New LGBT Resource: Faith in America

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RNC anti gay flyer.jpg
Uber-connected Democratic Party activist Steve Hildebrand has helped a group called Faith in America launch its new web presence.
On the board of Faith in America are businessman Mitchell Gold, singer Chely Wright, humorist Janis Hirsch, former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey and a number of ministers of various faiths.
I like this group because it takes on directly religion-based bigotry in the United States against gay men and women. This bigotry was rampant and used as an election tool in the 2004 presidential election when The Washington Note helped put out on the internet the anti-gay flyers the Republican National Committee had sent to thousands of folks on church pew rosters in Arkansas, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, and other states. Ed Gillespie was, of course, then head of the Republican National Committee and is not out as a gay man.
I’m a secularist and really have problems with the creeping blurriness between religion and state, but I do think that showing both the gay communities strong representation within faith communities is vital — and also providing a home base for those who want support in knocking back bigotry from tax-advantaged institutions in this country is quite needed.
Congrats to Hildebrand, the Board and Faith in America, and Executive Director Brent Childers.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

88 comments on “New LGBT Resource: Faith in America

  1. nadine says:

    “To describe America as the third pole in an emerging triad with China and India may be a bit
    optimistic if our fleet falls by another half and manufacturing and service jobs continue to
    emigrate. ”
    If it does, it will happen by choice. There is no law of nature requiring it. It is a matter of political will and tax codes.

    Reply

  2. David Billington says:

    “For an extremely interesting take on all of this, a great resource is Robert Kaplan’s new book,
    “Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power.” (Wigwag)
    This looks very interesting. The review below outlines its themes:
    http://www.cnas.org/node/5109
    To describe America as the third pole in an emerging triad with China and India may be a bit
    optimistic if our fleet falls by another half and manufacturing and service jobs continue to
    emigrate. But the outline of the twenty-first century could very well be as he describes, with the
    center of geopolitical gravity shifting to the Indian Ocean and South China Sea.

    Reply

  3. David Billington says:

    “Good interview, thanks for linking it. But I didn’t get that meaning out of it at all. I thought Kramer
    was saying just the opposite, that the US had to make it crystal clear it was remaining the hegemon
    of the Gulf:” (Nadine)
    Yes, he wants us to make this clear, but I understood him to be saying also that America is having
    doubts. It is certainly undeniable after a decade of squandered opportunity in Afghanistan and
    exhaustion with Iraq that Americans regard military commitments in the region very differently than
    they did in 2001-02. Stepping back to a purely naval presence in the Persian Gulf/Arabian Sea may
    not reestablish US dominance if it is seen in the region as a retreat, which from our present ground
    commitments it would be.
    If we are going to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, we are going to need a better strategy that
    can evoke broader and more sustainable support at home and if possible abroad. If we don’t have
    one, then we should be giving more reflection to the world that will otherwise emerge and how we
    and our friends will have to survive in it.
    “I think he meant that Israel is moving military assets and command centers to Jerusalem. The
    political leadership has always been there; Jerusalem is the capital. Kramer also stressed that Israel
    would need to hang onto territory adjacent to municipal Jerusalem, which takes a great big bite out
    of the center of the West Bank.”
    Yes, I read this too broadly. But I wonder how realistic it is to think that one or more nuclear
    weapons of several hundred kilotons each landing in central Israel won’t affect Jerusalem, which is
    only 35 miles away from Tel Aviv (assuming the Iranian missiles are accurate). The interesting point
    Kramer made was that Iran may fear getting dragged into a nuclear confrontation with Israel by its
    proxies in the immediate region.

    Reply

  4. nadine says:

    “But thinking about it, it wouldn’t be so stupid to claim that the
    Muslim world “reacts”. This is not meant as an excuse, but as
    criticism. The fundamental mood is resentment. It defines
    itself mainly in opposition to the Western world; against
    modernity, against America, against secularism, against
    Western lifestyle etc. And extremist groups like al Qaeda
    depend 100% on their enemies – without enemies they would
    cease to exist. ” (Paul Norheim)
    It’s not stupid to describe their thinking in this way. It only becomes stupid if you start to believe it just because they do. If what they resent is essentially the entire political and technological layout of the modern world, which they explain as conspiracies of their enemies, then their listed reasons are grievances of convenience, not the real cause of their dissatisfaction.

    Reply

  5. Paul Norheim says:

    “Westerners act; non-Westerners react. If it sounds like a
    stupid way to look at things, that’s because it is.”
    I didn’t say so. I spoke spesifically about Iranian influence.
    But thinking about it, it wouldn’t be so stupid to claim that the
    Muslim world “reacts”. This is not meant as an excuse, but as
    criticism. The fundamental mood is resentment. It defines
    itself mainly in opposition to the Western world; against
    modernity, against America, against secularism, against
    Western lifestyle etc. And extremist groups like al Qaeda
    depend 100% on their enemies – without enemies they would
    cease to exist.

    Reply

  6. nadine says:

    “However, Kramer’s main point, aside from taking a swipe at Obama’s resoluteness, is that
    America as a whole may be looking for a way out of the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean.” (David Billington)
    Good interview, thanks for linking it. But I didn’t get that meaning out of it at all. I thought Kramer was saying just the opposite, that the US had to make it crystal clear it was remaining the hegemon of the Gulf:
    “It

    Reply

  7. nadine says:

    “1) Hezbollah first emerged in 1982 as a militia in
    response to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon (just like
    Hamas emerged due to the Israeli attempts to weaken
    PLO; Israel also encouraged Hamas in the first years).” (Paul Norheim)
    Paul, your multiculturalist gotta-make-excuses-for-the-poor-dears-they-are-only-reacting mindset has really descended into self-parody.
    First, I note how Israel’s invasion isn’t a reaction to continuous attacks from Arafat’s ‘Fatahland’ in South Lebanon. Of course not, Israel can’t react. Israel is “Western” so everything Israel does is an “action”. Westerners act; non-Westerners react. If it sounds like a stupid way to look at things, that’s because it is.
    Second, we know that Hizbullah was set up in 1982 by Iranian Revolutionary Guards. When a country a thousand miles away that isn’t even Arab decides to make a big investment in the Israeli/Arab wars, I think that can be safely reported as a deliberate policy action, not some kind of instinctive “reaction.”
    Third, Hizbullah absolutely did NOT reflect the popular feeling among the Shia at the time. The Shia had been so badly treated by Fatah that they were literally throwing rice at the invading Israeli troops in 1982, not bombs. It took the hostilities and casualties of a guerilla war set off by Hizbullah, as well infusions of billions of Iranian dollars spent in welfare, weapons, and propaganda to change the mindset of the Shia.

    Reply

  8. WigWag says:

    “It is true that we could continue to secure the sea lanes with just naval forces but these are likely to be affected by competing demands on our navy and air force as China emerges over the next decade or two… India is eventually going to dominate the Indian Ocean as the British did a century ago, and Sunni Islamist hostility (if it is still around) will transfer to India and not continue against us. The real danger is that the traditional Hindu-Muslim rivalry could globalize,
    especially if China and Iran have to choose sides…The most dangerous religious fault line in the world is not between Islam and the West but within Asia itself.” (David Billington)
    For an extremely interesting take on all of this, a great resource is Robert Kaplan’s new book, “Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future pf American Power.” It’s available for the Kindle for $15.40.
    I’ve just finished reading it; and it is very provocative. Kaplan thinks that that the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is well on its way to become an irrelevancy and that for the most part the disputes currently blowing up between the United States and the Arabs (and other Muslims) will soon fade into obscurity.
    Kaplan believes that the nexus for the next great struggles of mankind is in the Indian Ocean; he believes that Europe is destined to fade into increasing political obscurity because it has no means or inclination to get involved in that part of the world. In many ways, Kaplan implies that the United States is likely to be the arbiter between an increasingly strong and confident China and India and that we are headed to a world where these three powers call most of the shots.
    The book is well worth taking a look at,
    http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9781400067466&view=excerpt
    http://www.onpointradio.org/2010/10/kaplan-monsoon-asia

    Reply

  9. David Billington says:

    Nadine,
    There is a recent interview with Martin Kramer in Jerusalem that addresses some of these
    points:
    http://www.martinkramer.org/sandbox/2010/10/if-iran-gets-the-bomb/
    He argues that Israel is moving its leadership and population to the Jerusalem area on the
    supposition that Iran would be deterred by the existence of Muslim holy places from
    hitting the city with a nuclear weapon. Thus, in his view, prospects for a settlement with
    the Palestinians may be fading because to be safe from nuclear attack Israel needs to
    recenter itself around Jerusalem and adjacent areas of the West Bank.
    However, Kramer’s main point, aside from taking a swipe at Obama’s resoluteness, is that
    America as a whole may be looking for a way out of the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean. He
    argues that a failure to denuclearize Iran would be catastrophic for the world and not just
    for Israel, but he acknowledges that America may not be willing to bear the cost of an
    imperial presence indefinitely.
    We are there primarily to defend world access to the oil but our willingness to remain is a
    function of the cost of fighting people who want us out of the region. It is true that we
    could continue to secure the sea lanes with just naval forces but these are likely to be
    affected by competing demands on our navy and air force as China emerges over the next
    decade or two. The greater likelihood in my view is that a nuclear Iran will prompt the
    Saudis to get nuclear weapons from Pakistan and then build an indigenous nuclear
    capability with Egyptian backing.
    India is eventually going to dominate the Indian Ocean as the British did a century ago,
    and Sunni Islamist hostility (if it is still around) will transfer to India and not continue
    against us. The real danger is that the traditional Hindu-Muslim rivalry could globalize,
    especially if China and Iran have to choose sides. I really don’t see America in the middle
    unless we can forge a stronger consensus in the rest of the world to demilitarize and
    denuclearize everywhere. The most dangerous religious fault line in the world is not
    between Islam and the West but within Asia itself.

    Reply

  10. Paul Norheim says:

    “The second, David. Heck, just look at their attempts at
    takeover-by-proxy of Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan! And
    you may be sure they are eyeing the Shia Eastern
    Provinces of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia should they get
    the chance.”
    Your mindset mirrors the mindset of the most paranoid
    among Arabs, Nadine. Iran’s influence in all the places you
    mentioned is a direct response to invasions:
    1) Hezbollah first emerged in 1982 as a militia in
    response to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon (just like
    Hamas emerged due to the Israeli attempts to weaken
    PLO; Israel also encouraged Hamas in the first years).
    2) Shia/Iranian influence in Iraq is a direct consequence of
    the fatal and foolish American invasion of Iraq in 2003,
    when the secular and brutal Sunni minority rule was
    crushed by Bremer & Co.
    3) While Taliban was influenced by Arab wahabis and
    sponsored and supported by Saudi-Arabia and Pakistan in
    the 1990’s, Iranian influence came as a direct response to
    the American invasion and occupation of Afghanistan in
    2001.
    And the recent change in Turkish foreign policy: also a
    response to the turbulence created by the invasion of Iraq
    in 2003.
    All of the above mentioned events have very little to do
    with the evil DNA of Islam, and have to been seen in light
    of resistance and securing national interests – realpolitik.
    The sad fact is that they are all direct responses to US and
    Israeli miscalculation, stupidity, hubris and belligerence in
    the Middle East during the last 30 years.

    Reply

  11. nadine says:

    “Are Arabs religious fanatics?

