What the hell is Al Quie afraid of?

Al QuieI’ve long been a fan of Al Quie, a moderate Republican congressman and governor whose  legacy of bipartisan problem-solving is one I admire.  But his letter to the editor in the Strib yesterday fussing over the ELCA vote last summer to allow gays and lesbians, in committed relationships, to serve as clergy makes me wonder: What is he afraid of? As a letter writer in today’s paper states: “no congregation will be forced to call a pastor it deems unfit.”

Worse, he states “Think about our youth. The ELCA decision is a travesty upon our youth.” That’s bullshit, and even most evangelical youth would agree with me. See this for example:

An earlier survey, conducted by the conservative Barna Group in 2007, found that 80% of the 16 to 29 year old evangelical churchgoers who responded to the survey felt that present-day Christianity shows “excessive contempt and unloving attitudes towards gays and lesbians.” The Barna assessment also added that churches were not helping young people relate to their gay friends.

Worse yet, he endorses the organization Lutheran CORE which states on its website that one of its goals is to “Uphold the Biblical norms for marriage, family and sexuality.” Huh? It’s pretty much accepted by most church-going folks I know that what Richard Dawkins said about the God of the Old Testament is right on the mark:

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

Say it ain’t so, Al.


  1. john george said:

    Griff- Spiritual beliefs are not decided by majority votes. Also, the likes of Dawkins and his appraisal of Biblical precedents is, IMNSHO, about as useful as mammary glands on a male pig. Everyone is entitled to his/her opinion of how Scriptures should be interpreted, but, as I have said many times before, Dawkins’ opinion of God (of either new or old testaments) is just more indication of his complete lack of any personal experience with God and His character. Christianity is not a religion, (as many define religion as a way to ascend to God) but it is a relationship with a person. I know I will get lambasted again for my convictions, but none of that has persuaded me in the past. Just as Peter responded in John 6:68, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternallife.”

    January 8, 2010
  2. kiffi summa said:

    Griff: You said it: BS!

    Here we go again…

    January 9, 2010
  3. kiffi summa said:

    Griff: In my ‘horror’ at the “Christian” attitude expressed in Al Quie’s letter I did not comment on the fact that he is the second signator to that letter; the first is a mr. Bob Lee, Staples MN.

    Maybe mr. Quie,whom you have previously praised, was prevailed upon by some radical group to co-sign a letter on which he did not have final approval … it happens…

    January 9, 2010
  4. Obie Holmen said:

    I had the same initial response as Kiffi–that Quie’s name had been hijacked because the positions advocated are so ludicrous. As I posted on my own blog yesterday, for a former Congressman and Governor to exhibit such a fundamental misunderstanding of constitutional government and representative (not direct) democracy is mind boggling. Lambasting the ELCA for not allowing the membership to have a voice is sheer demagoguery, and Quie ought to know better. The truth is that the ELCA pro-LGBT decisions were the result of an extremely democratic process. In fact, the Lutheran CORE website contains numerous criticisms of the process as too lay oriented without sufficient control by the theological elites. By the way, the letter apparently was circulated to newspapers across Minnesota.

    January 9, 2010
  5. Patrick Enders said:

    John you wrote:

    as I have said many times before, Dawkins’ opinion of God (of either new or old testaments) is just more indication of his complete lack of any personal experience with God and His character.

    I’m pretty sure that Richard Dawkins would agree with you on that.

    January 9, 2010
  6. john george said:

    There is an interesting column in the Strib Opinion Exchange today, reprinted from the LA Times, titled “What does the modern American believe?” The Times link is here;
    Goldman takes on the the whole idea of individualism and how this has undermined consensus in societies, and, I think he is infering, general unity. I’m not sure I agree with all his conclusions, but he does address one idea that I think is valid- the concept of seeking scientific validation from the theological community and seeking religious validation from the scientific community. This is why I addressed Dawkins’ views as I did.

    Also, in my Christian experience, I have found the doctorine of the priesthood of believers to be valid. This is the concept that each believer can approach God directly, and not have to go through some “shaman” or “prophet” or “theological expert.” For Christians, there is one mediator, Jesus Christ, with whom we all have equal access to God through His death and resurection. I don’t have to have Dawkins’ or Al Quie’s approval for what I believe. I can find validation in the Scriptures themselves. This is the point at which I disagree with Goldman.

    January 9, 2010
  7. David Ludescher said:

    Griff: Perhaps Mr. Quie is ill-informed about what the decision actually says or means. The ECLA didn’t vote on allowing gay clergy. The ECLA voted on whether to allow individual congregations to permit gay clergy.

    If you recall, Griff, when the first draft came out, you did a blog piece criticizing the ECLA document and telling them to wake up and smell the coffee.

    Regarding the Old Testament God, do you realize that you are quoting an atheist who is giving his individual opinion about something which he confesses that he knows nothing about?

    January 9, 2010
  8. Robert Stevenson said:

    Dear Mr. Wigley,

    Apparently you missed Al Quie’s point, he is not afraid, he is angry. So am I, so are we at our Lutheran Church. We cut off our funding of the ELCA years back not because of sex (the culture’s current and favorite distraction) but because the ELCA has lost its way theologically. I will be voting to get out as soon as I get the chance. Process matters and the ELCA failed dramatically the people in the pews.

