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Passionate Moderates Arise!

“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” Thomas Jefferson

The Reign of Terror, the End Result of Extremist Ideologies

Everywhere I look I see extremism winning. It doesn’t matter which corner of our furry world you look it seems that some sort of extremist group or bunch of radicals is dominating the landscape.  It doesn’t matter what realm of life it is the radicals and extremists dominate be it religion, politics, foreign policy, social issues, the environment, the worldwide economy and the media. I’m sorry to me it is a very unseemly environment and unfortunately will probably get far worse before it gets better.

Just take a look around the country and the world and you can see it. We have Muslim fundamentalist extremists committing acts of terror in the name of their faith against anyone that they oppose. There are Christian fundamentalists in Africa advocating killing homosexuals just because they can with the full support of some American fundamentalist groups.  In India Hindu fundamentalists burn Christian villages and kill the inhabitants. In Iran anyone that disagrees with the Islamic regime is a target of the Revolutionary Guard, in China dare disagree with the Communist party.  There are environmentalists that advocate killing off most of humanity to “save the planet” using the Vietnam war logic of “we had to destroy the village to save it.” I could go on naming example after example but that would simply be beating the dead horse so to speak and I would rather kill farting cows.

In the politics of American real moderates were pretty much driven from the Democratic Party and for the past 20 years or so the Republicans have been driving moderates from their ranks. Many of those that call themselves “moderate” still in political power simply pander and meander to stay in power giving the rest of us a bad name.  Now if you want to gauge just how much moderates are held in derision by these self proclaimed ideological purists just look around the blogosphere and you will see people on the right and the left use the same language and invective to castigate moderates. At least they can find something to agree about, maybe there is hope.   Let’s face it even Hitler and Stalin agreed about crushing Poland.

With all of the extremists about the world is lurching, no plunging into anarchy. As any student of history knows that anarchy is unsustainable because people in nations suffering under it will eventually give up and surrender freedom for the “security” that tyrants provide.  I don’t know about you but while tyrants provide order they also tend to repress the people that helped them into power, crush dissent at home and wage aggressive campaigns against their historic enemies who might have actually become friends in more civil times.  In a sense we have reverted to totalitarian tribalism in almost all areas of life where those of the political, ideological and religious extremes attempt to ensure that those views are dominant and all others crushed.

I remember once when I was attending seminary hearing a fundamentalist preacher remark that moderates that were recognizable by the tire tracks on their back and deserved to be run over. That was back in about 1990 or 1991.  As a moderate I was appalled because this preacher was fairly well known.  Now no moderate is safe.  In the United States true moderates as opposed to the pandering politicians than claim to be moderates are unwelcome in either of the major political party. In the religious world moderates are being driven from their churches or religious organizations because they do not adhere to the prevailing theological, social or political leanings of their particular religious faith.  Allegedly since moderates are not doctrinally ideologically pure they are not moderate at all but watered down versions of what they ideologues on the right and left view as their enemies.  In fact they are despised even more than their actual ideological or theological opponents.  I have seen atheists state that religious moderates are worse than fundamentalists and similar things said by religious fundamentalists regarding religious moderates. Even Hitler viewed moderates the same way these Jacobins and used such terms. It doesn’t matter what the issue is be it moral, social, political or dealing with other nations we now live in a world where alleged ideological or theological “purity” thumps everything and woe betide the person that raises his or her voice against the extremists. Mind you the ideological, political or theological purity that the radicals espouse is usually some bastardized form of the original because ideologues are as brazen liars in regard to truth as they come, except they claim to own the truth.

In fact such people cannot back down from their own propaganda because if they do they believe that they lose their corner on the truth. Adolf Hitler said in regard to this: As soon as by one’s own propaganda even a glimpse of right on the other side is admitted, the cause for doubting one’s own right is laid.