    Reply

  12. nadine says:

    “There is a real question about what Iran would do
    with a nuclear deterrent: would it be another Maoist China or Soviet Russia and keep
    essentially to itself, or would it be emboldened to argue that adjacent Shia areas are
    Sudetenlands in need of liberation?” (David Billington)
    The second, David. Heck, just look at their attempts at takeover-by-proxy of Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan! And you may be sure they are eyeing the Shia Eastern Provinces of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia should they get the chance.
    “I don’t rule out a sharpening of religious tensions in a more strongly multipolar world.
    But before we indict a billion people, I think we ought to give the majority a chance to
    show that it wants to share geopolitical space with other cultures once our military
    presence in southern Asia has ended.”
    Our military presence in southern Asia will never end, according to the Islamists. Remember that what originally set off bin Laden was US troops stationed in KSA. We don’t have fight a war; as long as we help patrol the sea lanes or supply arms or training or assistance, our imperial war against Islam will be cited. The Islamists have a paranoid world view and their list of grievances is endless. The root grievance is that Allah told them they would rule the world, and even they can see that the Arabs are weak, divided and backward. That’s not a grievance our actions can assuage. We’d be fools to try; this mindset sees concessions as weakness. The right thing to do is try to find allies among the Muslim opponents to the Islamists, democrats if possible, traditionalists if not.
    Essentially I see Islamism as another dysfunctional fad that the Arab world has embraced. Since it’s even less able to actually provide for people than was nationalism, it will wear itself out eventually. But in the meantime several countries may have to suffer through a generation of misrule by ignorant religious fanatics, like Iran already has done.

    Reply

  13. DakotabornKansan says:
  14. David Billington says:

    “Remember that Islam divides the world into the Dar al Harb and the Dar al Islam, the
    world of war vs the world of submission. The instructions from Allah are to conquer the
    whole world. Whether any particular sect decides to move the job forward depends on
    their interpretation of Islam and the practical difficulties. In one situation you can use war,
    in another, politics. The means differ but the goal remains.” (Nadine)
    The interesting point is that so many Muslims make the same argument in reverse. Many
    in the Islamic world believe that Americans want to destroy traditional societies by
    exporting our notions of pluralism and individual rights.
    If we accept your argument, what then do we do? If you don’t advocate that we go
    nuclear on the Islamic world, are you not then arguing for the same sliding scale of
    confrontation that you charge the other side with pursuing? Is there a limit to how far
    you would go?
    The problem I see right now is not “Islam” in a generic sense but particular governments,
    notably Iran and Pakistan, that could intensify arms races and trigger regional nuclear
    wars that draw in the outside world. There is a real question about what Iran would do
    with a nuclear deterrent: would it be another Maoist China or Soviet Russia and keep
    essentially to itself, or would it be emboldened to argue that adjacent Shia areas are
    Sudetenlands in need of liberation?
    I don’t rule out a sharpening of religious tensions in a more strongly multipolar world.
    But before we indict a billion people, I think we ought to give the majority a chance to
    show that it wants to share geopolitical space with other cultures once our military
    presence in southern Asia has ended.

    Reply

  15. Paul Norheim says:

    Good post, Dan. I guess you meant to say:
    “Regrettably, US anti-Muslim sentiment and rhetoric is
    now much more intense than it ever was DURING Bush.” –
    and not “against Bush” – or was that a Freudian slip?
    ————————————-
    On a more serious note than my last post: Roger Cohen
    has an interesting take on Turkey in today’s NYT – a view
    that I largely share and have expressed earlier here:
    “There

    Reply

  16. Paul Norheim says:

    What’s wrong with the Muslim world? Nadine and others have
    shared their views with us from behind their PC’s: The Muslims
    are at war with the West and want to conquer us.
    Very interesting views indeed. (Nadine’s views on the Islamic
    world are always interesting.)
    And here for some more interesting views… this time we’ll ask:
    What’s wrong with the Western world – and let Iranian President
    Mahmoud Ahmadinejad answer that question. Here is what he
    said in July this year:
    “Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian leader, says Paul the
    Octopus, the sea creature that correctly predicted the outcome
    of World Cup games, is a symbol of all that is wrong with the
    western world. He claims that the octopus is a symbol of
    decadence and decay among “his enemies”.
    Paul, who lives at the Oberhausen Sea Life Centre, in Germany,
    won the hearts of the Spanish by predicting their World Cup
    victory. He became an international star after predicting the
    outcome of all seven German World Cup matches accurately.
    However, the Iranian president accused the octopus of
    spreading “western propaganda and superstition.” Paul was
    mentioned by Mr Ahmadinejad on various occasions during a
    speech in Tehran at the weekend.
    “Those who believe in this type of thing cannot be the leaders
    of the global nations that aspire, like Iran, to human perfection,
    basing themselves in the love of all sacred values,” he said.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/germany
    /7912418/Mahmoud-Ahmadinejad-attacks-Octopus-
    Paul.html
    This morning, Paul was found dead in his aquarium:
    “Paul the Octopus, who gained worldwide fame this year by
    correctly forecasting the outcome of eight World Cup soccer
    matches including the final, has died peacefully of natural
    causes, the Sea Life Aquarium in Oberhausen said on Tuesday.
    It said it would erect a memorial to the little brown octopus
    whose astounding predictive powers turned him into the true
    star of the tournament, eclipsing the likes of Lionel Messi,
    Wayne Rooney, Thomas M

    Reply

  17. Dan Kervick says:

    Nadine, Turkey has recently resisted some aspects of US foreign policy but continues to embrace many others. If you include Turkey among the cadres of “those who wish to wage war on us,” then you are not being serious.
    Hizbollah and Hamas have been with us for some time. The US relationship with Iran and Syria has been very poor for decades, and is no worse now than it has ever been during that period. In fact, with Syria it is marginally better.
    The high point of jihadist activity against the US was in the late 90’s, when Al Qaeda and affiliates were very active and ensconced in Afghanistan, and were carrying out major attacks with global reach. Since then, Al Qaeda has been decimated and largely contained. They and their fellow-travelers are still dangerous, but are not in the ascendancy.
    But after two centuries of experiencing undignified foreign military penetration into their territories, along with every manner of foreign control and intervention touching all aspects of their governments and way of life, Muslims almost everywhere, whether militant or not, continue to wish foreign military powers – which in these days consist primarily of US forces – out of Muslim lands.
    Obama may yet succeed in reigniting the jihadist fervor that was clearly dying down as he took office, even after Bush tried to re-ignite it a first time with the atrocious and murderous Iraq War. By escalating the war in Afghanistan, and effectively re-defining that war as a crusade to socially re-engineer the entire country of Afghanistan, rather than as the targeted killing of identifiable malefactors; and by succumbing so easily to Israeli resistance to demands for a settlement halt, thus effectively signaling US support for aggressive colonial expansion into Muslim territory, Obama has given new life to jihadist claims.
    Obama also has erred in failing to offer a coherent, believable and tightly focused account of our legitimate efforts against those who are actually plotting and attempting to carry out violence against us. He has thus allowed the American far right to fill the rhetorical void and cast all of these efforts as part of a religious and civilizational war against Islam. Regrettably, US anti-Muslim sentiment and rhetoric is now much more intense than it ever was against Bush. Obama has pushed back only slightly, and been too easily intimidated by cynical and manipulative attacks on Obama personally as a closet Muslim. If he continues to respond to domestic enemies from a craven crouch, he will allow them to win.
    The US posture toward Israel has taken a very sorry turn. Israeli governments used to hide and and distance themselves from their country’s colonization effort in the West Bank, and attribute that effort to the actions of a few wayward fanatics and extremists, operating without the blessing of the Israeli government. Now Israel has a far right government that unabashedly embraces the colonization project as a national objective and prerogative, and this has brought a sick new wave of strident and racist ultrantionalism and rank sectarianism to the US domestic political scene. And yet, Obama has submitted to this far right government’s demands and operatives, and even embraced that government. This has made the US public diplomatic position inestimably worse, and has more deeply endangered the lives of American civilians at home, and American soldiers fighting abroad.
    The US relationship with the Middle East is headed toward disaster, a disaster which is likely to kill many Americans, particularly younger ones. This disaster is earnestly sought by some US agitators and crusading enthusiasts, whose respect for the lives of their fellow-countrymen is not the equal of their crusading zeal and sectarian enthusiasm. Obama now has only a brief window in which to re-orient US foreign policy and begin to work on building the new relationship that was promised. But he can’t do it if he loses complete control of a narrative that he tried only halfheartedly to shape.
    In Afghanistan, Pakistan, Israel/Palestine and elsewhere, Obama has the opportunity to define our challenge as the opposition to threats to global peace, order and security. This is a challenge shared by all of the world’s prospering and stable societies, and calls for a combination of global policing and conflict-resolution efforts. Obama should vigorously decry outrages against established global law and standards, wherever they occur. And he should commit to respecting the sovereign equality of all countries that abide by international norms, wherever they are. He also needs to define, clarify and propagate those norms among the American people, and reacquaint Americans with the noble efforts of the greatest Americans of the preceding generations to create and establish these norms.
    Obama is a lawyer by vocation, and he should make a new internationalism grounded in respect for the rule of law the heart of his foreign policy.

    Reply

  18. nadine says:

    “Where support for waging war does not coincide with support for a harsher application of
    Sharia law, I’m not sure the term Islamism is a correct term to describe it, and even where
    it is, it only extends to ejecting us, not forcing us to convert. The conflict is therefore
    really not a war about religion but a war about boundaries. ” (David Billington)
    The usual definition of Islamism is any party that is for imposing strict Sharia, whether they want to wage war or not. The question of war is a matter of interpretation. Those who declare war say they are fighting in defense of Islam but it’s a very flexible reason.
    Already Islamists are pushing to make the UN and Europe accept an exalted position for Islam over the whole world, through the acceptance of blasphemy laws and their definition of PC. And you do see leftist institutions like the BBC (just to give one high profile example) treat Islam with a fawning respect that they never give to Christianity. And what would you say was the purpose of the ginned-up violence over the Muhammed cartoons in Denmark?
    Remember that Islam divides the world into the Dar al Harb and the Dar al Islam, the world of war vs the world of submission. The instructions from Allah are to conquer the whole world. Whether any particular sect decides to move the job forward depends on their interpretation of Islam and the practical difficulties. In one situation you can use war, in another, politics. The means differ but the goal remains.
    So I don’t see the division you describe between Sharia and jihad; more a sliding scale. Indeed one of the innovations of Sayid Qutb, who provided the founding philosophy of the Muslim Brotherhood, was to move the duty of jihad from the sphere of the ruler of the land into the individual sphere; he laid the duty on every Muslim. Movements like the Muslim Brotherhood reject the legitimacy of the Mubarak government as bad Muslims and take the mantle of real Islam on themselves.

    Reply

  19. David Billington says:

    “Unfortunately, in the current Muslim world we see the ascendancy of the Islamists who do
    want to wage war on us.” (Nadine)
    The University of Maryland study that you cited above shows substantial majorities
    opposed to attacks on American civilians. Majorities (except in Indonesia) do support
    attacks on American military forces stationed in Muslim countries. But majorities
    everywhere oppose continuing attacks on the United States once US forces have gone.
    Where support for waging war does not coincide with support for a harsher application of
    Sharia law, I’m not sure the term Islamism is a correct term to describe it, and even where
    it is, it only extends to ejecting us, not forcing us to convert. The conflict is therefore
    really not a war about religion but a war about boundaries.
    The larger question is whether this could change, but it hard to see what we can do to
    foreclose the possibility. My own view is that we need to anticipate in a more holistic way
    the world of the middle twenty-first century as otherwise we will simply react to events as
    they come and continue to address larger problems as isolated matters.

