Church at War? :: Part Three ::

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Religious Front’s justification for war

Overtly the world is convinced that war is widely rejected and it violates a taboo widely diffused in Catholic circles: a taboo that denounces as immoral not only making war, but even thinking about the possibility of a war like the one the United States has waged against two countries since October 2001 and is planning to extend to Iran and Syria in the near future.

The reality, however, is very different. The leaders in the religious front provide justification for the Bush’s doctrine of pre-emption. Michael Novak went to Rome on the State Department’s mission and gave a speech at the Center of American Studies in Rome on February 10, 2003 to justify the US war in the light of the Christian concept of “Just War.” He delivered this historic speech after meeting with the foreign minister of the Holy See, Archbishop Jean Louis Tauran, and the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi.

In the first part of his speech, Novak regurgitated all the lies that Bush administration brazenly repeated at the UNSC and elsewhere before the war. Explaining how Iraq fits the Just War logic, he said: “Saddam Hussein has the means to wreak devastating destruction upon Paris, London, or Chicago, or any cities of his choosing… Saddam Hussein has failed to account for more than 5000 liters–”five million teaspoons–”of anthrax which he is known to have possessed just a few years ago.”

Novak argued, “as a condition of his continuation in the presidency of Iraq,” Saddam Hussein was told to “disarm” and “provide proof to the U.N. that he had disarmed.” Since he did not, therefore, “authentic Catholic doctrine on the just war, as formulated by St. Augustine and St. Thomas, lays out a clear path of reasoning for public authorities acting in their official capacities in approaching the decision to go to war.”

Furthermore, to empower Bush administration, Novak added: “In evaluating these contingencies, the new Catholic Catechism assigns primary responsibility, not to distant commentators, but to such public authorities themselves…[because] they are the ones who bear the primary vocational role and constitutional duty to protect the lives and the rights of their people.”

Similarly, Bush’s confidant George Weigel, a frontline representative of the Catholic American Neocons and a close friend of the prefect of the papal household, Bishop James M. Harvey, goes to the extent of sidelining UN and international community. Writing in The Catholic Difference (2003) presents the logic that “a correct reading of the just-war tradition does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that prior Security Council approval is morally imperative.”

While making a case for violating all international norms and standards, Weigel argues that the world should not worry “about overriding the presumption of ‘sovereign immunity’ that nation-states traditionally enjoy.” The reason he gave was that Iraq does not “displays a minimum of agreement to minimal international norms of order…[and] its behavior demonstrates that it holds the principles of international order in contempt.”[23]

On September 30, 2002 a seminar was held in Washington on the issue of just war.[24] Thereby, a noted scholar of law and religion and former president of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, Gerard Bradely, whose books include Catholicism, Liberalism, and Communitarianism, summed up his position like this: “my judgment is this: Such an attack would not be inconsistent with traditional teachings on just war. I contend, in other words, that on this description, a morally upright statesman, President Bush, for example, could launch a pre-emptive strike to disarm Iraq.”

Earlier, among the sixty influential Americans, who signed the “letter From America” soon after September 11, 2001, Novak, Weigel, and other famous Catholics like Mary Ann Glendo were the most prominent in total alliance with the academic front Fukuyama and Huntington. The Christian concept of “just war” which they re-introduced in the following words continues to this day in the form of just occupations, just torture and just massacre.

While justifying the already planned wars, the authors throw realism out: “The idea of a ‘just war’ is broadly based, with roots in many of the world’s diverse religious and secular moral traditions … To be sure, some people, often in the name of realism, insist that war is essentially a realm of self-interest and necessity, making most attempts at moral analysis irrelevant. We disagree.” The world is reaping the fruits of idealism pushed down its throats by the religious front using other visible fronts.

Religious front’s efforts were not limited only to justify political front’s physical war in the name of a “just war,” it also worked hard to bring as many countries into the coalition of the barbarians as possible.

