The God gap in U.S. foreign policy

According to a new report received by the White House, American foreign policy is hindered by its secularism and needs to factor religious issues into its dealings with other countries:

American foreign policy is handicapped by a narrow, ill-informed and “uncompromising Western secularism” that feeds religious extremism, threatens traditional cultures and fails to encourage religious groups that promote peace and human rights, according to a two-year study by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

The council’s 32-member task force, which included former government officials and scholars representing all major faiths, delivered its report to the White House on Tuesday. The report warns of a serious “capabilities gap” and recommends that President Obama make religion “an integral part of our foreign policy.”. . .

American foreign policy’s “God gap” has been noted in recent years by others, including former secretary of state Madeleine K. Albright.

“It’s a hot topic,” said Chris Seiple, president of the Institute for Global Engagement in Arlington County and a Council on Foreign Relations member. “It’s the elephant in the room. You’re taught not to talk about religion and politics, but the bummer is that it’s at the nexus of national security. The truth is the academy has been run by secular fundamentalists for a long time, people who believe religion is not a legitimate component of realpolitik.”

The Chicago Council’s task force was led by R. Scott Appleby of the University of Notre Dame and Richard Cizik of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good. “Religion,” the task force says, “is pivotal to the fate” of such nations as Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Iraq, Iran, Nigeria and Yemen, all vital to U.S. national and global security.

“Despite a world abuzz with religious fervor,” the task force says, “the U.S. government has been slow to respond effectively to situations where religion plays a global role.” Those include the growing influence of Pentecostalism in Latin America, evangelical Christianity in Africa and religious minorities in the Far East.

U.S. officials have made efforts to address the God gap, especially in dealings with Islamic nations and groups. The CIA established an office of political Islam in the mid-1980s. Congress passed the International Religious Freedom Act in 1998 to make religious freedom a U.S. foreign policy priority. During the second Bush administration, the Defense Department rewrote the Army’s counterinsurgency manual to take account of cultural factors, including religion. . . .

To end the “episodic and uncoordinated nature of U.S. engagement of religion in the world,” the task force recommended:

– Adding religion to the training and continuing education of all foreign service officers, diplomats and other key diplomatic, military and economic officials. That includes using the skills and expertise of military veterans and civilians returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

– Empowering government departments and agencies to engage local and regional religious communities where they are central players in the promotion of human rights and peace, as well as the delivery of health care and other forms of assistance.

– Address and clarify the role of religious freedom in U.S. foreign policy. Cizik said some parts of the world — the Middle East, China, Russia and India, for example — are particularly sensitive to the U.S. government’s emphasis on religious freedom and see it as a form of imperialism.

via ‘God gap’ impedes U.S. foreign policy, task force says – washingtonpost.com.

But how would this work? I just read a report about a high-level dialogue between representatives of the West and moderate Muslims. They established the common ground of a desire for freedom of religion. To the Westerners, that means the freedom of individuals to hold any religion they want. But to the Muslims, freedom of religion means the freedom of Muslims to establish an Islamic state.

Any push for freedom of religion in our sense will have to involve supporting Christians against those who suppress them. Christians, you will notice, tend to allow freedom of other religions. Other religions, when they are in control, are not so generous.

Will our government want to come across as advancing the interests of Christianity?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Peter Leavitt

    True wealth is the product of product of entrepreneurs and technology along with private investment that creates efficient businesses which in the long run defeat and destroy old line businesses that become sclerotic and seek help through anti-competitive measures, often aided by unimaginative, self-serving, and parasitic government. The process is well known as “crony-capitalism.”

    The creative destruction wrought by entrepreneurs is painful for established businesses and their employees who turn to the government for help. The political class, always interested in expanding its power, “help” the established companies and in the process weaken the overall economy. In recent years the Republican political class has been almost as bad the Democrat one in this process.

    Basically, weak individual people and businesses are glad to sell their souls to become dependent on government largesse. It’s happening in spades just now with the monstrosity of Obamacare.

