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. Correctlycenter

    Both political parties are correct on some issues and wrong on others. God identifies what sin is in the bible. The gospel of John states that Jesus Christ is the word. Man will tend to "cherry pick" parts of the bible they believe and other areas they don't. That is how cults get started. All 66 books of God's word is good for us as stated in 2nd Timothy chapter 3. Live by God's standards and not necessarily your own opinion or your neighbor's across the street... God bless!

    December 5, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Do you have slaves then? Do you go around stoning a whole mess of people who don't agree with you or don't live according to your book?

      December 5, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Ricky Bobby

      Hilarious stuff! Shake and Bake!

      December 5, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • mama k

      Rubbish. No one interprets Gullible's Travels the same way. Get over yourself.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • Akira

      Here's the issue: trying to legislate one's faith into civil law.
      Wholly wrong, no matter what letter is behind one's name: (D) or (R).

      December 5, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Christianity IS a cult, dedicated to pedophillia and ponzi schemes, designed to seperate fools from their money and little boys from their virginity.

      It is an abomination, and is dying right before our eyes.

      In 100 years it will barely be a foot note in the High School curriculum, being barely reviewed after Roman Gods, and Communisim.

      Good Riddance I say!

      December 5, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      Correct, the problem is that the Bible is a lousy guide for today's world. Should you stone your neighbors and sell your children? I'd say that you cannot in good conscience live in this determinedly-secular country and be a good Christian by your standards any more than a radical Muslim can. If you sincerely believe you must burn offerings and war against our federal government, then there are places in Europe that would be a better fit for you. The Bible is no help about cell phones and texting or bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches either. I'd say you'd have to consider it a guidebook, not a lawbook.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • noefqa

      William Demuth
      So everyone is like that because only a small fractional percentage is evil. sorry to burst your narrow minded bubble, but you ar prejudice ... cant blame an entire group because of the failings of a very small few especially when the majority of that group think otherwise.

      you have let your hatred of christiatnity cloud your judgement and this shows are narrow minded you are.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Do you practise polygamy or incest?

      December 5, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • The Life of 3.16

      You are such a tool Demuth.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      "Christianity IS a cult, dedicated to pedophillia and ponzi schemes, designed to seperate fools from their money and little boys from their virginity." Too harsh; even I have to say that's a low blow. It goes back to one of my Abiding Questions, which is If God's So Great, Why Can't He Get Good Help? At the heart of faith is a bunch of people who want to believe that life isn't a waste, that there is something more after we die. They do a lot of good just by giving people hope.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • JFCanton

      Unfortunately this can only be a two-sided conversation if we acknowledge that there is a difference between the Bible -addressing- slavery, stoning, etc. and -endorsing- it.

      Maybe we *should* interpret Gulliver's Travels just as literally... liberals would be in just as much trouble as conservatives!

      December 5, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • Saraswati

      "Christianity IS a cult, dedicated to pedophillia and ponzi schemes, designed to seperate fools from their money and little boys from their virginity."

      I have to agree with Bible Clown; this is going too far. Most people, both members and clergy, are just looking for answers the same way most human's are. There is much about religions that do make people happy and offer benefits, and to deny that is to stick your head in the sand with regard to known areas of social science in the same way that some fundamentalists do in denying physical sciences.

      December 5, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      Oh here's comes a spin machine. So then, when it says to stone children who disrespect their parents, what does the bible "really mean". When it says that you should buy your slaves from non-israelites and they can be passed as inheritance because they're property, what does the bible "really mean"? When it says that if any family member tries to get you to follow a different god, the entire village should stone them, and your hand shall be the first to put them to death, what does the bible "really mean"?

      December 5, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Guy

      Can you explain to me why different christian cults disregard the ten commandments, for example, the big #2.
      Thou shall not make unto thee any craven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above.......KJV
      So I really do not get all these christians wearing an image of jesus on a stick, are they breaking big commandment #2 or as I believe, that jesus did not ascend to heaven, but like all others, dust to dust. Just asking, and I will get into all those depictions of the virgin mary some other time.

