A Christian Defense of the Rights of Moslems and Others in a Democracy (or Constitutional Republic)

Martin Niemöller was a war hero.  He had served on U-Boats during the First World War and commanded a U-Boat in 1918 sinking a number of ships.  After the war he resigned his commission in the Navy in opposition to the Weimar Republic and briefly was a commander in a local Freikorps unit. His book Vom U-Boot zur Kanzel (From U-boat to Pulpit) traced his journey from the Navy to the pastorate. He became a Pastor and as a Christian opposed what he believed to be the evils of Godless Communism and Socialism.  This placed him in the very conservative camp in the years of the Weimar Republic and he rose in the ranks of the United Evangelical Church of the Old Prussian Union.  Active in conservative politics, Niemöller initially support the appointment of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor.  However, he quickly soured on Hitler due to his insistence on the state taking precedence over the Church.  Niemöller was typical of many Germans of his era and harbored ant-Semitic sentiments that he only completely abandoned his anti-Semitic views until after he was imprisoned.  He would spend 8 years as a prisoner of the Nazis a period hat he said changed him including his views about Jews, Communists and Socialists.  Niemöller was one of the founding members of the Pfarrernotbund (Pastor’s Emergency Federation) and later the Confessing Church. He was tried and imprisoned in concentration camps due to his now outspoken criticism of the Hitler regime.

Herman Maas was another Evangelical Pastor.  Unlike Niemöller, Maas was a active participant in the ecumenical movement, built bridges to the Jewish community and defended the rights of Jews as German citizens.  He received a fair amount of criticism for his attendance of Reichspräsident Friedrich Ebert’s funeral.  Ebert was both a Socialist and avowed atheist.  Maas too was active in the Pfarrernotbund and the Confessing church, and unlike Niemöller maintained his opposition to anti-Semitism and the Nazi policies against the Jews. He would help draft the Barmen declaration.  He too would be imprisoned and survive the war.  Maas was the first non-Jewish German to be officially invited to the newly formed state of Israel in 1950. In July 1964 Yad Vashem recognized the Maas as one of the Righteous Among the Nations.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer a young Pastor and theologian would also step up to oppose the Nazis and offer support for the Jews.  He helped draft the Bethel Confession which among other things rejected “every attempt to establish a visible theocracy on earth by the church as a infraction in the order of secular authority. This makes the gospel into a law. The church cannot protect or sustain life on earth. This remains the office of secular authority.”  He also helped draft the Barmen declaration which opposed and condemned Nazi Christianity.  Bonhoeffer would eventually along with members of his family take an active role in the anti-Nazi resistance as a double agent for Admiral Canaris’ Abwehr.  For this he would be executed after his final sermon in the concentration camp at Flossenburg just a month prior to the end of the war.  Another opponent of the Nazis in the Confessing Church was Swiss-German theologian Karl Barth.  Barth went into exile as a Swiss citizen but remained active in the criticism of the Nazi regime.

Bishop Galen of Münster and Father and others including Father Rupert Meyer in Munich who opposed Hitler in the early 1920s would also oppose the Nazi policies toward the Church and the Jews.  They would also end up in concentrations camps with some dying at the hands of the Nazis.

All these men took risks to defend the Jews who were religious minority group that had been traditionally discriminated against in Germany.  They opposed the Nazi policies which were widely supported by much of the German populace making them unpopular in their own churches as among the traditionally conservative supporters of the Evangelical and Catholic Churches.  The Jews were not simply discriminated against as a racial or religious group but also identified with the political left, especially the Social Democrats, Independent Socialists, Communists and the Spartacists. Since the Independent Socialists, Communists and Spartacists were all involved in attempts to create a Soviet state during the early tumultuous years of Weimar and been involved in many acts of violence against traditional German institutions and the state, they were viewed by Hitler and others as part of the Bolshevik-Jewish threat to Germany.  Karl Liebnicht and Rosa Luxembourg were among the high profile leaders of this movement in Germany and both were Jewish.  The fact that many in the leadership of the Bolshevik movement in the Soviet Union were Jewish added fuel to the fire that the Nazis stoked in Germany.  Hitler and the Nazis played on the historic, but muted prejudice against German Jews who in many cases were more secular and German than religious and had assimilated well in Germany.  Hitler’s rhetoric as well as that of other Nazis and Nazi publications helped identify the Jews as part of the “Stab in the back” myth that was commonly used by the German right to explain the defeat in the First World War.  Thus they were painted as a political and social threat to Germany.