  • Peter Leavitt

    True wealth is the product of product of entrepreneurs and technology along with private investment that creates efficient businesses which in the long run defeat and destroy old line businesses that become sclerotic and seek help through anti-competitive measures, often aided by unimaginative, self-serving, and parasitic government. The process is well known as “crony-capitalism.”

    The creative destruction wrought by entrepreneurs is painful for established businesses and their employees who turn to the government for help. The political class, always interested in expanding its power, “help” the established companies and in the process weaken the overall economy. In recent years the Republican political class has been almost as bad the Democrat one in this process.

    Basically, weak individual people and businesses are glad to sell their souls to become dependent on government largesse. It’s happening in spades just now with the monstrosity of Obamacare.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Sorry for the misplaced post.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Sorry for the misplaced post.

  • Daniel Gorman

    “Cizik said some parts of the world — the Middle East, China, Russia and India, for example — are particularly sensitive to the U.S. government’s emphasis on religious freedom and see it as a form of imperialism.”

    Probably, because it is a form of imperialism. We invade Muslim countries, promote women’s rights (i.e., immodest dress, usurpation of the authority of men, breakdown of traditional family, etc.), disrespect their religion by consuming pork and alcohol in their country, proselytize them to our religions and values, and generally behave as if religion freedom means the right of America to lord it over the rest of the world.

  • Daniel Gorman

    “Cizik said some parts of the world — the Middle East, China, Russia and India, for example — are particularly sensitive to the U.S. government’s emphasis on religious freedom and see it as a form of imperialism.”

    Probably, because it is a form of imperialism. We invade Muslim countries, promote women’s rights (i.e., immodest dress, usurpation of the authority of men, breakdown of traditional family, etc.), disrespect their religion by consuming pork and alcohol in their country, proselytize them to our religions and values, and generally behave as if religion freedom means the right of America to lord it over the rest of the world.

  • Carl Vehse

    “Alex, I’ll take the isolationist libertarian Western culture guilt trip for $500.”

  • Carl Vehse

    “Alex, I’ll take the isolationist libertarian Western culture guilt trip for $500.”

  • Dan Kempin

    “Secular fundamentalists.”

    What a great turn of phrase by Chris Seiple. That phrase in itself identifies the problem. The “god gap” is in fact a religious tenet (secularism) that all other religions (let’s loosely call them ‘god based’) are invalid. Go figure that this premise would interfere in establishing credibility and respect with people of sincere belief, as Daniel Gorman ,#3, illustrates so well.

    (Wait . . . did I just agree with a task force of government officials and scholars representing all major faiths? Ummm, this is awkward. I’d better go back and re-read something.)

  • Dan Kempin

    “Secular fundamentalists.”

    What a great turn of phrase by Chris Seiple. That phrase in itself identifies the problem. The “god gap” is in fact a religious tenet (secularism) that all other religions (let’s loosely call them ‘god based’) are invalid. Go figure that this premise would interfere in establishing credibility and respect with people of sincere belief, as Daniel Gorman ,#3, illustrates so well.

    (Wait . . . did I just agree with a task force of government officials and scholars representing all major faiths? Ummm, this is awkward. I’d better go back and re-read something.)

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    the other night I was watching “Khartoum” this line came to mind reading this. “I thought I had a monopoly on God. He is as serious about god as I am.” This was Chinese Gordon coming to the realization that religion was playing a major role in the Mahdi’s campaign against Egypt and Britain.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    the other night I was watching “Khartoum” this line came to mind reading this. “I thought I had a monopoly on God. He is as serious about god as I am.” This was Chinese Gordon coming to the realization that religion was playing a major role in the Mahdi’s campaign against Egypt and Britain.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Yes Carl,
    It kills me how people think that promoting religious freedom and the right of a person to confess Christ without being beheaded is somehow the evil.
    Listen if a country makes it bad enough that the overly reluctant United States has to get involved with your affairs, guess what, we bring American values. If you can’t teach your daughter to not wear short skirts that’s your problem. but Religious freedom isn’t the mandate that she do so.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Yes Carl,
    It kills me how people think that promoting religious freedom and the right of a person to confess Christ without being beheaded is somehow the evil.
    Listen if a country makes it bad enough that the overly reluctant United States has to get involved with your affairs, guess what, we bring American values. If you can’t teach your daughter to not wear short skirts that’s your problem. but Religious freedom isn’t the mandate that she do so.

