Category Archives: Politico-Religous

Holy War: The Rise of Militant Christian, Jewish and Islamic Fundamentalism

Author: David S. New

Pub. Date: 2002

Publisher: McFarland & Co.

Reviewer: Don C. Marler

Holy War is one of those books that tantalize with little known facts and then uses those facts to scare the reader; the combination is powerful. For example: who knew that Ronald Reagan was “hooked” since childhood, on Apocalyptic Dispensational Millennium and Armageddon? Who knew that he was later heavily influenced in these beliefs by Pat Boone, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson , W.A. Criswell, Jimmy Swaggert and others.

President Reagan believed that Armageddon and the coming of the Messiah were near and he wanted these things to happen during his term of office. Along with many other fundamentalist Christians he believed that the actions of men could hasten or bring on this event. And with this event the “saved” would be immediately caught up to heaven and would not have to endure the conflagration.

The author relates the unease and fear the Presidents staff felt about where these beliefs might lead the president. In short we barely dodged the bullet with President Reagan.

Given his wild, impulsive nature we dodged a bigger bullet when Pat Robertson was not elected to the presidency.

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One Nation Under Gods


By Richard Abanes

651 pages

Basic Books

Richard Abanes is a religion journalist who has written extensively on religious groups and cults in America. ONE NATION UNDER GODS is well researched and carefully written to reflect the history of Mormonism from its early 19th century founding to its present day status. The great grand daughter of Brigham Young, the leader of the church following the murder of founder, Joseph Smith, and who was reared in the church, endorsed the book by writing its Foreword.

Given the extensive and wide ranging elements of the book no attempt will be made here to review and comment on them. Suffice to say that the reader will be amazed at the character of Smith and many of his lieutenants, the gullibility of his followers, the violence, deception, corruption and determination to overthrow the government of the United States.

At the theological level the reader will be amazed at the rationale for polygamy, for the belief that all MEN were potential gods–hence the book title. Mormons were to rule the world sooner than later beginning with the United States.

Perhaps the story of Mormonism can be best illustrated by two quotes from the book.

You will see the constitution of the United States almost destroyed. It will hang like a thread….A terrible revolution will take place in the land of America….[T]he land will be left without a Supreme Government,… [Mormonism] will have gathered strength, sending out Elders to gather the honest in heart…to stand by the Constitution of the United States….In these days…God will set up a Kingdom, never to be thrown down….[T]he whole of America will be made the Zion of God.

Joseph Smith (May, 6, 1845)

Founder, Mormonism

I’ve never seen it worse than this, where the Constitution literally is hanging by a thread.

Orrin Hatch (November 9, 1999)

Republican Senator, Utah


Anyone interested in Church & State relations and especially in a relatively new American made church will find ONE NATION UNDER GODS: A HISTORY OF THE MORMON CHURCH of great interest.

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How the Apostle Transformed Christianity
James D. Tabor 

Author, James D. Tabor, is a New Testament historian with incredible ability to highlight his characters as they are embedded in their time, place, culture and politic-religious environment. He is courageous in staying on the trail of his characters, regardless of the hills and valleys and sometimes swamps he is led through, until the quarry is at bay.

Such is the case with his pursuit of the “Apostle” Paul. Many of us have known that Paul dominated the early Christian world overshadowing James, Peter, John and sometimes Jesus with his own doctrine.  We who are on the periphery of that insight do not realize how thoroughly Pauline the Christianity we know really is.

Dr. Tabor was the hound on that elusive trail for 40 years and has at last brought the beast to bay in his book PAUL AND JESUS.

It is evident that the author admires Paul’s, boldness, intelligence and tenacity.  Ever the historian Tabor lets the opportunity pass to comment on Paul’s sanity saying it was outside bounds of historical method.

However, if we turn around Tabor’s strategy of putting the reader up close to the character’s time, place, culture and politico-religious environment, perhaps the question has an obvious answer. In order to do that for greatest effect lets bring this peculiar looking, short, bald man, with a hawk-bill nose and a serious sexual hang-up who openly claims that he often sees and talks to Jesus and God about the end time which will come in his lifetime, to a group of 21st century Gentiles. What is the diagnosis they will make?

If you read any book on Christianity this year make it PAUL AND JESUS Don C. Marler

Paul and Jesus: How The Apostle Transformed Christianity

320 pages

Simon & Schuster

Nov. 2012

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Limits On Tolerance and Respect

Don C. Marler

Given the circumstances of my upbringing the chances that I would develop a liberal worldview were slim indeed. It did happen though and I am somewhat amazed at the transformation. Now that I approach the 8th decade of my life I have been reviewing the journey that brought me here. I ask myself if I can be objective enough about my liberal views, especially on tolerance and respect for those of different lifestyles, religious beliefs and customs to make an honest critique. One can only give it his best try.

