More Christians Should Vote NDP

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autoworker autoworker's picture

It matters because it emerged from six years spent at Brandon College, immersed in the the study of the Social Gospel, which some have advocated a return to. History provides an ample number of social engineering projects that have proved themselves onerous in their outcomes, while their intentions were regarded as progressive at the time. I'm not portraying Douglas as having been tainted by evil. But, he was a man of his time, when too much faith was misplaced in science as the font of Progress. Fortunately, he abandoned eugenics. A lesser man, with a professional reputation at stake, might have succumbed to the temptation to uphold its seriously flawed claims. It takes character to discover, and correct the error of one's thinking, especially when it diverges from a gathering ideological consensus supported by both academe, and the wealthy foundations that funded its research. Following his conscience actually raises Douglas in my own estimation of him. 'Hate the sin, love the sinner', as he might have intoned. Enough said.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

It's also a stretch to argue that the brief flirtation that some adherents of the Social Gospel may have had with eugenics somehow totally discredits the Social Gospel itself.  Those who embraced that concept were generally among the most outspoken opponents of any form of bigotry in their times.

Are you really arguing that the Social Gospel itself is evil?

As a person who appears(to most people here)to be a sometime supporter of the Liberal Party, you should be aware that it was the Liberal government, during World War II AND for years thereafter, barred most Jewish refugees from entering Canada.  We can assume that most of those who were turned away ended up being killed by the Nazis.  Therefore, the Liberal Party of Canada is effectively complicit in Hitler's crimes.

How is Tommy's brief(and, as it turned out, irrelevant in terms of his actual actions in life)theoretical consideration of eugenics worse than THAT?

Clearly, if it had been left solely to the Liberals, Canada would never have had any social welfare system to speak of and no social conscience whatsoever.  Most Liberal supporters, prior to the Pearson era, never gave a damn about the poor and the workers.

And it goes without saying that no revival of the Social Gospel today would ever involve any support for eugenics.  The very idea of eugenics is intellectually extinct and nothing is going to revive it, other than on the corporate Right.  

 

6079_Smith_W

No kidding it's a stretch.

Funny how when we are talking about good things that are done by religious people the line is that they would have done them anyway without their superstition.

But when someone doesn't tip enough at a restaurant or forgets to cut their lawn, it's obviously the fault of their religious programming.

 

Fact is, eugenics was first proposed by Francis Galton, who got the bright idea after reading his cousin Charles Darwin's work The Origin of Species.

One of the other things Galton studied was the power of prayer; he concluded that it had no effect whatsoever.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics

 

 

autoworker autoworker's picture

I don't think it's a stretch to suggest that Douglas was interested in eugenics, while immersed in divinity studies at an institution affiliated with the university that granted his graduate degree, on the application of what was regarded, at the time, as scientific. That's more than a flirtation, I believe. That said, I don't see how it relates to the tragic saga of the St, Louis, and the lamentable demise of her passengers. Their memory remains as Canada's shame. As for speculation about perceived Liberal affiliations, a better analogy is Pierre Trudeau's own youthful dalliance with fascist ideas.

autoworker autoworker's picture

6079_Smith_W wrote:

No kidding it's a stretch.

Funny how when we are talking about good things that are done by religious people the line is that they would have done them anyway without their superstition.

But when someone doesn't tip enough at a restaurant or forgets to cut their lawn, it's obviously the fault of their religious programming.

 

Fact is, eugenics was first proposed by Francis Galton, who got the bright idea after reading his cousin Charles Darwin's work The Origin of Species.

One of the other things Galton studied was the power of prayer; he concluded that it had no effect whatsoever.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics

 

 

Indeed, many progressive evangelicals eschewed Darwin's theory, because it was used to rationalize inequality as natural science.

autoworker autoworker's picture
autoworker autoworker's picture

double post

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

autoworker wrote:

Indeed, many progressive evangelicals eschewed Darwin's theory, because it was used to rationalize inequality as natural science.

Darwin's theories have been misrepresented since he first published his findings. Huxley is often seen as a proponent of Darwin. However it was his writings and not Darwin's that skewed Darwin's theories towards the survival of the fittest ideology.  As one might expect I believe the best work that build on Darwin's work was, "Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution."

