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"You belong in hell." These words were plastered all over newspaper headlines last month. The question I'm suggesting for discussion is: To what extent is language like this appropriate and in what contexts is it appropriate, if at all.

To be clear, the statement was that if you do not accept Jesus, then you belong in hell. By hell, the teacher meant a place or state of eternal and unremitting torment in a fire that burns but never consumes. (This was made clear during the in-class discussion.)

In churches where this is believed, a remark like this may come as no surprise, though my personal view is that it is destructive of the social fabric in any context. Clearly, the law can do nothing to impede it or shut it down.

At the opposite extreme is a captive audience, like a group of public school students, where the teacher takes it upon himself to make a remark like this. In that setting, this is clearly against the law, clearly outside the teacher's rights to say, clearly wrong ethically and morally.

What about saying this among friends? What if the President of the United States decided to say this in an address to the nation, just before the now-obligatory closing line "God bless America?" What if candidates for public office started running on this theology as part of their platform? How far can this be allowed to go before we lose our commitment to equal treatment for all and our democratic system of government?

To what extent does a belief system like this inherently tear apart the social fabric? It's important to our community because while it's all very nice to say that we respect each other's religious beliefs, what do we do when one religious group believes we should all be slain as infidels? The religious right in the USA makes exactly that charge against radical Islam, but how far removed from radical Islam is a statement like this?

We used to have an unspoken social contract of sorts until the radical right began ripping away at it in the past few decades. How much further can our society go in undoing the mutual respect implied by that unspoken agreement before we are at each other's throats?

Have at it, y'all.

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"You belong in hell." These words were plastered all over newspaper headlines last month. The question I'm suggesting for discussion is: To what extent is language like this appropriate and in what contexts is it appropriate, if at all.

To be clear, the statement was that if you do not accept Jesus, then you belong in hell. By hell, the teacher meant a place or state of eternal and unremitting torment in a fire that burns but never consumes. (This was made clear during the in-class discussion.)

In churches where this is believed, a remark like this may come as no surprise, though my personal view is that it is destructive of the social fabric in any context. Clearly, the law can do nothing to impede it or shut it down.

At the opposite extreme is a captive audience, like a group of public school students, where the teacher takes it upon himself to make a remark like this. In that setting, this is clearly against the law, clearly outside the teacher's rights to say, clearly wrong ethically and morally.

What about saying this among friends? What if the President of the United States decided to say this in an address to the nation, just before the now-obligatory closing line "God bless America?" What if candidates for public office started running on this theology as part of their platform? How far can this be allowed to go before we lose our commitment to equal treatment for all and our democratic system of government?

To what extent does a belief system like this inherently tear apart the social fabric? It's important to our community because while it's all very nice to say that we respect each other's religious beliefs, what do we do when one religious group believes we should all be slain as infidels? The religious right in the USA makes exactly that charge against radical Islam, but how far removed from radical Islam is a statement like this?

We used to have an unspoken social contract of sorts until the radical right began ripping away at it in the past few decades. How much further can our society go in undoing the mutual respect implied by that unspoken agreement before we are at each other's throats?

Have at it, y'all.

Paul-Its about time to give it a rest!

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Guest God fearing American
"You belong in hell." These words were plastered all over newspaper headlines last month. The question I'm suggesting for discussion is: To what extent is language like this appropriate and in what contexts is it appropriate, if at all.

To be clear, the statement was that if you do not accept Jesus, then you belong in hell. By hell, the teacher meant a place or state of eternal and unremitting torment in a fire that burns but never consumes. (This was made clear during the in-class discussion.)

In churches where this is believed, a remark like this may come as no surprise, though my personal view is that it is destructive of the social fabric in any context. Clearly, the law can do nothing to impede it or shut it down.

At the opposite extreme is a captive audience, like a group of public school students, where the teacher takes it upon himself to make a remark like this. In that setting, this is clearly against the law, clearly outside the teacher's rights to say, clearly wrong ethically and morally.

What about saying this among friends? What if the President of the United States decided to say this in an address to the nation, just before the now-obligatory closing line "God bless America?" What if candidates for public office started running on this theology as part of their platform? How far can this be allowed to go before we lose our commitment to equal treatment for all and our democratic system of government?