    January 10, 2010
  9. Diane Roth said:

    I just want to make a slight amendment to the “priesthood of all believers” comment. We often make the mistake of believing that the “poab” refers to not needing a priest, being our own priest. However, I believer that the reformation leaders, including Luther (although not excluding this view) primarily saw this priesthood as us being priests for one another, not being our own priest. So it still holds, that we don’t need to go a “religious expert”, but we go to one another, for help in interpreting the scriptures, for forgiveness, for the word of grace. The first interpretation is really too individualistic.

    January 10, 2010
  10. kiffi summa said:

    Mr. Stevenson: You say you ( your congregation) cut off funding to the ELCA years ago because “the ELCA has lost its way theologically”.

    My question is this: Do you (your congregation) also ACCEPT no funding support from the ELCA?

    January 10, 2010
  11. Obie Holmen said:


    The ELCA churchwide does not typically provide direct monetary support to local congregations except when the congregation is a startup. But, the local congregations receive services and indirect benefits–perhaps the most tangible is the subsidized pension and health plans for parish pastors.

    January 10, 2010
  12. kiffi summa said:

    Thank you, Obie… Then the question , if it arises, would be if a congregation splits off of ELCA but still retains a ‘connection’, i.e. a “renewal” Lutheran church, would they receive that startup $$ to build a building, or ???

    If there are such theological differences, wouldn’t it be a bit hypocritical to accept even startup funding?

    I had heard there were some related questions when Rejoice (the renewal group that meets at the Northfield High School) was wanting to build itself a facility at 246 and County Road 1…

    January 10, 2010
  13. Tracy Davis said:

    Ummm…. shouldn’t churches have the right to self-governance within their own spheres of authority? Why can’t a church refuse to have a priest/pastor/leader who doesn’t agree to the church’s Statement of Faith?

    January 10, 2010
  14. David Ludescher said:

    Griff: Let me see if I understand your reasoning: An atheist doesn’t like what was written about God more than 2,000 years ago. Therefore, sexual intimacy should be morally permissible outside the marriage relationship. If anyone disagrees with you, he is full of bullshit, and afraid. And, if Quie had any sense he would consult a survey of teenagers.

    I think Quie is probably afraid that the ECLA’s theology is being muddled with its politics. And, he would have a good point. The ECLA did not vote to allow gay and lesbian clergy to serve as pastors. It voted to allow congregations to permit gay and lesbian clergy to serve – if the congregation chooses to do so. However, the relationships must be in loving, committed and publicly accountable relationships. Of course, no one knows what that means.

    All of this discussion begs the question when sexual intimacy should be considered appropriate by society at large. Why loving? Shouldn’t kids be able to “hookup”? Why committed? Sex is fun; why have commitments? Why publicly accountable? Isn’t the marriage certificate just a piece of paper?

    I think Quie wants some answers to these questions. Your answers – 1) it’s bullshit, 2) listen to an atheist, or 3) survey a bunch of teenagers aren’t much for discussion purposes.

    January 10, 2010
  15. john george said:

    Diane- Thanks for the clarification. You are exactly correct in stating the need each of us has to be in relationship with a body of believers. Eph. 5 says we are to submit ourselves to one another. John wrote in Revelations that we are a “kingdom of priests.” The “lone ranger” idea of following Christ is very dangerous. None of us has complete revelation of the scriptures, and we need one another to keep us honest about our blind spots. With that, we do have the promise of the Holy Spirit, Whom Jesus said would lead us into all truth. What Luther and Calvin brought about in the reformation was the idea that each believer could live by his faith, and not be bound to a list of works, handed down by a church hierarchy, to earn salvation.

    January 10, 2010
  16. Obie Holmen said:


    The Rejoice example is right on. I’m not privy to the details, but I understand Rejoice has received ELCA startup funds. As a conservative clone of mega church style Hosanna of Lakeville, which has departed the ELCA, one would assume Rejoice may depart as well. Will they bite the hand that fed them? Will they refund any sums received from the ELCA?

    January 11, 2010
  17. Obie Holmen said:


    It has always been the case in the ELCA that local congregations have the final say on calling a pastor. That was explicitly reaffirmed regarding gay pastors. Thus, under no circumstances will a congregation be forced to call a gay pastor if they do not wish to do so. But, this “local option” is not the solution for the conservative opponents; instead, it is the problem because they cannot stop other congregations from calling a gay pastor if they desire. The conservatives are not worried about being forced to call someone against their wishes, they’re angry because they can’t stop other congregations from exercising their free choice.

    January 11, 2010
  18. kiffi summa said:

    Obie: You are entirely right as to the basic, the core, substance of this issue.

    It is absolutely infuriating to have the “you’re criticizing my religious beliefs” CARD played when the believer/church/congregation is actually discriminating based on a specific religious belief rather than on basic human rights which one might suppose to be the underlayment of all religion.

    If I had referred to Pastor Clites (Rejoice Church) as being “about as useless as mammary glands on a male pig” as Mr. George did about another religious philosopher, Richard Dawkins, I could have looked for a bunch of angry responses; but since non-church is discriminated against by the “churched”, it seems to be a one-way street.