It used not to be this way in the United States.  Americans used to be appalled by extremists and our Founding Fathers feared extremists like the French Jacobins who conducted the reign of terror during the French Revolution. Moderation was considered a virtue and was the glue that held American society together during times of worldwide upheaval.  In the past we found common things to agree on even when we debated very divisive and explosive subjects.  We were the epitome of religious freedom of expression and tolerance and we found ways to appreciate the cultural contributions of immigrants from around the world.  Yes we had problems and still do but overall we did pretty well when we still valued one another.

Moderation meant that we respected the Constitution and the liberties that it promises to all citizens.  Moderation meant that the hate filled ideologies of Fascism, Nazism and Communism never found a home here, at least beyond that of limited enclaves of society.  We never had a Hitler or Stalin because we respected each other as Americans enough not to embrace such types of individuals and their hate driven ideologies.  Moderation meant that four Army Chaplains, two Protestants, a Catholic and a Jew gave away their life jackets to soldiers without on a doomed transport torpedoed by a U-Boat. Those chaplains after giving up their life jackets were seen embracing each other and praying as the ship went down.  Moderation meant that our politicians could go to the mat against each other on the campaign trail or in the halls of Congress but when all was said and done could still be friends and even grieve when an opponent passed away. As Thomas Jefferson said “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.” Now we have elected leaders as well as political pundits of both major parties calling the other side the enemy and hurling the vilest of epithets at one another to include the wish that their opponents would die.

American moderation sets the ideal of the Constitution and rights of fellow citizens over any ideology or theology that would trample those rights from the left or the right of the political, social or religious spectrum.  American moderation believed in an ideal of consensus, the consensus of the governed and the government to build a more perfect Union.  Of course consensus does not mean perfection or ideological purity thus we evolved from a country that believed that blacks were only 3/5ths of a person and could be enslaved to a country that fought a war to end that practice and then fought another 100 or so years to ensure that African Americans had equal rights. We have had similar, although not nearly as egregious examples of discrimination that we have fought to eliminate and not just racial. While not perfect we have aimed to ensure equal rights for all, but there are people that would use their political or religious (including Atheists) that would attempt to impose their beliefs on others, so the fight goes on. For those that want perfection you are not going to see it on this earth no matter what extremist promises that it can happen. America was great because it was a nation whose exceptionalism was not found in political or economic power but in our very form of government which promoted individual liberty as well as the common good.  Our founders believed strongly in majority rule but not at the expense of the minority. As Jefferson said: “All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.”

This worked because Americans made it work and resisted for the most part the temptation to abuse those liberties for the sake of one political party or religious sect’s gain.  Andrew Jackson said: “Americans are not a perfect people, but we are called to a perfect mission.”

That era has ended and thus real moderates need to stand up and become passionate for the ideals of individual liberty and the common good before those are savaged by extremists of every kind that promote their way as the only way. Moderates cannot be like the sham moderate politicians who sell their vote to the highest bidder while claiming to be non-partisan or moderate when in reality the only thing that they are concerned is maintaining their office and the power that goes with it. That is not moderation and our founders would spin in their graves at the thought of this. I would dare say that James Madison who was as great of a moderate and champion of liberty and the common good as any man that has ever lived would be appalled by what is going on today in the United States but also in the world.  Andrew Jackson saw the danger in his own day when he said: “I weep for the liberty of my country when I see at this early day of its successful experiment that corruption has been imputed to many members of the House of Representatives, and the rights of the people have been bartered for promises of office.” I know that many if not most politicians are susceptible to this but when those that proclaim that they are “moderate” do it they bring even more shame to their office.

If moderates not only in the United States but around the world do not start passionately promoting this kind of moderation they will end up like the fundamentalist preacher said with “tire tracks down their backs,” but I think that they might have worse in their backs, perhaps knives or bullets.  If moderates do not stand up for individual rights and the common good and build real consensus that works for liberty we are doomed to political, social and religious fratricide and anarchy that will only end when one group of extremists wins and sets up a tyranny that oppresses all in the name of their ideology.

