Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A bit more

Megan left a comment I just can't ignore.

Daviddo, I don't want to be insulting, but the 10th grade history gloss of the abolition movement is grossly oversimplified, and also, doesn't refute anything I've said. You're wildly confused about cause and effect. My point is that the northern church played a causal role in the abolition movement. There is no reasonable reading of history that attributes a similar causal role to the southern church. Indeed, the cause runs the other way--there was considerable selection pressure on southern churches, with churches that spoke out against slavery (there were some) seeing their membership transfer to more amenable congregations.
Think of it this way: if religious people had not been driven by their faith to come out against slavery, the abolitionist movement would have, at best, come into being much later and much weaker than it did. Had the the southern churches said nothing about slavery, would slavery have collapsed? It's unlikely to have had any effect. I am well aware that the southern church provided revolting justifications for slavery, but it's very hard to read the relevant history and conclude that these did much to strengthen an institution that had very strong self-interest behind it, as well as the universal human tendency towards xenophobia. If you hadn't been debating ridiculous religious texts, you would have been debating equally ridiculous eugenic claims, or cultural arguments. People have a powerful way of finding reasons to believe what they want to.
Posted by Megan McArdle | August 19, 2008 5:36 PM
Don't blame Southern churches for what they actually did, they were just playing on human weaknesses for their own benefit. The Northern churches drawing on human strengths, however, deserve sole credit for those features of humanity.
Otherwise she'd have to admit religion is just like all of man's works; a mix of good and bad that depends on external factors to determine both its role and impact in events.


And that was the point which Megan has been trying to obscure behind mountains of shoddy, circular reasoning; religion does not offer obvious political imperatives. There is no clear compulsion to be anti-abortion if you're Christian, and Christ did not share in Old Testament homophobia. Church and state should be separate for the benefit of both. Megan may be stupid enough or paid to conflate bigoted reactionary culture war conservatism with Christianity, but there are many genuine Christians who haven't made that mistake, and I can only begin to imagine their torment in periods like these, when politics and churches mix to dangerous degrees. Preachers let political concerns drive their sermons, and politicians let what, I'm sorry, are a collection of superstitions drive real world policy to the detriment of everyone but themselves. Religion is not designed to provide answers to political questions.
Megan is trying to enable dominionists, and I doubt she realizes it, unless it is, as I suspect, because she got a memo telling her to do so.


Susan of Texas said...

She's never read a book that wasn't assigned in class, has she?

clever pseudonym said...

"Daviddo, I don't want to be insulting, which is why I'm going to proceed to speak down to you as if you were an uneducated, ignorant moron with no understanding of US history outside of what you learned in high school. I will do this despite the fact that your comment clearly shows you have more insight into and knowledge of the subject than I do."

Isn't her argument that "religious people helped end slavery" kind of moot anyway? I mean, in the 1860s, wasn't the US pretty much monolithically Christian in one denomination or another? If I were a journalist being paid to write about this stuff, I'd look it up (*snort*), but since I'm not...

Susan of Texas said...

Megan is trying to enable dominionists, and I doubt she realizes it, unless it is, as I suspect, because she got a memo telling her to do so.

I hope so because that's going to be awesome.

bulbul said...

Religion is not designed to provide answers to political questions.
Which is probably as accurate an interpretation of "Give unto Caesar..." as you can get.