B U L L E T I N

PLEASE VISIT www.CenterforPluralism.com for all information

-----------------------------

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Good for nothing majority

Good for nothing majority
Mike Ghouse, July 28, 2007

Edmund Burke, a philosopher from the 17th Century had said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” And a similar message was communicated by spiritual leaders of all faiths through out the course of human history.

"The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing." -- Albert Einstein.

Evil exists in the world because of good people. The good people’s silence, silently gives a tacit approval to the bad guys to continue to do bad things. I believe Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi had expressed similar sentiments.

Indeed, the problem is not with the evil men, it is with us. I’m least worried about what bad people can do than what good people don’t. The majority of Americans do not want war, yet the few are carrying it out. We silently sat by and let 3,500 of our sons and daughters and some 650000 Iraqis slaughtered.

If we can recall our class room scenario, our work place, or our extended family, there was always a tyrant, who got away bullying every one. No one dared him or said anything to him, due to fear or not having the stomach to stand up to him or her. Had you stopped that tyrant in the tract, things would have stopped long ago, but no one dared it and simply endured it for a long time. As a larger society, we are allowing those tyrants to go on terrorizing all of us. You and I regardless of our faiths face the same evil.

That brings us to Terrorism, go ahead and make my day, call it Muslim terrorism and beam me up.

Did you know that a Muslim is more vulnerable to terrorism than a Christian, Jew or a Hindu?

A Muslim get the shaft three different ways; i) the bullying fear from the extremists Muslims, Christians, Jews and Hindus, ii) the idiotic media and iii) and the denigration of his/her religion where as the others get only one way.

Silent no more, speak up is our mission, not just for Muslims, but for all. The peaceful majority sounds like good for nothing crowd. We believe they will wake when pushed to the corner. As we Americans spoke up during the last days of Vietnam, then we spoke up on Tuesday, November 7th 2006 and we still have not taken actions to the death and destructions we are causing in Iraq, we will, and the Muslims will do their chore as well.

Everyday, I go through many articles and at least 80% of them border on finger pointing and blaming the others with no particular goal to pursue a solution.

One of the biggest mistakes we make is to give a religious label to the bad people. It is a shame to call those bad boys Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Christian or otherwise. It is our gutlessness to face the evil that prevents us from facing the problem squarely. If we can recall a dialogue with our mother, father, uncle or some one powerful over us. We find that when we disagreed with them we whispered it quietly or even mumbled; we did not want a fight. However when they screamed “What did you say?” We shuddered and quietly denied saying any such thing, or depending on the strength of the voice of the opposite person, we even slighted our response and said "oh nothing" or something irrelevant… we did not want to invoke the wrath of the tyrant facing us.

When Osama Bin Laden brought hell on all of us, what did our president do? He did not face the tyrant squarely… like many, he found it convenient to blame Muslims and Islam, just like you may act when you face a real tyrant (family or community) and start blaming the world when you could not laser bark at the bad dog any more.

If a TV anchor blames you for the wrongs you do, most people would let you handle it on your own terms, but when he suggests that those ‘people’ are messing our nation”. I can guarantee that all of us would be offended and are less likely to listen to the anchor. By calling Muslims the terrorists, they have invariably barked at the wrong tree and they continue to do so.

99% of terrorists are Muslims! When you watch some of the Neocon websites, CNN and Fox network: Every kidnapping and every individual vandalism done by the Muslims is jumped at; rightfully so. Indeed all of us should jump at it. But when similar crimes are happening in the same breath, they are reported as a regular crime that is wrong by any sense of morality.

Thanks God the V-tech crazy was not a Muslim, if it was, the bad guys would have feasted on it for months, it feeds them and they are eager to be the first. The TV, Radio and the papers would have stretched the food for months.

In your city there is a murder and rape every day, like Iraq, why don’t we call them Christian terrorists or if it is in India call it Hindu Terrorism or other one, then why call Muslim Terrorism for similar crimes on the street?

No terrorists should be given respect by adding a religion to his crime. Any one who commits a crime, disturbs the peace, should be punished for his acts. Religion should not be a factor at all, if we do that, we find excuses not to take the action. We should get the individual criminal for his act and punish according to the law. Let law be not taken any any one's hands including the Chief Executive. Let us not give an opportunity to any one to become terrorist in reverse.

What if we do not point the gun, and just shoot what surounds that criminal? What is the difference between them and us. It is this dual sense of morality that we need to avoid. Mother Teresa's wisdom is eternal "if you want to make peace, You don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.

In the fight between the good and the bad, the average man gets killed. We should care for human life, whether we are Muslims, Hindus, Christians or Zoroastrians. All evil must be condemned whether it is my brother or any one. If each one of us adopts the posture of a just position – we can find peace, peace comes through you in your language. Each one of us has to find solutions.

Let’s take a principle stand and call the evil for simply what it is; Evil. Let’s use the same yardstick to judge all criminals.Each one of us should focus on building peace, hate and blame does not take any one anywhere, the first casualty is ones own peace and then others’. One cannot point fingers at other others to be peaceful while he himself is not.
Peace begins with a dialogue as does the war.

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator. He is president of the Foundation for Pluralism and is a frequent guest on talk radio and local TV networks discussing interfaith, political and civic issues. He founded the World Muslim Congress with a simple theme: "good for Muslims and good for the world." His personal Website is www.MikeGhouse.net and his articles can be found on the Websites mentioned above and in his Blogs: http://MikeGhouseforAmerica.Blogspot.com and http://MikeGhouse.Sulekha.com . He can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com . Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town.
_________________________________________

Additional Notes - unrelated unconnected.

A majority of Muslims - 99-9/10ths are moderate Muslims who believe in getting along with others and taking care of their family. Only 1/10ths of 1% - 1/100ths of 1% tend to be on the wrong end of the life. By the way, this formula applies to all people be it religious, ethnic, racial or any other uniqueness. What those two brothers did was rare, shocking and disgusting. Muslims are on a watch out for some one like this.

I hope we take part in building our nation as Indians and not have the divisiveness get to us. For a discussion group of Indians, giving a communal tone is not kosher. It is neither Hindu nor Muslim, it is just Indian. Even if it were Hindu or Muslim, it should not be based on hate towards each other. If others do it, that is their choice, we don't have to follow them. This group will remain for Indians who want to understand the differences and work on finding solutions. You are welcome to write.

No religion is bad, individuals are. The acts of crime are committed by individuals using all sorts of excuses, blaming the religion is shying away from facing the wrong doers. Take any situation going back some 2000 years, you will always find that insecure men and greedy kings have used the poor people to go kill and get killed to consolidate their empires. They have always used the common man to their advantage and have sat behind the throne in the safety zone, they never risked their lives.

Very few leaders have actually led the wars, you can see Lord Krishna, Prophet Muhammad and Mahatma Gandhi and other great leaders actually participating in the wars or movements standing up to evils of the society. They did not send some one else to go die for them. Please take the time to attend interfaith meetings including the ones by the Foundation for Pluralism. They are open meetings, open questions and open learning. You may enjoy employing your mind to the full capacity, as finding the truth is one's own responsibility, once you find the truth, you will find relief, mukti, moksha and salvation. There is plenty of reading material out there, as much as the hate material. May you find Mukti and become a source of light and goodness for the humankind.

Every one of us has a responsibility to make the world a better place to live. Peace begins with each one of us, you or I will never see peace if we are a product of hate. If we re-act with malice, it multiplies and swallows us into it.We have to get the freedom from hate, not because God wants it, and not because it is some noble thing to do, but because it brings peace to oneself and because it benefit you and it is a necessity, once you have it, you will find peace in you and that translates to peace to your family and friends and whatever surrounds you. Hate is engaging and enslaving, it is to our individual benefit we have to free ourselves from hate, try it, you'll love it and you'll change the world for better.

Religion was issued to humans to make them better beings, some get it and some don't. Parents teach children to be good kids, some do and some don't. The Civic laws are made for the safety of the Citizens, some follow some don't. It does not make the Civic laws wrong, it does not make the parent wrong if the kid turns out to be a bully and does not make the religion bad if one does not follow it.

We have to punish the individual who does wrong, we have accountability then. Blaming the elusive is wrong, it shows our inability to solve the problem, then we need extra dose of religion, so we can get it. The wisdom of religion is to make us all better humans, if we don't get it that is our problem, not religion's. If we punish the individual, then it is accounted for. Hating a religion is like shooting the gun without aim. Let's get to think and find ways - annihilation is not the answer, co-existence is. But before that, our mind needs to be in peace. Peace emits peace.

May the creator bless us with peace, tranquility and free us from hate and malice.

_________________________________________

PEACEFUL MAJORITY

Aurthor unknown
http://www.freedom.org/news/200707/17/strider.phtml
July 17, 2007

I used to know a man whose family was German aristocracy prior to World War II. He was a German Jew. They owned a number of large industries and estates. I asked him how many German people were true Nazis, and the answer he gave has stuck with me and guided my attitude toward fanaticism ever since.

"Very few people were true Nazis," he said, "but many enjoyed the return of German pride; and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us; and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp, and the Allies destroyed my factories."
We are told again and again, by "experts" and "talking heads" that Islam is the religion of peace, and that the vast majority of Muslims just want to live in peace.

Although this unqualified assertion may be true, it is entirely irrelevant. It is meaningless fluff, meant to make us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the specter of fanatics rampaging across the globe in the name of Islam. The fact is that the fanatics rule Islam, at this moment in history, as the Nazis did, in their time in history.

