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January 16, 2010

Politics & Religion: Taboo Subjects?

One thing I do not like to do, especially with my friends, is talk about religion or politics.  I have my beliefs, but I'm not very good at articulating them, and especially not *debating* them.  I'm not even good at it when I have time to think, like on an Internet message board or discussion forum.  It's just not something I feel up to doing. Maybe, deep down, I feel like I'll lose my friend(s) if the discussion gets too intense.  I don't know.  I know it's not true (and if it is true, are they really my friend?), but it just inhibits me.

Some people thrive on that sort of thing.  They grew up with political discussions at the dinner table (I seriously don't know how Mary Matalin and James Carville live together, but they manage it).  They enjoy the give and take, and they're good at it.  I'm neither.

It doesn't help that I'm a Conservative and most of my friends are Obama supporters, and some of them are flaming Liberals!  I sometimes am shocked and disappointed when a friend blurts out something so totally left-wing and off-base (as far as I'm concerned, anyway) when I didn't know they felt that way.  Some of my friends were that way when I met them and so it's not a surprise, but others we never talk politics and so it startles me.

I think most of them know I'm Conservative and don't seem to mind, but again, we don't discuss it.  One of my best friends is so far to the Left that if we discussed politics at all, it would be very uncomfortable.  So we don't.  If you're a friend reading this and I'm "outing" myself, well, I hope you can deal with it.

Don't get me wrong.  I love all of my Liberal friends dearly (yes, even you, Marieke), but it's just best not to discuss it.

The same thing goes for religion.  I'm, at best, an Agnostic (sorry if that disappoints any of my Christian "Authentic Bloggers" friends who are reading this).  However, as long as they don't preach *at* me, I have no problems with any of my Christian friends (the other religions don't generally come up as topics of discussion, though I do have at least one Moslem friend and one Jewish friend).  That being said, I don't like discussing it at all.  I saw a few religious discussions in college that got quite heated, and it's just not something I'm interested in exploring.  I have my beliefs, people have their beliefs.  I'm very happy with that line.

So, as you can probably guess from the tone of this post, this is not a post designed to begin either a political or religious discussion.  Instead, I'd like to know how you feel *about* discussing the subject.  Do you like to get into big debates with your friends?  Do you find yourself getting into these types of discussions at parties or get-togethers with people you just met?  Or are you more reserved, like me, and not want to get into debates or arguments?

And how many of you are surprised at what I believe?

(Yes, I know...two posts in one day!  Something must be wrong, right?)

Update 1:  Make sure you read the comments below, but I want to clarify something about the "Authentic Blogger" group.  The implication of my off-hand comment above is that it is a Christian group.  While a number of the more prominent bloggers are Christian, the group itself is open to any blogger who would like to join and network with some other great bloggers.  It's full of great people, so I encourage you to check them out on Facebook.

Also, while I don't see anything negative in my comment, one member of the group has taken offense to it, so I wish to apologize to anybody else from the group who might see it and feel the same way.

Update 2:  I've modifed the statement above.  Jenn's right that it could clearly be seen as stereotyping the whole group, even though that wasn't the intent.


  1. Hi Dave,
    I am right with you on this one. Over here its seen as poor manners to discuss religion or politics. Australian's have a very laid back attitude to discussing these sorts of topics.

  2. I had a long post written up then I accidentally closed the window before I submitted it. So to in summery:

    Not surprised about views on Obama, though I am curious what they are based on. What you specifically disagree with. Or is it an over all he's to liberal for your tastes? Also, being Canadian and living with their health care system, how do you feel about the health care system Obama is trying to put into place?

    As for the religious thing, it could be worse. You could be pagan like me. That really gets to people even though I bet you most have no clue what it really means to me. It's so open ended too. But no, your religious views don't surprise me either. I am curious, again, why you feel that way. I know you were raised believing in a God. However strongly or not so strongly that faith was instilled. I know your brother is deeply religious.

