The problem with many church leaders in the U.S. is that they, regardless of what they might say, never actually understand the church-state juxtaposition, especially as applied constitutionally. They make high-flown pronouncements about the value of separation of church and state, essentially that neither may violate the responsibilities/positions of the other, but, in fact, meddle in the affairs of state all the time, though they bristle at the slightest suggestion that the state infringe upon their “freedom of religion.”
Recently, Congressman Peter King of New York, ranking member of the Homeland Security Committee, held a hearing on 10 March regarding possible Muslim radicalism in this country, insisting that not to hold the controversial hearing would be a craven surrender to political correctness. King gave a number of examples of actual incidents and plots conceived by Muslim men, such as the failed Times Square bombing and the slaughter at Ft. Hood carried out by Major Hasan. King had in mind the home-grown terrorists such as those exposed recently in England or Netherlands or Denmark.
This apparently rankled some of the church leaders, who banded themselves together in something called the Shoulder-to-Shoulder Campaign, and delivered a strong statement against the hearings, also on 10 March. Here is a brief segment of its long statement: “Spiritual leaders have a moral responsibility and a sacred calling to categorically denounce derision, misinformation or outright bigotry directed against anyone, regardless of faith community.” The self-proclaimed “spiritual leaders,” representing millions of members of various faiths, missed the purpose of the hearing and essentially called King a misinformed bigot – a brotherly Judeo-Christian approach, of course!
One can’t know if President Obama was aware of the S-to-S statement but he showed his concern for Muslims nine days later when, without even consultation with Congress, he ordered an all-out air attack by U.S. planes and missiles, including long-range bombers, on Libya, a poor 97%-Muslim country of 6.3 million people, two million less than the population of New York City. The U.S. bombing went on for days (and still occurs “when needed”) until Obama passed the slaughter of Libyans off to NATO to continue his personal war. Was he also a misinformed bigot or are Muslims in other countries somehow different from those in the U.S., notwithstanding their shared belief in the Islamic holy book, the Koran?
Will S-to-S make a statement with regard to the president’s bombing of and otherwise assaulting Libya –a dreary land 92% desert or semi-desert which hasn’t since the day of Thomas Jefferson and the Barbary Pirates been a threat to this nation and even submitted its nuclear program to this country a while back? Did his action, involving the murders of many, not rise to the level of a Congressional hearing held in the interest of safety for citizens, which so lathered S-to-S recently? Apparently S-to-S believes it was not as serious even though Muslims have been slaughtered, since no statement has been forthcoming.
In thinking about the goals of Shoulder-to-Shoulder, one wonders if the organization plans to make a statement in support of the United Church of Christ and critical of the U.S. government vis-à-vis the country’s laws inveighing against that denomination’s official position, since 2005, that men may marry men and women marry women. Isn’t the Defense of Marriage Act passed by the Congress and signed into law by President Clinton in the 90s a violation of the UCC’s freedom of religion? The Rev. Geoffrey Black, S-to-S Steering Committee member and head honcho of UCC, surely would appreciate such a statement.
One should not hold his breath until Shoulder-to-Shoulder issues profound statements with respect to both of these subjects. In both matters, government or a government official arguably interferes with specific groups of people – Muslims (though in another country) and homosexuals in this country, not to mention an entire denomination, the United Church of Christ. Where is the outrage that S-to-S exhibited with King’s above-board, transparent and quite logically held hearing just to look into the matter of terrorism? Germany closed a mosque in Hamburg recently because terrorist plots were being hatched there. It’s been discovered that mosques form the breeding ground for terrorist activity elsewhere.
There’s nothing wrong with “doing good,” probably what the spiritual leaders thought they were doing. They couldn’t have been more wrong in slandering King and his hearing, his effort at “doing good” far outweighing theirs since it involved not perceived political incorrectness, but public safety. If the American Muslims feel insulted they should forswear their holy book that plainly doesn’t just approve of but demand “death to the infidel” whenever possible or made possible. Not even their “spiritual leaders” – or especially those leaders – have said this edict is not there. Evidence of it is seen throughout the world on a daily basis.
Shoulder-to-Shoulder is a farce and should be disbanded.