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My Take: The religious roots of our political gridlock
December 5th, 2012
08:04 AM ET

My Take: The religious roots of our political gridlock

Editor's Note: Mark Osler is a professor of law at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis.

By Mark Osler, Special to CNN

The divide between Democrats and Republicans that has frozen the mechanisms of American politics has many causes, but one of them is tangled up in the faith differences of our legislators. Faith, for many lawmakers on both sides, is the source of their outlook and principles, and faith has in part created the conditions for the current impasse about the fiscal cliff.

For many (though certainly not all) Republicans, the root of knowledge is a bedrock certainty about the inerrancy of a literal reading of the Bible. This provides them with clear, absolute answers - that gay marriage is wrong, that modern science is suspect, and that much of what we see on earth is a struggle between good and evil.

When the 2012 Republican Party platform stated that we should “reaffirm that our rights come from God,” that reflected a sincere and genuine sense of bright-line natural law.

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That kind of certainty in faith, which so often draws good/evil lines on theological issues, very naturally supports a similar outlook on political issues that aren’t directly rooted in the Bible. Faith, after all, if it really is faith, structures the way we view and interact with the world.

It shouldn’t surprise us, then, that some American conservatives tend both to see their opponents as evil and to catastrophize potential political losses.

If the world is locked in a battle between good and evil, and our side is good, that leaves only one possibility for our opponents.

Bending to that other side becomes unthinkable. A loss or even a compromise is something terrible - it is a victory for evil. When Rush Limbaugh tells his audience that Democrats “want to ruin America,” he knows how a significant part of his audience will receive that message, through the lens of a faith that offers certainty and bright lines.

Some Democrats, too, suffer from political disabilities that are formed by faith. Few of them have the absolutist outlook describe above, but their own New Testament-focused view of the Bible leads in a different problematic direction.

There, we see a Jesus who is anything but a capitalist. Instead, he urges others to give away all that they have to the poor, and often disparages the wealthy.

To the rich young ruler who has followed all the commandments, Jesus instructs that he must also sell everything he has and give the money to the poor, without regard to the people he will have to fire and the resulting poverty of his own family.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Many Democrats have taken this broad lesson of concern for the poor to heart, as we all do with core messages of faith. That quiet wind is always there.

This gets us to gridlock because it puts Democrats in the position of class warriors - they favor the poor and disfavor the rich.

This is most clear in framing tax policy, which is at the heart of the gridlock we have seen around how to avoid the fiscal cliff. At times, the Democrats' certainty on these issues is the equal of what we see in Republicans.

So we end up in a deadlock. Now, we hear, that gridlock may be breaking up a bit.

On one side, the certainty is less certain as the “no increase in taxes” pledge is abandoned by some. On the other, there is an openness to cutting government spending.

Some will say this is simply political expediency, but I am more hopeful: This opening may be tinged with a blessed uncertainty, the faint hint that the complexity of politics may be as messy and glorious and private as the complexity of our faiths.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Mark Osler.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Church and state • Opinion • Politics

soundoff (1,027 Responses)
  1. Reality

    Only for the new members of this blog:

    Getting rid of religion's roots, saving "souls" and balancing the budget all at once thereby ending the gridlock:

    In order to pay down our $16 trillion debt, we need to redirect money used to support religions especially the christian and islamic cons and put it towards paying off our debt.

    To wit:

    Redirecting our funds and saving a lot of "souls":

    Saving 1.5 billion lost Muslims:
    There never were and never will be any angels i.e. no Gabriel, no Islam and therefore no more koranic-driven acts of horror and terror LIKE 9/11.

    – One trillion dollars over the next several years as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will end.

    – Eighteen billion dollars/yr to Pakistan will stop.

    – Four billion dollars/yr to Egypt will end.

    Saving 2 billion lost Christians including the Mormons:
    There were never any bodily resurrections and there will never be any bodily resurrections i.e. No Easter, no Christianity!!!

    – The Mormon ti-the empire will now become taxable as will all Christian "religions" and evangelical non-profits since there is no longer any claim to being a tax-exempt religion.

