The above is an image that has been circulated by Americans as "proof" Obama may be Muslim. Those circulating the image fear what Obama is doing to this nation’s identity and would like to also remind the world he is Black. by SS&SS
Religion & America
The uproar by Americans as a result of the proposed construction of an Islamic community center near Ground Zero along with Glenn Beck’s "Restoring Honor" rally in Washington, D.C. have pulled into focus the intense zeal that Americans have for religion. Undoubtedly, the characteristic of Americans that has been affirmed is the characteristic that Americans are dedicated to getting religion right.
A number of people consistently have been giving explanations of religion and defending misunderstandings of religion. Possibily thousands have written about the reality that religion can be practiced in "moderation" and not all religious people are extremists.
Recent discussions indicate individuals find an utmost value in defending one’s religion, promoting religion, and ensuring all Americans can practice religion so long as that religion does not cut into their religion’s ability to live free and prosper. Yet, what do they say to the idea that’s why the world sees people like Terry Jones who are driven to organize days of actions where Korans are burned, like Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who suggest "all nasty people who hate Israel" should be struck down "with the plague," or like members of the Muslim Brotherhood, who will always assert (although they might have justification) peace talks will not favor Palestinians and should be resisted.
Religious people like Jones, Rabbi Yosef, and those in the Muslim Brotherhood fear another religion could eat into the world their religion occupies. They’re why the idea of coexistence of religions is naïve. Believing in another religion essentially means you do not believe in another religion. And, implicit in belief, whether you interpret the language of your religion’s text literally, is the idea that other religions–nonbelievers–are to be destroyed. To a certain extent, Glenn Beck, James Dobson, Newt Gingrich, Franklin Graham, Sarah Palin, Rand Paul, Tony Perkins, and many employed by Fox News entertain this implicit belief.
Also, if one wishes to be objective, those who point out passages in the Koran and argue Muslims are committed to Sharia are right. It’s true that, theoretically, in order to be a true Muslim or true believer you have to follow all aspects of the Koran or the religion. But, couldn’t we say that for any religion?
To me, the majority asking people to fear the march of Islam have a conflict of interest because many of them are God-fearing Christians who worry they will lose the race against Islam to control the world and don’t want to give an inch to that which they believe to be from the pit of Hell.
Photo by Bonnie Woodson
I was briefly religious. I did not belong to a religion, but I believed in Jesus Christ. I believed in God. I prayed. I would get down on my hands and knees on the bedside and I would ask God to do me favors because that was the understanding I had of God. I thought he could give you the strength to complete your homework and, perhaps, even confront your friends in high school who maybe needed help from you. That was, quite frankly, bullshit. Unequivocal bullshit.
A friend invited me to what, for all intents and purposes, was a Jesus Camp. While the average age was much higher than the camp in the documentary film Jesus Camp, the camp required all gizmos and gadgets to be surrendered upon entry into the camp, there was very little they wanted you to begin, and, while I had gone there to have fun at camp with some friends, I was confronted with a situation where I had no choice but to get closer to Christ.
From the camp, I recall an obstacle course that you could argue attendees were completing to prove they could be soldiers for Christ. The camp also appropriated secular rock songs like Tom Petty’s "Free Fallin’" and Oasis’ "Wonderwall" making it seem like they had been written for God. The camp Christianized these songs, which was okay because Christian music is the most artistically bankrupt music on the market.
The final day of camp was intense. That was the day the counselors had all attendees revved up and ready to get closer to God. The attendees split off into areas of the camp to sit by themselves and get in touch with God. So, I went off and wrote something. Given the climate the evangelical counselors had created, I was pretty sure I was connected to God and I think everyone else was too. I think, in retrospect, God probably was only with one or two people and he put on a smokescreen so we could believe he was with us all.
As it became time to leave, a friend pulled me and another friend aside and he asked us if we could pray. I think it was then I was sure I was entering some kind of a cult if I didn’t watch it because we had never prayed. We had never wrapped our arms around each other and discussed how we could share a common bond of religion. That was uncomfortable for me. Call me irrational, but I didn’t want to embrace other boys to get closer to Christ. No, sir. If you want to get closer to Christ that way, you go right ahead.
Following that experience, my understanding of religion became intertwined with my opinion of President George W. Bush and the work of his administration. I started blogging in 2004 (my first political activity online was on MoveOn.org’s message board discussing the 2004 Election).
