Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Just God?

Why is it that there appears to be a strong correlation between being a 'values' voter who claims that faith in God gives him or her a deep sense of concern over moral issues, and an overwhelming lack of concern over torture, rendition, arbitrary imprisonment, and injustice?

Is it not the case that this God they are supposed to be worshipping is a just God? Why would worshippers of a just God be so eager to throw out virtually all of the basic principles of justice?

Perhaps the point of this post may count as one of those things that I do not read about often because it is too obvious to mention.

I am talking about the apparent connection between 'faith' and being willing to embrace torture, abuse, and injustice.

President Bush's political base tends to be built on a group of people who identify themselves as faith-based voters for whom 'moral issues' are the most important items on their political agenda. The one thing that they rant and rave about more than any other is the 'decline in morality' that they find in contemporary culture.

These are the same people who embrace and, at some point, even cheer the rise in torture, rendition, physical and mental abuse of people - almost all of whom are later determined to be completely innocent of any wrongdoing and released, arbitrary arrest, and indefinite imprisonment without a trial.

This strikes me as an odd combination.

Now, I have seen no official studies that looked into this connection. I am simply reporting what seems to be the case based on my own observations - and all rational people know how unreliable that form of evidence may be. An actual study of this phenomena may reveal that the faith-based 'values' voters that make up Bush's political base are, in fact, the most vocal opponents of these moral crimes.

Yet, I would be surprised if this is the case.

This is not to say that there are no faith-based 'values' voters who are opposed to torture and the other injustices that I mentioned above. It's only the fact that those faith-based 'values' voters do not make up Bush's political base. These are the faith-based 'values' voters who tend to be strongly opposed to President Bush, in part because Bush has so little respect for the principles of justice.

Furthermore, I am not discounting the possibility of non-faith-based 'values' voters who may might support Bush.

I am not talking about a law-like relationship.

I am only talking about a tendency here - a statistically significant correlation between being a faith-based 'values' Republican and embracing torture, rendition, abuse, and other forms of injustice.

I think that this relationship should not remain one of those things that is too obvious to talk about. I think that it is something that should be brought out in the open.

I would like to see it explicitly mention how the faith-based 'values' voters in this election are people who apparently 'value' torture, rendition, abuse, and injustice. I think that making this a part of the public discussion (however much it is possible to do so) will cause some faith-based 'values' voters to think, "Maybe I should not be a defender of torture, rendition, abuse, and injustice? Maybe, instead, I should be defending justice?"

Of course, this way of thinking will run into the thought - "Those people are terrorists! They do not deserve 'justice'!"

This response will come from people who have forgotten that 'justice' means making sure that somebody is a terrorist before we subject them to all sorts of harsh treatment.

We have a system where over 90% of the people who are arrested, taken from their families, imprisoned without charges or a trial, tortured, abused, and held for months or years, are eventually released without a trial - without any charges being leveled against them.

Tomorrow morning, while you are on your way to work, imagine that somebody throws you in a van, hauls you off to a secret prison then tortures you while they ask you questions like, "Tell me what you know about those who hate the United States." While you are being tortured, you realize that the only way to ease the torture is to start telling your captors what they want to hear. You make up stories, and they let you get some sleep. Those stories name your neighbors. Maybe you start with co-workers and relatives you do not like very much. However, they ask for details. You find it easier to give details when you talk about their friends. But, all you really want is to get some sleep.

After a couple of months, you are dumped on a street corner. You suddenly show up at home and you tell the story to your family - those parts that you are not too ashamed to tell. Of course, when you tell your family and friends what happened, you do not mention the stories that you tell your captors.

You are a bit reluctant to tell them those stories. One of the things that you quickly learn is that the people you named in those stories have 'disappeared'. They are now on the list of suspected terrorists because the Americans have gotten information from somewhere that they, too, are involved in anti-American activities.

Then, think about what reaction will be the next time you hear some faith-based 'values' voter say, "These people are terrorists! They do not deserve justice!"

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

i'm a Christian, and i start crying when i read about stories like that or watch a movie on that topic. i don't think innocent people should be punished. that's horrifying. i only think rapists should be punished severely. but that's only because i'm sexist. i don't think anyone has a right to abuse someone else in that way.

