Thursday, August 19, 2010

Polygamy, Cordoba House, and the President

Note: Many of my personal friends are “moderate Muslims” who are often better examples of Christianity than some Christians. And on some issues (e.g. contraception) I, as a Catholic, am more on the same page as my Muslim friends than most Christians...including Catholics. However, the Koran says what the Koran says. Thus the following personal observation:

More good news for those who advocate polygamy for religious reasons (Mormons, Muslims, some Jewish sects, Bedouins, some African cults, etc.)

Speaking at the White House after a Ramadan observance, President Obama made the following observation about the proposed construction of a 100 million dollar mosque near Ground Zero:

“Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable."

On the surface this, of course, sounds eminently reasonable and unshakably constitutional. However, the reality is simply otherwise. Just ask the Mormons who were openly persecuted by the Federal government for their “religious practice” of polygamy. Or check with Warren Jeffs, a leader of a fundamentalist LDS sect who now sits in jail for the rest of his life.

As mentioned in a previous article on polygamy, the Supreme Court inReynolds v. United States (1878), needed to find (invent) a definition of religion that would fit its purpose in denying Reynolds, a Mormon, his religious right to more than one wife. The Court made the case that since “religion” was not defined in the First Amendment, it was up to them to define it. They settled on a private note by Thomas Jefferson to a church group which stated:

“... the legislative powers of the government reach actions only, and not opinions.”

The Court then clarified “actions” as those practices which are “in violation of social duties or subversive of good order.” The Court then determined that marriage to more than woman was “subversive to good order” and thus Reynolds had no claim on the First Amendment. The ruling put Reynolds in jail and laws outlawing plural marriage in bold red letters.

Thus, while Americans are free to believe what they want, they are not free to practice what they believe if such practice is determined to be “in violation of social duties or subversive to good order”. So the question becomes: is building a mosque and praying to Allah (which is what the mosque is for) in the shadow of Ground Zero (or what would have been the shadow if the Towers were still there), “subversive to good order”?

Since “tolerance” is “in”, and it is politically incorrect to even appear otherwise, such a question needs to be approached from the extreme. Example: Burning children alive as an offering to Moloch is a religious practice. Fat chance of that being protected by the Constitution. How about Satanist religions that practice animal sacrifice or human torture? Or how about driving an airplane into a skyscraper? Don’t forget, the massacre of 9-11 was an act of martyrdom, a religious act.

To be sure, there are Muslims who decry the violence and call for peace. But the fact is that the atrocities of 9-11 were wrought by men acting on a directive in the Koran that they believed to be their religious duty. It doesn’t matter that more moderate Muslims think the hijackers got the exegesis wrong. Innocent people were purposely slaughtered in a religious act. We might say that 9-11 could qualify as a religious act “subversive to good order”.

So here come the critics with their list of Christian atrocities. Lots of bad stuff was done “in the name of Christianity”, but nowhere does the New Testament prescribe violence as does the Koran. But what about the Old Testament wherein we find directives for violence and slaughter? The difference is that the directives in the OT are (at least for Christians) “descriptive” and not “prescriptive”.

In other words, descriptions of violence in the OT are understood to be for a particular time, place, and situation. Such instructions are not perpetual directives. However, the Koran’s mandate to wage Jihad against the unbeliever and to “slay the idolaters wherever you find them...” (K 9:005), is a perpetual directive, or at least is understood to be as evidenced by the historically violent and perpetual expansion of Islam...not just the recent eruption of Al-Qaeda atrocities.

Moderate Muslims are even seen and treated as “betrayers” by those who take the Koran at its word: “When you are betrayed by a group of people, you shall mobilize against them in the same manner. GOD does not love the betrayers.” [K 8.59] This is one of the reason why Muslims are killing Muslims in Iraq, something which the U.S. did not anticipate.

But back to Obama, being a former (?) constitutional scholar, he should have known better. There is no right to practice one’s religion unconditionally. This is what Jefferson foresaw and tried to remedy - after the fact - with his insight into religious opinions vs. actions. The state remains the final arbiter of the common good and public order and can and must determine that which is subversive to that order.

For Americans, many of whom have no knowledge of history outside the History Channel, the building of a mosque next to Ground Zero, probably evokes little reaction other than sympathy for those who lost loved ones there. Thus, the words “subversive to good order” will probably gain little traction in any popular sense.

But there are others who do know that this isn’t just about preserving the sacred memory of 9-11. The name of the mosque will be “Cordoba House”. To understand the significance both of the name and the placement of the mosque, one must understand that Muslims are called to perpetual Jihad until all are subject to Allah (their Allah). I’m not pronouncing this good or bad. That’s another topic. I’m simply saying “what is”. Muslims, orthodox Muslims, believe in the manifest destiny of Islam: complete domination of the world and submission to Allah. (How that comes about is what differs amongst the mullahs.)

Thus the name “Cordoba House” is not capricious, nostalgic, or coincidental. The Spanish city of Cordoba (Cordova) was, during the “Moorish” occupation of the Iberian peninsula (710AD to 1491AD), the seat of the caliphate. And the name “Cordoba”, in symbolic terms means “Islamic Rule of the West”, which is precisely what the invasion of the peninsula and the establishment of a caliphate at Cordoba was all about....and, as some believe, what the establishment of Cordoba House at Ground Zero...is also all about.

This is hard for Americans to comprehend Americans are used to “good guys vs bad guys” who usually wear different uniforms, or at least different color hats. And being Christians, or at least culturally cut from that cloth, most are conceptually incapable of conceiving an expansionist holy war, a Jihad.

For most Americans, religious duty consists of going to Church on Sunday, doing good works here and there, and at least giving lip service to Christian ideals. Religious duty that mandates the physical conquest of territory and the subjugation of other peoples is something left to history and wild-eyed conquistadors.

Thus we will probably happily welcome Cordoba House onto the shadow of Ground Zero in a self-aggrandizing act of tolerance as easily as we welcomed the 9-11 terrorists as immigrants and taught them to fly planes into our buildings. It’s just the price for paying more attention to reality shows than to reality. 

But here's the real test. If we take Obama at his word, that we must allow Muslims "the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country", then this "right to practice their religion MUST NOT end with the building of a mosque at Ground Zero, but must extend to the Islamic religious practice of plural marriage and even to the allowance of honor killings of Muslim women who dare to date (or imitate) infidels. 

This is not an extreme observation. This is exactly what the President is saying we must do. Words have consequences....especially presidential ones.

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