Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism
by Michelle Goldberg
- From Publishers Weekly
In an impressive piece of lucid journalism, Salon.com reporter Goldberg dives into the religious right and sorts out the history and networks of what to most liberals is an inscrutable parallel universe. She deconstructs "dominion theology," the prevalent evangelical assertion that Christians have a "responsibility to take over every aspect of society."
Goldberg makes no attempt to hide her own partisanship, calling herself a "secular Jew and ardent urbanite" who wrote the book because she "was terrified by America's increasing hostility to... cosmopolitan values." This carefully researched and riveting treatise will hardly allay its audience's fears, however; secular liberals and mainstream believers alike will find Goldberg's descriptions of today's culture wars deeply disturbing. She traces the deep financial and ideological ties between fundamentalist Christians and the Republican Party, and discloses the dangers she believes are inherent to the Bush administration's faith-based social services initiative.
Other chapters follow inflammatory political tactics on wedge issues like gay rights, evolution and sex education. Significantly, her conclusions do not come off as hysterical or shrill. Even while pointing to stark parallels between fascism and the language of the religious right, Goldberg's vision of America's future is measured and realistic. Her book is a potent wakeup call to pluralists in the coming showdown with Christian nationalists. (May 15)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
A chilling and lucid investigation into the rise of Christian extremism in America. -- Julia Scheeres, author of Jesus Land
A serious, scathing, eye-opening expose of the ongoing takeover of our country by Right-wing Christians ... witty, funny, and humane. -- Katha Pollitt, author of Subject to Debate: Sense and Dissents on Women, Politics, and Culture
Every American who cherishes religious freedom, civil liberties, and the separation of church and state must read Kingdom Coming. -- Abraham H. Foxman, national director, Anti-Defamation League, and author of Never Again? The Threat of the New Anti-Semitism
Every patriot who still cherishes the freedoms we inherited from the nation's founders should read this book. -- Joe Conason, author of The Hunting of the President
If you cherish plurality and reason, read Kingdom Coming to get the bad news -- and to restore your faith in journalism. -- Todd Gitlin, author of The Intellectuals and the Flag
Reveals how thoroughly our national discourse has been corrupted by the mad work of religious literalists. A terrifying, necessary book. -- Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason
Military Religious Freedom Foundation
Air Force Academy Exposed:
MRFF Exposes Deception at Air Force Academy
Read more here
With the known lies in the following editorial, The Gazette of Colorado Springs affirmed that it is a willing Neo-Christian Nationalist collaborator. An editorial response follows it.
Of hypocrites and academic freedom
Feb 06 2008
The latest battle in an ongoing war on academic freedom involves three speakers who will address cadets at the Air Force Academy today. The speakers have one trait that's common to most who would be censored from the hallowed halls of modern academe: They are Christians.
The speakers - Walid Shoebat, Kamal Saleem and Zak Anani - will speak as part of the academy's annual political forum. All profess to be "former terrorists" who've converted from Islam to Christianity. Their message annoys wannabe censors.
Assaults on academic freedom result from weak minds, sinister intent, and a combination of the two. Clearly our Founders, when they established a country for the free, wanted ideas to thrive. They gave us the First Amendment so all could exercise religion freely, without government interfering or establishing one religion as more important than another. They wanted religious philosophies to freely compete in the marketplace of intellect and discourse.
The feeble-minded interpret that portion of the First Amendment as a law that protects government and individuals from the annoyance of religion - particularly Christianity.
Organizations such as the ACLU and the Freedom From Religion Foundation work to scour mainstream religious expression from public space, pretending the Constitution protects us from religious content. They twist the law into something opposite of its intent. Everything in the Constitution is designed to limit the powers of government, in order to enhance the freedoms of individuals to maximize creativity, productivity, imagination and interpersonal association. Nothing in the Constitution gives the state authority to censor unpopular, controversial expression.
