Sunday, February 27, 2005

New York Times on Religion, the Founding, and David Barton:

A must read article in the New York Times about religion and our Founding. It's very balanced, probably too fair to Barton, who has done some extremely shoddy work in the past and continues to misrepresent history and make extremely bizarre arguments.

What's really sad is how such a shoddy historian as Barton exerts disproportionate influence as he should. Certainly his shoddiness will hurt his cause.

Mr. Barton, who is also the vice chairman of the Texas Republican Party, is a point man in a growing movement to call attention to the open Christianity of America's great leaders and founding documents. The goal is to reverse what many evangelical Christians claim is a secularist revision of history, to defend displays of religion in public life and to make room for God in public school classrooms.

....In a sign of his influence, the California and Texas school boards have consulted Mr. Barton on their curriculums. And sympathetic legislators in a dozen states have passed American Heritage Education Acts intended to protect teachers who discuss religion's role in history_- measures liberals call unnecessary.

Mr. Barton, an expert witness in a case about the public display of the Ten Commandments that is coming before the Supreme Court this week, said he has given his "spiritual heritage" tour of the Capitol more than a hundred times, for scores of Congressmen and thousands of visitors. The contents of articles, books and videos produced by his organization, WallBuilders, about the religious underpinnings of American history have echoed through Christian cable networks, magazines and pulpits around the country.

An example of Barton's bizzare claims: Whereas the strongest argument in favor of the constitutionality of public displays of the Ten Commandments is that doing this does not constitute an "Establishment of Religion" any more than would displaying text from the Koran or the book of Mormon, the weakest argument is that Ten Commandments are *the* historical source of current civil law (as opposed to the historical civil code of the Ancient Jews). And this is exactly what Barton claims. To prove his case, in an affidavit submitted on behalf of Kentucky's public display, Barton pours over the civil codes from pre-colonial America, based on the First and Second Commands and other parts of the Bible, that predate our Founding by a hundred and some years, meriting the death penalty for worshipping non-Christian Gods. True, this used to be part of the pre-Founding civil law, but then again, so too was Divine Rule of Kings. Claiming that we were founded on executing non-Christians for attempting to freely exercise their religion makes about as much sense as claiming that we were founded on Divine Rule of Kings.

The bottom line of the NYT article is that while religious conservative critics correctly note that our Founders probably never envisioned a society where the Wall of Separation has been taken to such extremes as to disallow prayer before public-school football games or bar ministers or rabbis from prayer at public school graduations, the religious right misrepresents history by arguing that our founders intended to create a "Christian Nation," one that is in public principle, "Christian." In reality our founders created a nation that was in principle neutral on religious matters and purposefully left God, specifically the Trinitarian Christian God, out of the equation.

The Times article even quotes National Review's Richard Brookhiser, one of the most well-respected conservative scholars of the Founding, who notes, "[I]f [the Founders] wanted a Christian state they could have done it. They were writing the rules. They could have put God in the rules." But they didn't. Those trying to find "God" in the Constitution, are so desperate that they would look to the customary way of stating the date to prove their case.

Along the way we get expert testimony regarding the religion of our most important founders. True they weren't "pure Deists," but then again, they were the furthest thing from born-again evangelical Christians as well. Regarding Washington:

Joseph J. Ellis, a professor at Mount Holyoke and Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer whose latest book is "His Excellency: George Washington" (Knopf), calls him "a lukewarm Episcopalian and a quasi-deist." "When he died he really did not know what would happen to his soul, if such a thing existed," he added.

On Jefferson:

Jefferson's cosmology was a matter of debate in his own lifetime, when his political opponents denounced him as an atheist. But Mr. Barton told his students that "even Jefferson" called himself a Christian. [Rowe: This is a textbook example of how misleading Barton is. What Barton leaves out is that Jefferson also called himself a "deist" and a "unitarian." And as this passage later notes, Jefferson's "Christianity" if we want to call it that, looks nothing like Barton's.] Jefferson approved the use of the Capitol and other public buildings for church services and attended himself, even enlisting the military band to play religious music. And in 1803, Mr. Barton said, he signed a treaty that called for public funds to pay a missionary to the Indians.

But Jefferson was also the most forthright deist among the founders, meaning that he believed in a creator who merely set the world in motion according to natural laws. When Thomas Paine wrote "The Age of Reason," an attack on organized religion, Jefferson was virtually the only founder who remained his friend.

Jefferson famously assembled his own Bible by cutting out any passage involving miracles or the supernatural to leave only Jesus's teachings. In a letter to John Adams in 1823, Jefferson defended his faith by arguing that true Christians followed these teachings, while belief in miracles like the virgin birth perverted them.

On the other hand, Mr. Brookhiser noted, Jefferson took time to prepare his own Bible. "A modern secular humanist would not do that," he said.

On Lincoln:

"One would have a very hard time saying he was a believing Christian," said Thomas F. Schwartz, the Illinois state historian and director of research at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, and a member of the theologically conservative Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church. Christians have sometimes retold stories that Lincoln had a "secret baptism," but "they take you up blind allies or into rabbit holes," Mr. Schwartz said.

And as I've blogged before, D. James Kennedy is one of those folks, along with Barton, taking us up those blind allies and rabbit holes." It's not just gay historians who engage in such speculation and pass it off as settled fact.

Saturday, February 26, 2005


To Ed Brayton and Timothy Sandefur for their nice discussion on my post about incorporating the disestablishment principle.

Now Brayton always seemed to accept incorporation of the disestablishment norm, but I'm happily taken aback that my argument seems to be convincing Sandefur, who previously was skeptical of the notion that the 14th Amendment, properly understood, requires states to do anything beyond respect the religious liberty of the Free Exercise Clause. This is especially relevant given that Sandefur co-wrote a brief, submitted to the Supreme Court in the Zelman case, upon which Justice Thomas partially relied in his opinion while making that exact point, that only the religious liberty of the Free-Exercise Clause is properly incorporated.

Now if I could just so convince Justice Thomas....

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Akhil Amar & Incorporation of the Establishment Clause:

Timothy Sandefur has been giving the Panda's Thumb posters an excellent lesson in constitutional law. The topic is whether the Establishment Clause is properly incorporated via the 14th Amendment as applying against state governments. And Sandefur heavily relies on the work on Akhil Amar's excellent book (which I just got yesterday) on the Bill of Rights.

I think both Sandefur and Amar make a little bit too much of the notion that the Establishment Clause was intended to be a federalism only provision, and that one important part of that clause was to guarantee the rights of states to make their own establishments. States were free to enact establishments as an incidental effect of the entire First Amendment applying only to Congress, just as states were free to violate free exercise and free speech norms as an incidental effect of the First Amendment's restraint on the Federal government only.

To inject some natural law into this analysis, both clauses of the First Amendment and Article VI's no religious test clause were written, however imperfectly, to secure the unalienable free and equal rights of conscience against federal government violations. States, on their own, were morally obligated (but not legally obligated under federal law) to secure such natural rights. And Jefferson thought they'd do a better job of this than would the federal government.

By the time the 14th Amendment was passed the federal government would have the jurisdiction over state violations of natural rights under the Privileges or Immunities, Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th.

Okay, the bottom line: Is the Establishment Clause properly incorporated, and if so, in what way? As Amar shows in his excellent book, the answer to this question is in large part semantical. For instance, Amar demonstrates the doctrine of incorporation to be proper. But currently the Court has incorporation taking place under the "Due Process" Clause when in reality it properly should be done under the "Privileges or Immunities" Clause. Whether the Establishment Clause is properly incorporated at all, much of what the Supreme Court has it doing -- including forbidding states from officially establishing any church -- would be proper under the Free Exercise and Equal Protection clauses.

In order for the Establishment Clause to be properly incorporated, it must relate to protecting some kind of individual right. The Free Exercise Clause obviously relates to protecting an individual right. Both Sandefur and Justice Thomas generously discuss how the Free Exercise Clause alone could handle most of these claims: Quoting Justice Thomas, “the Establishment Clause, [if incorporated]…would probably cover little more than the Free Exercise Clause.”

