It is common among the useful idiots of the West, especially in the mainline Christian churches, to claim that if it weren’t for the fact that Israel is an apartheid Nazi genocidal oppressor state, the Palestinians would love to just live together in harmony. They have nothing against Jews, we’re told, and nothing against Israelis as a people, they just goshed darned want their own country and to sing “Kum Ba Yah” together. Then we read something like this, and see the real face of Palestinian hate:

Last week, Palestinian and Israeli boys met in southern Israel for a football match organized by Israel’s Peres Center for Peace. The Palestinian Authority (PA) daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida reprinted an article from Agence France-Presse that described the match and the initiative in a positive light.

Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), however, exposed that the news of the joint sports activity with “the Zionist enemy” was not well received by the Fatah-controlled PA and Fatah party leaders.

In reaction to the friendly game, Jibril Rajoub, Deputy Secretary of Fatah’s Central Committee and head of the Palestinian Supreme Council for Sport and Youth Affairs, stated: “Any activity of normalization in sports with the Zionist enemy is a crime against humanity.”

In a Facebook post, Rajoub stated that “for awhile now the Palestinian sports leadership and community – the Supreme Council for Sport and Youth Affairs, the Palestinian Olympic Committee and the Palestinian Football Association – have opposed such activities,” specifying that “normalization in sports with the Zionist occupation is a crime.” He demanded that “all individuals and institutions distance themselves from such activities, especially because their recurrence would arouse disgust and aversion towards all members of the [Palestinian] sports community.”

Others called for an investigation and for the prosecution of the Palestinian organizers who agreed to the game with the Israelis. Denouncing the match as “a crime and an unpatriotic and immoral act,” Palestinian Olympic Committee member Abd Al-Salam Haniyeh demanded that Rajoub “immediately interrogate the organizers of the match, settle the account with them and prosecute them on charges of serious treason against the blood of the Martyrs [who died in the Gaza war] and violation of the decisions made by the Palestinian sports community’s leadership,” independent Palestinian news agency Sama reported earlier this month.

The National Committee against Normalization in Palestine “condemned the participation of children from the West Bank in a football match between Palestinian and Israeli children” and “called on the heads of the Palestinian sports [community] and the Palestinian leadership to discover who is behind this ‘normalization match.’” The Committee’s secretary-general, Jihad Uweida, expressed “surprise” and “astonishment” that Palestinians would “do Israel a free service” by participating in such an event at a time when the National Committee against Normalization in Palestine “is conducting an international campaign for expelling Israeli sports from the international sports system, and after international sports organizations expressed their intention of boycotting this entity [Israel].”

This is not Hamas speaking, mind you. This is the Palestinian Authority, Fatah, the “moderates” whom the useful idiots in the West insist want nothing more than to live at peace with their neighbor, but who in fact are determined to oppose anything and everything that might actually humanize typical Israelis (even children!) in the eyes of their propaganda-soaked population. For years, Palestinian media and educational materials have spoon-fed vicious anti-Semitism to their people, and done everything they could to make peaceful co-existence with the “Zionist enemy” impossible. Meanwhile, you’ve got Churches for Middle East Peace (a National Council of Churches outfit), inviting other useful idiots to this gala event:

At the invitation of Churches for Middle East Peace, Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, will give his first public speech to a general American audience and deliver it for the first time in English, to students and faith leaders at The Cooper Union in New York City, NY.

In discussing his vision of a future Palestinian state and peace between Palestine and Israel, he is expected to cover the following topics:

•His views on how peace and inter-religious co-existence can flourish in Israel and Palestine with the help of the next generation.
•Why non-violent protest is the best method by which Palestinians should seek their rights.
•Why terrorism as practiced by Al Qaeda on 9/11 and ISIS is inconsistent with Islam.

Ever tried singing “Kum Ba Yah” to the tune of the “Horst Wessel Song”?

(Hat tip: Boring Bloke in comments at Stand Firm here.)

Here’s the headline from the Daily Beast:

A Christian Case for Abortion Rights?

Wendy Davis’ abortion revelations raise the question: Can abortion be the most compassionate choice? Some religious leaders say yes.