Quote:

Another important evolutionary theorist of the same period was Peter Kropotkin who, in his book Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution, advocated a conception of Darwinism counter to that of Huxley. His conception was centred around what he saw as the widespread use of co-operation as a survival mechanism in human societies and animals. He used biological and sociological arguments in an attempt to show that the main factor in facilitating evolution is cooperation between individuals in free-associated societies and groups. This was in order to counteract the conception of fierce competition as the core of evolution, which provided a rationalisation for the dominant political, economic and social theories of the time; and the prevalent interpretations of Darwinism, such as those by Huxley, who is targeted as an opponent by Kropotkin. Kropotkin's conception of Darwinism could be summed up by the following quote:

In the animal world we have seen that the vast majority of species live in societies, and that they find in association the best arms for the struggle for life: understood, of course, in its wide Darwinian sense – not as a struggle for the sheer means of existence, but as a struggle against all natural conditions unfavourable to the species. The animal species, in which individual struggle has been reduced to its narrowest limits, and the practice of mutual aid has attained the greatest development, are invariably the most numerous, the most prosperous, and the most open to further progress. The mutual protection which is obtained in this case, the possibility of attaining old age and of accumulating experience, the higher intellectual development, and the further growth of sociable habits, secure the maintenance of the species, its extension, and its further progressive evolution. The unsociable species, on the contrary, are doomed to decay.

— Peter Kropotkin, Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution (1902), Conclusion.

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

6079_Smith_W

The fact remains autoworker, what you are engaging in is both revisionism and making stuff up.

As I said, according to the Dawkins school of thought if a religious person picks his nose in public it's because they taught him that in Sunday school.

You want to jump on something, maybe pick on something he did after he got out of school, and something in the last 50 years, like considering homosexuality a sickness. Never mind that he used that argument to oppose criminalization, and never mind that, as with eugenics, it is was a common false belief held by the medical establishment and a good many non-religious people at the time.

Same thing here. Never mind that eugenics was built on a medical and public policy foundation; let's lay all the blame squarely at the foot of religion.

One thing he did say about his religious inspiration:

Quote:

"Oh you always start with a text. But the bible is like a bull fiddle, you can play almost any tune you want on it. My background, being interested in social and economic questions, naturally inclined me to preching the idea that religion in essence was entering into a new relationship with God and into a new relationship with the universe. And into a new relationship with your fellow man. And if that Christianity meant anything at all, it meant building the brotherhood of man. If you really believed in the fatherhood of God, if you believed what Jesus said - that we live in a friendly universe - then the brotherhood of man was a corollary to it. And that meant a helpful relationship between man and man, building a society and building institutions that would uplift mankind, and particularly those who were the least fortunate, and this was pretty well the sort of message I was trying to get across."

Source - "Tommy Douglas" by Doris French Shackleton

 

autoworker autoworker's picture

6079_Smith_W wrote:

The fact remains autoworker, what you are engaging in is both revisionism and making stuff up.

As I said, according to the Dawkins school of thought if a religious person picks his nose in public it's because they taught him that in Sunday school.

You want to jump on something, maybe pick on something he did after he got out of school, and something in the last 50 years, like considering homosexuality a sickness. Never mind that he used that argument to oppose criminalization, and never mind that, as with eugenics, it is was a common false belief held by the medical establishment and a good many non-religious people at the time.

Same thing here. Never mind that eugenics was built on a medical and public policy foundation; let's lay all the blame squarely at the foot of religion.

One thing he did say about his religious inspiration:

Quote:

"Oh you always start with a text. But the bible is like a bull fiddle, you can play almost any tune you want on it. My background, being interested in social and economic questions, naturally inclined me to preching the idea that religion in essence was entering into a new relationship with God and into a new relationship with the universe. And into a new relationship with your fellow man. And if that Christianity meant anything at all, it meant building the brotherhood oman. If you really believed in the fatherhood of God, if you believed what Jesus said -that we live in a friendly universe - then the brotherhood of man was a corollary to it. And that meant a helpful relationship between man and man, building a society and building institutions that would uplift mankind, and particularly those who were the least fortunate, and this was pretty well the sort of message I was trying to get across."

Source - "Tommy Douglas" by Doris French
Shackleton

 

What have I made up? Please provide examples of my alleged fabrications.

