Archive for July, 2011

Islam and the First Amendment

Amid all the talk about the manufactured debt ceiling “crisis”, I thought I would weigh in on an issue that has nothing to do with finances. Should the religion of Islam be protected by the First Amendment? The amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

There were a couple of new articles that caught my attention about this issue. The first was an article talking about a new television show called the All-American Muslim, scheduled for this fall on the TLC Network. The purpose of the show per TLC’s official description is to feature different families who “share the same religion, but lead very distinct lives that often times challenge the Muslim stereotype”.

To be sure not every Muslim is the same and so they should not be discriminated against because of their religious beliefs, but I wonder what the purpose of the show really is. Maybe it is just a puff piece similar to the puff pieces it does on Christians who share the same religion, but lead very distinct lives that often times challenge the Christian stereotype.

Whatever the show is about it will be doing a disservice if it does not show how Wahhabism is being brought to America by the Saudi Arabians. Should we be concerned by that? Wahhabism is a very dangerous sub-sect of Islam (Many would say it is the dominant sect) that includes in its belief system that countries should be ruled by Sharia Law and that all other religions are infidels and must be forcibly converted or be killed. “Moderate” Muslims are often considered infidels as well and are cowed by the Wahabi sect. That is part of the reason that Wahhabism is spreading and has such influence.   

This brings me to the other story that caught my attention today and that was Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain being reported as “endorsing the idea that any American community could bar construction of mosques.”

I do not know Herman Cain’s motivation for this statement but I would give him the benefit of the doubt and guess that it is not because he is a religious bigot, but because he is concerned about the Wahabi “invasion” referred to above. If that is true, his concern for the country’s security might be correct but his measures are probably unconstitutional, if the proscribing of mosques is only because of a desire to ban a religion from practicing in America. I say probably unconstitutional because the First Amendment restricts the Federal government, not States or municipalities, however as a matter of practice such a law would come under some serious challenges and is kind of dangerous for all of our religious freedoms which are already under attack.

It seems to me there might be a better way to restrict Wahhabism in America, because I do think we need to figure it out. It seems to me that maybe the way to do that is by enforcing laws against inciting to insurrection, treason or overthrow of the government. Since it is a statement of faith for Wahhabism to establish Sharia law, this is a specific threat to overthrow the U.S. government and so I would think that preaching this brand of Islam could be construed as fomenting insurrection.  Maybe it would be possible to make Wahhabism illegal for that reason similar to making domestic terrorist organizations illegal.

In addition, many mosque’s are funded by Saudi Arabia, maybe barring foreign financed mosques would be a way to go. It does not seem to me that allowing foreign governments to fund and build training centers for the propagation of training centers to turn the U. S. into a Sharia state should be legal. It probably is not, so it seems we should be seeking to enforce these types of laws.

Finally, if American citizens wanted to build non-Wahabi mosques, I would be open to that. Going after the violent strain of Wahabi Islam financed by foreign powers would go a long way to allay fears of many Americans about the threat of Islamic terrorism. It would also help peaceful Muslims to worship and integrate into American culture in a healthy way and it would help those of us who want to be accepting and understanding of other people groups, cultures and faiths, to do so without the concern that we are enabling the destruction of our culture and our faith.

Herman Cain is probably too reactionary against Wahabi Islam and using a blunt instrument rather than a scalpel and TLC is probably too naïve about the real dangers posed by Wahhabism. Both Herman Cain and TLC could do a lot to improve relations between Islam and Americans who are largely christian by being clear and speaking the truth. They both have something to offer but lets not obscure the issues by extremism.

Socialism, Americanism, Communism & the Church – II

As a politically conservative Christian, a criticism often heard is that you are too nationalistic or too patriotic, or more loyal to America than to Christ. I can not speak for other conservative Christians, but I suspect that it would be as incorrect a conclusion for them as I know it is for me.

I have been a believer since I was 18 years old when a fellow track man explained to me the gift of God in sending His Son, Jesus to die as the payment for my sins and the sins of every man, woman and child who has ever or will ever live. He explained that God wanted a relationship with me, but the relationship was broken because of my decision to live my life for myself (sin). God had created me for relationship with God, He had created me for a purpose and that purpose could never be realized if I lived for myself. If I wanted a relationship with the creator of the universe for now and for all time, I would need to offer Him control of my life with no strings attached. I know often this crisis of decision (who would you serve?) is an emotional time, but to me, it was an extremely logical and sensible choice and I was glad to choose to serve God, confess my rebellion against His rule and offer Him my life to for Him to have His way. It is a decision I have never regretted and has innumerable times been cause for great rejoicing. I mean seriously, a personal relationship with the creator of the universe, who loves you and has nothing but good intentions for you. It would be hard to not be grateful.