Wendy Davis is the Democratic candidate for Governor of Texas. She has just published a memoir, less than two months before the election, with the transparent purpose of trying to play on voters’ sympathies. In it, she claims to have had two abortions, one because of an ectopic pregnancy, one because of fatal birth defects to the baby. The odds of both of these highly unusual circumstances happening to the same women are very high, and Davis has a history of fudging her biography. None of it matters electorally, because she has as much chance of winning as I do of being the next Super Bowl MVP. Nonetheless, her “confession” has occasioned some supposedly deep thinking, Keli Goff’s column in the Daily Beast included.

She begins:

When news broke that Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis had previously terminated two pregnancies for medical reasons, she received words of compassion from a surprising source. A spokesperson for Texas Right to Life called “the value of life precious” but nevertheless also stated, “Our heart goes out for the decision she had to make.” Part of what has struck a chord about Davis’ story is that it serves as a potent reminder that the factors that go into the decision of whether to have an abortion are rarely as black and white as public political debates pretend they are.

If Goff knew any real, live right-to-life people, she would know that there is nothing surprising about her source. Right-to-lifers by and large are people who understand sin and redemption, understand the need to treat sinners with kindness though not approval of their actions, and who have done more to help post-abortion women than NARAL or NOW would dare (since admitting that abortion is typically not a rainbows-and-unicorns experience undermines The Narrative). As for Davis’ abortions demonstrating that things “are rarely as black and white as public political debates pretend they are,” the fact that she claims to have had abortions under two very rare circumstances actually does nothing to change the fact that in 97% of abortions, it is black and white. Abortion is wrong. Period.

Davis makes it clear this was a pregnancy that was greeted with joy, and that the aftermath caused great sorrow. But she expressed no regrets mainly because of her concerns about how much her fetus suffered before termination. Her candid confession gets at the heart of the debate for many over the issue of abortion, particularly people of faith: Can abortion sometimes be the most compassionate choice? More pointedly, can supporting abortion rights be compatible with Christianity?

No. Next question.

Leave aside the claims that Davis makes about the condition of the deformed baby. Here’s the reason why Goff’s question gets such a curt answer: while relieving suffering is a Christian virtue, it is not the highest virtue. The fact that a person is suffering or may suffer in the future is never a reason to kill that person. For one thing, Christianity contends that suffering may have a redemptive purpose that cannot be dismissed given that the redemptive suffering of Christ is at the heart of our faith. Countless Christians through the centuries have counted it an honor to suffer as our Lord suffered, and in the process seen their own life or that of people around them transformed. For another, claiming that killing is a proper response to suffering makes the mistake of allowing suffering to define the entirety of life, which is the first step down the road of claiming that there is life that is unworthy of living. For a third, this is a classic “ends justify the means” argument–ending suffering is a noble end, so it makes righteous the use of killing to end it. Christianity unequivocally rejects such an perversion of moral reasoning, no matter how pervasive it is in American culture.

Since the Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion nationally, efforts to criminalize it have been led in large part by high-profile religious leaders, religious groups, and activists whose politics are defined in large part by their religious identity. In the 41 years since Roe, the Religious Right, (sometimes called the Christian Right), has become a major force in national politics, with each Republican president since Ronald Reagan owing his election to its key players, among them Pat Robertson, the late Jerry Falwell, and others. Their influence in politics and ubiquity in the media created the impression that being religious, particularly identifying as a Christian, means opposing abortion.

But interviews with various clergy members and religious scholars indicate that there is far from a consensus that “Christian” = “opposed to abortion.”

You can imagine where this goes from here. Goff offers the opinions of a variety of liberal Christians, none of whom bother to make a theological or ethical argument for supporting abortion rights. For example:

Rev. Jacqui Lewis, who holds a PhD in psychology and religion, wrote in an email, “I am a practicing Christian and I am pro-choice. Those are compatible.” She elaborated, “I am a Christian, a pastor, a counselor and I know from counseling that when women make this decision, it is a painful one, often a heart breaking one. But personally, I believe it is their right to decide, in conversation with their partner or spouse, their family, their spiritual leader and their God.”

All that demonstrates is that there are Christians who support abortion rights. No news there. As to why they do, that’s a mystery. Tom Davis, a former chaplain and associate professor of religion at Skidmore College, takes a crack at it:

In a phone interview Davis said there are texts for some religions that address abortion specifically, such as in ancient Babylonia, but this is not the case in Christianity: “There is no law against abortion in the Bible. There is no law about birth control in the Bible. So when you don’t have a specific guidance on something, you look at what is the most human thing to do in a situation, what is most helpful and sometimes abortion is indicated.”