Look at us today we stopped dreaming and have given in to fear mongers of every imaginable persuasion. These fear mongers have no compunction in communicating that if things are not done their way that calamity will be the result and they use every form of media to communicate that to a populace in despair. They play on the fears that they create and gain support of people that are desperate. The result is that they are destroying the fabric of this nation every day.

Unfortunately that my dear readers is happening every day and it seems that no one has the wherewithal to stand up against it.  We live in an age where the world is in turmoil and “leaders” of all types actively seek to bring about the despair that increases their power over those that they govern. The world is going down the road that ends up in tyranny faster than the speed limit allows and the ones driving the bus are the are the radicals and extremists, the descendants of the Inquisition, the  Jacobins, Lenin, Stalin and Hitler, the perpetuators of genocide around the world and the Ayatollahs, Al Qaeda.  They hail from every country on the planet and are found among all religions including the Atheists, all political persuasions and economic point of view and mind you wherever you live on this big blue marble their desire is to gain and maintain power for themselves because they honestly believe that there is no other way but theirs.

True moderation is not just borrowing from the extremists and trying to find a “middle way” between them. That has been the trap of those who desire to be moderates for millennia. John Adams said: “In politics the middle way is none at all.” Moderates must not be looking for the middle way but be about forging a consensus built around truth and dare I say tolerance. Moderates must always seek the truth wherever it may be and not be afraid of those that chastise them for doing so simply because they do not fit one group or another’s ideological or doctrinal template. If moderates pursue such a life and maintain such an ethos they will be opposed by all extremist but have nothing to fear because truth is on their side.

However my friend’s true moderates are a dying breed in our land and in the world. I saw some analysis of voting patterns and exit polling from the last few elections and it appears from being some latent massive force that real moderates comprise only about 10-15% of the population.  I hope that those numbers are not true and only a passing phenomena.  Of course that is the result of several decades of bitter and acrimonious fighting that have so divided Americans that it is hard to imagine things going back to a better time.  The extremists have intentionally done everything that they can to rip apart the social, political and religious fabric of our nation just as extremists have done throughout history.  They do this because they know that such action serves to destroy consensus in order that they and their faction can gain absolute power.

If men and women of good will practiced the kind of moderation that I write about they would have nothing to fear.  In fact this kind of life promotes optimism. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer said: “The essence of optimism is that it takes no account of the present, but it is a source of inspiration, of vitality and hope where others have resigned; it enables a man to hold his head high, to claim the future for himself and not to abandon it to his enemy.”

Americans used to dream and imagine a better world and were willing to work together to make it happen. The words of President John F. Kennedy still resonate in my heart “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Likewise when the rest of the world was falling to totalitarianism in the 1930s as a result of the Great Depression when fear and panic gripped much of the nations, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said “we have nothing to fear but fear itself” and though many disagreed with his policies Republicans worked with him and a number served in his cabinet.

It is time that we returned to such an ethos. We live in an age where the world is in turmoil and “leaders” of all types actively seek to bring about the despair that increases their power over those that they govern.

Real moderates do stand for something and I for one am tired of those that decry moderates in favor of narrow self serving ideologies which promote the seeds anarchy, tyranny and oppression. It’s time to stand up. Andrew Jackson said: “Americans are not a perfect people, but we are called to a perfect mission.”

Padre Steve+

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Filed under faith, History, philosophy, Political Commentary, Religion

Gordon Klingenschmitt and his Followers- The Klingenfraud and the Klingenban

Gordon rides the bomb copyGordon Klingenschmitt in all his glory: Ride ’em Cowboy!

