Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Religion

The Church of Snow

This is just worth sharing. The small German town of Mitterfirmiansreut near the Czech border wants its own church, but the powers that be aren't proving generous. So, they've built their own ... from snow.

Snow Church.jpg

Snow Church 1.jpg

The church is actually the second of its kind, a precurser having been built a century ago in a similar protest concerning their lack of a local parish. Persistence and ingenuity are obviously among their virtues.

Categories > Religion

Discussions - 39 Comments

Wonderful.
BTW, "it's" is a contraction of "it is", not possessive, which is "its."

That is rather impressive. I strongly recommend Der Spiegel's superior coverage (and an 11-pic photo gallery - The first one is awesome, an exterior night shot, and there's an archival photo of the orig. 1911 snow church, as well) on this story:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/0,1518,806211,00.html

But are you somehow using this to keep rolling with your persecution of Christians / Catholics bit? I'm referring to this:

"The small German town of Mitterfirmiansreut near the Czech border wants its own church, but the powers that be aren't proving generous."

What "powers that be" are you referring to? Evil, big-government secular bureaucrats? I see nothing in your article (or elsewhere) that suggests any government entity has prevented construction of a church in this (likely tiny) village. Further, the Nov. 16 Spiegel article actually mentioned that the planners were hoping to get some financial backing from the EU.

You also don't seem to be getting your facts straight here:
"The church is actually the second of it's kind, a precurser having been built a century ago in a similar protest concerning their lack of a local parish."

The current construction does not appear to be a protest whatsoever, merely a commemoration of the events in 1911 (as well as an attempt to draw tourists to the area, which the planners don't seem to be hiding), not a protest.

From picture 8:
"Stiefvater wants the snow church to serve as a reminder of an extraordinary event in local history. At the beginning of the 20th century, a trip to Sunday mass for people living in the remote mountain village of Mitterfirmiansreut meant an arduous 90-minute walk to the neighboring town of Mauth. After their pleas for a church of their own fell on deaf ears, the villagers decided to mount an unusual protest during the Christmas season of 1911: They built their own church..."

I'm guessing that if any institution has put the kabosh on their construction of a church, it may well be their relevant parish. They do seem to be raining on the snow parade a bit (at least for Catholics who wish to utilize the church to its fullest extent - the tourism thing won't be effected):

(from Picture 7): "Unfortunately, however, Catholic Church officials in the region have banned the snow church from holding official masses, weddings or baptisms for theological reasons."

The other Spiegel story would seem to cast doubt on the church being made "entirely" out of snow and ice, as the very short article you linked to claims. The tower likely has a wooden frame inside:

http://www.spiegel.de/fotostrecke/fotostrecke-75171-2.html
"Bernd Stiefvater, a 45-year-old restaurateur, is the force behind the planned snow church. Here he is pictured in front of the wooden frame to be used for the church's 17-meter high tower."

Lastly, in the global-warming-as-evil-hoax department, you should note these (along with the concerns of the world's ski industry generally) items:

"Construction had been slowed by a lack of snow in the region and warm weather. Workers even brought in a snow machine to provide the core element used in construction."

Originally, the village had hoped to open the church in time for Christmas, but a dearth of snow and unseasonably warm weather in Bavaria slowed construction by close to two weeks.

Perhaps they thought it would be distasteful to pray for snow?

BTW, "it's" is a contraction of "it is", not possessive, which is "its."

Um...you already shared that with us (about 9 hours before).

Um, yeah, and it was ignored.

Ha ha. It's not like he corrects the numerous and regular factual errors of substance that I call him on (e.g., the construction of the current church was NOT a protest at all), so I don't know what you're expecting, really. Unless you're employed as his copy editor, I wouldn't look for him to respond to your corrections of such minor things. He's a busy lawyer / blogger.

Look, I agree with your criticism, for it appears you have your facts right. But "it's" is still it is and "its" is still possessive. The mistake is common to you both.

[Oh brother, it's painful to hash over such minor matters, but... since Paulette has carried on shamelessly to make new error-riddled and ridiculous posts elsewhere...]

You said:
"But "it's" is still it is and "its" is still possessive. The mistake is common to you both."

Excuse me, but how is it common to us both? The only time you can find it in my posts above is when I'm quoting Paulette verbatim. I opted to skip the [sic] note, as I often feel that use of it is sort of akin to rubbing someone's nose in their errors. Not that he necessarily deserves the mercy, but I make my efforts to stay on the high road, believe it or not. You'll notice that I also opted not to highlight his use of "precurser" (should be: precursOr), until now at least. Annoying mistakes, yes, but just not as problematic for me as the way he is willing to spew so many factual errors just to make something fit his little narrative - in this case, his persecuted Christians schtick.

persecuted Christians schtick.

I take my correction in the spirit it was given. I was with you all the way until those last three words. Do you honestly believe that Christians are not being persecuted these days? Or does it matter?

