FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Religious Insanity Runs Rampant

by WAYNE MADSEN

Next year, the US Supreme Court has it in its power to strike a blow for religious tolerance. It will decide if the phrase “One Nation, Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance violates the constitutionally-mandated separation between church and state. Even right-wing Opus Dei extremist Justice Antonin Scalia has recused himself from the case because he has already weighed in on the side of religious zealotry and intolerance in public comments. Before 1954, the “Pledge,” originally written in 1892 by a Socialist Baptist Minister named Frances Bellamy, did not contain the phrase “One Nation, Under God.” It was only amid the scourge known as McCarthyism that the Congress included the phrase at the behest of the Catholic fraternal organization, Knights of Columbus.

The Supreme Court sans Scalia can help restore the concept that the United States is a secular nation founded on the principles of equality under the law. They can fire a shot across the bow of American religious extremists like John Ashcroft, who has let it be known that to advance career-wise within his Justice Department, staff attorneys better be seen at his morning Pentecostal prayer meetings and Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin, the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, who, while in uniform before evangelical Christian congregations, lambasted Muslims for worshipping idols and suggesting that God put George W. Bush in the White House.

Even more alarming is the fact that Congress somehow managed to appoint a unformed flag -rank officer like Boykin to head up a civilian political office within the Pentagon –tossing aside America’s long-standing tradition of having the military under civilian control.

The Bush administration is in no place to criticize people like Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed, who voiced some patently anti-Semitic comments at the recent meeting in Kuala Lumpur of the Organization of Islamic Conference. At the just-concluded Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference in Bangkok, Bush told the Malaysian leader that his remarks about Jews “controlling the world” stood “squarely against what I believe in.” This is where the world can see through the phoniness of Bush. While Bush rightly criticizes a world leader for offensive remarks made about one religion, he stands by those made by one of his top policy-making generals about another. Boykin’s remarks about Muslims were as offensive as Mahathir’s comments about Jews. Bush had a chance to condemn both. But he did not and, consequently, Bush’s own brand of smug Texas-nurtured racism and xenophobia came across loud and clear to a world rapidly falling into an endless abyss of fratricidal religious conflict.

Bush is used to getting a free ride from the Supreme Court (just look at his own selection as President). But the Court has never shied away from taking a stand on important issues that later spurred history’s course to take a sharp detour. The Court’s landmark decisions on school desegregation helped spur the civil rights movement. A similar hallmark decision on the separation of church and state can drive home the point that America is a nation founded upon the principles of freedom of religion and secularism in government. It is not a nation obliged to cater to the fears and fanaticism of hate mongers like Jerry Falwell, Franklin Graham, Pat Robertson, Bob Jones, Tom DeLay, Richard Perle, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, or Frank Gaffney.

It is time for the American people to realize that the United States will never defeat terrorism as long as apocalyptic and suicidal “End Times” cultist Christians reign supreme in the corridors of the White House, Congress, Pentagon, and the Old Executive Office Building. General Boykin has demonstrated that his knowledge of Islam is about as shallow as that of Bush’s. In suggesting that Muslims worship idols, perhaps this Christian purveyor of religious hatred and intolerance forgot about the Taliban’s destruction of the Buddha statues in Bamiyan, Afghanistan a few months before the 9-11 attacks. In fact, Islam is based on the rejection of idolatry. Not only should Boykin be fired form his present position because he violates the tenet of civilian control over the military, he should be cashiered for his lack of knowledge about a critical aspect of his job — the history of Islam and the Middle East.

The Supreme Court must take note of the Religious Right’s intolerance and injustices when it takes up the issue of the “Under God” oath. Scrapping it will send a clear message to the likes of Boykin, Ashcroft, Bush, Mahathir, and Osama bin Laden. That message is that there is no place in the 21st Century for extremists, be they Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, or quasi-secular and neo-conservative promoters of a racism-imbued Project for a New American Century.

WAYNE MADSEN is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and columnist. He wrote the introduction to Forbidden Truth. He is the co-author, with John Stanton, of “America’s Nightmare: The Presidency of George Bush II.

Madsen can be reached at: WMadsen777@aol.com

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
April 28, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Slandering Populism: a Chilling Media Habit
Andrew Levine
Why I Fear and Loathe Trump Even More Now Than On Election Day
Jeffrey St. Clair
Mountain of Tears: the Vanishing Glaciers of the Pacific Northwest
Philippe Marlière
The Neoliberal or the Fascist? What Should French Progressives Do?
Conn Hallinan
America’s New Nuclear Missile Endangers the World
Peter Linebaugh
Omnia Sunt Communia: May Day 2017
Vijay Prashad
Reckless in the White House
Brian Cloughley
Who Benefits From Prolonged Warfare?
Kathy Kelly
The Shame of Killing Innocent People
Ron Jacobs
Hate Speech as Free Speech: How Does That Work, Exactly?
Andre Vltchek
Middle Eastern Surgeon Speaks About “Ecology of War”
Matt Rubenstein
Which Witch Hunt? Liberal Disanalogies
Sami Awad - Yoav Litvin - Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb
Never Give Up: Nonviolent Civilian Resistance, Healing and Active Hope in the Holyland
Pete Dolack
Tribunal Finds Monsanto an Abuser of Human Rights and Environment
Christopher Ketcham
The Coyote Hunt
Mike Whitney
Putin’s New World Order
Ramzy Baroud
Palestinian, Jewish Voices Must Jointly Challenge Israel’s Past
Ralph Nader
Trump’s 100 Days of Rage and Rapacity
Harvey Wasserman
Marine Le Pen Is a Fascist—Not a ‘Right-Wing Populist,’ Which Is a Contradiction in Terms
William Hawes
World War Whatever
John Stanton
War With North Korea: No Joke
Jim Goodman
NAFTA Needs to be Replaced, Not Renegotiated
Murray Dobbin
What is the Antidote to Trumpism?
Louis Proyect
Left Power in an Age of Capitalist Decay
Medea Benjamin
Women Beware: Saudi Arabia Charged with Shaping Global Standards for Women’s Equality
Rev. William Alberts
Selling Spiritual Care
Peter Lee
Invasion of the Pretty People, Kamala Harris Edition
Cal Winslow
A Special Obscenity: “Guernica” Today
Binoy Kampmark
Turkey’s Kurdish Agenda
Guillermo R. Gil
The Senator Visits Río Piedras
Jeff Mackler
Mumia Abu-Jamal Fights for a New Trial and Freedom 
Cesar Chelala
The Responsibility of Rich Countries in Yemen’s Crisis
Leslie Watson Malachi
Women’s Health is on the Chopping Block, Again
Basav Sen
The Coal Industry is a Job Killer
Judith Bello
Rojava, a Popular Imperial Project
Robert Koehler
A Public Plan for Peace
Sam Pizzigati
The Insider Who Blew the Whistle on Corporate Greed
Nyla Ali Khan
There Has to be a Way Out of the Labyrinth
Michael J. Sainato
Trump Scales Back Antiquities Act, Which Helped to Create National Parks
Stu Harrison
Under Duterte, Filipino Youth Struggle for Real Change
Martin Billheimer
Balm for Goat’s Milk
Stephen Martin
Spooky Cookies and Algorithmic Steps Dystopian
Michael Doliner
Thank You Note
Charles R. Larson
Review: Gregor Hens’ “Nicotine”
David Yearsley
Handel’s Executioner
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail