Syed Taj on the separation of church and state, going up against extremist conservative candidates, and running for the House of Representatives as a Muslim

    I’ve spent a great deal of time these past few weeks explaining why it is that I think that folks shouldn’t vote for either the Tea Party activist Kerry Bentivolio or the white supremacist Daniel Johnson in the race to represent Michigan’s 11th congressional district, but I haven’t really made the case as to why people should support their Democratic opponent, Dr. Syed Taj. To be honest, I didn’t know much about him. So, on Friday evening, after work, I set out to meet Dr. Taj, and find out what he was all about. What follows, in four segments, is video of our wide-ranging discussion, shot at his campaign headquarters in Novi. I hope you find it as informative and inspirational as I did.

    [I'd recommend watching the videos, but, as I realize that some of you won't, you'll find my very rough notes concerning what's covered in each segment directly preceding the embedded video.]

    SEGMENT ONE: In this first part, Dr. Taj and I discuss the fact that this race, according to the powers that be, wasn’t supposed to be competitive. Given the recent redistricting which took place, which removed the traditionally Democratic communities of Redford, Garden City, and part of Dearborn Heights from the district, it was felt that the 11th would remain a Republican stronghold in perpetuity. As it turns out, though, that might not be the case. Once the incumbent Republican, Thaddeus McCotter, was disqualified for having submitted a nominating petition full of forged signatures, it became anyone’s race. (When McCotter was forced out, there wasn’t time for the Republican party to field a qualified candidate for the primary. As a result, they were stuck with Kerry Bentivolio, a Tea Party conspiracy theorist, who had the good fortune of being at the right place at the right time. As he’d already filed his paperwork to challenge McCotter in the primary, he essentially became the party’s candidate for the House of Representatives overnight, once McCotter’s forged petition came to light.) And, as a result, Taj is receiving quite a bit of support from individuals and groups outside of Michigan, who see this as one of the few House seats in America that could be flipped from red to blue… Taj, for what it’s worth, had wanted to run against McCotter, and felt as though he was beatable. And he’d been planning to take him on for years. When Taj ran for the Canton Board of Trustees in 2008, it was with that in mind. He tells me that he wanted to see if he was electable, and, as it turns out, he was. He became the first Democrat to be elected in the heavily Republican area in recent history… General consensus had been that, as a non-white, non-Repbulican, he would never be able to win, but he did. And, upon entering the Congressional race in 2011, McCotter began attacking. (This, obviously, was before McCotter was forced out of the race.) McCotter attacked Taj as a socialist agent of Obama and Pelosi. (Taj says this approach was probably taken by McCotter in order to get more donations from his supporters.) …But, as Taj points out, the Republicans missed something when they redistricted the area. Michigan’s 11th, as Taj notes, is a highly professional district, with a great number of Asians. His district, he says, is 10% Asian. And the numbers are even greater in three big population centers he’s running to represent. Canton is 15.8% Asian. Troy almost 20% Asian. And Novi almost 15% Asian. Many of these folks may have voted Republican in the past, Taj sasy, but they may switch parties to vote for another Asian. And, perhaps more importantly, the Reppublican party is not the party that it was ten years ago. Reagan wouldn’t recognize the party as it now exists, Taj says… We also talk economics and tax policy. We can’t just continue to cut our way to prosperity, Taj says. We continue to fire public employees, he says, and that not only impacts quality of life, but it negatively impacts consumer spending. And people, it would seem, are agreeing with him – even Republicans, some of whom formed a group called, “Anybody but Thaddeus” to show their support… But, in spite of the fact that Bentivitio isn’t well-liked, even in Republican circles, some are coming to his support, realizing that he’s the only shot conservatives have, even if he does have extremist views. And Bentivolio is trying to mitigate the concern of moderate Republicans by moving toward the middle. (He didn’t go to a recent, local Tea Part Express stop, even though he’d previously signed on as a speaker.) But we’ll have to see what happens. As Bentivolio isn’t raising much money in the district, he may not be able to compete. Of course, the deep-pocketed PACs supporting him from out-of-state, could come through and start buying TV ad time for him. (Bentivolio’s local fundraising numbers, according to Taj, are anemic.)

