How the propaganda works

The LA Times reports that Mississippi’s Attorney General has put a halt to gay marriage in that state in spite of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling legalizing gay marriage. This is no surprise. Everyone knew that the high Court’s decision wouldn’t come down without some resistance. A similar thing is happening in Texas right now as well.

But it’s important to note that the AG’s effort is not going to work. At least not permanently. At best, this is a delaying tactic. Gay marriage will go forward in Mississippi just like it will in every other state of the union.

The story itself, however, is not really why I am drawing attention to it here. The eye-popping part was the slanted way that the LA Times chose to analyze what was happening in Mississippi. Here’s the explanation:

To understand Mississippi’s resistance to gay marriage, it helps to look at its legacy as a deeply religious and conservative state. This is where three civil rights workers were killed by the Ku Klux Klan in the 1960s; where James Meredith became the first black student to enroll in Ole Miss, but only after a violent confrontation; and where the Confederate symbol is still part of the official state flag.

It is where 59% of residents described themselves as “very religious” in a 2014 Gallup Poll, higher than any other state, and where 86% of voters in 2004 approved a ban on same-sex marriage.

Did you catch that? If you want to understand why so many Mississippians oppose gay marriage, alls you gotta do is remember how Christian they are down there. And what evidence does this report adduce to demonstrate this deep religiosity? Ku Klux Klan murders from the 1960’s. Read the paragraphs again. The Ku Klux Klan murders are not invoked as evidence of Mississippi’s racist past (a point that is beyond dispute). Ku Klux Klan murders are put forth as evidence of Mississippi’s “deeply religious and conservative” present.

For most readers this is probably a throw-away paragraph—something they’ll read and not think about again. But that is exactly the problem. Whether they realize it or not, readers have just imbibed a heavy dose of propaganda—a malignant slander not only of Mississippians but also of all “deeply religious and conservative” people. At bottom, it’s an allegation disguised as a straight news report. It goes like this.

Mississippians resist gay marriage because they are deeply Christian. We know they are Christian because of their history of murderous racial animus. That animus explains the way they feel about gay people now.

You don’t have to be a professor of logic to see how tendentious and absurd this argument is, but there it is nevertheless. How many people will even notice that there is a problem with this kind of “report”?

I expect we’ll see more slanders like this in coming days, surely too many to catalogue here. I’m flagging this one to alert readers that they need to be discerning. And they need to be aware that not all straight news reports are indeed straight. Even reporters can sometimes be unaware of their own biases that make them oblivious purveyors of poisonous propaganda. This is how the propaganda works.

Caveat lector.

78 Responses to How the propaganda works

  1. Brian Holland June 29, 2015 at 10:23 am #

    History has already been rewritten. Ask most young people which party was responsible for Jim Crow and segregation, and they will say it was the Republicans, and the Democrats fought slavery and for Civil Rights for blacks. The brainwashing has been thorough. Conservatives haven’t done a very good job of setting the record straight though either. During the whole uproar over the Confederate Battle Flag, there really wasn’t much mention of the fact that this was symbol that the DEMOCRATS wrapped themselves in! They weren’t called the Dixie-crats for nothing, and of course the KKK was an arm of the Democratic party.

    • Charmen Chetson June 29, 2015 at 12:30 pm #

      Yesterday’s far right conservatives were indeed Democrats.They are the same people, same ideals, as today’s far right conservative Republicans. Only the party affiliation changed. There was a political shakeup and the Southerners switched parties.

    • Ian Shaw June 29, 2015 at 12:37 pm #

      Yep, many people under 40, maybe older don’t recall that many southern democrats voted against the civil rights act in 1964…..strange isn’t it?

    • Chris Ryan June 29, 2015 at 2:11 pm #

      This is really about liberals vs conservatives. Until the ’70s both parties had liberals and conservatives. Teddy Roosevelt was (much!) more liberal than Woodrow Wilson. It wan’t until Richard Nixon & Lee Atwater developed their “Southern Strategy” and Ronald Reagan doubled down on it that Republicans came to be 100% conservative. There used to be a thing called “Rockefeller Republicans” and they were quite liberal. George Romney, Mitt’s father, was one of those, lol. In the late ’80s and ’90s conservative Dems left the Democratic Party and joined the Republican Party. A few such conservative Dems: Richard Shelby, Phil Gramm, Rick Perry (yes, Rick Perry!), and Ronald Reagan himself! (“I didn’t leave the Democratic Party the Democratic Party left me.”)

    • buddyglass June 29, 2015 at 2:48 pm #

      Time for a lesson on Simpson’s paradox:

      http://www.math.usu.edu/adele/s1040/simpsons_paradox.pdf

      • James Stanton June 29, 2015 at 8:20 pm #

        Brilliant. I would have responded to the original post but I took for granted that most would be familiar with the history of our two major parties. That seems not be the case.

  2. Ed Gross June 29, 2015 at 10:25 am #

    Excellent, Denny. This is part of what it means to “bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”: spot the enemy’s lies and dissect them.

  3. Adam Tuesburg June 29, 2015 at 12:35 pm #

    Very good article.

  4. Travis Henderson June 29, 2015 at 12:59 pm #

    Evangelicals have been pumping out poisonous propaganda against gay people for decades. Ya’ll are getting what you deserve.

    • Brian Holland June 29, 2015 at 1:28 pm #

      Examples please?

      • Aaron Ginn June 30, 2015 at 12:15 pm #

        How about any time a Christian says that a person in a gay relationship is going to hell? The only support for that view is a 2000 year-old book written by primitive people who had little to no understanding of the way the world really works. That’s inflammatory language used to influence others from an emotional, and not rational, perspective. That’s a textbook definition of propaganda.

        • Brian Holland June 30, 2015 at 12:46 pm #

          I can assure you that people don’t go to hell for being gay, but for being unrepentant sinners who reject God’s free gift of salvation and redemption. I freely admit that I deserve God’s judgment. I deserve to spend eternity separated from Him in a very real place called hell, but God in his infinite mercy and love has saved me. He can do the same for you if you repent of your sin of unbelief. He then calls us to “go and sin no more.” So the call to repentance is not done out of hatred or malice, but out of love. God doesn’t want anyone to perish, but He’s also a just God, and must punish sin and open rebellion towards Him. The window on His mercy will close at an hour which we do not expect.

          So please do not harden your heart my friend. I’ll be praying for you…

          • Aaron Ginn June 30, 2015 at 5:05 pm #

            I don’t think you deserve to spend eternity being tortured in hell. If you god exists, then he created you to be exactly the way you are. The responsibility lies with him, not you. Romans 9 indicates that Yahweh created some people explicitly with the pupose of destroying them to demonstrate how awesome he is? Does that sound good to you? Why does a god need to crush feeble humans to show how great he is? If you fathered a child with the express purpose of killing it, I would call you a monster. What the Bible claims that God does is infinitely worse. Why would you want to worship a god like that? Is it out of fear or out of love?

            And why must Yahweh punish sin and open rebellion towards him? Does he answer to some higher power? If so, maybe we should be worshipping that god. Why doesn’t Yahweh just forgive us our sins like he commands us to do to others? Is he a hypocrite?

    • Jim Kramer June 29, 2015 at 1:47 pm #

      Really? Like quoting the Word of God to uphold Truth from the one who created us ALL? God Loves us all.

      • Aaron Ginn June 30, 2015 at 11:51 am #

        Sorry, but why are you capitalizing truth? How is Truth different from truth?

      • Aaron Ginn June 30, 2015 at 11:53 am #

        Also, your assertion that the Christian god created and loves us all is nothing more than that, and assertion. There is no evidence for it and no proof of it.

        • Brian Holland June 30, 2015 at 12:05 pm #

          When I do it, it’s because Christ is the Logos- The Truth about all reality. All truth that can ever be known is contained in Him.

          • Aaron Ginn June 30, 2015 at 12:16 pm #

            Prove it.

              • Aaron Ginn June 30, 2015 at 3:19 pm #

                1) There’s no evidence that any of the apostles died or suffered horrific persecution other than church history. Where is the evidence that all the disciples were martyred, for example? Even so, Islamic martyrs kill themselves all the time. Crazy people often do crazy things.

                2) So who were these 500 witnesses. Any names? Also, how did Jesus appear to the twelve. Wasn’t Judas dead by then?

                3) The gospels were all written by Anonymous. Who’s to say that Anonymous didn’t fit the stories to the OT prophecies? That’s a much more likely explanation.

                4) Human morality is likely an evolved trait that provided a way for social primates to thrive. Besides, most humans wouldn’t torture a person for eternity because he did something wrong. Yahweh will. Doesn’t sound like our morality has much in common with Yahweh at all.

                There are mush more reasonable explanations for all of your points than that the Jesus story is true. You just are too invested to see them.

                • Brian Holland June 30, 2015 at 3:44 pm #

                  None of us can claim to be truly objective, but if someone is willing to attempt to be fair and remove as much bias as possible they will see that only the Resurrection makes sense. You allege some massive conspiracy that remains completely unsubstantiated by facts. You also fail to recognize that Christianity never would have taken off if it the claims of the Resurrection were not true. Who would risk their own life for something that was demonstrably false?

                  • Aaron Ginn June 30, 2015 at 4:34 pm #

                    So the fact that there are 1 billion Muslims means that Mohammed was really taken to heaven on a winged horse? Just because a bunch of people believe something (or profess to believe something) doesn’t make it true.

                    There are eight men who testified that they said they saw the Golden Plates that Joseph Smith translated into the Book of Mormon. Unlike the 500 unnamed witnesses to whom Paul is referring, these men were verifiable people who swore they witnessed these things. Why is a 2000 year-old reference to 500 nameless witnesses of more worth than the eight confirmed witnesses of Mormonism?

                    It’s not a conspiracy to suggest that people embellished their own writings to influence others to their positions. It happens all the time. The idea that an uneducated fisherman like John could have written a Gnostic gospel lie the one attributed to him in fluent Greek is preposterous, but it fit the narrative the early church wanted to paint to claim he wrote it.

                    How you determine that a person coming back from the dead is a more reasonable answer than human scheming or the desire to pursuade others to their point of view is beyond me.

