If you examine the Founding documents of this country, you will realize how the leaders of the GOP, in their electoral affinity with the Religious Far Right, would deliberately mislead American citizens in order to co-opt themselves and their corporate patrons in the destruction (by reconstruction) of the U.S. Constitution.
"The merger of corporatist Republicans and the new "frauds of the clergy" could bring this nation to an even more terrible crossroad, unless Americans of good conscience contact their members of the Senate to support Jefferson's and Madison's ideal of democracy.
The number to reach any member of the Senate is 202-224-3121."
I saw a column today in the New York Times written by Bob Herbert. It deals, in part, with a topic that is very, very hard for us to talk about. Yet, if we fail to talk about it, nothing will get better.
The column deals with a conscientious objector who raises some extremely disturbing charges about some things he saw happening, with his own eyes, in Iraq.
There was a statement, toward the end of the column, that seemed to have been added at the end to have maximum effect upon our faith consciousness.
Mr. Delgado, who eventually got conscientious objector status and was honorably discharged last January, recalled a disturbance that occurred while he was working in the Abu Ghraib motor pool. Detainees who had been demonstrating over a variety of grievances began throwing rocks at the guards. As the disturbance grew, the Army authorized lethal force. Four detainees were shot to death.
Mr. Delgado confronted a sergeant who, he said, had fired on the detainees. "I asked him," said Mr. Delgado, "if he was proud that he had shot unarmed men behind barbed wire for throwing stones. He didn't get mad at all. He was, like:
'Well, I saw them bloody my buddy's nose, so I knelt down. I said a prayer. I stood up, and I shot them down.'
Faith as Wedge:
Bob Herbert showcased the soldier's hearsay-statement, offered to him by the conscientious objector he'd interviewed, and I can see how the soldier's referral to prayer could easily be used as a wedge to politically divide people of faith. I'm not saying that Bob should not report what is told to him, that's not my point at all. I'm saying that the perceptions about the soldier and his faith, through the quoted statement about him, is how wedges are deepened by those who wish to use faith as a political weapon. (Unfortunately, I am aware that there are many political operatives who have this wish.)
Faith as Target:
When the conscientious objector points to the soldier's alleged statement about prayer and defense of a "buddy" as a direct reason for the killing of a detainee (rather than focusing on the fact that he was following Army orders), it seems that the conscientious objector is targeting the soldier's faith as the proximate reason for the killing. He takes the fact that there was a direct order to shoot nearly out of the picture. The statement is "put out there" with no deeper discussion of how many ways you could come to understand the soldier in question and his personal experience. Is that a fair way to lead others to understand the truth? I don't think so. That's why I've chosen to point this out to you.
Faith as Catalyst
Faith is being challenged as a catalyst for killing, if you read too many of your own fears and perceptions into the soldier's alleged statement. Did faith drive the soldier to kill - or was the order to fire upon the detainees the catalyst? I don't agree with our policy in Iraq, but if we infer that faith is a catalyst for killing, I believe we are making too heavy and unfair a judgement upon the soldier.
Faith as Personal Support
Have you considered that the soldier may have been personally struggling with the Army order to shoot, and stopped to pray God's forgiveness before killing as ordered, thus fulfilling a sworn duty? I don't think that would be too much of a strain on our empathetic imagination.
Faith as Maker of Enemies
You know, as sure as day follows night, that a person who already harbors anger for the soldiers will take the alleged statement from that soldier and consider it a Crusader's message. Faith makes enemies when we fail to talk openly and honestly about personal faith.
My personal thoughts? I believe the soldier was following orders. War makes you hard, or war makes you realize you cannot be hard. The conscientious objector could not be hard enough to allow what he perceived as gross violation of human rights to be forgotten. Through it all, there are soldiers who've followed orders and will be forever tortured by what they were ordered to do.
If a soldier stops to pray before he follows orders, I don't know if he's going to hell or heaven or San Luis Obispo when he dies. Neither do you, by science. You only believe by faith. The same faith that causes soldiers to pray.
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