    – the faith-based federal projects supported by both Bush and Obama will be eliminated saving $385 million/yr and another $2 billion/yr in grants.

    – the ~$ 100 billion/yr donated mostly to the Jesus-con religions will now go to something useful.

    – Saving 15.5 million Orthodox followers of Judaism:
    Abraham and Moses never existed.

    – Four billion dollars/yr to Israel saved.

    – All Jewish sects and non-profits will no longer be tax exempt.

    Now all we need to do is convince these 3.5+ billion global and local citizens that they have been conned all these centuries Time for a YouTube,Twitter and FaceBook campaign

    December 5, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • VanHagar

      @Reality...if you can answer without a cut and paste...you propose taxing churches–do you propose that they be taxed just as any other business or are you contemplating some type of special tax.

      December 5, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Momof3

      Businesses are created to generate money and to 1. support their creators, and 2. support the community they are in with monetary spending. Most churches meet all those criteria, in that the pastors/priests are supported by the income of the chuch, whether it be the neighborhood church, or the national/international church behind it. They also support the community by purchasing goods and services from the communities they are in, and providing support for the needy in the community.

      They should be taxed as a regular business (i.e. – the donut shop on the corner, the gas station, etc...) and let the onus fall on them to prove that they are truly a 'not-for-profit' organization. If they are, their tax rate will be low to non-existent...

      December 5, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • VanHagar

      @Mom...Although I disagree that churches should be taxed, I agree with your general comments. My guess is that most churches are going to zero out on taxable income after all deductions (salaries, charitable giving, etc.) are accounted for and no taxes will be paid. The call for churches to be taxed as some type of "solution" for our financial problems is wishful thinking: any revenue generated by taxing churches will be de minimus.

      December 5, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Momof3

      You're probably right in that churches potentially still wouldn't pay taxes, but it might shed some light on how they are run, and what they are actually doing with the monies that are collected. And, if there is tax reform, maybe they wouldn't be able to use the current loopholes that exist for businesses...

      December 5, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • VanHagar

      But why the need to know how they are spending their money? Why is it your business? Its not like its going to be a public offering with the SEC. You're not going to get any information any more than you would with the local hardware store's finances. If the government is going to tax churches, then they should be taxed just as any other business...no discrimination.

      December 5, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • JFCanton

      Are there ANY local politicians who would support taxing churches? That is the level at which the exemption is really relevant.

      December 5, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Reality

      ONLY FOR THE NEW MEMBERS OF THIS BLOG:

      There are different opinions as to what a religion really is or what a non-profit is and therefore all non-profits should file Form 990's. At the moment, religious groups are exempt. To be fair therefore, there should be no tax-exemptions for any group and that includes the Democratic and Republican Parties. As noted, faith and community initiative grant monies should also be cancelled and there should also be no tax deductions for contributions made to charities and non-profits.

      December 5, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
  2. Mark Baird

    " it has created a subculture that encourages teen age girl to deliberately get pregnant so that they can get on welfare."

    This is the problem. You make an assumption that this is the reason teen age girls get pregnant. Is it? It is difficult to solve problems when you start from a belief that may or may not be based on fact.

    December 5, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Peter

      We know from this election that Republicans have issues with facts.

      December 5, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • ME II

      I would say the Dems did their share of "spinning" the facts, too.

      December 5, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • JFCanton

      They have motive for that, compared to the little economic potential they get out of their schools. Starting at the bottom, in a bad school and a bad environment, is not very motivating. Even if you work hard, you're still going to be behind nearly everyone.

      December 5, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • Mark Baird

      It is not about spinning facts, it is about starting with facts. Is that statement based on facts? If there are facts do those facts logically bring you to that statement/belief?