                    BTW, where is the non-biblical evidence that the dead rose from their graves and walked about Jerusalem in 32 A.D.? Surely an event as outrageous as that would have been recorded by someone, don’t you think?

                    • Brian Holland June 30, 2015 at 11:43 pm #

                      That’s a ridiculous comparison! Muslims are not allowed to question anything about their faith. Christians welcome these challenges.

                  • Travis Henderson June 30, 2015 at 4:36 pm #

                    Mohamed Atta didn’t just risk his life–he gave it willingly. Obviously what he did was horrible, but it took incredibly strong faith to go through with it, did it not? I assume you consider his beliefs to have been ‘demonstrably false.’ Well, non-Christians feel the same way about your beliefs. The strength of a belief is not, in my estimation, good evidence for the truth of that belief.

            • Gus Nelson June 30, 2015 at 10:37 pm #

              Aaron: What in your original comment “proves” anything, except that you don’t believe the Bible is true? Why is what you believe more true than what Christians believe? Why may you demand “prove it” but fail to live up to your own standard?

              • Aaron Ginn July 1, 2015 at 12:34 pm #

                What exactly do you want me to prove, Gus? The Christian makes several claims: 1) God exists, 2) Christ is simultaneously God and God’s son, 3) Men need to be redeemed for their sins, 4) Christ came as a sacrifice for men’s sins by dying and returning to life, 5) Following Christ is the only way to eternal life.

                Can you or any Christian prove any of the things I just listed much less all of them? If not, why should anyone believe them?

                The only claim I make is that there is insufficient evidence to accept any of these claims; however, I am amenable to evidence that would demonstrate these claims to be true. In fact, I would return to Christianity if these claims could be demonstrated to be true.

                The Christian, on the other hand, is usually not amenable to evidence demonstrating his beliefs are wrong. When asked what would convince him that Christianity is false, he typically gives one of two answers: 1) Prove the resurrection didn’t happen or 2) Nothing. The first is an impossibilty as one cannot prove a negative truth claim. The second just demonstrates a closed mind. That is the difference between science and faith. Science will correct itself if found to be false. Faith will simply press on as there is no criterion for disproving it. That which cannot be proven to be wrong can never be proven to be correct.

                • Gus Nelson July 2, 2015 at 7:17 pm #

                  Aaron: What is the standard of proof you require? In the law, we have (1) more likely than not, (2) clear and convincing and (3) beyond a reasonable doubt. What is it?

            • Christiane Smith July 3, 2015 at 7:37 am #

              ““To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” ( Thomas Aquinas )

        • Johnny Mason June 30, 2015 at 12:32 pm #

          The tomb is empty.

          • Aaron Ginn June 30, 2015 at 12:59 pm #

            Which tomb? Can you point me to the specific tomb where Jesus was supposedly laid so that I can see the empty tomb for myself? Can you prove that Jesus actually was dead, that he came back to life, that no one stole the body, or that his body wasn’t just dumped in a communal grave?

            Can you actually prove this Jesus even existed?

            • Ian Shaw June 30, 2015 at 1:17 pm #

              Uh, yes we actually can prove that Jesus of Nazareth did in fact exist. And you don’t need to use the Bible as a source for that proof.

              We can offer proof, but you will claim the evidence is not “empirical enough” and therefore dismiss the evidence as invalid, as your presupposition prevents you from accepting the forms of evidence we provide. So logically, we can offer you proofs, but you can offer no proofs that He did not exist. You claim that we can’t provide the kinds of evidence that you would believe but you have no firm ground to support a negative existential truth claim (as you logically cannot)..

              • Aaron Ginn June 30, 2015 at 1:36 pm #

                I’d be interested to see this proof, and even if you could prove he actually existed, you couldn’t prove he was a god.

                I can’t prove he didn’t exist. I also can’t prove there are no invisible dragons.

                I was a Christian for 30 years, so I have no presuppositions. If a god is demanding I submit my entire existence to him, or better yet, if a book written by ancient peoples who claim that a god is demanding I submit my entire existence to him, don’t you think it’s reasonable to demand a bit of hard evidence? I assume you dismiss Mormonism out of hand, but the evidence of eyewitness testimony for Mormonism is much, much greater that for Christianity. So why do you dismiss Mormonism? Is it because you were raised Christian and not Mormon?

                I suspect you are a victim of confirmation bias, grasping at evidence that supports what you want to believe – as thin as it may be – while rejecting the much stronger evidence that clearly contradicts the idea of a Triune, all-loving God (problem of evil, hidden God problem, contradictions in the Bible, etc.).

                • ian Shaw June 30, 2015 at 3:09 pm #

                  Again, you can’t disprove a negative, that’s not possible to do. Ideologically, sure you can hold to a negative truth claim, but you cannot prove what you do not believe exists.

                • James Bradshaw June 30, 2015 at 4:53 pm #

                  Aaron, Calvinism neatly disposes of the problem of evil by simply jettisoning the notion of omnibenevolence in favor of His sovereignty.

                  As John MacArthur put it: “God exists. Evil exists. God is sovereign. Therefore, God wills evil to exist.”

                  Pretty neat, eh? Although, I’m always amazed by their confidence that this deceptive and hostile deity wants THEM to be saved.

