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26  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Is Islam really a peaceful religion? on: February 09, 2016, 02:48:32 pm
To say "Christianity is always a peaceful religion" or "Islam is always a violent religion" misunderstands historical context. At times, one has been more peaceful than the other, and whether or not their theological texts contain condemnation or embrace of violence (they both contain violence and peace), it's not the most important issue, the most important issue is how they've historically behaved, and how historical processes have affected them.

I am not saying that "Christianity is always a peaceful religion". Clearly, that's not always the case. What I am saying is that to understand Christianity, one needs to study what Jesus said and did, and to understand Islam, one needs to study what Muhammad said and did. So looking at these two people and their activities side by side, do either set of teachings encourage violence? If you're saying that both do, I'd like you to point out where Jesus does. (Sorry, but saying that people do violence in Jesus' name either because they're misinterpreting his teachings or because they're being disingenuous, that's not a reasonable argument for equating the two faith systems).

I understand what you're saying about the Catholic church advocating violence in the past. I understand that there are Christian groups that cling to violent positions, whatever those may be. But what I'm asking is whether or not these positions line up with what Jesus said/did, and whether or not the positions being taken by ISIS line up with what Muhammad said/did.

I listed several pieces of text from the Qur'an that support radical Islam and encourage violence. Do you know of any similar pieces of text anywhere in the New Testament? (Again, since Jesus is Christianity's center, the text in question would have to focus on the period during or after his life).

You're not understanding my point with the Old Testament. Medieval Christians used that almost as much as they used the New Testament. In fact, if Wikipedia can be trusted, a few medieval chroniclers (some of whom were priests) equated the Muslims with the Amalekites (an Old Testament Caananite group), and advocated the destruction of Muslims in a similar fashion.

And you're not understanding my other point, that the scripture itself matters less than the actions taken by officially "Christian" or "Muslim" societies at given points in history. There have been Muslim regimes that were happily tolerant towards their own subjects, and there have been Christian regimes that were barbaric and zealous. Clearly, either set of scriptures were either ignored or used in support of those regime's policies. And yes, the Islamic regimes that were tolerant could have ignored some of the Quran. That's what most governments do. Or do you really think Christian or Jewish governments always made eating shellfish illegal, for example? Or, as Paul in the New Testament advocates, keeping women from speaking in church?

And do you think Judaism is a violent religion? After all, the Old Testament is quite violent. Or does the historical context outweigh the implementation of the scripture?

27  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Is Islam really a peaceful religion? on: February 09, 2016, 01:02:38 pm
Christianity is potentially violent but there are theological grounds for it not being violent. The fact that Jesus, considered to be the final authority on these things, said "don't stone people" and the general idea, accepted by most mainstream Christian denominations, that the Bible is not literal.

Islam has no such out. I mean, a Muslim could reject Koranic literalism but if they did that, what would be left of the religion? Islam is inherently violent and the only way for a Muslim to not be violent is to not be very observant (thankfully most aren't).

Yes, thank-you, that's my point exactly. People who want to argue that the folks committing atrocities in the name of Islam (ISIS et. al.) are somehow misunderstanding the tenets of Islam have it backwards. Islam is inherently violent. Those who would like to see Muslims brought into the 21st century (and they're out there) face censure and violence directed towards them from the Muslim community in which they live. Until people start recognizing this and addressing the underlying issue, we are fooling ourselves into thinking we can make headway against Islamic fundamentalism.

Remind me who was the more enlightened, tolerant religion in the Middle Ages, in lets say, Spain. Was it Catholicism, with the killings and forceable relocation of Muslims and Jews? Or was it Muslim Al-Andalus, which had a reputation of tolerance and enlightenment? And who was more tolerant, Hapsburg Austria or the Ottomans?

It matters less about the content of scripture, and more how it is used. Jesus also said "I come not to bring peace, but a sword", after all. And the Quran has entries about treating "people of the book" kindly.

At times, Islam has been the more enlightened religion, at other times, Christianity.

And again, medieval Christian rulers and priests used both the Old and the New Testament when it suited them. Especially in medieval Christianity, you cannot divorce the Old Testament from the New Testament. Both were part of their ideology, both were part of their "founding" texts.

To say "Christianity is always a peaceful religion" or "Islam is always a violent religion" misunderstands historical context. At times, one has been more peaceful than the other, and whether or not their theological texts contain condemnation or embrace of violence (they both contain violence and peace), it's not the most important issue, the most important issue is how they've historically behaved, and how historical processes have affected them.

