Archive for category Inter-faith
I guess it’s becoming a holiday tradition for me to make spicy chocolate crunch, since this is the second year in a row that I’ve done it. Pretty astounding for me to stick with anything that long.
So I wrapped up a package of candy and topped it off with a Fuentes cigar tied with a red ribbon, to take over to my next door neighbor’s house. Walking up their front steps, I considered how to greet them, as they are devout Muslims. I decided that this year I was going to go against my better instincts and say “Merry Christmas”. For the past 3 or 4 years I’ve been a staunch advocate of the “Happy Holidays” approach.
When Asan opened the door he beat me to the punch with his own hearty “Merry Christmas”! And why not? It’s an American custom, a tradition that really has little to do with religion anymore. The Christmas season has always been about the universal ideal of “peace on Earth, good will towards men”. That is, until some mean old Christians went and ruined it.
No one used to worry about offending anyone with “Merry Christmas”. I used to work for a reformed Jewish fellow and we made no bones about the season being about Christmas. Hanukkah fell in their somewhere, but it surely wasn’t a Hanukkah season. We put a tree up in the restaurant lobby every year and, yes, there was a menorah on the mantle. We both enjoyed the season and we both enjoyed the business that the season generated. I never gave my personal greetings much thought, but probably gave equal time to Christmas, the Holidays and New Year.
But then some overly sensitive, paranoid and doctrinaire Christians became offended by the lack of “Christ” in the Christmas season (as if Christ hadn’t been upstaged by Santa Clause since long before WWII). They mounted a national campaign designed to regain uncontested control of the holidays. Coming from their lips “Merry Christmas” was no longer a heartfelt greeting meant to wish people joy and happiness, it was now a challenge like “I dare you to knock this frankincense off my shoulder!” Or the Christian equivalent of the Black Power salute: a symbol of defiance in the face of ‘secularists’ and solidarity among the ‘faithful’. Where is the grace in that?
All of a sudden it became difficult for the rest of us to wish people a merry Christmas. These zealous Christians had created an air of tension where there was none before. It wasn’t the ‘secularists’ or the rare militant atheist who made the Christmas greeting into a politically incorrect statement – it was the result of needy, insecure Christians demanding that everyone confirm their religious tradition. In their fervent devotion to the idealized story of the birth of a baby God they effectively buried the adult Jesus’ message beneath the sands of a mythical Bethlehem.
But not quite. I find it heartening, when a devout Muslim man is able to share the true spirit of Christmas with a jaded, cynical Christian like myself, without compromising his own faith in the process.
Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah!
When we were kids they told us that the longest word in the dictionary was antidisestablishmentarianism. Though I could spell it, I never really knew what it meant.
Until recently, when it occurred to me that if the Founders had actually been Christian, as many neo-evangelicals claim, and not the Deists they actually were, then it is unlikely that the United States as we know it would ever have existed.
Because the founding documents were not Christian, but the product of secular deistic philosophy, they expressly forbade the establishment of a national religion in general, not just in specific, as many of today’s religious conservative suggest. It is not only that they made sure that no denomination – Anglican, Congregationalist or Roman Catholic – would hold sway over other denominations but that Christianity itself would not be privileged. Which makes sense when we remember that Deists are generally distrustful of organized religion, particularly of Christianity, which many of the most influential founders had personally rejected.
Without the constitutional disestablishment of religion, in an America governed by explicitly specific Christian values, I seriously doubt we would today enjoy any of the rights that we take for granted. Because a Christian (near) theocracy would find itself at odds with true democracy. True democratic principles – individualism, free thought, self-reliance, the right to protest authority – are not exactly compatible with those Christian doctrines about the sovereignty of God and the power he has granted authority (as some Christians will admit).
There are many Christians who believe that Satan is real, and that he influences those who do not accept Christian doctrine. These people are not on the fringe, but make up the bulk of Christian Right, who have tremendous influence within the Republican party. It is not too difficult to imagine a Christian government that would accuse those who oppose their God-given authority as being in the clutches of Satan. After all, this is a frequent complaint coming from the pulpits (and radio pulpits) of American neo-evangelicals, many with strong political ties and a few having sought political office. Is there any reason to think that they would leave their religious doctrines on the Capitol steps or outside the doors to the White House, as John Kennedy promised to do? On the contrary, they’ve made it plain that they would be intentionally deliberate in applying (their conservative) religious principles to the execution of political office.
