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Friday, September 12, 2003

It’s a Religious War

It’s a Religious War

Miguel Estrada, the Hispanic Catholic judge whose nomination was put on hold seven times, is the latest victim of the latest religious war. He was left hanging for over two years, his nomination put on hold seven times, simply because he wouldn’t deny his faith. He recently withdrew his nomination in order to get on with his life.

Attorney General William Pryor made similar refusal to deny his faith and has suffered a similar filibuster. Thomas Ashcroft, Clarence Thomas, and others have also been subject to it. Apparently, the Democrats believe only Christians who do not hold serious Christian beliefs can hold office. One might call it the “Christians Resembling Avowed Pagans” (CRAP) campaign.

Reports on this issue always return to the phrase, “separation between church and state.” Ignore the fact that this phrase appears in neither the Constitution nor the Declaration of Independence. Ignore the fact that several states, including Jefferson’s Virginia, had religious tests for office holders for years after the Constitution was ratified. Where did this idea of church-state separation come from? Prior to The American Constitutional Convention of 1787, every country in the world, every culture known to man, required its office holders to at least affirm the existence of a Supreme Being (seven U.S. states still have this requirement). Even John Locke, probably the biggest influence on Jefferson and the other Founding Fathers, denied atheists (and Catholics) the right to hold office.

This opposition to faith in the public square is founded in part on the Reformation and its wars of religion. Even Islam did its part. It laid siege to Vienna, with armies composed in part of enslaved Christians, not once but twice in one hundred and sixty years. Indeed, the 1683 siege was so effective that, if it were not for Catholic Poland and her soldiers, most of Europe would now speak Arabic and live under sharia. These wars resulted in tens of thousands injured and killed, hundreds of villages burned to the ground, general famine in large areas of western Europe. It wasn’t pleasant.

People saw religion as the cause of the problem. Remove religion from the public sphere, and war would leave with it. Modern historians recognize there is some truth to this, but not much. When there is no formal science of economics or biology, when there is no enormous difference between the living standards of one country and another, what can motivate people to war? Whatever the king's real motivation might be, the public reasons have to resonate with the culture. When the culture is steeped in religion, the public reasons given for war will likewise tend to be steeped in religion. A ruler can’t appeal to the fall in gross national product when no one, including him, knows what that is.

The French Revolution became the first attempt to throw religion out of the public square. It enthroned a prostitute as a “goddess”, followed that with a public debauch and guillotines that rose and fell from sunrise to sunset for weeks on end. It also resulted in Napolean and the Napoleanic Wars, the first totalitarian and the first European experience of total war.

The Constitutional Convention tried a similar tactic. We had only slightly better luck. Within thirty years, we fought the War of 1812 and began the long series of Indian and other wars that would keep our army, navy, and now air force, busy right up to the present day.

Today, we are told a non-religious society is more peaceful. It isn’t. It’s bloodier. In Christian society, wars were governed by certain rules: no fighting on Sundays or holy days. No fighting on fast days. No fighting during Advent or Lent. War still wasn’t a holiday, but it did not involve the whole of society. Often, the inhabitants of two countries at war were only barely aware of the fact. The two groups of citizens often continued visiting each other as if nothing were wrong. Nothing was.

Science is not so indifferent. The Franco-Prussian war (1871) was fought to validate Darwinian theory that only the strongest races survive. Both the French and the Germans thought of their nations as “races”. That war led directly to World War I. Anglo-American legislation and eugenics theory gave Hitler the law and the science to support his ideas on race, World War I gave him the reason. Now the “superior” Germans fought the “inferior” Slavs and Jews, the “superior” white Americans fought the “inferior” yellow Japanese horde. With World War II, the world-wide race war, we discovered that science provides not only the rationale to fight a war, but the means to exponentially increase the violence. In terms of body bags, one hundred years of scientific wars, particularly those based on American eugenics and Marxist economics, have killed many times more people than all the religious wars combined ever have.

Maybe it’s time we divorced economics and biology from public life, and put religion back in.

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