A writer by the name of Enza Ferreri has written an article against Reason. She probably doesn’t see that that is what she’s done. But that is what she’s done. She writes:
It’s all very simple. We can’t fight Islam in the West without fighting the enablers of Islam in the West, namely the Leftists.
So far, so good.
And, since the Left has many different and separate aspects, we have to fight against each one of them. Secularism, environmentalism, global warming alarmism, homosexualism, militant feminism, sexual relativism, multiculturalism, anti-Christianity, Islamophilia, post-nationalism, internationalism are just as important targets to attack as Marxist economics, the expropriation of the capitalist class (or, in its modern reincarnation, redistribution of wealth), and the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The words we have put in bold mark the issues we dispute with Enza Ferreri.
We don’t know what “homosexualism” is, or “sexual relativism”.
We consider sexual choices to be private matters (unless they involve children). They are certainly not dangerous threats to the survival of the West.
But while we agree with the author on her other “targets”, we emphatically disagree with her when it comes to secularism and anti-Christianity.
Secularism is not the same as Leftism. Between the founding of the United States of America and the dawning in the 1960s of this Leftist age, there was a very long stretch of secularism, liberty, and prosperity.
But in those times and those countries where a church (in the widest sense) has been the ruling power, there has always been tyranny. What greater tyranny can there be than the imposition of an orthodoxy on every mind?
Communism and Nazism also impose orthodoxy, and punish dissent as cruelly as a theocracy. That is one of the reasons why we class these ideologies as religions. Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia, Maoist China were not secular states; they were orthodoxies, as tyrannous as the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages, or the newly declared Islamic State now.
The secular state, and only the secular state, is a free state. Secularism is freedom. Freedom is only possible in the secular state.
In a free, secular society, people are free to be Christians. But people are equally free to criticize Christianity.
Neglecting any of these fronts is like fighting a war leaving a battleground to the enemy, like fighting on the Western front and leaving totally undefended the Eastern one.
Secularism and atheism are certainly the first lines of important wars.
So she contends that the prime enemy in her war is freedom. That being so, she has no case to make against Islam or Marxism.
For all that she seems to be speaking for tolerance (being against Islamophilia) and reason (being against environmentalism, global warming alarmism, “militant feminism”); and against Islam (aka multiculturalism) and Marxism (redistribution etc.), she is actually speaking for her own choice of intolerant, irrational, orthodox tyranny.
A secularist West will always lose to Islam, because it will have enough compassion, tolerance and self-restraint from violence that are the remnants of its Christian heritage, but it will have lost the ideals, the passion and certainty of fighting for a just cause that were once part of Christianity and have disappeared with its erosion.
Her assumptions are arrogant to an extreme. Compassion, tolerance and self-restraint from violence are not the legacies of “a Christian heritage” but of enlightened reason.
It is pointless to try and fight one irrational belief, such as Islam or Marxism, by setting up another irrational belief, such as Christianity, in opposition to it. There is no better reason to believe in the Trinity than in Allah or the inevitability of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Two quotes here serve as epigrams. Robert Spencer wrote in his great work Religion of Peace? Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t: “People who are ashamed of their own culture will not defend it.” And Dennis Prager said during one of his radio broadcasts, “Only good religion can counter bad religion.”
We admire much that Robert Spencer and Denis Prager write. And we think Spencer makes a point here worth thinking about. But to Prager’s assertion we say, nonsense!
Some people claim that there won’t be a religious revival in Europe because we are past believing in God. That this is not true can be seen by the high – and increasing – number of Westerners who convert to Islam. Many of them give as a reason for their conversion the need for absolutes, boundaries and well-defined status. A journalist writing for The Spectator on this subject explained why she is Catholic:
But above all, I like the moral certainties. I don’t mind the dogma one bit. I would rather dogma and impossible ideals than confusion and compromise. In that sense, I do identify with those who choose Islam over the way of no faith, or a seemingly uncertain faith, like the woolly old C of E.
Confusion and compromise is inescapable. How can dogma – which is to say being incurably wrong – and “impossible ideals” be better than admitting the truth of scio nescio: I know that I do not know? It is as if the culture on which such persons as the quoted Catholic and the author of the article have been raised was never affected by Socratean doubt, the Enlightenment, the assumption of ignorance upon which all true science proceeds.