To what extent does a belief system like this inherently tear apart the social fabric? It's important to our community because while it's all very nice to say that we respect each other's religious beliefs, what do we do when one religious group believes we should all be slain as infidels? The religious right in the USA makes exactly that charge against radical Islam, but how far removed from radical Islam is a statement like this?

We used to have an unspoken social contract of sorts until the radical right began ripping away at it in the past few decades. How much further can our society go in undoing the mutual respect implied by that unspoken agreement before we are at each other's throats?

Have at it, y'all.

Paul, if you are implying that belief in God is ruining our social fabric then you are a misguided man. Forget all this nonsense about radical this and radical that. There has got to be some middle ground. Simply put, if more people would practice their religion of choice and attend religious services regularly instead of practicing sports, shopping and other events on the Sabbath, we might all be better off? Society, especially our children, are growing up lost. let's bring back faith. I will end this post with a well known phrase first coined by Tug McGraw of my beloved NY Mets, "Ya Gotta Believe!!!"

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Paul, if you are implying that belief in God is ruining our social fabric then you are a misguided man. Forget all this nonsense about radical this and radical that. There has got to be some middle ground. Simply put, if more people would practice their religion of choice and attend religious services regularly instead of practicing sports, shopping and other events on the Sabbath, we might all be better off? Society, especially our children, are growing up lost. let's bring back faith. I will end this post with a well known phrase first coined by Tug McGraw of my beloved NY Mets, "Ya Gotta Believe!!!"

I'm not implying that. Read more carefully, please.

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Guest 2smart4u
"You belong in hell." These words were plastered all over newspaper headlines last month. The question I'm suggesting for discussion is: To what extent is language like this appropriate and in what contexts is it appropriate, if at all.

To be clear, the statement was that if you do not accept Jesus, then you belong in hell. By hell, the teacher meant a place or state of eternal and unremitting torment in a fire that burns but never consumes. (This was made clear during the in-class discussion.)

In churches where this is believed, a remark like this may come as no surprise, though my personal view is that it is destructive of the social fabric in any context. Clearly, the law can do nothing to impede it or shut it down.

At the opposite extreme is a captive audience, like a group of public school students, where the teacher takes it upon himself to make a remark like this. In that setting, this is clearly against the law, clearly outside the teacher's rights to say, clearly wrong ethically and morally.

What about saying this among friends? What if the President of the United States decided to say this in an address to the nation, just before the now-obligatory closing line "God bless America?" What if candidates for public office started running on this theology as part of their platform? How far can this be allowed to go before we lose our commitment to equal treatment for all and our democratic system of government?

To what extent does a belief system like this inherently tear apart the social fabric? It's important to our community because while it's all very nice to say that we respect each other's religious beliefs, what do we do when one religious group believes we should all be slain as infidels? The religious right in the USA makes exactly that charge against radical Islam, but how far removed from radical Islam is a statement like this?

We used to have an unspoken social contract of sorts until the radical right began ripping away at it in the past few decades. How much further can our society go in undoing the mutual respect implied by that unspoken agreement before we are at each other's throats?

Have at it, y'all.

I'm finding it difficult to figure you out. Clearly you belong to the radical left Kool-aid drinkers of america. But your anti-God retoric is unusual. I don't know whether it's just a game to see what kind of responses you get or if you're just a stone cold athiest. And it really doesn't matter to me one way or the other. I think you're an unhappy, unsatisfied person that's angry at the world because no one "understands" you. My advise would be to say a prayer.

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I'm finding it difficult to figure you out. Clearly you belong to the radical left Kool-aid drinkers of america.  But your anti-God retoric is unusual. I don't know whether it's just a game to see what kind of responses you get or if you're just a stone cold athiest. And it really doesn't matter to me one way or the other.  I think you're an unhappy, unsatisfied person that's angry at the world because no one "understands" you. My advise would be to say a prayer.

Frankly, you'll never understand much of anything if you don't at least try to look at things more objectively. And you'll never understand me if you keep trying to fit me into your narrow little boxes. I used to think like that a lot too, until I realized that when I would say "I don't understand . . ." that really meant I didn't understand. It wasn't the world. It was me. Well now, it's you. Most likely, the reason my "rhetoric" (your term for things you don't agree with apparently) strikes you as unusual is that I'm not what you think.

