WASHINGTON, February 22, 2015 – Religious persecution of Shia when Sunnis are in the majority and vice versa is the root of the problem in the middle east. If you look at the borders imposed by the British for their own ends (and ours) after WWII, you see you see the trunk of the tree that was splintered by the Arab spring; the different terrorist groups are the limbs and leaves in the tree.
If we attack only the terrorists we only trim the branches; redrawing the lines so that majorities of Sunni or Shia rule in each state would mend the trunk of the tree. The minorities in those states should then be compensated and moved to a state settled by their own sect. That will hold the trunk in place. Otherwise Sunni and Shia must continue their religious war until one wins, one is killed, or they decide to live in peace.
Nothing the United States can do alone will address the roots of the problem; the international community will have to redraw the lines, and we might have to pare some limbs while that happens. But in the end, if Sunni and Shia don’t agree that they are not required to kill every other Muslim that doesn’t practice their brand of Islam, they will never see peace.
The example of the Middle East should provide Americans with an incentive to maintain a secular government. Thomas Jefferson wrote in his Notes on the State of Virginia:
“Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch toward uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one-half the world fools and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.”
Jefferson could have substituted Islam, or almost any other religion, for Christianity. Can the religious not count their dead or measure the millennia? How many thousands of years of religion married to government – the two of them slaughtering their way across time in the quest for the power to make their gods the God of all – will it take for us to learn Jefferson’s lesson?
How many Catholics must be slaughtered by Protestants, and how many Protestants must be slaughtered by Catholics? How long must the mutual slaughter of Sunni by Shia and Shia by Sunni go on before we realize government and religion must not be merged?
In a republic, power resides with the people; the government is managed by elected leaders – not by hereditary monarchs or corporate appointees – and run according to law, not according to the whims of divine mandate. A Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin after the Constitution was signed, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Franklin replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”
Is a divine mandate superior to the Constitution, or are we still a Republic? Have we “kept it,” as Franklin advised?
How many people claim the right to rule in God’s name? How many religions in the Abrahamic line reach for political power? Many religious people believe, Christians and Muslims among them, that it is their divine right to rule in the God’s name. Beyond that, sects within these religions believe they are the rightful rulers and all others are illegitimate; that results from their belief that their god is God.
Christianity is the only religion whose agents are seriously trying to undo the Republic that Franklin gave us. Dr. Dale Rodgers, founder, president and pastor of Victorious Christian Ministries said, “The only circumstance that disobedience to authority is justifiable by scripture, is if it conflicts with the laws of God.”
Do we continue as a Republic if any or all proclaiming religion are bound only by laws that they themselves deem not in “conflicts with the laws of God”? Will each individual determine what conflicts with the laws of God, or will they appeal to a Christian council, an Islamic court, a pope?
What form religious usurpation of the Republic will take, the potential usurpers aren’t saying. They have no comment on who will settle the disputes between the religions and sects, or whether secularists will be allowed to run for public office, or even whether secularism will be made a crime.
World history drips with the blood of holy wars, and with that history in mind, the founders of this republic created a nation to be ruled not by faith, but by a constitution. The people can be religious, but the republic must not be. Yet in defiance of history and of the wisdom of the Founding Fathers, religious people – mostly Christians – are convinced that it is their destiny and right to rule this country in their God’s name.
How is that not treason against the Republic, at least if we want to keep it?
If we are to deal with terrorism as it exists today, we must fight against the assault by religion on secular government. The fractured tree of the Middle East is a warning to us. If we wish to fix the problem of secular bloodshed in the Middle East, we should begin by fixing America. Christians here have launched a holy war; secularists just don’t know it yet. But we know the enemy. There is hope for America, and hope for the rest of the world.