How The First Amendment impedes Our Understanding of The Middle East


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Intolerance breeds injustice. Injustice invariably leads to rebellion and retaliation, and these will lead to escalation on the part of both making reconciliation almost impossible. It would appear that during times of stress, despair and frustration, people become increasingly irrational, and they do things which they never think they are capable of. And so we see hideous brutality perpetrated by the most gentle people.

Once started religious strife has a tendency to go on and on, to become permanent feuds. Today we see such intractable inter-religious wars in Northern Ireland, between Jews and Muslims and Christians in Palestine, Hindus and Muslims in South Asia and in many other places. Attempts to bring about peace have failed again and again. Always the extremist elements invoking past injustices, imagined or real, will succeed in torpedoing the peace efforts and bringing about another bout of hostility.” Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia, addressing the World Evangelical Fellowship on 2001-MAY-4. 4(excerpts)

We live in a country that was founded on the desire for religious freedom. We have carried through, for this reason, the separation of church and state. The Pilgrims who landed on Plymouth Rock came here from the same type of environment that exists in Africa and the Middle East today.

“The separation of church and state is a legal and political principle derived from the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .” The phrase “separation of church and state”, which does not appear in the Constitution itself, is generally traced to an 1802 letter by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists, where Jefferson spoke of the combined effect of the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. It has since been quoted in several opinions handed down by the United States Supreme Court.”…

“Early immigrants to the American colonies were there motivated largely by the desire to worship freely in their own fashion, particularly after the English Civil War, but also religious wars and disputes in France and Germany.[2] They included a large number of nonconformists such as the Puritans and the Pilgrims, as well as Catholics (in Baltimore). Despite a common background, the groups’ views on broader religious toleration were mixed. While some notable examples such as Roger Williams of Rhode Island and William Penn ensured the protection of religious minorities within their colonies, others such as the Plymouth Colony and Massachusetts Bay Colony had established churches. The Dutch colony of New Netherland had also established the Dutch Reformed Church and outlawed all other worship, although enforcement by the Dutch West India Company in the last years of the colony was sparse. Part of the reason for establishment was financial: the established Church was responsible for poor relief, and dissenting churches would therefore have a significant advantage.” – Wikipedia

Without an understanding of history and what this means, we cannot understand what is happening in Iraq. In actuality, we went to Iraq to defeat Saddam Hussein, operation Iraqi freedom was supposed to free the Iraqis from the oppressive rulership of Saddam. We won that war in 2003. The problem is that we did not, and do not understand the region and what happens to a region when Church equals State. Winning the war was easy what we are unable to win is the peace. Why is it that we cannot with the peace for the Iraqi people?  Why are the conflicts in the Middle East so hard for us to enter into with success?

Imagine that instead of Democrats, Republicans and Independents, as political parties, we had Christians, Jews, and Muslims. Imagine too, that the Christians, are further divided between Roman Catholics and the various groups of Protestants. In this scenario our government is run by the Roman Catholic group of Christians. They declare Catholicism as the ruling religion of the country, banning the practice of any other religions. Now, Texas is predominately Baptist. Texas is an important region because of its oil fields. New York City, which is largely Jewish, is also important because of its financial institutions. The country is under oppressive Catholic rule, many who rebel against being forced to worship in Catholic Churches are being massacred. Now a third party, let’s imagine it is China with an economic stake in the stability of our country, and with no religious leanings, enters our country to free us from the oppressive Catholic rule and manages to defeat the strong-hold of the Catholic government. With the mighty Catholic military disbanded, the other Christian groups, begin to fight for power amongst themselves. At the same time, the Jews and Muslims begin to gather strength in their own states to gain religious control over our country for the sake of their own religions and our country becomes divided into religious territories.

In the midst of all this turmoil created by the dismantling of the strong Catholic Military, China decides to back a Muslim government. Backed by the Chinese military, the Muslim government begins to enter each state and take control. Jews, Baptist, and even Catholics rise up to prevent this from happening – China calls these religious groups, “insurgents” that must be put down. The only way is to cleanse the regions of each group, city by city. Feeling that if our country is taken over by the Chinese backed Muslims it will be the greatest offense against God, Jews, Christians, and Catholics come from all over the world to join in the fight against the Muslim government, seen by many as a puppet regime of the Chinese trying to control the worship of God in the US. The biggest battles are being waged in Texas, where the Baptist, many of them devout Christian Fundamentalists, refuse to allow the rich resources of their state to go to the benefit of the Chinese backed Muslim government. However, violent fighting among all of the religions ensues nationwide as each religion attempts to build a stronghold in a particular state. Money, guns, and ammunition are being smuggled into the country by Protestants, Jews and even Catholics from around the world to support the fight of their particular religion. All of the religious groups are united in their animosity towards China because each group sees that the only peace that China can bring to our country, will cost each religion their faith in God. This scenario is imaginary – only because of the First Amendment to The Constitution.