The problem with Sandefur's and Thomas's analysis is that, while it address liberty, it ignores equality of conscience. When our founders used the term "liberty" it very often appeared in conjunction with the term "equality." And Jefferson and Madison's writings make it clear that men, by nature, have not only free, but also equal rights of conscience. From Madison's Memorial and Remonstrance, quoting the VA Declaration of Rights [my emphasis on the word "equal" and its variations]:

Because the Bill violates that equality which ought to be the basis of every law, and which is more indispensible, in proportion as the validity or expediency of any law is more liable to be impeached. If "all men are by nature equally free and independent," [Virginia Declaration of Rights, art. 1] all men are to be considered as entering into Society on equal conditions; as relinquishing no more, and therefore retaining no less, one than another, of their natural rights. Above all are they to be considered as retaining an "equal title to the free exercise of Religion according to the dictates of Conscience." [Virginia Declaration of Rights, art. 16] Whilst we assert for ourselves a freedom to embrace, to profess and to observe the Religion which we believe to be of divine origin, we cannot deny an equal freedom to those whose minds have not yet yielded to the evidence which has convinced us.

And from Madison's original draft of the First Amendment:

The Civil Rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, nor on any pretext infringed. No state shall violate the equal rights of conscience or the freedom of the press, or the trial by jury in criminal cases.

Akhil Amar does discuss the equality aspect of religion under the 14th Amendment. Because the Free Exercise Clause appears to be a "liberty," not an "equality" clause, perhaps the Establishment Clause, not the Free Exercise Clause is the more proper place for securing this equality norm. When I saw Philip Hamburger speak at Princeton University, he noted, "the Establishment Clause is not an equal protection clause" to which a subsequent speaker retorted -- one of the cleverest retorts I've heard in my life, "yes, but the Equal Protection Clause is an equal protection clause." I think Amar would agree:

Perhaps the greatest elaboration came from Thomas Cooley's influential 1868 treatise. Under prevailing state constitutions, wrote Cooley, states generally could not enact "[a]ny law respecting an establishment of religion....There is not religious liberty where any one sect is favored by the State....It is not toleration which is established in our system, but religious equality." Even a noncoercive establishment, Cooley suggested, violated principles of religious liberty and religious equality -- violated norms of equal rights and privileges. And once we see this, it turns out that the question -- should we incorporate the establishment clause? -- may not matter all that much, because even if we did not, principles of religious liberty and equality could be vindicated via the free-exercise clause (whose text, history, and logic make it a paradigmatic case for incorporation) and the equal protection clause (which frowns on state laws that unjustifiably single out some folks for special privileges and relegate others to second-class status). Surely Alabama could not adopt a state motto proclaiming itself "the White Supremacy State"; such a motto would offend basic principles of equal citizenship and equal protection. And so a law that proclaimed Utah a Mormon state should be suspect whether we call this a violation of establishment principles, free-exercise principles, equal-protection principles, equal-citizenship principles, or religious-liberty principles. Once we remember that we are not incorporating clauses mechanically but reconstructing rights, we reach the unsurprising conclusion that our basic touchstones should be the animating Fourteenth Amendment ideals of liberty and equality. pp. 253-4

In other words, a great deal of separation of Church & State, perhaps not what the ACLU desires, but nonetheless drawing a sharp distinction between Church & State, is required to respect the full free and equal rights of conscience, regardless of which particular combination of clauses is the proper source of the norms. As with incorporation, the fact that the norms themselves are legitimately applied, not necessarily where the Court has the norms coming from is what's most important.

And even the concept of "equal protection" -- which we regard as a substantive norm of equality -- may not be coming from the proper clause. The text of the equal protection clause, like the due process clause, seems to be entirely procedural, not substantive. The law must equally apply whatever general laws are on the books. But it is also unquestionable that the 14th Amendment contains substantive norms of liberty and equality as well. The substantive norms probably are properly contained within the "privileges or immunities" clause, the procedural norms, the due process and equal protection clauses. After the Slaughterhouse Cases unfairly eviscerated the privileges or immunities clause, when it came time to channeling substantive norms of liberty and equality, the court looked to where the words "liberty" and "equality" appeared in the text of the constitution: the due process and equal protection clauses -- maybe not the most proper places, but absent the privilege or immunities clause, the next most logical places.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


Even if I don't always mention it, I always appreciate the links that I get.

Let me specially thank David Swindle from the Ball State Daily News for his cite in a neat article about the Alan Keyes/Maya Keyes situation.

Also thanks to Ed Brayton and Karen McLaughlan for their discussion of my post on the Ten Commandments and the Civil Law.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Abraham Lincoln: Born-Again Evangelical, Homosexual...or BOTH!

Peter LaBarbera, a professional anti-gay activist takes aim at the recent scholarship that attempts to argue that Lincoln was gay.

Like the thief who thinks everybody steals, America's homosexual movement -- using the twisted 'scholarship' of Dr. Tripp -- is convinced that Abe Lincoln's warm friendships with other men must have been sexual," LaBarbera said.

"The tragedy is that Lincoln, who revered the Bible,* cannot defend himself from the grave, and that even debating this ridiculous charge popularizes it," he added.

Now I'm not sure about our 16th President's sexual orientation and I agree the "Lincoln was gay" thesis is more speculation than proven history. But one thing I've noticed in my studies of the early founders and religion is that some prominent figures in the religious right, figures with whom Labarbera has worked, have done the exact same thing that LaBarbera accuses "gay activists" to have done with Lincoln: claiming historical figures as "one of their own" based on evidence that is either incomplete, speculatory (is that a word?), or sometimes, outright false.

For instance, D. James Kennedy, a very important figure in the religious right, is every bit as much of an historical revisionist as C.A. Tripp, the Lincoln scholar in question, if not more so. And just as Tripp tries to claim Lincoln for gays, Kennedy attempts to claim Lincoln for fundamentalist Christians.

Kennedy bases his entire claim on some passage from an obscure historical book published in the late 1800s, purporting to quote Lincoln. The passage in question states:

"When I left Springfield I asked the people to pray for me. I was not a Christian. When I buried my son, the severest trial of my life, I was not a Christian. But when I went to Gettysburg and saw the graves of thousands of our soldiers, I then and there consecrated myself to Christ. Yes, I do love Jesus."

As far as I know, this quote has never been vetted by serious Lincoln scholars. It's hearsay. Lincoln may or may not have said this. But there is a whole 'lot of other hearsay -- from those who knew Lincoln very well like his long time law-partner -- that demonstrates that Lincoln was a freethinking heretic who died an unbeliever in any kind of Christian orthodoxy. You can read the vast conflicting testimony here.

Lincoln, of course, never publicly declared himself to be a born-again believer. He had two years before the purported time of his conversion and his death to do so. Kennedy claims that Lincoln was about to before he was assassinated. As the Church Lady would say, "how convenient."

Kennedy also claims George Washington as an born-again evangelical Christian. In reality, there is no credible evidence that Washington was anything more than a deist-unitarian. True, he attended a Christian Church. But as historian Paul F. Boller has noted:

[I]f to believe in the divinity and resurrection of Christ and his atonement for the sins of man and to participate in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper are requisites for the Christian faith, then Washington, on the evidence which we have examined, can hardly be considered a Christian, except in the most nominal sense.

Kennedy on the other hand rests his entire case for George Washington's orthodox Christianity on Washington's mythical prayer book, which has been debunked by serious scholars.

The religious right likewise have also tried to claim Madison and even Jefferson (like Washington, both of them deist-unitarians) as fundamentalist Christians.

*When LaBarbera claims that "Lincoln revered the Bible" I'm not exactly sure what he means, perhaps intimating that Lincoln became a fundamentalist Christian. Lincoln certainly knew the Bible very well and could cite it to his political advantage. And he may very well have loved the Bible as a piece of literature; how relevant that is to the "Lincoln is gay" debate, I'm not sure -- unless one could prove that Lincoln believed the entire Bible, including its anti-gay passages, to be inerrant. Certainly there have been gay scholars of the Bible who love it as a work of historical literature, without believing in the literalness of its anti-gay passages. Jefferson knew the Bible as well as anyone else and loved parts of it, characterizing Jesus' words as "diamonds." But he also categorized other parts of it as a fraudulent "dunghill" and edited out that in which he disbelieved.
Hate Crime:

As I've written before, I'm not a fan of "hate-crimes" laws that specially punish generic crimes on the basis of a discriminatory motive. But this certainly seems to be a brutal hate crime perpetrated by Muslims and directed against Christians.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

The Ten Commandments and the Civil Law:

Next month the Supreme Court will hear the Ten Commandments case and I'll be following it very carefully. Even though I'm a committed libertarian secularist, my mind isn't completely made up; although, I'm leaning towards the conclusion that the manner in which the Commandments were displayed was unconstitutional (even though not all Ten Commandments displays on public property ought to be considered unconstitutional; it depends on the context).