Vittorio E. Parsi’s, who teaches geopolitics at the Catholic University of Milan, presents the religious front’s vision and support to the renewed alliance between the United States and Europe in his latest book L’alleanza inevitabile: Europa e Stati Uniti oltre l’Iraq (The inevitable Alliance: Europe and the United States beyond Iraq) published by Bocconi University in Milan (2003). To the author, “equality of all states” is an “untenable legal fiction.”

How these war fronts work hand in hand is obvious from the fact that Parsi’s book was released with precisely the same title and thesis just a few days after the United States and Europe had drawn closer together again by passing resolution 1515 at the U.N.

Religious front on terrorism

Other fronts –” political, media, academia, and military –” of the war on Islam have perfected the art of linking all kinds violence with Islam. While claiming that “all Muslims are not terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims,” Islamophobes, such as Daniel Pipes, forget that all victims of oppression and occupation are Muslims and the occupiers are mostly Christian and Jews as well.

The media front ignores the fact that wars waged on the basis of lies and deception are far worse than what they call “terrorism” –” the resistance the occupiers face. They label all resistance to their unjust wars “Islamic terrorism” for the sole purpose of demonizing Islam.

Looking for the right perspective, it is an undeniable reality that wars based on lies and deception is terrorism. By this relation, if we use the Western terminology, the most despicable and lethal terrorism the world faces today is Christian and Jewish terrorism. Vatican’s commitment to this kind of terrorism is obvious from the statement of Camillo Cardinal Ruini’s unforgettable words “We will not run away”. This firm statement came during his homily at a mass to mourn the 19 Italian soldiers and civilians killed in Nassiriya on November 12, 2003.

All these fronts of the war on Islam ignore the simple logic that the so-labelled Islamic terrorism will become British, Dutch, or Italian (and by default Christian) terrorism if the US goes and occupies and faces resistance in UK, Netherlands or Italy today.

With this background, it is easy to see position of the religious front on the issue of “Islamic terrorism.” The pope and his newspaper L’Osservatore Romano effectively avoided using the term “Islamic” for a long time.

The reason from the Italian analyst of Vatican affairs, Sandro Magister, was not that religious front was not on the same wavelength with the rest of war fronts. The reason was “Realpolitik motivation” from Vatican authorities with the objective to “protect Christians from more serious threats, and in particular the Christians who live in Muslim countries.”[25]

In Magister’s view, “what the Vatican really thinks” is “that the current ‘fourth world war’ (the words of Cardinal Renato Martino, imprudent as usual) against the West, Christianity, Judaism, and Muslim “apostates” is not the result of generic terrorism, but of Islamist terrorism.”

This message is being transmitted transparently to the world towards the end of 2004 through an editorial of La Civiltà Cattolica [26] –” a magazine reflecting the point of view of the highest Vatican authorities, including the pope. But the message is not new as Magister clarifies. It has been a common view within the Vatican that terrorism is of “Islamic origin” and this view is shared with the war lords active on the other fronts against Islam.

Right from the first line the Vatican affirms views of Islamophobes on other fronts: “There is a tragic conceptual connection beginning from New York on September 11, 2001, and reaching Beslan, in North Ossetia, on September 1, 2004. It is the connection of terrorism of Islamic origin, which in three years has sown death in many places all over the planet.” Nowhere in the rest of the editorial from the Vatican, the write could trace roots of what they call “terrorism” to the roots of Islam. It’s a pathetic rant and repetition of what we witness on the media and academic front on daily basis.

The only beauty of the editorial is that it finally came up with the truth that lied in its heart and was the source of confirmation and inspiration from the rest of the fronts in the war on Islam.

Expecting mercy is naivety

One can imagine the extent of hatred towards Muslim, who believe in a totally different way of life, when the totalitarians on the religious front consider even their co-religionists as enemies if they believe in secular or liberal values.

