October 19, 2013

Fighting on Two Fronts: Biblical Belief under Siege at Home and Abroad

“From Boston to Zanzibar, there’s a worldwide war on Christianity,” declared Senator Rand Paul at the Family Research Council’s (FRC) annual Values Voter Summit (VVS, video available online) on October 11, 2013, at Washington, DC’s Omni Shoreham Hotel. FRC’s executive vice president, retired United States Army Lieutenant General William G. Boykin, likewise asked on a VVS panel the next day of American Christians whether they are “going to be like the Russian Orthodox Church” during the Soviet Union and “go underground.” Boykin, Paul, and others indicated throughout VVS that adherents of Judeo-Christian morality and theology are under siege in a two-front war waged culturally by secular-sexual agendas at home in Western countries and literally abroad by what Paul termed a “fanatical element of Islam.”

Eschewing “political correctness,” Paul termed it “fair to point out that most Muslims are not committed to violence against Christians, but it’s not the whole truth.” Rather, “there is a minority of Muslims who condone killing of Christians” that “unfortunately…is in the tens of millions.” Paul cited Pew research polls in which 21% of Egyptians, 15% of Jordanians, and 13% of Pakistani Muslims found “terrorism acceptable, if not laudable,” amounting thereby to “over 40 million Muslims.” A Daily Telegraph survey as well determined that a “hundred thousand Muslims in Britain fully supported the London subway bombings” of July 7, 2005, while “400,000 said they had some sympathy.” Looking to the present, Paul discussed atrocities perpetrated against Christians by Muslims rebelling against Syria’s Bashar Assad regime and asked, “We are now arming Islamic rebels who are allied with al-Qaida that attacked us on 9/11. Does that make any sense at all?”

“Radical Islam will end only when Islam begins to police itself,” Paul offered as an answer to Muslim mayhem. “Islam,” Paul elaborated, “needs to remember and recreate the good in their history.” Referencing controverted clichés about Islamic civilization’s supposed medieval Golden Age, Paul discussed how “for centuries, the Middle East was home to cultural and intellectual centers of the ancient world” where “tolerance and sophistication were the norm.” This civilization “carried the light of learning for centuries” and “paved the way for our Enlightenment.”

Participating on a panel the day after Paul’s speech, Center for Security Policy (CSP) President Frank Gaffney similarly sought to distinguish between passive and aggressive elements in Islam. Thus Gaffney focused in his work on the threat of Islamic sharia law in order to allow faithful individuals to “be Muslim and not be a part of the problem.” Sharia adherent groups like the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and Al Qaeda (AQ), meanwhile, differed merely in their nonviolent and violent tactics, not their common goals of “civilizational jihad.” Indeed, MB analyst Erick Stakelbeck called MB in the panel the “gateway drug” to Islamic terrorism and argued that AQ’s September 11, 2001, attacks would not have occurred without the MB, founded in Egypt in 1928, ideologically paving the way. Irrespective of tactics, Gaffney described MB and AQ ideology as “not a mission statement of people with whom you could do business.”

CSP Senior Fellow Nonie Darwish, an Egyptian Muslim convert to Christianity resident in America for the last 25 years, however, called into question Gaffney and Paul’s suggestions of a benign practice of Islam. Darwish presented a searing indictment of Islam familiar to anyone who has read her 2012 book The Devil We Don’t Know: The Dark Side of Revolutions in the Middle East, previously favorably reviewed by me and available for purchase and author signing at VVS. With the zeal of a convert who has bitterly experienced Islam from the inside, Darwish called Islam a “top-heavy” religion without “confidence in itself” and an “insane and dysfunctional culture” that is “consumed with anger and envy.”

“Peace is not an option” with a faith sacrificing the human rights of all, including women and children, for its “hell bent” drive for expansion. Analyzing Muslim migrants in Western countries, Darwish worried that “historically speaking, wherever Muslims go,” either as a minority or majority, “they still demand sharia.” Thus Darwish worried whether there will be in countries like the United Kingdom or “in France a Chechnya.”
Boykin, meanwhile, contemplated conflict scenarios in America’s ongoing culture wars. Participating on a panel about religious liberty erosion in the United States military, Boykin juxtaposed his aforementioned underground option with the proposal for Christians “to stand above ground and fight this assault on religious liberty.” Boykin’s choice was clear: “I’m fighting.”

Boykin’s panel discussed infringements of religious liberty stemming from new Pentagon policies prohibiting disapproval of openly homosexual military personnel. United States Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Phillip Monk is currently facing disciplinary action because of his expressed opposition to his commanding officers plans for a lesbian “wedding.” Other air force personnel based with Monk at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas have anonymously reported similar fears of facing reprisal for any expressed disapproval of homosexuality. Retired army chaplain Colonel Ron Crews, meanwhile, discussed how military chaplains have received orders to accept homosexual couples at military marriage retreats where children often accompany their parents.

