The following commentary is reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.
Collision Course for War over God
© Rafe Mair (Canada)
Source: Strategic Culture Foundation
October 12, 2010
Ethnicity, especially if spiked by religion, never dies.
In 1988 I was in the town of Mostar in old Yugoslavia, now Bosnia and Herzegovina.
It was a hot day, the women were bustling about shopping; the men drank black coffee at sidewalk cafes while I, with a permit from the local fishing club, stood in the Neretva River fishing right beside the 16th century stone bridge. A more peaceful scene is hard to imagine. Mostar, incidentally, means “keeper of the bridge”. In 1995 people who had lived together for centuries were at each other’s throats and the old bridge was destroyed. The casus belli was religion.
One would have thought that religious wars were a thing of the past at least between countries. The secularization of Turkey by Ataturk in 1923 seemed to point the way for other Islamic nations to get the Mosque out of government. As we know, that didn’t happen and even where there isn’t a clerical state, there are large portions of the population that want an Islamic Republic. This has created a situation where political opposition is done in the name of Allah.
Christian involvement in the Middle East has scarcely been helpful, especially where oil is involved. When Winston Churchill, in 1911, changed the Royal Navy from coal to oil, mid-east politics were hostage to western needs for petroleum with the most egregious consequence being the overthrow of Iranian premier Mossadeghin the 1953 because he dared to nationalize the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, later BP. The fat, so to speak, was in the fire so that when prepping for the 2nd Iraq war George W. Bush talked of a “crusade”, the reaction from much of the Muslim world was white hot anger. 9/11 was a cause for joy in much of the Muslim world.
Ethnicity never dies.
Canada is, mercifully, not the same as the U.S. Ever since the Quiet Revolution in Quebec in 1960, when the influence of the Catholic Church came to an abrupt end, Canada has been a secular state although clerical influence from the south is seeping in.
The United States, however, is dramatically different. To tell the whole story, several volumes would be required.
75% of Americans consider themselves Christian with about 25% regular church attenders; to understand what that means, one must look at the past…
The Uniteds States of America started because non conformists to the English established church were discriminated against. So concerned were the Founders, that to protect the right to worship as one wished, the Constitution declares that there shall be no “law respecting an establishment of religion”.
In law, then, America is a secular state. In practice, that notion has been seriously [challenged] by “hard” Christians led by the founder of the Moral Majority, the late Jerry Falwell who said, in 1974: “The idea that religion and politics don’t mix was invented by the Devil to keep Christians from running their own country… I am convinced that America can be turned around if we will all get serious about the Master’s business. It may be late, but it is never too late to do what is right. We need an old-fashioned, God-honoring, Christ-exalting revival to turn American back to God. America can be saved.”
The influence of the Christian church on state matters is of long standing. In 1925, in the famous Scopes trial the State of Tennessee convicted a teacher for teaching evolution in contradiction to state law. It wasn’t until 1952 that a divorced man (Adlai Stevenson) ran for the presidency – he lost and it wasn’t until 1980 when one (Reagan) was elected. God help – literally – the president who doesn’t attend church.
Suffice it to say, then, that with the Tea Party Movement tooting the trumpet, the Christian Right (CR), while not openly challenging the Constitution, wants its secular government run by “good Christians” in a clerical manner.
While this is going on in America, the notion of a secular state is eroding in Turkey, Iran’s clerical republic is getting ready to aim nasty weapons at Israel, and opposition parties in Egypt and Saudi Arabia believe in the notion of Islamic republics.
Who cares about the nature of the U.S. government? As long as the constitutional injunction against clericalism prevails, surely what citizens believe is irrelevant!
Would that it would be so. In fact, the U.S. is becoming more clerical and frighteningly so in ways that should worry us.
The danger was ignited by 9/11 which has long been seen by charismatic Christians as an attack by Islam.
The Jewish political clout, especially in highly populated states, favours the Israeli government in its quarrels with Islam and in this regard, the Christian Right supports them.
Roe v Wade which established a woman’s right to abortion is under very serious threat spurred on by George W Bush’s pandering to CR forces.
Anti Muslim spam clutters the Internet and in my mail box rivals ads for Viagra and offers to lengthen my penis.
Questions about what Muslim women can wear, a hot topic in much of Europe is now being seriously dealt with in America the free – and in Canada for that matter.
Now a proposed mosque “near” the bombed World Trade Center, has brought out a torrent of anti Muslim forces and has the usually coherent President Obama babbling on both sides of the issue. U.S. radio talk shows, a very potent force, are railing against Islam as the enemy of 9/11 which must be extirpated.
The obvious secular nature of President Obama and the fact that his middle name is Husein, has created just the enemy in power that CR and the Tea Party need in their evangelism efforts.
What does all this mean?
Simply this – the United States in its foreign policy must reflect the steadily creeping clericalism that sees Al Qaeda and Islam as one and the same thing. It means, in short, that while in the past America could always oppose theocracies (always excepting Israel, of course), smugly asserting their secularism, it can no longer do so. In the event the new forces represented by the Tea Party take over, it won’t want to.
And that’s scary.