      December 5, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • adh1729

      To Hawaii Guest: "Do you have slaves then? Do you go around stoning a whole mess of people who don't agree with you or don't live according to your book?" "So then, when it says to stone children who disrespect their parents, what does the bible "really mean". When it says that you should buy your slaves from non-israelites and they can be passed as inheritance because they're property, what does the bible "really mean"? When it says that if any family member tries to get you to follow a different god, the entire village should stone them, and your hand shall be the first to put them to death, what does the bible "really mean"?"
      You have the intelligence of a grade school kid, which is not surprising. The Old Testament was written to people who lived 3000 years ago, in a totally different culture. You could take anything out of antiquity and bring it into the modern age and it would end up looking dumber than Don Quixote. Real brilliant reasoning. Do you Americans learn how to think in public school? People in antiquity had brains as large as yours, they were as smart as you, but they were different. You are as bigoted as a racist; you hate and despise people different from you (in this case, people who lived before you).

      Jesus said, "because of the hardness of your hearts Moses gave you this precept;" the prophet Ezekiel wrote, "because they rejected my commandments ... therefore I gave them statutes which were not good". God had to compromise with the culture that he had.

      I think ignorant people like you should avoid discussing things that are too high for you. Talk about things that you genuinely know, like cheating on your taxes or screwing people over. Don't talk about the Bible - your ignorance and small-mindedness gives you away.

      December 5, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  2. DC Observer

    The good news about this article and this writer is:

    1. He speaks for himself only; his individual opinion; and no facts that anybody else in the world agrees with him on anything; and

    2. He is not an elected official and therefore has zilch input into solving our prooblems.

    Now I am going to my local bar tonight, and I will ask the bartended what his thoughts are on religion and fiscal policy as his opinion I will consider as much as this legal beagle

    December 5, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
  3. Roy

    Most "progressives" have a good/evil view of the world, in case this guy hadn't noticed.

    December 5, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • A

      This author has noticed. And if you'd kept reading the article, instead of scrolling down here immediately after the first few lines to pop off about your own bugaboos, you'd have seen that.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • john

      literally half of the column addressed that. in case you didn't notice.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • Roy

      He was referring to those "progressives" with a liberal Christian faith.

      Many a proudly atheist liberal suffers from a Manichaean world view indistinguishable in all vital respects from that of the most lunatic religious fundamentalist.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  4. D

    If this guy passes for a professor, then we really are a stupid people.

    December 5, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • ME II

      D is obviously not a logic professor.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  5. lionlylamb


    The whether of weathering is but a foggy indices of blatant vulnerabilities so texted beforehand and upon the nowadays handed repulsiveness of latency regularities of common wealthy denominators railed effects is affecting all folds of governed generalist quandaries. Though the poor will become the poorer and the poorest ever in remnants, the servile scopes of clemencies obliging momentums will make the rich even richer while the richest ever do also remain as ever they once were and now are and will also in the nearing foundations of time's passages.

    Test #2 of more tests to come!

    December 5, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      (Edited for re-posting clarifications)

      The whether or not of governed weathering traditions are but foggy indices of blatant sociologically extensive and highly orientated percussive vulnerabilities of tribal unifications so texted beforehand and upon the nowadays handed repulsiveness of latency obtrusive regularities within the common wealthy denominators railed effects as affecting all folds of governed generalist quandaries welfare dynamics. Though the poor will become the poorer and the poorest ever in vitrified remnants, the servile scopes of pre-modernizations clemencies obliging within post servile momentums will make the rich even richer while the richest ever do also so remain as ever they once were and now are and will also so be in the nearing foundations of time's continual passages.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • fintastic

      Though they once while mome the remnants, the poor nowadays hand upon the wealthy denominators raile momencies of pre-moderned regularities will make they obtrusive richer do all make the poorest quand within as evernizations as ever do also so texted remnants, they obtrusive regularities of pre-moderned repulsive vulnerabilities of latency once wealthy denominators raile the welfare but folds of blated geness of blatency once weathe rich ever within vitribal unifically exted regularientums within.

      December 5, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  6. Dan

    This is pretty simple. The same dangerous and misguided "logic" that leads to believe in something that clearly and patently doesn't exist, leads to similar leaps like "tax cuts increase revenue" and "global warming isn't happening". In religion, believing something makes it true. In reality, this is simply not the case. This is the problem with religion. The founding fathers knew this, and the decline of America can be traced to the infiltration of the mental disease of religion in our political affairs.

