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Author Topic: Religion and the Declaration of Morality  (Read 2201 times)

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Online Regina Minx

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #100 on: November 30, 2017, 09:25:49 AM »
Content Warning: LOTS OF WORDS!

Since we're doing thread necromancy, it occurs to me that I never answered a question Reiji posed to me.

Or, perhaps the statement I should be making, what precisely do you believe about the death of Jesus?  (Nothing is an acceptable answer.)

I am not going to argue the mythicist position. I don’t believe mythicism can be dismissed out of hand, especially because I believe that the consensus in history, especially Jesus studies, is often based on faulty logic which is emblematic of a larger trend in the study of history itself. I believe that ‘consensus’ is not an intrinsically reliable guide to what’s true in history because it tends to be founded on logically invalid methods. For this, I refer you to both Richard Carrier’s Proving History and David Hackett Fischer in Historians’ Fallacies: Toward a Logic of Historical Thought.

What I will do is outline what evidence I’m considering, what I think about it, the conclusions I draw from that evidence, and what I think are the implications of those conclusions. If you wish me to elaborate on any point, I will be happy to do so, even if it is only to point you to my source.

What counts as evidence?

In the study of history, we have to consider primary source material. For something to count as primary source material, it has to fit two basic criteria. (a) It has to be plausibly capable of being causally connected with the facts, and (b) it must be relatively independent of other pieces of primary evidence. As an example of what would not count for satisfying the first criterion is someone claiming to have psychic visions of events they’re providing information about (which has implications when we consider the Epistles).

Now I am not arguing from this that copies or later manuscript traditions cannot count as primary sources of evidence. For example, a medieval manuscript of Lucian’s account of his interactions with Peregrinus Proteus (in Lucian’s Death of Peregrinus) is evidence of the existence of Peregrinus and what happened to him. The reason for this is that the most plausible explanation of the manuscript’s existence is that it is the latest of a series of copies of a book written by Lucian. That original book was causally connected to Peregrinus by the fact that Lucian saw what happened to Peregrinus and recorded it later. (Or so Lucian claims, but I digress).

The second criterion is just as important: evidence must be independent. If someone wrote something about Peregrinus for which their sole source of information was Lucian’s book, then only the latter counts as evidence. In Bayesian terms, the probability of having information taken from a primary source if that source’s information is false is the same as the probability if the content is true. Therefore, having the secondary source can have no effect on the epistemic probability that the claim in question is true. Having a copy of someone’s letter, for example, does not make the original letter any more likely to be genuine or its contents any more likely to be true.

Unfortunately this conclusion still follows even if we merely cannot establish that a source is independent. For example, if someone after Lucian who had access to Lucian’s book says things about Peregrinus that are things Lucian already said about him, then that later source still can no longer count as relevant evidence for Peregrinus. It only counts as evidence of widespread knowledge about Peregrinus, but that’s not the same thing. Of course it’s possible this later author had a source independent of Lucian; but ‘possibly, therefore probably’ is a logical fallacy. Information that we cannot establish as independence cannot be considered.

This is significant because almost all the evidence for anything we know about the historical Jesus (including whether or not there even was one) cannot be established as independent of earlier evidence we already have. When all that evidence is excluded, we are left with very little.


The Actual Evidence We Have

The only evidence we have for the historical Jesus is written; books and letters. Personally, I’m only willing to consider texts that are known to be originally written (or probably written) before 120 CE as being causally connected to the facts, since after that time any surviving witnesses of the Christian cult’s creation cannot reasonably be expected to still be alive, but also because after that time the amount of bogus, forged literature about Jesus and the early Christians exploded. I do want to take a special note of this point: Other historical events did not generate nearly the same explosion of forgery and redaction. Few historical events generated much of ANY forgery and redaction, therefore the survival and detection of accurate information is tremendously difficult on the question of the historical Jesus.

