A Very Merry Ron Paul Christmas

Tom Van Dyke

Tom Van Dyke, businessman, musician, bon vivant and game-show champ (The Joker's Wild, and Win Ben Stein's Money), knows lots of stuff, although not quite everything yet. A past inactive to The American Spectator Online, the late great Reform Club blog, and currently on religion and the American Founding at American Creation, TVD continues to write on matters of both great and small importance from his ranch type style tract house high on a hill above Los Angeles.

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134 Responses

  1. Darren says:

    This atheist will be happily voting for Ron Paul. He believes that  liberty derives from God, I believe that it derives from Natural Law. But the only important thing to me is that he does believe in individual liberty and self ownership. No other candidate right or left can honestly say the same.Report

  2. ben2021 says:

    atheists for ron paul! on the same track darren.Report

    • Attorneys for Ron Paul in reply to ben2021 says:

      Ron Paul supports our freedoms to believe what what we want. I believe atheism is a logical falicy since you can’t logically prove the non-existence of something, and Ron Paul will make sure I am allowed to express my constitutional right and believe what I want to believe. Ron Paul is the champion of the US Constitution, and I am an Iranian-American Lefty who plans to vote for him.Report

  3. greginak says:


    Shorter Ron. ” In this season of goodwill I want to toss insults at strawmen.”Report

  4. Chris says:

    Even if there is a god, there is no coherent meaning to the notion that morality derives from god, other than that god has certain preferences that he would like us to follow. In the same sense it is incoherent to talk about “natural law” as a means of deciding morality. All rights that supposedly derive from natural law are still socially constructed. They are not natural, objective, artifacts of the world that society protects or dismantles. The notion of self-ownership is equally devoid of meaning. In any case, Paul’s support for civil liberties is tenuous at best (just look at his record on Abortion.) The libertarian fixation on property rights is too often just a cover (explicit or accidental) for protecting the status quo.Report

  5. LovelyLily says:

    Agnostics for Ron Paul !

    He’s going to win Iowa, and New Hampshire 🙂Report

  6. Woody says:

    Greginak, there are people who want to do exactly what Paul is suggesting.  It’s just a fact.Report

    • greginak in reply to Woody says:

      Woody- and there are true believer Nazi’s on forking Stormfront. How representative are they of anything but their own twisted views. There a 300 hundred million people in this wacky country of ours. We have believers in every freaking thing ever thought of. Paul is playing culture war.Report

  7. Nob Akimoto says:

    Hey Blaise?

    Is he still not thumping the bible?Report

    • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

      Mr. Akimoto, Ron Paul’s argument here for Christianity is purely utilitarian, in service of libertarianism:

      “The Founding Fathers envisioned a robustly Christian yet religiously tolerant America, with churches serving as vital institutions that would eclipse the state in importance. Throughout our nation’s history, churches have done what no government can ever do, namely teach morality and civility. Moral and civil individuals are largely governed by their own sense of right and wrong, and hence have little need for external government.

      This is the real reason the collectivist Left hates religion: Churches as institutions compete with the state for the people’s allegiance, and many devout people put their faith in God before their faith in the state. Knowing this, the secularists wage an ongoing war against religion, chipping away bit by bit at our nation’s Christian heritage. Christmas itself may soon be a casualty of that war.”Report

      • b-psycho in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        Some questions for you:

        -Any examples of “secularist” attacks in this “war”?

        -Do you think it’s not possible for someone to have a sense of morality and civility without religion?

        -You say “the collectivist Left” hates religion because people put faith in god over faith in the state.  What do you say to people who frankly have little use for either?


      • mityc in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        The things that Tom Van Dyke writes and endorses would never be tolerated if it comes from the left side of the aisle. But it’s okay because like Bob Cheeks, he’s just a cuddly, curmudgeonly cranky right wing nut. Frankly I think rigt-winger should feel insulted; it’s the soft bigotry of low expectation – we don’t expect much better from right-wingers, so someone like TVD is qualified to be a front-pager at this blog. What a joke. Embarrassing, really. TVD, maybe you should consider the possibility that you’re being front-paged just to expose the ridiculousness of conservatives. You’re being used, here, man. Wake up.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to mityc says:

          You mean quotations from politicians?

          Mityc, if that is your real handle, could you give an example of a left-wing version of what you feel TVD has written here so we may see whether it is denounced or merely argued against?

          (My advice would be to have a friend edit it for you first.)Report

      • Nob Akimoto in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        I must’ve missed this issue of the Federalist Papers where Madison and Hamilton argue that churches would fill the vital moral purposes of the Republic…or maybe John Jay wrote it, might be why I missed it….Report

        • Nob, the Founding is more complicated than just the Federalist Papers.  We were already the United States of America before 1787 and the “godless” Constitution.  A nation is more than just its form of government.

          If you’ll be so kind to suspend judgment until you hear me out: I have found you already to be a complete gentleman, one who is able to entertain a thought without accepting it, but not shouting it down from the first either.

          The others are more complex, but John Jay, the least of the 3 who wrote the Federalist Papers [some Hamilton, mostly Madison], was a Christian nationist beyond all but today’s remanant:

          Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.

          This is an area of my own special study, religion & the Founding, Mr. Akimoto, and I’ll be happy to share the results between us.   I don’t even agree with Jay on this, but clarity comes first.  [Better a vague theist like Jefferson than a religious fanatic, and an atheist over anyone who would kill for God.]

          But Ron Paul is not all wet here.  Re the Founding, his remarks are completely verifiable and I believe I can verify them to your satisfaction.

