Church at war? :: An Overview of the Religious Front ::

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It does not tax our minds to realize that the US could not just decide, get up and go to occupy Afghanistan and Iraq in a matter of days.

However, it strains us to comprehend the scope of time, resources, planning and human effort put into materializing such barbaric adventures. Harder still is determining the motives of the barbarians of our age.

The easy-to-reach conclusion is that wars and foreign policies in the modern era are greatly influenced by the desire of industrial nations to procure and protect natural resources. That’s why the foreign policy of the United States is also driven in large part by the need for oil, not merely for internal consumption, but for sale by multi-national conglomerates to emerging markets in South Asia and the far East.

Others conclude that the horror of 9/11 has forced the US into such extremism. However, the genocidal sanctions that took far more Iraqi lives than the war so far predate 9/11. Furthermore, it is known to everyone that Iraq had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11. All other ruses for this occupation also have now proved to be flat-out lies as well.

Everyone who loves peace on this earth earnestly hopes that this is a war for oil but reports that emerged from left and right suggest otherwise. These reports create doubts about the actual motives behind the ongoing brutal war.

Title cover of Trumpet magazine (Dec. 2004) by the Philadelphia Church of God, for instance suggest that compilation and nice presentations on the information about oil industry is not the whole answer. [1] Oil is not the goal. It is the booty, the by-product, which keeps the war going.

To understand the super goal of the war lords, we would have to go beyond the visible fronts of this war, which are the political, media, academia and military fronts. We need to study the vital, not so visible front that is hidden behind all these fronts and leave it to all of us to decide if the war, the concentration camps and other crimes against humanity are just for oil.

We need to see if it is the religious front that sustains life of the visible fronts by providing them inspiration and fresh soldiers all the while, and if it works as a compass and sets the final goal for global domination.

We need to see if it is not that just like the religious front’s basic policy principle of staying behind the scene, most of the war-lords and the institutions that belong to the visible fronts try their best to conceal their affiliations with the religious front. They hide behind the façade of mock neutrality, liberalism and secularism.

Before reviewing the religious front in detail, we need to have a look at the examples of apparently non-religious, liberal fronts of this war –” the fronts that we all know very well were behind the official lies for invasion and occupation, and still don’t see any other way than sending more and more military troops.

On the Political front, John Kerry and John Edward are the prime examples. They are as much pro-war as is Bush and his company. So was Clinton, who sustained genocidal sanctions throughout his presidency that took at least 1.8 million innocent lives. Bush’s butchery has yet to reach that mark of mostly invisible genocide.

Regardless of the party titles and minor differences in approach, almost everyone on the political front seems to agree over the ultimate purpose of this war.

On the media front, ABC, CNN, NBC, etc. are as much for the global domination as Fox News. The New York Times, Washington Post and LA Times are as radical in proposing solutions as the Washington Times. Friedman and Safire are as radical as Daniel Pipes.

The only difference is that the former institutions and individuals are not as straight forward as the overt radicals, which is part of their strategy: to stab from behind. Their neutral tone doesn’t mean they are not part of the over all alliance, working towards a common goal: undermine Islam as a way of life.

On the academic front, the seemingly neutral Bernard Lewis and Huntington are as much for the clash with Islam as any of the die-hard neocons. In fact, these are the people who helped the political front shape present policies after exerting years of influence in close collaboration with media.

Anyone from the religious front would not have been able to generate as much Islamophobia as the warriors on the academic front have done in the garb of neutrality.

The not-so-visible Front

The invisible front of the ever intensifying barbarism seems to be the religious front: the lifeblood of the aforementioned fronts in the war for global cultural, social and economic domination.

We cannot assume anything. However, it would be an injustice to humanity if we do not analyze reports such as the one that appeared in the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag (May 30, 2004) under the title: “Millionen gegen Mohammed” i.e., “Millions against Mohammed.”[2] The by-line reads: “Der Vatikan will weltweit die Ausbreitung des Islam stoppen,” which means: “The Vatican wants to stop the world-wide propagation of Islam.”