    Tolerance demanded by “them”; tolerance not offered to “us”…

    January 11, 2010
  19. David Ludescher said:

    Obie: If you read Quie’s letter, I think you can see that your statement isn’t accurate. Quie calls for local congregations to exercise their “local option”. He advises congregations to 1) take a vote, 2) stop funding the larger Church, and 3) Contact Lutheran CORE.

    He doesn’t mention anything about preventing other congregations from installing a pastor of their own choosing.

    January 11, 2010
  20. Tom Swift said:

    Two cents, Kiffi: As a former newspaper staffer, I do not think the Strib would publish a letter from a former governor without verification.

    January 11, 2010
  21. Tom Swift said:

    My first reaction is that I agree, Tracy. The church should decide for itself whether it wishes to discriminate on the basis of sexuality or gender — just as, say, a private country club can discriminate on the basis of race. But two questions: Is the church a similarly private business if it is tax-exempt? Does the church receive federal tax dollars via the so-called “faith-based initiative”?

    January 11, 2010
  22. john george said:

    Tracy- Whether or not a local congregation is autonomous in its decision making varies from one denomination to another.

    Kiffi- You have every right to be infuriated by whatever infuriates you. I would only point out one thing in your statement;

    “It is absolutely infuriating to have the “you’re criticizing my religious beliefs” CARD played when the believer/church/congregation is actually discriminating based on a specific religious belief rather than on basic human rights which one might suppose to be the underlayment of all religion.”

    Religions are not based upon human rights. They are based on a specific statement of doctrine. They all “…discriminat(e)(ing) based on a specific religious belief…” and all are mutually exclusive of those who say they believe differently.

    Richard Dawkins a religious philosopher? I found this quote about him on his own web site-

    “Richard Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist, author and outspoken atheist. He has established himself as a biological guru with the publication of books detailing and expanding upon Darwinian theory..”

    I think it was David L. who raised the question to Griff about relying on an atheist to make a definitive evaluation of a religious belief.

    If I have failed to do so before, I want to extend my thanks to you for showing tolerance toward me and my beliefs. I hope I can do the same for you.

    Tom- As far as your question about churches receiving faith-based federal funds, if I remember correctly, the concept of the Federal Government being able to direct a church as to how these funds should be spent was pretty closely defined. The fear at the time of passage was that it violated the Constitution’s prevention of establishing a state religion. If I understand the outcome, no faith-based organization can be denied these funds along the lines of their creed. Some churches have refused to access these funds out of concern for coming under the auspices of the Federal Government over their own articles of belief.

    January 11, 2010
  23. kiffi summa said:

    John: Thank you for saying “religions are not based on human rights” I have come to suspect as much…

    January 12, 2010
  24. Tom Swift said:

    John George wrote: “Some churches have refused to access these funds out of concern for coming under the auspices of the Federal Government over their own articles of belief.”

    I agree with those churches. A clear separation is good for the state and good for the church. But, in my view, a church that does accept tax dollars should not be allowed (just as the government doling them out is not allowed) to discriminate — no matter the document or book upon which its discrimination is based.

    President Obama has said he plans to reform this part of the initiative. Unfortunately, no action so far.

    January 12, 2010
  25. john george said:

    Tom- Yes, this is where the legislation becomes a sticky wicket. If the churches have to adopt a set of government approved bylaws just to distribute Federal aid dollars to their neighborhood needy, then does that action define a state established church? I’m sure you are familiar with the establishment clause in the Constitution-
    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
    By requiring a standardized set of rules for churches using Federal faith based funds, especially with the case in point, requiring them to allow non-celebate gay clergy, would the requirements you suggest violate this clause?

    January 12, 2010
  26. Griff Wigley said:

    Today’s Onion: Gay Teen Worried He Might Be Christian.

    According to Faber, his first experience with evangelical Christianity was not all that different from other gays his age. “Sure, I looked at the Book of Leviticus once or twice—everybody has,” Faber said. “We all experiment a little bit with that stuff when we’re growing up. But I was just a kid. I didn’t think it meant anything.”


    January 12, 2010
  27. David Ludescher said:

    Kiffi: But, our inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are given to us by our Creator. (Declaration of Independence).

    January 13, 2010
  28. kiffi summa said:

    No, David…. those words, as you note, were given to us by the patriots Continental Congress…
    What do you think about John’s comment that religious beliefs are not based on human rights?

    January 13, 2010
  29. David Ludescher said:

    Kiffi: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all meen are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” (Declaration of Independence)

    January 13, 2010
  30. David Ludescher said:

    Excuse me: “men” not “meen”.

    January 13, 2010
  31. Jane Moline said:

    Too bad that Declaration of Independence ignored half of the population.

    January 13, 2010
  32. Patrick Enders said:

    In addition, there were all the persons who were only endowed by their Creator with 3/5’s of those inalienable rights – though apparently, that 3/5’s did not include either life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness.

    It was a pretty small 3/5ths.

    It’s a good thing that people came along later and gave them the inalienable rights that – flowery rhetoric aside – their Creator had neglected.

    January 13, 2010
  33. David Ludescher said:

    Kiffi: I don’t know what John meant by “human rights”. In American jurisprudence, individuals have liberties (freedoms), some which are inalienable (Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness included) and the government has powers, which are derived from the consent of the governed (D of I again).