Certain pro-display arguments might convince me: for instance the argument that a display of the Decalogue is not an "establishment" of religion any more than the public display of text of the Koran, the book of Mormon or the Bhagavad Gita would be.

But it does pro-display forces no good to argue their case with dumb, historically inaccurate arguments that completely misunderstand and misrepresent the founding principles of this nation.

And this, according to the ACLU's brief, is exactly what the Counties which have erected the displays have done. They claim “the Ten Commandments as the precedent legal code upon which the civil and criminal codes of the Commonwealth of Kentucky are founded . . .” and that there is an “inseparable connection between the ethical conduct of that legislative body and the Christian principles which permeate our society and its institutions[.]" They also claimed, citing the Holy Trinity decision, that Supreme Court had “never . . . overruled, limited or even questioned” its holding “as a matter of law, fact and history that America is a ‘Christian nation.’"

Uh, maybe they'd want to check out the Supreme Court's First Amendment jurisprudence over the past 50 years or so.

The fact is the Ten Commandments were an historical legal code -- for the Old Testament Jews. And for much of Western History, Christendom did indeed incorporate the Decalogue into its civil code. And this resulted in theocratic tyranny, exactly the type of thing that we rebelled against when we Declared our Independence in 1776.

For instance, examine exactly what the Ten Commandments say and then ask how we might derive a "civil norm" from each. In the First, the God of the Hebrew scriptures forbids worship of any other God but He. David Barton, a shining star of the religious right and propagator of the "Christian Nation" theory, in an affidavit supporting the public display of the Decalogue, proudly gives us examples of colonial civil laws, dating back hundreds of years before the Founding, based upon the First Commandment (and other parts of the Bible) that give the DEATH PENALTY for worshipping "any other god but the Lord God."

This is quite frankly the antithesis of the theory of religious liberty that founds our nation. Also laughable is the attempt to draw some kind of connection between the Ten Commandments and the Declaration of Independence, as the Counties did when they claimed that "The Ten Commandments provide the moral background of the Declaration of Independence and the foundation of our legal tradition." If anything, the Declaration and the Decalogue need to be reconciled with one another.

For instance, the theory of religious liberty that founds this nation is part-and-parcel of the natural law of the Declaration of Independence, which many people regard as the organic law of the United States. According to such theory all men -- even those who would worship no God or twenty Gods -- in the words of Jefferson and Madison, have unalienable Free and Equal Rights of Conscience and hence the right to worship openly as they please. This is the polar opposite of those colonial civil codes, based on the Ten Commandments, that demand the Death Penalty for worshiping "False Gods."

Reconciling the theology of Ten Commandments with the philosophy of the Declaration of Independence:

On the one hand we have a Jealous, Duty-Demanding, God of Scripture who forbids the worship of False Gods, and on the other a Rights-Granting God of Nature who endows men with the unalienable right to openly worship no God or False Gods. Perhaps Nature's God is the God of the Bible; but if He is, then orthodox Christians must rethink what is appropriate civil policy. And the only way to reconcile the concept of Nature's God and the Biblical God regarding the Ten Commandments and the civil law is to conclude that the majority of the Commandments, perhaps all but three or four, properly ought to have NOTHING to do with our civil laws, but rather are relegated to the sphere of private conviction and conscience -- the Law of Man's Heart, not the Civil Law.

This, it seems to me, is a far cry from categorizing the Decalogue "as the precedent legal code upon which the civil and criminal codes...are founded."

And although the ACLU may or may not be wrong on the ultimate question of the constitutionality of the display, they are irrefutably correct when they assert that

History does not support the displays’ assertion that the Ten Commandments provide the foundation of our legal system. On the contrary, the clear historical record is that the Decalogue, while it (like other ancient moral codes) informed our notions of right and wrong, played virtually no role in the drafting or adoption of our nation’s founding documents. Nor are the parallels between three Commandments and secular law proof of causation, for those bans on killing, stealing and perjury are universal and existed in English law since before the English were Christianized. Moreover, the Declaration of Independence and the Decalogue address distinct concepts – one, the relation of individuals to a deity and each other, the other, the relation of individuals to government. There is no facial or historical link between the two and the displays themselves offer no evidence to support the Counties’ bald assertion that the Decalogue provided the “moral background” for the Declaration.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

This doesn't appear to be illegal discrimination:

But it sure is ticking the union off! The Borgata -- the classiest casino in Atlantic City -- has implemented a "weight gain policy" for its "costumed beverage servers."

Come Monday, they will have to step on the scale under a formal policy forbidding them from gaining more than 7 percent of their baseline body weight. They will be suspended, then fired, if they fail to shed the excess pounds with the help of a weight-reduction program paid for by the casino.

When I discuss this with my students, they reflexively think it to be illegal discrimination. But it probably isn't. Under employment-at-will, employers can for the most part use whatever kind of employment criteria they want (good reason, bad reason, or no reason at all) so long as it doesn't fall within one of the "forbidden" discrimination categories under federal, state, or local law.

Under federal law, the categories are: race, color, ethnic origin, gender, religion, age, disability, or pregnancy. New Jersey's Law Against Discrimination adds some additional categories:

race, creed, color, national origin, nationality, ancestry, age, sex (including pregnancy), familial status, marital status, domestic partnership status, affectional or sexual orientation, atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait, genetic information, liability for military service, and mental or physical disability, perceived disability, and AIDS and HIV status.

But nowhere on these lists does it include the categories of "attractiveness" or "weight." And if they're not on the list, they should be okay to use. Unless of course, they could be "tied" to one of the already existing categories. (And this is where lawyers can sometimes make clever arguments).

The Borgata has tried to cover its tracks with "disability" or "pregnancy" by exempting weight gain related to these two categories. The obvious question is whether the policy qualifies as "gender discrimination" and perhaps "age" discrimination. For instance someone argued it's discrimination "because older women tend to carry more pounds due to their changing physiology." And men don't likewise put on the pounds as they get older?

(Perhaps a disparate impact claim on the basis of "age"? Ooh. I just found this. Apparently the Supreme Court dismissed this case without resolving the issue on the merits whether the "disparate impact" test is allowed under the ADEA and the Circuits are split on the question.)

This would qualify as "gender discrimination" it seems to me only if there were a different standard applied to male v. female employees. The Borgata appears to have covered it's tracks here as well.

Weight restrictions are being added to Borgata's appearance standards for the Borgata Babes and a handful of male bartenders who fall under the category of "costumed beverage servers." Altogether, 217 employees are affected.

This isn't a "disparate impact" for "gender" either because that would require that those not within the affected group to benefit from the policy by getting more of the jobs in question. But that's not what's happening. It's not as though the women get fired and out of shape men take their positions. Only if different standards for men v. women can be demonstrated for the class of jobs in question would it follow that this is gender discrimination.

This doesn't appear to be gender discrimination, but rather "weight" and "attractiveness" and discrimination on the basis of those two categories is, for the most part, allowed.

Perhaps the unions or bad publicity will get the Borgata to reverse its policy.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Are these really lesbians?

Clayton Cramer is fond of pointing his readers to a study that found that "20 percent to 30 percent of American women" who shoot IV drugs are lesbians or bisexuals. The study also notes that

Of the 803 women IDUs, 45 percent reported having been homeless in the prior six months, and 28 percent reported having received money for sex during this period. W[omen who have]S[ex with]W[omen] I[ntervenous]D[rug]U[ser]s were more likely to have been recently homeless, to have ever been institutionalized in a mental health facility, and to have ever been incarcerated....WSW IDUs...reported having more male sexual partners [Rowe's emphasis].

Sorry, but upon deeper reflection is appears that many -- perhaps the overwhelming majority -- of these women are not "lesbians" in the Melissa Etheridge, Ellen Degeneres sense. There is a difference between a real homosexual -- that is someone who is predominately or exclusively attracted to members of the same sex and who defines him or herself as "gay" or "lesbian" -- and a heterosexual, who for whatever reason, experiments with homosexual sex. For instance, not too many of the self-identified lesbians that I know have promiscuous sex with men.