The actual evidence I’m going to divide it into two here: evidence written by Christians and evidence not written by Christians. Note that this is not the same thing as evidence in the Bible and evidence not in the Bible. In the second category (things not written by Christians), we have almost nothing. There’s some material, but the problem is that it cannot be established as being independent of things we already know were written by or about Christians (such as the canonical Gospels). In the set of evidence written by Christians, there is a subset that material not in the Bible…but again, most of this is irrelevant. Either because it was written too long after the fact to be causally connected by the facts, or because we cannot establish it as independent.

Then, finally, the New Testament.

Non-Christian Writers

I’m already at a thousand words here, and I’m not going to detail each and every writer and piece of evidence. What I am going to say is that, for non-Christian writers, I don’t find the argument that they establish a historical Jesus persuasive. Josephus comments on Jesus are very likely Christian interpolations. Pliny only tells us that he had no idea what Christians were or believed until he interrogated some of them and discovered it was some sort of base superstition involving the worship of a certain ‘Christ’ who was something like a God but he gives no further details about him (not even the name ‘Jesus’), and says nothing pertinent to establishing historical details. This is not independent evidence and therefore worthless.

There’s reason to believe that Tacitus’ mention of “Christ” when describing Neronian persecutions of the 60s is a later fabrication, since it was unknown to people who quoted Tacitus at length and even this very passage until the 4th century. Thallus did not mention Jesus; Julius Africanus mistakenly claimed that he had. Suetonius mentions the expulsion of Jews from Rome following riots of an instigator named Chrestus, and the way he words it makes it impossible to conclude that he meant Jesus, who was neither alive at the time nor ever said to be in Rome under the reign of Claudius.

Non-Biblical Christian writings

Clement’s letter never talks about anything historical about Jesus. It never once places Jesus in history or ever tells any stories about him, never uses his stories as an example for anything, nor ever quotes anything Jesus says in the Gospels. Apart from his death, it never mentions any event in his life, any fact about his life, or anything not narrated in the Gospels. And this despite the fact that this is almost as long as both of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians combined. No information in the letters of Clement lead one to any justified belief in anything about Jesus.

The letters of Ignatius are implausible on the face as being valid history, in terms of questions about actual authorship, the date of authorship, and circumstances of their composition. Ignatius also does not tell us anything that we can show to be independent of the Gospels with one exception; To the Ephesians 19 is a bizarre reference to some Gospel other than the Gospel of Matthew, and thus can count as independent evidence of another Gospel tradition. Unfortunately, this Gospel tradition is peculiar on a historic theory and heavy with mythologic elements that would argue more strongly in favor of a mythic Christ than a historic one.

The less said about Papias the better. I mean, the man said he rejected what books said and instead relied only on hearsay, because he considered that to be more reliable. And yet, apart from the author of Acts, he’s the only Church historian whose writings we still have access to. What I will say is that nothing in Papias supports anything historical about Jesus. It confirms only that in the second century many Christians were relying on the Gospels for their historic knowledge of Jesus and felt at liberty to invent any stories about him that suited them, while some were even claiming to have known someone who knew Jesus to lend authority to whatever they invented about him. This is mentioned as supporting proof that this is no more unexpected in the second century as in the first, and why I will later say about the Gospels what I do.

Hegesiuppus it is the last known attempt at collecting historical data about first-century Christianity that we have from the second century. And what we see, especially in tales about the family of Jesus, is that they are so obviously fictional we cannot place value in them as history.

Acts

The book of Acts is pretty much historical fiction from top to bottom. The author’s brazen fabrications including the use of Josephus to make his story “look like” legitimate history, and his rewriting of facts reported directly by Paul pretty much establish that he is not honestly reporting the facts as he knows them. He is trying to create facts and sell them as the truth. This makes it impossible for us to know if the author had any real historical information or was just trying to sell a load of made-up bullshit. Nothing in Acts is persuasive as historical evidence. My source on this are Richard Parvo’s “The Mystery of Acts” and “Acts, a Commentary”.