Doctrine is one thing, but He changed my life. I may have surrendered to Him, but He has been gracious to me and did not make me a slave. I was a free agent when I submitted to Him, but He has called me a son and a friend. He allowed me to keep my free will and has never forced His will on me. My relationship as a son and friend is now spent in enjoying Him and serving Him. He is a good God. Service to God is pretty much always in the service of others. He has had me serving children in church, the unborn on the streets and co-workers in the insurance business. He has had me directly serve the poor in Mexico, Pakistan and Afghanistan as well as the poor indirectly in many other areas of the world.

All of that is to say that I do have one over-riding allegiance and that is to God – The Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Any interpretation of what I write about Politics, America, Socialism, Communism or social issues should be seen through that spectrum. My thoughts and musings are in service to Him.

With that as background, I want to state clearly that the reason I am strongly pro-American is because of its founding principles, not because of any misguided sense of nationalism or patriotism. The ideas and the founding principles of this country are unique among the nations of the world and were particularly revolutionary two-hundred & forty (240) years ago.

To form a government based on ideas rather than the conquest of territory or hereditary reign was unusual to say the least. It was not just that ideas formed the country, but the content of those ideas. The ideas are biblical in nature, establishing that all people are created equal in the eyes of God and that the people are given rights by God and the only legitimate role of government is to protect or guard or ensure those rights. The rights include our right to the life God gave us, the right to be free in that life and not under the thumb of some other power or individual and the right to pursue happiness or the dreams  and hopes that God put in your heart and mind, the right to pursue the purpose for which god created you.

With those core ideas, the founders set out to construct a government that would allow the maximum amount of freedom without ending up with anarchy. In reading the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers (disclaimer – I have not read them entirely – but what I have read is incredibly insightful) it is quite amazing to see the depth of intellectual thought that went into each specific idea or branch of government and what they were empowered to do, etc. It is impossible to read and not be very grateful for the minds that God used to construct the government of the United States.

So to me, America is more a set of ideas than a territory, although I very much appreciate the territory. Psalm 16:6 “The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.” America is not just any other government, it is unique and it is worth fighting for, worth fighting for the purity of the ideas that it was founded under. While that fight may involve physical fighting, it is important that daily we fight for the ideas because tyranny is always on the march and if we do not fight for freedom we will lose it.

We will lose that freedom for those who will come after us, for those around the world that live under tyranny, who want to see a place where there is hope for freedom, for a place that will speak for the oppressed and for justice and what is right. To paraphrase Edmund Burke, If good men do nothing then evil will triumph. To me this is a spiritual battle and fully in keeping with God’s call to serve Him.

This is not to espouse a theocracy, far from it. The ideas of America are not in any way and can not be construed in any way to set up a theocracy. The ideas of America are however directly in opposition to statism as Mark Levin would call the movements to give ever more power to a central government and away from individuals.Americais to governments as Bach is to Rap music. They can both be called music, but they are not in the same league and they really are quite opposed to each other, so too are the concepts and ideas that make up the American experiment far superior to and even in opposition to statism, socialism, communism and all such tyranny, soft or hard. That is why I write.

Socialism, Americanism, Communism & the Church

Socialism and communism are antithetical to the American experiment that recognizes that we derive our rights from God. Socialism and communism essentially confer rights to a central government to decide how production is distributed. These ideas are not American. Why does this matter?

There are many voices on the left such as Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, Van Jones, Michael Moore and many others who are essentially espousing the benefits of socialism, or government takeovers of industry. I recently was discussing the ideas of socialist thinkers in America and why we needed to combat this thinking and why that thinking is dangerous to our freedom and liberty. Since the conversation was with fellow believers, I thought it would be good to summarize some of that discussion here.

My concern is that it is important that we confront this ideology or we will lose (indeed we have already largely lost) the uniqueness that is America and the American experiment. Abraham Lincoln understood the uniqueness and the difficulty in sustaining it when he gave his Gettysburg address, “our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”

We are not fighting a violent civil war today, but we are engaged in a serious battle of ideas that will test if a nation conceived in Liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal can long endure”

The battle of ideas often takes the form of innocent questioning of our free market system, insisting that socialism can better deliver liberty and equality to man, but these questions are based on a false pretext, that government can deliver Liberty and equality. That thinking turns on its head the recognition of our founders, that it is God who bestows our liberty and it is God who creates us equal. Socialism wants to take what God has given and guarantee equal outcomes. It can not and should not be done and we should not fall for the deception.