Based on the article Justin Paulette cited, he had his facts correct. You offer more information, Craig, but offer it as if he should have known. Why? The main feature of the post were the photos, which are lovely. Thank you for the other pictures, also lovely.

richard - Members of every, or nearly every, religion are being persecuted all the time, depending on the location. Atheists and agnostics are also persecuted. Because it's less typical for them to share their beliefs in groups at particular places or buildings, it makes it somewhat more difficult for those who hate them to attack them as a group - but attacks still happen:

http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2006_01_01-2006_01_07.shtml#1136315930

http://volokh.com/posts/1144075320.shtml

I'm opposed to all forms of persecution. It should be noted, however, that in places where separation of church and state is not maintained and not clear-cut, and national leaders declare a particular religion to be the country's official religion (e.g. "We are a Christian nation" / "Muslim nation" etc.), then those in the majority might feel an opportunity, or even tacit encouragement, exists to persecute those with minority beliefs.

Kate - No, the article he linked to provided no basis for his claims that "the powers that be aren't proving generous" (present tense) or that the current snow church construction is a "similar protest" to the one 100 years. In fact, it's not a protest at all, and the article he links to does not describe it this way. He just constructed those aspects out of nothing. Come on, Kate, the article he linked to was very short - it should be a snap to see what I noted. As an English teacher your ability to comprehend texts should meet that mark, surely.

EDIT: "...similar protest to the one 100 years AGO."

Craig, the title: "Snow church opens in Germany, a century after villagers built predecessor as protest". Mr. Paulette merely used the little information in the article for his little post. Snap, yourself.

Happy New Year!

What? What aspect of the phrase "built predecessor as protest" don't you understand? There wasn't even use of an "also," "too," or "as well" in that headline. Even if we assume that he extrapolated his entire blog-post simply from reading the linked-to article's headline, that's not reason enough to draw the conclusions he did. Just because the predecessor was built as a protest does not mean the current one necessarily was, as well; and, in fact, it was not a protest, it was built to commemorate the construction of the first, 100 years ago, a tribute of sorts - even if the situation today is different for numerous reasons.

He didn't "merely use the little information in the article for his little post." He jumped to faulty conclusions which there were no facts to support, and then ran with those to make it sound as if this community were in some way struggling against "the powers that be" and building their church as an act of resistance and virtuous protest.

It was a tribute to an earlier event, but it was not that event, nor did it even occur under similar circumstances. (To cite a quasi-pertinent example,) I hate to think of how you'd react to a passion play!

No, he didn't. He paraphrased that very brief Washington Post piece. Maybe you would have put it differently. So what? I suppose your castigation is simply what Mr. Paulette gets for using that publication as a news source. All my conservative life I've known it to be scanty on facts and careless with its sources.

How do you know the Spiegel article is all true?

Aren't you blowing this out of proportion? You appear to be persecuting Christians on this blog.

Scanlon wants to persecute Christians in the name of HUSSEIN Obama and the other Arab overlords. Its why Christians need to be armed.

Kate, seriously, do you have no shame at all?

Yes, he did jump to faulty conclusions:

- that construction of the new snow church is a "protest" that is somehow "similar" to the one 100 years ago. There is nothing in the Associated Press article (via Washington Post - the identical article can be picked up numerous other places) that indicates the current church was built as a protest.

- that "the powers that be" weren't being "generous" - nothing in the article suggests this at all.

Embellishment simply does not equal "paraphras[ing]."

"I suppose your castigation is simply what Mr. Paulette gets for using that publication as a news source. All my conservative life I've known it to be scanty on facts and careless with its sources."

Perhaps this could help in explaining the different worlds in which we live.

http://slatest.slate.com/posts/2011/11/21/fairleigh_dickinson_publicmind_poll_shows_fox_news_viewers_less_informed_on_major_news_stories.html

"How do you know the Spiegel article is all true?"

It's not like the Spiegel article and the AP article are at odds with each other! The Spiegel article just goes into more detail - understandably - than the tiny 5-paragraph AP piece. Also Spiegel is a German newsmagazine and thus at least some of their readers might want some more details of this place (in Germany), as they could check it out on their next ski trip. Regardless of any errors that the Spiegel may have (and as I'm contrasting the Spiegel article's photo of the wooden church tower frame with the AP's claim that the church is made "entirely of ice and snow," I have my doubts), that doesn't excuse Paulette for his axe-grinding embellishments.

"Aren't you blowing this out of proportion?" Good question. You know, I would've been satisfied if Paulette had simply responded with "It's true. The current snow church wasn't built as a protest, and there has been no documented resistance to the project, either from government or private sources. It's possible that the project received some EU funding, while the Catholic Church opted not to approve the structure for religious rituals and ceremonies." - and we could now be mulling racial purity and beauty contests or whatever. His post was inaccurate and I called him on it, but I wasn't trying to make a federal case of it.

"You appear to be persecuting Christians on this blog."

Thanks for making my point for me (along with Paulette's numerous posts doing the same, and Hal Holst, too). When you set the bar that low - i.e. that some of my benign remarks qualify - for what qualifies as "persecution" then I'm sure you see it as a real epidemic, spreading relentlessly everywhere.

