Barack Obama, in his own words, on Islam and Christianity

obama-churchBarack Obama self-identifies as a Christian.  He seems, though, to find Christianity troubling.  Meanwhile, although he denies being a Muslim, he obviously finds it an emotionally and aesthetically attractive belief system.  Why do I say this?  Because someone was good enough to assemble a list of his statements about both religions, and to put them side-by-side:

Obama on Islam:

1. “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam”

2. “The sweetest sound I know is the Muslim call to prayer”

3. “We will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over the centuries to shape the world — including in my own country.”

4. “As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam.”

5. “Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance.”

6. “Islam has always been part of America”

7. “we will encourage more Americans to study in Muslim communities”

8. “These rituals remind us of the principles that we hold in common, and Islam’s role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings.”

9. “America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles of justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.”

10. “I made it clear that America is not – and will never be – at war with Islam.”

11. “Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism – it is an important part of promoting peace.”

12. “So I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed”

13. “In ancient times and in our times, Muslim communities have been at the forefront of innovation and education.”

14. “Throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.”

15. “Ramadan is a celebration of a faith known for great diversity and racial equality”

16. “The Holy Koran tells us, ‘O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another.’”

17. “I look forward to hosting an Iftar dinner celebrating Ramadan here at the White House later this week, and wish you a blessed month.”

18. “We’ve seen those results in generations of Muslim immigrants – farmers and factory workers, helping to lay the railroads and build our cities, the Muslim innovators who helped build some of our highest skyscrapers and who helped unlock the secrets of our universe.”

19. “That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn’t. And I consider it part of my responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.”

20. “I also know that Islam has always been a part of America’s story.”

Obama on Christianity:

1. “Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation”

2. “We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation.”

3. “Which passages of scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is OK and that eating shellfish is an abomination? Or we could go with Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith?”

4. “Even those who claim the Bible’s inerrancy make distinctions between Scriptural edicts, sensing that some passages – the Ten Commandments, say, or a belief in Christ’s divinity – are central to Christian faith, while others are more culturally specific and may be modified to accommodate modern life.”

5. “The American people intuitively understand this, which is why the majority of Catholics practice birth control and some of those opposed to gay marriage nevertheless are opposed to a Constitutional amendment to ban it. Religious leadership need not accept such wisdom in counseling their flocks, but they should recognize this wisdom in their politics.”

6. From Obama’s book, The Audacity of Hope: “I am not willing to have the state deny American citizens a civil union that confers equivalent rights on such basic matters as hospital visitation or health insurance coverage simply because the people they love are of the same sex—nor am I willing to accept a reading of the Bible that considers an obscure line in Romans to be more defining of Christianity than the Sermon on the Mount.”

7. Obama’s response when asked what his definition of sin is: “Being out of alignment with my values.”

8. “If all it took was someone proclaiming I believe Jesus Christ and that he died for my sins, and that was all there was to it, people wouldn’t have to keep coming to church, would they.”

9. “This is something that I’m sure I’d have serious debates with my fellow Christians about. I think that the difficult thing about any religion, including Christianity, is that at some level there is a call to evangelize and prostelytize. There’s the belief, certainly in some quarters, that people haven’t embraced Jesus Christ as their personal savior that they’re going to hell.”

10. “I find it hard to believe that my God would consign four-fifths of the world to hell. I can’t imagine that my God would allow some little Hindu kid in India who never interacts with the Christian faith to somehow burn for all eternity. That’s just not part of my religious makeup.”

11. “I don’t presume to have knowledge of what happens after I die. But I feel very strongly that whether the reward is in the here and now or in the hereafter, the aligning myself to my faith and my values is a good thing.”

12. “I’ve said this before, and I know this raises questions in the minds of some evangelicals. I do not believe that my mother, who never formally embraced Christianity as far as I know … I do not believe she went to hell.”

13. “Those opposed to abortion cannot simply invoke God’s will–they have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths.”

14. On his support for civil unions for gay couples: “If people find that controversial then I would just refer them to the Sermon on the Mount.”

15. “You got into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

16. “In our household, the Bible, the Koran and the Bhagavad Gita sat on the shelf alongside books of Greek and Norse and African mythology”

17. “On Easter or Christmas Day, my mother might drag me to church, just as she dragged me to the Buddhist temple, the Chinese New Year celebration, the Shinto shrine, and ancient Hawaiian burial sites.”

18. “We have Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, and their own path to grace is one that we have to revere and respect as much as our own”

19. “All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see their children grow up without fear; when the Holy Land of the three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra— (applause) — as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed, peace be upon them, joined in prayer. (Applause.)”

20. “I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people.”

The list doesn’t mean that Obama isn’t a troubled, doubting Christian, or that he’s a closet Muslim.  As Queen Elizabeth I said, it’s not up to us to make windows into men’s souls. But the list of those statements, all of which I remember him making in real-time, strongly indicate that, whatever his actual beliefs, Obama’s affinity (which is different from his faith) seems to hew towards Islam, rather than to the Judeo-Christianity that has for so long underpinned our nation.

Currently, you can find the list here and here.  I found it at American Thinker.

