Atheism: a private conclusion 1

Here is a Christian conservative‘s statement about atheists:

It’s often remarked that atheism is simply religion by another name (as the officially atheist, now deceased Soviet Union demonstrated). Else why would atheists be so adamant and aggressive about their beliefs? Not only do they choose not to believe in God, or even a god, but they demand that their fellow citizens submit to their ideology and purge all evidence of the (Christian) religion from the public square.

The passage comes from The Devil’s Pleasure Palace by Michael Walsh.*

Commentary:

It may be “often remarked that atheism is simply religion by another name”, but the frequency with which the remark is passed doesn’t make it either true or intelligent. NOT believing is not believing-in-another-way, any more than NOT smoking is smoking-in-another-way.

We would agree that Communism is a kind of religion. We would also agree that the dogma of Communism often excludes belief in a divine being.(Not always.”Liberation theology” is Communism taught by Christian priests who have married St. Paul to Karl Marx.) But it does NOT follow that the non-belief is identical with the Communist faith, or is the essence of it, the vital active ingredient that generated all that was wrong with the Soviet Union.

Though all atheists might be “adamant” about their non-belief  (just as all believers are adamant about their belief), very few are aggressive about it. Of the millions of non-believers in the free world, how many “demand that their fellow citizens submit to their ideology”? I’ve never met or heard of one who does. And “submit” to what “ideology”? There are some in America who demand that public displays of Christianity be removed from the public square. And a very silly demand it is too. A small number of silly atheists in America insist that if crosses or Christmas “nativity” scenes are placed on public sites, they should have the right to put some atheist symbol or tableau beside them. A symbol or tableau is then hastily invented, having meaning only for the inventors, none whatever to other atheists.

Because: Atheism is NOT a religion, or an ideology, or a system, or a tradition. It has no symbols or rituals. It has no orthodoxy or heterodoxy.

Atheism is a decision, made by individuals. A private conclusion they draw from thought. It’s a denial of dogmatic claims that they find have never been proved, seem to them unprovable, absurd on their face, and ever more absurd the more they test them against observation, experience, learning, coherence, intuition, taste, and common sense.

 

*Encounter Books, New York, 2015. Our quotation comes from page 136.

Paul and Karl: the most consequential same-sickness marriage in history 3

Paul, theologian of the post-Apocalypse heavenly utopia, and Karl, theologian of the post-Revolution earthly utopia, celebrated their union decades ago in South America. The Great Reconciliation of their faiths was published under the title Liberation Theology.

What brought them together is a charming story. Their pet underdogs met on a bank of the Crocodile Tears River, and mated on the spot. Paul and Karl shared a hearty laugh as they watched their pets sporting with each other.

Karl had condemned Paul’s ideas in scornful terms. And Paul had rejected Karl’s ideas with fury. But when they met at last, they found they had far more to unite them than to separate them – above all their bleeding-heart condition.

The happy couple have adopted numerous children, many of whom now live – illegally – in the United States. Ever-caring parents that they are, Paul and Karl have done their best to provide for the safety and comfort of those rather wild kids of theirs. (“Bless their little rebel hearts!”)

Here’s the feel-good story of what they did for them, taken from Canada Free Press, where it is told by Cliff Kincaid:

What has not yet been reported is that the Catholic Church, which gave President Obama his start in “community organizing” in Chicago, has been promoting the sanctuary movement for more than two decades. …

Pope Francis said a “racist and xenophobic” attitude was keeping immigrants out of the United States. …

“Few people are aware that this extreme left branch of the Catholic Church played a large part in birthing the sanctuary movement,” says James Simpson, author of the new book, The Red-Green Axis: Refugees, Immigration and the Agenda to Erase America.

Simpson says Catholic Charities, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and its grant-making arm, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, are prominent elements of the open borders movement.

The sanctuary movement has its roots in the attempted communist takeover of Latin America.

