Christian Hate and Support for Iraq
The title is provocative I know. But lets look at it and decide at the end. Just so you know I spent12 years in Catholic schools and am a practicing Lutheran. Also, in the end we will be talking only about a segment of the Christian faiths. Do not extrapolate to all Christians/churches.
There has been a lot of talk, blog posts, and articles about the connection between religion and this administration. An article entitled Research details use of religion to help sell war on terror, Iraq got me to thinking about it again. Then on another blog I ran into the argument "Islam is evil", "Muslims want to slit our throats", "Why aren't peaceful Muslims stopping alQaeda", etc. The only thing trolls are good for is sometimes they, by accident, bring up some dumb argument that your mind takes else where.
So this led me to ask "what is/was the role of US religions in spreading some of these myths, slurs, etc." First lets start with the above article. It describes research by David Domke that documents how Bush "effectively linked religious terminology with political goals in the turbulent months after the Sept. 11 attacks. " In 14/15 national Addresses between 9/11 and the end of major combat, Bush likened the war on terror to a simple struggle between good and evil. In 4 of the speeches Bush made the point that administration policies and goals were in line with divine powers.
Yet only two of the 326 post-speech editorials in 20 leading newspapers challenged the religiously derived notion of good vs. evil, and none questioned the president's statements about God's will.
"In a time of crisis, the certainty conveyed by what I call 'political fundamentalism' put forward by the administration silenced the Democrats and had great appeal to the press," ... "And yet with so many around the globe expressing a different view, the press failed its readers by uncritically echoing these fundamentalist messages."
The [media] coverage, Domke found, gave uncritical voice to four key fundamentalist messages from the administration:
1) Simplistic, black-and-white conceptions of the political landscape.
2) Calls for immediate action on administration policies as a necessary part of the nation's "calling" and "mission" against terrorism.
3) Declarations about the will of God for America and for the spread of U.S. conceptions of freedom and liberty.
4) Claims that dissent from the administration was unpatriotic and a threat to the nation.
I think all of this is pretty obvious to those who listened to those speeches. A lot of it is still in some of his stump speeches. But lets look a little more close at one aspect of this and see if religious organizations reinforced/amplified this message. The aspect I'm going to concentrate on is the "good vs evil" construct.
Lets start by looking at some quotes from some well known Christian leaders.
Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham
Nov 16 2001: "We're not attacking Islam but Islam has attacked us. The God of Islam is not the same God. He's not the son of God of the Christian or Judeo-Christian faith. It's a different God, and I believe it [Islam] is a very evil and wicked religion."
"I don’t believe this is a wonderful, peaceful religion. When you read the Koran and you read the verses from the Koran, it instructs the killing of the infidel, for those that are non-Muslim."
Aug 2002 "said during an interview that Muslims hadn't sufficiently apologized for the terrorist attacks — .... In that book [ The Name], he wrote that: "Islam — unlike Christianity — has among its basic teachings a deep intolerance for those who follow other faiths."
Of course Graham was on FOX. Hannity responded: "But this then raises a question. If this is not, Reverend, the extremist fanatical interpretation of the Quran, then we do have a big problem." Graham replied: "Big problem." This week, in an interview with Beliefnet he reiterated his opinion, saying, "I believe the Qur’an teaches violence, not peace." Link
Minister Benny Hinn
Benny Hinn proclaimed to thousands of Christians at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX that "We are on God's side. This is not a war between Arabs and Jews. It's a war between God and the devil."
Pat Robertson said Muslims were bent on exterminating Jews..." 8 Robertson is reported as saying: "Somehow I wish the Jews in America would wake up, open their eyes and read what is being said about them...This is worse than the Nazis...Adolf Hitler was bad, but what the Muslims want to do to the Jews is worse."
Falwell on crossfire 2/25/02
Secondly, I have not seen in the headlines of America's major newspapers a single, not one single significant American Muslim organization condemn what happened to Daniel Pearl at the hand of some of these Islamic crazies.
The Rev. Jerry Falwell says "I think Muhammad was a terrorist" in an interview to be broadcast Sunday on the CBS program "60 Minutes."
The conservative Baptist minister tells correspondent Bob Simon he has concluded from reading Muslim and non-Muslim writers that Islam's prophet "was a -- a violent man, a man of war."
At about 39 minutes into a 2002-NOV-10 broadcast, televangelist Jimmy Swaggart referred to the Prophet Muhammad as a "sex deviant," "pervert," and "pedophile." ...."He also called for the expulsion of all foreign Muslim university students in the United States and for profiling of airline passengers 'with a diaper on their head and a fan-belt around their waist.' Of American Muslims, Swaggart said: 'We ought to tell every other Moslem (sic) living in this nation that if you say one word, you're gone.' "
The latest round began in June, when the Rev. Jerry Vines, the former president of the Southern Baptist Convention--the nation's largest Protestant denomination, with 15 million members--described Islam's founder as a "demon-possessed pedophile." Vines, pastor of the 25,000-member First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., added that "Allah is not Jehovah either. Jehovah's not going to turn you into a terrorist that'll try to bomb people and take the lives of thousands and thousands of people." Days later, the SBC's current president, the Rev. Jack Graham, pastor of the 20,000-member Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, agreed with Vines. Link
Lt. General William G. “Jerry” Boykin.