Ignore the line about birth control, which is pure red herring. It is debatable whether the Bible does or does not specifically condemn abortion. What is indisputable is that the Christian Church, from its earliest days, condemned abortion (widely practiced in the Roman Empire at the time) in the strongest terms. (The author of the Didache writes, “You shall not murder…you shall not abort a child or commit infanticide” [2.2], while the author of the Epistle of Barnabaswrites, “You shall not abort a child nor, again, commit infanticide” [19.5]. Both are from the early second century.) Claiming that there is any ambiguity about historic Christian teaching because the New Testament doesn’t mention it is like claiming that Jesus was OK with homosexual behavior because He isn’t recorded as condemning it. As for Davis basing his ethical decisions on “what is the most human thing to do in a situation,” I suppose it is possible to conceive of a flabbier excuse for ethical thinking, but I can’t come up with anything just at the moment.

Not having an argument, Davis tries an example:

Asked for an example of abortion being a more humane choice he recalled a situation from his days as a counselor when a woman came to him crushed because her husband had been killed. Though they had planned her third pregnancy, she was now barely able to support the two children they had before his death. Blaming sexism for much of the organized opposition to abortion among religious leaders, he said, “There are many reasons why a woman needs an abortion. Sometimes rape, sometimes because she says ‘I can’t be responsible for this child and can’t bring a child into this world I can’t care for.’”

Yeah, religious leaders oppose abortion because they hate women. Personally, I’d be more likely to think that given the consequences of abortion–significantly increased rates of depression, substance abuse, mental illness, and suicide–recommending abortion would be much more a sign that one was a sexist than not. And Davis’ case is a perfect example of how these consequences comes about. A woman in a terrible situation like the one he describes who resorts to killing a child because of difficult circumstances is bound at some point to be burdened with crushing guilt for having deprived one of her children of the gift of life because he or she couldn’t do what was necessary to provide for it. Is it really better for the child to kill it than to give it up for adoption? Is that really the position Davis wants to claim is Christian?

Goff mentions two other individuals in her attempt to discover a “Christian case for abortion rights.” One is Jon O’Brien, head of Catholics for Choice, a political front group that is no more Catholic than People for the American Way. The other is Gloria Feldt, the former president of Planned Parenthood (!), who relates a story about a Catholic priest who rejected Christian morality and so became an Episcopal priest. Feldt, who I suspect knows as much about “faith” as she knows about particle physics, says women clergy will change minds:

Feldt, who now runs Take the Lead, a group devoted to increasing gender parity in leadership positions, predicted women’s leadership may ultimately play a defining role in where faith and reproductive rights intersect in the future. “If you think about the underlying misogyny in the history of most major religions, it’s not surprising we’ve been dealing with these issues [reproductive rights] in those terms,” she said. “I do believe that the ascent of more women in the clergy, at least in the mainstream religions at this point, is going to make a huge difference. They simply see the world through a different lens.”

There is some truth to what she is saying. Lots of women clergy, particularly in the mainline denominations, see the world through the lens of feminist politics rather than Christian theology and ethics, and so have bent their churches in directions that are more suggestive of apostasy than faith. But there are also women clergy in denominations like mine (the Evangelical Presbyterian Church) as well as Pentecostal and independent churches that don’t fit Feldt’s stereotyping and reject the model of the abortion-loving woman.

If that’s the best Goss could do to find “Christians” who would tell her that there is a “Christian case for abortion rights” even as they fail to offer one, I’d say it’s a certainty that the pro-abortion case will continue to be made by Molech-worshipers of a decidedly secular mind. The “Christian case for abortion rights” is a mirage, and always has been.

Got an email this morning from the Office of Public Witness of the Presbyterian Church (USA) that let me know they are foursquare behind suppressing free speech. I have to wonder how many PCUSAers are aware that their denomination is in favor of Harry Reid’s cockamamie re-writing of the First Amendment to give control over political speech to Congress:

Next week – on September 8 – the United States Senate will vote on a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and return the power of political voice to the people. As of right now, 50 out of 100 Senators are on board. With just one more, the balance will at last tilt away from Citizens United, back toward democracy.

