New Year, New Unpopular Opinions

 

shutterstock_61371553It’s been awhile since we’ve heard what wrong opinions we each have, so I figured we should get down to it… you know, to start the New Year off with a bang. I’ll go first:

The United States of America Is Not, Strictly Speaking, a Christian Nation

At least, its government wasn’t founded as such, and that’s even more true today than it was then. Our federal government has no official religion, is prohibited from forming one, requiring that you participate in one, or — notably — asking you to reject one.

That begs the question then: if the US is not a Christian nation, what is it? It is a nation founded by an overwhelmingly Christian-majority people, who remain majority Christian, and that permits some ceremonial Deism within its operations. The difference between being a “Christian Nation” and the reality of the United States is a fine, but relevant one. There is a difference between a nation and its government, a fact many Christians rightly point out repeatedly when leftists are in power.

The words “Under God” Should be Excised from the Pledge of Allegiance.

These words were only shoehorned-in under Eisenhower due to the Red Scare, and it’s high time they were stricken from from the Pledge.

I know what I am pledging allegiance to when I say those words: the Constitution of United States of America, its people and its principles. Why is that insufficient? If you say, “one of our principles is gratitude towards and recognition of the almighty,” I would point you the argument in favor of the first unpopular opinion I offered in this post.

It would be a mark of Christian humility, confidence in the strength of their witness, and their commitment to the principle of subsidiarity to accept — indeed, to champion — the removal of those words. If the Christian story is so compelling, and the truth of their claims so obvious, there should be no need to have their beliefs impressed upon people within the Flag Code.

Do I think anybody is being harmed as many atheists allege? I do not; at least, not the people you might think. I’m a big boy and not worried about semantic infiltration, but I also think that disentangling faith from the fell influence of the government would benefit religion (and the religious) in this nation greatly.

Perhaps, we could insert an overt oath of loyalty to the Constitution in place of “Under God” in an effort to clarify and make the Pledge more euphonious.

It would also have the pleasant side effect of skewering the Left on the horns of a dilemma.

The Tax Code Should Recognize No Difference Between Businesses and “Non-Profits.”

I am making no comment here regarding what state tax policies should be (especially with regard to property taxes). This should be done, of course, in combination with drastic reductions in the corporate tax rate and reasonable allowances (a standard deduction, if you will) for small organizations to maintain working capital and to make improvements to their facilities. There are a lot of reasons for this.

The term “non-profit” should indicate that the federal tax liability of such organizations ought to be zero to begin with, being as the government only taxes such organizations on the basis of profit (revenues minus expenses). As a result of this insane policy, much mischief is done in the name of “not-profiting.” (Sure, some people who work for non-profits seem to be doing an awful lot of profiting, but their salaries are subject to individual income and payroll taxes.)

Enough, I say.

Worthy charities will survive this minor inconvenience without substantial trauma because of their frugal and honest operation while behemoth skimming operations (like the United Way or the Church of Scientology) will likely dry up … or at least have to pay up.

It’s Entirely Possible Your Congressional Representative Is an Unbeliever.

Let’s face it: congressional representation isn’t exactly reflective of the demography of the population at large. The congressional delegation is overwhelmingly more male, whiter, and older than the average citizen. There are other ways in which this cohort is exceptional.

The average congressman is has also attained a much higher level of educational achievement than the average American, and not just in fluffy degrees. There are 213 holders of juris doctorates (lawyers; surprise!), 25 medical doctors, and a staggering 64% of Representatives overall hold graduate degrees (74% for senators.) I think it’s safe to say that the job of “congressman” tends to select for reasonably high levels of intelligence and achievement among the pool of possible candidates.

Another statistical anomaly is the fact that there is only a single Representative (Kyrsten Sinema, D-AZ) out of 535 members of Congress who admits to being religiously unaffiliated.

If Congress were reflective of the population at large, one would expect there to be about 37 agnostics/atheists among the 535 members of Congress (About seven % of Americans are either agnostic or atheists.)

