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Democracy in America > Week 7: DIA Vol 1 Part 2 Ch. 9(XVII)

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David | 2694 comments Vol1: Part 2, Chapter 9
ON THE PRINCIPAL CAUSES THAT TEND TO MAINTAIN THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC IN THE UNITED STATES

Tocqueville's three principle causes that maintain democracy in America:
1. The peculiar, and accidental, situation in which Providence has placed the Americans is the first of these.
2. The second stems from the laws.
3. The third derives from habits and mores.

ON THE ACCIDENTAL OR PROVIDENTIAL CAUSES THAT HELP TO MAINTAIN THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC IN THE UNITED STATES
1. The Union has no neighbors.
The Americans have no neighbors, hence no need to fear major wars, financial crises, invasions, or conquests. They have no need of heavy taxes, large armies, or great generals. They have almost nothing to fear from a scourge even more terrible for republics than all these put together, namely, military glory.
2. No great capital. I found the footnote here interesting describing immigrants as the world's oldest scapegoats:
Although America does not yet have a great capital, it already has some very large cities. . .In its midst one also finds hordes of Europeans driven to the shores of the New World every day by misfortune and mischief. These people bring our worst vices with them to the United States, and they have none of the interests that could combat the influence of those vices. As residents of the country but not citizens, they are quick to take advantage of all the passions simmering within it. There have recently been serious riots in Philadelphia and New York, for example.
3. The hazard of birth worked in favor of the Americans:
produced, I see the entire destiny of America embodied in the first Puritan to land on its shores, just as the entire human race was embodied in the first man.
4. America is an empty country. Tocqueville describes the constant westward expansion of the united states. The divine influence he imparts to his description nearly encapsulates what would become manifest destiny. I believe someone in an earlier discussion brought up the issues of the constant division of properties until they became too small to support those living on it. Tocqueville’s response to that can be found here:
Chancellor Kent, in his Commentaries on American Law, says that “there can be no doubt that the division of estates must produce great evils if carried to an extreme, such that each portion of land can no longer provide for the maintenance of a family; but these disadvantages have never been felt in the United States, and many generations will pass before they are felt. The extent of our uninhabited territory, the abundance of land available to us, and the constant stream of emigration from the Atlantic coast to the interior of the country suffice to prevent the parceling out of estates, and will suffice for a long time to come.”



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David | 2694 comments ON THE INFLUENCE OF LAWS ON THE PERSISTENCE OF THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC IN THE UNITED STATES
Three principal reasons for the persistence of the democratic republic:
Three things seem to contribute more than all others to the persistence of the democratic republic in the New World: The first is the federal form that the Americans have adopted, which allows the Union to enjoy the power of a great republic and the security of a small one.

Does this still hold true?

The second I see in local institutions, which not only moderate the despotism of the majority but also foster a taste for liberty among the people and teach them the art of being free.

Do we take advantage of this enough to provide all of the benefits Tocqueville describes?

The third is to be found in the constitution of judicial power. I have shown how much the courts serve to correct the aberrations of democracy and how, without ever thwarting the impulses of the majority, the courts are able to slow them down and guide them.



David | 2694 comments ON THE INFLUENCE OF MORES ON THE PERSISTENCE OF THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC IN THE UNITED STATES
Author’s Terms: Manners is used here to mean: Mores from Latin mōrēs, meaning 'manner, custom, usage, or habit') was introduced from English into American English by William Graham Sumner (1840–1910), an early U.S. sociologist, to refer to social norms that are widely observed and are considered to have greater moral significance than others.

ON RELIGION CONSIDERED AS A POLITICAL INSTITUTION: HOW MIGHTILY IT CONTRIBUTES TO THE PERSISTENCE OF THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC AMONG THE AMERICANS
Tocqueville here I think tries to hard to play cheereleader for the Catholics that have been arriving in the America for the last 50 years. In bolstering the suitability of Catholicism over Protestantism for democracy, he appears to contradict earlier statements about the early Protestants' notions on equality:
About Protestantism I would say the opposite: it generally encourages not so much equality as independence.
A few paragraphs later he seems to refute that statement when he concludes:
Thus American Catholics are at once the most docile believers and the most independent citizens.
Why does Tocqueville reproduce the prayer he witnessed in given in conjunction with the arms and money being sent to support the Poles? Was anyone reminded of Mark Twain’s The War Prayer?