The Gospels

Historians and Biblical scholars have attempted to develop some method to “tease out” a historical Jesus from the Gospels (a method invalid for the reasons I mentioned earlier). But if the Gospels are myth and made-up history in the first place, this is even more futile than for the fact that it has an invalid method, since it lies on the assumption that the intent of the Gospel authors is to record a collection of historical facts reported to them.

In other words, if instead the intent of the authors is to construct symbolic myths about Jesus, then we have no reason to expect any of their content to be historical. That would make the arguments of historians and Biblical scholars like Bart Ehrman flawed in both premise and structure. Some information in the Gospels may be historical, but since distinguishing fact from fiction would not have been of primary interest to the Gospels’ authors, we will have little hope of finding clues to such distinctions in the texts themselves. Yes, sometimes we can corroborate evidence to isolate factual elements (such as archaeological confirmation of the existence of Pontius Pilate). But confirming unrelated elements of the Gospels would not confirm their relationship to the historical Jesus. For example, just because there really was a Pontius Pilate did not mean that he crucified Jesus, let alone crucified Jesus at the behest of the Sanhedrin. Just like a novel that has aliens landing on the White House lawn and interacting with Richard Nixon doesn’t make the aliens really having existed and done the things the book describes, just because it mentions a real historical person.

What we have to contend with is that we are limited in our ability to know the historical truth about Jesus based on the Gospels. They are simply not historical records, even when they try to pass themselves off as such. They are literary constructs through and through. That means that I cannot consider anything in the Gospels to be verifiably true about the historical Jesus.

The Epistles

Paul’s whole argument of Galatians 1–2 is that human testimony was distrusted by the Galatians, to the point that he had to deny he ever relied on it, and had to insist instead that he had all his information by direct revelation, and that he didn’t even talk to anyone else in the church for years (he is even forced to swear to this). The snarkiest part of me is inclined to therefore just take Paul at his word. He had no human source for the information he presents about Jesus, and thus any evidence in Paul cannot be shown to be causally connected to the facts, and not count as primary source evidence.

However. If I am arguing a fortiori, I would allow that Paul was lying about this and only this fact. He learned what he knew from an oral tradition that he learned from the chief apostles called the Three Pillars. I said earlier that a causal chain of a manuscript could count as primary source evidence, so I’ll allow that here. What does Paul then say about Jesus?

Paul mentions ‘Jesus’ or ‘Christ’ almost 300 times, and this doesn’t even count when he refers to him as ‘the Lord’ or “Son of God’. But not a single one of these mentions has anything to do with any historical details with three exceptions. Paul is adamant that Jesus was crucified, and that he rose from the dead, and that he appeared afterwards in visions to those he named apostles (indeed, that’s what it meant to BE an apostle: to have a vision of the resurrected Jesus).

Never once is his baptism mentioned, or his ministry, or his trial, or any of his miracles, or any historical details about what he was like, what he did, or suffered, or where he was from, or where he had been, or what people he knew. No memories from those who knew him are ever reported. Paul never mentions Galilee or Nazareth, or Pilate or Mary or Joseph, or any miracles Jesus did or any miraculous powers he is supposed to have displayed . . . or anything about the life of Jesus later found in the Gospels. Paul never references any event in Jesus’ life as an example to follow (beyond the abstractions of love, endurance and submissiveness), and never places anything Jesus said in any earthly historical context whatever. So far as these letters tell us, no Christian ever asked Paul about these things, either. Nor did any of these things ever become relevant in any dispute Paul had with anyone. Not one of his opponents, so far as Paul mentions, ever referenced a fact about Jesus’ life in support of their arguments. And no one ever doubted anything claimed about Jesus and asked for witnesses to confirm it or explain it or give more details.