I wrote posts on faith and separation of church and state. Nobody told me to think like this, I just developed the following understanding (and I read a book on Bush called The Faith of George W. Bush):
"[Bush's] principles, prayer, and personal life are intertwined and are basically in my opinion inseparable. He said God wants everyone to be free and stated that he imposed this idea on Afghanistan. I think this endangers America. I believe Bush and Osama are leaders of a Holy War. What [it] comes down to is this is a stand off of religious principles. Muslim principles have conflicted with Bush’s faith. I adamantly feel that Bush has not separated church from state and this has led us down the wrong path. It doesn’t matter if separation of church and state is right or wrong. What matters is whether or not our president will follow accepted rules while in power. Separating church and state in my opinion is an accepted rule."
I possessed a clear understanding of separation of church and state, whether it was accurate or not. And, I took issue with Bush’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives finding them, after conducting my own research, to be constitutional. I specifically singled out an organization known as Teen Challenge in one of my blog postings and suggested the organization’s leader, Reverend John D. Castellani, admitted to a House subcommittee the program made people involved become "complete Jews" or "Jews for Jesus." The nature of the program–replacing drug addiction with an addiction to Jesus–made the program unconstitutional no matter how benign Rev. Castellani’s program might be.
Five years later, I now monitor America with alarm at the interconnectedness of religion and nationalism that has only increased since my days in high school. The way Christianity in this country is often believed by many to be synonymous with patriotism or love of country confounds me. When I listen to people like Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin discuss religion and politics, I worry about the future of this country and how religion could have the effect of making society more close-minded instead of enriching and enlightening society.
Photo by Graham Buffton
President Obama’s agenda has been impeded greatly by religious forces in America. He currently has to affirm his faith in Jesus Christ to appease those who believe he is Muslim and might be inviting Islamists into the country to impose Sharia Law on us all. Personally, I would tell them to go join a survivalist commune, arm themselves, and spread a communicable disease that would kill them all off and bring them in contact with the Kingdom of Heaven sooner than later
Such forces have used religion to mask their deep-seated hatred for how Obama indicates this country is further embracing multiculturalism. I witnessed these people firsthand when filming a documentary at the University of Notre Dame when Obama was invited to deliver the commencement speech. They are militant in their organization for the preservation of America’s national identity and they will not back down unless confronted head on.
In the 21st Century, religion is the eight hundred pound gorilla in the room. Countless people of the world assert it gives humans purpose, it’s a force for good, it allows us to confront mortality and believe in the afterlife, it makes us moral and forces us to confront sin, it teaches us the beauty of creation and life, etc. But, anymore (and especially in America), it seems like a cheap way to unite a nation of disgruntled and angry people and distract those experiencing economic despair from channeling their anger and organizing against government for economic emancipation from joblessness and poverty.
Many religious people arrogantly, offensively, and thoughtlessly eat mankind’s future and advance the belief that their religious text does not show global warming bringing the end of the world. So, like those who believed the Earth is flat (which some still believe) and the sun revolved around the Earth (which some still believe too), they expect humanity to let them forsake reality so they can maintain their collective delusions.
Non-belief carries this stigma that it leaves people deprived, deficient or excluded. That’s correct–nonbelievers have excluded themselves from believing certain lessons, parables, proverbs or fairy tales in religious texts are truth and have embraced ideas that can be unmistakably proven to be truth in the physical world that humans occupy (like, for example, the theory of evolution).
They’ve adopted an understanding that religion is politically irrelevant and cannot solve the problems of war and peace, poverty and sickness, corporate power and corporate control, privatization and loss of public space, and/or environmental destruction and global warming.
I suppose many believe just because traditionally their family, their ancestors and much of humanity have believed. They may not believe a word or think God exists at all, but they continue certain rituals because these traditions have a monopoly over how we conduct life especially how we respond to key points like birth, childhood, the transition from youth to manhood, marriage, death, etc).
Believers suggest those who do not believe simply need to take a leap of faith. I think the proper response to that is to suggest believers take a leap of fact. Courageously test the scientific hypothesis that there is some supernatural or mystical being who has designed the world, a being that can connect to you and hopefully guide you and answer your prayers. Consider what type of band-aid religion is in your life.
Whatever the problems are that manifest themselves as you invite skepticism into your thought processes, I posit you have two choices: you can return to your church on Sunday (or Friday or Saturday or whatever day you attend church) and pray your problems away and you can use an archaic text for guidance or you can trust in your emotions, instincts, and develop a motivation to be the actor in your world that organizes your life to be the life you want it to be.
Because in addition to the fact that religious people will always struggle amongst other religious people over mankind’s past, present and future and go to war over what other people think mankind’s past was and what other people think mankind’s future will be, there’s the reality that the time spent pondering an afterlife–and thinking life is bad now but God will let me into some Kingdom or Paradise and "make things new" for me one day–is time that you could have spent enjoying the little time you have on this Earth.