You’ve got to love this. Here are these people advocating changing the Constitution, and they don’t even know what’s in it! Anyone who was awake during social studies in public school (I assume) will know that it takes 67 votes in the Senate to pass a constitutional amendment, not 51. That’s so that idiocy like this can’t pass on a bare majority founded on political expediency.

And the form of “democracy”  they are advocating for is, to put it politely, bizarre. Apparently having Congress restrict free speech (by preventing individuals and groups from spending the money that it necessarily takes to get a message out these days) is “democratic.” Allowing people to use their resources to get that message out is “undemocratic.” Instead, the instruments of free speech should be in the hands of the state and its politicians. Then again, when you learn your political science from cereal boxes, bumper stickers, and Marxist textbooks, I guess that’s what you come up with.

Call on Monday, September 8th, call (866) 937-7983 to reach the Capitol Switchboard and express support for the Democracy for All Amendment. This amendment will ensure that all Americans, regardless of their wealth, can have their voices heard in our elections and our government. The amendment will give the power back to Congress to regulate special interest spending in elections.

What kind of mind writes this pap? How exactly will restricting or prohibiting the expenditure of funds in support of a preferred message or candidate “ensure that all Americans…can have their voices heard”? What they really mean is that under such a regime, the only voices that will be heard are 1) those approved by the politicians, and 2) the mainstream media, which offers virtually nothing but a message vetted and approved by liberals. (Citizens United, you may remember, is a conservative advocacy organization that had to sue for its right to show a movie critical of Hillary Clinton. That’s the kind of voice that will be shut down by this amendment.)

I also suspect that the writer of this email hasn’t actually read the amendment in question. It doesn’t just return to the post-Watergate campaign finance regime.bundy-11

•First, it expands authority to regulate campaign and issue spending to the states, as well as Congress, meaning that every election or referendum in the country will have limits on speech, rather than just federal elections. (The amendment uses the word “elections,” but that is usually taken to mean anything that is put to public ballot, not just to fill public office.)

•Second, It doesn’t just permit regulation, but prohibition, of speech. (The proposed Article 2 says, “Congress and the States shall have power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation, and may distinguish between natural persons and corporations or other artificial entities created by law, including by prohibiting such entities from spending money to influence elections.” [Emphasis added.]

•Third, because it has been advertised as being a repeal of the Citizens United decision, I have to assume that the writers mean to bring back the ability of politicians to prohibit criticism of their job performance within 30 days of an election–in other words, when voters are most tuned into what’s happening.

•Fourth, it will allow regulators to pick and choose between favored entities, for instance, by prohibiting corporate contributions and allowing union contributions. The relevant word in Article 2 is “or,” which clearly indicates that regulators–politicians–can pick and choose between “entities” such as corporations, unions, or groups that come together for the purpose of achieving a shared goal such as electing a candidate or advocating a policy.

•Fifth, it will mean that “speech” will be institutionalized as a function of the mainstream media, as if it speaks for the citizenry. Article 3 says, “Nothing in this article shall be construed to grant Congress or the States the power to abridge the freedom of the press.” So the corporations that run ABC, NBC, CBS, the New York Times, the Washington Post, etc. will retain their full freedom to influence elections in any way they want, while many others will not be able to spend money to speak for themselves. In other words, liberal propagandists journalists will have their place as the primary molders of political opinion encased in amber, while large swaths of the American people, acting in concert or as individuals, will be frozen out.

To sum up: if this amendment were to pass–the chances of which are absolutely zero, the Senate debate being nothing more than kabuki theater to give Democrats a chance to bash the Koch Brothers–the winners would be incumbent politicians and mainstream media. The losers would be freedom of speech and anyone who dissents from liberal orthodoxy who doesn’t have tens of millions available to start another conservative media company.

An email like this wouldn’t be complete without a set of talking points:

As a person of faith, I believe that democracy belongs in the hands of the people because we are each a special creation of God.

THEOCRATS! They are obviously trying to write their religious beliefs into the Constitution.

I therefore urge you to support S.J.Res. 19, a constitutional amendment to establish that Congress and the states have the power to regulate and limit election spending.

Speech, folks. This is about speech.

Each person has the right to raise his or her voice in public discourse, but our system today is broken and dominated by big money special interests, whose spending drowns out people’s voices and floods the media with ideological propaganda.