When Hitler took power persecution of the Jews began in earnest.  Jews were along with Communists, Trade Unions and Socialists enemies of the state.  They were banned from the military, civil service and other government employment, professional associations and forced to wear a gold Star of David on their clothing.  Their property was seized, many were abused by SA men acting as deputized auxiliary police and many times their businesses, Synagogues and homes were vandalized, burned or seized by the state.  Many would be forced to flee in order not to be sent to ghettos and concentration camps.  Even those leaving only escaped with the minimum of their possessions as the Nazi regime extorted anything of value from them as they left Germany.  This was all done because Hitler and those like him portrayed the Jews as not only an inferior race, but enemies of the state and the German people.

Today we face a similar movement in conservative circles in the United States.  This time it is not the Jews, but Moslems who are the targets of xenophobic rage by many influential members of the “conservative” media, including Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and numerous others.  Their popularity in voicing support for “Christian morale values” such as being against abortion has ingratiated them with conservative Christians.  It is so bad that that many “conservative” Christians cannot differentiate between their vitriolic and un-Christian rage against Moslems, Democrats or anyone else portrayed by the big media talkers as the enemy that they have forgotten the Gospel and become simply an appendage to Republican or “conservative” politicians.  It is not uncommon to see Christians on the web or on the call in talk radio programs identify lock stock and barrel with Limbaugh and others identifying the crass materialism and social Darwinism of “pure” Capitalism and the anti-Christian policy of pre-emptive war.   That may seem harsh, but many of these people in the “Conservative Bible project” seek to re-translate the Bible into their own political, social and economic policies even seeking to change or minimize any Scripture that might be equated with the “Social Gospel.”  Unfortunately many Christians and others have jumped in on the anti-Moslem and anti-immigrant crusades launched by those on the far right.

These men and women have found new grist in the wake of the traitorous terrorism of the disaffected and possibly psychotic Major Nidal Malik Hasan at Fort Hood where he killed 13 and wound 30 Soldiers and military civilians.  Why Hasan was allowed to continue to serve after numerous reports of his Anti-American and pro-Jihadist is the question that needs to be investigated.  However the reaction of some is to treat all Muslims as suspect in a collective manner.  This is troubling.  I have posted just a few of the comments by various “conservatives” some who are Christians to demonstrate the point.

Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association is demanding that Moslems be removed from the military or other security related positions in government.  His position is that until we can prove which Moslems are not going to commit acts of terrorism that we should ban them from the military.  His comments are here:

“It it is time, I suggest, to stop the practice of allowing Muslims to serve in the U.S. military. The reason is simple: the more devout a Muslim is, the more of a threat he is to national security. Devout Muslims, who accept the teachings of the Prophet as divinely inspired, believe it is their duty to kill infidels. Yesterday’s massacre is living proof. And yesterday’s incident is not the first fragging incident involving a Muslim taking out his fellow U.S. soldiers. Of course, most U.S. Muslims don’t shoot up their fellow soldiers. Fine. As soon as Muslims give us a foolproof way to identify their jihadis from their moderates, we’ll go back to allowing them to serve. You tell us who the ones are that we have to worry about, prove you’re right, and Muslims can once again serve. Until that day comes, we simply cannot afford the risk. You invent a jihadi-detector that works every time it’s used, and we’ll welcome you back with open arms. This is not Islamophobia, it is Islamo-realism.”

Pat Robertson of the 700 Club and Regent University said:

“Islam is a violent–I was going to say religion–but it’s not a religion. It’s a political system. It’s a violent political system bent on the overthrow of governments of the world and world domination.”

“They talk about infidels and all this. But the truth is, that’s what the game is. You’re dealing with not a religion. You’re dealing with a political system. And I think you should treat it as such and treat it’s adherents as such. As we would members of the Communist party and members of some Fascist group.”

Dave Gaubatz, author of Muslim Mafia said:

Politicians, Muslims, and law enforcement are concerned about a ‘backlash’ against Muslims. Now is the time for a professional and legal backlash against the Muslim community and their leaders.” The post was redacted later by the website that it was on to change “backlash against the Muslim community” to “backlash against the Muslim Brotherhood.”  I guess the website realized that the use of the term community went a bit far.