    December 5, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • DavidA

      Which of course explains how it is that an irreligious Europe has been perched on the same fiscal cliff for longer than we have, and how an anti-religious China continues to destory the environment and provoke climate change.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • ME II

      Not that I agree with @Dan, anyone who starts, in this discussion, with "This is pretty simple," doesn't have a good grasp of the situation.
      However, I don't think you understand what is meant by "fiscal cliff" if you are saying Europe is in the same situation. The "fiscal cliff" being referred to these days is a cliff of our own making, in that there was legislation passed that automatically changes the economic/tax/spending rules if nothing is done to avert it.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • DavidA

      Well, then the European "debt crisis" is as big an issue as our "fiscal cliff," maybe a bigger issue according to some economists. How's that? 🙂

      December 5, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • jumpinjezebel

      You've got it right on the head. Almost all of the ills in the world are about religion – one side hates the other – Jews and the Arabs for instance. When religion intrudes into politics such as the "Grammy's" and their full page ads for Willard – they need to have their tax exemption pulled immediately.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • Dan

      @ DavidA

      Are you saying that America should become more religious so we don't "end up" like Europe and China?

      December 5, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • DavidA

      Just saying that the evidence points to religion being a non-factor.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  7. Bob

    Sorry, I couldn't read the rest of the article after the false strawman set up in the first paragraph. If you posit any facts you would like as true at the start, you can "prove" almost anything you want.

    December 5, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  8. DavidA

    "Fundamentalism" and absolutism is a two-way street. There are just as many driving on the Left as the Right; they are each just certain about different things. Jesus did come to help the poor, but he still had dinner with the little, rich guy that everyone hated, Zacchaeus. Everyone picks the Gospel that suits them, the author of this piece included.

    December 5, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • greg

      For Democrats, compromise and moderation are not dirty words (as with conservative republicans). Democrats are much more likely to be willing to reach a consensus through give and take. Our political system is no longer balanced in the sense that the GOP resists tooth and nail any such concession as a threat to America's future. But Democrats are no longer willing to compromise with themselves in the hope that GOPers will see this and respond in kind (been tried over and over without success).

      December 5, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Bea

      You are so right. This article felt like the writer was grasping for straws to support his very on sided argument, before trying to appear neutral by saying that Democrats are bad too....but not as bad as Republicans. Total crap. Both sides of the political divide have major issues that is causing huge problems for the average American and the world. Both sides need to grow up.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  9. RustyHinges8

    I haven’t read this much crap in a while….and here I thought the Republican’s theory of “the common man be damned”, and “the wealthy will always rule” was just their usual way of Republican thinking, along with a disturbing lack of humanity to help those in need, such as the elderly, our veterans, schools and families. But, now I know. (“the golden spirals among the poor”) They were influenced by the Bible.

    December 5, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  10. Ames IA

    Well this opinion piece paints with a very broad brush! It pains me as a Christian to have the conservative brand of faith considered the gold standard. As a scientist it pains me to people of power and authority making decisions affecting the entire country in denial of evidence and information. Good policy is forged by a weighing alternatives based on as much information and analysis is necessary to measure the costs, benefits and risks. While one's faith informs those decisions – religion is faith in the unknowable and belief in denial of fact is cult behavior and not religion.

    December 5, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  11. gera

    "some American conservatives tend both to see their opponents as evil" What is he talking about? That's what you hear from people who hate religion. He is just mislead.

    December 5, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • ME II

      e.g. Fred Phelps

      December 5, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • ME II


      (heck the url says it all)

      December 5, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • ME II


      December 5, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Michael

      For the answer to your question, you need look no further than Rish Windbag. Anyone that does not think as he does or see the world through his hate colored glasses is evil and doomed to Hades.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Matt

      Most 'non relgious' types like myself see religion simply as irrational. Ignorance and irrationality are not evil, just short commings of one's own socialization.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Primewonk

      " Ignorance and irrationality are not evil, just short commings of one's own socialization."

      When your ignorance and irrationality makes you enact laws and amendments to prevent US citizens from having the same civil rights as you have, it is evil. Fundamentalism does this.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • ME II

      Thanks for the example of the other side using the "evil" label.