Which, to go back to Richard's last comment, is why I used the phrase that he found objectionable: "persecuted Christians schtick."

It's a schtick precisely because the practical, de facto definition in use is that only Christians (and maybe, from time to time, Jews) can be persecuted, and evidence that any other religious or non-religious people might be the subject of some persecution is either dismissed (probably as "liberal bias") or minimized to the point of invisibility. (I think this is also tied in with the phenomenon I described above in my earlier comment, where problems arise when majority religions are declared or treated as "official" and when church and state are intertwined.)

Mr. Scanlon, your "schtick" seems to be that, granting the remote possibility that Christians are being persecuted, they should not make an issue out of it as long as anyone else, anywhere is being persecuted. This would make for an improbable scene on a school "playground" where one kid is being pounded by a bully and, rather than cry foul, chastizes himself with the knowledge that, somewhere else on the playground, maybe not necessarily on this same day, has been or will get pounded. So he takes his pounding coolly, like the commentator on the human condition he will someday become, assuming he lives that long. Then the pounding becomes a non-event that doesn't have to trouble anyone's conscience.

You are simply wrong on the facts. Christians have not betrayed a concern only for their own suffering, as news reports of the persecution of Buddhists, Bah'ai, Falun Gong, not to mention the sectarian warfare amongst Muslims, have alarmed them no less than non-Christians. Recently, Jewish leaders have expressed dismay that Christians are not as concerned for their compatriots as Jews have long been for theirs. Obviously, Jews wish to avoid another holocaust, but that is no reason for them not to be concerned about the persecution of others as well. In any case, the Jews were not deterred, especially in the Soviet Union, as "refusniks" in the 1970s pressured the West, particularly the United States, to denounce the Communists for their vile acts against Jews. They did not wait politely for other groups' persecutions to make it to the public agenda. Nor should they have. And neither should Christians.

knowledge that SOMEONE, somewhere else on the playground, maybe not necessarily on this same day,

richard, you've completely mischaracterized my remarks.

"Christians have not betrayed a concern only for their own suffering..."

Well, for one thing, I wasn't referring to ALL Christians, or even most. I was referring to Justin Paulette (and, by inference, of the Powerline, FoxNews variety, and a certain strain of the hardcore religious right.) and some NLT bloggers. Most of the Christians / Catholics I know do not share such viewpoints, and don't rank or order their concerns for people who are persecuted for their ideas and beliefs on matters of individual conscience.

I wrote, "...the practical, de facto definition [for persecution] in use [on this blog] is that only Christians (and maybe, from time to time, Jews) can be persecuted, and evidence that any other religious or non-religious people might be the subject of some persecution is either dismissed (probably as "liberal bias") or minimized to the point of invisibility."

Your response is also telling. You could only grant there is "sectarian warfare among Muslims." That's it? Could persecution of Muslims even possibly come from a non-Muslim origin?

When a single counterexample to my claim surfaces on this blog, I will gladly correct myself accordingly. He/they already missed their window for a timely post on the NYC police wholesale spying on the Muslim community - such as this, for instance (as you read, insert the word Christian or Catholic for Muslim and church/cathedral for mosque and then ask yourself if we would have seen a post about it here on NLT):

http://www.psc-cuny.org/clarion/november-2011/nypd-spy-scandal-hits-cuny-muslim-students-target-profiling

"These reports came in the wake of an AP investigation, published in late August, that described a vast NYPD spying operation reaching into almost every corner of the Muslim community – from mosques to restaurants to hair salons. The central role of a secret NYPD “Demographics Unit” illustrated the extent to which the surveillance had gone far beyond investigation of particular criminal acts to become a blanket investigation of entire communities.

When the NYPD denied the existence of the Demographics Unit, AP reporters posted documents from the unit online. One included a list of “Ancestries of Interest,” including “American Black Muslim.” A “Moroccan Initiative” conducted surveillance on cafés because they were frequented by people from Morocco."

But maybe we'll see a post on this soon:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/02/nyregion/four-attacks-in-queens-with-homemade-firebombs.html?_r=1

"A wave of arson attacks spread across eastern Queens on Sunday night, and the police said the firebombings were being investigated as bias crimes — with Muslims as the targets."

...but I highly doubt it.

You are wrong again. The Christians you don't like are concerned, the ones you do like aren't. I was for 30 years a member of the Episcopal Church, LA Diocese, and that body never once expressed concern about Christians being persecuted. That was so declasse'. They were ranking, as you put it.

As to media coverage, regularly the reports of persecution of Christians is minimized with headlines like "Muslims, Christians clash in Nigeria," or "Hindus, Christians class in India." The media are uncomfortable with the real facts, which invaraibly involved unprovoked violence.