          Just not here, in this particular comments section. George Washington and John Adams are completely citeable in the same zone as Paul. It’s damned interesting, actually.Report

          • greginak in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

            In all honesty TVD i have no doubt JJ said this if you say he did. While is it of historical interest that he believed most people believed this kind of stuff for a long time so it wouldn’t be a surprise.  In regards to how we are to live: so what? People make the same Christianist case today and they now get significant push back. I’m not going to take a libertarian, like Paul, as a serious or coherent thinker if he is going to make a Christianist case. If someone wants to make the case for us being ruled as a Christian Nation then do it, but they shouldn’t then whine about being called Theocrats or wanting a religiously dominated state. That is exactly what they are suggesting. And if the best they can do is saying the Founders said this or that, then is just to easy to supply Founder quotes that don’t support that view.Report

          • BlaiseP in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

            Nonsense. Writing in 1774 Madison said:

            “That diabolical, hell-conceived principle of persecution rages among some. . . . There are at this time in the adjacent county not less than five or six well-meaning men in close jail for publishing their religious sentiments, which in the main are very orthodox. . . . So I must beg you to . . . pray for liberty of conscience for all.”Report

          • Nob Akimoto in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

            I’d like to see what you’ve got on the matter, Tom. When it comes to founding era primary source, I’m mostly a federalist, particularly Hamilton’s work. I’m certainly not as familiar with other figures.Report

            • Mr. Akimoto, you may poke through the archives of the American Creation blog, linked by clicking my name on this comment.  As @ LoOG, I’m afraid I’m more addicted to the comments sections than speechifying on the frontpage.  Find a topic, and I’m probably there sharing the results of my own private studies.Report

    • BlaiseP in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

      I still don’t think he’s thumping the Bible.  In typical Ron Paul fashion, he’s trying to tell folks to Get Over It and get on with their lives, little realizing the implications of such a statement.

      Increasingly, Ron Paul reminds me of Al Gore on the stump.   Here’s a man who knows better than to give voice half the nonsense he utters, yet still he prattles on.Report

  8. BlaiseP says:

    Haha.   Did Santa Claus bring Ron Paul a Pander Bear for Christmas?

    Forsooth, count me as one of those Elitiist Lefties, albeit religious, who despises all this Religiosity on the Public Green and wishes it would all be pack’d up and shipped back to the Churches and Private Property from which it came.   If only on the grounds of bad taste, most of that plastic pageantry should be melted down and sent back to Atheist China where it was cast.Report

    • Robert Cheeks in reply to BlaiseP says:

      Someday I should like to read how you conflate your self-described ‘elitist’ liberalism and the ‘religious’. Religious in what sense? Liberal in what sense?Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

        In this nation, blessed as we are with what few freedoms are yet accorded us, (fewer every day!) all may worship as their faith guides them.   Those who aren’t religious, well, they’re as free as the rest of us to follow the dictates of their own conscience.

        A Liberal holds these principles very dear for they are not self-evident.   Offenses such as Relijin on the Public Green aren’t terribly offensive.   I suppose the atheists among us merely roll their eyes:  they know it’s all so much stuff and nonsense.   But those of us who have seen Relijin in the Public Square in nations less-tolerant than our own, we find it smacks of encroachment upon the rights of all.   Do we not have churches enough or front yards, where folks may put any old sign or religious displays?   Why must we have them in the Public Green?   Must, I repeat, wherein lies the necessity of these needlessly onerous trespasses?   A trespass tolerated too long creates an easement.Report

        • Robert Cheeks in reply to BlaiseP says:

          Your comments strike me as politically correct but lacking substance. For example, the credo, morals, and ethics of the American founding were gleaned from both the Bible and certain principles expressed in the Enlightenment philosophies. Politicans of both parties and apparatchiks of the general gummint are frequently found to be publicly expressing those Enlightenment prinicples but by your account the Biblical expression/’symbols are an “… encroachment upon the rights of all.” Really?

          How is that?Report

          • BlaiseP in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

            The credo, morals and all that folderol were gleaned not from the Bible but from the spectacularly bad examples set by previous forms of government, most notably that of George the Third, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith.

            The Bible does contain forms for government:  three of them: Patriarchy, government-by-prophet and kingdom.   There was a brief period of primitive communism among the Christians of Antioch but they didn’t attempt to spread it far.   None of these can be squared with the Enlightenment.   Your theology is weak and hermeneutics appalling.  Christ himself would studiously avoid earthly politics, what with that bit about Render Unto Caesar.

            How can you square the Enlightenment with the Bible? All these Bible Bangers appall me, seen from any angle, their knowledge of history is nothing but a pack of fables and Parson Weems.   As for what the Bible actually says, they remain willfully ignorant.Report

            • Robert Cheeks in reply to BlaiseP says:

              Bp, (and, btw I trust younz had a merry Christmas, and will have a prosperous and healthy New Year) you usually go directly to the meat of the issue and answer, to the best of your ability, the query. For some reason your making an effort to duck the question., Ffor example. I’m correct in my assertion of the relationship of the Bible and its teachings, particularly the Puritan movement, to the founding of the gummint. So, in this very rare instance your reply is not only wrong it implies an effort to avoid the inquiry simply because it goes to the ground of your oft humourous and always derailed interpretations of religion in the public square.

              So, again, seeing as  how Christianity is in many ways the bedrock of the American founding (a rather uniqe example of a conflating of a existential representation (Enlightenment policies) with the transcendental representation found in the movement of God through society (by way of the Gospel of Jesus Christ), I have to again inquire, of a man whose intelligence can sometimes be breathtaking while at the same time exhibiting the predjudical tendencies of a loutish, Newy York bohemian, why is it we may publicly call on the Enlightenment principles as immanent  examples of a successful social order, while demanding that Christianity be extirpated from the public square?



              • Liberty60 in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

                Lets suppose that Christianity is the bedrock principle of America.

                The bedrock principle of Christianity is charity, and failure to provide for the needy is punishable by eternal damnation.