                  • Aaron Ginn June 30, 2015 at 5:15 pm #

                    Oh I’m well aware of that. I spent over 30 years in a Southern Baptist church. I taught Bible studies for over twenty years in that same church. It took a monumental effort to overcome the early conditioning I was exposed to as a child. I lament that I taught so many students to believe similar things.

                • Rob Dewar July 2, 2015 at 10:17 am #

                  Aaron, can you even prove to us all here that you actually exist? If you’ve ever read Descartes, you’ll know how much work it takes to actually prove to yourself that you exist from a skeptical framework, let alone anything else (and even then, it’s based on the assumption that reality is rational, which isn’t always entirely justified).

                  There are many differences between the origins of Christianity and the origins of Mormonism/Islam (which you keep insisting are so similar to Christianity), and they’re very obvious to anyone who’s done any study on them. Contrary to your claims, the authors of the gospel are not Anonymous, but are as well attested historically as the authors of any document from that time period (oh, I forgot, the history of the church is just “church” history, so we get to dismiss it). As for Mormonism, I have no doubt that those eyewitnesses saw something, but the benefit of duping them (and of them being duped) is very clearly the benefit of the one who showed them (and of those eyewitnesses). The early Christians did not benefit and did not expect to benefit from their claims, but expected to actually die for them (and often did – oops, “church” history again). Which is one key difference right there.

                  Your dismissal of the gospel of John (in a different post) shows that despite spending 30 years as a Christian, you haven’t thought very clearly about these issues. He’s supposed to have been a fisherman when relatively young (around age 20), and yet you assume that nobody who was ever a fisherman could have become educated through the rest of his life (clearly, anyone who once worked a trade is a moron forever, right?). Even if that were so, would having an editor negate authorship? But of course, the church at the time had no issue with the words of Peter being transcribed by Mark, why would the same conspiracy not have done so for John if it was so “preposterous”? It’s either the stupidest successful conspiracy of all time (it made such preposterous mistakes and didn’t even benefit the conspirators!), or it’s not a conspiracy at all, but feel free to keep believing that we all came into existence out of nothing (or at best, an unknowable something).

              • Aaron Ginn June 30, 2015 at 1:46 pm #

                Anyway, the assertion was that there is an empty tomb and the Jesus was raised from the dead and that that is the evidence. That is the central tenet of Christianity. If it falls, so does Christianity. Please point me to the tomb where Jesus’ body no longer resides. Please prove that Jesus actually died and was laid in that particular tomb. Finally, please provide evidence that if, in fact, Jesus existed, died, and eas laid to rest there that someone did not simply steal the body. Of course, these need to be extra-biblical sources because using the Bible to prove itself is circular. If such a miraculous event happened, wouldn’t a God want people to know about it?

                • Ian Shaw June 30, 2015 at 3:05 pm #

                  There are extra biblical sources confirming Christ’s life and state that witnesses saw him after his death.

                  Invisible dragons? Sounds like you just changed Sagan’s “flying spaghetti monster” which is more of a personal attack towards someone of another viewpoint than actually having a conversation.

                  Though I find it interesting that you take the time to comment this much on a Christian blog for something you don’t believe exists.

                  • Aaron Ginn June 30, 2015 at 3:26 pm #

                    Name one extra biblical source please. Josephus’ blurb was certainly an addition by a Christian. Tacitus’ account was written in the 2nd century. That’s probably a tenth-hand account.

                    Sagan used the Invisible Dragon in Demon-Haunted World. It demonstrates you cannot provide evidence for something that is undetectable or that doesn’t exist. Or, as is often stated, the invisible and the non-existent look very much alike.

                    I like to discuss these matters. It strengthens my convictions that Christianity is not true when I see the dearth of evidence for it and the inability of its advocates to argue effectively for it.

                    • Gus Nelson June 30, 2015 at 10:47 pm #

                      What made you so bitter toward Christianity?

                    • C. M. Granger July 1, 2015 at 8:05 pm #

                      Aaron, even secular scholars don’t deny that Jesus ever existed. It’s a foolish assertion.

                  • Travis Henderson June 30, 2015 at 3:52 pm #

                    Sagan’s ‘invisible dragon in the garage’ pre-dates the FSM by a number of years. And he was never one to make personal attacks against those held different views. To the best of my knowledge, he always dealt respectfully with religious ideas. I really don’t think he would’ve approved of Neil deGrasse Tyson and Seth MacFarlane’s approach to the subject in their version of Cosmos, but I digress.

                • Rob Dewar July 2, 2015 at 10:32 am #

                  And just how do you prove the existence of any historical figure from a pre-photography era or a non-photographic society (or a post-photoshop one, for that matter)? Eyewitness accounts, and the effects they had on the rest of history. All of which we have in abundance, despite your dismissals of them. Your insistence on extra-Biblical sources is like saying that to prove that Homer (pick an ancient writer) existed, you have to find contemporary (ancient) NON-Greek writings (the Greeks were clearly biased towards Homer’s existence) to prove that he existed. Clearly, those who were witnesses were convinced, and became part of the church tradition, and thus get dismissed by you based on circular logic. You appear to need someone who witnessed Jesus post-resurrection, did not worship him, AND wrote about it … and yet, if such a writing did exist, it would clearly prove that you were also justified (or at least not unique) in not worshiping him anyways, so even that would not get you any further ahead.