That’s just bizarre. Now, the sheer bizarreness of the information both in and conspicuously NOT in the Epistles is fodder for another discussion, and there are two elements I’m omitting here for space reasons. But I’ve made my point: the lack of evidence that is both causally connected to, independent of, and not intended primarily to mythologize the historical Jesus leaves us only with what Paul has to say (and even to get that into consideration we have to accept that Paul lied about where he had gotten it). Even having admitted it into consideration, though, the only details that really seem to concern Paul is that Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead.

Conclusion

So. In a long, long, LONG-winded answer to your question…what do I believe about the historical Jesus? I believe that if he existed at all:

1: He probably (but not definitely) lived in 1st century Judea and had followers in life who continued as an identifiable movement after his death.
2: He was killed by crucifixion.
3: His followers worshipped him, either before or after his death, as a living god/demigod.

I’m not arguing mythicism here, but I am willing to entertain that doubt about even the above 3 points is justified, and that there just isn’t enough surviving evidence to let us conclude any relevant detail about his life other than what I identified.

Implications of the Conclusion

Why don’t we have as much evidence for Jesus as we do for Socrates? There are really only five viable explanations, which are not themselves mutually exclusive per se, but some of which are more probable than others:

(1) Jesus was so insignificant and uninfluential that he inspired almost no following whatever and was completely unnoticed by any literate person who composed a factually reliable account of him until and except Paul, (2) massive quantities of documents were either neglected or deliberately destroyed, (3) there was a great natural disruption or dying off in the Church that resulted in accidental loss or abandonment of nearly all the documents there may have been, which would have had to take place across three continents and dozens of cities, (4) the first apostles of Jesus had a massive disinterest in creating a written record during the first century, or (5) there is no historical record because there was no historical person.

You have to pick one or some combination from that list, because there’s no other reasonable alternative to the strange silence of evidence on the life and times of Jesus. Of the first four options, no matter how you pick from them, an inescapable consequence is that we simply cannot claim to know anything about Jesus even remotely approaching how much and how reliably we know about Socrates.

Offline Fury AphrodisiaTopic starter

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #101 on: November 30, 2017, 10:08:46 AM »
One thing I've noticed while I dig through statistics, is that particularly here in Canada, there's a misguided mindset that charitable organizations were initially religious, when the truth is that it's a firmly flawed statement. I was having this conversation with someone the other day, and I feel like I saw a discussion about it on ... John Oliver, I think? Whatever the case, there's a problem with the claim.

Firstly, to claim that we would or would not have particular charitable organizations without religion is untestable - Humans have been creating their own cosmic space wizards since the sun confused them at the dawn of time. You have no control sample by which to test the idea of charity on a large scale with any scientific integrity. There are anecdotal incidences of secluded tribes in remote areas that seem to have no particular gods or religions, but even in those cases creation myths can be found. As far as I'm aware, there is no community without some sort of religious affiliation that does not also show altruistic tendency.

What I do know is that, here in Canada specifically, (As can be found here in an explanation of a survey by Stats Canada between the years of 2007 and 2010), there are significant portions of religious giving - almost overwhelming - that are specifically given to religions, considered a charity on their own. Whether people would call that charitable giving is somewhat dishonest. Firstly, the Abrahamic religions seem to universally "encourage" their membership to donate to the church, to a point where the Christian faith demands a ten-percent tithe. Personally (And I'm aware this is only anecdotal) I know that Christian attendees are taught at length that they are required by god to give ten percent of their gross earnings to the church, not net earnings, which means that they generally and up giving twenty percent or more. As a child, what I earned through businesses I owned myself was automatically docked twenty five percent because that's what god expected. This is extortion, not charitable giving.

A second problem with the concept of religions themselves being considered charitable giving is that the money automatically is filtered back into the church and rarely goes so far as the rest of the community. Church soup kitchens aren't held to equality standard, neither are church-run shelters, church-run legal organizations, church-run housing subsidies, church-run scholarship funds.... I hope I'm making the point. They are not required to help anyone outside of their own faith, meaning that it's specifically excluding large swathes of the population. It gets to the point where a certain fraction of those funds are capable of being used to directly attack other members of the community, such as is the case with the Salvation Army. These people have outright stated that half the people who populate Elliquiy, for example, or my own family will not only not receive benefit of their services, but instead are condemned to burn, should be left to die literally in the streets and are using the funds donated in order to pursue suppression of equality and human rights.