      December 5, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  12. Snake-Eyes

    I will say it agin: Many of our problems will be greatly helped when politicians stop trying to be preachers & when preachers stop trying to be politicians.

    December 5, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • Bea

      You may be on to something brilliant.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
  13. Mohammad A Dar

    I saw John Boehner with some good looking broad on TV, I wonder she is a biographer!!

    December 5, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • Virginiaham

      LOL, that would be too much to hope for. But it would be delicious fodder.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
  14. 4JULY1776

    It's one thing to give your belongings away freely and voluntarily. That's called charity.

    It's another thing to have your property forceably taken from you with nothing in return. That's called stealing.

    What the Democratic Party does on a daily basis is the stealing. They take from the workers and hand-out to the non-workers.

    Though charity is certainly encouraged, nowhere in the Bible or the Koran (or any other religion that I'm aware of) does it tell you to sit idly by while everything is stolen from you by a lying pack of thieves.

    December 5, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • ojohnson

      Jesus explicitly told his followers to "Give unto Cesar that which is Cesar's". He was explicitly referring to the taxes collected by the government. Your argument does not stand up to even the slightest bit of religious research.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Horus

      The Republican party does the exact same thing. Only they "steal" and give to the not-so-needy in the form of corporate welfare, defense contracts and wars. Do some research and see how many Republican members of Congress, or Governors turned down Federal funds and stimulus dollars.... both sides are guilty

      December 5, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • Mike

      Settle down there, drama queen. Paying taxes is not stealing because taxes pay for things like roads, firefighters, schools, airports, the military... you get the idea. Things you use on a regular basis, or that are at least available for your use should you need them.

      Yes, some of your taxes are spent on things you don't want them to be spent on. Guess what? Some of *everyone's* taxes are spent that way. I, for example, am tired of spending money on Afghanistan and on subsidizing Big Oil.

      Put on your big-boy (or big-girl, whichever is appropriate) pants and propose some solutions that aren't the simplistic "stop spending money!" that you want. Nothing is that simple.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • Jake

      You provide a good example of the extreme / illogical views held by many. The taxes of our land have been put in place and refined by both Republicans and Democrats over many years. The tax structure is a legal mechanism put in place to determine how those of us who choose to receive the benefits of living in our society must contribute financially to support the maintenance of our society. There is no rational line of thought that can lead anyone to conclude that taxation is the equivalent of stealing (even if somehow it were only Democrats who are responsible for our tax structure).

      December 5, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • TC

      'Give to Ceasar what is Ceasar's?"

      December 5, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • lol??

      ojohnson, Caesar was a foreign king and the Jews were under bondage by being conquered by him. In the USA you have Masters and PUblic Servants. It's a simple concept not taught in the P Skools.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • mklsgl

      Try Judaism 101.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Mike Johnson

      This is why I detest conservatives. All they do is whine. Where were their parents? We were stuck with a 4 trillion dollar bill for a war in Iraq sold by conservative lies and promoted by the liars in the conservative media. If only democrats had not believed lying conservatives who have no morals or values that aren't preceded by dollar signs. Democrats believed Bush and we are stuck with a 4 trillion dollar bill. My parents cared. They taught me that life isn't fair so don't waste your life away being a crybaby.

      Conservatives have no problem having the government take part of their income to murder innocent babies, father, mothers and whole families with bombs. They can't deal with taking money to fed the poor and to prided health care for the poor. Conservatives have their final solution ton poverty, a massive died off from exposure and starvation.

      The majority of Americans believe we should take care off the poor using government programs. If you don't like it, leave. The majority does call the shots. Losers don't play in the Super Bowl ether.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Melanie

      Taxation is a foundation of our nation, as patriotic as the American Flag – I assume you mean taxation when you speak dishonestly of 'stealing.' Democrats do not steal anything, anymore than Republicans spend their time spitting on the homeless and kicking orphaned kittens in the head. Kudos to you, for the dumbest post yet today.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • pritika

      So the "workers" you claim the Democrats steal from are the top 1% of the tax payers who are worth Billions to give to the "non workers" who are the poor? These "workers" who derive most of their wealth from investments are taxed at 15% while the rest of us who really do the work are taxed at much higher rates. You are not being logical or practical or in fact Christian.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  15. lathebiosas

    So, what you're saying is ironically Democrats are more Chrisitan than Republicans.