      December 5, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
  3. Steve

    I get his point, which has some strain of truth to it. Although it is stretching it to say that a substantial portion of the population who are active politically have deeply-ingrained Judeo-Christian beliefs shaped by a comprehensive understanding of the Bible. Even the author falls short in his understanding of the Matthew 19 account of the rich man. The point of this story is that the rich man felt he was justified by his keeping of the commandments, although Jesus saw into his heart that he was enslaved by his love of money and his dependence upon it. It is not a passage teaching about giving to the poor – it is teaching us that to completely follow Christ, we must be willing to forsake all that gives us (false) security and to follow him. So – for Republicans and Democrats alike – where is your security? In your ideology? Your wealth? In your acts of righteousness? In being "right"?

    December 5, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • rker321

      I have been seeing this catastrophe of mixing religion and politics since the Clinton era. Always I have stated that religion and politics do not mix, they are very strange bedfellows, and history tells us that this mixture is always very bad for any society.
      We are all religious people, and that religion belongs in the Church and at home. Once we get off that horse of trying to impose any religious beliefs on anyone else, we will see everything calm down. and more logic will be applied to our society as a whole.

      December 5, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  4. umish

    If you keep the notion of a god out of plitics, then you have no delusions of grandueur nor false beliefs and hopes. Man invented god to esplain thing that were unexplainable 5000 years ago. Its a nice collection of old stories and fables, not much else.
    If god was so perfect then man has no need to reason. God gives him everything....THink not. Bottom line all religious people are bigots becasue they tend to favor their version of the world over other conflicting versions withou proof or evidence. THe republickans are a batch of WASP anti social evolution anti women anti color anti poor anti ad nausea.....

    THis lawyer is just another in the the long line of I know more than you... If we all knew more we would never be in the mess we are now due to greedy, unscupulous disingenuous, power hungry politicians lining their own pockets using power we gave them. Recall them all.

    December 5, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  5. BAN ALL RELIGION

    Religious FREAKS / ZEALOTS is what is WRONG with this Nation and apparently NO ONE HAS LEARNED A DAMNED THING from your so-called former messianic leaders, Reverend Jim Jones, David Koresh, Warren Jeffs, etc. Religion should not play ANY ROLE WHATSOEVER IN INFLUENCING GOVERNMENT !!

    Oh, by the way, I believe in God, but when people ask me what is my religion, my answer is, "Whatever GOD HIMSELF Believes In !!" GOD HAS NO RELIGIOUS PREFERENCE !! GOD IS ONLY GOD, THE CREATOR OF ALL HUMANKIND AND THE UNIVERSE !!

    December 5, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • VanHagar

      You say: "my answer is, "Whatever GOD HIMSELF Believes In !!" GOD HAS NO RELIGIOUS PREFERENCE !!" What if what God believe in is, in fact, a religious preference? Then what?

      December 5, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  6. gladiatorgrl

    lionlylamb

    Why use churches to solve our fiscal debt problems? Free up the now underground drug trades and Free up the now illicit s e x trades and free up our now regulated gambling trades! Make these three trades legal and the taxable money generated from freeing up these three trades would close the proverbial gaps of fiscal indebtedness

    _______________________
    THIS AND TAXING THE CHURCHES would work!

    December 5, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  7. Courts

    The power of the G factor. (greed)

    December 5, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  8. Adam Charles Hovey

    The Church gave the world the BIG BANG THEORY, THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD, AND THE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM, I AM SO BLESSED TIRED OF ATHEISTIC REVISIONIST HISTORY. FOR THE RECORD, I AM NEITHER A REPUBLICAN OR DEMOCRAT. GOD IS ABOVE POLITICS.

    December 5, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Adam

      Poor, sad Adam, trying to sound a) equivocal and b) ignoring every comment ever made by atheists.

      I don't think one person here has said that atheists are the only ones to come up with good ideas or use science, that would be stupid which is why you would of course believe it. Just because christians have come up with theories like, the big bang, or using the scientific method doesn't make them inherintly christian nor does it stop atheists from agreeing with them.

      December 5, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • Answer

      Sure right ... all that hogwash makes you look really silly.

      Look at the religious fanaticism in Uganda. There is your precious 'god' at work. All the hate and all the killings to suppress and vilify the gay people. Soon they'll turn their sights right back at the money men who funded this fanaticism, and it'll be against the whole western society. Reap the rewards of your religious hatred. Expect it.