The truth is that there is a dangerous double-standard in the case of these organizations. They aren't required to help anyone outside of their own worldview, leaving them vulnerable not only to punishing those who need help for not holding the right religious attitudes, but can even go so far as being abusive to others on the basis of lack of religious intent. There are situations, however, where they count towards federal counts for things such as shelters (such as shelters for abused women, who have been known to abuse their residents by telling them they weren't pleasing god and therefore had opened themselves up to abuse. This is horrendous for anyone, but ...), soup kitchens and donation organizations such as clothing, food and toy drives.

This means that, at least in Canada, religious organizations count towards the saturation of services. If there's a shelter in a city, the federal government recognizes that as help being offered to that city. If it is a small enough city, that counts towards the total federally mandated necessity and can therefore excuse any lack of external sources of support, since it's already covered. In theory, this is good practice to save the federal government money. The trouble is, they are only starting to balance that with an understanding of what the limitations of those programs are and what the government is legally allowed to demand of them. In effect, Canada cannot demand they help everyone, which means that churches don't have to. Entire cities are at the mercy of the combined villains of the poverty line and expectations demanded from religious affiliation.

In my city, the Catholic church owns four shelters: One men's, two women/childrens, one family. The only other shelter is the Muslim shelter on the border of the neighbouring city. Only in the last year has another shelter, publicly funded, been proposed. In essence, the people who don't believe in birth control, divorce of the woman's right to stand up to her husband are in charge of the shelter for abused women and children. When I was forced to use the shelter, it was common to hear abused women told they had tested god and he had delivered punishment to them by using their husbands to do so.

And the kicker? Most of these shelters, if not all, get federal funding as well because they are serving a purpose as subsidies that the government is technically responsible for.

So, this is just one aspect of why the claim that religions are the leading edge of charitable donations is technically true but honestly flawed. If one is being intellectually honest, they have to admit that there's a really dicey line between what is considered philanthropy and what is religious monetary coersion.

There are accounts of secular organizations comprising larger overall societal benefit, but that's a whole other (long) post when I can gather the significant citations, if someone wishes to directly challenge that.

The point of the article, however, as well as your own point seems to be upheld. Can people who comport themselves like this really be called morally superior, or is it all a method by which they control the lives and minds of those around them? To me, religion is more about tyranny than it is all other factors combined.

Online Remiel

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #102 on: November 30, 2017, 10:20:00 AM »
I have never heard of a church-run soup kitchen or homeless shelter turning away people due to religious faith--or lack thereof.  If you have evidence to the contrary, please cite it.  Yes, these groups have a very particular philosophy, and do try to impress that philosophy on those they profess to help--but I have never heard of one turning people away if, e.g., they aren't Christian.

I guess the closest thing I can think of is Alcoholics Anonymous.  It was a common complaint in some of my support groups that AA's famous twelve-step program is rooted in a belief in God, which is part and parcel of their philosophy, but the fact remains that AA exists to help recovering alcoholics get and stay sober.  In this agnostic's opinion, a small bit of proselytizing is a small price to pay for the time, investment and resources invested in helping recovering alcoholics.

Online Regina Minx

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #103 on: November 30, 2017, 11:12:55 AM »
I have never heard of a church-run soup kitchen or homeless shelter turning away people due to religious faith--or lack thereof.  If you have evidence to the contrary, please cite it.  Yes, these groups have a very particular philosophy, and do try to impress that philosophy on those they profess to help--but I have never heard of one turning people away if, e.g., they aren't Christian.

I guess the closest thing I can think of is Alcoholics Anonymous.  It was a common complaint in some of my support groups that AA's famous twelve-step program is rooted in a belief in God, which is part and parcel of their philosophy, but the fact remains that AA exists to help recovering alcoholics get and stay sober.  In this agnostic's opinion, a small bit of proselytizing is a small price to pay for the time, investment and resources invested in helping recovering alcoholics.