  • John C

    Some Christians would say all other religions are invalid, Dan.
    One can be a Christian and still believe in secular government.

  • John C

    Some Christians would say all other religions are invalid, Dan.
    One can be a Christian and still believe in secular government.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    John C,
    To be Christian is to say all other religions are invalid. It isn’t to say that people should be shot for holding to them.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    John C,
    To be Christian is to say all other religions are invalid. It isn’t to say that people should be shot for holding to them.

  • John C

    Crikey Bror, if all other religions are invalid, there is not much hope for dialogue between individuals or nation states.
    Perhaps on this subject, we should be a little more post modernist in our thinking.

  • John C

    Crikey Bror, if all other religions are invalid, there is not much hope for dialogue between individuals or nation states.
    Perhaps on this subject, we should be a little more post modernist in our thinking.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    John C,
    Perhaps I’m not getting what you mean by valid?
    Sorry, all other religions lead to hell. Christ is THE way the truth and the life, none come to the Father except by HIM.
    That isn’t to say I think people should be forced into Christianity. Or that when it comes to foreign policy I can dialogue with a Muslim. It just means that I don’t think that man’s religion has any truth to it.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    John C,
    Perhaps I’m not getting what you mean by valid?
    Sorry, all other religions lead to hell. Christ is THE way the truth and the life, none come to the Father except by HIM.
    That isn’t to say I think people should be forced into Christianity. Or that when it comes to foreign policy I can dialogue with a Muslim. It just means that I don’t think that man’s religion has any truth to it.

  • DonS

    John C: Diplomatically, our country should regard the faiths and values of other nations as “valid”, if what you mean by “valid” is “legitimate”. In other words, it should not be our diplomatic objective to wipe out the rest of the world’s religions and to convert those who follow them. We must be respectful. But, that respect and deference needs to be consistent with our own core values as respectors of individual freedom and liberty. So, if another government is oppressing Christians because of their faith, we should oppose that oppression, and declare the value system behind the oppression invalid. Because it is.

  • DonS

    John C: Diplomatically, our country should regard the faiths and values of other nations as “valid”, if what you mean by “valid” is “legitimate”. In other words, it should not be our diplomatic objective to wipe out the rest of the world’s religions and to convert those who follow them. We must be respectful. But, that respect and deference needs to be consistent with our own core values as respectors of individual freedom and liberty. So, if another government is oppressing Christians because of their faith, we should oppose that oppression, and declare the value system behind the oppression invalid. Because it is.

  • Dan Kempin

    John C, #8,

    Fair enough. Christianity is a religion, and a religion holds to a certain view of the truth. I would argue the fine point that Christianity would regard other religions as incorrect rather than invalid, seeking to enlighten them to the nature of true religion, but that is not the point. One would expect a religion to believe that they are correct.

    Secularism is also a religion in that it holds to a specific view of reality and, in fact, behaves like a religion. The difference is that secularism vehemently denies that it IS a religion. To the secularist, religion is a pejorative term that is beneath their level of enlightenment. By denying that their own beliefs are religions, secularists become uniquely myopic in their attitude toward other religions. Secularism is a religious viewpoint that truly (and arrogantly) dismisses other religions as invalid rather than trying to engage and win them over.

  • Dan Kempin

    John C, #8,

    Fair enough. Christianity is a religion, and a religion holds to a certain view of the truth. I would argue the fine point that Christianity would regard other religions as incorrect rather than invalid, seeking to enlighten them to the nature of true religion, but that is not the point. One would expect a religion to believe that they are correct.

