…And Most Of It In A Silly Fashion
We purposefully stayed mostly quiet last week as between echoes of the Beck rally, the GZM discussion and the Koran burning controversy, religion filled the airwaves, the Internet, and even print (if you bothered). We stayed silent because the whole thing struck us stunts on top of media-whoring and little of it seemed to benefit the public or faith.
There was a serious constitutional question raised in Hartford, CT which was well covered by Hugh Hewitt’s “Smart Guys” (subscription required).
In the wake of the battle over a mosque at Ground Zero, a move by the Hartford City Council is sure to have its critics.
The Council announced Tuesday that it has invited local imams to perform Islamic invocations at the beginning of the Council meetings in September.
By law, as interpreted by the SCOTUS, prayers offered at public meetings of this sort must be non-sectarian. From the appearance of this story, the prayers to be offered are NOT non-sectarian, but are rather, specifically Islamic. This move is symptomatic of what appears to be at the heart of the GZM discussion – the idea that if one appeases and does not provoke “the bully,” in this case Islam, one avoids the problems. Of course, anyone that has had to deal with a bully knows this never works. One either must steer clear of the bully (impossible in this case) or bully back. But enough of that.
There were far more religious overtones to this past weekends 9-11 remembrances than there have been at previous ones. I am going to place the blame for that squarely on the shoulders of POTUS, Barack Obama. The man promotes his agenda through divisiveness, a standard Alinsky ploy. His economic policies are disastrous and his foreign policy is steeped in appeasement, but it is his political practice based on divisiveness that could irreparably harm the nation. We don’t cover the 2010 mid-terms here much, not our portfolio, but they matter hugely and this is why.
These events have caused all sorts of people to write about religion and politics. Christopher Hitchens used it as an excuse for one of his entirely predictable diatribes against religion. Hitchens personal tragedies notwithstanding, I grow tired of repeated citations of the problems of religion. Yes, religions have done bad things, but to assume that without religion bad things would cease to happen is simply ridiculous. It’s like saying that if you live in an under-insulated house that overheats when it is incredibly hot outside, removing the inadequate insulation will allow the heat in the house to escape. Nonsense – all it will do is allow the house to get AS hot as it is outside instead of only hotter than it should be.
Some are worried that too much focus on the civil religion will dilute and harm one’s deeply held faith. Others share the concern. The concern is real, the problem is where to deal with it – more on that in a moment.
The bottom line is this, things can compliment each other without mixing – and that is how religion and politics have worked in America. There have been conflicts – the Mormon practice of polygamy, until 9-11, being the preeminent example. In these cases the practice of religion (as opposed to the beliefs of a religion) has violated the civil good – governance and politics had no choice but to push back. If Islam, at least many aspects of it, does not reform, we may be forced to violate the typical complimentary balance.
But in general, the civil good is served by religion that makes civil people, which in turn makes civil governance works. In other words, religion makes better people who make freer and better government. That means religion has a very specific role to play – making better people. Many of the problems we see in religion and politics today are because religion, and especially Evangelicalism, has been reduced to something that is only about belief, and often nothing more than pious entertainment. Religion must reclaim its role as a builder of good people for the delicate balance to survive. If you are worried about the civil religion corrupting the true religion, then get busy building people of sufficient character that they know the difference and will stand firmly on the true religion. Doing away with the civil religion, or trying to make the civil religion exactly like your true religion will only inflame the conflict.
Oh yeah, that’s what we usually talk about here. Paul Bedard says there are 17 players on the field for the Republican nomination. That’s stretching things a bit – rumors and talk do not put someone “on the field;” If they did, I’d be a college basketball coach.
One of Bedard’s “major players” is Mitch Daniels. You’ll recall we said early on that it looked like someone was trying to back Daniels into running and that he was not particularly interested. Then he did the Weekly Standard profile which made us think he might be serious, but he did sort of fail that audition with his comments on social issues. Then he told the Louisville Courier-Journal that he had no interest in the job, it was, as we suspected, others trying to talk him into it. And yet, the rumors persist. Now, Taegan Goddard quotes him from Newsweek:
“At some stage there could well be a tax increase. They say we can’t have grown-up conversations anymore. I think we can.”
This guy DOES NOT want to run for president! At every opportunity he is saying things to get out of it. He seems to have purposefully set out to anger both social and fiscal conservatives. It is time for people to let the man be.
I was pleased to see Romney say the smart thing about the abandoned Koran burning, and absolutely dumbfounded at the ignorance of Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison:
I think that yes it will be and it is being an issue and will be debated, but I don’t think that the purveyors of this … anti-Islamic wave are going to benefit the way they think they will. I mean some of them tried to defeat President Obama by claiming that he was a Muslim. Of course, they were resoundingly defeated themselves.
When I ran, I had opponents who were doing things similar, and I won my election. Andre Carson won his election. He’s a Muslim, so my point is that Americans are generally tolerant. Americans are generally tolerant, and so I don’t think arguments about religious beliefs are going to cut much ice. I mean Mitt Romney, a leading Republican candidate, Mormon, nobody cares.
Nobody Cares?! More “ink” was spilled on Romney’s Mormonism than Ellison’s Islamic faith can dream of. Nobody Cares?! Beck is being bashed for being Mormon while everybody is rushing to protect the rights of the builders of the GZM. Nobody Cares?! The case can be made that Romney’s faith is why he is not president right now.
Ellison must live under a rock. That may be the most ignorant comment to come from a congressman since that guy thought an island was going to tip over.
It’s gonna be a long couple of years.