Are People Really as Religious as They Say They Are?

I hear a lot about how religious America is, but I honestly don't see it in most people's everyday actions. There are a lot of public displays of faith, and a lot of politicians favor Christian values, but I see most of those things as superficial trappings. It's one thing to talk about how you love Jesus, but how many people really believe? People are still terrified of death and constantly concern themselves with buying the latest consumer products, and when someone goes around saying "God told me to do X" or "My child was possessed by demons" (both of which are possible according to the Bible) they are almost universally called crazy or schizophrenic. Why is everyone always so sure that they're crazy, and that demons aren't really possessing them?

Why do you need a gun if you go to Heaven when you die? Why should anyone be worried about terrorists if the worst thing Al Qaeda can do is send you to a paradise world where you get to meet all your loved ones again? Why defend yourself at all?

I hear plenty of stories about how someone has been healed through prayer, but there's an almost universal public outrage if someone prays for their child instead of taking them to the doctor when they're sick, and they die. This causes a lot of unnecessary deaths, but how do you know God didn't decide that it was time for them to go to Heaven?

It seems to me that if people really believed in an afterlife, then they wouldn't cry at funerals, they wouldn't be afraid to die, and they wouldn't bother so much with money.

So I guess I'd just like to hear what some religious escapists have to say about this. I'm honestly not an expert on sociology, or anything like that. This is just the impression I get of American society, and it's always confused me.

Self protection/ healing- There is a story in the bible about the Jews rebuilding the wall around Jeruselem. The leader instructed everyone to carry swords with then in case the surrounding tribes tried to pop some shit. You ask why doesn't God just come down and smite everyone that does something. Others take it to mean that in this day and age, faith in God is good, but common sense goes a long way. This is the same with deciding not to go to a doctor when they have ways of helping you.

Grief- Rationalizing that people are going to be in a better place after dying doesn't take away the fact that they are gone from this life.

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As with everything else, I think it comes down to the level of adherence to the religion. That and, as I've seen myself, people are just religious because they were born into it and accept the customs, and not because they are a firm believer.

Most people subconsciously, don't buy into religion.
It's a cultural thing and many people are exposed to it through their family, friends, schools, media etc. so they become "religious" because that's what you should do but in day to day lives, religion doesn't matter even to most religious people (or they cheat and make up their own rules in religion, making it impossible for them to ever go against it).
In college, I've done some research regarding Christians and the Bible and only 1 in every few thousands actually cares enough to open the damn book, even less of them read the whole thing.
Actually, there is a direct correlation between reading the Bible and denouncing Christianity.

When it comes to fear of death and such, here's the deal:
Your body on a cellular level wants to live, at least until your genetic material is passed onto the next generation. It doesn't matter what you believe, it's a property of all living things - they want to keep on living (yes, there are exceptions which willingly don't procreate but those are EXCEPTIONS, genetic anomalies).
You can't beat biology with mythology :)

Compartmentalisation mostly, I think. I think some genuinely religious people do believe in literal heaven, hell, miracles etc (alter to fit whatever religion they are) but they have a hard time reconciling this grand narrative with the random, chaotic, amoral world they see around them. Prehistory and life after death therefore become convenient niches where the usual rules don't apply and their god(s) can reign uncontested, in a God-of-the-gaps kind of way.

To use an analogy which I hope isn't too insulting, there's research that suggests that young children who read (and are read to) fairy tales and traditional stories construct a robust and internally-consistent mental schema where talking animals, giants, beanstalks and magic beans actually exist in some faraway or otherworldly place (that you could actually travel to and experience first hand if you had the means and inclination). What's remarkable is that this fairy-tale-land schema exists alongside but separate from their everyday lives and experiences and so you seldom see young children trying to earnestly engage animals in conversation, or to fly using a broom, or whatever - outside of imaginative play and make-believe, anyway.

So, we know that humans are capable of some quite remarkable feats of mental partitioning - to call it self-deceit or doublethink would perhaps be unkind since the religious person is a) fully aware of the real world, and therefore not a naif or deluded and b) they rarely try to combine the real-wold and religious schemas in a meaningful way, and when they do it's instantly apparent and usually hilariously incongruous - like the Creationist Museum.

