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The First Amendment is Under Siege

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A dangerous attack on the American Bill of Rights has begun to show up on right wing blogs. Some posts go so far as to advocate denying First Amendment protection to the Muslim faith. Others go further and assert, "In America we must start by banning Islam and outlawing Muslim schools and the Quran. Then we must deport or imprison those who teach and/or practice Islam." These attitudes are intolerable.

No one has the right to decide whether another American's belief system is a legitimate religion. The words of the First Amendment, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion," precludes our government from discriminating against any religions. What could be a worse discrimination against a specific belief system than to legislate that it doesn't "qualify" as a religion at all.

We have a responsibility to judge individuals by their actions, not by the books they read. For example, when the United States decided to outlaw polygamy, Mormons were simply forbidden to follow the (then current) dictates of their book. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints certainly wasn't disqualified as an American religion. When the United States decided that the government's responsibility toward the health of it's children trumped the religious beliefs of their parents, and instituted court-ordered blood transfusions, but Jehovah's Witnesses weren't disqualified to be a religion.

Whatever any of us believe about the tenets of the Muslim faith, it isn't anyone's place to judge their neighbor's religious beliefs, and American citizens who are Muslim are entitled to the same constitutional protections as any other American — including the practice of their religion, and obviously, not being deported.

This paranoia reminds me of America's imprisoning 70,000 United States citizens of Japanese descent during World War II — among a total of 117,000 of various other ancestries who were imprisoned in so-called "relocation centers." Haven't we grown up since then?

This opinion piece isn't only a comment about Islam. If we were to discriminate against Muslims, who's next, Scientologists? Jehovah's Witnesses? Mormons? Japanese? I'm saddened when fundamentalists of any faith advocate wrath and vengeance, but I support everyone's right to their books, their beliefs, and all their rights as United States citizens. This is a plea for all to put aside fear and prejudice, and to respect our American Bill of Rights and our American way of life.

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About Jonathan Lockwood Huie

  • Jehovahs Witnesses and freedom of speech.

    They will extol and preach *God’s Kingdom* and this sounds attractive,what they hide from you is their Watchtower society version that Jesus has already had his second coming in 1914 and is working *invisibly* through them.
    They have won 37 of their 46 Supreme court cases assuring us all of freedom of speech and assembly and equal protection under the law.

    The sad irony is that the Watchtower Society *daily* abuses the human rights of thousands of its members. It denies current members the right of free speech by forbidding them to speak to former members, even close family members.
    And it denies former members their right of freedom of worship by refusing to allow them to leave the religion with dignity, should they come to disagree with Watchtower’s practices or doctrines.

    The religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses is an oppressive cult that controls every aspect of its members’ lives.

    Are they knocking on your door?
    Danny Haszard

  • Jordan Richardson

    The sad irony is that people join these cults and allow themselves to have their rights abused, Danny.

    Nothing actively or violently forces members to join the JW cult. Members are indeed “forbidden” to speak to ex-members and so forth, but the “punishment” is that they are ostracized from the cult. Were they tossed in the gulag or shot, you’d have a case for human rights violation. But when members actively submit their rights to the leadership of categorically insane men and women, there’s no much you can do.

  • Jordan not so fast there…many are BORN into these cults FLDS,Jehovah Witness,Children of God, and have a difficult time exiting.

    It is like being born into the Taliban.

    We didn’t join by free will,and when we try to leave we are shunned by our familiies.

  • Jordan Richardson

    The point isn’t to suggest that there are no victims in cults, Jane. There are countless victims.

    My point should be taken in the context of this article, that is to say that we are dealing with the impact of brainwashing on families here, not a clear violation of human rights.

    Were we to invoke the notion that cults violate human rights, where could we draw and end such an idea? Human rights are basic ideas to which all humans are entitled, such as life, liberty, freedom of expression, and so forth. It could be argued that a cult imposes a violation of these rights on its members, but again the members are free to leave at any time. That’s not say that there aren’t harsh emotional consequences upon leaving, of course, but I’m not sure those consequences constitute anything criminal. They are undoubtedly evil.

    But being shunned by one’s family isn’t the same as losing the right to food or education. You can, as a JW or ex-JW, still access those rights if you choose to.

    One could argue that bad parenting could serve as a violation of human rights, I suppose. But again, where do you start to draw the lines?

    These cults shouldn’t exist, plain and simple. But they are private societies, with or without innocent victims, that operate within their own doctrine. Shunning one’s family isn’t against the law, however unethical and appalling it may be.

  • Calling anyone’s religion a “cult” is usually just an offensive way of saying that you don’t agree with it’s principles.

    Jim Jones’ People’s Temple (of the Jonestown mass suicide) was a cult. Islam and Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t even come close to meeting the definition.

    I apologize for opening up yet another group of Americans to attack. I hope I am being clear in supporting everyone’s right to practice their religion.

  • The definition of a destructive religious cult is like alcoholism-if booze controls you instead of the other way around you are an alcoholic.
    Religion can be benign then their are hard core Fundy groups that want to rule & control you like hard core alcoholism.

