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Yes, Your Religion Matters

Yes your religion matters

Scott Blake

William Kilpatrick - published on 11/11/13

Lots of people view religion like race or ethnicity: it's just a neutral part of diversity. In reality, religion matters a great deal - and can be good or bad, true or false.

In my last piece, I analyzed Madonna’s recent statement that “a good Muslim is a good Jew, and a good Jew is a good Christian, and so forth.”  Her comment brings to mind a similar statement she made about a year ago when, during the middle of a concert, she endorsed Barack Obama by shouting out “We have a black Muslim in the White House!  Now that’s some amazing s***! … And Obama is fighting for gay rights, so support the man, g-damnit!” Madonna’s outburst provides some insight into what it means to live in a society where multiculturalism is the ruling ideology.  The surest sign of election in such a society is openness to diversity.  If Obama is Muslim and pro-gay, that’s cool because it gives one the opportunity to feel good about oneself for being supportive of his diversity.  The operative rule for such voters is not “what’s good for the country,” but “what’s good for my self-image.”

Let’s imagine some of the possibilities as this self-congratulatory mindset takes hold of American voters:

The first communist president is elected.


Voter:  “Wow! What a great country this is!”

The first gay, neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic president is elected.


Voter:  “What a fantastic uniform!  They say he designed it himself.”

The first twenty-first-century slaveholding president is elected.


Voter:  “What’s wrong with that?  Thomas Jefferson had slaves.”

These examples may seem far-fetched, but it should be kept in mind that what constitutes political correctness will change with the times.  That’s to be expected in a relativistic society.  What’s considered as progressive opinion will be whatever fashionable people are thinking.  For example, anti-Semitism and anti-Catholicism are already more fashionable than was the case ten years ago.  The point is to discern what sorts of things merit self-applause in a particular time frame.  Right now, diversity – almost any kind of diversity – is fashionable.  Sammy Davis, Jr. used to say that he had three counts against him because he was black, homosexual, and Jewish.  Nowadays, however, such multiformity will merit you double diversity points (except maybe the Jewish part).

This brings us back to Madonna.  The day after her performance, perhaps in the realization that she might otherwise be branded as a right-wing conspiracy theorist, she clarified her endorsement, saying, “I was being ironic on stage.  Yes, I know Obama is not a Muslim – though I know that plenty of people in this country think he is.  And what if he were? …  I don’t care what religion Obama is, nor should anyone else in America.”

This, of course, is more of the see-how-open-and-non-judgmental-I-am self-flattery we’ve come to expect from entertainers – but, like her original affirmation, it provides some insight into the multicultural mind.  If nothing else, Madonna has a good grasp of what sells to her audience, and she calculated correctly that her “I don’t care” attitude would go over well with them.

“I don’t care what religion Obama is, nor should anyone else in America.”  For many Americans, that is a non-problematic assertion.  In fact, that attitude has a long lineage that goes back even further than the day Americans decided that John F. Kennedy’s religion didn’t matter.  For example, President Dwight Eisenhower once observed that “[o]ur form of government makes no sense unless it is founded on a deeply felt religious faith, and I don’t care what it is.”  At the time, Eisenhower came in for quite a bit of criticism for the second half of his statement, but nowadays it’s a good bet that far fewer would see any problem with it.  After decades of multicultural conditioning, the equivalence of all cultures and religions is taken as a self-evident truth in our society.  The notion that all religions are equally OK suits us just fine.

The same seems to be true on the other side of the Atlantic.  In London, recently, a woman who was subject to female genital mutilation at the age of seven in Somalia decided to find out the extent of political correctness among Londoners. She approached shoppers with a fake petition supporting FGM, telling them she wanted to protect her “culture, traditions, and rights” and reassuring them “It’s just mutilation.”  According to the London Evening Standard:

"In only 30 minutes, 19 people signed it with some saying they believed FGM was wrong, but because it was part of Ms. Hussein’s culture they would add their names.  Only one person refused to sign."

Keep in mind that this was a petition to support FGM not in Somalia but in England (where it has already become a significant problem).  FGM flies in the face of English law and custom, but the magic incantation – “It’s their culture” – seems to have the power to override even one’s own cultural upbringing.

FGM is, of course, widely practiced in Muslim societies.  Another custom that is widely practiced is the relegation of non-Muslims to second-class citizenship.  Hasan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, wrote:  “It is the nature of Islam to dominate, not to be dominated, to impose its laws on all nations, and extend its power to the entire planet.”  And if world conquest is not yet feasible, Islamists still consider it their God-given right to dominate whatever non-Muslims happen to live within their local orb of influence.