                So in this Christian America, wouldn’t it make sense that we establish a culture where some form of tithing is compulsory, either by legal or cultural means?Report

              • Mike in reply to Liberty60 says:

                This is the typical Team Red dishonesty.

                Statement 1: “We are a judeo-christian nation (they use that wording to exclude the Moozlims cause they’re predominantly brown) and so laws against abortion should be on the books and our religious holidays and celebrations and slogans should be on the money and have government-paid-for displays.”

                Statement 2: “We shouldn’t have to pay for helping the poor, or the homeless, or the sick, or the needy.”

                There are far, far, far more passages in the Bible – even moreso if you read just the New Testament portion and ignore the Jewish books – that support the opposite of Statement 2. However, Team Red aren’t really christians; they’re part of the heretical Prosperity Gospel cult, which holds that Greed is Godly and anyone who doesn’t have money is obviously being punished for “sinning.”Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Liberty60 says:

                The bedrock principle of Christianity is charity, and failure to provide for the needy is punishable by eternal damnation.

                Technically, eternal damnation is the default state. Additionally, provision for the needy is not sufficient to change this particular state to one of non-damnation.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                eternal damnation is the default state.

                Heh. But there is some talk about rich people, camels and needle eyes.

                Maybe Jesus felt that rich people creatively capturing government was an unrepentable sin.sin.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                There is but Jesus’s attitude toward wealth is not, say, FDR’s.

                He doesn’t say “sell all you have and give it to the poor!” for the benefit of the poor in question. It’s not about helping the poor.

                Heck, the story of the Widow’s Mites talks about how God cares more about what you’re holding back rather than what is the actual outcome of the help you’re giving.

                The point of charity is not to help the poor, according to Jesus.Report

              • Liberty60 in reply to Stillwater says:

                That is a remarkable interpretation of the Gospel message. I would love to hear it fully unpacked.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                It’s hardly remarkable. It’s a fairly standard one.

                Jesus’s message was about doing things because they benefit *YOU*, not because they benefit others. Read the Sermon on the Mount again. “Do X and you’ll get free stuff! FREE STUFF!!!”

                Jesus isn’t really in the top tier of Moral Teachers, if you ask me. (He’s got one go-to-trick in his bag of tricks: “You have heard X… BUT I SAY X PLUS Y!!!!” If you get struck on one cheek, let him strike your *OTHER* cheek! Go the EXTRA mile! You’ve heard of the Silver Rule… BUT I SAY THE GOLDEN RULE!!! And so on.)

                This is pretty standard-issue Christian criticism.Report

              • Nob Akimoto in reply to Stillwater says:

                It’s interesting though that if you go into Acts, they do sort of take the communitarian thing pretty far, holding property and income in common and such.

                Not being fluent in Koine, I wonder how much is lost in the translation of the Gospels and also in the cultural context of the Roman Empire of the 1st-3rd century in the preachings from Jesus. He clearly had a resonance that led to people interpreting him in a pro-charity, pro-communitarian way for gentile converts.

                But some of that seems lost to us now.Report

              • Liberty60 in reply to Stillwater says:


                You read the Gospels and thats what you walked away with?

                That other people serve only as props for our personal spiritual enlightenment?




              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                Nob, I think that that had a lot more to do with S/Paul than with Jesus. It wasn’t even until the Marcion Heresy that what-we-now-see-as-the-church-fathers got their butts in gear to get a Canon together.

                You read the Gospels and thats what you walked away with?

                That other people serve only as props for our personal spiritual enlightenment?

                Yeah, I’m reaaaaally in a hurry to answer those questions.

                The short version is that I’ll restate: Jesus’s morality (as encapsulated in the Sermon on the Mount) is the morality of someone who says that you should do good things because you will be rewarded for them. I’m not terribly impressed by it.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Stillwater says:

                Lib60, it goes to “the poor will always be with you.”  Jaybird is in the zone here.  Jesus was not about this world.  That was why He was Him and not Barney the Dinosaur with a beard.Report

              • Liberty60 in reply to Stillwater says:

                The poor will always be with us…so we shouldn’t do anything about it?

                Is this what passes for Christian thinking round these parts?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                The fact that Jesus was preoccupied with the next world rather than with this world is fairly well documented.

                See, for example, the Gospels. He cared about stuff like “direct harm” (see the adulteress and/or his attitudes toward children) but when it came to Social Justice, he wasn’t exactly on par with, say, Old Testament prophets.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                The fact that Jesus was preoccupied with the next world rather than with this world is fairly well documented.

                It’s fairly well documented by a particular line of theologians. There are other interpretations, of course.

                For my part, I find this a pretty contentious claim. I read the words of Jesus as talking exclusively about the present, the here and now, about life and not the after-life.

                Recall that Jesus’ divinity was once upon a time not the prevailing view of Christians. That had to be decided upon, as it were. Along with a lot of other beliefs and dogmas relevant to centralizing (Catholicizing) the Church.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                There are always other interpretations. I stand by my reading of the Sermon on the Mount, however. I am also arrogant enough to think that I can defend it sufficiently to get a petulant “well, I don’t see it that way” from most opponents (as opposed to “how in the world could you possibly get that from that?).

                And that’s without getting into the whole “eternal damnation” vindictiveness thing that Jesus had going on. If I were a fig tree, I’d be tempted to not give him any figs either.Report

              • Liberty60 in reply to Stillwater says:

                Well, you are entitled to your own reading of the Gospels, but to call your interpretation a nonstandard one would be an understatement of epic proportions.

                I can’t think of a single Christian denomination that has your notion as its official line.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                I can’t think of a single Christian denomination that has your notion as its official line.

