Archive for Extremism

How Christian Fundamentalists Plan to Teach Genocide to Schoolchildren

Posted in Loon Pastors, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 5, 2012 by loonwatch

Child with Bible

While many in the West are myopically focused on Muslim extremists, another form of religious extremism is poised to reach thousands of children in public schools across the US.

Aside from the disturbing implications for those who advocate a clear separation between church and state, the alarming content of the curriculum begs a question about the sponsors: What if they were Muslim?

How Christian Fundamentalists Plan to Teach Genocide to Schoolchildren

By Katherine Stewart, Guardian UK

Good News Clubs’ evangelism in schools is already subverting church-state separation. Now they justify murdering nonbelievers.

The Bible has thousands of passages that may serve as the basis for instruction and inspiration. Not all of them are appropriate in all circumstances.

The story of Saul and the Amalekites is a case in point. It’s not a pretty story, and it is often used by people who don’t intend to do pretty things. In the book of 1 Samuel (15:3), God said to Saul:

“Now go, attack the Amalekites, and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.”

Saul dutifully exterminated the women, the children, the babies and all of the men – but then he spared the king. He also saved some of the tastier looking calves and lambs. God was furious with him for his failure to finish the job.

The story of the Amalekites has been used to justify genocide throughout the ages. According to Pennsylvania State University Professor Philip Jenkins, a contributing editor for the American Conservative, the Puritans used this passage when they wanted to get rid of the Native American tribes. Catholics used it against Protestants, Protestants against Catholics. “In Rwanda in 1994, Hutu preachers invoked King Saul’s memory to justify the total slaughter of their Tutsi neighbors,” writes Jenkins in his 2011 book, Laying Down the Sword: Why We Can’t Ignore the Bible’s Violent Verses (HarperCollins).

This fall, more than 100,000 American public school children, ranging in age from four to 12, are scheduled to receive instruction in the lessons of Saul and the Amalekites in the comfort of their own public school classrooms. The instruction, which features in the second week of a weekly “Bible study” course, will come from the Good News Club, an after-school program sponsored by a group called the Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF). The aim of the CEF is to convert young children to a fundamentalist form of the Christian faith and recruit their peers to the club.

There are now over 3,200 clubs in public elementary schools, up more than sevenfold since the 2001 supreme court decision, Good News Club v Milford Central School, effectively required schools to include such clubs in their after-school programing.

The CEF has been teaching the story of the Amalekites at least since 1973. In its earlier curriculum materials, CEF was euphemistic about the bloodshed, saying simply that “the Amalekites were completely defeated.” In the most recent version of the curriculum, however, the group is quite eager to drive the message home to its elementary school students. The first thing the curriculum makes clear is that if God gives instructions to kill a group of people, you must kill every last one:

“You are to go and completely destroy the Amalekites (AM-uh-leck-ites) – people, animals, every living thing. Nothing shall be left.”

“That was pretty clear, wasn’t it?” the manual tells the teachers to say to the kids.

Even more important, the Good News Club wants the children to know, the Amalakites were targeted for destruction on account of their religion, or lack of it. The instruction manual reads:

“The Amalekites had heard about Israel’s true and living God many years before, but they refused to believe in him. The Amalekites refused to believe in God and God had promised punishment.”

The instruction manual goes on to champion obedience in all things. In fact, pretty much every lesson that the Good News Club gives involves reminding children that they must, at all costs, obey. If God tells you to kill nonbelievers, he really wants you to kill them all. No questions asked, no exceptions allowed.

Asking if Saul would “pass the test” of obedience, the text points to Saul’s failure to annihilate every last Amalekite, posing the rhetorical question:

“If you are asked to do something, how much of it do you need to do before you can say, ‘I did it!’?”

“If only Saul had been willing to seek God for strength to obey!” the lesson concludes.

A review question in the textbook seeks to drive the point home further:

“How did King Saul only partly obey God when he attacked the Amalekites? (He did not completely destroy as God had commanded, he kept the king and some of the animals alive.)”

The CEF and the legal advocacy groups that have been responsible for its tremendous success over the past ten years are determined to “Knock down all doors, all the barriers, to all 65,000 public elementary schools in America and take the Gospel to this open mission field now! Not later, now!” in the words of a keynote speaker at the CEF’s national convention in 2010. The CEF wants to operate in the public schools, rather than in churches, because they know that young children associate the public schools with authority and are unable to distinguish between activities that take place in a school and those that are sponsored by the school.

In the majority opinion that opened the door to Good News Clubs, supreme court Justice Clarence Thomas reasoned that the activities of the CEF were not really religious, after all. He said that they could be characterized, for legal purposes, “as the teaching of morals and character development from a particular viewpoint”.