When the media criticized General William Boykin for dressing in combat fatigues, touring churches and telling them that God was on America’s side while the idol worshiping Muslim’s are destined for defeat, Christian conservatives rallied to his defense. President George Bush favorably compared American military intervention with God’s will and Sarah Palin recently has said much the same thing.
It is easy to think this way, especially if your enemies happen to be non-Christians. The prevailing neo-evangelical wisdom is that Islam is a false religion, that Mohamed was a false prophet and that Muslims are misguided pawns of Satan. The Tea Party movement is outspoken about their love of Christianity and their fear and hatred of Islam.
Many Bush appointees were influence by conservative Christian ideals and now conservative Christians have a loud, if not controlling, voice in the House. There is a very good chance that in 2012 they may find themselves in control of the Senate and the White House as well.
Do we want a government that takes Genesis into account while considering environmental action? Or makes judicial decisions based upon scriptural precepts? (Which is OK as long as that scripture is from the Bible and not the Quran). Or crafts economic policy according to a narrow reading of the Old Testament (which, btw, conveniently ignores the teachings of Jesus in the process?) Should our civil rights legislation be pre-determined by men who wrote over 2000 years ago?
Some people asked similar questions back in John F. Kennedy’s day. To be elected Kennedy had to promise that he would be led by the Constitution and not Roman Catholic orthodoxy. If an irreconcilable difference presented itself, he would resign his office. He did not try to square the Constitution to his religion, claiming that our government is founded on his religion, as so many conservative Christians are saying today. But he understood that a complete separation of church and state, that which kept the Protestant majority in check, was the only reason a Catholic would ever be allowed to run for office.
It has become popular to insist that politicians reveal their religious beliefs. Let’s be honest; this demand is almost always made to satisfy the doubts of Christians (who question the wisdom of having non-Christians in office). Apparently, Americans of other religions, in minority positions, need not be concerned about who governs them. Or their own political aspirations. Fortunately, the Constitution protects politicians from having to comply, although some go to great lengths to prove their Christian bona fides.
Looking at it from a different perspective, I believe that any outwardly religious person, anyone who is willingly outspoken about his or her faith or uses it as a political tool towards election, should take an oath similar to Kennedy’s.
Though not on a Bible.
…but it could be worse. Enough with the Judeo-Christian stuff. How about some Islamo-Mormon values? There are similarities, out on the extremes.
Because I’m not likely to come. Oh, I might fake it a bit, if in a public setting like church. But when all heads are bowed and eyes closed, if you bothered to look up you probably would see me, eyes wide open and looking right back at you.
I don’t get it. Never really did, especially growing up Roman Catholic and having to endure the endless monotonous intoning of the priest’s scripted calls for intercession followed by the obligatory chorus of “Lord hear our prayer”. Later, as an Evangelical, I actually did pray a lot, often alone on my knees but at other times holding hands in a circle, listening to my friends drone on about concerns as broad as world hunger and as pathetically specific as a set of lost car keys, all the while sweating over what I was going to say and how I could say it in a proper, godly fashion. Problem was, even though my life was filled with ‘prayer’, I was rarely at peace.
Today I belong to a much more progressive church – well, no, I actually don’t ‘belong’ to the church – I haven’t joined for a number of reasons. Don’t get me wrong, I love the community, it’s very spiritual and intellectually stimulating. It’s unencumbered with a lot of the religious bullshit baggage that many other churches are full of. But members must commit to a number of spiritual practices, one of which is prayer. And I really don’t know what that means, being “committed to a life of prayer”.
What is prayer anyway? It’s a loaded topic that’s for sure. Right now, down in Bibleland, there is a big brew-ha-ha bubbling up out of Hamilton County, Tennessee and onto the wire services, Facebook and the blogoshpere ( I mean serious big time blogs, not my little hobby). The local public high school is in the custom of kicking off every game with a prayer to Jesus over the PA system, which is clearly in violation of a couple of laws. The superintendent ordered the school to cease and desist (amazing it took this long) and now all (but really, it’s not all) of the people are peeved. But why? It’s a no-brainer. Keep the Christian prayers where they belong, in Christian venues (like one of the gazillion local churches). Keep your Muslim prayers in the mosques, your Jewish prayers in the synagogues and your Native American chants on the side lines during the game.
But is this really prayer we are talking about? Some principal or coach picks up a squealing mike and everyone bows their heads and we thank God for our new band uniforms and our pick-up trucks? Shouldn’t we be led to prayer by our hearts and not a solemn prompting sandwiched between rah-rah team fanaticism? How heartfelt can this be? I reckon no more so than the grace-before-meals my family used to toss off in 2.758236 seconds before chowing down. Or the endless repetitious chants from the church of my childhood. Is God really ‘listening’ to this?
