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Education on Religions

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The bulk of the historical analysis will be devoted to violence in the Asia, and I will assume Abrahamic religious violence as a given.  I will, however, summarize that violence and demonstrate differences from as well as similarities with Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The Introduction will also expand on the points in the following piece I wrote as a column, commenting on Christian nationalism in my own town of Moscow, Idaho.  The journalistic tone of what follows will be modified for the book There are some chilling parallels between Christian and Islamic fundamentalists.

Both divide the world between believers and unbelievers, and by deciding for themselves who is saved and who is damned, they think that they can play God with our lives.  Both have also declared war on the secular culture of liberal democracy, the most peaceful and prosperous means of social organization ever devised by humankind.  They both reject the separation of church and state and would set up governments based on their own views of divine laws.

        Of greatest concern, however, is the fundamentalist view of the violent end of the world.  A common scenario is a great war in the Middle East in which the armies of God destroy the armies of Satan.  Radical Muslims of course identify Israel and the US as the forces of evil, but Christian fundamentalists see Islam as the ultimate enemy.  The horrifying implication is that the Jews, Muslims, and Christians of the Middle East will be the primary victims of this holocaust.

Some conservative Christians make yet another division: an ethnic one that declares that one culture is superior to all others.  Michael Hill, founder of the League of the South, proposes that an independent neo-Confederacy of fifteen states would have the duty to protect the values of Anglo-Celtic culture from black Americans, who are “a compliant and deadly underclass.”  A key word for the League is “hierarchy,” the God-given right for superiors (read “white males”) to rule over inferiors.

        Since 1998, the League of the South has had close ties with the Sons of Confederate Veterans, who in 2000 elected Kirk Lyons to its national executive board. An outspoken racist, Lyons was married by neo-Nazi Richard Butler in 1990, when Butler still had his compound in Hayden Lake. Lyons has led an amazingly unsuccessful legal campaign to have Southern whites defined as a “protected class.” The League and the Sons of Confederate Veterans organize public protests with the Council of Conservative Citizens whose website decries “Negroes, queers and other retrograde species of humanity.” One League leader said that we “need a new type of Klan.”

Moscow pastor Douglas Wilson Steve Wilkins of Monroe, Louisiana wrote a booklet entitled Southern Slavery as It Was in which they describe the Antebellum South as the most harmonious multiracial society in history. Two University of Idaho history professors took time from their busy schedules to refute this piece paragraph by paragraph. It was later discovered that 20 percent of the essay was lifted from Robert Fogel’s and Stanley Engerman’s Time on the Cross.  Both Wilson and Wilkins deny that they are racists or neo-Confederates, but Wilkins is a founding director of the League of the South.  The League’s website uses small Confederate flags as hot buttons for information about the board members.

Wilson used to have a Confederate flag in his office, and the flag has been displayed at social functions of his K-12 school and college. Christian nationalist George Grant, who believes in the death penalty for gays and lesbians, has joined Wilson and Wilkins at earlier Moscow conferences.  Grant and Wilkins are promoting a novel entitled Hiland, whose hero leads a violent overthrow of a “godless” federal government. Hiland has been compared to the Turner Diaries, which inspired the bombing of the Oklahoma Federal Building.

Grant’s evangelism has as specific political goal: “Christian politics has as its primary intent the conquest of the land–of men, families, institutions, bureaucracies, courts, and governments for the Kingdom of Christ. It is to re-institute the authority of God’s Word as supreme over all judgments, over all legislation, over all declarations, constitutions, and confederations. True Christian political action seeks to rein the passions of men and curb the pattern of digression under God’s rule” (The Changing of the Guard [Dominion Press, 1987], pp. 50-51).

Another parallel between Christian and Islamic fundamentalism is a desire to make religious laws the laws of the land. In his regular column in Wilson’s Credenda Agenda (vol. 3: nos. 9, 11), Greg Dickinson, member of Wilson’s Christ Church and a Moscow public defender, states that “if we could have it our way,” then there would be capital punishment for “kidnapping, sorcery, bestiality, adultery, homosexuality, and cursing one’s parents.”  Dickinson also quotes biblical passages (without qualification) that support slavery as “ordained and regulated by God,” death for apostasy (Deut. 13.6-9), and cutting off a woman’s hand for touching a strange man’s genitals (Deut. 25.11,12).