William Kilpatrick, in Christianity, Islam, and Atheism: The Struggle for the Soul of the West – a book I thoroughly recommend reading -, writes: Brian Young’s friends said he was troubled by the decadence of Western society. David Courtrailler’s lawyer said, “For David, Islam ordered his life.” These are the sorts of reasons ordinary converts to Islam give. A common refrain from converts is that Islam provides a complete plan for life in contrast to the ruleless and clueless life offered by secular society. As Mary Fallot, a young French convert, explains, “Islam demands a closeness to God. Islam is simpler, more rigorous, and it’s easier because it is explicit. I was looking for a framework; man needs rules and behavior to follow. Christianity did not give me the same reference points.” If you look at the convert testimonials on Muslim websites, they echo this refrain: Islam brings “peace”, “order”, “discipline”, and a way of life that Christianity and other religions fail to offer.
Islam brings peace! He – and she – can say that with a straight face? While IS (ISIS, ISIL) is rampaging through Syria and Iraq mass-slaughtering, impaling, crucifying, decapitating, raping, enslaving; while Hamas is firing thousands of rockets into Israel; while civil war rages in Syria; while Yezidis, Kurds, Baha’is, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, other Muslims are being daily killed and constantly persecuted by Muslims?
Astonishing that some women crave the “order” and “discipline” of subjugation; when the “discipline” is exerted by enslavement, beatings, whippings, stonings, legal discrimination.
Human beings will never be past the need for believing in something bigger than themselves, because that need is part of the human mind.
Where are there human beings who do not know that natural forces are “bigger than themselves”? Who among us does not know that we are mortal?
She continues in the same vein. We’ll not irritate our readers with all of it. She is a true believer. And what she believes is that Christianity is good and true.
We will skip to what she quotes as wisdom from a Catholic primate:
A clear direction was given by Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, Archbishop of Bologna, Italy. As early as 30 September 2000, before 9/11, when very few in the West even thought of worrying about Islam, he delivered a very forward-looking speech, which included this premonition:
… Either Europe will become Christian again or it will become Muslim. What I see without future is the “culture of nothing”, of freedom without limits and without content, of skepticism boasted as intellectual achievement, which seems to be the attitude largely dominant among European peoples, all more or less rich of means and poor of truths. This “culture of nothingness” (sustained by hedonism and libertarian insatiability) will not be able to withstand the ideological onslaught of Islam, which will not be missing: only the rediscovery of the Christian event as the only salvation for man – and therefore only a strong resurrection of the ancient soul of Europe – will offer a different outcome to this inevitable confrontation.
The culture of reason is not a “culture of nothing”. It is a culture of rational humility; of admitting ignorance and trying to find the truth, even if one can never be certain one has found it. Skepticism is the only engine of discovery.
“Freedom without limits”? Freedom of action always has a limit. In a free society, everyone’s freedom is limited by everyone else’s under the rule of law. But indeed the freedom of the mind has no limits, nor should it have any.
Notice the snide swipe at riches and “hedonism”. Do you think that he, as a cardinal, pigs it in some hovel?
By “truths” he means the patent absurdities of Christian theological belief.
“Libertarian insatiability”. What the heck does that mean?
If the Western culture of reason, secularism, liberty, skepticism, science, cannot withstand the onslaught of Islam, it will be because that culture has been abandoned by people like Enza Ferreri.
She goes on to blame shrinking birthrates on secularism. Then she ends with this:
Militant atheists à la Richard Dawkins have not really given enough thought to the long-term consequences of their ideas, which we are beginning to see.
And of which we are reminded whenever, for example, we read in the news of doctors and missionaries who die of Ebola while assisting affected patients for Christian charities. Not many atheist charities are involved in that work.
How many cures for diseases have been found by scientists among whom atheists are in a huge majority? The medical researchers who eliminated smallpox; those who found how to detect the beginnings of cancer and treat it before it becomes lethal, and how to restore wholeness to lepers and replace a faulty heart or kidney …. the list could run on for hours … cure more people than all the martyrdom-seeking self-righteous preachy Christians out to save their imaginary souls by “assisting affected patients” have ever done or could do in a thousand years.