I mean this most sincerely, because while I don't know who you are, you're projecting all over the place. It's sad, because you don't strike me as stupid, although many of your remarks are. Some brains don't work very well after they're made up. Look at your post. There's not a substantive word in it. If I wanted to try to discuss this topic with you by responding to what you wrote, I couldn't do it, because you haven't said anything. It's all personal, and it's all convoluted and wrapped back on itself: on the one hand you gravitate toward me personally, then you claim you don't care.

Look at yourself, my friend. There's a mind in there if you'll dedicate yourself to using it.

Meanwhile, I asked a great many questions. You could try addressing some of them. If you're smarter than the rest of us, that should be easy.

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Paul, if you are implying that belief in God is ruining our social fabric then you are a misguided man. Forget all this nonsense about radical this and radical that. There has got to be some middle ground. Simply put, if more people would practice their religion of choice and attend religious services regularly instead of practicing sports, shopping and other events on the Sabbath, we might all be better off? Society, especially our children, are growing up lost. let's bring back faith. I will end this post with a well known phrase first coined by Tug McGraw of my beloved NY Mets, "Ya Gotta Believe!!!"

I don't think Paul was saying that belief in God itself is creating a social sickness in America. Rather, he was saying that extremes of that belief are dangerous and destructive. When one group of people takes it upon themselves to dictate that their beliefs are more valid than anyone else's, and then go so far as to say others should suffer ultimate punishment for having these beliefs, this is a mark of a damaged society. Where is the love and respect that we are all supposed to practice in our lives as by Jesus' example? This is supposedly a free society in which everyone is entitled to their own belief, and if, as Paul suggests, a Presidential hopeful were to say in a campaign"... and if you do not accept Jesus into your heart, you belong in Hell," should we be willing to accept that? Unfortuantely, I am fairly certain that a large majority of people would be perfectly fine with that statement, simply because that is what their particular religion dictates. However, this is immoral, illegal and inappropriate for a person in public office to say.

How about in a more casual setting? Say two friends are discussing a religious issue and one says that he does not accept Jesus as his personal saviour. Would it not be disrespectful to say, "Well, I like ya Bob, but if you're not going to accept Jesus into your heart you should be tormented in Hell for eternity." How is this moral, and how is this any different from a teacher telling this to his students? I would be interested to hear thoughts on this, because I don't see how we can claim to live in a free and united nation if we are to allow this type of talk among each other.

A final thought to perhaps put this into perspective -- how would you feel if, as a non-Muslim, one day you were told by a Muslim individual that you would be punished for eternity by Allah simply because of your differing beliefs? I think your reaction would be somewhat different.

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"You belong in hell." These words were plastered all over newspaper headlines last month. The question I'm suggesting for discussion is: To what extent is language like this appropriate and in what contexts is it appropriate, if at all.

To be clear, the statement was that if you do not accept Jesus, then you belong in hell. By hell, the teacher meant a place or state of eternal and unremitting torment in a fire that burns but never consumes. (This was made clear during the in-class discussion.)

In churches where this is believed, a remark like this may come as no surprise, though my personal view is that it is destructive of the social fabric in any context. Clearly, the law can do nothing to impede it or shut it down.

At the opposite extreme is a captive audience, like a group of public school students, where the teacher takes it upon himself to make a remark like this. In that setting, this is clearly against the law, clearly outside the teacher's rights to say, clearly wrong ethically and morally.

What about saying this among friends? What if the President of the United States decided to say this in an address to the nation, just before the now-obligatory closing line "God bless America?" What if candidates for public office started running on this theology as part of their platform? How far can this be allowed to go before we lose our commitment to equal treatment for all and our democratic system of government?

To what extent does a belief system like this inherently tear apart the social fabric? It's important to our community because while it's all very nice to say that we respect each other's religious beliefs, what do we do when one religious group believes we should all be slain as infidels? The religious right in the USA makes exactly that charge against radical Islam, but how far removed from radical Islam is a statement like this?

We used to have an unspoken social contract of sorts until the radical right began ripping away at it in the past few decades. How much further can our society go in undoing the mutual respect implied by that unspoken agreement before we are at each other's throats?

Have at it, y'all.

I comes as no surprise that the apologists don't want to discuss this topic. This is the dirty little secret of hard-line religious fundamentalism.

Not Christianity in general, but just this aspect of it. The argument that this is an attack on Christianity is an old dog that won't hunt. It is no such thing. Most Christians know better than to do this, and a large percentage of them don't even believe in hell.