INDIRECT INFLUENCE OF RELIGIOUS BELIEFS ON POLITICAL SOCIETY IN THE UNITED STATES
I found it interesting that Tocqueville did not find any politically inclined clergy at the time. And I would be remiss if I did not reproduce this sad story:
While I was in America, a witness in a court in Chester County (New York) stated that he did not believe in the existence of God or the immortality of the soul. The presiding judge refused to swear him in on the grounds that the witness had destroyed in advance any credibility that his testimony might possess. The newspapers reported the incident without commentary.
All of this Christian majority leads him to the conclusion:
Americans so completely confound Christianity with liberty that it is almost impossible to induce them to think of one without the other. For them, moreover, this is by no means a sterile belief, a legacy of the past that lies moldering in the depths of the soul, but a vital article of faith.
What did you think of the role the institution of marriage plays?


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Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 337 comments I was confused by this remark

While I was in America, a witness in a court in Chester County (New York) stated that he did not believe in the existence of God or the immortality of the soul. The presiding judge refused to swear him in on the grounds that the witness had destroyed in advance any credibility that his testimony might possess. The newspapers reported the incident without commentary.

But previously he adressed

To find it out, I asked the faithful of all communions; I sought, above all, the company of priests who are the keepers of the different faiths and who have a personal interest in their continued existence. The religion I [480] profess brought me particularly close to the Catholic clergy, and I did not delay in striking up a sort of intimacy with several of its members.t To each of them I expressed my astonishment and revealed my doubts. I found that all of these men differed among themselves only on the details; but all attributed the peaceful dominion that religion exercises in their country principally to the complete separation of Church and State. I am not afraid to assert that, during my visit in America, I did not meet a single man, priest or laymen, who did not agree on this point.

A man who do not believe in God deserves no trust but There's separation of Church and State?


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Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 337 comments The Americans do not have neighbors...

Among the fortunate circumstances that also have favored the establishment and assure the maintenance of the democratic republic in the United States, the first in importance is the choice of the country itself that the Americans inhabit. Their fathers gave them the love of equality and liberty, but it is God who, by giving them an unlimited continent, granted them the means to remain equal and free for a long time.

He only see the White population as deserving of respect and awareness.

But North America was inhabited only by wandering tribes who did not think of using the natural riches of the soil. North America was still, properly speaking, a vacant continent, a deserted land, that awaited inhabitants.

I am always amazed when people talk about the native american way of life so stubbornly prejudiced and cannot see it.


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Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 337 comments If absolute power came to be established once again among the democratic peoples of Europe, I do not doubt that it would take a new form and would show itself with features unknown to our fathers.

Fascism?


David | 2694 comments Rafael wrote: "A man who do not believe in God deserves no trust but There's separation of Church and State?"

It has improved since Tocqueville's time but atheists and agnostics are still very much discriminated against in the United States as the line in the sand is between believers (in God) and non-believers, but not between believers of different religions or sects.

As of 2014 there were still eight states that have unenforceable laws forbidding atheists from holding public office; Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and. . .wait for it. . .Maryland.
Maryland
Article 37: “That no religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this State, other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God; nor shall the Legislature prescribe any other oath of office than the oath prescribed by this Constitution.”

Mississippi
Article 14, section 265: “No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office in this State.”
. . .

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/...
Is this an example of tyranny of the majority?
A 2014 Pew poll found 53 percent of Americans think it’s necessary to believe in God to be moral, and a 2012 Gallup poll found 43 percent of voters would not vote for a candidate who was atheist.



Roger Burk | 1729 comments In the 20th century, didn't the world see a new kind of autocracy, one that was unknown to AdT? I mean one that is based on an ideology and a party. The ills he predicted mostly came to pass. And of course, such absolutist governments are still with us, in North Korea and a few other places.


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Michele | 40 comments David wrote: "Americans so completely confound Christianity with liberty that it is almost impossible to induce them to think of one without the other. "

Wow. I had no idea that particular delusion went back so far. We see a lot of that same thing in political discourse today.