As a reminder to readers who have a strong stomach of what happened when the Christian Churches provided “order” and “discipline” to Europe and wherever else they could reach, we recommend The Grand Inquisitor’s Manual by Jonathan Kirsch, and our own post Calvin: a chapter in the terrible history of Christianity by Jillian Becker, April 25, 2010. (Put the title in our search slot.)
Nothing IS (ISIS, ISIL) is doing now in the name of Islam is worse in type or degree than what those Christians did in the name of Christianity.
The world needs saving from religion.
Sam Harris is an atheist. We like a lot of what he writes and says. Just recently one of our readers sent us this statement of his, which we acknowledge, sadly, to be most probably true:
For the rest of our lives, and the lives of our children, we are going to be confronted by people who don’t want to live peacefully in a secular, pluralistic world, because they are desperate to get to Paradise, and they are willing to destroy the very possibility of human happiness along the way.
We have watched videos of him lecturing. We have read some articles of his. And all with appreciation. So when we were sent his new book for review, we expected to like it.
Do we like it?
To read Jillian Becker’s review of Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion by Sam Harris, click on its title in our margin, under Pages.
Call it Islam, call it Hamas, call it ISIS, call it the Muslim Brotherhood, call it BokoHaram; call it the Palestinians; call it the United Nations; call it by the name of any Islamic state; call it the interfaith movement, call it the Left, call it the religion of peace; demonstrate for it in the streets of the capitals of Europe; parade for it in New York and Chicago and Los Angeles; this is the thing itself:
We found the video at christianpost.com. We quote part of the text:
A Christian man in Syria recently had his head brutally hacked off by Islamic militants after being forced to deny his faith and salute Mohammed as “the messenger of God”.
So by Muslim rules he became a Muslim. Islam forbids Muslims to kill Muslims.
The perpetrators themselves filmed the atrocity “for the world to see and broadcast as a warning to ‘everyone like him’.”
In the video that was posted to YouTube with translated captions, the helpless Christian man is surrounded by armed militants wearing masks and he is heard reciting as instructed: “There is no God but God and I testify that Mohammed is the messenger of God.”
The victim did not say “God” but “Allah”. The Christian reporter chooses, like many Christians, to claim that the god of Islam and the god of Christianity are one and the same.
An apparent leader in the group of militants is then heard instructing the group: “No one will shoot him now, do you understand? He will not be killed by shooting because it is merciful for him.”
By which the savage seems to mean that death by shooting would be too merciful for him. He goes on:
“He will be beheaded because he is Kaffir, non-Muslim, sided [with] the government and was not praying at all. Everyone like him will have the same end, beheading,” said the militant.
Then they cut his head off as the Muslim murderers cry ‘Allahu Akbar’.
A protest against religion like no other.
No need for our commentary – Hopsin says it all in his powerful performance.
Hat-tip our Facebook commenter Jon Hopkins. After recommending it strongly, Jon adds that he doesn’t think Hopsin has “turned against religion altogether”.
Today is the centennial anniversary of the start of the First World War. On 28 July, 1914, the Austro-Hungarian army fired the first shots, to crush rebellious Serbia. What happened then, and why, is traced in this video.
Blame is laid on the growth of nationalism, and even more on imperialism – the acquisition of colonies by the powers of Europe on other continents, in fierce competition with each other, Britain being far and away the winner. The fact that at least some empires, chiefly the British, brought incalculable benefits to the lands they conquered, colonized and ruled, is touched on briefly; in our view, too briefly.
We think it is an overview worth watching, though there are points where we would place a different emphasis.
We agree with the presenters that the day World War One broke out was the day Europe began its terminal decline.
From time to time visitors to this website or our Facebook page query the idea – even the possibility – of there being such a thing as atheist conservatism. They are – almost always, as far as we can make out – Americans whose understanding is that the word “conservative” denotes Christian conservatism. To them, therefore, to speak of “atheist conservatism” is to commit a contradiction in terms. Some have called it an oxymoron.
In Europe too, conservatism has a Christian coloration. Conservative political parties usually declare themselves to be Christian – for example, the Christian Democratic Party (CDU) of Germany. But their support does not come only from Christians. And in Britain the established Church of England has been called “the Conservative Party at prayer”, but the party does not exclude members of other Christian denominations or other religions, or the non-religious.
