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Politics and the bugnut Christians
Los Angeles Times ^ | October 2, 2011 | By Penn Jillette

Posted on 10/02/2011 7:00:01 AM PDT by Oldeconomybuyer

Because I wrote a book with "Atheist" in the subtitle and I go on political TV shows to hawk that book, well-groomed meat puppets frequently ask me why politicians like Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry are saying bugnutty Christian stuff.

I have an idea why these politicians have gone all religious, but I haven't found a way to explain it in a sound bite, which is why I'm writing this. I think the whole problem comes down to the word "Christian" and what it has come to mean in my lifetime.

Christian used to be a throwaway word. People didn't used to use it much. People didn't start self-labeling or getting labeled Christian until the last part of the 20th century. Before that, you might identify as a Baptist, or a Southern Baptist or a Methodist. But there wasn't one identifier that put you in a fold with all the other believers.

In fact, every religious cult was afraid of every other religious cult. The bugnutty Pentecostals didn't want the bugnutty Methodists to have too much power. There was no "Christian nation" for the simple reason that the Christians were afraid of one another. America was founded on Christians not trusting each other, and they sometimes seemed more willing to reach out to the godless than to someone from another sect.

Let's just hope our politicians keep expanding the group of people they want to serve. Rather than embracing Christian as the magic word of politics, we can move on to the truly magical word: American. And maybe we can even go a step further and make the magic word "humanity."

(Excerpt) Read more at latimes.com ...


TOPICS: Religion & Culture; Religion & Politics; Skeptics/Seekers
KEYWORDS: atheism; pennandteller; pennjillette
Penn Jillette is the louder, bigger half of the magic/comedy team of Penn & Teller, is the author, most recently, of "God, No!"
1 posted on 10/02/2011 7:00:04 AM PDT by Oldeconomybuyer
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To: Oldeconomybuyer

Penn Jilette? I like him. But then I like lost luggage.


2 posted on 10/02/2011 7:06:59 AM PDT by DIRTYSECRET
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To: Oldeconomybuyer

Not sure what his point is, but he’s leaving out the influence of Communism. Godless communism, to be specific. Part of America’s moral authority to resist was activated using belief-in-God as leverage, bringing the various denominations together in the typical brother-fights-brother-till-distant-cousin-shows-up phenomenon.


3 posted on 10/02/2011 7:09:57 AM PDT by A_perfect_lady (Islam is as Islam does.)
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To: Oldeconomybuyer

America could not have been founded without Christianity, and will not be able to continue without it.


4 posted on 10/02/2011 7:10:28 AM PDT by onedoug (If)
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To: Oldeconomybuyer

Let him rant, in doing so, those who follow this “enlightened” thinking will have a great awakening when he is finally comes off his lofty perch with an inevitable “come to Jesus” moment that we all experience in our lives.


5 posted on 10/02/2011 7:13:57 AM PDT by mazda77
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To: Oldeconomybuyer

The godless left can thank itself for the emergence of the Christian right. The left’s Cultural Revolution pushed believers far enough by the late 1970s that the believers finally started putting aside their differences and pushed back, expressing themselves collectively through groups like Christian Coalition, Moral Majority, Focus on the Family, etc.

If the godless left hadn’t been so ambitious in its goals, Christians might still be slumbering today.


6 posted on 10/02/2011 7:17:23 AM PDT by Constitutionalist Conservative (Palin or Perry, whoever is ahead in the delegate count on primary day)
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To: Oldeconomybuyer
As is usual w/ most atheistic polemics this is based on a false premise; ie that the term "Christian" had no currency prior to our current age.

Any reading of 18th, 19th and early 20th century American literature would quickly force this position to retreat. You will find it quite common for a protagonist or narrator to describe themselves as quote "Christian" w/o any qualifier.

Further, the election of 1884, which featured the virulent anti-catholic James Blaine represents one of the few Rep. defeats of the later 19th century. This in a nation overwhelmingly protestant.

And so the entire premise is contingent upon the ignorance of his audience. How unfortunate that that audience is as large as it is.

7 posted on 10/02/2011 7:29:17 AM PDT by Pietro
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To: Oldeconomybuyer

a left wing bigot.


8 posted on 10/02/2011 7:42:55 AM PDT by ken21 (ruling class dem + rino progressives -- destroying america for 150 years.)
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To: mazda77

Sadly, for many like him, the ‘come to Jesus moment’ happens AFTER death. And then they realize they were wrong...but it’s too late.


9 posted on 10/02/2011 7:46:52 AM PDT by hoagy62 ("Polls are for strippers and cross-country skiers”~Sarah Louise Palin)
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To: Oldeconomybuyer
I like Penn Jillette and I know he's a very intelligent guy but his entire premise is wrong from the get-go.