With the support of elements of the Roman Catholic Church, the Communist Sandinistas had taken power in Nicaragua in 1979. At the time, communist terrorists known as the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) were threatening a violent takeover of neighboring El Salvador. President Ronald Reagan’s policies of overt and covert aid for the Nicaraguan freedom fighters, known as the Contras, forced the defeat of the Sandinistas, leaving the FMLN in disarray. In 1983, Reagan ordered the liberation of Grenada, an island in the Caribbean, from communist thugs.

Groups like the Marxist-oriented Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) were promoting the sanctuary movement for the purpose of facilitating the entry into the U.S. of illegal aliens who were supposedly being repressed by pro-American governments and movements in the region. The U.S. Catholic Bishops openly supported the sanctuary movement, even issuing a statement in 1985 denouncing the criminal indictments of those caught smuggling illegal aliens and violating the law.

Section 274 of the Immigration and Nationality Act prohibits the transportation or harboring of illegal aliens. Two Roman Catholic priests and three nuns were among those under indictment in one case on 71 counts of conspiracy to smuggle illegal aliens into the United States. One of the Catholic priests indicted in the scheme was Father Ramon Dagoberto Quinones, a Mexican citizen. He was among those convicted of conspiracy in the case.

Through the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, an arm of the Bishops, the church has funded Casa de Maryland, an illegal alien support group which was behind the May 1, 2010, “May Day” rally in Washington, D.C. in favor of “immigrant rights.” Photographs taken by this writer showed Mexican immigrants wearing Che Guevara T-shirts, and Spanish-language communist books and literature being provided to rally participants.

An academic paper, The Acme of the Catholic Left: Catholic Activists in the US Sanctuary Movement, 1982-1992, states that lay Catholics and Catholic religious figures were “active participants” in the network protecting illegals. The paper said, “Near the peak of national participation in August 1988, of an estimated 464 sanctuaries around the country, 78 were Catholic communities—the largest number provided by any single denomination.”

A “New Sanctuary Movement” emerged in 2007, with goals similar to the old group. In May, the far-left Nation magazine ran a glowing profile of this new movement, saying it was “revived” by many of the same “communities of faith” and churches behind it in the 1980s.

One group that worked to find churches that would provide sanctuary to immigrants in fear of deportation is called Interfaith Worker Justice, led by Kim Bobo, who was quoted by PBS in 2007 as saying, “We believe what we are doing is really calling forth a higher law, which is really God’s law, of caring for the immigrant.”

But conservative Catholic Michael Hichborn of the Lepanto Institute says Interfaith Worker Justice is run by “committed Marxist socialists”, and that Bobo is “highly active and involved with the Democratic Socialists of America”,  a group which backed Obama’s political career.

And here is Ted Cruz,  a candidate for the presidency, who apparently cannot understand that the Obama administration is letting the children of Paul and Karl into the US and tolerating any mischief they are getting up to – murders and rapes, for instance – in the interests of the Higher Morality and the Greater Good of Mankind:

 

Liberation theology: the marriage of Christianity and Marxism 2

“Liberation theology” is the child of the incestuous marriage of Christianity and its secular offspring, Marxism.

Reports from the Vatican suggest that Pope Francis is warming to it – a volte-face of Papal policy towards it ever since its birth in South America in the middle of the last century. This report comes from the left-leaning Guardian:

For decades, Gustavo Gutiérrez, a Peruvian theologian and Dominican priest, was treated with suspicion and even contempt by the Vatican’s hierarchy, which saw him as a dangerous Marxist firebrand who used faith as an instrument of revolution. …

Which is exactly what he was and what he did.

But when the 86-year-old Peruvian arrives in Rome this week as a key speaker at a Vatican event, he will be welcomed as a guest, in a striking show of how Pope Francis – the first Latin American pontiff – has brought tenets of this sometimes controversial movement to the fore of his church, particularly in his pronouncements against the blight of poverty and the dangers of capitalism.