Appearing in uniform during a speech at the Oregon church, Boykin said: "Why do they [radical Muslims] hate us? Why do they hate us so much? Ladies and gentlemen, the answer to that is because we're a Christian nation." In another speech he recounted the time he chased down a Muslim Somali warlord who was bragging that the Americans would not capture him because Allah would protect him. "My God is bigger than his God. I knew my God was a real God, and his was an idol," Boykin said. Link
Marc Monte has been pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Avon, Ind., for five years, according to a report in the Indianapolis Star. He says his sermon would include important information the pubic is not getting from the media.
"I want to stir interest, not alarm, but Islam is a false religion, dangerous and hate-promoting," Monte told the paper.
A Madison-area pastor has begun a four-part series of sermons on the ''evils of Islam'' and says his church's eventual goal is to convert Nashville-area Muslims to Christianity.
Maury Davis, pastor of Cornerstone Church, began the first sermon in the series Sunday, titled ''Hard Questions — Real Answers. Islam … The Evil Religion.''
''I want to go on record as telling you that I believe the greatest threat to the American way of life, to the Constitution of the United States of America and to the gospel of Jesus Christ, is the religion of Islam as it stands today,'' Davis said from his pulpit on Sunday to an audience of about 2,000.
The four sermons will be broadcast on the Inspiration Network, a national cable Christian television show that reaches 15 million viewers, according to its Web site.
The effect on public opinion of the negative statements appears to be significant. An ABC/Beliefnet poll that compared Jan 02 to Dec 02, found that negative attitudes increased significantly. For example - those having a negative view went from 24 to 33%, those that believed that Islam was intolerant religions went from 22 to 35%
Meanwhile, evangelical white Protestants are 22 points more likely than mainstream white Protestants to express an unfavorable opinion of Islam. They're also more likely, but by much smaller margins, to think Islam encourages violence and doesn't teach respect for other beliefs.
What has been Bush's stance? We all know about his "crusade" remark for which the Admin apologized. It has been well documented that after 9/11 that he reached out to Muslims and publicly called Islam a religion of peace.
For this stance he was widely criticized by the consevative ministers. Graham was particuarly critical. Then, in an interview with Beliefnet that month, he virtually mocked Bush's stance. After the terrorist attacks, he said, "there was this hoo-rah around Islam being a peaceful religion--but then you start having suicide bombers, and people start saying, 'Wait a minute, something doesn't add up here.'"
for a very critical view of Bush's stance see here
What is interesting is that Graham was a Bush family friend. Bush never rebutted Graham or any other minister concerning their negative statements about Islam.
Why didn't Bush rebut them? The most common answer from Bush defenders was that it is an inappropriate role for the president to "get in the middle of an argument like that." But given his strong statements on Islam, Bush had already inserted himself into the Islam discussion. His silence, particularly as his political allies began disagreeing with him, was therefore notable.
Graham has been relatively non-controversial and is thought to represent the mainstream evangelical base, one of Bush's crucial voting blocs. Graham's comments signaled how unpopular Bush's Islam-is-peace line had become with this important political group. There was no political cost to Bush after his initial statements; they were viewed as necessary comments to win the war. A direct rebuttal of Graham, however, could have alienated some of his supporters.
I'm not sure what to make of these conflicting signals. On one hand Bush is saying good things about Islam but is not rebutting criticism of either his stance or the pronouncements of the ministers themselves. Wouldn't the failure to rebut the ministers be seen by the evangelical Christians as tacit approval of what the ministers were saying? And wouldn't the message of these ministers, then amplified by political pundits, raise and maintain support for the war in Iraq?
So where does this "hatred" of Islam by the evangelical ministers come from? I think that answers to this would take another post longer than this. But here are some ideas.
1. Religious intolerance. I think they honestly believe that the god of Islam is different than theirs. Remember that for the national Day of prayer, Mormons were not allowed to come and Catholics could attend but did not lead. So Intolerance seems to be a real possibility.
2. Many evangelicals are backers of Israel and they see Muslim's as enemies of Israel.
3. Political power. Its been well documented that Robertson carries a lot of weight in this administration. By attacking Islam they are drumming up support for the war.
Well is it Christian hate? Is there a difference between hate and intolerance or does intolerance lead to hate? I guess in the end I'm not much interested in the semantic question. I know when I was young, in catholic school before VaticanII the nuns would tell us that only Catholics would go to heaven. That never made sense to me. It seemed contrary to the way Jesus acted as told in the new testament. The intolerance shown by the conservative christian right also does not make sense to me. I think it helped support the call for war and continues to support the war and is indifferent to the Iraqi casaulties or mistreatment. I think assessing the degree to which the intolerance of the Christian right contibuted to the support of the war needs more study.
Have Muslim clerics condemned beheadings: Yes
Now go here and see if you can correctly identify the person responsible for the quote the choices for each quote will be Robertson, Falwell or bin Laden