    SEGMENT TWO: Taj and I talk about the PAC entitled Liberty for All, which has the stated mission of supporting Republicans dedicated to the Libertarian principles of Ron Paul, and their financial support of Bentivolio. Taj says his fundraising in more grassroots. Over 800 people, according to Taj, are currently contributing toward his campaign, but, as of now, PAC money hasn’t played a big part. He is, however, beginning to get donations from from individuals outside of Michigan, as people around the country begin to see this as a winable race. I ask if the Democratic party has contributed much, and he tells me that, while they don’t contribute cash, they’ve been helping in other ways. For instance, the party paid $20,000 for polling, which he couldn’t have afforded on his own, and they’ve sent consultants to help get his campaign infrastructure up and running… Taj’s first TV ad aired after last week’s presidential debate, on CBS. Now, they’re beginning to air more broadly. TV ads, he says, are imperative, as he needs to introduce himself to voters. While many people just vote party line, he says, many want to know the person they’re voting for, and television is the way to reach them. All the major regional newspapers have endorsed him, he says, but he needs to have people actually meet him. This is especially true as his controversial Republican adversary, Kerry Bentivolio, is in hiding. Bentivolio, we agree, has likely been told not to talk publicly, as, when he does, he comes across as an extremist… Taj, who positions himself, on his website, as “an independent voice,” talks about the Republican ideas that he likes. He says that he’s “pro business,” and would like to bring down the corporate tax rate, assuming loopholes could be eliminated. He says that he would like to offer more tax credits to companies that are bringing jobs into Michigan, especially for those American companies that are closing plants abroad and bringing jobs back to the United States… Taj says that we need to preserve Social Security and Medicare. Everyone has a right to afordable quality halth care, he says… I point out that Romney recently said that people don’t die because of lack of insurance, to which Taj responded, “He’s lying.” We see them in the ER at the end of their life, he says, as they’re preparing to die. We need to change the paradigm, says Taj, moving toward a more robust system that incorporates preventative care, which, relatively speaking, is cheap. “Romney is lying through his teeth,” says the doctor… Obamacare is a good platform, in his opinion. Yes, there are issues, but, now that the legislation has been signed, he says, it’s relatively easy to tweak things. (You need much fewer votes to make edits than you do to implement legislation in the first place.) People he says, will begin appreciating Obamacare more in he future, once they have an opportunity experience the positives first-hand.

    SEGMENT THREE: We discuss his opponent, Daniel Johnson, who recently sent a robcall to potential voters, asking if they were concerned about “the future of the white race.” We discuss how Johnson could have gotten on the ballot, and what kind of following he likely has. (Fringe parties, according to Taj, don’t have to get the same number of signatures in order to be on the ballot.) …Taj says he didn’t debate his opponent in the Democratic primary, as he’s a follower of Lyndon LaRouche, not “a real Democrat.” (Taj has said that he’d debate him in the general election, though, if he were running. He just wouldn’t debate him as a Democrat, thereby helping to perpetuate the lie.) Is it possible, I ask, that Johnson, the white nationalist, was attracted to this particular race because of the fact that he (Taj) was running? Taj, in response, talks about how the 11th district isn’t divided along race lines, and how Johnson isn’t likely to gain traction. Taj talks of all the caucasians that he’s treated throughout his career, and cultivated friendships with… I ask if there are any Democratic platform issues that don’t sit well with his fellow Muslims. Taj says no. He says he believes in the separation of church and state. “I have no right to impose my religious beliefs on other people,” he says. “Every human has a right to choose.” He says the same thing about gay rights. (A hot pink cell phone with a rave-like ring tone interrupts our meeting, sending Taj into the hall.)

    SEGMENT FOUR: We continue our conversation about his mosque, and how his campaign is being greeted by fellow practitioners of Islam… We talk of the other two Muslim men who currently serve in Congress, and how, if he wins, he’s likely to attract a great deal of scrutiny. I ask whether he’s ready for it. He says he doesn’t anticipate it being a problem, as he doesn’t intend to just push a pro-Muslim agenda. “I’m not just representing Muslims,” he says, “but everyone.” …I ask about moderate Islam, telling hime that some readers of this site claim that there’s no such thing. Fundamentalism is fundamentalism, he says. 99.9% of Muslims are moderate and peaceful, he tell me. He goes on to say that all of fundamentalists, regardless of their religions, are “brothers to each other.” They share more in common with each other, he tells me, than they do with the non-fundamentalist practitioners of their religion. “They should be together,” he says… Taj talks of the open houses that he’s held at his mosque in Canton. We’re newer peole in this society, he says, and we need to let people know us. So, he invites non-Mulsims into his mosque, and provides English language translations of the Quran for those who are curious. People who say that there is no such thing as moderate Islam, he makes clear, do not know the Quran. They cherry pick phrases out of context, he says. The Quran, if they read it, would dissuade them of this notion. Islam, he says, shares much in common with Christianity. The Quran mentions Christ over 100 times, he points out. Moses is also mentioned. They’re are all forefathers, says Taj. They were all prophets sent by God. We’re all connected, he says. The message is the same. “These are all the messages of God.” They tell us that we should take care of our neighbors and the poor… When I ask about polling, he says that he’s now neck and neck with he Republican rival. And the TV ads, which just started, he thinks, will help push things in his favor… I ask about charter schools. “I do not agree with for-profit charter schools,” he says. “They’re stealing money from public schools.” He says that Engler allowed this to happen, and we discuss the fact that, on many fronts, things which were set in motion 30 years ago or more, are just now coming to fruition. He notes that a lot of our charter school legislation originated at Grand Valley State University decades ago… We talk about Michigan, which he moved to in 1982, when he and his wife decided that they wanted to live near her brother… I ask how he will adjust to the toxic environment in DC, when he wins. I want different things, he says. I don’t want money and power. I can make more money as a physician, he tells me. This country has given me so much, I just want to be a part of it. I want to create opportunities for the next generation.