  5. dr. james willingham June 29, 2015 at 2:50 pm #

    Very astute, Dr, Burk. Our problem is that we have few means left with which to respond in order to offset such misrepresentations of reality. And worse is yet to come. The writer in the NY Times, Dr. Volokh, a constitutional lawyer, said he would be worried, if he were a conservative Christian (AND he is not according to his own words), about the possibility of our religious views being treated as criminal racist religious views like those of Bob Jones University, when the Supreme Court ruled against them. Right now the future looks very bleak. for believers.

    • Christiane Smith June 29, 2015 at 3:38 pm #

      Oh Dr. JAMES,
      the future never looks ‘very bleak’ for believers . . . challenging, maybe, but not ‘bleak’

      the Church grows daily in Egypt because of the examples of the Coptic Christian martyrs who were beheaded at the hands of ISIS on the shores of Libya

      the Church has always grown when its members lived out the faith in spite of all that came against them and did not ‘react’ with fear or hate or contempt

      the only time the Church loses possible members is when the weak among us Christians turn to a strident form of hypocrisy as we forget that we, too, are sinners . . . what this does to scandalize potential people of faith is enough to send them away from the Church . . . and who can blame them ?

  6. Brian Holland June 29, 2015 at 6:41 pm #

    Christiane, I don’t know any Christians who claim to not be sinners. I’ve never actually met anyone who believed that. And secondly I don’t think the excuse of “hypocrites within the church” ultimately stands up to scrutiny. It certainly wasn’t a valid excuse for me when I was a non-believer. Certainly we have to be mindful of how we behave around outsiders, but ultimately the results are not up to us. And thank God for that literally!

  7. Chris Ryan June 29, 2015 at 9:36 pm #

    Its unfortunate imagery but the South is answering for its past here. Unfortunately Southerners have a long, long history of opposing the rule of law when it comes to matters with which it disagrees, whether you’re talking S. Carolina firing on Ft. Sumter to oppose Lincoln’s effort to free slaves, or Nathan Bedford Forrest organizing the KKK to fight Reconstruction, or George Wallace standing at the doors of the University of Alabama saying Segregation Forever. When you have a number of Southern Attorneys General and Governors suggesting that the Supreme Court’s decision didn’t apply to them and saying that it was “lawless” it was inevitable that it would bring to mind other historical acts of Southern defiance. Even equally conservative states like Kansas and Idaho didn’t voice such defiant opinions. Russell Moore, even though he wholeheartedly rejected the opinion didn’t strike a defiant tone, so perhaps its yet another instance of tone deaf public officials letting personal ambition get the better of them. I will say Southern conservatives’ rejection of reasonable religious liberty compromises like that struck by Utah’s conservative Mormon Church with LGBT activists will only make it harder on social conservatives. The history and imagery it provokes will, I think, only hamper our mission of saving souls.

    • Brian Holland June 30, 2015 at 12:14 pm #

      Yes the south has a terrible past when it comes to race and racism. However ALL of the people you listed were Democrats, and today the Democrats are still (at best) the party that keeps black people angry over the past, and does not want us to judge people based on the “content of their character” instead of the color of their skin. Dems realize that the minute reconciliation takes place, or if even 25% of blacks realize that most non-blacks only want them to succeed in America, then they can no longer use it to scare black people into voting for them.

      • Aaron Ginn June 30, 2015 at 12:27 pm #

        Political labels change, but belief systems do not. The Democrats of yesterday are mostly the Southern Republicans of today. The term liberal means socialist today, but in the past it meant someone who championed individual rights, free markets and non-interventionism. The South is still the most backwards region of the country in terms of rejection of science and the embrace of superstition. I don’t doubt for a moment that the vast majority of Southerners are ashamed that the Battle Flag of the Confederacy is flying over the state capitol of S.C., but I also don’t doubt that the South has a larger percentage of racists than anywhere else in the nation.

        • Johnny Mason June 30, 2015 at 12:31 pm #

          “The Democrats of yesterday are mostly the Southern Republicans of today”

          Prove it.

          “the South has a larger percentage of racists than anywhere else in the nation”

          Prove it.

          • Christiane Smith June 30, 2015 at 12:38 pm #

            Hi JOHNNY,
            take some time and look up the ‘Dixiecrats’ and what they stood for, and I think you will understand why it is said that yesterday’s southern dems are today’s southern republicans . . . if you are a young person, you can also ask your grandpa or great-grandpa to describe those days

          • Aaron Ginn June 30, 2015 at 1:03 pm #

            Clever. 😉 My assertions don’t supposedly carry eternal consequences or compel me to withhold certain rights to individuals. They aren’t based on absurd ideas that contradict common sense. Feel free to dismiss them given that they are presented without evidence. I will do the same for Christian doctrine.

        • Gus Nelson June 30, 2015 at 10:51 pm #

          Aaron: More supposition and speculation from one who earlier demanded proof. You aren’t living up to your own requirements. .