As to the so-called persecution of Muslims in America, get real. Extremists in their ranks have waged their barbaric war against non-Muslims for years, but they suffer nothing like that--unless you think that fighting back is just as bad as attacking. Muslims are necessarily under suspicion, for many of them cheered the 9/11 attacks. To the extent immigrant Muslims have become attached to their adopted country here in America, all to the good. But you don't have to be a Koranic scholar to know that many among them are engaged in covert warfare, and our government must be vigilant.

Every incident must be investigated, but patterns of Muslim violence are well established, whereas there is no pattern of Christian or Jewish violence.

reports of persecution of Christians ARE minimized

So, the wholesale police surveillance of Muslim communities - not persecution?

The Molotovs targeted at Muslims - not persecution?

Or this:

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20013448-503544.html

- not persecution, right?

Surely this isn't:

http://jacksonville.com/news/crime/2010-05-12/story/pipe-bomb-used-jacksonville-mosque-blast

You are comparing gnats to rhinos here. Police surveillance of suspected terrorists and vocal opposition to more mosques bing built don't kill anyone, and one bomber (whoever it is) pales by comparison to the hundreds of Muslim bombings.. Where is the world-wide campaign against Muslims? What governments sanction bombings of Muslims? Our policies are based on known patterns of behavior and actual acts of terror. You are arguing this point out of sheer perversity, defending a thesis at all costs.

No, I've actually provided some evidence for my positions. You've offered... hot air in typed form. You've also just proven my point, again, by describing my examples (vs. your lack thereof) as so minimal as to be compared to barely-there "gnats."

"Police surveillance of suspected terrorists and vocal opposition to more mosques bing [sic] built don't kill anyone..."

What you've done now is shift the definitive standard for "persecution" to something necessarily resulting in death. So, setting things on fire and making threats doesn't qualify as persecution, unless someone dies? (In addition to my previous examples,) have these Muslims in Tennessee been persecuted?

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/08/28/national/main6814690.shtml

You seem to find nothing objectionable in the concept that simply "being a Muslim within the NYPD's jurisdiction" qualifies one as a "terrorism suspect." That is ridiculous.

Funny, I recall plenty of conservatives - some here, even - who described a much more narrowly focused (but still, admittedly, rather flawed) profiling effort for "police surveillance of suspected terrorists" as very much a kind of persecution (remember the DHS memo?):

http://2politicaljunkies.blogspot.com/2011/06/note-on-richard-poplawski.html

Again, we're talking about what the standard is for persecution. Do you think that a Christian leader stating that no more mosques should be built in the US is in any way problematic (either from a Christian perspective, or from a liberty-loving perspective)? Is it some sort of persecution in a country where Christians are strongly dominant within the population and Muslims are under 1% to say such things a representative of a faith?

EDIT: last sentence should end "...to say such things AS a representative of a faith?"

"Members of every, or nearly every, religion are being persecuted all the time, depending on the location. Atheists and agnostics are also persecuted. Because it's less typical for them to share their beliefs in groups at particular places or buildings, it makes it somewhat more difficult for those who hate them to attack them as a group - but attacks still happen:

"I'm opposed to all forms of persecution. It should be noted, however, that in places where separation of church and state is not maintained and not clear-cut, and national leaders declare a particular religion to be the country's official religion (e.g. "We are a Christian nation" / "Muslim nation" etc.), then those in the majority might feel an opportunity, or even tacit encouragement, exists to persecute those with minority beliefs."

I'm returning to these paragraphs because I think it sums your point of view, which simultaneously exaggerates and minimizes the problem. Saying that everybody is persecuted sheds to no light on the subject. It is surely true but if it overlooks the huge differences in situations, it is useless. You are right, however, to focus on the question of official religion, which much of the world struggles with, to be sure, but the most odious form of it is in Muslim countries and the least worrisome in the United States. The mere fact that a majority of Americans are Christian means little in view of the freedom of religion and separation of church and state.There is an official religion in much of Europe, but faith is practically dead there, whereas it is more vibrant here. Before the Muslim attacks began, there were no investigations or surveillance of Muslims, and we were belated in our response. Now that we understand that we are under attack, we natuirally change our attitude. WE msut fight against real threats, not imaginary ones.

I didn't say "Everybody is persecuted" - as in all/most members of every religion. I said "Members of every, or nearly every, religion are being persecuted all the time, depending on the location."

"The mere fact that a majority of Americans are Christian means little in view of the freedom of religion and separation of church and state."

The demographic numbers of the US would matter much less if I couldn't easily find such examples of bombings, burnings, vandalism, and various manifestations of hostility aimed at Muslims, often by Christian holy warriors. What matters even more, ultimately, is that it has become MORE mainstream (that is, Christian conservatives have become more dominant, if not by numbers by volume and persistence) for some Christians to insist in America being described or declared as a "Christian nation" and - as evidenced by both bloggers and commenters alike here at NLT (although I can't recall you specifically weighing in on this matter) - denying the reality and/or the necessity of the very principle of the separation of church and state (since, so they claim, the Founders desired the US to be a Christian state).