First of all, Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry do not generally go around calling themselves Christians. They might when they are addressing a prayer breakfast or some other religious gathering but, for the most part, they don't make their faith a huge part of their campaign speeches.

But even if they did, so what? Barack Obama made his Moose Limb faith...uhhh, excuse me....his Christian faith a part of his campaign and still does from time to time.

So does Nanzi Pelosi.

So why single out Conservatives?

10 posted on 10/02/2011 7:52:31 AM PDT by Texas Eagle (If it wasn't for double-standards, Liberals would have no standards at all -- Texas Eagle)
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To: Oldeconomybuyer

He should love the camps in North Korea.


11 posted on 10/02/2011 7:53:57 AM PDT by GeronL (The Right to Life came before the Right to Happiness)
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To: Oldeconomybuyer
Christianity is woven into the American experience touching every aspect of our history. Even if a person is not spiritual, Biblical themes define who we are as a nation. For the liberals even, the Civil Rights Movement was lead by preachers. The antiwar movement fed upon a thread of pacifistic beliefs espoused by Quakers. The Quakers also fueled the antislavery movement. John Brown acted upon what he considered a sacred oath. The frontier was settled almost as much by missionaries living amongst the tribes as it was by the gun. Conservative or liberal to brush aside the the importance of Christianity in America is to not understand America.
12 posted on 10/02/2011 8:00:30 AM PDT by dog breath
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To: Pietro

According to the Bible the term “Christian” was applied to believers in Jesus at Antioch in the first century b.c. Doesn’t sound very recent to me.


13 posted on 10/02/2011 8:08:49 AM PDT by tal hajus ("Thank you sir. May I have another?" GOP)
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To: Oldeconomybuyer

Everyone knows politicans in the US should be good little amoral atheists like the Marxists and their libertarian comrades. The former Soviet Union and China is the ideal. They have no idea what they are doing when they try to divide ethics and morals from governance.

These intolerant radical kooks are unhappy about being sexually molested at the airports, but they got what they want - a governnment devoid of American liberty’s self control, inspiriation, human respect and ethics. It is over the top and ravishing in the exercise of it’s power.


14 posted on 10/02/2011 8:34:03 AM PDT by SaraJohnson
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To: Oldeconomybuyer

“Bugnut” isn’t a word.


15 posted on 10/02/2011 8:38:20 AM PDT by Cyber Liberty (I like both Perry and Palin, and will vote for whichever of them wins.)
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To: mazda77

Not all have a ‘come to Jesus’ moment. If someone spits at God’s Grace and continues to hurl insult at God’s Christ Solution, the Bible is plain that He gives them up to their delusions, allows them to fester in their lusts.


16 posted on 10/02/2011 8:58:59 AM PDT by MHGinTN (Some, believing they can't be deceived, it's nigh impossible to convince them when they're deceived.)
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To: Oldeconomybuyer
From the beginning, the nation's history is replete with writings and statements from leaders and early historians which refute Gillette's claims.

How sad the textbooks and public discourse over the past few decadss may have resulted in his ignorance of facts. That he believes that citizens did not "self-identify" under the word "Christian" until the last part of the 20th Century is neither accurate nor credible.

Would suggest to any who wish an authentic history of the ideas underlying American's founding a visit to this web site, at which Richard Frothingham's outstanding 1872 "History of the Rise of the Republic of the United States" can be read on line.

This 600+-page history traces the ideas which gave birth to the American founding. Throughout, Richard Frothingham, the historian, develops the idea that it is "the Christian idea of man" which allowed the philosophy underlying the Declaration of Independence and Constitution to become a reality--an idea which recognizes the individual and the Source of his/her "Creator"-endowed life, liberty and law.

Is there any wonder that the enemies of freedom, the so-called "progressives," do not promote such authentic histories of America? Their philosophy puts something called "the state," or "global interests" as being superior to individuals and requires a political elitist group to decide what role individuals are to play.

In other words, they must turn the Founders' ideas upside-down in order to achieve a common mediocrity for individuals and power for themselves.

Perhaps Gillette is just a victim of their rewritten histories. Technology now makes it possible for him, and others who believe as he seems to believe, to discover that such a limited and provincial view is inaccurate and undermines liberty.

For instance, a reading of Tocqueville's 1830's "Democracy in America" would reveal these words:

"Religion in America takes no direct part in the government of the society, but it must be regarded as the first of their political institutions. . . ."Of his prior experience in Europe, he wrote, "I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom pursuing courses diametrically opposed to each other; but in America I found that they were intimatly united, and that the reigned in common over the same country."
". . . there is no country in the world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America; and there cn be no greater proof of its utility and conformity to human nature than that its influence is powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth."