      December 5, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • OOO

      The modern (scientific) big bang theory came from Edwin Hubble's experimental observations that the universe is expanding and that the rate of expansion, reversed, could give us an approximate time that the universe started.

      December 5, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Primewonk

      The Big Bang was first postulated by a Catholic priest who was also a scientist. The hypothesis of the Big Bang came from the scientist part of him, not the priest part.

      The scientific method originated with the Greeks.

      In the middle ages the church owned the colleges and universities. You couldn't even attend unless you pledged to believe what the church taught.

      Sorry.

      December 5, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • rker321

      As a religious individual I can see that you have your opinions regarding religion, which I don't argue, But what does religion has to do with politics and the governing of our society?

      December 5, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • Mychele

      The "Church" may have done those things – and people of other faiths made similar contributions in terms of math and science as well, but above all they were human beings who accomplished this and we as humans have also greatly improved on that knowledge, including allowing women into those realm as well. If it were strictly up to religion, the latter may never have come to fruition.

      December 5, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  9. Rhiannon

    This author needs to quit shooting off his mouth until he knows what he is talking about. It is doubtful he has ever spoken to a republican, or Christian for that matter, in his life.

    December 5, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • gladiatorgrl

      Mark Osler is a professor of law at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis.

      attacking the messenger??

      December 5, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  10. steve-o

    There are a great many people in the US who think the Earth was formed 6000 years ago, who pull their children out of public schools because of paranoia and the weakness of their own beliefs, who think they are the chosen ones and above all others or who think taxation is a moral sin. People like that can not be trusted.

    December 5, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • KM

      well, you aren't too much of a bigot

      December 5, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • JFCanton

      But because they care that much about their children, they do a better job educating than the public school system does on average.

      December 5, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • ME II

      "bigot"?
      There is nothing bigoted about thinking it is wrong to teach children that the Earth is <10K years old.

      Home-schooled is better? I'd like to see the data for that.

      December 5, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  11. Chris

    Yes, give away all that YOU have, but do not give away all that belongs to OTHERS! Quit stealing in the name of taxes just to give it to other people. This is not what Jesus meant when he said to help others by giving of YOURSELF.

    December 5, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • 4JULY1776

      Great point!

      December 5, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Huebert

      Taxes are not stealing Chris. They are a way of funding the public services you enjoy.

      December 5, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Michael

      What do you think Jesus meant when he said: "Give unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God what is God's." That is assuming that you do think.

      December 5, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Fred Cornblooth

      Some seem to think that the government is stealing when people are taxed. May not the Government may compel its citizens to join the military in time of war? Last I check the answer is yes, the government may compel its citizens to join the military, and thereby risk life and limb. It seems obvious to me that government may ask much of us, up to and including the loss of life in a time of need. So why do so many question the government's legitimate right to ask of citizens pay a fraction of their wealth in this time of need?

      December 5, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @4July
      Are you going to address any of the points made to you in prior posts, or just keep on ignoring any cogent counter-arguments?

      December 5, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  12. teleco4

    Interested slant on the Democrats motives, but I think you miss the bigger picture. Many religious conservative want to make sure gay marriage is never legal (they see the hand writing on the wall), outlaw abortion, bring back prayer in schools, and stop teaching evolution. They see the weakening of the Federal government as the means to that end. They want to use "State's Rights" as a tool to pursue their religious agenda.

    December 5, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Answer

      The religious fanatics are doing well with their agenda in Uganda though. Pretty soon those people will outlaw the United States and the whole western society that turned them towards that path.

      December 5, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  13. Warren Morris

    I must disagree with you. It is incorrect to charge that the Republicans do not care about the poor. Care for the poor is not the issue. The debate is about what is best to help the poor. I believe that the case can be made that the Democratic solution which is an expansion of the welfare state does not really help the poor, but creates a dependency on government that keeps them poor instead of finding gainful employment so that they can support themselves. The welfare state has failed to resolve the problem of poverty. It is a fact that it has created a subculture that encourages teen age girl to deliberately get pregnant so that they can get on welfare. This creates a dysfunctional family that does not teach the children the responsibility they need to stay in school and get an education so that they can support themselves. It has also almost bankrupt our country and contributed to the economic crisis that has gripped our nation since the end of Bush's term.