Brigitte Gabriel of the American Congress for Truth told students at the Joint Forces Staff College  in response to the question “Should we resist Muslims who want to seek political office in this nation?”

“Absolutely. If a Muslim who has — who is — a practicing Muslim who believes the word of the Koran to be the word of Allah, who abides by Islam, who goes to mosque and prays every Friday, who prays five times a day — this practicing Muslim, who believes in the teachings of the Koran, cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America.”

Tell that to the Moslem Soldiers and Marines who have given their lives for this country and their fellow warriors in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Some of those include: U. S. Army Corporal Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan who was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq, U.S. Army Specialist Rasheed Sahib who was accidently shot to death by a fellow soldier in Iraq, U.S. Army Major James Ahearn, killed by a bomb in Iraq, Army Captain Humayun Khan, who lured a suicide car bomb away from the men in his charge, saving their lives but giving up his own, Army Spc. Rasheed Sahib, an American Muslim from Guyana, Army Spc. Omead Razani, a son of Iranian immigrants or Marine Staff Sgt. Kendall Damon Waters-Bey, who was killed in a helicopter crash, and sadly many more.

Popular Talk Radio host and Fox News commentator Glenn Beck made this comment back in December 2006:

“I’m telling you, with God as my witness… human beings are not strong enough, unfortunately, to restrain themselves from putting up razor wire and putting you on one side of it. When things—when people become hungry, when people see that their way of life is on the edge of being over, they will put razor wire up and just based on the way you look or just based on your religion, they will round you up. Is that wrong? Oh my gosh, it is Nazi, World War II wrong, but society has proved it time and time again: It will happen.”

Timothy Rollins of the American Partisan suggests in the wake of the Fort Hood shootings:

“While the dust is still settling and everything starts getting sorted out with the usual deflections away from the truth that this administration is notorious for doing, there is no better time than now to improve the safety of our military, and this can best be done by enacting the Great Muslim Purge from our military and other national security apparatuses. These people need to be removed from every security post, even to be completely removed from all levels of government employment, be it federal, state, county, city or other municipality. This applies especially to universities. To keep them employed in these positions places our food, water, and other essential services at unacceptable risk.”

Of course there is Doug Giles an unabashed “Christian” columnist for Townhall.com using scripture to justify torture making this delightfully Christian comment in one of his columns about the practice of water boarding:  “Please note: If Christ wasn’t cool with irrigating irate Islamicists for facts, I must admit, I would still have to green light our boys getting data from enemy combatants 007 style. Stick a fire hose up their tailpipe and turn it on full blast. I don’t care. I’m not as holy as most of you super saints or as evolved as some of you progressive atheists purport to be. Security beats spirituality in this scenario, as far as I’m concerned.”

This is so similar to the Nurnberg Laws and the Aryan Paragraph issued by the Nazis that it is scary.  Likewise the threats to American Moslems of placing them “behind razor wire” as we did to American Japanese citizens in World War II are chilling.  I wonder how Christians would react if an atheist or someone on the political left suggested all conservative Christians or members of pro-Life groups be imprisoned for the actions of Christians or pro-Life movement members like Scott Roeder or Eric Rudolph who killed to stop abortion or Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church?

This new found militancy has swept up the “Christian right” and others since 9-11 and has reached proportions that I could never have imagined. After my tour in Iraq I realized that much of what these people were saying was not Christian at all and when taken to their logical conclusion would be a police state in which anyone who opposed them would be persecuted. In Iraq I met many good Moslems fighting on our side against jihadists and terrorists many of whom have great respect and appreciation of the Christian faith and are more tolerant to Christians than many Christians are to Moslems.  These men put their families at risk to side with us to try to free Iraq from Al Qaida terror.  Almost all had lost family and friends to extremists.

As for the suggestions or demands that all Moslems be investigated and removed from the military these people insist that such action is necessary in the name of “security” and “protecting the Constitution.” All Moslems, even those who are loyal American citizens as well as those from Iraq and other nations who fight and die alongside Americans are placed on the same level as the fanatics and terrorists.  I question the motivations of the leaders of the movement but believe that most of the Christian conservatives have been caught up in the anger and the emotion of the times versus being true believers in what these men say.  That being said, you don’t have to be a true believer to be a willing accomplice in actions that first are not Christian and second trample on the Constitutional rights of American citizens.