          • Brian Holland June 30, 2015 at 11:47 pm #

            It’s circular reasoning for atheists, which they ironically accuse us of. They basically say “I don’t believe the Bible, therefore nothing contained in it could possibly be true. I win!”

            • Aaron Ginn July 1, 2015 at 12:43 pm #

              Hi Brian. I am perfectly willing to recant on my statements above if they are proven incorrect. In fact, I will admit that my statements were based solely on anecdotal evidence (which is the worst kind of evidence for drawing large-scale conclusions). My statements are falsifiable in that it should be possible to test for both of them (perhaps it already has). If the findings of those studies indicated I was incorrect, I would recant and be happy to have gained the knowledge that I was wrong. That’s how science and critical thinking work.

              Faith, on the other hand, has no method for determining correctness because it is not based on things that are testable and falsifiable. How do you really know that Christianity is true? How could you determine that you are wrong? If you could never determine that you are wrong, you can never know that you are right either. So my claims are very different from yours.

              • C. M. Granger July 1, 2015 at 8:24 pm #

                Aaron, you do understand that science is wholly contained in the natural world and cannot account for the supernatural as it is outside of the confines of science (except for, say, metaphysical implications). In other words, for example, divine creation is a supernatural event and cannot therefore be accounted for scientifically. Believers accept divine revelation. Much of your faith commitments are grounded in naturalism, so you reject counter evidence which doesn’t fit into your naturalistic worldview. If I point out the nonphysical nature of things like the laws of logic, the existence of the soul, emotions like love, the nonphysical nature of classes such as human or mankind, the existence of the mind as opposed to the brain, you will simply attempt to explain them naturalistically because they don’t fit into your schema.

                Unbelievers who were present when Jesus performed miracles did the same thing.

      • Chris Ryan June 30, 2015 at 12:52 pm #

        Blacks and Jews regularly vote for Democrats at high levels, 80+% for Jews and 90+% for blacks. Until this month you couldn’t find a Republican to even criticize the Confederate battle flag. Republicans regularly oppose affirmative action, and multiculturalism. Republicans have ignored police abuse of minorities, even when they kill minorities. Republicans like Donald Trump have said some reprehensible things about Latinos, and others have turned to xenophobia in attacking immigration (both legal and illegal). I wouldn’t presume to know what’s best for minorities but I think minorities are adult enough to gauge these things themselves, don’t you?

        If you haven’t read about Richard Nixon, Lee Atwater, Ronald Reagan and their “Southern Strategy”. I recommend you do. Its eye popping. ( http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C04E6DF1E30F935A35753C1A9639C8B63 ). Not only did Atwater advise Strom Thurmond, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Bush 1, his protege, Karl Rove, advised Bush 2 and won Bush 2’s re-election in ’04 largely on the back of an anti-gay marriage campaign. Don’t forget Reagan opposed both the Civil Rights Act & the Voting Rights Act and called Martin Luther King “a communist”. After all this why do you think that minorities would so soon trust the GOP? Bush 2 is the only high level Republican to make racial progress in my opinion–as Governor he tried to salvage affirmative action in TX–but much of the base has repudiated his reach out to Latinos.

        • Johnny Mason June 30, 2015 at 1:49 pm #

          Chris, why dont you look at who actually got elected in the South and where the Dixiecrats went

          1) The vast majority of Dixiecrats remained Democrats. Only a few switched partie (like one or two), the most notable being Strom Thurmond.

          2) The South did not become a Republican stronghold nationally until late 90s and locally until 2010

          Let’s look at the actual results starting after 1964:

          President:
          – 1968 – the deep south voted for George Wallace a Dixiecrat/Democrat, with Nixon wining pretty much every where else. The Democrat did win Texas.
          – 1972 – Nixon landslide
          – 1976 – Jimmy Carter wins by carrying the South
          – 1980/1984 – Reagan landslides wins almost every state
          – 1988 – George H.W. Bush landslide.
          – 1992 – Clinton wins with support from most of the South
          – 1996 – Clinton wins with support from most of the South
          – 2000/2004 – Bush wins carrying the entire South
          – 2008 – Obama wins losing most of the South
          – 2012 – Obama wins losing most of the South

          Senate:
          Alabama
          – John Sparkman a Dixiecrat remained a Democrat Senator until 1980. Replaced by Howell Heflin (D) who served until 1996.Replaced by Jeff Sessions (R)
          – The second seat was a Democrat until 1994, until Richard Shelby changed parties from D to R.

          Georgia
          – The first seat was Democrat until 2002.
          – The second seat was Democrat until 1980. Then bounced back and forth until 2004, where it is an R.

          Louisiana
          – Both Senators were Democrats until 2004, the other Democrat seat was lost in 2014.

          Mississippi
          – John Stennis a Dixiecrat remained a Democrat Senator until 1988.
          – James Eastland a Dixiecrat remained a Democrat Senator until 1978.
          – current Senators are both Republican

          South Carolina
          – The first seat was Strom Thurmond (Dixiecrat) who switched parties in 1964. He remained there until 2002. Republican controlled ever since.
          – The second seat was Fritz Hollings, a Dixecrat, until 2004. It’s been R ever since.

