Talk:Liberalism in the United States

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Freedom of religion AND separation of church and state?[edit]

There has been a recent edit adding to the short list of liberal principles in the lede, so that it includes both "freedom of religion" and "separation of church and state". It seems to me that in what is necessarily a brief introduction to liberalism in the US, religion only needs to be mentioned once, and that freedom of religion is the more common formulation of the basic liberal idea. Comments? Rick Norwood (talk) 14:48, 9 May 2011 (UTC)

...except that many people, Conservatives especially, use Newspeak to interpret "Freedom of Religion" to mean that a public school, gov't institution, or gov't employee can force religion on others, whether through school-led prayer, religious-focused curriculum, public gov't displays of religious symbolism, laws based solely on religious doctrine (such as anti-gay marriage bills)or other means. For example, if you turn to page 53 of the Republican Party's platform, you will see this kind of propaganda in action, specifically in regards to the idea that "Freedom of Religion" for them means the "Freedom" to impose on personal religious liberties. [2] "Separation of Church and State" is usually seen as a different concept than simply "Freedom of Religion," as one can theoretically exist without the other. (i.e., people can be free to practice a minority religion...while a gov't still erects a "State Religion" or Theocratic laws...) With the amount of propaganda and revisionism currently clouding American politics, it seems perfectly reasonable to state both, particularly when pretty much 100% of American Liberals would proclaim support for both concepts. Bryonmorrigan (talk) 15:48, 9 May 2011 (UTC)
We need to avod confusing modern lberalism with liberalsm in general. The Puritans for example believed in freedom of religion and separaton of church and state, but did not conform wth modern liberal views. Similarly some states kept established churches long after the revolution. And of course religion has continued to play a role in government, even if it has diminished. TFD (talk) 16:12, 9 May 2011 (UTC)
I just replaced freedom of religion, which few USians of any political stripe dispute, with separation of church and state, which is more distinctively liberal. While there may have been communities in the liberal tradition that do not conform to every trait listed in the lede, church/state separation has been a characteristic and ongoing political direction of liberals. I would prefer to keep both.
As Bryonmorrigan observes above, the term freedom of religion, while not literally anti-liberal, is often attached to a broader pro-religion agenda contrary to the freedoms and rights embraced by liberals. Few conservatives, even those most rabidly objecting to one or another religious group, would ever admit opposition to "freedom of religion"; it is only because of such extremists that I consider "freedom of religion" useful in the lede of this article, albeit less important that separation of church and state. / edg 18:51, 9 May 2011 (UTC)

It does not seem to me that Wikipedia is an appropriate forum for propaganda, even propaganda I happen to agree with. If this were the article, Modern Liberalism in the United States then "separation of church and state" might be more appropriate than "freedom of religion", but this is splitting hairs. In the lede, brevity is the soul of wit. The US Constitution mentions both. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of relition, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

By the way, looking up "Bill of Rights" I discovered something I did not know. The British Bill of Rights specifies that no Roman Catholic shall ever rule England!

As for the idea that conservatives favor freedom of religion, consider Pat Roberton's proposed constitutional ammendment allowing only Christians and Jews the right to vote, or George W. Bush's famous satatment than an atheist is not a "real" American.

Rick Norwood (talk) 20:35, 9 May 2011 (UTC)

well is someone has false hateful images they will not make a good Wiki editor. try google, which tells us "Your search - "George W. Bush' atheist is not a "real American" - did not match any documents." Rjensen (talk) 15:51, 11 May 2011 (UTC)
Apparently, you aren't very skilled at Internet research. I found it in under 5 minutes. It was George H.W. Bush, not his son who made the statement, which is far more "hateful" and "false" than anything Rick has posted on this talk page.:
Sherman: Surely you recognize the equal citizenship and patriotism of Americans who are atheists?
Bush: No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.[3]
As I stated before, the general Conservative consensus is that "Freedom of Religion" only applies to Christians...and at most Jews, but certainly not to Hindus, Buddhists, Atheists, Wiccans, or anyone else. To argue otherwise is like trying to argue that Conservatives aren't opposed to LGBT rights or the teaching of Evolution in schools. Sure, you'll find some that aren't...but the general consensus does not back that thesis, which is well shown by the GOP platform that I linked earlier. Bryonmorrigan (talk) 16:40, 11 May 2011 (UTC)
for the record it's a fake quote. No journalist ever reported it. One person -- an atheist activist--claimed he heard it at a press conference where no one else hear the so-called "remark" and the atheist was unable to provide a tape recording. GWH Bush simply never talked that way. Rjensen (talk) 14:12, 12 May 2011 (UTC)
No, it's not a "fake" quote, nor is there any source backing up that assertion. A "fake" quote would imply that it was deliberately made up, whereas the only "evidence" against it's legitimacy is that a) It was reported by an Atheist, which Christians take to mean that he cannot be believed; and b) No other evidence exists to prove it, beyond Rob Sherman's report filed as a legitimate member of the press, from a legitimate magazine. [4] The fact that other reporters did not also report the remark only shows that they did not feel it "newsworthy" in 1988, and the lack of any of them standing up to publicly state otherwise is just as significant. If you have sources showing otherwise, feel free to post them. Bryonmorrigan (talk) 15:41, 12 May 2011 (UTC)
This quote came up in another article. Whether or not Bush actually said what was reported does not matter, because one would need more evidence to demonstate that this was part of U.S. conservative ideology. TFD (talk) 15:53, 12 May 2011 (UTC)

