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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

RELIGIOUS OUTRAGE

"Handle the Koran as if it were a fragile piece of delicate art."

General Boykin was scheduled to speak at West Point, but CAIR and other groups complained loudly and he's been removed from the speaking schedule. Boykin is a delta force leader and a war hero, but his private remarks at a Bible study were recorded and given to the media by someone and they were outrageous to Muslims.

Boykin called homosexuality immoral, said Allah was a false god, and claimed that the war on terror was a war against the forces of Satan. Now, none of this is particularly outrageous to many Christians, but some people threw a fit when they heard it. The problem isn't so much what he says and thinks privately, but the perception that as a general he thinks he's waging some kind of private crusade against the devil when fighting against largely Muslim targets.

I don't know General Boykin but from reading his remarks, I understand him not to mean anything about crusade, but the general Christian understanding of spiritual battle that is continuous in every Christian's life of striving for God against Satan over ideology, truth, and understanding. As Paul says in the first letter to the Corinthians 10, vss 3-5:
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ
This is a constant theme in every Christian's life, not the least of which in their own souls, fighting against anything that would turn us away from Christ and His truth. Boykin wasn't referring to any sort of Crusade, he simply was noting this battle in the world.

And when he says Islam is satanic, that's a normal theme for Christianity as well: either you're for Christ or you're for the Devil, whether aware of it or not. While there are morally neutral acts in the world, the Bible teaches that everyone is working for one team or another. Islam isn't special in this.

But for a General to be on record saying this kind of thing directly makes morale more difficult for his soldiers, and it is needlessly insulting and upsetting to people we're trying to convince we are friends of. Because although Christians tend to understand you can fight against someone's ideas and know they're on Satan's list, that doesn't mean we have to hate or be unfriendly toward them. Christianity teaches we must love everyone, and respect all.

So I'm not all that upset by the change of plans with General Boykin. He's probably not your best guy to have up front and well known in the Army at this point, not because he's wrong but because in the military you give up a lot of free exercise of your rights and have to give up a lot of your liberties for the sake of your job and what you're trying to accomplish. That's why the rank structure which violates basic American concepts of equality and bowing to no one but God. That's why you can't just leave without being thrown in prison. So General Boykin can't speak at West Point.

That doesn't mean there's nothing happening recently that I disagree with, however. Take these recent news stories about military activity and faith, for example:

Remember when Pastor Terry Jones announced to the world he was going to burn copies of the Koran as a publicity stunt? He was condemned by the entire government of the United States and most major military leaders - and me, for slightly different reasons. Oh, but when it comes to burning Bibles, that's a different story. Cue Roger Simon at PJ Media:
At the same time, however, it is OK, in the Obama regime, for the U.S. government to burn Bibles. Yes, that’s right. Bibles were sent to U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. But the U.S. government determined that the presence of Bibles in this “devoutly Muslim country” might inflame the natives. So they burned them. Why did they burn them? Because it is military policy to burn its trash.
The US government has specific and very respectful rules for handling the Koran, but the Bible? Burn them because it might upset the locals. The lesson we take away from it is this:
  1. You don’t burn the Koran, because if you do, Muslims might go on a killing spree.
  2. You do burn the Bible, because if you don’t, Muslims might go on a killing spree.
Or take this story, where Walter Reed Military Hospital by top-down order banned the bringing of any religious material to any patient in the building. No crosses, no Bibles, no statues of Buddha, no incense, nothing. When word got out about it, they reversed the order but... they had it to begin with. The principle was to avoid offending others by having icky crucifixes in the building and soothe the souls of radical atheists who react like Dracula to a symbol of faith.

Or this story, in which Afghanistan had a temporary building set up for the chaplain, and to indicate his building like all chaplains have done for centuries, he put a cross on it. Well, apparently that image was so ghastly and awful to the locals, he was ordered to take it down. The pentagon defended this by saying the military does not permit "permanent displays of military images" but then this wasn't permanent. It was on the side of a clearly temporary tent.

As a soldier said: “I really don’t understand why Christians are always attacked. If it was a crescent moon on top of a mosque, it would never be taken down.” Meanwhile, chaplains are required by regulation to wear a metal cross on their uniform if they are Christian.

Or perhaps this story, about instructing Marines:
The Nov. 28 print edition of Marine Corps Times carries both an article and a lead editorial on what the paper is politely calling "excretory etiquette" regarding Marines and Mecca – which, incidentally, is about 2,000 miles from Afghanistan. But this isn't just about etiquette. Given its Islamic religious derivation, the Marines' excretory instruction strikes me as a violation of religious freedom. Who is the U.S. Marine Corps to instruct American citizens to bring their personal hygiene practices into accord with Islamic law? The Corps in this case is acting as a vehicle of Islamic law, which comprehensively rules on all manner of personal habits, as well as on civil and legal affairs.
In essence, US Soldiers are being taught sharia law by the US Government, in the name of preparing them to be in an area with Muslims.