    December 5, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • Mike

      Anyone who actually understands and practices true Christianity has been saying that for quite some time.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • JusticeIsNonexistent

      Mike – perhaps you need to dig out your bible and study a little more, you seem to have developed a pretty nasty case of self-righteousness. Democrats are not more Christian than Republicans and brother did you miss the point behind the story of the wealthy young man – as did the writer. The point was that you can't serve two masters – money and God and the wealthy young man didn't want to give up either. Twisting it to somehow say that you need to give everything away in order to serve God doesn't make that warped idea right. God is the one who blesses us with riches. He simply, and justifyably, gets a little testy when those are put before Him. With regard to taking care of the poor, that is true, however the bible also states that those who will not work, will not eat. Back in biblical times, some of the people currently receiving foodstamps and other forms of welfare would have been put outside the village and allowed to fend for themselves or starve while those who were trying but unable to make it or who were unable to work due to physical/mental limitations would have been cared for.

      And for the record – most Republicans don't mind taxes – it's the waste that is more the problem. You can't tell me you need more money while you're spending millions on non-necessities such as training in Las Vegas, expensive travel trips that are more personal than business, twice the going rate for supplies, federal employees who make 25+% above their peers in the private sector, public employee retirement plans that are as far out of line,etc. Most of us would be ok with it IF big brother got his act together and spent wisely. If they did away with the fraud and used those funds to fix the roads and schools, etc., they probably wouldn't need nearly as much and we would be ok with supplying what they did need.

      The problem most of us have is that the dems have offered very little in the way of spending cuts that signify they have even acknowledged there is a problem with fraud and waste, much less are prepared to deal with it.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  16. pritika

    If we could just get everyone to leave their religion at home (not their conscience) and deal with the problems at hand, we might actually accomplish something. I once asked a fervently religious co-worker who she was without all her religious mumbo jumbo and she said she would be nothing without it. It was like my response if one asked me who I would be without the ability to read and reason. She had willingly given her whole existence to her religion, she could not consider without the bible. It made me think of suicide bombers and mullahs and fatwas. That kind of zeal is what causes some of us to fear Muslims and fundamentalist snake handlers yet we accept these types in our legislatures to decide for the rest of us how our government will proceed.

    December 5, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • Me

      Leaving your religion at home is nothing but being a hypocrite! Either you believe what you believe or you don't. Go tell your husband or wife that when you go on a business trip, you are only married at home!!!

      December 5, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • lathebiosas

      I like to ask those of faith: If you got cancer, would you seek treatment? Of course they would. To which I then ask why, why would you deny God's plan for you? Uhh, well, uhhh....
      You don't really believe unless you accept what comes without interefering. And when you do accept that treatment that extends your life, just think of all the scientists behind it that didn't accept that things are simply the way they are because God made them that way.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • Ihova

      By that same token, we need to have everyone leave their fear of religion at home as well. You seem just as opinionated as the far right in this matter. I am an agnostic, organized religion is rather annoying to me, but the far left zealots that demand that peoples beliefs "be left at home" are far more annoying.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Me

      "I like to ask those of faith: If you got cancer, would you seek treatment? "

      Of course, That IS God's plan! It is funny how atheists misquote the bbile more than anyone else!

      December 5, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • Michael

      @Me ... "That IS God's plan" ... and you know this HOW? Did your deity whisper it in your ear? Had you lived 100 years ago, said treatment would not have been available, all through science, by the way. So if it was God's plan that you survive cancer yet the treatment was not available and you died, how does that fit in with God's plan? So let me get this right: anything that works in your favor is God's plan but anything that doesn't is the work of the devil incarnate? How about just accepting responsibility for your actions and understand that every one of your actions have ramifications and leave it at that?

      December 5, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Primewonk

      " Of course, That IS God's plan!"

      Exceept that the Christian Science folks say that it is god's plan to pray the cancer away. Here is the funny part – the new incoming chairman of the House SCIENCE, Space, and Technology committee is a believer in Christian Science. I wonder if he'll try and block funding of the NIH?