Thanks, Bryonmorrigan, for correcting my mistake but backing up my general impression. I think there is a pun in here somewhere about a bird in the hand, but I can't find it. Rick Norwood (talk) 11:39, 12 May 2011 (UTC)

When a quote gets challenged the "reporter" produces the tape recording or witnesses. Sherman did not do that, even though there were dozens of experienced reporters there with tape recorders. Bush's press conference (at Ohare Airport) was also covered by TV cameras. Sherman was an occasional columnist for an atheist magazine and had no other journalistic credentials. Rjensen (talk) 15:53, 12 May 2011 (UTC)
David Conway explains this apparent anomaly in his book from Ashgate Publishing, "the English nation was not one which atheists or Roman Catholics were eligible to join. In this respect, those with such religious or irreligious filiations differed from pagans, Jews, and Muslims whose religious filiations, in Locke’s view, did not disqualify them membership of the English nation. Locke considered atheists ineligible to join the English nation since he considered membership to be gained by swearing an oath of allegiance. As oath, being a vow to God, meant an atheist could not swear one and hence could not do what was necessary to join. Roman Catholics clearly could swear oaths, but, according to Locke, not oaths of allegiance to the English commonwealth. This was because, in Locke’s view, the ultimate allegiance of Roman Catholics was to a foreign Prince, the Pope."[5] TFD (talk) 12:48, 12 May 2011 (UTC)

In contrast to what?[edit]

The History section, at least, could benefit the casual reader by spending a considerable amount of attention to just what liberalism was in contrast to what was in place when it was introduced to America in the 18th century. It might also be helpful to current discussions, such as the one on religion, now going on re: this article. If the reader and others don't start from the common starting point of understanding state religion, oligarchy, inherited aristocracy, virtual representation etc. the comparison ends up to be about modern interpretations of political philosophies rather than an understanding that all modern US politics is "liberal" in contrast to the system it replaced, and that the spectrum of modern liberal thought is all really just varying degrees of fundementally the same thing from "socialists" to "tea partiers." Another example is the monarchy: Most modern Americans have no concept of what living under a monarchy meant in the 18th century, and use modern understandings of figureheads and Disney-like royal weddings as their reference point rather than the political realities at the founding of the US. Shoreranger (talk) 19:29, 9 May 2011 (UTC)

I've added a link to the liberalism article, which includes this in the lede
"Liberalism first became a powerful force in the Age of Enlightenment, rejecting several foundational assumptions that dominated most earlier theories of government, such as hereditary status, established religion, absolute monarchy, and the Divine Right of Kings. " Rick Norwood (talk) 20
39, 9 May 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps an improvement, but some elaboration would be useful. What do these things really mean? Why were these things replaced? What were the problems under these systems that liberalism was meant to solve? Unfortunatly, these things are not self-evident to the average reader. Shoreranger (talk) 20:56, 9 May 2011 (UTC)

I agree, but that's what hypertext is all about. The lede of a single article cannot tell the reader everything. Rick Norwood (talk) 21:05, 9 May 2011 (UTC)

I've suggested in my original post that the "History" section, not the lede, be expanded for that purpose for just that reason. I am in favor of a liberal use, if you will pardon the pun, of the hypertext but the articles they link to need to be put in context to the ideas in this article, and I've suggested this be achieved by answering the questions I proposed in my last post, not simply introducing hypertext in this article in the hope that the reader will study each one and make the right connections. That correction can easily happen in the history section and, I'd suppose, other appropriate places in the article. Shoreranger (talk) 21:32, 9 May 2011 (UTC)
Since the American colonies were established as liberal communities, there is no before to discuss. TFD (talk) 01:27, 11 May 2011 (UTC)

The "before" was fundamental. Before there was a United States, there had never been a country founded on liberal principles. The article says this, but the idea could be expanded, if the expansion were carefully sourced. Rick Norwood (talk) 13:27, 11 May 2011 (UTC)