    The Watchtower society as an example is not benevolent and won’t let you leave their organization in peace.
    If they try to ruin your reputation and break up your family for trying to get out then they are a cult!

  • Very good point, Mr, Huie, about “cults,” and a subtle or not so subtle way of saying they’re off-the-wall because they’re not mainstream

    You might want to look at a great book by Howard Bloom (a renown literary critic), The American Religion, where he covers all the cults and sects (in addition to mainstream religions).

  • A factual clarification about the WW II internment of those of Japanese ancestry: The 117,000 to whom I refer were all of Japanese ancestry. 70,000 of these were United States citizens. The others were legal residents but not citizens. This got confused in the usually impeccable BC editing process.

  • Cindy

    No one has the right to decide whether another American’s belief system is a legitimate religion.

    NY state decided that Universal Life Church is not a religion and forbids ministers from performing marriages in NY. Here is their credo:

    The Universal Life Church | ULC is the only denomination in the world that opens its doors to all, and welcomes all who ask to Become an Ordained Minister. We are non-denominational. We support a full spectrum interfaith ministry. Over 20 million ministers have been ordained online throughout the world. We make no religious hurdles, no hoops to jump through, no tests of loyalty, no rings to kiss and no fees to pay. The Universal Life Church represents freedom, and to have freedom you can not make demands upon individuals. In the Universal Life Church Monastery everyone is equal – the same level of greatness is enjoyed by all. We will be your personal minister/consulate and advisor, with your consent at no charge to you. We ordain all who ask and welcome you to the Universal Life Church Monastery Ministries.

    I think other states also make such decisions about who’s religion is a real religion. They have requirements in some cases that in order to be a minister one must prove one has a following of a certain size.

    Nothing is sacred when the government gets involved. They don’t want all these ministers getting tax breaks, you see.

  • It’s still the case that the easiest way to disparage the competitor is to call it a sect or a cult. The whole thing is a racket, everybody jockeying for position and doing their best to eliminate the competition.

  • Good Books Don’t Always Inspire Good Behavior

    Judging from its messages of compassion, Buddhism should be the world’s most peaceful major religion. The world’s 350 million Buddhists are generally among the least aggressive, but not always. The recent violent rioting in Bangkok shows that religious messages of peace do not always override human nature. Thailand is 95% Buddhist.

    What’s the point of this post? Simply that people will always be people. Whether they read books with messages of peace or books that endorse wrath and vengeance, most people are usually peaceful, but circumstances sometimes push people to violence, and a few people will always be obsessively addicted to violence.

    Personally, I am inspired by Jesus’ message of love and by the Buddha’s call for universal compassion. I am saddened by how many have chosen words of wrath and vengeance as the basis of their religions. Nonetheless, I stand committed to judge individuals by their actions rather than by the books they read.

    Hate is never conquered by hate,
    Hate is only conquered by love.
    – The Buddha

  • Cindy

    I do see differences between religions and cults. And I’d like to ask some questions of those of you who do not.

    What if I decide to create a ‘religion’ in a very intentional way with a personal motive. I would be doing this for my own power and financial gain, say. I would employ brainwashing and coercive techniques, especially designed to manipulate people who are in a vulnerable state of mind or who are still forming their views. I would create campus groups of followers to recruit students at colleges. I would implement other tactics of ostracism, ridicule and other effective punishments (including solitary confinement) to insure I get the most compliance and the highest membership numbers.

    Is this okay with everyone?

  • Usually, cults and or sects tend to be more esoteric and sooner or later they “blow up,” at which time some of the abhorrent practices and rites come to light. Organized religions are those which usually survive the passage of time, which isn’t to say that their hierarchies aren’t manipulative.

  • Cindy

    The Unification Cult is 55 years old. The Cult of Scientology 56 years old.

    Are you sure you want that idea that they ‘blow up’ as part of your definition?

  • Some do. I would equate Scientology (don’t know about the other) with New Age thinking. One possible reason for its popularity is the secularization of the society and open resistance to all religions.

  • Cult from Wiki.

    “Outside the mainstream” is another element of the definition. Once it becomes mainstream, it ceases to be regarded as a cult.

  • Sect.

    A splinter from the mainstream religion, practice, body of beliefs.

  • Jonathan, it reads as though you’re OK with the US government forbidding Mormons to practice polygamy and forcing JWs to receive blood transfusions. I’m not. Both are clear violations of the First Amendment – albeit the second instance is ethically trickier.

  • Interesting point, especially as regards the practice of polygamy. Are you viewing it on analogy with “same sex” marriage?

  • Clavos

    They don’t want all these ministers getting tax breaks, you see.

    Nor do I.

    ALL tax breaks for religious organizations should be eliminated.

    IMO, a case can be made that, by making these types of distinctions, the gummint is, in fact, “mak[ing] law respecting an establishment of religion.”

  • The ULC sounds like either a scam or a sociological experiment anyway. If I read their mission statement right, they have no creed, no qualification requirements for ministers and no membership restrictions. A bit like, oh, let’s see now, anything that isn’t a church.

