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Should there be a religious litmus test for public office?
That question has arisen in regard to Russell Vought, an appointee to the office of deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. As a Wheaton College graduate, he defended the College’s decision to terminate the professor who wore a hijab in solidarity with Muslims and said that Muslims worship the same God as the Christians. His statements made in that defense became the subject of his confirmation hearing.
In his statement, Russell Vought, stated what most orthodox Christians and Muslims believe: that Christians and Muslims do not worship the same God. Christians obviously believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to God, and Muslims believe that Allah, alone, is God, and Muhammad is his messenger. Those beliefs are held by millions of people and are not controversial, in that sense.
An increasingly large segment of western society views religious beliefs negatively and takes the position that religious beliefs of this kind do not belong in the public square. They go further, implying that people who hold such religious beliefs are not qualified for public office. Thus, the question: should there be a religious litmus test?
People have likely fought ideological battles since people could communicate with each other. We have grown in intellect, our knowledge of the world and made significant technological advances (though men accomplished things millennia ago that we still can’t understand), but has our nature changed much?
Ideological battles seem to be the basic stuff of which culture and society are made. At the lowest level, it’s “us against them”, and “we” protect our turf like our lives depend on it. We pick our turf, and we defend it: new against old; right against left; science against faith; and on and on.
These ideological battles can be, but don’t necessarily have to be, the stuff of racism, bias and ignorance. We need reference points and bases from which to operate and categorize and contextualize the world, but dogmatic, rigid adherence to our reference points block progress, even if we are “progressive”. The inability or unwillingness to remain open-minded limits our opportunities for advancement. Continue reading
Taking a step back from the clamor on social media, from the pundits and news sources, which have rarely been so vitriolic, righteous and passionate since the last presidential election, the more distant perspective gives me pause. One thing rings out to me as truth in the cacophony of disparate voices; it seems that everyone believes passionately that truth is truth, and truth is objective and people should know what truth is.
Yet, there is so much disagreement, and so many shades of disagreement. There is a virtual panoply of disagreement on all subjects, an almost infinite array of shades of disagreement even on matters on which some agreement can be found. But there is one common denominator.
The common denominator is that we all seem to believe that truth exists and that truth is objective. Continue reading
Raheel Raza by Gage Skidmore
The video at the end of this piece addresses the claims that we hear from our President and other leaders in the US that Islam does not have anything to do with terrorism in the word. According to Barack Obama, 99.9% of the Muslims in the world do not support radical Islam. But is he right? Raheel Raza, a Sunni Muslim herself, gives us the facts and figures.
Raheel Raza says she does not need Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton or any celebrity, like Ben Affleck, to defend her and her religion. She says she needs to be defended from the radicals in her own religion. She needs to be defended from radical Islamists who behead people, throwh battery acid on people and murder people in the name of her God. She says these radicals seek to take over the world in the name of her religion.
A Muslim herself, Raheel Raza has dedicated her life to speaking out against the rising threat of radical Islam, which threatens to swallow up the Islam she knows. She urges that we can not treat an illness without identifying what the problem is. We cannot address the cancer of radical Islam without accurately identifying what it is.
The collective response to the recent adoption of the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) is a marker of the shift in popular culture in my opinion. The swell and direction of popular opinion is unmistakable. The overwhelming will of the people favors the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and religious freedom has never been more disfavored in the Western world. The groundswell threatens to unhinge governments and people who stand against the tide. Continue reading