It is true that the American experiment has produced much evil to go with the great good that it has brought, but socialism is a form of tyranny and as such it is anti-God. Until we recognize the fundamental difference between the American experiment of free markets and socialist control of markets and freedom and the dangers that brings, it is very hard for us to really try to correct the American experiment. We must clear the decks and realize tyranny is not for us and recommit ourselves to our founding principles. Only then can we truly begin to correct the abuses of our system.

For example to try to compare the deaths “caused” by the American experiment with the multiple holocausts of socialism/communism and its tyrannical spawns is to totally misunderstand human history. History is full of man trying to dominate man and attempting to bring oppression. The American experiment is one of the few and largely successful attempts to go against that grain. When we try to draw a moral equivalence between tyranny and the American experiment, we undermine the effort to cut a new path against the grain of the history of oppression that has been this world’s tragic legacy. We can and should be upset, outraged and attempting to amend the faults of America, but to relegate it to the same status as the various doctrines of tyranny (of which communism is arguably the worst) is a grave error.

I am standing in defense of a principal of governance best exemplified by America that allows for life and liberty and freedom of faith, from those who toy with the ideas of socialism and communism, systems that are directly in conflict with the American ideals. As a culture and as a church we have become too enamored by these ideologies. We should know better. We should be thankful to God for America and seek to improve and perfect her rather than transform her into a socialist/communist tyranny.

As Walter Williams would day, Socialism at its core is driven by envy and greed and as such is in direct violation of the 10th commandment, Exodus 20:17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

Capitalism is certainly not immune from greed, but in a capitalist society greed is a corrupting disease but not a core of its ideology. The Marxist, Stalin, Leninist, Mao strain of socialism and communism is a political movement that at its core has an envy of the wealthy and a desire to “take wealth and to redistribute it” as if wealth just ‘is’ and evil capitalists have unfairly taken what could have been someone else’s, rather than wealth being something that is created by individuals (see parable of the talents).

Capitalists know that what has been going on in America the past 70 years is at the very least socialistic leaning but more recently pretty blatant socialism in certain sectors of the economy. Many of us have not recognized the socialism that we are so deep into now because creeping socialism is like the frog in the pot of water, you turn the temp up gradually and you don’t realize you are boiling. We are close to the point of no return.

Every Democrat President since FDR and most Republican Presidents since FDR have had socialistic sympathies, but Barack Obama is an unequivocal Socialist. Takeovers of the car companies, financial institutions, health care industry, public lands (barring drilling for oil) and numerous other actions make it pretty clear what we are dealing with. Socialism always seems like a good idea but when we finally realize the freedoms we have lost it is usually too late to do anything about it.

Barack Obama’s socialism is why he is not American – socialism is specifically contradictory to our founding documents. He did say (in what could be construed as treason) just before he was elected that he was going to fundamentally transform America. (He actually then swears to uphold the constitution, so not sure how you do that while fundamentally transforming America). Unfortunately for us, he has undertaken to do exactly what he said he would do through the confiscation of private property (private industry takeovers referred to above), “tax the rich”, play class warfare and rule by executive decree.

Barack Obama is not a President in the American tradition – note his posturing during this debt ceiling debate – “I can not guarantee SS checks will go out.” (Aside from the fact that this proves politicians have been lying for years about the SS lock box – the fact of the matter is FICA withholding from our paychecks are specifically collected for the purpose of paying current social security obligations and Obama can not stop the Social Security payments from being sent). He is just lying to scare senior citizens. This is not Presidential, it is shameful.

Sadly, the church is often an enabler of socialism in the name of caring for those in need. It is a crafty deception of the enemy to go down that road and that is why I am so passionately opposed to the Jim Wallis/Sojourners strain of Christianity. Sojourner’s tends to socialist thinking and therefore they tend to enable socialists. Socialists entrenched tend toward communism. Socialists tend to impose their will via political force, communists will stop at nothing to get what they want. Both ideologies are a form of tyranny but as Mark Levin would say, the former is a soft tyranny whereas the latter is a hard tyranny. Neither movement is very tolerant of religion in general and Christianity &/or Judaism in particular unless those religions go along with the state agenda. We are in a very dangerous place as a country and most of us are sleeping soundly. Alas it is a sad fact that the church, that should be wise as serpents are as naive about this as a new-born child.

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