He has not noticed that only capitalism raises people by the million from poverty.

In its height in the late 1960s and 1970s, liberation theology– a distinctly Latin American movement – preached that it was not enough for the church to simply empathise and care for the poor. Instead, believers said, the church needed to be a vehicle to push for fundamental political and structural changes that would eradicate poverty, even – some believed – if it meant supporting armed struggle against oppressors.

In Nicaragua, priests inspired by liberation theology took an active part in the 1979 Sandinista revolution against Anastasio Somoza’s rightwing dictatorship. The philosophy also influenced leftist rebels in Mexico and Colombia, where one of the main guerrilla factions was led for nearly 30 years by a defrocked Spanish priest, Manuel Pérez. …

“He [the present Pope] was very critical of the liberal Marxist version of liberation theology,” said Austen Ivereigh, who has written a biography of Pope Francis. “At that time, you had leftwing movements in Latin America but in fact these were middle-class movements, which he believed used the poor as instruments. He had a phrase he used – that they were for the people but never with them.”

But since his election as pontiff in 2013, Pope Francis’s insistence that the church be “for the poor”, and his pointed criticisms of capitalism and consumerism have gone a long way to rehabilitate the liberation theology movement and incorporate it within the church. Experts point, too, to Francis’s decision to name Oscar Romero, the iconic Salvadoran archbishop who was assassinated by rightwing death squads in 1980, as a martyr as another sign of the resurgence in liberation theology…

The Vatican itself has not formally embraced liberation theology. Even xc himself has denied that his appointment as prefect by Pope Francis – which was seen in some circles as a triumph of liberation theology because of Müller’s relationship with Gutiérrez – represented the “opening of a new chapter” following the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict.

Liberation theology was invented, named, and funded by the KGB, according to one of its defecting agents. Damien Thompson reports – and comments with some skepticism which we do not share – in the (UK) Spectator:

The respected Catholic News Agency has published an interview with Ion Mihai Pacepa, a former general in Romania’s secret police who was one of the Eastern Bloc’s highest-ranking defectors in the 1970s. In it, he says that the Soviet Union – and the KGB in particular – created liberation theology, the quasi-Marxist movement that flourished in Latin America from the 1960s to the 1990s and is still a powerful influence on the Catholic Left.

The interview provides fresh evidence of the infiltration of liberation theology by Russia – a subject Catholic liberals would much rather not discuss, just as they don’t want to know about the heavy Soviet investment in CND (the British campaign for nuclear disarmament). …

I don’t believe that the KGB ‘created’ a movement as complex as liberation theology and I’m far from convinced that its name was dreamt up in the Lubyanka.

But Pacepa … makes detailed claims that the Soviets kick-started, funded and moulded liberation theology … He cites as one of his sources Aleksandr Sakharovsky, the Russian agent who set up Romania’s secret police agency. Pacepa describes him as his ‘de facto boss’ in the 1950s. Sakharovsky later became head of the First Chief Directorate of the KGB.

Here are the key quotes from the interview:

The birth of Liberation Theology was the intent of a 1960 super-secret “Party-State Dezinformatsiya Programme” approved by Aleksandr Shelepin, the chairman of the KGB, and by Politburo member Aleksey Kirichenko, who coordinated the Communist Party’s international policies. This programme demanded that the KGB take secret control of the World Council of Churches (WCC), based in Geneva, Switzerland, and use it as cover for converting Liberation Theology into a South American revolutionary tool

The KGB began by building an intermediate international religious organization called the Christian Peace Conference (CPC), which was headquartered in Prague. Its main task was to bring the KGB-created Liberation Theology into the real world.

