Tuesday, July 31, 2007

State Department's Faith-Based Initiatives

I sent this letter to The Wall Street Journal on July 28th. It may or not be printed. I sent a copy of it to the State Department; there has been no response to it. But, I thought it important to post here, as well.


I read Alina L. Romanowski’s letter of July 27 in response to Bret Stephens’s Global View column, “Public Diplomacy for Dummies” (July 10). I have two questions for the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs at the State Department:

First, where in the Constitution is any branch of the federal government empowered to “reach out” to any religion or to any of its adherents? Didn’t the Founders go to great pains to ensure the separation of church and state? Many of the Founders asserted quite rightly and unequivocally in their letters and public correspondence that the United States is in no way a “Christian” nation, nor was it founded on Christian moral principles.

For example, the treaty of 1797 between the U.S. and Tripoli stated that since the U.S. is not a “Christian” nation, neither Tripoli nor any of the other Barbary States had an excuse to capture “infidel” American merchant vessels and enslave their crews and passengers. (Not that this made much difference to the North African Islamist pirates, who raided Western European coastlines for slaves as far away as Iceland until well into the 18th century, acting on orders from their caliphs and sultans back home. Estimates of Europeans and Americans taken as slaves range between a million to one and a half million persons, most of whom presumably perished in servitude under their Islamic masters. But, I’m betting that neither Condi nor Karen Hughes raise this subject on their glad-handing junkets to Islamic dictatorships.)

Jefferson, Madison and John Adams remarked succinctly on the fact that the U.S. was founded on the secular, natural rights philosophy of John Locke and other political philosophers of the age, a rights philosophy that had little or nothing to do with God. “God” and “nature” were, in their deist minds, nearly synonymous. (Though Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens in their recent books suggest that Jefferson especially was a “closet” atheist.)

Doubtless the “out reach” programs described by Romanowski in her letter are extensions of President Bush’s wholly unconstitutional faith-based initiatives.

Second, what makes Romanowski or anyone else in the State Department think that there could be such a thing as a “more moderate version of Islam”? Since the term “Islam” means submission, the inference is that those who submit to the creed are either converted or conquered. However, Islam can no more be made “moderate” than Christianity. It is as bloody-minded and bent on conquest as the Old Testament. It cannot be “tamed” as Christianity was in the West. It is fundamentally a political-religious moral system.

The programs Romanowksi describes constitute an unacknowledged concession that Islam is a political force, not just a religious one. Why else refer to one program as “Citizen Dialogue”?

Strip Islam of its political attributes, and most of its “moral” and religious precepts would be eviscerated, as well. What would be left would not be “Islam,” but a creed as pacific as the Amish’s.

In short, there is no accommodation of a separation of mosque and state to be found anywhere in the Koran, the Hadith, or in any Islamic jurisprudence based on Sharia law, which is to Muslims as much a guide to “moral” action as the Ten Commandments are to Christians. There is no statement in Islamic literature that even closely approximates the Christian dictum, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.” Caesar and God, in Islam, are the one Allah, and Mohammed is his “prophet.”

On the whole, the programs that Romanowski boasts of implicitly promote religion. Sending American Muslims to engage in “dialogue” with foreign Muslims is no better than sending American Christians overseas to banter with foreign Christians. Or is the State Department also engaged in that unconstitutional, taxpayer-supported activity, as well?


Edward Cline
Yorktown, VA


Anonymous said...

Ed, don't you think that's a little long for a letter to the editor?

Bill K. said...


The length of the letter? How about its incendiary content? The WSJ would be as likely to publish a letter like this, excellent as it is, as Galt's speech in toto.

Jeff said...

Very good letter! It highlights the problem with the religious enthusiasm of those backward followers of Mohamet.

Anonymous said...

Ed you words cut like knives!! My heart is pounding! If we weren't on the same team, I'd be a shriveled mess on the floor 'bout now. Godblessya.


Cedar Bristol said...

While I agree completely with your overall point on the unconstitutional nature of any outreach to a religious organization by the US govt, I have an issue with your claims concerning the nature of Islam and how it differs from Christianity.

The "taming" of Christianity in the west consists of pretending to take it seriously while ignoring what the bible actually says. Americans believe in a Jesus who loves them and wants them to send their kids to good colleges and who has absolutely no basis in the text of the bible. What's to stop people from applying the same approach to Islam? The absence of a single line saying "...render unto Caesar" doesn't strike me as all that substantial.

Both Christianity and Islam have as their core principle opposition to life in the real world. A very few in either faith take that seriously enough to seek out the most agonizing way to destroy themselves. The majority in either faith interpret the text in a way that permits them to live.

I see the relatively secular (until recently) state of Turkey and the 10th century as evidence that Islam can and has been tamed in exactly the same way as Christianity has been in the west.

I'm not trying to say, as Daniel Pipes does, that moderate Islam is the solution. I'm saying that moderate western Christianity is not in any way a product of the bible.

djr said...

Nice one. These do get through, I think. Yahoo / Judy Woodruff asked a question submitted by me to that altruist known as Hughs. Skip the 1st section and go down to the 'transcript'; look for 'altruistic':