That is the overall goal. The rest that we hear, such as eradicating fundamentalism, radicalism, political Islam, and Islamism are plain ruses, used as tools to achieve the overall goal.

Of course, they want to stop the propagation of Islam, but they cannot stand up and declare: No Islam from now onwards. They need to follow some strategic course and utilize specific tools to gradually demonize Islam as a religion, divide its followers and prove it as an aggressive, violent ideology that has no place in a “civilized” world.

Modus operandi of the not-so-visible front

Let us see how the not-so-visible religious front of this war is working towards the overall goal or ultimate objective.

Again we are not assuming anything. The report in Welt am Sonntag talks about one of the most unknown organizations of the Catholic Church establish for the above-mentioned purpose. According to translation of the report: “The ‘Congregatio per Gentium Evangelisierung,’ the Congregation for Evangelizing the people came out between 1566 and 1572 from the Congregation ‘De Propaganda Fide’ from Pope Pius V. It has been working to spread the Christian faith on the globe for the large interest of the world public. Geostrategically, the Congregation seemed completely insignificant. No minister of foreign affairs took himself the time to speak with its representatives. But that was in the world from yesterday.

“Today ever more government agencies request its statistics from all over the world, which illustrate the exact propagation of Islam and Christianity. The Congregation is the only institution of the world, which actively delivers the conflict between the Christian and the Muslim religion. It does not examine the relationship between Muslims and Christian like a culture or an institution, but works practically with an army of more than one million co-workers to contain the propagation of Islam and the admiration for the war gentleman Mohammed. It wants to proselytize humans all over the world to peaceful Christianity, whose religious founder never took a weapon in his hands….” (Emphasis added)

The report adds that the above-mentioned argument is “delivered with military precision.” The boss of these active missions, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, calls his co-workers “my troops.” The numbers in this fight for the souls is quite impressive. The Congregation for evangelising people alone is responsible for 40 percent of the Christian world with an army of 85,000 priests and 450,000 medal people. It operates 42 000 schools, 1600 hospitals, 6000 first aid stations, 780 homes for leprosy patient and 12 000 social projects around the world.

Here we find the ultimate objective for the ongoing war. According to Welt am Sonntag’s report, the objective remains to contain the “aggressive religion” of Islam and “spread the Christian faith.” Here we see why the covert neo-cons on the other fronts of this war try to hide behind the façade of secularism and liberalism. They know that not everyone will jump on the bandwagon for war if they drive it in the name of crushing Islam and planting flags of Christian faith in every living heart.

For example, the number of people putting their trust in the seemingly neutral Bernard Lewis, New York Times or CNN is far greater than those putting their faith in the words of Daniel Pipes and the institutes behind him. In fact, both parties are equally pro-war and struggle in their respective ways towards the ultimate objective.

Congregation proudly publishes figures of 62.3 percent Catholic population in the American continent and 39.9 percent in Europe. It values more than 3000 Muslim student in a Catholic Church school in Qatar with a total of 4000 students. In India, less than 2 per cent population is Catholic but the church finances more than 28 per cent of the social expenditures for free hospitals and institutes.

This strategy pays off. Wealthy Muslim parents in India offer “substantial partial sums, so that their children may go to a Christian school.” Consequently, according to the report, “frequently whole families convert to Christianity.” The system functions so successfully that the government in New Delhi intervened because it does not affect Muslims alone: “In numerous states of India the attempt at proselytizing are meanwhile forbidden, [and the government] threatens detentions.”

This mission of Christianizing the world is not limited to the Vatican alone. Author and educator George Grant, [3]founder of Franklin Classical School in the US, was Executive Director of Coral Ridge Ministries [4] for many years. He explains in The Changing of the Guard, Biblical Principles for Political Action:

"Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ –” to have dominion in civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness. But it is dominion we are after. Not just a voice. It is dominion we are after. Not just influence. It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time. It is dominion we are after. World conquest. That’s what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish. We must win the world with the power of the Gospel. And we must never settle for anything less… Thus, Christian politics has as its primary intent the conquest of the land –” of men, families, institutions, bureaucracies, courts, and governments for the Kingdom of Christ. (pp. 50-51).”