I will say though that some religious people are guilty of trying a little too hard to constantly affirm and reaffirm their faith. One of my outspokenly Christian Facebook contacts a while back posted a message that was something like "Was walking through the park today smelling the freshly-cut grass. I love Jesus!" and I was tempted to ask, what, is He back? And doesn't He have more pressing things to attend to than mowing the lawn?

Generally, I'd say they often aren't, being Christian (say) is often just a box you tick, the default, rather than something you really believe in.

Now, having said that, there are genuinely devout people around, of course.

On a related note, I remember an article someone who was had written about how they were worried at the trend religion was following, it was becoming more "fun" to get people to join, at the expense of making it meaningful so people would really believe.

Occams razor.

If someone says they believe in a certain religion, I take them at face value. But, and this is important, their are different levels of belief and I have espoused before that for Christianity at least, all you need to believe in is Jesus Christ as a messianic figure to be a christian.

I believe that Jesus of Nazareth was a dude that existed (Due to the overwhelming historian support of the concept), but I don't think he was the son of a god. Hence I am not a christian.

The religiousness of Americans varies a lot, so to say Americans are generally "this" is a fool's game for most things so I will not bother. As for why Christians sometimes carry guns and almost always use hospitals is because people will almost always protect their own lives regardless of their faith, and the Bible puts some value on human life so it makes sense to protect it.

I believe that all humans were born with an innate sense and understanding that Jesus Christ is real. When I say "I believe" it is because it's supported by Biblical fact.

Romans 1:19-20

"19 For the truth about God is known to them instinctively. God has put this knowledge in their hearts. 20 From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God."

Pascal:

Why do you need a gun if you go to Heaven when you die? Why should anyone be worried about terrorists if the worst thing Al Qaeda can do is send you to a paradise world where you get to meet all your loved ones again? Why defend yourself at all?

I hear plenty of stories about how someone has been healed through prayer, but there's an almost universal public outrage if someone prays for their child instead of taking them to the doctor when they're sick, and they die. This causes a lot of unnecessary deaths, but how do you know God didn't decide that it was time for them to go to Heaven?

It seems to me that if people really believed in an afterlife, then they wouldn't cry at funerals, they wouldn't be afraid to die, and they wouldn't bother so much with money.

So I guess I'd just like to hear what some religious escapists have to say about this. I'm honestly not an expert on sociology, or anything like that. This is just the impression I get of American society, and it's always confused me.

Christianity doesn't forbid or even discourage modern medicine or government etc. In fact the Bible tells us to submit to governmental authority (with the only exception to when that authority runs contrary to Biblical principals). See Romans 13. It's clear as day.
The Bible does however, challenge modern society and the morals and principal that modern society deems "normal" or "okay". IE Gays, abortion, sex.

Your post implies that Christians are emotionless beings. Do I feel sadness at the loss of a loved one? Of course! Now, having known that individual to be a Christian I can also rejoice in the fact that they are in Heaven. But I still feel pain, loss, and heartache.

As to your comment "Why defend yourself at all?". Simple. The same reasons as you. I would like to live longer to do what I need to do (would like to do)., The difference being that I will also continue to grow my relationship with Christ.

There is a LOT of misconception and misinterpretation of the Bible, Jesus Christ, and Christianity at the Escapist.

andrewfox:
I believe that all humans were born with an innate sense and understanding that Jesus Christ is real. When I say "I believe" it is because it's supported by Biblical fact.

So if someone tells you they don't have an innate sense and understanding that Jesus Christ is real, do you assume they're lying? There are people all over the world who don't believe in your god. Are we all just faking it?

Christianity doesn't forbid or even discourage modern medicine or government etc.

Depends on the sect of Christianity. They're essentially different religions all operating under the same umbrella name, and it's important to keep that in mind when discussing what Christians believe.

As to your comment "Why defend yourself at all?". Simple. The same reasons as you. I would like to live longer to do what I need to do (would like to do)., The difference being that I will also continue to grow my relationship with Christ.

But why do you want to continue doing things here on earth, when the other option is eternal paradise? It's a bit like choosing to work in a mediocre job even though you've been offered enough money to live comfortably for the rest of your life, and be able to afford any traveling/hobbies you could possibly want to do. It's hard to understand why someone would choose option A.

