novatownhall blog

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Browsing Posts in religion

…and by “it” I mean Iraq.

I am not saying that we need to “fix” it, but seeing as how our decision to remove Saddam Hussein and attempt to “install” a democracy has unintentionally turned that that nation into (in the words of Senator Rand Paul) a “jihadist wonderland” we have some obligation to help the Christians, Yazidis and other ethnic minorities that are being threatened with genocide by the forces of the group calling itself the “Islamic State” (i.e., ISIS/ISIL). I am saying this as a very firm non-interventionist that is often appalled by the hawkish rhetoric that comes from John McCain, Lindsey Graham and the rest of the “invade the world” caucus.

Let me clarify by saying that I fully recognize that Saddam Hussein was indeed a very bad guy (as was Qadhafi in Libya) but he at least kept the Jihadist hordes from murdering Christians. However, thanks to Neo-con arrogance, we removed the iron boot of Saddam from the necks of the jihadists and now Christians, Yazidis and any even other Muslims who disagree with their version of Islam are being murdered. Centuries old churches have been burned to the ground. Historic Christian lands have been abandoned. Thousands have been displaced. AND the jihadists are doing all of this with weapons that WE provided! I shudder when I think about it.

That said, we are where we are and we have to help those people. This video below of a Yazidi member of the Iraq Parliament begging for help against the Islamist hordes that are massacring her people broke my heart:

Watch Mark Arabo (an Arab Christian) speak about the crimes of ISIS against Christians in Mosul:

YES! He said that they are beheading CHILDREN!

The question is what to do?

In my humble estimation:

- Support a free and independent Kurdistan! Netanyahu already seems the wisdom of this. Cut the Maliki gov’t out and establish direct ties with the Kurds instead of going through the central govt in Baghdad. Allow U.S. companies to buy oil from the Kurds directly on the open market. Train and arm the Kurdish forces to protect themselves from the Islamic State. We can support their boots on the ground with air support in the effort to destroy ISIS.

- Covertly work toward dismemberment of Syria and Iraq into 6 or 7 smaller states. An Arab Christian state (similar to Israel) should be amongst those nations carved out to which the assorted persecuted Christians of other Arab countries can relocate. (I know this was tried in Lebanon once, but this time it has to be a stronger effort)

The Sunnis and Shia would have the benefit of ethnically purer states where they wouldn’t be victims of each others’ animosity. The smaller those nations the better. While we are at it, we should encourage the partitioning of Libya as well. Our long term goal should be the formation of as many smaller and gelded mini-states as possible.

Sadly that isn’t going to happen (at least not by our design) and we will likely continue with these asinine half measures that promote nation building and “installation” of democracy. Instead Christians will continue to flee the Middle East while getting raped, robbed and killed while Western governments simply watch. We will continue to inexplicably (and against our interests) continue to promote a “united Iraq” and a “united Syria” when fate has handed us an opportunity to simultaneously improve our position security-wise AND advance a more workable and peaceful Middle East for the foreseeable future.

Yes, the left is going bonkers for Ginsberg’s “blistering” dissent from the Supreme Court majority’s ruling in Burwell v Hobby Lobby.

Let’s take those “8 Best Lines” seriatim:

Ginsburg wrote that her five male colleagues, “in a decision of startling breadth,” would allow corporations to opt out of almost any law that they find “incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.”

The first thing to note is that Dana Liebelson does not consider Justice Breyer male. Interesting. Maybe she knows something we don’t.

But be that as it may, if such laws are incompatible with sincerely held religious beliefs, then they are clearly in violation of the First Amendment unless they protect the rights of others, and should be overturned by the Court. But then, the requirement from which Hobby Lobby and Conestoga won relief is NOT A LAW. It is merely a REGULATION written by a nameless bureaucrat. Also, the regulation does not protect anyone’s rights — the employees of these companies can still obtain the abortifacients they desire.

The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga would…deny legions of women who do not hold their employers’ beliefs access to contraceptive coverage.

Those women obviously have jobs, or this would not be an issue. Therefore, they can pay for them themselves.

Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community.

Irrelevant — they can go work for someone else if they do not like their employer’s benefits package.

Any decision to use contraceptives made by a woman covered under Hobby Lobby’s or Conestoga’s plan will not be propelled by the Government, it will be the woman’s autonomous choice, informed by the physician she consults.

In which case, it should be her autonomous PAYMENT, too. If you want to choose the tune, you can choose to pay the piper.

It bears note in this regard that the cost of an IUD is nearly equivalent to a month’s full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage.

No, it really doesn’t “bear note”. If one cannot afford an IUD, one can choose to use other forms of birth control. Or, choose not to have vaginal sex.

Would the exemption…extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah’s Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus); and vaccinations[?]…Not much help there for the lower courts bound by today’s decision.

Sure. Why not? Again — if you don’t like it, get another job.

Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be ‘perceived as favoring one religion over another,’ the very ‘risk the [Constitution's] Establishment Clause was designed to preclude.

Well, that’s easy — just approve them all. Duh.

The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.

No — it is the legislature (in passing the law in the first place) that planted the mines, and the executive branch (in writing such heinous regulations) that is going for a stroll therein. They deserve to have it blow up in their faces.

I was reading up on new military enlist criteria and, specifically, criteria about tattoos. I am glad to see that criteria is changing and becoming much more selective for appearance, brains, clean background and the like. Being as how the military is being downsized, they are able to tailor our military forces to a higher caliber group. But I ran across something that just stymied me; that of Atheist chaplains and how they are not allowed in the military chaplain corps.

As the article states, 98% of chaplains are of Christian faith. That would make sense since it appears to be the majority faith in the military. And, yes, you apparently have a small atheist contingent in the military. What I can’t figure out is why they would need a chaplain? What purpose could they possibly have in calming personnel going in to battle or delivering a hopeful and saving message to those wounded and dying? I looked up an article to see just what atheists believe. This is one of the articles I found. This is all well and good but how does an atheist chaplain work or fit in? I really don’t get it.

I guess there isn’t enough state business on the plate. They end the legislative session with no budget, mainly because McAuliff wants Medicaid expansion in the state and the more logical representatives aren’t buying this bill of goods. Smart, you think? Not when they do a voice vote in favor of, without one descenting voice, commending this mosque in Falls Church. Who they have had attending, who they are run by and what they have done to kill Americans and Christians, should have been enough to CONDEMN, not COMMEND this institution. At this point, I think we need more than GOD helping us. This is disgraceful!

How many organizations are doing God’s work? Can you name some of the more notable ones? Most of us can because we know and donate to good causes. Or we see the good that religious organizations and God fearing people do. I don’t know about the more obscure organizations but I just heard of one. It is the OFA or better known as Organizing For America. Mike’s right says it best.

Of course as many of you have heard, our new Attorney General, Mark Herring,  has announced that he will work to overturn the Virginia state law banning same sex marriages.

I have stated here on this board in the comments that I feel that rather than the states continuing to attempt to define “marriage” (which is becoming more legally amorphous) they should simply get out of the business of “marriage” altogether and allow individual couples or even groups to define it for themselves, according to their religion and whatever god they believe in (or don’t believe in). The states should only concern themselves with the contracts between the parties for the purpose of distributing property in the event of the death of one or both parties and/or dissolution of the contract (i.e., “divorce”).

Same sex marriage will at some point (probably relatively soon) be declared to be legal in all 50 states via incorporation. The next legal challenge will be polyamory, and using the same logic as gay marriage, I foresee no legal restriction on that either. Traditional marriage advocates can scream all they want about the issue, but the toothpaste can not be put back into the tube. So the best way to move forward is for the state to get out of the business of blessing marriages.

Now it appears that a state lawmaker in Oklahoma is proposing a bill to do just that. This first round will probably not be successful, but I predict that it will happen – probably in a Southern state – after some national debate on the matter. Once it happens in one state, many others will follow suit.

