Milestones of Religious Intolerance

The year 2011 is notable for new milestones in religious intolerance—thanks to The New York Times, The Washington Post and the U.S. military. What does this bode for 2012?

The New York Times published a bigoted attack on people of faith. On August 5, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas hosted a prayer rally in Houston. The New York Times featured a response by Frank Bruni on August 7, who lamented that the nation’s credit rating was going down while unemployment remained high: “To get us out of this mess…. Faith and prayer just won’t cut it. In fact, they’ll get in the way.”

The Washington Post did not settle for such tame bigotry, but instead promoted anti-constitutional opinion from Paula Kirby: “As I see it, no person who dares to think of himself as educated or civilized—let alone as worthy to be the potential leader of the developed world—has any business surrendering himself to a fictional fairy godfather.

“It is time that we, as a species, grew up. It is time that we, in the civilized world, demanded of our politicians that they face up to their responsibilities in a clear-eyed, clear-minded way, and stop debasing themselves—and us, by association—through their deliberate spurning of the most powerful force at our disposal: the force of human reason and intellect.

“The human brain is almost certainly the most highly developed, most sophisticated, most astonishing entity on Earth. For all we know, it could be the most highly developed, most sophisticated, most astonishing entity in the entire universe.

“The people of the United States need to decide what kind of future they want for their nation. Do you want it to continue to be respected and admired? To be a beacon of education and learning, and civilization? Or do you want to surrender your role in history, throw in the intellectual towel, and become a global laughing stock as the first nation to have tasted the fruits of civilization and to have rejected them in favor of comforting but childish myth?

“There is no magic friend. There is only us. We are not perfect, we are not all-powerful, we are not infallible; but we are all we have. No amount of wailing to an empty sky (to borrow a friend’s expression) is going to solve a thing.”

Ms. Kirby and The Washington Post should pick up that stale old document that we call the Constitution. Kirby’s qualifications for public officeholders square poorly with Article VI, paragraph 3: “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center did not impugn religion for politicians. Instead, it banned the Bible. A memo from Rear Adm. Matthew L. Nathan, the hospital’s commander, spelled out a new policy for family member visiting patients: “No religious items (i.e. Bibles, reading material, and/or artifacts) are allowed to be given away or used during a visit.” ( Washington Examiner)

Walter Reed has withdrawn this position as “written incorrectly.” One would look for admirals to be literate. The admiral himself, however, did not sign the anti-Bible policy, but his chief of staff, C.W. Callahan, did. Perhaps the admiral will fund remedial reading for the chief of staff.

In 2011 our leading newspapers marginalized people of faith and labeled them unfit for public service. Our military banned sacred literature. What religious intolerance will become acceptable in 2012?

About Ben Unseth

Executive Director at Project Understanding (2014-2017), social service agency in Ventura, CA
This entry was posted in Bible, culture, public square, values and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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