“We need to find ways to win the war” Karl Rove, President Bush’s political director told a gathering of the Family Research Council in March, 2002. The Family Research Council is one of the most powerful lobbying organizations of the Religious Right today. Rove wasn’t talking about the war on “terrorism” or Islam to be precise. He was talking about the war on secular society.

The Reverend Tim LaHaye co-authored Mind Siege: The Battle for Truth in the New Millennium, published in 2000. The best-selling book issues a call to arms for Christians on the religious front to battle against secular humanism. Mind Siege declares that secular humanism is a “religion,” and issues marching orders to evangelical Christians to gear up for an all-out battle to root secular humanists out of public life; their bottom line is that “No humanist is fit to hold office.”

LaHaye, best known for the Left Behind series, was one of the founders of the Moral Majority. He first declared war on secular humanism in 1980 with his widely read book, The Battle for the Mind, in which he claims that evangelicals need to become politically involved to fight the great evil, secular humanism, that is threatening to destroy America.

Paul Weyrich said in a talk: “The real enemy is the secular humanist mindset which seeks to destroy everything that is good in this society.”[27]

Muslims are shocked when they hear General Boykin and others calling Islam and “evil” religion. They don’t know that for Christian zealots even secularism is satanic, let alone Islam. Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition, explained the nature of the war on secularism in 1991 at a Christian Coalition Road to Victory gathering:[28] “It’s going to be a spiritual battle. There will be satanic forces…. We are not going to be coming up just against human beings, to beat them in elections. We’re going to be coming up against spiritual warfare.”

“The strategy against the American Radical Left should be the same as General Douglas MacArthur employed against the Japanese in the Pacific… Bypass their strongholds, then surround them, isolate them, bombard them, then blast the individuals out of their power bunkers with hand-to-hand combat. The battle for Iwo Jima was not pleasant, but our troops won it. The battle to regain the soul of America won’t be pleasant either, but we will win it.”[29]

For the outside world, the US was lying about Weapons of Mass destruction to go for oil in Iraq, or to remove Saddam or at the worst fighting a war for Israel. This, however, has not been so simple for the religious front behind the war.

Alabama Governor Bob Riley declared: “There is another war going on in this country. This one is far more insidious. It’s one that you just can’t go and attack. It’s a war for the absolute soul of this country.”[30] Gov. Riley has asked his political allies to enlist in a crusade to restore the Christian character of America.

Church and State reported, April, 2003: “House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) is helping a controversial Religious Right group raise money to defeat a so-called ‘war on Christianity’ in America and preserve the nation’s alleged “Christian heritage.”

It is important to note that promotion of secularism and democracy in the Muslims world, which is approved by all religious garrisons from Catholics to Evangelicals, is not considered beneficial for the Christian world. Democracy and secularism in the Muslim world are used like other tools such as political Islam, Islamism and Islamic terrorism.

In the US, religious front is actively working to make the Bible the law of the land.[31] What is most significant here, and yet gets almost zero coverage in our media, is the fact that Bush is very closely tied to the Christian Reconstructionist movement working towards this end.[32] The links between this White House and that movement are many and tight. Marvin Olasky –” a former Maoist who is now a Reconstructionist –” coined the phrase “compassionate conservatism,” and was hired by the Bush campaign in 2000. Olasky’s entire career has been financed by Howard Ahmanson, the California multimillionaire who has said publicly that his life’s goal is “to integrate Biblical law into all our lives.”

Supreme Court Justice Scalia spoke at the University of Chicago Divinity School in January, 2002, and wrote an article for First Things, in May, 2002 [33] that reflects his hostility towards Democracy: The “consensus” [that government is the minister of God] “has been upset, I think by the emergence of democracy…It is much more difficult to see the hand of God…behind the fools and rogues…we ourselves elect of our own free will.”

He sees democracy as obscuring the divine authority: “the reaction of people of faith to this tendency of democracy to obscure divine authority…should [be] the resolution to combat it as effectively as possible.”