Which would put the USA on Team Christian, and those who are chomping at the bit to engage in an all-out Holy War would see only Christian persecution and (along with the ever-present "They started it" mentality of holy warriors generally, regardless of specific faith) push for policies that could codify persecution of religious minorities in the US (say, in the name of fighting terrrorism).

"Before the Muslim attacks began, there were no investigations or surveillance of Muslims, and we were belated in our response. Now that we understand that we are under attack, we natuirally change our attitude. WE msut fight against real threats, not imaginary ones."

This is a particularly interesting statement, seeing that it comes from the same man who wrote this:

"Fortunately for the world, most Muslims then and now have no quarrel with the rest of the world and wish to live their lives in peace, just as most people do elsewhere."

http://www.desertdispatch.com/articles/media-9239-fundamental-toleration.html

Which brings me back to my earlier questions about blanket surveillance of Muslims by the NYPD, and the Christian preacher who suggested a ban on further mosque construction. If most Muslims are as you describe - and I think your description is sound - then how can one approve of such things, particularly when they so clearly run counter to long-standing American principles of religious liberty?

Unfortunately, you let your paranoia get the best of you, and you went on, in the very same article, to demand that the peaceful Muslim majority make some official renunciation of (here we go...) Sharia law. Aside from the fact that I can't imagine how or why anyone so suspicious of "creeping Sharia" (i.e., Muslim theocracy) could be put at ease if such official renunciations were made, it's just as awful to expect such things from Muslims to distance themselves from their lunatics as it would be to demand such guilty-until-innocent "convince-me-you're-not-a-Christian-theocrat" pledges from Christians. Right?

Not right. I still think most Muslims want to live in peace, but I doubt that the NYPD which, after all, experienced an attack by Muslims who had insinuated themselves into Americn society, is doing anything more than its job.. It is the department's duty to be vigilant and you have not shown that it has crossed the line into persecution.The jhadist war against the non-Muslim world is not a foray into the "marketplace of ideas," that bankrupt concept bequeathed to us by Oliver Wendell Holmes. The western world has largely brought religious peace and civility, but the undemocratic world has a long way to go. I gather that you're offended that the NYPD thinks in prudential and not merely academic ways. God save us from theorists who can't tell a theocrat from a critic!

"Not right. I still think most Muslims want to live in peace, but I doubt that the NYPD which, after all, experienced an attack by Muslims who had insinuated themselves into Americn society, is doing anything more than its job."

The employees of the NYPD didn't suffer the only losses on 9/11 (actually, considering the broad goals of the Islamic fanatics, the phrase "collateral damage" might find a most appropriate usage - i.e., Islamic terrorists didn't see the NYPD as their primary target). The attacks were aimed at all Americans. Should the NY Fire Dept. be turning the hoses on "swarthy-looking males" (to use a Coulterian turn of phrase) in Muslim neighborhoods since, hey, many firefighters died on 9/11 ?

The cognitive dissonance just in that single sentence - most Muslims want to live in peace, but the NYPD (using blanket surveillance to be "vigilant") is just doing its job - is striking.

"...you have not shown that it [the NYPD] has crossed the line into persecution."

Again, with your mercurial, undefined concept of persecution, demonstrating that line has been crossed would likely be next to impossible - as long as we're talking about persecution against Muslims, at least.

"The AP investigation revealed that the NYPD built databases of everyday life in Muslim neighborhoods, cataloguing where people bought their groceries, ate dinner and prayed. Plainclothes officers known as "rakers" were dispatched into ethnic communities, where they eavesdropped on conversations and wrote daily reports on what they heard, often without any allegation of criminal wrongdoing.

The NYPD did not respond to repeated requests for an interview, but it has insisted that it respects the rights of people it watches."

This sounds like a situation well on its way to Big Brother to me.

If the NYPD were building databases of everyday life of Christians or Catholics, if it catalogued where YOU bought your groceries, ate dinner, and prayed, would you feel persecuted? (Answering this could help me to understand your idea of persecution) I know, you and your friends haven't attacked the USA, nor do you endorse it, right? You just want to live in peace. But then, as you've stated more than once, so do most Muslims.

Of course, mass surveillance is nothing new to the NYPD. I presume you raised no objections back in 2004, when they worked to protect and to serve...(ahem) "us" (the GOP?) for the '04 conventions, also, right?

"The city and the Police Department have come under intense scrutiny over the surveillance tactics, in which for more than a year before the convention undercover officers traveled to cities across the country, and to Canada and Europe, to conduct covert observations of people who planned to attend. But beyond potential troublemakers, those placed under surveillance included street theater companies, church groups, antiwar activists, environmentalists, and people opposed to the death penalty, globalization and other government policies.

And as the convention unfolded, more than 1,800 people were arrested, mostly for minor violations, and many were herded into pens at a Hudson River pier and fingerprinted instead of being released on summonses or desk appearance tickets, which are more customary for charges that amount to little more than a traffic ticket."