 

Secularists: It’s Christians who are killing Christianity

A joyous full immersion baptismBefore I explain how Christians are killing Christianity (at least according to Alternet and Salon), a short anecdote:  I have friends who used to joke that they would take up smoking when their kids were teens.  Why?  So that the kids, who they assumed would be rebellious, would rebel against Mom and Dad by not smoking.  And now back to Alternet/Salon, where an atheist triumphantly reports that, not only is Christianity dying in America, but also that children raised in Christian homes are part of the demographic most enthusiastically embracing atheism:

The fastest growing religious faith in the United States is the group collectively labeled “Nones,” who spurn organized religion in favor of non-defined skepticism about faith. About two-thirds of Nones say they are former believers. This is hugely significant. The trend is very much that Americans raised in Christian households are shunning the religion of their parents for any number of reasons: the advancement of human understanding; greater access to information; the scandals of the Catholic Church; and the over-zealousness of the Christian Right.

Speaking facetiously, I would suggest that, as children in Christian households become teens, their parents ought to indulge in a little Satan worship to help drive their rebellious youngsters back into the religious fold.  On a more serious note, the fact is that young people do rebel . . . and that older people seem to crave faith.  It’s natural when you’re invincible (as all young people are) to feel that you don’t need a God.  And it’s equally natural that, as you age, and see the chaos inherent in the world and feel mortality breathing down your neck, that faith starts to seem like a light and a refuge.  I wouldn’t immediately start panicking about non-religious millennials.

Another analogy relevant to this issue:  Imagine a family with a dog.  One owner hates begging dogs and refuses to feed the dog table scraps.  The other owner loves feeding table scraps.  Torn between the two owners, it’s no contest:  The dog will become a beggar.  The lowest common denominator behavior always wins.

Christianity makes demands upon its adherents.  You have to elevate yourself against your baser instincts.  American secularism, by contrast, encourages people to indulge their baser instincts (mostly their sexual ones).  In a competition between the two, the lowest common denominator behavior will prevail.

Here’s hope, though:  Humans aren’t dogs.  Dogs will beg until they’re too fat to move and everyone hates having them around . . . and they’ll still beg.  Humans, however, have a sense of self-worth that dogs lack.  Unlike dogs, humans have to look at themselves in the mirror and many of them who have spent years living the self-indulgent life of the secularist don’t like what they see.  Religion promises redemption.

Anyway, this is a bit of a choppy post, so I’d very much like to hear what you have to say on the subject.  I think what I’m trying to say is that Christians shouldn’t give up the fight to raise their children in the faith, no matter the numbers.  And having said that, here’s one more choppy point:  secularism ultimately is very thin gruel, since it doesn’t offer answers addressing every thinking person’s existential anxiety.  Faith always fills the vacuum . . . and Islam is the most aggressive faith in the world, one that has no compunction about alternately enticing and bullying lost souls to get on board.

(And while we’re on the subject of faith, David Goldman analyzes the faith underlying modern secularism.)

The gift of forgiveness

Matthew, a firefighter, fell asleep on the way home from a 24 hour shift.  When he awoke, he had caused a crash that killed 30-year-old June and her unborn son.  Left behind were her 18 month old daughter, Faith, and her husband, Erik.  What Erik did next will astound you:

You can read more about Erik and Matthew here.

These are the types of stories that explain (a) why people who subscribe to the religious part of the Judeo-Christian doctrine are happier* and (b) why I envy religious people their deep faith.

_____________

*I subscribe to the moral part of the Judeo-Christian doctrine.  While I’m no longer the atheist I was when I was young, I would be lying if I said that I believed in a personal God, the way these two men do.

Pope Francis’s Marxist economic analysis reflects the Left’s long march through the Catholic Church

Pope Francis

Pope Francis’s recent “Apostolic Exhortation Evangeli Gaudium of the Holy Father Francis, to the Bishops, Clerk, Consecrated Persons and the Lay Faithful on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World” outraged conservatives, most notably Rush Limbaugh, because it attacks capitalism.  Even though I trust Rush, he admitted that he was just relying on Reuters when he expressed his dismay that Pope Francis would take on the free-market.   I therefore decided to read the Exhortation myself to see if Reuters (which approved of the exhortation) and Rush (who did not approve) were right.  I ended up skimming the 224-page document to get a sense of context and to assure myself that Rush was not misled by Reuters and that Reuters was not misled by its own ideology.   As it happens, both Reuters and Rush were right.

Before I begin, though, let me say that the Pope’s economic remarks are only a small fraction of a larger work that should not be ignored.  Indeed, when Pope Francis is not addressing specifically economic issues, the faithful should pay attention to his words if the Church is to survive in a world with increasing competition for people’s souls.

Pope Francis points out that these external pressures on the Catholic Church include competition from other religions, as well as pressure from what the Pope describes as a world “pervaded as it is by consumerism,” that breeds “the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience.”  Because of this this highly competitive ideological market, the Pope says — rightly, I think — that the Church must update and adapt its tactics, both among the faithful and to outsiders, while still keeping to its core mission of spreading Christ’s words and ministering to his flock.

But what about his Marxist language? Yes, it’s there and it’s really Marxist. Here are just a few excerpts to give you the flavor:

Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality.

[snip]

Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized:without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “throw away” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.