Influencing Academic Front

Under the influence of this kind of religious crusade by the religious front, people like Huntington on the academic front do not call for securing oil supplies. Huntington rather calls for defending the Christian identity of the US and argues: “Only Religious America can Resist Islam” ¾ this being the headline in the same German paper Welt am Sonntag (September 05, 2004).5 The translation and global outreach simply hints at the popularity of the idea and success of the religious front.

Other soldiers on the academic front also follow the lead and produce books like “Mit Muslimen in Fieden leben” by Adel Theodor Khoury in which the author regurgitates theory that “a bloody confrontation between Islam and the Western world is coming.”[6] Do you hear anyone talking about oil?

This thinking directly results from the influence of the invisible religious alliance against Islam. In response to a CAIR report of 2,000,000 Muslims attending 1,209 mosques in the US, Dr. Robert L. Reymond writes in The Trinity Review (Oct/Nov 2002):

“What concerns me about these numbers is not so much these numbers per se but the fact that they represent a three hundred percent increase over the last six years, showing clearly that Islam is blossoming and flourishing in the United States. I would also urge the Reformed church to launch a carefully planned and vigorous effort in the twenty-first century to evangelize the Muslim world by every appropriate means. The conversion of the Muslim world–”we are talking about 1,200,000,000 people here–”will be accomplished, of course, only by the grace and power of God, and at great cost.”[7]

Similarly, it is not long ago when the Italian sources close to Vatican came out with the blaring headline: “The Church and Islam. ‘La Civiltà Cattolica’ Breaks the Ceasefire”[8] as a result of Giuseppe De Rosa’s article in La Civiltà Cattolica, (October 18, 2003, issue no: 3680) which is edited by a group of Jesuits in Rome.

What the outsiders called as “the breaking of ceasefire with Islam,” was the article, fully reviewed by the Vatican secretary of state before publication. The central thesis of the article is that “in all of its history, Islam has shown a warlike and conquering face”; that “for almost a thousand years, Europe lived under its constant threat”; and that what remains of the Christian population in Islamic countries is still subjected to “perpetual discrimination,” with episodes of bloody persecution.

One has to see application of the tools that are mentioned in the beginning. One has to note the underlying stress, which remains on the concept of Jihad and the rancid notion of “Islamism” which are the common tools of media, academia and military fronts, working in tight alliance.

Every act of the religious front is undertaken with the objective of undermining Islam. Its attempts at influencing the academic front are part of the over all scheme. For example, when the cardinal secretary of state, Angelo Sodano, went to inaugurate a school in Venice on April 24, 2004, Sandro Magister described it a “centre of studies very dear to the pope” that “looks toward the East and Islam, even as far as China.”[9]

Coordination and Simultaneous change of heart

To see how the visible and invisible alliances make efforts to stay on the same wavelength, one has to read carefully. An essay on the war in Iraq titled, “The Rage, the Pride and the Doubt,” published March 13, 2003 in The Wall Street Journal argues: “Europe is no longer Europe. It is a province of Islam, as Spain and Portugal were at the time of the Moors. It hosts almost 16 million Muslim immigrants and teems with mullahs, imams, mosques, burqas, chadors. It lodges thousands of Islamic terrorists whom governments don’t know how to identify and control. People are afraid, and in waving the flag of pacifism –” synonymous with anti-Americanism –” they feel protected.”

The following day the essay was translated and published in Italy in “Corriere della Sera” by Oriana Fallaci to propagate the same thesis. All this is in consonance with the Vatican’s approach in general, with the exception of Pope.