    Relgion tends to be much more concerned with the proper use of human freedom, i.e. when freedom is abused, it is called sin. There has been a movement away from this concept in many faiths. That appears to one of Quie’s laments.

    January 13, 2010
  34. Tom Swift said:

    Actually, John, I think the entire initiative is a “sticky wicket” and should be abolished. I am repeating myself now, but in my opinion, a clear separation between church and state (including aid and tax exemptions) is best for both the church and the state.

    But, short of that, churches would not have to “adopt a set of government approved bylaws just to distribute federal aid dollars to their neighborhood needy.” They would merely have to abide by the same laws as does the very government providing their financial assistance (see: http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/qanda.html).

    Frankly, if government policy is immoral (sinful, whatever), is it not hypocritical for a church to accept government money? In other words, isn’t it sort of like speaking out against prostitution and then asking a pimp for change?

    January 13, 2010
  35. john george said:

    David & Kiffi- What I mean by my statement, “Religions are not based upon human rights,” is that all the religions I know of are based upon some way to approach God, and not to establish “human rights.” I suppose there may be some obscure sect out there that is based on this, but I am not aware of it. For instance, in Christianity, the emphasis is upon laying down one’s rights, not claiming entitlement to them. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Phillipians that they were to have the same mind as Christ Jesus, Who, even though He existed as God, did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped (tighly held onto), but emptied (humbled) Himself and became as a man. Hope this helps clarify my statement.

    January 13, 2010
  36. john george said:

    Tom- I’m not sure I follow your example of the pimp and change. Are you saying that Christians should have no contact with sinners? That would seem to violate the example that Jesus set in His life and deny our own nature. Besides, money is not a moral entity. The “love of money” is the pitfall.

    If I remember the reasoning behind trying to channel some of this money through churches, it was to use administrative structures and distribution processes that were already in place. It was an attempt to get more mileage out of the money at hand, kind of like not paying two people to do the same thing in a business. I’m not sure it was such a great idea, either, what with all the strings that are attached to Federal money.

    January 13, 2010
  37. Tom Swift said:

    John George wrote: “Are you saying that Christians should have no contact with sinners?”

    No, John. It was an analogy — perhaps a flawed one — but I was not saying that or anything like that.

    January 14, 2010
  38. john george said:

    Tom- Yes, I would agree that it was a flawed analogy, if you were trying to illustrate your preceeding sentence-
    “Frankly, if government policy is immoral (sinful, whatever), is it not hypocritical for a church to accept government money?”
    Actually, I don’t think that sentence needs any illustration. It is very clear and straightforward, and I agree with it. If a church receives Federal funds for a specific need-based ministry, and uses part of those funds to increase the staff salaries, then I agree that would be questionable. If, on the otherhand, they simply use their infrastructure to channel Federal monies into a neighborhood ministry, without any diversion to the church body itself, then I don’t think their statement of faith should be tampered with by the government. The greatest problem with this is the illusion that outsiders perceive, that the church is being enriched with tax money. That is why there is an admonition in scripture to abstain from all appearance of evil, and that is why I think the program lacks wisdom.

    January 14, 2010
  39. Griff Wigley said:

    MPR’s Public Insight Network project has this question posted:

    Have you considered leaving the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America?

    Lutheran CORE (Coalition for Renewal) is beginning work on a new church body for those choosing to leave the ELCA because of its decision to allow pastors to be in committed, same-gender relationships.

    Have you considered leaving the ELCA in response to its new position on gay clergy — or for other theological reasons? How would a new church affect you, your congregation, or your community?

    January 21, 2010
  40. Griff Wigley said:

    Oops, I guess that question has been posted for a while. MPR’s Andrew Haeg posted this in their Future of News forum (Ning social networking platform):

    Collaborating to examine the split in the Lutheran church

    We heard from gay pastors still closeted despite the vote; from parents of gay sons and daughters who now felt welcomed by the church; from ELCA members who felt the church was going against the Gospel; and from many average churchgoers who felt a deep sense of pain and anguish over the split in their community.

    In all, more than 2,000 people responded, providing snapshots of how families and congregations are coping with the emotional, spiritual and economic consequences of the ELCA vote, a window into the larger cultural debate over homosexuality and religion, and rare insight into the fate of small churches with aging and dwindling congregations.

     But now a new phase is about to begin:

    We knew we had unearthed a trove of insights and connections with our Lutheran query. We also recognized that to make the most of that information, we would need collaborators. And so, over the next two months, we’re going to be connecting with several top-notch religion writers, journalists and thinkers around the country to engage with the insights and stories we’ve gathered, and put what we’re learning in context.

    Our working theory is that by connecting smart writers and thinkers with a large community of people eager to share what they know of this topic, we’ll be able to examine the fault lines in the ELCA church, and explain why they matter to more than just Lutherans.

    January 21, 2010
  41. Griff Wigley said:

    David, let’s keep the discussion focused on Quie’s assertions, which didn’t go into the broader issues of sexual intimacy.

    As for the Dawkins quote about the characteristics of the God of the Old Testament, which of those items would you challenge? Just because he’s an atheist, don’t reject everything he says. You treat me better than that!