If you were to tell me that HETEROSEXUAL female drug-addicted prostitutes, porn stars, or strippers are far more likely to have experimented with homosexual sex than those not within the group, I'd have no problem believing it (and that's the conclusion that I draw from this study). And I don't consider them to be "bisexuals" either, which I understand to be someone with a roughly full-and-even attraction to both sexes.

And part of the reason why I don't consider them to be "bi" is because 1) these people tend to not consider themselves "bi" but rather, heterosexual, and 2) more importantly we tend to (rightly in my opinion) see the "gay or bi" box as being rather small -- maybe between 3 to 4 percent of the population.

For instance, Cramer writes that these (lesbian or bi) women who are more likely to use IV drugs constitute 1-2% of the population. Well, not exactly. Yes, it's true that lesbian women constitute about 1-2% of the overall population. But if we are talking about women in general who have experimented with homosexual sex -- or if we are talking about the general population and ask who has experimented, at some time in their lives, with homosexual sex -- we are probably talking about somewhere between 20% and 1/3 of the population, the overwhelming majority of whom consider themselves to be "straight." Of course it could be argued that these folks have *some* type of bisexuality. But if that's the case, then the "gay or bi" box just got a hell of a lot bigger to include about 1/4 of the population.

Finally, check out what the Concerned Women for America have to say about the characteristics of homosexuals and compare that with our above info:

According to Online Partners, the owners of homosexual web portal,13 homosexuals represent a $450 billion market.14 Simmons Market Research Bureau's comparison of homosexual consumers to the national index of consumers reports that homosexual consumers are:

Over twice as likely as national index to be professionals/managers
Twice as likely to have household income over $60,000
Twice as likely to have household income over $250,000
Twice as likely to have graduated from college
Four times as likely to spend over $150 on long distance monthly
Twice as likely to spend $250 on cellular service
Over 90 percent took a domestic trip this year
60 percent took a foreign trip in the last three years
65 percent identify themselves as having to have the "latest"
68 percent upgrade to a product's latest model
77 percent "believe in indulging in themselves"
57 percent "prefer to buy top of the line"
59 percent buythemselves whatever they want

According to the Miami Daily Business Review, homosexuals have
"extraordinarily high disposable income, and are a very attractive target for advertisers." The Review also noted the following findings from the Simmons report:

21 percent of homosexuals have household incomes exceeding $100,000
31 percent have personal income exceeding $65,000
61 percent have a four-year college degree, compared with the U.S. mean of 18 percent
17 percent hold masters degrees, compared with 4 percent of the U.S. population as a whole.15

Not exactly the type of people where you'd expect them to be far likelier to have "reported having received money for have been recently homeless, to have ever been institutionalized in a mental health facility, and to have ever been incarcerated."

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Last of a Dying Breed, literally:

Sam Francis died a few days ago. It should come as no surprise; he was morbidly obese for much of his life and, David Brock, in his book, claims that he chained smoked (both of them worked at the Washington Times).

Francis is a throwback to the days when racist arguments were acceptable in conservative circles. If you don't remember, his last controversy was criticizing the Terrell Owens-Nicolette Sheridan commercial not merely because it was racy, but because it attempted to "normalize" interracial couplings.

Some have argued that he along with Jared Taylor, represent a "new" type of white supremicism, not the crude-toothless kind, but a more dangerous kind -- educated, urbane, with high intellectual arguments. For instance, Taylor is Yale educated, fluent in Japanese, and was a successful international businessman. Francis had a Ph'd from an excellent school and did scholarly work for Congress (not that his work necessarily served the "public good." As I recall, when he worked for a Congressman, he tried to smear MLK and worked against the recognition of that holiday).

I first became aware of these "racialist paleoconservatives" when I was in law school and a fellow student named Lincoln Herbert started (or re-started) something known as the "Western Heritage" group. Now, I like Western Culture as much as the next guy, but when I inquired as to what this group was all about, I found out it was a racial, not a cultural group, and it was dedicated to advancing such racialist arguments. Sorry but Western culture doesn't need these defenders. Harold Bloom will do instead. The student was recently reinstated after being expelled by the Dean -- a liberal who worked for the NAACP -- under very complicated circumstances. Herbert claims it was because of his beliefs (thus the expulsion violated his First Amendment rights); the Dean claimed it was for lying about an incident where Herbert maced someone at the lawschool.

Temple University is a school with an historically high black population. And as such, Herbert's group didn't go over well with the "diversity" crowd. It was rumored (I wasn't a student at that time) that Herbert's original events where he brought Sam Francis and Jared Taylor, et al. to speak, were crowded -- not with supporters, but with enemies, with liberal law professors and students coming to challenge this heresy.

When I was a student, the speakers were invited back for their "second" round, two years later. I came to see Francis speak, but this time, there was no controversy; the event was completely ignored. Maybe 8 people were in the room, two of which were Herbert and his girlfriend, one of which was Francis. I think I recall challenging his views on immigration and I noted that the cultural elite -- whom he railed against -- were better torch-bearers of Western Culture than the peasants with pitchforks -- the folks who drive pick-up trucks with the confederate flags on the back -- whom he purported to represent. After all, who is more likely to go to or donate to an art-museum or have read Milton? A liberal NPR listener living in Manhattan, or a working class Southern white guy with a confederate flag next to his gunrack?

Still this obituary touched my heart and made me feel sad for old Sam.

Like many older bachelors, Sam Francis became set in his ways. He could be gruff and even irascible. I suspect he was lonely, although no-one could have been surrounded by more loyal and devoted friends in his final days.

I have always been puzzled at the visceral animosity this reclusive and retiring figure provoked from the likes of John J. Miller and David Brock. Both launched campaigns to drive him out of public life. But for the internet, they might have succeeded. Sam was more hurt by these campaigns than he should have been—heartrendingly, you could always see in him the shy and sensitive little boy. I believe, however, that there will be a reckoning for these campaigns—as in the parallel case of Sam’s friend Pat Buchanan—in the future.
What I'm watching right now:

I'm amazed...that Greg Lake manages to keep up with Keith Emerson's left hand.

There are some really cool moments here. For instance Keith still carts around this huge modular Moog. But it sounds better than any modern synth. Isn't that funny? Back when the synths were monophonic (meaning they could only play one note at a time), they sounded best.

Moussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition (and their version is heavily influenced by Ravel's arrangement of the piece) works really well as progressive-rock piece. Greg Lake's added vocal line sounds real cool. Although, a friend from college thinks that the lyrics are beyond stupid.

A lot of music from the late romantic period where the melodies started getting real exotic translate really well into rock music. The earlier stuff -- baroque and classical -- is to elegant for rock. And the later stuff -- modern era music -- the melodies are too jaded, dissonant, and unsingable. Most of the modern stuff that ELP performs comes from pieces that have melodies that were directed at a more commercial audience, for instance, Leonard Bernstein's (they do a rockin' version of "America" -- but not on this DVD) and Aaron Copland's (Fanfare for the Common Man, Hoedown -- those two are on the DVD). Although they do experiment with some modern jaded-dissonant modern music as well. For instance, they've adapted Bartok, Janacek, and Ginastera.

LOL. Talk about loving or hating progressive rock. Check out the reviews for ELP's Pictures at an Exhibition. This one is a gem:

Modest MOUSSORGSKY and Maurice RAVEL were not that pretentious! This is really a mass murder of their masterpiece. Keith Emerson is a vulgar exhibitionist who cannot hide his lack of inspiration sometimes... Shun this despicable masquerade!!!

I think it was Hilton Cramer that posted that. Or maybe Roger Kimball.
April 7th:

I hope I'm free!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Rauch's website:

Jonathan Rauch has a new website. Although it appears not to be a "blog," perhaps he'll add one later. Rauch is one of the best, brightest and fairest thinkers out there.
Linked again because of a spat:

I'm not going to comment on the ongoing spat between Cathy Young and Eric Alterman about anti-Semitism other than to thank Alterman for again linking me (he reproduced a portion of his original post that started this controversy which links to my piece on Lapin).

Thanks to Marriage Debate for the two links.

Chairm Ohn briefly responded to one of my points. And Mark Barton did my work for me and rebutted.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Recent Invention of the term "Judeo-Christian":

Dennis Prager is at it again with his case for "Judeo-Christian Values." In this latest installment, he claims,

For much of Christian history, the majority of Christians either ignored or denied the Jewish origins of Christianity and the Jewishness of Jesus and the Apostles. That is how many Christians were able to rationalize their anti-Semitism, and that is why Europe self-identified as "Christian," not as "Judeo-Christian" as America has.