It is the fanatics who march. It is the fanatics who wage any one of 50 shooting wars worldwide. It is the fanatics who systematically slaughter Christian or tribal groups throughout Africa, and are gradually taking over the entire continent in an Islamic wave. It is the fanatics who bomb, behead, murder, or honor kill. It is the fanatics who take over mosque after mosque. It is the fanatics who zealously spread the stoning and hanging of rape victims and homosexuals.

The hard quantifiable fact is that the" peaceful majority" is the "silent majority," and it is cowed and extraneous.

History
Communist Russia was comprised of Russians who just wanted to live in peace, yet the Russian Communists were responsible for the murder of about 20 million people. The peaceful majority were irrelevant.

China's huge population was peaceful as well, but Chinese Communists managed to kill a staggering 70 million people.

The average Japanese individual, prior to World War 2, was not a warmongering sadist. Yet, Japan murdered and slaughtered its way across Southeast Asia in an orgy of killing, that included the systematic murder of 12 million Chinese civilians - most killed by sword, shovel, and bayonet.

And, who can forget Rwanda, which collapsed into butchery. Could it not be said that the majority of Rwandans were "peace loving?"

History lessons are often incredibly simple and blunt, yet for all our powers of reason, we often miss the most basic and uncomplicated of points:

Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by their silence.
Peace-loving Muslims will become our enemy if they don't speak up, because like my friend from Germany, they will awake one day, and find that the fanatics own them, and the end of their world will have begun.

Peace-loving Germans, Japanese, Chinese, Russians, Rwandans, Serbs, Afghans, Iraqis, Palestinians, Somalis, Nigerians, Algerians, and many others, have died - because the peaceful majority did not speak up until it was too late.

As for us who watch, it all unfold; we must pay attention to the only group that counts; the fanatics who threaten our way of life.

Sikhism: Everything to know

Understanding Sikhism
Every thing you always wanted to know about Sikhism, you can learn it in this two hour workshop.


Sun, Aug 26 - 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM :: Sikhism
Crowne Plaza Hotel on Midway/ Addison.

PRESS RELEASE

The Foundation for Pluralism is committed to promoting understanding between peoples of different religious affiliations. “We believe knowledge leads to understanding and understanding to acceptance and appreciation of another point of view”.

The Foundation for Pluralism has taken the initiative to present all religions in its programs. The goal is to bring people of different faiths together and provide a platform for them to share about their beliefs, their systems and rituals, while expanding the knowledge zone of each group.
We hope each one of us would walk out with an open mind and an open heart towards our fellow beings. It is difficult to shed the prejudices, but once we do, there is genuine freedom (Mukti, Moksha, Salvation, and Nirvana.) in it.

Sikhism: Everything you wanted to know about Sikhism, you can learn about it in this workshop. Dr. Harbans Lal will be presenting the program. Sikhism was founded on the principle of service to humankind is service to the Creator God. They believe in one God who is creator and the protector and pray for the well being of every human.

Pluralism Workshop: - What is Pluralism? What is a pluralistic attitude? Learn its application at work place, home, social situations and other circumstance. It is about co-existence ** (Questions to ponder - listed below)

Details:

• When: 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM Sunday, August 26, 2007 – Wisdom of Sikhism
• Time: 5:00 PM to 5:30 PM – Wisdom of Pluralism, an open forum
• Where: Crowne Plaza Hotel, 14315 Midway Road, Addison, TX 75001
• Directions: Click Map : From LBJ, north on Midway, after Spring Valley on the left.
• Confirmation:
ConfirmAttendance@gmail.com
• Schedule for the year:
http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/Calendar.asp

POINTS TO PONDER

1. Is attempting to undermine divinity of other faiths amount to arrogance? Does that appeal to God?
2. Is blaming a religion, nation, race, or ethnicity for the acts of individuals’ amount to deception?
3. Is holding greed, anger, hate, or malice in our hearts depleting our freedom?
4. Is ridiculing a person amount to ridiculing the creator?
5. Is judging others without knowing them personally amount to _________ (fill in Please)?
6. Is God free or some group owns him/her? Are we not limiting its _________ (fill in Please)?
7. Does God make deals behind our back and favor some? Could God do such a thing?

In affairs of the world, religion appears to be a source of the problem; it certainly is not. You can always trace the wars, genocides, oppression and other atrocities to evil insecure stupid men. Please remember, the purpose of religion was to fix the evils of humankind and it continues to do so while some men still don’t get it. Thanks God, the world is a better place today because of the Religion and spirituality, without which there would be chaos. Every Religion is on the same side, that of goodness for humankind. Finding the truth is one’s own responsibility. Truth brings salvation.

If beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, then faith is in the heart of the believer. Let every one find peace his/her own way – Mike Ghouse

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator. He is president of the Foundation for Pluralism and is a frequent guest on talk radio and local TV networks discussing interfaith, political and civic issues. He founded the World Muslim Congress with a simple theme: "good for Muslims and good for the world." His personal Website is www.MikeGhouse.net and his articles can be found on the Websites mentioned above and in his Blogs: http://MikeGhouseforAmerica.Blogspot.com and http://MikeGhouse.Sulekha.com . He can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com. Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town.

Unity Day USA - 911 Event

UNITY DAY USA - A 911 MEMORIAL
THEME: ONE NATION UNDER GOD

Please allow me to greet you in all the possible greetings that I know of; AllaAbho, Budha Namo, Namaste, Salaam o Alaikum, Jai Jinendra, Shalom Alechum, SatsriAkaal, Hamazor Hama Ashobed and peace upon be you*.

Unity Day USA is about coming together as Americans and expressing our innate desire to rededicate our pledge: "One nation under god with liberty and justice for all."

Unity Day USA was born to express that each one of the 297,018,658 of us are part of the mosaic that is America. Peace and prosperity for every American is our vision. In order to achieve that, we need to remain connected to one another, we need to come together as one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all. This event is a fulfillment of that vision.

Our 2007 theme is One Nation under God. Our religious prayer leaders will seek guidance from scriptures of their respective faiths. Our Civil servants and leaders will echo the same sentiment and suggest ways in which we as individuals can work towards a cohesive and thriving community.

Unity Day USA is about coming together as Americans to appreciate, respect and honor the God-given uniqueness of each one of the 297,018,658 of us, plus any new additions to this number since it is written.

Unity Day USA is indeed born out of the great tragedy and enormous suffering on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, and since then we have come together annually to pledge to continue to foster the idea of one America.

Unity Day USA is to be held on Sunday before September 11 of each year, as suggested by Congressman Pete Sessions, Kenny Marchant and Ralph Hall in a luncheon meeting in Dallas. Congressman Sessions office is planning to get Unity Day USA proclaimed as National Day along with Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi who has shown the same interest.

We the people of the United States of America; of every faith, race, ethnicity, culture and background, gather to pray for peace, unity and security of our nation and the world.

As Americans we uphold, protect, defend and celebrate the values enshrined in our constitution. All our faiths reinforces the creed of "One Nation under God, with liberty and justice for all."

Dear God, accept our prayers in whichever name we call upon you, we love to call you Ahura Mazda, Allah, Jehovah, Brahma, Wahe Guru, Mahavira, Buddha, Jesus Christ and with every name that humans address you.

* Greetings, if your traditional greeting is not in the list, it is because you did not send it to us.** We are embracing every American, faith or no faith including Atheist, Wicca and other traditions. If there are other ways of invoking the creator God, please send your format. No matter what we call, it is the same creator.

Dear God, with your blessings, we proceed with the program.

God bless the USA

Mike Ghouse (214) 325-1916
Email: MikeGhouse@aol.com
www.foundationforpluralism.com/
www.worldmuslimcongress.com/

We are looking for volunteers and sponsors, please feel free to contact: Unityday911@gmail.com
2007 PROGRAM OUTLINE
(Planning to accommodate members in other cities who have indicated an interest in repeating this format, under the same name)
  1. American National Anthem
  2. Pledge of Allegiance
  3. Statement of Purpose
  4. Acknowledgement of Sponsors
  5. Acknowledgment of Dignitaries
  6. Civic Leaders
  7. Spiritual Leaders
  8. Recognitions
  9. Conclusion
  10. Refreshments

Key Note Speakers:

Daisy Khan ( to be confirmed)
In the works

Civic Leadership: (List: 2005 & 2006) http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/Images_UnityDay/UnityDay_Past_HonoredGuests.asp

We plan to invite guests from across the Dallas/ Fort Worth Metroplex to share their vision of One Nation. Senators, Congressman (both National and State) will be invited along with Mayors, Council persons, Commissioners and others

Spiritual Leadership: (List: 2005 & 2006)http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/Images_UnityDay/UnityDay_Past_SpiritualLeaders.asp

We are inviting a representative leader for each faith including Atheists, Wicca and the Native American groups. All denominations within each faith will come together and say their prayers. We hope to represent every American in the prayers.

Participating Organizations: (List: 2005 & 2006) http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/Images_UnityDay/UnityDay_PastOrganizations.asp

We have had support from nearly 90 organizations in the past two years, and we hope to continue to gain their support for the event. All it takes for the name of your organization to be included is, to bring 5 members of your organization to the event.
Sponsors:(2005 & 2006)

We are seeking sponsors and underwriters for the event. The budget is small, but the purpose is great!


Services:

  • Photography: Bombay Photography - Aftab Lakhani
  • Videography: Bombay Photography - Aftab Lakhani
  • Decorators:
  • Volunteers:
  • Refreshments:

Community Leadership:

Our goal is to have a representation of every race, ethnicity and nationality. No American resident will be left behind. Our volunteers will aspire to reach every one.
Comments from the community: (2005 & 2006)

A variety of comments have been received and placed together, you are welcome to share yours.