I added to the history section. What do you mean by that comment - that the former colonies that formed the United states had been founded on liberal principals or that the constitution of the federation they joined was based on liberal principles? There was continuity between the earlier colonies. Both imperial laws (including the Bill of Rights 1689) and provincial statutes continued in force although the states could now amend or repeal imperial laws. TFD (talk) 14:24, 12 May 2011 (UTC)
the British government founded the colonies around 1600 on the basis of mercantilist principles that certainly were not "liberal". (Locke's liberalism in 1680s was 80 years after the founding). Rjensen (talk) 14:34, 12 May 2011 (UTC)
Doesn't that depend on how broadly one defines liberalism? Virginia was a commercial venture, and its characteristics were different from Spanish settlement in the Americas. It was not set up along traditional feudal lines. Didn't Locke speak for the interests of the investors in Virginia? Even though the English government was not liberal, it does not mean that the colony was not. Compare with the Chinese government and Hong Kong. TFD (talk) 15:18, 12 May 2011 (UTC)
Virginia was indeed set up for business, but business has been around a long time and it does not equate to liberalism. Rjensen (talk) 15:26, 12 May 2011 (UTC)

Is Wikipedia liberal biased??[edit]

Why is there a psychology section for conservatives using only negative findings on them, but not one for liberals?? There have been studies showing liberals have a mental disorder and is more apt to blindly follow their leaders:

I am not saying it should be written that liberals are mentally ill, just these studies should be cited in the article like on the conservative one. This article makes liberals sound like they are sane and more intelligent than conservatives, and that is disputed. Also, the findings that liberals are more intelligent than conservatives have been disputed too.Bjoh249 (talk) 00:55, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

I just had a look at those three sources. The first is a book review that seems to equate modern liberalism with the radical left, which is obviously nonsense. The second is another review of the SAME book, claiming it "is the first systematic examination of human nature and human freedom". I seriously doubt it. The third describes some research which may be quite valid, then draws conclusions which suggest that conservatives are, well, more conservative. I think you need better sources. HiLo48 (talk) 01:36, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
The liberal mind is published by "Free World Books" which is a label of "Red Room", a self-publishing company.[6] See WP:SELFPUB which explains the limited use that can be made of self-published works. TFD (talk) 03:21, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

And how are the sources on the conservative article any better?? They try to equate modern conservative with mental illness and fascism, which is also nonsense. The book I cited was a real book written by a psychologist, and I know it is for sale on which is respected bookseller. The third one was a study that was done by scientists. I am not saying to state that liberalism is mental illness, I am simply saying to give equal time to both instead of mainly printing the negative stuff on conservatives and leaving the negatives of liberals out.Bjoh249 (talk) 10:31, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

Almost every book is for sale on, so that is not a qualification. The difference is between academic research and popular non-fiction. Rick Norwood (talk) 12:11, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
Indeed. That has to be the most hilarious "justification" for claiming that someone's vanity press book deserves RS the history of Wikipedia. LOL. Bryonmorrigan (talk) 17:29, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
The studies were unable to find any correlation between liberalism and psychology, otherwise we would include it. TFD (talk) 12:34, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
If the article(s) on conservatives contain rubbish, then fix them. Don't add garbage to this one. HiLo48 (talk) 04:58, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
Bjoh249, read the 2012 history book Rule & Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party, From Eisenhower to the Tea Party (Studies in Post War Political Development) published by the Oxford Press to find out how crazy Conservatives are.
The radicalization of Conservatives has gotten so bad that in 1966 it lead moderate Republican Senator Thomas Kuchel to proclaim, :::::"[Conservatives are] a fanatical neo-facsist political cult of right-wingers in the GOP, driven by a strange mixture of corrosive hatred and sickening fear that is recklessly determined to control our party or destroy it!"
I think this section in the Talk page should be deleted as flame-bait. -- (talk) 18:28, 29 March 2013 (UTC)

"Part of a series on..."[edit]

on the "Conservatism in the United States" page, it is a portal to topics directly related to conservatism in the United States, but on this page, the portal only relates to liberalism in general. shouldn't there be a more relevant portal? -- (talk) 16:33, 28 December 2011 (UTC)


I have removed a map that seems to show that America is almost entirely Republican. But the map is colored by area (counties) rather than population, and is therefore misleading. Votes are counted by population, not by area. A map designed to inform rather than mislead would show votes by population. Rick Norwood (talk) 14:42, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

One man, one vote.Slmslr27 (talk) 19:17, 10 July 2012 (UTC)

Same-sex marriage[edit]

Same-sex marriage is mentioned as a liberal cause in the lead, but there is no mention of it in the section, "American liberalism, 1970 to the present day" (which is woefully lacking substance). I believe there should be at least some mention of Obergefell v. Hodges. Thoughts?Kerdooskis (talk) 17:38, 13 November 2015 (UTC)

agreeRick Norwood (talk) 21:19, 13 November 2015 (UTC)