And I thank you for the tone of your post as well.
After reading it, I don't feel our positions are far apart at all, although I most definitely am going to vote for Obama, considering the alternatives and that I think a vote for any other party at this time is a vote which would confirm the Republican policies of the past eight years which, to my mind, have been a clear disaster by any measure.
Yes, the Pacific Northwest in that regard (proselytizing non-believers) is very different than it is down here but I've also experienced it in many other parts of the US including, although only once, Seattle.
I firmly believe that church and state should be completely separate and I feel that various religious and political leaders here, even as they rant against Islamic states where there is no secularism at all, want to impose their own brand of theocracy upon this country. I feel that is a very dangerous trend.
With regard to abortion clinics, as much as I would hope people would be intelligent enough to use contraception so that abortions are not necessary, I still feel that a woman's body belongs to her and no one else, not even the father, certainly not 'the community'.
The religious right, however, not only wants to forbid sex education in schools, forbid the sale of condoms or other contraceptive devices (this used to be the law in Connecticut, for instance, a state with a high Catholic population), and it also wants to deny women the right to abortions in incest and rape cases, which I find truly unconscionable. This is Sarah Palin's view, for instance.
Jackson, Mississippi, where I live has the only abortion clinic in this state and the anti-abortion forces regularly gather there to pray for the souls of the 'sinners' who would consider doing such a thing whereas they're all for killing non-believers in Iraq and elsewhere.
I don't know of any shootings or bombings here but the clinic's workers and clients are regularly hassled. It got to the point where the police had to break up the demonstrations.
These people would rather have women bring children to the world they don't want (although they themselves would not be willing to take them into their homes) than get along with their lives, finish their educations, get decent jobs, become productive members of society. Often enough they end up welfare mothers dependent on the state.
I was raised Catholic (in Connecticut, in fact), though my roots are down here, and I took 'Thou shalt not kill' as a commandment seriously.
One of the very earliest 'disconnects' I remember came from watching Catholic bishops bless bombers in Vietnam. That's not my understanding of Christianity at all.
Either way, I feel that religion is a private matter and that church and state should be separate as the Founding Fathers also felt it should be by explicitly writing that Congress shall make no law representing an establishment of religion.
The 'war as a task of God' mentality is to me the exact opposite of what I see as the Christian principle of 'love thy neighbor as thyself.'
The language in the Wikipedia article I believe you mean is, I'd say, misleading. I assume you mean the word 'congregation' as used in this passage:
Palin was born into a Catholic family. When she was 4 years old, her family joined the Wasilla Assembly of God, which belongs to a Pentecostal association of churches. Palin attended the Wasilla Assembly of God until age 38. When in Juneau, she attends the Juneau Christian Center. Her current home church is the Wasilla Bible Church, an independent congregation
. Palin described herself in an interview as a "Bible-believing" Christian. She has encountered some criticism for making remarks about religion that go beyond what a modern American politician typically says. Palin has stated that she would not allow her personal religious beliefs to dictate her political positions.
but 'an independent congregation' is not a 'Congregational' church:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congregational_church
But if she now is a member of the Wasilla Bible Church, it's still well established that she for years has been affiliated with various churches who are part of the 'dominionist' movement, aka 'Joel's Army':http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominionism
The fact alone that she wants to have creationism taught in public schools is chilling.....that the earth is only 6,000 years old? And it's simply not true, also clearly provable, that she would 'not allow her personal beliefs to dictate her political positions'. It's also well documented that she tried to ban library books in her hometown of Wasilla, just for a start.
Rather than go through the rest of your thoughts (starting with the SPD) one by one, I'll just say that I agree with all of them.
I would only say that it is very difficult to know exactly what to do in all cases such as, for example, Afghanistan. If we are going to invade a country to overthrow a repressive government, as we did in Afghanistan, it would be nice to see it done intelligently for a change and not on a pretext, e.g., 'weapons of mass destruction' which were nowhere to be found.
Is the world better off without Saddam Hussein? Definitely. Has this war been waged intelligently? Not a single second of it. The reason for the resurgence of Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and other militant Islamic groups: our unqualified support for Israel (which is packed with weapons of mass destruction), Abu Ghraib, Guantanomo, and more. In other words: hypocrisy and no, I've maintained that all of that started with the current administration. Some of it definitely goes further back.
And to maintain that we can't set up intelligent health care in the US because it would bankrupt us makes sense for not even a mini-second.
What could be a more important priority for a country than the health of its citizens? What could be more important priorities for us as a nation than the health and improvement of infrastructure and education and eradication of poverty in the world? Why is there so much resistance to promoting environmental causes?
Do people really want their rivers and lakes and oceans polluted because, according to the Bible (Genesis and elsewhere), is supposed to have dominion over the earth? I want to live in harmony with the earth and all its creatures, not 'subdue' it or them.
I would love to see this country return to what I see as its basic principles, 'liberty and justice for all' without the additional 'under God' part of the Pledge of Allegiance which Sarah Palin did not realize was only added in the McCarthy era.
It's absurd that so much of this election has now come to focus on Sarah Palin but if a lot of people were not worried about John McCain's health it would not be an issue, yet it most certainly is, and, as you say, how can a man who can't even remember how many houses he owns understand what life is like for a family which can barely afford to buy groceries at Wal-Mart?