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August 28, 2006

Separation of church and state "a lie" says Katherine Harris

More flailing on the Senatorial campaign trail by Republican Katherine Harris.

Harris told a church group that the separation of church and state is a lie and voters were "legislating sin" unless they voted for Christian candidates.

MIAMI Aug 26, 2006 (AP)— U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris told a religious journal that separation of church and state is "a lie" and God and the nation's founding fathers did not intend the country be "a nation of secular laws." The Republican candidate for U.S. Senate also said that if Christians are not elected, politicians will "legislate sin," including abortion and gay marriage.

Harris made the comments which she clarified Saturday in the Florida Baptist Witness, the weekly journal of the Florida Baptist State Convention, which interviewed political candidates and asked them about religion and their positions on issues.

Separation of church and state is "a lie we have been told," Harris said in the interview, published Thursday, saying separating religion and politics is "wrong because God is the one who chooses our rulers."

"If you're not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin," Harris said. [...]

Harris' campaign released a statement Saturday saying she had been "speaking to a Christian audience, addressing a common misperception that people of faith should not be actively involved in government."

If Harris thinks that God picks our leaders, she's going to take her crushing defeat pretty hard.

[Hat tip to Talk Left]


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Please, please, please let Katherine Harris keep making these comments.

The way they painted Democrats as wide-eyed liberal nutcases, using solid evidence like the Dean Scream...

Let's stay back and let Harris rip. I would hate to think the party would (or could) put a muzzle on her before we paint her as their spokeswoman.

I see that she is grasping for the only straws that she has left, then radical right Christians. How apropo.

Heh. What Harris stated is MUCH worse than what you've posted here. She is advocating an American theocracy.

Her most odious comment was that "average citizens who are not Christian" are only non-Christian because "they don't know any better."

That does not leave much room for non-fundamentalist-Christians (like Jews, or Roman Catholics like me) in her dream of an American theocracy.

Furthermore, Republican voters, who evidently agree that pursuit of an American theocracy is a good thing, elected her to statewide office, then nominated her to the U.S. House, then elected her to the U.S. House, and on September 5th will nominate her for a Senate seat.

Think the GOP is not pursuing an American theocracy? Think again.....

politicians will "legislate sin," including abortion and gay marriage.

Ummm ... even if you feel that abortion or homosexuality are sins, how is it legislating a sin to merely allow people to have abortions or to certify marriages between gay couples? Does the right really think that whatever is not forbidden is manditory such that, if abortion is allowed, women will have to have one?

I guess you could argue that to not legislate morality is to legislate sin by some twisting of the "sin of ommission is the same as the sin of commission" argument -- but then isn't it 'legislating sin' that farmers are allowed to harvest the corners of their fields and are allowed to keep titles to their property while shellfish get certified by inspectors (or however that works for sea-foods)? Oh yes -- I forget, in the fundie world-view, all those pesky "Old Testament" laws are abrogated and only the "good parts" dealing with sex or conquest need be heeded according to such "Christians".

This type of ideology within the GOP is exactly why I can no longer associate myself as a "Republican". Well, that and the whole Bush administration! What an embarassment! As Midwestern pointed out, I too am a Roman Catholic, so clearly I have no place in the GOP. While I would never join the DNC, I have and will vore for a Democrat if I feel they are the best candidate. And many of my friends are on the same page now. We are what the GOP should be trying to hold on to: young professionals with money and conservative views, most of the time. But they want us to be Bible thumping fanatics.

I am OK with religion, but believe it should be practiced in private and not in public or in the government. And I am somewhat of a social liberal, so CLEARLY the GOP has no use for me. So I say, good riddance. They had 5 years to do something and have accomplished very little to nothing.

I think social liberals and libertarians should donate to her campaign generously. Never has the tacky, Hawaiian-shirt essence of popular right-wing Christian theocratic aspirations been so meticulously distilled in the form of one buxom, talking make-up kit? Move over, Jean Schmidt - Katherine is 0a rare, delicate and endangered flower, we must protect her. It has been many years since Florida gave us Anita Bryant, and we did not appreciate her then, for the sake of the next generation of liberals, skeptics and buncombe-busters.