Is it curious that out of all of 535 Congress Members, only one openly admits to being religiously unaffiliated? Well, it would be curious if you were to discount the fact that 53 percent of Americans say they wouldn’t elect an atheist president. One could reasonably deduce from this statistic that the population’s distrust of Atheists/unbelievers as a representative would be roughly equivalent to be their dislike of the idea of an atheist president.

So, why is it possible — perhaps, likely — that your representative is an atheist?

Unless there is some sort of very perverse self-selection going on, you’d just expect as a function of statistics for there to be some there. Militating against this theory is the average age of congress, as older Americans tend to be more religious.

What points are in favor of the theory? This study correlating measures of intelligence (using college entrance exams, GPAs, etc.) with acceptance of atheism. Congress is peopled by members who are — on average — considerably older and more intelligent than the average American. Given the tension between these facts it would come as no shock to think that there is a sizable cohort of closeted atheists/unbelievers/deists in the ranks of our representatives. It’s even possible that that proportion is higher than their relative representation in the population.

Let’s hear some other unpopular opinions for the New Year!

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  1. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    Majestyk: Perhaps, we could insert an overt oath of loyalty to the Constitution in place of “Under God” in an effort to clarify and make the Pledge more euphonious.

    That would be a great improvement, though I’d wager that the Pledge needs even more work than that to actually have a decent flow.

    • #1
  2. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Majestyk: The words “Under God” Should be Excised from the Pledge of Allegiance.

    No, but I wouldn’t mind seeing the Pledge of Allegiance being excised as loyalty oaths rub me the wrong way.

    • #2
  3. BThompson Inactive
    BThompson
    @BThompson

    Of course Christians believe that including the words “under God” is precisely an act of Christian humility, reminding us that our nation’s greatness and the ideals it upholds are ultimately gifts from God, not the creation of men.

    • #3
  4. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    Frank Soto:

    Majestyk: The words “Under God” Should be Excised from the Pledge of Allegiance.

    No, but I wouldn’t mind seeing the Pledge of Allegiance being excised as loyalty oaths rubs me the wrong way.

    You didn’t like Trump’s signing of the Loyalty Pledge?

    I have to confess, I like knowing where people stand.  If they’re unwilling to say these words for some reason it gives you a decent indication of where it is they stand.

    • #4
  5. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    BThompson:Of course, Christians believe that including the words “under God” is precisely an act of Christian humility, reminding is that our nations greatness and the ideals it upholds are ultimately gifts from God, not the creation of men.

    Would you concede that some of us don’t swear oaths of loyalty to God (or gods, for that matter) but can still believe in the principles of the Constitution and are quite happy to declare allegiance to them?

    • #5
  6. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    Majestyk: It’s Entirely Possible Your Congressional Representative Is an Unbeliever.

    I’m quoting this header as I’m responding to this portion of your post with my own unpopular opinion: social “science” studies are essentially nonsense and mostly are generated by people who want to prove their point of view is somehow superior (cf. phrenology).

    Specifically I wonder about this study:

    Majestyk: What points are in favor of the theory? This study correlating measures of intelligence (using college entrance exams, GPAs, etc.) with acceptance of atheism. Congress is peopled by members who are — on average — considerably older and more intelligent than the average American. Given the tension between these facts it would come as no shock to think that there is a sizable cohort of closeted atheists/unbelievers/deists in the ranks of our representatives. It’s even possible that that proportion is higher than their relative representation in the population.

    How does the average believer stack against the average religiously devout Jew? Does this mean it’s entirely possible my representative is secretly Jewish?

    • #6
  7. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    I am happy that Dentist guy shot Cecil.

    • #7
  8. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Majestyk:

    Frank Soto:

    Majestyk: The words “Under God” Should be Excised from the Pledge of Allegiance.

    No, but I wouldn’t mind seeing the Pledge of Allegiance being excised as loyalty oaths rubs me the wrong way.