Until a decade ago, the Italian Church considered Muslim immigration as a social emergency, and it was met by ‘ad hoc’ organizations of the bishops’ conference, like Caritas and the Foundation for Migrants. Peaceful, even interreligious, dialogue dominated this approach.

However, the change of heart on the academic and media front came about almost simultaneously. The Wall Street Juournal article and its wide publication are just tip of the iceberg. Earlier Enzo Bettiza, another “renowned expert on Islam” touched this idea in his book, “Viaggio nell’ ignoto. Il mondo dopo l’11 settembre” (Journey Into the Unknown. The World After September 11), published by Mondadori in October 2002.

This idea was supported by “a renowned historian of Islam,” known by her pseudonym as Bat Ye’or, in a series of essays published in France in Commentaire, and in the United States. She put Muslims influence on Europe in the context of all rancid notions as “Islamic jihad,” “Islamism” and above all “dhimmitude.”

Enzo Bettiza argues that the feeling of dhimmitude is a trap contrived by the “modern Islamist elite to conquer Europe and the world.” In his view, it is a trap that is already working: Many Europeans, “willingly or not, consciously or not, have already for some time been contributing to their own metamorphosis into ‘dhimmi.'”

These theories became known with simultaneous change of heart at Vatican. Renzo Guolo dedicates an entire chapter in his book, “Xenophobes and Xenophiles: Italians and Islam,” to the change in the Italian bishops’ stance and to the response they are giving to the challenge of Islam.

Guolo knows Vatican very well by virtue of his teaching the sociology of religion at the University of Trieste and his writes editorials on this subject for the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference, Avvenire.

In his book, he describes step by step, protagonist by protagonist, what he calls “the turnaround of the Italian bishops’ conference” in recent years: the anti-dialogue with Islam polemic first launched by the bishop of Como, Alessandro Maggiolini; the rude awakening for the Italian bishops, in 2000, faced with the problems within marriages between Christians and Muslims; the endorsement of more reacting positions even by progressivist cardinal Carlo Maria Martini; and the appeals for the reinforcement of the Christian identity of Italy and Europe by Camillo Cardinal Ruini. In the Vatican, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is a forceful proponent of this new approach.[10]

Pope is the last remaining figure who believes in dialogue rather than crusade. However, he is not going to be around forever. Monsignor Cesare Mazzolari, the bishop of Rumbek in southern Sudan has already stated: “The Church has defeated communism, but is just starting to understand its next challenge –” Islamism, which is much worse. The Holy Father has not been able to take up this challenge due to his old age. But the next pope will find himself having to face it.”[11]

The situation is more serious when looked in the context of the total rejection of Islam and the core beliefs promoted by the Church in total contradiction to the interfaith dialogue and bridge building espoused by many Muslims.

An essay that critiques “dialogue” at its roots and contrasts it with a theology cantered upon “the absolute uniqueness of Christianity with respect to Islam” was published in September of 2002, no. 3, in “Teologia,” the magazine of the Theological faculty of northern Italy, based in Milan.

The author, Giuseppe Rizzardi, is a priest of the diocese of Pavia and a professor of Islamic studies at the Faculty. In his essay: “Theology and Islam: Constant Components of the Religious Debate,” he underlines that the role of “Christian theology is not to reconcile the diversity of ‘creeds,’ to find in Islam ‘Christian seeds’ and ‘biblical seeds,’ to engage in dialogue, but to proclaim the Christian message. This proclamation necessarily involves a judgment of the truth of Islam in the light of Christian truth.”

Rizzardi concludes: “The motives, hopes, and utopias of interreligious dialogue bring with them the risk, for both Christianity and Islam, of a simplification that contradicts the truth of the two faiths.”

Academic Front Consolidates a Mindset

How such philosophies of the religious front are, in turn, propagated by academic front can be seen in books such as The West and the Rest[12] by Roger Scruton, formerly a professor at Birkbeck College in London and at Boston University. Its Italian version, L’Occidente e gli altri, was immediately featured in the geopolitics curriculum of the Graduate School of Economics and International Relations at the Catholic University, directed by Vittorio E. Parsi, who is also an editorialist for the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference, Avvenire, and a trusted expert for Cardinal Camillo Ruini.

Right from its opening lines, the book goes on the offensive: “Samuel Huntington’s celebrated thesis that the Cold War has been succeeded by a ‘clash of civilizations’ has more credibility today than it had in 1993, when it was first put forward.” What follows is even more abundantly surprising for those who are not aware of the mutual influence of the religion and academic war fronts against Islam.

Scruton points to Christianity as an essential element of American citizenship capable of giving identity to the West. Defending the political front’s strategy of “pre-emption” in the light of Christianity, the author adds that Christianity imposes the duty of defending those who are under attack. This is because Jesus preached a message of peace, but not of pacifism:

“The idea of forgiveness, symbolized in the Cross, distinguishes the Christian from the Muslim inheritance. There is no coherent reading of the Christian message that does not make forgiveness of enemies into a central item of the creed. Christ even commanded us, when assaulted, to turn the other cheek. But […] he was setting before us a personal ideal, not a political project. If I am attacked and turn the other cheek, then I exemplify the Christian virtue of meekness. If I am entrusted with a child who is attacked, and I then turn the child’s other cheek, I make myself party to the violence. That, surely, is how a Christian should understand the right of defense, and how it is understood by the medieval theories of the just war. The right of defense stems from your obligations to others. You are obliged to protect those whom destiny has placed under your care. A political leader who turns not his own cheek but ours makes himself party to the next attack. By pursuing the attacker, however violently, the politician servs the cause of peace, and also of forgiveness, of which justice is the instrument.”

Page after page, Scruton unveils the greatness and the misery of the West today, face to face with the Islamic challenge. Tracing the roots of challenge to the time of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), the author states:

“And his arguments frequently defy convention. Here is a sample, on the impact of rationalist European architecture on traditional Muslim cities: “He [Mohammed PBUH] and his followers were al-muhajiroun, the ones in emigration or exile (hijrah), and the experience of exile is invoked again and again in the Islamic revivals of our times…. In the eyes of the Koran the place where we are is not the place where we belong, since the place where we belong is in the wrong hands. […] This attitude greatly favors the notion of law as a relation between each person and God, with no special reference to territory, sovereignty, or worldly obedience[…]Islamism is not a cry of distress from the “wretched of the earth.” It is an implacable summons to war, issued by globetrotting middle-class Muslims, many of them extremely wealthy, and most of them sufficiently well versed in Western civilization and its benefits to be able to exploit the modern world to the full. […] With al-Qaeda, we encounter the real impact of globalization on the Islamic revival. To belong to this “base” is to accept no territory as home, and no human law as authoritative. It is to commit oneself to a state of permanent exile, while at the same time resolving to carry out God’s work of punishment […] on his enemies, wherever they are.”

Supporting neocons’ political front

The religious front stands firmly behind the Neocons. This can be judged from the two extreme ways in which two newspapers of the Church of Rome reacted to the US elections.

L’Osservatore Romano, the newspaper of the Holy See, didn’t even report Bush’s victory. In contrast, Avvenire, the daily owned by the Italian bishops’ conference, and above all by its president, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Pope’s vicar for the diocese of Rome, appreciated Bush’s victory. As discussed earlier, it is a glimps of the possible future. It shows the post-Pope period will bring more bloody adventures on the part of political and military fronts.

L’Osservatore Romano’s respect for the canons of diplomacy, and neutrality is understandable. But the reticence with which it registered Bush’s victory smells fishy. Those who closely follow the details still remember how the Vatican welcomed with a sense of relief the news of Bush’s presidential election victory in 2000. In 2004, the paper’s going beyond its official duty of neutrality is surprising for many because it seems like a deliberate attempt at hiding something.

However, hiding is becoming a difficult job in 21st century. In the June 4, 2004 edition of the Italian newspaper, Corriere della Sera, the Vatican journalist, Luigi Accattoli, who most faithfully reports the views from the pontifical palazzo, wrote that the pope has already decided: he prefers the evangelical Bush to the Catholic Kerry. And “he wants to help him with the Catholic voters.”[13]

Four years ago –” in the opinion of a very trustworthy Vatican observer, John L. Allen, the Rome correspondent of the American weekly “National Catholic Reporter” –” in an imaginary vote, Vatican leaders and functionaries would have expressed “at least a 60-40 vote in favor of Bush over Al Gore.”

Avvenire, on the other hand, stood with Bush against the disappointed opinion makers who considered it a defeat of “liberal, secular, tolerant, moderate” America at the hands of another America, “rural, ignorant, egoist, bigoted,” and above all “religious.”

Avvenire criticized this analysis in some of its editorials, and contrasted with this its own, different vision of the facts in a lead article by Giorgio Ferrari: “We, of the Heart of America.”

In Ferrari’s views: “It is precisely on values that Bush, or we might say his extraordinary electoral strategist Karl Rove, fixed his aim. Not on the war, not on Osama Bin Laden, or not only on them, but on the defense of something profoundly American, as difficult for us Europeans to comprehend as it is easy to denigrate: that ‘God, country, and family.'”

Ferrari is ecstatic to find “an America within America…where one can feel at home” –” America of the Neocons. In his words: “Some define them hastily as “born-again Christians,” others as neocons, still others as theocons, but none of these definitions is really appropriate, because the reality is much more complex. Certainly, within this great electoral mass there is room for the ‘moral majority.'”

Ferrari felt himself at home in “an American that placed Iraq only in the third place” because “the first priority was the defense of a system of values.” This is an America that wept while singing “‘Amazing Grace,’ the most beautiful religious hymn Americans know.”

Please, click on :: Part One :: , :: Part Two :: , or :: Part Three :: to read

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Notes:

[1] See: http://globalrealities.com/

[2] See: http://www.wams.de/data/2004/05/30/284942.html

[3] “Dr. George Grant Promotes Christian Doctrine in Education,” The Christian Post, June 7, 2004. http://www.christianpost.com/dbase.php?cat=education&id=390

[4] Wyatt Olson, “United States of Jesus: The folks who are “reclaiming America for Christ” are pushing an agenda for a Taliban-like state where Scripture is law,” New Times http://www.newtimesbpb.com/issues/2003-11-27/news/feature.html

[5] “Nur ein religiöses Amerika kann dem Islam widerstehen” Bestsellerautor Samuel Huntington ruft seine Landsleute auf, die Identität der USA zu verteidigen, Welt am Sonntag, 5. September 2004. http://www.wams.de/data/2004/09/05/328513.html

[6] http://www.theologische-buchhandlung.de/islam.htm

[7] Robert Reymond, “What is wrong with Islam,”

The Trinity Review / October, November 2002.

http://www.trinityfoundation.org/PDF/199a-WhatsWrongwithIslam.pdf

[8] See http://213.92.16.98/ESW_articolo/0,2393,41931,00.html

[9] Sandro Majister, “Parte da Venezia una nuova via della seta. Si chiama Marcianum, ” (A New Silk Road Begins from Venice. It’s Called “Marcianum” L-espresso, April 30, 2004.

[10] Renzo Guolo, “Xenofobi e xenofili. Gli italiani e l’islam”, Laterza, Bari, 2003.

[11] For details please refer to “Vatican Renews its Commitment to a War on Islam” at http://world.mediamonitors.net/content/view/full/12053/

[12] Roger Scruton, “The West and the Rest. Globalization and the Terrorist Treat,” ISI Books, Wilmington, DE, 2002.

[13] Quoted by L’Espresso repoter Sandro Magister in his June 07 article:Bush ha portato al papa un regalo: l’alleanza tra cattolici ed evangelicals

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