As Justices Souter and Stevens pointed out in their dissents, however, the claim is preposterous: the CEF plainly aims to teach religious doctrines and conduct services of worship. Thomas’s claim is particularly ironic in view of the fact that the CEF makes quite clear its intent to teach that no amount of moral or ethical behavior (pdf) can spare a nonbeliever from an eternity in hell.

Good News Clubs should not be in America’s public elementary schools. As I explain in my book, The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children, the club exists mainly to give small children the false impression that their public school supports a particular creed. The clubs’ presence has produced a paradoxical entanglement of church and state that has ripped apart communities, degraded public education, and undermined religious freedom.

The CEF’s new emphasis on the genocide of nonbelievers makes a bad situation worse. Exterminist rhetoric has been on the rise among some segments of the far right, including some religious groups. At what point do we start taking talk of genocide seriously? How would we feel about a nonreligious group that instructs its students that if they should ever receive an order to commit genocide, they should fulfill it to the letter?

And finally, when does a religious group qualify as a “hate group”?

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What Radical Anti-Islam Christians Teach Their Flock: Islam “Does Not Teach” Charity

Posted in Loon Pastors with tags , , , , , , , , on May 15, 2012 by loonwatch

tim-wildmon

This is supposed to be a positive picture of Tim Wildmon

American Family Association president Tim Wildmon says, “Islam does not teach charity.”

It is a blatant lie, since one of the five pillars of Islam is Zakat, or mandatory charitable giving. The Qur’an, if these right-wingers would ever read it is also filled with exhortations on nearly every page extolling the virtues of Sadaqah or voluntary charity.

Tim Wildmon Says Islam ‘Does Not Teach’ Charity

(Right-Wing Watch)

American Family Association president Tim Wildmon today used his column praising the admirable works of Christian charitable organizations to criticize Muslims.

If there ever was a contrast in worldviews, it is with Christianity and Islam. One of the most striking differences is that Christianity teaches, practices, and encourages charity. Islam does not. It is the Christians from America who are doing the majority of the private charity and humanitarian work around the world. Just these past couple of weeks alone, I was reminded by several examples of this.

American Family Association/American Family Radio has been participating in this project with Gospel for Asia for several years. Why do we care about the outcast people of India? Because in the Bible, Jesus instructs us to do so.

There is no such comparable work being done around the world by Islamic groups or organizations — because the Koran does not teach such charity.

Religion, more than anything else, affects the values and morals of a culture, a society, a country.

In fact, charitable giving is one of the five pillars of Islam. Wildmon could have done a simple Google search to find the names of major Muslim charitable organizations like Islamic ReliefRed Crescent Societies and Muslim Aid, but seeing that the American Family Association is one of the most malicious purveyors of misinformation and bigotry in this country, it should come as no surprise that its leader can twist an article about the importance of charitable work into an attack on the Muslim people.

Colbert Report: ThreatDown – Barack Obama, Fundamentalist Flippers & Coked Up Diplomats

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 31, 2012 by loonwatch

Colbert believes that under the sea, Bin Laden might be finding young impressionable dolphins who are willing to wage Jihad.

Starts at 2:23-4:14

Colbert Report: ThreatDown – Barack Obama, Fundamentalist Flippers & Coked Up Diplomats

http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/407251/january-30-2012/threatdown—barack-obama–fundamentalist-flippers—coked-up-diplomats
Barack Obama plays the same old dirty political trick of being irresistibly appealing, the Navy trains dolphins to sweep for mines, and the U.N. receives 35 pounds of cocaine. (06:11)

Daily Show with Jon Stewart: In the Name of the Fodder

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 28, 2011 by loonwatch

Jon Stewart

Daily Show with Jon Stewart: In the Name of the Fodder

The Fox rapid-response team makes a plea to distinguish violence in the name of a religion from the practitioners and tenets of that religion as long as it’s Christianity.

Robert Spencer in Damage Control After Terror Attack in Norway

Posted in Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 25, 2011 by loonwatch
Spencer is working hard to disassociate himself from one of his fans

The anti-Muslim loons of the world are in a major bind right now. Their intolerant anti-Muslim attitude and constant fear-mongering is responsible for the horrible terrorist attack that occurred in Norway at the hands of self-professed Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller supporter Anders Behring Breivik. Recent reports suggest that Breivik was inspired by the writings of anti-Muslim bigots like Spencer and Geller, as well as others in the anti-Muslim circle such as Bat Ye’or and Fjordman.

Spencer himself has come out and attempted to dismiss the connection between Breivik’s violence and his own anti-Muslim bigotry, saying “no one has explained or can explain how this guy’s supposed anti-jihad views have anything to do with his murdering children.” A fair question in light of the tragic violence that Breivik was responsible for.  Did the anti-Muslim hatred inspire the violence in Oslo?

