Tue, Oct. 22

Letter: Government should not endorse or establish any particular religion


“Decision making, like coffee, needs a cooling process.” -- George Washington

Old George was our first president and he valued a cool head and temperament; something our current President (and myself, to be honest) certainly lacks.

In less than a month we have gone from Obama-Clinton achieving a near historical peace with Iran to public talk about using the nuclear option and WWIII. Iran, a country whose hatred of us springs from our own failing to listen to our previous presidents on foreign policy and international affairs.

Our government used the CIA to depose Iran’s democratically elected leader and propped up a US puppet in his place. Understandably the Iranians did not like this, revolted, and out this undemocratic chaos the Ayatollah Khomeini came to power. Many of us hoped that by electing Obama we could end this kind of imperial meddling, and thereby create a safe and strong future for all parties involved. But it seems Trump and co. have other ideas.

For those who understand nothing about Iran, they are the Muslim country that is most like us Americans. They have cars, smart phones, electricity, engineers, and physicists. They are modern, quite liberal by other Muslims’ standards, they have arcades, fancy clothing stores, listen to punk and rock.

In Iran women can marry who they like, vote, have a job, own a business. For the most part, Iranians dress, speak, and think quite like us. This makes sense as the prehistorical roots of many of us go back to a people who spoke proto-Indo-European, who lived north of what is now Iran, and from whom some Indians, most Iranians, and nearly all of Europe descends. I highly recommend Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown Episode on Iran, it is eye-opening.

We have all seen Iranians chanting “Death to America!” and burning the US flag. Whenever people are angry, there is usually a good reason behind that anger, and it is not wise to ignore it, hoping it will just go away.

And all this “they hate us because of our freedoms” is just lies, just like the nonexistent WMD’s that supposedly justified the invasion of Iraq, WMD’s our own intelligence denied existing. And now we have many new enemies, but also, let’s hope, many new friends.

I had strongly hoped that President Obama would do the right thing and explain to the American people and to the world about our past foreign policy mistakes: an act of honesty only a George Washington would have done. Look at this from our perspective: If some other country had undermined our election and put a puppet in place, we would be revolting and burning flags too.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but while I was not (thankfully) raised in religious home, I know that one of the fundamental tenets of many religions is justice, reparations, restitution, and forgiveness (in that order).

You don’t wrong someone, refuse to make it right, and then expect them to just roll over and play dead. If you wrong someone you admit it, you apologize, and you do everything you can to make it right; and someone spouting an opinion that you don’t agree with is not harming or wronging you, unless is it slander or defamation, of course.

If we all lived like this, well, I guess we would’t need government anymore, would we? But if we continue to act with arrogance and hostility towards those who have issues with our government, we can expect only arrogance and hostility in return. If we seek to act with fairness and justice and strength, then hopefully we can begin to make amends for past bad conduct.

And for those who might protest on behalf of Israel: Israel is not a member state of our union, and the Bible is ancient mythology not a foreign policy or scientific textbook. The Founders were still acutely aware of how religious divisions could lead to outright murder and warfare.

Many don’t realize that the Protestant Reformation was followed by a counter-reformation, followed by the 30 Years War, one of the most deadly conflicts in European history.

This was followed by disease, pestilence, and ultimately the mass insanity of the witch-trials. It is against such a backdrop that the Founders established freedom of religion, which means that we have a right to be atheist, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, pagan, worshipers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, etc., and that government should not endorse or establish any particular religion.

Don’t believe me? I leave you with the words of the unanimously passed Treaty of Tripoli (aka Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli of Barbary), signed into law by President Adams in 1797, Art. 11:

“As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,-as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen [Muslims],-and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

Matthew Holmes


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