    And that’s why I enthusiastically endorse Syed Taj for Congress.

    Please share this with all of your friends in Michigan’s 11th district. And, if you have a few dollars, please consider joining me in making a donation… With any luck, my next interview with Taj will be in DC.

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      68 Comments

      1. Edward
        Posted October 15, 2012 at 6:42 am | Permalink

        In preparation for EOS’s inevitable comment about how moderate Islam does not exist, here’s a link to the thread where his arguments are absolutely shredded by Doug Skinner.

        http://markmaynard.com/2012/09/trying-to-reason-with-people-on-the-existence-of-moderate-islam/

      2. anonymous
        Posted October 15, 2012 at 8:12 am | Permalink

        I like what he has to say about for-profit charter schools stealing money from public education. He’s right on about that.

      3. Posted October 15, 2012 at 8:38 am | Permalink

        Good work, Mark.

      4. Posted October 15, 2012 at 8:52 am | Permalink

        “English language translations of the Quran”

        My understanding is that it’s theologically problematical to refer to a “translation” of the Quran itself into another language, because (many?) Muslims believe that the Quran is a revelation in Arabic (i.e. Gabriel spoke those exact words, in Arabic, to Muhammad). In this regard it’s somewhat similar to the Book of Mormon (which Mormons believe to be ancient writings translated directly into English by Joseph Smith through the power of God), and very different from the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, most books of which have gone through multiple translations, and in some cases probable periods of oral transmission. In attempting any translation, there is always a degree of interpretation, and therefore such works are often termed a “translation of the meaning of the Quran”.

      5. Knox
        Posted October 15, 2012 at 9:42 am | Permalink

        Very cool that he called out Romney for that asinine statement about how people do not die from lack of insurance.

      6. Eel
        Posted October 15, 2012 at 10:27 am | Permalink

        Where’s out local anti-Muslim contingent? I wonder if their heads exploded when they heard Dr. Taj talking about his respect for the wall of separation between church and state.

      7. Meta
        Posted October 15, 2012 at 11:02 am | Permalink

        Between 26,000 and 45,000 Americans die each year due to lack of health care. It’s a fact. Hopefully Obama hammers Romney on it tomorrow night.

        http://www.nationalmemo.com/lol-of-the-week-doesnt-mitt-talk-to-his-wife/2/

      8. mark k
        Posted October 15, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

        Meta I find your numbers a little amusing considering 195,000 die each year due to Medical Errors.
        595,000 deaths due to Tobacco
        107,000 deaths due to Alcohol Abuse
        42,000 deaths due to Vehicle Accidents
        29,350 deaths due to Suicide
        25,500 deaths due to Drug Abuse
        http://www.theegglestongroup.com/writing/deathstats/index.php

      9. mark k
        Posted October 15, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

        Also Meta the link you posted doesn’t even give a total number of deaths due to lack of medical ins.
        “Experts agree that Americans die because they don’t have health insurance. The question is how many… 26,000? 45,000?”

        So what is the number? 10? 20? 500 million? 0?

      10. Meta
        Posted October 15, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

        I don’t find it at all amusing.

        Here’s an excerpt from a NY Times piece on the Harvard study showing that lack of health insurance leads to 45,000 U.S. deaths per year.

        Researchers from Harvard Medical School say the lack of coverage can be tied to about 45,000 deaths a year in the United States — a toll that is greater than the number of people who die each year from kidney disease.

        “If you extend coverage, you can save lives,” said Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, a professor of medicine at Harvard who is one of the study’s authors. The research is being published in the December issue of the American Journal of Public Health and was posted online Thursday.