You know what’s amusing? They aren’t talking about the mainstream media such as the corporations mentioned above. They are talking about the private expenditures of private citizens and businesses offering a viewpoint never heard in the coastal newspapers or on the alphabet networks. The latter are apparently pure as the driven snow.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, now bolstered by the recentMcCutcheon decision, has unleashed a flood of spending on our elections that threatens the very foundation of our democracy.

Apparently talking points are to be fact-free, logic-free, argument-free, and dominated by TEOTWAWKI.

We know that corruption can take many forms, not just the quid pro quo of bribery.

Politicians turning the First Amendment into an incumbent-protection racket, for instance.

Our country faces great and serious challenges – from putting people back to work to averting catastrophic climate change to building a culture for peace and shalom around the world. But we will fall short unless we repair our democracy.

Translation: The progressive agenda will never triumph as long as dissenters are allowed to speak their minds.

Via the Huffington Post, we have a splendid example of what’s going on in American higher education these days. It comes in the form of an email written by one Dr. Charles Negy, a professor of psychology at the University of Central Florida. He wrote to the students in his course on “Cross-Cultural Psychology” on the subject of “religious bigotry,” a subject with which he clearly has some personal experience.

He starts off by telling his students some pedestrian things about the purpose of a university, developing critical thinking, yada yada, and then got where he really wanted to go:

Critical thinking is a skill that develops over time. Independent thinking does not occur overnight. Critical thinkers are open to having their cherished beliefs challenged, and must learn how to “defend” their views based on evidence or logic, rather than simply “pounding their chest” and merely proclaiming that their views are “valid.” One characteristic of the critical, independent thinker is being able to recognize fantasy versus reality; to recognize the difference between personal beliefs which are nothing more than personal beliefs, versus views that are grounded in evidence, or which have no evidence.

Those would include some of the most cherished beliefs of certain schools of psychology (some aspects of Jungian thought, for instance, are simply made up out of whole cloth, and even resembles some forms of religious mysticism), but that’s not what concerns him:

Last class meeting and for 15 minutes today, we addressed “religious bigotry.” Several points are worth contemplating:…

Students in my class who openly proclaimed that Christianity is the most valid religion, as some of you did last class, portrayed precisely what religious bigotry is. Bigots—racial bigot or religious bigots—never question their prejudices and bigotry. They are convinced their beliefs are correct. For the Christians in my class who argued the validity of Christianity last week, I suppose I should thank you for demonstrating to the rest of the class what religious arrogance and bigotry looks like.

Not being in the class, I can’t say what kinds of arguments his students might have used. The typical 20-year-old hasn’t had much practice with apologetics, after all. Sometimes they are simply reduced to sputtering, “but it’s the truth!” Not the most effective way to proclaim the gospel.

But I suspect that there might have been at least a few students who were able to actually marshall some evidence and some reasoned arguments. They might not have been the best, or the most convincing. But I think it’s evident that for their professor, it would not have mattered. What seems to have him exercised is simply that some of his students had the temerity to argue “that Christianity is the most valid religion.” Doing so, he says, is “religious arrogance and bigotry.”

Negy, of course, represents the religion of secular liberalism. In that faith, it is taken for granted (and rarely argued with evidence or logic, as Negy doesn’t bother to do here) that all religions are equally “valid,” which is to say that they perform some socially or psychologically useful function for their believers, though they have nothing to do with truth, and are impervious to either evidence or logic. As such, to argue that any particular religion more greatly conforms to the reality of the world, or to an objective standard of truth, is the highest form of heresy. And in the religion of secular liberalism, heresy is better known as “bigotry.”

It seems to have not even occurred to you (I’m directing this comment to those students who manifested such bigotry), as I tried to point out in class tonight, how such bigotry is perceived and experienced by the Muslims, the Hindus, the Buddhists, the non-believers, and so on, in class, to have to sit and endure the tyranny of the masses (the dominant group, that is, which in this case, are Christians).

I laughed out loud when I got to this part. Negy apparently does not know any real, live Muslims. If he did, he would know that among the Islamic faithful, the belief that Islam is the final, unquestionable, superior, and ultimate truth is universal. Judaism is called a “gutter religion” practiced by the offspring of monkeys and apes, while Christianity is similarly denigrated. Even among those who don’t stoop to inane insults of other religions (as I suspect none of the students to whom Negy wrote did), it is taken as a given that Islam is divinely revealed truth, and that doubting it is a slap in the face of Allah. Muslim student group on college campuses all over America act on that belief, and in many instances seek to limit or shut down debate that might call it into question. For Negy to label Christian students who argue for the superior “validity” of their faith “bigots,” and then hold Muslims up as people who would be justified to be offended by the claim, is the height of secular liberal arrogance and bigotry.