    Secularism is also a religion in that it holds to a specific view of reality and, in fact, behaves like a religion. The difference is that secularism vehemently denies that it IS a religion. To the secularist, religion is a pejorative term that is beneath their level of enlightenment. By denying that their own beliefs are religions, secularists become uniquely myopic in their attitude toward other religions. Secularism is a religious viewpoint that truly (and arrogantly) dismisses other religions as invalid rather than trying to engage and win them over.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I found Veith’s quote maddeningly vague, so I went and read the article he linked to, and found that the problem wasn’t Veith’s selective quoting. It’s somewhere between the journalist’s keyboard and the group he’s reporting on.

    I mean, did anybody come away from that article (or its excerpt) with any concrete understanding of how this “God gap” has made things worse? Can anyone tell me some concrete examples that they know of on their own?

    And then the suggestions (again, at least as outlined in the article) are hazy to the point of pointlessness: “empower”, “address”, and “clarify”. Mm-hmm.

    I’m not saying that our diplomatic and military personnel shouldn’t receive religious training. Of course they should. I’m surprised if they aren’t. Or is this more a question of degree.

    But until the actual problem is identified, I have no idea if these solutions are useful or not.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I found Veith’s quote maddeningly vague, so I went and read the article he linked to, and found that the problem wasn’t Veith’s selective quoting. It’s somewhere between the journalist’s keyboard and the group he’s reporting on.

    I mean, did anybody come away from that article (or its excerpt) with any concrete understanding of how this “God gap” has made things worse? Can anyone tell me some concrete examples that they know of on their own?

    And then the suggestions (again, at least as outlined in the article) are hazy to the point of pointlessness: “empower”, “address”, and “clarify”. Mm-hmm.

    I’m not saying that our diplomatic and military personnel shouldn’t receive religious training. Of course they should. I’m surprised if they aren’t. Or is this more a question of degree.

    But until the actual problem is identified, I have no idea if these solutions are useful or not.

  • justme

    Imaginary Newsflash:

    According to a new report received by the White House, American DOMESTIC policy is hindered by its secularism and needs to factor religious issues into its dealings with other STATES :)

  • justme

    Imaginary Newsflash:

    According to a new report received by the White House, American DOMESTIC policy is hindered by its secularism and needs to factor religious issues into its dealings with other STATES :)

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  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    tODD,
    I heard Madelene Albright speak on this a few years ago . She spoke about how the materialism everyone was trained with really negated any understanding of a person’s religious views and how that might be motivating a culture, say in Palestine, or even the Sunni Shiite split in the Arab world. Our people operating there were always trying to second guess and project their own values onto the others, and never understanding that some people actually do go to war for religious convictions and maybe nothing else whatsoever.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    tODD,
    I heard Madelene Albright speak on this a few years ago . She spoke about how the materialism everyone was trained with really negated any understanding of a person’s religious views and how that might be motivating a culture, say in Palestine, or even the Sunni Shiite split in the Arab world. Our people operating there were always trying to second guess and project their own values onto the others, and never understanding that some people actually do go to war for religious convictions and maybe nothing else whatsoever.

  • fws

    bror at 11 and todd at 14

    what they say.

    Before the 30 years war, european christians likewise thought it was ok to expel and kill and have wars over religious faith.

    before one thinks this is so wrong, consider that the most immoral thing one could do is raise one´s children to go to hell like the Mormons do. This evil and immorality trumps any and all evils that the culture wars are “fighting” with the exception of abortion, which it is the exact equal to in being evil.

    Yet no one would argue that there should be religious freedom and indeed state support of buddhism in the form of free roads,´fire department support etc.

    We are all creatures of our current zeitgeist and weltanschaug eh? We have trouble thinking outside of those boxes and confuse christianity and morality with what they are not.

  • fws

    bror at 11 and todd at 14

    what they say.

    Before the 30 years war, european christians likewise thought it was ok to expel and kill and have wars over religious faith.

    before one thinks this is so wrong, consider that the most immoral thing one could do is raise one´s children to go to hell like the Mormons do. This evil and immorality trumps any and all evils that the culture wars are “fighting” with the exception of abortion, which it is the exact equal to in being evil.

    Yet no one would argue that there should be religious freedom and indeed state support of buddhism in the form of free roads,´fire department support etc.