    You didn’t like Trump’s signing of the Loyalty Pledge?

    Trump’s word is his bond…

    I have to confess, I like knowing where people stand. If they’re unwilling to say these words for some reason it gives you a decent indication of where it is they stand.

    You’re not the boss of me!

    • #8
  9. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Majestyk: Is it curious that out of all of 535 Congress Members, only one openly admits to being religiously unaffiliated?

    Would the answer to why this is so be that, even though there is no religious test for holding office, to acknowledge publicly not being religious has never been a wise move in an election campaign in the U.S.  So candidates for federal office who are not believers wisely choose not to talk about it.

    Why are those candidates and elected officials who promote their belief and support for the ideas embodied in our U.S. Constitution vilified for that?  I see this behavior in the media and in the Establishment component of both political parties. Anyone think I’m seeing something that’s not there? Where not vilified actively, interest in the Constitution and its meaning and role in the everyday life of Americans is ignored, for example, in education. This, while we have elected officials take an oath to support the ideas contained in a document that most Americans won’t pay any attention to whether that oath is honored or not and the elected official will not think about again while serving.

    • #9
  10. Sowell for President Member
    Sowell for President
    @

    Excising the government schools that require the Pledge would be a better idea.  Let mothers and fathers in their local communities decide the content of their children’s education.

    • #10
  11. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    You’ll be doing a lot more scrubbing other than the Pledge if you actually believe that our country was not founded on religious liberty. Our government protects the rights of all – not just Judaeo-Christian beliefs, but the founders of our country and the writers of our Constitution didn’t just pull ideas out of the air and put them together. There is a belief system behind it and you would be hard pressed to NOT find references to God or Jesus Christ in many of the papers of our early presidents and military leaders. That’s why they are engraved in stone everywhere.  You can say what you want and believe what you want, but you can’t rewrite history.

    http://providencefoundation.com/?page_id=1962

    • #11
  12. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    Austin Murrey:

    Majestyk: It’s Entirely Possible Your Congressional Representative Is an Unbeliever.

    I’m quoting this header as I’m responding to this portion of your post with my own unpopular opinion: social “science” studies are essentially nonsense and mostly are generated by people who want to prove their point of view is somehow superior (cf. phrenology).

    Specifically I wonder about this study:

    Majestyk: What points are in favor of the theory? This study correlating measures of intelligence (using college entrance exams, GPAs, etc.) with acceptance of atheism. Congress is peopled by members who are — on average — considerably older and more intelligent than the average American. Given the tension between these facts it would come as no shock to think that there is a sizable cohort of closeted atheists/unbelievers/deists in the ranks of our representatives. It’s even possible that that proportion is higher than their relative representation in the population.

    How does the average believer stack against the average religiously devout Jew? Does this mean it’s entirely possible my representative is secretly Jewish?

    I think there is a serious question involved here regarding Ashkenazi Jewish intelligence.  So, to answer your question directly: Not very well, I would guess.

    However, I think that this is offset by the extraordinary contributions to Atheism of the Jewish community.  One cannot think of Atheism without considering Baruch Spinoza, for instance.

    The incidence of atheism among the culturally Jewish is quite high, with only approximately half of Jews practicing their religion.  This is a considerably higher rate than that of the average American citizen.

    • #12
  13. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    I can’t think of my own unpopular opinions to contribute to this post. I’m too busy formulating responses to yours! ;-)

    • #13
  14. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Majestyk: The incidence of atheism among the culturally Jewish is quite high, with only approximately half of Jews practicing their religion. This is a considerably higher rate than that of the average American citizen.

    Yes, and they’re almost uniformly leftists.