“I don’t care what religion Obama is”?  Maybe we can still afford to indulge in such superficial thinking in America, but in many parts of the world, people know through hard experience that the nature of a leader’s religion is a matter of great concern.  No Baha’i living in Iran is foolish enough to think, “I don’t care what the Ayatollah’s religion is.”  No Coptic Christian in Egypt is so deluded as to think that the religious beliefs of Mohamed Morsi are of no consequence.

Many American Catholics are slowly waking up to the realization that President Obama’s beliefs, whatever they are, do not bode well for the Catholic Church in America.  Although he is a professed Christian, there is much to suggest that he is more leftist than theist at heart.  That, however, does not preclude him from being an Islamist sympathizer, as well.  According to Bruce Thornton, Jamie Glazov, and other historians, leftists have in recent years demonstrated a marked affinity for Islamists.  For example, the left-leaning Justice Department has gone out of its way on several occasions to intervene on behalf of Islamic interests in cases that were often merely local matters.

There is not much evidence that Obama is a secret Muslim, as some have claimed, but there is much to suggest that, insofar as he has religious sympathies, they lie with Islam.  Moreover, his sympathies seem to lie not with moderate Muslims, but with Muslims of the more aggressive variety, such as Turkish President Recep Erdogan and recently deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.  President Obama may not be a Muslim, but, with the help of his administration, he did everything he could to bring Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood to power and everything he could to try to restore them to power after they were deposed.  There can be little doubt that the President has shown far more concern for the fate of the Muslim Brotherhood than for the fate of the Coptic and Catholic Christians who have suffered at its hands.  Given his appointments, his policies, his anxious solicitude for Muslim sensibilities, and his curious statements (e.g. “There must be no future for those who slander the Prophet of Islam”), one can reasonably conclude that, whatever his actual faith, Obama seems to have an instinctive preference for furthering the interests of Islam.

Which leads us back to Madonna’s rhetorical question:  “And what if he were?” OK, let’s consider the question. Let’s conduct a thought experiment.  Suppose Obama actually were a Muslim – a Muslim whose views were much in line with those of Islamists like Erdogan and Morsi?  Would it matter?  Should it matter?

My guess is that the answer for many Americans would be a shrug of the shoulders:  “What difference does it make?”  We are now so deeply in thrall to the dogmas of multiculturalism – particularly to the doctrine that all cultures and religions are interchangeable – that it is difficult for many to imagine that cultural and religious differences really do make a difference.  This lack of imagination is compounded by a lack of historical knowledge.  Few Americans are acquainted with the history of Muslim conquests, and fewer still know anything about the history and aims of the Muslim Brotherhood.  Most disturbing, few are even aware of the current slow motion Islamization of Europe – a cultural jihad that takes advantage of the fact that Europeans also have drunk deeply of the witches’ brew of multiculturalism, moral equivalence, and historical ignorance.

Let’s continue with our thought experiment and ask how the media would react if Obama or any other high office holder were revealed to be a Muslim.  It’s not too difficult to imagine how it would play out.  It would be a hot news item for a while; the networks couldn’t bury the story, but they could be counted on to frame it in such a way as to minimize its impact.  Experts – many of them Muslims – would be called into the studios to reassure the public that they have nothing to worry about.  CNN, MSNBC, and other networks would feature carefully “balanced” panel discussions to put the issue in context.  Some panelists would call for the president’s removal from office, but other, “cooler” heads would eventually prevail.  Wolf Blitzer would point out that Mitt Romney was a Mormon, and Candy Crowley would remind us that George Washington was a Freemason.  After a while, the story would fade as the networks turned to other news events.  We would be urged to move on and to let the president get on with the business of the nation, and so on.  Those who continued to point to the gravity of the situation would be labeled as bigots and extremists who want to divide the country.  Others would feel increasing pressure to immunize themselves from charges of racism.  A wave of affirmative-action hiring of Muslims would likely follow, especially in media, academic, and governmental sectors.  As with many other scandals that initially seemed destined to sink the multicultural enterprise, this one would, in all likelihood, only serve to strengthen it.

“And what if he were?” Under the reign of relativism, there seems to be only one safe answer to that question. Unpleasant as it is to contemplate, it just may be that Madonna has her finger on the pulse of the nation.

William Kilpatrick taught for many years at Boston College. He is the author of several books about cultural and religious issues, including Psychological Seduction, Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right From Wrong and, most recently, Christianity, Islam and Atheism: The Struggle for the Soul of the West. Professor Kilpatrick’s articles on cultural and educational topics have appeared in First Things, Policy Review, American Enterprise, American Educator, the Los Angeles Times, and various scholarly journals. His articles on Islam have appeared in Catholic World Report, National Catholic Register, Investor’s Business Daily, FrontPage Magazine, and other publications.  He is on the Board of Experts at Aleteia.org.

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