    Reply

  20. nadine says:

    Dan, I recommend this short (9 min) Youtube of Tariq Ramadan debating Christopher Hitchens: a soothing flow of words from the former, followed by a response that is funny, eloquent, and devastating.
    http://www.onpointradio.org/2010/10/hitchens-ramadan

    Reply

  21. nadine says:

    “Nadine, do you have any statistical evidence that such forces are in the ascendancy? From what I understand, not only do these elements appear to be a minority in the Islamic world, but their numbers do not appear to be as great as they were during the high tide of militant Islamism.” (Dan Kervick)
    Why do you speak as if the high tide of militant Islamism were the past? The rise of the “Resistance Bloc”, consisting of Iran, Syria, Hizbullah, Hamas, and now with the important addition of Turkey as well, shows the strength of the militant Islamist movements right now.
    Statistical evidence is usually hard to come by, since most countries in the Muslim World (with the exception of Turkey, while it lasts) don’t have multiparty systems with free elections. However, you can listen to informed observers and note what the leaders say and see what they do.
    Let’s take Egypt as an example. Fifty years ago it led the Arab word in secular Arab nationalism, with a socialist flavor. That collapsed after Nasser’s death. Most informed observers agree that the officially banned Muslim Brotherhood would handily win free elections. As supporting evidence, something like 80% of Egyptians say they are in favor of imposing strict Sharia, the MB’s chief plank. The head of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badi, feels confident enough to declare open war on the US in terms identical to those used by Osama bin Laden in 1998. When Hosni Mubarak leaves the scene, his son had better be made of stern stuff if he wants to keep control.
    And that’s just Egypt. Take a look at A’jad’s cockiness, the billions of dollars Iran gives to Hizbullah, its virtual takeover of Syria and Lebanon, its new alliance with Turkey.
    Consider that the Arab world in particular, has no current attractive political philosophy except Islamism. There is no alternative but the corrupt autocratic security states which are widely hated. There are no real democratic movements except in Lebanon and (and non Arab Iran — which get zero support from the West).
    However, until now, the main response of the Western MSM has been to stick their fingers in their ears and cry “La-la-la-la I can’t hear you.” If you read only liberal/left-wing sources, you will have heard only their determined attempts to belittle Islamism, to restrict it to al Qaeda and only to al Qaeda, when al Qaeda is just the tip of the iceberg, to ignore all its other manifestations.
    Though this may be changing. I just saw the NYT admit religious motivation in Mideast politics (though usually they have to try to make out, counter-factually, the Christians and Jews do it just as much to be “fair”) The various schools of Islamism encompass many millions of supporters. The radicals are the few who act on what the many believe.
    Here are a couple of recent articles on the Muslim Brotherhood:
    http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=2&article_id=120193#axzz13Pm5jcyX
    http://rubinreports.blogspot.com/2010/10/muslim-brotherhood-declares-war-on.html

    Reply

  22. Dan Kervick says:

    “Unfortunately, in the current Muslim world we see the ascendancy of the Islamists who do want to wage war on us.”
    Nadine, do you have any statistical evidence that such forces are in the ascendancy? From what I understand, not only do these elements appear to be a minority in the Islamic world, but their numbers do not appear to be as great as they were during the high tide of militant Islamism.

    Reply

  23. nadine says:

    “In some ways the Muslim world is like Japan in the late 19th century, in wanting to be
    modern but not western. What we must hope for (and do what we can to assist) is
    modernization in which those who want to wage war with us don’t get the upper hand. ” (David Billington)
    The Japanese militarism of the first half of the 20th century implies that we have limited control over the path of modernization, esp. if a society wants the modern trappings but reject the modern ideas. Unfortunately, in the current Muslim world we see the ascendancy of the Islamists who do want to wage war on us.

    Reply

  24. David Billington says:

    “They will try to replicate those outcomes which they find attractive, and avoid those
    outcomes that they find unattractive. So we shouldn’t expect to see Muslim social change
    that is simply a repeat of western patterns of social change.” (Dan Kervick)
    In some ways the Muslim world is like Japan in the late 19th century, in wanting to be
    modern but not western. What we must hope for (and do what we can to assist) is
    modernization in which those who want to wage war with us don’t get the upper hand.

    Reply

  25. David Billington says:

    “Well, that’s the question, isn’t it? Do the immigrants assimilate over the course of several
    generations, or do they stay in ethnic ghettos and bring the dysfunction of winner-take-all
    politics with them into Europe?” (Nadine)
    The point is that the situation is not determined entirely by the immigrants themselves. How
    open the doors are to integration will also determine what happens. One reason why
    assimilation has been more extensive in the United States is that the society has long been
    more open to large numbers of immigrants.

    Reply

  26. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Look at the sections of East London today that Melanie Philips calls “Londinistan.” There are areas where white Englishmen have stopped going”
    Uh oh, using Nadine’s model, we have to assume that the mainly black community in Watts, Los Angeles, means that California is being taken over by the Black Panthers.
    And the mainly Latino population in San Fernando means the San Fernando Valley is being over-run by the Mexican mafia.
    OH NO!!! What is gonna happen when the residents of China Town get wind of this??

    Reply

  27. DakotabornKansan says:
  28. Dan Kervick says:

    Our capacity to grasp, predict and influence large trends in the evolution of Islamic societies is very limited. So while it is interesting to speculate or inquire into these trends, we shouldn’t be too tempted by the idea that these inquiries constitute practical political discussions about viable political options.
    Obviously western societies have experienced a great deal of material progress over the past three centuries. They have also undergone cataclysmic and industrialized “total” wars and other social and moral changes which about westerners themselves are critical or ambivalent. It is always tempting to single out one aspect of these trends as the fundamental movement that is driving the other trends. It is also tempting to assume that all of the trends are intertwined so that if one tendency constitutes progress all of the tendencies which accompanied it are similarly progressive. But hypotheses of these kinds always need to be examined critically.
    The periods of the Reformation and the Enlightenment in the west brought many changes in religious practice and doctrine. Some of those changes came in the form of innovation in religious doctrine and institutions in directions that were in themselves more liberal and tolerant. In other cases, religious communities separated themselves more fully from secular government and secular purposes, seeking to establish relatively autonomous sub-communities within the larger state or political community. The partial but significant subordination of religious power to civil power is only one of the trends affecting religion that have occurred during this period.
    The latter has certainly been a positive trend where the secular powers have been more humane and enlightened than the religious powers. But the latter is not a uniform condition. In some cases, the triumph of secular power has brought about all-out assaults on human dignity and the moral foundations of community life.
    We can imagine all sorts of evolutionary and revolutionary changes that either Islamic societies or western societies might undergo in the future. And surely they might undergo very important changes that none of us can even imagine. It is a very risky proposition to single out one particular theme in our recent historical past and attempt to superimpose it as our yardstick of progress on everything that occurs or does not occur in the world. We should also remember that the people of Muslim and other non-western societies will look at the western experience of the past few centuries as a social experiment from which they can learn. They will try to replicate those outcomes which they find attractive, and avoid those outcomes that they find unattractive. So we shouldn’t expect to see Muslim social change that is simply a repeat of western patterns of social change.

    Reply

  29. nadine says:

    “It is hard to see this analogy holding today if Muslims in the West acquire education, vocational
    skills, and jobs. Their children will assimilate if the doors are open and if they understand and
    accept the rules of Western political life. The problem in places like Iraq is that traditionally politics is a zero-sum game in which losers lose everything and winners take all…” (David Billington)
    Well, that’s the question, isn’t it? Do the immigrants assimilate over the course of several generations, or do they stay in ethnic ghettos and bring the dysfunction of winner-take-all politics with them into Europe? Depending where you look, you can find evidence to support both propositions – especially where the ghetto is being actively proselytized by Salafi imams, it’s hardly a foregone conclusion that the Muslim immigrants will assimilate. Look at the sections of East London today that Melanie Philips calls “Londinistan.” There are areas where white Englishmen have stopped going.

    Reply

  30. David Billington says:

    “Is it too much to hope that the same thing might happen at some point in the future in the
    Muslim world?” (Wigwag)
    Probably not as a matter of theological change but maybe to a greater degree in practice.
    “Walter Russell Mead is running a series of essays for the next few Sundays written by his father, a
    very well known and highly respected Episcopal Priest. What makes Mead’s father an interesting
    figure is that he is respected on both the left and the right. The essays center on the senior Mead’s
    experiences since he was ordained in the mid 1950s.”
    The articles by Mead Sr. look interesting and I will try to follow them as they appear. As a gay
    person I have had mixed feelings about religion for a long time, but the tradition in which I was
    raised has certainly undergone what for me is a welcome change. I agree with those who think
    that a search for compromise on gay inclusion sends an ambivalent message to both sides. There
    needs to be a decision one way or the other.

    Reply

  31. David Billington says:

    “I would compare it to the barbarian invasions during the latter period of the Roman Empire: the
    vast majority of those barbarians did not want to fundamentally change the Roman Empire; they
    wanted to enter it and reap the economic benefits of being inside it. But they didn’t understand how
    to keep it going, so it fell apart into separate tribal areas.” (Nadine)
    It is hard to see this analogy holding today if Muslims in the West acquire education, vocational
    skills, and jobs. Their children will assimilate if the doors are open and if they understand and
    accept the rules of Western political life. The problem in places like Iraq is that traditionally politics
    is a zero-sum game in which losers lose everything and winners take all; losers can’t trust that they
    will be secure until the next election. But it is hard to see this level of insecurity in Britain and the
    United States unless the declining majority contributes to such a breakdown.
    The problem for the Romans was that their society had already collapsed by the time the barbarians
    took over. The Roman Empire began to decline when rising provinces took away Italy’s export
    markets, depressing the Italian economy. Smallholders with declining incomes then became tenants
    on larger estates as wealth drained to the top, and increasing taxes (mainly for a much larger army)
    oppressed all but the most powerful magnates, who were tax-exempt. With revenues declining, the
    emperors hired barbarian mercenaries who then seized what was now a feudal society. The only
    way to have prevented this outcome would have been technical advances to employ displaced
    people in non-farm industries, but private investors preferred to invest in land, and the government
    lost interest in roads and aqueducts and spent money instead on bread and circuses.

    Reply

  32. Drector says:

    Ironic, DBK, is it not that the powerful message of not “compromising truth”, flowing from an expanded “consciousness”, in the excerpt you quote above, is one mainline churches struggle with.
    Evangelicals on the other hand, don’t struggle so much. They simplistically promote a message of ‘love the sinner’ while rejecting homosexuals unequivocally in every meaningful way. A rather inexpensive rhetorical gesture in the face of rather concrete human realities. In doing so they represent, it can be argued, a faithful reflection of the conservative social mores of their flock. (which came first, the ‘mores’ or the ‘theology’, one might cynically ask?) Now I might say this is hypocritical since it panders to an unevolved consciousness instead of challenging the flock toward true transformation of consciousness, also as reflected in your quoted excerpt. I, of course, as would all others, including the accepting (of homosexuals) mainline churches, would be sneered at as out of step with the clear intent of God’s revealed word.
    Convenient, isn’t it. As they say, talk is cheap.

