Thursday, March 25, 2010

Separation of Church and State

The modern era has produced multiple examples of the reasons why separation of church and state is not only good philosophy but good practice. Russia, for example, after the revolution of 1917, insisted that its citizens not engage in religious practice nor acknowledge their faith in god. Consider Germany who reviled everything Jewish, burned synagogues, and murdered people only because they were Jewish. Look at Israel, who for 60 years has driven Muslims out; allowing only Jews to immigrate in. Take the Islamic Republic of Iran, who issues international death warrants for those who may have the audacity to criticize their religious teachings or leaders and denies that the European Jewish holocaust ever happened.

Why would American citizens ever wish to go backward into religious bigotry in attempting to establish a particular faith as the official religion of America? They are attempting to establish something which never existed while claiming that the Nation was founded on religious principles. Not so! The nation was founded on the ideas of liberal democracy which was originally a creation of the Greek city states more than 2,000 years ago and was anything but a religious movement.

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were the founding fathers who inducted the idea of separation of church and state into the national conscience...having been born about 50 years after the debacle of the Salem witch trials and the experiment of theocracy in Massachusetts. Over about 2-3 years more than 200 persons were jailed on the mere suspicion of witch craft. A return to this kind of thinking will accompany an official recognition of a national religion.

It is both wise and practical to maintain the principle and practice of the separation of church and state...practical because we are only human and can make gross mistakes while at the same time believing with great sincerity we are doing the right thing...wise because no examples of a successful marriage of church and state, where equality reigns, can be found.

Monday, March 22, 2010

"Right" to build in Jerusalem?

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel says that Israel has a "right" to build Jewish settlements in Jerusalem. How so? These settlements automatically exclude non Jews. The land is not a part of Israel and is occupied like Russia occupied eastern Europe. These Jewish settlements end up being armed garrisons. What nation on earth has the right to build an armed racially segregated garrison in someone else's country? Apparently Israel thinks they do.

The Israeli reaction to any resistance is the claim of antisemitism. Some Israelis are saying President Obama is antisemitic. It is not antisemitic to resist any nation's policies which are based on racial and religious prejudice.

What is a "Jewish" state? Is that anything like a Episcopalian state? or a Mormon state? or a Muslim state? Perhaps the state of Israel seeks to protect individuals who's heritage is Jewish and to offer their country as a safe haven from persecution. That is legitimate considering the various persecutions of the past but does Israel have to be a "Jewish state" in order to accomplish that goal?

Certain methods of "protecting" persons of Jewish heritage are deplorable. Taking land by force from it's owners without compensation is wrong. Pushing the inhabitants out so that the demographics of the state of Israel are guaranteed to be a "democratic" majority of Jews is wrong. Allowing immigration of only Jews excluding others is wrong. How is that democracy...officially engineering the dominance of one race? That sounds like the history of 20th century Europe. Only yesterday Secretary Clinton speaking to the AIPAC said, "You cannot have a 'Jewish' state and a democratic state." She therefore called again for a two state solution. President Carter has described this Israeli policy as apartheid. South Africa of decades past failed in this attempt! That is like the United States history of denying Native Americans citizenship and participation in democracy.

Palestinians need the right to participate in the creation of their own well being. They need jobs, land, access to water, and participation in the political process. They need their own country! If Israel continues to dominate them, peace will never come. If Israel does not change these policies, they cannot claim to be a democracy any more than America could as half slave and half free. The United States historically unrestrained support of these immoral policies is wrong and the rest of the world can clearly see it. Why can't we? The position of the United States in the world has been diminished by our support of certain unjust policies.

Israel should like all nations, including the United States, provide an atmosphere of equality for it's inhabitants and equal opportunity. Palestinians cannot be denied the rights which they deserve as human beings.