We have had four hundred years of desire and practice in the separation of church and state. We have had four hundred years of living side by side with so many religions that we forget the world before. We think of ourselves as a nation and its people, not of a religious faith and the affront to God of any other faith existing in the same territory.

The “ethnic cleansing” in Bosnia was the Orthodox Christian Serbians “cleansing” the country of Muslims. The conflicts in Israel are not Arab vs. Israeli, they stem from the fact that Israel was established as and needs to remain a Jewish State. If the Palestinians, mostly Muslim and Christian were granted the same rights under the law as Jews, which would of course include full voting rights, Israel would soon cease to be a Jewish State, in effect, it would cease to be Israel. In India, the religious and political battle over rulership of the country was between the Hindus and the Muslims, it was only resolved by the formation of the “Islamic Republic of Pakistan”.

Religion has no borders. Shiite Muslims will fight from all over the world with and for the Shiite Muslims in Iraq, Sunni’s will fight from all over the world with and for the Sunni Muslims in Iraq. The people of the United States are here because they have chosen to live or remain after birth in a country where one is first an American Citizen and then a Catholic, Baptist, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian or Jew. Because of the separation of church and state that we enjoy, loyalty to the country does not require loyalty to a particular form of worship. This is our Democracy. It is the Democracy, envisioned by our Constitution, which can only survive in a nation where there is an explicit separation of Church and State. Today there are 56 religious based “conflicts” including Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Thailand, Uganda, Chechnya, the Philippines, Kurdistan, Nigeria, Sudan, the Middle East and Kosovo. The Problem with our intervention in any religious conflict, the problem with any outside intervention in any religious conflict is that whatever group we back, we are backing a religion. In removing one religion from power and replacing it with the only alternative, another religion, we simply buy a temporary cease fire. Soon enough the worshipers of the defeated faith, feeling repressed, afraid, and more determined than ever to fight in the name of God, will gather support from the unlimited well of followers devoted to their faith, and God and rise up, and continue the battle. It is not a battle that is won or lost on earth but in Heaven. It is not a battle for a place on earth but for a place in Heaven. If they lose their place on land by fighting and sacrificing their lives in the name of God, they guarantee their place in Heaven.

We have won the war in Iraq that we set out to win. We cannot win the peace, because we are fighting a battle over borders, and they are fighting a battle over love, honor and devotion to God. Where Church, Temple, Mosque, or Ashram, equals State, we can only make things worse.

If there is any lesson that we should learn from this, it is that what prevents us from becoming them, what prevents the United States from becoming Iraq, Serbia, or any of the other nations embroiled in religious wars, is the First Amendment. Those who would like to see it abolished, or even relaxed should pay close attention to what is happening in Africa, Asia and the middle east because the First Amendment is all that separates us from them.

7 thoughts on “How The First Amendment impedes Our Understanding of The Middle East

  1. Pingback: Stop US Wars » Blog Archive » How The First Amendment impedes Our Understanding of Iraq

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  3. An excellent explanation! I like the metaphor that you used (since I’m from Texas!). I said when the Iraq War began that it was unwinable for us because we didn’t seem to understand that this was not a political situation but a religious one. I felt that as soon as we won the military part, and I strongly felt that would be fairly easy, then left the country to itself, there would be a religious war. The general U.S. population has no concept of the religious part of the picture. I am thankful that as an educator in the field of history, I was able to better understand the situation. The response which I hear to a Shia attack on Sunnis, or the reverse is: “why can’t they learn to get along. Ignorance of the religious implications involved is rampant in the U.S., as well as many other areas of the world. Thanks for a very good post.

    • I did not know that you taught history, I have come to believe through this war and studying the Constitution, that we have lost our way because we move so fast forward that we have somehow made the past and its lessons of no value. One more amazing dimension of you Don Rogers!

  4. Pingback: before language separated church and state « JRFibonacci's blog: partnering with reality

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