For who will make us laugh with tea coming out of our noses onto our keyboards if Republicans start returning to fiscal responsibility, limited government and a skeptical eye towards involving the state in the apparatus of religion? The threats are the ghosts of Goldwater, Eisenhowe and Grant. No, we must support this poor, desperate scold in her time of need, lest the mature, decent and thrifty Republicans of old return.

(I am one pissed-off crabby Maryland liberal and I approved this message.)

I have a question, though: what would it take to convince a conservative Catholic, who actually is very liberal in matters of, shall we say "cultural criticism" and certain economic matters, that the GOP wants to do more than just "make abortions illegal" or whatever policies the GOP claims to support that many Catholics support as well ... to convince such a Catholic that a theocracy of sorts is a goal of the religious rights and that such a theocracy would not be Catholic friendly? How would you convince Catholics that without being seen as just another "liberal alarmist with an agenda of his own" or being seen as tilting at strawmen?

To put it another way: how come Midwestern Progressive and B-money know what's going on while many people, some of whom are smart enough to know better, think that they can make common cause with the religious right (cf. Cabaret and the comment about the Nazis being useful anti-Communists) and that our attacks on the religious right are attacks on strawmen? What convinces people like you that others maybe have not yet realized?

"talking make-up kit?"

LOL! That was hillarious because it's so true.

Bruce, Steele and Ehrlich will win again, or do you think the MD demos can field a Democrat that's worth electing? The guy from Baltimore doesn't seem that great, so hope they find something better soon.

She's nuts and a republican spokesmodel as well. Quite a catch.

"What convinces people like you that others maybe have not yet realized?"

They need to learn how to read the Bible. To err is human, to forgive is divine. Most Christians should know by now that it is not their place to judge - it's Gods. And for them to pass laws on people, and in essence judge them for their "sins" is anti-Christian. Especially sins that only harm the sinner.

DAS, if this is a real question not a rhetorical one (I am assuming that you may not be Catholic) - if you want to reach hard-core Catholics, you start with the papal encyclicals that criticize capitalism and the culture of mad consumption. You bring up the examples of Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker and the Berrigan family - orthodox on pro-life issues, but devastatingly critical of our rush to war madness and our consumer culture.

Then you tell them that it is one thing to lose one's faith, but these so-called Christian Protestant evangelicals have forsaken their heritage, their sense of prudence and their minds. You remind them that Christians who call themselves "Christians" imply not only that the Church of Rome and the sacraments are not central, but not even worth mentioning.

You remind them that most of what Catholics are required to do under Canon Law or urged strongly to do - attend Mass, venerate the Blessed Virgin, pray for assistance to the saints, pray the rosary, obey their bishop, obey strictly His Holiness as both the Universal Pastor and the Patriarch of the West - is regarded as either irrelevant, silly or blasphemous by most self-described Christians.

Then you go for the kill. You remind them of the puritanical obsessiveness of many conservative Christians regarding even an occasional beer or the sin of playing cards, even if not for money. If you dare, mention BINGO as the "devil's work." Remind them that the difference between majority Catholic counties and majority "Christian" counties in the south is that the many of the former still support and enforce local prohibition. And that the former vote overwhelmingly Democratic.

Then you tell them that when Katherine Harris was talking about "Christians", if she meant Catholics she would have said Catholic. But she didn't. She wouldn't have said anything like that if she meant to reach Catholics because between intermarriage, cultural similarity and geographical proximity, many (NOT ALL) Catholics feel an affinity for Jewish life and consider Jews to be honorary Irish/Italian, etc. Catholics culturally. Even strict conservative Catholic priests from New York will admit this gladly, and have done so on EWTN. Some Jews feel likewise; a rabbi once told me that he considered Italian-Americans the 13th tribe. So the Harris "no Jews" rule carries a bad message and meta-message to Catholics, and if Harris and her ilk didn't mean to send a "no Catholics, no Jews need run" message, she wouldn't have done so. Ditto with the rest of the "Christian" right.

You tell them there's a reason why Bob Casey is still a pro-life Democrat. Then you win.