I was born in the swamps of central Louisiana in 1933 to a family and community that was hardworking, very conservative and that reflected the essence of extreme fundamentalist religion. Having spent almost half of my life cultivating a worldview that was in harmony with this background I have spent the second half transforming it into a more liberal worldview.

It seems evident to me that different cultures confuse religious beliefs and practices with customs. The results are sometimes monstrous. For example: mutilation of the genitalia of young girls so they will not experience sexual pleasure, feeding the first born male child to crocodiles, restoring family honor by killing a number of women in the family, bride burning, murder of those who do not believe in one’s god, burning at stake of a law abiding citizen because his belief differs with that of the established state religion.

Liberals are champions of showing tolerance and most of all “respect” for those who possess different religious and cultural differences. Tolerance, at least for the short term may be, well “tolerable”, while the world tries to model a more humane way for those who practice those inhumane behaviors described above.   I find it unpleasant when someone wants to force me to follow their beliefs and practices, especially when they try to kill me for not obliging. I find it difficult to tolerate or respect their position in those circumstances.

Respect is different from tolerance and more immediate.  It is quite different from tolerance given the generally accepted attributes of the concept. The principal attribute of respect is to hold the belief or practice in esteem. Is it reasonable for me to hold someone or some group in high esteem who wants to kills me?  Is it unreasonable for me to hold someone or group in low esteem who kills innocent family members to restore family honor or kill someone because they don’t accept and worship their god? Is my difficulty in holding such concepts and practices and those who perpetrate them in high esteem a holdover or throwback to my swamp upbringing? Perhaps, but I don’t have another 40 years to work on it, so in the meantime it would be a mistake for someone wishing to be a martyr to try to kill me. I will not in this instance be respectful or tolerant. I will however do all I can to assist him in his goal to reach martyrdom. How long can a civilized world show respect and esteem for the practices. Described above. What does it say about those who show respect for such views and practices.

Tolerance and respect works both ways or not at all. If respect between two parties is not mutual there can be no meaningful relationship in the positive sense.

What of the right to chose ones religion and cultural beliefs and practices? Can a liberal respect the right to choose but not respect the choice if it is destructive? Indeed, isn’t tolerance of certain destructive beliefs and practices unethical and irresponsible? Is the principle of tolerance more important than the harmful belief/practice itself? Do tolerant people hide behind the principle when confronted with the need to be intolerant of inhuman treatment of others?

Liberals and conservatives in America respect the right to choose one’s political party, but often do not respect, esteem or feel tolerant toward the choice of concepts and practices the opposition espouses. The rejection of political ideas and practices often revolve around religion, customs, class, race or ethnicity. Does this lack of tolerance and esteem make a mockery of the liberal stance on those two issues? If I don’t feel tolerance and respect for the concept that wage earners should pay a higher percentage in taxes than the super rich, does that make me a conservative? The nature of my lack of tolerance and respect for those who wish to kill me and those who wish to tax me higher than the super wealthy is a difference in degree rather than a difference in kind.  

Does it make sense for me to show tolerance and respect to someone who does not show tolerance and respect for my countrymen and me, while I don’t show the same respect and toleration toward those ideas and practices of the opposition political party. Is it consistent to show respect for ideas but not for the tactics used to promote them.

The liberal position is not without its problems of internal consistency. The dilemma posed here illustrates a major difference in the liberal/conservative paradigm. For the conservative the issues are usually black and white; right or wrong. For liberals there are almost always exceptions, mitigating circumstances that change cases. I will continue being a liberal according to my view of that condition, but honesty and the reality of an increasingly dangerous world compels me to keep my eyes and mind open. 

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Palin’s God

Among the emails released from Sarah Palin’s cache is one that is most revealing of her belief system and especially her personal  life view. The email was written to her family with her posing as God; or as she signed the email, “Trig’s Creator, Your Heavenly Father.”
In this ignorant, pitiful and delusional letter she has God start by telling the family that he only wants the best for them. This theme is repeated over and over. He says “I am blessing you with this surprise baby because I only want the best for you.” The baby is Trig, of course, who has Down’s Syndrome. God claims to have given him the name Trig by implanting the name “in your hearts.”

Further, God says to the family through Sarah’s email, “Children are the most precious and promising ingredient in this mixed up world you live in down there on earth. Trig is no different, except he has one extra chromosome.” And, Trig can’t wait to meet you. I’m giving you ONLY THE BEST!” Not my emphasis.

The idea that God creates humans one by one and gives them as gifts to families in need of the services of the child is as preposterous as it is primitive.

Sarah Palin seems unaware that the one extra chromosome she has her God speak so lightly of has serious consequences for the child, the family and society, but especially for the child so affected.