Boykin analyzed the promotion of homosexuality within the military as part of efforts to create a more “Marxist society.” “Historically the military has been a bastion of traditional American values” and “anchor of our society,” Boykin noted. “You have to change the military if you want to change the society.”

Boykin concurred on the panel with sentiments expressed earlier by Fox News commentator Todd Starnes that “Obama’s Pentagon is separating the military from the people.” This was evident not only in enforced approval of homosexuality but also military labeling of organizations like VVS-sponsor American Family Foundation (AFA) as hate groups. Monk’s current legal counsel against the air force, Jeff Mateer of the religious liberty pro bono legal group Liberty Institute, likewise spoke of an “agenda” whose “goal is to rid religion out of the military.” For Boykin, an irreligious military separated from the American people raised particular concerns of how security forces might act during any imposition of martial law.

Opposition to homosexuality carried consequences in American civilian life as well, an October 11 VVS panel on marriage noted the night before the military panel. The Heritage Foundation’s Jennifer Marshall noted that not only is the natural institution of marriage in contention today, but “even our freedom to speak and to live in accord with the reality that marriage is this union between a man and woman.” National Organization for Marriage (NOM) director Brian Brown agreed that anyone paying attention in recent years knows that disagreements with same-sex “marriage” advocates are “not a live and let live debate.” Marshall’s Heritage colleague, leading marriage scholar Ryan Anderson, noted a growing list of adoption agencies, bakers, florists, and photographers who have faced legal sanctions for a refusal to extend services to same-sex couples.

Anderson joined Becket Fund for Religious Liberty lawyer Adèle Keim the next day for a panel on arguments about marriage and the abortion and contraception mandates under Obamacare. Keim discussed how the “government has a big stick” in these mandates forcing businesses to provide contraception and abortion services in healthcare plans or pay per employee fines amounting to millions of dollars in the case of firms like Hobby Lobby. These mandates manifested an understanding of the United States Constitution’s Free Exercise Clause in the First Amendment amounting merely to “freedom of worship” within a “wall of separation around your business.”

This understanding would entail bizarre results for kosher butchers, Christian bookstores, and halal grocery stores while ignoring the fact that “most churches are actually incorporated.” Keim noted, for example, that the Becket Fund is currently litigating against the mandates on behalf of the Catholic Little Sisters of the Poor. The nuns who administer this charity receive their healthcare policies from the Catholic Christian Brothers Services.
Anderson noted on the panel that moral choices about issues like marriage have material consequences. Public support for private individuals joining together as husband and wife in marriage is the “least coercive” way for the state to care for children. Homosexual couples, by contrast, could not fully satisfy the needs of a child given the fact that “there is no such thing as parenting, there is mothering and fathering.”

Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Marco Rubio (R-Florida) expressed similar sentiments the previous day at VVS. Lee stated that conservatives placed “not too much” but rather “far too little” attention on social issues given the “enormous social and economic consequences” of “moral choices” affecting family integrity. The “moral well-being of our people is directly linked to their economic well-being,” Rubio likewise confirmed. Ignorance of social issues like illegitimacy was not acceptable “if we’re serious about saving the American dream.” Lee and Rubio, moreover, have Biblical precedent for their views in the Old Testament’s narrative of Jews winning and losing a holy land “flowing with milk and honey” (e.g. Deuteronomy 6:3) according to their faithfulness.

VVS made clear that the threatened holy trinity emblazoned on FRC’s insignia of faith, family, and freedom need a mighty fortress today as in the past. Christians abroad are losing their houses of worship and very lives to Islamic terror for proclaiming Biblical belief. In America Christians, including members of the military who have fought groups like AQ, meanwhile, can lose their businesses and professions for professing this same Biblical belief so critical in forming strong families and free societies.

Perhaps remembering Jesus’ Parable of the Mustard Seed (Matthew 13:30-32) and the New Testament’s challenge of “if God is for us, who can be against us” (Romans 8:31), VVS speakers showed no sign of giving up the “good fight” (2 Timothy 4:7). Dismissing disappointing present polling data showing support for marriage’s redefinition among the young, Ryan at the October 11 panel called upon his audience bravely to “lead your life in witnessing to the truth.” Ryan’s co-panelist Brown also encouraged defenders of marriage’s natural definition to “refuse to be ashamed of the truth that you know in your hearts.” The next day Anderson prioritized questions of being on the “right and the wrong side of the truth” over any proclaimed “right side of history.” After all, not history, but the “truth will judge us.” Christians similarly should take heart in the coming years in Monk’s observation that believers “created in the image of God…serve a mighty God.”


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