Remiel: I've never heard of any religious charity refusing people because of their religious beliefs.
Catholic Church: HOLD MY BEER!

I know it's not a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. But.

Offline Fury AphrodisiaTopic starter

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #104 on: November 30, 2017, 11:17:24 AM »
If they are a private shelter, receiving no government funding and not a necessary part of the public good, then yes. Proselytizing is within your perogative. If, however, you're going to turn down people that need help, and you're receiving federal funding? That's another thing altogether.

https://thinkprogress.org/salvation-army-refuses-housing-shelter-to-transgender-woman-2660c79b4cd4/
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/carey-fuller/homeless-shelter-parents_b_1035952.html
https://spu.edu/events/tent-city/documents/Bass_FaithbasedResponsestoHomlessness.pdf
https://www.jstor.org/stable/40969097?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/zinnia-jones/the-salvation-armys-histo_b_4422938.html
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/progressivesecularhumanist/2016/12/salvation-army-anti-gay-christian-church-not-worthy-support/
https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/The_Salvation_Army
https://mic.com/articles/104530/this-homeless-shelter-s-disturbing-policy-shows-the-problem-with-faith-based-charities#.HHeMguEuZ
http://blogs.law.columbia.edu/publicrightsprivateconscience/2016/10/03/federally-funded-homeless-shelters-cannot-use-religion-as-a-reason-to-deny-equal-access-to-transgender-people/

Aside from these, there is anecdotal evidence in an insane deluge. If you think incidents of homeless rape, murder and theft are underreported...

St. Vincent's Kitchen in downtown Oshawa, Ontario has a known history of rebuking and turning away those who have proven to have a history of "Homosexual behaviour", lack of faith-based adherence. Three Muslim shelters in Toronto - Men's, women's and familys' - will offer reduced services to those who are not Muslim. It's a way of getting around federal mandate outlawing the complete denial of services for any federally-funded institution. The YWCA shelter here in town will include faith indications in their entry paperwork. It is common knowledge in the community that needs to use shelters that going to anything with a Catholic base is automatically pointless. Not a single person who has ever applied and professed a disbelief in religious standard has been admitted.

Of course, they won't ever SAY that's the reason, but the blanket statements of things like "We don't feel they would suit our atmosphere needs" is just a cop out.

And to be clear, there  are plenty of ways that these shelters can discriminate without flat-out turning applicants away. Providing extra food and provisions strictly during religious services to attendees, having requirements for stays that include attendance of religious ceremonies and services, having applicants sign pledges that will effectively guilt them into indebting themselves to a church in order to receive shelter services are all ways that undue pressure and discrimination can be applied. Essentially saying "You don't have to BE Christian, but you have to ACT Christian to get any of these federally-funded meals" is discriminatory in and of themselves.

And if you happen to be a same-sex couple, good luck getting a religious shelter to allow both of you to stay in the same shelter at the same time. In fact, myself having been in a women's shelter with my at-the-time girlfriend was told that either she or I would have to settle for the streets, since they could not "in good Christian conscience" allow me to sleep in the same room as she (and presumably though not stated, other good Christian women) was sleeping.

Essentially, there are a myriad of ways and a myriad of stories in which religious discrimination can be present in order to obtain shelter in federally-funded, private religious institutions. This is particularly egregious in places where there is no secular equivalent. I resent that a place that denied me shelter was paid for with the tax dollars that -I- am required by law to provide the government. If they are left to be the only option, they cannot be allowed to demand that participants in their programs undergo any sort of ritualistic faith expression in order to benefit from support.