    • #14
  15. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    Front Seat Cat:You’ll be doing a lot more scrubbing other than the Pledge if you actually believe that our country was not founded on religious liberty. Our government protects the rights of all – not just Judaeo-Christian beliefs, but the founders of our country and the writers of our Constitution didn’t just pull ideas out of the air and put them together. There is a belief system behind it and you would be hard pressed to NOT find references to God or Jesus Christ in many of the papers of our early presidents and military leaders. That’s why they are engraved in stone everywhere. You can say what you want and believe what you want, but you can’t rewrite history.

    http://providencefoundation.com/?page_id=1962

    This is the difference in my opinion between “ceremonial deism” and explicit invocations of Judeo-Christian theology.

    It seems reasonable to not include, say, the Ten Commandments on a courthouse wall, as that implies that people there are going to be tested by the laws of God and not the laws of men, and that people who do not subscribe to God’s laws explicitly are not going to receive a fair shake.

    Compare with “In God We Trust” on the currency.  E Pluribus Unum I think is the more important concept, but I accept the former as a matter of ceremony.

    “Under God” is a relatively recent addition.  How did we survive before its advent?  Quite well, I should think.

    • #15
  16. livingthehighlife Inactive
    livingthehighlife
    @livingthehighlife

    Henry Castaigne:I am happy that Dentist guy shot Cecil.

    download

    • #16
  17. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    Western Chauvinist:I can’t think of my own unpopular opinions to contribute to this post. I’m too busy formulating responses to yours! ;-)

    Unpopularity is a fickle thing!  You have to try harder if you seek to be as unpopular as I am. ;)

    • #17
  18. PsychLynne Inactive
    PsychLynne
    @PsychLynne

    The Tax Code Should Recognize No Difference Between Businesses and “Non-Profits.”

    I work for a large non-profit, and when people go on and on about how non-profits are driven by committment, altruism, etc. as opposed to evil for-profit businesses.  I usually make one statement (wide-eyed, and devoid of snark)

    Non-profit status is a tax classification, not a moral one.

    • #18
  19. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    PsychLynne:The Tax Code Should Recognize No Difference Between Businesses and “Non-Profits.”

    I work for a large non-profit, and when people go on and on about how non-profits are driven by committment, altruism, etc. as opposed to evil for-profit businesses. I usually make one statement (wide-eyed, and devoid of snark)

    Non-profit status is a tax classification, not a moral one.

    Precisely.  “Non-Profit” does not equate to “God’s Work.”  It sounds to me like it’s more often than not a fig-leaf or the Devil’s playpen.

    • #19
  20. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    PsychLynne: I work for a large non-profit, and when people go on and on about how non-profits are driven by committment, altruism, etc. as opposed to evil for-profit businesses. I usually make one statement (wide-eyed, and devoid of snark) Non-profit status is a tax classification, not a moral one.

    One of the reasons some charities spend so much on salaries? That money has to go somewhere otherwise profit might exist!

    Just look at College Board, who administers the SAT as a nonprofit.

    • #20
  21. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    livingthehighlife:

    Henry Castaigne:I am happy that Dentist guy shot Cecil.

    download

    Now we’re getting somewhere.

    • #21
  22. Quake Voter Inactive
    Quake Voter
    @QuakeVoter

    Less problem with removing “under God” — worst white guy clapping on the downbeat insertion in American poetry — than with using the term “Red Scare.”  We don’t use phrases like Fascist Fright, Jihadi Jitters or Hitler Hysteria.  Phrase should  go on the ash heap of history with its communist coiners.

    • #22
  23. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    Quake Voter:Less problem with removing “under God” — worst white guy clapping on the downbeat insertion in American poetry — than with using the term “Red Scare.” We don’t use phrases like Fascist Fright, Jihadi Jitters or Hitler Hysteria. Phrase should go on the ash heap of history with its communist coiners.

    Oh, I certainly don’t dispute that there were communists (Alger Hiss was a communist, and a spy) but that doesn’t mean that every thing undertaken in the name of protecting us from Commies was right as rain either.  “Duck and Cover” for instance could have just as easily gone as “kiss your tail goodbye.”