Moreover, this “let’s just put our fingers in our ears so we will not hear what we disagree with” is appallingly childish and exemplifies “anti-intellectualism.” The purpose of a university is to engage in dialogue, debate, and exchange ideas in order to try and come to some meaningful conclusion about an issue at hand. Not to shut ourselves off from ideas we find threatening.

Fine. So apparently a child is teaching this class. See, what Negy is doing is denigrating the belief–the idea–of some of his students that Christianity is the most “valid” of all religions. Moreover, he uses the ultimate secular liberal insult (“bigot!”) as a way of shaming those students into abandoning that belief, or at the very least not expressing it in class. So who is it really that is being “appallingly childish” and “exemplifying ‘anti-intellectualism’”? The students who wish to take a position of which the professor disapproves, or the professor who calls names when someone takes such a position?

Universities hold a special place in society where scholarly-minded folks can come together and discuss controversial, polemic, and often uncomfortable topics. Universities, including UCF, have special policies in place to protect our (both professors’ and students’) freedom to express ourselves. Neither students nor professors have a right to censor speech that makes us uncomfortable.

Except that at UCF, in Charles Negy’s psychology classes, the professor has the right to stick odious labels on beliefs that he does not share, and browbeat students into repudiating long-held and cherished beliefs. Nice indoctrination center you’ve got there, Doc.

The Usual Suspects* joined this week with a host of Roman Catholic pacifists to issue a fatwacalling on President Obama to stop opposing genocide, rape, slavery, and murder in Iraq:

As religious communities, leaders, and academics, we write to express our deep concern over the recent escalation of U.S. military action in Iraq. While the dire plight of Iraqi civilians should compel the international community to respond in some way, U.S. military action is not the answer. Lethal weapons and airstrikes will not remove the threat to a just peace in Iraq. As difficult as it might be, in the face of this great challenge, we believe that the way to address the crisis is through long-term investments in supporting inclusive governance and diplomacy, nonviolent resistance, sustainable development, and community-level peace and reconciliation processes.

We understand and deeply share the desire to protect people, especially civilians. However, even when tactics of violent force yield a short term displacement of the adversary’s violence, such violence toward armed actors is often self-perpetuating, as the retributive violence that flares up in response will only propitiate more armed intervention in a tit-for-tat escalation without addressing the root causes of the conflict. We see this over and over again. It is not “necessary” to continue down this road of self-destruction, as Pope Francis called the hostilities of war the “suicide of humanity.”

The disregard for human life found in this statement is extraordinary even by the standards of the Christian left. Incapable as they are of understanding the kind of evil that ISIS embodies, or the kind of danger they pose to the Christians, Yazidis, and Kurds of northern Iraq (not to mention the countless people they’ve slaughtered in Syria), these people dismiss “short term displacement of the adversary’s violence” as if it were of no consequence, when in fact it could easily mean the difference between life and death for tens of thousands of people. There is something genuinely despicable about safe and comfortable Westerners dismissing the deadly peril of terrified people on the ground while they play their abstract academic game of “Who Wants to Be Secretary of State.”

Of course, being the kind of deep thinkers for whom the real world of blood and death is just an annoying, fleeting image on a TV screen, they are full of suggestions for how to deal with the humanitarian catastrophe in Iraq:

There are better, more effective, more healthy and more humanizing ways to protect civilians and to engage this conflict. Using an alternative frame, here are some “just peace” ways the United States and others can not only help save lives in Iraq and the region, but also begin to transform the conflict and break the cycle of violent intervention. To begin, the United States should take the following steps:

Stop U.S. bombing in Iraq to prevent bloodshed, instability and the accumulation of grievances that contribute to the global justification for the Islamic State’s existence among its supporters.

Provide robust humanitarian assistance to those who are fleeing the violence. Provide food and much needed supplies in coordination with the United Nations.