As I said, even Buddhism has had violent moments, and it's an extremely peaceful religion according to it's theological texts, correct?
28  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Should states/regions etc. have a right to secede from their nation-states? on: February 09, 2016, 12:46:34 pm
I would say that in democratic nations, it's not that great of an idea to secede since you theoretically have the better chance to help your region within that framework, but it should be allowed. In non-democratic nations, I would be more inclined to treat the desire to secede seriously. So, in say, Scotland or Quebec, I think it's a dumb idea economically for them secede, but I wouldn't be that opposed to the Rohingya wanting to secede from Myanmar, for example.

This is an interesting perspective, but flawed (leaving aside the Myanmar example, as Rakhine state is only about 20% Rohingya). Developing countries are often very vulnerable and often fear they will be completely Balkanised if they allow parts of themselves to fly off willy-nilly on ethnic grounds (which would result in potential chaos if the partition is carried out haphazardly or under ethnic chauvinist grounds - see Pakistan). That's why the developed world is so unwilling to recognise Somalliland - because it would cause Puntland and other separatist areas to start arguing, and then nobody can economically develop because it all crashes into ethnic bickering.

I didn't actually know how many Rohingya were in Myanmar, but good to know.

And I get the economic argument, but I feel it pales in comparison to moral arguments; if oppression or violence is encouraged against a group, they should have the right to at least potentially secede from the oppressor nation, because otherwise, what ability do they have to resist said oppressor? Shouldn't the Rohingya for example, have the right and ability to stop their wider society from oppressing them? And if all other avenues are explored and failed, then why not secession?

Again, South Sudan and East Timor are good examples; there's no way they could have gotten democratic rights, so their secession was justified, regardless of the economic cost to the parent nation.
29  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Should states/regions etc. have a right to secede from their nation-states? on: February 09, 2016, 12:03:39 am
It depends on why they're seceding. Are they facing immense violence, actual tyranny, and so forth, like South Sudan or East Timor? Then yes. Are they seceding for the sole purpose of holding other human beings in bondage, like the Confederacy? Then no.

I would say that in democratic nations, it's not that great of an idea to secede since you theoretically have the better chance to help your region within that framework, but it should be allowed. In non-democratic nations, I would be more inclined to treat the desire to secede seriously. So, in say, Scotland or Quebec, I think it's a dumb idea economically for them secede, but I wouldn't be that opposed to the Rohingya wanting to secede from Myanmar, for example.

With that ongoing mess in the Ukraine, I'm opposed to the Eastern Ukraine seceding because it's pretty clear that Russia is basically invading and using the locals anger at western Ukraine to seize half the country. Most legitimate secessions should be done without foreign soldiers occupying the would-be nation.
30  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: How would Elizabeth Warren be doing if she was running instead of Sanders? on: February 08, 2016, 08:04:17 pm
She is an unlikeable fraud and would do worse than Sanders. She'd also get crushed in the general.

Warren would have won Iowa in a rout.

lolno



Warren, an unlikeable fraud? Seriously?
31  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: What would a map with Wesley Clark as Hillary's running mate look like? on: February 08, 2016, 08:03:12 pm
What year is this, 2004?
32  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Is Islam really a peaceful religion? on: February 08, 2016, 08:01:21 pm
You can't only include passages from the New Testament for Christians when medieval bishops and rulers often used the Old Testament to justify their violent acts.

Both Islam and Christianity has had violent histories. And they've also had peaceful bits of those same histories. Even Buddhism has had conquerors and murderers. All religions (and those professing no religion) have had violent actions.

Heck, the New Testament has violent descriptors as well, in describing what will happen to sinners at Judgment Day.
33  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: How did Ronald Reagan do well in the west compared to south in 1984? on: February 08, 2016, 07:13:07 pm
The Sagebrush Rebellion helped a lot.
34  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / LDS Church speaks out against medical marijuana bill in UT legislature. on: February 08, 2016, 12:11:07 am
http://www.sltrib.com/home/3505422-155/mormon-church-opposing-utah-medical-marijuana?fullpage=1

Quote
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opposes a bill sponsored by Sen. Mark Madsen that would make Utah the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana, citing unintended consequences that could come with use of the drug.

The state's predominant faith is not taking a position on another measure, sponsored by Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, and Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, that would allow extracts from the plant that do not contain the psychoactive chemical THC.

"Along with others, we have expressed concern about the unintended consequences that may accompany the legalization of medical marijuana," LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins said in a statement to The Tribune. "We have expressed opposition to Senator Madsen's bill because of that concern. We are raising no objection to the other bill that addresses this issue."

---

Madsen said he asked to discuss the reasons for the church's stance but was rebuffed.

"I asked them, 'Can we have some kind of a productive, meaningful conversation?' and each time they just said, 'You know the difference between the other bill. It's not the other bill,' " Madsen said. "So I say, 'THC?' And I get a vague nod."