The Down’s Syndrome child has many issues, a few of which are: they are always mentally retarded; are prone to many physical diseases, the males are, with few exceptions, sterile and their average life span is low. Only a few are able to live independently.

It is difficult to imagine a God who would create a child with one extra chromosome that results in a tragic life for an innocent child just because he wants THE BEST for a particular family.

Furthermore, it is a radical doctrine that proclaims that God ranks humans even before they are born on a scale of worst or best or any other set of values. Not knowing the criteria for the scale upon which Trig is judged, I do not know where other handicapped creatures are on the scale.

As one who has worked with and seen hundreds of children created “a bit different” as Palin’s God said in the email to this family, I am unsure where many of those “surprise gifts” are on the scale. Outstanding in my memory is an eleven-year old girl born with no skull. Her brain was covered by skin only and lay flat as if filled with fluid. Her eyes lay on her upper cheek; she could not lift her head, nor care for any of her own needs. She was obviously miserable constantly. Was she among THE BEST or was she superior to the best or inferior to the best. She was human. And by Sarah’s belief she was God’s special gift to someone. What a price paid to be a “special gift” to a family that is gullible, ignorant and selfish enough to welcome it.

See the letter by Googling the following:

Sarah Palin’s Complete Letter to Her Family About Trig

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The Inquisition: A Review

Like most people, I have read bits and pieces and a few articles over the years on the Inquisition, but until recently had never read a comprehensive account. Finally I have remedied that deficiency and while it is green in my mind wish to share what I found. The Inquisition by Brenda Stalcup, book editor of the Turning Points in World History series, is the book I read and recommend.

  • The Inquisition began in the 12th century in response to a rise in the number of heretical sects in Western Europe.  These heretics were people disgusted with the corruption of the Roman Catholic Church.  They disagreed with church dogma, rituals and theology.
  • Preceding the Inquisition was a practice known as the Accusatory. Dissenters had to have been accused of heresy before the authorities could take action. The Inquisition had the added feature of searching out the heretics. The inquisitors encouraged citizens, friends, family and enemies to expose their fellow citizens. Many did so in an effort to gain favor from the inquisitors. Everyone feared being accused.
  • The Inquisition began in the Languedoc region of France in response to the rise in popularity of the Cathars, a religious sect also known as Albigenses. After attempts to eradicate them failed, Pope Innocent III invoked the Albigensian Crusade (1209 – 1229) against them. Despite 20 years of searching and killing by the Crusaders in Southern France they failed to eradicate the heretical Cathars.
  • In 1233 Pope Gregory IX directed the Dominican Order to begin an Inquisition in Languedoc. It quickly spread over Western Europe. Accusatory and inquisitor efforts had been going on for many decades before Gregory IX wrote his encyclical letter of 20 April, 1233 in which he ordered the Dominicans to conduct an Inquisition in the provinces of Bordeaux, Bourges, Narbonne, Auch.
  • Some so-called heretics were easily identified and located because they openly espoused their views; others were reported on by  neighbors, friends and enemies. Many people turned on friends in order to get even brief relief from extreme torture.
  • Property of the accused was confiscated, sometimes even before the final decision about guilt was made. The family was evicted from the property of the accused and the relatives had no inheritance rights. The proceeds were shared by the church and state and often by the individual inquisitors.
  • Under torture, some persons accused the dead of having been heretics, and in such cases the bones of the accused were excavated and burned in public; the property that had been inherited was taken from the heirs and divided among the authorities involved. Never mind that the accused were not alive to defend themselves; it likely would have had no effect on the outcome.
  • The public ceremony at which the sentence of the condemned was announced was known as an auto de fe’ “Act of Faith”. In Spain it became an elaborate festival.
  • Public burning at the stake was the usual method of executing heretics.
  • In 1492 all Jews were evicted from Spain. They had lived there for more than 1000 years. Some had converted to Catholicism and had  later renounced the faith or propounded unacceptable views. The unconverted Jews were accused of turning the “Conversos” from the faith, of causing them to become heretics.  The Jews were given only four months to dispose of their property and leave the country, and they could take no money or other valuables with them. Columbus left Spain the same year searching for the Indies.  Part of his motivation may have been to find a place for the displaced Jews. According to this book he may have been a Jew himself.
  • In the 1550s there were more Jews in Mexico City than there were Catholics.
  • With the discovery of the new world and the arrival there of Catholic officials came the Inquisition. It was applied to Indians, Protestants and Jews until the 19th century. Thus, the Inquisition lasted more than 700 years.
  • The Inquisition is not always pleasant reading, but it is an enlightening book.

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A Radical Proposal For Dealing With Radical People

The radical people referenced in the title of this piece are, of course, radical Islamists. For followers of Islam, Islamism includes detailed proscriptions for religion, politics, traditions, military and many other facets of life. The most troublesome teaching is that it is their duty to kill unbelievers.