Note:  Please know that I am not attacking historic, Evangelical Christianity, nor Christians, Evangelical or otherwise who live their faith proclaiming the Gospel in this post.  Nor am I attacking anyone’s right to deeply held political beliefs.  This post focuses on Gordon Klingenschmitt and others like him who make their living by lying about others using character assassination, the promotion of sedition, secession and pray for the deaths of their political opponents.  Peaceful, law abiding protest and dissent are indispensable in our country.  Likewise the New Testament teaching of Jesus to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” is antithetical to what Klingenschmitt and the Klingenban are now doing. Unfortunately this bright but unstable man promotes himself in the crassest manner. Though he says what he is doing is for Jesus, it is readily apparent that he is not proclaiming Jesus but himself.    His lies and distortions have become legendary, yet he is a media darling of the Uber-Right.  So please, if you are a conservative Christian, Protestant or Catholic who lives a life upholding the Gospel, love your neighbor, living peaceably with others this does not apply to you. It applies to those who have been so consumed by hatred for the political and religious left that rules of good behavior, respectful dialogue and public decency have been abandoned.  They have been defined by and are now more faithful to extreme right wing political ideology than the Christian faith.  For literary purposes I will refer to them by naming them after their most prominent figure:  Former Chaplain disgraced Naval Officer, convicted criminal professional malcontent and protester Gordon J. Klingenschmitt.  His followers are the Klingenban.

“One-Minute Prayer: Let us pray. Almighty God, today we pray imprecatory prayers from Psalm 109 against the enemies of religious liberty, including Barry Lynn and Mikey Weinstein, who issued press releases this week attacking me personally. God, do not remain silent, for wicked men surround us and tell lies about us. We bless them, but they curse us. Therefore find them guilty, not me. Let their days be few, and replace them with Godly people. Plunder their fields, and seize their assets. Cut off their descendants, and remember their sins, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”  The Prayer of Gordon Klingenschmitt

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” Matthew 5:44  Jesus Christ

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.  Romans 13:1-2

There are two types of religious Fundamentalists who exist in every religion including Atheism and Secularism, which can for some have an almost religious quality.  There are those who while having and proclaiming their beliefs treat their opponents with respect, love and care.  These folks live their faith, treat others as they would want to be treated, understand that others, even if they believe them to be wrong and maybe even “Hell-bound” still have a right to their beliefs and equal treatment under the law.  In fact many of our nation’s most respected figures have been just these kinds of people.  They have helped make the United States a place where anyone can live peacefully and have the chance to better their lives while contributing to the general welfare of the nation.  They do not seek or desire that the Government take the side of any religious group.  In fact the religious liberty provision in the Bill of Rights was the result of Virginia Baptists who were being discriminated against by the Anglican Church which at the time was the State Church in Virginia.  These Baptists went to James Madison and presented their case and Madison included this in the Bill of Rights.  This was an extremely important event in the life of our Nation.  People forget that almost all of the original 13 colonies, save Rhode Island and Pennsylvania had established “State Churches.”  Eventually these all were disestablished, the last being the Congregational Church in Massachusetts in the 1830s. The second type is the radical Fundamentalist.  As I said these exist in every religion, even those religions which acknowledge no God. In recent times the focus has been on Moslem Extremists such as Al Qaida, the Taliban, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Islamic Jihad, radical Iranian Ayatollahs and other radical Moslem groups.  Likewise there are extremes in Judaism, Hinduism and other religions.  Some atheists and secularists too have had their moments of insanity.