Senate committees approved both bills Thursday after four hours of testimony.

The unwillingness by the church's representatives to discuss concerns with the bill has Madsen frustrated and speaking openly about the faith's work behind the scenes.

"Maybe they don't want to be known as the special interest who put their thumb on the scale and decided this for everyone in the state," he said. "If they're going to put their thumb on the scale politically and force everyone to a standard, then I think they owe something of an explanation to the people."

The LDS Church employs several lobbyists who frequently visit the Capitol to weigh in on issues before the Legislature.

"We'll meet on a regular basis and they'll explain different bills that they're watching, and it's no different for them than others who would participate in the process," Hughes said Friday. "But they had indicated to me their government-relations people that was a bill that they were first concerned about and ultimately looking to oppose."



Alcohol and morality Niederhauser said the church rarely weighs in on legislation, but when it does, it is typically on issues of alcohol policy or morality.

"Obviously this falls into that moral-alcohol-substance arena, and so they're very concerned about just going down this road of medical marijuana, but they haven't given me any details on why," the Senate leader said. "It wasn't a surprise to me that they have concerns about it."

Last year, support from high-level LDS leaders was crucial to the passage of a statewide anti-discrimination bill protecting gay and lesbian Utahns from employment and housing bias while safeguarding some religious liberties.

-----

Generally speaking, the church does not bar the use of medicinal marijuana by members in states that have legal programs in place so Mormons who live in Colorado, Oregon, Washington or any of the 20 other states with medical programs can use the drug and remain in good standing.

"Leaders advise members not to use any sort of potentially harmful or habit-forming substances," Hawkins said, "except under the care of a competent physician."

A vast majority of Utah lawmakers belong to the LDS Church and about 60 percent of Utahns are Mormons.

That gives the religion's leaders tremendous sway over its followers and influence in the political process, said Madsen, who himself is the grandson of late LDS Church President Ezra Taft Benson and a devoted member of the faith. Madsen admitted last year that he tried medical marijuana in Colorado to treat his chronic back pain.

"My testimony is as it was the day I moved to Utah: I love and sustain and support the ordained brethren and would never think about doing otherwise," Madsen said. "It just bothers me when it comes down like tablets from on high. There is no dialogue."

A poll conducted last month for The Salt Lake Tribune and the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah found that 61 percent of Utahns supported some form of legalized medical marijuana. That figure included 48 percent of Mormons in support of medicinal marijuana, compared with 44 percent who opposed it.

"We've come so far from the old principles of self-reliance, teaching correct principles and let [people] govern themselves," Madsen said. "It seems like now it's: 'Teach them correct principles and just in case send your lobbyist down to force them to do the right thing.' And that's a very different philosophy."

I tried to cut it down far enough to avoid copyright issues, but wanted to leave a lot in to explain the issue at stake.

In any case, speaking as a Mormon, this isn't surprising. The church generally weighs in on issues it considers moral issues, which usually includes LGBT issues and alcohol laws. This time, medical marijuana actually has a chance of passing, so the LDS Church wants to keep that from happening, as they have with other mind-altering substance issues.

What's interesting is that they publicly have no comment on the other medical marijuana-related bill, which is much more limited, but still legalizes it to a certain extent. The "no comment" on one bill with a strong condemnation of the other implies support for the limited bill. So the Church seems to have abandoned banning it altogether, but would support extremely limited medical marijuana (I.e,  no smoking it, but in favor of gels, oils, that sort of thing).
35  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Who would you vote for in Andrew Cuomo vs. Donald Trump for NY Governor? on: February 07, 2016, 06:21:10 pm
write-in Zephyr Teachout.
36  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: West Virginia About to Become 'Right to Work' State on: February 07, 2016, 02:31:52 am
Wait, isn't West Virgina the same state where union workers (or would be union workers) literally fought a battle against the federal government to be able to unionize? And that state is becoming right to work?
37  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Could Marco Rubio be attempting to fulfill the White Horse Prophecy? on: February 07, 2016, 02:26:29 am
Let's dispel with this fiction that the Mormons don't know what they're doing. They know exactly what they're doing.

