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Latest OWC - I believe, therefore I'm right 13/11/04

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I Believe, Therefore I'm Right
Jacqui McCarney
Nov 13 2004

At UEA, on the day of the US elections, I spoke with a young American student who had voted for George Bush. Why? First, he made her feel "safe", and, second, "moral issues". Familiar enough, as they had become the mantra of the Republican Party.

It was, nevertheless, shocking to hear someone admit that their "feeling" of safety is worth 100,000 lives, and the failure to see that this huge loss of lives is in itself, a major moral issue. Protecting American sensibilities is clearly very expensive for the rest of the world, and understanding their narrow view of morality very confusing.

Few outsiders have missed the irony of George Bush being re-elected on a "moral ticket", not just the vote of ill-educated floating voters, but the beliefs of many educated Americans, as illustrated by my friend above.

George Bush -born-again Christian, devout church-goer does not just believe in God, but is convinced that God believes in him. Indeed, a great part of America share this view - it is after all "God's Own Country".

President Woodrow Wilson, wrote "I cannot be deprived of the hope that we are chosen, and prominently chosen, to show the nations of the world how they shall walk in the path of liberty".

Now, strident ideas of chosen nationhood, and religious based self certainty, unite with "full spectrum military dominance" of the Project for the New American Century.

The Judeo Roman version of Christianity, used by the Roman Emperors to build Empire, is a dangerous excuse for oppression and despotism, then and now. Introduced to the western world by Emperor Constantine, this promoted the notion of self-righteous conquest in the name of the Christ

In holding "belief" as the defining truth, Christian Neo-conservatism has little concern about empirical evidence, human rights and compassion. It is increasingly common here too, witness our Prime Minister clinging to his convictions, despite a growing mountain of evidence to the contrary, with words like "I believe I am right".

When 'belief' excuses cruel barbaric acts, it has gone beyond religion to ideology. Fundamentalism, Fascism and Communism have been condemned when they have abused human rights. Neither can the criminality of 100,000 killed in Iraq, families torn apart by grief, young men shockingly abused, hundreds incarcerated in Guatanamo Bay be waved aside under a Christian, "liberating" agenda.

Some Americans choose moral issues that allow them dollops of self-righteousness - abortion, homosexuality and family values. While they abhor the loss of life of the unborn at home, they accept the loss of life of thousands of Iraqi babies and children as collateral damage. While they condemn homosexuality at home, they practice sexual torture of all varieties on Iraqi men and boys abroad. While they vow to protect the family at home, they wreck the family life of Iraqis abroad. These gross injustices, committed in the name of America should be profoundly humbling to those who claim the most basic of moral positions.

To their advantage, the conservative right spun the election as between God fearing Christians and non-believers, between passionate religious views and woolly political correctness. This is to deny the legitimate moral views of non-Christians and those Christians whose views are more closely aligned to the teachings of Jesus. Nascent Christianity has at its core a commitment to human rights evidenced in Jesus' rejection of vengeance, legal and penal moralities and of market place values. A philosophy which is staggeringly radical to western, consumerist view, and one most honestly adhered to by religious groups such as the Quakers.

The dilemma for Christians could not be more challenging. They must choose old testament tyranny, or new testament love and compassion. Embracing all the Old Testament and the teachings of Jesus is clearly nonsensical and contradictory. Jesus came to challenge the brutal, vindictiveness expressed in parts of the Old Testament, and offer a more humane and forgiving way of life.

Ironically, it is the teachings of Jesus and not the Old Testament which Jefferson wished to embody in The Declaration of Independence. "The kingdom of God is within" is expressed when he declared, God is in the "head and heart" of every person. He was indeed determined to reject Judeo Roman Christianity, which he had seen the British use as a validation for its oppression of the American people. Human rights were the basis for all civil rights and were "self evident". When Republicans claim that George Bush expresses the Christian values embodied in their constitution, they are gravely mistaken.

First published in the Eastern Daily Press
Fri Nov 19, 2004 5:19 pm
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