"former still support and enforce local prohibition" - meant latter of course

mparker, actually the bible doesn't say you can't judge, it says you will be judged as you judge others... so don't be an ass about it or you're going to feel that same heat one day... ok I'm paraphrasing... but basically, if you judge others fairly, then you will be judged fairly.

The oft quoted line is not about 'not judging at all'.

Sorry, in a pedantic mood today.

And there I go addressing the wrong person.

I posted this in another thread, but it seems apropos here. I added some stuff too, so it is not entirely a re-run.

"I am becomming more and more upset about the so-called "Christian Church". These demagogues, are the biggest threat to democracy, and the American way of life.

I was a Catholic prior to the "election" of Pope Benedict, and had been told I am not a Christian."

These "Christians" believe that they are righteous because the rely on the "word of God" the Bible. But it is only the parts of the Bible they like.

"They point to the Book of Levicticus as proof that being a homosexual is a sin."

Actually, this passage only states that male homosexuality is a sin, and makes no mention of female homosexuals, but the Bible was written by men who wouldn't no any better.

"Ironically, the Book of Levicticus also contains the golden rule, "Love thy neighbor as thyself." I suppose if my neighbor is a homosexual, they don't count. I was criticized for being a "cafeteria Catholic, because I don't buy everything the Pope says. I guess the selectivity of these "Christians" makes them "Cafeteria Christians."

I don't think there is a whole lot of difference between a significant proportion of the Catholic Church and "Christians". When I worshiped at my Church, about 60% of the congregation were ardent Bush supporters. Senator Sam Brownback from Kansas is an interesting case in point. My impression of him is that he doesn't object to the "Christian Nationalism" movement. Hopefully, my impression is wrong, but I believe the majority of these people can't separate their ideology from their religion. It is pretty scary!

I worship with many conservative Catholics

What convinces people like you that others maybe have not yet realized?

Well, it is pretty clear to me that Harris is talking about (and, in the linked article, talking to) fundamentalist Christians. "No Catholics need apply" is evident throughout her message - after all, we Catholics are nothing more than a bunch of papist heretics, in Harris' eyes.

But all that is besides the point here. We're not talking about Catholics and other Christian sects "coming together" for a common good here. At least, Harris is not talking about that. She is talking about "legislating" from a Christian agenda without regards to such niceties ("lies" in her vernacular) as the separation clause.

Legislation by Christians, for all Americans, ragardless of your faith (or lack thereof). The federal government already requires children to attend schools, does it not? Once Harris and her ilk get control of the government, how long will it be before we have mandatory Christian summer camps for all American children?

It took the Taliban less than a generation in Afghanistan, and they were not as organized as the American GOP.

That might sit well with you. But hey, if you like it, vote for GOP candidates. After all, GOP voters already elected Harris to statewide office, then to the U.S. House, and next week will nominate her for the Senate. So, one can reasonably conclude that GOP voters are actively pursuing Harris' theocratic agenda.

To me, it seems like a bad idea. I'll vote against them.


While I do engage in rhetorical, leading or even Socratic questioning to the point of fatuousness, my question is actually quite sincere: much more sincere than I am used to being, so I've actually a slight headache (or maybe that's 'cause my labmates have got me addicted to having a cup of coffee mid-afternoon, but they're in another building doing an experiment and I'm sitting here alone and un-caffeinated).

I am not a Catholic, although as a Jew, I have similar questions regarding how to reach those neo-con wannabes. The Catholics I know to whom this applies certainly know about Dorothy Day and all the other good stuff you mention. The issue is that they do sincerely believe abortion is murder, gays are trying to recruit people (actually they seem to think the same way about gays as they do about fundie Protestants), etc. Moreover, they sincerely think that we Dems. are being overly partisan while they feel that our attacks on the religious right are attacks on strawmen.

So how does one "convert" such people?

