Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Perigo on Beck’s “God thing”

Glenn Beck galvanized hundreds of thousands of patriotic Americans to show up in Washington for his 'Restoring Honor' rally, observes Lindsay Perigo. That’s the good part.

_Quote Though [Beck] was obliged to play down the political implications of the gathering, there is no doubt that this was the Tea Party out in force, giving The Anti-American President the message that his socialist agenda will soon be consigned to the ashcan of history.


_Quote As Sarah Palin so succinctly put it, the task is not to transform America but
restore it.

Um, not so yay. Why her? And what exactly do she and he mean by “restore”?

_QuoteThe alarm bells of liberty-lovers from sea to shining sea should be ringing from every mountainside at Beck [and Palin]'s sloppy exhortation to 'try the whole turning back to God thing.'

Oh. So that’s what they mean!

_Quote_Idiot"Let's try the whole turning back to God thing and see what happens," said Glenn Beck [again] on Fox News Sunday.

No, says Perigo.  "Let's not."

_QuoteThe greatness of America lies precisely in its constitutional separation between church and state. Though Beck denies he has a theocracy in mind, and claims to respect the right of atheists to their (dis)beliefs, it's hard to imagine that part of the Religious Right that does want a theocracy not being emboldened into pushing for one as part of a 'whole turning back to God thing.'

The ‘God thing’ and Americathe ‘God thing’ and freedomthey just don’t mix well.


  1. Well, if by freedom you mean license to do what you want rather than freedom to do good, then yeah, they don't mix.

    The problem is though, the more you take God out of the picture, the closer to totalitarianism you get. There's no getting around that.

  2. LM: Well, if by freedom you mean license to do what you want rather than freedom to do good, then yeah, they don't mix.

    Conservative religious right "freedom".."you are free to do what WE agree with"...this differs from Leftist/socialist "you are free to do what WE agree with" "freedom" just how exactly..?

    The problem is though, the more you take God out of the picture, the closer to totalitarianism you get. There's no getting around that.

    Theres no need to "get around it" as its pure crap to begin with.God as described by your kind of Christian (and Im calling you a Christian for arguments sake as many other Christians don't consider you Catholics Christians at all...)is historys prime totalitarian willing aided by legions of belivers who are quite willing to oppress,torture and kill in his name.

    And Lucia...as Becks a Mormon and expects to become a God himself one day as Mormon doctrine says he will how does that sit with your version of the magic fairy?

  3. Utter utter bullshit. You people are as bad as the left and their global warming scaremongering. This is about personal choices and personal behaviour, not government. If you were not so hopelessly narrow of political perspective you would understand that.

    Trouble is Red the religious right have a habit of wanting to regulate and ban the personal choices of others who want no part of them.They are the flipside of the left.

    Want to belive in a God...?...cool...to do so is your business and shouldn't bother me in the slightest...trouble is too many belivers can't keep it their own backyard and want to push it into ours.No thanks.

  4. Lucia, the problem is that your definition of 'good' in 'the freedom to do good' is a religiously-defined good specific to only one societal group.

    Have to agree heartily with Perigo when he points up the 'greatness' of America's separation of church and state - at least inasmuch as that it is firmly enshrined in the Constitution.


  5. @Lucia: Bu "freedom I mean precisely what I say in the sidebar. i.e., to be free from physical coercion.

    You're right however that the point of this is that it leaves people free to be moral--as they must be, since even by your standards there can be no morality once the gun comes out--an act can't be judged as either moral or immoral once the gun comes out.

    But the primary reason we must be free to be moral it to be free to use our human reason--specifically to apply reason to the matter of human survival and flourishing.

    That's what it means to be moral: to act in accordance with reality, with life as the standard.

    The problem is, the more gods come into the picture, the more confused most people get about morality.

    And the more they try to justify freedom not by appeal to reason but by appeal to authority--their authority. In answer to the question "Why must we be free?' the religionist's answer can either be "My god said we shouldn't be," (which was the answer for around sixteen of the last twenty centuries), or "My god said so. This century."

    And what happens then is that you hand reason and science over to freedom's enemies, who have no right to them.

    Which means, ultimately, that the more you add gods to the picture, the closer to totalitarianism you get. So it's been for most of human history.

  6. "Crap. A weak and dishonest assertion. The biggest criminals and mass murderers in history have been atheists."

    Crap. A weak and dishonest assertion. If you're referring to Hitler, he was not an atheist. If you're referring to Stalin and Mao, they were dogmatists - dogma is a key property of religion (and perhaps the cause of the majority of its problems). It would possibly be accurate to say that the biggest criminals and mass murderers in history have been dogmatists. Many of these dogmatists have been religious as dogma is fundamental (but not exclusive) to religion.

    With your assertion, if I am correct about who you're blaming, you're also only considering it in terms of scope. Doing so fails to consider context. If those religious individuals who engaged in all kinds of massacres, etc, had access to the technology those you are presumably blaming did then the scope would probably be far greater given the relative preponderance of religious individuals misusing positions of power to persecute those they dislike throughout history.

    "If you overlaid a graph of the decline in religion over the rise in crime in NZ it would run in an almost identical but reverse incline to the rise in crime."

    Correlation does not equal causation and is especially hard to determine in this case given the confounds, even if this assertion is correct.

    "The population of Singapore has many Gods but is light years ahead of secular NZ in the morality stakes."

    1) Again, correlation does not equal causation and there are many confounding factors here. For example, probably a more important factor is that Singapore has vastly different implementation of its laws. 2) Whose concept of morality?

    "Leave people to their religion. Leave them alone."

    They can have their religion, but keeping that in mind, it is freedom of AND freedom from religion, at least in a US context.

    Lucia Maria and Redbaiter, I direct you to two quotes which are worth keeping in mind when it comes to considering what should be:

    "...the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant." -- J.S. Mill, On Liberty

    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." -- C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock (Yes, I realise Lewis was particularly religious.)

  7. Robert Winefield1 Sep 2010, 04:03:00

    A couple of observations about Glenn Beck and his call for a return to 'god.'

    I don't believe that he is calling for a religious state.

    Rather his is a call for a repudiation of anything goes nihilism in politics and society and for its replacement with the standards of honesty, honor and morality that was upheld by the founders: specifically Jefferson, Washington and Franklin (this, I assume is the reason why their pictures were used as backdrops).

    He seems to believes that they derived their morals from a belief in God. Thus a return to 'God' would mean returning to a time when we had honorable men in positions of power.

    Are you right to feel that creepy chill up your back when you hear him say these things?


    Beck and Palin are often woolly in their rhetoric and don't seem to understand that they need to be clear where, in their respective philosophies, the Natural world over-rules the Super Natural one.

    As a result, they both can sound like politically ambitious religious dogmatists that are rightly feared for the reasons you have so ably canvased.

  8. Hi PC,

    ... there can be no morality once the gun comes out--an act can't be judged as either moral or immoral once the gun comes out.

    I have a different definition of morality, one that ignores the gun. If it's there or not what is moral does not change. Just like truth it is absolute, not relative.

    Why do you believe that morality and the gun cannot co-exist?

  9. Lucia,

    Has God talk to you? How do you know that there is a God? Where is your proof? If you don't show any proof (either a philosophical argument or physical evidence), then you're talking nonsense.

  10. "Why do you believe that morality and the gun cannot co-exist?"

    @Lucia: I think the suggestion is that the morality of making what could otherwise be construed as a moral decision is effectively lost once coercion is involved, as the motivation is changed. It is no longer a case of doing it for moral reasons: "it is the right action to take". Rather, it becomes a case of doing it because it is proscribed.


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