We know that not all Muslims believe that teaching or are ready to act on it; but we do not know how to distinguish between those who are and those who aren’t ready to execute that belief. The recent killings by a Muslim Army officer at Ft. Hood, Texas are witness to that inability. Therein lies their advantage over all non-Muslims. We also know that few Muslims have the courage to renounce this teaching or to renounce those who execute this belief by actually killing unbelievers. This leaves unbelievers little choice but to treat all Muslims as one.

Individual Muslims who do not walk the tight rope of obedience to the Imam are in perhaps more danger of being killed by Muslims than is the individual western nonbeliever. It is therefore unrealistic to expect ordinary non-radical Muslims to stand apart from the membership of their collective faith and proclaim their differences with the official version of the faith. They could be targeted for extinction.

For America and many other modern countries, the most effective ways of dealing with the threat posed by such teachings violate the heart of those free and tolerant societies. America has been a beacon to all who seek freedom of expression of political and religious views and so restricting those freedoms is the last thing we consider; perhaps it is now time to reluctantly consider that retrograde prospect.

The historicity of our open borders to people of all faiths and political ideas and our freedom from government surveillance notwithstanding; we have precedents for infringing on these noble principles. Listed here are just a few of the most familiar cases as a sample:

  1. In the 1950s we deported, for at least the third time, Mexican immigrants for primarily economic reasons.
  2. We deny people visas or permission to enter this country at the individual level on an ongoing basis, based on their threat to us and for other reasons.
  3. During WWII we imprisoned Japanese citizens based on their race, regardless of their politics.
  4. After 911 the Patriot Act was passed that allows many governmental agencies almost unfettered ability to spy on ordinary citizens.
  5. America has abandoned its time-honored tradition, practice, policy and laws against torturing prisoners.
  6. America denied the right of Mormons to practice polygamy—a clear infringement on religion for what the government perceived as the good of society.
  7. The most valuable principle in America and the one that was first of its kind in the world—separation of church and state—has been perhaps irrevocably breached in less than a decade, with relatively little opposition from its citizens.

So, when we perceive, rightly or wrongly, that circumstances demand it we can make exceptions; we can modify, suspend or give up our principles–principles that embody and reflect our values. The question now is whether the threat presented by the Islamic world, through Al Qaeda, is of such magnitude to justify further changing or modifying our principles. Indeed many of the modifications of our principles have been made in response to the dangers presented by Al Qaeda. Some of those losses of principle possess inherent dangers and were unnecessary and counterproductive, as lifting the ban on torture clearly shows. The infringement of principles is listed here to show that we can modify, suspend or give up certain cherished beliefs when circumstances call for it. Their listing here is far from an endorsement.

Infringing on principles is serious business and should not be embarked upon except as a strategy for survival as a winner in the war.

In addition we have military traditions involving strategy and tactics that are hard to give up. America has in the past been adept at quickly estimating the enemy and shifting strategy and tactics to effectively engage and conquer. For example: when it became evident that Hitler’s fast moving army was something new, we gave up our Horse Calvary and relied on tanks, planes and other means of warfare. In the same war France and Poland could not shift from their old ways of fighting and lost quickly to German forces. History is full of such examples.

Why is it that now when we in America are confronted by a new enemy with a new strategy and new tactics, we cannot adopt a new style for meeting that force? Why have we failed to correctly assess the threat and shift our strategy to match that of the enemy?

It is obvious that we were attacked by a worldwide organization (Al Qaeda) representing one of the world’s major religions–Islam; and that Al Qaeda was tolerated and even blessed by it.  Not by the “man on the street” Muslim necessarily, but by its real leaders–the religious leaders—keeping in mind that religious and state leadership is in many cases indistinguishable. Without that blessing, whether silent or audible, no Muslim would undertake a jihad against all those who are not “good” Muslims. Al Qaeda was charged to kill all “infidels” (non-believers). It was also clear that the support for it was spread over many nations, a large majority of whose population was Muslim; many of them 100% Muslim.

In a Pew Forum conference in 2006 Professor Bernard Lewis, (See “Islam and the West: A Conversation with Bernard Lewis) perhaps the most knowledgeable person in the U.S. on Islam, cited a Pew Forum attitude survey of views on America around the world. The most negative view was, not surprisingly, in Muslim nations. Of the six Muslim nations surveyed, four were overwhelmingly negative: Jordan, only 21% viewed America favorably; Turkey and Pakistan, 23% and Morocco was at 49% favorable. And a Pew Research Center survey found that among Americans only 4 out of 10 viewed Islam positively. The study found that over half of Americans believe that the terrorist attacks are, or soon will be, part of a major civilizational conflict between Islam and the West.