    December 5, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Chris

      You sir, are hitting the nail on the head! Are you, by chance, a carpenter?

      December 5, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • dieseltdi

      Teenage pregnancies are down across the board in the US, with one great exception, the rural, conservative, stauchly republican south. I wonder how that fits into your view? Welfare queens are a myth started by Reagan and perpetuated by those on the far right. Trust me, like being Gay, no one in their right mind would CHOOSE to be on welfare. You can't even feed one person in most states let alone a family. BTW the worst case of welfare fraud I ever heard about was in Louisiana, a rural white family, members of the local baptist church, rented out his daughters to various men in the community so that they could file work WIC and other benefits. That isn't the picture of the welfare queen that you believe in, however.

      December 5, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • c

      I'm sorry, but he never made the claim that 'republicans do not care about the poor'. His article was describing why we are in gridlock through the matters of faith. You fell right into the mire; assuming that if someone was writing on republicans and faith they MUST be saying something bad. He also wrote on democrats making the exact same mistake. Go back and read his opinion piece again, but take off your strictly black and white glasses.

      December 5, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Chuck88888

      Well stated Morris.

      December 5, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • JFCanton

      @ diesel

      This is not really addressing Mr. Morris' point. People DO indisputably make the choice to live on welfare, not because it's a desirable living, but because it's an easy one. We can't operate as if people are uniformly likely to make rational choices.

      December 5, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Mychele

      Very few teenage girls deliberately get pregnant to get on welfare, I believe, and 100% of them require an irresponsible male counterpart to contribute to the un-miraculous conception. Most of those who take up a conservative religious argument have long ignored the male role, indeed blame, in conception, preferring instead to castigate the mother alone, whether she choses to have the child and go on assistance, put the child up for adoption or have an abortion. When these moralists treat the sperm donor with the same scorn as they often do the welfare mom, and turn equal effort toward *his* behavior, then I believe more will have a firmer grasp of reality.
      Otherwise though, I think the author is right on the mark. We are all hostage to the fanciful ideas of those who 'lead" us.

      December 5, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  14. dugee

    The Taliban have very literal religious beliefs as well.

    December 5, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  15. Boost economy and pay off debt

    Again, the fix is simple..
    It's time for the Middle Cla-ss to run this country,, today we are taken advantage of by the poor, by religion's scamming and by the upper cla-ss who wouldn't be there without the buying power of the Middle Cla-ss. Fixing it fast and making it fair like this;
    ………………………….
    1) treat all organizations, including religions, as the businesses they really are. 2) tax all property of all organizations, religions too (they have become wealth accu-mulators at the cost to the middle cla-ss). 3) end all grants and subsidies to all organizations, including religions. 4) tax all income at payroll income.

    Doing the following will bring in over a trillion dollars in new revenue and return $200 to $1,000 after tax income PER MONTH to the middle cla-ss worker – economy wins.

    December 5, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  16. teavangelist

    bad argument. being either for or against any given argument as opposed to straddling all sides and hedging all bets is the way to be. You , sir, find fault with us for having convictions and sticking to them?

    December 5, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  17. MaryM

    You know what would solve America’s debt problems. Tax all the Churches or places of worship that want to engage in politics. Especially the Billy and Franklin Graham dynasty. How many trillions would go towards America’s debt?

    December 5, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Why use churches to solve our fiscal debt problems? Free up the now underground drug trades and Free up the now illicit s e x trades and free up our now regulated gambling trades! Make these three trades legal and the taxable money generated from freeing up these three trades would close the proverbial gaps of fiscal indebtedness!

      December 5, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • gladiatorgrl

      EXACTLY!! IF they're doing charity let them write it off against their income like everyone else!