I could keep citing examples but if someone can show me where this is condoned in the Gospels I would like to know.  The fact is that Christians are to place God first and defend the rights of others, even non-believers.  This is found not only in Scripture but runs through the Christian tradition across the denominational spectrum unfortunately there are Americans such as Marine Reservist Jasen Bruce have gone “terrorist hunting” and misidentifying a Greek Orthodox Priest as a Jihadist attacking him because of he didn’t speak English. http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/crime/article1050707.ece Admittedly people like Bruce are idiots, but it doesn’t take much to push some people over the edge.

The fact that so many people are suggesting such actions against American Moslems is troubling on a number of levels especially when those doing so claim to be Christians.  First is that it is the Church, or member’s thereof adopting a non-Christian worldview and attempting to use the state to enact legislation and laws against minority groups that they oppose, in this case the Moslems.  The fact that we live in a secular state, something that many of our Nation’s founding Fathers intended it to be, especially in regard to religion being mandated by the state is a point lost on many of these people.  Many Christians have completely embraced the mythology of the United States being a “Christian Nation.” With some even regarding the Constitution as a God inspired document.  For a more detailed critique of the Christian Nation mythology see Jared Holloway’s article on his Saepe Nihil Cogitamus website: http://jzholloway.wordpress.com/2009/08/04/did-the-founding-fathers-usa-found-the-nation-as-a-christian-nation/

Thankfully there are some, including the daughters of one of the men killed by Major Hasan who said on CBS The Early Show Kerry Cahill said:

“You can’t blanket a whole group of people. There’s extremists in every religion, and there’s extremists all over the world…when this man was obviously ill, I think.” Her sister Keely Vanacker said, “The death of our father or any of these victims shouldn’t be an excuse or a reason to begin to hate an entire group of people.”

There are also leaders of the Religious Right who have taken a stand against such action, Reverend Rob Schenck, President of the National Clergy Council, comments in regard to the Moslem prayer vigil in Washington D.C. earlier this year:  “With over 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, it is important that Christians have an open dialogue with the Islamic community. The church must never be timid in reaching out to peoples and groups with differing beliefs and traditions. Too much is at stake for future generations not to begin this historic conversation. This is an opportunity that we cannot afford to miss.”

And the Reverend Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition states:

“The heart of Christ is to reach out and build bridges to all peoples regardless of what their faith traditions or beliefs might be. Several years ago the Christian Defense Coalition began reaching out to the Muslim world which resulted in a prayer delegation going to Baghdad to pray for the nation of Iraq and Prime Minister Maliki. Since then we have had many conversations and discussions with Islamic leaders in Washington, D.C. and around the world. This news conference gives us another chance to dialogue and share with our Islamic neighbors. It also gives us the platform to celebrate the greatness of America where everyone is allowed to practice their faith tradition in the public square free from government interference of harassment. The prayer vigil on the lawn of the Capitol this Friday highlights that timeless truth. Since 9/11, the church should not run from Muslims in America but begin reaching out with God’s love.”

What the good people who suggesting these punitive actions against American Moslems do is dangerous, not just for Moslems and other minorities but for them.  American and English law is based on legal precedence.  Once something has been determined to be legal, or constitutional it is considered by the law to be settled law.  This is a point made by Chief Justice Roberts regarding Roe v. Wade at his confirmation hearings.  If Christians want to use the law against Moslems or for that matter any other minority be it religious or political they tread on very dangerous ground.  Not only do they make a mockery of the Gospel command to love our neighbors, care for the foreigners among us and to be a witness to non-Christians support policies or laws that if enacted could and very well would be used against them by their opponents.  Law is all about precedent and if such laws were enacted and upheld by the courts they would be settled law that could be used against anyone.   What these dear brothers and sisters fail to realize is that such laws can be turned against them if the state should ever decided based on the statements of actions of some that the Christian community is a threat to state security of the public welfare.  With the actions of some radical Christians who have committed murder and violence against political, social and religious opponents it would not be hard for the government to label whole churches as enemies of the state.  The law is a two edged sword and those who want to use it to have the state enforce their religious, social, ideological or political beliefs on others need to remember what comes around goes around.

