The Other Intelligence Failure

“Man is the only animal that has the true religion–several of them.”

Mark Twain

As even the conservative talk show hosts scramble to unravel truth from fiction emanating from the White House, another intelligence failure goes unmentioned and uninvestigated. Which of the monotheistic faiths has the ear of God? Who among the various exponents of truth–ministers, rabbis, or mullahs–gather the “real” intelligence from the purported “sacred” texts that provide God’s directions to His creatures? Who bears responsibility for this “Intelligence” community as it makes its case for eternal war? Should the President create yet another selective investigating committee, composed of trusted friends of truth like Henry Kissinger, Tom Delay, Richard Perle, or Trent Lott (there are no “Muslims” resident in this administration), to search out fact from fiction in the “other” rationale that brought America to invade Iraq, God’s directive that guides America to bring His gift of freedom to the Iraqi people while insuring that Israel regains its right to the covenant land given by G-d to them in perpetuity?

As we watch Pat Robertson’s version of the news on the 700 Club, and listen to him “forgive” George his sins of omission in not telling the American people that he was manufacturing the truth about Iraq’s WMD and connections to Osama, and hear him extol God’s purpose in placing George in the President’s throne at this moment in time the better to ensure that God’s prophecies be fulfilled, we have an unsettling realization that this man, and others of like cloth–Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell, Benny Hinn, Hal Lindsey, Pastor Hagee–influence thousands upon thousands who wallow in their righteousness and leave the Cornerstone Church secure in belief that God speaks to these men just as He talks to Pat assuring him that George will be reelected by a huge majority.

Must these men bear no responsibility for the meaningless deaths of more than 535 American soldiers, the pain and suffering of thousands mutilated in missile and bomb attacks, the continuing agony of those sick unto death with DU poisoning, not to mention the wanton destruction of innocent Iraqi civilians, estimated now in excess of 10,000? What intelligence did they omit when they exhorted their followers to rush to war against the infidels? What fabrications of truth did they extract from their Bibles, assuring the faithful that they had “received” the word of God in dreams, that He called upon them to fulfill His prophecies as recorded in the Book of Revelation, that He cursed the Islamic faith and charged that it be wiped from the face of the earth? What resident inmates of our nations mental hospitals also hear God speaking to them but have neither the gift-of-gab nor the wealth to air their views before the world?

What understanding of the Creator do we receive from these self-proclaimed “Ministers of the one true God”? Let’s listen to Osama bin Laden, the alleged “mastermind” of the chaos inflicted on America and the roaming “evildoer” who haunts the underworld caverns of the mid-east eluding our Texan cowboy who vows to bring him in “dead or alive.” “We will impose our religion on AmericaGod wills it,” he proclaimed in his “Letter to America,” November 24, 2002. And in the fullness of his vehemence he yells, “Do you fear them? Allah has more right that you should fear Him if you are believers. Fight against them so that Allah will punish them by your hands and disgrace them and give you victory over them and heal the breasts of believing people.” But that is not all; “It is He Who has sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth (Islam), to make it victorious over all other religions even though the Polytheists hate it.” (Quran 61:9). And, finally, this last bit of chutzpah, “The Islamic Nation wishes to remove your evils, and is prepared to fight you. You are well aware that the Islamic Nation, from the very core of its soul, despises your haughtiness and arrogance.”

As an ardent student of Sayyid Qutb, one of the founders of militant Islam, Osama understands that “Islam and the West (are) incompatible, two camps between which coexistence (was) is impossible. There could only be a struggle between believers and non-believers, between secularism and capitalism and Islam and the West with its emphasis on science and technology obliterate(s) the validity of religion.” Thus we find others of similar mind to Osama, the Muslim Brotherhood, for example, that calls for armed confrontation with Israel (Gregorian, Islam: a Mosaic Not a Monolith)) or Ayatullah Khomeini who called for a holy war against the “Great Satan,” the United States. One turns with some degree of relief from these fanatical fulminations to the expected peace of the other two monotheistic faiths only to find that they too have entered the lists with lances at the ready, swords at their sides, and hate in their eyes.