    What has me curious is this: Do you get to vote in the US election? You are a citizen but you don't have a home here. So I could see it going either way. It isn't like you'd have a polling station, but there are absentee ballots. Does this mean you would have or did vote for McCain? Or did you find a middle ground. Wait, did you support Bush? Maybe it's better that you not answer that one. Don't worry I'm not looking for a debate or an argument. I'm mostly just talking at this point.

    This is me shutting up now.

  3. Dave, just read your post. I wanted to make a statement about Authentic Blogger for you and anyone else who is interested - Authentic Blogger (Facebook group for bloggers) is not a Christian based group. In fact, we have never listed any religious affiliation. We do have many members who write blogs that are of Christian themes, but as a Facebook group, Authentic Blogger is open to any and all, regardless of their religious beliefs, affiliations, etc.

    I have no problems with anyone's beliefs, as long as they are respectful with their comments and abide by the basic Golden Rule of common courtesy. I can see that, given that the AB community does have a large number of Christian bloggers, it could easily be construed that AB is Christian in format. We're not - we're a blogging community, plain and simple, and we welcome anyone who cares to join our group!

    As far as your blog above, I'm not into political debates either. I respect the opinions of my friends and recognize that nothing I say or do will change their minds, and the beauty of relationships is that we're NOT mirror images of one another. The world would be a very boring place if we were all cookie cutter copies walking around. My take on it is, if you're uncomfortable w/ debates on politics, no worries. That type of discussion definitely can become heated and unpleasant, and I find nothing enjoyable about such conversations. There are plenty of other topics to discuss!

    ~ Dawn

  4. Ummm... well, I kind of like to debate, but not with my family members. I grew up in a pretty conservative family and I am in no way conservative (uh, that I know of!). Honestly, part of my liberalism probably stems from the kind of conservatism they seem to admire, which is basically, "I've got mine, Jack, screw the rest of you." It seemed very strange to me to be walking the streets of SF when I was younger and have my parents not care one whit about the homeless people there. And it seemed completely at odds with the message of the Catholic church in which I was raised.

    So... for me, it depends. I'm happy to debate or discuss with someone whose views are different than mine as long as it isn't a family member. In fact, I think the world would be kind of a dull place if we all thought/believed the same things.

    That goes for religion as well, actually; I'm in the Agnostic category myself, and I abhor being proselytized at. It just turns me off completely. But if it's a general discussion, I'm good. (As long as my Mom isn't trying to get me back to the Catholic fold... argh!)

    And yes, if people don't like you because you're conservative, screw 'em. They weren't your friends in the first place.

    PS I was not surprised you are conservative. I have read your Twitter, Facebook, and some of your blog posts, you know!

  5. I enjoy talking about religion, but not so much about politics. I don't care to watch enough news to be informed about politics, and it's hard to talk about something you have no context for. But I will always listen respectfully to people's political views if they care to share them, no matter how much sense they might make to me.

    What I don't appreciate, though, is when people make judgments and unsavory comments about other people's religious or political beliefs and how they choose to express them. Cutting jabs, no matter how off-handed, are never called for.

    I think Dawn made it very clear in her above comment that Authentic Blogger has no religious affiliation; just religious members. She might not feel it's necessary to say this, but I do: I think you should remove the comment about the Authentic Blogger group. I find it very disrespectful to not only its membership but also to its creators. If you think someone's comments there are off-base or whacky, it's fine to think that and it's even fine to write about it; but please keep it anonymous and please keep it respectful.

  6. Wow, go away for the rest of the day, and a firestorm happens!

    I'll respond in a couple of different comments. First, to Dawn and Jenn.

    First, I never meant to imply that "Authentic Bloggers" is a Christian group. I was mainly commenting on how most of the seemingly active ones are very openly Christian. However, on re-reading what I wrote, I see that it goes a bit further than I intended. So for that, my apologies.

    I don't believe that I should remove the comment, but I will clarify it once I'm done here.

    That being said, I don't think I disparaged the group at all. When I said that I'm sorry if it disappoints any of the members, it was more a statement on my beliefs, and how, compared to the rather large percentage of Christian bloggers are there, I don't exactly fit in. :)

    There is no judgment implied on the members of the group, and while I don't particularly *share* their beliefs (and I tend not to read the religious posts to begin with), I don't have any problem with them.