The Confessing church understood this and many were imprisoned, exiled or killed for this belief.  The founding fathers of this country understood this too, that is why there is the Constitution protection of Religion in the First Amendment.  This was put in because Virginia Baptists who had been persecuted by Anglicans lobbied James Madison for the amendment in the Bill of Rights threatening to withdraw their support for his candidacy if he did not.  Niemöller would discover the depths of his earlier folly in prison telling one interviewer after the war:

“I find myself wondering about that too. I wonder about it as much as I regret it. Still, it is true that Hitler betrayed me. I had an audience with him, as a representative of the Protestant Church, shortly before he became Chancellor, in 1932. Hitler promised me on his word of honor, to protect the Church, and not to issue any anti-Church laws. He also agreed not to allow pogroms against the Jews, assuring me as follows: ‘There will be restrictions against the Jews, but there will be no ghettos, no pogroms, in Germany. I really believed given the widespread anti-Semitism in Germany, at that time—that Jews should avoid aspiring to Government positions or seats in the Reichstag. There were many Jews, especially among the Zionists, who took a similar stand. Hitler’s assurance satisfied me at the time. On the other hand, I hated the growing atheistic movement, which was fostered and promoted by the Social Democrats and the Communists. Their hostility toward the Church made me pin my hopes on Hitler for a while. I am paying for that mistake now; and not me alone, but thousands of other persons like me.”

It is easy for well meaning people Niemöller to be bought with promises of support by politicians and media types who speak the words they want to hear in difficult times.  So today I suggest the formation of an ecumenical Pastor’s Emergency League which will not be bought by the empty and godless promises of hate mongers on the right or the left.  Such a group of men and women spanning the breadth of the Christian tradition and others that see the danger of extremism of all types is becoming necessary.  Such a step is becoming necessary due to the militancy of the Christian right as well as the militancy of atheist groups who lobby against all public religious expression by any religion.  Such a League would respect the various creeds and statements of faith of each member’s denomination.  The movement o the right has set a dangerous course fraught with perils that they do not comprehend. Just allow those that they believe are oppressing or persecuting them now to be empowered with the precedent of laws discriminating against specific religious groups against the Christians that supported them in the first place.  It will be a bitter poison indeed when that happens to them later if American Moslems were to be targets by such laws.

We have entered a dangerous phase of American history.  These movements have the potential not only to oppress law-abiding and patriotic American Moslems and to crush the religious freedoms of all in this county. Suggesting that American citizens, including those who serve the county in the military or government of entire religious or ethnic groups be  targeted for punitive action on the basis of extremists and fanatics like Major Hasan sets a precedent that is chilling.

Niemöller would say it well in this poem:

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Peace,

Padres Steve+

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40 Comments

Filed under History, iraq,afghanistan, Military, philosophy, Religion

40 responses to “A Christian Defense of the Rights of Moslems and Others in a Democracy (or Constitutional Republic)

  1. I wish I could make the points as eloquently as you have. You would think that given the terrible evil of WWII, we would have learned something – something would have seeped into the DNA of our social memory to prevent us from looking down that slippery slope.

    Well said, Fr. Steve.

  2. Indeed. I feel like we are the precipice of disaster, when, just like Germany, we are dividing those who are (picking something) and those who are not. It is a dangerous mind set.

  3. padresteve

    It really is my friend…it really is.

  4. Wow. This is an amazing piece. Thanks. I’m going to link to it from my own blog, where I’ve just had a fairly-long argument with an admitted bigot over this very issue.

    I apologize in advance if that nutcase comes over here. Still, you did some great work, here, and I’d like more people to see it.

    Blessings!

    • padresteve

      Wow, you did have an exchange with that guy. I’ve had one so far like that but not your guy. Mine told me that I’ve turned traitor.

      Peace, Steve+

  5. Pingback: Padre Steve Defends the Rights of Moslems « A True Believer's Blog

  6. Why do you find it troubling? All Muslims believe essentially the same things; their differences are either immaterial to civilized societies (Shiite v. Sunni v. Sufi), or are a matter of degree depending on their level of devotion to Allah, Muhammad the Baby-Raper, and his book of diseased ravings.

    Greats Gods! You’ve turned traitor against your own in order to defend the supposed rights of a group of people whose every belief and goal is antithetical to America.

    • padresteve

      I figured as much and expected responses just like yours…but then when I see responses like yours I know that I am right. I think that the Nazis called men like Niemoller, Bonhoeffer Colonel Von Stauffenburg, General Ludwig Beck and many German patriots traitors for defending the rights of a group that they believed to be sub-human traitors to the German people. Good job friend you proved my point.

      • You expect a different response when you call Americans Nazis in the process of defending Muslims? Ever here of Godwin’s Rule?