    We are all creatures of our current zeitgeist and weltanschaug eh? We have trouble thinking outside of those boxes and confuse christianity and morality with what they are not.

  • Peter Leavitt

    The real problem here is that many of our pin-striped diplomats are secularists who have come to reject the virtues of Judeo-Christian western civilization that is based on a combination of the religion of Jerusalem, the reason of Athens, and the law and power of Rome. They have fallen for the mess post-modern secular pottage that cherishes relativistic multi-culturalism and are unable to appreciate the excellent value of the West and its heritage.

    Sad to say, any sort of bureaucratic effort to get these lost secular souls to appreciate the virtue of the Judeo-Christian religion of the West will end up as a some form of whistling past the graveyard.

    Barack Obama is presently the sainted leader of these lost souls. They suffer the illusion that his policy of “engagement” and sympathy for such “oppressed” states as Iran and Venezuela will yield solid results.

  • Peter Leavitt

    The real problem here is that many of our pin-striped diplomats are secularists who have come to reject the virtues of Judeo-Christian western civilization that is based on a combination of the religion of Jerusalem, the reason of Athens, and the law and power of Rome. They have fallen for the mess post-modern secular pottage that cherishes relativistic multi-culturalism and are unable to appreciate the excellent value of the West and its heritage.

    Sad to say, any sort of bureaucratic effort to get these lost secular souls to appreciate the virtue of the Judeo-Christian religion of the West will end up as a some form of whistling past the graveyard.

    Barack Obama is presently the sainted leader of these lost souls. They suffer the illusion that his policy of “engagement” and sympathy for such “oppressed” states as Iran and Venezuela will yield solid results.

  • fws

    it is worth noting that there was such a huge concentration of Jews in lutheran lands and in neighboring often unitarian poland at the time of the holocaust, precisely because these lands uniquely harbored freedom of religion there for centuries after the Lutheran reformation.

  • fws

    it is worth noting that there was such a huge concentration of Jews in lutheran lands and in neighboring often unitarian poland at the time of the holocaust, precisely because these lands uniquely harbored freedom of religion there for centuries after the Lutheran reformation.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    So Peter (@18), you think we should reject “relativistic multi-culturalism” and instead embrace a “Judeo-Christian” “combination of the religion of Jerusalem, the reason of Athens, and the law and power of Rome”? Mmm-hmm. That makes sense.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    So Peter (@18), you think we should reject “relativistic multi-culturalism” and instead embrace a “Judeo-Christian” “combination of the religion of Jerusalem, the reason of Athens, and the law and power of Rome”? Mmm-hmm. That makes sense.

  • justme

    Can’t help but think perhaps policy makers at the Federal level got so used to getting away with imposing their values on all 50 States in our Union, in the name of “fill-in-your-personal-favorite” human right of course (some right and some wrong, to be sure, but all of them noble causes?) without regard to States rights, they may have thought, hell, why not the rest of the world too?

  • justme

    Can’t help but think perhaps policy makers at the Federal level got so used to getting away with imposing their values on all 50 States in our Union, in the name of “fill-in-your-personal-favorite” human right of course (some right and some wrong, to be sure, but all of them noble causes?) without regard to States rights, they may have thought, hell, why not the rest of the world too?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bror (@16), no I understand that. But what has happened as a result of this lack of religious understanding? Anything concrete? Did we miss an opportunity to do ____? Or did ____ happen because of this secular worldview? That’s what I feel is missing here.

    And I think some Americans understand quite well that “some people actually do go to war for religious convictions and maybe nothing else whatsoever.” I mean, this guy did.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bror (@16), no I understand that. But what has happened as a result of this lack of religious understanding? Anything concrete? Did we miss an opportunity to do ____? Or did ____ happen because of this secular worldview? That’s what I feel is missing here.

    And I think some Americans understand quite well that “some people actually do go to war for religious convictions and maybe nothing else whatsoever.” I mean, this guy did.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, at #20, yes, and do you have a better solution? Or, “Mmm Hmm,” are you content to ignorantly make a snide, ironic remark?