Yet it is an American conservatism that we embrace. It is faithfulness to the Constitution, to the essential idea that the United States was intended to embody as a nation: the idea of individual liberty protected by the rule of law.
The shortest answer we give to those who accuse us of being self-contradictory is to tell them what our prime principles are:
- individual freedom
- a free market economy
- small government
- low taxes
- strong defense
And we point out that those are core principles of American conservatism. The Constitution – southern state critics please be reminded – does not require citizens to be Christian, or religious at all.
Just as often, perhaps even more often, we are told that we cannot be both conservative and libertarian: that the two traditions are separate and even inimical to each other, to the point of being mutually exclusive. Even if that were true (and we don’t think it is), we consider it unnecessary to take tradition into account. The issue needs to be looked at philosophically, not historically. Our conservatism, holding the firmly conservative principles we have listed, is manifestly a conservatism of liberty.
And we think it is now, more than ever before, that the libertarian view should direct the political agenda of conservatism. A heavy counterweight is needed to bring America back from its tipping over into collectivism by the Left. Individual freedom urgently needs to be saved.
What is stopping conservatives from accepting libertarianism as its future? The libertarians themselves. Frequently, their public statements reveal them to be inexcusably ignorant of world affairs. They often advocate naive isolationism. They seem to lack a sense of what matters. The legalization of drugs could be wise and necessary, but it is not worth making a hullabaloo about when jihad is being waged against us. A person should arguably be able to marry any other person or persons – or things – that they choose, but it is much more important that America should remain the world’s sole superpower.
John Hinderaker also thinks that this should be “the libertarian moment”. And he too reproaches libertarians with an underdeveloped sense of what matters to the existence, liberty, safety, and prosperity of the nation.
He writes at PowerLine:
Every major strand of American conservatism includes a strong libertarian streak, because the value of liberty is fundamental to just about all conservative thought. But today, especially, is said to be the libertarians’ moment. What once was a fringe movement, politically speaking, has moved front and center in our political life.
And yet, in my view, libertarians of both the capital L and small l varieties punch below their weight. They have not contributed as much as they should to the conservative movement. This is partly because libertarians tend to founder on foreign policy, where many are merely modern-day isolationists. But it is also because they have tended to focus on secondary, or tertiary, issues of domestic policy.
A couple of years ago I was invited to a gathering on behalf of Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico who then was a libertarian candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. I was well disposed toward him, but when he started talking, his first subject was legalization of drugs. Now he is the CEO of a marijuana company. Rand Paul is probably the leading libertarian at the moment; he purports to take seriously the threat that someone drinking coffee in an American cafe will be struck by a drone-fired missile.
American liberty is indeed under attack, and a libertarian movement is needed more than ever. But the threat to freedom is not drug laws or drone attacks.
The principal threat is the administrative state, which increasingly hems in everything we do and depends hardly at all on the will of voters. …
Calvin Coolidge, who knew the Progressives well and understood how antithetical their vision of government is to America’s founding principles [said]:
It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning cannot be applied to this great charter [the Constitution]. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.
Today we labor under an administrative state that has metastasized far beyond anything Coolidge could have imagined. It constrains our freedoms, it lays waste to our economy, it has largely rendered Congress irrelevant, and it threatens to make just about anyone a criminal, since no one can possibly keep track of all of the myriad regulations with which we are encumbered. And let’s not forget that the administrative state is run by liberals, for liberals.
Despite the fact that it is antithetical to the Constitution and to American traditions, there is little opposition to the administrative state as such. Conventional politicians suggest that regulations can be made less irrational and less burdensome – a good idea, certainly – but hardly anyone questions the fundamental concept of Congress delegating its powers to unelected and mostly unaccountable agencies that are charged with managing just about every aspect of our lives. Nearly everyone considers the administrative state, as such, to be inevitable. …
Why don’t libertarians stake out a “radical” position on domestic policy? Why not argue, not just for a moderation in the inevitable drift toward a more and more powerful administrative state, but for a return to the Constitution’s central principle – the very first words of Article I – that “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States…”, a Congress that is accountable to the people.
A battle is being fought for the liberties of the American people and, frankly, it isn’t going well. The fight has little or nothing to do with drugs and drones. If libertarians are serious about preserving and expanding liberty, they should join the fight that matters. A libertarian movement that focuses on a rollback of the administrative state would be “radical,” but it also would put libertarians in the vanguard, not on the fringe, of American conservatism.