Spencer lays out his version of the logic this way, saying:

1. Freedom fighters preach free speech, freedom of conscience and equality of rights for all people, against Sharia and Islamic supremacism that denies those rights, advocating only legal means of protest and dissent.

2. Some nutcase who allegedly expressed allegiance with the freedom fighters kills people, none of whom are preaching Sharia or Islamic supremacism.

3. Media assumes that #1 caused #2 and blames freedom fighters.

The obvious problem with Spencer’s logic is that it does not include his and other anti-Muslim loons’ consistent denunciations of “leftists” as jihad-enablers. This is a key tenant of the so-called anti-jihadist movement. They hate the left, or more specifically, anyone who treats Muslims with a smidgen of fairness and tolerance. Spencer and Geller consistently and constantly portray the left as those who would sell out the West to the scary Mooslems. Spencer’s hate site Jihad Watch is filled with posts denouncing the “Leftist/Jihadist alliance,” warning his readers of how the left will happily allow the Mooslem hordes to overthrow the West and “dhimmify” its population.

Breivik adopted this view of the left.  Paul Woodward notes that Breivik argued “that cultural conservatives should not identify their main opponents as Jihadists, but instead should focus their attention on those he regards as the ‘facilitators’ of Jihadists, namely, the proponents of multiculturalism.” It was these liberals and “multi-culturalists” that were the target of his rampage.

Therefore, a more logical set-up would be as follows:

1. Anti-Muslim bigots vilify Muslims as a threat to Western culture and civilization, and argue that the left is most responsible for allowing Muslims to undermine Western civilization.  In fact, the left is more the enemy than the anti-jihadists themselves!

2. A right-wing self-proclaimed anti-jihadist chooses the capital of a famously liberal, leftist, and socialist country as the target for his attack.

3. Media is perfectly justified in establishing a link between #1 and #2.

When you preach bigotry and fear on a daily basis, don’t be surprised when one of your followers takes the next logical step.  But Robert Spencer has a reason to feign surprise and indignation over what his hatred has incited, as the link between his hate-writing and this act of terrorism becomes clear:  Richard Silverstein notes that the right-wing terrorist Anders Behring Breivik cited Robert Spencer 46 times in his manifesto.  He was clearly quite the fan.  This certainly seems to be right-wing anti-Muslim terrorism inspired by the king of Islamophobia himself, Robert Spencer.

Kilmeade: If Rep. Ellison Is Worried About Extremism, “Maybe He Can Focus On Getting The Burqa Off” Muslim Women

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on July 12, 2011 by loonwatch

 

(Via IslamophobiaToday)

Using the religion card when it is irrelevant to the topic is unprofessional and bigoted, but that doesn’t phase Fox News Channel television personality Brian Kilmeade. He thought it was important to bring up the issue of the burqa and somehow connect it with Keith Ellison.

Kilmeade: If Rep. Ellison Is Worried About Extremism, “Maybe He Can Focus On Getting The Burqa Off” Muslim Women

 

Tennessee’s Anti-Muslim Bill is an American Disgrace

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , on May 19, 2011 by loonwatch

Tennessee is quickly becoming a hotbed of extremist anti-Muslim hatred.

Tennessee’s Anti-Muslim Bill is an American Disgrace

(Huffington Post) Daniel Tutt

In a matter of days, Tennessee’s state legislature is expected to pass a bill ostensibly designed to combat radical Islamic terrorism in Tennessee known as the “Material Support” bill or HB 1353. While the bill has removed direct references to Islam or Muslims at the pressure of civil rights groups such as the ACLU and others, if it is passed, it will seriously harm our security by alienating our biggest allies in combatting homegrown terrorism: our fellow American Muslims.

The impact of this bill on Muslims in Tennessee was on display in a recent training I conducted in Murfreesboro for educators and law enforcement officials. The training brought together local Muslim leaders and more than 80 civic leaders to look at ways to respond to a spike in bullying towards Muslim youth and rising reports of prejudice. Last summer, Murfreesboro was rocked by a series of protests against a mosque building project that resulted in two hate crimes directed toward the 1,000 person Muslim community, followed by a national media expose by CNN called, “Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door.”

Through my discussions with community leaders in Murfreesboro, the problem seems not so much one of a widespread level of fear or bigotry toward Islam and Muslims by average Tennessean citizens. On the contrary, they felt a sense of embarrassment about what they see as a new type of anti-Muslim sentiment.

It’s important we understand the agendas and ideas that compose this movement to ban sharia in Tennessee and now more than 15 other states. On a national level, David Yerushalmi, a self-appointed expert in Islamic law and its intersection with Islamic terrorism and national security, wrote the original bill that serves as the template for each of the bills. Yerushalmi’s organization, the Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE) is deemed a “hate group” by multiple civil rights groups including the Anti Defamation League. SANE’s founding mission is resonantly white supremacist as it declares that historically America was “the handiwork of faithful Christians, mostly men, and almost entirely white.”