        It is one thing to say that the rule of law must be followed. It is another thing, and a traitorous one, to vilify Americans for seeking to protect themselves and you from a deadly enemy.

      • padresteve

        You certainly cannot read my friend. I called no American a Nazi. I said these actions and words are Nazi like and have a potential to be worse. The people that I quote vilify themselves and I’m sorry that you cannot see that. I do not call you names but since I have been to war twice against the terrorists and will likely go again I suggest that you stop calling me a traitor. I’ve actually gone in harm’s way to support and defend the Constitution unarmed and out with tiny groups of Americans in the middle of Moslems, both friend and foe alike. You suggest trampling the Constitution in the name of security. Yes I have heard of Godwin’s rule. I’m not ignorant. However to compare actions and words with those of the Nazis is not unfair in this case. Go ahead, call me what you want, but while you sit secure under the blanket of security that I and others provide you while calling me a traitor remember that I put my life on the line more than once already. Once again you prove my point.

      • Padre,

        Lovely semantics – you didn’t call Americans Nazis; you just said that they acted like them or spoke Nazi-esque rhetoric.

        I also just adore the inference that I’m a coward sheltered by your – laudable – service. It’s mistaken though. I spent years, much as yourself, putting myself in harms way to defend the people of America. I admit though that it’s very unlikely that I’ll ever be back in the service at this point and equally unlikely I’ll be doing anymore civilian contract work in either war zone.

        What I still cannot comprehend is why you and Joel care so little about defending Americans against the terrorists inside America. Nor can I understand how anyone who has seen what our enemies are like can be so dead set against reasonable precautions being applied to Muslims within America.

        Last I looked, none of the people you’re ranting about are calling for a pogrom.

      • padresteve

        There are none so blind….

      • I could say the same.

        While you and Joel think I’m “Nazi-esque,” I think you’ve lost your way and forgotten that your loyalties should be to Americans, not the Muslims we’re fighting – and yes, from I’ve seen, heard, and felt with my body, it’s Muslims we’re fighting, not merely enemies that happen to be Muslims.

        Again, why are you so dead-set against any American who advocates some reasonable precautions? Why are you so eager to vilify the Americans who advocate such?

      • padresteve

        What are “reasonable precautions?” Denying Constitutional rights of citizens based on religious association? Hitler and the Nazis were Germans but the United States did not round up, persecute or deny the rights of German Americans despite the fact that the Bund was quite strong in the United States prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and that the Nazis were attacking our ships on the high seas prior to Pearl Harbor. Neither did we do that to Italian Americans. It is funny because many Germans and Italians were recent immigrants with many ties to their homelands. Now we did incarcerate the Japanese and our rhetoric toward them was as bad as anything seen today.

        You twist my words and say that I call you Nazi-esque? I never said such a thing nor called you anything. I am commenting on the consequences of the suggestions or demands of those who I quoted. What they say are the very things that we put Germans on trial for at Nurnberg.

        You also refer to my service with great sarcasm. Since I have been serving over 28 years and have deployed my ass off to combat zones I think that your sarcasm is snide, hateful and disrespectful. I never insulated that you hadn’t served because your blog does not identify you as a Veteran. I do honor your service in whatever component that you served.

        I saw your post defending a Republican political candidate in New York who happened to be a Pagan. I comment you on this, I would have done the same no matter who was questioning his fitness to serve. However I wonder if you would be defending him if he were a Democrat and Fundamentalist Christians were doing what the idiots on the left did to him. I would really aplaud you in that case.

        The fact that we are fighting Moslems does not change our responsibilities as citizens to our fellow citizens no matter what their religion. Major Hasan is a traitor to his oath, his country and will be punished. If there are others like him the investigation will uncover them. If there is a need to scrutinize some more than others based on their actions and words, not their religion or ethnicity and remove them from the service or prosecute them I am in favor of that. But I cannot and will not condone the suggestions that all Moslems are the enemy or that we should treat them all as potential suspects. I have seen Christians say that they place their Church or religious tradition above their American citizenship. Does this mean that we should decide that all Christians are suspect?

        Sir, you play with a double edged sword and miss my point entirely.

        Peace, Padre Steve+

      • I will, in fact, think on some of what you have said.

        That aside though, I did not mean to denigrate your military service. if it sounded as if I was being sarcastic about it you have my apologies to accept or reject as you see fit.