At one level, these words repeat what the Church has said since its inception, which is that the faithful have an obligation to the poor. What’s new, and what cannot be denied, is that the words the Pope uses — e.g., “inequality,” “exploitation,” and “oppression” — have a definite pink, Marxist tinge. In the next paragraph, that tinge goes full red as the Pope makes an explicit attack against capitalism:

In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.

It’s rather peculiar that Pope Francisco says that capitalism “has never been confirmed by the facts.” The history of world economic successes and failures should prove all the facts that anyone could want.  The countries with the highest standards of living have always been capitalist. Moreover, as I noted in an earlier post, true capitalism has social and economic mobility. In a free market, while poverty inevitably exists (“For ye have the poor always with you,” Matthew 26:11), it’s a way station for people on their way to greater economic security, rather than an end point. In non-capitalist societies, however, the same families are mired in poverty for generations. This situation reaches its apex in communist societies, where entire populations are mired in poverty for generations.

The Pope doubles down on his Marxist economic analysis when he defends a managed economy as the best way to relieve income “inequality.” He seems unaware that economic inequality is not a byproduct of capitalism but is, instead, a byproduct of managed economies with their inevitable “crony capitalism” (which is a fancy word for corruption).

While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control.

There’s no way to pretty this up. The Pope is not saying that the best economic system is a free market system tempered by a moral citizenry.  Moreover, if he’s saying that poor Third World countries suffer from free-market systems, and that these systems explain their appalling poverty, he’s just wrong. The fact is that poor, Third World countries don’t suffer from an excess of free-market systems. They suffer from corrupt governments, medieval theocracies, and socialist economic systems, all of which use the strong hand of government to interfere with the marketplace.

The laws of economics are both as abstract and as inexorable as the laws of physics. Governments that try to override them only end up perverting their inevitable, implacable outcomes. Icarus soared for a few minutes until his poorly designed wax wings ended in his fatal fall to earth. Government interference works for a few years as it pumps paper money into the economy, or redistributes from rich to poor, but then true wealth disappears and the managed, manipulated economy collapses, leaving a few winners (usually government cronies) and a lot of desperately poor losers. We give our losers welfare, but they’re still losers in a system in which true wealth diminishes as the government continuously impoverishes the wealth-creators in our society.

Okay. So the Pope went full Marxist. Why did he do that? I think the answer is a simple one: he’s from Latin America. The Latin American Catholic Church went Leftist in the 1950s and 1960s, when it developed “liberation theology.” This time line coincides perfectly with Pope Francis’s coming-of-age as a Catholic priest.

“Liberation theology” is a pure Leftist doctrine tacked onto Catholicism:

Liberation theology proposes to fight poverty by addressing its alleged source: sin. In so doing, it explores the relationship between Christian theology — especially Roman Catholic theology — and political activism, especially in relation to social justice, poverty, and human rights. The principal methodological innovation is seeing theology from the perspective of the poor and the oppressed. For example Jon Sobrino, S.J., argues that the poor are a privileged channel of God’s grace.

Some liberation theologians base their social action upon the Bible scriptures describing the mission of Jesus Christ, as bringing a sword (social unrest), e.g. Isaiah 61:1, Matthew 10:34, Luke 22:35–38 — and not as bringing peace (social order)[better source needed]. This Biblical interpretation is a call to action against poverty, and the sin engendering it, to effect Jesus Christ’s mission of justice in this world.

Gustavo Gutiérrez gave the movement its name with his book A Theology of Liberation (1971). In this book, Gutierrez combined populist ideas with the social teachings of the Catholic Church. He was influenced by an existing socialist current in the Church which included organizations such as the Catholic Worker Movement and the French Christian youth worker organization, “Jeunesse Ouvrière Chrétienne”. He was also influenced by Paul Gauthier’s “The Poor, Jesus and the Church” (1965). Gutierrez’s book is based on an understanding of history in which the human being is seen as assuming conscious responsibility for human destiny, and yet Christ the Savior liberates the human race from sin, which is the root of all disruption of friendship and of all injustice and oppression.

Gutierrez also popularized the phrase “preferential option for the poor”, which became a slogan of liberation theology and later appeared in addresses of the Pope. Drawing from the biblical motif on the poor, Gutierrez asserts that God is revealed as having a preference for those people who are “insignificant,” “marginalized,” “unimportant,” “needy,” “despised” and “defenseless.” Moreover, he makes clear that terminology of “the poor” in scripture has social and economic connotations that etymologically go back to the Greek word, ptōchos. To be sure, as to not misinterpret Gutierrez’s definition of the term “preferential option,” he stresses, “Preference implies the universality of God’s love, which excludes no one. It is only within the framework of this universality that we can understand the preference, that is, ‘what comes first.’”

As you can see, liberation theology’s defining concept is “social justice,” which is what all Leftist faiths (Unitarians, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Reform and Conservative Jews, etc.) espouse. The United Nations, in 2006, explicitly defined “social justice” as economic redistribution:

The United Nations’ 2006 document “Social Justice in an Open World: The Role of the United Nations”, states that “Social justice may be broadly understood as the fair and compassionate distribution of the fruits of economic growth…” The same document reports, “From the comprehensive global perspective shaped by the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, neglect of the pursuit of social justice in all its dimensions translates into de facto acceptance of a future marred by violence, repression and chaos.” The report concludes, “Social justice is not possible without strong and coherent redistributive policies conceived and implemented by public agencies.”