          North Carolina
          – The first seat remained a Decmocrat seat until 1972, when Jesse Helms (R) got elected. It has been consistent R ever since
          – The second seat was held by Sam Ervin a Dixiecrat until 74 and remained Democratic until 1980. It bounced between D and R until 2004, where it has been steady R.

          Tennessee
          – The first seat was Democratic until 1994, with a one term break in 1970. IT has been R ever since.
          – The second seat was primarily D until 1994. Been R ever since.

          Florida
          – The first seat in Florida has been held by Democrats up until today, with only a two-term break from 1988 to 2000.
          – The second seat has bounced back and forth until 2004, where it has been R ever since.

          So the Senate in the South didnt really change to R until 1994 and after. It was mainly due to a reaction to Clinton’s presidency.

          Locally:
          The Governorships and the local legislature was dominated by Democrats in South up until 2010. Mississippi owned the legislature for 100 years, the same for North Carolina.

          So people keep claiming that the South was lost to the Democrats after the 1964 Civil Rights legislation are just wrong. The facts do not bear that out. The South remained strongly Democratic nationally, for the Senate, until 1994 and Presidentially until 2000. Locally, the South was Democratic until 2010. Both 1994 and 2010 were referendums on Clinton and Obama, respectively.

          Another interesting thing is blacks voted primarily for Democrats from the New Deal on. In 1936, 71% voted for Democrats. That number has never dipped lower than 61% since then. They have been a strong voting block for Democrats for 80 years.

          Both JFK and LBJ spied on MLK. They called him a communist and even worse. LBJ actively tried to silence MLK. Robert Byrd filibustered the Civil Rights Act, was a kleagle in the KKK, and was an honored and cherished member of the Democratic Party until the day he died.

          • James Stanton June 30, 2015 at 3:27 pm #

            Johnny,

            I’m not sure anymore what the debate here is about. What you’ve accurately described is the long-term trend in the south from voting in lockstep for Democrats to voting in lockstep for Republicans. The difference, as you’ve pointed out, is that Democrats in the South are increasingly tied to national party politics which has led to defeats in local elections. There’s nothing wrong with this as it makes sense to vote for a party that better reflects one’s cultural or economic interests. This is the same whether one is black or white.

            • Johnny Mason June 30, 2015 at 3:41 pm #

              The debate here is that the democrats lost the South because of Civil Rights legislation and that all those Democrats moved to the Republican party overnight. The facts don’t back that up. The Dixiecrats remained Democrats. They did not switch parties. They died Democrats. The South remained a Democrat stronghold for at least 30 years nationally, and almost 45 years locally. There wasn’t a massive shift of blacks from Republican to Democrat. They were already voting largely Democrat in 1936.

              So this old saw that all those racist Democrats moved to the Republican party is just fiction. The more likely scenario is that the racist Democrats remained Democrats. The racist Republicans remained Republicans, and the shift in the South was more for economic reasons than anything else.

          • Chris Ryan July 1, 2015 at 9:02 pm #

            Hey, Johnny, no one’s saying that the migration occurred over night. But concentrating on the “Solid South” has been a Republican strategy since Nixon, and unfortunately they’ve preyed on some of the worst instincts and historical practices of the region. Even though I think that liberals understate the importance of “family values” the GOP simply has too many xenophobic politicians–as the popularity of Donald Trump’s demeaning comments about Latinos amply demonstrates. He shot from back-of-the-pack to #2 in the polls!!!

      • Lauren Bertrand June 30, 2015 at 10:52 pm #

        Brian, most white, southern, conservative Christians were Democrats during the Civil Rights Era. Martin Luther King Jr was a Republican back then. I hardly think Democrats are remotely close to having the answer when it comes to racial harmony, but there is no greater canard than to tar Democrats today with the same brush as Dixiecrats from yesterday.

        I recognize I’m saying more or less the same thing as Aaron Ginn, but I’d like to think I’m a little less strident. Christian Conservatives today can come up with far better places to hang their hats than on the old-school segregationist Democrat hook.

        • Brian Holland June 30, 2015 at 11:31 pm #

          Lauren, the point is that the Dems have never been held to account for their terrible history of racism. Even when Robert Byrd died a few years back, Obama whitewashed his involvement with the KKK. Meanwhile the Tea Party is constantly slandered against the evidence as being racist!

          LBJ famously said after the passage of the war on poverty legislation, and beginning of the modern welfare state “I’ll have those N-words voting democrat for 200 years!” Also Woodrow Wilson was a progressive who showed “Birth of a Nation” at the white house, and Margaret Sanger (notable progressive) wanted to commit genocide on the black race through abortion.

          Even if we assume that the welfare state was originally designed to help blacks get out of poverty, the results have been so disastrous that it makes supporting Democrats unconscionable. It’s just as big of reason to oppose them as abortion, same sex marriage, the attack on religious freedom etc IMO. I’m a former progressive Democrat by the way. There are far more racists on the left as black people like my wife who hold conservative, biblical positions are slandered as being “sell-outs.” Dems are obsessed with race, class, gender, sexual orientation etc and are opposed to assimilation, because they benefit politically from keeping people divided based on the worst kind of identity politics. They also have a very low opinion of blacks because they think they can’t make it without affirmative action and other government “assistance.” Should I continue?