As quite often happens, Daniel Greenfield expresses an informed opinion on a headline event so well that we cannot resist letting him speak for us:
The bodies of three murdered Israeli teenagers, 16-year-old Naftali who liked to play basketball, 16-year-old Gilad who had just finished a scuba diving course and 19-year-old Eyal with his guitar, will be met by the same ghastly parade of pallbearers who accompany every victim of terrorism.
The reporters will scribble down something about “settlements” and the “Cycle of Violence.” The diplomats will urge restraint and remind everyone that the only solution can be found through negotiations with the terrorists. And the pundits will put it all into perspective burying them under layers of words and weighting their coffins down with stones of forgetfulness.
But all the empty words about the “Occupation” and the “Cycle of Violence,” the invocation of a peaceful solution that is always about to arrive, but never does, and the maps that cede more territory to terrorists are addressing a problem that doesn’t exist.
It’s not about physical territory. It’s about spiritual territory. It’s not about nationalism. It’s about Islamism.
It’s not about the “Occupation.” It’s about Islam.
“I raised my children on the knees of the [Islamic] religion, they are religious guys, honest and clean-handed, and their goal is to bring the victory of Islam,” the mother of one of the Hamas killers said.
Not a Palestinian nation. Not a Two State Solution. Not forty percent of this and sixty percent of that.
The victory of Islam.
Naftali, Gilad and Eyal were murdered for the same reason that countless people have been killed in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.
Not to mention the United Kingdom and the United States.
They were murdered in the name of a religious war that has been going on for over a thousand years. Muslims did not suddenly begin killing Jews in 1948 or 1929. They did not begin killing Christians over American foreign policy or the oil business.
Muslims did not begin killing Jews and Christians over foreign policy. They began persecuting and killing their Christian and Jewish neighbors because their religion told them to.
Hamas, the terror group that murdered the three teens, is not a Palestinian nationalist organization, though it occasionally plays the part. Its charter begins with Allah and ends with Allah. Article Five of its charter states that the group extends to “wherever on earth there are Muslims, who adopt Islam as their way of life.”
Its goal is to create an Islamic state. Everything else is secondary.
The Hamas charter describes it as part of the worldwide “Muslim Brotherhood Movement”. Brotherhood terrorists kill Jews in Israel for the same reason that they kill Shiites in Syria or Christian Copts in Egypt.
Article Seven of the Hamas charter concludes with the infamous Islamic Hadith which proclaims that the Muslim end times will come only when “Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!”
Aside from the obvious genocidal bigotry, this is a quote from a text that is over a thousand years old. Its author was not preaching the mass murder of Jews because of settlements in the West Bank. At the time Muslims had subjugated and ruled over the Jewish population of the Middle East. The Jews were no threat to them. The idea of a Jewish army was as ridiculous as traveling to the moon.
The hatred that leaks out of that text has nothing to do with Israel and everything to do with Islam.
The insistence on a foreign policy explanation for Muslim anti-Semitism is as ahistorical as claiming that Hitler only hated Jews because of the Yom Kippur War. Except that at least both of these events took place in the twentieth century. Islam has been hating and persecuting Jews for over 1300 years before the rebirth of the modern State of Israel.
There are two ways of looking at the worldwide plague of Muslim terrorism. One is to treat every Islamic conflict with Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus and a dozen other religions as being due to some local political grievance of recent vintage. The other is to understand them as local expressions of a historical religious war and the continuation of the wave of conquests that made Islam into a worldwide religion.
We can be like the six blind men feeling around the Islamic elephant and assuming that its trunk and tusks are entirely separate phenomena. Or we can open our eyes and see the elephant in the room.
Hamas’ charter begins with the Koran’s praise for Muslims “as the best people” and damns Christians and Jews to be “smitten with abasement” for having “incurred the wrath of Allah.”
This is not a statement of Palestinian nationalism. It’s Islamic supremacism.
There is nothing negotiable about supremacism. Supremacism cannot be appeased. Supremacism does not want a piece of the pie. It wants the whole pie. The allies learned that the hard way with Hitler. So did the countless kingdoms that attempted to live in peace with the armies of the Mohammedan conquerors.
