I would like to do a piece on my blog, Releasing Religion, regarding mixing God & government.  And I'd like to know what opinions people have here about doing such a thing.  Some points to mention are:

Glenn Beck is well known for arguing that we have misunderstood that founding fathers & their desire to keep church & state separate.  Holding his rally on 8/28, he gathered 150.000 people to hear him talk about bringing out country "back to God".  What do you think it would do to our country to "get back to God"? 

The Tea Party has been called racist Chrisotcrats. In their recent convention, most conference sessions began with prayers.  What do you think of the Tea Party?  Do you know very little about them?  Do you know a lot?  Please share your thoughts here.

The piece will be posted on www.releasingreligion.blogspot.com

Tags: 8/28, Beck, Christocrats, Glenn, Honor, Party, Rally, Restoring, Tea

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Not that there still isn't a strict line between those in poverty and the rich but if the Tea Party get their way that line will increase.
From what I understand the Tea Party is bankrolled by the rich to appeal to the poor. The rich don't want more taxes and the poor want god in government & fewer taxes. The poor all seem to be on government assistance but don't like gov't spending. I hear a lot of conspiracies floating around too (Obama is often called a muslim). Weird, very weird.
Hi Maia, and welcome to AN (I read your intro and blog - very nice!).

Re the tea party, well if I can borrow from my FB status, I'd say "it's complicated".

My brother in-law is a flag waving TP member, and I'm in a meetup group with several Tea Partiers, including one who is in charge of media relations down in Houston (I'm actually in St. Louis myself). I also read pretty much anything I can on the subject, including from the master of ceremonies, Dick Armey.

So, yes, I'm familiar with "The T-Party".

my views? Here are some random thoughts in no particular order:

-They are right! Govt is too big and intrusive (Patriot Act anyone?), our deficit and debt are way too high and our politicians, for the most part, are corrupt (or at least they have been corrupted by the system)

-They are wrong! so, so wrong about the solutions to those same problems they rail against! They think there are simple answers to these complex and systematic problems. They think these answers will not have any affect on the way they live their lives - in fact, that they will align with their particular way of life and world view (who cares about anyone elses way of life!).

They also think, and this is where they are REALLY wrong, is that they, and the Tea Party candidates, have the answers to these complex problems. Returning to GOD is one of those answers and you know how helpful that will be. Right wing Republicans are also an answer - even though any objective review indicates that Republican, specifically conservative, policies were the CAUSE of many of those same problems.

I can't say they are stupid. They are not. Many are highly successful in their careers and businesses. I work with many right wingers and they are highly intelligent in the business side of their lives.

I can say, I think, is that they are gullable, or more precisely, non-skeptical of their political views. I think they have come to their political views the same way they came to their religious views. By accepting convention and societal norms. Nearly everyone around them, in their church, their neighborhood, their workplace and their favorite news/radio programs has the same view, so certainly it MUST be the correct!

On the other hand, I do there is a good chance that their short term success may ultimately lead to their demise - and perhaps taking the conservative movement in general down with it.

I suppose we'll see soon because it doesn't look like they are going away.
This is a great point-of-view, Larry. Thank you for taking the time to share your own personal experiences. I would love if you could elaborate on some of their solutions to the problems they rail against. Also, do you think Glenn Beck has been a big factor in their movement to get back to God?
No problem Maia, as a former conservative Republican (albeit never a tea partier), I am very interested in this topic and think about it often. This interest in politics is really quite similiar to my interest in religion - much greater after I gave up my own ideologies. It's far more interesting looking from the outside.

BTW, you can read my deconversion story (both religious and political) here.

I'll tackle the easy question first - Glenn Beck.

At first glance, I suppose this looks like the classic "which came first" question. Are those that desire a "return to God" drawn to Beck, or does Beck instill this desire in otherwise secular people? I suspect there is a pretty good mix of both.

Either way, I don't think Beck could get all the credit for the "return to God" idea. I'd have to also give credit to Palin and to a lesser extent, Huckabee and Bachman. I'm pretty sure Beck REALLY jumped on the God bandwagon after it was introduced into the political discourse by the most popular God politicians.

Beck can, however, get credit for beating the God drum very loudly. I'm sure that his televangelic rhetoric is convincing to many.

Perhaps also this is the latest turn of the wheel for the "Moral Majority". The old trick for getting otherwise democratic voters to vote against their own best interest was to convince them to think they are voting for the party that would save the babies, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Now their story is that voting for the Tea Party will save God in America. Suggested read: "What's the Matter with Kansas" by Thomas Frank.

I'll respond to your other question in a separate post.
Larry I read your conversion story. Wow! I am so curious how to came to find your own beliefs. Was it a gradual thing? Did it knock you over the head?

Most of what I know of Palin is how to media portrays her, and since I mainly watching CNN (which is allegedly leftist) she seems like a raving lunatic to me. It's hard to root through all the opinions & get to the core of who the individual is and what they stand for. Though most of what I've heard out of Palin's mouth makes me not want to gag a bit.
It hit me over the head. It was the middle of the financial crisis as I was watching my 401K dwindle away when I realized how important it was that I improve my critical thinking skills. I simply did not feel I could not trust anyone.

It started with religion, then god belief. Both fell pretty easily after reading a few books, and listening to podcasts.

