Saturday, June 25, 2005

E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post writes about Rep. David Obey's attempt to Keep Faith With Religious Freedom. Last week Obey offered "an amendment to the military appropriations bill calling on the secretary of the Air Force to 'develop a plan to ensure that the Air Force Academy maintains a climate free from coercive intimidation and inappropriate proselytizing.'" For his pains, Obey, a Roman Catholic, was viciously attacked by Rep. John Hostettler of Indiana, with these words:
Obey's all-American assertion of religious liberty was, for Rep. John Hostettler (R-Ind.), part of "the long war on Christianity in America [that] continues today on the floor of the House of Representatives. It continues unabated with aid and comfort to those who would eradicate any vestige of our Christian heritage being supplied by the usual suspects, the Democrats. . . . Like a moth to a flame, Democrats can't help themselves when it comes to denigrating and demonizing Christians."

This appalling statement was eventually stricken from the record, but that was cold comfort for Obey:
Obey rose to his feet and demanded that Hostettler's last words be stricken from the record, which they eventually were. "If Jesus is watching what's happening on the floor of the House of Representatives, with people behaving in such a blasphemous fashion," Obey said this week, "well, I am reminded of that passage, 'Jesus wept.' " Obey said that when he first came to Congress, "there would have been universal condemnation of Hostettler by both parties." In this case, Obey said he was approached afterward by a single sympathetic Republican. Obey was comforted that Jewish House members "appreciated that a Christian would speak out."

This last quote is very scary! Only Jewish house members appreciated what Obey said? And have we descended to the political level now that we have to be grateful that Christians are speaking out in favor of religious tolerance?

The Forward reported earlier this month on how Rep. Steve Israel of New York was also harassed when he tried to introduce two measures to require the Air Force to "submit a plan for ensuring religious tolerance" at its academy.
Several Republican lawmakers are using the controversy as an opportunity to air the view that it is Christians whose constitutional free-speech rights are being suppressed in the military. At a recent Armed Services Committee hearing, Rep. John Hostetler, an Indiana Republican, derided the "mythical wall of church-state separation" as he argued that Israel's amendment "would bring the ACLU" and "the very silliness that's been present on... several courts of justice over the last 50 years" into the United States military. Israel's measure, he added, would "quash the religious expression of millions of service personnel."...

At the hearing, Rep. Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican, suggested that, contrary to what Israel was reporting about the Air Force Academy, the problem in the military was that some evangelical Christians feel they are "not being promoted" because of their faith, and Christian chaplains say they are not being allowed to conduct prayers referring to Jesus. "There is a problem in the military.... The problem is political correctness," he declared.

No, the problem is what Andrew Sullivan has started calling "Christianism" (a term to parallel with "Islamism") - the belief that Christianity is superior to all other religions, and that this superiority must be upheld by the U.S. government.

As Steve Israel said, "The Republicans [on the Armed Services Committee] just jumped on me," Israel told the Forward. "The people who were coerced were represented as the problem. The people who coerced were represented as the victims."

I wonder what the position these Republicans take on Israel (the nation, not the individual)?

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