The new Christian Peace Conference was managed by the KGB and was subordinated to the venerable World Peace Council, another KGB creation, founded in 1949 and by then also headquartered in Prague …

During my years at the top of the Soviet bloc intelligence community I managed the Romanian operations of the World Peace Council (WPC). It was as purely KGB as it gets. Most of the WPC’s employees were undercover Soviet bloc intelligence officers … Even the money for the WPC budget came from Moscow, delivered by the KGB in the form of laundered cash dollars to hide their Soviet origin. In 1989, when the Soviet Union was on the verge of collapse, the WPC publicly admitted that 90 per cent of its money came from the KGB.

And now the bit that will really wind up Catholic liberals:

I [Pacepa] was not involved in the creation of Liberation Theology per se. From Sakharovsky I learned, however, that in 1968 the KGB-created Christian Peace Conference, supported by the world-wide World Peace Council, was able to manoeuvre a group of leftist South American bishops into holding a Conference of Latin American Bishops at Medellin, Colombia. The Conference’s official task was to ameliorate poverty. Its undeclared goal was to recognise a new religious movement …

True to the chief pretense of each parent, the priests of both the South American Church and the Kremlin claimed that the intention of liberation theology was to stand with the poor and oppressed. Its theologians declared that the cause of all poverty and oppression is capitalism, and Christians must work to replace capitalism with socialism.

The man whom Pope Francis is now welcoming to the Vatican, Gustavo Gutierrez of Peru, wrote in his book A Theology of Liberation: “The goal is not only better living conditions, a radical change if structures, a social revolution; it is much more: the continuous creation, never ending, of a new way to be a man. A permanent cultural revolution.” Gutierrez struggles manfully through some 300 pages to reconcile the Christian idea of salvation of the individual soul and its reward in heavenly bliss,  with the Marxist insistence on collective salvation through revolution and the reward of an egalitarian society on this earth. He does not succeed. Whether he is aware of it or not, the Christian idea is totally overwhelmed and replaced by the Marxist idea. Liberation theology takes more after one parent than the other.

Liberation theology allowed the numerous leftist revolutionary organizations that arose in the last century in South  and Central America (Argentina, Peru, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatamala, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Honduras, Venezuela, Bolivia)*to claim religious vindication, and carried the blessings of the revolutionary priests when they – the terrorists -went about their savage business of murder.

Pope Francis’s understanding that the South American liberation movements were “middle class”, was not unfounded. Intellectuals – priests and writers – not only inspired them, but led them. Three bibles of the liberation theology movement are:

  • Pedagogy of the Oppressed, by Paulo Freire
  • For the Liberation of Brazil, by Carlos Marighela
  • Love in Practice: The Gospel in Solentiname, by Ernesto Cardenal

The most enlightening descriptions of what actually happened in a central American country when terrorist insurrectionists, inspired by liberation theology, clashed with a government and its military, are to be found in Sweet Waist of America: Journeys Around Guatamala, by Anthony Daniels. Although the author is uncompromising in his condemnation of the rebels and their methods, he also indicts the government and its forces. Both sides committed atrocities.

 

*** A list of the “guerrilla movements” in these countries can be found here.

Teaching submission to world government 1

This is from Canada Free Press, by the excellent researcher and writer Dr. Ileana Johnson Paugh, who has herself lived under communism:

Liberal education has been very successful in this country because nobody challenged the progressive educators and their agenda. We are waking up to the unraveling of our society caused by this liberal education and wondering, what happened. Could it be too late to reverse the damage?

Conservative news outlets are pointing out the obvious — our children have been indoctrinated into socialism for 33-40 years and this indoctrination is finally bearing fruit. We have bred a nation of young, entitled citizens who do not like to work, do not like to read or study anything too involved or complicated that exceeds Twitter’s 140 words, do not take responsibility for their actions, exhibit righteous indignation if their demands are not met, claim racism and hate speech if others disagree with them, and are afraid of their shadows.

Students no longer explore and discuss the history of America even in the History Department of the local college — it has long been replaced by courses that praise and promote “sexual, racial and ethnic differences”, instead of highlighting our common American heritage, what made America great and an exceptional nation that has contributed to the betterment of mankind. Socialist professors admire, teach, and laud the history of non-western cultures as superior to our own culture.