It is clear from Republican tactics in the 2004 Presidential election that voting is not considered a fundamental Democratic right. Block The Vote by Paul Krugman details some of those tactics. (NYTimes, Ocotober 15, 2004) [34]

The empire of religious front

The most demonized Mulla and Madrassa cannot even dream of the resources, planning, outreach, access to power and global designs of the religious front in the West. Their much dreamed religious empire is almost in place and in action to Christianize the world.

Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourners, an evangelical Christian magazine that advocates social justice, writes in “Dangerous Religion, George W. Bush’s theology of empire”:

“The Bush theology deserves to be examined on biblical grounds. Is it really Christian, or merely American? Does it take a global view of God’s world or just assert American nationalism in the latest update of ‘manifest destiny?'”[35]

“To this aggressive extension of American power in the world, President George W. Bush adds God – and that changes the picture dramatically. It’s one thing for a nation to assert its raw dominance in the world; it’s quite another to suggest, as this president does, that the success of American military and foreign policy is connected to a religiously inspired ” mission,” and even that his presidency may be a divine appointment for a time such as this.”

In the United States under Bush administration, the religious front has found its empire. The US is experiencing a major transformation from its so-called secular to an openly religious government. The Bush’s faith-based initiative is central to this transformation and raises serious questions about the future policies and approach towards Muslim countries. Bill Berkowitz’s analysis “Slouching toward theocracy,” provides an overview of this transformation.[36]

In his State of the Union address, Bush renewed a call for Congress to make permanent his faith-based proposals that would allow religious organizations to compete for more government contracts and grants. The March, 2004, issue of Church and State reports that the “Faith Czar” Jim Towey announced to reporters that $40 billion dollars was now available to religious charities.

While governments, such as the Pakistani regime under Musharraf, are forced to gradually suffocate madrassas system, Daniel Zwerdling’s study of White House press releases and the White House web site found that religious groups could apply to more than a hundred federal programs that gave out more than $65 billion. In addition, religious groups could apply for more money through state-administered programs. This is the text of an executive order signed by Bush on June 1.[37]

On September 22, 2003, the White House announced new rules making $28 billion available to religious charities that proselytize and discriminate in hiring. And the criteria for funding are as simple as supporting Bush’s candidacy and getting one million dollars.[38]

From New York Times’ report about Governor Jeb Bush’s launching faith based prison [39] to an article in The Atlantic (October 2002),[40] describing the enormous efforts to spread Christianity worldwide show how the religious empire of the religious front is at work at home and abroad.

Conclusion

The ongoing US-led barbarism is not because of oil (petroleum), but because of oil (religious) that inflames and intensifies it. This is what we can safely conclude from the study of the religious front. Nevertheless, every sensible and peace-loving human being would hope that this is really a war for oil and would end, at least, when the oil supplies run out.

At the same time, we cannot lives with such hopes. The sources mentioned in this study are authentic sources, which, if traced, carry loads of information to back up summaries presented in this study.

Commonsense also suggests that ensuring cheap oil supplies never required this level of militarism. Without the religious oil sprayed over emotions and sensibilities, it is impossible to tempt even a single individual to lie to this extent; to deceive the whole world to this extent; to starve millions to death for 12 years, to torture and kill fellow human beings to the extent we are witnessing at the hands of apparently sensible Americans and their allies these days.

It is obvious that in individual as well as collective cases the religious front plays a vital part in formulating an oppressive domestic and totalitarian foreign policy, particularly when the war lords understand how to make use of their media, academia, national government and armed forces for “Divine purposes.” If this is not true, the persons and institutions in this report must come up with strong actions against the sources which are publishing these reports.

It is, however, very unfortunate to see that all these statements and actions of the individuals and institutions on the religious front are on the record. These words and deed encourage others to undertake such inhuman and irrational adventures. It is human nature. When another people and their religion is so falsely depicted as “evil” and its followers are presented as the enemies, it is hardly surprising to see them dragging their perceived enemies on a dog’s leash in Abu Gharib torture centre.