So no, you’re not imagine that Pope Francis is preaching Marxism to the flock. He is a product of his time and place: namely the Catholic Church in Latin America from the 1950s through to the present. The Church there is a Marxist institution and he has absorbed those teachings.

What we are seeing is simply another example of the Left’s march through institutions. The Quakers, once pacifists, now promote the Palestinian’s genocidal ambitions against Israel. The Girl Scouts of America, once a youth organization promoting wholesome values for children, now sponsors pro-abortion speakers and is basically run by a far-Left drag queen who made anti-woman, pseudo-snuff videos.  The Boy Scouts of America now allows gays (showing that, on the Left, its okay if troop leaders or older scouts molest little boys into the future, but it’s not okay if priests in the 1960s once molested little boys).  Notre Dame, once a bastion of Catholic education in America, now invites Barack Obama to give pro-abortion speeches on its campus.  Hollywood, which once was run by patriotic Republicans, now promotes anti-American Leftism throughout the world.  And of course, there’s the pervasive Leftism that now permeates America’s public schools and all of its universities.

When we read the Pope’s words, it’s important to understand that he doesn’t see himself as a Marxist.  He is, instead, preaching core Church doctrine as he sees it.  The problem is that, while no one was really paying attention, core Church doctrine in Latin America fell victim to the Left’s long march through institutions.  When Francis was given the papacy, he simply took that ingrained doctrine with him.  Now that he is Pope, he’s not just spreading Christ’s gospel, he’s spreading the gospel of Liberation Theology, which he was trained to see as inextricably intertwined with Catholicism itself.

There is no doubt in my mind but that Pope Francis is a truly good man, graced with extraordinary compassion.  He loves the Church and does not wish to see it destroyed.  The primary purpose of the Exhortation is to allow the church to grow and thrive in modern times.

Given Pope Francis’s mission and his goal, it’s tragic that he fails to see that the Marxist, redistributive policies he genuinely believes are part of Catholic doctrine also spell the death knell for the Church.  Why do I say that?  I say that because I defy you to name me one society in the world that managed to be both socialist and communist, and still be genuinely (as opposed to nominally) Christian.  To the extent that Christianity, whether Catholic or Protestant, revolves around the individual — his conscience, his soul, his redemption, his relation to Christ, his worthiness to live (“I say to you, choose life”) — Christianity is antithetical to socialism, which promotes the collective at the expense of the individual and replaces the individual’s conscience with the demands of the state.

Remembering C.S. Lewis

I am not exaggerating when I say that C.S. Lewis’s Narnia books were an important element in my moral development.  I read them as a child because I loved the fantastic stories.  I appreciate them as an adult because I value their spiritual and moral underpinnings.  I have no doubt that the books’ foundational ideas seeped into my subconscious when I was too young to realize that I was reading a series of beautifully crafted moral and religious allegories.

Sadly, my kids do not share my passion for the Narnia books.  They did, however, love the first movie, which I thought had some important lessons about honor and manliness.

Why am I suddenly talking about C.S. Lewis?  Because (unbeknownst to me) tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of his death.  Peter Wehner has a lovely homage to Lewis, who was one of the last great 20th century moralists and thinkers.

A joyous picture

I don’t know what the story is behind this baptism picture that I found while writing up this post for Mr. Conservative, but I like the joyousness it radiates.  (When I say “I don’t know what the story is,” what I mean is that, while I understand that it’s a full-immersion baptism, I don’t know who the people involved are.  I just like their expressions, which speak of intense happiness.)

A joyous full immersion baptism

Obama’s stupid crack about parochial education

Much is being made of Obama’s speech in Ireland, in which he managed to insult parochial education.  Catholics seem most disturbed, perhaps because (a) most parochial schools in America are Catholic and (b) Obama has been at war with the Catholic church by trying to make churches pay for abortifacients and birth control, which is a big First Amendment no-no.

Reading what Obama said, there’s no doubt that, once you work your way through his sloppy formulation, it’s right up there with the best of Obama’s offensive statements:

Because issues like segregated schools and housing, lack of jobs and opportunity–symbols of history that are a source of pride for some and pain for others–these are not tangential to peace; they’re essential to it,” said Obama. “If towns remain divided–if Catholics have their schools and buildings, and Protestants have theirs–if we can’t see ourselves in one another, if fear or resentment are allowed to harden, that encourages division. It discourages cooperation.

“Ultimately, peace is just not about politics,” he said. “It’s about attitudes; about a sense of empathy; about breaking down the divisions that we create for ourselves in our own minds and our own hearts that don’t exist in any objective reality, but that we carry with us generation after generation.

“And I know, because America, we, too, have had to work hard over the decades, slowly, gradually, sometimes painfully, in fits and starts, to keep perfecting our union,” said Obama. “A hundred and fifty years ago, we were torn open by a terrible conflict. Our Civil War was far shorter than The Troubles, but it killed hundreds of thousands of our people. And, of course, the legacy of slavery endured for generations.

“Even a century after we achieved our own peace, we were not fully united,” he said. “When I was a boy, many cities still had separate drinking fountains and lunch counters and washrooms for blacks and whites.”