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Michele | 40 comments David wrote: "What did you think of the role the institution of marriage plays? "

Not sure I understand how this question is related to this section, or the bits of T that you've excerpted - am I missing something? Surely marriage was an economic and legal consideration as much as a religious one for centuries before T (or America) came along.


David | 2694 comments Michele wrote: "David wrote: "What did you think of the role the institution of marriage plays? "

Not sure I understand how this question is related to this section, or the bits of T that you've excerpted - am I ..."


Here is everything he wrote on the subject in this chapter. I am just looking for general impressions on it. Is it stereotypical? And why are American and European marriages and home life so different?

First T says:
Although religion cannot moderate his ardor for riches, which everything conspires to arouse, it nevertheless reigns supreme over the soul of woman, and it is woman who shapes mores. Of all the countries in the world, America is surely the one in which the marriage bond is most respected, and in which people subscribe to the loftiest and most just ideal of conjugal happiness.
Then he compares Europeans to Americans at home:
In Europe, virtually all social disorders are born at home, close to the hearth and not far from the marriage bed. It is at home that men become scornful of natural ties and permissible pleasures and acquire a taste for disorder; their hearts grow anxious and their desires fickle. The European, agitated by the same tumultuous passions that have so often proved troublesome at home, finds it hard to submit to the legislative powers of the state. When an American leaves the discord of the political world behind and returns to the bosom of his family, he is greeted at once by an image of order and peace. There, all his pleasures are simple and natural, all his joys tranquil and innocent. And since it is regularity in life that brings him happiness, he readily becomes accustomed to regulating his opinions as well as his tastes. While the European seeks to escape his domestic woes by stirring up trouble in society, the American’s home is the well from which he draws his love of order, which he then carries over into affairs of state.



Alexey | 293 comments David wrote: "Michele wrote: "David wrote: "What did you think of the role the institution of marriage plays? "

Not sure I understand how this question is related to this section, or the bits of T that you've e..."


de Tocqueville showed here his aristocratic prejudice in the role played by marriage in the politic. I do not see that outside of the aristocratic (even feudal) world family life affects political life in the way he wrote.

Digression: this reminds me of Disraeli and Gladstone and their personal lives and political struggle.


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Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments Alexey wrote: "de Tocqueville showed here his aristocratic prejudice in the role played by marriage in the politic. I do not see that outside of the aristocratic (even feudal) world family life affects political life in the way he wrote..."

Thank you, Alexey! Wish I knew enough about Disraeli and Gladstone to understand your digression.

I laughed when I read the two passages David juxtapositions. It felt as if Tocqueville did not spend quite enough time in America to get beyond the veneer of all those meetings he had with (gentle)men. Neither to understand the (pious) pull of the dictums of the writings of St. Paul nor the quiet, firm interactions of the correspondence between Abigail and John Adams nor the ability of the pioneer family to endure a sod dwelling until a clapboard could be built on an expanse without trees.

I shall now probably also read history with a slightly different quirk in mind -- especially about the French salons where philosophy and politics dominated the conversations and perhaps some actions that flowed therefrom.


David | 2694 comments ON THE PRINCIPAL CAUSES OF RELIGION’S POWER IN AMERICA
unfortunately:
Religious zeal, [the philosophers of the eighteenth century] said, was bound to dwindle as liberty and enlightenment increased. Unfortunately, the facts do not bear this theory out.
Why does Tocqueville, a Catholic, find this condition unfortunate? He sets the stage here by citing the unanimous agreement and adherence to separation of church and state as the main condition for the power of religion in America. Then he makes some additional secular sounding assertions that religion is a form of hope that derives its strength from human nature. Then he makes this argument for the durability of religion by keeping it separate from politics:
As long as a religion rests solely on sentiments that console man in his misery, it can win the affection of the human race. But when it embraces the bitter passions of this world, it may be forced to defend allies acquired through interest rather than love, and it must reject as adversaries men who love it still even as they do battle with its allies. Religion cannot share the material might of those who govern without incurring some of the hatred they inspire. . . whenever a religion joins forces with political powers of any kind, the alliance is bound to be onerous for religion. It has no need of their help to live, and in serving them it may die.
Are there any examples that Tocqueville could use to justify this claim? I always thought it was religion dragging politics down. 😊 Tocqueville concludes:
Religion in America is perhaps less powerful than it has been at certain times in certain other countries, but its influence is more durable. It has been reduced to its own forces, which no one can take away. Its influence is limited to a particular sphere, but there it is pervasive and dominates effortlessly.
Is this still the case or are more religiously motivated laws and lawmakers edging America towards a theocracy?