It is shown over and over again, through the undeniable examples given above that inspiration from the religious front results in the crimes against humanity that we are witnessing today. It is clearly evident that a media, academia, politics and military which rests upon the inspiration of a religion and acts upon the morbid dread and matchless hatred of a people and their way of life is that which compulsorily drives nations to never ending wars.

If the religious front believes it can Christianize the Muslim world, let it try its mission in peaceful ways. But it needs not let the media project Islam as the most “despicable enemy.” It must not send others sons and daughters to do the dirty work at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and to flatten towns such as Fallujah, or, if it does, it should have the decency not to claim that they are doing their patriotic duty for democracy and freedom. The warriors in the religious front should call it what they consider it, like Sam Harris, A war on Islam (Washington Times, December 02, 2004).

Thinking from the humanity’s humane point of view, we cannot afford another crusade. All those responsible for hate-mongering must come clean. They must apologize. If we are interested in peaceful co-existence, we need to further dig out the tips of the icebergs mentioned in this short study and to strongly condemn the hate-mongers till they repent and stop making such statements and encouraging war on a people, their religion and their way of life.

Please, click on :: Part One :: , :: Part Two :: , or :: Part Three :: to read

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Download complete PDF version (380 Kb) of this study from: http://www.icssa.org/Church_at_war.pdf

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Notes:

[23] George Weigel, “Just War and Pre-emption: Three Questions,” The Catholic Difference, 2003.

[24] The Seminar was sponsored by The Institute for American Values, the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy at the University of Maryland, and the Pew Forum on Religion and Public life.

[25] Sandro Magister, “Terrorismo islamista: ciò che in Vaticano pensano per davvero,” (Islamist Terrorism: What the Vatican Really Thinks) L’espresso, October 6, 2004.

[26] Editorial, “Three years of struggle against terrorism,” La Civiltà Cattolica, no. 3703, October 2, 2004.

[27] http://www.skepticfiles.org/fw/weyrich.htm

[28] http://www.theocracywatch.org/taking_over.htm#Road

[29] From the book, Pat Robertson, The Most Dangerous Man in America? by Rob Boston.

[30] Gov. Riley was Speaking to the Alabama Christian Coalition’s “Friends of the Family” Celebration, March 8, 2003. Report by the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, April 2003.

[31] San Jose Mercury News, 1992, (http://www.theocracywatch.org/san_jose.html) Two articles –” one before the election, one after: A group dedicated to making the Bible the law of the land has quietly positioned itself to take over the Republican Party’s power structure in Santa Clara County.

[32] http://www.theocracywatch.org/relig_inst.htm

[33] Antonin Scalia, “God Justice and ours,” First Things, 123 (May 2002): 17-21.

http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0205/articles/scalia.html

[34] http://www.theocracywatch.org/gov_krugman_vote_october15.htm

[35] Jim Wallis, “Dangerous Religion: George W. Bush’s theology of empire,” Sojourners. http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=magazine.article&issue=soj0309&article=030910

[36] Bill Berkowitz, “Slouching toward theocracy. President Bush’s faith-based initiative is doing better than you think,” published Feb 06, 2004. http://www.workingforchange.com/article.cfm?itemid=16391

[37] http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/06/20040601-1.html

[38] Philadelphia Church That Endorsed Bush Gets $1 Million ‘Faith-Based’ Grant Wednesday June 23, 2004. “The Rev. Lusk endorsed candidate Bush, and wound up getting a $1-million faith-based grant from the Bush administration,” [Barry] Lynn said. “Now there’s a heavenly payoff.”

[39] AP Report, “National Briefing South,” New York Times, December 25, 2003: http://www.theocracywatch.org/jeb_bush_rel_prison_dec25_03.htm

[40] “The fact is, we are at a moment as epochal as the Reformation itself-a Reformation moment not only for Catholics but for the entire Christian world. Christianity as a whole is both growing and mutating in ways that observers in the West tend not to see.” Philip Jenkins, The Atlantic, October 2002.

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