  • Peter Leavitt

    Todd, at #20, yes, and do you have a better solution? Or, “Mmm Hmm,” are you content to ignorantly make a snide, ironic remark?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter, you didn’t offer a solution (@23), you just railed in meaninglessly sweeping terms against some nameless straw men, dubbed Obama their leader, and then even proclaimed yourself that the problem couldn’t be realistically addressed.

    And you’re upset at me for making a snide remark that doesn’t solve anything? Welcome to the party, Peter.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter, you didn’t offer a solution (@23), you just railed in meaninglessly sweeping terms against some nameless straw men, dubbed Obama their leader, and then even proclaimed yourself that the problem couldn’t be realistically addressed.

    And you’re upset at me for making a snide remark that doesn’t solve anything? Welcome to the party, Peter.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Whoops I meant (@24) to refer to Peter’s comment #18, not #24.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Whoops I meant (@24) to refer to Peter’s comment #18, not #24.

  • justme

    tODD at 22….so anytime anyone prays for strength, wisdom, help in any decision or problem, and whatever the answer, what they did was for religious reasons? Then everything we do or say could possibly fall into that category….if we are living a truly prayerful life and casting all our cares on Him? Sounds good to me :)

  • justme

    tODD at 22….so anytime anyone prays for strength, wisdom, help in any decision or problem, and whatever the answer, what they did was for religious reasons? Then everything we do or say could possibly fall into that category….if we are living a truly prayerful life and casting all our cares on Him? Sounds good to me :)

  • fws

    Todd @ 24

    Maybe the problem is that westerners, including secularists and even athiests, assume a christian perspective: they assume that all religions are primarily about forgiveness, turning the other cheek and mercy along side of a perceived scorekeeping of right and wrong, etc.

    You will find the idea forgiveness only one place in the entire Koran…. and even there it doesn´t look anything like turn the other cheek etc.

  • fws

    Todd @ 24

    Maybe the problem is that westerners, including secularists and even athiests, assume a christian perspective: they assume that all religions are primarily about forgiveness, turning the other cheek and mercy along side of a perceived scorekeeping of right and wrong, etc.

    You will find the idea forgiveness only one place in the entire Koran…. and even there it doesn´t look anything like turn the other cheek etc.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    FWS (@27), I’m not sure what your comment was in reply to. Can you explain some more?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    FWS (@27), I’m not sure what your comment was in reply to. Can you explain some more?

  • justme

    fws at 27….right on brother! Could it be that most Westerners of any philosophical/ideological/etc persuasion don’t understand the deep roots their beliefs have in Judeo-Christian/Greco-Roman traditions? Many of the values they, and we, hold most dear, and much of our culture and our very ways of life, all have their roots tangled up within that ancient system which in most cases, took hundreds of years or longer, and much blood and war before we enjoy them in their current, fully developed form? Shame, shame, shame not to know and value your history :( And dangerous too, as in: easy come, easy go! Can you sing bye bye Miss American Pie with me?

  • justme

    fws at 27….right on brother! Could it be that most Westerners of any philosophical/ideological/etc persuasion don’t understand the deep roots their beliefs have in Judeo-Christian/Greco-Roman traditions? Many of the values they, and we, hold most dear, and much of our culture and our very ways of life, all have their roots tangled up within that ancient system which in most cases, took hundreds of years or longer, and much blood and war before we enjoy them in their current, fully developed form? Shame, shame, shame not to know and value your history :( And dangerous too, as in: easy come, easy go! Can you sing bye bye Miss American Pie with me?

  • Peter Leavitt

    Well Todd, just what is your solution to this problem . At #18, I offered a concrete analysis that you snidely rejected, while characteristically being silent about your own view. You are a master at nit-picking, while being obtuse about your own views.

    As to your contention about Pres. Bush, he and Congress referred to twenty-three reasons for attacking Iraq; no one has credibly proven the vicious libel that he invaded Iraq because God told him to. Pres. Bush is in fact a sincerely religious man who humbly prayed for the wisdom to make hard decisions, though he never claimed that he had any direct connection with God regarding these decisions.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Well Todd, just what is your solution to this problem . At #18, I offered a concrete analysis that you snidely rejected, while characteristically being silent about your own view. You are a master at nit-picking, while being obtuse about your own views.