    As for youth, my point was simply that while Quie might be freaked about having a gay or lesbian pastor, to imply that youth of today would also be freaked or harmed or whatever (he doesn’t say) is far from the truth… even among evangelical youth.

    January 21, 2010
  42. David Ludescher said:

    Griff: The ECLA discussion was not about gay clergy. Even the Roman Catholic Church permits gay priests. The ECLA decision was about whether sexually active gay clergy could serve ECLA congregations.

    It’s not so much that kids get freaked out about gay clergy; they don’t even see anything wrong with sexting. It would be a travesty if kids weren’t properly educated about sexual values.

    The ECLA document headed into some unchartered waters when describing the new sexual values governing church doctrine. For example, the ECLA document says that the gay clergy relationship must be “publicly accountable”. I am guessing that even the drafters didn’t know what they meant by that phrase.

    I can’t speak for Quie. But, I have to believe that much of the concern is centered around abandoning well-established doctrine for politically correct action without a solid intellectual foundation.

    Regarding Dawkins, he seems as narrow-minded as Pat Robertson, with some of the same mean-spirited streaks.

    January 22, 2010
  43. Melody Ng said:

    Actually, it’s not too late to tell us how changes in the ELCA are affecting you, your church, your relationships, or your community. We’re still gathering and reading responses. And although we’ve already heard from some Lutherans in Northfield, we’d love to hear from more of you — esp. high school students and young adults.

    Share your experience here. Thank you!

    January 22, 2010
  44. Holly Cairns said:

    The real question is “Why is Al Quie bringing this to me, the general public?” He probably could have reached ELCA Lutherans in some other way besides bringing it to the general public. Maybe he’s old and losing his way, or something. Fuzzy thinking. It’s irritating to me to see Lutheran issues smack on all the letter to the editor pages.

    January 23, 2010
  45. David Ludescher said:

    Holly: The gay marriage issue is a hot topic. I’m sure we will see a lot more of it from political and religious sectors.

    January 24, 2010
  46. Holly Cairns said:

    Eluding the question, David? I asked why Al Quie was bringing Lutheran problems to the general public. The Al Quie I’ve seen over the years wouldn’t resort to LTE screams, I believe.

    January 24, 2010
  47. Holly Cairns said:

    And David,

    I’d think a lawyer could read the Quie letter and realize the issue is about Lutheran leadership. Are you suggesting this is about gay people sitting in the pews? Even Lutherans don’t spit in the eye of those in their congregations.

    January 24, 2010
  48. David Ludescher said:

    Holly: Yeah. In essence, it is a Lutheran leadership issue. But, plenty of people inside and outside of the Lutheran Church are resorting to public screams. “What the hell is Al Quie afraid of?” is a public scream.

    It would seem that anyone who is in favor of gay marriage feels free to scream, yell, and call names. It is the antithesis of “liberal thinking”.

    January 24, 2010
  49. Holly Cairns said:

    Regarding Gay Marriage, please consider carrying this resolution Bring this Resolution on Gay Marriage to your Caucus: http://bit.ly/7X3DAO with you to your caucus this upcoming February 2nd.

    Perhaps Griff can do a post on resolutions and bringing them to the caucus?
    .-= (Holly Cairns is a blogger. See a recent post titled Gay Marriage Resolution, Bring to Minnesota Caucus) =-.

    January 24, 2010
  50. David Ludescher said:

    Holly: Would your resolution allow any two people to form a civil union?

    January 25, 2010
  51. David Ludescher said:

    Holly: Some of the restrictions now include 1) opposite sexes, 2) 18 years of age of consent, 3) mental capacity, 4) not familial, and 5) one at a time. Because marriage is only a civil contract, it seems to me that only 2) and 3) are necessary, i.e., the ability to contract. There is no fair reason to prevent multiple person unions and familial unions, if same sex unions are allowed.

    January 25, 2010
  52. Holly Cairns said:

    Thanks David. And since I am not looking for more than one husband, and I am unaware of painful discrimination happening because people can’t have more than one spouse, I’ll let someone else worry about that and suggest we still keep it as a restriction.
    .-= (Holly Cairns is a blogger. See a recent post titled Corporate funds change DFL (Democrats), GOP Candidate Relationship) =-.

    January 25, 2010
  53. David Ludescher said:

    Holly: If we are changing the law, we might as well remove all discrimination, painful or not.

    January 25, 2010
  54. David Ludescher said:

    Holly: I’m also a fan of monogamy. But, the law doesn’t care. Maybe you would want to change that part of the law at the same time.

    January 26, 2010
  55. Tom Swift said:

    In reading your comments, David, it is easy to see that you are a lawyer, as you make your points clearly and concisely. But, respectfully, are these your best arguments? Count me among the underwhelmed.

    You have essentially ignored Griff’s repeated offer to critique the substance of Richard Dawkins’ point — even many Christians tacitly agree with its meaning (if not its tenor) when they “interpret” the Bible in a way contrary to the words on the page and/or label it “metaphor” — and instead have made only an ad hominem response.

    Now you are standing against gay marriage on the grounds that in order to rid the world of this form of discrimination we would also have to abolish all marital laws. When millions of teenagers begin to suffer — when they are emotionally and physically punished because their biology calls for them to marry two or more people, including the mentally unstable (to choose among the supposedly analogous examples conjured by your line of reasoning) — how about we revisit the subject then?