David | 2694 comments HOW THE ENLIGHTENMENT, HABITS, AND PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE OF THE AMERICANS CONTRIBUTE TO THE SUCCESS OF DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS

Perhaps there is more of Aristotle’s golden mean to be found Americans avoiding the extremes of deficiency and excess of their education?
Anyone who wants to judge the state of enlightenment among the Anglo-Americans must therefore look at the same object from two different angles. If he pays attention only to the learned, he will be astonished by their small number. And if he counts the ignorant, the American people will seem the most enlightened on earth. The population as a whole falls between these two extremes . . .
Thanks to a crude yet efficient postal service, thoughts travel fast, even into the remote and sparsely populated areas. Tocqueville sees Americans as a nation of practical autodidacts. Although I personally believe contemporary home-schooling is a terrible idea in most cases, Tocqueville scores a point for home-schooling here which he nearly describes with this:
Now, each year, the sons of these same Americans take not only their households but their acquired knowledge and respect for learning with them into the wilderness.
I wonder how T found out Americans do not use the term peasant. I can imagine him getting some strange looks asking to see where all the peasants live.


Roger Burk | 1729 comments Religiously motivated laws are much fewer and weaker now than they were in the 1830s.


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Kyle | 99 comments Roger wrote: "In the 20th century, didn't the world see a new kind of autocracy, one that was unknown to AdT? I mean one that is based on an ideology and a party. The ills he predicted mostly came to pass. And o..."

Good observation. Very much related to how AT ends chapter 9. Do you think AT would attribute the 20th-Century dictatorships to the causes he proposes, namely, failing to slowly introduce and found democratic institutions, and failing to give citizens "ideas and sentiments" that prepare them for freedom?


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Kyle | 99 comments From the Mansfield/Winthrop translation: "One cannot doubt that in the United States the instruction of the people serves powerfully to maintain a democratic republic. It will be so, I think, everywhere that the instruction that enlightens the mind is not separated from the education that regulates mores" (pg. 291).

As an educator (a public middle school principal), I think he's nailed it on the head. The trick is to ensure that, at least in the public sector, the enlightening of the mind "is not separated" from mores, but is separated from the church. Figuring out how to regulate mores without a connection to a particular religion, or to religion in general, has been a perpetual challenge for those of us in education who, like AT, know that simply educating the mind is insufficient. Perhaps the work of someone like Lawrence Kohlberg (stages of moral development) can provide a helpful secular framework for this endeavor.


David | 2694 comments Kyle wrote: "Figuring out how to regulate mores without a connection to a particular religion, or to religion in general, has been a perpetual challenge. . ."

I certainly appreciate efforts to achieve this, but the amount of resistance to it seems overwhelming. While America is not a theocracy, yet, there is a clear battle line between religious and secular teaching drawn right through the public schools, so I hope you are receiving hazard pay. Along with Tocqueville's quote. . .
Americans so completely confound Christianity with liberty that it is almost impossible to induce them to think of one without the other.
. . .there sadly, seems to be so many to whom the idea of being good without god is an offense somewhere between abhorrently frightening to utterly inconceivable.


David | 2694 comments LAWS DO MORE TO MAINTAIN A DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC IN THE UNITED STATES THAN PHYSICAL CAUSES DO, AND MORES DO MORE THAN LAWS
Tocqueville ranks the reasons a democratic republic is maintained in America by comparing the United States to other countries in the Americas and to each other ranking his reasons from highest to lowest:
1. Mores of the Americans
2. American laws.
3. Physical reasons, i.e., isolation and lack of wars.