I'm assuming you're just talking about the average Christian. Which, in that case...(sorry for the long post)

Pascal:
People are still terrified of death...

Why do you need a gun if you go to Heaven when you die? Why should anyone be worried about terrorists if the worst thing Al Qaeda can do is send you to a paradise world where you get to meet all your loved ones again? Why defend yourself at all?

I know a few Christians who claim (not sure if it is true) that they don't fear death, with at least one even going so far as to say the couple times he nearly died (car crashes) he was more excited than scared. The general idea among most Christians, though, is that people should look forward to living with God in heaven, but they shouldn't actively seek death, as there's still work for the Church to do on Earth. Other cases might be that the person still has doubts about whether or not their beliefs are in something true or are even genuine to begin with. Some people may fear for their families and friends, which is especially true if those people rely on them for anything financially.

As far as Al Qaeda goes, Christians generally put a very high value on a human's life. The general argument is that everyone is created in God's image, so we should respect that image. There's also a bit from Genesis about how those who shed innocent blood should themselves be put to death, but a lot of Christians are starting to move away from aggressively teaching capital punishment.

Pascal:
constantly concern themselves with buying the latest consumer products

By any chance, do you know of a Bible verse that says it's a sin to want nice things? I know of many that discourage idolatry, but wanting nice things and idolatry are not the same thing.

Pascal:
when someone goes around saying "God told me to do X" or "My child was possessed by demons" (both of which are possible according to the Bible) they are almost universally called crazy or schizophrenic. Why is everyone always so sure that they're crazy, and that demons aren't really possessing them?

Well, for starters, not everyone in America is Christian, and many professing Christians aren't actively pursuing their pronounced beliefs.

Also, many denominations of Christianity say that people take the "My child was possessed by a demon" too far, confusing it with actual mental disorders. Many pastors also fear that people use the "demon possessed" argument to explain away their sins, claiming they weren't the ones committing it but that it was demons forcing them to do it. Even pastors that preach heavily on demonic possession and exorcism understand that people need to be careful in categorizing it as such. Even Bob Larson, who is notorious for this kind of teaching and practice, has said in his books that he more often than not tells people they aren't demon possessed but instead are just making it up, have MPD or schizophrenia, etc.

Keep in mind, though, that there are denominations of Christianity that still believe in all of that, but given the couple of Charismatic churches I've been in, it isn't hard to see why some denominations may want to distant themselves from that teaching as much as they possibly can.

As for "God told me to do X", a lot of Christians don't believe God speaks in an audible voice. I knew one pastor who flat-out told someone he was worried about them because they claimed they could hear God's voice. There are quite a few theological arguments that say God no longer speaks in an audible voice the way we read about in the Bible, primarily the Old Testament, but chooses to remain mostly involved in inward feelings and external signs that only the person God's trying to speak to would recognize.

Again, there are some denominations, like the Charismatics, that believe God still speaks in audible voices, but again, it's hard not to view a lot of people in those churches as genuinely crazy (sorry to any Charismatics here).

Pascal:

I hear plenty of stories about how someone has been healed through prayer, but there's an almost universal public outrage if someone prays for their child instead of taking them to the doctor when they're sick, and they die. This causes a lot of unnecessary deaths, but how do you know God didn't decide that it was time for them to go to Heaven?

Again, not everyone in America is Christian. Even among Christians, most don't believe in "miracles" the same way that Pentecostal denominations (Pentecostals, Assembly of God, Charismatics, etc.) do. While, very, very few Christians believe God doesn't heal through prayer, most would say that God may choose to use the field of medicine to heal a person, arguing that if God gave us the knowledge to cure diseases, then we should use it. Most Christians treat it as a "pray, but still seek help" situation, saying that God can work through doctors, medicine, etc. in order to bring about healing.

Also, even though most Christians would say that God will always take someone away when he chooses to, people should never stop fighting for life. This goes back to the argument that we should seek to do as much as we can in this world before death.