The larger (and now rhetorical) question: what can the Democrats do to dispel some of the misperceptions about us and the larger political environment (e.g. to dispel the myth of Democrats being more partisan than Republicans) as well as to attract people who agree with us on economic and certain cultural issues but not necessarily all "social" issues? FWIW, I don't think abandoning social liberalism is the answer -- at the very least it will turn people off as it will be seen, correctly, as pandering. But perhaps there are ways we can change our talking points and emphases? IMHO, we Dems. really need to seriously (i.e. have someone who looks less smiley and baby-faced than Edwards) address class (and to stop listening to the media talking heads who say we shouldn't -- we ought to know which side they're on by now) ...

But perhaps there are ways we can change our talking points and emphases?

Why don't we start by telling the truth? Why not call a spade "a spade" and be done with it? Why not point out to GOP voters that they are freely electing self-described theocrats who are more loyal to their faith than they are to their nation?

Ms. Harris wants to get elected to the Senate so she can push her strictly fundamentalist Christian agenda on the nation. And she's already won statewide office in Florida and been nominated and elected to the United States House of Representatives. And next week those some voters are going to nominate her to the U.S. Senate.

What's wrong, exactly, with pointing out to GOP voters that their candidate is a Christian theocrat pursuing a fundamentalist agenda for the nation?

Actually, this passage only states that male homosexuality is a sin - platypusrx

Since we're being pedantic on this thread, I might point out, that the passage does not even say that. It is grammatical goobledygook (which would be a tip-off that something is going on if you follow the school of Rabbi Akiba ... if you follow Rabbi Ishmael, well, you'd feel free to discount the prohibition as mere human wording anyway) to the effect of "the lyings of mankind with mankind, which are akin to those of mankind with womenkind, are a Toevah". Note -- this is not the same word used to describe, e.g., eating shrimp -- the word, translated as "abhorrent" used to proscribe eating shellfish, is better translated as disgusting ... and when you think about it, eating crustaceans is no less disgusting than, e.g., eating insects. The word toevah, OTOH, is a whole 'nother ball of wax ... it refers to an act "which those people do ... and that's an example of why we find those people horrible". For instance, those chastity balls fundies have are definitely thought of as "toevoth" in left blogistan. The Torah mentions that Egyptians considered dining with foreigners a "toevah" -- IOW, an Egyptian, if asked for example, "why do you think those Chaldeans are beneath you?", would respond "those Chaldeans would happily eat at the same table with anyone -- eating with, e.g., nomads, is hardly behavior worthy of cultured people, is it?".

So, first what is prohibited by Leviticus? well, certain "lyings" that somehow mimic what a man does with a woman -- there are some Rabbis, e.g., who would say that the only thing really prohibited by that commandment is unprotected anal sex if you do it lying down -- and everything else is a "fence" around the law.

But the word "toevah" does mean something is a big deal: but what could it be? What we know today as homosexuality was hardly celebrated enough by other cultures in the region to have been labeled as a toevah. What was celebrated were homosexual activities engaged in by otherwise heterosexual men, e.g., the homosexual ephebophilia of ancient Athens (which was not particularly gay friendly, FWIW), hence the odd grammar which has an element that the action prohibited is something done with a man that the doer would do with a woman.

So, to make a long story short, Leviticus may very well not prohibit homosexuality, but it certainly prohibits a straight person from renouncing heterosexual sex but instead having sex with altar boys.

Isn't Phantool going to show up to tell us what a great American she is?

She might even scare him - though without the acceptance of her own regime, I don't think Phantom would support her.

Differences in tone can go a long way.

When Dean and Kerry talk about religion, they look fake. I have seen religiously committed people of a wide variety of backgrounds, and they don't talk about religion with that tone. Religiously real people integrate their religion with their lives. Religion has a lot of cultural markers as well. Even little things like the way that Catholics and evangelicals talk about sin - Catholics usually talk about "sins" i.e. specific failures requiring atonement through repentance and sacramental confession, whereas evangelical Christians more often talk about "sin" in the generic as an amorphous threat. Harris used this dog-whistle to her people quite effectively in her rant.