Yerushalmi and his associates at the Center for Security Policy have published a recent report, “Sharia and the Threat to America,” that has served as the basis for anti-sharia bills currently under vote or review in more than 14 states. In a 2007 report, Yerushalmi wrote on homegrown terrorism in the American Muslim community, called the Mapping Sharia Project, he urged Congress to declare war on the “Muslim nation,” which he defined as “Shari’a-adherent Muslims,” and further asked Congress to define Muslim illegal immigrants as alien enemies “subject to immediate deportation.”

A right-wing citizen group called the Tennessee Eagle Forum was the first group to push the bill into the state legislature. In a recent video produced by the group, “Losing Our Community,” they conflate all Tennessee Muslims with Islamic theocracies in Iran and Saudi Arabia, and seek to smear Muslim leaders in Tennessee with radical clerics such as Anwar Awlaki, without providing any tangible evidence of this association.

While Yerushalmi and his associates seek to institutionalize a series of Islamophobic bills into state legislators, American Muslims are left on the sidelines feeling isolated and alienated.

Understanding Sharia and its Meaning for Muslims

As David Schnazer of Duke University discovered in a recent comprehensive study of homegrown terrorism, “Anti-Terror Lessons of the American Muslim Community,” American Muslims are at the forefront of combatting potentially radicalized members of their community. For example, of the surprisingly small number of domestic terror threats initiated by American Muslims since 9/11 (154 in total), 46 of these perpetrators were turned over to the authorities by the American Muslim community.

The Center for American Progress has recently put forward a new policy brief, “Understanding Sharia Law,” designed to challenge the conception of sharia that Yerushalmi and others are proposing in these bills. The idea of sharia being a purely “legal-political-military doctrine” is far from accurate according to actual Islamic legal opinion and the ways that Muslims themselves interpret sharia.

Dr. Sherman Jackson, a respected scholar of Islam at University of Michigan, points out that most Muslims tend to speak not of sharia but of fiqh, which literally means “understanding” and underscores the distinction between God’s prescriptions on the one hand and the human attempt to understand these on the other.
While the common translation, “Islamic law,” is not entirely wrong, it is under-inclusive: Sharia includes scores of moral and ethical principles from honoring one’s parents to helping the poor to being good to one’s neighbor. In most all laws, sharia prescribes no “earthly punishments” for those who violate the dictates. Reward and punishment in these areas are the preserve of God in the Afterlife.

Despite Being a Non-Issue, HB 1353 Will Hurt Tennessee’s Economy

The movement to ban sharia is a non-issue both for Muslim scholars, who overwhelmingly support Muslims living by the U.S. constitution as the law of the land, and also as clearly laid out by the Supreme Court. More than half a dozen leading Muslim clerics in the United States recently produced a video PSA, “Injustice Cannot Defeat Injustice,” condemning homegrown terrorism and the misinterpretation of Islamic theology that supports it.

In a 1990 Supreme Court case, Employment Division vs. Smith, over the use of peyote for religious practices, Justice Antonin Scalia deemed that all religious laws must adhere to the law of the land, the U.S. Constitution. In other words, for law to be respected and followed, Scalia declared that the United States can have only one law.

Just last week, as legislators gathered for a hearing on the bill, 350 concerned Tennessee Muslims gathered at the Capitol to urge lawmakers not to vote in favor of the bill. They argue that the bill is more than simply anti-Muslim; it’s harmful to Tennessee’s economy. As it is currently crafted, the bill gives an unprecedented and unchecked designation of power to Tennessee’s attorney general and the governor. This consolidation of power into one lawmaker is something that citizen groups such as the Tennessee Eagle Forum ought to despise.

The bill seriously hampers the economy of Tennessee by undermining the effect of trade and commerce with Muslim-majority societies throughout Tennessee if the bill becomes law. For example, international airports such as the one in Memphis may see a marked decline in flights coming from Muslim countries. Nearly every hospital in Tennessee has a substantially high number of Muslim doctors. Dr. Gary Gunderson of Memphis notes that the bill will have serious economic repercussions for all Tennesseans because of an anticipated flight of Muslim doctors from Tennessee.

A recent survey has reported that more than 75 percent of Tennesseans are worried about the economy and jobs as their first priority, making the economic implications of the bill especially important for lawmakers weighing the bill’s legitimacy.

Daniel Tutt is the Outreach Director of Unity Productions Foundation, and a fellow at the Institute forSocial Policy and Understanding, a non-partisan think tank. An activist, speaker and Ph.D. student in philosophy and communication, his work seeks to build greater understanding across religious and cultural lines, with a particular emphasis on Islam and Muslims.