    Quite correctly, NY wasn’t buying it.

  • Roger @ #19:

    Absolutely. If multiple marriages are consensual, why shouldn’t they be legal?

  • Cindy

    I agree with that, Clav, with these qualifications:

    1) I’m against taxes in general.
    2) If there are going to be taxes to paid, big churches should not be given special preference over individual ministers.

  • ULC.

  • Cindy

    “I would equate Scientology (don’t know about the other) with New Age thinking. One possible reason for its popularity is the secularization of the society and open resistance to all religions.”

    Way off here Roger. I don’t think you would say these things if you understood Scientology, its history, and what it does.

  • Cindy


    I sort of like that definition you posted for cult, when I think of cultural indoctrination or state religious indoctrination as being cultish.

    But in the sense I mean a cult, here, that definition won’t work well. Cults aren’t always even religious sometimes they are businesses or financial organizations.

    This list, by Kevin Crawley, uses ideas from both Singer and Lifton (see below), and might help differentiate cult from religion in the way I mean:

    Of course, the problem with the word ‘cult’ is that it means different things to different folks. I’d like to put forward a behavioral definition:

    An organization that uses intensive indoctrination techniques to recruit and
    maintain members into a totalist ideology.

    Intensive indoctrination techniques include:
    1) Subjection to stress and fatigue
    2) Social disruption, isolation and pressure
    3) Self criticism and humiliation
    4) Fear, anxiety and paranoia
    5) Control of information
    6) Escalating commitment
    7) Use of auto-hypnosis to induce ‘peak’ experiences

    (link is read as spam)

    I think you are familiar with Robert J. Lifton Roger. Here is a presentation of his Eight Marks of a Mind-Control Cult.

    Also Margaret Thaler Singer developed a list. I can’t locate it quickly though.

  • Well, that’s where “the esoteric” part comes in – it’s usually restricted, elaborate passage/initiation rites, dealing with “mysteries,” etc.

    You might want to look at Gnosticism and Dionysus/Bacchus cult.

  • So a couple of obscure blogs make some outrageous claims and suddenly the First Amendment is under attack.


    Got any more straw men up your sleeve?

  • Well, yes, Scientology is a religion, sort of, but I still think it’s kind of “New Age” religion.

  • Clavos



  • the difference between a religion and a cult is only numbers

  • #22,

    So the grounds for approving/legalizing bigamy are the same as for same-sex marriage – mutual consent? (In which case, the former must be made valid for the society at large, regardless of the Mormon faith.)

    But where does one draw the line since everything turns on mutual consent?

  • The Problem of God! Being religious is not the same as being Godly…

  • Roger, I think you answered your own question. In the present day, the main concern with regard to multiple marriages is coercion, especially if either of the parties is under the legal age.

    The law regards minors as incapable of giving informed consent in certain matters. Of course the law contradicts itself with regard to what constitutes minority – the legal ages for driving, military service, marriage, voting and drinking are all different – so in that sense the line drawn is arbitrary. Nevertheless, it’s usually a pretty clear line as long as common sense is applied*.

    * Which it unfortunately often isn’t: for example, in the case of that 18-year-old from somewhere in the South who got a lengthy prison sentence and put on the sex offender list for having sex with his 17-year-old girlfriend.

  • The determination of what is and is not a cult is entirely independent of doctrine or beliefs, and should be defined by actions and behavior.

    Regardless of what they believe, if members are coerced into destructive behavior, prevented from leaving the group (even if only by peer pressure) and compelled to engage in illegal activities or deprived of basic civil rights because of their membership in the group, then it is a cult.


  • I don’t have any problem with religion as long as it doesn’t infringe upon my Constitutional rights. If a politician uses his/her respective religion as a foundation for his/her political positions — it becomes incumbent upon the electorate to closely examine that particular religion and its’ tenets. Mitt Romney, Harry Reid and Orrin Hatch are members of LDS. Therefore they believe that Jesus walked among the native Americans and they wear “sacred undergarments”. Perhaps that’s not important and in Harry Reid’s case I don’t think it is because he doesn’t seem to wear his religion on his sleeve. The Mormon Church was instrumental in the passage of Prop 8. Therefore those of us in the opposition must be instrumental in educating the public as to what the core fundamentals are of LDS. Ted Kennedy may be Roman Catholic but he certainly hasn’t allowed the oppressive nature of his faith to dictate his political views.

    I continue to maintain that any marriage license which was signed by the member of the clergy cannot be recognized as a legal marriage — especially by the Internal Revenue Service. There must be a line of demarcation drawn. The GLBT community has taken the wrong approach in the quest for equality. As far as I can see any marriage recognized as valid by the government which was not sealed by a civil official is NOT a legal marriage. That, in and of itself, should be the basis for the legal arguments.