Pascal:

It seems to me that if people really believed in an afterlife, then they wouldn't cry at funerals

I've been at a few funerals for people who were active Christians with Christian families, and one of them was for someone very close to me. The sadness was generally described as the type of sadness when temporarily parting with someone, but knowing it may be a long time before you see them again (I pretty much had the same feeling). To know that the person who was so important in your life would no longer be part of your life until you too died was probably the worst feeling most people at those funerals felt. However, if you were at them, some tears of joy were also shed for the person passing into paradise. That probably doesn't describe every "Christian funeral", but don't automatically associate crying with a lack of belief.

Pascal:
they wouldn't bother so much with money.

Everything requires money. Most churches try to pay their pastor full-time, keep at least one missionary team active, and cover every extra cost of having a church. Money is also required to live. While a "God will always provide" message is popular in churches, most Christians have the common sense to understand you really can't do much in the world without any money.

Not a religious person, but I'd wager Pascal might want additional responses as well. Also, yes, that was intentional.

Pascal:
I hear a lot about how religious America is, but I honestly don't see it in most people's everyday actions. There are a lot of public displays of faith, and a lot of politicians favor Christian values, but I see most of those things as superficial trappings.

I disagree with calling the religious favouritism "superficial trappings". That's a big, big issue. That said, I think you're right that a lot of people who identify as religious are much more moderate (or may even be Agnostic) than one might deduce from the various public displays of religion. It's what makes the mixing of religion and politics all the more devious, since it doesn't really represent the populace at large; not that a tyranny of the majority would be okay, but I think it's even less representative than that. I particularly hate it when Christian fundamentalists claim to speak for Christians as a whole on various social, medical etc. topics.

It's one thing to talk about how you love Jesus, but how many people really believe? People are still terrified of death and constantly concern themselves with buying the latest consumer products,...

Well, that's just human nature. Basic instincts. Sure, they may be taught that life doesn't really end when we die, but one thing is for sure: The loved-ons are removed from their lives. Temporarily, perhaps, but it still hurts. Not to mention, just because one believes in or has hopes for an afterlife doesn't mean one can't have doubts. When death comes knocking on the door, those doubts will move to the forefront much more so than in day-to-day life.

...and when someone goes around saying "God told me to do X" or "My child was possessed by demons" (both of which are possible according to the Bible) they are almost universally called crazy or schizophrenic. Why is everyone always so sure that they're crazy, and that demons aren't really possessing them?

Depends on the circles you go to. Palin, for instance, went to a demon-removing preacher once to receive blessings and the like. Belief in demons interacting like this exists, but only among the more extremist people. More moderate Christians seem to think of blatantly supernatural things as more a thing of the past. Miracles - supposedly happening left and right a few thousand years ago - are a similar issue, which is why the Catholic Church for instance doesn't recognize that many supposed miracles as "true" miracles.

I hear plenty of stories about how someone has been healed through prayer, but there's an almost universal public outrage if someone prays for their child instead of taking them to the doctor when they're sick, and they die. This causes a lot of unnecessary deaths, but how do you know God didn't decide that it was time for them to go to Heaven?

Yes, and it should cause outrage. As with the other issues, it requires a certain extremism to go to that level (actually not going to a physician; when the person dies despite medical aid, then it was God's plan that they die[/i]).
Why people don't avoid going for medical help may have different reasons. Doubt, again, is one of those. Fear of losing somebody is often stronger than faith. Not to mention basic human empathy and rationality. But what a lot of Christians may say is that "Jesus helps those who help themselves", implying that it's a good Christian's duty to do what they can to fix the problems themselves. A much more effective solution to any problem, if you ask me. They'll still pray for, say, a child's well-being and may even credit Jesus for saving them, but they won't deny medical knowledge and technology.
Another fun argumentation in that regard is: "You were asking God for help. Well, who do you think provided medicine? Surgeons? Phyisicians? That is God's way of helping you. Accept his help!" In a way that's quite insulting, I feel, but at least it's compatibilist.

It seems to me that if people really believed in an afterlife, then they wouldn't cry at funerals, they wouldn't be afraid to die, and they wouldn't bother so much with money.

Again, I wouldn't go so far as to say they "don't really believe". People can believe something yet still have doubts. People can also really believe it, but still fear the loss of a person to Hell, Limbo (if people still believe in it) or even to Heaven (while they're still stuck on Earth without them).