Press: (2005 & 2006) http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/Images_UnityDay/UnityDay_Past_Press.asp

We are grateful for the support by Dallas Morning News, Plano Star Couriers, Frisco Paper, WBAP 820, KRLD 1080, AM1150, CBS TV 11, NBC TV 5, Telemundo 27 and other News and community outlets.

http://cbs11tv.com/topstories/local_story_253232024.html
Photographs: Can be viewed as slide show.

http://picasaweb.google.com/MikeGhouse/UnityDayUSA2006_Album02
http://picasaweb.google.com/MikeGhouse/UnityDayUSA_2005

Interfaith Prayers at Women's peace conference by Aftab Lakhani - Password: Peace http://bombayphotography.smugmug.com/gallery/3208375/5/176976296#176976296

Pictures ; http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/UnitydayUSA_2007.asp

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Hindu Prayer Creates debate

First Hindu Prayer creates debate

http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/Articles/HinduPrayer_CreatesDebate.asp
First Hindu prayer in United States Senate creates debate
Reno (Nevada, USA):

Historic first Hindu opening prayer in United States Senate in Washington DC by chaplain Rajan Zed on July 12 and the shouting protest to it has been making unprecedented rounds of the Internet.

On You Tube, the about 90-second C-Span video clip of his praying in the Senate has been one of the “top favorites” (463 times) of the week, most viewed (with just one posting having 229, 744 views), “top rated” with 872 ratings, “most discussed” video with 4799 comments, “most linked” with 44, 194 links, and “most responded”. This video is also popular on other video services like Daily Motion, iFilm, Google Video, etc. Utalkmarketing.com of United Kingdom declared it one among the “Top 5 Viral Videos”.

Google search with “rajan zed” brought 120, 000 results and Google Blog Search yielded 1, 571 reuslts. Zed has received lots of e-mails, many from strangers, about the prayer and related event. Besides English, some blogs are in Dutch, French, Italian, and Spanish. Office of the Senate Chaplain and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reportedly received hundreds of protest calls.

About seventy percent of blogs are very encouraging, according to a team of friends Zed put together to monitor the Internet traffic. Here are some samples “…he is the first Indian after Vivekananda to have an effect on the American public on the subject of Hinduism”, “…Hindu prayer in session is American values on faith in practice at their very best”, “…insult to God…”, “Senate opening invocation by a Hindu chaplain represents an official stamp by the government on paganism, a move which may draw God’s anger”, “While God did not write our laws, He was certainly a consultant in the process”, “God gave us this country, and has blessed us for over 200 years. To have a pagan pray in the Senate on our behalf is a slap in God’s face…”, “Intolerance from A to Zed”, “I seriously doubt that Americans want to change the motto, ‘In God we Trust’, to ‘In gods we Trust’,” “I love the idea of competing Gods”, “One Nation, Under God (s),” “With this prayer, USA has officially turned back on God”, “It is a sign of American religious health”, “Our mythological text is sacred and infallible, and all others are abominable”, “Please pray for the US”, “Only 1 God Allowed In The Senate”, “Congratulations to the Senate for opening our collective mind”, “Why Didn’t God Stop It?”, “Where the usual dress code on the senate floor is a suit, Rajan came flaunting his saffron orange robes and a mala around his neck”, “Is America Rejecting God?”, “Guest minister prays to the ‘wrong’ god(s)”, etc.

But the e-mails Rajan Zed received are all encouraging. Here are some examples: “I would like to apologize on behalf of the American people”, “You are a man of faith who cares about our country”, “Please forgive them”, “Thank you for being a messenger of peace, “I am a Christian and I had small tears of happiness in my eyes as I watched you giving the historic prayer”, “Neighbors are very proud” (an e-mail from Reno where Zed lives), “I myself am a Christian and believe that the world needs all the prayer it can get”, “I am a 15 years old Catholic and will pray for you and your works”, “I am sure you are receiving higher guidance”, “I wasn’t able to watch the entire clip due to the discomfort at the disrespect you received”, “I am a member of the Lutheran Church. Please accept my apologies. They know not what they do”, “Please accept my sincere apologies. God has taught us to love our neighbors”, “I would like to apologize for the treatment you suffered. Please be assured that we are not all like that”, “I am so sorry and apologize at least for myself”, “I wish to offer you apologies from your fellow Americans” (an attorney from Los Angeles), “The unfortunate intolerance of those people at the senate earlier is not representative of 99.999% of Americans”, “As an American, I am proud of the inclusiveness of our society. As an Episcopalian, I am embarrassed by the demonstration”, “I am so sorry, it left me very embarrassed”, “I apologize for how you were treated at the opening prayer of the Senate this morning. As an employee of the Senate, and as an American, I was embarrassed”, “I make an apology for the unfortunate incident in the Senate” (a Major in United States Air Force), “Thank you for being a decent and honorable American”. The e-mails came from all over the country--from Phoenixville (Pennsylvania), Beaverton (Oregon), Avon (Connecticut), Moorestown (New Jersey), Winston-Salem (North Carolina), Dallas (Texas), Bay Area (California), Rockville (Maryland), to name a few.

In addition, he has received many letters by regular mail also. One such letter read “…It was not only a very special moment for the institution, but also for me as a human being…It is from efforts such as yours that we may retain any hope of enlightenment for our world…Thank you for coming to the capitol, your presence was an honor…” The people, who could not find Zed’s e-mail address, e-mailed their messages to the organizations on whose boards he serves.

In media releases, American Jewish Committee of New York said, “The American Jewish Committee is deeply troubled by the verbal assault on Rajan Zed…”; Americans United for Separation of Church and State of Washington DC deplored the disruption of the prayer; while World Muslim Congress and the Foundation for Pluralism of Dallas said, “…We are very proud of this milestone in our history…”

Interfaith Council of Northern Nevada is organizing a reception to honor Rajan Zed for his feat at Reno on August one, where besides political/government/civic leaders, clergy of various religions including Christianity (various denominations), Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Bahai, etc., will speak and offer prayers. We should promote trust, mutual loyalty, and life of truthfulness, despite our different traditions, says Reverend Gene Savoy Junior of International Community of Christ, who is Coordinator for this event.

According to reports, people in India were thrilled to get the news where it mostly received front-page display. There are reports of schoolchildren praying, fireworks, religious recitations, etc., at some places in India.

Let us learn from each other, live affectionately with each other, and cooperate in common causes as we are headed in the same direction, adds Rajan Zed.

#
Details of the pictures attached:

Schoolchildren in India praying for the success of first Hindu prayer in United States Senate.
Rajan Zed being honored in Shiva Vishnu Temple in Lanham, Maryland, USA, after the prayer.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Lal Masjid, Pakistan by Zehra

The canvas of consciousness
By Nasim Zehra



Nasim. thanks for writing this sane, embracive and inclusive piece on aftermath of the Lal Masjid incidence. I am delighted to post the following column to the Pluralism groups and the Websites www.foundationforPluralism.com and www.WorldMuslimCongress.com .

It is an honest self analysis of character of the people and nation of Pakistan.This culture of inclusiveness needs to be encouraged. I pray this to be a contagious attitude, it is good for Pakistan and good for the world.By the way, I saw the title security analyst by your name, glad to see this mix and your analysis leads to making decisions of security through peace and understanding.

Our American security analysts are usually war-mongers and believe that peace comes through oppression, humiliation and destruction, many of them are neo-cons and are shut out from understanding that oppression has never worked in human history.
Mike Ghouse


From the canvas of consciousness
By Nasim Zehra


It is hard to recall another event in Pakistan's non-war days which captured the hearts, minds, time and attention of the entire nation, as did the 10-day-long Lal Masjid siege and operation. It was one event which suddenly flared up so much around us and within us. There are countless questions.

What are our values and principles as a nation, where have we journeyed, who is managing us, where are we headed, our we destined to be divided, who is the enemy, was the one that killed 45 innocent people in Karachi less deadly than the one inside Lal Masjid, why do we insist on calling these armed militias Islamic militants, why don't we see their politics as an extension
of the failure of our politics, why don't we understand the processes by which these militias were eased into the power fray in our public spaces by all those who now want them extinguished, can we extinguish the 'other' let alone our own? No matter how dangerous and deadly they were we cannot deny that they were our own. Yes we punish even our own too when they go astray, but we must be cautious in the application of force when they are our own.

Will we ever know the extent their deadliness beyond the completely illegal vigilante actions they had taken turning the mosque into a small time arsenal and keeping many boys as hostages. Standing outside Lal Masjid on July 7, a group of four men from Peshawar, Taxila, Mardan and Dir said their sons had told them on the cell phone that they wanted to come out but feared the men inside Lal Masjid would shoot them. We will never know how deadly the men inside were. The ferociously bulleted insides of the Lal Masjid and Madressah Hafsa only tell us about the weaponry and the attacking force used, not what those inside used.

There was never any doubt that the Lal Masjid group seemingly led by Marhoom Rashid Ghazi had to be reined in. For far too long they had been given free rein. Ghazi sahib was a stubborn and finally a self-destructive man. In the narrow and correct definition of law he qualified as the enemy of the state. What remains unclear is if all this blood had to be spilled to get him. Did it have to end this way, could he not have been defanged, de-weaponized and de-linked from his group and his base? Perhaps mindful of all these questions the state had opted for negotiations -- as if a Waziristan kind of accord was underway. Shujaat, the man of peace whose instinct was overruled like earlier in the case of Bugti, was against the final assault. He wanted a settlement. Finally what was a hasty retreat from the negotiations seemed incongruent when the state backed by three cordons of varied but lethally armed forces had been so wisely patient for all those days. The death of a commando officer and maybe the fear that the Supreme Court would issue stay order on the operation the next morning triggered the haste.

The media brought as much transparency as it possibly could in this combat. Maybe even too much. If Marhoom Ghazi was being elevated as a brave rebel, if not a hero, through television interviews it was because the government was ok with it. Why else would the government not jam Ghazi's cell phones? Thos attacking the media must ask the government what its rationale was for letting the dialogue carry on till the last day.

Meanwhile we were never shown the deadly tribe inside. Throughout the seven days we were told about the 'wanted foreigners' inside. Figures ranged from 40 to many more. Some "terrorists" with even head money were inside. But now the foreigners seem to be missing. The two earlier identified by the state have been claimed by Pakistani families. Some tunnels earlier identified have also disappeared. How long did the operation last no one knows. We were told almost 48 hours.

Many untruths had come from Marhoom Ghazi. From July 9 onwards, he was claiming there were almost 200 dead bodies inside. It is unlikely that those were found. He said there were hundreds of women and children. While we don't know how many bodies disappeared or were burnt in the ghastly grenade shower, not too many parents came to claim their lost, certainly not the numbers that the opposition was claiming. But equally, there is no doubt that some collective burials in haste and in secret were also done. We will never know too many facts too soon. But many will speak from all sides.

The journey of the men inside Lal Masjid and the women and children inside Hafsa leading them to this end will have to be traced, truthfully. They could not have defied nature's most fundamental rule. You must reap what you sow. Apples don't grow when mangoes are planted. Peace, tolerance and compassion don't flow from lessons in intolerance, self-righteousness and exclusive piety. But what caused these original inputs into their minds and hearts, what caused the lovely young girls to lose their childhood to that tough and harsh worldview? The apartheid in Pakistan between the rich and economically disadvantaged extends across the entire spectrum of existence; from respect and dignity, to basic amenities, to job availability, to access to food, the exposure to art and culture, the list is endless. Lal Masjid will not go away easily. It will symbolize the worst-ever manifestation of the saying that 'chickens come home to roost.' But they were our people on all sides. The most frustrating of all is the realization that some of this, if not all, was inevitable.

The Supreme Court did well by intervening to ensure that Ghazi's sisters go for his funeral, that the state return the mother's body to the sisters and, even better now, it will stay its course on overseeing the human rights situation of whatever is left of the Lal Masjid case. The moral authority of the state, that is drawn from justice and fair play, has been on the wane for a while. And now in the non-compartmentalized, all encompassing consciousness of the Pakistani citizen many scenes play in her/his mind and heart: the orchestrated killings of May 12, the hanging of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the Waziristan accord with Nek Mohammad, the release of many Al-Zulfiqar fighters by Zia and Nawaz Sharif's exit after having been convicted by the Supreme Court. All these are different instances in different circumstances, so the comparison may not hold. But how do stop the mind seeing the hypocrisy of the state, its double play.

For long the margin of error has not been available to the Pakistani power players. Every error extracts its own cost. The action, however tragic, against Lal Masjid was inevitable. In the minefield of contradictions and controversies this too will extract its cost. We can only pray that it does not go beyond what we have already witnessed. Lal Masjid has let out many messages. One, the state means business. Two, in its language the state confuses religion with politics (Lal Masjid was in fact a challenge to state authority by militias, originally patronized by the state. In Pakistan militias have been allowed to challenge the state and society in the name of justice, religion, ethnicity and national security). Three, it has deepened the suspicion between the state and the people and the state can no longer take its authority over the society for granted; it is lost and has to be reclaimed, on the unfolding canvass of the Pakistani consciousness.

In Pakistan the attempt to label society as good Muslim and bad Muslims will prove to be the country's undoing. Neither the society, nor the army, nor other institutions of the state will find this acceptable, no matter who authors this divide, w Marhoom Ghazi sahib or the top general in the maze of challenges. The only valid divide is the lawful and unlawful Pakistanis, those who live by the law and those who live by breaking the law. This alone is the touchstone that a diligent Supreme Court must promote and protect.

The writer is an Islamabad-based security analyst.
Email: nasimzehra@hotmail.com

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Intensity of Religious Identity

Intensity of Religious Identity
How Muslims, Evangelicals and Protestants fare

How Muslims Compare With Other Religious Americans In Intensity of Religious Identity, Not Unlike Evangelicals by Robert Ruby and Greg Smith, Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life July 6, 2007

Although Muslims constitute a small minority in the United States, and their holy book and many of their religious rituals are distinctly their own, Muslim Americans are by no means "the other" when it comes to religious life or politics in the United States. In many ways, they stand out not so much for their differences as for their similarities with other religious groups.

In their level of religious commitment, Muslim Americans most closely resemble white evangelicals and black Protestants. In their basic political orientation, they closely resemble black Protestants as well as seculars.

When it comes to their views on some social issues, such as homosexuality, Muslims' conservatism matches that of white evangelicals. Muslims are even more likely than evangelicals or any other group to support a role for government in protecting morality. Religion Muslims account for less than one percent of the country's population, whereas eight-in-10 Americans are Christian. Recent public opinion surveys by the Pew Research Center find that, with respect to the intensity of their religious beliefs, Muslim Americans most closely resemble white evangelicals and black Protestants. Within all three groups, large majorities (72% of Muslim Americans, 80% of white evangelicals and 87% of black Protestants) say religion is "very important" in their own lives. Those notably high percentages set all three groups apart from Catholics (49%) and white mainline Protestants (36%).

When asked about how they think of their personal identity, only about a quarter (28%) of all Muslim Americans say they identify themselves first as an American rather than as a Muslim. This number is strikingly similar to the percentage of white evangelicals (28%) and black Protestants (33%) who say they think of themselves first as American and only secondarily as Christian. In fact, a higher percentage of evangelicals (62%) and black Protestants (55%) identify themselves first by their faith than do Muslims (47%). (About one-fifth of Muslim Americans – 18% – say they think of themselves as both American and Muslim.)

Half of Muslim Americans (50%) view the Koran as the word of God to be taken literally, word for word. Majorities of both white evangelicals (66%) and black Protestants (68%) hold a similar view of the Bible. Among Catholics and white mainline Protestants, by contrast, far fewer than half (25% and 22%, respectively) take a literal view of the Scriptures.

None of this is to suggest that Muslims and Christians do not have distinctly different religious beliefs and practices. Nevertheless, the resemblance in religious intensity of Muslims to many groups that might think of themselves as wholly unlike Muslims is striking. Partisanship and Ideology

Though white evangelicals share similarities with Muslims with respect to religious intensity, the two groups are very different when it comes to their respective political orientation. Muslim Americans, simply put, are far more politically liberal than evangelicals, and more similar in their basic political outlook to black Protestants, secular Americans and, in some instances, white mainline Protestants.

Among Muslims, only 11% say they are Republicans or lean Republican; the figure is similar (10%) among black Protestants. Among white evangelicals, the percentage of Republicans (57%) is more than five times higher – making them, by this measure, the group that is most unlike Muslim Americans. About six-in-10 Muslims say they are either Democrats or lean Democratic, roughly the same proportion as among secular Americans. Black Protestants are even more heavily Democratic than Muslims, while white evangelicals are substantially less Democratic.

The largest numbers of Muslim Americans define their political ideology as "moderate," as is the case with most other groups. The "moderate" category includes 38% of Muslims, 40% of seculars, 41% of black Protestants, 44% of white mainline Protestants and 46% of white Catholics. White evangelicals break this pattern, with the largest number identifying themselves as conservatives (55%), ahead of moderates (30%).

These partisan and ideological preferences were reflected in the 2004 presidential election. Aggregation of the 50 state exit polls conducted by the National Election Pool shows that more than eight-in-10 Muslim voters (85%) supported John Kerry in 2004. This makes Muslims similar to black Protestants (86%) in their support for Kerry, and somewhat more heavily Democratic in their vote than Jews (74%) and secular voters (67%). The Proper Role of Government

On the question of the proper size and scope of government, a strong majority of Muslim Americans (70%) say they prefer a larger government that provides more services rather than a smaller government providing fewer services, a preference nearly identical to that of black Protestants. Among evangelicals (as well as white Catholics and white mainline Protestants), majorities express a preference for smaller government. Despite their relatively liberal political orientation, Muslims by no means take liberal positions on all issues. On social issues, they are more similar to white evangelicals. About 60% of Muslim Americans, for instance, say that homosexuality should be discouraged, a figure close to that recorded among white evangelicals, and substantially higher than among other groups.

On the question of whether government should be involved in protecting morality, Muslim Americans are even more supportive of government action than evangelicals (or any other group). Roughly six-in-10 Muslims (59%) believe that government should do more to protect morality, compared with only 29% who say they worry that the government is getting too involved in the issue of morality. Among all other major religious groups, fewer than half share the view that government should do more to protect morality. Muslims also stand out from other groups on the issue of immigration, perhaps in part because two-thirds (65%) of Muslim Americans are first-generation immigrants themselves. When asked whether immigrants strengthen or burden the country, for instance, nearly three-in-four Muslims say immigrants strengthen the country. This pro-immigrant sentiment is much higher than that seen among other religious groups. (Catholic Hispanic Americans – another group that includes a high percentage of first-generation immigrants – are the exception. Asked a slightly different question in an earlier Pew survey, two-thirds of Catholic Hispanic Americans said that growing numbers of immigrants strengthened American society.)

Conclusion

In many ways, Muslim Americans seem like a mosaic of many other American groups, sharing certain traits with these other groups while not being identical to any of them. They are anything but wholly apart; indeed, in important respects, Muslim Americans reflect the religious and political values held by most other Americans.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Muslims nothing to prove

Muslims have nothing to prove to America.
http://www.dailycal.org/sharticle.php?id=25414

We Have Nothing to Prove to America
BY Yaman Salahi - Recent Articles from this Writer More
Monday, July 16, 2007

There is no doubt that Muslims and other minorities in America have faced varying degrees of discrimination and intimidation in recent years. We can even find evidence of this trend on our own campus. But Suhail Khan’s op-ed (“Islam’s True Nature Lost in Interpretation,” July 9) fails to identify what exactly is at stake with the rising anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-minority attitudes in this country and, in fact, only helps to perpetuate prevailing paradigms by making hackneyed and misguided arguments.

In the first place, Khan expends much effort trying to “prove” that Muslims are just as “American” as everybody else. He writes that “like their fellow Americans,” Muslims “live, work and serve” in our country, “pay taxes,” “(own) businesses,” and “serve in uniform.” To be sure, Khan is not the only Muslim to engage in this flawed strategy of making the Muslim American a mirror image of his white middle-class Protestant American counterpart. This has become cliche, as many Muslims scramble out of fear to show everything they have in common with a certain image of the American.

But why should immigrants and other minority populations follow these arbitrary standards in order to be accepted as co-citizens and neighbors who have equal rights to political speech and power in the first place? Khan argues that Muslims are just like other Americans and thus deserve to be accepted, when in fact he should be arguing that other Americans should accept Muslims and other minorities as they are.
This is something that immigrants and minorities of all backgrounds should bear in mind: why is it that when the American mainstream speaks about minorities and immigrants, we speak of their worth in terms of their willingness to be “diligent” or “hard-working,” as if they would otherwise not deserve the same respect as other humans, as well as equal access to political power and representation?

Khan also condemns “terrorism” and the perpetrators of September 11 ad-nauseum. His claim that “Muslim organizations and religious organizations have unequivocally condemned terrorism and violence time and time again” is true. Practically every Muslim organization in this country has gone to such measures, especially since September 11.

However, while Khan ascribes the failure of these condemnations to win the love and respect of other Americans to a lack of media coverage, the reason actually stems from the fact that those calling for condemnations, are not actually looking for condemnations at all.

What is being demanded today of Muslims and other minority and immigrant groups in our country is political subservience and silence.

Muslim organizations can issue fatwa after fatwa declaring terrorism an illegitimate form of violence, but until they renounce their right to organize politically along religious lines and stop criticizing the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Israeli occupation of Palestine and other criminal activities conducted by the American government and its allies, they will never be accepted as they are.
Calls for these meaningless condemnations are a way to exclude informed and dissenting voices in the Muslim community from the political arena.

We should not be surprised that Khan’s column failed to make similar insights instead of engaging in trite discourse while opting to ignore the political implications of what we are witnessing today with regards to the Muslim American community. In its deceptively scant by-line describing him merely as a 1991 alumnus, the Daily Californian fails to note that Khan has spent his time since working for Rep. Tom Campbell (R-CA), President Bush and other free market organizations like the Islamic Free Market Institute Foundation. In other words, the Muslim American who has found his way to the levers of power is precisely that one whose political ideology has not deviated from that of the powers that be. He has a voice because he has said nothing out of line.

It is no surprise that Khan frames the current political situation in the same simplistic way as the President: that of America versus the terrorists, of good versus evil. Given the way in which Khan decides to talk about why Muslims should be appreciated by other Americans, it is also no surprise that he misses the point about what today’s increasingly Islamophobic environment means for this country.
What we are witnessing with regards to the political marginalization and exclusion of the Muslim community is the death of pluralism and democracy. Only when we recognize that Muslims, in all their diversity, have just as much right to say what they believe and to have the political beliefs that they do as the rest of us, can we rest assured that we live in a truly open and democratic society.

Yaman Salahi is a UC Berkeley student. Reply to opinion@dailycal.org.

Hitler, Neocons and Fundies

Hitler, Neocons & Fundies
http://6-bleen-7.livejournal.com/59984.html


Scary Fundies Mark III: Ominous Quotes from Infamous Christians

In my travels about the Web I stumbled across a chilling assemblage of excerpts from speeches and writing by Adolf Hitler and various right-wing Americans, mostly Fundamentalists. The implied challenge was to distinguish what Hitler said from what the Fundies did; and I've since noticed a variation on this list titled "Who Said It: Hitler—or Falwell?".

I cannot possibly improve upon the selection of quotes, for much work has obviously been expended collecting them, and so many brain cells sacrificed by exposure to lethal insipiness. Nonetheless, a comment to the 'blog entry I cited above, asking for references, received a rather snotty reply: "You should be able to copy and paste them into google [sic] and come up with sources." As a scientist, I get rankled when authors refuse to cite sources for important, and especially controversial, information. These quotes are plenty provocative to make excellent ammunition against ignorant Fundamentalists, utterly naïve to world history, convinced that Hitler was an athiest despite a complete lack of evidence for such an assertion except for a vague feeling that a "real Christian" wouldn't commit atrocities of the magnitude of Hitler's. (Paging Vlad the Impaler....) Consequently, I felt it worth investing the time to find reputable sources, as no Fundie would accept any of the quotes without a citation. (Most Fundies wouldn't even with a citation, but clear-thinking individuals with even a modicum of respect for evidence-based reasoning might find in them food for thought.) And since it wouldn't do to waste such effort, I wish to make my research available to the world at large. Searching out these various passages was a harrowing and draining experience, for it exposed me to far more incoherent, hateful and bigoted rambling by overprivileged cretins who claim to speak for one who allegedly died in the service of peace and love.

One can argue that Hitler cynically exploited religion to further his Reich, and I would not disagree; but that does not make him an atheist. Nonetheless, I would argue that Hitler's personal beliefs are beside the point. Hitler's religious fulminations beg the question of what evil designs these American right-wing lunatics might be surreptitiously advancing via their flatulent thunderings from the pulpit.

Below, then, is a sample of disturbing quotations, annotated to the best of my ability, from Adolf Hitler and a smattering of evangelical Rightists. You might not know all the cads and scoundrels quoted here. I certainly did not, so I added description where I felt it necessary. I also slightly modified one or two of Hitler's quotes to match the translation cited. (Several editions of Mein Kampf are referenced. I plan to read Mein Kampf sometime in the near future, and while I'm reading I'll clean up the citations with uniformity in mind.)

At the bottom of the list are some sources of additional outrageous quotes of the evangelical Right, if you find yourself consumed with morbid fascination and struck by a masochistic streak. Excerpts are arranged by subject, as in the original.

A Fighting Faith

"My feelings as a Christian point me to my Lord and Saviour as a fighter." Adolf Hitler, in a speech delivered in Munich, 12 April 1922 (also see Norman H. Baynes, ed. The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922-August 1939, vol. 1, pp. 19-20, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1942)

"[Jimmy Carter's] message of peace and reconciliation under almost all circumstances is simply incompatible with Christian teachings as I interpret them.. This 'turn the other cheek' business is all well and good but it's not what Jesus fought and died for. What we need to do is take the battle to the Muslim heathens and do unto them before they do unto us." Jerry Falwell, in a radio interview, 4 March 2002

"I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good... Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a Biblical duty, we are called by God, to conquer this country." Randall Terry, head of Operation Rescue, in the Fort Wayne, Indiana News-Sentinel, 16 August 1993

"We are engaged in a social, political, and cultural war. There's a lot of talk in America about pluralism. But the bottom line is somebody's values will prevail. And the winner gets the right to teach our children what to believe." Gary Bauer, former head of the Family Research Council, attributed (source unknown)

"Nothing short of a great Civil War of Values rages today throughout North America. Two sides with vastly differing and incompatible world views are locked in a bitter conflict that permeates every level of society." James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family, Children at Risk, pp. 19-20, Dallas: Word Publishing, 1990

"Today we are engaged in a final, all-out battle between communistic atheism and Christianity." Sen. Joseph McCarthy, in a speech delivered in West Wheeling, Virginia, 9 February 1950


Public Education

"Secular schools can never be tolerated because such a school has no religious instruction and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith.... We need believing people." Adolf Hitler, speech given during negotiations leading to the Nazi-Vatican Concordat of 1933, 26 April 1933

"I hope I live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won't have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!" Jerry Falwell, America Can Be Saved!, Murfreesboro, Tennessee: Sword of the Lord Publishers [Editor's Note: BWAAhaha!], 1979

"The Christian community has a golden opportunity to train an army of dedicated teachers who can invade the public school classrooms and use them to influence the nation for Christ." D. James Kennedy, founder of Coral Ridge Ministries, Education: Public Problems and Private Solutions, Fort Lauderdale, Florida: Coral Ridge Ministries, 1993

"We're going to bring back God and the Bible and drive the gods of secular humanism right out of the public schools of America." Pat Buchanan, 1996 presidential candidate, addressing an anti-gay rally in Des Moines, Iowa, 11 February 1996

"The public education movement has also been an anti-Christian movement...." Pat Robertson, The 700 Club, 27 September 1993

"Universal education is the most corroding and disintegrating poison that liberalism has ever invented for its own destruction." Adolf Hitler, quoted in H. Rauschning, The Voice of Destruction: Hitler Speaks, p. 42, New York: Putnam’s, 1940


No Atheists Allowed

"We were convinced that the people needs and requires this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out." Adolf Hitler, in a speech delivered in Berlin, 24 October 1933

"The Constitution of the United States...is a marvelous document for self-government by the Christian people. But the minute you turn the document into the hands of non-Christian people and atheistic people they can use it to destroy the very foundation of our society." Pat Robertson, The 700 Club, 30 December 1981

"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God." George H. W. Bush, in an interview with reporter Robert I. Sherman, 27 August 1987

"When I said during my presidential bid that I would only bring Christians and Jews into the government, I hit a firestorm. 'What do you mean?' the media challenged me. 'You're not going to bring atheists into the government? How dare you maintain that those who believe in the Judeo Christian values are better qualified to govern America than Hindus and Muslims?' My simple answer is, 'Yes, they are.'" Pat Robertson, The New World Order, p. 218, Dallas: Word Publishing, 1991


Fighting Immorality

"We want to fill our culture again with the Christian spirit…, We want to burn out all the recent immoral developments in literature, in the theater, and in the press.... We want to burn out the poison of immorality which has entered into our whole life and culture as a result of liberal excess...." Adolf Hitler, in a speech given to the Reichstag, March 1936, from M. Hakeem, The Speeches of Adolph Hitler, 1922-1939, Vol. 1, pp. 871-872, London: Oxford University Press, 1942

"How much more forcefully can I say it? The time has come, and it is long overdue, when Christians and conservatives and all men and women who believe in the birthright of freedom must rise up and reclaim America for Jesus Christ." D. James Kennedy with Jim Nelson Black, Character & Destiny: A Nation in Search of its Own Soul, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1997

"Theater, art, literature, cinema, press, posters, and window displays must be cleansed of all manifestations of our rotting world and placed in the service of a moral, political, and cultural idea." Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, vol. 1, Chapter 10

"We're fighting against humanism, we're fighting against liberalism... we are fighting against all the systems of Satan that are destroying our nation today... our battle is with Satan himself." Jerry Falwell, attributed (source unknown)


Fatherland Homeland Security

"Unique among the nations, America recognized the source of our character as being godly and eternal, not being civic and temporal. And because we have understood that our source is eternal, America has been different. We have no king but Jesus." John Ashcroft, in a commencement address given at Bob Jones University, 8 May, 1999

"This country belongs to God.... He's the One who brought the United States of America into existence. He had a special purpose for it.... He raised it up, and it's not going to be taken away from Him." Kenneth Copeland, televangelist, "Getting a Grip on America," Believer's Voice, April 1990, pp. 2-3.

"What we have to fight for...is the freedom and independence of the fatherland, so that our people may be enabled to fulfill the mission assigned to it by the Creator." Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, p. 125 (edition uncertain—possibly the original)

"Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ—to have dominion in civil structures.... But it is dominion we are after... World conquest... And we must never settle for anything less...." George Grant, Presbyterian minister, The Changing of the Guard, pp. 50-51, Fort Worth, Texas: Dominion Press, 1987

"Our job is to reclaim America for Christ, whatever the cost." D. James Kennedy, at the "Reclaiming America for Christ" conference, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 18-19 April 2005

"Lord God, give us the strength that we may retain our liberty for our children and our children's children, not only for ourselves but also for the other peoples of Europe, for this is a war which we all wage, this time, not for our German people alone, it is a war for all of Europe and with it, in the long run, for all of mankind." Adolf Hitler, speech delivered in Berlin, 30 January 1942

"These perverted homosexuals absolutely hate everything that you and I and most decent, God-fearing citizens stand for. Make no mistake. These deviants seek no less than total control and influence in society, politics, our schools and in our exercise of free speech and religious freedom... If we do not act now, homosexuals will own America!" Jerry Falwell, in a fund-raising letter, 1999

"There will never be world peace until God's house and God's people are given their rightful place of leadership at the top of the world." Pat Robertson, The New World Order, p. 227, Dallas: Word Publishing, 1991


The State and the Faith Community

"We are determined, as leaders of the nation, to fulfill as a national government the task which has been given to us, swearing fidelity only to God, our conscience, and our Volk.... This the national government will regard its first and foremost duty to restore the unity of spirit and purpose of our Volk. It will preserve and defend the foundations upon which the power of our nation rests. It will take Christianity, as the basis of our collective morality, and the family as the nucleus of our Volk and state, under its firm protection....May God Almighty take our work into his grace, give true form to our will, bless our insight, and endow us with the trust of our Volk." Adolf Hitler, 1 February 1933, addressing the nation as Chancellor for the first time, quoted in Volkischer Beobachter, 5 Aug. 1935 (cited from R. Steigmann-Gall's The Holy Reich)

"When the Christian majority takes over this country, there will be no satanic churches, no more free distribution of pornography, no more abortion on demand, and no more talk of rights for homosexuals. After the Christian majority takes control, pluralism (i.e., multiculturalism) will be seen as immoral and evil...." Gary Potter, journalist, quoted in S. R. Shearer, "Political Christianity"

"The Government, being resolved to undertake the political and moral purification of our public life, are creating and securing the conditions necessary for a really profound revival of religious life." Adolf Hitler, in a speech given to the Reichstag, 23 March 1933
"You better believe that I want to build a Christian nation, because the only option [sic] is a pagan nation...." Randall Terry, in a speech at a banquet sponsored by the U.S. Taxpayers Alliance, 8 August 1995

"Imbued with the desire to secure for the German people the great religious, moral, and cultural values rooted in the two Christian Confessions, we have abolished the political organizations but strengthened the religious institutions." Adolf Hitler, in a speech given to the Reichstag, 30 January 1934

The Faithful in Mission

"If we remain strong and focused and tough when we need to, if we continue to speak clearly about right from wrong and defend the values—which are not American values, but God-given values—we can achieve peace." George W. Bush, Manchester, New Hampshire, 5 October 2002

"Remain strong in your faith, as you were in former years. In this faith, in its close-knit unity our people today goes straight forward on its way and no power on earth will avail to stop it." Adolf Hitler, in a speech at Coburg, 15 October 1937

"The short-term objective of this country is to find an enemy and bring them to justice before they strike us. The long-term objective is to make this world a more free and hopeful and peaceful place. I believe we'll succeed because freedom is the Almighty God's gift to every man and woman in this world." George W. Bush, Portsmouth, Ohio, 10 September 2004

"I would ask of the Lord God only this: that, as in the past, so in the years to come He would give His blessing to our work and our action, to our judgment and our resolution, that He will safeguard us from all false pride and from all cowardly servility, that He may grant us to find the straight path which His Providence has ordained for the German people, and that He may ever give us the courage to do the right, never to falter, never to yield before any violence, before any danger." Adolf Hitler, in a speech given at Würzburg, 27 June 1937

Divine Appointment

"Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord." Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Ralph Mannheim, ed., p. 65, New York: Mariner Books, 1999

"God told me to strike at al-Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East." George W. Bush, to Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Abu Mazen, as reported in the Israeli Newspaper Ha'aretz, 25 June 2003

For more of Hitler's words on Christianity, and for secondary sources for some of the above excerpts, see "Hitler's Speeches" from the Hitler Historical Museum; "Hitler's Christianity" from NoBeliefs.com; Hitler Was Christian" from EvilBible.com; and "Excerpts from Adolf Hitler's Speeches", February 1999 Newsletter, Cephas Ministry (warning: Fundie site).

Refer to: http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2007/06/hate-sermons-from-pulpit.html

Resources for quotations by the American evangelical Right:
Jerry Falwell: Positive Atheism's Big Scary List of Jerry Falwell Quotations, by Positive Atheism
Pat Robertson: "Pat Robertson and Christian Coalition Quotes" at The Anti-Pat Robertson/Christian Coalition Site

Randall Terry: Wiki on SourceWatch, from the Center for Media & Democracy

Public schools: "Quotes about Public Schools by the Religious Right", on Holysmoke.org

General: "Know Your Enemy: Not-So-Great Minds' Quotes", on Atheist Empire; "Quotes from the American Taliban", on AdultThought

Understanding Judaism



Understanding Judaism


Dallas, Texas: - Sunday, July 1, 2007. The Foundation for Pluralism is committed to promoting understanding between peoples of different religious affiliations. “We believe knowledge leads to understanding and understanding to acceptance and appreciation of another point of view”.

The Foundation for Pluralism has taken the initiative to present all religions in its programs. The goal is to bring people of different faiths together and provide a platform for them to share about their beliefs, their systems and rituals, while expanding the knowledge zone of each group.

We hope each one of us would walk out with an open mind and an open heart towards our fellow beings. It is difficult to shed the prejudices, but once we do, there is genuine freedom (Mukti, Moksha, Salvation, and Nirvana.) in it.

Judaism: Everything you wanted to know about the Judaism, you can learn about it in this workshop. As with all faiths, non-Clarity, myths and mis-information are part of Judaism as well. Please come prepared with questions, we would like you to walk out of the workshop with a greater understanding of Judaism.

Dr. Howard Cohen is a student of his own tradition and history, a student of the early

Church, how it emerged from and related to its Jewish background, and the history that surrounded the writing of the Gospels. Dr. Cohen has been studying history and religion at SMU’s department of religion and Perkins for over 30 years, and has been teaching Judaism to Christians and Christianity to Jews since 1975.

Pluralism Workshop: - What is Pluralism? What is a pluralistic attitude? Learn its application at work place, home, social situations and other circumstance. It is about co-existence ** (Questions to ponder - listed below)

Details:

  1. When: 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM Sunday, July 22, 2007 – Wisdom of Judaism
  2. Time: 4:30 PM to 5:30 PM – Wisdom of Pluralism
  3. Where: Crowne Plaza Hotel, 14315 Midway Road, Addison, TX 75001
  4. Directions: Click Map : From LBJ, north on Midway, after Spring Valley on the left.
  5. Confirmation: ConfirmAttendance@gmail.com
  6. Schedule for the year: http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/Calendar.asp

POINTS TO PONDER

  1. Is attempting to undermine the divinity of other faiths amount to arrogance? Does that appeal to God?
  2. Is blaming a religion, nation, race, or ethnicity for the acts of individuals’ amount to deception?
  3. Is holding greed, anger, hate, or malice in our hearts depleting our freedom?
  4. Is ridiculing a person amount to ridiculing the creator?
  5. Is judging others without knowing them personally amount to _________ (fill in Please)?
  6. Is God free or some group owns him/her? Are we not limiting its _________ (fill in Please)?
  7. Does God make deals behind our back and favor some? Could God do such a thing?