        But…since I largely agree with the people you alluded to being Nazi-like and defended them to you – and received your scorn (fair enough) in return – I don’t think it was “twisting your words” to assume you thought of me in the same fashion.

        Right now I’m going to pause and breathe. For various reasons – residence (NYC), lost comrades, and permanent injuries received – this is a very personal issue for me. Aas such, I’m probably being more vitriolic and polarized in my writing than should be my wont.

      • padresteve

        Thank you partner. I too came back gooned up from my time in Iraq. I have lost comrades and even knew a medal of Honor Winner, Jason Dunham, who was one of my Marines with Marine Security Forces before he shipped off to Iraq. I went through some pretty sporty situations including one where I was with an American senior adviser and Iraqi Brigade commander when they had to deal with a traitorous logistics officer who was selling coalition fuel to the enemy and had put out a hit on the American officer. The incident took place in a room where everyone was armed but me and I played a part in the confrontation of this traitor to Iraq by tripping him up when he tried to play the religious card. Having been shot at by small arms and rockets and seen young Americans wounded and dead made a permanent impact on me. I also believe that all Americans have the right to free speech, even those that I disagree with. I never suggest censoring anyone, however I do get concerned when I see people who are well meaning take a leap of logic, speech and action that can and would be used against them. I say this because there are those who would have no problems shutting down or silencing Christians based on real examples of Christian denigration of other people based on religion, social views or political leanings. I also get concerned when I see people who claim to be Christians use the Bible to justify the abuse or discrimination of whole groups of people. It causes me to wonder if they are not more like the Taliban than they are most Americans regardless of religious affiliation. Such people readily fall into line with tyrants and that is my concern. That is what happened to many good Germans during the Nazi era, they allowed historic prejudice and political ideology to blind them to the evils of the Nazi regime before it was too late. I am concerned because I feel that we are perched upon a precipice and that it will not take much to push us over the edge that will destroy liberty for all Americans.

        Thank you for your service. I do understand where you are coming from and I pray that you will find healing from all the wounds that you have suffered defending our country just as I continue my recovery.

        Peace, Padre Steve+

      • elkay

        I should point out here that here in America, well meaning government interned countless Japanese for the so-called safety of the country. It happened once, and we should all be vigilant against it happening again. Steve, thank you for such a carefully written article, all christians would do well to heed your words.

      • Elkay, what’s sad is that there are some people who refer back to that now and say that it’s a good thing. Michael Savage comes to mind. He notes that even FDR, the “liberal Socialist vermin” was willing to protect this country.

        There are people who no longer look at the Japanese internment as a black spot in US history. That terrifies me.

      • padresteve

        Revisionist history is not simply something that liberals do is it?

      • padresteve

        Sad isn’t it Lisa that Christians should be taken up in such causes.

      • Out of curiosity, what about the thousands of Muslims serving in the military right now?

        What about all of those Muslims who help our military forces in Iraq or Afghanistan? You know, those local translators, guides, etc..

        And do I really want to get into this conversation again?

    • Will

      All Christians believe essentially the same things. Are we all bombers? Do we all think we should kill abortion doctors? Of course not! That would be a STEREOTYPE which would be WRONG. Do you understand what I’m getting at? If not, read this post again. I even made the keywords big so you could catch them more easily. You’d think you would have learned something from the civil rights movement.

    • Anna

      Oh .. r u sure Mr. ?

      i think ur opinion is narrow-minded and biased.
      and wt do u mean by America. America the people, the land, or the government ?

      think twice

      • padresteve

        I love your literacy. It inspires me to know that someone of such intellectual and literary power calls me narrow minded and biased. But then since many people view being intellectual as liberal or worse I am not surprised. I’ve been to war and will likely go again. Protecting the rights of American citizens regardless of their religious, philosophic or even political views is important. Once you go down the slippery slope of denying the rights of people or discriminating against them simply because a person of their faith or belief commits an act of terrorism is not narrow minded or biased. I invite you to consider what you would feel of someone of whatever faith or ideology that you are committed a similar act and others were calling for people like you to be interred, investigated or worse simply because of your religious, ideological or political belief.

        By the way give Sarah Palin and Dick Cheney my best.

        Peace,

        Padre Steve+

      • padresteve

        By the way, it is very hard for me to divide the American people, the land and the government. The Constitution applies to all.