So to put the question another way, what kind of society will we have if our people run around telling each other that those who do not share their theology belong in hell? The answer is obvious. It's time to own up. If you have to hide from the truth, maybe what you're arguing for isn't God . . . . in fact, what could be more obvious?

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Guest The Rev. Al
"You belong in hell." These words were plastered all over newspaper headlines last month. The question I'm suggesting for discussion is: To what extent is language like this appropriate and in what contexts is it appropriate, if at all.

To be clear, the statement was that if you do not accept Jesus, then you belong in hell. By hell, the teacher meant a place or state of eternal and unremitting torment in a fire that burns but never consumes. (This was made clear during the in-class discussion.)

In churches where this is believed, a remark like this may come as no surprise, though my personal view is that it is destructive of the social fabric in any context. Clearly, the law can do nothing to impede it or shut it down.

At the opposite extreme is a captive audience, like a group of public school students, where the teacher takes it upon himself to make a remark like this. In that setting, this is clearly against the law, clearly outside the teacher's rights to say, clearly wrong ethically and morally.

What about saying this among friends? What if the President of the United States decided to say this in an address to the nation, just before the now-obligatory closing line "God bless America?" What if candidates for public office started running on this theology as part of their platform? How far can this be allowed to go before we lose our commitment to equal treatment for all and our democratic system of government?

To what extent does a belief system like this inherently tear apart the social fabric? It's important to our community because while it's all very nice to say that we respect each other's religious beliefs, what do we do when one religious group believes we should all be slain as infidels? The religious right in the USA makes exactly that charge against radical Islam, but how far removed from radical Islam is a statement like this?

We used to have an unspoken social contract of sorts until the radical right began ripping away at it in the past few decades. How much further can our society go in undoing the mutual respect implied by that unspoken agreement before we are at each other's throats?

Have at it, y'all.

In churches where this is believed, a remark like this may come as no surprise, though my personal view is that it is destructive of the social fabric in any context. Clearly, the law can do nothing to impede it or shut it down.

How is it destructive of the "social fabric"?

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Guest MuslimMania
I don't think Paul was saying that belief in God itself is creating a social sickness in America. Rather, he was saying that extremes of that belief are dangerous and destructive. When one group of people takes it upon themselves to dictate that their beliefs are more valid than anyone else's, and then go so far as to say others should suffer ultimate punishment for having these beliefs, this is a mark of a damaged society. Where is the love and respect that we are all supposed to practice in our lives as by Jesus' example? This is supposedly a free society in which everyone is entitled to their own belief, and if, as Paul suggests, a Presidential hopeful were to say in a campaign"... and if you do not accept Jesus into your heart, you belong in Hell," should we be willing to accept that? Unfortuantely, I am fairly certain that a large majority of people would be perfectly fine with that statement, simply because that is what their particular religion dictates. However, this is immoral, illegal and inappropriate for a person in public office to say.

How about in a more casual setting? Say two friends are discussing a religious issue and one says that he does not accept Jesus as his personal saviour. Would it not be disrespectful to say, "Well, I like ya Bob, but if you're not going to accept Jesus into your heart you should be tormented in Hell for eternity." How is this moral, and how is this any different from a teacher telling this to his students? I would be interested to hear thoughts on this, because I don't see how we can claim to live in a free and united nation if we are to allow this type of talk among each other.

A final thought to perhaps put this into perspective -- how would you feel if, as a non-Muslim, one day you were told by a Muslim individual that you would be punished for eternity by Allah simply because of your differing beliefs? I think your reaction would be somewhat different.

A final thought to perhaps put this into perspective -- how would you feel if, as a non-Muslim, one day you were told by a Muslim individual that you would be punished for eternity by Allah simply because of your differing beliefs? I think your reaction would be somewhat different.

You're kidding- right?????

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I don't think Paul was saying that belief in God itself is creating a social sickness in America. Rather, he was saying that extremes of that belief are dangerous and destructive. When one group of people takes it upon themselves to dictate that their beliefs are more valid than anyone else's, and then go so far as to say others should suffer ultimate punishment for having these beliefs, this is a mark of a damaged society. Where is the love and respect that we are all supposed to practice in our lives as by Jesus' example? This is supposedly a free society in which everyone is entitled to their own belief, and if, as Paul suggests, a Presidential hopeful were to say in a campaign"... and if you do not accept Jesus into your heart, you belong in Hell," should we be willing to accept that? Unfortuantely, I am fairly certain that a large majority of people would be perfectly fine with that statement, simply because that is what their particular religion dictates. However, this is immoral, illegal and inappropriate for a person in public office to say.