Engage with the UN, all Iraqi political and religious leaders, and others in the international community on diplomatic efforts for a lasting political solution for Iraq. Ensure a significantly more inclusive Iraqi government along with substantive programs of social reconciliation to interrupt the flow and perhaps peel-back some of the persons joining the Islamic State. In the diplomatic strategy, particularly include those with influence on key actors in the Islamic State.

Work for a political settlement to the crisis in Syria. The conflicts in Iraq and Syria are intricately connected and should be addressed holistically. Return to the Geneva peace process for a negotiated settlement to the civil war in Syria and expand the agenda to include regional peace and stability. Ensure Iran’s full participation in the process.

Support community-based nonviolent resistance strategies to transform the conflict and meet the deeper need and grievances of all parties. For example, experts have suggested strategies such as parallel institutions, dispersed disruptions, and economic non-cooperation.

Strengthen financial sanctions against armed actors in the region by working through the UN Security Council. For example, disrupting the Islamic State’s $3 million/day oil revenue from the underground market would go a long way toward blunting violence.

Bring in and significantly invest in professionally trained unarmed civilian protection organizations to assist and offer some buffer for displaced persons and refugees, both for this conflict in collaboration with Iraqi’s and for future conflicts.

Call for and uphold an arms embargo on all parties to the conflict. U.S. arms and military assistance to the government forces and ethnic militias in Iraq, in addition to arming Syrian rebel groups, have only fueled the carnage, in part due to weapons intended for one group being taken and used by others. All armed parties have been accused of committing gross violations of human rights. Along with Russia, work with key regional players such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait to take independent initiatives and meaningful steps towards an arms embargo on all parties in the conflict.

Support Iraqi civil society efforts to build peace, reconciliation, and accountability at the community level. Deep sectarian and ethnic divisions have long been exacerbated by various factors, including the U.S. military intervention in 2003. Sustainable peace will require peacebuilding and reconciliation efforts from the ground up.

I could critique each of these ideas, but there’s no need to deal with them one by one. They are all based on the same willful ignorance of the nature of the enemy and the nature of the current conflict. The fact is that Islamic fundamentalism is the third great totalitarian challenge to Western civilization in the last hundred years, and ISIS is only the latest and most brutal version of it. What the signatories of this statement refuse to understand is that Islamic fundamentalists do not want reconciliation with civilization, do not want a “place at the table” (as another eyes-wide-shut academic put it recently), do not want to live in peace with their neighbors, do not want an “inclusive” Iraqi government or more economic development. They want total control over aspect of life. They want everyone to either convert or die. They want complete submission to their insane god. They want war, suffering, pain, and death inflicted on all who do not hold to their views. And they are willing to do pretty much anything, no matter how barbaric, to achieve their goals.

The best thing that can be said about this statement is that it will be paid no attention whatsoever outside of the black hole that is mainline Protestant and Catholic left leadership, except perhaps in some segments of that other bastion of hyper-unrealism, the academy. The worst thing that can be said about it? Your tithes and offerings–if you are a member of the Roman Catholic Church, the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Church of Christ, the Disciples of Christ, the Church of the Brethren, or the Quakers–may well be helping to keep the titles behind the names of these enemies of human flourishing.

*You know who I mean: Gradye Parsons of the PCUSA, the new head of the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society, the American Friends Service Committee (headed by the appropriately named Shan Cretin), the Global Ministries agency of the United Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ, UCC Justice and Witness Ministries, the head of the Church of the Brethren, and the execrable Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite. Oddly enough, no participation from the Episcopal Church, Mennonite Church, or ELCA.

PS–I should add here that I was surprised that the National Council of Churches didn’t sign on to this, since it is currently being led by the man who’s name would have been on it but for having moved from the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society to the NCC. But as it happens, James Winkler and friends manage to echo the language of this revolting statement in one of their own on the NCC web site:

While the NCC commends the US Administration’s desire to end this aggression, it is hesitant to endorse the military campaign underway that is intended to do so. As NCC president and general secretary, Jim Winkler, said, “There is no true military solution to resolving the crisis in Iraq. But as it is necessary to halt the assault of ISIS on the Iraqi people, and to help the displaced return to their ancestral villages, it would be better for the United Nations to undertake this task. The world community is horrified by this violence; the world community must share the burden of ending it.”