    Reply

  33. DakotabornKansan says:

    True Faith Matters
    WigWag, thanks for bringing attention to the essays “Faith Matters: Notes from the Venerable Mead” [Post by WigWag @ 12:37PM]
    Reading about Walter Russell Mead

    Reply

  34. WigWag says:

    David Billington, one more thing. Walter Russell Mead is running a series of essays for the next few Sundays written by his father, a very well known and highly respected Episcopal Priest. What makes Mead’s father an interesting figure is that he is respected on both the left and the right. The essays center on the senior Mead’s experiences since he was ordained in the mid 1950s. The essays focus on both the changes in the American Episcopal Church that have become evident in the past several decades as well as changes in the American religious scene in general; including some of the topics we have commented upon in this thread.
    I bring it to your attention and the attention of Steve’s other readers in the event that you might enjoy taking a look. In case you are interested, the essays are cheekily entitled “Faith Matters: Notes from the Venerable Mead” and they can be found here,
    http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/

    Reply

  35. Drector says:

    “I mention this history [separation of the crown from the cross in England) to suggest that it was not inevitable that civil and ecclesiastical authority would become separate in Christendom. In the Christian world, less than 500 years ago state and religious authority were far more intertwined than they are now. It took a figure like Henry to start a Revolution. Is it too much to hope that the same thing might happen at some point in the future in the Muslim world?” (Wig Wag details Henry VIII, etc.)
    This history is of course fascinating, and the English chroniclers loved and recorded their version of it in minute detail.
    The issue of church ‘interference’ in secular affairs may be coming full circle in some limited ways, and the allusion to the experience in England is a good segue way back to the subject of the post, addressing bigotry of religious origin, primarily evangelical, pentacostal, and other apostate organizations. Where Wig Wag wonders out loud whether “the same thing might happen at some point in the future of the Muslim world”, i.e., the separation of the ecclesiastical apparatus from the secular/civilian one, it could similarly be “hoped” that the creeping, or lunging, influence of evangelicals on civil society can be reversed.
    It is clear that such a reversal is anything but certain and in fact, taking some mentioned figures of 40% of Americans self identifying as conservative religionists of some strip or other as a rough figure, there is a fight ahead. The current minority status of evangelicals seems more that outweighed by their emotional fervor, and is abetted by the wimpy response of the the remainder of the population which is either uninterested, uninformed, or just tired of attempting to counter the Bible thumpers. Further complicating the matter, of course, is the cowardly nature of many if not most politicians who would rather join them than beat them — even though the beating would be in the name of maintaining a relatively more secular-driven polity — not out of any apparent conviction other than getting elected.
    Again, traveling full circle to Mr. Clemon’s original post, one might hope the effort he highlights can be a real factor in confronting the corrosive and anti democratic, anti constitutional nature of many evangelical activities and platforms, most certainly with regard to the ignorant, or benighted efforts to demean, delegitimize, marginalize, harass, cajole and even threaten Americans whose existence they consider an affront to their own,seemingly quite small, God. Let them keep that interpretation of God as they will. But let them keep it in its place, which does not include trampling on the Constitution. And good luck in the process to “Faith in America”.

    Reply

  36. questions says:

    Ok, so it’s wiki…
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bell_Curve
    But it’s got what seems to be a good survey of much that is wrong with The Bell Curve, with the notion of this great sorting….
    Apparently, part of Murray’s concern is that welfare payments to low or no income people were prodding them to have BABIES who would also have low or no income. OMG, the “wrong” people are breeding and we must deny them payment. If you don’t marry the father of the baby, you are “selecting” for the wrong set of qualities and the baby will be tainted by the sins of the father. He might have a great bod, but he’s got no brain, so your kid will be dumbfuck and look at all the kids who come out of that…. (Books can be written debunking this nonsense.)
    Ultimately, we will, for Murray, have a two class system of CONSERVATIVES who want to CONSERVE their mansions and wealth and space from the lowest of the low and who will insulate themselves from the dependent class who must be supported by the RICH. The best way to avoid this calamity is by stopping all the dumbfuck people from breeding — of course he says it in a “nicer” way if such thoughts can be spoken in a civilized manner. (And of course we’ve never had a condition even vaguely like this regarding any population of white Europeans who must be avoided at all costs.)
    His data are flawed. His notion of IQ is flawed. His worry about social animus is problematic as what really angers people is what is really played on by politicians. Note that SoSec isn’t a particularly “racial” or “genetic” or unfair distribution, but man do some people get angry about it…. Why? Because it gets played up. This ain’t genetic, it’s political.
    So we got rid of welfare thanks to some president or other, and now we no longer encourage the breeding programs that cause the reproduction of low-IQ babies…. So now there won’t be any more social resentment.
    But wait, there are still rural idiots and romance novel readers…. Geeze, our public sphere is still too kind. Cut taxes QUICK!!!! Sterilize the….. OOPS, shouldn’t have used that word….. Eugenics gets such a bad name….. (This guy seems serious about this.)
    And what is his evidence? The marriage notes in the NYT — all ads, of course (you pay to get your marriage in the NYT) and so the social stratification is worse than he had worried.
    You know, I get the feeling he read the Republic and took the wrong message away. Plato doesn’t advocate a multi-class system with a breeding program. He describes it and shows how the whole system fails and notes that we really just need to keep our own desires under control and make good philosophical decisions at every decision point.
    So maybe Mr. Murray needs to think about why he’s so frightened on our behalf….
    Maybe he should look more and more and more at school funding, early childhood initiatives, and an economic structuring that allows a decent standard of living across job descriptions. But that would just let the dumb people keep multiplying…. THAT’S the lesson from Mr. Murray, apparently.
    By the way, what’s the man gonna do with all the autistic kids who are born to rich white folk? And all the not really with it kids who are born to rich white folk? And all the really smart kids born to the rest of the population?
    He has no clue, no clue at all. What a shame the WaPo gives him real estate to air his internal anxieties about how other people live.
    Rhetorically, it seems that he’s actually trying to push an anxiety button on the part of the elite by reminding the elite that they share a country with people who think that Harlequin romances and religious fiction series and The Price Is Right and Oprah are quality. Once the elite realizes this, the elite will cut off funding for rural electrification and schools such that these very people and their genetic propensity to read junk fiction and take it seriously will simply stop breeding.
    He really does seem to be saying this. Any other takes even possible?

    Reply

  37. questions says:

    And then we have this!
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/22/AR2010102202873.html?hpid=opinionsbox1
    The cognitive stratification of America cuz Hahvahd Yahdhies marry Stanfordites and give birth to Yalies. (gawd, do those people even talk to each other let alone reproduce with one another?)
    Has this man never heard of regression to the mean? Has he never seen that parents don’t really duplicate themselves in their children?
    And then he worries that since more than 1/3 of Americans are rural, there is a real America that is rural that no one in the elite pays any attention to…..
    So I’m going to take this on in a general way:
    Regression to the mean.
    The Republican-policy-driven stratification of wealth and income is far more to blame for the elite/mass distinctions Murray freaks on than is any innate genetically determined 700+ on any section of the SATs.
    The school funding system in the US tends to replicate itself to some extent so that parents with means can escape TO HIGH TAX locations and give their kids 15k or 20k per year schooling. This is not a genetic process, it’s a policy process. The stratification Murray seems to ascribe to quickie evolution is not genetic. It’s policy-oriented.
    The race and class markers that might keep otherwise quite bright people from climbing that social ladder are significant and again are social, not genetic. Grammar is learned, dress is learned, body language is learned, gesture is learned, les moeurs (I think that’s the term I want but my public school non-elite French is on the weak side!) are learned.
    So what’s the deal with Charles Murray? The very Republican policies he would support are the social cause of a social stratification he’d rather call genetic.
    The New Elite he worries about, concentrated in a huge number of large metropolitan areas actually, and found all across the nation, are coded as “Harvard” in his shorthand so that we can hate them all, and are labeled as totally out of touch with: Harlequin romance novels, low incomes, Kiwanis or Rotary, Left Behind novels, The Price is Right and Oprah….
    BUT IT’S OK because Barack Obama made it to the big leagues — a BLACK MAN actually made it to Harvard, and so really it’s an open if closed system…..
    Does this guy pay any attention to what he’s doing? Does he have any cognition himself? Good lord the man needs some help.
    To the extent that we have an elite that is largely closed to the masses, we have it because of income disparities brought on by Republican economics.
    To the extent that we get around this structure, we make heavy use of state universities. The Big 10 or 11 or 13 or whatever it is, the U Cal system, U Md and Texas, Austin and many other large state universities are well-funded, well-attended, churn out lawyers, doctors, scientists, historians, store owners and all sorts of perfectly elite people. They move, they shake, they make, they read, they marry, they reproduce, they educate their kids.
    If we cut education funding, we’ll see more of what worries Murray — but it’ll be a social effect of a social cause.
    Ain’t no genetics goin’ on here.
    Fund the public schools, fund the state universities, fund branch campuses of 4-year universities, fund rural health, fund fund fund, redistribute redistribute redistribute and you will see that the “elite”/”mass” equivalence is far stronger than Murray seems to think.
    Meanwhile, maybe those mass-ive people should head to Starbucks, invest 5 bucks in a cuppa joe and they can become elites too!
    (Isn’t that the same as saying that the elites should go read a romance novel while watching Bob Barker’s replacement on the Price Is Right? Talk about superficial dumbfuck non-analysis….. Can the man even begin to understand the income and wealth distribution across the US????)

    Reply

  38. questions says:

    An interesting look at the Tea Party from the WaPo —
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/23/AR2010102304000.html
    The upshot seems to be mostly inchoate, many groups signed up, not so many could be found, groups of family and friends who use the t.p. as an excuse to gather (gee, the interest group lit is full of such “solidary benefits” reasons for signing up — free food, a speaker, a bitch session/CR and it’s a PARTY!).
    10 percent have race issues, 70 percent haven’t done much of anything political this year, spending and limiting the size of gov’t seem to matter more than abortion and gay marriage (this is good, actually), “general mistrust of government” seems to be a thing, 86% new to activity so if there’s no deep organization they will go back to their day jobs– as soon as they have day jobs, that is.
    Seems the TP is inchoate, ill-led, incoherent, a populist plee for ACTION without much in the way of comprehension.
    These people might be well-served by a series of local library lectures/discussions on the history of Constitutional interpretation, on the structures of our gov’t, on the history of elderly poverty and how SoSec vastly reduced the poverty we all face when we get old, on the fact that SoSec has quite probably limited the amount of money they’ve had to send to their elderly parents, on what it means to live in a demographically diverse world….
    In short, there seems to be a golden opportunity to get people to talk about what it means to be who we are, how we’ve developed politically over time, what things might be worth changing or not, what happens if we do respond to some gut-felt issues about the “size” of the government or the “theft” that SoSec is.
    Linking feelings to action to consequences is a kind of higher order thinking that is worth developing in our citizenry. The TP could be an opportunity, or it could simply fade away.
    After all, for how long can anyone sustain a weekly CR session, some speakers, some mutual validation…without any new ideas about what to do about the fact that indeed we all hate X? My guess is that, like group therapy, it has its limitations and people will find that they have regular lives to get back to.
    Unless there’s some real outreach with some real information about how the policy process works.
    An opportunity for community colleges and branch campuses of state universities, and for public talks and staffers and MCs to go out and explain what they do and demystify the seemingly opaque process?
    An opportunity for radio and tv, for some “idiot’s guide to” and “policy for dummies,” for local and state legislators?
    An opportunity for actual civic education?
    Or better to leave sleeping tp-ers lie? As they will likely fade away without more umph?