She cites Bowdoin College, the subject of a recent report (see our post immediately below), as an example of what’s gone wrong in higher education. And she gives examples of courses taught there – to the exclusion of teaching critical thinking skills, and ignoring “scientists, men of letters, philosophers and orators who contributed to western thought and civilization”. Instead, there’s this sort of thing on offer:

Queer Gardens

Beyond Pocahontas: Native American Stereotypes

Sexual Life of Colonialism

Modern Western Prostitutes

But the greater part of her article is devoted to providing information on IB World Schools. We learn the following:

IB stands for International Baccalaureate.

Most parents have no idea what IB is. IB programs are devoted to the “radical transformation of America’s classrooms.”

The rot taught in American schools like Bowdoin is taught world wide in the IB schools, which are here, there, and spreading everywhere. “There are over 2,000 IB World Schools in the US.” Of those,  74 are in Virginia.

An IB World School is a private or public school that has agreed to offer the IB (International Baccalaureate) program run and coordinated by IBO, a non-profit socialist Swiss Foundation in Geneva … in partnership with UNESCO … 

In fact –

Since 1970, IBO (International Baccalaureate Organization) has been an official NGO (non-governmental organization) of UNESCO.

They know they’re doing something sneaky, something most American parents would not like.

As a parent, in order to discover what the secret curriculum is, one has to be approved [by] an IB teacher, with a password that accesses the curriculum.

IB schools are a part of Agenda 21. (To find out more about it, use our search slot).

Dr. Paugh is our main source of information about this UN resolution that aims to preserve and restore the wilderness at the expense of human populations; destroy the suburbs; herd people into urban collectivities with single “living units” allotted to them instead of homes shared with their families; deprive them of private cars; control their heating and cooling and other uses of energy. In  sum, monitor their whole lives and prescribe how they should live them. And worse, though you might think there could be no worse –

An international baccalaureate world school is another arm of U.N. Agenda 21. [It’s aim is the] indoctrination of our children into “global citizenship, social justice, intercultural understanding and respect,” submission to one-world socialist government, using American taxpayer dollars.

She refers to a description of IB education by Justin Pough, who attended an IB school:

No more learning about U.S. Presidenst, good values, no American history … Teachers have to wear the light blue colors of the United Nations. Students are indoctrinated into becoming “citizens of the world” instead of citizens of the country they were born in, preoccupied with “moral, ethical, social, economic, and environmental implications of global production and consumption.”

The student’s version of Agenda 21 is called the Rescue Mission Planet Earth.

The founder of IB, Therese Maurette, describes her educational philosophy that runs against our Founding Fathers’ ideas of what American education should be … The concept of “nationality” must be minimized in order to encourage students to develop a picture of the whole world. “History should not be taught until well into adolescence because, for the younger student, it inevitably consists of a series of stories and myths glorifying violence and misrepresenting events by giving them a nationalistic bias.”

To shape students into pawns of international change, IB programs use “pedagogical methods that are intended to effect the fundamental transformation of America’s classrooms.” Schools that adopt the IB program must also adopt the international moral and ethical values. Whose values are these? They are the diverse values of different cultures as contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted and proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948. They are not our American values, they are values that encourage social change in which “the rights of individuals are linked to those of the collectives:”

By “linked to the values of the collective” they mean, of course, “replaced by ”.

The whole of Dr. Paugh’s article is a must-read. 

Here are a few more revolting UN/IB ideas that she gathered from various (named) sources:

There is no right or wrong, only conditioned responses.

The collective good is more important than the individual.

Consensus is more important than principle.

Flexibility is more important than accomplishment.

Nothing is permanent except change.

All ethics are situational; there are no moral absolutes.

There are no perpetrators, only victims. 

“Dialectical thinking” is a required component of IB.