WOULD LAWS AND MORES SUFFICE TO MAINTAIN DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS ELSEWHERE THAN IN AMERICA?
Toqueville confuses me with this one:
The organization and establishment of democracy among Christians is the great political problem of our time. To be sure, the Americans have not solved this problem, but they offer useful instruction to those who wish to do so.
Earlier he made the case that various Protestant sects of the original settlers had elements that were conducive to the creation of the democracy in America. He stated somewhere else that certain people felt Christianity and democracy were natural enemies in opposition to one another. This section’s concluding statement again references the contention between Christianity and democracy. What is this contention?

IMPORTANCE OF THE FOREGOING IN RELATION TO EUROPE
Tocqueville makes an appeal here the question of choosing your leveler seems a persuasive one:
The will of a democracy is changeable; its agents are crude; its laws are imperfect — all this I grant. But if it were true that soon there is to be no intermediate between the empire of democracy and the yoke of one man, should we not strive toward the former rather than submit voluntarily to the latter? And if complete equality were ultimately inevitable, would it not be better to choose to be leveled by liberty rather than by a despot?
He stays in scope here and does not recommend any specifics but I wonder what kind of democracy and democratic institutions he would recommend to European nations, or France?


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Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments David wrote: "He stays in scope here and does not recommend any specifics but I wonder what kind of democracy and democratic institutions he would recommend to European nations, or France? ..."

{Smile.} I wonder what Tocqueville would have been like as an advisor to Bremer in Iraq. A probably irrelevant link, other than suggesting some of the differences between mid-1800's and the 21st century:(view spoiler)


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Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 337 comments David wrote: "Rafael wrote: "A man who do not believe in God deserves no trust but There's separation of Church and State?"

It has improved since Tocqueville's time but atheists and agnostics are still very muc..."


Sad to know about these laws.


David | 2694 comments Lily wrote: "I wonder what Tocqueville would have been like as an advisor to Bremer in Iraq."

I cannot get over thinking about the term nation building. The task seems an interesting and yet immediately overwhelming at the same time.

Tocqueville lists these three factors in order of their importance to America's Democracy.
1. Mores
2. Laws.
3. Physical reasons, i.e., isolation and lack of wars.

These main variables and their innumerable details are so greatly different for other countries that dependence on them seems to greatly enhance the difficulties. I again wonder about Margaret Thatcher's quote:
. . .They are the product of history and not of philosophy. You can construct a nation on an idea; but you cannot reconstruct a nation on the basis of one.



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Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments David wrote: "These main variables and their innumerable details are so greatly different for other countries that dependence on them seems to greatly enhance the difficulties..."

Which seems to me very much the struggle Tocqueville was facing as he tried to take DIA back to a France that was still in the throes of the disruptions of the French Revolution and its aftermath. Certainly the quotation from Thatcher applies, but one does get a sense Alexis was still trying to put a plethora of possibilities out there, perhaps partly to test which might get traction. Evidence of which ones he may have been "pushing" aren't clear enough to me to comment further; perhaps someone who knows French history may be spotting them as we read.


David | 2694 comments Lily wrote: "Which seems to me very much the struggle Tocqueville was facing as he tried to take DIA back to a France. . ."

I used to always wonder about the, if you can keep it, part of the exchange between Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia and Benjamin Franklin after the Constitution had been signed:
a lady asked Dr. Franklin, well Doctor what we got
a republic or a monarchy—
A republic replied the Doctor, if you can keep it.

https://blogs.loc.gov/teachers/2016/0...
It seems less mysterious if now.


Chris | 385 comments David wrote: As of 2014 there were still eight states that have unenforceable laws forbidding atheists from holding public office; Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and. . .wait for it. . .Maryland.

I had no idea!! Crazy!


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Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 304 comments As to religious zeal, as mentioned earlier, I wonder if T. saw zealotry as a problem, though not religious feeling per se. I think I could agree with him, if that was his meaning.

I do not think America is in any way, shape, or form on the verge, or even advancing toward, a theocracy.


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Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments Bryan wrote: "I do not think America is in any way, shape, or form on the verge, or even advancing toward, a theocracy. ..."

Bryan, I quite agree. But I am not comfortable with the political power being wielded by some large megachurches.


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Michele | 40 comments Bryan wrote: "I do not think America is in any way, shape, or form on the verge, or even advancing toward, a theocracy."

