THREE CENTURIES OLD IN AMERICA
RELIGIOUS AND PATRIOTIC LIFE AT ODDS
By Gordon Duff STAFF WRITER
The United States stands accused of fighting a religious crusade against Islam, supporting Zionist causes, seen by many as violent and confrontational and fostering a version of Christianity at home meant to throw the world into an apocalyptic war in order to bring on “the rapture,” a form of Historicism (Christian eschatology).
None of this describes the America envisioned in our Constitution by Founding Fathers whose view of history was filled with recent examples of witch burning, Inquisition, Huguenot (protestant) holocaust in France. Best documented is the persecution of Jews, from Roman times thru the Third Reich, conveniently leaving out Synagogue burning that goes on in France to this day or prohibitions of Jewish involvement in daily life throughout the United States into the 1970s.
None of this is a purely American problem. In the 19th century, the Dreyfus affair in France, involving a Jewish military officer was the scandal of the century. Here at home, President Kennedy was feared, by many to be a “Vatican spy” because of his Catholic upbringing.
The Iraq War would have ended in days, were it not for religious strife between the former ruling minority Sunni’s struggling against the majority Shiites. However, little is told of the Christians throughout the Middle East from Persia, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and across Africa. Christianity began in the Middle East and was the primary religion in that region until the rise of Islam.
The “shotgun weddings” between churches and governments have ended up distorting both, governments into theocratic dictatorships and religions into abominations of oppression and class warfare. Our last 8 years was the “American taste” of this centuries old problem, bad religion and bad government, working hand in hand with nothing being served but chaos.
Here at home, the religious right, well meaning but misguided, has pushed an agenda with a “populist” surface and totalitarian underpinnings. The roots of protestant conservatism were in movements called Christian Nationalism under leaders like Gerald L.K. Smith or under a Catholic Church aligned with Hitler and Mussolini using Father Caughlin, famous “Radio Priest,” the precursor to Rush Limbaugh as its spokesman.
Religion was used as a rationale to stop US support of Britain in the early years of World War 2 and to justify support of Nazi Germany by American Industrialists. Religious ties to the “Eugenics” movement, the pseudo-science behind Nazi racial policies and the holocaust were based on theories established among Christian conservatives in America.
Moral and economic flexibility have always been the single factor that has defined patriotic and religious conviction. Too often, both religion and patriotism have been “conveniences,” brought out when profitable and stuffed back into the closet the rest of the time.
The “Chickenhawk” issue in America is a prime example of this. The loudest patriots advocating defense of country and religion have always been the first to shirk duty and run for cover. Marines called it the “John Wayne” factor, all mouth, talking the talk but not walking the walk. Check out the list, you will find dozens of famous “patriots” who were barely American. Ask about Bob Dole.
In a reality where our closest ally, Israel, spies on the United States relentlessly, selling our secrets to Russia and China and our most fervent religious and political leaders are either caught molesting children or on “call girl” rolodexes, “belief” and “patriotism” seem to have become no more a reality than promises of “quack” products sold on infomercials.
We have spent years hunting down Islamic terrorists among the thousands of Islamic Americans with disturbingly little success. Getting past religion and moving toward humanism is the only path that can lead to either constructive dialog or national security.
With 2000 years of religious wars, persecution of any and every group, usually the weak or with coveted land or goods, the convenience of “belief” has been a civilizing influence of questionable value.
Is an American a patriot if he threatens to murder the President because he favors stem cell research? Is it righteous to support military dictators or war criminals who say they share our “family values?”
Does every religion have its own Taliban or Opus Dei? Are the apocalypse cults striving for nuclear war saner because they may be led by Dick Cheney and John Ashcroft and not a chanting Mullah from Pakistan?
Scholars of comparative religion believe every “modern religion” is an offshoot of sun worship or inability to deal with grief. (You can’t “bargain;” a “step” in the grief process, without creating a god first) I love the deal the ancient Greeks made with their gods. A lamb would be sacrificed but the gods, not so “all knowing” when given the choice took the “big bag” of entrails and head and left the meat for the worshippers to feast on.
Most Christian traditions stem from that deal and the bargains made by Constantine and dozens of popes known more for infamy than piety.
Do we talk about Jews who have to burn plates that “unclean” Gentiles have eaten on or Muslims who are banned from anything but sexual relationships (rape) with “non-believers.”
Centuries of religious war and theocratic states led to the development of political theories based on love of humanity and the principles put forth by Jesus and his disciples. However, calling Jesus a “Communist” can cause its own set of problems, even if it is the only applicable political affiliation that conforms with the Gospels.
The next time you find yourself being thrown off a boat on the way from Haiti because “the shark god” is hungry or your local preacher tells you Sarah Palin is a “saint,” take a moment.
When looking for a scoundrel, he is most likely carrying a bible and has a flag pin in his lapel. Other parts of the world, a suicide vest may be more in style. It is difficult to tell which is worse.
Gordon Duff is a Marine combat veteran and regular contributor on political and social issues.
Gordon Duff posted articles on VT from 2008 to 2022. He is a Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War. A disabled veteran, he worked on veterans and POW issues for decades.
Gordon is an accredited diplomat and is generally accepted as one of the top global intelligence specialists. He manages the world’s largest private intelligence organization and regularly consults with governments challenged by security issues.
Duff has traveled extensively, is published around the world, and is a regular guest on TV and radio in more than “several” countries. He is also a trained chef, wine enthusiast, avid motorcyclist, and gunsmith specializing in historical weapons and restoration. Business experience and interests are in energy and defense technology.