                Most of them don’t agree with me about the Resurrection either.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

                Let me see where we might agree, even a little.   America has been settled by Europeans roughly twice as long as it’s been a nation.  New Jerusalems a-plenty were set up here and there.   Lord Baltimore’s colony was Catholic, Georgia was Anglican, Pennsylvania, especially Philadelphia was a hub for dissenters of many flavors.   America would give rise to New Jerusalems for centuries:  Mormons, hippies, communes of various sorts, kooks and maniacs of many descriptions carved out their own little paradises in the wilderness.   But it wasn’t America.

                The Massachussetts Bay colony was a nasty intolerant little wasps’ nest.   Don’t attempt to hold it up as an example.   You know better.  I’ll fishing crucify upon a terribly embarrassing cross you if you try.   Those folks were cruel to dissenters, especially to Baptists and Anglicans and anyone else who dared to think for himself.   Eventually the Crown intervened and put an end to their little cult and good riddance.

                There’s always been a debate surrounding the Athens and Jerusalem dichotomy.    You won’t find the complete truth in either side of that debate.   Bob, if you’re going to put up the Puritans as some exemplar of the American Zeitgeist, you’ve only chosen the Jerusalem side of the debate.   The Enlightenment arose in reaction to these goddamn Jerusalems.   Don’t attempt to spoon in any sentiments from the Enlightenment, they’ll only make your Puritan argument look silly.Report

  9. Steve S says:

    Count me as another secularist who will be voting for Ron Paul.

    I for one can’t get worked up much, one way or another, over having a manger scene in a public square. It bothers me a hell of a lot more that the state has become a religion unto itself, demanding increasing obeisance and coerced funding from us, its subjects.

    I’m in with Paul in order to fight the ever-encroaching  cult of Statolatry.


    • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Steve S says:

      SteveS, that’s Ron Paul’s point exactly [see link to his full essay], that church is competition for the state.  This is getting rather more interesting than I thought…Report

      • mityc in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        And libertarian would rather Christianity wins because government is the most evil, evilest thing in the whole world? Replacing the tyranny of the state with the tyranny of religion! Catchy catchphrase 🙂Report

        • BlaiseP in reply to mityc says:

          Trust me, religion scrupulously avoids the appearance of actual government.   During the Inquisition, the hapless prisoners only passed into the jurisdiction of the state on their way to the stake.

          The church is not in competition for the state.  It would like nothing better than to serve in an Advisory Role.  Politics goes ever in search of justification and religion goes in search of power.   Cases in point:  every Islamic Republic upon the face of this wretched earth.Report

  10. BSK says:


    For what it’s wrth, it isn’t entirely clear thatbyou’veprovided a link to the article in the post. Perhaps hyperlinking the periodical title instead of his name would make it ore obvious and help people find their way to the full text?Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to BSK says:

      Here, let me Google that for you. The quote is from 2003. The entire essay can be read at the charmingly-titled website “waronchristmas.com“. Insofar as TVD quotes him [because that’s how the LAT quotes him], it isn’t too hard for me to find at least some common ground with Congressman Paul. Were the government to be hostile to religion or to any particular religion, I would find cause for concern and call the hostility a departure from the Constitution.

      However, the notions that the Federal government is hostile to religion, hostile to Christianity among religions, and hostile to Christmas within Christianity, are deeply silly. Christmas is a Federal holiday by virtue of an Act of Congress. 5 U.S.C. § 6103(a). It is the only explicitly religiouis holiday to be so honored. The notion that our culture has become hostile to Christmas as a result of indoctrination imposed upon us by judicial mandarins is equally silly — neutrality, which is what some but not all courts and judges would aim the government towards, is not the same thing as hostility.

      In the full essay, Paul goes on to suggest, quite incorrectly, that “the drafters of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, both replete with references to God, would be aghast at the federal government’s hostility to religion.” The Declaration of Independence refers once to a “Creator,” once to “Divine Providence,” and once to “the laws of Nature and Nature’s God,” which is not a phrase that equals “God” as the word “God” is commonly understood today. The Constitution contains no references to any supernatural entity whatsoever other than its use of a standard European dating system.

      Paul claims a documentary and textual support for a government steeped in Christianity which does not exist, and attributes a hostility for religion held only by a fringe section of society to the government itself. The overreach continues, but I lack time to continue fisking his eight-year-old essay here.Report

      • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Burt, Paul is wrong about the Constitution but you yrself missed “Supreme Judge of the world” in the Declaration.  Further, “creator” and “Divine Providence” combine to constitute the “civil religion” of the Founding era, a providential monotheism.  The Declaration is still one of the “organic laws” of the United States, and establishes the “right to have rights,” grounding them in natural law [“laws of nature and nature’s God”].

        Few know this stuff, like what “natural law” even is.

        Often overlooked is that religion was left to the states by the Constitution; to this day, some reference to the Almighty appears in 48 or so of the 50 state constitutions.

        Paul is certainly criticizing the Supreme Court decisions of the past 50-70 years, legal fictions like the Lemon test, or the idea that “religion” refers to the Question of God itself and not merely sectarianism, doctrine, dogma, denominations.  It seems to me that current interpretation of the 14th Amendment would make these state constitutions unConstitutional.

        Another arguable question is just how much this “war on religion” is the doing of a “fringe” and how much it’s a significant phenomenon.  I don’t think it can be glossed over.Report

        • Liberty60 in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          So freedom of religion intended by the Founders is only the freedom to choose which sect we want to belong to?Report

          • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Liberty60 says:

            Do you honestly think that’s what I’m saying, Lib60?Report

            • Liberty60 in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              This is what caught my eye:

              ” legal fictions like…the idea that “religion” refers to the Question of God itself and not merely sectarianism, doctrine, dogma, denominations.”

              I dunno- what WERE you trying to say?Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Liberty60 says:

                Again, Lib60, 48 or so of the 50 state constitutions aren’t “neutral” on the Question of God.  He’s in there.