Increasingly, however, Christians are told that the First Amendment should silence them. Routinely, a Christian person or organization, in Somewhere, U.S.A., winds up in the news fighting for the right to express reverence for God. When a politician speaks of God, we're told religion doesn't belong in politics. If that's the case, a rabbi or minister elected to Congress should suspend all religious considerations from decisions or rhetoric - a preposterous and impossible notion. All law is rooted in morality, and most morality can be traced to religion.
Private citizens are told they can express their religious beliefs only in churches or the privacy of their homes. Look no further than Lewis-Palmer High School, just north of the academy, for a recent example. When valedictorian Erica Corder spoke of Jesus in her 2006 graduation speech, school officials reacted as if she had mooned the audience. They refused to give Corder her diploma until she apologized for straying from a pre-approved speech, which didn't use the J-word.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that Michael Broadley, of Coon Rapids, Minn., was told in 2007 that he couldn't give away gospel CDs at Mount Rushmore without a permit - a permit Broadley said the National Park Service refused to give him because of the content of the CDs. A second-grader in New Jersey's Frenchtown School District was forbidden to sing "Awesome God" at a talent show. Amber Johnson-Loehner, a 13-year-old from Tampa, Fla., testified to Congress in the 90s that she was forbidden to pass out gospel recordings to her classmates on Halloween, during a party in which students were expected to exchange treats.
Year after year, far left, anti-American, anti-Christian speakers - even people who blame the American government for plotting the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 - speak at state universities. They've rolled out the red carpet for Ward Churchill, the former University of Colorado professor who advocated terrorism and compared Twin Tower victims to Nazis. The public is told that enlightened minds result from academic freedom, in which even the most outrageous ideas should be presented on campus and paid for with public funds.
Yet critics of the Air Force Academy speech are worked up because the three speakers might proselytize their newfound love for Jesus. David Antoon, an academy graduate who accuses his alma mater of promoting Christianity, criticized the speech without having heard it.
"What's troublesome to me is this is pure ideology and it has nothing to do with academics," said Antoon, who likened the academy to a Bible college in an interview with The Gazette.
Antoon wants us to believe that a speech by former religious terrorists -- during a war on terror that's enmeshed with religion - has no academic value at a military academy. Really? How can that be?
It remains open to debate whether the academy promotes Christianity, which it should not. Hosting Christian speakers who espouse their faith, however, is a far cry from the promotion of religion. It's the academy facilitating free speech and discourse -- the building blocks of enlightenment. Anyone is free to reject or embrace whatever the speakers say. If hosting them amounts to promoting Christianity, then hosting Cat Stevens promotes Islam. If speakers at public institutions can't espouse religious beliefs, then the state is promoting secularism as the only appropriate belief. Anyone with a religious worldview, in that case, doesn't have free speech. At least, not on campus.
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations seems to understand this.
"The First Amendment protects even bigoted speech, but those who value mutual understanding should have an equal right to speak out and be heard," the council said in a press release Tuesday.
The council didn't ask the academy to silence the speakers. Instead, it asked that speakers with opposing views about Islam be invited to speak. It's a reasonable request, made in the interest of bringing more information to the academy's free market of rhetoric and ideas. Bring on the Muslims.
RE: Response to "Our View" Editorial: "Shushing Christians: Of hypocrites and academic freedom"
February 7, 2008
Your editorial appears defensive as if you are somehow personally involved in your subject matter instead of writing objectively. I'm guessing that you may be writing from your personal biases rather than in the public interest.
In the matter of your editorial, "Shushing Christians: Of hypocrites and academic freedom," the three mid-Eastern gentlemen who were invited to speak at the Air Force Academy recently misrepresented themselves to Academy officials. A cursory examination of the records of these three "former terrorists," quickly revealed their checkered background and that at least two of them are very likely frauds.