        The Harvard study found that people without health insurance had a 40 percent higher risk of death than those with private health insurance — as a result of being unable to obtain necessary medical care. The risk appears to have increased since 1993, when a similar study found the risk of death was 25 percent greater for the uninsured.

        The increase in risk, according to the study, is likely to be a result of at least two factors. One is the greater difficulty the uninsured have today in finding care, as public hospitals have closed or cut back on services. The other is improvements in medical care for insured people with treatable chronic conditions like high blood pressure.

        Read more:
        http://prescriptions.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/17/harvard-medical-study-links-lack-of-insurance-to-45000-us-deaths-a-year/

      11. Hans Schneider
        Posted October 15, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

        Please do not vote for a muslim. Islam is not a “religion”…It is a complete way of life, similar to Communism. Read an English translation of the Koran and read chapter 9-5. They all are required to kill “kuffars” or “infidels” or tax them highly. Once they are in the majority, there will be hell to pay. Those of you who have children, think about what kind of world you want to leave them.
        Just read about or observe the Muslim or Arab world and see if you want to leave these kind of “Savages” in charge of your offspring now or ever. Please go to Youtube and research Islam before making such a decision. There are Christians, that grew up in Islam dominated societies, that are trying to warn people about what is coming and everyone needs to be aware of all the facts. Read everything you can get your head around before you put more Muslims in our government….

      12. anonymous
        Posted October 15, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

        You’ve been Electablogged:

        http://www.eclectablog.com/2012/10/mark-maynard-interviews-dr-syed-taj-candidate-for-congress-in-mi-11.html

        Also, it looks like Kerry may be popping up from his rabbit hole of insanity to speak for three minutes next week:

        “See Dr. Taj & Kerry Bentivolio side by side. Clements Circle Civic Association Candidate Forum, Monday, October 22nd, 6:30pm, Emerson Middle School, 29100 West Chicago, Livonia 48150. Each candidate will have approx. 3 minutes to discuss their platform. There will be questions from the audience for the candidates.”

      13. X
        Posted October 15, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

        Your lips are so red. Its like you have a ripe vagina on your face.

      14. mark k
        Posted October 15, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

        But Meta what about 195,000 people who die every year from medical errors?

      15. Posted October 15, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

        Just as an FYI – the questions have been predetermined by the CCCA and will be asked by the moderator. 2 questions that will be asked are: 1 – Considering the previous legislator’s (Thad McCotter) policy on no town hall meetings, what do you envision your communication policy will be with the district constituents and 2)Do you believe that the Constitution should ever be changed to restrict the rights of any American or only changed to grant additional protections and rights to Americans? (ie: Equality for all, Gay Marriage, Equal Pay for Women, etc.) the determination of the 3rd question is pending. There will not be an opportunity to open the floor to attendees, we would be there all night.
        Thanks

      16. Posted October 15, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

        What about them?

        That’s a problem, too. There can be more than one problem.

      17. Posted October 15, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

        Hans, no one is suggesting that fundamentalist Islam is not a problem. If you watch the interview, though, you’ll see that Taj is not pushing a fundamentalist agenda. You need to accept the fact that all Muslims are not the same.

        As for the event on the 222nd, I wonder if Bentivolio will show up.

      18. EOS
        Posted October 15, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

        There are significantly more people who die each year with health insurance than those who die without it. Meta – maybe you should drop your health insurance just to be safe.

      19. Posted October 15, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

        We should send Hans to hang out in Turkey for a while.

        Maybe he can make a tour and visit Indonesia.

        On his way back, he can go and chill for a while in Dubai.

        I’ll meet him in Zanzibar and we can kick back with some lobsters.

      20. EOS
        Posted October 15, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

        Nearly all of the Asians in the district are Hindu and very unlikely to vote for a Muslim from India. You don’t easily forget centuries of violent persecution. I’m guessing Bentivolio will win.

      21. anonymous
        Posted October 15, 2012 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

        EOS, you’ve been challenging Mark for months to go and actually interview a Muslim. The implication was that he would see that there’s no such thing as a moderate Muslim. Now, not only has he interviewed one, but he’s heard first hand that said Muslim will vote to ensure gay rights, women’s rights, etc. And you don’t even acknowledge it.

      22. EOS
        Posted October 15, 2012 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

        you’ve been challenging Mark for months to go and actually interview a Muslim???

        What are you smoking?

      23. Posted October 15, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

        Since Taj didn’t stab Mark in the eye, then Taj isn’t a Muslim.