Professor Lewis also spoke on the issue of suicide, which is forbidden for Muslims. In comparatively recent times Muslims have begun to ask of the clerics, is it permissible to kill yourself if you take a sufficient number of the enemy with you. The answer, after over a thousand years of prohibition against suicide, was “yes”. He says that this departure, like so much else that has gone wrong with Islam in recent times, can be traced to a group known as the Wahhabi. The Wahhabi play a role in Islam similar, but even more insidious than that played by the KKK in Christian America.  There are other such groups, but the Wahhabi is the most influential now in the entire Muslim world, and especially among enclaves of Muslims in non-Muslim countries such as America and Europe. It is particularly violent and fanatical. This group started in Saudi Arabia and the Saudis followed them. Its influence is now felt wherever Muslims are located.

Almost all the 911 plane hijackers were Saudis. The power center of Al Qaeda was in the mountains of Afghanistan.  Neither Afghanistan nor Saudi Arabia declared war on us; therefore, there was no country to invade as in previous wars.  The war was with a rogue organization with cells in many countries. Obviously, we could not legitimately invade an enemy whose strength was diffused over many countries as this one was, but our main strategy was and remains invasion—an inappropriate strategy. So instead of changing our strategy we picked two Muslim countries and invaded them, leaving Muslim terrorists in the rest of the world free to kill or to build resources then return to killing infidels and nonconforming Muslims in their own chosen time.

Muslims killed innocent people in America on 911 because of their religious belief, that is, that they had a duty to kill those who did not believe as they did.  We invaded and killed many Muslims and non-Muslims trying to get the ones who killed us on 911.We tried to kill the ones who exercised their religious belief.

In striking back we have violated another principle and rightly so. We are now killing people for faithfully practicing their religious belief; we are left with no choice but to do that.  We must kill them in return and, thus violate the principle of religious freedom, if we are to survive as a civilization. Circumstances do, after all, change cases. If someone comes into your home and tells you he has been sent by God to kill you it is doubtful that you will be as concerned with his right as with his intent.

Is the reluctance to admit we are modifying our religious freedom principle/value or even suspending or abandoning it, why we have never been willing to label the war we have waged since 911 a religious war? Is that why we invade rather than change to a more effective strategy? As long as we call it a war against terror (terror is simply a strategy/tactic) instead of a religious war we do not have to face emotionally and intellectually the reality of a religious war in the 21st century.

So long as we are focused on invasion we do not have to look at the implications of a religious war.  We pretend we have the ”terrorists” pinned down in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are fighting a religious war against a worldwide organization with significant support (minority though it may be) in a multitude of nations including America and yet we have invaded two of those countries. These invasions have drained us and emboldened the enemy worldwide. It is a safe bet that Al Qaeda is happy we are bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Although Afghanistan is a 100% Muslim country, it was only a minority of its people that wanted to kill or at least act on the religious dictate to kill infidels. This country was likely selected by Al Qaeda because there was some support for their plan or at least little real opposition to it, but the mountainous terrain may have been a more salient factor in their decision to locate their command there. In such circumstances was invasion the answer? What ever happened to surgical strikes and Special Forces?

History of America’s past actions when threatened, suggests that we are smarter than to use a strategy so ill suited for the battle. Could our failure to change strategy be because we have been so protected in our environment of live and let live, religious tolerance and freedom of religion and freedoms of many kinds, that we cannot believe someone would seek to kill those who do not believe as they do? Or has the entire subject of religion and our feelings about it clouded our reason? Could it be that our values are so bound up in religion that we can give up all but those we perceive as synonymous with it? Of all wars none is as illogical, barbaric, destructive and unproductive as a religious war; so, lest the reader conclude that this piece advocates a religious war, please know that we are already engaged in one. Now we need to acknowledge this fact so we can develop an effective strategy. And now here is the radical proposal.

The Radical Proposal:

1.  Problem: We know that less than 1% of America’s population is Muslim, that some of them are not citizens and that some are extremists poised to kill non-believers upon command.

Solution:  Deport those Muslims who are not yet citizens.

2.  Problem: Some of these Muslims are citizens but are suspect.

Solution #1: Put these on a watch list and keep close tabs; prosecute when there is evidence. We seem to be afraid of offending them and calling down more terror attacks.

Solution #2: Use the Patriot Act (as repulsive as it is) to spy on them-suspects and non-suspects alike. We do it now on non-Muslims.

Discussion: To further paraphrase Professor Lewis, the Wahhubi group is extremely strong among the Muslim communities in Europe and America. It is very natural for parents in such communities to want some background taught to their children so they look around their communities for classes, camps, weekend schools, etc. These resources are almost all controlled by Wahhubi who provide financing.