But America has not long defined itself as "Judeo-Christian." Our Founders never used the term "Judeo-Christian" to describe America anymore than they used the term "values" (they instead spoke of virtues). It's only been in the last 50 years or so that this word has been used.

Even though it is a novel term, I think it's useful and I use it sometimes. It denotes that Christianity, the dominant religion in the West, has its origin in the Judaism of the Old Testament and so on and so forth. But I notice religious conservatives like Prager (and Medved and Lapin) use it to demonstrate their unity in a coalition of religious conservatives that consists of evangelical Protestants, orthodox Catholics and Jews. They can all take heart in America as a religious, "Judeo-Christian" nation, where they are in the proper box, but atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, Pagans, Muslims, Hindus, and everyone else are outside of the box.

Before the term "Judeo-Christian" was recently invented, Christian conservatives thundered that America is a "Christian Nation," without the "Judeo" and many of them still do.

If you go back to the Founding, there were roughly two schools of thought regarding the religious character of the nation (I'm simplifying; I realize that there are gray areas): One school which thought that only Protestant Christians should be given the full rights of citizenship -- with Jews and Catholics placed in the box with deists, pagans, infidels, Hindus, Muslims and everyone else. Many state constitutions reflected this point of view. And the other that believed in granting the full-rights of citizenship to all, not only to Jews and Catholics, but also to deists, freethinkers, pagans, Hindus and Muslims. The federal constitution reflects this latter view which states, in Article VI, section 3, "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

Some today argue that the founders only had Christianity in mind when that provision was written. But their interpretation is wrong for three reasons:

1) The text doesn't state this, and, given that many state constitutions did identify only Christianity as deserving protection, the US Constitution could have very easily explicitly specified this interpretation, but it didn't;

2) There is evidence that many heavyweight founders, -- Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Franklin -- did believe in extending tolerance and rights to non-Protestants and non-Christians. And it should therefore come as no surprise that these men involved in constructing the Federal Constitution -- and yes, I know Jefferson was in France -- would take an approach on religion that starkly contrasted with the approach of the "Protestant only" or "Christian only" state constitutions.

3) The religious conservatives of the day knew that Article VI, because it didn't specify "Christianity only," would apply to non-Christians, and many opposed the US Constitution for precisely that reason. For instance, a North Carolina minister, in his state's ratification debated, noted that Article VI was "an invitation for Jews and pagans of every kind to come among us." At the Massachusetts convention, one speaker noted that unless the President was forced to take a religious oath, "a Turk, a Jew, a Roman Catholic, and what is worse than all, a Universalist, may be President of the United States."

Look at what box Jews and Catholics were put in then by the "Christian Nation" crowd.

Monday, February 14, 2005


Great news from the Sandefur front. Glad to see things are working out so well for him. He deserves it.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

The Grammys and Neil Young v. Skynyrd:

Not a big fan of most of what passes for pop-music. A couple of nice things so far (as I write this, they are not over).

1. The lifetime achievement award given to Led Zeppelin (although it would have been nicer if they had a longer feature);

2. The bone thrown to "Red State" America: The Southern Rock segment. Although I'm not a big fan of country in its "pure" state, I do like it as a "fusion" element -- mixed together with blues, rock, or jazz. As such I like fusion bands that have a country flair like The Dixie Dregs and Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. And I dig southern rock as well.

Sweet Home Alabama was the strongest performance. And if anyone doesn't know -- if you carefully examine the lyrics, they are hardcore Red State. Interesting story behind them too. Neil Young, typical leftist hippie lyricist, wrote a song entitled "Southern Man" (and a few others like his song "Alabama"), decrying the South's (and that state's in particular) record on civil rights.

So Skynyrd countered with Sweet Home Alabama, their answer to Neil Young.

Well, I heard Mister Young sing about her
Well, I heard ole Neil put her down.
Well, I hope Neil Young will remember
a southern man don't need him around anyhow

But their redneck politics were more explicit than that:

In Birmingham they love the gov' nor
Now we all did what we could do....

The gov'nor was of course George Wallace. And this site even says that "He made the band honorary Lieutenant Colonels in the state militia."

And finally, just to drive the point home that they weren't a liberal hippie rock band:

Now Watergate does not bother me
Does your conscience bother you?
Tell the truth

As the last link details, their quibble with Neil Young was "good-natured fun. They were actually big fans of each other. Ronnie Van Zant often wore Neil Young T-shirts on stage and is wearing one on the cover of Street Survivors, the last Skynyrd album before his death."
Maya Keyes is officially out:

Here is her interview that she gave to the Washington Post.

Some good news: She's not going to be homeless (as she, on her site, feared she might be). And even though Mom & Dad are refusing to pay for her college at Brown, a gay charity has agreed to foot the bill instead.

On Thursday, the Point Foundation, a San Francisco-based charity that provides scholarships to students "who have been marginalized because of their sexual orientation," decided to pay Maya's expenses so she can begin her studies at Brown. "Many of the students we support have been disowned by their families because they've been honest about who they are," said the foundation's executive director, Vance Lancaster. "Maya's situation is especially poignant because of her father's position, but it's a situation that happens every day to hundreds of kids across the country." This year, Point has received more than 1,200 applications for about 40 scholarships.

Saturday, February 12, 2005


Cool post by Karen over at DBV that just so happens to incorporate my post on Islam & Democracy.

Also, it seems as though Karen is experiencing 15-minutes of fame with this.

Update: And thanks for this link too on Maya Keyes.
Companion Marriage:

Prince Charles' marriage to be perfectly illustrates the case that given what marriage has presently become in Western Culture, there is no logical or fair reason for denying it to same-sex couples.

Their future marriage will have nothing to do with:

1) procreation (given their ages);

2) supporting or raising dependent children (given their children's ages and independent wealth);

3) supporting dependent (traditionally understood to be "female") spouses (given each spouses' independent wealth).

So why do they need to marry exactly? Even the sexual aspect -- I'm sure he's been boinking her for years (as I understand, he did this all throughout his marriage to Diana); it's not as though he needs to marry her to get "permission" to do that.

Their marriage will be about solemnizing companionate partnering and attempting to give a little bit of dignity to a relationship that is a fact of reality, whether we agree with it or not (and look at how many folks disagree with that relationship).

Friday, February 11, 2005

Cool sites & links:

I just found myself perma-linked on this cool site.

Also, responding to my post on Robert Tilton, Steven Bender, author of this article that I linked to in the original post sent me a nice email. He also has a cool website, check it out.

Also, my post on Daniel Lapin & the Jews was linked in a Reason blog-post discussing the dispute between Cathy Young v. Eric Alterman. It appears in text that was taken from Alterman's blog. Now let me see if the link originally appeared there or was inserted by Reason.

Quick Update: It's in the original piece. Didn't know I was linked by Alterman. Cool. Alterman also links to a piece by Ed Brayton as well.
Was America founded on its Ideals or its Compromises with its Ideals?

Reacting to The Nation's article on America not being founded on Christian Principles (an article I think that was unfairly hostile to religious folks and misused history to score points against Bush), Gary Demar does his best to rebut with the "Christian Nation" argument.

Demar does better than most theocrats. For instance, he manages not to cite any of the phony David Barton quotes.

He does cite, however, some outright falsehoods:

There is much more to America's founding than the Constitution. America was not born in 1877 [sic] or even in 1776. The Constitution did not create America, America created the Constitution. More specifically, the states created the national government. The states (colonial governments) were a reality long before the Constitution was conceived, and there is no question about their being founded on Christian principles.

The fact is America as a nation was not born until 1776. Before that we were British colonies ruled under the doctrine of the Divine Rule of Kings. We declared our independence not by looking to the past but by looking to the newly discovered "laws of Nature and Nature's God," which repudiated much of the old, pre-1776 order, for instance, not only Divine Rule of Kings, but also slavery and state establishments of religion.