Really? I suggest you look closely at some of the laws being passed (or not passed) regarding women's choice, same-sex marriage, LGBT rights, etc. in states controlled by conservative legislatures.


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 304 comments Lily wrote: " But I am not comfortable with the political power being wielded by some large megachurches..."

Hi Lily...I've no doubt you have a point--I'm not in favor of any special interest having a disproportionate share of political power, no matter what it's stripe. My comment was generated only from observing and listening to the culture around me here in the mid-west. From that aspect, I'd say that anyone fearing an immanent conversion to an American theocracy can sleep soundly tonight.


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 304 comments Michele wrote: "Really? I suggest you look closely at some of the laws being passed (or not..."

Hello Michele--I was still in the middle of writing my last post when you posted yours. I've no desire to argue any individual laws, nor do I have the statistics or research on hand to do so. What I do have--all I have--is the experience of watching the general drift of things over the course of the last 35 years (I'm 51). Yes, I know that gains in the areas you mention have been hard-won and are probably seen as tenuous, but simply in the general attitude concerning those very areas, the change has been monumental over that time. Nothing in what I've seen since that time suggests a growing movement toward theocracy.


Alexey | 293 comments I think we should be more careful about using the word 'theocracy'. Some people make excuses for their prejudices and bigotry citing the religious authorities -- it is not the sign of the movement toward theocracy. If it was so -- most за the world would be theocracies. Theocracy is not when someone who is not religious cannot hope to be elected it is when such a person cannot have citizens right if you wonder what (quasi)theocracy is, not look in the US look in the Saudi Arabia or Afganistan under Talibs.


David | 2694 comments Alexey wrote: " Theocracy is not when someone who is not religious cannot hope to be elected it is when such a person cannot have citizens right. . ."

You are correct. But there is a fine line between a sovereign religious government that removes a non-believer's rights and a religious majority, also considered sovereign, that overreaches to similar effect.

Tocqueville also told us of the man who did not believe in god and was not given the opportunity to be heard in court. That sounds like an oppressed civil right to me, as they are in the issues Michelle listed, The Supreme Court recently announced that it will be deciding a case this year on whether the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which guarantees protections from workplace discrimination applies to LGBTs. This should be a no-brainer, but it is no petty dispute, and I suspect any contrary court opinions will be hard pressed to hide the influence of certain religions views.

I was very surprised to read Tocqueville's observations about how the clergy remained so strictly disentangled from politics at the time. The clergy itself may not be overly involved in politics today, but the christian religion certainly is. It even says so on our money!


Roger Burk | 1729 comments David wrote: "Alexey wrote: " Theocracy is not when someone who is not religious cannot hope to be elected it is when such a person cannot have citizens right. . ."

You are correct. But there is a fine line bet..."


There is no mention of Christ on our money.


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David | 2694 comments Roger wrote: "There is no mention of Christ on our money. "

There is no mention of "our respective Gods" either, just God, singular. If they had felt the need, the founding fathers would have a least made it a little more inclusive deist motto, "In Our Creator We Trust".

One may choose to believe that in 1956, the 84th Congress, which I can only suppose was 100% Christian, intended the motto to stand for more than just the Christian god, but I find that unlikely and no documents have ever come to light suggesting that is the case. The only reason Christian exclusivity is being denied now is so the motto may be upheld according to judicial interpretation of accommodationism, treating all religions equally; clearly this is a rather transparent loophole allowing the continuation of the government's rebuff of, and ironically not accommodating to, a growing population without a religion.

It is also interesting to note that the phrase, verbatim, is not to be found in the Christian Bible. However, the motto is found in two places of the Quran, in Surah 10 Yunus, as well as Surah 7 Al-A'raf, and several other verses reinforce this concept.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_God_...

Even if a judge chooses to be interpret the motto as polytheistic, or to each their own, the individual believer's orthodoxy forbids sharing the god of the motto with religions other than their own.

The unofficial original, E pluribus unum, "One out of many" or "One from many", is just better suited as a motto by virtue of being, secular, all-inclusive, and free of any religious endorsement or appeal to the supernatural.