I do believe in prayer, somehow, in some crazy way. For a while now I haven’t been able to explain it, even to myself. I can tell you what I don’t believe: I don’t believe that God answers our prayers so that we get raises or promotions or sell our houses or win football games or wars. I don’t believe that God keeps the machinery from failing when it pulls miners out of the ground or prevents a cap from bursting on a submarine oil well. I don’t believe that we can pray away hurricanes, tornadoes or rainy days. I don’t think God is a genie.
But…I do think that there is something to it. Maybe (and most importantly?) if the prayer is thoughtful, sincere and in the truly “good”spirit of God, then it can help us work out ways to make things better, for ourselves and for others. And making things better is not about changing the situation but dealing with the situation through the softening of our hearts, the clearing of our minds and seeing the world through the eyes of God, which means through the eyes of others. I don’t imagine much of this is happening right before game time. I could be wrong, but…
Hamilton County Board of Education member Rhonda Thurman, who represents Soddy-Daisy, said the prayers were part of the school’s tradition, and that anyone who didn’t want to hear could “put their fingers in their ears.”
And maybe there is something more, something a bit mystical about prayer. I started to understand this so a little last week in church. On this particular Sunday I was praying like a Carmelite nun, fervently and spiritedly. I was suffering the next-day intestinal side-effects of too many jalapenos in last night’s queso dip. My belly sounded like the timbers of an old frigate in high seas and I am sure that those sitting around me were nearly as alarmed as I was. And, of course, that day’s service ran about 30 minutes longer than usual.
It suddenly stuck me: what was I doing? I didn’t believe in this type of intercessory prayer. Or did I? There are no atheists in foxholes and when I found myself in a foxhole (even one I dug myself) prayer suddenly was a viable option. And, it seemed that it was working, because my stomach was able to quiet down enough for me to make it home safely. Of course, this could simply be a matter of my mind being able to exert stronger and more efficient control over my body, but maybe this was only possible for me through prayer.
Mystics throughout the world and throughout history have been able to do (much more) amazing things with their bodies – impossible things – from walking on coals, sleeping on nails, levitating and performing miraculous healings. If God is spirit, analogous to energy, then perhaps through prayer we can tap into that energy (whatever that means). Perhaps this spiritual energy is available to anyone – it just takes a certain knack to access it. Perhaps this is why some say that when “two or more are gathered in Jesus’ name” they can do wondrous things, maybe even, hopefully, heal people (though I find it hard to square this with the superstitious antics of Benny Hinn and the TBN crowd). And I really don’t think this describes what happens when a crowd of people are saying Jesus’ name out loud at a civic event, especially if some members of that community are not Christian. That is not something that Jesus would do, or put his name on.
Everybody is offended by something,” she (Ms.Thurman) said. “I’m offended by a lot of those little girls running around with their thong panties showing, but I can’t make that go away.”
Maybe communal, public prayer works for some people. Maybe prostrating yourself a number of times a day gives you strength, comfort or peace. Maybe chanting works for some and the rosary for others. Lectio divina, contemplative, meditative or in tongues….no thanks. Been there, done that, tried it and found it wanting. Maybe I just didn’t try hard enough, who knows? But it seems to me that if you have to really work at it, if it really takes that much concentration, then maybe you’re paddling up the wrong stream of consciousness.
Anyway, as one Christian to another, do me a favor and keep the praying down a bit. Maybe even consider praying in private or just among your close friends. After all, there is some biblical precedent for this. Jesus is to have once said something like this:
And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?
Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.
“The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. – Matthew 6 (The Message)
Some time ago I posted the most popular blog I’ve ever done (not that any are all that popular, by most standards – and it only continues to get so many hits because of the interest so many people seem to have with the title). While putting together the pictures of Jesus on the yesterday’s post, I was tempted to revisit the Black Jesus, but believe that this is an entirely different issue than what I was addressing with the ‘avatars’ (although I do believe that the head shot of Jesus I used is a type of avatar in itself, with its cherubic northern European features).
What a coincidence when today my news feed led me to this excellent article by Yoknyam Dabale over on Black Star News. He does a much better job communicating the point I so sloppily made in my story about the “Black Jesus”:
I would say, the Black Christ is an attempt from African Christians to make Christ relevant; they wished to experience Christ in their own language and in the image in which God created them, along side acknowledging Christ’s presence among those who don’t look like them. One must understand that, this Jesus of Nazareth that the gospel talks about is no “White man”, the reason why the White, pale Jesus is pervasive is due to the fact that, as a friend nicely expressed, “those in power define who your God is and what that god must look like”, through the work of colonization/globalization and world mission, Western Christians enforced Christ as a “White man”, that legacy still have a presence amongst Africans.