6079_Smith_W

Your implication is that Douglas's paper on eugenics somehow had something to do with his religion - the social gospel, as you say. Do I have that right? 

Never mind that it was an academic paper, and something which Douglas in fact rejected when he was in power.  I'd say it is no more true than Richard Nixon's decision to bomb Cambodia was an example of Quaker doctrine, or Vic Toews actions in government are in line with his Mennonite faith.

Sure there were people in his day who thought eugenics was a good idea, but not all of them were religious, and it was not a religious proposal, but a scientific one.

In short, your association is without any foundation at all.

 

 

 

autoworker autoworker's picture

6079_Smith_W wrote:

Your implication is that Douglas's paper on eugenics somehow had something to do with his religion - the social gospel, as you say. Do I have that right? 

Never mind that it was an academic paper, and something which Douglas in fact rejected when he was in power.  I'd say it is no more true than Richard Nixon's decision to bomb Cambodia was an example of Quaker doctrine, or Vic Toews actions in government are in line with his Mennonite faith.

Sure there were people in his day who thought eugenics was a good idea, but not all of them were religious, and it was not a religious proposal, but a scientific one.

In short, your association is without any foundation at all.

 

 

 

Do you believe that a woman's "morality" is a valid theory of applied science? It sounds rather preachy to me.

6079_Smith_W

I don't think eugenics as promoted in the early part of the 20th century is a valid theory of applied science at all -  because it was highly unethical, discriminatory,and based on false assumptions. If you are saying that because it was presented as a utopian vision that it is preachy and therefore religious, I'm sorry, but that is not a good enough connection.

There are plenty of scientific discoveries that were presented as utopian solutions in just as preachy a fashion as this, and they don't have anything to do with religion either.

Were there some religious people and quasi-religious groups that promoted eugenics? Yes, the notable one being the Womens Christian Temperance Union, since you mention women's morality. They also supported women's suffrage, unionizing workplaces, and temperance. 

And I think Margaret Sanger was already mentioned.

Of the  major promoters of eugenics the only overtly religious person I recongize was John Harvey Kellog, who used Seventh-Day Adventist principles in his sanatorium. Aside from that, plenty of scientists, philanthropists, as well as progressive thinkers, and promoters of women's rights and birth control.

Not surprisingly, the writer and Catholic theologian GK Chesterton  was among its critics.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Eugenics_Conference

 

autoworker autoworker's picture

I don't think they saw their efforts as utopian. I'm interested more in how they thought about the social imperatives of the time, and the 1920s and 30s, generally. Christians faced with seemingly intractable conditions, sought modern solutions to age-old problems, with an evangelical zeal of committed activists. There's nothing wrong about their intentions, even if their methodology was flawed. Hopefully, ours has improved.

autoworker autoworker's picture

@kropotkin1951: I ordered "Mutual Aid" -- 1902 seems like it might have been a very good year.

ygtbk

Mutual Aid is a good book, and I have no problem with the ethical message, but the evolutionary ideas might be taken with a grain of salt.

It's not obvious to me that the author understood that bees and ants have a genetic system (haplodiploidy) that differs from us primates.

Much as Dawkins appears to be oblivious to how obnoxious he can seem, he's probably a better source (if only because post-Mendel) on genetics and evolution.

6079_Smith_W

You can go on believing it was a Christian plot if you wish, autoworker. And as I said above, some church figures supported it, in particular some Methodists and Presbyterians and it played into many people's racism and discrimination (and some, notably the Catholics, opposed it).

But that doesn't account for the many non-religious people who also saw it as a good thing, and if you look at those associated with it, it is far more closely linked with progressive social reform and women's rights, and those who saw science as a means of social engineering.

In Alberta, Bill Aberhardt may have kept it in place, but it was the progressive United Farmers of Alberta Party which implemented it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alberta_Eugenics_Board

@ ygtbk

I don't think anyone understood ploidity until the discovery of DNA, 50 years ago this past February. I assume moss researchers must have been scratching their heads over its life cycle before we had that information.

 

greatwhite

knownothing wrote:

Caissa wrote:

Some members of the Christian left and Social Gospel are on Babble.

 

I would sure like it if one of them would help me understand this contradiction between voting Conservative and being Christian.