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/07/nyregion/07police.html?ref=nationalspecial3

Just trust the NYPD to do their job! Imagine for a moment if any police agency monitored current Tea Party groups (maybe those who showed up at protests with GUNS or signs threatening "We come unarmed THIS time." - Hmmm... seen anything like that at Occupy Wall St. protests?), NRA members, fans of The Turner Diaries, or evangelical activists in such a way.

This makes me wonder if, and to what extent, you are actually a small-government conservative.

"The western world has largely brought religious peace and civility, but the undemocratic world has a long way to go."

Clever alignment between the Western world and the democratic world. Of course, if you ask all but the very most politically disconnected/indifferent Americans if the USA is democratic or undemocratic, I'd bet a large - and increasing - number (left and right) would say we've become undemocratic (although, admittedly, they would probably mean different things by that).

The thing is, I don't believe that the Tea Party GOP (and its blogging and commenting adherents at NLT) actually WANTS religious peace, or civility. And it's not as if NLT, or the right-wing generally, has such high regard for democracy.

For starters, a democracy where the police can spy on you at the grocery store or monitor what books you read, or consider peace activists to be a threat - this is a damaged democracy.

Craig, you toss the word, democracy, around until that word loses its meaning. You seem to define democracy as if it automatically means something like "liberty" but that is not necessariy so. If a majority of my neighbors vote for a governance where the police can spy on me anywhere, monitor me as the see fit for secutrity purposes and consider peace actvists to be a threat, then all of those things happen by democratic means. I might not like those things and think them wrong, but if the majority approves, I am outvoted. A government of the people is not necessarily free. It is only as free as the polity will allow.

I partially apologize for this interrupting tangent over a word. As to the rest of this argument thread, Richard Reeb, you are doing a lovely job.

I guess when I comment at NLT I shouldn't presume that a worthwhile democracy will necessarily involve manifestations of principles such as equality before the law and minority rights. I was using a general conception, not a particular one (say, from an approved NLT "bible" on such things). I don't think I degraded its meaning whatsoever.

http://www.economist.com/node/8908438?story_id=8908438

"There is no consensus on how to measure democracy, definitions of democracy are contested and there is an ongoing lively debate on the subject. Although the terms “freedom” and “democracy” are often used interchangeably, the two are not synonymous. Democracy can be seen as a set of practices and principles that institutionalise and thus ultimately protect freedom. Even if a consensus on precise definitions has proved elusive, most observers today would agree that, at a minimum, the fundamental features of a democracy include government based on majority rule and the consent of the governed, the existence of free and fair elections, the protection of minorities and respect for basic human rights. Democracy presupposes equality before the law, due process and political pluralism."

===

Of course, I readily concede that such mainstream notions of democracy are probably heavily disputed by NLT and the Tea Party GOP.

"A government of the people is not necessarily free. It is only as free as the polity will allow."

And to the extent the American voting public shares your fears, misunderstandings, and particular inclinations, that would translate to "not very free at all."

Time machine .... Kate, 2/2/07:

"I confess to being frightened of Sharia and if a shifting demographic brings that closer, then dain’s trains [to deport Muslims en masse from the USA] have appeal to me."

Combine the

There you go again.

Democracy means "people rule" and "people rule" can mean anything, even tyranny of the majority. This is why we all (should be) watching how democracy works within Islam after the Arab Spring and after the US departure from Iraq and soon Afghanistan. The Palestinians have it and I am not impressed with their governments.

I suppose that is my cultural bias.

As woman, I am similarly "not impressed" with the lives of women in Islamic nations. If our nation's demographics changed the nature of our democracy to one more compatible with Sharia then I would not like it. Silly of me, I suppose, in your eyes.

As to your question to Richard, who just might be tired of arguing with you who seem to have no sense of proportion, why would the NYPD build databases of Christians or Catholics? What Christians or Catholics have organized to bomb large public buildings in NYC? If the NYPD needed to watch Christians and Catholics to prevent mass murder they would have said databases on them. When the IRA was a major problem in Ireland, Irish Catholics were being watched in the US. Irish people who shared the same names as known IRA terrorists may well have felt persecuted, but most understood the problem was not really one with policing but one with terrorists.

You're right, Kate, I did get tired of arguing with someone who lacks a sense of proporation. Thanks for carrying on.and for your kind words.

Craig, you remind of Rosie O'Donnell, who equates the "religious right" (meaning people of genuine Biblical faith?) with the Taliban. You equate the Tea Party (the latest whipping boy) with the genuine enemies of both democratic government and individual freedom. You have little choice in the matter because your grasp of political reality, not to mention political principles, is so tenuous. Disagreement with you suggests questionable motives at best, active hostility to everything you believe in at worst.

Just contrast the civility of the Tea Party rally in Washington D.C. following passage of ObamaCare (and Glen Beck's meeting in Washington the previous summer) with the Occupy "movement" in our major cities.
The first obeys the law and respects the rights of others; the second does neither. Your utopianism blinds you to the genuine virtues of the American political system and the citizens that are drawn to and shaped by it. You make the perfect--nay, the unattainable--the enemy of the good.

You failed to refute Kate's points. Zombies keep coming but they are beyond argument.

