Archive for category Fascism
When a supposedly moderate Islamic government like Pakistan’s has a law on their books making blasphemy a crime, well, they don’t make it any easier for those of us who are friends of Islam. And when a person is sentenced to death for speaking their mind then it is time for Muslims around the world to speak out against Pakistan and sharia law. There is no way that any reasonable person, of any religious persuasion, can justify persecution.
I don’t care if the women is Christian. That is irrelevant. It certainly is a big deal to a lot Christians, but this would be just as insanely horrible if the accused was Hindu or Wiccan or Muslim. Yet, this incident is providing Christian Islamophic factions (as well as some impassioned atheists) some heavy ammo in their battle against Islam. And frankly, this particular Muslim fundamentalist position is pretty well indefensible.
I used to think of Pakistan as a civilized place. The country has produced some extraordinary people who achieved extraordinary things in science and the arts. Cosmopolitan cities. Ranked in the top 15% of the world’s economies, according to GDP. Heck, they even have the atom bomb.
A theocratic country with a medieval mindset that has the atom bomb. Actually, dozens or maybe hundreds of them. Gives one pause, doesn’t it?
Now, in Pakistan, there are some loud and courageous dissenting voices, in the media and in government as well. One politician has introduced an amendment to the anti-blasphemy laws that would eliminate capital punishment for the offense. Now that’s a good thing but it is not good enough. No country should have any laws on their books having anything to do with blasphemy or any law protecting any religion from spoken or written criticism. No country should ever have an overt alliance with any religion, Muslim, Christian or Jewish (sorry Israel and Texas).
I’d like to ask what a lot of people have asked before: where is the American Muslim outcry against Islamist tyranny? I just spent a lot of time searching for something like this on the web and, well, I can’t find anything of the sort. Why doesn’t CAIR have anything to say about this? I mean, how can they see a major threat to American Muslims with Juan Williams’ relatively harmless off-the-cuff remarks and not see the danger in keeping silent on the tyranny of Pakistani sharia? This is like upbraiding a smoker for polluting the air while sitting behind the wheel of an idling SUV.
I have friends and neighbors who are Muslim. We tend to keep the conversation outside of religion and away from international politics. But tonight I might risk propriety and ask for their take on this. Do they think my question is a valid one? I’ve also met some interesting Muslims on this blog and would like to ask for their thoughts as well.
“What is our purpose in life? It is to restore the fallen culture to the glory of God. It’s to take command and dominion over every aspect of life, whether it’s music, science, law, politics, communities, families, to bring Christianity to bear in every single area of life” – Charles Colson
“As soon as Jesus sits on his throne he’s gonna rule the world with a rod of iron. That means he’s gonna make the ACLU do what he wants them to. That means you’re not gonna have to ask if you can pray in public school. We will live by the law of God and no other law.”— John Hagee
“Lord, give us righteous judges who will not try to legislate and dominate this society. Take control, Lord! We ask for additional vacancies on the court.” –Pat Robertson
“We’re not attacking Islam but Islam has attacked us. The God of Islam is not the same God. He’s not the son of God of the Christian or Judeo-Christian faith. It’s a different God and I believe it is a very evil and wicked religion.” -Franklin Graham
“Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending [U.S. soldiers] out on a task that is from God. That’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God’s plan.” – Sarah Palin
“There are some who would accuse us of trying to Christianize America. Am I trying to Christianize America? You bet your boots I am!” – D. James Kennedy
“The most used phrase in my administration if I were to be President would be ‘What the hell you mean we’re out of missiles?”-Glenn Beck
There is a memorable behind–the-scenes moment in one of Frank Peretti’s books where a little demon perched on the shoulder of an addict is swirling his hand around inside the man’s skull. (For those of you who don’t know of him, Frank Peretti writes “Christian” horror tales. This book, if I remember correctly, was “Piercing the Darkness”. It may just as well have been called “Piercing my Eyeball” for all the pleasure I got from reading it.)
Anyway, this supernatural premise is one that many conservative Christians (Fundamentalists, Neo-Evangelicals, Moral Majoritarians, reactionary Catholics –you get the picture) do not take lightly. There is no doubt in their minds that the minds of others, especially those who suffer from mental and emotional disorders, are in demonic clutches. Many of these Christians consider psychologists and psychiatrists to be quacks, or even worse, in the employ of Satan (though perhaps unconsciously). People with chronic depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, OCD – these people don’t need medical attention, and they certainly don’t need any drugs. All they need is to turn to Jesus. Or maybe endure a good exorcism. (In their contempt for the psychiatric profession they have a lot in common with Scientologists).
The funny (and sad) thing is that most of these people are not complete idiots. I know, because I was once one of them, and I am no idiot. (depending on who you ask) Now, I didn’t completely right-off the mental health profession. But I didn’t put much stock in mental health practitioners, unless he or she was an overt Christian. Because if therapists didn’t believe that Satan could mess with people’s minds, then it was tantamount to them working for Satan. There was really no hope for healing. I guess a Jewish doctor who believed in Satan would be OK except that he would not recognize the healing power of Jesus. So, no, it would have to be a Christian and a neo-Evangelical, God fearing, born-again Christian to boot. And this is a wide spread conviction among Christian fundamentalists.