                “Neutrality” is a legal fiction created by modern courts.Report

              • Liberty60 in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                So in your view, those 48 are free to declare that Dei-ism is the official state religion?

                Or alternatively, declare that Atheism is Official State Policy?

                I have to say, I have never before met anyone who says this kind of stuff openly.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Liberty60 says:

                Actually, Lib60, Massachusetts kept Congregationalism as its official state religion until 1833.  Clearly the First Amendment didn’t abolish such things, only for the federal gov’t.

                Neither did the ratification of the 14th Amendment, at least as understood by its ratifiers.  That took a twisted chain of logic by the courts over the past half-century or so, that the 14th turned God from a reality to just one theory among many.

                “And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? ”

                Exactly, Mr. Jefferson. Now that we are “neutral” on the Question of God, we have removed the foundation for our rights in the first place.

                I’m not surprised you find my arguments alien, Mr. Lib, although they’re not in the least controversial or idiosyncratic.  It’s just that such things aren’t taught these days, which Ron Paul alludes to, albeit clumsily.

                Through perverse court decisions and years of cultural indoctrination, the elitist, secular Left has managed to convince many in our nation that religion must be driven from public view. 

                Now you know what he’s talking about.

                For in making the nation “neutral” on the Question of God, Lib60, the courts for practical purposes made atheism [or at least agnosticism] the official state religion.  Which is constitutional, if we the people choose such a path, but the courts have chosen that path for us, under the legal fiction that the Constitution demands it.Report

              • Here is a point where TVD and I part ways. My take on it is that the high court got it right when it said that government may no more prefer religion over irreligion than it may prefer irreligion over religion, for the same reason (which is the same thing as saying “as a result of the same words”) that the government may no more prefer Lutheran Christianity to Methodist Christianity. Silence is neither an endorsement nor a refutation; to remain silent on issues of religion is now, and always was, the appropriate thing for the government to do. That our forefathers were more unanimous than we in professing belief in the divine (and our society is still over 90% theist) in no way binds us and is of no more importance to understanding what the Constitution restrains our government from doing than any other historical fact, nor does the reference to the divine even in foundational documents carry any substantial weight in addressing the intersection of the secular and the spiritual.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Burt, I see yr point, however, pluralism is the constitutional solution [as it’s always been], not “neutrality,” which isn’t neutral atall.

                Of course, as you say, we’re not bound by the Founders’ theism, but neither does the Constitution demand we dispense with it under a newly invented rubric of “neutrality.”  That is a legal fiction, a concept I got from Gordon Wood, perhaps the dean of American historians.  He thinks it fits our day and age and so is fine with it, but for the historical record, this “neutrality” is a fiction.

                Mostly, my arguments are for historical clarity and a bit of chafe over what the courts have done.  Where we go from here is our choice as a people.

                Shall we scratch “Laus Deo” off the top of the Washington Monument?  Modern theory sez putting there in the first place was unconstitutional, I reckon, but there it is.Report

              • The Republic has tolerated this relatively obscure phrase on the Washington Monument without degenerating into a cruel theocracy for this long, and I’d concede that we can probably make it another generation or so before any group of people other than trivia geeks like you and me even learn that it’s there at all.

                If we were building a new monument at public expense, I would object. But as for the mighty obelisk on the Mall, what’s done is done. We separation advocates ought to pick our battles carefully, and that’s not the right one.Report

        • trizzlor in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          But Paul’s not arguing for the right of people to celebrate winter holidays in the way that they choose … that right is already there. The criticisms he makes that are not over taste (“some embittered busybody” offended at Christmas decorations, snowmen, and private nativity scenes) are over coercion: schools putting on pageants and plays that celebrate the birth of Christ / employers hosting parties that celebrate the birth of Christ. He’s not in favor of some kind of Community Religious Faire where Shakers teach carpentry, Transcendentalists organize hikes, Unitarians give back massages, Atheists purify LSD, etc. – all while discussing their religious/spiritual views. He’s in favor of a local community using state money to proselytize the majority religion.Report

          • Tom Van Dyke in reply to trizzlor says:

            I gather Paul is strictly against spending gov’t money on religion.  As for “proselytizing,” that’s a contentious reading of the real Founding dynamic, which is pluralism, and its “civil religion,” providential monotheism.Report

            • trizzlor in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              That was my understanding too, but then this essay either contradicts it or is just senseless whinging. Paul also thinks abortion is murder but is fine with the states doing it, so it’s not beyond the pale for his federalism to rank higher than his libertarianism.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to trizzlor says:

                Trizz, Paul’s essay is clumsy [and inaccurate re the Constitution as Likko notes], but it could be whipped into shape.  The opposing arguments have their flaws as well.Report

        • You’re right, I missed “Supreme Judge of the world” in the Declaration. Inadvertently, and unfortunately, because of these references, that’s actually the closest to the contemporary consensus understanding of God. Still, four references is not what I’d call “replete” and the Declaration is far from a religious document.

          This is territory you and I have covered before between us; but there are some playing along at home.Report

          • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Burt Likko says:

            Well, Burt, the only relevance of the Declaration is its theory of rights, that they are God-given and unalienable.  This grounds the Constitution if we’re to understand what it meant to the ratifiers, per James Madison,

            “…in the sense attached to it by the people in their respective State Conventions where it recd. all the authority which it possesses.”

            The 14th Amendment did not change the American theory of rights, despite where recent SC decisions have taken the Question of God.  Baby Jesus and the FSM work equally well as the grounding of our rights.  That’s pluralism as the Founders understood it.Report

  11. Jaybird says:

    Christmas reminds me of marriage insofar as it’s impossible to tell the difference between how the churched and the unchurched screw it up.