I am amazed that the ACLU rep, quoted in the article actually disagreed with this potential proposal. That is strange because it seems like a win-win to me. Those who want to define marriage as they see fit (same sex, polygamous, polyandrous, or whatever) can do so while those with traditional views on marriage can also continue to preach what they believe as well. Both can follow their own beliefs without the blessing or the curse of the government. Private differences will no longer be policy disputes and no one is enforcing their moral views on the other.

It’s the only way forward.

This post is a change of pace for me, but addresses an issue that is bothering me. Why do some insist that we get involved in each and every conflict in the Middle East and other Muslim majority nations? It really is time that we bring all of our troops home and mind our own business.

Secondly, in reality, what is happening on the ground in those nations is a “you’re the wrong type of Muslim” War. What business do we have in such a conflict? Shi’ites vs Sunnis. Then there are several different factions of Al-Qaeda all fighting one another:

Deadly clashes were reported Friday[, Jan. 3] in northern Syria between Sunni Islamist jihadists linked to Al Qaeda and insurgents in other alliances, punctuating a growing schism within the armed Syrian opposition over the power exerted by its religiously radicalized members, many of them from other countries. Antigovernment activists in the Aleppo area said that fighting had broken out near the Idlib Province town of Atareb, west of Aleppo, pitting members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, a powerful Qaeda affiliate that includes foreign fighters, against an array of seven homegrown Syrian rebel groups.

Each faction claiming that the others’ version of Islam is the “wrong kind”. The truth is that there is no “real” Islam. It is demonstrated from the comment of the Syrian refugee in this article:

“The problem is that now we are facing a situation of multiple sharias [version of Islamic law]. Jabhat al-Nusra has its own sharia, ISIS has its sharia, and now the Islamic Front has its sharia,” Kanjo said. “They all want an Islamic state, but they can’t even agree on one kind of sharia.”

The point being that there is no “true” or “real” version of Islam, so they all fight over their various constructs. This article, makes a strong point:

Just as there is no “real” Islam, there is also no “real” or “true” sharia. The early sources if Islam are so obscure, incoherent and vague that it is nearly impossible to get clarity on anything except the most basic issues. If there were, it would be a lot clearer as to what it is. That is one of the real reasons why there is so much intra-Muslim fighting amongst the militant groups in places like Syria, Pakistan, Iraq and Libya. Each of them believe that their version of Islam is the “true” one. And unfortunately, each of these militant groups currently fighting in those places also believe that the blood of those who disagree with their version is “halal” (i.e., permissible to kill).
Fortunately, most Muslims are not so militant. But more people (Muslim and non-Muslim) really need to understand that there is no one “real” sharia or “real” Islam that stands above all of the other versions. Every Muslim thinks that his/her version of Islam is the “real” Islam. So in fact there are thousands of “real Islams”. It is for this reason that theocracy can never work. One can not force their version of religion on another person.
Yes, I fully understand that on a human level, all of this is a problem for all of the innocent people caught in the middle of the factional fighting, but this is not a problem that we can solve. Are we going to go in there and establish one faction’s version above all others? (And, by the way, Al-Qaeda WANTED us to go into Syria to give them an assist) It is not our place to do that. Muslims in those countries are going to have to decide for themselves to come to the table and agree to live and let live. And we need to learn to leave well enough alone. Besides, we have enough to do at home.
It is for this reason that I am hoping and praying that the “zero option” in Afghanistan (in which all US troops are removed) beats all odds and comes to fruition. “Nation building” has not worked, and it is time to allow Afghans to build their own nation and face their own problems with their own solutions. We can not impose our way of life on them – not even in 1,000 years.
Now, some would argue that we must be over there fighting them so that they do not fight us over here. I have never bought that argument. That was the retroactive argument for invading Iraq, and look what a factional mess it is today. Billions of dollars, over 4000 lives gone, and countless wounded for what purpose? Establishment of farcical democracies? A “Khalifah” in Fallujah and Anbar? Re-establishment of old clan wars? And I haven’t even mentioned Libya.
Secondly, while we were in Iraq and Afghanistan, did they not try to attack us anyway? We can invest in our own future and security while taking our troops out of what has become a pointless battle.