But, I guess not paying taxes would allow me to take part in the only truly secular shelter institution consistent throughout the nation. Prison. :/

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #105 on: November 30, 2017, 11:23:23 AM »
Basically, claiming that religion is the primary supplier of charitable works has to be able to stand up to scrutiny. Since what they do cannot even stand up to the scrutiny of the word "Charity", this immediately becomes suspect. If it cannot defend itself from the concept of coersion, if it only or largely benefits those who are members of their own faith community, if the charity is demanded and coerced from followers on the basis of manipulating their concept of eternal soul, what you have is a tyrannical societal structure demanding their own people pay them, then turning some of those funds towards helping "Good _________ (Christian/Muslim/Spaghetti Monster) people only/first!" with the intent to later turn around and point to those works as allowing them to corner the market on charity, meanwhile claiming that it is because of religion when a control sample cannot, by nature, be found on the planet is a weakly-founded argument at best. There is absolutely no evidence to maintain that religion is the reason for it, or that these so-called charities are actually altruistic in core nature.

Online Remiel

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #106 on: November 30, 2017, 12:29:16 PM »
@Fury Aphrodisia:

Well, I stand corrected, I guess...

However, I feel obligated to point out a small but critical nuance:

Quote from: Scott Bixby
According to the charity's website, City Union Mission serves "single women, married couples, single parents and relatives caring for children younger than 18." Since same-sex marriage is currently legal in Jackson County, that would appear to extend to gay couples. However, since the charity doesn't receive government funding, it's not legally obligated to comply with anti-discrimination statutes (not that gays are legally protected from discrimination in either Missouri or Kansas).

Emphasis mine.  That, I feel, is very important.  If the charity receives government funding of any kind, including tax-exempt status, then yes, absolutely, it should not discriminate.  However, if it is funded "completely on support from individuals, businesses, foundations, organizations and churches", as its mission statement claims, I have a harder time attacking it for discriminatory policies.

Let's run a thought experiment.  Let's say that I decided to hand out cups of soup to the homeless people on my street.  No one was obligating me to do so, and I did it entirely of my own expense and of my own free will.  But let's say that I was only handing out cups of soup to white people.

Should I not be allowed to hand out cups of soup?  What about the people who benefited from my charity?  If you force me to desist, are you not depriving those people?

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #107 on: November 30, 2017, 01:30:30 PM »
As someone religious those statistics stun me. Help should be offered to all regardless. The only reason anyone should be turned away at a shelter is if they begin threatening other people there. Anything else is counterintuitive to what those places should do.

I hate seeing people use my faith as a reason to treat others like garbage. Its not right. It turns an offer of mercy and love into a mockery of those values.

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #108 on: December 01, 2017, 12:48:32 AM »
@Fury Aphrodisia:

Well, I stand corrected, I guess...

However, I feel obligated to point out a small but critical nuance:

Emphasis mine.  That, I feel, is very important.  If the charity receives government funding of any kind, including tax-exempt status, then yes, absolutely, it should not discriminate.  However, if it is funded "completely on support from individuals, businesses, foundations, organizations and churches", as its mission statement claims, I have a harder time attacking it for discriminatory policies.

Let's run a thought experiment.  Let's say that I decided to hand out cups of soup to the homeless people on my street.  No one was obligating me to do so, and I did it entirely of my own expense and of my own free will.  But let's say that I was only handing out cups of soup to white people.

Should I not be allowed to hand out cups of soup?  What about the people who benefited from my charity?  If you force me to desist, are you not depriving those people?


I think I'm getting a bit semantic here, so I'm hoping I can make myself concise for the purposes of the discussion. To that end...

1. I was not intending to insinuate that any of the shelters in particular in that mess of information was federally funded. However, I was trying to respond to the charge that you had not heard of shelters turning people away or rejecting services based on religious ideals. It was to the request of citation that I was responding and I'm sorry if that got convoluted with my last point. I was merely trying to establish that it happens, from which point conversation on the finer details could proceed.

2. You're absolutely in the right with your example. If you were to choose not to receive any sort of government funding and choose who you help based on your own criteria, then yes, you are perfectly within your rights to deny services to whomever you wish, of course. However, my problem comes in the following heavily-paraphrased fictitious conversation meant to illustrate the point.