    Any right wing political candidate in the next election cycle had best be prepared to defend their respective faith. By using their faith as a badge of honor and a foundation upon which to seek office, they have automatically exposed their faith to scrutiny. Americans have a right to know the FULL story behind why LDS backed away from polygamy. It had nothing to do with a message from God as it had to do with politics and entry into the Union. Sarah Palin believes abortion is wrong and wears her faith on her sleeve. We need to know what her faith teaches with regard to science, evolution and the common good.

  • Cindy

    Well, yes, Scientology is a religion, sort of, but I still think it’s kind of “New Age” religion.


    If there was ever a thing that could be labeled a cult. Scientology is the clearest example of it.

    Whatever you think it as to do with New Age is very misguided. It has nothing at all in common with New Age ideas.

    Have you ever had a conversation with someone who you clearly know has no idea what they’re talking about in relation to a particular subject? It makes it kind of hard to keep on discussing it doesn’t it?

    Well, then that’s where I am at right now.

  • Cindy


    What Dave said. That works for me.

  • Clavos


    I was married by a Notary (legal in Florida).

    Are notaries “civil officials?”

    And would a marriage performed by a Presbyterian minister (e.g.) in Tampa who is also a Notary be a “legal” marriage for you?

  • The New Age itself is a kind of nebulous concept, IMO, a mishmash or kind of modernism and what some regard as “progressive” thinking. And when I looked (briefly) at the Scientology site, that’s my impression. But I don’t care enough about it either way to get into deeper discussion on the subject. Not my cup of tea, so I just pass.

  • Doc re#34,

    I was asking a more general kind of question – not necessarily restricted to either “bigamy” or same-sex marriage. To wit, if the matter of mutual consent is the determining factor as to weather we’re to regard something as legal, to which kind of activities/acts it properly applies and to which it doesn’t. That’s what I meant by “drawing the line.”

  • Cindy

    I don’t think a church or a state should have anything to do with anyone’s relationships. Why do I need a state to interfere with whomever I wish to be committed to?

    I was married twice. Once in aid of another who had no legal country that didn’t want to personally oppress or kill him. And once so that we could benefit from the law. After having lived with my husband 10 years, the next time around we realized we could not have legal advantages without marriage. Why should this be?

  • “Have you ever had a conversation with someone who you clearly know has no idea what they’re talking about in relation to a particular subject? It makes it kind of hard to keep on discussing it doesn’t it?”

    I don’t find this remark very constructive? What purpose does it serve?

  • Cindy

    #40 Fair enough Roger.

  • Clavos

    I see your point, Cindy, but there ARE laws, especially where property and rights are concerned, which are good reasons in themselves for attaching some sort of “legal” status to personal relationships.

    It is dangerous to share one’s life and property with another human being without some sort of legal protection, even if it’s only a contract.

  • I only gave you my impression. I never claimed to be an expert on the subject.

  • Cindy,

    I think it’s a matter of conferring a certain legal status – vestige from the Middle Ages. Membership(s) were guarded whether in guilds or other professional associations. Today’s College derives from the Latin “collegia” – a student association, to protect their rights from the lecturers/professors.

    Colle derives from collegi

  • Cindy


    I have to get back to work for a few hours as I have been particularly drawn to these conversations today and neglectful of what I am supposed to be doing. But, before I go, I wanted to say, regarding #43, you’re right. And I am sorry I said that. I realized it too late. I apologize.

  • No problem, Cindy. I get carried away too, like last night when I made a complete ass out of myself. Talk to you later. I could use some rest, too. Completely wiped out.

  • I think it an important enough op-ed piece to be posted on any site, so it may as well be this one:

    The American Way.

  • Arch Conservative

    Why is it that you have such a hardon for defending Muslims Jonathan?

  • A notary public is a civil official, therefore the marriage would be civilly recognized. As far as I am concerned a member of the clergy cannot serve as a civil official, period. A civil official can only serve one master – the electorate. A member of the clergy, in that same regard, is supposed to serve one master. The problem, however, is that most members of the clergy are very human which prevents them from serving no one but themselves. I really hate to make such a blanket indictment but what alternative do I have? The Ultra Right Wing is more of an enemy to these United States than Osama bin Laden. To believe any different is most naive.

  • Clavos

    “The Ultra Right Wing and the Federal government [are] more of an enemy to these United States than Osama bin Laden.

    There. Fixed it for ya, Silas.

    In fact, King Saud is more of an enemy to these United States than Osama Bin Laden; he’s certainly done us far more damage.

  • Well, Clav, I will agree that the Saudi Royal family and Osama bin Laden are on equal footing as enemies of the United States. And if one were to look at the American friends of the House of Saud, I think one would find that the majority of those Americans are members of the Ultra Right. Let us not forget that the Far Right eagerly anticipate the advent of Armageddon. They’ve got their cameras packed and are ready to head to the Middle East at the first sign that Jesus is on that cloud flying in to seize the day. Silly humans.

  • Clavos

    Personally, I’d like to turn vast swaths of the Middle East into a sheet of glass, but not before we’ve developed good energy alternatives.

