What do Mosque Burnings have to do with the Religious Freedom of Christians? Everything.


American Catholics are up in arms over the infringement of our religious liberty due to the HHS mandate forcing us to buy services we find morally reprehensible. The Obama administration has offered, not just Catholics, but anyone morally opposed to contraception, abortifacients or sterilization, an ultimatum: abandon your faith or abandon your business. With more than 68.5 million registered members, the Catholic church is the largest single religious denomination in the United States, comprising about 22 percent of the population so how did it come to this? Well, targeting groups based on religious affiliation in the United States did not start with a group as large and ingrained into our society as the Catholic church. Before Catholics our government’s target was, and still is, Muslims. The War on Terror was, and ever will be, a war against Muslims. This isn’t because most terrorists are Muslims (it would probably be better stated that most terrorists are Arabs, and most Muslims are not Arab) but because the War on Terror is really a war of revenge. After 9/11 our country was hurting – and we overreacted. The result was a nearly decade-long war in Iraq, condemned as unjust by the Pope, in which we killed anywhere from 400,000 to 1.2 million civilians in a war of no strategic value. The mantra of the never-ending War on Terror seems to have become “hate thy enemies” as our politicians embrace the use of vindictive and useless means like torture and literally demonizing our enemies by likening the Iraq War to fighting Mordor.

I remember watching a “documentary” called The Third Jihad which warned of Muslims trying to impose Sharia Law on Americans through an apparently evil scheme to “vote for” and “elect” Muslim extremists to places of political power in the United States. This “documentary” implied that it was the patriotic duty of true Americans to block these Muslims from participating in our democratic process, all in the name of “protecting our liberties” from the fascist Muslims.

The Third Jihad expresses fear at the thought of “non-violent”  muslims within the United States who are further labeled “radical” despite admittance to their non-violence. What the movie blatantly ignores is that the United States is a democracy and if muslims want to engage in US politics through non-violent means that is their constitutional right as US citizens. US citizenship is not, and never has been, dependent on a person’s religious status – after all, freedom of religion is one of the central tenets of American democracy.

Furthermore, this movie demonizes muslims for answering to a power higher than government, condemning British muslims for wanting their government to reflect their values – which is absurd. The video cites that 81% of British muslims consider themselves muslims first and British second. I consider myself Catholic first and American second and all Christians should consider their loyalty first to their faith and not their country. Both Catholicism and Islam predate British and American government, and faith in God supersedes loyalty to government. We live in a country in which our constitution recognizes that our rights are granted to us not by the government but by God and thus it is to God to whom our first loyalty should lie. Can we really blame Muslims for doing the same? These are not the radical Islamists that promote terror, these are men and women trying to be faithful to their religion and there is nothing wrong with that. To undermine their faith serves only to push them towards radicalism.

Additionally, there has been expansive political pressure opposing the construction of muslim schools and mosques in the United States for fear of the muslim practice to “Aslim” the land, which means to buy up land to make it muslim ground. However, I will never protest muslims buying land in America no matter what their intent. To oppose that would be to oppose their property rights. I may refuse to sell my land to muslims and I will certainly oppose any kind of special treatment from our government to muslims (as I oppose special treatment of any group by the law) but I will recognize and respect them for what they are: human beings and therefore our brothers and sisters in Christ. They have the same exact rights as you and I and when I defend those rights I sure as hell will defend them for everyone, muslims included.  There are muslim fascists, even here in the US, but the threat they pose is small compared to the threat that we pose to ourselves. By rationalizing away the religious liberty of muslims we open up the door for our government to take away everyone’s freedoms. We are already far down that road. We see it today as Catholic “extremists” are forced to pay for other people’s birth control; this is rationalized by labeling us right-wing fascists who hate women just for practicing our freedoms. Ironically it is the same label given to the very muslims that the propaganda machine has declared that we as Christians must oppose with violence and draconian measures. Now we are beginning to feel the sting of those very same abuses.

In response to efforts by Christians to work with muslims instead of against them in order to stop abortion, Big Peace writer Diana West stated the following (Bigpeace.com seems to have removed the original article but a response article on Big Peace can still be found here):

Making “common cause” with muslim states to vote down pro-abortion law at the UN becomes dangerous if and when it means constructing a Trojan Horse by which proponents of sharia make their stealthy advance into regions of respectability in the West that would otherwise be closed to them as sworn enemies of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Apparently, maintaining ethnic purity within the United States is more important than the lives of 52 million children. Its no wonder that in a recent statement Pope Benedict XVI said that America is “increasingly hostile to Christianity.” Opposing muslims and maintaining our “respectability” is more important than re-establishing Christian values in society.