Nowadays a belief in Satan would immediately disqualify that professional from my consideration. I couldn’t care less if my mechanic or my post-man or my butcher believed in Satan or Santa. But when it comes to helping people deal with issues that challenge their sanity, well, I just don’t think the supernatural is something worth pursuing. At least not at $150 an hour.
What I am trying to get at here is that there are quite a lot of Americans (some estimates say around 100 million) who believe that Old Scratch is a legitimate threat to our personal, local and national security. Heck, our last president thought this way. Right now there is a lot of angry talk going around about how Muslim people actually belong to a satanic religion and that the Prophet was under satanic influence. Which, when you think about it, is pretty scary. Not the idea that Islam is satanic – that’s not scary, it’s just plain ignorant. No, what’s scary is that maybe over 100 million Americans have their heads in the Dark Ages. Quite a few readily say that most non-Christians are doing Satan’s work and all are destined for hell. That the world’s problems won’t be solved until America’s problems are solved which won’t happen until America is a Christian nation run by Christians. My God, what if they ever organized?
Which is what they have been, for the last 40 years or so. Though you won’t hear them say it officially, the Christian Right has dominionism on their minds. Dominionism according to Wikipedia, is:
the tendency among some conservative politically-active Christians, especially in the United States, to seek influence or control over secular civil government through political action. The goal is either a nation governed by Christians, or a nation governed by a conservative Christian understanding of biblical law.
I don’t think the leaders of the Christian Right would disagree too much with that assessment. And I guess that if you are a conservative Christian you probably don’t have much of a problem with it. But, as a fairly moderate man who struggles with keeping the teachings of Jesus close to heart ( I am hesitant to call myself a “Christian” these days) I am, frankly, fairly frightened. I can’t imagine what a Hindu or a Buddhist or (particularly at this time) a Muslim, thinks of this. (Though I have spoken with some Muslims and they don’t appear to be too worried) Apparently a lot of Jews are willing to overlook the rhetoric of the Christian Right as long as they continue to fervently support Israel. I guess they, like so many others, don’t take them too seriously. And that’s a mistake.
Considering their stated goals and their political successes (they helped elect a lot of governors and a lot of people to Congress and the last administration was very much under their influence) I think they need to be taken very seriously. Though they only crow about it to the choir inside churches and those listening to their radio and TV programs, their ultimate agenda is for all elected officials be fundamentalist Christians, all government policies be based upon Biblical law and that eventually all citizens convert to Christianity. Which would mean only Christians would be capable of effective leadership, or even citizenship. Now, what is that starting to sound like?
Before you think I’m crazy remember that not too long ago I used to be in their camp. And if that’s not enough, go check out their websites: the American Family Association, Focus on the Family, Coral Ridge Ministries, Answers In Genesis, Center for Moral Clarity, Christian Broadcasting Network, John Hagee Ministeries etc. And follow the links on these sites; you might be surprised what you find there. Of course most of what you find will sound relatively harmless, maybe even noble. I mean, what’s wrong with family values? Patriotism is a good thing, usually. And it’s kind of hard to object to the Gospel of Jesus. .
So there’s nothing to worry about, right? This is America, after all. Couldn’t happen here. Well, the Tea Party is growing stronger and some influential people are actually talking about a possible Beck/Palin presidential bid (in recent Gallup polls Beck was the fourth most admired man alive, right below Nelson Mandela and just above the Pope, while Palin was the number one Republican presidential contender) So interesting things could happen. We might be surprised. Perhaps unpleasantly.
An old Baptist preacher once warned me about ‘false teachings’: “Remember, rat poison is 95% sugar. It’s the other 5% that’ll kill ya.”
Because he is a Mormon.
Which is interesting, when you consider all the ruckus Beck is making over Obama’s faith and how the President’s ‘version’ of Christianity is unrecognizable to most Christians. And then there’s Beck’s passion for wanting to lead America back to the allegedly Christian ideals of the founders. By belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints, Beck is not regarded a Christian by the Roman Catholic Church, most mainstream Protestant denominations and just about all conservative Evangelicals. Many, if not most, think Mormonism is “clearly”a cult. This is exactly what James Dobson and Focus on the Family believes:
“While Glenn’s social views are compatible with many Christian views, his beliefs in Mormonism are not. Clearly, Mormonism is a cult. The CitizenLink story does not mention Beck’s Mormon faith, however, the story makes it look as if Beck is a Christian who believes in the essential doctrines of the faith.
“Through the years, Focus on the Family has done great things to help the family and has brought attention to the many social ills that are attacking the family.