Italy Afghanistan Commander KilledMullah Omar: Klingenschmitt’s Kindred Spirit

The common thread that runs through all of these groups is that they want to be in control of the government wherever they are and enforce their interpretation of their beliefs on others.  They are bullies of the faith.  What they cannot convince you to agree with you on they will push the state to do.  If the state is unwilling then be it through democratic process or hostile takeover they attempt to control the state and by doing so inflict their tyranny on others.  Europe had a long history of this. It has occurred elsewhere in the world.  In 1979 it was on full display when the Ayatollah Khomeini and his followers helped topple the Shah of Iran and then forced more secular reformers out of the government imposing their version of Islamic law.  While not to the same degree we have seen similar things happen in the United States both before and after our founding.  The Plymouth Bay Colony, which we are taught was founded on the principle of religious freedom, was just that.  It was founded so that these colonists could be free from the Church of England and be the State Church.  They were so heavy handed with dissenters that Roger Williams escaped, swimming the Narragansett to found the colony of Rhode Island. This became the first colony to guarantee religious freedom.  Secularists in Revolutionary France conducted routine religious purges.  Radical Hindus in India routinely target Christians and Moslems as well as Hindus of lower castes.   All of this was or is done with the active cooperation or tacit approval of the state.  If given the chance to actually influence policy Klingenfraud and his ilk would impose draconian measures on anyone who disagrees with them.

Yet, Klingenschmitt and the Klingenban exemplify this some of the most radical and compromised people who claim the name “Christian.”  Klingenschmitt’s prayer while unusually bold faced is not an uncommon belief among this radical fringe.  Numerous preachers re-interpret Romans 13: 1-7 180 degrees from what Paul and the early Church believed.  They seem to forget that Paul lived his life in the Roman Empire, which for Christians who were called atheists because they refused to call Caesar “Lord” were persecuted and killed.  Paul included.  Yet at no time do we see Paul telling Christians to take up the sword or to rebel against the Empire.  They died not for political power but for their faith which they refused to compromise.  The early church was known for their peaceful response to their tormentors. The Epistle to Diognetus writes of the Christians’ response to the hatred they received stating that Christians: “…love those who hate them.”  Tertullian in the Apology writes of Christian loyalty stating that Christians “…call upon God for the safety of the Emperor…” and that believers should know from Scripture “…that a superfluity of benevolence is enjoined on us, even so far as to pray God for our enemies and to entreat blessings for our persecutors.”  Such responses are far from those of the Klingenban.

In opposition to the early Church the Klingenban seek political power and the negation of those that oppose them.  Thus we see Klingenschmitt’s excoriation and prayer for the death of Michael Weinstein and Barry Lynn.  Additionally we see the calls for Christians to be prepared to use violence to resist the state.  Such attitudes in effect baptize behaviors that are not merely un-Christian but anti-Christian.  Praying for the death of people because they insult or demean you is not a Christian attitude.  It flies in the face of Jesus’ words on the Cross:  “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”  It is as self seeking as those who came to this continent seeking religious liberty only for themselves and those willing to submit to them.

Klingenschmitt in practice actively question the faith of those who disagreed with him during his Navy career.  I know of a Priest in a conservative Anglican church who while in seminary elected to go to the Norfolk Chapel to discuss the Navy Chaplaincy with a Navy Chaplain.  He met with Klingenschmitt who instead of discussing what it was to be a Chaplain insinuated that the man was “unsaved.”  Accordining to crew members who served with him on the USS Anzio he accosted those who were not his definition of Christian. He harrassed sailors when they returned to the ship from liberty. Instead of looking out for the mulitude of religious needs and protecting the religious liberty of his sailors, Klingenschmitt used his time in the Navy to advance his own agenda.   Chaplains are mandated to protect the First Ammendment rights of men and women who away from home and away from thier religious tradition. They are also called to care for those with no religious beliefs.  In both cases the requirement is to protect the religious rights of our sailors, not to advance our own agenda.  We actually sign a statement when we come in the Navy that we will do this.  His commanding officer gave him every chance and gave him more personal time that most commanding officers would ever give to a Chaplain, hoping to help him.  For his efforts Klingenschmitt ensured that his commanding officer’s name was smeared in the right-wing media machine.  He did the same to the Commanding Officer of the Naval Station Norfolk.  Klingenschmitt spread such demented lies about this man that he was shunned by his church and pastor because they elected to believe the right wing media machine.  It shows that if you repeat a lie often enough that people will believe it.  Klingenschmitt is a bully and he was rightfully court-martialed after he refused non-judicial punishment for failing to obey a legal order not to wear his uniform at a political event, something that no-one in the military is allowed to do.  He made life hell for us who served honorably and rather then submit to authority he avoided combat by bad mouthing his country, the Navy and his corps.  He took your tax dollars and for months avoided providing ministry to any sailor or Marine.  This was solely a result of his actions.  While hundreds of Evangelical Christian Chaplains deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and served honorably in combat, Klingenschmitt made up story after story to keep himself in the news. He even still refers to mhimself as “Chaplain” because the group which re-ordained him after being defrocked has endoresed him as “Chaplain to America.”  His website shows him in uniform protesting outside of the White House at the end of his hunger strike in 2006.