Look I understand the need to be respectful and the desire to let Muslims know we're not hostile to them or their faith, but this is taking things to an entirely different place of deference, fear, and obedience.

Or consider this little bit, in which a decades-old ethics course taught to Air Force officers was suspended pending changes. What was wrong with the ethics course? Why, it included lines from the Bible.
“The United States Air Force was promoting a particular brand of right-wing fundamentalist Christianity,” he said. “The main essence was that war is a natural part of the human experience and it’s something that is favored by this particular perspective of the New Testament.

Weinstein said he was particularly concerned about a passage of Scripture that was taught from the New Testament book of Revelations. The passage, chapter 19, verse 11, describes Jesus as a mighty warrior, Weinstein said.

But David French, senior counsel at the American Center for Law and Justice, said there is no violation of the Constitution. “Just-War theory has been a vital part of American military history for the last several hundred years,” French said, dismissing the complaints as what he called “another attempt to cleanse American history of its religious realities.”

“It’s about cleansing religion from the public square and building a completely secular society and military, said French. Commander Daniel McKay, a retired U.S. Navy Chaplain, agreed, telling Fox News Radio he was deeply concerned by the military’s decision.
As the man says Just War theory was originally a Roman Catholic doctrine based on scripture that has been used for military ethics by dozens of nations for centuries, even when religion was cut entirely out of the picture. The principles and themes were appropriate even when they are taken out of a religious text.

ESTABLISHMENT
So why is this happening, why for the last decade or so - under presidents Bush and Obama - are we so determined to eliminate all vestiges of Christianity from the military? What has changed in America to make Christianity so toxic and unwanted?

I reject completely the theory that there's some kind of organized and systematic effort to obliterate Christianity, some "war on Christianity" taking place. However, there is a definite effort to secularize culture and government to an extent which violates the first amendment, as I understand it.

The left has been quite successful in demolishing Christianity as the dominant worldview in America and the rest of western civilization. The Judeo-Christian heritage which built the civilization we now enjoy has been all but totally eroded from education, entertainment, ethics, philosophy, science, and almost all aspects of life, including many churches and synagogues. This has been deliberate and systematic, not as an effort specifically targeted at Christianity, but against all major organized western religions.

The principle that people who have done this wrap themselves in is the idea of the "separation of church and state" in which the church is totally walled off from any government and even society. You can believe whatever you want, as long as you keep it to yourself - unless you believe in secular humanism, that is.

And there's the rub. The US Government is not to establish through law or policy any religion, and in the name of this principle... they're establishing the faith of secular humanism. Its inevitable, it is impossible to expunge religion from culture, government and education. Religion isn't something we invent and tack on to our lives, its a part of our very essence, like bones are a part of a human being. Its internal, not external, and as such cannot be removed as long as humans are part of any institution. The only question is which religion is involved, not whether.

The Founding Fathers understood this. They knew religion was inevitable and intrinsic to humanity. They didn't even remotely attempt to eliminate faith or even overt statements of religion from their writings and even legal work. What they eliminated was the specific and deliberate effort of government to pick one religion to favor and legally establish over another.

And in the name of avoiding that, modern leftists are actually engaging in exactly what they claim to be avoiding. In the name of not establishing religion, they are establishing a different, preferred one. And its not Islam, although inevitably Islam is the faith that is the exception to all these actions and rules.

The founders were unconcerned with personal statements and expressions of religion or faith in government. Thomas Jefferson himself issued an executive order allowing the Treasury Building to be used as a church on Sundays, since nobody was working there and Washington DC has a shortage of church buildings. And Jefferson was no Christian himself. He saw no conflict whatsoever, as long as nobody tried to use government to violate conscience or inflict legal power over others. In other words, you can believe and say what you choose, you can even be shaped by your faith as all are, as long as you don't attempt to violate another's liberty in the name of that religion.

That's the important distinction the modern left fails to comprehend, because they think religion is optional, that they've transcended religion and are beyond it, and that secular humanism is not simply yet another system of faith. Freud supplies their principles of sin and ethics. Darwin provides their creation story and origins. Abortion provides a sacrament, and environmental hysteria has completed the system with an apocalyptic doom and pressure to abide by certain ethical actions or face disaster.

Rejecting God doesn't make you free, it just leaves a God-shaped hole in your life which you fill with something, even several other things else.

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