I think your confusion comes from a misconception regarding American Christianity. As most people seem to understand on some level, Christianity at its base is a Slave Morality. But most modern Slave Moralities, and particular American Christianity, are bastardized; they have incorporated many Master Morality elements.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master-slave_morality

On the one hand Christianity is all about kindness, humility, sympathy, etc. But on the other hand they believe that God helps those who help themselves. This is Master Morality creeping in. Some Christians, particularly American Christian, also believe in accumulating wealth, which is another Master Morality notion. Of course Christians have come up with many clever arguments to justify the inconsistencies but the simple fact is they are inconsistencies.

The bastardization of American Christianity stems in large part from Americans fondness for Capitalism, which is of course based on the Master Morality virtues of competition and greed (profit motivation). At the same time Americans are generally quite accepting of science, technology, and modernity which gives the culture a certain, increasing?, a-moral slant.

So, yeah, you're right to be confused about American Christianity. Its morality miss-mash.

MysticSlayer:

Pascal:
constantly concern themselves with buying the latest consumer products

By any chance, do you know of a Bible verse that says it's a sin to want nice things? I know of many that discourage idolatry, but wanting nice things and idolatry are not the same thing.

It's far too long since I've read it for me to remember what passage it is, but there is that bit about not being able to serve two masters, specifically God and Mammon. Whilst this does not outright prohibit wanting nice things, it does suggest that the level of consumerism we have isn't desirable.

And on that note it is also odd that some Christians feel obligated to enforce the tenets about sexual morality on others, but are horrified by the suggestion that we should 'force' people to help the unfortunate, which arguably Jesus put a much greater emphasis on (parable of sheep and goats etc.).

(sorry for emphasis on Christianity, but it is the main religion in our society and I know sod all scripture from any other religion.)

ClockworkPenguin:

It's far too long since I've read it for me to remember what passage it is, but there is that bit about not being able to serve two masters, specifically God and Mammon. Whilst this does not outright prohibit wanting nice things, it does suggest that the level of consumerism we have isn't desirable.

I think most Christians, especially in traditional churches, would agree the level of consumerism in America is beyond what it really should be. There are some churches that fully embrace American consumerism, but I've rarely seen it in churches, even in some of the more "out there" denominations like the Charismatic denomination. I think most churches, though, save their anti-consumerism messages for Christmas time. Even a lot of televangelists, who can be (though not all are) some of the most pronounced supporters of American consumerism, will generally have a message around Christmas attacking the excess consumerism in America at that time.

ClockworkPenguin:

And on that note it is also odd that some Christians feel obligated to enforce the tenets about sexual morality on others, but are horrified by the suggestion that we should 'force' people to help the unfortunate, which arguably Jesus put a much greater emphasis on (parable of sheep and goats etc.).

I cannot tell you how many religious right friends I have that I've tried to get to answer this question, and I still am waiting for an answer. Of course, it does make for an easy way to trap them in case you ever get into an argument about the relationship of religion and politics, but it is still annoying to get the number of cop-out arguments I've gotten.

As far as what I think it is, though I certainly don't know if this is the reason, is that the belief among a lot of religious right people is that the American government was founded on a Biblical basis, and, therefore, any straying from Biblical mandates in American law is therefore unconstitutional. Considering the Bible strongly speaks against homosexuality, they use this as the justification for forcing laws that prohibit homosexuality, or at least deny them benefits. There's also a little bit on the semantics of the word "marriage", but I can never get much out of them outside of "It's obviously part of the Bible." Some also believe that America will face the same judgment as Sodom from Genesis if we allow homosexuality, though their argument for this is very flimsy.

As for their opposition to helping the poor, their arguments are even more flimsy, though it still goes back to their core belief that the American government was founded on a Biblical basis. Their Biblical basis for this is a gross misinterpretation of 2 Thessalonians 3:10, which they apply to the government rather than keeping it applicable to the Church, which is whom it was originally written to. Of course, they have to make the erroneous assumption that those on welfare don't work for this passage to be at all applicable. I've also heard an argument that it is considered stealing for the government to tax the rich and give money to the poor, but it is based on a definition of stealing that is neither found in the Bible nor in the dictionary.