    While I have a non-zero amount of sympathy for American Christians who feel like they are being told to say “Happy Holidays” rather than what they are inclined to say (to a man: “Merry Christmas”) and who see their old “Christmas Trees” turned into “Holiday Trees” and watch their old “Christmas Carols” turned into “Holiday Carols”, the sheer number of people who seem upset that the pepper spray being used in defense of $2 Waffle Irons might have been for a “Holiday Sale” rather than a proper “Christmas Sale” ought to be disheartening.

    They’re clamoring to make sure that clerks making minimum wage say empty hollow words invoking the Christian god rather than none at all. On a religious level, you’d think that Christians ought to be running away from Christmas as Joseph and Mary ran from Herod.

    For the same reasons.Report

    • BlaiseP in reply to Jaybird says:

      I take a philosophical view of Christmas.  Santa Claus is the patron saint of greed.

      Christmas should be donated to the merchants.   If only we Christians could get Easter back, I’d be content with the bargain.   Come springtime, I do believe I’m going to crucify me an Easter Bunny and put him on my lawn.Report

      • Patrick Cahalan in reply to BlaiseP says:

        Come springtime, I do believe I’m going to crucify me an Easter Bunny and put him on my lawn.

        That may be one hell of a statement, sir.  I am intrigued by this idea.Report

      • b-psycho in reply to BlaiseP says:

        Well, the figure that Santa Claus is roughly based on is actually the patron saint of prostitutes. Which kinda puts a funny perspective on the whole good-children-brought-presents-by-old-guy-as-reward thing.

        Ho Ho Ho” indeed…Report

        • BlaiseP in reply to b-psycho says:

          Oh dear.   Ever doth Wikipedia make geniuses of us all.

          Nicholas of Bari is said to have redeemed three little girls from a life of prostitution by purchasing each with a ball of gold.   Those three balls of gold are seen above the doors of older pawn shops.

          So many legends surround St Nicholas, my favorites come from Holland, the land of my ancestors going back to at least the 13th century.   St Nicholas comes in a ship all loaded with goodies, assisted by the Zwarte Pieten, his black assistant.   These days, some Pee Cee folks are offended by Zwarte Pieten but I think they’re just great.Report

          • Nob Akimoto in reply to BlaiseP says:

            Well in fairness…Zwarte was his slave until it was changed…

            The whole blackface thing…is ab it insensitive.Report

          • Nob Akimoto in reply to BlaiseP says:

            I still occasionally get letters worded by Sinterklaas telling me Zwarte Pieten are upset I mock them from time to time by telling everyone about David Sedaris’s Six to Eight Black Men. Ah, Dutch folks. Gods bless them.Report

    • mityc in reply to Jaybird says:

      There’s an easy solution – say Merry Christmas to someone if you know that the person celebrates Christmas, if you don’t know, then don’t say anything, not even Happy Holidays. Hey, I’ll even throw in a culture war truce, the poor clerks making minimum wage in stores should say “Merry Christmas IF you’re celebrating the holiday”. But I suspect that won’t fly with the “there’s a war against Christmas and Christians and Christ” crowd. They’ll say the “IF” part is discriminatory and insulting to them.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to mityc says:

        It’s like you didn’t read my comment.Report

      • Matty in reply to mityc says:

        Why the fish should we require clerks to recite or avoid any particular set of words?

        So long as they do their job and are polite to customers they should be allowed to choose their greetings.Report

        • BSK in reply to Matty says:

          Sorry, but that is not how the private sector works. I could make thensame argument about workplace dress codes. At the end of a day, an employer gets to decide how businessis conducted within his placeor work (within reason). Additinally, I would presume that any company thatbissuessuch edicts do so because they believe it is conducive to doing business; failing to do so might jeopardize business (or so the boss believes. Failing to follow such rules is therefore not doing one’s job.Report

          • Matty in reply to BSK says:

            There are a huge number of things I dislike but would not use the law or similar to stop. The common practice of employers imposing what I see as petty rules on behaviour is just one.

            So yes you have the right to make your staff dance a pirate jig at the start of each shift but I’ll still think you’re being a dick and that such rules are more about power tripping than customer service.


            • BSK in reply to Matty says:

              If you don’t like it, don’t work there.

              Most of the complaints I’ve seen about such policies (with few people demonstrating that such policies actually exist; I say “Happy Holidays” by default at work because I choose to) have to do with major chains, such as Walmart. Do you think that Walmart, a multi-billion dollar business, would enact any such policy on a whim to cater to “politcal correctness”? Or do you think it is more likely that the businesspeople responsible for making the company into a multi-billion dollar business would only do so if they felt it was in the best interest* of the company and an employee refusing to do so is therefore undermining the business model?

              *I’m sure there exist circumstances where a company enacts a policy because they think it morally imperative but financially detrimental; my hunch is this is rarely the case with giant corporations.Report

              • Mike in reply to BSK says:

                Wow. It’s like a living example of the wage-slaveowning fool popped right up above my response.

                Having worked in a number of companies where the boss was a Christian Enforcement Nutjob, I’ve seen it plenty of times. Jewish employees told they had “better wise up and wear something christmasy.” Hindu and Buddhist employees told their religions and religious holidays were “fake holidays.” Muslim employees told that they weren’t going to be allowed to pray at the times of day they needed to for 5 minutes (even though Boss and His Church Friend Favorites took a 15 minute smoke break 6 times a day).

                Your solution is “well don’t work there”… which ignores the fact that the Christian Enforcement Nutjob will just keep doing it to others, and is in fact practicing religious discrimination with regard to his employees – and this is already against the law.

