On Huckabee

What Huckabee and many other social conservatives like him do not understand is that the reason a growing number of conservatives are rejecting the typical social conservative agenda has little to do with political correctness or fear that society may reject them. It’s not about politics; it’s all about liberty.

Justin Haskins
Mike Huckabee, Social Conservatism, and Hypocrisy in the GOP – Reason.com.

Bacon, Islam, and the the Failure of the Politically Correct Society

Winooski, Vermont and the Dismantling of America’s Values – The Dennis Prager Show

Dennis and I don’t always agree, and he gets himself whipped into quite a lather on this one, but he makes a superb point: in the name of political correctness we are surrendering our freedoms, and no more so than in the speed of our retreat in the face of Sharia law.

There is a line between the tact that comes with common decency on the one hand and being hypersensitive about offending the hypersensitive on the other. Winooski, Vermont has stepped over that line. It is no more correct to take down the bacon sign than it is to demand that a nativity scene be removed from a Church law, that crosses be removed, and that Jews be prohibited from wearing religious garb.

On the other hand, if that makes sense to you, I understand that there are many parts of France that can be quite lovely…

Will Pope Francis Sunder the Religious Right?

But if Francis is successful at shifting the focus of American Catholicism away from the cultural issues of marriage and contraception and toward the policy issues of poverty and economic inequality, then this coalition may well dissolve. Perhaps the most pernicious legacy of the religious right in this country is that it has made issues of private morality — who and how we love, how and when we plan our families — matters of public policing, while turning public issues — inequality and poverty — into matters of private moral failing.

Pope Francis and the End of the Religious Right?”
Steven Conn
Huffington Post
December 19, 2013

Does this mean that we are witnessing the birth of the Religious Left?

One wonders about how challenging it might be to fuse a coalition of atheist progressives and Catholic faithful. In the end, I think, the matter would not rest on an agreement about the evils of poverty, but on the solutions to the problem.

There will still be those Catholics who believe that the solution to poverty lies with the government, others who will argue that it is incumbent upon the Church, and many who will say that it is the obligation of individuals to take care of our fellow men. Gaining a consensus among Catholics will not be easy.

Those of us trying to get the bible out of the ballot box and the government off the pulpit, though, hope this all leads to a secularization of the political agenda.

Religion, Law and Morality

If the history of states that have outlawed the practice of religion offers any lesson, it is this. When you take away religion, the only way to sustain social order is to replace it with a series of laws that place the state in the position vacated by faith. Put simply, banning religion leads to the criminalization of immorality. When that happens, you do not get nirvana: you get the totalitarian nightmare of the police state.

One of the unspoken responsibilities of liberty is that we take it upon ourselves to live by a common code of moral behavior that ensures social harmony, in addition to acquiescence to the system of laws necessary to ensure public order. If we remove that moral code, and especially if we fail to replace it with a prescriptive ethical system that regulates our private (as well as our public) behavior, we remove that comfortable pathway between tyranny and chaos.

Adherence to any given faith – or any faith at all – must never be a prerequiste to citizenship. Nonetheless, we must acknowledge that we are a society that is formed on a series of shared behavioral principles. While adherence to some of the more key principles must be enshrined in law, the obligation to ensure moral behavior belongs outside the scope of law, and within the longstanding framework that enshrines ethical behavior as the price of communal membership.

Iran in Perspective


ayatullah khamenei
ayatullah khamenei (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The Most Dangerous Man in the World”
Patrick J. Buchanan

The American Conservative
August 17, 2012

Pat Buchanan and I have not always agreed, but I was impressed by his rebuttal to The Weekly Standard‘s scare-tactic essay on Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that named him “the most dangerous man in the world.” Pat puts Iran’s leaders into perspective, noting that they are no where near as dangerous as the frightening combination of Nikita Khrushchev, Mao Zedong, and Curtis LeMay. As for modern times:

And if we should fear this most dangerous man in the world, why do not the Iraqis, Turks, Azerbaijanis and Pakistanis, his neighbors, seem to fear him? The Paks, with scores of nukes, seem less nervous about Iran than democratic India, with whom they have fought
several wars.

As an American and a Jew, I’m not about to invite Khamenei, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, or any of their closest friends to a dinner party at my place anytime soon. But there are threats aplenty in the world today, and by focusing on one we are blinding ourselves to what might be the real threat, and in the meantime creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The way to deal with Iran is realpolitik, not ideology. That is the only approach that will keep the region at peace, Israel safe from a new threat, and America out of a new war.

We Want Fighter Pilots, not Sky Pilots

AF Religion Memo up on Billboard Near Academy | Military.com.

As if the US Air Force didn’t have enough problems, the service continues to face challenges related to the overzealous evangelicals on the campus of the Air Force Academy.

The protestant chapel in the Air Force Academy...
The protestant chapel in the Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel. This occupies most of the top floor. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We are all for faith in the cockpit, in the foxhole, and on the deckplates. We just don’t think anyone should have faith foisted on them, especially in an environment where they could be under the mistaken (or correct) impression that their religious views could affect their career. That’s harassment.

The leadership of the Air Force needs to make it clear to everyone, especially at the Academy: America is a nation of many creeds, and the Air Force must reflect that.

The Slide to Perdition

Despite assertions to the contrary, America is not a “Christian Nation.” It is, rather, a Nation of Christians…and of Agnostics, Jews, Atheists, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Wiccans, and a lot of people who declare themselves to be unaffiliated. And this is as it should be.

The nation’s founding fathers, nearly all of whom were Christian, were nonetheless moved to base America’s religious life on tolerance, and its public affairs on a studied non-sectarianism. This was neither an accident nor a spasm of fashionable enlightenment realism: it was pragmatism informed by history. The nation’s founders were all-too aware that sectarian violence – or political violence in the opportunistic guise of sectarian fervor – had torn many European countries asunder, and they wanted no part of it. And, of course, many of the colonies had been founded or nurtured by refugees from religious persecution.

These patricians understood that any society that clung to a single faith set the stage either for communal violence or the wholesale expulsion of faith. They understood that it was (and is) impossible to sustain a free nation where are are viewed as equal while placing one faith above all others. Declaring America a Christian Nation would have made all citizens not professing the same faith to become less-equal, second-class citizens, lacking the same rights as their Christian bretheren.

Whatever the intent behind declaring America a Christian Nation, doing so puts the country on a path that undermines the Constitution, flies in the face of the principles on which the nation was established, and marks the first step down an icy slope that leads to persecution, inquisition, and, conceivably, the end of the Republic as we know it.

It is for these reasons that every true conservative, regardless of his faith or fervor, must reject the effort to install any faith as a national religion, even symbolically or rhetorically, no matter how good or “right” it may feel to do so. It may satisfy one’s religious yearnings, but it places in jeopardy the very system that allows us to express them.