General Dana Born, Dean of Faculty at the USAFA who invited the three speakers, Walid Shoebat, Kamal Saleem and Zak Anani, either failed to do her homework or knew of the extreme evangelical format generally presented by the three in which case she approved of exposing the cadet population to such a plainly pre-packaged Christian revival. General Born, if you recall, is a self-proclaimed "born again evangelical Christian" who was one of the more prominent signatories to the "Only Real Hope for Mankind is Jesus" ads that ran in the Academy Spirit newspaper a couple of years back which spoke volumes of her lack of judgment and helped spark a Pentagon investigation.
It's no secret that the three gentlemen in question have appeared numerous times on Fox News Channel, "The 700 Club," the "Pastor John Hagee" program and other venues in which they engaged in embellished stories of their conversion from Islam to Christianity, extolling its virtues and the wholesale denigration of Islam and its followers.
In other appearances at colleges, the majority of their presentations were based on Christian proselytizing and the destruction of Islam. In fact the Princeton staff negotiating their appearance, after exposure to rabid anti-Semitic remarks, simply canceled their appearance. The only truly satisfied sponsor of the trio was the Michigan State University student organization, "Young Americans for Freedom" which has been classified as a "Hate Group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center. There is no reason to assume their appearance at the Academy would vary from that format.
This kind of extreme fundamentalist evangelism was the subject of a much publicized DoD investigation at the Academy not too long ago which challenged the role of religious organizations being given favored treatment and unprecedented access to the cadet population by the Academy command staff and faculty. This was brought to public attention ironically by the Gazette in a series of well-written articles exposing the aggressive proselytizing, and by MRFF founder Mikey Weinstein whose own sons and daughter-in-law were victimized by those egregious human rights violations while cadets at the Academy.
So it wasn't surprising that red flags went up when the appearance by this trio became known and Col. David Antoon (Ret), Academy graduate and member of the Board of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation attempted to notify the command structure of the real agenda of the three.
This notice was not an assault on academic freedom but rather a heads-up as to the real agenda of the "Former Terrorists." And speaking of "former terrorists," aren't they still liable for their crimes? In this case, the hundreds of people the three claim to have killed? Or does conversion to Christianity absolve them of that responsibility? And if so, why don't we just have Charles Manson over for a chat about his Christian beliefs?
According to Mikey Weinstein, honor graduate of the Air Force Academy, White House counsel to President Reagan, General Counsel to H. Ross Perot and founder of The Military Religious Freedom Foundation: "In 2005, General John Rosa, then superintendent of Cadets, in a burst of public candor, acknowledged that his campus was so permeated with wrongful evangelical proselytizing that it would take a half-dozen years to rid the institution of religious intolerance. General Rosa also said he found the problem of cadets unfairly pressured to adopt Christian beliefs and practices occurring throughout 'my whole organization,' with offenders among faculty, staff and entire cadet wing. It is apparent, if not obvious, that no one seems to have taken that prophetic bit of honesty seriously, including the General himself. This indicates a "business as usual" attitude in which the former and current Academy staffs have totally ignored those findings and have allowed, nay, encouraged the pervasive and coercive evangelizing to continue to this day.
As to the author's oblique references to the constitutional protection of religion, it should be remembered that no amendment to the constitution is absolute. The First Amendment's "free practice" clause as an example, does not stand alone. It is instead curtailed by conditions relating to the ingestion of controlled substances or the sacrifice of humans or animals in the course of worship and others. There is, then, no protection for unwelcome aggressive and coercive proselytizing.
And as far as academics go, we would do well to remember the Supreme Court rulings that prohibit the sponsorship by the US Government or its agents of events in public or government venues in which sectarian worship is made a part and in which participants are required to attend.
That's a tough pill to swallow for those so deeply immersed in their beliefs that they would use them to dominate others. And with the resurgence of the Dominion Christian movement, to whom the bulk of this extreme evangelizing is attributable, you can be sure that dominion is the order of the day.