“…so you get, among the Muslims in the Diaspora more than among the Muslims in Muslim countries, an intense indoctrination from the most radical, the most violent, the most extreme and fanatical version of Islam.”

To make matters more dangerous and to underscore the religious nature of the war, many like Ahmadinejad in Iran, are in an apocalyptic mood, according to Professor Lewis, and use of an atomic bomb, if they had one, would not bother them much.

3.  Problem: We cannot determine who is or is not radical extremists.

Solution #1: Change the laws against profiling. Profile Muslims living in or coming to America. We have done it before when we thought it would protect the larger society. We profile criminals and potential criminals among others in American society.

Solution #2: Monitor all their organizations, bank accounts and overseas communications of Muslims as we do anyone else we choose to monitor.

Solution #3: Monitor their public meetings and publications for hate messages and terrorist threats. Prosecute those who trespass laws against such. This is the current practice with non-Muslims.

Solution #4: Do a thorough background check on any Muslim put in a sensitive position.

Solution #5: Stop further immigration to the U.S. and its protectorates.

Solution #6: Encourage migration. Consider subsidizing migration of Muslims.

Solution #7: For Muslims or any group wishing to kill us forget political correctness. They consider it a sign of weakness.

8.    Problem: The results of the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan are not commensurate with the effort.

Solution #1: Change strategy to one suited to the circumstances; send Special Forces to seek and destroy terrorist cells and infrastructure as needed.

Solution #2: Use surgical strikes when needed as we develop better technology to enhance the effectiveness of such strikes. Use funds saved by cutting the invasion off to enhance surgical strike capability such as long-range missiles, drones, etc.

Discussion: The massive destruction caused by an invasion requires rebuilding the infrastructure, and the subsequent occupation causes debilitating resentment toward the occupiers.

Solution #3: Pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan and use the resources now being used there to fund and expand Special Forces, FBI, CIA and other such groups in a concentrated effort to destroy religious terrorists wherever they are.

Solution #4: Words do matter; name the war what it is –A RELIGIOUS WAR.

Discussion: we know some of the above is now being done; some of it secretly.


The religious nature of the 911 attack by an organization (Al Qaeda) blessed as it was by Muslims worldwide, caused such consternation among the nation’s leaders that they failed to assess the enemy properly. When its use is appropriate no military power short of the atomic bomb is more powerful than a full-scale invasion by U.S. armed forces.; nor more costly or ineffectual when not used appropriately. Invasion is clearly not an appropriate strategy against a religious group that exists worldwide and in no one place or country.

Once America and the world clearly sees Al Qaeda for what it is, we will be able to finally call it a religious war and move on to take appropriate actions—using our Special Forces, FBI, CIA, Drones, long-range missiles and a host of other surgical devices.

Now we learn that Al Qaeda has less than 100 operatives in Afghanistan.

[If you agree with this piece please feel free to share it with anyone or any media you wish. It is especially important to get it to lawmakers and policy makers.]

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The Jehovah Model

Mankind is instructed and urged by religious institutions and by the purveyors of religion to strive to be like God.  The goal to be God like is not without pitfalls and unanticipated contradictions and perils.

Two large segments of the religious world have arguably the most troubled history of any–Christianity and Islam. These two grew out of the history of the middle-east God of the Hebrews–Jehovah.

At a time when most of the world had a God for almost every aspect of life and death on earth, the Hebrew’s God proclaimed that he was the one and only God and demanded, upon pain of death, that everyone worship him. He demanded that he alone should be obeyed, worshipped, honored, feared and loved.

When some did not obey these selfish, narcissistic and dictatorial demands, he commanded his faithful followers to kill those who did not do his bidding. There was no diplomacy, outreach, mercy and no missionaries sent to convert those who knew him not. He was jealous of those other Gods who received from their faithful, obedience, love, etc. He was angry toward those who were not faithful to him. There was no tolerance, love or goodwill extended to the non-faithful.

And this God, Jehovah, is supposed to be our role model. Unfortunately, many Christians and Muslims try to model their behavior and beliefs on the Jehovah Model.

It says volumes about Jesus that he tried to supplant this harsh model with a tincture of mercy, tolerance and love. He did not advocate killing non-believers. Instead he associated with all and advocated mercy, toleration and love toward all. He did not put himself in the narcissistic position of seeking honor, worship or accolades for his work, but took a humble position in all things.

The philosophy Jesus espoused has been only partially successful as can be seen by the crusades, enslavement of human beings by other humans as in Old Testament times, the Inquisition and almost continuous warfare in which Christians have been engaged since his time on earth. Muslims,  following the teachings of the Old Testament Jehovah as presented by Mohammed, have adhered the Jehovah Model perhaps more closely than have Christians.

