This Non-Religious Life Episode 54: Answering Viewer Feedback!

This Non-Religious Life Episode 54: Answering Viewer Feedback!


This week we want to address some thought provoking, if not very long, comments from a viewer, Jimtrublue99 on our Episode 52. I will outline the discussion here in the blog with his questions and our general answers to them. Check out the show for more details as to our thoughts.

If you disapprove of the Confederate flag as a historical artifact, shouldn’t you also disapprove of the Stars and Stripes (at least of versions prior to 1868 when the 14th amendment was ratified)? The American flag of say 1857 was the flag of a nation that legally protected slavery, defined slaves as three-fifths of a person, excluded slaves from citizenship, and excluded even free blacks from voting, juries, and public offices in every state except Massachusetts. In social policy the Confederacy of 1861 was identical to all of America in 1857. The southern states claimed nothing for themselves other than what had been in the Constitution from its beginning and sought to retain both what the Founding Fathers had deliberately placed in the Constitution and what the Supreme Court had reaffirmed as late as 1857 in Scott vs Sandford (the Dred Scott decision). Shouldn’t you be consistent and also object to the Stars and Stripes because of its history?

First off, I don’t think we ever said it isn’t an historical artifact. What we did say was that appealing to historicity in order to get your way is disingenuous. Second, is the American Flag of those eras immediately recognizable as representing such atrocities? Plainly, no. Beyond that, the “Confederate Flag” is not the flag of the Confederated States of America, it is the battle flag of the Confederacy. It is representative of what they were fighting for, in short overturning the congressional ban on the importation of slaves from Africa because they saw it as impossible to compete with the rapidly industrializing north.

Inspiration simply means that God reveals himself through the texts of the Bible. No, textual criticism doesn’t challenge inspiration at all. How could it? God continually reveals himself through the Holy Spirit as a person encounters God through scripture, which is a vehicle God uses to reveal Himself, not the revelation itself. Scripture isn’t an end; it is a means.

Now what you are getting into is Midrash exegesis, which strictly speaking, is heterodox (especially in sensus literalis circles). Textual criticism reveals motive, context, and redaction. The story we obtain from textual criticism makes inspiration moot.

Why can’t citizens place the Ten Commandments in public buildings? Prior to the 1940s, it was perfectly permissible to do so. Beginning only in the 1940s did the Supreme Court use a concoction called the doctrine of incorporation to manipulate the meaning of the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th amendment and twisted them into devices by which the court applied the first amendment to the states (which until then had applied only to the federal government)? How can you possibly claim that the Constitution requires states and localities to purge religion from their public venues when no federal court prior to 1940 had ever ruled that it does and when the founders themselves expressly limited the 1st amendment to Congress, not the states? Your idea of an all-encompassing “separation of church and state” is an invention of the mid-20th imposed on the citizens of this country without their consent. It is a fundamental alteration in the historical meaning and application of the Constitution that was effected not by the democratic, constitutional mechanism of amendment and ratification by the states but by arbitrary judicial fiat. That’s the definition of tyranny. Do you support judicial tyranny?

Localities and States only have rights which are not delegated to, or outlined by, Congress (Tenth Amendment). The First Amendment is a foundational piece of legislation outlining what can and cannot be done with regards to free speech and expression and making it clear that Congress cannot obstruct these rights. Now, as Congress cannot do such a thing, neither can localities of the States. States and localities can only pass laws regarding civil liberties which increase the liberties of the people, not reduce them. Establishing or endorsing a particular religion within a municipality or State would thus impose religious tyranny on citizens which are not congregants of that particular denomination. As for the 1940s, not sure about the historical validity of that statement but even if it is true, it is a complete red herring. Loads of things were legal or at least overlooked until much later. There are a great number of reasons why this might be the case: a more pluralistic society, the rise of popular political activism or simply a first case being brought to court. Either way, this isn’t judicial tyranny it is exactly how the checks and balances of our system are supposed to work, the Judicial Branch interprets the laws as passed by the Legislature and approved by the Executive. As for the historical revisionism about how church state separation is something new, I suggest reading any of the letters of Jefferson, in particular to the Danbury Baptists or to John Adams.

Your Irish history is defective. Ireland was dominated by England circa 1175. At the time both were Catholic countries. The Irish/English conflict originates then and is obviously NOT religious. By the 16th century a now Protestant England was imposing an essentially colonial policy in Ireland that included settling English and Scot migrants in Ireland thus displacing the Irish from their lands and also included a brutal political repression of the native Irish. Remember Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal”? Political opposition polarized into Catholic Irish seeking independence and Protestant Irish collaborating with the English. This was a political division, not religious. No religious doctrine or affiliation was in dispute; the Irish were fighting for national liberty and not a religious war. The conflict was (and remains) political and nationalist. Consult a history of Ireland.

First off, this was a half joke. I say half because it rings of truth. The Catholic Southern Irish in Belfast weren’t killing Catholic Northern Irish. The bulk of civilian violence was directed against Protestants or Catholics from the other. When you talk about the UK, religion is political. After Henry VIII proclaimed himself supreme head of the Church of England he, in essence, outlawed Catholicism. While Catholicism isn’t outlawed today many Catholic Irish take offense to the idea of the Queen, not the Pope, as being Christ’s Vicar on Earth. So yes, doctrine is in dispute. Also, Swift’s work is that of satire.

How does your book differ from R. E. Friedman‘s “The Bible with Sources Revealed?”

From what I know about Friedman, our take is similar with the exception of chronology. I believe he falls into the camp with Yehezkel Kaufmann in dating the Priestly Source to the time of Hezekiah while I accept what most scholars agree upon as it being a post-exilic creation based on loaned vocabulary and myths alongside certain religious assumptions. Also, his work is one of his own translation, something I considered but ultimately decided against in favour of the more familiar KJV text with references to the LXX and Codex Leningradensis texts in the footnotes.

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About author

Jason Bayless

Jason Bayless is a life-long activist and is currently working at The Pachamama Alliance. When he is not working he spends, working with Center for Farmworker Families and spending his time recording shows, writing blogs, collecting 3D movies, and playing VR games.

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