    As to your contention about Pres. Bush, he and Congress referred to twenty-three reasons for attacking Iraq; no one has credibly proven the vicious libel that he invaded Iraq because God told him to. Pres. Bush is in fact a sincerely religious man who humbly prayed for the wisdom to make hard decisions, though he never claimed that he had any direct connection with God regarding these decisions.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    fws @27
    I think you have hit upon another aspect of this problem. In the west we think of Christianity, a latent residue of it anyway, when we think of religion. Most don’t know Christianity very well in the first place. But many of the values of Christianity, pacifism for instance, have been detached from a theology that would hold them in balance, and have morphed into a grotesque version of the value as it is in Christianity. But that is what people know as religion.
    They then cannot come close to comprehending the motivations of others, because the shiboleth of our zeitgeist, is that all religions are basically the same, they teach you to be good, to not judge etc.
    Absent a consciosness of their own beliefs and where they came from, they are helpless to analyze another’s.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    fws @27
    I think you have hit upon another aspect of this problem. In the west we think of Christianity, a latent residue of it anyway, when we think of religion. Most don’t know Christianity very well in the first place. But many of the values of Christianity, pacifism for instance, have been detached from a theology that would hold them in balance, and have morphed into a grotesque version of the value as it is in Christianity. But that is what people know as religion.
    They then cannot come close to comprehending the motivations of others, because the shiboleth of our zeitgeist, is that all religions are basically the same, they teach you to be good, to not judge etc.
    Absent a consciosness of their own beliefs and where they came from, they are helpless to analyze another’s.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    tODD @22,
    you know I agree with you there. That is a weakness in the article. There is no concrete example of where this has had an ill effect on our foreign policy. The article leads one to imagine, though 2/3rds of a century dealing with Islamic aggression in Israel, then in Chechnya, the former Yugoslavia, (operations in which I was involved, and decorated for) two wars in Iraq, and twice in Afghanistan to boot, throughout which the people we had in charge of diplomacy were actually trained to ignore religious motivations, and come to the conclusion that if you can’t put your finger on it precisely, there is still reason to believe that opportunities were missed.
    I don’t think it is to far a stretch. That because my exposure to said materialism in anthropology was foisted upon me at a Christian college. I had no stomach for it then, and have none now. But I realize this is the game sociologists and anthropologists have been playing for quite sometime. It is actually quite demeaning to the subjects of study, in that they second guess constantly the motivations of these people, and it leads to what is a refusal to relate.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    tODD @22,
    you know I agree with you there. That is a weakness in the article. There is no concrete example of where this has had an ill effect on our foreign policy. The article leads one to imagine, though 2/3rds of a century dealing with Islamic aggression in Israel, then in Chechnya, the former Yugoslavia, (operations in which I was involved, and decorated for) two wars in Iraq, and twice in Afghanistan to boot, throughout which the people we had in charge of diplomacy were actually trained to ignore religious motivations, and come to the conclusion that if you can’t put your finger on it precisely, there is still reason to believe that opportunities were missed.
    I don’t think it is to far a stretch. That because my exposure to said materialism in anthropology was foisted upon me at a Christian college. I had no stomach for it then, and have none now. But I realize this is the game sociologists and anthropologists have been playing for quite sometime. It is actually quite demeaning to the subjects of study, in that they second guess constantly the motivations of these people, and it leads to what is a refusal to relate.

  • John C

    Dan at 13
    Secularism is hardly a religion Dan. Secularists, and this includes a significant number of Christians, want to limit, not necessary exclude the role of the church in the governence of the state. A noble ideal I would have thought. You would not want to live in a theocracy would you Dan?

  • John C

    Dan at 13
    Secularism is hardly a religion Dan. Secularists, and this includes a significant number of Christians, want to limit, not necessary exclude the role of the church in the governence of the state. A noble ideal I would have thought. You would not want to live in a theocracy would you Dan?


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