      24. anonymous
        Posted October 15, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

        I’m not sure where I got that idea, EOS. Maybe it was when you said the following, in the thread linked to above by Edward.

        “That a few hundred persons calling themselves Muslim are willing to hold signs saying that they are against terrorism is not logical proof that there is such a thing as moderate Islam. Please, befriend a Muslim and question their views and you will see the duplicity of this gesture.”

      25. EOS
        Posted October 15, 2012 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

        So for you, one statement buried in a long thread is the equivalent of challenging Mark for months?

      26. Posted October 16, 2012 at 6:55 am | Permalink

        I think that’s kind of beside the point.

      27. anonymous
        Posted October 16, 2012 at 8:39 am | Permalink

        So you no longer deny challenging Mark to meet a Muslim and see their “duplicity” for himself. Now, it seems, your objection is that you haven’t been doing it “for months,” as I’d suggested. As Pete says, that’s kind of beside the point. The main point, which you’ve yet to respond to is this – You told Mark that if he that if he went out and talked with a practicing Muslim, he’d see that they don’t really respect the separation of church and state, rights of the individual, etc. Dr. Taj, however, clearly does. And instead of addressing this, you want to quibble over whether or not you baited Mark “for months.” It’s shameful.

      28. kjc
        Posted October 16, 2012 at 10:58 am | Permalink

        it’s almost like EOS isn’t a clear thinking reasonable fair person.

      29. EOS
        Posted October 16, 2012 at 11:01 am | Permalink

        Anon -

        “You told Mark that if he that if he went out and talked with a practicing Muslim, he’d see that they don’t really respect the separation of church and state, rights of the individual, etc. Dr. Taj, however, clearly does.”

        No, I didn’t. Look up the definition of befriend and stop making up shit that I supposedly said about separation of church and state and rights of the individual. Make your own point – don’t keep making up shit and saying I said it. I can speak for myself and you should too. Try to comment on the thread while its current instead of a vague reference to something that has been said in the past or a deliberate misquote of what was actually said.

        You sound just like Peter.

      30. anonymous
        Posted October 16, 2012 at 11:20 am | Permalink

        So, what do you make of this interview with Dr. Taj. Is he lying, or is he not a “true” Muslim? Which is it, EOS?

      31. Posted October 16, 2012 at 11:33 am | Permalink

        Yes, all I want to know is whether Taj is a Muslim or not.

      32. Posted October 16, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

        And, EOS, contrary to what you might believe, the only person responsible for posting the nonsense you post here is yourself.

        You can’t blame us for digging it back up.

      33. EOS
        Posted October 16, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

        I am responsible for everything I post and not one bit of the shit you make up. Edward linked to what I wrote and I stand by every word of it.

      34. Posted October 16, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

        Are you getting angry, EOS?

        That’s quite Christian of you.

        Fortunately for us, we don’t have to make anything up.

      35. Posted October 16, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

        Wait, so is Taj a Muslim or not?

      36. Posted October 16, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

        Honestly, though, that this thread has turned away from why Taj is a great candidate for that seat, to an evaluation of the disgusting statements of an insignificant local bigot is really quite depressing.

        Taj has much more to do than answer for his religion. It’s sad that this would even be an issue, but, regrettably, it is.

        Thank you, EOS and others like you, for poisoning our country’s politics with your endless hate mongering and bigotry.

        I’m going to donate to Taj’s campaign again. He’s a great candidate. I wish he were running in my district.

      37. anonymous
        Posted October 16, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

        I agree with Peter. His religion should not be an issue. I feel it’s necessary to point out, however, that EOS has yet to answer my question.

      38. John Galt
        Posted October 16, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

        It’s just like you America-hating liberals to hold someone accountable for what they say. If only you devoted half the time to fighting terrorism that you do to demonizing patriots, we would live in a beautiful world, full of happy white children named Ayn, and public buildings displaying the Ten Commandments. And everyone would have a pet dinosaur, just like Adam and Eve.

      39. KKT
        Posted October 18, 2012 at 9:31 am | Permalink

        EOS, I don’t generally agree with you on anything, but, up until now, I’ve respected your dedication to engage with people and stand up for your beliefs. You’ve stated several times on this site that there is no such thing as a moderate Muslim, and, now that one has been shown to you, you’ve chosen to be uncharacteristically silent. Please either state that you were wrong, or explain why it is that you think that Dr. Taj, who seems quite earnest, is not telling the truth. I think you owe us that much.

