I have been over this ground before in past commentaries, but the danger of the Tea Party being commandeered by religionists is very real and compels me to add a footnote concerning one of the consequences of that phenomenon.
Family Security Matters (FSM) on October 5th ran an article, “An Open Letter to Barack Obama,” which carried a link to a petition to Obama asking him to permit the replacement of the World War I Memorial cross erected in the Mojave Desert, but which was stolen and never recovered. It opens with:
President Obama has ignored requests to restore to its proper resting place the only federal WWI memorial, the Mojave Desert War Memorial Cross, while supporting the Ground Zero mosque to be built on the 9/11 gravesite. What is wrong with this picture?
One thing wrong with the picture is that that Ground Zero is not a “gravesite,” but a construction site whose status has been a political football for about ten years. A new World Trade Center, perhaps higher than the original, could have been topped off five years ago. It would have been a suitable “memorial” to everyone who perished there, and a tribute to America’s greatness. But the inter-faction dialogue that has prevented anything of note being built on that site is indicative of national political dialogue.
Another thing wrong is that the petition does not address the question of whether or not religious symbols should be permitted on federal or public land. A cross is not the same as the Iwo Jima Memorial or the Statue of Liberty. The existence of such a religious symbol on federal property, whether or not it is a war memorial, arguably violates the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses of the Constitution. But, this is another issue.
Yes, Obama sorta-kinda endorsed the Ground Zero mosque, also known as Cordoba House and Park 51, and I do not think he will author anything like a non-negotiable concession and give the WWI memorial petitioners any satisfaction. If he did, it is likely that the Council on American Islamic Relations and other Islamic front organizations would interpret his okay as “anti-Muslim” and launch another anti-American public relations intifada.
Obama has not replied to or acknowledged the petition. Nor is he likely to. One word from him to the National Park Service, which refuses to allow the cross to be replaced by a replica, would see some action. Doubtless there are countless Christians willing to chip in to fashion a new cross. But the National Park Service, a lumbering dinosaur bureaucracy in its own right, as noted in the petitioners’ letter, refuses to allow anything but the original cross to be erected on the site.
Mr. President, if you were to endorse the National Park Service’s policy, you would be inviting wholesale desecration of religious symbols at war memorials across the country and at our battlefield cemeteries abroad. If we are not allowed to replace memorial crosses that are stolen or destroyed, then your administration will rightly be seen as openly encouraging attacks on religious symbols.
Presumably, by Muslims. I am surprised that no Islamic outfit has protested the illustration of the eagle and the cross. One can imagine that they would prefer the crescent and star in place of the cross, but be absolutely incensed if it were pictured with the cross, the Star of David or menorah, a Buddhist dharma, a Hindu trishula, an atheist symbol of Pisces with rudimentary legs (a Darwinian fish symbol and adaptation of the “Jesus fish”)….and so on.
The one symbol that virtually everyone would object to is the dollar sign, which is a more fitting symbol for the country. People live here or come here to make money, and only incidentally remain to practice their creeds in peace. Except, perhaps, Muslims.
Of course, Obama has never redacted, or at least retracted, his statement that the U.S. was a not just a Christian one, but a whole Campbell’s Soup 57 Varieties of Religion kind of nation. As with virtually everything Obama has ever uttered, I must disagree with his multi-faith sophistry. His prepared remarks to a religious conference in June 2006 differed a little from his delivery. As reported by FactCheck.org.:
Obama, June 28, 2006 (prepared remarks): Given the increasing diversity of America’s population, the dangers of sectarianism have never been greater. Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.
That quote appears also on Obama’s campaign Web site. Unfortunately for Obama, he stumbled just a bit when he delivered the actual quote, as can be seen in this video of his speech, posted on YouTube by the Obama campaign. The way it actually came out was:
Obama, June 28, 2006 (as delivered): Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation – at least, not just. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, and a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.
His inner teleprompter must have been on the fritz.
America, however, is a nation whose government was founded on a secular political philosophy that recognized individual rights. It happens to be largely populated by men subscribing to a variety of religions. The religions and number of people subscribing to any one of them, however, do not define its essential nature or character.
I will not embark on a philosophical discourse here about why the United States is NOT a “Christian nation,” or try to counter the claim that it was founded on the Ten Commandments (John Adams to the contrary notwithstanding). What I shall do is knock the stuffings out of the most strenuous assertion that the United States was founded as, and intended to remain, a Christian nation. Long, long ago, early in the Islamic jihad against the United States, a pact was reached between this country and the elevated robbers’ roost of Tripoli, whose Musselman Big Man the Bey had been overseeing and sanctioning the seizure of American merchant vessels and holding them and their crews for ransom.
Without remarking on the wisdom of the Treaty of November 1796, the last year of Washington’s presidency, I offer here Article 11 of the document, with the original punctuation, which states:
As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion, — as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen, — and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.
The Treaty was subsequently ratified by Congress on June 10, 1797, during John Adams’s first year as President. Presumably Congress then, as it is now, was populated by Christians of various stripes and varying degrees of devotion or pretences thereto. They did not object to Article 11 and raise Cain over it. It was a fact they acknowledged and implicitly enacted into law via the Treaty – that the United States was not founded on the Christian religion, and that these United States were not to be regarded as a Christian nation by any and all foreign powers – and especially not by the marauding Barbary Pirates. And particularly not by its Christian inhabitants.
Briefly, the United States is a nation many of whose citizens subscribe to a multitude of religious doctrines, and who are protected by secular law, not by any one or any combination of religious law. These citizens can coexist peacefully by virtue and grace of secular law. Secular law is this country’s defining attribute vis-à-vis its operable jurisprudence. The outstanding thing about our secular law is that it was designed and implemented by men of faith, who wisely set aside their religious differences to grasp that only secular “atheistic” law would protect them and their faith from religious strife and warfare.
In short, they were men of reason who realized that faith would not ensure the longevity of the republic, and that reason alone would guarantee its continued existence and tranquility.