The Islamophobic attitude of the War on Terror has saturated our culture to the point that we’re afraid of what preposterous evil muslims might be up to in the voting booth, or when they buy land. The fruit of the war on terror is that we’re now more terrified than ever – and our terror has bred nothing but hate. But to target them for their faith and to oppose their right to vote or buy land or build a school is to destroy religious liberty, not just their own, but everyone’s. A truly free society can only be free if everyone’s rights are protected. To merely defend some people’s rights some of the time is to tread the road to tyranny.

That’s why, in response to America’s epidemic of mosque burnings we must protest, not in defense of Islam, but in defense of our fellow Americans who happen to be muslim and, also, in defense of ourselves. We cannot deny the religious freedom of others, even through seemingly benign inaction, and still expect our own religious freedom to be protected. Because, as America becomes increasingly hostile towards Christians it becomes ever more plausible that, next time, it won’t be a mosque but a church that gets burned to the ground. We must not accept the unacceptable; we must not let such abnormal acts becomes normalized in our society; and we cannot give credibility to such wicked acts of religious persecution. Instead, we must defend the rights of all human beings and find solidarity with our brothers and sisters of all creeds now before it is too late. This is a fight that do not want to fight alone.

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Violence Continues in Protest to Koran Burning


I wrote a couple of days ago about how US military forces in Afghanistan burned copies of the Koran and the Afghan protests that ensued. In response to the protests and the subsequent deaths of two US soldiers Gingrich stated that it is Afghanistan who must apologize to the United States. However, while the killings of the two US soldiers is tragic and in no way justified, I think that it is quite clear that the Afghan people are the real victims here.

As I’ve already pointed out, we are in a war of aggression against Afghanistan. We invaded their country, we have occupied their lands for years and we have committed numerous abuses at the expense of the Afghan people. This is about more than just book burning. At least two Afghans have been killed as protests that have rocked the country have now passed their sixth day. Clashes between law enforcement and rioters have already left more than 30 people dead and hundreds injured according to Russia Today. Afghanistan has put up with over-aggressive American ultranationalism for a long, long time and their outrage is boiling over. Leaders on both sides have petitioned for an end to the violence but the sad reality is that the Afghan people can never know peace until we end our military occupation of their homeland.

US Military Burns Koran. Gingrich Blames Muslims and Liberals.


The following is an excerpt from an article in Russia Today regarding protests in Afghanistan directed at the US:

Thousands of protesters in Afghanistan rallied against the US this week after discovering that Americans had charred and purged copies of the Koran. President Obama was quick to extend an apology, but some of the GOP want things the other way around.

“I wish to express my deep regret for the reported incident,” Obama wrote this week to Afghan President Hamid Karzai.“I extend to you and the Afghan people my sincere apologies.”

Gingrich responded to the president’s attempt to qualm anti-American sentiment by insisting that Obama is in the wrong for trying to make peace with people whose religion has been ridiculed by US troops. American officials are calling the Koran incident inadvertent, and, nonetheless, Gingrich says there is no point in the president saying he’s sorry.

“There seems to be nothing that radical Islamists can do to get Barack Obama’s attention in a negative way and he is consistently apologizing to people who do not deserve the apology of the president of the United States period,”Gingrich told supporters during a campaign stop Thursday in Washington State.

“This destructive double standard whereby the United States and its democratic allies refuse to hold accountable leaders who tolerate systematic violence and oppression in their borders must come to an end,” Gingrich added in a statement.

Administration spokesman Jay Carney told reporters early Thursday that Obama’s apology was “wholly appropriate, given the sensitivities to this issue, the understandable sensitivities.”

“His [Obama’s] primary concern as Commander-in-Chief is the safety of American men and women in Afghanistan, of our military and civilian personnel there,” said Carney. “And it was absolutely the right thing to do.”

Gingrich said hours later that things should be reversed, in his opinion. “It is Hamid Karzai who owes the American people an apology, not the other way around,” said the speaker.

“And, candidly, if Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, doesn’t feel like apologizing then we should say good bye and good luck, we don’t need to be here risking our lives and wasting our money on somebody who doesn’t care,”he added.

You’re right Mister Gingrich, what was Obama thinking? We spent billions of dollars on the war in Afghanistan, investing a decade of our precious time invading their country and we are the ones who have to live with the burden of killing tens of thousands of the Afghani people and desecrating their dead bodies. They should be apologizing to us. I mean, what were we supposed to do not invade their country and kill their people?  If they can’t understand our glorious reasons necessitating our continual war against their country then they don’t deserve us.