  • As long as those vast swaths contain every Ultra Right wingnut we’ve got. We’ll put up posters at the Churches — Armageddon Airlines Special One Way $199. We could make a fortune! Then once they are in place, we’ll just dress up a bomb in swaddling clothes and drop it over them. They’ll see what they want to see — they always do.

  • Clavos

    As long as those vast swaths contain every Ultra Right wingnut we’ve got.

    Why waste the opportunity?

    Let’s send all the Bill Ayers’s, the Ward Churchills, Jeremiah Wrights, and Congress as well.

  • Clavos

    In fact, the entire legislative branch and all the lobbyists, too.

  • zingzing

    archie: “Why is it that you have such a hardon for defending Muslims Jonathan?”

    because if there’s someone like you out there, the universe demands someone like him.

    fair is fair. may karma be kind to you.

  • Syed Hussein

    As an American Muslim, I find it so funny that these same rightwing bloggers who scream freedom of speech everytime they defame Muslim beliefs or insult newspapers for refusing to publish offensive cartoons on Prophet Muhammad…would turn around and campaign on taking away the “Bible of Muslims” and “banning their faith:” It shows the moral depravity and hollowness of their hypocritical arguments. I learned to pay no attention to these hatemongers like Michelle Malkin’s Hotair, and Joe Farrah’s WND or even Johnson’s LGF. Their right-wing ilk has learned to foster a pathological distrust of any Muslim akin to a hopelessly rabid anti-Semite. The only Muslim they like is a “reformed” Muslim who abandons his faith. Good luck!

  • Syed Hussein

    By the way great article Jonathan. You make some terrific points, including why the supposedly most peaceful religion of Buddhism is not blamed for the egregious manipulation of its followers such as the crimes of the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan Army. The Tigers are ranked as using the most suicide attacks than any other group in the world.

    No religion is immune to the radicals of the faith or no faith. We don’t blame the military institution for the Abu Gharaib torture, although commands came from top-level and CARRIED OUT by the lower level brass even when it went against what they were taught. We don’t blame “American values of liberal gun culute” for the now almost bi-weekly shootings of innocents by American gunmen in malls, churches, schools, Pittsburg, or immigration centers.

    Although I’m opposed to same sex marriage as a strong matter of my religious and personal principle, there is a Muslim Congressman from Minnesota, Keith Ellison, who is a strong supporter of it. I don’t dislike him because of it because his values are not mine, but I respect his or any gay person’s choice; so long as he/she don’t infringe upon mine.

    No issue or religion has a monolith. It’ll do well for many rightwingers with a brain to remember that. Alas, what I just said was an oxymoron.

  • CSS

    I hate Bush-Cheney

  • Syed,

    Perhaps you should consider submitting an article to BC. I think it would be a good thing to hear your take on many important issues which face our society.

  • Arch Conservative

    As an American Muslim, I find it so funny that these same rightwing bloggers who scream freedom of speech everytime they defame Muslim beliefs or insult newspapers for refusing to publish offensive cartoons on Prophet Muhammad…


    What is funny is people calling a crucifix in a vat of urine labelled “piss christ” or the virgin Mary covered in elephant dung, “art” and that is completely acceptable and in fact celebrated by many. Yet those who would find that acceptable get their panties in a bunch if a newspaper dares publish an unflattering cartoon of a muslim prophet.

    You’re the hypocrite Syed. Ranting and raving about right wingers when it’s you and those like you that’s the poster boy for intolerant religious bigotry.

    We conservatives have absolutely no problem with anyone in America practicing the muslim faith as long as it is not used as a tool for terrorism against the American people. What we do have a problem with is the double standard that exists whereby it’s expected that Christians must tolerate any and all insults to their faith but muslims may be permitted to use the threat of violence toward anyone who may be critical of or insulting to their religion.

    That means if you’re gonna have piss Christ and Elephant dung Mary then you must have mohammed cartoons and if you the latter offends your delicate sensibilities as a muslim living in this nation then that’s just too fucking bad Syed.

    Oh and as for distrusting mulims in America…I think the so called moderate muslims who don’t open thier mouths to speak even a single word of condemnation when the jihadi scumbags commit their wicked deeds across the globe as well as the fine folks at CAIR have done far more to foster that than Michelle Malkin could ever dream of.

    As for right verse left beign a danger to this nation……The commie Soros puppet we have in the White House at this very moment is a far, far greater threat to this nation than any right wing militia or activist group.

  • Syed, I agree with Roger that you should write on BC. You write well, and express your views clearly and responsibly. I would like the opportunity to read more about your views and especially how you cope with the prejudices that surround you in America.

  • Archie, I agree with your basic point but you seem to take it as a given that all attacks on Christianity are tolerated in the West whereas all attacks on Islam are condemned. This is far from the case.

  • I don’t know what basic point you agree with, Doc?

  • That if we are going to have open season on religion, then it should be all religions, not just selected ones.

  • I see. Well, that part was even-handed.

  • STM

    What’s a first amendment and how does it come under siege?

    Is someone attacking it?

    What did it do to deserve that?