However, Demar must erroneously argue that America as a nation existed before 1776 because many of those colonies did indeed begin by making "covenants" with the Christian religion. From another page on his website:

Despite what you may hear from the media and public school textbooks, America was founded as a Christian nation. In 1620, long before the United States won its independence from England, the Pilgrims came to America's shores with this mission statement,

“[W]e all came to these parts of America, with one and the same end and aim, namely, to advance the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – New England Confederation of 1643

Sorry, but we weren't a nation in 1620 and the principles which founded America's government were just beginning to be formulated by the philosophers at that time. "America's philosopher," John Locke hadn't yet even been born.

Demar even manages to cite a reputable scholar, Daniel Dreisbach, who wrote:

The U. S. Constitution’s lack of a Christian designation had little to do with a radical secular agenda. Indeed, it had little to do with religion at all. The Constitution was silent on the subject of God and religion because there was a consensus that, despite the framer’s personal beliefs, religion was a matter best left to the individual citizens and their respective state governments (and most states in the founding era retained some form of religious establishment). The Constitution, in short, can be fairly characterized as “godless” or secular only insofar as it deferred to the states on all matters regarding religion and devotion to God.

Then Demar demonstrates that many of the states did indeed establish the Christian religion and the Constitution permitted such things as:

Pennsylvania’s 1790 constitution declared, “That no person, who acknowledges the being of God, and a future state of rewards and punishments, shall, on account of his religious sentiments, be disqualified to hold any office or place of trust or profit under this commonwealth.”

The Constitution of Massachusetts stated that “no person shall be eligible to this office, unless . . . he shall declare himself to be of the Christian religion.” The following oath was also required: “I do declare, that I believe the Christian religion, and have firm persuasion of its truth.”

North Carolina’s 1868 stated that “all persons who shall deny the being of Almighty God” “shall be disqualified for office.” The 1776 constitution, that remained in effect until 1868, included the following (XXXII): “That no person, who shall deny the being of God, or the truth of the Protestant religion, or the divine authority either of the Old or New Testaments, or who shall hold religious principles incompatible with the freedom and safety of the State, shall be capable of holding any office or place of trust or profit in the civil department within this State.” North Carolina describes itself as a “Christian State” in the 1868 constitution (Art. XI, sec. 7).

Yes, our original Constitution did indeed permit all of this. But here's the problem and it is a problem of political philosophy: The Constitution also permitted slavery; in fact, we wouldn't have had enough states to ratify the Constitution had we not made concessions for slavery. And because of the constitutional permission of slavery, many prominent scholars -- mainly Leftists, but some conservatives as well -- declare that we were "founded" on slavery, that the Constitution was a "pro-slavery" document.

But the United States also has as a founding ideal in its natural (organic) law, that "all men are created equal." Thus we see a conflict with between our ideals and our practices. If we were founded on our compromises with our ideals, as opposed to being founded on the ideals themselves, then indeed the United States was founded on "slavery" and the Constitution was a "pro-slavery" document.

Harry Jaffa in Crisis of a House Divided most prominently made the case that America was not founded on slavery, but rather on a repudiation of slavery because we were founded on our ideals, not on our compromises.

The same natural law that holds slavery to be wrong everywhere and at every time also holds that men have unalienable free and equal rights of conscience. And as such, state constitutions like the ones above cited conflict with such rights of conscience as much as slavery conflicted with the natural rights of blacks. It is important to note that the Declaration's organic law, more explicitly detailed in Madison's Memorial and Remonstrance and Jefferson's VA Statute on Religious Freedom holds that all men, including "the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and Infidel of every denomination," by nature, have free and equal rights of conscience.

It is often said that we are a "Judeo-Christian" nation and many religious Jews and Catholics take heart in that. Under Massachusetts' and North Carolina's constitutions, Jews were not full citizens; Catholics were not full citizens under North Carolina’s constitution. These constitutions clearly violated their unalienable rights, to say nothing of the rights of Hindus, Muslims and Infidels.

If we were founded on our "compromises" with these principles then indeed, we were founded on slavery, on Christian establishments, on denying Jews, Catholics, Pagans, & Infidels full citizenship under state constitutions (but not under the Federal Constitution, see Art. VI). If on the other hand we were founded on our ideals, then our founding repudiates not only slavery but also state Christian establishments, religious tests, and prohibitions on the free exercise of religion.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The Power of Nature:

Oh no, homosexuality doesn't exist in nature.
Question for Atheists:

For those dogmatic atheists out there, one thing that has kept me from accepting this idea -- even though I sympathize that there is not a shred of evidence that much of what organized religion posits is true, and much of the Bible strikes me as absurd -- is this:

If there is no "Creator" and only the material world is true, how did time-space, matter and energy come into existence? Would it not follow that if there is no Creator then nothing -- no reality -- would exist?

Note when I use the word "Creator" I am not speaking of a singular personal intelligence, certainly not of a male. For all I know God could be one big cosmic computer program that not only has no Gender but also has no number. I believe the figure of God as a Male and Father obviously to be of human creation.

Update: I got two responses and both say virtually the same thing.

It seems that if you approach the problem this way, by focusing on the need for a Creator to have made anything that exists, that the Creator would need a creator. It then appears that you would need an infinite chain of creators, because how did the Creator come to be? Would the Creator be exempt for the need to be created? If so, why?

My response is not meant to be glib or dismissive in any way. I read your posts regularly and enjoy your reasoning so I find your structuring of this question unnerving. Perhaps I am missing something but it appears that you have decided that for anything to exist it must be made by a Creator. If this is true, then the Creator must have been made. A recursive loop.


I have thought long and hard about this over the past few years, during which I have read a good number of books about the "scientific" proof of God, the credibility of the Gospels, things like that. To me, this "proof" is bogus, consisting of arguments more fit for a Dan Brown novel than any intellectual discussion. With that in mind, your question is the one question that gives me pause when I have this sort of discussion with people.

A similar question can be put to the Creationists. That is, if there is a Creator, who created the Creator, and the follow-up who created the Creator's creator, ad nauseum. This question works regardless of the form of the creator, whether a computer program or a more anthropomorphic form. I am unsatisfied by the stock answer that it had to be supernatural -- that is, some force or energy beyond our comprehension -- or, it had to be created somewhere by someone(something). A similar question is "Prove that God exists?" I don't know that it can be done.

In my experience, there are unanswerable or more accurately, unprovable questions/issues on both sides. There is no answer to your question, and the proof that God exists is non-existent. There are unanswerable questions that have stumped even the greatest minds. For example, there is Schrodinger's Cat. This stumped all of the great minds in physics. Then take that and change it a little. You have a live cat, whom you cover with an opaque box for one minute; you then remove the box and the cat is still there (looking at you skeptically, of course). Can you prove the cat was under the box for the entire minute? No. Deductively, since you covered the cat with the box and you saw no disturbance -- from outside or within -- during that minute and then removed the box, you could say that you have proved that the cat was there the whole time. But have you? Maybe that isn't the best example, but there are many unanswerable questions.

For centuries people believed the Sun revolved around the Earth, until Copernicus et al. showed that it was the other way around. Time was always considered to be static until Einstein theorized (and it was later proven) that it is relative. Presently, physicists are wrestling with whether String Theory is the long-sought Universal Theory of Everything. While many aspects of String Theory are appealing, it requires a belief that there are more dimensions beyond the four that we presently recognize. It's anybody's guess whether there are these other dimensions, but they may well be discovered. How or what created the universe (and whatever lies outside of the universe) may well be a question that Mankind has yet to answer but may prove someday. That answer may not satisfy many creationists, or atheists for that matter, but for me, it provides an intellectual basis for my belief that there is an explanation which we have yet to uncover.

Absent a scientific breakthrough or the Rapture actually occurring, I don't believe an answer is forthcoming to your question or any of these fundamental questions. Hopefully a more lucid atheist than I will provide you with a better explanation or argument.

When I hear the fundamentalists try to rebut this argument they say: God is the uncreated Creator. I know, it's not a very satisfying answer.

My first emailer stated that "it appears that you have decided that for anything to exist it must be made by a Creator." Well I'm not sure. It seems as though the rules of this universe say matter & energy cannot be created or destroyed. So they've always been here? I know this is a bit of a loophole response, but if time space-matter-energy ultimately derive from another dimension, who is to say that this other dimension is bound by the rules of this one?

But yes, I agree, the concept of an uncreated Creator boggles the mind almost as much as the concept of uncreated time-space-matter-and energy always existing. And I ultimately agree with the second emailer that in the future, as knowledge increases, this mystery might perhaps not be solved, but better understood.