I actually understand what he’s trying to say:  in a country riven by past sectarian violence, it’s dangerous to perpetuate sect identity.  Put another way, he’s saying that the only way to live together in harmony is to abandon religion entirely.  “Hey, come on, guys!  We know you’re incapable of living together, so let’s just go all Soviet and renounce religion entirely.”

Understood properly, not as a slap at the Catholic church, but at the notion of jettisoning religion and religious identity entirely, Obama’s remark is even more stupid than it first appears.  He’s my age, so he should know exactly what happened when the stifling Soviet yoke was removed from regions that had mutually hostile religions that were suppressed under Communism:  they exploded into orgies of violence.  Suppressing religion didn’t make these hostilities vanish; it made them fester.  (Think:  Kosovo.)

James Taranto figured out that Obama’s problem is that he sees everything through a Civil Rights filter, despite never having lived through Civil Rights.  (He was only three when the Civil Rights Act was passed; he was in Indonesia when the last gasps of Jim Crow worked their way through the system; he was at a fancy school in Hawaii where Civil Rights were not an issue; and he emerged as a young adult into an Ivy League world.)  Here’s Taranto’s take on another facet of Obama’s colossal ignorance:

Note that Obama is talking–or attempting to talk–about Northern Ireland, a country that is unusual within Christendom for its recent history of sectarian violence between Catholics and Protestants. His comments make a certain superficial sense in that context, whereas they would be completely out of place and objectionable in reference to America, where pacific pluralism is the rule.

Note also that Obama doesn’t actually seem to know anything about Northern Ireland. Viewed in context, his comments are actually a homily about civil rights in America. His criticism of Catholic and Protestant “schools and buildings” is just a poorly thought out analogy: It doesn’t seem to have occurred to him that while there’s no good reason to segregate schools by race, there are differences in content between the education offered by Protestant, Catholic and secular schools.

Obama is why I’m sour about the Ivy League schools.  They take in bright people (and I do think that Obama is innately bright) and turns out ignoramuses, who have no real knowledge, just a warped ideological framework to which they try to attach, however, poorly, what situation greets them at any given moment.  Obama’s not the only example of this problem; he’s just the most embarrassingly prominent.

One more point worth noting, although I’m far from the first to make it, is that Obama would never have the courage to argue that religious teaching leads to violence if he were in a Muslim country.

Pentagon will court martial people charged with religious proselytizing

SECNAV prayers with Marines and Sailors at Fallujah in 2006

In connection with my post about the Left’s fierce hatred for Christianity (which burns bright alongside its antisemitism and pathological love and respect for Islam), I wrote about the Pentagon’s decision to partner with Michael Weinstein, a rabid anti-Christian who’s set his sights on the military. The next phase in this secularist crusade is the Pentagon’s announcement that, why yes, we will be court martialing proselytizing.

Of course, everything’s vague.  Are you proselytizing if you say a personal prayer?  If you ask a subordinate what his faith is?  If you’re a military chaplain whose responsibility is to minister to people souls?  What about if you hold an after hours Bible study group in your home?

The one thing we know for certain is that if you scream Allahu Akbar and kill 12 or 13 people, and wound more than twice that many, it has nothing to do with religion.

At the end of the day, Obama will have been transformative in three significant ways, with most people paying attention only to the first two:  (1) he will have destroyed the American economy; (2) he will have destroyed America’s top dog position in the world; and (3) he will have destroyed the American military, by turning it into the perfect Leftist model:  anti-Christian, anti-heterosexual, anti-male, and anti-American.

You can sign a petition here challenging the Pentagon’s decision to partner with a rabid anti-Christianist.

And here’s the post I wrote for Mr. Conservative about today’s news:

The Pentagon was unmoved by religious extremism in the military when Major Nidal Hassan, a devout Muslim in full Allahu Akbar mode killed 13 people at Fort Hood and wounded 32 others. That, we were assured, had nothing to do with religion. Based upon a relentless Leftist drumbeat, however, one directed at Christian “monsters” in the military who actually believe in God and want to share the gospel, the Pentagon has released an official statement affirming that it will court martial “proselytization.”

This official statement followed close on the heels of a Breitbart report breaking the news that the Pentagon has taken on as a consultant Michael “Mikey” Weinstein, the fanatically anti-Christian founder of the misnamed Military Religious Freedom Foundation. The Pentagon and Weinstein are partnering to create court-martial procedures aimed at punishing Christians.

Weinstein’s concerns about alleged Christian proselytizing in the military don’t sound either temperate or rational. Mikey says that Christians who serve in the American military are “well-funded gangs of fundamentalist Christian monsters who terrorize their fellow Americans by forcing their weaponized and twisted version of Christianity upon their helpless subordinates in our nation’s armed forces.” They’re also “evil, fundamentalist Christian creatures” and “bandits” who “coagulate their stenchful substances.” Go on, Mikey. Don’t hold back. Tell us what you really think.