All sarcasm aside, however, Gingrich is actually right on two counts here:

1. The United States’ foreign policy is indeed plagued by double standard. We impose sanctions and threaten military aggression against Iran because we think that maybe they could have nuclear weapons in the future – yet we have the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, with no move made towards disarmament, we remain the only country to have ever used a nuke with a nuclear program with even less transparency than Iran’s and we’ve been involved in two wars of aggression in the last decade while Iran has engaged in . . . zero. We spout on and on about how much we love democracy, how we want to bring it to the rest of the unenlightened world, and about how our wars abroad will spread democracy but we give foreign aid to dictators around the world – in fact, we give more foreign aid to Israel’s enemies than we do to our ally, Israel. We talk about how our national defense is under constant threat yet we have the single most aggressive foreign policy in the world resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of foreign civilians.

2. We do not need to be in Afghanistan risking our lives and wasting our money. Because it is a waste: in both of our country’s time, resources and human lives. We need to bring our troops home out of harm’s way and let the Afghani people run their own country.

My only question, though, is this: If our military is “inadvertently” burning Korans are they inadvertently burning Bibles as well? Maybe we should demand that Afghanistan apologize for our military’s hypothetical Bible burning as well.

The Third Jihad


I recently watched The Third Jihad which portrays radical Islamism and the threat it poses to the rest of the world via jihad. The full feature length film can be viewed here while a 30-minute condensed version can be found here (Part 1 of 4). The film gives a strong visual to the human rights violations conducted in the name of Islam and portrays a strong sense of urgency in facing this threat. However, while I am in strong concurrence for the need to denounce and reverse the trend of human rights violations as well as the need for a strong national defense in light of this threat, The Third Jihad engages in deceitful tactics, misrepresentation and in several cases outright lies. If you want a better sense of the urgency we face in our conflict with radical jihadism then I recommend you watch this film, but take its content with a grain of salt. I kept notes on some of the most significant misrepresentations in the film which I would also recommend you read in addition to watching the film:

1.3 billion muslims, only a very small minority are radical islamists. The Third Jihad cedes this fact in preface to their production. However, only nine minutes into the movie a commentator states that “thousands of millions” of muslims believe in radical islamism and worldwide jihad. There are not even thousands of millions of muslims in the world much less that many hardliners who believe in worldwide jihad.

The Third Jihad expresses fear at the thought of “non-violent”  muslims within the United States who are further labeled “radical” despite admittance to their non-violence because they wish to spread their muslim beliefs and see sharia law established in the White House. What the movie blatantly ignores is that the United States is a democracy and if muslims want to engage in US politics through non-violent means that is their constitutional right as US citizens. US citizenship is not, and never has been, dependent on a person’s religious status – after all, freedom of religion is one of the central tenets of American democracy.

Nearly 25% of young American muslims thought suicide-bombings in defense of Islam were justified according to The Third Jihad. However, in 2002, 72% of Americans approved of the Iraq war which resulted in the killing of over 1 million Iraqis. Even today, 31% of Americans support the unjust war in Iraq – 6 percentage points more than the suicide-bombing approval rate. We cannot condemn American muslims who support terrorism without also addressing the much greater America that supports the Americanist flavor of terrorism and unjust war.

The movie’s illustration of “US homegrown terrorism” is yet another reason why we need to end our wars abroad and focus on defense domestically. To increase military spending abroad and engage in an ever more aggressive foreign policy is self-defeating.

The movie criticizes Middle East countries for making campaign contributions to US politicians. I’m against all monetary donations to politicians that aren’t form individuals but to single out and only mention Muslim states is highly specious when virtually every single American corporation does the exact same thing in order to buy-out politicians. We Should be calling out our leaders for their lack of character and try to fix our broken political system, not demonizing the Middle East for taking advantage of our own shortcomings.

As for the movie’s condemnation of Islamic activists recruiting among the discontented American prisons population, end the War on Drugs and you cut their recruiting grounds by half.

Condemning British muslims for wanting their government to reflect their values is absurd. The video cites that 81% consider themselves muslims first and British second. I consider myself Catholic first and American second and all Christians should consider their loyalty first to their faith and not their country. Both Catholicism and Islam predate British and American government, and faith in God supersedes loyalty to government. We live in a country in which our constitution recognizes that our rights are granted to us not by the government but by God and thus it is to God to whom our first loyalty should lie. Can we really blame Muslims for doing the same? These are not the radical Islamists that promote terror, these are men and women trying to be faithful to their religion and there is nothing wrong with that. To undermine their faith serves only to push them towards radicalism.