(Waiting 4 days to compare me to Rosie O'Donnell... lovely.)

You know, richard, it's a bit rich to snipe at me for not refuting Kate's points. Look back through and notice the various points I made, and straightforward questions I asked of you... for example:

"If the NYPD were building databases of everyday life of Christians or Catholics, if it catalogued where YOU bought your groceries, ate dinner, and prayed, would you feel persecuted?"

...that you completely avoided. Kate works similarly.

As for Kate and her latest "zombie" (??):

She said:
"As woman, I am similarly "not impressed" with the lives of women in Islamic nations. If our nation's demographics changed the nature of our democracy to one more compatible with Sharia then I would not like it."

I'm betting that you - like the Powerline boys and the NLT gang - declare yourself to be a "Friend of Israel" - are you really so impressed with the lives of their women?

"The controversial exclusion of women from various settings in Israel because of pressure from ultra-Orthodox Jewish leaders reached a new level this week with a major conference on gynecological advances that is permitting only males to address the audience.

The conference on “Innovations in Gynecology/Obstetrics and Halacha [Jewish law]” is being held by the Puah Institute this Wednesday in Jerusalem. It will include such topics as “ovary implants,” “how to choose a suitable contraceptive pill” and “intimacy during rocket attacks,” in which there are many qualified female professionals, but none will be permitted to speak, at least not from the podium...

Women are allowed in the audience, in a section separate from men. (...)

Until two years ago, public buses did not run through such religious neighbourhoods as Mea Sharim, in Jerusalem, and Beit Shemesh outside the city, because of frequent attacks on the buses in which windows were smashed by rocks.

Having been ordered to resume service in all these communities, many buses carry security guards and most adhere to the practice demanded by the rabbinate of seating women only at the back of the bus. Recent attempts to break this practice have resulted in well-reported altercations with male passengers.

As well, pictures of women are not displayed in the posters and ads carried by the bus in these areas, nor are they shown in ads at bus stops in religious communities."

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/worldview/in-jerusalem-women-are-voiceless-at-a-decidedly-womanly-event/article2297159/

Still, I can agree with you that I would not like it if our nation's demographics would (or could - and I doubt that demographics alone could make it much more likely) make Sharia law possible. But, unlike you, I haven't spoken in favor of putting America's Muslims on trains (presumably to deport them en masse) to preclude this possibility.

The fact is, Muslims comprise only about half as much of the US population (by %age) as Jews do (and spare me any and all cheap and grossly ignorant charges of anti-semitism; I'm simply making a point here), and while both religions (like most religions) have their hardcore, fundamentalist fringe (who proclaim their faith to be "genuine" and based on the true meaning of holy texts and such), I'm unaware of any Muslim community within the US that so explicitly and purposefully isolates itself and takes no interest in integrating - but there is, however, Kiryas Joel:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiryas_Joel

I'm guessing that no similar community of American Muslims could even begin to exist without huge cries from the right - and probably a few attempts to firebomb the construction attempts.

Do you have reports of the killing of women who leave (or attempt to leave) the Orthodox? Is apostasy equally a death sentence for them?

Again, you find the obscure and tout it as if it were the general. How many of the world's people are Orthodox Jews and how many are Muslim? Which is or would be a threat in a democracy? The ultra-Orthodox are no more of a threat to the average person anywhere in the world than the Amish are. Can you really not see the distinctions between the ultra-Orthodox and what are called "conservative" Muslims in the press, those like the Taliban?

More Classic Kate absurdity:

"Again, you find the obscure and tout it as if it were the general."

Immediately followed by "How many of the world's people are Orthodox Jews and how many are Muslim?"

With the obvious implication being that the best comparison would be between Orthodox (and ultra-Orthodox) Jews and Muslims in general, as they're all equivalent to...the Taliban (which, as of 2010 numbered around 36K people in Afghanistan and Pakistan - out of 1 billion + Muslims worldwide).

So who is actually taking the very specific and making it the general?

It would seem that you would have difficulty accepting even richard's fairly obvious evaluation that "most Muslims then and now have no quarrel with the rest of the world and wish to live their lives in peace, just as most people do elsewhere."

I didn't bring up the issue of women being (increasingly) persecuted in Jerusalem in order to say that ALL or MOST Jewish men mistreat women, nor to make the obviously ridiculous assertion that Jewish women in Israel are persecuted to an extent similar to women under the Taliban. The difference is clear and obvious. But it goes back to my definition:

"the practical, de facto definition [for persecution] in use [on this blog] is that only Christians (and maybe, from time to time, Jews) can be persecuted, and evidence that any other religious or non-religious people might be the subject of some persecution is either dismissed (probably as "liberal bias") or minimized to the point of invisibility."

but I see now that my definition should be adjusted, since you will make efforts to similarly minimize any evidence of Jewish persecution if it the persecutors are also Jewish.

"Which [Orthodox Jews or Muslims] is or would be a threat in a democracy?"

