US Government Launches “Broadside Against Religious Faith”
A stinging rebuke of the American government’s take on religious liberty was recently launched not from self-righteous, supremacist Christians, but from two Rabbis of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights group. Rabbi Abraham Cooper and Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein targeted the recently released, 300-page report (PDF) by the US Commission on Civil Rights, saying [emphasis added]:
[The report says], in part, is that Americans need to be protected from Bible-thumpers, and anyone else whose beliefs run afoul of the administration’s PC police. Religious folk need not apply.
The pair took aim at the report’s citation of President John Adams having said
The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.
The quote, actually from the text of the Treaty of Tripoli, is a famous refrain for militant atheists against those who describe the United States (sometimes inarticulately) as a “Christian nation.” But Cooper and Adlerstein provide context behind the quote that is often left out:
“Christian” ships and crew were fair game for Barbary pirates, Ambassador Abdrahaman of Tripoli told Thomas Jefferson; that all Christians are sinners in the context of the Koran and that it was a Muslim’s “right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to enslave as many as they could take as prisoners.”
U.S. negotiators tried to downplay the clash of religions. The treaty therefore stressed that the U.S. was not an officially Christian nation, but a secular one, and therefore should never have been targeted.
The quote, then, was not a statement on the value of religious liberty or centrality of Christianity to the American story, as atheists are wont to claim. (This will no doubt cause Chris Rodda to claim these two Rabbis are “liars for Jesus,” particularly since even she couldn’t explain this citation in a book as well as these two did in three lines.) It also, then, should have nothing to do with the US government’s position with regard to religious liberty.
That said, the misappropriated quote actually fit quite nicely with the USCCR’s report, which said in its Recommendations [emphasis added]:
Civil rights protections ensuring nondiscrimination, as embodied in the Constitution, laws, and policies, are of preeminent importance in American jurisprudence…
Religious exemptions to the protections of civil rights based upon classifications such as race, color, national origin, sex, disability status, sexual orientation, and gender identity, when they are permissible, significantly infringe upon these civil rights.
The Civil Rights commission, naturally, claims that “civil” rights trump the human right of religious freedom — a view that is counter to the heart of the American psyche. In fact, the chairman, Martin Castro, explicitly said [emphasis added]
The phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance.”
For context, realize the meaningless pejorative “Christian supremacy” is often included in the bigoted rants of Michael “Mikey” Weinstein in his self-declared “war” against Christians.
That an official agency of the US government would conflate liberty with bigotry — rather than the oppression of liberty with bigotry — is a sad statement of how far society has fallen.
Advocates have been saying for some time that religious liberty is under attack in the modern American culture. The USCCR report only seems to support that narrative.
And the US military reflects the culture from which it is drawn.