“However, to promote a Mormon as a Christian is not helpful to the cause of Jesus Christ. For Christians to influence society, Christians should be promoting the central issues of the faith properly without opening the door to false religions.“
Yet conservative Evangelical leaders stand shoulder to shoulder with Beck as he rallies his Christian soldiers on to a new American Dominionism. ( Where does Sarah Palin’s church stands on the “is a Mormoan a Christian” issue?) Anyway, strange bedfellows. I wonder if Glenn ever considered the possibility that, if he and Sarah are successful, Mormon’s might find themselves in the same boat with Muslims and other threats to “Christian” authority?
The irony is that most Muslims would probably give Beck the benefit of the doubt and accept his Christian bona fides. Which is not necessarily a very good thing for anyone, including Mormons.
I’ve wondered about the similarities between some of the more angry elements in America today. Perhaps it is no surprise that these elements tend to overlap, though by no means do they have to.
What is it that they have in common? So far, I’ve come up with 17 points. I’ve deliberately left them vague, so that each statement could be used to describe a nationalist, a fascist or a religious fundamentalist in any nation or of any faith in the world.
1. They are strongly attached to tradition and want to return to better times of the past.
2. Yet, they are resistant to change.
3. The are willing to unquestionably submit to authority, though they are openly critical of the authority they have yet to supplant.
4.They express a general disenchantment with present times and circumstances and the firm belief that better times (Utopia) will be ushered in through apocalyptic and cleansing violence.
5. There is a professed need for unity among the ranks exemplified by oaths and pledges and physical gestures.
6. Popular dissent is suppressed and those who disagree with their established authority and doctrine are readily condemned.
7. They are suspicious of ‘intellectual’s and their institutions (who are most likely to dissent) and dismiss any evidence that might conflict with their doctrines.
8. They fear the unknown as what lies there may challenge their existing convictions. So unauthorized books, periodicals, broadcasts etc are off-limits.
9. They are paranoid, they believe they are besieged by hostile forces and that anyone who is not with them is against them.
10. A fear and dislike for the alien (the nonconformist) from outside or within their midst is common (hostile forces are often personified by the alien). These aliens become convenient scapegoats for most of society’s problems.
11. Their rhetoric largely consists of an insider language peppered with head-nodding jargon ( like Orwell’s “Newspeak”)
12. There is a professed obsession with morality and purity, of both the body and the mind, that can only be accomplished through strict discipline and devotion to authority and doctrine
13. An affection for the language of empire, implying the supremacy of their place over any other, helps them to essentially squash any idea of egalitarianism
14. They tend to use the violent language of sacrifice, conquest and triumph.
15. They exalt the martial elements of society.
16. They profess a firm belief in their destiny and their natural (chosen) place at the head of other people and nations of the world.
17. They celebrate an officially sanctioned mythology that blends truth with fiction and creates heroic stories used to promote doctrine.
Did I miss any?
In a provocative move today, the Veterans Administration ordered the removal of all Christian crosses from national military cemeteries commissioned during or after World War II. This was in response to a growing fervor on the part of Jewish American veterans of that war and their families:
“I lost two brothers in the Battle of the Bulge” said Robert Hirsch, who served as an infantry captain from 1942 to 1945. ” My mother lost two sisters and an uncle at Bergen-Belsen. We can never forgive the Nazis for what they did and we can never forget that they were Christians. A cross on this hallowed ground is offensive to all Jewish Americans.”
OK, so this hasn’t happened. But, if you are a Christian, how did it make you feel, if for only a moment? I’ll wager that whatever you felt, it wasn’t ‘good’. But isn’t this the same argument being waged by opponents of the proposed Islamic center (not a mosque) in Manhatten?
The folks who want to build this mosque, who are really radical Islamists, who want to triumphfully (sic) prove they can build a mosque next to a place where 3,000 Americans were killed by radical Islamists. Those folks don’t have any interest in reaching out to the community. They’re trying to make a case about supremacy… This happens all the time in America. Nazis don’t have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust Museum in Washington. We would never accept the Japanese putting up a site next to Pearl Harbor. – New Gingrich
Aren’t they assuming that all Muslims are violent? Or that since so many Muslims are violent (allegedly) that they practice a violent religion? Does anyone remember that Hawaii has a large Japanese population who were living there long before the Navy anchored any battle ships at Pearl. So any visible Japanese presence adjacent to the base (like a Shinto Shrine) is forbidden? I don’t think so. (Even though Newt says that this “happens all the time in America”)
Doesn’t it follow, based upon Islamophobic logic, that all Germans and all Japanese are somehow complicit in the atrocities of WWII? (and what about those Teflon coated Italians?)
No, that would only be the case if they were objecting to Arabs - which would be an openly racist campaign against a certain ethnic group or nationality, and we just don’t do that in America anymore.
Instead the Islamophobes have an ax to grind against the growing presence of what they believe is an aggressive, warlike and anti-American religion, a tiny fraction of which has committed violence against the United States. So, using this logic it would be safer to say that all Christians are somehow complicit in what the Germans (and Italians) did during WWII, as they were Christian nations. (Not enough Shintos around to worry about them, right now.)
Why haven’t Jewish Americans made the same types of accusations and placed the same demands against Christians? Is it because they are in the minority, like the Muslims?
Or am I just mixing up Christian apples with Islamic oranges?