    Other than the unintended implication that it is a religious group, I'm afraid I really don't see any jabs in that statement. I certainly don't see any implication that I think their views are off-base or whacky or anything like that.

    I'm sorry if you were offended by it, as it was certainly not intended.

  7. Karen: I'm not going to get too specific, since that's just going to engender the discussion that I really don't want to get in to (not that you would necessarily, but others who might come upon this post). However, he is much too Liberal for my taste, and I think that many of his policies will bring great harm to the US.

    As for health care, I have a lot of problems with the Canadian system, though there are some good things. I certainly wouldn't want the US to emulate it. And the UK system is worse. The US system does need some changes to help out those who need it. But a total overhaul of the system is not necessary.

    Scott's strong belief surprised me when I first saw it. I hadn't been to church since Grandpa Roy died, other than the occasional holiday. Thus, while it was instilled in me, it was never really nurtured. Thus, it probably atrophied.

    You probably don't want me to answer the rest of your comment. :P

    Except the voting thing. I am a registered voter in Washington State, the last place I lived, and I vote absentee there. I tend not to vote in local referendum stuff, though I do vote in Presidential, Congressional, and State Legislative elections.

    Hope that explains everything.

  8. Dave, here's the thing: I know that you didn't intend the comment to be offensive. I know this because 1) you're intelligent 2) you're a decent human being. But the fact is, you stereotyped an entire group of 200+ people, all of whom have different religious and political beliefs. I am telling you that I, personally, find that kind of talk distasteful. And the fact that I, who understands your intentions, am offended should indicate to you that your remark is not nearly as neutral as you perceive it to be.

  9. Sara:

    Thank you so much for your support. Other than having opposite political beliefs, it looks like we're a lot alike! :)

    And yes, anybody who sees me on Twitter will definitely not be surprised by my Conservative views. :)

    Good to see you around here again.

  10. Jenn:

    Ok, I do see your point as far as being a stereotype, but I still don't see any disparagement in the comment.

    You're right that it's wrong to stereotype the whole group that way. The comment mainly came about because the ones who have been so active commenting (at least on my blog) are very up front about their Christianity. While it was an offhand comment, it was meant in seriousness that I hoped those of you who do regularly read the blog wouldn't be disappointed.

    So I do apologize for the stereotyping. I'll modify it.

  11. Honestly, I miss politics and feel like I've totally been out of it for a long time due to nursing school - so even if we completely disagree, I'm always happy to see your Twitter posts, as they often point me toward something interesting I might not otherwise have seen.

    Hope to visit your blog a bit more after passing the nursing board exams!

  12. I absolutely LOVE both topics, but I HATE discussing politics. I'm not one to get into debates/arguments over things & I tend to stay away from political & religious debates. Like you, I have a hard time articulating what I want to say. If I was in a room where either topic was being discussed I would most likely just listen quietly then come home & blog about it lol.

  13. Hi Anahid

    A woman after my own heart. :) I love politics (not so much religion, though I love it when a person's religious beliefs allow them to be comfortable within themselves and to be a better person), but I hate discussing them. But reading? I soak that stuff up like candy.

    Sara: Always glad to hear when somebody likes my posts! :) Best of luck on your exams.

  14. Dave,

    Just now getting online to get caught up. I appreciate you taking time to address the AB group comment. I will take a moment to say in return that this brought light to a subject that we at AB needed to address, regarding affiliations. We have done so with a Discussion Board post that will be a permanent link on the group page FB sight for all existing and future members to read.

    I appreciate you clarifying your comments and wish to say, for myself, this issue has been dealt with and should be put to rest by all parties concerned. As one of the creators of the Authentic Blogger group, I don't feel it is productive to continue endless debate after an apology is offered. FYI, apology is officially accepted. Let's all move on, shall we? There are great blog posts to be written!

    Best regards,

  15. What is the Authentic Blogger group?

  16. It's on Facebook. I'll send you the link in a message there.


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