This research is under way and here is the abstract of a paper I will present at a regional American Academy of Religion meeting in May. Even though Chinggis Khan personally worshipped a sky god, the Mongol court was a model of religious tolerance.  All the major religions were allowed to build temples, churches, and mosques within the walled capital of Karakorum.  The Mongol Empire split into four parts: the Golden Horde of Russia, the Ilkhanate of Persia and Iraq, the Mughal Empire of India, and the Chinese Yuan Dynasty ruled by Kublai Khan. Before the six great Mughal rulers (1527-1707), India was repeatedly invaded by Muslims armies, led first by Afghans and then by the Seljuk Turks.

Destruction of temples occurred during this early period and continued under most of the Mughal emperors, but there were few forced conversions or liquidation of non-Muslims. In fact, Muslim clerics followed the Hannifin school of Islamic law that allowed Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains to be considered People of the Book. The religious tolerance of Chinggis Khan returned full circle in the enlightened rule of Akbar the Great, who gathered sages from all of India’s faiths in his court and even allowed the Jesuits to build a church within the compound at Fatipur Sikri. The chapter will focus on religiously motivated violence, which Indian armies committed as well, and determine whether this was essentially new to India and the result of Indian outrage for Muslim offenses.

Chapter 2: Hindu Fundamentalism and Reverse Orientalism.  This chapter will expand upon the following summary essay.

Let me begin with some observations that should give any reasonable person pause. In 1998 Hindu fundamentalists proposed that a new Goddess temple be built at Pokharan, 50 km from the site of the atomic bomb tests that were conducted in April of that year.

According to their program this would be the 53rd example of Shaktipeeths (seats of strength, literally Goddess power) of Hindu preeminence.  (Another power center is the new temple to Rama in Ayodhya, being built on the site of the Babri mosque, destroyed by a Hindu mob in December 1992.)  Some suggested that radioactive sand from the test site should be distributed as prasad, the Hindu sacrament, but cooler heads vetoed that idea. Some Hindu fundamentalists also believe that ancient Indians actually possessed atomic weapons, which they call “Om-made” bombs.

The Indian military helps to fuel this religious enthusiasm by having named its long-range missile after the Vedic god of fire Agni.  (The Pakistanis countered by appropriating the power of the Hindu Goddess by naming their missile Ghauri, a name for the Goddess in Southern India.)  The followers of Shiv Shena, a fundamentalist organization in Mumbai, proudly proclaim that, after the bomb tests, Hindus were no longer eunuchs and now could stand up to the world as real men.

At the 1999 Durga festival in Calcutta celebrants found new figures in the traditional tableau of the Goddess Durga and her attendants.  They saw life size figures of brave Indian soldiers who won a victory in the mountains of Kashmir because of Durga’s divine grace.  Hundreds of years ago Hindu kings went into battle only after receiving Durga’s blessing by sacrificing dozens of water buffalo to her.

Another concern is the plan to recover the original Hindu Empire, extending West into Afghanistan and Central Asia encompassing all Buddhist sites; extending North to recover Tibet, the original land of the Aryans according to Dayananda Saraswati, extending Northwest to Cambodia to recover the Hindu Khmer kingdoms of Angkor Wat and North Vietnam, where Shiva lingas have been found; and extending Southeast to Java, where a Hindu-Buddhist kingdom once flourished, and Bali where three million Hindus still live.  This reminds me of Zionist maps of Greater Israel or plans by some Calvinists for a new Confederate States of America where God-fearing Anglo-Celtic top males will rule their households and their nation of fifteen states.

                                                                       Works Cited

  1. Religion and humanity, Dr. Ciproto Seti, P/34-35
  2. Humanity and Religion, Dr. George Bonden, P/78
  3. Life beyond Religion, Dr. Watten Homin, P/45
  4. Fighting Religion, Dr. Sibuloy Hota, P/56
  5. Islamic View point, Dr. Nazirhu Ali, P/202
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