How about in a more casual setting? Say two friends are discussing a religious issue and one says that he does not accept Jesus as his personal saviour. Would it not be disrespectful to say, "Well, I like ya Bob, but if you're not going to accept Jesus into your heart you should be tormented in Hell for eternity." How is this moral, and how is this any different from a teacher telling this to his students? I would be interested to hear thoughts on this, because I don't see how we can claim to live in a free and united nation if we are to allow this type of talk among each other.

A final thought to perhaps put this into perspective -- how would you feel if, as a non-Muslim, one day you were told by a Muslim individual that you would be punished for eternity by Allah simply because of your differing beliefs? I think your reaction would be somewhat different.

I'm not part of the Kearny community, but I came accross this discussionboard and wanted to comment on the differences between private conversations between friends and statements made by government officials in so far as the First Amendment is concerned. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment was drafted to protect against government endorsement of religious groups or of religion at all. The Framers of the Bill of Rights realized that if government employees or representatives appeared to endorse certain religious beliefs, this could give other citizens, whose rights should be considered coequal, the feeling that they are outsiders. We are a religious nation - and politicians can mention God in their speeches without offending the Bill of Rights - but the Founders wanted to make sure that we all have the freedom to practice whatever religion we want without government influence or interference.

As for your teacher, he is a government employee, paid to teach but not to impress his personal religious beliefs on his students. It seems clear that in using his position to promote his religious beliefs, he has broken the Establishment Clause's prohibition against government promotion of a particular religion or religion whatsoever.

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In churches where this is believed, a remark like this may come as no surprise, though my personal view is that it is destructive of the social fabric in any context. Clearly, the law can do nothing to impede it or shut it down.

How is it destructive of the "social fabric"?

Think why men flew airplanes into the World Trade Center. When people are convinced that others deserve God's wrath, some of them will stop at nothing to harm those others. If you believe someone "belongs" in hell, it's easy to imagine that they belong maimed or dead. After all, it's God's will.

If a society gets enough of that, the social fabric breaks down. The long history of religious warfare shouts this to us from history, and yet we do not listen. It is one of humanity's greatest tragedies, and yet when our own religion is involved, too many of us do not see.

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Guest Mike C.
I'm finding it difficult to figure you out. Clearly you belong to the radical left Kool-aid drinkers of america.  But your anti-God retoric is unusual. I don't know whether it's just a game to see what kind of responses you get or if you're just a stone cold athiest. And it really doesn't matter to me one way or the other.  I think you're an unhappy, unsatisfied person that's angry at the world because no one "understands" you. My advise would be to say a prayer.

Religion is a personal matter. Believe whatever you want to believe. Nobody is forcing you to give up your beliefs. HOWEVER, I also have freedom to believe or not believe what I want. You have no right to tell me or anyone else what we should believe. Keep your religion to yourself. I happen to be an atheist -that's my personal choice. Your religion is your own personal choice and you're perfectly free to follow it. But don't tell me that I have to believe it. I personally don't care what anyone else believes as long as they leave me alone.

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I don't think Paul was saying that belief in God itself is creating a social sickness in America. Rather, he was saying that extremes of that belief are dangerous and destructive. When one group of people takes it upon themselves to dictate that their beliefs are more valid than anyone else's, and then go so far as to say others should suffer ultimate punishment for having these beliefs, this is a mark of a damaged society. Where is the love and respect that we are all supposed to practice in our lives as by Jesus' example? This is supposedly a free society in which everyone is entitled to their own belief, and if, as Paul suggests, a Presidential hopeful were to say in a campaign"... and if you do not accept Jesus into your heart, you belong in Hell," should we be willing to accept that? Unfortuantely, I am fairly certain that a large majority of people would be perfectly fine with that statement, simply because that is what their particular religion dictates. However, this is immoral, illegal and inappropriate for a person in public office to say.

How about in a more casual setting? Say two friends are discussing a religious issue and one says that he does not accept Jesus as his personal saviour. Would it not be disrespectful to say, "Well, I like ya Bob, but if you're not going to accept Jesus into your heart you should be tormented in Hell for eternity." How is this moral, and how is this any different from a teacher telling this to his students? I would be interested to hear thoughts on this, because I don't see how we can claim to live in a free and united nation if we are to allow this type of talk among each other.

