There’s an old saying about politics making strange bedfellows. Well if I use the saying in conjunction with the grouping of people this posting is about, I would find myself with a one-way ticket to hell.
There’s a strange alliance (I’m tempted by the word unholy) brewing out there between those who we would nominally lump as enemies: Catholics, Mormons, and fundamentalist Muslims. Talk about finding friends in the enemy’s camp.
A Brian Whitaker report in the “Guardian Unlimited” from last January reported on the increasing formalization of relationships in this previously loose alliance of theocrats.
In November of 2004 a group consisting of Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a charming gentleman who advocates wife beating and traditional family values; Cardinal Alfonso Trujillo, who leads the Catholic Church’s War On Condoms (my caps); Mahathir Mohamad, the former dictator of Malaysia who once fired and jailed a senior aid on suspicion of Homosexuality; and representatives of the Mormon Church all got together in Doha, capital of Qatar, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the United Nation’s Year of the Family.
Qatar being a country that refused to sign the international Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women on religious grounds actually sponsored this meeting. In fact the government went so far as to appoint the “World Family Policy Centre” of Brigham Young University – run by the Mormon church – to host a series of preliminary meetings to gather the best family policy scholarship available to be used at this meeting.
Opening the conference, Sheikha Mousa bint Nasser al-Misnad, the wife of Qatar’s ruler, announced that the well-being of the family was in peril. She warned against trying to “redefine the concept of family in a manner contrary to religious precepts” – though there was little danger of anyone at the Doha conference doing that. Brian Whitaker, Guardian Unlimited; January 2005
In the past we have seen these groups be mutually supportive without any formal arrangements or meetings. In Africa one of the biggest hindrances in the fight against the spread of AIDS is the opposition in various forms these groups bring to family planning and the use of condoms as a safety measure. Whether by influencing American foreign aid packages that prohibit any links to Planned Parenthood, or telling people that condoms contribute to the spread of AIDS, (United Families International, a U. S. based organization preaches sexual abstinence to African countries and says that sex education and condoms cause AIDS) or telling the faithful these practices run opposite the word of God, the result is the same.
It’s of interest to note that Sheik Yusuf has been banned from the United States since 1999 because of his advocacy of violence against Americans, and that he has recently been linked to the suicide bombers working in Iraq. But I guess the fact that he exhorts his people to kill Americans at any opportunity is not important to these pro-family Christians. They accuse liberals of giving aid and comfort to the enemy!
I’m all in favour of respecting other people’s beliefs, but these people make it really difficult to adhere to that principle. Their preoccupation with forcing what they believe down other people’s throats is nauseating: their use of scare tactics and lies to bully people into doing what they want, blackmailing starving countries to adhere to their religious beliefs or not receive aid money, and associating themselves with people who actively support terrorist activities against their fellow citizens is not behaviour that I find justifiable no matter what the ends. Maybe I missed the psalm or parable that preaches the end justifies the means, although since it has been Church doctrine since the Inquisition, I can’t see why it surprises me.
(Hey, Homeland Security people, shouldn’t you be looking into this? How many people are in jail right now for being friends with someone who knew a suspected terrorist’s barber, and yet here are folk who freely associate with someone banned from the U. S. for advocating violence against its citizens)
I know there are a lot of people who don’t like the idea of the separation of church and state, but I thought the rationale behind that was to ensure people’s right to practice the religion of their choice. Isn’t that why so many people have come to North America, for the promise of being free to worship and believe as they wish, even if it is contrary to the beliefs of the majority?
There was a big brouhaha, and rightly so, when the Taliban cracked down on Christians and knocked over statues of the Buddha, about how freedom of religion was being constrained. We hear about infringements on human rights in China because of prohibitions against Christianity. Why then is it so hard to understand when people want a two way street and the right not to be Christian?
Those who attended the 10th anniversary celebration conference in Qatar would have their single-minded view of what worshiping God entails enforced upon the rest of the world. Be they Muslim or Christian, the participants don’t have any use for freedom of religion or the rights of other divergent opinions. It’s their way or the highway to hell.
If the people of the United States genuinely want to become a religious theocracy, like those they are so highly critical of in Iran and other Muslim countries, ruled solely by a single interpretation of the bible, then they will. But I would think that the majority of Americans still have too much respect for the diversity of the human spirit and individual freedoms for that to ever happen.
The Scottish novelist Christopher Brookmyre in his novel Not The End Of The World has a leader of the religious right bemoaning the lack of fervour amongst Christians as compared to Muslims. Let us hope and, dare I say pray, that this new alliance doesn’t see the beginning of Martyrdom as a means for the Christian right to get their point across.
Nice clean cut Mormon kids going door to door on missionary work is one thing, putting a timed explosive into every copy of the gospels in another. They haven’t hesitated from using violence in the past, bombing abortion clinics, shooting doctors, and advocating violence against foreign leadership; their record isn’t exactly spotless.
Who knows? Maybe right now in the middle of the deserts of Qatar there are joint Muslim/Christian terrorist training camps preparing a new wave of martyrs who are itching to strike a blow for family values everywhere. Not a pleasant thought.