The fact is that those who consider that Christianity should garner special privilege intend to give it just that. The cases of inappropriate and often coercive proselytizing by senior military officers are on record and verified.
This goes to the very heart of the Constitution and the recognition that the practice of using rank and position to require religious acquiescence of subordinate personnel is a dangerous, vile and illegal undertaking.
Therefore I suggest that those at the US Air Force Academy who would bring to those hallowed halls a narrow, biased and vindictive religious program, no doubt over the objections of more reasonable but subordinate staff, are far more likely to be the Shushers and hypocrites.
Richard Baker is a former Air Force Officer, and highly decorated Vietnam Veteran and Rescue Helicopter Pilot.
Speakers at Academy Said to Make False Claims
By Neil MacFarquhar
The New York Times
Feb 07 2008
The Air Force Academy was criticized by Muslim and religious freedom organizations for playing host on Wednesday to three speakers who critics say are evangelical Christians falsely claiming to be former Muslim terrorists.
The three men were invited as part of a weeklong conference on terrorism organized by cadets at the academy's Colorado Springs campus under the auspices of the political science department.
The three will be paid a total of $13,000 for their appearance, some of it from private donors, said Maj. Brett Ashworth, a spokesman for the academy.
The three were invited because "they offered a unique perspective from inside terrorism," Major Ashworth said. The conference is to result in a report on methods to combat terrorism that will be sent to the Pentagon, members of Congress and other influential officials, he added.
Members of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a group suing the federal government to combat what it calls creeping evangelism in the armed forces, said it was typical of the Air Force Academy to invite born-again Christians to address cadets on terrorism rather than experts who could teach students about the Middle East.
"This stuff going on at the academy today is part of the endemic evangelical infiltration that continues," said David Antoon, a 1970 academy graduate and a foundation member.
The three men were invited to talk about being recruited and trained as terrorists, not religion, although one of them, Zak Anani, did tell students that converting to Christianity from Islam saved his life, said John Van Winkle, another spokesman for the academy.
Muslim organizations objected to the fact that no other perspective about Islam was offered, saying that the three speakers "Mr. Anani, Kamal Saleem and Walid Shoebat" habitually paint Muslims as inherently violent. All were born in the Middle East but Mr. Saleem and Mr. Shoebat are now American citizens, while Mr. Anani has Canadian citizenship.
"Their entire world view is based on the idea that Islam is evil," said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on Islamic American Relations. "We want to provide a balancing perspective to their hate speech."
Academic professors and others who have heard the three men speak in the United States and Canada said some of their stories border on the fantastic, like Mr. Saleem's account of how, as a child, he infiltrated Israel to plant bombs via a network of tunnels underneath the Golan Heights. No such incidents have been reported, the academic experts said. They also question how three middle-aged men who claim they were recruited as teenagers or younger could have been steeped in the violent religious ideology that only became prevalent in the late 1980s.
Prof. Douglas Howard, who teaches the history of the modern Middle East at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., heard Mr. Saleem speak last November at the college and said he thought the three were connected to several major Christian evangelical organizations.
"It was just an old time gospel hour 'Jesus can change your life, he changed mine,'" Mr. Howard said. "That is mixed in with 'Watch out America, wake up America, the danger of Islam is here.'"
Mr. Howard said his doubts about their authenticity grew after stories like the Golan Heights saga as well as something on Mr. Saleem's web site along the lines that he was descended from the grand wazir of Islam. "The grand wazir of Islam is a nonsensical term," Mr. Howard said.
Keith Davies, the director of the Walid Shoebat Foundation, which organizes their appearances, said critics tried to undermine the speakers' reputation because "they can't argue with the message."
Arab-American civil rights organizations question why, at a time when the United States government has vigorously moved to jail or at least deport anyone with a known terrorist connection, the three men, if they are telling the truth, are allowed to circulate freely. A spokesman for the F.B.I. said there were no warrants for their arrest.
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