If Israel had never existed, Hamas would still exist, just as the other branches of the Muslim Brotherhood exist elsewhere throughout the Middle East. Even if Zionism did not exist, the Muslim Brotherhood would persecute the Jews under its control, just like the Christians in Egypt and Syria.
If Netanyahu, Sharon, Begin and a thousand other Israeli villains of the apologists of Islam had never been born, the followers of Mohammed would have gone on killing Jews just as they had for over a thousand years.
If the blue and white had never waved over Jerusalem, if Jews had remained as downtrodden and persecuted in the lands of Islam as the Copts and the Zoroastrians, Naftali, Gilad and Eyal would still have been murdered by two killers who were raised by their mothers to usher in “the victory of Islam.”
There is no political solution to a supremacist conflict.
If a thousand years of Jewish humiliation and persecution did not satisfy the ancestors of the murderers of those three teenagers, how will handing over part of Jerusalem do the job?
Solutions begin with truth. The truth is that Islamic violence against Jews is not recent or exceptional. The murder of Jews by Muslims, whether in Israel or Belgium, is not any different than the Muslim butchery of Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and even minority Muslim splinter faiths. These conflicts cannot be resolved through appeasement. They can only be addressed through resistance.
Yes. Once that truth is fully accepted, the only remaining question is, what form should the resistance take?
Our answer is: military force wherever it can be effective; and everywhere, at all times, a de-Islamization campaign along the lines of the de-Nazification campaign pursued intensely in Germany after the military defeat of the Third Reich.
Islam needs urgently to be criticized; constantly, relentlessly, daily; in schools and academies; by the mass media, on all the social media. It should be so denounced and reviled that if anyone chooses to adhere to it he would feel it necessary to do so in secret, furtively, surreptitiously, in shame and fear of being found out.
Islam is an ideology as evil and destructive as Nazism.
All religion is a drag on enlightened civilization. Islam is the only religion now that is actively destroying it. Islam itself must be defeated – not only on battlefields, but with argument.
It is the ideology, not the people (except those actively engaged in jihad), who must be boldly attacked.
The ideology called Islam is a lethal disease. The human race must be cured of it.
In plain reason -
Those who say they believe in freedom of speech cannot tolerate Islam.
Those who believe in freedom cannot tolerate Islam.
Those who believe in equality of the sexes cannot tolerate Islam.
Those who believe in “the golden rule” cannot tolerate Islam.
Those who believe in “diversity” cannot tolerate Islam.
Those who hate cruelty cannot tolerate Islam.
Those who believe in tolerance itself cannot tolerate intolerant Islam.
Know it, understand it, loathe it, despise it, talk about it incessantly, forbid it, exclude it, abolish it.
Is there any other way?
Now about our enemy on the Right …
This is from Wall of Separation, a web page belonging to Americans United for Separation of Church and State:
US Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) saw fit to hold an impromptu inquisition on Capitol Hill yesterday.
Gohmert and his colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice were supposed to be discussing the state of religious liberty in America. But Gohmert, a staunch Religious Right ally who has said that his faith guides his political activities, used his allotted five minutes to grill Americans United [for Separation of Church and State] Executive Director Barry W. Lynn on his personal theological views.
“I’m curious, in your Christian beliefs, do you believe in sharing the good news that will keep people from going to hell, consistent with the Christian belief?” Gohmert asked.
We will not pause now to unpack all the nonsense in that question. It speaks sufficiently for itself to all but Gohmert’s fellow bigots.
Lynn responded: “I wouldn’t agree with your construction of what hell is like or why one gets there.”
So Barry Lynn believes in some sort of hell consistent with his Christian belief.
Lynn, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, was invited by subcommittee Democrats. He spoke on behalf of religious minorities and non-believers who are so often oppressed by fundamentalist Christians in this country.
He spoke for us non-believers? No. We think not. But what we are most concerned with here is this Republican, Louie Gohmert and his sort.
And yet he was attacked on a personal level by Gohmert, who decided an official hearing was an appropriate place to drag Lynn into the theological weeds.
Gohmert continued to press Lynn: “So, you don’t believe somebody would go to hell if they do not believe Jesus is the way, the truth, the life?”