                Most important line that you Team Red losers want to ignore: “Religious Discrimination And Employment Policies/Practices

                An employee cannot be forced to participate (or not participate) in a religious activity as a condition of employment.”Report

              • BSK in reply to Mike says:


                I’m a teacher. Far from a slavewageowner or whatever crap you spew. I am opposed to religious discrimination in the work place. Telling an employee he is to say “Happy Holidays” is not discimination since saying “Merry Christmas” is not a requirement of any faith.

                What rules can employers set? Dress code? Can they prevent an employee from telling a customer to fuck off? Or a Christian employee from greeting Jews with “Welcome, sinner”?

                No one is being discriminated against. And, again, you haven’t yet demonstrated that such policies do exist. I say HH of my own volition. I’m sure some folks think I’m being forced to because they’d prefer a world where they are a victim over one where society is moving away from their preferences.Report

              • Matty in reply to BSK says:

                Sorry but I’m not riding the ‘political corectness’ or ‘moral imperative’ horses. My dislike is not of the phrase happy holidays or the appearance of  corporate uniforms it is of the view that employees should be identikit non individuals or the customers will run out in horror at finding their local store staffed by humans.Report

              • Mike in reply to Matty says:

                employees should be identikit non individuals

                Perhaps you missed Team Red’s (we’ll call them Team Scrooge in honor of Bill Maher’s insightful commentary) memo: employees ARE to be identikit non-individuals. That’s the first step towards dehumanizing the poor and middle class so that the rich can proceed to not care even more about what they do to the employees.

                The days of company loyalty to employees, of caring about working conditions, of investing in the employees and actually training the workers rather than expecting people to come in pre-trained? Pffft. Those are long gone. Those require treating the wage-slaves as people.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Mike says:

                Just out of curiosity, Mike… how many jobs have you held?  And of those, how many of them treated you like a wage slave?Report

          • Mike in reply to BSK says:

            Because once you’re a wage-slave, your freedom of expression is owned by your employer, who can require you to say what they want to say, whether it conflicts with your religious sensibilities or not.

            And in an economy with 15-20% Real Unemployment, as sabotaged by Team Red, the response from Team Red is still “well if you don’t like it find another job.”

            It’s rather like telling people “if you don’t like your credit card company…” or “if you don’t like your health insurance provider…”, ignoring the ridiculous hurdles involved in switching if you have employer-provided health insurance as most wage slaves do, or in finding a credit card company that DOESN’T require the same, “industry standard”-by-virtue-of-illegal-collusion terms.Report

            • BSK in reply to Mike says:

              Mike- I’ll note that I am far from a member of “team red” but I still think it fair for employers tomset basic rules for interacting with customers. It is not a tenet of any branch of Christianity that I know that implores a follower to wish Merry Christmas to strangers whose faith is unknown. No one’s religious sensibilities are in conflict.

              Yes, the “if you don’t like it, dont’t work there” argument is more complicated then it seems. But saying “Happy Holidays” when you’d rather say “Merry Christmas” is also easier than most folks make it out to be. Most objects are less about religious conviction and more about folks bemoaning their loss of privilege.Report

              • LauraNo in reply to BSK says:

                Before I understood why people were claiming there is a war on Christmas when I worked retail at the mall, I thought “Happy Holidays” was meant to include Happy New Year wishes. So that’s what I said. I hate to think how many people thought the young me was anti-Christian or whatever they claim.Report

  12. Not being tremendously familiar with some of the contributors here, I honestly thought this was posted to poke fun at Ron Paul. More fool I, I suppose.Report

    • BlaiseP in reply to Robert Hutchinson says:

      We’re post-Everything around here.   It’s that time of the political season where the light passes through the sarsen stones at just the right angle and illuminates the Oppo Artistes, digging up dirt on everyone.Report

  13. Erin E says:

    Ron Paul’s Christianity doesn’t stop him from championing the individual liberties of the whole. He himself may be Christian, but he will fight to the death to ensure that you, an atheist, can mind whatever religion you so choose.

    I love how having faith is now ridiculed in the media. It’s so… stupid.

    Forcing schools to change the pledge of allegiance, altering the national anthem… also stupid. Let tradition be tradition, and move on with your lives. Or, vote on it on the state level, don’t force the whole country to use these works as toilet paper.


  14. Nob Akimoto says:

    Starting to think Ron Paul reads the same history books as Niall Ferguson and Newt Gingrich….Report

  15. greginak says:

    I’m sure if i said Happy Hanukkah  to people when i stopped in the quikee mart today i would have got a sterling response.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

      “You shouldn’t say Happy Hanukkah! You should say Happy Holidays and be inclusive of other people!”Report

      • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

        I either say nothing or, if i’m at work, i mirror what clients say to me. Given where i live i’m not betting most people would know what Hanukkah is, if i had just insulted them in Arabic or if i was loaded and asking for some sort of fried confection.Report

  16. trizzlor says:

    I get Paul’s view on the struggle between religion and socialism, but he seems to be saying that he’s not okay with the government stealing my money to pay for majority-supported welfare programs but he is okay with the government stealing my money to pay for majority-supported nativity scenes. Plus his list of the casualties from the war on Christmas reads like a rejected Andy Rooney monologue – Office Christmas parties have become taboo) – the Horror! I’m just going to assume someone else wrote this for him.Report

    • [H]e seems to be saying that he’s not okay with the government stealing my money to pay for majority-supported welfare programs but he is okay with the government stealing my money to pay for majority-supported nativity scenes.