  • It’s under attack from the dark forces of Metaphor, Cliché and Hyperbole.

  • Perhaps I was objecting to holding Muslims in the West to the same standards of openness and free speech to which we are accustomed. I, too, used to be perturbed at first by the unwillingness on the part of the peaceful and moderate Muslim community to speak out against their fundamental brethren. But I believe there may be important considerations I may not be aware of. So their relative silence in this matter isn’t necessarily an indication of their duplicity or secret support of terrorist activity. And Archie was awfully close, it seemed to me, to crossing that line.

  • #71: Sounds like a passage from The Pilgrim’s Progress.

  • (Cliché, I believe, is a small village in north-eastern France with a disproportionately high level of aggression among its male population – something in the local wine, possibly – and a large private army.)

  • I’ve got to look it up. But anyway, Dante’s Commedia also features virtues and vices personified.

  • Clavos

    Here we go again…

  • Why, Clav? Are Metaphor and Hyperbole also little rural French towns? In the Meuse District, perhaps?

    I was stationed in Verdun, BTW, but don’t recall any such.

  • Metaphor does indeed nestle cosily in the Meuse. Hyperbole, however, is situated on the Aegean island of Euboeia, not far from the Gap of Litotes.

  • Darn me! Missed that little town. It must have been only a rock’s throw from where I was at.

    Beautiful countryside, though. I’ll never forget it. And these French provincial restaurants, in small little provincial towns? They’ve got nothing to be ashamed of. Comparable in food quality and service to the best in Paris. Never mind the prices.

  • We conservatives have absolutely no problem with anyone in America practicing the muslim faith as long as it is not used as a tool for terrorism against the American people.

    Failing to capitalize the “M” in Muslim is all I need to know about where you stand on respecting the faith, Arch. The Ultra Right Christian heretics terrorize their fellow Americans daily if those who are terrorized do not subscribe to their unnatural beliefs. Fundamentalist Christianity is the AntiChrist.

    For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will lead many astray. — Matthew 24:5

  • Perhaps a valid point in most cases, Silas. I would give Archie a free ride on that one.

  • Conservatives don’t believe in free rides, Roger. And, in keeping with my tradition of respecting my fellow human and their beliefs, I won’t afford any free ride. snicker

  • Then you’re giving Archie more credit than perhaps you ought to.

  • Gentlemen and Ladies,

    I think that most of you are allowing yourselves to be misled here, and focusing on irrelevant issues like Scientology, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the nature of cults as opposed to religions.

    While Jonathan Huie throws in a whole pack of red herrings about Mormons and Christian Science, his real article is all about some bloggers maligning Islam.

    We would do well not to forget that.

    The one Moslem who wrote in here is proof of that. Bing’s answer (you know the “Arch-Conservative”), while a bit unfocused, is the other side of the issue.

    First, let’s look at what Mr. Huie is complaining about. This is from the first link in the article:

    The root word of religion means “to bind”. Islam is binding, it imposes capital punishment for apostasy established by 9:74. Allah also commanded his votaries to attack, kill or wound disbelievers, and “bind a bond firmly” in 47:4.

    Religion also involves theology, scripture, ritual and prayer. Islam meets all of those tests, so what disqualifies it as a religion? Mercenary mission is at the head of my of disqualifying factors. The following ayat expose Moe’s mercenary motivation for founding Islam: 8:1, 8:41, 8:67, 33:27 & 48:15-21. Al-Anfal 67 is particularly clear about both mercenary motivation and violence.

    It is not for a Prophet that he should have prisoners of war (and free them with ransom) until he had made a great slaughter (among his enemies) in the land. You desire the good of this world (i.e. the money of ransom for freeing the captives), but Allâh desires (for you) the Hereafter. And Allâh is All-Mighty, All-Wise. [Hilali & Khan]

    The phrases emphasized with bold font make two things clear: Moe wanted booty and Allah wants genocide. How can an institution dedicated to pillage, plunder and genocide be worthy of protection as a religion? How can there be a right to practice a ‘religion’ which mandates making war on members of other religions as Islam clearly does in 9:29?

    Is it possible that an unrepentant rapist founded a legitimate religion? When Moe attacked the Jews living at the Khaibar Oasis, he had their chieftain tortured to death and added his widow to his own harem. His act is reported in the oral tradition of his companions: Bukhari 4.52.143. His attitude toward raping captive women is also on record: Bukhari 5.59.459.

    Strong stuff, eh? Let’s take a look at that second link, shall we?

    We must begin by outlawing Islam and outlawing Muslim schools and the Quran. Then we must deport or imprison those who teach and/or practice Islam. Drastic? Absolutely, but there is no other way. This is not a freedom of religion issue. It is a survival issue. If this makes me a bigot then so be it. I believe it makes me a realist. I think deep down you all know that what I say is true, but you are too afraid of being labeled a bigot to admit it. But from where I stand, the security and preservation of America is much more important than what someone thinks of me.