Mikey has been pushing his anti-Christian agenda hard, everywhere. Here you can see him selling his stuff to Progressives at the Huffington Post who, despite bandying about the phrase “First Amendment,” seem incapable of understanding that the Founders didn’t ban religion, they just banned an official federal religion:

We all acknowledge that any officer who uses his power in the military to coerce those serving under him to do something for non-military reasons deserves to be disciplined, and that’s true whether the officer uses that power for sexual harassment, fraud, theft, or forced conversions. With Mikey on board, though, it begins to seem possible that, if a Christian officer even mentions faith or God, a subordinate with a bone to pick can destroy his career. As Breitbart says:

So President Barack Obama’s civilian appointees who lead the Pentagon are confirming that the military will make it a crime–possibly resulting in imprisonment–for those in uniform to share their faith. This would include chaplains—military officers who are ordained clergymen of their faith (mostly Christian pastors or priests, or Jewish rabbis)–whose duty since the founding of the U.S. military under George Washington is to teach their faith and minister to the spiritual needs of troops who come to them for counsel, instruction, or comfort.

This regulation would severely limit expressions of faith in the military, even on a one-to-one basis between close friends. It could also effectively abolish the position of chaplain in the military, as it would not allow chaplains (or any service members, for that matter), to say anything about their faith that others say led them to think they were being encouraged to make faith part of their life. It’s difficult to imagine how a member of the clergy could give spiritual counseling without saying anything that might be perceived in that fashion.

This writer is Jewish. When she was a young and stupid Leftist, she took offense when Christians spoke about their faith to her. Since then, however, she’s grown up and learned that there’s a gaping chasm separating Christians who, through words only, want to share with her the benefits of their faith, in this life and the next, and practitioners of other religions who believe that the best and only way to spread their faith is through fire and sword. We’re not converting any time soon, but we appreciate the generosity of spirit our Christian friends show, as well as their graciousness when we (politely) refuse their efforts. We’re much less impressed by the “Allahu Akbar” school of conversion.

Even uber-liberal Bill Maher (who’s nominally Jewish and, like a good Leftist, actually hostile to all religions but for worship of the State) knows that it’s “liberal bullshit” to pretend that Christians are a threat to America’s safety and well-being.

The reason that liberals hate Christianity, but ignore Islam

One of the things that’s frustrating for non-liberals and non-Progressives is Leftists’ refusal to look Islam in the face (so to speak).  Yes, there are crazy people who are Christians and there are entire Christian sects that are crazy (such as the Westboro Baptists or Warren Jeffs’ polygamist Mormon cult).  The fact remains, however, that Christians as a whole, whether they belong to big churches or small ones, do not embrace or practice terrorism to achieve their political or religious goals.

Muslims, by contrast, routinely practice terrorism to achieve goals that are simultaneously religious and political, owing to Islam’s fusion of God and state.  Even though it’s remarkably simple to tie Islam to terrorism (9/11, the underwear bomber, the Fort Hood shooter, the attempted Portland Christmas tree massacre, the Boston Marathon bombing), Leftists scurry around like cockroaches exposed to the light in their desperate attempt to avoid acknowledging Islam’s violent heart.

Today, I read one thing and wrote another, both of which address Leftist hatred for Christianity, even though modern Christianity and genuine Judaism (as opposed to the hard Leftism that masquerades as “reform Judaism”) are the most humane, civilizing forces the world has ever seen.  With their focus on justice and grace, they rid the world of slavery, ended child labor, advanced women’s status and, in Israel’s case, fought a 60-year war without sinking to the level of her enemies.  But the Left truly hates them and seeks to undermine them at every turn.

The article I read on this subject is Benjamin Wiker’s “Why aren’t liberals more critical of Islam?” In it, he posits that, because secularism arose within and in opposition to a Christian Europe and America, Christianity was its original enemy.  Giving proof, however, to my repeated claim that “Progressives” are actually profoundly “regressive,” secularists (i.e., Leftists) continue their battle with Christianity despite that particular war having ended long ago. Judaism and Christianity absorbed the better parts of secularism while holding on to their core religious principles.

Because they are locked forever in an ideological time warp, says Wiker, liberals (or Progressives or Leftists or whatever else they call themselves to avoid the taint their ideas leave behind) cannot contemplate the possibility that there is another enemy, greater than their old foe Christianity.  Which brings me to a post I did today for Mr. Conservative.  It concerns Michael ‘Mikey’ Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, and one of the most rabid anti-Christians you will ever meet.

When I wrote the post this morning, it made me uncomfortable that such a venomous man is somehow Jewish, whether genetically or in actual practice.  I hate to see that kind of hatred emanate from a group with which I’m affiliated.  However, having read Wiker’s essay, I realize that my concern is unfounded.  Weinstein’s hostility to Christians isn’t because he’s Jewish, it’s because he’s a Leftist.   (Not all Jews are Leftists, and not all Leftists are Jews, but those Jews who are Leftists are amongst the most extreme Leftists.  Mikey’s in that category.)

Here’s my Mr. Conservative post.  See what you think:

SECNAV prayers with Marines and Sailors at Fallujah in 2006

The Obama government sure knows how to pick ‘em. Right now, the Pentagon is concerned about religious intolerance in the American military. When people who are neither Leftists nor career politicians in thrall to the White House think of intolerance in the military, they think of Major Nidal Malik Hasan who went on an “Allahu Akbar” shooting spree at Fort Hood, killing 13 people and injuring more than thirty. The Pentagon, though, isn’t fooled by these false trails. It knows who the really intolerant people in the military are: Christians.