      40. EOS
        Posted October 18, 2012 at 10:51 am | Permalink

        I think I’ve made my views very clear in previous posts. I don’t know Dr. Taj and the only information I have about him is from what has been shared here. I’ve avoided making any judgement about this particular individual because everyone knows I will be immediately condemned for judging. My previous statements have been general in context and not targeted to any individual.

        Dr. Taj self-identifies as a Muslim. Peter self-identifies as a Catholic. On the previous link Mike Shecket identifies as an atheist Jew. This is a free country and they have every right to do so.

        All I’m saying, is that if you claim to be a member of any religious group, then you must accept all the teachings of that group. As I said before, I don’t believe there is such a thing as a moderate Muslim nor do I believe that there is such a thing as a moderate Christian. If you’re Catholic, then you must accept the teachings of the Pope. If you’re Christian, then you must accept the infallibility of the Bible. If you’re Muslim, then you must submit to Allah and obey all the commands of the Koran and the Hadiths. If you can’t accept the doctrine in total, then it is my opinion that you should not consider yourself as belonging to that faith. There is no inherent value in accepting a fraction of a religions tenants. How are you going to stand before God or Allah or whoever and argue which parts of their instruction you deemed unnecessary to accept? On what basis will you claim any standing? Who are you to tell the Almighty what is wrong with His divine design?

        So, in regards to anon question, “So, what do you make of this interview with Dr. Taj. Is he lying, or is he not a “true” Muslim?” I don’t know, but from what he said in the interview both are possibilities. He could be a devout follower of Allah who is lying about his beliefs in order to get elected. Or he could be merely a “cultural Muslim” and doesn’t really accept the Koran and all its teaching. I AM NOT THE JUDGE.

        One thing he said that I have given some thought to is, “… all of fundamentalists, regardless of their religions, are “brothers to each other.” They share more in common with each other, he tells me, than they do with the non-fundamentalist practitioners of their religion.” To a large extent – I agree. I have had many long discussions with devout Muslims, who are very open to discussing their religious views and comparing them to the Bible. They take their faith seriously and it affects every aspect of their lives. If I attempt to discuss religion with someone who considers themselves to be a moderate, whether Christian or Muslim, I get anger and hostility, ridicule and a reluctance to share.

      41. Posted October 18, 2012 at 11:33 am | Permalink

        EOS — Actually, it doesn’t work that way. Organized religion is organized. You become a Catholic, for example, when you’re confirmed, and remain one unless you’re excommunicated. The hierarchy decides whether you’re still a member, not you.

        The scriptures of all religions contain ambiguities, contradictions, and mysteries. That’s why organized religion has clergy, to interpret the scripture and determine the praxis. The idea that you interpret the scripture for yourself is a feature of some Protestant sects, not of all religions.

        (PS: the correct word is “tenets,” not “tenants”; a tenant is someone who pays rent.)

      42. Posted October 18, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

        I don’t self identify as a Catholic.

        The Catholic church identifies me as a Catholic until they excommunicate me.

      43. EOS
        Posted October 18, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

        I was baptized and confirmed as a Catholic, confirmed as a Lutheran, and baptized by immersion as an adult in a Baptist church. After 40 years on non-attendance, does God still consider me Catholic?

      44. Posted October 18, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

        That’s up to you.

        It’s not up to me, and my religious identification is most certainly, in no case, up to you.

        That was the whole point in calling you out on your absurd notions of who is and who is not a Muslim.

        You don’t have that kind of power.

        But, of course, that point is lost on you.

      45. EOS
        Posted October 18, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

        You identified yourself as Catholic, not me.

        God is the one with the power to determine who is actually a member of His church.

        Doug,
        I’m not referring to small interpretational differences, or ambiguities, or mysteries. I’m referring to the common practice of denying huge portions of scripture where there is no ambiguity. I’m talking about full denial of explicit instructions.

      46. Posted October 18, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

        What does that have to do with anything?

        Either way, it’s not up to you. Ever.

      47. Posted October 18, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

        Oh wait, you speak for God.

        I forgot who gave you that power.

        Oh yeah, you did.

      48. anonymous
        Posted October 18, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

        I’ll have to break it to the Catholic women I’ve had sex with that Not only did i orgasm them, but I turned then into non Catholics.

      49. EOS
        Posted October 18, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

        For those who may be a little slow to understand,

        “I AM NOT THE JUDGE!”

      50. Posted October 18, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

        But clearly you think you are when it comes to Islam.

      51. kjc
        Posted October 18, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

        “I’m referring to the common practice of denying huge portions of scripture where there is no ambiguity. I’m talking about full denial of explicit instructions.”

        unfortunately EOS we’ve all seen examples of your literalist exegesis. of course you’re judging, just like all fundamentalists. at least have the integrity to admit that much.