Even with the present need to end this particularly insidious extremist aggression, moving forward the continual reliance on military action as the default solution to conflict must be called into question, and alternative, more far-reaching solutions to the vicious cycle of violence must be found. As we reflected on the war in Iraq eight years ago, “we believe that freedom, along with genuine security, is based in God, and is served by the recognition of humanity’s interdependence, and by working with partners to bring about community, development, and reconciliation for all.”

This entry in the growing list of anti-Semite-friendly statements by mainline Protestants comes to us in the form of a letter to the editor of the New York Times. In it, Yale University Episcopal chaplain Bruce Shipman declares that Jews in Europe who are alarmed by growing violence against their community have no one to thank but their co-religionists in Israel for being so mean to the people who are trying to destroy that country:

Deborah E. Lipstadt makes far too little of the relationship between Israel’s policies in the West Bank and Gaza and growing anti-Semitism in Europe and beyond.

The trend to which she alludes parallels the carnage in Gaza over the last five years, not to mention the perpetually stalled peace talks and the continuing occupation of the West Bank.

As hope for a two-state solution fades and Palestinian casualties continue to mount, the best antidote to anti-Semitism would be for Israel’s patrons abroad to press the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for final-status resolution to the Palestinian question.

Lipstadt’s original article is here.

Daniel Bernstein of the Volokh Conspiracy, where I first saw this, responds:

Next on Rev. Shipman’s bucket list: blaming women who dress provocatively for rape, blaming blacks for racism because of high crime rates, and blaming gays for homophobia for being “flamboyant.”

The interesting thing about the anti-Semitic attacks in Europe is that they are not, by and large, being directed against Israeli citizens, or Israeli embassies, or Israeli businesses. They are being directed against German Jews, French Jews, British Jews, and so on. Why are their attackers choosing those targets? Because they don’t distinguish between Israelis and Jews at large. And the attackers are also quite explicit about their aims. Like the alien in Independence Day, when Israel or European Jews ask what they should do, their attackers say, “Die.”

It may or may not be Shipman’s intention, but his letter essentially says that Israel, and the world’s Jews, should give the anti-Semites what they want. That way they will get a few moments of peace before the savages find another excuse to demand the destruction of the object of their hate. Shipman and his ilk are enablers, if not supporters, of that hate.

Apparently the poobahs at the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) are rolling in so much dough, and have so much free time on their hands, that they’ve decided to take on one of the great threats to the First Amendment of our times: restaurant discounts for church bulletins. Fox News’s Todd Starnes reports:

Stevbully-1en Rose loves Jesus and pepperoni pizza.

But when the Searcy, Arkansas restaurateur decided to mix church and cheese it gave a group of out-of-town atheists a bad case of indigestion.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is threatening to sue Steven after he offered a discount to customers who bring in a church bulletin. They said Bailey’s Pizza is violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Um, actually, no he’s not. And if he was, it would only demonstrate the need to amend the Act.

“The law requires places of public accommodation to offer their services to customers without regard to race, color, religion or national origin,” FFRF spokesperson Elizabeth Cavell told television station KTHV.

That’s correct, and that’s what Bailey’s is doing. See, the restaurant doesn’t check to see if you’ve been to church, or are a member of a church, or are a Christian. All they ask in return for the discount is that you bring in a church bulletin, which can be obtained in lots of ways other than actually attending a church service. I’d be willing to bet that if Cavell were to look up Searcy on a map and haul her herself into town, lots of people would be glad to give her a bulletin and not even ask her to look at any of the churches in town, much less visit one. Poor dear probably gets the vapors just by driving through the shadow of a steeple.

The trouble started a few weeks ago when someone posted a Facebook photo of the sign promoting the discount.

“It was from a guy whose Facebook name is Bong Hits for Jesus,” Steven told me. “It said, ‘good luck with the discrimination lawsuit.’”

Steven said he didn’t consider the post to be a credible threat—seeing how the Facebook user’s name is “Bong Hits for Jesus.”

Two weeks later, he received the letter from the Wisconsin-based atheist group. They said that if he did not stop offering a church discount, they would “take appropriate steps.”

The bullies at the FFRF make these kinds of threats because they know that they people they are pushing around don’t have the financial resources to fight them. I suspect, however, that if Mr. Rose were to contact the Alliance for Freedom or the Becket Fund, they be happy to do a little pushback on his behalf pro bono.

In the meantime, I’m thinking of starting an organization called Freedom From the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFFFRF). Anybody with me?


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