Social justice is taught under the rubric of critical pedagogy. Critical pedagogy is the political arm of liberation theology and cultural Marxism/political correctness. The ultimate goal is to bring about social transformation at the collective level through indoctrination of our students. (This last statement ascribed to President Obama’s terrorist associate, Bill Ayres.)

What this all means is that the Left’s New World Order is being established under our noses.

Which, we wonder, will be the first to win the power to impose its control world-wide – the Left or Islam?

At present they are allies. But that will have to change. They must come to blows with each other eventually. The victory of either would be a calamity.

Will anyone fight for liberty?

Review: Blind Spot 0

Blind Spot: When Journalists Don’t Get Religion edited by Paul Marshall, Lela Gilbert, Roberta Green Ahmanson,  OUP  New York  220 pages

Notable for ignorance of religion are the atheist authors of several recent books (Richard Dawkins is one of the crop) who have written against it at length with less knowledge than they’d dare bring to any other topic. Their justifiable disdain for belief in the supernatural blinds them to the importance of this set of ideas that has  helped to shape history.  But a critic’s scorn is valuable only if he knows what he’s scorning.  (If you wanted advice on wines, would you consult a teetotaler?)  Atheists can make a perfectly good case for rejecting the idea of a deity without immersing themselves in theology; but if they want to criticize actual religions, they should study them.

Now comes a book by religious authors objecting, with justice, to the ignorance of journalists who fail to see the importance of religion in current world affairs. It is true that journalists don’t know enough about religion. But very few people do, actually, including the religious. Besides, most journalists don’t know much about anything, especially the stories they cover. 

One of the essays, Religion and Terrorism: Misreading al Qaeda by Paul Marshall of the Hudson Institute, concerns the essentially religious motivation of al Qaeda. It is true and clear. Every reporter and commentator on world affairs should know what it teaches.   

Very different is God is Winning by Timothy Samuel Shah and Monica Duffy Toft. It contains a message so at odds with Paul Marshall’s that I wonder why he, as one of the editors of the collection, included it.

Here we are told that religion has become increasingly influential of late in global politics. Well, yes and no. It is true of one religion only, Islam: and wherever the authors cite a true instance of what they are trying to prove, it is an example of Islamic activity. What they don’t say – or see? – is that this religious surge is a terrible aggression.

The attack of 9/11 was a profoundly religious act. It was perpetrated in the name of Islam, the religion that is steadily, determinedly, and all too successfully advancing through the world with the intention of dominating it. This dark threat by one of the old established ‘revealed’ religions  (which is the sort of religion the authors are talking about rather than the new kind such as Socialism or Global-Warmism) is a force that needs to be confronted and defeated. What makes it formidable is that it’s engaged in a victory-or-death struggle for survival. It is itself under existential threat because its time has long since ended. The plain truth is that this is not an age of religion. Religion is not a fertile field any more, nor has been for a long time.  The last ‘new’ idea in religion that affected the course of events on any significant scale was eighteenth-century Methodism, which was a revivalist movement rather than a real innovation. Religion now is sterile.  What characterizes our time chiefly, and in terms of its achievements uniquely, is scientific enquiry. This is the Age of Science. It makes no difference how many people believe in a god or gods, worship in temples, perform rites and ceremonies, or declare their faith to be important to them; or that certain creeds are gaining converts; the fact remains that religion is no longer a fertile field.  In such a time as this a set of irrational beliefs claiming to encapsulate all truth and knowledge, conceived in the Dark Ages, which is what Islam is, cannot but be engaged in an existential struggle; and unless it is totally victorious, so that it can impose its darkness on the whole earth, stop Science in its tracks, destroy all that Science has achieved along with the technologies it has fathered, and utterly expunge scientific discovery from memory and record (as the Catholic Church once tried to do), Islam is doomed to be a fossil in the museum of  archaic ideas.  