    Reply

  39. Carroll says:

    While we are house cleaning let’s bust the “Judeo-Christian” myth too. It’s a nonsense term mainly used for political reasons within the US by Jews and Evangelicals.
    Oxford English Dictionary on the history of the term:

    Reply

  40. Carroll says:

    “The danger of creeping Sharia is that unlike, say Orthodox Jewish courts, which make no attempt to force compliance,”….nadine.
    Really?..well better tell that to the Jewish Sharia and Israeli Taliban.
    Update: Thu Oct 07, 2010 04:04 am (KSA) 01:04 am (GMT)
    Groups order women to wear black clothes
    Jewish edict wants women covered head to toe
    Jewish Orthodox groups in Jerusalem issued a religious edict calling upon women to cover their bodies and hair in order to be cleared of their sins.
    Posters promoting the new dress code were spotted in the areas of Jerusalem pre-dominantly inhabited by the Haredim community, ultra-conservative Jews known for their extremist views, the Israeli daily Maariv reported Wednesday.
    Women, the posters said, have to wear clothes that are neither tight nor transparent. The clothes have to be black in order to preserve women

    Reply

  41. Carroll says:

    Time to dust the ziocaine from the thread..
    Europol Report: All Terrorists are Muslims

    Reply

  42. nadine says:

    “I don’t think it can be assumed that Arab immigrants to France will try to overturn the French legal
    system if their numbers increase. But if opportunities to improve their lives in other ways are
    denied, then they could well use their numbers to bring more fundamental change if they can. ” (David Billington)
    It’s not just a matter of what the immigrants themselves want, but what their ruling elites want and can persuade the host countries they must have. Multiculturalism provides a wonderful environment for a Saudi-financed elite to grow a Sharia court system and pressure the Muslim community to use it in preference to the host country’s courts.
    Even in cases where there isn’t an elite with such an agenda, it should be noted that mass immigration will bring fundamental change, if for no other reason than the immigrants do not share the underlying cultural assumptions that uphold the host country’s laws and customs.
    I would compare it to the barbarian invasions during the latter period of the Roman Empire: the vast majority of those barbarians did not want to fundamentally change the Roman Empire; they wanted to enter it and reap the economic benefits of being inside it. But they didn’t understand how to keep it going, so it fell apart into separate tribal areas.

    Reply

  43. David Billington says:

    Wigwag,
    “It is a sad quirk of history, I think; that few westerners realize how many of the freedoms we enjoy
    today can be traced back to decisions made by Henry 450 years ago.”
    I agree. I wouldn’t say the English or their American cousins admire the way Henry VIII treated his
    wives, but the decision to declare the church independent while otherwise preserving its identity
    established the ideal of a via media in religion (consolidated by Elizabeth I) that I think it can be said
    carried over into political life later.
    In some ways, Americans are an offshoot of the English Civil War of 1640-60, and later American
    domestic conflicts have echoed some of the themes in this struggle. But the equilibrium of politics in
    England and later in America has tended to find middle ground eventually, and that probably goes
    back to the sixteenth century. All of our other freedoms really depend on this.
    “After all, you are telling us that when it comes to Islam there’s no “creeping blurriness” at all; civil and
    religious authority in Islam will always be joined at the hip.”
    Yes, and that is why we cannot assume that our forms of government and the values underpinning
    them will transfer easily or quickly.

    Reply

  44. David Billington says:

    Nadine, sorry, there should have been a comma after your name,
    not a period. I’m getting used to a new monitor resolution.

    Reply

  45. David Billington says:

    Nadine.
    “At current demographic trends, not that many decades. It is entirely conceivable that France could
    become 50% Muslim in less than 40 years.”
    The historian Eugen Weber wrote an important book, Peasants into Frenchmen, on the last time
    that France had to assimilate people. My understanding is that the barrier to Arab assimilation
    today isn’t just cultural and religious but social and economic, a problem the French themselves
    will need to address. But the immigrants will also have to want integration for it to work.
    I don’t think it can be assumed that Arab immigrants to France will try to overturn the French legal
    system if their numbers increase. But if opportunities to improve their lives in other ways are
    denied, then they could well use their numbers to bring more fundamental change if they can.
    “The danger of creeping Sharia is that unlike, say Orthodox Jewish courts, which make no attempt
    to force compliance, Sharia courts have as it were, divine marching orders to make everybody
    comply with them, Muslim and infidel alike.”
    I was referring to non-Muslim majority countries where Sharia courts are available but not forced
    on Muslims and certainly not forced on anyone else. Some Muslims in Britain and other Western
    countries may think that Sharia law should be imposed on fellow Muslims in these countries. But I
    don’t think this is a widely held view in the Muslim diaspora, at least not in the UK or the US.
    Regarding Muslim-majority countries, you need to give the rest of the quote from the University of
    Maryland study that you cite. The full quote on page 27 in bold reads:
    “The Islamist goal of giving Shari

    Reply

  46. Neo Controll says:

    Red alert! Red alert!
    The dynamic duo reappears. Wigdine. Nadwag. The Muslim world! The Muslim world! Be very afraid!
    Let’s change the subject. Not LGBT issues at all. Divert focus to Muslim world!
    Can’t possibly look at LGBT issues. Neocon, fundie, Zionist hijacking in process.

    Reply

  47. nadine says:

    “I can’t imagine that anyone who feels threatened by an admixture of civil and religious authority in the West can feel very comfortable with what’s looming in the Muslim world.”
    Wigwag, that assumes they will every permit themselves to notice what is looming in the Muslim world.

    Reply

  48. WigWag says:

    “I would put this differently. The division in the Christian West has existed since St. Augustine (the Middle Ages were all about church-state conflict). What the Enlightenment did was challenge the veracity of religion and change the extent of its influence in the West. Islam from the very beginning rejected a separation between civil and religious life, and to argue that it doesn’t recognize such a distinction is really to say that it isn’t Christian and should be…” (David Billington)
    The separation of church and state in the West actually culminated in the enlightenment; to be more specific, the American Enlightenment (as opposed to the European Enlightenment). If I were going to search for the date that civil authority in Christendom began to assert its superiority over ecclesiastical authority, I think I would start the clock ticking at an event that you as an Episcopalian are undoubtedly familiar with; King Henry VIII’s decision to ignore the authority of the Pope and the wishes of his wife’s Uncle, the Holy Roman Emperor, and divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn.
    I believe that this was the seminal event in European history that began a long process that culminated in the Enlightenment. Although his role is frequently misunderstood (even by Anglicans), in many ways, Henry was an even more consequential figure than Martin Luther. It is a sad quirk of history, I think; that few westerners realize how many of the freedoms we enjoy today can be traced back to decisions made by Henry 450 years ago.
    One other point; given your suggestion that rejecting the separation between civil and ecclesiastical authority is a central and more or less inflexible tenet of Islam, it seems that all those bemoaning the “creeping blurriness” between church and state in the United States are bound to feel threatened by Islam. After all, you are telling us that when it comes to Islam there’s no “creeping blurriness” at all; civil and religious authority in Islam will always be joined at the hip. I can’t imagine that anyone who feels threatened by an admixture of civil and religious authority in the West can feel very comfortable with what’s looming in the Muslim world.

    Reply

  49. Neo Controll says:

    It was such a nice, almost civilized discussion, and then this — what — Nadine, neocon, wacko person shows up and shits the place up with ‘hasbarist’ garbage. Oh my.

    Reply

  50. nadine says:

    “Sharia law can only be imposed on entire Western countries if these countries lose a war
    with a hostile Islam or develop Muslim majorities that want a change in the law. It will be
    many decades before either prospect is conceivable.”(David Billington)
    At current demographic trends, not that many decades. It is entirely conceivable that France could become 50% Muslim in less than 40 years.
    The danger of creeping Sharia is that unlike, say Orthodox Jewish courts, which make no attempt to force compliance, Sharia courts have as it were, divine marching orders to make everybody comply with them, Muslim and infidel alike. Their “voluntary” nature is thus suspect from the get-go. According to a 2009 poll “Public Opinion in the Islamic World on Terrorism, al Qaeda, and US Policies”, a majority of Muslims support strict application of Sharia:
    “See especially pages 27 through 30: “Islamist Groups and Shari’a.” On page 27, the report says: “The Islamist goal of giving Shari’a a larger role in Islamic society is viewed positively.”
    And on page 29: “In Egypt 81 percent said they agreed with the al Qaeda goal of “requir[ing] a strict application of Shari’a law in every Islamic country” (65% strongly); only 12 percent disagreed. Pakistanis were similar with 76 percent agreeing with this goal (52% strongly); 5 percent disagreed. Indonesians, however, agreed by only a narrow plurality: 49 percent supported the goal (just 14% strongly), while 42 percent disagreed. In Morocco in late 2006, 76 percent agreed.”
    http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/pdf/feb09/STARTII_Feb09_rpt.pdf

    Reply

  51. David Billington says:

    Wigwag – A few additional comments:
    “One of the main differences between the Judeo-Christian world and the Islamic world is
    that the Judeo-Christian world has accommodated itself to the enlightenment principle of
    separating civil and ecclesiastical authority while much of the Islamic world rejects this
    separation.”
    I would put this differently. The division in the Christian West has existed since St.
    Augustine (the Middle Ages were all about church-state conflict). What the Enlightenment
    did was challenge the veracity of religion and change the extent of its influence in the
    West. Islam from the very beginning rejected a separation between civil and religious life,
    and to argue that it doesn’t recognize such a distinction is really to say that it isn’t
    Christian and should be. What Muslim countries have had to do to be modern is graft
    Western-style states onto their own societies and traditions, with results that still have a
    long way to evolve. But before passing judgment, we should look at what year it is in the
    Islamic calendar and then ask what we were like in that year on our calendar.
    “Few evangelicals believe or are making any attempt to institutionalize Ephesians 5:22-24
    as part of the civil law. Tens of millions of Muslims, if not more, believe that Sharia should
    have civil standing as well as religious standing and that it should apply to everyone, not
    just Muslims.”
    Sharia law can only be imposed on entire Western countries if these countries lose a war
    with a hostile Islam or develop Muslim majorities that want a change in the law. It will be
    many decades before either prospect is conceivable. Non-compulsory Sharia courts
    already exist in many non-Muslim majority countries. The situation in each country is
    different but I would think the issue of voluntary religious arbitration should be debated
    as such, with the question being conflict with existing secular law and not conflict with
    other majority religious beliefs.

    Reply

  52. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Mass Consensual Hallucination
    By Jon Taplin – October 20, 2010, 12:09PM
    In his cyberpunk classic, William Gibson described a society enmeshed in a “mass consensual hallucination”. My guess is that in 20 years historians will use similar terms to describe the election of 2010. The Tea Party partisans actually believe they are going to bring about a giant reduction in the size of the Federal Government if they return the Republicans to the Congressional Majority. But it’s actually a big con run by Dick Armey and Karl Rove, with only one idea in mind—preserve the Bush era tax cuts for millionaires and corporations. The New York Times points out the irony this morning.
    The parties share blame for the current fiscal situation, but federal budget statistics show that Republican policies over the last decade, and the cost of the two wars, added far more to the deficit than initiatives approved by the Democratic Congress since 2006, giving voters reason to be skeptical of campaign promises.
    One would think that the leaders of the religious right that poured their money and foot soldiers into the Republican victories of 1980, 1984, 1988, 2000 and 2004 with vague promises from Republican leaders like Armey and Rove to pursue a social agenda ending abortion, returning prayer to the schools and “defending marriage”—only to be ignored once the victory was in hand—might have some cautionary advice for the Tea Party. But plutocrats like Rove always end up singing the same song: “Who Will the Next Fool Be?”