    Wow!! Substitute the word “Jew” for “Moslem” in that sentence and you would have something out of a neo-Nazi handbook! As Jonathan Huie asserts, these attitudes are unacceptable. But before we go and say, “there oughta be a law”, let’s back up just a bit.

    The authors of these blogs are private individuals. But Jonathan Huie trumpets the alarm that the First Amendment is under siege. By who? How?

    The First Amendment protects Americans from “government action” – meaning, in plain English, that the First Amendment protects Americans from actions that the government may take against them with regards to restricting freedom of assembly, speech, practice of religion, etc. These bloggers are private individuals, like I am, or Jonathan Huie himself. They do not represent the state at all. Perhaps their attitudes are unacceptable, but until a mob takes up clubs and guns and makes those views real, they are merely opinions. And their opinions, like those of Mr. Huie, are protected by the very same First Amendment that Jonathan Huie alleges is under siege.

    There is no siege here. There is no threat to the First Amendment at all. And the danger comes not from these bloggers but from the well heeled and well funded Moslem lobby groups, like CAIR, which have terrorist ties themselves. If Ibrahim Hooper, the head of CAIR, gets his way, Islam will be the law of the land in America, and you will have only the freedom to bow on a prayer rug five times a day – or die.

    And once again, we see the slippery hand of Jonathan Huie misleading you and shilling for the agenda of the “Blessed of Hussein”.

    Pay careful attention to what he writes, for you will see more like him – more “innocent” people, writing relentlessly – pushing the agenda of the “Blessed of Hussein”.

  • Common, Ruvy, It is a tirade.

    You don’t suppose now that Mr. Huie actively or passively supports terrorism.

    Can’t we sit down for a good glass of Burgundy and discuss this like gentlemen?

  • Roger,

    Jonathan Huie does not support terrorism in any form – at least not until the “Blessed of Hussein” condones it. Jonathan Huie is nothing more or less than a shill or Barak Hussein Obama. That is what his articles show, so far. But so far, he does not appear to support terrorism. I would never make such an outrageous and defamatory claim.

  • Ruvy,

    What the hell do you mean by “a shill” You’re not suggesting now he’s getting paid or something. If that’s what he believes in, so be it. We’re all free to have our opinions. But somehow, saying of someone that he/she is a shill does suggest either a diminished mental capacity or some kind of dishonestly.

    I wouldn’t be discussing this with you if I did not hold you with esteem. It’s only because of this that I ask for a higher standard which, I well know, you’re more than capable of.


  • Roger,

    I suppose, “shill” is not the right term, as it can imply a financial connection – and that is something I cannot prove.

    Let us merely say that each and every article of Jonathan Huie’s in one way or another backs the Obama agenda. And it appears that even in articles that have nothing to do with politics, like his piece on vengeance, he still manages to work in some backing for the Obama agenda. To me that is very suspicious.

  • We all do it, except the blessed few. I’d like to think that all my pieces are “think pieces” but sentiments and hidden presuppositions/beliefs can’t help sometimes but shine through. Certainly your “agenda” (not a fortunate word in this case, I admit) is quite apparent; and it’s so with Nalle, and Obnoxious American; and Handy; and plenty, plenty others. So this part of it is no exception.

    Are you suggesting, perhaps, that Mr. Huie is skillful enough in his writings so as not to reveal his real intentions – because that’s quite a charge, not to mention a great skill on the part of the author.

    I, for one, haven’t noticed it.

  • Since the comments have moved away from my post and onto me personally, let me respond, rather than continuing to be talked about in the third person.

    I would describe my political views as ultra-progressive – that’s definitely to the left of Obama. I believe in universal health care, massive government supports for a comprehensive program to develop self-sufficient clean energy sources for America, and all the provisions of the Bill of Rights for every American.

    My view on religion and politics is summed up by Robert A. Heinlein’s quote, “Almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power.” I personally prefer to keep my Spirituality free from any organized religion.

    My passion in life is assisting people to find personal happiness through choice – even in the face of challenging circumstances. This is reflected in my current book, “Simply An Inspired Life: Consciously Choosing Unbounded Happiness in Good Times and Bad”

    Of the negative comments that have been made about me, Ruvy’s observation that I was naive is probably the closest. I do always believe the best about everyone until incontrovertible facts about that individual convince me otherwise. Like every other human, I have my moments of prejudice and stereotyping, but I am committed to fight that tendency, and to consider each person individually rather than as a part of some group. You will find me advocating for women’s reproductive rights, the ACLU, gay rights, atheist rights, and more.

    I believe that powerful majorities of any kind are dangerous and tend to trample on the rights of minorities. I like how Larry Flynt said it, “Majority rule only works if you’re also considering individual rights, because you can’t have five wolves and one sheep voting on what to have for dinner.”

  • Mr, Huie,

    I did not mean any affront when I confronted Ruvy about a point or two – and it was inadvertent, though unavoidable, to refer to you in the third person.

    I think it’s gracious of you to state your personal credo and it’s unfortunate that you felt it necessary to do so. Under normal circumstances, your article(s) should and would stand on it own, as written.