To that end, the military has brought in Michael Weinstein, Esq., a “religious tolerance” specialist and the man who founded the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (“MRFF”). Michael knows all about tolerance. Or at least, he knows all about tolerance in the Obama era. To Michael (or “Mikey” as he likes to be known), a good way to express tolerance is to call Christians “monsters” or, even better “bloody monsters.”

According to Mikey’s tolerant world view, Christians who serve in the American military are “well-funded gangs of fundamentalist Christian monsters who terrorize their fellow Americans by forcing their weaponized and twisted version of Christianity upon their helpless subordinates in our nation’s armed forces.” And that’s just Mikey’s throat-clearing.

Troll through an article Mikey wrote in The Huffington Post to justify his tolerant attack on alleged Christian intolerance in the American military, and you’ll learn quickly that the people he’s out to destroy (tolerantly, of course) are “evil, fundamentalist Christian creatures.” They are “bandits” who “coagulate their stenchful substances” in religiously-based organizations that support traditional marriage and oppose abortion. Don’t be fooled by these old-fashioned values, though. In fact, says Mikey, “The basis of their ruinous unity is the bane of human existence and progress: horrific hatred and blinding bigotry.”

What inspired Weinstein’s apopletic rage is the fact that conservatives took offense when the military piggy-backed on a delusional Southern Poverty Law Center screed and identified conservative Christians as the greatest terrorist threat in America. Because these groups use hate-filled language, Mikey says, such as “God Hates Fags” or “Thank God for IEDs,” they’re obviously one step away from committing a bomb attack in a major American city. (It’s so magical. It’s as if 9/11, Fort Hood, and the Boston bombing never happened!)

If Mikey is correct, that toxic, hate-filled rhetoric is all one needs to prove that a person or organization constitutes an imminent danger, then Mikey better start looking over his shoulder. Considering the “evil, fundamentalist Christian creatures,” “bandits (who) coagulate their stenchful substances,” and “monsters” who inhabit his rhetorical world, he looks like he’s ready to blow.

What Mikey can’t comprehend is that, while mainstream Christians and conservatives routinely condemn and distance themselves from organizations such as the Westboro Baptist Church, Mikey gets to disseminate his particular brand of hate-filled, toxic intolerance at a major Progressive internet outlet.

Even worse than the applause he’s getting from the mainstream Left is the fact that he’s been taken on by the Pentagon as a consultant to help develop new policies on religious tolerance in the military. These new policies will include rules for court-martialing military chaplains who use the Christian gospel when they counsel the American troops under their care. Or, as MRFF Advisory Board member Larry Wilkerson told The Washington Post, they essentially sexually assaulting the troops with their God talk.

No kidding. Wilkerson says that “Sexual assault and proselytizing are absolutely destructive of the bonds that keep soldiers together.” Lest there be any misunderstanding, Mikey clarified to The Post what Wilkerson really meant:

This is a national security threat. What is happening [aside from sexual assault] is spiritual rape. And what the Pentagon needs is to understand is that it is sedition and treason. It should be punished.

Mikey hates everything. Or at least he hates everything that has to do with Christianity. He foams at the mouth, spittle flying, when he talks about Christians, imagining them guilty of the most heinous crimes. The problem is that it’s not Christians committing the crimes he imagines. The major terrorist crimes come from the Islamists, something that Mike and his friends on the Left refuse to acknowledge. It’s bad when even arch-liberal Bill Maher calls this denial “liberal bullshit.”

Speaking of committed, though, in a sane world Mikey’s delusions would have him being checked out by psychiatrists as a clear and present danger. In our insane world, psychiatrists are used to disarm our veterans and the delusional, hate-filled, spittle-flecked Mikey gets to work with the Pentagon to create a tolerance policy that ensures that military chaplains will be court martialed for doing their jobs.

If troops are indeed being punished or ostracized because they don’t embrace a particular form of Christianity, the military has to address that. But Mikey makes it clear that, for him, being Christian is the real problem. In that regard, he’s the typical Leftist who says that the First Amendment, rather than giving people the right to worship, means that the Christian religion must be erased from America.

(End of the Mr. Conservative article, beginning of my last comment on the subject.)

As for me, I think that people who are willing to fight and die for their country in a constitutionally-bound military run by civilians, in a nation controlled by the First Amendment, should be allowed to practice their religion without Leftists denying them the comfort of knowing that, as they go into battle, God walks at their side.

An Argentinian Cardinal becomes Pope Francis

Pope selected

White smoke over the Vatican says the Cardinals have elected a Pope.

Catholics around the world rejoiced as a puff of white smoke rose above the Vatican, heralding the cardinal’s election of a new Pope – Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina. Cardinal Bergoglio will take the name “Pope Francis.”

The fact that Pope Francis is the first non-European Pope to be elected acknowledges that Europe is no longer home to the world’s Catholic majority. Instead, the greatest number of Catholics live in Africa and Latin America.

Tens of thousands of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics stood for hours in St. Peter’s Square, awaiting word of this momentous announcement. Upon seeing the white smoke, the crowd started shouting “Habemus Papam” (“We Have a Pope”), and long as “Long live the Pope.” Vatican and Italian military bands both marched into the square and up the Vatican steps. They were followed by the Vatican’s Swiss Guard, in their colorful regalia with silver helmets.