Consider Sharon’s dependence on the National Religious Party headed by Effi Eitan, a self-proclaimed rabid Zionist who brazenly and shamelessly shouts that Palestinians are not ordinary people, but “uncircumcised,” “little people,” and “evil.” The Jews, on the other hand, are “blessed.” And they (the Jews) will come with “vengeance against (their) terrible evil” and “make a reckoning with them.” (L.A.Times). But Effi is not the worst. Gush Emunim rabbis teach that “Jews who kill Arabs should be free from all punishment Arabs living in Palestine are thieves because the land was Jewish and belongs to them.” (Prof. Israel Shehak). Add to these zealots those who design their own versions of the Talmud citations and preach to their followers hate, vengeance, and annihilation. Their hubris defies understanding: “Whosoever disobeys the rabbis deserves death and will be punished by being boiled in hot excrement in hell” (Erubin 21b), and “All gentile children are animals” (Yebamoth 98a), and “According to the Talmud, Jesus was executed by a proper rabbinical court for idolatry, inciting other Jews to idolatry, and contempt of rabbinical authority” (Hoffman and Critchley), and “Those who read the New Testament will have no portion in the world to come” (Sanhedrin 90a), and “Jews must destroy the books of the Christians” (Shabbath 116a). These and more, more venomous than those cited, fill the various commentaries that constitute the on-going words of the living Talmud.

It would appear that Osama finds a sick solace in his God that will bring havoc to unbelievers and victory to Islam while the Zionist right-wing Jewish cohort divide G-d’s creation into the blessed and the animals who, as unbelievers, will suffer a steaming and malodorous sauna in the hereafter. How does one describe these gods? Having created humans with the capacity to reason and choose, Allah damns all who disbelieve the militant mullahs while the G-d of the Jews destroys all who disbelieve the right-wing Zionists; if each can be believed, all would be destroyed and none would ascend to heaven! Indeed, the Gods they worship are brutish, sadistic, and perverse! But lest we think that the Christian right exhorts its worshipers to “turn the other cheek” and “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and “love thy neighbor as thyself,” think again.

For a paltry $25.00, you can purchase three audiotapes from Pastor John Hagee of the Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, tapes of sermons that focus on “Allah and America.” Add another $20.00 and you can get the video version that permits you to witness the paunchy pastor lift the Quran high above his head as he cites chapter and verse, in an ever more excited crescendo, condemning the words of Allah as interpreted by Pastor Hagee.

It’s a marvelous scene; a few thousand of his 17,000 congregation sitting in rapt attention in this hotel-like conference center church, absorbing the truths of the one true God as conveyed by this minister of war who sees the anti-Christ rising against God’s chosen in the final battle prophesied in the Book of Revelation. What is the purpose of this exhortation? Is it to bring his congregation to peace and reconciliation with their wayward brothers and sisters? God forbid, “No!” This 21st Century Prophet rises on his tiered altar steps (he is the altar!) demanding that his parishioners recognize the grave threat they face as he extracts passages from the Quran that give credibility to his twisted interpretation of Mohammad’s visions. What does he see? His evangelical Christian Zionist church is engaged in a spiritual war for survival; that the demonic driven mullahs of the Islamic faith are waging everlasting war against freedom of religion, against freedom of speech, against the western world! “We are not a sister faith!” he cries over and over again as his congregants lift their arms and eyes to the chandeliers that bathe the hall in celestial light. What must they do to these demented hordes that “want to kill as many Americans as possible,” that are developing “long range missiles,” that have “suit case atomic bombs”? They must fight; “Victory must be our only objective!”

“No relationship of any kind exists or can exist between Islam and Christianity,” he shouts in stunned and somber tones as he levels his final accusations on this faith of more than a billion people around the world. This false religion serves as Satan’s means to present “a false path to Paradise” when Jesus Himself is the “only way to heaven”; He alone is the one true God; “Christ is the only savior on the planet!” Thus does he echo Osama and Eitam in the absoluteness, no, the infallibility of his belief. “Islam,” he cries, “says Christ did not die on the cross and he is not divine.” But, strangely enough, he does not condemn the Jewish faith for similar beliefs. He can’t. His need to convince his faithful that Revelation demands the existence of the Israeli state if the rapture is to ensue requires that he support the Israeli state as God’s means of fulfilling His prophecy. Ironically, Hagee does not make public, especially to the Jewish community, that the consequences resulting from the fulfillment of Revelation’s prophecies would save only 144,000 Jews leaving the remaining millions to eternal perdition. With friends like Hagee, who needs enemies!

Monotheism breeds men who wish to bed with God, to bathe themselves in His glory the better to reveal to all how blessed they are in the eyes of the Almighty. Since God communicates with humans only through a chosen few–Moses, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Mohammad–and, conveniently, only in abstruse words and images, these men become the conduits of His meaning. They, like the CIA, must intercept and interpret God’s meaning. They, like the CIA, can surreptitiously maneuver political forces to do their will by guaranteeing thousands of votes, thousands of dollars, and allegiance to policies that support their agenda. They, like the CIA, can effect regime change and control governments; witness Sharon’s coalition, the Iranian Islamic state, and the Bush regime’s dependence on the Christian right-wing Zionists. And they, like the CIA, must be investigated!