A final thought to perhaps put this into perspective -- how would you feel if, as a non-Muslim, one day you were told by a Muslim individual that you would be punished for eternity by Allah simply because of your differing beliefs? I think your reaction would be somewhat different.

So what if a Presidential hopeful said that. It is his or her belief. Mind you, I would wouldn't vote for them, but it is their belief. Honestly, I would rather have someone who believes like that be open and honest. At least we would be able to make a proper judgement and not be blindsided after they came into office. In regards to this post, you believe in a free and united nation just as long as the religious right keep their mouths shut. I personally don't agree with the "tormented in Hell for eternity" nonsense, but EVERYONE has the right to choose what they believe in and to express those beliefs. And that is all it is, an EXPRESSION of a belief. Maybe that is the problem with all of this, maybe Paul has no beliefs and is feeling a little left out. If you don't like it, don't vote for that particular person, don't be their friends, whatever the situation entails.

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Guest olellama
Maybe that is the problem with all of this, maybe Paul has no beliefs and is feeling a little left out. If you don't like it, don't vote for that particular person, don't be their friends, whatever the situation entails.

I've been reading all the threads to this issue for some time now, and keeping my mouth shut, but this one is the straw. By no means the worst, but certainly a clear indication of when somebody's reason goes on vacation. The comment is sarcastic, condescending, and (reflective of many responses to Paul's posts) makes no substantive contribution to a rational discussion of these issues.

If what you really meant was "Paul has no religious faith," I'll leave that to Paul. But to say he has no BELIEFS flies in the face of dozens of posts and much effort on his part to clarify those beliefs in a reasonable and patient manner. If you go back and read his posts, you see a clear picture of his ethical beliefs, his logic, and his willingness to engage all concerned in dialogue. Those beliefs embrace what it means to be moral, patriotic, a good citizen of a democracy, socially conscious, and intellectually honest. His beliefs have clearly motived him (and his son) to ation, as you say, as "the situation entails." Regardless of whether you agree with his pathway, if you cannot even accept that he is doing so on the basis of a foundation of beliefs, including belief in the value of reason, then you are merely demonstrating your own vacuities and deficiencies in these areas, not his.

This commenter smacks of the self-righteous brand of faith that claims morality and beliefs spring from no other source than the immutable ancient texts of our religions. But fear not, even religion evolves. If that were not true, we would still be following the clear, infallible guidance of both the Old and New Testaments -- keeping (or being kept as!) slaves. We would be stoning non-virgin brides and heretics in the public square. And...we would be publicly damning those of the "wrong" faiths to hell. Ah. Wait. We are still doing that, aren't we? Even in public schools, no less.

Paul is not left out. Far from it. He is steadily gaining the respect, support and friendship of those who are willing to read, listen, and think about what he is saying, even some that do not ultimately agree with everything he puts out there. The contrasts between this and many (though certainly not all) of his detractors is astounding.

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I've been reading all the threads to this issue for some time now, and keeping my mouth shut, but this one is the straw.  By no means the worst, but certainly a clear indication of when somebody's reason goes on vacation.  The comment is sarcastic, condescending, and (reflective of many responses to Paul's posts) makes no substantive contribution to a rational discussion of these issues.

If what you really meant was "Paul has no religious faith," I'll leave that to Paul.  But to say he has no BELIEFS flies in the face of dozens of posts and much effort on his part to clarify those beliefs in a reasonable and patient manner.  If you go back and read his posts, you see a clear picture of his ethical beliefs, his logic, and his willingness to engage all concerned in dialogue.  Those beliefs embrace what it means to be moral, patriotic, a good citizen of a democracy, socially conscious, and intellectually honest.  His beliefs have clearly motived him (and his son) to ation, as you say, as "the situation entails."  Regardless of whether you agree with his pathway, if you cannot even accept that he is doing so on the basis of a foundation of beliefs, including belief in the value of reason, then you are merely demonstrating your own vacuities and deficiencies in these areas, not his.

This commenter smacks of the self-righteous brand of faith that claims morality and beliefs spring from no other source than the immutable ancient texts of our religions.  But fear not, even religion evolves.  If that were not true, we would still be following the clear, infallible guidance of both the Old and New Testaments -- keeping (or being kept as!) slaves.  We would be stoning non-virgin brides and heretics in the public square.  And...we would be publicly damning those of the "wrong" faiths to hell.  Ah.  Wait.  We are still doing that, aren't we?  Even in public schools, no less.

Paul is not left out.  Far from it.  He is steadily gaining the respect, support and friendship of those who are willing to read, listen, and think about what he is saying, even some that do not ultimately agree with everything he puts out there.  The contrasts between this and many (though certainly not all) of his detractors is astounding.

olellama,

Namaste.

Paul

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Paul, if you are implying that belief in God is ruining our social fabric then you are a misguided man. Forget all this nonsense about radical this and radical that. There has got to be some middle ground. Simply put, if more people would practice their religion of choice and attend religious services regularly instead of practicing sports, shopping and other events on the Sabbath, we might all be better off? Society, especially our children, are growing up lost. let's bring back faith. I will end this post with a well known phrase first coined by Tug McGraw of my beloved NY Mets, "Ya Gotta Believe!!!"

I have a question regarding your calling yourself "God fearing":

Why do people find it necessary to believe in a God they fear?

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I'm finding it difficult to figure you out. Clearly you belong to the radical left Kool-aid drinkers of america.  But your anti-God retoric is unusual. I don't know whether it's just a game to see what kind of responses you get or if you're just a stone cold athiest. And it really doesn't matter to me one way or the other.  I think you're an unhappy, unsatisfied person that's angry at the world because no one "understands" you. My advise would be to say a prayer.

Can't you tunnel visioned, narrow minded wankers with your asinine Kool-Aid remarks confine yourselves to your lame defense of a lying , incompetent president?

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I have a question regarding your calling yourself "God fearing":

Why do people find it necessary to believe in a God they fear?

Because they have distorted everything that is great about God, and USED God to serve their own desperate, selfish, power hungry needs.

I believe in God. I wish these people would take a leaf out of his book instead of dishonouring and disrespecting God.

As a fervent believer in God, I am appalled and disgusted that this has happened and the way Matthew has been treated. I would ask all of those who believe in God to support Matthew, because he is honouring God with his actions.

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Paul, if you are implying that belief in God is ruining our social fabric then you are a misguided man. Forget all this nonsense about radical this and radical that. There has got to be some middle ground. Simply put, if more people would practice their religion of choice and attend religious services regularly instead of practicing sports, shopping and other events on the Sabbath, we might all be better off? Society, especially our children, are growing up lost. let's bring back faith. I will end this post with a well known phrase first coined by Tug McGraw of my beloved NY Mets, "Ya Gotta Believe!!!"

Paul didn't question belief in God. He questioned the use of the phrase "You belong in hell."

Your response makes it seem that belief in God is equivalent to the use of "You belong in hell." To my knowledge, there is no mortal with the authority to make such a judgement. The Gospels make it clear that we Christians should practice our religion in ways that reserve such judgement.

So when Paul questions the use of "You belong in hell," is he not encouraging better expressions of belief in God rather than attacking it?

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Guest Younger Yet Smarter
Because they have distorted everything that is great about God, and USED God to serve their own desperate, selfish, power hungry needs. 

I believe in God.  I wish these people would take a leaf out of his book instead of dishonouring and disrespecting God.

As a fervent believer in God, I am appalled and disgusted that this has happened and the way Matthew has been treated.  I would ask all of those who believe in God to support Matthew, because he is honouring God with his actions.

While I myself do not share your faith, I agreee with your remarks concerning Matthew. If one does believe in God, one might think to emphasize His better points, such as freedom and equality. The Bible teaches that the crucifixion of Jesus was wrong, right? Well, Jesus was prejudiced against for having different ideas and speaking out against the popular religion.

Doesn't that sound like Matthew's situation? A person speaking out against a religious issue? It does to me. If all those who believe in God think of Jesus as a hero and role model, give Matthew a little slack. He's fighting for equality just as your accepted savior did.

He may not be hanging from his hands on a crucifix, but the death threats, negative comments, and all-around unacceptable behavior aimed towards him (because of religion) is almost as bad. Think before you bring God into your argument. A lot of Aetheists are keeping their views under wraps; you should too. Let's make this a fair fight.

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"You belong in hell." These words were plastered all over newspaper headlines last month. The question I'm suggesting for discussion is: To what extent is language like this appropriate and in what contexts is it appropriate, if at all.