Klingenschmitt now markets himself as a victim of persecution, when in fact he brought everything on himself.  In his last days as an officer, no longer a chaplain as his own Church had stripped him of both his ordination and endorsement to serve as a chaplain while waiting discharge.  In spite of this one of his political allies in the Republican Party got Klingenschmitt invited to pray in uniform at the 2006 Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) Presidential Banquet at which the Vice President was scheduled to speak.  I saw the notice online and promptly complained to the committee the day before the event about this as a Chaplain telling them that it “insulted all who served honorably.” I also let the Norfolk Naval Station Chaplain know what was going on.  A call from the Commanding Officer of the base to the Chief of Naval Operations persuaded this political group not to let him attend the dinner or pray.  Instead Klingenschmitt waited until the banquet was over and facing an nearly empty auditorium in his Service Dress Blue uniform prayed “in Jesus Name.”  His photo at the podium was published in an article the next day on World Net Daily.  The article obfuscated the fact that the conference had ended when he did this and the headline made it look like he had prayed there with CPACs blessing.  Since then he has made his living in the margin of the far right speaking to churches and far right political groups and protesting wherever he can to keep some measure of media attention on him.

homelss jobless cluelessThe Gordon Klingenschmitt Tour 2007

He, his allies and followers are no different than the Taliban except that they wear suits and not robes.  Their agenda is eerily similar and should they ever gain control of this country they would bring in the worst type of persecution.  Thankfully I think there is little chance of this, but they will still do everything they can to incite trouble and even violence.  Klingenschmitt has prayed for the death of those opposing him, a group ran an advertisement in a Pennsylvania newspaper that said they wanted President Obama to meet the fate of Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley and Kennedy.  Klingenschmitt’s allies actively twist and obfuscate the truth in order to advance their cause at the expense of those who oppose them.  Klingenschmitt’s willing accomplice in the media Joseph Farah openly encourages military members to disobey orders because he does not feel that the President is eligible for the office.  Unfortunately he is doing this in war, and if it were not for the tolerance of the Administration would be tried for sedition.  This is something that Abraham Lincoln had no problem doing in the Civil War.  Farah is opening promoting sedition in time of war, this is a crime.  Conservatives were outrages when members of the Left did such things during the Vietnam war and the current war.   Klingenschmitt, Farah and those like them will not only bring harm to others, but they will continue to discredit the Christian faith by everything they do.  If they were not serious it would e funny.  Klingenschmitt and the Klingenban are dangerous to all who believe in liberty and for the principles on which the United States was founded.

Finally, I know that there are many honest people who have been taken in by Klingenschmitt and his media spin machine.  I encourage you to read for yourselves more about this man from sources other than his website and his allies who parrot what he says. Please know that I was a conservative Republican and worked for Gerald Ford’s campaign before I could vote.  I harbor no animus to conservatives who oppose the Democratic Administration and Congress.  The fact is that principled and respectful conservative opposition is needed, just as principled and respectful liberal Democratic opposition was needed when Republicans controlled the Presidency and Congress.  Klingenschmitt and the Klingenban’s actions are neither principled nor respectful.  Unfortunately they will attempt to destroy the country to save it.  God help us all.

Peace, Steve+

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