Government: "OH! I see you have a system here for feeding people and giving them coats. Nicely done! Looks like you don't need my help."
Church: "Nope, we've got it covered!"
Government: "Okay, see you at tax time when you'll get another tax break to keep doing your work!"
Community: "But... we have people of colour here starving and freezing. We need help!"
Government: "Right, well.... you already have someone there taking care of that."
Community: "Okay, but only some people, they're denying the rest of us."
Government: "Alright, well, when we come back around later, you're perfectly free to use our resources to file a complaint about their resources we can't touch and use the legal system that cannot touch them to try to get them to do what you want them to do."
Community: "How do I do that?"
Government: "Ask the church."
Community: ....................

See, aside from the argument about whether tax cuts can be considered funding (That's highly subjective and will get us nowhere), the only method by which the citizenship here can pursue more resources is to prove that we're under-served. If the shelter is being sneaky or underhanded in any fashion in reporting their criterion, the government will not allow multiple repeals and will not entertain direct conversation about the subject, presumably due to some efficiency protocol? Hard to tell, since we don't get any information on the subject, merely informed when the appeal is resolved.

We do have the ability to go through a lengthly process to force a full investigation. All it requires is that a significant number of homeless and other shelter-service recipients in various stages of the transient community find the money, time and energy, not to mention money and other resources, to pursue legal representation that will file a class-action lawsuit against the government based on the lack of services. They are then responsible for proving that individuals running the shelter hold to some undisclosed criterion for bestowing or withholding service for people in need. Once that has been established, you are at the mercy of fate in regards to the fact that they may not be federally funded and may simply benefit from the typical religious institution tax benefits. IF you can prove they have a discriminatory bias based on religious belief and religious requirements, if you can prove they're federally funded, you can force them to change policy. If you cannot prove the latter but can for the former, you can force the government to begin the process of project bidding for management of a shelter or (as is more likely) a community center that can double as a shelter, provided a community center similar to the proposal isn't in place already nearby.

If you cannot prove either, the class action is dismissed and you have to start all over again.

Now, I don't know about anyone else, but when I was in the system, speaking up in any fashion against the leadership of a shelter could have you dismissed from that shelter with no notice whatsoever and anything that you failed to bring with you on the way out was forfeit. That sort of fear can wreak havoc in a city that drops below 0 degrees Celsius habitually for eight months of the year. Most people wouldn't be willing to put their health and safety on the line for the chance to film, record or otherwise procure a confession of that sort, leaving it up to those who are employed there or don't have anything to loose. The only people with the access to accomplish that means you're looking at an employee and I know at least one of the links I provided there (If it can't be found, I've got one here) shows that the group is fully capable of hiring in only those who are already present in their community, thereby severely undermining any inclination an employee might have to turn on the shelter or parent organization at large. Essentially, it means that if an employee did blow the whistle, they're giving up not only their job, but standing in their religious community as well.

So, we're talking overall about a process that can take decades to even find out if you're successful or not. And that's if you can even get it off the ground. In the meantime, that shelter is being allowed to function in the capacity of providing help for the homeless as the only real option in the area, providing a religious chokehold on the local populace.

Once again, I reiterate my point that this is not necessarily altruism and seems more like feigned philanthropy for the purposes of influencing greater control later on down the line. In essence, it would call into question the legitimacy of claiming that religions are responsible for providing those services as it's not necessarily for the good of the community and they aren't the only ones who show systematic altruism. A more globally defined altruism can often be found in secular institutions.

Online Remiel

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #109 on: December 01, 2017, 07:06:45 AM »
Fair enough.  :-)

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #110 on: December 01, 2017, 07:11:21 AM »
As to the initial loint of your post, though, I agree. There's a bit of a philosophical paradox in self-recognizing as a moral leader. Somewhat like self-recognizing as the best for leadership.