Of course, the anti-poor argument used by the religious right really has no Biblical basis whatsoever, so I really don't get why they keep insisting on keeping that as part of their platform (then again, these are the same people who say college textbooks are unreliable sources of information because they are "notoriously biased"). As far as their homosexuality argument, it really falls apart when you consider how the government was founded primarily on Enlightenment teachings, but of course, most of these people hardly know anything about the Enlightenment*, so it stands to reason that their argument for enforcing their views on people would be based on a misinformation.

*Actually, I might be a little harsh by saying they hardly know anything about the Enlightenment. Many of them do, but just like with their anti-evolution teaching, they twist everything to fit their agenda. I was raised on the ABeka curriculum, one of the most popular Fundamentalist Christian curriculums in the nation, and 95% of what I know of the Enlightenment didn't come until college. Why? Because all they do in religious curriculums is cherry pick information that makes the Enlightenment sound bad, and completely lie about any information that would otherwise make it look good (or reveal just how much our government was founded on its teachings). Yes, in other words, while they are busy making you recite Bible verses saying "Thou shall not lie" and "all liars will go to hell," they are deliberately telling lies to their students before going into a long rant on hypocrisy. (yes, I'm bitter)

Pascal:
It seems to me that if people really believed in an afterlife, then they wouldn't cry at funerals, they wouldn't be afraid to die, and they wouldn't bother so much with money.

I suggest you watch The Seventh Seal.

I think Batou may be onto something with regards to mental compartmentalism. There's been millions of Christians over the centuries who've whole heartedly accepted all of the religions tenants but behaved in very un-Christian ways. I think that for many religious people they compartmentalise their faith and don't necessarily bring that faith into other areas of life. Such people are probably culturally religious- I believe they do have sincere religious beliefs they just don't integrate those beliefs with all their thoughts and actions in the real world.

Then i think there are those religious people who actually integrate their faith with everything they see and do. Such people i think tend to be the really religious ones who probably lean towards spiritualism or mysticism as a personality trait. I knew such a Christian once- he never swore, drank or expressed a negative opinion about anyone. His tolerance for other people was really quite impressive. He really had taken his religion's tenants to heart and it was manifested through his own actions.

What's happening now i think is that secularisation is rooting out the cultural Christians and leaving behind the really spiritual ones. For most people over the centuries, it's been fear of death and wanting to know how the world is that motivated the non-spiritual types to follow religion. Then the scientific method was developed and life expectancy rocketed and scientists discovered how the world worked on an empirical basis, removing the needs for non-spiritual people to follow religion. Hence why in many Western countries practising Christians began to sky-dive once thousands of years of Christian cultural and historical inertia began to falter. It's happening in Northern Europe and is showing signs of happening in countries such as the US, Spain and Italy where that inertia is much stronger, but will in time also lose momentum i expect.

Batou667:
they rarely try to combine the real-wold and religious schemas in a meaningful way, and when they do it's instantly apparent and usually hilariously incongruous - like the Creationist Museum.

I'm proud to say I got kicked out of the Creationist Museum. Me and my friends went as a gag, and were horrified at the propaganda they were spewing.

"Next time your teacher talks about evolution, correct them, and point out that if the world were really billions of years old, the oceans would be nothing but salt."

We approached the keynote speaker about how his money-grubbing message wasn't Christian, and three tall dudes with suits and earpieces suddenly appeared and quickly escorted us out.

On topic: Religion is a cult. It's something to belong to that's bigger than the individual, and many people who are afraid of being alone in this big bad world find it rewarding to belong to. Politicians align themselves with religion to get the religious vote. Christianity is America's unofficial religion, so people are conditioned to want to belong to it.

In some parts of the country non-religious people are ostracized, so it's far easier for a lapsed Christian to just speak the rhetoric than try to comes to terms with the fact there might not be anything else to life.

The OP pointed out some of the hypocrisies of Christian belief, and trust me, it doesn't end there. I think a lot of people claim Christianity because that's how they were raised, and it's the most respected religion in America, but they're not going to follow the dogma of the bible, because we live in a world where anybody with a computer can find sites like this: http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/.

I was raised Catholic, and it took me years and some crisis of faith to fully determine I was an atheist. People who like the idea of a god watching over them will keep some of the faith they were raised on because it helps them sleep at night, but they'll often avoid some of the stupid dogmatic practices, because hey, it's not the 12th century any more.