Catholics use the phrase "go to Mass" more often than "go to church." Why? Because there is a very specific obligation on every confirmed adult Catholic in good health to go not "to church or a church", but to attend the weekly Sunday Mass with a specific set of readings, etc. Mass can be "said" in a hospital or at a beach resort, but it is mandatory and a serious matter. There is an obligation to arrive no later than the reading of the Gospel (usually the third of three readings), otherwise it does not count. This way of approaching worship is familiar to religiously observant Jews, I suspect. Evangelical Protestants do not have these concepts or terms.

Another is the concept of screwing over the poor. Now most evangelical Christians don't actually believe in screwing over the poor, per se, but they are the backbone of the party that sometimes does it. Catholics do, by and large, believe in the Church's "preferential option for the poor" i.e. screwing over the poor is anti-Catholic. Many U.S. Catholics are only two generations away from relative poverty, though that is of course changing. This is a big deal, particularly for Catholic women who are big backers of many Catholic soup kitchens through the St. Vincent de Paul Society and many less formal efforts at the diocesan or parish level. Even lapsed Catholics tend to remember this aspect of Catholic life with great warmth.

This is reflective of the communal structure of Catholic life, less reflected in the much more individualist evangelical world, where an individual's personal salvation and "personal relationship with Jesus Christ" is much more often stressed. Catholics (and Eastern Orthodox Christians) don't talk that way and might look askance at someone who does. But not getting these important differences down right can make you miss, especially for Catholics who attended Catholic school or remember pre-Vatican II Catholic life.

DAS, You have made my day! Thanks for your post.

I have experienced so much grief over a lot of the seeming contradictions in the Bible. Excellent post!


Your remarks on tone probably should be required reading for any Democratic politician. Interestingly, in California, where I am originally from, many religious conservatives I know dislike Feinstein but rather like the more liberal Boxer: why? in part because she has the right tone.

This way of approaching worship is familiar to religiously observant Jews, I suspect.

Somewhat. As with talk of sin (where we refer to both "sin" in general and "sins" in particular), we Jews tend to be right in between the Catholics and the Fundamentalist Protestants: we refer to "going to shul" (lit. "school", but used in Yiddish to refer to a synagogue -- IIRC, in some parts of Germany, Christians refer to church as Schul) but we also speak of attending services. Actually, as to issues of timing, etc., since our services (at least our Sat. morning services) are so much longer than Western Catholic mass, Jewish synagogue going habits tend to be more akin to the Eastern Orthodox than to Catholics -- people kind of drift in at some point and drift out at some point (although not so much the latter as people want to stay for the snacks served after prayer!).

where an individual's personal salvation and "personal relationship with Jesus Christ" is much more often stressed. Catholics (and Eastern Orthodox Christians) don't talk that way and might look askance at someone who does.

There is a generational thing here (and Vatican II, as you allude, may be involved): actually my Catholic friends (of my generation, which is well post Vatican II) actually do talk this way and are quite comfortable with people who talk in such individualistic terms.

I have experienced so much grief over a lot of the seeming contradictions in the Bible. - Platypusrx

Thank you.

You should consider studying Talmud sometime (or at least delving in Tosaphos): you'll be able to fully reconcile all those appearent contradictions but you'll have such a headache from all the pedantry, casuistry, etc., you'll long for the days in which you merely experienced grief and will want those seeming contradictions back ;)

I kid -- for fans of left blogistan, Talmud would probably be fun ...

Seriously, one of the things that drives me nuts about the Theonomic Christian crowd is that they are trying to re-invent the wheel (and ending up with some square-shaped object that doesn't roll very well instead) w.r.t. the implementation of Biblical law: they've spent a lot of time and effort coming up with what end up being half-baked attempts at descriptions of how to implement Biblical law (which they don't even bother to properly understand at even a literal level), when Jews have been implementing Biblical law for millenia and we have plenty of volumes written about how to do it. I can understand disagreeing with our conclusions or even finding some of our nit-picking to be a bit much, but why ignore such a resource that actually explains how to do what you are claiming you want to do? It just strikes me as very odd, counterproductive and indicative of a lack of seriousness on the part of the Theonomists, who seem more interested in whacking people over the head with their Bibles than in what the Bible actually says.

I guess it's not surprising though: thumping a Bible and opening it to read the words therein are somewhat contradictory actions.

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