In affairs of the world, religion appears to be a source of the problem; it certainly is not. You can always trace the wars, genocides, oppression and other atrocities to evil insecure stupid men. Please remember, the purpose of religion was to fix the evils of humankind and it continues to do so while some men still don’t get it. Thanks God, the world is a better place today because of the Religion and spirituality, without which there would be chaos. Every Religion is on the same side, that of goodness for humankind. Finding the truth is one’s own responsibility. Truth brings salvation.

If beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, then faith is in the heart of the believer. Let every one find peace his/her own way – Mike Ghouse

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator. He is president of the Foundation for Pluralism and is a frequent guest on talk radio, discussing interfaith, political and civic issues. He founded the World Muslim Congress with a simple theme: "good for Muslims and good for the world." His personal Website is www.MikeGhouse.net and his articles can be found on the Websites mentioned above and in his Blogs: http://MikeGhouseforAmerica.Blogspot.com and http://MikeGhouse.Sulekha.com . He can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com. Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town.

Foundation for Pluralism Studies in Religious Pluralism and Pluralistic societies
Workshops Lectures Research Forums Discussions
2665 Villa Creek Drive, Suite 206, Dallas, TX 75234
Website: www.FoundationforPluralism.com email: info@foundationforpluralism.com
Contact: Mike Ghouse (214) 325-1916

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Hindu Prayers open US Senate

PRESS RELEASE

United States Senate to open with Hindu Prayers

Dallas, Texas – Thursday, July 12, 2007. Today, Rajan Zed, the Hindu Priest from Reno Nevada created history by becoming the first Hindu to deliver the opening prayer in the U.S. Senate.

In behalf of the Foundation for Pluralism and the World Muslim Congress, we congratulate the Hindu American community of America for this blessed step. It is indeed a giant leap for the American society in building inclusive societies.

Our democracy and economic systems have been the beacons of civilization in harnessing the material resources for the human benefit. Now, America has demonstrated its leadership in the spiritual domain by including the Hindu prayers for opening. We hope and pray that our Senate will become the guiding post of pluralism by continuing to include the prayers (Prayers is wishing goodness for others) of Atheists to Zoroastrians and every one in between.

This principle of inclusiveness will assure a safe, peaceful and prosperous America for centuries to come. We are one nation under God with liberty and Justice for all.

We are proud of this milestone in our history.

Mike Ghouse, President
Foundation for Pluralism
www.FoundationforPluralism.com
2665 Villa Creek Drive, Suite 206
Dallas, TX 75234.
(214) 325-1916

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Eboo Patel on Pluralism

Eboo Patel on Diane Rehm Show
Talks about Pluralism


This interview with Diane Rehm show is worth listenting to, if you have the time. Pluralism, as Eboo speaks, or you may understand and I teach is indentical.

Eboo Patel, founder and executive director of the Interfaith Youth Core.
Listen: http://www.wamu.org/audio/dr/07/07/r2070705-13285.asx
or http://www.wamu.org/audio/dr/07/07/r2070705-13285.ram

The website www.FoundationforPluralism.com answers some of the questions that Eboo was asked;

  1. Our Mission: http://foundationforpluralism.com/Index_OurMission.asp
  2. Our Workshops: http://foundationforpluralism.com/Calendar.asp
  3. Workshop on Judaism: http://foundationforpluralism.com/Index_files/Understanding%20Judaism.pdf
  4. Community is a bus: http://mikeghouseforamerica.blogspot.com/search/label/A%20Community
  5. Hate Sermons: http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2007/06/hate-sermons-from-pulpit.html


"Because we all share this planet earth, we have to learn to live in harmony and peace with each other and with nature. This is not just a dream, but a necessity."-Dalai Lama. We do not have to do this because God wants us or it is a big noble thing, we have to do it because co-existence is a necessity, so we can live our life free of tensions.

I am thinking of taking this to the schools and campuses, need to dedicate our time to this, any one would be interested in joining me?

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator. He is president of the Foundation for Pluralism and is a frequent guest on talk radio, discussing interfaith, political and civic issues. He founded the World Muslim Congress with a simple theme: "good for Muslims and good for the world." His personal Website is www.MikeGhouse.net and his articles can be found on the Websites mentioned above and in his Blogs: http://MikeGhouseforAmerica.Blogspot.com and http://MikeGhouse.Sulekha.com . He can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com . Mike lives in Carrollton with his family and has been a Dallasite since 1980

The Foundation for Pluralism:

Our mission is to encourage individuals to develop an open mind and an open heart toward their fellow beings. If we can learn to accept and respect the God given uniqueness to each one of the 7 billion of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge . Knowledge leads to understanding, and understanding to acceptance and appreciation of a different point of view.

The Foundation for Pluralism has taken the initiative to present all religious communities in its programs. The goal is to bring people of different faiths together, and provide a platform for them to share about their beliefs, their systems and rituals, while expanding the comfort zone of each group. "The event is a tribute to those who think beyond the box.
--
Mike M Ghouse
(214) 325-1916
SPEAKER THINKER WRITER
www.MikeGhouse.net
www.WorldMuslimCongress.com
www.FoundationforPluralism.com
2665 Villa Creek Dr, Suite 206
Dallas, TX 75234

O: 972-919-4466 F: 972-919-4467

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Theocons

http://www.libertymagazine.org/article/articleview/642/1/99/

The theme of this book is the rise of public religiosity that has been orchestrated by a small group of “theoconservative” intellectuals. It is Mr. Linker’s contention that Roman Catholicism has provided Republicans with a nondenominational language and morality with universal appeal. He foresees the end of separation of church and state and of secular polities.

The founder of the theocon movement is Richard John Neuhaus, for whom Linker worked when he served as editor of First Things. Neuhaus, a Lutheran convert to Roman Catholicism, is joined by two other Roman Catholics, Michael Novak and George Wiegel, as the three most important theocons.

Neuhaus claims that this nation is facing a national “crisis of meaning” (i.e., a crisis of religion); and the cause of the crisis is that the governance of our nation is influenced by decadent liberals who advocate a form of “secularized liberalism cut off from its religious roots and robbed of its power to provide meaning.” The future of democracy in America depends upon public religiosity. He wishes, says Linker, “to bring politics into conformity with divine authority.”

Novak maintains that Christianity, modern democracy, and modern capitalism share “the same logic, the same moral principles, the same set of cultural values, institutions, and presuppositions.”

Neuhaus has long believed that Roman Catholicism is in a unique position “to propose the American proposition anew.” George Wiegel agrees by recalling the words of Archbishop John Ireland who believed that God wants Catholics in the United States “to make America Catholic.” Neuhaus and Wiegel do not advocate that the American state religion should become Roman Catholicism. They want our political institutions and principles to be spiritualized—catholicized. Evangelicals and fundamentalists rely on quoting biblical texts, which has no appeal to those who do not believe in the Bible. So Wiegel argues the superiority of Catholic natural law that serves as “a philosophical foundation on which virtually all men and women of good will could participate in the ongoing argument about the American experiment and its foundational consensus.”

Novak has contributed to the theocon philosophy by making the case for the compatibility of free markets and Christian ethics in The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism. Neuhaus maintains that Pope John Paul II accepted Novak’s spiritualized view of “democratic capitalism.” Democratic capitalism is an outgrowth of the Catholic doctrine of “creative subjectivity of the human person.” Linker says, “a Capitalist economy dominated by a generally Catholic outlook would be one in which its members spontaneously acted to maximize their own benefits as well as the common good—the only effective means of alleviating the suffering and degradation of poverty.”

The theocon ideology emphasizes economics to a degree, but places far more emphasis on its opposition to legalized abortion. Neuhaus does this by referencing innate human dignity based on man’s creation in the image of God. He believes that legalized abortion could lead to infanticide and even genocide. Failure to outlaw abortion is evidence of “an extremely dangerous crisis of the moral sense, which is becoming more and more incapable of distinguishing between good and evil, even when the fundamental right to life is at stake.”

In 1985 Charles W. Colson initiated discussions between Neuhaus and several prominent evangelicals. The religious alliance advocated by the theocons was to become a formal reality. From the fall of 1992 to the spring of 1994 they worked on “Evangelicals and Catholics together: The Christian Mission for the Third Millennium.”

This document aims at a revitalized American democracy on the recognition that “religious freedom is itself grounded in and is a product of religious faith.” Separation of church and state does not mean “separation of religion from public life.” Religion is the “foundation of our legal order.” Roman Catholics and evangelicals had come together in the face of “a cultural crisis of historic magnitude.” Doctrinal differences would be set aside to better fight a culture war.

The next step for the theocons was to become more involved in a political agenda. Neuhaus proposed a special issue of First Things on “judicial tyranny.” It was titled “The End of Democracy? The Judicial Usurpation of Politics.” Neuhaus introduced the readers to the topic by stating the question was “whether we have reached or are reaching the point where conscientious citizens can no longer give moral assent to the existing regime.” He went on to say, “Law, as it is presently made by the judiciary, has declared its independence from morality.” What should be our attitude to “laws which violate the moral law?” They must, Neuhaus said, “in conscience be disobeyed.”