Pascal:
I hear a lot about how religious America is, but I honestly don't see it in most people's everyday actions. There are a lot of public displays of faith, and a lot of politicians favor Christian values, but I see most of those things as superficial trappings. It's one thing to talk about how you love Jesus, but how many people really believe?

The problem that most people have when considering religion in America is that they do not realize how superficial our faith is. Sure, by certain polls 80% of Americans believe in God (in some form). At the same time that translates to about 10% of Americans REGULARLY attending Church. In other countries if you believe in God you go to church or Mosque or whatever.

Here in the US we put "In God We Trust" on our money but in Germany they have a "Church Tax". In Germany they do not really have a Separation of Church and State. We Americans fight over that separation but what we fight over is a very superficial "act of faith".

We Americans say that religion is important. But in the end we do not really show it.

farson135, gotta point this out: The church tax only applies to church members. I don't pay it. My father and mother don't pay it. My grandfather hasn't paid it ever since he left the church. Our separation of church and state is not perfect, but that's a really bad example because you're making it sound like this was about the citizens of Germany rather than about members of a particular religious club paying their membership fees. It's bad enough that the state basically subsidizes churches, but it would be completely outrageous if everybody had to pay church taxes.

Summary: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_tax#Germany

And you're really downplaying the issues in the USA: Education in schools, abortion laws, clearly and admittedly religiously motivated. Same goes for rights for gay partners and marriages. Or the enormous weight put on religious displays from politicians and the like. Hell, if you want to make a point, look at Scandinavian countries with actual official state religions, like Sweden. Those countries, even formally, lack separation of church and state, yet in practice are much more secular than the USA.

Skeleon:
farson135, gotta point this out: The church tax only applies to church members.

Once again, that is a very real example of a lack of separation between Church and State as opposed to Americans superficial "In God We Trust" deal. That is my point.

Our separation of church and state is not perfect, but that's a really bad example because you're making it sound like this was about the citizens of Germany rather than about members of a particular religious club paying their membership fees.

Where did I imply that? I said that there was no real separation of Church and State in Germany. That is true. The tax is called a Church Tax. Where did I imply what you said?

And you're really downplaying the issues in the USA: Education in schools, abortion laws, clearly and admittedly religiously motivated.

Education- the right to learn about religion in schools is also available in Germany.

Abortion Laws- are actually more open in many parts of the US than they are in Germany.

Same goes for rights for gay partners and marriages.

This is actually an interesting case of how American culture works. We talk about gay partnerships and many people who are against gay marriage would be alright with that BUT the gay rights people do not want to "lose" by accepting anything short of gay marriage. So Americans belief in "winning" is working against progress. In Germany they have gay partnerships. We Americans will either have gay marriage or nothing. So far gay marriage is winning, slowly but surely.

Or the enormous weight put on religious displays from politicians and the like.

Once again, very superficial. But if you want we can talk about the CDU.

The point is that we Americans are very superficial in our beliefs. We talk about religion but it does not translate to much.

I don't understand.
To me it sounded like you were concluding some sort of infringement on church and state separation based on the fact that a church tax exists. But it doesn't affect anybody who isn't in the church. And it's kept separate from the secular taxes. And it only applies to churches or other religious groups that actually collect church taxes, which many don't.
Maybe I'm misunderstanding the issue, but to me it would be an infringement if I had to pay church taxes. Or if a Jew had to pay church taxes to the Catholic church. Or a Catholic had to pay church taxes to a Protestant church. If there was favouritism. This isn't the state levelling taxes on people, it's the respective church communities that want to do so.

As for education: You know what I mean. This isn't about RE classes as you are fully aware, but about issues of science education especially. In fact, I'm fully in favour of RE classes. Why do you think I don't think particularly highly of Christianity? Because I learnt about all world religions and realized not one of them is that special.

Abortion law: Only on its most superficial surface. In practice, Germany is much more lenient. We have a 12 week limit; however, after that a woman can get an abortion for numerous reasons, be they health-related, psychological, emotional... yes, emotional. The anti-abortion crowd within Germany is particularly appalled at the fact that justifying an abortion after 12 weeks is considered to be too easy. So when you actually look at how it works, the 12 week limit is only more restrictive on paper.