    In a generation or two, your view of homosexuality will be marginalized (in a lot of places it already is), just as society — and the church — eventually (after centuries) stopped sanctioning slavery and promoting the second-class citizenship of women. But why wait? Why support the undue suffering of scores of our fellow citizens for one more minute?

    January 27, 2010
  56. Holly Cairns said:

    Hi Tom (and hey, YOU aren’t Swiftee, for any readers who stumble on this thread and regularly read Republican blogs),

    I don’t think David is trying to push polygamy. I think he’s muddling the field– trying to kill the compromise, if there is one. Throwing a cog, throwing a fit, etc. David: It’s about ending painful discrimination. Have a heart.

    Seriously, let’s carry this resolution with us to the caucus:

    Whereas people all across the nation have been voting “yes” to painful discrimination when they vote against gay marriage,

    Whereas painful discrimination is wrong and unjust, and ultimately Unconstitutional

    Whereas there should be a separation of church and state,

    Whereas the church should be allowed to decide who they will marry,

    Whereas marriage is an important concept and valued by many in the state of Minnesota

    Whereas civil unions, if defined properly and used in the right manner, may help us to avoid a conflict between church and state while also simultaneously ending painful discrimination

    Let it be resolved that the state of Minnesota first and foremost recognize “civil unions”, use that term when it refers to its residents in legal description instead of the term “marriage”, and in effect commence to consider marriage as equal to that of a civil union. No one entity shall be discriminated against, in a manner that is painful, as a result of being a part of a civil union.

    “Civil union” shall be defined as a union between two individuals and shall commence immediatly upon consumation by ceremony as allowed by within the church or as consumated before a judge; or shall commence upon being a civil union that is of “habit and repute” and which has been in existence for seven years.

    (Maybe one of us can add a line about being mentally capable and of the age of 18, or 16 with parent consent….)
    .-= (Holly Cairns is a blogger. See a recent post titled Minnesota Senate District 26: Special Election 2010) =-.

    January 27, 2010
  57. David Ludescher said:

    Holly: I’m not trying to kill a compromise; I am trying to broker one.

    I am in favor a defining marriage or civil union in a way that is simple, fair, and clear, and that serves a legitimate government purpose. Talking about polygamy and familial relationships helps clarify the what the definition is going to be.

    Presently, the statute reads, “Marriage, so far as its validity in law is concerned, is a civil contract between a man and a woman, to which the consent of the parties, capable in law of contracting is essential”.

    I propose the following, “Marriage, so far as its validity in the law is concerned, is a civil contract between or among consenting parties who are capable in law of contracting”.

    I think that this is simple, fair, and clear. There is no need to interpret “painful discrimination”, no need to talk about church versus state, and no sexual components. It is stricly contract law. Anyone interested in loving and committed relationships can make their promises someplace else.

    January 27, 2010
  58. David Ludescher said:


    The substance of Dawkins’ argument is that if the Old Testament is read literally, which it is by some Christians, then God is really mean, and he doesn’t want to believe in that God. Fair enough. But, many, if not most, Christians read the Bible as one book. And, most Christians believe that Jesus of Nazareth has explained the meaning of the Old Testament by his death on the cross.

    My main complaint with Dawkins (and his ilk) is that he mocks all of Christianity by picking on the more fringe elements, and then proclaims victory. I’m not going to be able to take him seriously until he engages the intellectual heavyweights in his battle.

    January 27, 2010
  59. Patrick Enders said:

    I’m glad that you do not take the Bible to be literal truth. However, a large number of American Christians are not as enlightened as you. From Gallup:

    May 25, 2007
    One-Third of Americans Believe the Bible is Literally True
    High inverse correlation between education and belief in a literal Bible
    by Frank Newport

    PRINCETON, NJ — About one-third of the American adult population believes the Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally word for word.


    Given the prevalence of such a view, it appropriate for Dr. Dawkins to address the implications of such belief. And the God of the Old Testament really did act in some remarkably disturbing ways – if we are to believe that what the bible says is true.

    January 27, 2010
  60. Paul Zorn said:

    David, Holly,

    I like the simplicity of David’s proposed new statute. It avoids vague language like “first and foremost”, “painful”, and “consummation”, all of which seem (for different reasons!) to invite variant readings.

    Clear language is great, but it isn’t everything. I’d probably oppose a caucus resolution advocating for David’s new statute.

    My main problem is that David’s statute explicitly recognizes—note the use of “among”— polygamous marriages. I wonder, too, whether it would also allow marriages between non-human “parties”, such as corporations … but I’d defer to David’s expertise there.

    Whether polygamous and monogamous marriage should be treated equally before the law is a good question, but separable from the question of whether we personally prefer one option to the other. (Most of us around here, I suspect, have similar preferences in this matter.)

    Maybe we can discuss sometime the pros and cons of polygamy. In the meantime, why conflate two questions, one hard and one (for me, anyway) easy? I just don’t buy David’s view (unless I misunderstand it) that the two have to go together.

    January 27, 2010
  61. Holly Cairns said:


    Perhaps you can take a stab at it? I like my whereas this and that, and I like the idea of addressing currently existing discrimination. Also, we need to define civil union so it avoids potential problems.