    I apologize, therefore, if I’ve contributed, however slightly, to this act of self-disclosure. It was not my intention.

  • Roger, no offense taken … and none toward anyone else. I guess I’m just amused at the amount of speculation on my motives. I’m getting more used to the BC culture now. I was rather intimidated at first, but I now recognize that this is an outspoken rather than hostile community.

  • Oh, and call me “Jonathan” please.

  • Well, Jonathan. I’m not intimidated, but at times it’s difficult to distinguish what you call “outspokenness” from hostility (or whatever).

    But I try.

  • Roger,

    Pay close attention. This article deals with anger against Islam; “I Was a Bastard for 22 Years” deals with discrimination against Arab-Americans.

    The article “I Support President Obama’s Peaceful Outreach in the Middle East” supports Arabs and Islam – and, without saying it in so many words – backs a political arrangement that would make me and lots of others Jews homeless, seizing OUR homes to satisfy Jonathan Huie’s “peace” initiative.

    Do you not see a pattern in all this, Roger? Someone shilling (without pay) for an administration that likes Arabs and Moslems, and has no trouble fucking over Jews. Every day a new article, bang, bang, bang.

    This continuous pattern, bang, bang, bang, supporting the “Blessed of Hussein”, supporting Arabs and Moslems (to everyone else’s disadvantage and ignoring Moslem calls for dominance and control in his own country) leaves me cold and suspicious. This continuous pattern of misrepresenting issues – here alleging the First Amendment is under threat when it isn’t at all, elsewhere switching and baiting issues of bastardy and miscegenation for supporting Arab-Americans leaves me very suspicious.

    There is a fundamental dishonesty here that disgusts me.

    Fortunately for me, I no longer live in a land that will fall under the sway of such hypocrisy, Roger.

  • Ruvy, that’s about the same thing as someone accusing you as being a Neocon. People CAN support Islam and Arabs without being paid shills or on the take in order to hold that opinion.


  • @ 9 and 21.

    You both couldn’t be further from the truth. The Universal Life Church is a nationally recognized organization with ministers that have performed legal marriages in all 50 states. New York is no exception. If you don’t believe me, contact the New York City Clerk’s office, you’ll be surprised to find that thousands of ULC ministers have officiated weddings.

    And to further suggest that the ULC is a tax dodge is equally false. Becoming ordained does not offer tax exemption to anyone. Any individual is required to meet a litany of federal requirements to achieve a tax free status.

    -Br. Martin

  • Someone shilling (without pay) for an administration that likes Arabs and Moslems, and has no trouble fucking over Jews.

    Did you miss that part in bold, Dave? I cannot afford to state that Jonathan Huie is on the take, or getting paid. That, no matter what my own thoughts may be, can be a defamatory statement unless I can produce the receipts or the deposits slips proving payment, and can be actionable in a court of law. I can’t do any of that, and have qualified my statements accordingly.

  • Br. Martin,

    I am a minister of the Universal Life Church. All I have ever done with that is free weddings for family and friends. My cousin was married in NY 4 years ago. I was denied the right to perform the wedding in New York City. They said that it’s not a real church.

  • Cindy, and fellow ULC minister,

    Your article above is from 2003. According to the forum at the ULC site, there’s a couple of posts from 2007, one by Br. Martin that includes an email from a third party, stating NYC was now allowing ULC ministers to perform wedding ceremonies although I believe some registration is required with the city clerk’s office.

  • @ 101.

    You are correct. The Universal Life Church Monastery has been in regular communication with the New York City Clerk’s office for about the last three years, and I can tell you with complete certainty that they recognize ULC ordinations. The Universal Life Church is every bit as legitimate as any other church, and government organizations are not allowed to suggest otherwise.

    That being said, the New York City Clerk’s office does require individuals to present more that an ordination credential to register as a wedding officiant. We issue letters of good standing to verify the authority of our ministers.

    Once again, if you doubt me, contact the New York City Clerk’s office! 🙂

    -Br. Martin

  • Cindy

    Thanks E.B.

    Br. Martin,

    I’m happy that they are letting ULC ministers perform marriages again. I ended up only performing the ceremony and my cousin was married by a judge. I was shocked they’d even try to decide whose religion was a real religion.

    I think ULC is wonderful, because people with all kinds of beliefs can escape a church of authority and come together in a spiritual unity.

    My mother actually went to one of the ULC get togethers in CA. She said it was wonderful as people from all faiths and also agnostics and even atheists were there. It’s very cool as churches go in my book.

    Thanks for the update.

  • It’s a congeniality party.
    Glad to hear all is OK in paradise.

  • Cindy:
    Just a quick correction the state of New York does allow ordinations from the Universal Life Church I think you are confusing the Monastery Storehouse of Seattle with the Universal Life Church

  • 105, ULC,

    Thanks you for taking time to reply.

    I tried to marry two people in NY City and the couple was told that, at that time, the minister credentials from ULC were not accepted by NY. So, this is something that actually happened to me personally.

    Perhaps things have changed. The state is so fickle about freedom of religion.