    Reply

  53. David Billington says:

    “They are also far and away the fastest growing churches in the United States. Members
    are flocking to these churches from the former mainline churches in extraordinary
    numbers.” (Wigwag)
    Evangelicals are certainly the largest group but I don’t think they have been growing
    rapidly or attracting most of those who leave the mainline churches. On the site below,
    Wheaton College says that the number of Evangelicals (including Pentecostals) has
    fluctuated for the last twenty years at around 40 percent of the American people, based
    on Gallup surveys. The number of white Evangelicals is about 30-35 percent and three
    out of five of these identify as conservative, the rest as moderate or liberal.
    http://isae.wheaton.edu/defining-evangelicalism/how-many-evangelicals-are-there/
    Evangelicals have been more visible since the 1970s and megachurches in particular have
    drawn many new people. But clearly some existing people must have departed in order
    for the overall numbers to have remained relatively stable. There hasn’t been been
    singificant real growth in the United States since 1990.
    The mainline Protestant churches have also experienced comings and goings. The
    Episcopal Church with which I am familiar has lost more than it has gained, but I think
    one has to be cautious here. Alumni of the church (as our bishops call younger people
    who don’t stay) in the past have not left for more conservative churches; most have
    simply become unchurched and remain liberal or moderate in their outlook.
    That said, some have left for more conservative churches. But the number of parishes
    that left the Episcopal Church in the 1970s over the ordination of women was very small.
    Today, four dioceses and ten percent of all parishes have departed, or are in the process
    of doing so, over gay clergy. This is a more serious division and the result may be a
    schism in the Anglican communion. But American Baptists and Methodists split in 1861
    over slavery and sometimes such divisions cannot be avoided.
    “I think it would be very good if the group Steve mentions in this post tried to reach out
    to their evangelical and Pentecostal brethren in the hope of helping them see the light. A
    strategy of respect, patience and forbearance might actually work.”
    The particular group he cites has been active in an effort to engage the other side in a
    civil way for the last five years. I think that qualifies as patience and forebearance. Let’s
    hope that a response is not long in coming.
    “Unlike extreme and moderate Muslims who think that homosexuality needs to be
    severely sanctioned, the most extreme view held by your average American evangelical is
    that gay people shouldn’t be allowed to marry or serve in the military.”
    The stigma is not as bad as in Muslim countries but conditions in the United States are
    still very serious and include the suicides of young people that result from anti-gay
    bullying and from the preachings of anti-gay churches about the evil of homosexual
    activity. I don’t think this is just a dispute over marriage and military service. I hope we
    are moving into a new era of reflection and change about these things.

    Reply

  54. Linda says:

    Let’s talk a bit about Jews because I proudly belong to a Reconstructism congregation, Congregation Bet Haverim, here in Atlanta formed 25 years ago by gay and lesbian Jews at a time when they met in homes and did not use their last names—because being “out” in Atlanta could result in loss of their jobs.
    At that time no branch of Judaism, Reform, Conservative, or Orthodox, would perform or accept gay marriages. Over the years that handful of people has grown to a congregation of 200 families and now is split evenly among LGBT and straight members. Many of the straight members are married to Christians, and many Jewish rabbis will not even officiate at a mixed marriage unless the non-Jew converts–a lot of the reason why Judaism is declining in numbers in U.S. Our congregation probably is split about 50/50 about being very pro-Israel or not very much so and more secular in general (where I am).
    Orthodox Jews are pretty much like evanlegicals when it comes to LGBT issues.
    We also are the only congregation in Atlanta that opens our doors to everyone for free on the Jewish High Holidays. We are looking finally for our own buidling. We hold our services in a United Church of Christ–except the High Holidays when we need more space and rent an Episcopal church for them. We rent the classrooms from the Quakers for our Sunday school that has 200-300 children of all races and colors because many are adopted children of gay and lesbian couples.
    I’m about as secular as Steve is, never belonged to any synagogue in my adult life, but I am very proud to be affiliated with this congregation because it truly represents the kind of acceptance and community that all religions should practice and the core of what all of them preach.

    Reply

  55. Don Bacon says:

    I endorse Paul Norheim’s and WigWag’s customary change of the discussion from Christians to Muslims. While it’s off topic, it has a certain inevitability, and is attractive to jingoists.

    Reply

  56. DakotabornKansan says:

    A little prayer dedicated to the separation of church and state

    Reply

  57. Paul Norheim says:

    I’ll tell you anyway: Good post, Questions!

    Reply

  58. Paul Norheim says:

    “Tens of millions of Muslims, if not more, believe that Sharia
    should have civil standing as well as religious standing and that it
    should apply to everyone, not just Muslims.” (WigWag)
    “With about 1.57 billion Muslims comprising about 23% of the
    world’s population, Islam is the second-largest and arguably the
    fastest-growing religion in the world.” (Wikipedia)
    And WigWag seeks confrontation with 1,57 billion Muslims. What
    a brilliant project.

    Reply

  59. questions says:

    W/W,
    This is a little above my paygrade, but….
    Wouldn’t it be the case that many Christians don’t worry about ecclesiastical underpinnings of civil law because our civil law largely follows a whole bunch of ecclesiastical notions?
    The right is fond of talking about the “Judaeo/Christian” foundations of civilization. We certainly have family and holiday practices that follow a semblance of Christianity. We have had until fairly recently some pretty archaic or Biblical notions of family structure. We haven’t gone very far down the path of, say, children’s rights, so there’s still some retrograde stuff there.
    There are plenty of examples of women who are brutalized in the home and not well-served by the law.
    There are plenty of examples of bizarre sexualization and de-sexualization of bodies such that it’s clear we don’t have any of this well worked out.
    I can say that in general, we don’t stone adulterers. This is true. But the numbers on the killings and beatings of women aren’t so lovely here.
    We don’t have religion in the public schools, except where we do.
    We don’t….. except where we do.
    The lines aren’t as neatly drawn as you seem to want them to be, the US and Eur. are a little less heroic than you seem to want them to be.
    The Wikileaks documents are showing that we really aren’t more civilized than “they”. It’s a little depressing because I would have hoped for a little more growth in decency over time.
    the other thing worth thinking about is the issue of “condemning” within an identity group.
    How many times has some “well-regarded” African-American in the US been “instructed” about the importance of condemning other African-Americans, how often has the “airing our dirty laundry” meme come up regarding Israel? Sometimes one fails to condemn one’s own not because one finds nothing condemnation-worthy, but because they are one’s own.
    And here, you have to ask how it is we render judgment. Plato’s Euthyphro deals with this issue quite nicely. Socrates can’t really figure out how Euthyphro can prosecute his own father for murder, in the name of piety, when Euthyphro can’t define “piety” and can’t separate himself from his father.
    We’re not so good at figuring out how to condemn our own. So I wouldn’t rest much on this particular fact of the world.
    And further, to reiterate the above combined with the Plato dialogue, we’re not really good at seeing ourselves and our own foibles such that we should jump the line and start condemning everyone who would seem to deserve it.
    There are many categories to work out before we can rightly say “they bad, we good” in good conscience.
    And Paul, I actually have no interest in your response assuming it’s going to go the direction it probably will….. So maybe just don’t bother for a change.

    Reply

  60. Paul Norheim says:

    Tariq Ramadan’s complicated relation to the Muslim Brotherhood
    aside: you know what I know, that Al Qaeda and other extreme
    Islamists groups are highly influenced and inspired by The
    Muslim Brotherhood, and that al Qaeda’s no.2, Al Zawahiri, was a
    member of the Brotherhood for decades before joining al Qaeda.
    I don’t care what some leftist “colleagues” say; neither Hamas nor
    the Muslin Brotherhood are shining examples of moderate Islam
    (the former being a militant resistance group in a specific
    conflict) – making your arguments invalid.

    Reply

  61. Drector says:

    “One of the main differences between the Judeo-Christian world and the Islamic world is that the Judeo-Christian world has accommodated itself to the enlightenment principle of separating civil and ecclesiastical authority while much of the Islamic world rejects this separation.”
    An important distinction indeed Wig Wag. But isn’t the eradication of any meaningful distinction between civil authority and implementing religious precepts (not so grandiose a concept as ecclesiastical authority, but similar in effect) a virtual definition of the trajectory and desired outcome of the so-called “culture wars”. I.w., don’t evangelicals want to prescribe in significant measure what a righteous society should look like. It doesn’t seem this is a mere intellectual exercise for the faithful. Political language and inclusion of much religious pandering this election cycle gives evidence of the commitment to ‘witness’ by affecting the mechanisms of civil society.

    Reply

  62. WigWag says:

    “WigWag, who do you refer to as mainline Muslim movements in your post above? The Salafists…
    The Muslim Brotherhood…” (Paul Norheim)
    “The Bible has many passages like this: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” (Ephesians 5:22-24)” (Don Bacon)
    You may not think that the Muslim Brotherhood represents a mainline branch of Islam, Paul, but many of your colleagues on the left do. From the pages of the New York Review of Books to the progressive blogosphere we are constantly told that the Muslim Brotherhood and its representatives like Tariq Ramadan are precisely the type of people we should want average Muslims to identify with.
    When it comes to Gaza we are told that Hamas, which is a card carrying member of the Muslim Brotherhood, should be accommodated. In Turkey, while the Government has no official relationship to the Muslim Brotherhood, it holds many similar views. We are told that we should look to the Turkish model as one we should hope most Muslims will emulate.
    In Europe, where the Muslim Brotherhood is widely popular with European Muslims, the movement’s most charismatic and well-known leader, Tariq Ramadan couldn’t even bring himself to criticize stoning adulterous women to death.
    Don Bacon, if you search the pages of scripture for any of the world’s religions you can find bizarre, regressive and disgusting (by modern standards) passages.
    You are also right that many (though not all) evangelicals are biblical literalists. Many evangelicals revere the particular passage that you cite and choose to live their lives according to that standard.
    But I hope that we can agree that believing the husband to be the head of the household is a far cry from calling for the stoning to death of adulterous women; something which the most prominent Muslim organization in Europe can’t seem to bring itself to criticize.
    One of the main differences between the Judeo-Christian world and the Islamic world is that the Judeo-Christian world has accommodated itself to the enlightenment principle of separating civil and ecclesiastical authority while much of the Islamic world rejects this separation.
    That’s why figures like Newt Gingrich, Ayan Hirsi Ali and others make Sharia the important dividing line between Muslim views that can be accommodated by the West and those that can’t.
    Few evangelicals believe or are making any attempt to institutionalize Ephesians 5:22-24 as part of the civil law. Tens of millions of Muslims, if not more, believe that Sharia should have civil standing as well as religious standing and that it should apply to everyone, not just Muslims.
    This is what makes the current state of Islam both dangerous and worthy of confronting.

    Reply

  63. Drector says:

    “I present these facts to you not to criticize the recent trend towards secularism; I applaud that trend.”
    Thanks you for presenting this information indicating increased secularism, Wig Wag. My question and concern is based on the notion, both factual and anecdotal, that the pendulum seems to be swinging back towards a benighted sort of conservatism, much like is roundly criticized in reactionary elements of other cultures and religions, notably Islamic. But my point is not to analogize to other cultures, though there may be one, but to nail down more precisely the potential danger that radical religious thought, into which evangelicalism might evolve, or already exist, threatens specific aspects of our domestic life in the US. I’m sure more than one LBGT individual has similar concerns.

    Reply

  64. Don Bacon says:

    The Cross and the Flag — they go together now. The Nordic countries go further — they all have crosses on them.