(Supreme Court Decision Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States): Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of The Redeemer or mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise, and in this sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian. This is a religious people. This is historically true. From the discover of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation. . . we find everywhere a clear recognition of the same truth. . . ."

17 posted on 10/02/2011 10:21:26 AM PDT by loveliberty2
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To: Oldeconomybuyer
Oh, my, the gremlins really messed up the Tocqueville quotation in my post. Please forgive. Here is the corrected version:

"I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom pursuing courses diametrically opposed to each other; but in America I found that they were intimately united, and that they reigned in common over the same country."
". . . there is no country in the world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America; and there can be no greater proof of its utility and conformity to human nature than that its influence is powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth."

18 posted on 10/02/2011 10:25:53 AM PDT by loveliberty2
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To: Oldeconomybuyer

It’s just astounding that these commies want to impose these kind of RULES on Christians. -”you must STOP calling yourself what you believe you are!”

Mr. Gillette, how about gays and ‘african americans’?? Why is it, at the SAME time, it’s people like you who INSIST that we NON gay, NON africans give those people the ‘correct’ titles? This is intellectual dishonesty.

Also, these conservative polititians are constantly badgered by the press about their ‘Christianity’ in order to ridicule them for it. THEY don’t bring it up, the socialized media do.


19 posted on 10/02/2011 10:33:27 AM PDT by joethedrummer
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To: A_perfect_lady; Oldeconomybuyer

“Not sure what his point is, but he’s leaving out the influence of Communism. Godless communism, to be specific. Part of America’s moral authority to resist was activated using belief-in-God as leverage, bringing the various denominations together in the typical brother-fights-brother-till-distant-cousin-shows-up phenomenon.”

Well said! I bump your comment and add a link to a better discourse on this topic than I could give:

http://www.therightscoop.com/open-thread-grinding-America-down/

It regards the agenda of over the past 50 years to subvert America from within. Many here are familiar with it, but I urge others, despite their familiarity with the topic, to view it. It is brief (6-7 minutes) and is an excellent bite to pass on, imho.


20 posted on 10/02/2011 10:35:31 AM PDT by TEXOKIE (Anarchy IS the strategy of the forces of darkness!)
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To: Oldeconomybuyer; All
Just one additional early American historical quotation re the claims of Gillette:

"The commander-in-chief directs that divine service be performed every Sunday at eleven o'clock in those brigades [in] which there are chaplains; those which have none [are] to attend the places of worship nearest to them. It is expected that officers of all ranks will by their attendance set an example to their men. While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian. The signal instances of providential goodness which we have experienced, and which have now almost crowned our labors with complete success, demand from us in a peculiar manner the warmest returns of gratitude and piety to the Supreme Author of all good." General Orders. Fitzpatrick 11:342. (1778.)

True, the various sects, from the beginning, were known by denomination, but the overall descriptive term was, as it is today, "Christian." Thomas Jefferson wrote with pride about how, in his "little village of Charlottesville,". . . "The court-house is the common temple, one Sunday in the month to each. Here, Episcopalian and Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist, meet together, join in hymning their Maker, listen with attention and devotion to each others' preachers, and all mix in society with perfect harmony."

21 posted on 10/02/2011 11:00:26 AM PDT by loveliberty2
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To: Oldeconomybuyer
What I have seen that it is less the people identifying themselves as Christian and more the media/left naming them that.

is it meant as a derogatory term? Is it meant to scare people? Why would the media/left wonder then when these folks then take back the label for what it means and embrace it?

I am not a Christian, I do not believe in one God, I do not think that those that are Christian, Jew, Muslin, Hindu, etc are wrong. I find that folks with religious convictions, that live by them are good, trustworthy.

Know them by their deeds as I have and it is clear.

22 posted on 10/02/2011 4:54:26 PM PDT by NativeSon
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To: ken21

It seems that the left are embarrassed by people of their own skin color acting “religious”. Brown muslims, black churches and “ministers”, Obama using spritiuality when it suits him, etc. Its like the juvenile reaction of not wanting be seen with your mom at the mall. Strange.


23 posted on 10/03/2011 9:28:52 AM PDT by Augustinian monk
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To: Oldeconomybuyer
What? Could he at least read up on a little history?

From the Mayflower Compact:

"In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, defender of the Faith, etc.

Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony..."

and that's just for starters.

24 posted on 10/19/2011 7:13:25 PM PDT by JWinNC (www.anailinhisplace.net)
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