To be clear, the statement was that if you do not accept Jesus, then you belong in hell. By hell, the teacher meant a place or state of eternal and unremitting torment in a fire that burns but never consumes. (This was made clear during the in-class discussion.)

In churches where this is believed, a remark like this may come as no surprise, though my personal view is that it is destructive of the social fabric in any context. Clearly, the law can do nothing to impede it or shut it down.

At the opposite extreme is a captive audience, like a group of public school students, where the teacher takes it upon himself to make a remark like this. In that setting, this is clearly against the law, clearly outside the teacher's rights to say, clearly wrong ethically and morally.

What about saying this among friends? What if the President of the United States decided to say this in an address to the nation, just before the now-obligatory closing line "God bless America?" What if candidates for public office started running on this theology as part of their platform? How far can this be allowed to go before we lose our commitment to equal treatment for all and our democratic system of government?

To what extent does a belief system like this inherently tear apart the social fabric? It's important to our community because while it's all very nice to say that we respect each other's religious beliefs, what do we do when one religious group believes we should all be slain as infidels? The religious right in the USA makes exactly that charge against radical Islam, but how far removed from radical Islam is a statement like this?

We used to have an unspoken social contract of sorts until the radical right began ripping away at it in the past few decades. How much further can our society go in undoing the mutual respect implied by that unspoken agreement before we are at each other's throats?

Have at it, y'all.

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You sure know how to get people to fight among themselves. Have at it, y' all.

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You sure know how to get people to fight among themselves.  Have at it, y' all.

I don’t think he’s creating a conflict, I think he’s pointing one out that already exists. The idea that everyone is inherently equal – that we have no privileged classes – is a basic American ideal. It’s the first of the self-evident truths listed in the Declaration of Independence. And it directly conflicts, at least potentially, with the idea that some people are going to hell and that we know who those people are. If you know someone’s going to hell you’re going to have a strong impetus to treat that person differently while she’s on Earth. That’s why Paszkiewicz proselytized for his brand of Christianity in class. If a Muslim teacher had done the same thing he would never have stood for it, but he apparently thought Christians of his particular stripe are somehow special and ought to be allowed to do things others can’t.

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Guest WilliamK
I don't think Paul was saying that belief in God itself is creating a social sickness in America.

I don't think he meant that either. I, however, would take that stronger position. Religion is a sickness of the mind. A sickness of society. Religion is to mankind what cancer is to the body.

But even so, I think that religious freedom is much more important than any religious view itself, including atheism. Not just religious freedom by itself though, but as part of a broader intellectual freedom. The freedom to think, speak, write, express, and believe (or not) for ourselves. I've not yet met an atheist, regardless of where he/she falls on the spectrum from mildly agnostic to decidedly anti-religious, who would not agree with this. And I know that a great many theists also either already agree with this, or could be persuaded to if they simply give it some fair and honest consideration. It is in their best interest as much as anyone else's.

This is why it is very wrong to equate modern mainstream atheism as it exists in the US and most other free countries with the official atheism that accompanied communism in the former USSR or North Korea. The vast majority of modern western atheists are atheists second, freethinkers first. We do not stand for government dictating, or even advocating, what people are expected or allowed to believe.

You see, even though I have no desire to ever worship any god, or attend any church, or to advocate any religious belief, I would not want to lose my freedom to do so. This is why I would stick up for your religious freedom even if I strongly disagree with your religion. It's my freedom too.

I just hope that some more religious folk might come around to this realization so that we might be on the same side when it comes to separation of church and state. It isn't there to protect or promote your religion. It's there to protect your freedom. And mine too. Is that so terrible?

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I don’t think he’s creating a conflict, I think he’s pointing one out that already exists. The idea that everyone is inherently equal – that we have no privileged classes – is a basic American ideal. It’s the first of the self-evident truths listed in the Declaration of Independence. And it directly conflicts, at least potentially, with the idea that some people are going to hell and that we know who those people are. If you know someone’s going to hell you’re going to have a strong impetus to treat that person differently while she’s on Earth. That’s why Paszkiewicz proselytized for his brand of Christianity in class. If a Muslim teacher had done the same thing he would never have stood for it, but he apparently thought Christians of his particular stripe are somehow special and ought to be allowed to do things others can’t.

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I don't know about you, but to me some of these quote's and reply's people are nasty to each other. We could talk about this to the end of time, but by the end of the day, where back where we started.

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