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Posts Tagged ‘politics and religion’

The Syrian people of Maaloula tell the story of anti-Assad outsiders who tried to enlist the townspeople as agitators against the President and his government.  Both Muslim and Christian citizens rejected their invitation.

Correspondent Maria Finoshina gives a video report from the town, alleged to be the only place in the world where an entire community still speaks Aramaic as a living language (most scholars believe a form of Aramaic was the native tongue of Jesus of Nazareth).

Interviewed in the clip is Mother Pelagia Sayaf, Christian nun and schoolteacher at the town’s Monastery of St. Thekla:

“There were people who came here, they wanted to push us against the government, the President, the army… these people are receiving money and listening to orders.”

The town’s Muslim Imam reports the same:

“I remember last April, there were several men after Friday prayers, they tried to persuade Muslims to protest against the government, encouraging them to go and make trouble.”

The Imam said they had never seen most of those people before and had not seen them again since. “We are not talking about normal Muslims, but people with an extremist way of thinking…  We had a meeting with residents, and the people agreed to support the leadership [Assad].”

Mother Pelagia said “If you hear that the army enters this city and kills people, believe me – this is a mistake [a lie]… Our country before the crisis was going forward, now we are all losing ground… God bless Assad.”

In the words of another citizen interviewed:

“We used to live in peace – Muslims and Christians – of course we’re afraid people from outside the city and this country may come and destroy this unity. Assad became more than just the head of State. He’s a kind of international symbol of this fight for our life.”

My Comment: Prior to the rise of the NATO-backed and NATO financed Syrian ‘insurgency’, Assad’s secular state was one of the last governments in the Arab world under which a citizenry enjoyed peaceful coexistence of diverse religious and ethnic communities. The people know this, and they also know that the violent and random provocations of the murderous Arab mercenaries and outsiders (and the still bigger violence planned by their NATO handlers) have threatened the whole secular foundation for this peace.

In my unprofessional opinion, I think what we’re looking at in Syria is a fraudulent program of regime change.  Like Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, Vietnam in 1963, El Salvador, Angola, etc., etc.  The Cold Warrior and Neocon do not understand true democracy or humanitarianism, and we see his/her unmistakeable signature in the great civilian tragedies resulting from all of the above covert actions, no less than in the more recently broken and utterly failed states of Iraq and Libya.

One can always spot the Neocon footprint in the wake of US/NATO’s self-serving efforts to effect changes in non-NATO countries: fraudulent opposition movements, phony replacement governments, ruined sovereignty, co-opted national resources, and untold civilian death .

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Unfortunately for our democracy, some Protestant pastors will not be celebrating a true Reformation Sunday this weekend.  They worship instead an unorthodox holy day of their own making – they are ending a season of lawbreaking and profane secular involvement with a feast day of Mammon which ought to be called The Last Sunday before Elections. The unholy season started on Sept. 26, with a thing called ‘Pulpit Freedom Sunday.’

It is not clear how many preachers plan this Sunday to use the authority of their high calling to allege some kind of divine sanction of blessing or damnation for their own personal political choices.  The braver of these ignorant shepherds have already sent tape recordings of their Sept 26 sermons to the IRS, at the suggestion of the so-called Pulpit Freedom movement, which hopes to aid them if any lawsuits are initiated by the Government.

These pastors seem to misunderstand the perfectly legal connection the IRS is making between their tax-exempt status and the restriction that they not interfere with their local, state, and national commerce or politics.

All right then.  I would hope the IRS will exercise due diligence in taking up a limited number of these challenges.  The most air-tight cases are probably few, but let’s begin with those where there is hard evidence that a pastor has endorsed a local, state, or national political group or candidate who also enjoys the privilege of tax exemption on donations made to that particular church.  Look for cases where a state judge or congressman has made a significant donation – particularly if not a member of the church.  Because that’s where we’re headed if the tax-free pulpit endorsement becomes a reality.  Once preachers are free to endorse candidates from the pulpit, a very significant amount of tax-free influence goes up ‘for sale’ which is otherwise purchasable only through taxable media and canvassing outlets.

I don’t doubt that these unsophisticated preachers of God feel very righteous in their decision to go this way.  But seriously, they risk becoming the dupes of astute power brokers who would be very glad to manipulate the churches as ‘combines’ of political and market forces.

Fortunately, most pastors know the ‘Pulpit Freedom’ ruse is wrong

Obviously there are spiritual issues as well.  If you enter one of these stricken congregations this Sunday, expect to witness an overt flouting of both material and spiritual law.

(1) The preacher may blaspheme the will of God by equating it with his own narrow political view.

(2) The preacher may divide the very body of Christ entrusted to his care – by calling their votes either holiness or sin, depending on conformity to his own pompous choice.

(3) The preacher’s church may even enjoy lavish gifts (tax deductible) from the very same local, state, or national office-seeker or party whose views are being touted from the pulpit.

The church’s sacred calling ought to remove it from secular commercial and political affiliation.   Pastors who desire to preach like Jeremiah should be so pious as to end their acceptance of tax-exempt donations.

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