    • #23
  24. Arizona Patriot Member
    Arizona Patriot
    @ArizonaPatriot

    If I remember correctly, at least some of the founders believed that the “oath or affirmation” requirement in the Constitution was intended to ban athiests from public office.  The original understanding of the Free Exercise and Establishment clauses was to allow freedom among Protestant sects.  This doesn’t make these positions right or wrong, but I think that these are the operative historical facts.

    While “under God” wasn’t added to the Pledge until 1954, this was hardly the first reference to God in official US government policy.  The Declaration identifies God (the “Creator” with a capital C) as the source of both individual rights and the authority of the colonies to establish their independence.  Indeed, the Declaration says that this is “self-evident.”

    “In God we Trust” has appeared on coinage since the Civil War, and probably traces to one of the lines in the Star-Spangled Banner.

    I submit that, historically, the US was initially a Christian nation committed to the ideal that the various Protestant Christian denominations and sects should be outside of government control.  I think that this principle has been extended successfully to Catholics and Jews.

    It is not at all clear that the ideals of America would survive further decline in religiousity.  They might, but we don’t have sufficient data to reach a confident conclusion.  The voting record of athiests does not give reason for optimism, as they are overwhelmingly leftist.

    • #24
  25. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    I was amused to see this morning that the majority of intelligent atheistic Icelanders believe in elves.

    I’d reckon that many similarly-“intelligent” people have read horoscopes.

    • #25
  26. Autistic License Thatcher
    Autistic License
    @AutisticLicense

    Reluctantly agreed that Christianity, and even deism, should not be required in the Pledge.

    There’s no elegant way of incorporating commitment to the Constitution in the Pledge, and I doubt it would do much good since many leftists mouth a devotion to a “living” Constitution, a kind of blank check written on parchment.

    I do believe that a significant portion of our representatives are agnostic, not from thought or conviction, but from an ingrained habit of following their own convenience.  Still, I will likely be more apt to vote for a religious person, if I believe them sincere, because they’re more likely to govern their behavior from some principle beyond convenience, or the worship of government.

    As for the superior intelligence of atheists, it’s a conceit they’ve had for a number of years, but I have little faith in it, so to speak.

    • #26
  27. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    Arizona Patriot:If I remember correctly, at least some of the founders believed that the “oath or affirmation” requirement in the Constitution was intended to ban athiests from public office. The original understanding of the Free Exercise and Establishment clauses was to allow freedom among Protestant sects. This doesn’t make these positions right or wrong, but I think that these are the operative historical facts.

    Could I get a reference on that?  That would be fascinating.  After all, it was Thomas Jefferson who cut all of the mysticism out of his Bible, was it not?  Seems odd that TJ would then go on to inhabit the highest office in the land if that were the intent.

    It is not at all clear that the ideals of America would survive further decline in religiousity. They might, but we don’t have sufficient data to reach a confident conclusion. The voting record of athiests does not give reason for optimism, as they are overwhelmingly leftist.

    Well, I do think that the atheism espoused by so many of those on the left is partially tactical.  It signals overt hostility to Christianity which appeals to their constituents.

    I think that the voting record of Atheists (if they were politically free to admit to being such) would be much more amenable to your views if they could be known.

    • #27
  28. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    If “Under God” should be excised from The Pledge, should The Holy Bible be excised from the President’s swearing in?

    And why haven’t the “separation of church and state” crowd tackled this yet?

    • #28
  29. Quake Voter Inactive
    Quake Voter
    @QuakeVoter

    I’d be willing to leave Planned Parenthood out of budget discussions for a few years provided they change their name permanently to “Planned Feticide and Organ Shop”.

    Super post and great timing.

    • #29
  30. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Majestyk: “Duck and Cover” for instance could have just as easily gone as “kiss your tail goodbye.”

    Duck and Cover makes sense- when you see an unexplained bright flash, protect yourself.  Would have saved a lot of Russians from some significant injuries [looking  out windows when the blast wave arrived and broke the glass] during the meteorite attack on Russia last year.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chelyabinsk_meteor

    • #30

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