      52. EOS
        Posted October 18, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

        Judgement comes after you die when God decides your ultimate fate.

        Discernment is necessary for believers. We are commanded to discern the truth, to test everything against scripture, to hold on to that which is good. We are commanded to inspect the fruit as no good tree can bear bad fruit and no good fruit comes from a bad tree. To discern that all things and concepts are of equal value is an absurdity. We all make value judgements. Did you not just judge me as being judgemental?

      53. Thom Elliott
        Posted October 18, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

        No one could possibly follow every tenent of Abrahamic religions, EOS couldn’t be as devout as he claims, because I see him swear, and curse people, and spread hate, which wasn’t the Tao of Christ. You’re a phoney xtian EOS, I have never once seen you win souls for Christ, you posture, you rave, you just don’t measure up to the things you say. In the Hindu tradition to be a truely devout follower of a religion is called bhakti yoga, EOS is describing something which is so hard as to be nearly impossible. If he were really a bhakti yogin of Christ, we would have never heard of him, he would be devoted to praising his name, living as an ascetic, not being double minded in his pursuit. In Kierkegaard’s terms, having the purity of heart to will one thing, to will the good of Christ’s return and the last day, in a live of single minded prayer and devotion. I don’t see any of that, I see a big mouthed braggart phoney, and that’s all.

      54. kjc
        Posted October 18, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

        i discern you are a fundamentalist. i discern your fruit is rotten and so is your tree. i discern you cannot stop judging others (and i discern that you claim victimization when you are criticized for it). etc.

      55. Posted October 18, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

        I discern that EOS runs into theological babblespeak when faced with a conquering enemy.

      56. EOS
        Posted October 18, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

        You guys are lame. After 3 days of multiple persons pleading with me to make a judgement of an individual I have never met or spoken to, I respond that “I don’t know”. Immediately I’m accused of judging others. Wonder if anyone didn’t see that coming.

        Thom – it’s Christian, with a capital C. The narrow path is so hard it is impossible. Even still, Christians are commanded to be holy as God is holy. When we miss our goals, we repent, and try again. We don’t change the goals or make up an easier set of rules. We don’t conform to the World and invent a moderate form of belief so as to win the respect of those on the path to destruction. And we certainly don’t incorporate the beliefs of pagan Gods – that’s called syncretism.

        Peter – You are no conqueror. Neither are you my enemy.

      57. Oliva
        Posted October 18, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

        Oh, please say it’s all a too-long-already, and very sick, joke that will end soon (w/o taking us all down with its promoters):

        Scott Keyes of Think Progress at a debate-watching party in southeastern Las Vegas (thank goodness he went and documented the insanity of the roughly seventy-five people there):

        If I learned anything from watching last night’s presidential debate in a room full of Mitt Romney supporters, it’s that President Obama cannot speak English, wanted Americans in Benghazi to die, hopes America will be taken over by the Islamic world, carries a literal Communist Party card, and should be sent back to Mexico. . . .

        “You haven’t done much research on Obama,” the woman told me. I asked what websites I could visit to learn more; she recommend WND.com, a birther-haven whose editor-in-chief has blamed natural disasters on the growing acceptance of homosexuality.

        It’s worth reading the whole piece (it’s not long):
        http://thinkprogress.org/election/2012/10/17/1030281/romney-debate-watch-party/?mobile=nc

        And please help GOTV!

      58. Posted October 18, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

        Yep.

        EOS doesn’t know.

      59. Posted October 19, 2012 at 12:45 am | Permalink

        Come back to Wotan. Your new-age religions are full of guilt and alienate you from nature.

      60. Posted October 23, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

        The Detroit News is asking an interesting question… Why isn’t the Michigan Democratic Party doing more to support Dr. Taj?

        …So Bentivolio avoids media questioning, knowing that in the snaky line from Canton to Milford to Novi to Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills and Troy, a majority of Republicans are likely to vote for the fringe-y Republican, especially if they never find out what he believes.

        Shouldn’t the Dems bet more heavily on Dr. Taj? It would enable people to see they have a distinct choice. Mark Brewer, chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party, didn’t return calls for comment…

        How much is the Michigan Democratic Party putting in this race? Does anyone know?

      61. EOS
        Posted November 1, 2012 at 7:55 am | Permalink

        http://www.catholic-sf.org/ns.php?newsid=1&id=60642

        “Church teaching against abortion “requires absolute adherence” on the part of Catholic voters, who must “stand united” in opposition to the practice regardless of party affiliation, said Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia.”

