies (basically, the Birmingham Labour Party are "alleged" to be corrupt, and the Tory Party nationally has economically stupid Immigration policies).

  25. #25
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    There’s an important difference between American and European concepts of religious freedom that needs to be understood (and this helps explain Canada as well). Europe was divided between Catholic and Mainline Protestant countries, while America was founded by Dissenting Protestants (Puritans, Baptists, etc).

    Catholics believe that religion is not a personal choice. Rather, Religion is a way to define a community. That’s why Catholics are baptized when we’re babies. Baptists wait until the person is old enough to make a choice, but it seems disordered for Catholics that a person even would be making a choice about his religion. He gets his religion from his parents. Luther argued against that, but then went off to found his own hereditary religion. And Europe quickly rearranged itself along the lines of a few denominations: You’re Lutheran because you were born in a Lutheran city. You’re Anglican because you’re born in England, etc. The concept of “place defines religion” was and is so deeply rooted in European culture because abandonment of that would mean abandonment of a communal morality.

    The dissenters looked at that and said (to the mainline Protestants) “you’re no different than the Catholics” and then got in a lot of trouble and took off to America. Because they believed so strongly that religion should be a personal choice without regard for the community, they developed a government that could not establish any religion or communal ideology.

    So in Europe, that structure is still in place, except that God has more or less dropped out due to apathy in the case of a country like Britian, or because the Christian religion was forcibly replaced with a secular ideology, as in the case of France. But the structure of society remained the same. So in France, because it’s a Catholic (structurally) country with an established “religion” of humanist secularism, overt professions of faith that are not aligned with the communal ideology are discouraged. Personal faith is tolerated but things like religious schools to preserve it are discouraged.

    In America, government enforcing anything, be it religion or secularism, was what the Dissenting Protestants feared most. Even their own religions, because the religion was supposed to be accepted by free choice, were not allowed to become established.

    So of course, when the Catholics started coming to America, there was a big problem. The Protestants would say “It is our belief in personal religious freedom that allows these Papists to come over here” and there was much anger as Catholics started building their own institutions. Catholicism remained a very large “sect” within this Protestant country for a very long time. It arguably still is, but after Vatican II, the lines began to blur to the extent that now I’m not sure if American Catholicism will be able to hold together as a community.

    But anyway, one is compelled to ask, “what is better, the American system or the European system?” I have a conflicted view of an American Catholic on the issue. My religion is communal and I believe it derives its strength from that communalism. Further, I think it’s quite empirical that the more structured European societies result in better living standards by just about any measure. But on the other hand, would a large minority religion like American Catholicism be able to survive in any system but the American one? Catholic schools, for instance, have always been essential in maintaining the community. Protestants tried to pass laws to make those schools difficult to establish, but they were overturned on the grounds of noninterference of the Government in matters of religion. How would England react to 25% of its population being Catholic?

    Or more interestingly, how is France reacting to 10% of its population being Muslim? What we are seeing with the bans against headscarves, etc. is the communal secularism of the country attempting to assert itself over a new ideology. It required a bloody war to replace Catholicism with Humanism, and in many ways France continues to fight that war. How will adding a new major religion to the mix work?

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