Roger Burk | 1729 comments The 84th Congress included senators Lehman and Neuberger and representatives Klein, Multer, Chudoff, Dollinger, Yates, Fine, Friedel, Holtzman, Davidson, and Zelenko, all practicing Jews. So 12 of the 531 members of Congress were Jews, or about 2.3%. This is slightly larger than the most common estimates for the proportion of Jews in the US population, which fall between 1% and 2%.


Alexey | 293 comments David wrote: "Alexey wrote: " Theocracy is not when someone who is not religious cannot hope to be elected it is when such a person cannot have citizens right. . ."

You are correct. But there is a fine line bet..."


Some thoughts.

There is no difference how sovereign religious government was formed by election, or by inheritance, or somehow else if it imposes religious dictum on the whole population. But we should draw a line between religious dictatorship and prejudices of the majority. An unbeliever is deemed ungodly, ungodly means immoral, immoral means untrustworthy so no evidence can be accepted - straightforward logic of the day though today ridiculous. Besides, I do not think that the Supreme Court would have the same position.


David | 2694 comments Roger wrote: "The 84th Congress included senators Lehman and Neuberger and representatives Klein, Multer, Chudoff, Dollinger, Yates, Fine, Friedel, Holtzman, Davidson, and Zelenko, all practicing Jews. So 12 of ..."

Does that then imply the god of the motto and the currency is the Judeo-Christian god? What is the difference? Aren't the Christian god and the Judeo-Christian god the same god?


David | 2694 comments Alexey wrote: But we should draw a line between religious dictatorship and prejudices of the majority.. . .Besides, I do not think that the Supreme Court would have the same position."

Yes, but it is a very fine line. But tyranny by any name is still tyranny. Let us hope you are right about the Supreme Court, but also keep in mind the Supreme Court does not hear every case and is not likely going to hear yours. Citizens have more immediate concerns with their local courts which are less uniform, for which Tocqueville will make a case for. The court in Tocqueville's example with the unbeliever seems to have been a local one.


Roger Burk | 1729 comments David wrote: "Roger wrote: "The 84th Congress included senators Lehman and Neuberger and representatives Klein, Multer, Chudoff, Dollinger, Yates, Fine, Friedel, Holtzman, Davidson, and Zelenko, all practicing J..."

I imagine the legislators had in mind the Judaeo-Christian God, and also the remote and impersonal God of deists, the point being humility before a higher power (as well as differentiating us from godless Communists). The 1950s, like AdT's time, was a period of great respect for religion, even among those who had little personal use for it.


Alexey | 293 comments David wrote: " Citizens have more immediate concerns with their local courts which are less uniform, for which Tocqueville will make a case for. The court in Tocqueville's example with the unbeliever seems to have been a local one."

Yes, citizens have more concerns with local courts and local courts have more concerns with the public than higher courts, and they affected by the general views of the day more. Nobody says it is easy to go against general prejudices, whenever they are Christian, Islamic, atheistic or whatever else, we in Russia have a great experience in all kind.


message 42: by Lily (last edited May 07, 2019 07:18AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments David wrote: "Aren't the Christian god and the Judeo-Christian god the same god? ..."

You sound like Sam Harris, David. From all the many discussions to which I have listened about whether the "God" of Christianity, of Judaism, of Islam, of any other monotheistic religion is the "same God", I come back again and again to the question of one of my pastors: "What is the nature of your God?", or as she sometimes put it, "What are the characteristics of your God?" Perhaps for those of us for whom "God" is about as definable as "justice", even the questions ought be phrased otherwise. (view spoiler)


Chris | 385 comments Roger wrote: There is no mention of Christ on our money.
Yes, but T says over and over again how Christian principles are tied into the development of our democracy (the writings/legislation/constitution) and are the foundation for the mores/manners of the American people.
Whether its true or not is another debate.


message 44: by Lily (last edited May 07, 2019 09:17AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments Chris wrote: "Roger wrote: There is no mention of Christ on our money.
Yes, but T says over and over again how Christian principles are tied into the development of our democracy. ...Whether its true or not is another debate."


Shall we start with the debate as to whether the Enlightenment is "tied" to Christian principles? {Smile, please...! For one thread on that theme, I am still enchanted by the chapter of Francis Fukuyama's Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment that I referred to earlier, with its mash-up of religious and enlightenment thinkers.}


message 45: by Lily (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments Bryan wrote: "...I'm not in favor of any special interest having a disproportionate share of political power, no matter what it's stripe..."