Another portmanteau of nonsense which we will pass for the present with no more than a grimace of distaste.
Lynn explained that someone’s failure to embrace “a specific set of ideas in Christianity” did not guarantee a ticket to hell. Gohmert didn’t much care for that answer, so he pushed on with his surprising line of questioning.
“No, not a set of ideas,” he said. “Either you believe as a Christian that Jesus is the way, the truth, [and] life or you don’t.” …
The hearing was designed primarily by Republicans to give right-wing Christians an opportunity to ask for more special treatment from the government …
O-oh! Red light flashing.
At least Lynn is insisting on the wall of separation. Or we hope he is.
Lynn and Gohmert … may soon sit down to hammer out their differences.
Christians have been trying to do that among themselves ever since their St. Paul invented Christianity, with very little success. What end can there be to arguments over fictions? It’s not as if an experiment can be designed to establish the truth.
At least they don’t kill each other over their differences of opinion as often as they used to.
After the hearing, the two talked about the possibility of getting together to discuss theology sometime. Lynn said he’s up for it.
Whether or not that discussion ever takes place, Gohmert has already proved why church and state must remain separate. Lynn and Gohmert’s disagreement over what hell is and how one ends up there is one of many, many ideological divides that exist within Christianity.
“Many, many” indeed. As many a “many” as would cover a mile would not be sufficient to indicate the number of disputes that Christianity has given rise to within itself.
But then comes this:
Other groups have similar disagreements, be they believers or non-believers.
Again, and emphatically, no. There are no shades or degrees of non-existence. There can be no disagreement about non-belief among non-believers.
But then questions are asked which makes sense:
The US government could never accommodate all faiths and belief systems through policies that favor [any particular] religion. Who would be accommodated? Who would decide? It would be an absolute mess that would surely result in oppression.
That’s why church-state separation is best for everyone – even Gohmert.
Children’s Home, Dublin Road, Tuam, Ireland circa 1950. (Courtesy of Catherine Corless/Tuam Historical Society)
This heart-searing story comes from the Washington Post.
In a town in western Ireland, where castle ruins pepper green landscapes, there’s a six-foot stone wall that once surrounded a place called the Home. Between 1925 and 1961, thousands of “fallen women” and their “illegitimate” children passed through the Home, run by the Bon Secours ["Good Help"] nuns in Tuam.
Many of the women, after paying a penance of indentured servitude for their out-of-wedlock pregnancy, left the Home for work and lives in other parts of Ireland and beyond. Some of their children were not so fortunate.
More than five decades after the Home was closed and destroyed — where a housing development and children’s playground now stands — what happened to nearly 800 of those abandoned children has now emerged: Their bodies were piled into a massive septic tank sitting in the back of the structure and forgotten, with neither gravestones nor coffins. …
The grim findings, which are being investigated by police, provide a glimpse into a particularly dark time for unmarried pregnant women in Ireland, where societal and religious mores stigmatized them. Without means to support themselves, women by the hundreds wound up at the Home. …
Malnutrition and neglect killed many of the children, while others died of measles, convulsions, TB, gastroenteritis and pneumonia. Infant mortality at the Home was staggeringly high. …
Special kinds of neglect and abuse were reserved for the Home Babies, as locals call them. Many in surrounding communities remember them. They remember how they were segregated to the fringes of classrooms, and how the local nuns accentuated the differences between them and the others. They remember how … they were “usually gone by school age — either adopted or dead”. …
A 1944 local health board report described the children living at the Home as “emaciated,” “pot-bellied,” “fragile” and with “flesh hanging loosely on limbs.” …
The historian Catherine Corless, who uncovered the septic tank grave, remembers the Home Babies:
“If you acted up in class, some nuns would threaten to seat you next to the Home Babies.” … She recalled one instance in which an older schoolgirl wrapped a tiny stone in a bright candy wrapper and gave it to a Home Baby as a gift. … I copied her later and tried to play the joke on another little Home girl. I thought it was funny at the time…. Years after, I asked myself what did I do to that poor little girl that never saw a sweet? That has stuck with me all my life. … “
Locals suspect that the number of bodies in the mass grave, which will likely soon be excavated, may be even higher than 800.
A photo of some of the children at “the Home” in 1924 (Connaught Tribune, 21st June 1924)