 

Are any of us Christians when we don't follow Christ's teaching that we should turn the other cheek to offenses against us. We need to read Christ's words again and follow them if we are to consider ouselves Christians. Just attending one of the churches that call themselves Christian  doesn't make us Christian. Following Christ's teaching does, but we don't do it except when it is convenient for us.

Turning the other cheek is just one of the things we don't heed Christ on. Read the gospels again and see what how you are failing as a Christian.

 

autoworker autoworker's picture

@smith: I never said nor implied that eugenics was a Christian plot. Stop misrepresenting my posts.

6079_Smith_W

I'm glad you didn't, and sorry if I misunderstood your intention in this comment:

autoworker wrote:

It matters because it emerged from six years spent at Brandon College, immersed in the the study of the Social Gospel, which some have advocated a return to.

I took it as an inference that a return to the values of the Social Gospel (which I'd say are very much still with us in progressive religious movements, and in the NDP) could lead to a revival of eugenics or something similar in the future.

While I believe that eugenics was in part promoted by progressive thinkers, I don't think the religious aspect, or the social gospel movement was all that central to it.

autoworker autoworker's picture

The Social Gospel was never central to eugenics, but, what has proved to be psudo-science, was once regarded as an academically progressive method for addressing the onerous social conditions of the Great Depression, given the mores of the time. As I said: I'm more concerned with how people thought, back then. Perhaps many Christians eschew social democracy, because they have lost faith in social science.

6079_Smith_W

Well that's the thing; I don't think those who are progressive have abandoned anything. In the case of Tommy Douglas, obviously eugenics was just an academic exercise, or he thought better of it. In any case, he went on to better things and certainly did not abandon social democracy.

And I'd say the vast majority of progressive religious work has nothing to do with social engineering, and never did.

Goggles Pissano

A major part of Tommy Douglas's social gospel when he became premier was to fund research into eliminating alcoholism and mental illness. He was the MLA for Weyburn, and Weyburn was home to the Weyburn mental institution. He wanted to see people healthy and well and out of institutions and not destitute on the streets.  This is the most overlooked and misunderstood accomplishment in his social gospel.  Erika Dyck wrote a book called, Psychadelic Psychiatry, where she documents the history and misunderstandings of this research.

It was the Alberta government and their social gospel at the time which forcefully sterilized first nations women and women in mental institutions.

montrealer58 montrealer58's picture

I am a Protestant social democrat. According to my reading of the Bible, idolatry is wrong, which is why I am so opposed to the Cult of Justin Trudeau.

Pondering

I think oligarchs deliberately targeted religious people through abortion, gay rights, the attack on Christmas, etc. to gain the support of Christians whipping up as much anger and resentment as possible to create a war between traditionalists and progressives.

Even before the Pope's words on putting less stress on abortion and gay rights and more on economic injustice Christian congregations have been turning away from the heated retoric and recognizing that being a Christian goes far beyond those two issues.

 

alan smithee alan smithee's picture

I value my civil liberties which is why I'm not a follower of Dear Leader and his feeble minded minions.

6079_Smith_W
quizzical

hmmm....mom has always maintained true "christians" (though she doesn't believe there can even be such a designation) wouldn't vote Conservative. given the religiousities of the extended family i didn't believe her.

Aristotleded24

[url=http://commondreams.org/news/2015/09/14/bible-belt-sanders-seeks-common-... confronts social, economic issues head on in Bible Belt communities:[/url]

Quote:
Avowed democratic socialist and presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders on Monday gave a rousing lesson in morality to thousands of students at the conservative Christian college Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Following an introduction by university president Jerry Falwell Jr., whose father founded the school in 1971, Sen. Sanders immediately acknowledged two broad areas in which his and the student body's views were likely to diverge: "the right of a woman to control her own body" and "gay rights and gay marriage."

With that out of the way, the progressive senator from Vermont then launched into a speech in which he sought common ground with the religious right over issues "of enormous consequence to our country, and in fact, the entire world."

As students of Christian faith, the people in attendance regularly "try to understand the meaning of morality... and try to understand, in this very complicated modern world, what we the words of the Bible means in today's society," he said.

Quoting the Bible—Matthew 7:12 and Amos 5:24—he continued, "in my view, it would be hard for anyone in this room today to make the case that the United States of America... [is] a just society, or anything resembling a just society."

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