Here is a twist which I have not been following (on freedom of speech, politics, religion): https://www.washingtonpost.com/politi...

(Please, however. I hesitate linking this, because I do believe we should avoid discussion of current politics here with DIA, beyond recognizing where they touch each other. So please respond with other FYI if you like, but let's not get into a discussion here of the legitimacy of the Johnson Amendment and/or its repeal. And you can tell me I've been out of order with this post and I'll remove it.)


message 46: by Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (last edited May 09, 2019 08:55AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 304 comments Thanks for the link, Lily. No problem from me for posting it. I read it--it was an aspect of the current climate I wasn't familiar with.


David | 2694 comments Patrice wrote: "i too had a hard time following his reasoning that catholicism is good for a democratic country. he starts by saying that catholicism is like an absolute monarchy. then he meanders in and out to co..."

1. Nearly everyone is equal in the eyes of God.
For Catholics, religious society consists of just two elements: the priest and the people. Only the priest stands above the faithful: below him, everyone else is equal. . .

. . .Catholicism is like an absolute monarchy. [However,] remove the prince [or consider the priest as an equal as is the case in a democracy of equal conditions] and you are left with conditions more equal than in any republic.
2. Catholics have one standard doctrine that applies to everyone equally.
As for dogma, Catholicism sets one standard for every level of intelligence: scholar or ignoramus, genius or man of the people, the same faith is prescribed in detail for all. The same practices are imposed on rich and poor, the same austerities inflicted on the powerful and the weak. Catholicism makes no compromise with any mortal, and by applying the same standard to all human beings, it likes to blend all classes of society into one worshiping at the same altar, just as they are one in the eyes of God.
3. Priests encourage citizens to take their place in the political arena since they can no longer do that themselves.
Once priests are excluded from government, or exclude themselves as they have done in the United States, no faith does more than the Catholic faith to encourage adepts [others instead of the clergy themselves] to take the idea of equality of conditions and carry it over into the world of politics.
4. Catholics take their rights more seriously because they are a poor minority
Most Catholics are poor, and if they are to take part in government at all, it is imperative that all citizens govern. Catholics are in the minority, and if they are to enjoy free exercise of their rights, it is imperative that all rights be respected. These two causes lead them, unwittingly to be sure, to adopt political doctrines that they might be less ardent to embrace if they were wealthy and numerically predominant.
5. The Catholic clergy adheres to the separation of church and state.
The Catholic priests of America have divided the intellectual world into two parts: in one they have left revealed dogmas, to which they submit without discussion; in the other they have placed political truth, and this they believe God has left for man to investigate freely. Thus American Catholics are at once the most docile believers and the most independent citizens.



message 48: by David (last edited May 16, 2019 09:18AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

David | 2694 comments David wrote: "5. The Catholic clergy adheres to the separation of church and state."

On this last point I have my doubts driven by recent news items readily available on the web about Catholic officials withholding communion from and threatening excommunication for politicians holding contrary positions to the church, most notably pro-abortion. I suppose there was a time that these penalties were implicit and not needed, but these days there seems to be a need to make them explicit. Of course this would not be the only religious institution to influence politics.


David | 2694 comments Patrice wrote: "yeah, his arguments sound like rationalizations to me."

Agreed. Despite Tocqueville's enlightened, or at least objective, sounding comments at times concerning religion, I cannot help but detect a little personal bias favoring Catholicism creeping in.


David | 2694 comments Patrice wrote: "i do love how he points out that although there are endless sects in america they all agree on how people must treat each other. so true!"

I am not so sure about that. Different sects seem to treat people differently based on certain personal characteristics or behaviors. For example, the Puritans shunned and threatened with death certain behaviors that were tolerated by others. The UCC's decision to perform gay marriage was strongly threatened from within, some member churches voting to withdraw, and without for it. Some Baptist sects forbid dancing. And we should not forget the various statuses and treatment/mistreatment of women. This suggests that second only to their creed, the way a sect treats and approaches people is the reason there are so many different sects. There are way too many conditions included in the interpretations of "love they neighbor".


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