Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Third Rail of God

By Alan Caruba

The third rail in a train system is the exposed electrical conductor that carries high voltage power. Stepping on the high-voltage third rail usually results in electricution.

The phrase “third rail” has come to mean an idea or topic that is so "charged" and "untouchable" that any candidate for office, public official, and these days anyone who posts to the Internet, who dares to deal with the subject is likely to find himself or herself in hot water.

Nothing gets Americans more worked up than religion. In what was the first experiment in which a nation was forbidden from declaring a national religion by its founders and which has a long tradition of tolerance, religion rallies Americans like nothing else. A Newsweek poll earlier this year found that 91 percent of those surveyed believe in God.

Unsaid, however, is that these same Americans believe in a largely Christian God. When Christians say God they mean Christ Jesus. Catholics take it a step further with the concept of the trinity. Jews reference only a single God figure. The god of the Muslims is Allah, the name of a former Arabian Moon god adopted to represent the God worshipped by Christians and Jews. When Muslims pray, they face Mecca. When Jews pray they face Jerusalem. Buddhism, by contrast, is opposed to violence and doesn’t posit an omnipotent god.

American politicians have their job cut out for them when it comes to religion as they must, by tradition, embrace all as equal and valid. That can create some interesting situations. For example, the White House just hosted an iftar dinner to mark the beginning of Ramadan and there was a ceremony held on Monday, October 1 in the Pentagon for approximately 100 Muslim Department of Defense employees.

If the notion of Muslims working in the DOD at the same time a considerable portion of our military is deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq gives you pause for concern, you are not alone. Afterall, the task at hand is the killing of their co-religionists who are bent on imposing Islam on the world. Grant that not all Muslims are jihadists or believe in the establishment of a new global caliphate, even if only 10 percent do, that’s still more than a hundred million Muslims! That said, Middle Eastern Muslims seem to have no problem with killing other Muslims, often for belonging to the “wrong” sect, be it either Shiite or Sunni.

In contrast to the Christian message of love and forgiveness, Islam’s message is “convert or die” or keep your religion, become a “dhimmi”, pay a tax to your local mosque to be left alone, and accept a variety of unpleasant conditions meant to remind you that you’re going straight to hell because Mohammed said so.

While Ramadan was beginning—its month-long fast no doubt borrowed from the fast that Jews observe on Yom Kippur—there was a convention not far from Pentagon headquarters, sponsored by the Atheist Alliance International. Held at the Crown Royal Hotel in Crystal City, Virginia, this past weekend, it featured some of the stars of Atheism as speakers.

One of my favorites was the writer Christopher Hitchens, a genuine talent. He shared honors with Oxford professor, Richard Dawkins, and author Sam Harris, all three of whom have some bestselling books decrying religion as myth and God as the biggest myth of all. According to reports, several hundred attended the event.

A general theme of atheism is that religions start wars, are responsible for all manner of persecution, animosities, et cetera. And this is empirically true. Anyone familiar with history can point to a long list of awfulness involving the three major religions, even citing accounts from the Old Testament and, of course, the execution of Jesus by the Romans. The rise of Christianity was essentially a conflict between the new religion and the older gods of Hellenism. The Koran is one long account of battles fought, truces broken, and the Hadith, the book based on Mohammed’s life, also tells of assassinations and dreadful behavior.

The West, led by the United States, is engaged in a new religious war. Some say we invaded Iraq for the oil, but we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan because Osama bin Laden and others have declared war on the West, i.e., Christianity and Judaism, in the name of Islam. Islam has an equal contempt for Hinduism and Buddhism. We can either choose to wage war against them to preserve ourselves and Western civilization or we can surrender.

That’s where the third rail of God has gotten very dangerous for the politicians running these days for their party’s nomination. None dare come out and say this is going to be a long and bloody war. None dare even suggest it is a religious war. Consider the charades going on in the White House and Pentagon to hide this fact.

The split between the parties is quite obvious. Democrats declare they intend to withdraw from the Middle East’s field of battle. Republicans are intent on waging the war no matter how long it takes. And Republicans bring to the voting booth their religious beliefs while Democrats rarely even mention having any.

In November 2008, a lot of voters—many of whom believe in God—are going to decide whose side they’re on, His or His enemies.

1 comment:

Oyarsa said...

This is inaccurate:

"When Christians say God they mean Christ Jesus. Catholics take it a step further with the concept of the trinity. "

First of all "Christians" is rather vague. Many people identify themselves as Christian, but do not hold to basic tenets of the faith.

Secondly, all orthodox Protestant denominations hold to the trinity. It's not just a Catholic belief.

I recommend you pick up Frank Mead's Handook of Denominations in the United States to avoid such broad brushstrokes in the future.

You are too skilled a writer to fall into such generalizations.