The occasion for this election was Pope Benedict XVI’s historic decision to retire due to declining health. Benedict, Formerly Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, was the first Pope in 600 years to retire.

Pope Francis, the former Jorge Mario Bergoglio

Pope Francis, the former Jorge Mario Bergoglio

Pope Francis is a 76 year old native of Argentina (although his father was Italian). After studying at a seminary in Argentina, he entered the Society of Jesus in 1958. He has a degree in Philosophy, and taught literature and psychology in Buenos Aires. Pope Francis was formally ordained as a priest in 1969. Because of his manifestly impressive leadership skills, he rose quickly in the administrative ranks of the Society of Jesus.

The new Pope has traditional views on contested issues. He opposes abortion and euthanasia. Although he supports the church’s traditional teaching that homosexuality is a sin, he has consistently urged that Catholics must treat homosexuals with respect. Unsurprisingly, Pope Francis strongly opposes same-sex marriage.

By electing Pope Francis, the Cardinals have reaffirmed their commitment to core Catholic doctrine. They will not lash out at those whose lives or beliefs are at odds with the doctrine, but they will not back down on central tenets of faith and life.

(Written by Bookworm; originally published at Mr. Conservative.)

In which I hate on vapid Christmas songs caterwauling for some inchoate “Peace”

I adore traditional Christmas music, whether it’s the Old English Christmas Carols or the non-denominational Christmas songs that began to the music market with Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.  I’m as happy singing O Holy Night as I am singing Here Comes Santa Claus.  Christmas songs give me a huge endorphin rush.

There’s one class of Christmas song, though, that just revolts me, and that’s the modern “Peace” genre.  Those vapid paeans to navel-gazing peace leave me cold.

It is true that the old Christmas carols also shared a vision of peace.  Take, for example:

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,
“Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild;
Gold and sinners reconciled.”

or

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
‘Round yon Virgin Mother and Child,
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

or

O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight

For Christ is born of Mary
And gathered all above
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love
O morning stars together
Proclaim the holy birth
And praises sing to God the King
And Peace to men on earth

Each of these songs envisions peace, but that peace is tied to a formalized religious doctrine that envisions both spiritual and behavioral commitments.  In other words, this peace isn’t cheap.  Jesus Christ made a terribly painful sacrifice to further this peace, and it is each Christian’s obligation to make that sacrifice a meaningful and essential part of his (or her) spiritual life and daily practices.

The modern Christmas peace songs, though, are so horribly banal.  Peace is brought about by vaguely proclaiming that you approve of peace.  John Lennon started it with his bathetic Happy Christmas (War is Over):

So, this is Christmas
And what have you done?
Another year over
And a new one just begun

And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The world is so wrong

And so happy Christmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let’s stop all the fight

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Christmas
And what have we done
Another year over
And a new one just begun

And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

War is over over
If you want it
War is over
Now

I enjoy listening to the pretty melody (John was always good at that), but the words are so insanely stupid:  “Let’s stop all the fight.”  What does that mean?  There’s no guidance there and no belief system.  The whole song is just a muddled assurance that peace will magically happen if we say that it’s a good thing.

I get a snoot-full of these songs every Christmas, because my kids have been in various choral groups.  Last night, I got to hear Rita Abrams’ “All we want for Christmas is peace.”  As with Lennon’s song, it’s got a catchy melody and nice harmonies.  But the lyrics!  This sampling, with due respect for fair use, gives you an idea:

All we want for Christmas is peace,
Peace is all we’re asking for,
All we want for Christmas is peace,
It’s peace we’re hoping for.

There’s more talk of giving and love and dreams, but the song mostly assures the young ‘uns that peace is just something you need to ask for, along with the Malibu Barbi and X-Box already on your Christmas list.

I’m not just engaging in pointless fulminating here.  This notion that “peace happens,” without any commitment or changes on your part, or on the part of those with whom you deal, whether as an individual or a nation, can be toxic.  Just today, Bruce Kesler posted an absolutely splendid rant about the way in which the mindless peace-mongers on the Left open the door for unlimited bias on the part of those who don’t have a pluralistic peace as their goal:

Most of the most prominent in the West who claim to want peace in the Middle East are, instead, prime facilitators of hate.

By disdaining those Muslims who are closer to Western values, instead pandering to Islamist extremists, or one-sidedly denouncing the defensive measures of the only Western oriented nation in the Middle East, Israel, the claimants of upholding peace have consistently encouraged those who believe and act out of hate.

For your pleasure and sanity, please read the rest of Bruce’s rant here.

As for me, I’m spending a little time listening to my favorite Christmas carol:

Biden explains when it’s okay to impose his religious views on others

Nobody ever accused Joe Biden of being coherent.  Peter Heck, however, realized more quickly than I did that Biden was being exceptionally incoherent — or hypocritical or held tightly in the grip of cognitive dissonance — when he was asked to explain the relationship between his faith and his politics.  I’ll give you Heck’s summary, but you should read the whole thing to find out how he got there:

It’s an interesting worldview, isn’t it?  Government-sponsored theft is legitimate on moral grounds, but government protection of innocent, defenseless life is unreasonable.  That’s the modern Democrat Party.