    Reply

  65. Drector says:

    It is indeed the increasing coincidence of church and state that is worrisome since, it appears, those who would consider themselves ‘social conservatives’, largely, I think, a group that includes vast numbers of those who would consider themselves ‘religious conservatives’ or evangelicals, is increasing.
    This plays of course into the question raised above with regard to ‘severe punishment’ for homosexuality that Wig Wag suggests is not a concern as far as evangelicals. (That is, the proposition that evangelicals would not favor serious punishment for homosexuals — which I cannot say is true).
    We can look at the civil side, the anti-miscegination laws for instance, which were a common artifact of a bygone era, and the cohabitation laws, their successor, which continue to exist in eight states I believe, and even more that retain criminal statues against sodomy. These laws, as I say do provide criminal sanction, and though rarely enforced these days, are a caution in an era when social conservative thought is trending toward greater influence and political power. Evangelicals would make up a large percentage of that population one would assume, by definition. To me, the possibility of greater and increasing enforcement of such statues, qualifies as “serious”. Social conservative are pressing for even more intrusion into private lives — a definite divergence from a prior generation of conservatives — and this could of course include broadening statues and punishments, at least in some jurisdictions.
    We can look at the religious side, and note the Old Testament prohibitions, echoed in some parts of the New Testament, against all manner of sexual behavior also widely interpreted by conservative religionists as against homosexuality. While some Biblical interpreters may consider such language as an artifact of a prior eon, we also know that many contemporary conservative Christians, evangelicals, etc., proclaim the literal truth of Biblical text. It is clear that the most severe punishment for these proscribed behaviors in the Bible are severe, up to execution. It would be interesting, even very important, to know how many evangelicals follow this severe line of thought and belief. As I suggested above, these potential punishments, possibly widely held as valid among evangelicals, qualify as “severe punishment”.
    How many evangelicals believe that these and other religious principles are appropriate for informing our civil conduct and laws? There really is something of an urgency to have an understanding of the degree to which such drastic consequences might be in the offing. And I don’t.

    Reply

  66. Don Bacon says:

    There’s a connection between the concocted idea that the only proper human relationship is bisexual, and the secondary, dependent role of women in the Christian Bible. The “traditional marriage” which includes a submissive wife is essential to male-dominated Christianity, and so Christians oppose any other arrangement.
    The Bible has many passages like this:
    “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” (Ephesians 5:22-24)

    Reply

  67. Paul Norheim says:

    WigWag, who do you refer to as mainline Muslim movements in
    your post above?
    The Salafists…
    The Muslim Brotherhood…
    Well, neither of those are “moderate” or “mainline” in my book,
    thus your arguments are more or less irrelevant.
    Of course, if Evangelical Christians and Jews and Hindus can
    change over time, so can mainline Muslims. But as I said, you are
    engaged in a war with Islam, while Evangelical Christians happen
    to be your allied.

    Reply

  68. WigWag says:

    “I notice upthread you assert that separation of church and state is not less ‘blurry” as Steve Clemons says. I believe Mr. Clemons is exactly right. Take for example, the eligibility of parochial and other sectarian schools and organizations to receive federal aid. In decades past this sort of thing would not have be talked about much less promoted and indeed implemented. Even under so called more liberal Democratic administrations bringing in sectarian groups has accelerated.” (Drector)
    Drector, from the time of the first American colonies right up to 1962, teacher-led prayer was a ubiquitous feature of American education. For almost 300 years of American history prayer in school was the norm; it wasn’t until 1962 that the United States outlawed teacher led prayer in the landmark case of Engel v. Vitale (370 US 421).
    You mention the case of posting the Ten Commandments in public schools. Throughout almost all of American history, the Ten Commandments were routinely posted in American classrooms; most people thought nothing of it. The idea that the Ten Commandments should be purged from American public schools is a relatively recent phenomenon.
    Darwin published “On the Origin of the Species” in 1859 but even as late as the Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925, the teaching of evolutionary theory was banned in most public schools in the United States. Even after the Scopes trial most public schools refused to add evolution to the curriculum. It has only been since the late 1960s that teaching Darwin’s theory to school children has been the norm; it is now the presentation of divine creation that is banned by the Supreme Court in public education.
    Similarly, banning government support for religious schools (and even churches) is not an ancient American tradition; it’s a relatively modern American tradition. For almost all of American history, the placing of cr

    Reply

  69. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “As I said before, evangelical churches may look askance at homosexuality, but at worst, they oppose gay marriage and gays serving in the military. This is a far cry from believing that homosexuality is a crime that should be severely punished”
    And the arguments used to support this opposition are despicable, often comparing gay sex to pedophilia or bestiality. It is completely dishonest to imply or state that this doesn’t feed the hysteria and homophobic hatreds. One of the key arguments used against gay marraige is something to the affect of “Whats next, a man marrying his pet monkey, or his daughter?”
    Its actually quite telling seeing you engaged in this debate, considering the extremely despicable and sleazy manner that you have on occassion used Steve’s homosexuality to malign his opinions, and attempt to buttress your own.
    Do the evangelists publically scream for the heads of homosexuals? Of course not, except when the occassional wackjob asshole preacher makes the mistake of giving voice to his thoughts, or when the rank and file is discussing “those fags” over a cup of coffee during break.
    Seeking to dismiss the strong prejudice and homophobia that the right, and the evangelists, foster and nurture with their rhetoric is just more Wig-wag horseshit.

    Reply

  70. Don Bacon says:

    The “creeping blurriness between religion and state” is a fact, but the US has always been a religious state starting with the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which was a de facto theocracy. While religion is becoming less popular, state-religion ties are increasing as noted.
    from Digital Journal:
    Over the last few decades, the proportion of Americans professing Christian faith, especially Protestants, has experienced a steady decline. Although Christians still account for about 78 percent of US adults as a whole, the percentage of Protestants has fallen from over 60 percent in the early 1990s to around 50 percent in 2006. Those religiously unaffiliated have grown from fewer than 10 percent to between 14 and 16 percent over the same period.
    “Yet paradoxically, the growth of religious diversity has not produced a concomitant decline in the view of America as a Christian country,” says Straughn. “On the contrary, such views have generally grown more prevalent among US adults since the turn of the century. As of the mid-1990s, only 60 percent said they regarded their country as a ‘Christian nation’. By 2002, agreement with this view had risen to 67 percent and reached a peak of 71 percent in 2005 before settling to 67 percent the following year.”///
    http://tinyurl.com/33qnvel
    On marriage, it is in my view basically an intrusion of the state and church into a human relationship. The answer to religious prejudice combined with state power is to avoid both.
    Over 12 million unmarried partners live together in 6,008,007 households. – U.S. Census Bureau.

    Reply

  71. Drector says:

    “As I said before, evangelical churches may look askance at homosexuality, but at worst, they oppose gay marriage and gays serving in the military. This is a far cry from believing that homosexuality is a crime that should be severely punished.
    That’s an interesting proposition and one I hope is true. Can you provide a citation Wig wag?
    I notice upthread you assert that separation of church and state is not less ‘blurry” as Steve Clemons says. I believe Mr. Clemons is exactly right. Take for example, the eligibility of parochial and other sectarian schools and organizations to receive federal aid. In decades past this sort of thing would not have be talked about much less promoted and indeed implemented. Even under so called more liberal Democratic administrations bringing in sectarian groups has accelerated.
    The entire thrust of so-called “faith based” groups and their recognition and incorporation in government programs attests to the increasing inclusion and legitimacy.
    If anything there has been a rear guard action to ‘defend’ the principle of church/state separation from creeping “blurriness”. For example, it rather attest to this fact that a protest had to reach the Supreme Court to prevent a rather arch, shall we say, judge in Alabama from ordering the 12 commandments chiseled into the stone of ‘his’ courthouse. Rather a pointed example of an attempt to promote a single religion as opposed, let’s say, to “in Gd we trust” on the currency.

    Reply

  72. WigWag says:

    There is a world of difference between the Christian world (and the tiny Jewish world) and the Islamic world when it comes to homosexuality, Paul.
    In the Muslim world it’s not just the extremists who think that homosexuality is a crime that should be punished, so do the segments of the Muslim community that we are often told are moderate. The Salfists want gay people punished by death and members of the Muslim Brotherhood (a mainstream group that progressive people are always telling us is moderate) has only a slightly more nuanced view.
    Intolerance of homosexuality is the norm in the Muslim world. Where is the debate about whether gay Imams should be encouraged? Where is the debate about gay commitment ceremonies conducted by Islamic religious authorities? What about female clergy; is there even any discussion about that in the Islamic world?
    Even the Roman Catholic Church debates whether women should be ordained and whether gay people should be able to take the sacrament. In the Protestant and Jewish worlds there is a vibrant debate about a role for women and gay clergy. There is also a healthy debate about gay commitment ceremonies and even gay marriage. Where is this debate in the Muslim world? Where in the Muslim world can we find the enormous gay rights demonstrations that are ubiquitous in London, New York, Tel Aviv and even Jerusalem?
    Hatred of homosexuality afflicts many strains of Islam. The form of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia and exported by the Saudis to the rest of the world believes that homosexuals should be executed; the Shia Iranians think the same thing. Hamas has condemned homosexuals in Gaza to death for the crime of sodomy. While there is a misconception that Sufism is a more moderate form of Islam, when it comes to homosexuality this simply isn’t true. Some of the most violent and anti gay Muslims in Africa (especially in the Sudan) are Sufis.
    In a previous post you mentioned the threat that Uganda might enact legislation which imposed capital punishment for the crime of homosexuality; that would be terrible. But homosexuality is already a crime punishable by death or imprisonment in many Islamic countries. How often are gay people incarcerated or murdered by the state because of their sexual preferences in Christian majority nations? How often does that happen in Islamic nations?
    Getting back to American evangelicals for a moment, when it comes to homosexuality there is simply no evidence that most American evangelicals share the same views as their brethren in the global south or with mainline Muslim movements throughout the world.
    As I said before, evangelical churches may look askance at homosexuality, but at worst, they oppose gay marriage and gays serving in the military. This is a far cry from believing that homosexuality is a crime that should be severely punished.
    That’s why I think it makes all the sense in the world to engage evangelicals in the hope of moving them in a positive direction while at the same time holding the Muslim view about homosexuality in contempt.

    Reply

  73. Paul Norheim says:

    WigWag,
    as you know, there may be plenty of nut cases both within
    the Evangelical community and within the Muslim
    community, who would have approved Hitler’s approach to
    homosexuals.
    But I think you will agree when I say that it is plausible
    that the average Muslim, as well as the average Evangelical
    Christian would be horrified if someone suggested that
    they should be gassed to death en bloc.
    I would also guess that you and I agree that many
    mainstream Evangelical Christians, as well as many
    moderate Muslims – not to speak of the extremists – have
    what we, from our perspective, would regard as a
    somewhat bigoted view on homosexuals.
    You said: “No one in the mainstream of the evangelical or
    Pentecostal movements suggests executing gay people or
    imprisoning them. If you

    Reply

  74. WigWag says:

    By the way, Steve is in error when he makes this statement,
    “I’m a secularist and really have problems with the creeping blurriness between religion and state…”
    If Steve thinks that there is any period in American history when church and state were more separate than they are now, he should tell us when that period was.
    The reality is that there has never been a time when, thanks to the Courts and the State and Federal Governments, that the religious sphere and the civil sphere have been as separated as they are now.
    Perhaps Steve would like them more separate still; that’s fine. But there really is no “creeping bluriness” between church and state. If anything, the history of the last 50 years suggests that things are “creeping” in the other direction.