      December 5, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • pritika

      Me: to illustrate my point, when Vice President Biden was asked about Roe v Wade( which the Catholic Church would like to see overturned) and his religion (being Catholic himself) he stated that he believed that protecting the rights of women to choose what happens within their bodies should remain a decision between the women and their doctors and his religious faith did not give him the right to force his beliefs on anyone else.

      December 5, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  17. PSAztec

    The problem with this article, other being way over the top which he claims that Christians do, is that Democrats like to take care of the poor via the government, verses using their own money. When Democrats give, it to libraries, medical schools, colleges (ever notice that Harvard's endowment is $23 billion), etc. Democrats want to take care of people through the government while Conservate Christians would prefer that non-government agencies take care of the poor. The author can claim that Christians don't care about the poor, that the data does not suggest that. There are tons of soup kitchens and other ministries that meet the needs of the poor. Quite frankly, they do it better than the government.

    December 5, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • pritika

      You conveniently forget about the faith based initiatives that are still in force from the Bush era. Those are tax payer based through the "intrusive and inefficient" government you so deride.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • Patrick

      And you also conveniently fail to mention that "charity" from church groups comes at a price. You end up having to listen to their rubbish about god and their never-ending attempts to get you to convert.
      The real reason conservative christians want the Government out of helping the poor is simple; it removes the power that they yield in gathering new converts to their absurd beliefs. Take away their ability to be the sole providers of "charity" and you remove their biggest, and most insidious, "recruitment" ability

      December 5, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • mike Johnson

      You blindly bight in to another lie the liars in the conservative media? I'm amazed at conservatives inability to learn simple things like they have been made to look like the national fools for four years. You didn't learn after Obama didn't take guns. These are people who were convinced stopping 396,000 entries from Mexico last year was doing nothing and that a beer drinking Obama was following Islam.

      Liberals are educated. Being educated people, liberals know that there will never be enough charity.to solve our social problems. Look at Salt Lake City, the Headquarters of the LDS Church. In a city that's the home of America's wealthier church per capita, , there as never been enough charity to meet the needs the poor. Are conservatives ignorant or liars? You decide. Can a conservative show us a place were charity has met the needs of the poor? They can't.

      Anyone educated in history can point to the Russian Revolution and the street riots in the United States fueled by hunger that threatened domestic security. I'm sure Christan conservatives have a final solution to poverty.

      Conservatives show us they have no pride. Don't we endure a daily contest here were conservatives are vying to write the most ignorant comment of the day? Why would people who have no self pride have pride in their nation? If you have no pride in your nation why would having the streets of American cities look like street filled with beggars like Bangladesh bother you?

      December 5, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  18. ojohnson

    Why is it that people cannot see the inequality in the current tax rates? Have you done your research on the current tax rate schedules to understand how the middle class is paying the majority of taxes? Here is the current tax rate brackets for individual earnings:
    10% of all income between $0 and $8,700.
    15% on income between $8,700 and $35,350.
    25% on income between $35,350 and $85,650. (notice that this is a 10% jump from the previous bracket.
    28% of] income between $85,650 and $178,650.
    33% on income between $178,650 and $388,350.
    35% on income over $388,350. (only a 2% increase from the previous bracket)

    Does anyone want to tell me why it is okay to have a 10% jump in rates once you go beyond $35,350? How is that fair to those in the lower-middle income earners? Conversely, why is it acceptable that there is only a 2% increase when you pass the $388,350 bracket? Why is there no further brackets above the 35% bracket? Why are these brackets and taxes so wildly different between those earning small wages and those earning large amounts of money?

    Yes, progressive feel that they are following Christ's teaching when we strive to help the poor. This is why we have programs such as Food Stamps and Medicaid. Relying on churches to fulfill this role just does not work on a national scale, which is what must be done. All churches serve their local parishioners. Those areas with the greatest need will find their churches unable to help them, this is due to the fact that donations in those churches also decrease when their parishioners are suffering.

    The southern states have the worst poverty rates and therefore provide very little taxes. They also receive the most in terms of federal social programs. The wealthiest states, such as California, New York, Illinois, (basically the northern states). Pay more in federal taxes than they receive in federal services. This means that money from the wealthier states are redistributed to the poorer states. It is ironic that the "liberal" states in the north are supporting the "conservative" states in the south.