To the authors of God is Winning, religion is evergreen and intrinsically good: and any religion is better than none. This can only mean that they would rather Islam predominated over the whole globe than a religion-free secularism. Yet they do not declare themselves to be against freedom and democracy – which a triumphant Islam would certainly snuff out – but insist that ‘as the world has become more free, more enlightened, and more prosperous, it has also become more religious’; that ‘democracy and democratization have empowered religion’; that ‘believers in a “march by history” toward some secular end-state are headed for more disappointment than most’; and that ‘modernization, democratization, and globalization have made [God] stronger’. Yet the only examples of world-affecting religious acts that they refer to are Islamic, and to the danger of Islam they seem as blind as any journalist.

How informed are they in general about the world we live in? Has it become more free? It’s hard to see that it has. Most Africans are not free. The North Koreans cannot be described as free; nor the majority of nations under Islamic rule; nor China, the biggest nation, where the religious are persecuted. And as for Europe, it blatantly disproves the authors’ thesis, though they do not seem to understand this. They note that as Europeans have become increasingly enlightened and prosperous they have become not more but less religious. They also notice that Europe’s native populations are shrinking, which brings them to declare (with a touch of Schadenfreude?) that ‘secularization is its own gravedigger’. But their observation of the fact that a lethal secularism arose from freedom and democracy, not a fresh bloom of religious belief, does not negate, alter, or even qualify their wistful conviction.

Among the Western, educated, prosperous nations, the United States of America is an exception that the authors happily cite. Most people here (we are told authoritatively by pollsters and statisticians) are and always have been religious to some degree at least, and here – perhaps as a result – the birthrate is stable (so it’s not digging its own grave). Yet not even the US proves the author’s case: for the US, though shaped by the influence of Christian values, remains a secular state. Its past and present can be said to demonstrate that free people may continue to be religious in the Age of Science, but not that religion naturally arises out of freedom, democracy, enlightenment and prosperity. Archaisms, like antiques, can be enjoyed. They can be freshened up and displayed as ‘neo-orthodoxies’, to use an oxymoronic expression of Shah’s and Toft’s. What they cannot do is reverse the arrow of time.    

Shah and Toft repeatedly speak of  ‘vitality’ in contemporary religion, and claim that it has given rise to a ‘resurgence in prophetic politics’. What they mean by ‘prophetic politics’, it emerges, is any political movement with a moral cause, or a jumble of causes, some of them familiar as pretexts for left-wing activism. Certain nationalist movements are counted as ‘prophetic politics’ if the people concerned share a religion. ‘Hindu nationalism’ is mentioned. (Mentioning is deemed sufficient, discursive argument is lacking.)  They are probably referring to the territorial dispute over Kashmir that mainly-Hindu India, growing in wealth and power, has with its Muslim neighbor Pakistan. This dispute is certainly national, with origins in old and persistent religious conflict, but no new religious fervor is driving it.  ‘Jewish Zionism’ (is there any other kind?) is also thrown in. But Zionism has nothing to do with religion. It was conceived as, and continues to be, an entirely secular movement, concerned with the recovery of the ancestral homeland of the Jews as a people, albeit a people uniquely defined by a specific religion.

Even localized revolutionary movements that notoriously claim to be Christian but are actually Marxist, are adduced by Shah and Toft as proof of religious resurgence. Indeed many terrorist organizations, particularly in South America, have been encouraged and even led by priests and pastors, who sanctify their incitement to murder by calling their ideology ‘liberation theology’ (if they’re Catholic) or ‘liberal theology’ (if they’re Protestant). The authors of God is Winning imply, whether they mean to or not, that this is fine with them because anything done in the name of religion is a good thing. Logically then – contrary to Paul Marshall’s judgment – al Qaeda is a good thing! But no: it is part of the worst political evil of our time. A nod to God is not worth any price.

Jillian Becker  December 2008

Posted under Uncategorized by Jillian Becker on Monday, December 8, 2008

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