      December 5, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • JFCanton

      Zero would go toward federal debt... they could just spend all their money. Perhaps some would go to local debt, but that's up to the local politicians.

      December 5, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Our governance’s freeing up the now underground drug trades in becoming a legal right would generate a substantial amount of revenue thru taxation. It would also free up our now overcrowded prisons, making room for those incurable lots who cannot live a normalized life in obeying the nation’s most base-rooted laws. Our nation in freeing up the drug trades by legalization would give rise to many variable businesses such as baked goods shops and candy-shops with laced drugs and would generate even more taxable incomes thru such businesses baking tainted goods.

      It would also remove the drug czars of other countries who use their drug trades to gain weaponry and build their armies. Freeing up and making the drug trades becoming legal is in fact the best avenue for any and all countries now beleaguered welfare issues!

      December 5, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  18. Pedro

    What does he mean by "literal?" I believe the universe is billions of years old. Does that mean I take the bible "figuratively?" No: it means that I interpret the bible in a different way from fundamentalists (I am Orthodox btw). There is no such thing as "literal" or "figurative." Either you believe that Jesus came down to save humanity or you do not. There is no in between.

    December 5, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • Lou

      It has less to do with Jesus than it does with whether you believe everything in the Bible is literally true. Even the things Jesus said. Were the parables literally true stories, or were they stories Jesus made up as a way to teach some point? Is it possible to believe the latter without thinking that Jesus was "lying"?

      December 5, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  19. Robert Jerus

    I'm a St Thomas Alum.... I hope this editorial does not present the University's point of view.... Obviously this is an attorney speaking rather than a business person.... presenting a narrow, biased viewpoint.... neither party is entirely right or just. Compromise needs to go both ways

    December 5, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  20. Patrick T

    History is the ultimate purveyor of truth. Societies decoupled from reverence of a higher power liter the ash heap of history. Humanism (Godless Human endeavor) is always doomed to failure. Just as I reach out to God for my help me in life, we need his guidance as a nation. We may disagree on the form, but to blame what little reverence out nation still has for our problems seems simple minded.

    December 5, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • Just call me Lucifer

      All societies have a life cycle... to say societies fade because some god hasn't had its sphincter kissed enough is idiotic.

      December 5, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • OOO

      "We need his guidance as a nation" ???
      How do you suppose this guidence will be delivered to 350 million different people? Without any conflicts?
      Hmmm?

      December 5, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • Thoth

      Really? then explain the decline of Rome, which coincided with the rise of Christianity forced upon it's people. In fact one of the oldest functioning cultures is that of China. What about Nazi Germany? The dark ages?

      December 5, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Patrick T
      The Roman Empire declined once they rejected their polytheistic pantheon in favour of Christianity.
      Perhaps we should start worshiping those Gods again.
      Praise Zeus!

      December 5, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • n222s

      OOO – you are implying that a government that does NOT ask for His guidance will somehow be free of conflicts. Violent conflicts involving Christians and Jews don't arise because of their faith. They start because they don't live up to their beliefs.

      December 5, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Lou

      Patrick T
      You may have a point. Rome only went into the trash heap after it abandoned it's traditional beliefs and gods for Christianity.

      December 5, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • debbie338

      You are apparently speaking of the Christian God. Yet, India and China, with all their multiple Gods, are both prospering and still rising. They have both been around far, far longer than we have. Your argument is invalid.

      December 5, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Lou

      Doc
      You beat me to it! Good on ya! 🙂

      December 5, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • OOO

      @n222s,
      No, I am implying that it is rediculous to ask for something like "gods guidence" in the first place.

      December 5, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • JFCanton

      These are some faux understandings of history being espoused here. Rome was declining as a going concern almost from its transition to an empire, and in any case well before its emperors began to dabble in Christianity. India is a pastiche and always has been, and is only "rising" to the extent that others are falling. China is a great culture historically, but its success now is substantially borrowed from second-rate Western practices.

      December 5, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @JFCanton
      What about Ja/pan?

      December 5, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.