Today Christians strive to throw off the attributes exhibited by Jehovah while giving lip service to the idea that he is the perfect role model.

It is amazing that our values are often the direct opposite of those evident in the Jehovah Model. We value tolerance, the right to disagree and to worship and believe as we chose, love of our fellow human beings, the sanctity of life and taking an humble position when recognized for our good works. If our life and work is considered great enough by our fellows that a day each year is dedicated to us, we are honored and humbled by it. The Jehovah Model, which demands that one day each week be dedicated to him, is beyond the pale.

Those rulers who exhibit the most Jehovah like behavior (eg. Hitler/Stalin) are distinguished by almost universal rejection–to the everlasting credit of their subjects and of all mankind.

The major difference between Muslims and Christians, especially American Christians, today can be best understood by how strongly they try to hue to the Jehovah Model. While historically Muslims have held more closely to the Jehovah Model, American Christians especially certain of those of the radical fundamentalist type, are rapidly vying to be in the forefront of regression back to the Old Testament Jehovah Model. For example the Christian Reconstructionists, The New Apostolic Reformation, Dominionism and many more such Radical Right groups that have arisen in the United States in the last 60 years.

One of the most meaningful descriptions of psychosis is the simultaneous presence in the mind of mutually contradictory ideas with no resulting tension. Do we not have a fine example of that in the practice of holding Jehovah as the perfect model for behavior while avoiding using that model as something of value in our own behavior?

Jehovah is, of course, a mythical repository for the aggression, prejudices, hatred, attempts at social control and power plays of the ancient Hebrews and pre-Christian Israelites and Arabs.

Psychiatry has identified another important mental mechanism –identification with the aggressor. Jehovah was definitely a powerful and aggressive figure in the minds of the people; so powerful that the only perceived way to survive was to identify with him.

Jesus, who never claimed to be divine and who I consider to be a courageous fully human reformer, also identified with Jehovah while trying to free his middle–eastern society from the stultifying/negative influence of that same Jehovah. He was only partially successful in his efforts. The animal instincts are still sufficiently present in humans to make us comfortable with the dark side; at least comfortable enough that we continue to identify with the aggressor.

The various Popes and Mullahs have positioned themselves as being more like Jehovah than have other humans. With their power they were able to imitate Jehovah by ordering their followers to massacre by crusades those who were not approved or considered faithful. The Popes took it one step further in initiating the more recent Inquisition. Now we have started another round of Jehovah like activity known this time as Terror.

As usual a significant portion of mankind looks to a Jehovah like leader to carry the fight to the “others”. The more merciless the fight the better it is liked. Jehovah’s instructions to his faithful to attack, leaving nothing living, neither men, women, babies nor livestock would make a suitable battle cry for these followers of Jehovah.

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The Common Man

Both long and short term history teaches us that religion does at least as much harm as good; serving, as it does, as a vehicle for fomenting hatred, strife, suffering and the most brutal wars. By its rigid and exclusive nature religion is an unreliable vehicle for promoting universal love among mankind.

Never mind that religion is borne of the ignorance and superstition of the ancients. Never mind that a large part of its heritage derives from the perceived need and desire of those ancient politico-priests to control the people and extract from them wealth and power, if religion worked for the overall benefit of the common people its worrisome heritage could perhaps be overlooked. Overall it has not and will not serve the realistic needs of the common man. Most western religious systems follow essentially the same pattern; the system enunciated in the Hebrew Old Testament that serves as a model for all.

The Hebrew religious system, by design created an outlandish fictional story of a vast complex world inhabited by a wide variety of living things, the creation of which was attributed to a powerful, omniscient, omnipotent being who lived above all and yet was every where at the same time. He was depicted as vengeful, selfish, egotistical, murderous, jealous, downright mean, mean spirited and not at all pleasant or lovable. The politico-priests commanded the common man to fear, love, worship and sacrifice to this god in order to keep him from pouring out his wrath, which he was wont to do, if he felt slighted in the least.

From this harsh, brutal and unloving system came a reformer, Jesus, who tried to modify it by introducing love and caring for ones fellow man. His teachings were later used to reestablish the old system wrapped in new clothes. The politico-priests co-opted the system and made it to suit their needs–and so it remains two thousand years later.

The system is, if nothing else, ingenious in controlling people and their resources through fear of a god that will subject them to horrific everlasting punishment if they do not obey what is demanded of them by the system. Since it is a mythical system it is not difficult to depict it as on the brink of collapse and at the same time the collapse never comes. The system is perpetual, assuring its creators that they have made a wonderful long-term investment.

The religious system (meaning all religions sharing the common themes discussed above such as deities that demand obedience and sacrifice) makes the system work using several schemes or ploys. A central ploy is to depict the most outlandish scenario possible and then challenge the common man to accept it through exercise of his faith; faith being generally the equivalent of trust in the truth and integrity of the system and particularly in the truth and integrity of those who created it.