  7. I say, Fr. Steve, that we get rid of the pagans because we know that all pagans are involved in animal and child sacrifices as well.

    And Christians, because people like Steve Anderson and Pat Robertson and Bill O’Reilly daily call for the wrath of God on this one or that one.

    And on Democrats and Socialists and extreme Conservatives and every group that has at least one extremist sect.

    These are all enemies of our grand democracy founded upon religious toleration, in part.

    What is treacherous are those people who have forgotten the hope of this country.

  8. padredavidfell

    Steve+

    Well said. The Ft. Hood event, where I live and serve, prompted me to take a hard look at how those who claim to follow Christ need to respond. I pray it will help bring healing to some of your enraged readers. Peace, David+

    http://padredavidfell.wordpress.com/2009/11/08/recovery-or-revenge-the-complexities-of-grief-in-the-light-of-the-brutal-murder-of-13-physical-injury-of-38-and-much-much-more-at-fort-hood-on-november-5th/

  9. A Marine! I should have known – and there’s insult intended in that.

    I was born into the Corps. My mother graduated from OCS at Quanitco many, many years ago. Later I had what was to me the great honor of attending AMT at Quantico – even though I wasn’t a Marine (Navy here).

  10. My reply is above somewhere. The comment nesting went pear-shaped I think.

    A Marine! I should have known – and there’s insult intended in that.

    I was born into the Corps. My mother graduated from OCS at Quanitco many, many years ago. Later I had what was to me the great honor of attending AMT at Quantico – even though I wasn’t a Marine (Navy here).

    It’s a small world at times…

    • padresteve

      Believe it or not I did 17 1/2 years in the Army and Army reserve as enlisted, Medical Service Corps officer and company commander in Cold War Germany and Chaplain. I gave up my rank of Major in the USAR to go on Navy active duty as a LT in the Chaplain Corps in February 1999. I did my first tour with 2nd Marine Division where the division chaplain used me as “relief pitcher” whenever a chaplain got fired. I was on USS HUE CITY CG-66 for OEF and was an unarmed “adviser” to a boarding team because my skipper wanted someone with some gray hair to interface with the masters of detained smugglers. I made 75 boardings of detained ships off Iraq in 2002. I then did 3 years with the Marine Security Forces and traveled world wide with those Marines in Asia, the Middle East and Europe as well as many places in the USA where I met Cpl Dunham at Kings Bay Georgia in 2003 or early 2004. While at security forces I completed USMC Command and Staff College where I found out that former SECDEF Rumsfeld violated about every point of doctrine and CENTCOM planning by going into Iraq light on forces. I think that he got a lot of Americans killed by ignoring our senior military leaders. I also qualified as a Fleet Marine Force Officer while there. I did a tour with Navy EOD and was sent as an individual augmentee to Anbar with the Marine and Army Advisers to the Iraqi 1st and 7th Divisions, 2nd Border Brigade and the Iraqi Police, Highway Patrol and Port of Entry Police. My duties there entailed much travel by air and ground through some pretty sporty areas. So I have spend over half of my Navy time assigned to the Marines. I now serve at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth. I expect that when my boss determines that I again a full up round that I will go to Afghanistan sometime next year. I am at 28 years and counting in my career. I’ve done the “Commie Trifecta” (Berlin Wall, North Korean DMZ and the Gitmo-Cuba Fence Line.) My academic background apart from Theology and Pastoral Care is in Modern German (Franco-Prussian war and on) with a concentration in Weimar and Nazi Germany and I am finishing a degree in Military History with a WWII focus. However during my degree program I developed a sub-specialization in Counter-Insurgency warfare and before I went to Iraq attended the Jordanian Army Peace Operations Training Center. I am not a “normal” Chaplain and certainly no fundamentalist. Having seen what religious divisions have done in the Balkans and Iraq I get scared when I see “Christian” leaders, politicians and columnists suggesting things that are similar to what the Nazis did by demonizing an entire religion for the actions of a fanatical minority. Likewise I realize having served alongside Iraqis that such actions are counter productive if we want to win this war. We can’t afford to give Al Qaida and others to make grist out of such attacks on American Moslems.

      Blessings and please take care, be safe and thank you for your service and sacrifice.

      Peace, Padre Steve+

      Good on your for your Navy service there shipmate and take care. Blessings, Padre Steve+

  11. Padre… excellent piece… I look forward to discussing this and other issues when I am there 🙂

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