Colson contributed to this edition of First Things by suggesting the possible need of “direct, extra political confrontation of the judicially controlled regime.” Robert P. George agreed. He claimed, “The courts … have imposed upon the nation immoral policies that pro-life Americans cannot, in conscience, accept.”

In response to the critics of the special issue, Neuhaus claimed, “The American experiment began with the declaration of self-evident truths, and it may well be ending with the exclusion of those truths from the public square under the iron rule of ‘the separation of church and state.’”

The theocons achieved their political objective in the election of a president who had courted Neuhaus beginning in May of 1998. The theocons had access to the White House. One of their own, Michael Gerson, was director of the Speechwriting Office. A full-time liaison to conservative Christians, Timothy Goeglein was formulating policies to advance the theoconservative agenda. The establishment of a religious America was slowed by the attack of September 11, 2001. The war on culture would become less important than a military war. But the theocons joined in the military war. They declared it to be a just war between Christian civilization and its enemies. Neuhaus characterized the most likely opponents of the war as “our morally debilitated professoriate,” the “inveterate complexifiers, offering detailed analyses of the seven sides of four-sided questions while declaring their achingly superior sensitivities that make them too sensitive for decent company.”

Wiegel supported the war in Iraq in a lecture at the Catholic University School of Law entitled “Moral Clarity in a Time of War.” The lecture, later republished in First Things, provided moral and theological justification for the president’s Iraq policy.

Wiegel maintained that America has a duty to enforce international justice, to further the good of all decent human beings. He went on to say that statesmen are given the gift of the Holy Spirit, a charism of political discernment, in deciding whether to go to war. This gift, he said, is not shared by religious authorities or agencies.

Neuhaus sees a fundamental problem with American religion—its troubled relationship with authority. He says a Christian must “think with the church.… in the larger picture of history, the witness of the Catholic Church is immeasurably more important than anything I might think or say. In short, I obey.”

Linker looks at the early history of America and says that religious passions do not belong in public life. The precondition of religious freedom is “privatization of piety.” Americans may worship as they wish without state interference, but they are given this freedom on the condition that they give up their desire for “political rule in the name of their faith.”

Reviewed by Attorney Charles J. Eusey, Leominster, Massachusetts.

The book under review presents a good explanation of just how the culture war is being carried by the theocons. While Liberty shares their concerns, we see their chosen methods as destructive to the true pluralism of the United States, dismissive of the Constitution, and clearly a growing threat to religious liberty for all. —Editor.

Happy 4th from USA Today

Faith shouldn't be red, white and blue

A Nation has boundaries, where as Religion does not, and we should not contain religion into national boundaries.

The following article is reflective of America, the one that I envisioned, where freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of thought and just pure freedom is the essence. America is all about freedom to me, the freedom that comes with duties, rights and responsibilities.

The separation of church and state is a value we ought to be proud of, and that is one of the values that makes our nation a great country.

We are going to enjoy the fire works sitting across our home in Coyote Ridge, with a panaroma of fire works across the city, on the top of the hill across the pond. Not Henry David Thoreau's, but our City's.
Let me add a historical tid-bit; The first three nations to recognize the independence of United States of America were; France, Morocco and the Kingdom of Mysore (Karnataka State in India). The Sultan of Mysore, Tippu Sultan, sent the letter (which sits in French Museums) congratulating the nation and celebrated the freedom by Fire Crackers. This part of the history was researched and published by Dr. Range Gowda, my friend in Bangalore.

Those who live in Dallas can join us to watch the fire works, Bring your own chair and enjoy the freedom.
Happy July 4th.

Mike Ghouse

http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2007/07/faith-shouldnt-.html
Faith shouldn't be red, white and blue

Patriotism and religion each hold a prominent place in the American story. That’s as it should be. To wed the two, however, is a disservice to patriots and to the faithful.

By Tom Krattenmaker

The Fourth of July is a time for Americans to honor our country and, for the many religious people among us, to honor God. But as the fireworks explode on Independence Day, let's resist an all-too-common tendency these days to drape the American flag around the Christian cross. Let's remember that religion is not patriotism, that patriotism is not religion — and that when we combine them both with a glorification of American military might, something has gone disturbingly askew.

(Illustration by Sam Ward)

Sadly, the distinction between faith and martial-tinged patriotism seems lost on some of our most fervent advocates for the military and religion. Rewind to Memorial Day weekend, when a Christian organization called Task Force Patriot USA and other groups staged a three-day salute to the troops at Stone Mountain Park in Georgia. Drawing about 100,000 people, the celebration featured Christian worship services and Bible giveaways, speeches by retired military personnel and Air Force jet flybys.

Not to single out Christianity. After all, a cross-themed celebration of the military is harmless next to jihadists who kill in the name of religion. And U.S. troops certainly deserve appreciation. Yet one has to ask: Do Christian worship and Bibles really belong with demonstrations of U.S. military might?

For one evangelical leader here in Oregon, the conflation of patriotism and Christianity reached the point where he took action that's considered anathema in many conservative church communities: He publicly spoke out against what was happening at his church.

Bob Hyatt, now pastor of the upstart Evergreen Community in the Portland area, worked on the staff of a local megachurch in the fevered period immediately after the 9/11 attacks. Despite being raised and educated in a strict Christian conservative environment in which the United States was regarded as God's favored nation, Hyatt was aghast to find the sanctuary frequently decked out in red-white-and-blue bunting with a pair of 50-foot American flags. In the Sunday service nearest the Fourth of July, congregants recited the Pledge of Allegiance and sang patriotic songs. As the pattern continued through the early months of the Iraq war, Hyatt could hold his tongue no longer. At a pray-for-our-troops rally at the megachurch, he took a turn at the microphone and cited the teachings of Jesus in making the unpopular suggestion that the congregants also pray for Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi people. He went on to write an Internet article titled, "Profoundly Disturbed on the Fourth of July," which was not well-received at the church and led to his leaving its staff.

'We were worshiping America'

Reflecting on those patriotic services, Hyatt wrote: "We had taken a time that belonged to the worship of God and turned it toward the appreciation of a country, a political system, a flag. We said that we were worshiping God through the singing of those patriotic songs, the saying of the Pledge of Allegiance and the rest, but in fact we were worshiping America."

There is considerable practical wisdom in the old saying about atheists in foxholes. A complete separation of faith and patriotism in a time of war is as unlikely as expecting religious soldiers not to turn to God in the face of enemy fire, and as unreasonable as expecting Christian believers to pray equally for al-Qaeda fighters and U.S. troops. Right or wrong, we have a long tradition of political and military leaders invoking God in non-neutral ways during times of war.

During the crucial D-Day invasion, President Franklin Roosevelt took to the airwaves with an appeal to "Almighty God" to "lead (our men) straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith."

Would those words arouse the ire of Americans today? Of some, probably. My own response to Roosevelt's religious invocation is colored by indelible memories of my visit to the World War II cemetery in Normandy. I still have vivid mental pictures of the graves of the American soldiers, of the crosses laid out in row after solemn row. Interspersed throughout the cemetery were many Stars of David, rising over the graves of the fallen Jewish soldiers whose role in the fight has special poignancy.

No doubt, faith has long played a role in the American military, but it has been an inclusive faith, one respecting a diversity of denominations and religions, with chaplains of different stripes available to assist soldiers on their own religious terms. Contrast that with what's been happening in the military in recent years, where sometimes-coercive Christian evangelizing has triggered lawsuits and lent a crusader overtone to the fight against terrorism. Contrast that inclusive tradition with rhetoric that portrays Jesus as America's "commander in chief" and efforts by a group called Christian Embassy to proselytize to our diplomatic corps and military leadership. Is militaristic Christian nationalism really where we want to take this country and our dominant religion?

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama recently spoke of the danger to our critical thinking ability when we become too convinced of America's righteousness and God's allegiance with the United States. While acknowledging the evil of the 9/11 attacks, Obama sounded this note of caution: "The danger of using good vs. evil in the context of war is it may lead us to be not as critical as we should be about our own actions."

Obama went on to cite the prisoner abuse scandals at Abu Ghraib and "unjust" detentions at Guantanamo as examples of the abuses of which we are capable when we become too convinced of our inherent God-sanctioned goodness.

'The light is the light of Christ'

The progressive evangelical leader Jim Wallis has sounded similar warnings to Christians who might go too far in mixing their patriotism and faith. Wallis has repeatedly chided President Bush for voicing a theology that speaks of America as "the hope of all mankind the light (that) shines in the darkness."

Wallis acknowledges the biblical foundation of such language, but he adds, it is important to note that, "In the gospel, the light shining in the darkness is the Word of God, and the light is the light of Christ. It's not about America and its values."

God and country — the two live side-by-side in the hearts of many tradition-minded Americans. Yet faith and patriotism are different ideals that at times require vastly different allegiances. Given the reality of religious pluralism in America, the government cannot rightly become the instrument of any one form of belief. Conversely, our country will not always do right — no nation can — and only by maintaining its distinct identity can religion retain its ability to call people to conscience.

May patriots honor the flag on the Fourth of July. And may religious people revel in the beauty of their faiths. But let's remember that being Christian is not a requirement of patriotism. And that patriotism is most assuredly not a requirement of being religious. Let's honor the flag and faith — by keeping a reverent measure of distance between the two.

Tom Krattenmaker, who lives in Portland, Ore., specializes in religion in public life and is a member of USA TODAY's board of contributors.

Posted at 12:16 AM/ET, July 02, 2007 in Forum commentary, Holidays - Forum, Krattenmaker, Lifestyle issues - Forum, Military issues - Forum, On religion column, Religion - Forum Permalink