Anonymous said...

by the way, i'm a sophomore in high school. whether that makes you belittle my opinion or not is your choice.
May God bless you. =)

Anonymous said...

I have noticeed that for many people of "faith" morality is almost always about sexual represion and not about how you treat other people

Derek Scruggs said...

I personally think that Christians and other believers use the idea of an afterlife to psychologically deal with injustice. So, yeah, it's bad that people are tortured or die of malnutrition or are slaughtered in a genocide, but fortunately there's this place called Heaven where they'll go (if they're "saved").

But if you don't believe in an afterlife, the moral imperative to do something about suffering in this world is much stronger, so much so that if can drive you to depression. ("Here I am playing World of Warcraft while soldiers die in Iraq...")

Alonzo Fyfe said...

Anonymous

(1) I made a conscious effort to specify that I was talking about faith-based 'values' voters who were Bush supporters. I know full well that there are others who do not share the disregard for justice that this group seems to have.

(2) Those who place value on logic and reason know that it is a fallacy to claim that facts about a person (age) are relevant to the soundness or strength of an argument. So, I will never discredit a person's contribution based on their age, only based on the soundness of their arguments.

Other Anonymous

(3) Intelligent design/creationism, euthanasia, prayer in schools (or "in the public square"), discriminatory hiring for institutions getting faith-based funding, "the war on Christmas", the pledge of allegiance and the national motto, are all examples of issues not concerned with sex. The wrongness of stem-cell research and abortion are not tied to sex - they are tied to the wrongness of killing a person.

There are also faith-based values voters (NOT Bush-supporters) who view issues of aid to the poor, social justice, and responsible stewardship of the environment as important faith-based values.

So, it is not limited to sex.

Derek Scruggs

(4) Yes, there is this element in Christianity. Yet, I wrote this post about the 'values voter' who seems not to be interested in leaving issues in God's hands but bases their vote on beliefs about what God considers right and wrong. It would be difficult to classify this group as people who are passively waiting for God to take care of things in Heaven. They seem driven to affect God's plan on Earth. Strange that they do not take God's plan to have any place for justice.

Sheldon said...

Alonzo,
Coincidentally, I had just heard of a study out of Baylor Unv. about peoples view of God (i.e. authoritarian, benevolent, or distant) and how that correlates with political views.

It seems as though there may be support for your casual observations. The USA Today link summarizes the study. Of course how well they summarize the study is open to question.
http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2006-09-11-religion-survey_x.htm

I think the following link to a .pdf document is the study in question, but I have not read it yet.

http://www.baylor.edu/content/services/document.php/33304.pdf#search=%22Religion%2C%20Politics%2C%20Baylor%20study%22

Derek Scruggs said...

...the 'values voter' who seems not to be interested in leaving issues in God's hands...

I absolutely agree. However, I think the notion that innocents will still get their just rewards in Heaven, even if they're slaughtered in war initiated by "forces for good," provides psychological comfort to believers in the event their policies are wrong. In other words, "kill them all and let God sort them out" is not an especially irrational policy if you believe as many fundamentalists do.

Anonymous said...

The only thing worse than religion is atheism. More people have been slaughtered by godless regimes than all of the religions combined. That may change soon as the atheist regimes of China, Russia and North Korea see value in supporting Radical Islamic regimes who have openly voiced their desire to eradicate the Jews and destroy America. Now religion itself is dangerous. Biblical Christianity is not about religion as it is about relationship. Jesus taught us to pray to God thus: Our Father... A good example of Christians are the Amish who, after a crazed milkman blew away five of their children before committing suicide had the audacity to......help his widow. Now imagine that. Leave the world better than you found it? You should join Operation blessing or one of the myriad other Christian organizations that were on the ground helping immediately after the tsunami or that provided hundreds of millions of dollars plus clothing, food and shelter to Hurricane Katrina victims. You know that Atheists and Other Free Thinkers were conspicuous by their absence. Even a British Atheist scolded American atheists for their lack of compassion. Isn't that interesting!