        “According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, abortion is “gravely contrary to the moral law” in all cases – a church teaching that “has not changed and remains unchangeable.” Under canon law, any “formal cooperation” in abortion automatically incurs the penalty of excommunication.”

      62. Posted November 1, 2012 at 9:18 am | Permalink

        Fortunately, intelligent Catholics can make their own decisions.

      63. Posted November 1, 2012 at 9:49 am | Permalink

        And to be honest, it’s patently offensive to hear Catholic preaching from a non-Catholic.

      64. Mr. X
        Posted November 1, 2012 at 10:10 am | Permalink

        To be fair, it’s patently offensive to hear Catholic preaching for anyone.

      65. EOS
        Posted November 1, 2012 at 10:42 am | Permalink

        It was the Catholic Archbishop explaining the teachings of his church. The Catholic Church teachings do not allow intelligent Catholics to make their own decisions.

      66. Thom Elliott
        Posted November 1, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

        The thing that gets me about these endless debates is that people utterly blinded by their totalizing worldview think they have some priority because their position is internally consistent, which is a function of their worldview itself. Xtian belief is related exclusively to the needs of individual psychology, which is the only place it makes any sense. Obviously its metaphysical/ethical claims are incomprehensable, with a complete lack of evidence being its hallmark. However like a good scientific model, it doesn’t need to be true to be useful, or to account for observations. For highly traumatised & depressed people like EOS, with rigid personality apperatus, who need cosmic redemption to make meaning of their existences, I think it is perfectly reasonable. Unfortunately for the believer of such things, they think they have access to some truth others do not, this is a positive delusion subjectively, but works out terribly intersubjectively. If only there were a way to break it to people that their religious expirences are psychological, and important, but have no access to ultimate truth.

      67. Tommy
        Posted November 1, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

        Where were those Archbishops when boy rape was going on under their noses?

        Oh, right – they were doing the responsible thing – they got busy covering it up.

        Fuck them – no one should listen to a work those despicable human being say

      68. Knox
        Posted November 14, 2012 at 10:58 am | Permalink

        I received the following letter from Taj yesterday.

        Dear Friend, Supporter and Voter,

        It goes without saying that I was disappointed in the results from election night. However, I am not disappointed in the campaign that we ran in the 11th.District. We faced a tough map and in spite of this disadvantage, we worked our district hard and left nothing on the table.

        I thank the people of the 11th for this opportunity and pledge to them that I will remain an active and engaged member of our community. We started this effort a year ago with a mind towards giving the voters of the 11th a real choice. I am satisfied that we accomplished this goal but unfortunately the voters chose differently than we had hoped and worked towards. I will remain a tireless advocate for job growth, health care access and affordability, Social Security and Medicare, and college affordability.

        Know that this campaign would not have been possible without your vote, financial support, encouragement, strength, and dedication. I had the finest campaign staff a candidate could hope for and I thank them for the countless hours, sleepless nights, and great passion they brought to this effort.

        It is my hope that our future Congressman will look beyond ideology and be open and transparent while being a voice for everyone in the district – from his fellow Tea Partiers to traditional Republicans, independents, and Democrats that all live in the 11th District and deserve a voice in the process. We worked our plan and left no stone un-turned. I was honored to be your candidate and proud to call the 11th District my home.

        Stay involved so we can work together toward making a better world for our children and grandchildren. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

        Sincerely,
        Dr. Syed Taj

      5 Trackbacks

      1. By A song for Taj on October 29, 2012 at 9:36 am

        [...] than we convey in this two-minute song, you’ll find my comprehensive interview with Dr. Taj here.And, more importantly, if you feel inspired to donate time or money to Dr. Taj’s campaign, [...]

      2. [...] that message today.[note: My interview with Dr. Taj, if you haven't yet seen it, can be found here.] This entry was posted in Michigan, Politics, Uncategorized and tagged AMA, American Medical [...]

      3. [...] have already made up your mind not to support Kerry Bentivolio, and support, instead, our friend Dr. Syed Taj for Congress. In case there’s one of you out there who is still on the fence, though, I [...]

      4. [...] proposals and how I intend to voteBy Mark | November 5, 2012Other than begging folks to vote for Syed Taj and Barack Obama, and against the likes of “mentally unbalanced” Tea Party-favorite [...]

      5. [...] work, men and women of Michigan’s 11th congressional district. You had an opportunity to put Syed Taj, an intelligent, successful Canton doctor, in office, and instead you chose a Tea Party lunatic of [...]

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