Giving up my political views was much more difficult. The term "conservative" fit me well - like a warm blank. Alas, it just didn't hold up after a careful and objective evaluation. Leaving both of these ideologies was one of the best things I have ever done.

Re Palin, I think she is the prototypical TP. Generally a decent person but incapable of intelligent, independent thought and discourse.
Okay, now I'll attempt to elaborate on a few of their "solutions". I'd tackle more, but as I suggested earlier, these are complicated issues. A "Return to God" just doesn't cut it as a workable solution.

-Lower Taxes: What they fail to understand is that "lowering taxes" doesn't refer to them (or at least the vast majority of them). Any discussion of tax cuts means lower taxes for the wealthy, not for the lower and middle classes. The poor pay no income taxes and the middle class pays very low effective rates. A person that just barely makes the top 10% of income earners, has an effective federal income tax of less than 5% of their total earnings. The vast majority of income earners will pay even less.

-Limit government regulation of private business:
Again, what they don't understand is that this "regulation of private business" protects them! My god (sorry, old habit), but they don't seem to have a clue that the financial catastrophe the we just went through is directly related to the DEREGULATION of the financial industry. Pennies on the dollar spent on regulations and regulatory agencies are insurance against the bank failures that keep the world economy afloat. And they think we should reduce those regulations?

They really have no sense of what life was like before "govt regulation of private business" because they never experienced it and don't read history. They never experienced children working in mines, not having safey precautions, 6/7 day workweeks, poverty level wages, no social safety net, discrimination, smog, etc, etc.

These crimes were committed against their own kind, including many of their recent ancestors. And they want a return to this? So they can get screwed yet again?

-Privatize Social Security: they want this after just having experienced a financial meltdown? How short their memories are!

-Repeal Healthcare Reform: this one really kills me.

They sit there watching their premiums rise faster than other expenses year after year. They see their employer cutting back on health care benefits. They see jobs that used to provide health care going away, to be replaced by part time jobs at Walmart. They get "claim denied" forms back from their insurer. They see people being denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions. They see their friends, relatives and children going bankrupt due to uninsured/underinsured health care costs.

Perhaps they even know people that have died because of lack of access to health care (45,000 per year according to a Harvard study).

Yet apparently they "like it" because they say "No Govt Run Health care". WTF???

Again, I don't think they are stupid, they are, however, emotional. They let their emotions drive them frantic and they so want to blame someone - anyone for their ills. Then they turn to Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh, Marc Levin, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, right wing radio and Fox News to help them understand who the bad guys really are.

Thus, you get the tea party.
This is very good stuff, Larry. So that is what people are talking about when they refer to the Tea Party helping the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

I see your points in all of these. And I think the platform they're standing on is they think Obama is running our county into debt. Is is just about "sticking it to the man" as it were.

Where does the "getting back to God" come in. When tea partiers mention that to me, I wonder, "Which God would that be?" And in what way would they see God getting into the government?
I really don't think even they know the answer to that. They throw that term around like they used to say we should return to the "moral foundation of this country". If they only knew what the moral foundation of the country was really like perhaps they wouldn't be quite so enamored with this idea.
--- LarryL --- Any discussion of tax cuts means lower taxes for the wealthy, not for the lower and middle classes. The poor pay no income taxes and the middle class pays very low effective rates. A person that just barely makes the top 10% of income earners, has an effective federal income tax of less than 5% of their total earnings.

I thank you for your insider insight, but am curious where you got those figures? When I was at an average income of $20,000/year my taxes were right around 13%. At $10,000 /year around 10%. I barely make enough in unemployment right now to maintain a homeless lifestyle and I'm still being taxed. The crux of my financial demise is my tax debt from my 9/11 layoff.

That said, as one coworker put it when our company bragged about our 3% pay raise; "3% of zero is zero." Likewise, a percentage point or two change in my tax rate either way has very little noticeable effect. A 3% change in a millionaire's tax rate is, to them, also hardly noticeable, but to the rest of us, a huge help (or hurt, depending on which way that tax change swings).

On limiting regulation - I hear ya. I for one am quite glad that the grocery store isn't allowed to let the raw fish touch the cooked fish, and that the brakes on my vehicle, by law, have to work.

On privatizing Social Security - Oh yeah. That will work. *eyeroll*

On health reform - My first one-on-one with a Teabagger on this was a woman on both social security and medicare. On medicare; crying "No government health care!"

Words escape me.
US tax bracket info.

Jo, I'm not sure if you're referring to gross income or Adjusted Gross Income, but your income tax rate would only apply to the amount of AGI over the $8,375 figure. Of course, there are additional payroll taxes, so the overall tax burden is more complicated than the income tax rate.

Your overall point is correct, however. Lower income people cannot escape paying certain taxes, whereas wealthy people can. One of the stupidest things in the tax code is the Social Security tax maximum earnings amount of $106,800 for 2009 and 2010 (it didn't change this year because CPI inflation was so low). I was fortunate enough to earn above the cap (it was lower then) for several years. Every fall, my take-home pay would go up for the remainder of the year, because I had already paid the maximum FICA amount. How the hell does that make any sense? Give a tax break to people who earn enough not to need one? Social Security would be in a helluva lot better shape if they just did away with the annual cap, which many executives hit by spring. Working stiffs have FICA withholding on every dollar they earn.


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