    Consummation was used to address common law marriage situation
    painful was used to differentiate, but perhaps it isn’t needed in the legal context
    .-= (Holly Cairns is a blogger. See a recent post titled Minnesota Senate District 26: Special Election 2010) =-.

    January 27, 2010
  62. David Ludescher said:

    Patrick: Whether the Bible is literally true is different from whether it is true. There is plenty of exegesis nowadays to explain the context of the various books of the Bible. Perhaps Dawkins should focus on having an intelligent conversation with one of these folks rather than using his considerable intellectual powers to try to win an argument with “unenlightened” folks? He might begin to understand why it appears that God is so remarkably “disturbing”.

    I think Dawkins is going to have to learn algebra before he can be taught calculus. Calculus notation looks like gibberish until you understand the context in which it was written.

    January 27, 2010
  63. Patrick Enders said:

    Problem is, those “unenlightened” people periodically hold significant political power in this country – just look at 2000-2008, or the various efforts aimed at getting religion into the classroom, and science out.

    We don’t have the luxury of ignoring them.

    January 27, 2010
  64. Patrick Enders said:

    To get a fuller understanding, you could review David’s comments scattered among the 1,438 comments in this thread:

    David has discussed his marriage ideas there in great detail.

    January 27, 2010
  65. David Ludescher said:

    Paul: Good point, they must be consenting humans, not parties. Present law states a man and a woman; we should limit it to individuals.

    The question of “preference” (or “prejudice”) is what we are trying to avoid. Polygamous versus monogamous, gay versus straight, sexual versus asexual, and familial versus non-familial are the kinds of artificial distinctions we are trying to rid from the law. It is only a contract, what does monogamy, sexual preference, or even actual sex have to do with a contact? Aren’t monogamy, sexual complementarity, biology, loving, committed and sexual practices religious questions? Aren’t we trying to avoid the preferences of David Ludescher and Paul Zorn, and settle on a non-preferential system of regulating the personal contract called a marriage?

    January 27, 2010
  66. Tom Swift said:

    Hi Holly. No, I am not the “Swiftee” you speak of.

    January 28, 2010
  67. Tom Swift said:

    Which are the “unenlightened” Christians, David?

    The idea that the so-called New Atheists have not engaged “intellectual heavyweights” is not accurate. I have more closely followed Sam Harris (one of Dawkins’ “ilk,” to use your word) than Dawkins, and he has engaged with Rick Warren, Martin Marty, Karen Armstrong, Andrew Sullivan, Chris Hedges, among others. See: http://www.samharris.org/site/debates/

    Dawkins, too, regularly debates believers who are not exactly ignoramuses (including Francis Collins). A partial list: http://tinyurl.com/ydhrwbs

    January 28, 2010
  68. Tom Swift said:

    Patrick: Perhaps my favorite one …

    “An evangelical pollster, George Barna, recently asked a sampling of Christians a list of questions, the answers to some of which demonstrated a fairly pervasive biblical illiteracy (only 40 percent of respondents could conjure up any five the Ten Commandments. A scant half of Americans can name any of the four Gospels. Twelve percent of Americans are confident that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife.)”

    -“Deep Economy” (p. 98) by Bill McKibben, self-proclaimed Christian

    January 28, 2010
  69. john george said:

    Tom- An interesting thing about Christianity is that it is based more upon whom you know (Jesus) than what you know. That is why I call it a relationship rather than a religion. That is another reason young children pick up on it pretty quickly, especially if they have been taught critical thinking.

    January 28, 2010
  70. David Ludescher said:

    Tom: In 21.7, Patrick referenced those who read the Bible literally as being less enlightened than I. I was taught that the Bible is to be read in the context of its times, its people, its audience, and its methods.

    When I read Aesop’s fables, I realized that the ant and the grasshopper couldn’t really talk to each other, and I doubt that Aesop thought they could. I would consider someone reading it literally to be “unenlightened”. But, if someone told me that they wouldn’t read Aesop because some “believers” thought ants and grasshoppers could talk, I would think those people to be, at best, disingenuous, and, at worst, fools.

    Some of Dawkins’ arguments are similar to the latter category. He mocks fringe Christian beliefs, and postulates that he couldn’t possibly become a “believer”. Fair enough. But, most Christians don’t think ants and grasshoppers can talk, or that God is a big bad meany, and it is unfair for Dawkins to take potshots at all Christians (no matter how fashionable or profitable it has become).

    I’ll try to listen to some of the videos you referenced. But, from what I have heard to date, Dawkins is more about critiquing Aesop’s talking ant and grasshopper than he is about understanding Aesop’s fable.

    January 28, 2010
  71. Paul Zorn said:


    In 21.13 you properly diss any literal interpretation of Aesop on talking ants and grasshoppers. As you say, the fables are obviously metaphorical, and so have moral or entertainment value, if any, in that spirit.

    Less clear to me is your point on how all this relates to religion and religious belief. If you mean only that analogy and metaphor play some role in religion, fine — who could disagree?

    The $64K question, IMO, is how literally or metaphorically the Bible or other religious texts should properly be read and assessed. On these scores (what I see as) reasonable people can and should disagree, while (what I see as) unreasonable people fight, sometimes to the death.