The movie’s assertion that Iran is “making every effort” to acquire nuclear weapons is unfounded. Additionally, the assertion that Iran can develop nuclear weapons in a “very short time” is only true if you believe a decade or more to be a very short time – at least two decades for an inter-continental nuclear missile – and only assuming Iran started immediately. Also, the claim that Mutually Assured Destruction does not apply to Iran is absurd. The sheer volume of nuclear weapons necessary to wipe the entire United States off the map, to say nothing of our Allies, is huge – thousands upon thousands more of the kind of nuclear devices than Iran would be capable of producing. However, while Iran would be able to take out one city in the United States in such a hypothetical situation, we could easily kill every single man, woman and child in retaliation. Additionally, Israel has its own arsenal of 300 nukes right next door to Iran and are even less hesitant to use them than we would be. We have the best protection available against any nuclear attack and this is a deterrent to every nation, regardless of ideology.

The fight against radical Islam is a cultural battle. Additional invasion and occupation of muslim countries is not the answer; in fact, this will only further unify Muslim culture against the West. Targeting Islam under the law is not the answer; again, these are tactics of oppression that will swell the ranks of our opposition. Instead, we must adhere to and promote our Christian beliefs in an attempt to overcome the culture of death that permeates radical Islam and the concept of jihad. In Evangelium vitae, Blessed John Paul II had this to say about the culture of death:

In fact, while the climate of widespread moral uncertainty can in some way be explained by the multiplicity and gravity of today’s social problems, and these can sometimes mitigate the subjective responsibility of individuals, it is no less true that we are confronted by an even larger reality, which can be described as a veritable structure of sin. This reality is characterized by the emergence of a culture which denies solidarity and in many cases takes the form of a veritable “culture of death”. This culture is actively fostered by powerful cultural, economic and political currents which encourage an idea of society excessively concerned with efficiency. Looking at the situation from this point of view, it is possible to speak in a certain sense of a war of the powerful against the weak: a life which would require greater acceptance, love and care is considered useless, or held to be an intolerable burden, and is therefore rejected in one way or another. A person who, because of illness, handicap or, more simply, just by existing, compromises the well-being or life-style of those who are more favoured tends to be looked upon as an enemy to be resisted or eliminated. In this way a kind of “conspiracy against life” is unleashed. This conspiracy involves not only individuals in their personal, family or group relationships, but goes far beyond, to the point of damaging and distorting, at the international level, relations between peoples and States.

But Blessed John Paul II also offers a solution:

This situation, with its lights and shadows, ought to make us all fully aware that we are facing an enormous and dramatic clash between good and evil, death and life, the “culture of death” and the “culture of life”. We find ourselves not only “faced with” but necessarily “in the midst of” this conflict: we are all involved and we all share in it, with the inescapable responsibility of choosing to be unconditionally pro-life.

For us too Moses’ invitation rings out loud and clear: “See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil. … I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live” (Dt 30:15, 19). This invitation is very appropriate for us who are called day by day to the duty of choosing between the “culture of life” and the “culture of death”. But the call of Deuteronomy goes even deeper, for it urges us to make a choice which is properly religious and moral. It is a question of giving our own existence a basic orientation and living the law of the Lord faithfully and consistently: “If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you this day, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his ordinances, then you shall live … therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice, and cleaving to him; for that means life to you and length of days” (30:16,19-20).

The unconditional choice for life reaches its full religious and moral meaning when it flows from, is formed by and nourished by faith in Christ. Nothing helps us so much to face positively the conflict between death and life in which we are engaged as faith in the Son of God who became man and dwelt among men so “that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10). It is a matter of faith in the Risen Lord, who has conquered death; faith in the blood of Christ “that speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel” (Heb 12:24).

With the light and strength of this faith, therefore, in facing the challenges of the present situation, the Church is becoming more aware of the grace and responsibility which come to her from her Lord of proclaiming, celebrating and serving the Gospel of life.

If we are to survive radical Islam it will not be through militarism, ultranationalism or unjust targeting of muslims through the law, it will be through changing hearts and minds. By practicing true Christian charity we can impact muslim culture and rediscover the heart of Man. Thus, by affirming the esteemed value of human life and dignity through continual cultural exchange we can denounce radicalism in all its forms and together firmly establish the culture of life.