          • Lauren Bertrand July 2, 2015 at 7:51 am #

            I’m not sure what your point is, Brian. Seems to me you’re repeating the canard. I’m well aware of how many Dems were unapologetically racist at mid-century. I also think it wouldn’t take much time to investigate the voting records of the parents of most of today’s Southern Baptists to see that, even if the SBCs are overwhelmingly Republican now, they were overwhelmingly Democrat a generation ago. And they weren’t all Jimmy Carters–who has repudiated the SBC anyway.

            I don’t think the Tea Party is intrinsically racist–not in the least. I don’t agree with them, and there are certainly some small racist contingents within them, but the Gadsden flag has no association with racial hostility the way the Confederate flag does. I also am not letting today’s Democrats (the self-proclaimed “progressives”) off the hook because their only real antidote to the anti-black racism of the past is persistently lowered standards for blacks in the present. But tarring the Democrats for the racist elements of their past is no better than people branding the Republicans as a purely racist party today.

            • Brian Holland July 2, 2015 at 9:38 am #

              My point was that the in the whole debate about the Confederate Flag it was never said that this was a Democrat symbol. I know parties change and evolve, but again most young people assume it was the Dems that were always on the right side of history, and the not the Republicans. I’m fed up with both parties myself. There are still some good Republicans that haven’t been corrupted by the establishment, and the Chamber of Commerce donors, but they are fighting a very uphill battle. Meanwhile the modern Democrat party is opposed to biblical Christianity at every front.

  8. Stuart Smith June 29, 2015 at 11:36 pm #

    If everyone hates the south sooo much, then why are Y’ALL still moving here in record numbers?

    How is your hate for us less offensive than our love for God & country?

    • Christiane Smith June 30, 2015 at 10:40 am #

      Hi STUART,
      when you can live in a town with house taxes below three thousand a year, and the same kind of house in NJ has taxes of eleven thousand a year, it doesn’t take too much to figure out why folks come south, especially after retirement . . . Florida is loaded with retirees . . . no snow to plow and no enormous heating bills . . . truth is, those low taxes are like a giant sign what says ‘Y’all Come’ . . . I speak truth . . . Southern charm, good cooking, and ‘heritage’ aside, y’all’s real estate taxes are the draw . . . lots of military folk come South especially . . . they are not such bad neighbors to have, you know 🙂

      • Brian Holland June 30, 2015 at 11:41 pm #

        Yes conservative, biblical principles like smaller government and lower taxation actually work. What a shocker! 😉

        • Christiane Smith July 1, 2015 at 3:57 am #

          Hi BRIAN,
          we moved south after many years in the north . . . I worked in school systems in both locations . . . guess which location had a wall strapped to the building to keep it from collapsing (in my classroom’s wing) . . . and textbook shortages ? There is something to be said for taking care of the important things. No wonder a lot of southern folks keep their kids home from school . . . there was a ‘device’ on the wall to trigger a warning IF the wall began to move . . . so maybe we would have a chance to get out of there WITH the kids in time! Fun times in the inner city. . . never a dull moment, no sir.

    • Chris Ryan June 30, 2015 at 12:53 pm #

      I moved because of the weather, Stuart! If it wasn’t for that I’d be back in Kansas–where they know how to make good BBQ!!! 😀

  9. Blair Brown June 30, 2015 at 3:01 pm #

    You make a good point concerning the social bullying we face by opposing gay marriage, yet an answer to this cultural hectoring may exist.

    The Supreme Court justified its ruling by invoking the ideas of personal choice and autonomy as its first rationale. Nevertheless, the American ideals of personal autonomy and free will turn to dust, when you examine them in light of our highly social humanity. Americans enshrine them as sacred or near-sacred ideas despite their irrationality, and thus they act as a prop to vindicate a range of behaviors. We also wield them as a hammer to socially excommunicate and isolate dissenters. These erroneous ideas possess an extraordinary power, and must be defeated before we can make any headway on issues involving sex, family, and marriage.

  10. Scott Shaver June 30, 2015 at 5:34 pm #

    Denny:

    How does your argument about the deeply positive and historical religious sentiment of Mississippi square with views and statements of Alan Cross, Russell Moore et al about The South along with it religious culture being systemically and historically racist? (i.e. Jim Crow right up to 2015).

    I’m not as concerned about SCOTUS on gay marriage or South Carolina on the Confederate flag and race relations as I am the inconsistency of Southern Baptist leadership across the board on both these issues.

    One says one thing. One says another.

    • Brian Holland June 30, 2015 at 11:38 pm #

      I’m not a Southern Baptist, but that was a long time ago, and they’ve already apologized for it, and tried to make amends for it. I can only guess they keep bringing up because they think some good may come of it, or because of white guilt.

      But why should they be held responsible for things they were not responsible for? I would assume most of those people are dead now anyway.

  11. Joan Bandy July 1, 2015 at 11:08 pm #

    I, for one, have too much WORK to do to be hung up answering the phone to nosy telemarketors and surveryors. I dare say much of these polls are jaded to the fact. Who trusts these numbers? LOOK AT ELECTION RESULTS IN STATES.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  3. Okay, David Brooks, Which Culture War Should We Fight? - July 2, 2015

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