The larger and more complicated the hoax the easier it is to sell. When the common man is ignorant he is enthralled by, submissive to and impotent before, the politico-priest. In the pre-Christian days of the early Hebrews, the early Christian era and later the Islamic era, conditions were ideal for hoax creation. Taken as a whole, religion is then the greatest hoax ever perpetrated upon mankind. The ancients sealed the hoax with the claim that god dictated the system.

The hoax was bold and challenging. God was said to have created everything including man who had superior intelligence and ability to use logic and reason; yet, man was ordered to suspend his natural abilities in favor of faith. It was a very successful, if cynical, stroke.

Karl Marx has been vilified for saying that the end justifies the means. When he was challenged on this statement he is reported to have asked those questioning him — if not the end then what does justify the means. The answer, of course, is nothing but the end justifies the means. That, however, is an incomplete answer. There is also the truth that not all means are justifiable.

Religion is the means to what end? The end is control of wealth and power. It has always been thus. Before the birth of the United States, religion and the state were a combined force that maintained extraordinary control worldwide. Separation of church and state gave us a respite, but now we are returning to the old controls with the weight of the corporate world added to the lethal combination.

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Knowing Truth


“There is but one way to know the truth, and that is not a golden one. It is fraught with toil and sacrifice and perhaps ridicule. The seeker of the truth must be fearless, he must not be afraid to enter the innermost holies of holies, and to tear down the veils of superstition that hang about any human and so-called divine institution. It is the truth that makes men free. If the truth tears down every church and government under the sun, let the truth be known and this truth only will be known when men cease to swallow the capsules of ancient doctors of divinities and politics; and when men begin to seek the truth in the records of history, politics, religion, and science.”

Charles Austin Beard, 1898

Whence Cometh Conscience

It has been a staple of Christian teaching that the conscience is ”God given”. If we take a close look at this premise it does not hold up well when compared to logic, reason or other Christian teachings.

If the conscience were of divine origin would it not be the same with all peoples–God not favoring one person over another. Yet, we see that people of different cultures have different content in their conscience. For example, the primitive woman in Africa who throws her oldest child to the crocodiles because her conscience tells her it is her obligation to do so. How many mothers in America or other modern civilized countries would even consider such a thing? Another example: Muslims have a strong conscience that tells them to do things Christians would not do because their conscience tells them something else. Is God the author of confusion?

Is it not reasonable that the conscience is made up of the things we learn? Otherwise why teach what is right and wrong? In doing so perhaps one may be tinkering with God’s perfect work. The Catholic Church says that if they can teach a child until he is 5-6 years old he will always be a Catholic. Why can the church make this statement? They know the conscience is formed during those years and that it is with difficulty that it changes later in life—especially when there is a prohibition against the person changing it. By teaching a prohibition against change we build in a protection mechanism; the prohibition becomes part of the conscience itself.

The conscience is nothing but a constellation of beliefs based on what we are taught. The Apostle Paul understood this when he spoke of his followers growing. He expected them to develop and change; and knowledge, experience and observations were the bases of that change. He said he had lived in good conscience always. What? Even while persecuting Christians? Yes, but when he learned something different he changed his conscience—he changed his belief/value system. Was it a God given conscience that he changed?

Thus, the conscience can be terribly wrong, but it can change. The institutions of our world (churches, schools, families) work very hard to shape the consciences of its members to conform to their beliefs and values.

All the while they undercut their teaching efforts by deifying the conscience; positing that its contents are implanted by God. Implicit in this internal inconsistency is the message that the efforts of humans to teach other humans a value system is useless; God has already taken care of that.

The Christian doctrine of a God given, rigid, inflexible, closed system conscience is internally inconsistent, illogical, and without reason or evidence. Psychosis has been defined as the simultaneous presence of conflicting ideas without resulting tension. We have often recognized that certain aspects of our society are psychotic/schizophrenic and here is another one; and a particularly pernicious one.

Modern day examples of the perniciousness of this doctrine are abundant.

  1. Public service cab drivers can refuse to transport a person because he has alcohol in his luggage because  it violates his conscience,
  2. Pharmacists can refuse to sell birth control products because it violates his/her conscience.
  3. Doctors and hospitals can refuse to recognize a woman’s right to choose regarding birth control or abortion.
  4. The U.S. Federal government can reject a woman’s right to choose on grounds based in an archaic and flawed belief system rather than on scientific grounds.
  5. A United States president can stop funding for life saving research because it troubles his conscience.

Can it be that many of us in this age of enlightenment rely on an archaic belief system rather than on reason, knowledge, experience or scientific evidence?

Don C. Marler

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