As a Mormon myself (though not a high-up leader), I would say in all seriousness that they knew what they were doing with Romney, and now they're just in favor of Rubio because lay members seem to like him and because he was a Mormon for like three years. I don't think it's a concentrated effort this time.
38  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Would Rubio do worse than Romney in the general election? on: February 07, 2016, 02:23:12 am
Depends on how effective the Democrats are at digging up his scandals or his flip-flops to the right. But he won't be the nominee.
39  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Congressional Elections / Re: last elected incumbent senator to be defeated in each state on: February 06, 2016, 02:22:08 pm
I still think the criteria of "has to be defeated in a general election" is silly. Here in Utah, the Republican primary is practically the general election itself!
40  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Do you care about endorsements? on: February 05, 2016, 03:06:15 am
Not for Presidential races. For extremely local ones like state legislative races, yeah, endorsements play a role in how I see candidates.
41  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Do you get mad when asked to "press 1 for English"? on: February 04, 2016, 06:21:30 pm
No, I see no reason why people who are more comfortable with another language shouldn't be allowed to use it.  That being said, I think that immigrants should be required to learn English because it's practically necessary in order to be successful in America.

I don't think it should be a requirement. People will learn English naturally after realizing it's so necessary.

Exactly. There's no ethnic community in the US geographically clustered enough that anyone can spend all of their lives in without learning English. Some that you can get by in with poor English, sure, but anyone who lives here for any large amount of time (or their children spend enough time here) learns English by default. There's absolutely no need to make it a requirement.

Printing other languages alongside English for certain functions is helpful and eases the transition from non-English to English, but is not strictly necessary.
42  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Do you get mad when asked to "press 1 for English"? on: February 04, 2016, 02:29:42 pm
No, I see no reason why people who are more comfortable with another language shouldn't be allowed to use it.  That being said, I think that immigrants should be required to learn English because it's practically necessary in order to be successful in America.

Legally they're not required, but de facto, to really get anywhere in America, you have to learn English. By the third generation, immigrants almost always know English better than their native language, even if they live in an area that's kept the native language alive as well. There's not really a point in legally requiring it for the sake of nationalism when it happens by definition and has plenty of support already.
43  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Opinion of the Drop-Outs: Rick Santorum on: February 04, 2016, 11:05:29 am
Used to be amusingly crazy, now is merely crazy, and not even the craziest anymore.
44  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Do you personally know a Muslim IRL? on: February 04, 2016, 03:39:54 am
Do you people live in a cave?  I have met so many Muslims in my life.  I had classmates in college from Iraq, Iran, Turkey and other countries, students from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, supervisors at work who were Muslims, social acquaintances  from Egypt, S. Arabia and other places, a tea shop barista who was covered from head to toe and was the coolest chick I have ever met and many, many others.

And, no none of them changed my opinion of Muslims because I never had a bad opinion of Muslims.


Yeah, I live in Utah of all places and have met Muslims. What's everyone else's excuse?
45  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Opinion of the Flying Spaghetti Monster? on: February 04, 2016, 02:01:00 am
Old joke that belongs in 2009.
46  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Do you personally know a Muslim IRL? on: February 04, 2016, 12:12:54 am
Let me put it this way: I live so far in suburban Utah that I've met maybe one or two Catholics.

Though now that I think about it, in my work at a thrift store I actually have met a Bosnian Muslim, and several Muslim immigrant customers from all over, though the latter briefly enough that I voted "no" before remembering them.

I guess I've known or met more Muslims than Catholics.
47  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Is President Obama an atheist? on: February 03, 2016, 07:21:28 pm
There's literally no reason on Earth to believe he's not a liberal Christian other than if you really hate him and are Christian (he's not one of us!) or really love him and are not a Christian (he's just pretending, he's one of us!).

Well, I'm a liberal Mormon, and have no dog in this fight so to speak, but from I've seen of Obama, he seems to be an agnostic who is culturally liberal Christian. He doesn't wear his religion on his sleeve, so to speak.

But plenty of Christians don't wear it on their sleeve; that's not reason to think he's an agnostic.

He could be either, I just think it's more likely that he's agnostic.
48  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Do you favor a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? on: February 03, 2016, 03:05:24 pm
DavidB's plan sounds kind of like Bosnia-Herzegovina, from what little I know of B-H. I don't know enough on the issue to say much about that though.
49  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Do you favor a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? on: February 03, 2016, 01:29:17 pm
Other: one state in which both peoples can peacefully live together should exist (normal; doesn't want ethnic cleansing of Jews; doesn't want ethnic cleansing of Palestinians; recognizes that Jews want to be able to live in the entire land and have a legitimate claim to it; recognizes that Palestinians want to be able to live in the entire land and have a legitimate claim to it; recognizes that most of the violence in the past decades stems from both peoples' fear to be stripped away from (a part of) the land).

That's actually a pretty level-headed statement coming from you. I suppose that the difference between you and others that say similar things is who gets the lion's share of the blame?
50  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Congressional Elections / Re: MT-AL: Juneau may run on: February 03, 2016, 12:27:17 pm
Also, it turns out Juneau came out as gay. Montana has a bit of a libertarian streak, so I don't know how much this might affect her.
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