More updates: Another Emailer writes:

Matter does not need a creator to occur. All matter is the result of quantum fluctuations of probability fields that have the potential to create a "snow ball" effect that could produce something like a Big Bang out of nothing. I guess the religious people would consider that a snow ball's chance in hell and for those people a universe with a "creator" would be hell.

I find the fact of time and space without a "creator" and how we have come to be is an even more inspiring and positive story of how wonderful and good life can be rather than some pedestrian story of an old lonely guy who equally wants adoration, retribution and have his "kids" following too many useless rules like some alcoholic.... ""If you kids don't do what I say I am going to whip the bejesus out of one of you to show you what I mean!!!!""

No wonder his wife left him alone. Maybe she ran off with Satan and it's the family secret that you don't find out till you are an adult and compare your family stories with your cousins!?!?!?

And the first emailer wrote back:

I see that your other respondent was much more communicative than I.

As I thought about your question further last night, I came to the same extended conclusion: That there is simply not enough information and/or knowledge at this time to explain how all this mass/energy got here in the beginning.

Using the uncreated Creator is an redundant step. If you can accept the concept of a creator popping out of nothingness, then just eliminate this unnecessary step and accept that the universe popped out of nothingness....

However, as I read in your post, you don't really embrace the uncreated Creator anyway. So this is inconsequential.

One thing to consider is how the laws of physics break down at the point of singularity. If you accept the Big Bang theory that our universe sprang forth from a singularity then look at what that does to your math. The infinitely small point containing the entire mass/energy of the universe? It becomes evident that the laws that govern mass/energy are inadequate to explain the behavior of this point and subsequently there may be ways around the Law of Conservation of Mass/Energy (which, I'm inferring, is the source of your dissatisfaction with the uncreated universe).

Unfortunately, I lack the skill with which your other respondent wrote and explained his/her view. I hope what I've written make some sense. It is pretty much the same as the other writer's view but I think that focusing on the singularity will show that at some point (bad pun) the laws of physics that work in an expanded universe cannot be applied to the very start. A quantum physicist would be good to have around right now to explain this better. ; )

Of course, this all hinges on the acceptance of the Big Bang theory or some very close relative of it....

And blogger Danny Noonan wrote me this:

This is a question I have posed many times before. Many people assume that I am an atheist because I am often very condescending towards religion. I am actually more of an agnostic. My big problem with any religion is that religious people believe in things without proof. I don't really care what those things are, as long as there is no evidence for them, it makes no sense to me to hold any sort of belief about the subject at all. I've been in conversations with groups of religious folk and atheists together and the atheists often expect me to take their side. But to me, atheists are the same as religious (maybe a little less scary). They believe in something. They believe that there is no god. There is no evidence that there is no god (or that there is a god). I'm perfectly comfortable not believing either way on the subject.

The "who created the creator?" argument reminds me of a conversation I had in college. Some ID proponent spoke at the University as part of a series sponsored by one of the religious goofball groups. His name escapes me but he is sort of prominant in the field. He basically centered his presentation around the argument that the universe is so complex that it could not have happened by chance so there must have been a creator. Durring the Q&A at the end I asked him, "If there is a being that is able to create the universe, as complex as it is, how complex must this being be? How could this being have come into existance? If the probability of the universe happening by chance is so small, isn't the probability of a being complex enough to create such a universe coming into existance by chance even smaller?" He was obviously flustered and totally broke stride from his "scientific" argument. He talked about faith and the uncreated creator. To me it was an obvious cop out but, sadly, the religious goofball audience seemed to buy it.

Finally check out these two excellent posts discussing my post from Ed Brayton and Jason Kuznicki.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


Now this page will just keep you laughing for hours. Words can't describe the fond memories I have of growing up, watching Robert Tilton with my best friend. It all came to a climax when Tilton's empire came crashing down after an expose by Diane Sawyer and Prime Time Live. He aired this hilarious mea-culpa episode where he came out dressed in causal clothes, an ugly blue Izod jacket, and did his best to defend himself. It was really fun watching him go down. He ended that show by bringing out his wife Marte and telling her, "you are so sweet and obedient." Two years later, he divorced her. Then married a beauty queen and got divorced again amidst really amusing accusations. Now he's on his third wife.

He's still on the air in some places; however, he's jumped the shark. His initial downfall took out most of his fire in the belly that made him so amusing to watch.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Separation of Church & State in the Blogsphere:

Ann Althouse has an interesting post where she criticizes an article in The Nation for misusing the history of our Founders' views on religion to score political points against the Bush administration.

Although the Nation's article is not without its merits, I agree with Althouse that it comes off as too hostile to religion. Althouse focuses in on its biggest error when discussing Madison's Memorial and Remonstrance. The article states:

James Madison ... spoke of the "almost fifteen centuries" during which Christianity had been on trial: "What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution."

When in reality, Madison didn't say Christianity was on trial, but rather Christian Establishments; there is a big difference between the two. There was a big effort made by some of our framers to convince Christians that their religion, properly understood, was not only compatible with the Separation of Church & State and Religious Liberty, but actually demanded it; hence, the rights of conscience which in turn demand state religious liberty and neutrality ultimately are God-given. And in making this claim, Madison drew upon the tradition of dissident Protestantism which ultimately traces back to Roger Williams and his split with the Puritans over the issue of Religion & the State.

As Althouse writes:

Madison's Memorial makes a brilliant appeal to religious people to see the importance of separating Church and State. Convincing religious people to want to see religion separated from the government remains one of the very most important efforts in the world today. The Nation is not helping!

I found out about Althouse's post from Jim Lindgren over at Volokh where he wrote:

In the course of effectively fisking Allen, Althouse several times says that James Madison in the 1780s favored Separation of Church and State. As University of Chicago legal historian, Philip Hamburger, has shown in his prize-winning history of the Separation of Church and State, none of the major framers favored Separation until about the election of 1800, when the Jeffersonians urged Separation to silence Northern clergy. Indeed, in the 1780s some religious leaders who were accused of wanting Separation denied such a misreading of their position. In the 1780s and early 1790s, a few religious dissenters favored Separation, but none of the insiders--certainly not Madison.

I'm not so sure that I agree with the statement that "none of the major framers favored Separation until about the election of 1800....In the 1780s and early 1790s, a few religious dissenters favored Separation, but none of the insiders--certainly not Madison."

I've not yet read Hamburgers book, but surely will in the future. (Although I did see him speak at Princeton University.) I think much of this turns on what "Separation of Church & State" means. If it's the ACLU's absolute interpretation, then Lindgren may have a point; but Madison used a very similar phrase to describe his ideal vision of religion & government: "Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance." (See the linked article for other quotes).

Now this quote was from late in his life -- 1822. But what about the claim that none of the founders, certainly not Madison, favored Separation in the 1780s or 1790s? Well Madison was essentially in passing Jefferson's 1786 VA Statute on Religious Freedom, and that statute (one that was based on natural right -- meaning it wasn't just appropriate for Virginia; this is how all states, ideally ought to treat religion & government) certainly seems to demand some significant degree of Separation of Church & State.

Lindgren argues that "What Madison wanted in the 1780s was disestablishment of religion and equal liberty for different religions, not a 'wall of separation.'"

But I think, that begs the question whether Separating Church & State, for instance, in the manner called for in Jefferson's statute, is necessary to secure the "equal liberty for different religions" (or the "equal rights of conscience" as Madison put it in his original draft of the First Amendment, which he desired to apply to the states).

Earlier I had written a post on scholar Phillip Munoz's description of Madison's views on religion and government. Munoz wrote:

By “non-cognizance” Madison means that the state may not recognize or acknowledge the religious affiliation of individual citizens or associations of citizens. Literally, the state may not take religion into its view. To adapt a term from civil rights discourse, the state must remain “religion blind.” The state, therefore, may neither privilege nor penalize [Rowe's emphasis] a citizen or an organization on account of religious affiliation. It may not grant exclusive privileges to one sect or to all religions generally. Ecclesiastical establishments, accordingly, violate the legitimate constitutional authority of any social compact. By definition, they fail to respect the “unalienable” character of man’s natural right to religious liberty.

Don't these principles require at least some type of Separation of Church & State?