Those who are opposed to portraying Jesus as a Black man must not be aware of the history of Christianity on the continent of Africa. In order for Jesus Christ to be presence amongst all people, He should not be a distant White man who seems very disconnected with the reality of the African world.
Again, why do some ‘traditional’ Christians critique some Africans,who like to see Christ as a black man, when they have no problem portraying him is a non-Jewish white European with Western values? We (and this means just about everyone who even considers Jesus today, theist or not) has co-opted Jesus and remade him into whatever our personal experiences, our personal world views and the doctrines of dead men have cooked up. The majority of Christians certainly are either unaware or indifferent to the historical Yeshua (who we know very little about).
I don’t think there is much wrong in having distinct personal images of Christ – I seriously doubt if there is any other way to contemplate anything linked to the divine – but perhaps Christians should seriously consider their religion’s own relativistic qualities before they criticize others for not adhering to the ‘truth’, whether it be about Jesus’ skin color or the theologies of other faith traditions.
Thank goodness Christians are mono-theistic and don’t have to mess around with all those Hindu gods. That would be way too complicated. Fortunately for us, God, coming to Earth as his only son Jesus, revealed his true nature, so that there would be no confusion or disagreement on the subject. Whew! Now if we could just get this simple message out there…
I know there must be others…..
The other day a friend of mine said that, although she didn’t agree with his theology, Mark Driscoll was a pretty smart guy. I agreed. Boy, were we wrong:
‘Should Christians stay away from yoga because of its demonic roots? Totally. Yoga is demonic,’ Driscoll said. ‘If you just sign up for a little yoga class, you’re signing up for a little demon class.’
I guess he’s an expert. Right. Better warn those taking the weekly yoga class in my church. They have been acting sort of…spooky.
I’m not saying that Driscoll has a low I.Q. – I’m sure that’s not the case. But the above statement sure doesn’t make him sound very smart. It’s the kind of thing that a lot of religious people are saying these days about other traditions, practices and beliefs that they apparently know next to nothing about. It’s the kind of remark that someone who thinks he has all the right answers will make. Stupid and…bigoted.
I suspect that Driscoll (like his fellow Calvinist, Al Mohler) is sure that yoga is demonic because of it’s “non-Christian” roots in Hinduism. (Though he just might feel that yoga is not ‘macho’ enough for him.) To folks like this, any spiritual (or psychological) practice not based on the Bible is demonic, so it only follows that it’s practitioners are worshiping and serving Satan. A major problem with this position (aside from the arrogance) is that many, if not most, of the critics’ own beliefs and practices are not strictly Biblical. At least that’s what the majority of their Christian brothers and sisters think, even if they are too polite to say so. Some, who are not so polite (like me ) might suggest that it is Driscoll and friends who are actually following Satan, since Satan is a clever Hebrew metaphor for the selfish and frightened ego.
This idea that yoga is a way to allow demons access to our minds has been a staple of Christian pop-culture for some time and it’s a mainstay of Christian suspense fiction. But is it any coincidence that in the past few months ‘evangelical’ leaders have begun speaking out against a practice that is so closely identified with Hinduism? I don’t want to sound cynical, but have the hordes of Christian Islamophobes softened up the playing field for a more spirited condemnation of other non-Christians? (If so, then their fellow-traveling Jewish Islamophobes might want to be careful.)
Many of the people who have taken hip-shots at other religions really should know better. Graduates of divinity schools, colleges and universities – you wonder if any of them had ever taken a comparative religion course. But then some of those who teach comparative religions at the college level can miss the forest for the trees when it comes to faith. Though not bigoted they may be prejudiced, tending to see every religion as monolithic (or almost so) – each devotee devoted to the same set of doctrines and imagining the same image of God: all Muslims striving for world domination, all Hindus as polytheists, all Christians believing Jesus is the sacrificial Son of God etc. Certainly a minister like Driscoll should know better -he just needs to look around at his fellow Christians. Consider how there is such a diversity of theological opinion and such a lack of consensus on who Jesus was and what he said and did. How some Christians might even accuse Driscoll of idolatry – an artist’s conception of Jesus on his tee-shirt. He should ponder that a while before he gives into the temptation to tilt at other spiritual windmills.
Actually, maybe a little yoga would help. He’s already hooked into the Christian pop-culture passion for avatars
“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.
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?