Resurrection of Intolerance

SUMMARY: The fanatic religious right-wing has attacked President Obama for not attending church regularly. Perhaps they need to re-learn the foundation of their own religion first before attacking anyone.

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Thank You, Mr. President

At a press conference in Turkey, President Obama asserted the reality that the United States of America is a secular nation made up of people of a variety of different faiths.

"One of the great strengths of the United States," the President said, "is ... we have a very large Christian population -- we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values."

Of course, to some, this statement is controversial. Below, you can see a rightwing hack trying to stir up controversy on CNN. Wolf doesn't often divert from his ongoing attempt at striking a balance between his guests from the left and right but it's pretty entertaining to watch him clearly side with James Carville.

During his inaugural address, President Obama gave a shout out to the non-religious among us. It's great to see him continuing to assert the fact that the US is indeed a secular nation, quite a change from the last 8 years where the notion that Christianity is our putative national religion was reinforced time and time again by the president.

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Is Obama really 'reaching out' to nonbelievers?

[This is a cross-post from my column at]

The potential political ascendancy of atheists is continuing to catch the attention of the mainstream media. Yesterday's Wall Street Journalfeatures a report on that very subject, noting the rise in the numbers of the American nonreligious, the stigma that atheists continue to face, and Obama's inclusion of nonbelievers in the inaugural address. But of course such inclusiveness involves a gamble. Writes WSJ's Laura Meckler:

The outreach toward both ends of the religious spectrum makes for a complicated balancing act, one that runs the risk of alienating one group, the other, or possibly both.
Note the choice of the word "outreach." There is no doubt that Obama has been doing considerable outreach to the conservative religious community. But can his actions regarding the nonreligious truly be considered "outreach"?

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Varun Gandhi, a case study !!

I would like to highlight the curious case of Mr Varun Gandhi because it offers an interesting insight into some of the most fascinating episodes of history.

First, a background.

Varun Gandhi is a politician belonging to the right wing BJP party in India.  He is the son of Maneka Gandhi, who is a Sikh and Sanjay Gandhi.  Sanjay Gandhi was the son of Indira Gandhi (former prime minister of India) and  Feroze Gandhi, who was a "Parsee" (a Zoroastrian).  Indira Gandhi was the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru and Vijaylaxmi Pandit, who were "Kashmiri Brahmins" (Hindus).

That would make Varun Gandhi 25% Hindu, 50% Sikh and 25% Parsee... at least by birth.  If I am going on and on about Varun Gandhi's religious genealogy, then there is a point to it.  Varun Gandhi can, of course, reject his religious genealogy and practice any religion he chooses.  That is a fundamental right we all possess, but rarely excerise.

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Scripture on the Budget: What the Bible Says About National Priorities

by Eric Sapp

Back in 2006, the budget debate followed immediately on the heels of Congressional consideration of the Marriage Amendment. As a result, there was a desire by a number of Democratic leaders for a reference guide that would more easily allow Democrats to authentically speak out against the extreme and selective use of scripture by the Republicans and their allies on the Right. The first "Guide to Scripture and the Budget" that included scriptural references and simple talking points to help equip Christian Democrats in their response to Republican budget arguments was distributed shortly before the 2006 budget debate.

My underlying assumption in writing and continuing to
update this document is that Democrats should not cede the prophetic language of scripture and its ability to inspire and frame issues in a moral context to the other side. Many traditional Democratic positions are rooted in the teachings of scripture, and it is time Democrats stopped losing on the Bible.

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