      That may be the implication you take from Ron Paul’s statements, but you would be mistaken.  Dr. Paul was one was one of seven House Republicans (out of 192) to vote against the National Day of Prayer Resolution, H Con Res 94.  Based on that and many other examples from his Congressional record over twelve terms in office, the Secular Coalition of America gives Ron Paul the highest grade on its Presidential scorecard in the category “Taxpayer Funding of Religion.”  This should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with his voting record; government spending on just about anything is anathema to his platform.Report

      • trizzlor in reply to Zachary Sneddon says:

        That is the only implication I can reasonably draw from Paul’s criticism of “Christmas pageants and plays … banned from schools and community halls” on grounds that “The establishment clause of the First Amendment was simply intended to forbid the creation of an official state church like the Church of England, not to drive religion out of public life.“. As with most of these issues, while Paul’s record is a flat No-vote at the federal level, this article suggests that he encourages state support for religion at the local level – in contradiction with his other libertarian principles.Report

        • I don’t find it all contradictory; rather, it is entirely in keeping with his reverence for the Constitution, the Tenth Amendment to which has been increasingly  ignored by the federal government since, oh, say, the 1870’s?  Don’t get me wrong; I am a secular humanist and an atheist, and I certainly don’t want to live in a theocracy.  But I am just not that alarmed by the prospect of the states individually having a greater share of the national power balance.Report

          • J_A in reply to Zachary Sneddon says:

            But state taxes are taxes, so if it is bad to use state taxes to support welfare services it is wrong to use them to support manger scenesReport

          • Mike in reply to Zachary Sneddon says:

            It’s always funny how Tenth Amendmentists couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the 14th Amendment, despite claiming to revere “The Constitution.”

            Almost as if they don’t give a rat’s ass about “The Constitution” itself, rather, they care about what they THINK the Constitution OUGHT to say if they had the chance to rewrite it…Report

  17. celebs4truth says:

    Help this pro-Ron Paul story go viral! Share it all over the social networks! Denver Conspiracy Examiner story, “Support the troops by supporting Ron Paul!” http://www.examiner.com/conspiracy-in-denver/support-the-troops-by-supporting-ron-paulReport

  18. Melissa Harris-Lacewell, associate professor of African-American studies at Princeton Universitysaid of Ron Paul, “He is calling Americans to our highest and best ideals.  And the point about America’s best ideals isn’t that we all agree on one set of policies or one ideological position, it’s not that we will all become progressive; but rather, that what we agree on is a set of precepts on how we engage one another in our social, political, and economic world.  Now, I’m more interested in some issues of egalitarianism and justice, and Ron Paul is more interested in issues fundamentally of liberty; but those two, that concern about justice and about liberty, about equality and freedom, those are the core American principles, and when you call Americans back to that, instead of appealing to the very lowest common denominators of ethnic anxiety and racial and religious hate, that’s when you end up with an American public discourse that can be about ideas, it can be about real policy, and no longer has to babout this sort of fear-mongering and stereotyping.”

    I am supporting Dr. Paul for President in 2012, despite some fundamental disagreements I have with him regarding the role of church in society, being myself a secular humanist and an atheist.  I see beyond the petty squabbles, and I believe he does, too.Report

  19. We seem to have been invaded….

    Gee, thanks, Tom. 😉Report

  20. Mike says:

    Awww. Somebody got him a right-wing dog whistle for christmas.

    Now all he needs is a dog to go with it.Report

  21. Liberty60 says:

    This is one where Ron Paul gets it exactly backward.

    When people attempt to intermingle Church and State, like a cross on a water tower or manger in the public square, it is always ostensibly with the intention of having the State bow before the moral authority of God and make decisions according to His law.

    But what actually occurs is that the State coopts and pilfers the moral authority. By doing nothing more than adoring itself with the trimmings and vestments of religion, the State casts itself as the earthly embodiment of moral authority, and then demands the unquestioning allegiance of the people.

    Empirical evidence of this are the old monarchies of Europe, Imperial Japan, and the contemporary theocracies of the Arab world.

    For a guy who is famous for mistrusting the power of the State, he seems remarkably willing to grant it the ability to act on behalf of the Almighty.Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to Liberty60 says:

      This, precisely. The Framers (at least most of them, most of the time) understood this. We should understand it today despite the superficial appeal of pleasant religious celebrations. The government needs must be neutral, neither endorsing religion nor condemning it. Silence is not hostility, and indeed silence is often wisdom. Let our government be wise, and therefore silent, about matters of faith.Report

    • James Hanley in reply to Liberty60 says:

      Chiming in a bit late (because I actually took time to enjoy Christmas, unlike y’all), but +1 to Liberty.  This exactly.  I’ve made the same argument in the past, but almost certainly without the succinct clarity of Liberty’s statement.Report

  22. E.D. Kain says:

    This reminds me of a Garrison Keillor piece from a couple years back.

    “Christmas is a Christian holiday — if you’re not in the club, then buzz off. Celebrate Yule instead or dance around in druid robes for the solstice. Go light a big log, go wassailing and falalaing until you fall down, eat figgy pudding until you puke, but don’t mess with the Messiah.

    Christmas does not need any improvements. It is a common ordinary experience that resists brilliant innovation. Just make some gingerbread persons and light three candles and sing softly in dim light about the poor man gathering winter fu-u-el and the radiant beams and the holly and the ivy, and you’ve got it. Too many people work too hard to make Christmas perfect, find the perfect gifts, get a turkey that reaches 100 percent of potential. Perfection is a goal of brilliant people and it is unnecessary where Christmas is concerned.”


  23. Rufus F. says:

    To be honest, I couldn’t care less what Ron Paul says, thinks, believes, or does. He just reminds me of my grandfather enough for me to project all of my political desires on him.Report

    • Michael Drew in reply to Rufus F. says:

      Ditto on sentence #1.  He’s a dude.  They’re all dudes (or dudettes).  He’s not really that interesting, is he?

      My grandfather barely talks; I can barely conceive of him giving a glib stump speech multiple times a day or holding forth on a debate stage.  Maybe that’s why the Ron Paul appeal just hasn’t taken with me (or maybe it’s because I don’t agree with most of what he says, and appreciate even less the oversimplifying way he says it all).Report