    December 5, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • Matthew

      What's ironic about that? Did you not just state "Yes, progressive feel that they are following Christ's teaching when we strive to help the poor." Did you just mean the poor who agree with you ideologically, or did you mean all poor people? If you meant all poor people, then the fact that Southern states receive more federal aid than they send in in federal taxes should be entirely inconsequential to you. After all, helping the poor is helping the poor, right?

      December 5, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  19. lol??

    The God of the Bible is about family. The progressives know that to grow the Beast and seize power they must outnumber the Christians. It appears they won. The PUblic Servants vote their own interests as a block. Sorry dad, ya old fuddy duddy.

    December 5, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • ojohnson

      This is about the silliest argument I've heard. Why is it that conservatives believe that just because someone is progressive that they must be atheists or worse. Many progressive believe that one role of the government is to provide social services to the poorest among us, just as Jesus taught.

      December 5, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • NOTU

      Jesus would have told you it is YOUR responsibility to attend to the poor, not the government's job.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • lol??

      Exactly correct. Nobody gets blessed.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • Mike Johnson

      Notice how "progressive" is only used by brainwashed conservatives? Jesus was a progressive and the sins of Sodom were Greed and hospitality. Conservatives are today's Sodomites.

      Christ believed we are defined by how we treat the least among us. The Bible tells us the wealth have as much chance of entering heaven as a camel going through the eye of a needle. Should a Christian Nation with the highest incarceration rates and the largest users of drugs promote a government that reflects the values of Christ by caring for the least among us?

      December 5, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • lol??

      Mike Johnson, Jesus was actually talking about how people treat Christians in ye olde "least among us". You wouldn't want God mad at you, would you?

      December 5, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Primewonk

      " The God of the Bible is about family. "

      Sell your daughter as a slave.

      Kill disobedient kids.

      If your son is gay, kill him.

      If your daughter isn't a virgin on her wedding night, stone her.

      If you wife tries to get you to worship a different god, kill her.

      Yep, your god is all about family!

      December 5, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Primewonk

      " Jesus would have told you it is YOUR responsibility to attend to the poor, not the government's job."

      A typical emergency appendectomy runs about $18,000. Is your typical small church going to pay this? A non complicated birth is $20,000. They going to pay this?

      My wife broke the hell out of her leg. So far the bill is over $130,000. She's off work for 5-6 months. Is your church going to pay all this, plus her short term disability salary?

      December 5, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • lol??

      Hey wonk, I never did hear any complaints about the AMA controlling the supply of doctors in all the Gubcare talk. Hospitals have been run as a joke as far as I can remember. The paper pushin' INS CO's ha!

      December 5, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  20. Me

    "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."

    Oh, come on, the rich ruler is told to give away him money as a "test of faith". God wants us to prosper, be good stewards of our money, & take care of those that cannot take care of themselves.

    Stop the hate articles against Christianity!

    December 5, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • Raycamp

      Most intelligent response I have read in a long time. People should go talk to Catholic Charities and the Food banks and ask how much of their budget is funded by the government.

      December 5, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • FatSean

      Churches are funded by the government in that they are tax-free. Since the government still needs to pay its bills, non-churches are taxed higher to make up for the shortfall in revenue.

      December 5, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • lathebiosas

      Raycamp, why do these megachurches need acres and acres of tax free land? Why do they need these giant exhorbitant structures to hold mass? It seems to me divesting itself of all these things would feed a lot of poor people. "The kingdom of God is within you and all around you. It is not within buildings of wood or stone. Split a piece of wood and you will find me. Look beneath a stone and I am there..." As an atheist myself sometimes I think I understand Jesus message better than my friends of faith.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • Me

      lathebiosas, how much money do you give to the poor??? I am betting these mega churches give more than you do! These mega churches raise their own money without govt assistance, image THAT! These mega churches are also doing what the govt cannot & should not be doing, which is mass caring for people.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      " These mega churches raise their own money without govt assistance, image THAT! "
      They pay no real estate taxes on tracts of lands the size of malls and subdivisions. There was a medium-size one which was judged to have become a PAC by going too partisan for McCain – they lost their exemptions and had t sell their church and land to pay the taxes. They claimed they were being oppressed by godless atheists but the tax code is pretty clear on the difference between a church and a political party. Render unto Caesar, y'know.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
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About this blog

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.