As for gay partnerships? Gotta agree with you there. It's pretty sad we don't have gay marriage yet. But we will eventually.

As for superficial in regards to religiosity? I'd say that's exactly what the CDU is... you don't find a Santorum there. Or a Perry. Or a Bachmann. You find people like Merkel, who is a university-educated chemist. I mean, hell, I don't even like her but to call her or her party particularly religious - especially when relating to issues of religiosity in the USA - is absurd.

Skeleon:
I don't understand.
To me it sounded like you were concluding some sort of infringement on church and state separation based on the fact that a church tax exists. But it doesn't affect anybody who isn't in the church. And it's kept separate from the secular taxes. And it only applies to churches or other religious groups that actually collect church taxes, which many don't.
Maybe I'm misunderstanding the issue, but to me it would be an infringement if I had to pay church taxes. Or if a Jew had to pay church taxes to the Catholic church. Or a Catholic had to pay church taxes to a Protestant church. If there was favouritism. This isn't the state levelling taxes on people, it's the respective church communities that want to do so.

Yes it is the state. The state supports that tax.

It is a violation of the separation of Church and State because the state is getting involved in the church. I mean by your logic most of the controversies over the separation should not be controversies because the people who are dealing with it are religious and the atheists are just getting involved later. For example, there have been protests over monuments that use a cross. Well, in most of those cases the people being honored were Christian. So, should that not be acceptable? At least here the atheist groups don't care about the affiliation of the people being honored they only care about the fact that it is government territory. It may be different in Germany.

As for education: You know what I mean. This isn't about RE classes as you are fully aware, but about issues of science education especially. In fact, I'm fully in favour of RE classes. Why do you think I don't think particularly highly of Christianity? Because I learnt about all world religions and realized not one of them is that special.

Here is the thing, that is the debate. The vast majority of the people who want creationism in schools want it in the form of a RE class not a science class. MAYBE they want an acknowledgement that there are questions about the theories but generally the issue is about having religious studies classes in schools.

This is another interesting American Studies topic. How Americans use media. We Americans expect our news to be entertaining. What is more entertaining than a culture war?

Abortion law: Only on its most superficial surface. In practice, Germany is much more lenient. We have a 12 week limit; however, after that a woman can get an abortion for numerous reasons, be they health-related, psychological, emotional... yes, emotional. The anti-abortion crowd within Germany is particularly appalled at the fact that justifying an abortion after 12 weeks is considered to be too easy. So when you actually look at how it works, the 12 week limit is only more restrictive on paper.

I was also talking about the waiting period and the counseling requirement.

As for superficial in regards to religiosity? I'd say that's exactly what the CDU is... you don't find a Santorum there. Or a Perry. Or a Bachmann. You find people like Merkel, who is a university-educated chemist. I mean, hell, I don't even like her but to call her or her party particularly religious - especially when relating to issues of religiosity in the USA - is absurd.

They talk about religion all the time. What the hell has Perry said that makes him sound extremely religious? He talks about religion and the value of it. Merkel has done the same thing. Not as much but once again, Americans like superficial displays of religion more than Germans.

Seriously, you mentioned three people. What have they done to prove that they are overtly religious aside from talking? You might be able to point to a few laws but those laws probably are not proof of anything. Just more blablabla from politicians who specialize in it.

andrewfox:
I believe that all humans were born with an innate sense and understanding that Jesus Christ is real. When I say "I believe" it is because it's supported by Biblical fact.

Romans 1:19-20

"19 For the truth about God is known to them instinctively. God has put this knowledge in their hearts. 20 From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God."

I have to ask, besides the Romans quote what makes you think this? As an atheist for most of my life I can honestly say that I have felt no more connection to the bible then to works of fiction like Bradbury or Clive Barker, I would even say that I feel more closely connected to Barker's literature then I have anything I have read that is religious christian, buddhist, islamic or other wise. The idea that people would just inherently believe anything is rather alien to me.

Now I really want to stress that I am not trying to pick a fight or be an asshole to you, I am just curious about what makes you think that people have an inherent belief in Christ because I have heard it so many but never felt it myself and I never really understood why people feel this way. I do want understand your point of view however.

 

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