    Dawkins may pick his fights too much for some tastes at one end of this spectrum. But the spectrum really exists, and it matters in practical ways, for religion. Nobody really puzzles over Aesop.

    January 30, 2010
  72. Holly Cairns said:


    Okay, here’s a shorter version (less verbiage, and the “painful” might cause problems)

    Gay Marriage Resolution, Draft #2

    Whereas people all across the nation have been voting “yes” to painful discrimination when they vote against gay marriage,

    Whereas painful discrimination is wrong and unjust, and ultimately Unconstitutional

    Whereas there should be a separation of church and state,

    Whereas the church should be allowed to decide who they will marry,

    Whereas marriage is an important concept and valued by many in the state of Minnesota

    Whereas civil unions, if defined properly and used in the right manner, may help us to avoid a conflict between church and state while also simultaneously ending painful discrimination

    Let it be resolved that the state of Minnesota recognize “civil unions”, use that term when it refers to its residents in legal description instead of the term “marriage”, and commence to consider marriage as equal to that of a civil union. No one entity shall be discriminated against as a result of being a part of a civil union.

    “Civil union” shall be defined as a union between two individuals and shall commence upon consumation by ceremony as allowed by within the church or as consumated before a judge; or shall commence upon being a civil union that is of “habit and repute” and which has been in existence for seven years.
    .-= (Holly Cairns is a blogger. See a recent post titled Oh, and Hey, Entenza! Minnesota Caucus Time!) =-.

    January 30, 2010
  73. David Ludescher said:

    Paul: I maintain that Dawkins is one of the “unreasonable” people who battle to the death. He is on the same end of the spectrum of Scriptural interpretation as the fundamentalists – he reads the Bible literally. Of course, as a scientist, he is reaches the conclusion that the Bible is not factual, which is the same conclusion that he would reach about Aesop’s fables.

    At the other end of the spectrum are those who read the Bible (or Aesop’s fables) so figuratively that any or no interpretation is possible.

    It seems that Quie is concerned that the ECLA is moving too far in the figurative direction in it interpretation of the Scriptures. I think he overstates his case. Interestingly, what the ECLA leadership did was give sanction to both literal and figurative interpretations of Scripture. According to them, Quie may be just as right as someone who believes the complete opposite.

    January 30, 2010
  74. Paul Zorn said:


    You say:

    … Dawkins is one of the “unreasonable” people who battle to the death. He is on the same end of the spectrum of Scriptural interpretation as the fundamentalists – he reads the Bible literally. Of course, as a scientist, he reaches the conclusion that the Bible is not factual, which is the same conclusion that he would reach about Aesop’s fables.

    Have you actually read Dawkins’s main screed, The God Delusion?

    It’s certainly open to criticism on many scores, and I’m not here either to praise or bury it. But what’s above misses Dawkins’s point(s). Dawkins’s main concern is not with the Bible at all, literal or not. Dawkins is mainly on about the existence of God, for which he sees no evidence; belief in any God(s) is Dawkins’s eponymous “delusion”. Given this view, Dawkins isn’t concerned with what’s literal and what’s metaphorical in the Bible. For him (I’d guess), what’s valuable in the Bible is what reinforces universal truths, like treating each other well; what he rejects is what points to (what he sees as) unsupported beliefs about things divine.

    January 31, 2010
  75. David Ludescher said:

    Paul: Dawkins’ point that God does not “exist” also misses the point.

    February 1, 2010
  76. Patrick Enders said:

    The existence of a god would traditionally be considered a minimal requirement for a monotheistic philosophy.

    February 1, 2010
  77. David Ludescher said:

    Patrick: Agreed. But, the converse isn’t true. Whether God “exists” or not, the real question (for Dawkins and atheists in general) is whether believing that God exists is more rational than not believing.

    February 1, 2010
  78. Patrick Enders said:

    “The converse,” as you say, would be: “A monotheistic philosophy would traditionally be considered a minimal requirement for the existence of a god” – which is of course not necessarily true. But you and I both (presumably) took logic, so we already knew that.

    Of course, this is all a digression from the original question of “What the hell is Al Quie afraid of?” Also, we’ve already done this. Please reference our previous discussion on these boards, and feel free to resume discussing the original question at hand.

    February 1, 2010
  79. john george said:

    Patrick- Taking up your apt suggestion to return to the original discussion in 21.20, let me throw out this speculation about Al Quie’s motivations. Speculation is really all any of us has, since I’m not aware that any of us has had a personal conversation with Quie, nor has he posted anything in this discussion to clarify his motivation. Here goes. If the church is being persuaded by those with socio-political convictions to abandon a doctrine it has embraced since the reformation, then are they aquiesing to political pressure rather than a more thorough, or accurate, understanding of the scriptures? If they are responding to political pressure, then that smacks of a violation of the separation of church and state, IMNSHO. There have been some comments posted here that sound like they support this type of move. As has been pointed out in some of the translations referenced here, there is not a definitive translation of the original Greek texts to clarify Paul’s writings in 1 Cor. 9. That being the case, I have a hard time accepting that there is new revelation of the scriptures that would support the position of changing the doctrine on that premise. So, my question is, does the church change its doctrine because of political pressures? What do you think?

    February 1, 2010

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