    Reply

  75. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “However, I do feel that the esteem to which homosexuals are downgraded by evangelicals is such a radical departure from civilized thought and behavior that your characterization of my remarks as “childish” is uncalled for”
    As a straight tradesman that works within an extremely religious and conservative work force in Central California, I can assure you that vicious homophobia is alive and well in the United States. Do not underestimate the degree of hatred that the rightwing asshole rednecks in the Republican Party have instilled in these people. I hear evidence of it everyday.
    Last year one of our customers, an openly gay man, and prominent real estate broker in Bakersfield, was found face down in the Kern River. Trouble is, the river is only ankle deep in that section. The common local scuttlebutt is that he was murdered. I believe that. And it is amazing how many times I have heard people say “Good riddance”, “he had it coming”, “what did the fag expect?”, etc. It was ruled a suicide by the Bakersfield authorities. Almost to a man, those that I have discussed it with believe it was a whitewash. One attorney told my employer, immediately after the guy was found, that “they better go outside the area for investigators, because if it is investigated in Bakersfield, it will be ruled a suicide”.

    Reply

  76. DakotabornKansan says:

    When I previously googled Ed Gillespie, I got information about Ed Gillespie, American Republican political strategist and former Counselor to the President in the George W. Bush White House; Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie Lead Efforts to Organize GOP; etc.. So I stopped there, assuming you were referring to a different Ed Gillespie. I could not, exposing my own bias, given the results of my Google search and my knowledge of RNC, as you say, truly horrible pamphlets and other literature about homosexuality, think this was the same person you were recommending as an outstanding ambassador to these groups.
    But I am still confused. You say that Gillespie

    Reply

  77. WigWag says:

    By the way, anyone interested in the subject that Drector refers to, the treatment of gay people by the Nazis, should see the extraordinary play by Martin Sherman, “Bent.” When the play premiered in London and New York the starring role was played by Richard Gere. I saw it in New York with the wonderful actor, Alan Cumming. The movie version isn’t as good as the stage version, but it is still well worth watching. The film version stars Mick Jagger (who actually wan’t that bad), Clive Owen and Jude Law.
    “Bent” is available from Netflix.
    Here’s the IMDb description of the movie,
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118698/
    and here’s the wiki entry on the play,
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bent_(play)

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  78. Drector says:

    Wig Wag, thank you for responding to my post, although you make an unwarranted jump to the conclusion that I was making a direct comparison between the practice of evangelicals and Nazis. However, I do feel that the esteem to which homosexuals are downgraded by evangelicals is such a radical departure from civilized thought and behavior that your characterization of my remarks as “childish” is uncalled for.
    To extrapolate between my comment and you assertion that I imply evangelicals wish to exterminate gays is a rather brutal rhetorical flourish that takes my breath away. Although, I cannot speak for evangelicals, I expect most would prefer that homosexuals would either simply go away or recognize the ‘error’ of their ‘sinful’ ‘lifestyles’. Actually I find even that attribution seriously uncivilized although, of course, nowhere near the consequence of extermination. But on that of course, as I say, I cant speak for any or all evangelicals and have no ready references.
    I notice you shift ground to a discussion of Muslim practices which I in no way engaged except perhaps tangentially with regard to the NY mosque situation. Since I didn’t address it I can only assume you are making some point of your own. If the point is that evangelicals aren’t so bad, by comparison, I don’t think that is particularly relevant in an American context. Please don’t take my words out of context as it distracts from directness of communication.
    To repeat my main point, in an American context and history, tolerance of intolerance is really not much to recommend it as a strategy for dealing with the intolerant. I do understand that you are speaking in the longer term, perhaps centuries by which time, of course, we will all be dead. But that’s really not fair to the American ideology of fairness and equality, in context.

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  79. WigWag says:

    David Billington is right, Ed Gillespie was a former Counselor in the White House of George W. Bush. He worked for the RNC but never led it. If Gillespie is gay, I don’t believe that he has never announced it. I assume that Steve wasn’t trying to “out” Gillespie; he probably just mixed the names of Gillespie and Mehlman up. It’s easy to do this; they were both senior players during the George W. Bush years.
    Ken Mehlman is the former head of the RNC. He (not Gillespie) announced that he is gay in August, 2010.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_Gillespie
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Mehlman

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  80. WigWag says:

    To DakotabornKansan,
    You are correct that evangelical and Pentecostal churches are the fastest growing churches in Africa, Asia and South America. They are also far and away the fastest growing churches in the United States. Members are flocking to these churches from the former mainline churches in extraordinary numbers. It is important to remember that while all Pentecostals are evangelicals, not all evangelicals are Pentecostals. Taken together, their numbers in the United States are probably upward of 40 million parishioners and growing. Many, though not all are Republicans; Obama did very well with these voters the first time around. Bill Clinton did very well with these voters when he ran for reelection.
    It is my impression (backed up by admittedly scant data) that these Evangelical parishioners/voters can be induced to vote in a less conservative manner with the proper outreach. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama both made the effort to do this when they ran for President. So did Jimmy Carter (but it was easier for Carter; he was one of them).
    On social issues, the views of Evangelical voters certainly appear to be to the right of the average mainline Protestant voter or secular voter. But there’s nothing to suggest that this has to be set in stone. Younger evangelicals in particular seem to be willing to entertain the prospect of a more accepting, even welcoming view of homosexuality. Over time, the group Steve mentions in this post, might make a very positive impact if they engage these younger evangelicals with a spirit of trust, respect and open-mindedness.
    To answer you specific question, Ed Gillespie is the former head of the Republican National Committee (the position Michael Steele occupies now). During his tenure, the RNC published some truly horrible pamphlets and other literature about homosexuality. Subsequently, Gillespie has acknowledged his homosexuality and I believe that he has apologized for some of what went on at the RNC under his leadership. I believe that he would be a good ambassador to the evangelical community for several reasons: he personally knows scores of the most influential evangelical leaders; as a conservative he understands their point of view and he has undergone his own moments of both anguish and repentance which might be powerful metaphors to these people of faith.
    To Drector
    Your post is childish. Few if any evangelicals propose doing to homosexuals what the Nazis did. No one in the mainstream of the evangelical or Pentecostal movements suggests executing gay people or imprisoning them. If you

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  81. Carroll says:

    From what I have observed it is primarily the uneducated and lower classes, as evidenced by the religious fanatics outside of main stream churches, that oppose gays and homosexuality.
    So I doubt gays will make any headway with the evangelical type churches.
    And do they even need to really? Let them stick with the churches that welcome them.
    Of course the gay community would be a great crowd to get on the separation of church and state bandwagon…they could add some real heft there.
    Huumm?…can churches be in violation of the constitution? If churches get something from the state like tax consideration shouldn’t they be likewise obligated to the government?
    Maybe the SC should rule on churches probition on gays while receiving Federal tax benefits.

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  82. Carroll says:

    From what I have observed it is primarily the uneducated and lower classes, as evidenced by the religious fanatics outside of main stream churches, that oppose gays and homosexuality.
    So I doubt gays will make any headway with the evangelical type churches.
    And do they even need to really? Let them stick with the churches that welcome them.
    Of course the gay community would be a great crowd to get on the separation of church and state bandwagon…they could add some real heft there.
    Huumm?…can churches be in violation of the constitution? If churches get something from the state like tax consideration shouldn’t they be likewise obligated to the government?
    Maybe the SC should rule on churches probition on gays while receiving Federal tax benefits.

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  83. David Billington says:

    ” Ed Gillespie was, of course, then head of the Republican National
    Committee and is not out as a gay man.” (Steve Clemons)
    It was Ken Mehlman, not Ed Gillespie. In a few weeks daylight
    saving ends and we’ll all be able to get more sleep 🙂

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  84. Drector says:

    Wig wag seems to counsel a strategy of passivity and almost a victim mentality in “outreach” to the evangelical community on the issue of homosexuality. Now is that what would have been wise counsel in Germany in the 30’s when homosexuals were likewise regarded as aberrations, and actually called subhuman. It didn’t work out well for homosexuals of course, as they were gassed along with the Jews and Poles and gypsies. Many in the evangelical community seem to hold a similarly aberrant view of homosexuals, and here we have advanced in our civilian discourse to where gay marriage is almost a universal reality. In that context, evangelicals are hardly open to any dialogue. It’s their way or no way.
    Using the N Y Mosque situation as an example of offensive tactics, as Wig Wag does, what about those opposing the mosque? Are not their tactics even more offensive and bigoted?
    Quite often, reason and patience and ‘turning the other cheek’ in the face of brutal intolerance is not only counterproductive; it can be deadly. Sadly we cannot have a second chance for the homosexuals of Germany, or for Matthew Sheppard.

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  85. DakotabornKansan says:

    “What’s needed are people who can credibly reach out to the memberships of the Evangelical and Pentecostal Churches that are watching their membership roles go through the roof. It seems to me that Ed Gillespie would be an outstanding ambassador to these groups.” [post by WigWag @ 2:02PM]
    I am familiar, particularly in South America, with the fact that Evangelical and Pentecostal Church memberships are going through the roof. But, Wig Wag, I

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  86. Carmen says:

    Steve? Is Gillespie “not out” or “now out?”

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  87. WigWag says:

    I am sure that this new organization will do very fine and important work; its Board members all seem to be committed, enthusiastic and tenacious public advocates who bring alot to the table. I wish them well.
    The problem is that by scanning their bios that Steve was kind enough to include, it would appear that they are all from faith based traditions that are well on their way to extinction in the United States. All of the mainline churches in the United States are watching as the number of worshipers in their pews is collapsing. It’s true for almost every mainline church you can think of from the Episcopalians, Methodists and Presbyterians to the mainline Lutherans, the Church of Christ and the National Baptist Convention.
    Many of these churches are currently embroiled in intense discussions about the role of gay clergy, gay commitment ceremonies and the ordination of gay bishops. In fact, the Episcopal Church faces a likely schism because the role of Gay Clergy in American congregations grates on the nerves of much of the rest of the Anglican Communion.
    While I hope that I am wrong, my suspicion is that members of this new organization may spend alot of time preaching to the already converted and to make matters worse, they are likely to be preaching to denominations that are already, frankly, in extremis.
    What’s needed are people who can credibly reach out to the memberships of the Evangelical and Pentecostal Churches that are watching their membership roles go through the roof. It seems to me that Ed Gillespie would be an outstanding ambassador to these groups; Jim McGreevey, not so much.
    There is reasonably good preliminary evidence that young evangelicals in particular may be open to a message of tolerance and inclusiveness for gay Americans. Religious history is measured in centuries not hours so the reality is that influencing the largest sector of religious Americans may very well take time. Of course, to make progress, those who want urge a more modern view about homosexuality will have to refrain from doing what progressive people are now in the habit of doing; engaging those they wish to convince by treating them as ignorant, bigoted yahoos.
    If members of this new organization talk to their more “conservative” brethren in a respectful, open-minded way they will be doing something important; one is almost tempted to say that they will be doing the Lord’s work. If, on the other hand, these well-meaning leaders recapitulate the strategy so commonly used by progressive people today; insulting and maligning those who disagree with them; then they are likely to accomplish nothing.
    If they want to know exactly what not to do, the perfect exemplar is right in front of their faces. When they look at the strategies used by the supporters of the “World Trade Center Mosque” to convince Americans that the construction of the Mosque was not a bad thing; they should do the opposite. Which means, I guess, that they should turn the other cheek.

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