Again, your terms of comparison are bogus. Only the ultra-conservative fringes of both might pose some minimal threat in the right place at the right time, neither of which would apply to the US (although Kiryas Joel does appear quite problematic, if only on a fairly small scale).

But you're not answering my questions. As for the relevant women in certain parts of Jerusalem, how do you feel about them being put at the back of the bus? What do you think of women not being able to speak at conferences on women's health?

"The ultra-Orthodox are no more of a threat to the average person anywhere in the world than the Amish are."

I guess you missed this part:

"Until two years ago, public buses did not run through such religious neighbourhoods as Mea Sharim, in Jerusalem, and Beit Shemesh outside the city, because of frequent attacks on the buses in which windows were smashed by rocks.

Having been ordered to resume service in all these communities, many buses carry security guards and most adhere to the practice demanded by the rabbinate of seating women only at the back of the bus..."

But yet, by your estimation, Muslims are generally a problem? And the police surveillance in Muslim-heavy neighborhoods in NYC is warranted?

You know, richard, it's a bit rich to snipe at me for not refuting Kate's points. Look back through and notice the various points I made, and straightforward questions I asked of you... for example:

"If the NYPD were building databases of everyday life of Christians or Catholics, if it catalogued where YOU bought your groceries, ate dinner, and prayed, would you feel persecuted?"

...that you completely avoided. Kate works similarly.

OK, I did not take your point seriously for the simple reason that it was purely hypothetical. Again, you ignore the known danger in the Muslim community, not to mention the past danger in the Irish community during the crimes of Sein Fen, the IRA terrorist offshoot. In both cases, when there is evidence of criminality, the police keep track of the possible suspects to prevent an attack, rather than merely cleaning up afterwards.

Kate's response to you about ultra Orthdox Jewish practices is sufficient. You keep trying to make the case for moral equivalency. I hope our public authorities are as persistent in tracking our enemies' plans as you are in disparaging their efforts. .

"I did not take your point seriously for the simple reason that it was purely hypothetical."

Cop-out. Sure, it was hypothetical, but it was entirely relevant to the discussion. But if you want to be fussy about things, here are a couple of non-hypothetical questions that you avoided before - they're straightforward enough (look for the question marks):


"What you've done now is shift the definitive standard for "persecution" to something necessarily resulting in death. So, setting things on fire and making threats doesn't qualify as persecution, unless someone dies? (In addition to my previous examples,) have these Muslims in Tennessee been persecuted?

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/08/28/national/main6814690.shtml

You seem to find nothing objectionable in the concept that simply "being a Muslim within the NYPD's jurisdiction" qualifies one as a "terrorism suspect." That is ridiculous.

Funny, I recall plenty of conservatives - some here, even - who described a much more narrowly focused (but still, admittedly, rather flawed) profiling effort for "police surveillance of suspected terrorists" as very much a kind of persecution (remember the DHS memo?):

http://2politicaljunkies.blogspot.com/2011/06/note-on-richard-poplawski.html


Oh, and here's another one you dodged:

"Of course, mass surveillance is nothing new to the NYPD. I presume you raised no objections back in 2004, when they worked to protect and to serve...(ahem) "us" (the GOP?) for the '04 conventions, also, right?

From the pertinent NYTimes article:
"The city and the Police Department have come under intense scrutiny over the surveillance tactics, in which for more than a year before the convention undercover officers traveled to cities across the country, and to Canada and Europe, to conduct covert observations of people who planned to attend. But beyond potential troublemakers, those placed under surveillance included street theater companies, church groups, antiwar activists, environmentalists, and people opposed to the death penalty, globalization and other government policies.

And as the convention unfolded, more than 1,800 people were arrested, mostly for minor violations, and many were herded into pens at a Hudson River pier and fingerprinted instead of being released on summonses or desk appearance tickets, which are more customary for charges that amount to little more than a traffic ticket."

===

"You keep trying to make the case for moral equivalency."

No, not at all. I've made the case that your definition of "persecution" is as I've described, and it's largely a self-serving, one-way affair.

I can make distinctions - that's no problem. Bombing a church/temple/mosque is worse than spraypainting some hateful graffiti on one. Firebombing a place is worse than yelling something hateful at worshippers. But the mentality that always boils down to childishly clueless games like "They started it!" and "What they do is worse." is - in addition to making excuses for what is clearly wrong and, per my offered definition, minimizing of an actual wrong - failing to see that something is still persecution. AND, importantly - to return to the truly original problem that started this thread - those forms of persecution (see the Tennessee example, or consider the indiscriminate surveillance of Muslims in NYC) are necessarily worse than the IMAGINARY persecutions that, for example, Justin pulled from the ether regarding this snow church in Germany - where precisely zero Christians have been persecuted.

[and I'm sure Kate is thrilled that you've put your imprimatur on her latest comment to me. You two really seem to hit it off!]

Leave a Comment

* denotes a required field
 

No TrackBacks
TrackBack URL: http://nlt.ashbrook.org/movabletype/mt-tb.cgi/17227