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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A Civil Discussion About Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Bill Handel 

I don't believe that I've quoted from Tikun Olam previously:

Lest anyone think that the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten has the market cornered on tasteless anti-Muslim provocation, we have to look no farther than Clear Channel Media’s right-wing Los Angeles talk radio station KFI, whose host, Bill Handel, mocked the Muslims killed in a Mecca stampede during Hajj this year....

After the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim civil rights group demanded an apology from Handel and KFI, our right-wing friends at Little Green Footballs were up in arms. They urged both to stand fast against the “radical Islamic front group” (whose leader, Ibrahim Hooper, meets with George Bush and is consulted by the White House on matter related to the U.S. Muslim community)....

Clear Channel took a look at those burning Danish diplomatic buildings in Lebanon and Syria and decided that discretion was the better part of valor. Not to mention, they might’ve been afraid of an FCC license challenge by CAIR when KFI’s license came up for renewal....

Does anyone want to argue that mimicking the screams of dying Muslims on air exemplifies one of those sacred rights of freedom of speech that our country was founded to uphold?

There's so many ways that one can go with this discussion, but I'll limit myself to one. In response to my comment, Richard Silverstein said:

Personally, I don’t know what the term “American civil religion” means. America is a predominantly Christian country and minorities like Jews, Muslims & others are made to feel it alomst every day. And certainly many if not most evangelicals would have Christianity become America’s official religion if they had their druthers.

I can understand how the non-Christian world can lump evangelicals and fundamentalists into the same category (though from my view they are quite different), but it's surprising to see that people equate American civil religion with Biblical Christianity. Here's some of what I've said about the topic in the past.

January 7, 2006 (quoting from William Mahedy):

The God of American civil religion is an aggressive God, who goes with the troops into combat, delivers them from evil and, above all, assures them of the rightness of their cause. The truth about combat is quite different, however. God seems malignantly absent in the caldron of madness, savagery and malice that is war. Grace, redemption, mercy, kindness, love of neighbor--the stuff of New Testament faith--are incompatible with the killing rage of combat....

November 25, 2004 (quoting from Edwin Gaustad):

As president for two terms, [George Washington] did not altogether avoid the language of religion,but it was a public or civil religion that he addressed, doing so in a language that demonstrated no great passion. When he chose to speak of God, it was in terms like "the Grand Architect," "the Governor of the Universe," "the Supreme Dispenser of all Good," "the Great Ruler of Events," and even "the Higher Cause."...

Moreover, Washington studiously avoided referring to the person and ministry of Jesus. When in 1789 some Presbyterian leaders complained to Washington about the Constitution's absence of any reference to "the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent," the nation's first president calmly replied,"The path of true piety is so plain as to require but little political direction."...

And here's what David Alan Black has said:

[T]he solution to [various issues] is neither an obscurantist rightism that identifies our nation as God’s country—“my country right or wrong”—nor a myopic leftism that declares our political, social, and economic structures to be essentially immoral. The solution, rather, is a return to the solas of the Reformation: Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Solo Christo, and Soli Deo Gloria. Indeed, the confusion of civil religion (“America is a Christian nation”) with historic Christianity has greatly weakened the impact of the gospel on the American scene, effectively neutering the best remedy for our ideological illnesses. Thus, churches that espouse the “Christian nation” mentality all too often may be found prostituting their calling through modernistic compromise on the one hand and self-centered superficiality on the other.

The scary thing is that people look at the policies of American civil religion and automatically assume that they are Christian policies. Maybe I don't have the right translation of the Bible, but my Bible does not include the following:
  • A republican form of representative government is the sole form of government ordained by God.

  • The nation of the United States of America is the logical successor to the Old Testament nation of Israel.

  • A personal relationship with Christ is not necessary - American citizenship is an acceptable substitute that will ensure one's personal salvation.

  • Despite what it says in the Ten Commandments, it's OK to pray to the U.S. flag.

If someone has this particular translation of the Bible, please let me know.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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