The havoc currently wrenching the United States, Israel, and Iraq arises as much from faith based fanatics in all three religions as it does from political drives motivated by acquisition of natural resources and dominance of geographical areas to insure ultimate power. These fanatics resort to documents 1300 to 2500 years old, documents relevant to their time, and use them to manufacture relevance in the 21st century. The metaphorical narratives of these ancient documents, designed originally to represent the interaction of tribes with the forces of nature, how to live in a community with respect to social, economic, and political realities, and how to understand the energies that conflict within our beings, become, in the rantings of these madmen, reality today despite the intrusion of science, reason, technological advances, and hundreds of years of political change. In the process, they must negate the simple yet elegant teachings of those faiths that give promise to the potential of human harmony. Here, in the words of Theodore Parker (in 1841), as he dismantled organized religion that “fetters a man” in favor of the spirit that Christ taught, a spirit equally at home in the Jewish traditon and the Islamic, reside the permanent truths that express the fullness of the human spirit:

“(That spirit) is absolute, pure morality; absolute pure religion, – the love of man; the love of God acting without let or hindrance. The only creed it lays down is the great truth which springs up spontaneous in the holy heart, – there is a God. Its watchword is, Be perfect as your Father in heaven. The only form it demands is a divine life, – doing the best thing in the best way, from the highest motives; perfect obedience to the great law of God. Its sanction is the voice of God in your heart; the perpetual presence of him who made us Examine the particular duties it enjoins, – humility, reverence, sobriety, gentleness, charity, forgiveness, fortitude, resignation, faith, and active love summed up in the command, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind; thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself’ The end seems to be to make all men one with God It allows perfect freedom. It does not demand all men to think alike, but to think uprightly not all men to live alike, but to live holy”

Faith based fanatics offer no humility only arrogance, no reverence only hypocrisy, no gentleness only castigation, no charity only self-indulgence, no forgiveness only condemnation, no faith only fear, and no love only hate. They represent a small minority of the believers who find refuge in these faiths. Of the adult population in the US and Canada, 75% are Christians, and of that number only 35% are born again and of that number even a smaller percent are Evangelical Christian Zionists of the Robertson/ Pastor Hagee stripe that exhort our nation to take up arms against the infidels. Each of these fanatical groups demands exclusivity for their membership, an exclusivity that turns plowshares into swords. By contrast, those who heed the spirit of faith understand in the words of the Psalmist, “Publish His glory among all nations. His marvellous works among all peoples”(96:3). “Mohammad preached a message that was intensely democratic. He was insisting that in the sight of the Lord all peoples were equal.” (Houston Smith, Islam). A Creator does not destroy His creation without destroying Himself. No minister, rabbi, or mullah should preach destruction; it is anathema to the purpose of religion.

Hearken to the words of Yonathan Shapira, an Israeli pilot who refuses to fly. He bases his refusal on two of the basic values of the Israeli Defense Forces, only one of which I will cite here: “Human Dignity: The IDF and its soldiers are obliged to honor human dignity. Each human being should be respected, regardless of his race, creed, nationality, gender, status or his social role.” Nothing taught by Gush Emunim appears in this statement; yet it is Effi Eitam and his like that control Sharon’s coalition. Where is the investigation that will expose this reality? The vast majority of Jews hear Yonathan’s plea, but it is Sharon’s savagery that speaks in their name. “Islam’s religious revivalists often express alienation and anger about the ‘ravages’ of secularism, perceived amorality, and the loss of ‘traditional values’ in the modern world.” (Gregorian). Osama and his ilk carry out that anger demanding of their followers an uncompromising adherence to a rigid, literal interpretation of the Quran forgetting that there are a multitude of interpretations with that of the Sunnies dependent on reason not unquestioned faith. And they represent the majority of Muslims. No unified religions exist; there are 19 major religions in the world with more than 270 large religious groups including 34,000 separate Christian groups. Such diversity requires separation of church and state. And that is why Jefferson found organized religion a threat to democracy; religion is not by nature tolerant especially when more than one claims they have access to the one true God.

Now if these men have incited their congregations to overlook the deception of the Bush administration as it brought America to an unjust war, if they insert their warmongering views in pulpit, TV programs, and politics, have they no responsibility for the consequences of their acts? If they cannot demonstrate the source of their interpretations that served as a base for their allegations demanding Bush and America complete God’s prophecy, should they not be brought before the courts for inciting mayhem and levied appropriate damages to pay for the havoc they generated? And should not Bush demand the same of Sharon and his coalition since his brutality against the Palestinians is considered the major source of terrorism in the world and has made America a target of that hatred? Perhaps a little intelligence on this matter would bring to light how an administration can be coerced into a foreign policy built on superstition and fear.


William A. Cook is the  author of Decade of Deceit and Age of Fools.