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Gay Marriage & Polygamy:

And since I'm on a gay marriage kick, Joe Carter, reacting to the latest decision finding a "right" to same-sex marriage, writes:

When the facts are taken into account, the reasons for favoring gay marriage while excluding polygamy are completely arbitrary and based on personal preference. If you truly believe that gays have a legal right to marry then you have no grounds for barring polyamorous groups from doing the same.

This leaves proponents of same-sex marriage with two choices. They either have to accept that polygamy is just as legitimate as gay marriage or they must admit that there is no inherent "right" to expand the definition of marriage.

In this post, I demonstrate that Mr. Carter is wrong, that we indeed can meaningfully distinguish between gay marriage & polygamy. Note, I don't argue that ultimately we, as a society, must outlaw polygamy. It could be that competing principles, for instance the freedom and right of consenting adult individuals to enter into contractual relationships, ultimately trumps the arguments against polygamy. What I argue is that if you want some meaningful grounds in which to argue why we should recognize gay marriage but not polygamous ones, we have them.

Carter notes that our legal society increasingly argues that traditional moral prohibitions are insufficient grounds for denying marriage licenses. After all, as the judge in the recent NY decision noted,

The challenges to laws banning whites and non-whites from marriage demonstrate that the fundamental right to marry the person of one's choice may not be denied based on longstanding and deeply held traditional beliefs about appropriate marital partners.

And this is exactly correct -- just as homosexual relations have been condemned by longstanding tradition, so too have interracial relations. If being frowned upon by tradition is what connects homosexuality to polygamy, incest, and bestiality, this also logically connects all four of them to miscegenation. So we have to do better than, "tradition condemns the practice."

But wait, does long-standing cross-cultural tradition really condemn polygamy? Out of all five of these categories -- polygamy, bestiality, incest, homosexuality and miscegenation -- it's polygamy that has the strongest cross-cultural traditional support. And the reason for this is found within human nature. And when we understand the natural reasons why polygamy developed and received so much human institutional support as it did, we realize why such an institution is problematic and why the problems that polygamy engenders are separate from same-sex marriage issues (or if anything the reason why we outlaw polygamy gives support to legalizing gay marriage).

Polygamous societies have been not only widespread and rampant throughout human history, but also are almost always one-man, many women. The desire for men to have more than one wife stems from the fact that men -- especially the more dominant, Alpha types -- seek to spread their seed farther and wider than other males. Richard Posner, in Sex & Reason, estimates that in our evolutionary state, only one half of the male population actually mated and they mated with the entire crop of fertile female women.

[And even within that 50% who did mate, they probably didn't equally share the crop of fertile women, the most dominant males would have the greatest number of women with the lesser ones having fewer down the line. For an illustrative anecdote, check out the astonishing prevalence of uber-Alpha male Genghis Kahn's genes in Asian male populations.]

This is the natural explanation for why polygamy not only has been so cross-culturally widespread, but also almost always one-man, many women. And given that there are roughly equal numbers of men and women, widespread polygamy invariably equates with significant numbers of males with no female mates. That is unfair and wrong. And that's what we seek to avoid by outlawing polygamy.

Note that the grounds for prohibiting polygamy seem entirely different than the ones for prohibiting same-sex marriage. But the two are related in this sense: We outlaw polygamy for precisely the same policy reason why we would demand the recognition of gay marriage: the meaningful chance for any individual to marry a person they love. The gay man, like the single-unlucky male in a polygamous society cannot marry any person he loves.

This argument was briefly alluded to by a commenter in Carter's post, to which Carter responded:

Isn’t it a bit sexist and homophobic to assume that all polygamous marriages would consist of one man and several women? Why not have numerous men intermarrying or one woman and five men? This is a pluralistic country. We could have a wide permutation of relationships.

Given that gays are only 3% of the population, I'll ignore the "numerous men intermarrying" and instead focus on one women, many men. Human nature tells us that this won't happen to the degree that one-man, many women will. Human nature tells us that if widespread polygamy is allowed, its most common form will be one-man, many women and this invariably leads to large numbers of men without mates.

This is what we see in Islam, and the sexual frustration of these men leads an innordiate number of them to practice situational homosexuality, and because it's situational (the acts are homosexual, the desire is heterosexual), younger teen-boys who are proportionately closest in size to adult women are abused -- forced to play the sexual role of the female -- as they are chosen as substitutes for unavailable women. Moreover, this frustration no doubt drives many of them into terrorism and Jihad-war.

More on TAC & a Congressional Bar on Gay Marriage:

Austin Bramwell's entire article is now accessible online. When I wrote my first post on it, I only had a small passage from Will Baude's discussion to go by.

Reading the entire article, it really seems to have some major holes in it. The major weakness of the argument for their side, if you don't remember, is the endorsement of the notion that "[i]t is well-settled that the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right to marry." Antigay Federalist conservatives would be wise to argue that there is no such federal right, that marriage is wholly a matter of states' rights. Embracing a federal right to marry would more easily lead to a federal right to same-sex marriage than what they desire. So how does Bramwell attempt to limit this federal right as enuciated in Loving to heterosexual couples only?

[I]n Loving v. Virginia, the case that struck down anti-miscegenation laws, the Supreme Court recognized that one of these rights is the right to marry. Interestingly, the court in Loving cited an earlier case, Skinner v. Oklahoma, that connected the right to marry to the right to procreate. Insofar as biology prevents homosexual couples from procreating, one can assume that the Loving court had heterosexual marriage exclusively in mind.

We see here how such logic would also hold an infertile heterosexual couple, for instance one involving a post-menopausal woman, to have no "right" to marry either: "Insofar as biology prevents infertile couples from procreating, one can assume that the Loving court had procreating heterosexual marriage exclusively in mind." Fits pretty perfectly, doesn't it?

Moreover the language in Loving to which Bramwell refers states, "The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men" and moreover that "Marriage is one of the 'basic civil rights of man'...."

It's hard to see how such broad language points in any other direction except a federal right to same-sex marriage. Gays currently have no freedom to marry the person whom they love. Who can effectively purse happiness in an orderly manner without the freedom to marry the person he or she loves?

Friday, February 04, 2005

Alan Keyes's daughter about to be homeless?

I hesitate before writing this; I am not the National Enquirer. But Alan Keyes is a public figure and his daughter has a public website. Maya, openly and unapologetically Lesbian, was working for Dad, but then her protesting Bush's inaugural apparently was the straw that broke the Camel's back (she blogs on the details of the protest as well). He fired her from her job and now she claims that she's about to be homeless. From her site dated January 30, 2005:

Well, it's happened. Finally and officially.

A couple days ago I got my official two-week warning that I have to be out of this apartment; so finally for real I'm getting cut off. I got no severance or anything like that from my sudden termination of employment (don't I have freedom of speech? the right to protest Bush without losing my job? Hehe... most people would think that working under a parent would be security but for me it's quite the opposite.) and so I definitely don't have anywhere near enough cash to find a new apartment; not even one room rented from someone anywhere. I've been searching craigslist but even places where I'd have enough to pay the first month's rent on some room I never have enough for the deposit as well, so so far I've had no luck at all finding a new home, since shelter requires money. Sad boo.

After all the arguments and tension over the years, I always hoped it would never actually get to this point, although I suppose given our vastly divergent political beliefs it was inevitable....

They say that the only possible cause for shame anywhere in the whole situation is in the fact that after all this I am being cut off, jobless, soon to be homeless, and that although I have intelligence and motivation I won't be able to go to Brown after all because I have no money.

Update: From the Washington Blade:

In a related development, Equality Maryland announced this week that Maya Keyes, the lesbian daughter of the anti-gay conservative Alan Keyes, is scheduled to headline the group’s lobby day in Annapolis on Feb. 14.

Keyes was the subject of much speculation last fall during her father’s failed campaign for a U.S. Senate seat from Illinois. Various Web sites and bloggers circulated rumors that the former ambassador’s daughter was a lesbian. The story gained particular significance after Alan Keyes called Vice President Dick Cheney’s gay daughter Mary a “selfish hedonist” during a radio interview in August at the Republican National Convention in New York.

According to an Equality Maryland statement, Maya Marcel-Keyes describes herself as a “young queer anarchist.” She was raised in Darnestown, Md., and attended high school at Oakcrest Preparatory School, a conservative Catholic school for girls in McLean, Va. She spent a year in the south of India where she worked with a tribal rights group and plans to attend Brown University this fall.

Hat tip Bob Roehr.