By Frank Schaeffer
By Frank Schaeffer
The killings at Ft Hood are a reminder of just why we don't want fundamentalist religion mixing with the US military. The words "religious freedom" can't be a one stop justification for stupidity: say ignoring clear warning signs from potential killers, be they abortion doctor haters or America-haters. Put it this way; what is more dangerous, gays serving in the military or radical fundamentalists be they Islamic or Christian in uniform? In other words do we want anyone in our military convinced of any certainty other than their oath to uphold our constitution?
Given our tendency to psychobabble everything to death the alleged Ft. Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan is being given what I'll call the NPR/Oprah therapeutic pass. We're told he was stressed, bullied, alone etc., etc. Excuses are being made for his actions. No one wants to look as if they are down on Islam, much less down on religion in general. How come?
Since when is religion off limits? Is that why the FBI was slow to act in this case as they were before 9/11 when they lost track of the terrorists hatching that plot in flight schools?
I'm a religious person and have just written a book defending religion (Patience With God--Faith For People Who Don't Like Religion Or Atheism). But the sort of faith I defend is the only reasonable faith there is: faith in uncertainty and the embrace of paradox. Life isn't long enough to ever know anything.
From the scandals of forced evangelicalism at the US Air Force Academy, to a military chaplaincy deliberately overrun by militantly fundamentalist Christians, to this post-Ft. Hood shooting soft peddling of the religion angle out of "sensitivity" to Muslims the codling of religion has to stop.
National security is more important than religious freedom. And there is a difference between the civilian world and the military world. The military not only has the right to bar some from service - say felons - but the duty to protect the rest of us from nuts that the military might send back into civilian life armed and dangerous. (And I speak here as the proud pro-military father of a US Marine who fought for our country in Afghanistan.)
This Ft. Hood killing spree had a recent foreshadowing in the murder of Dr. George Tiller. That too was a case of what seems to be religiously-inspired domestic terror. Operation Rescue and the Taliban et al have more in common than the mere religions that separate them. Killing for Allah or for Jesus all comes out the same.
The FBI seemed to have been equally reluctant to intervene when they could have, when Tiller's murderer was gluing locks shut on buildings and committing other acts of vandalism that the FBI was aware of before he killed Dr. Tiller. Now, in this case again - probably out of undue "respect" for religion -- the FBI held back on exposing the Ft. Hood alleged killer's connections with radicalized Islam when, according to ABC News, "alleged Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan had more unexplained connections to people being tracked by the FBI than just radical cleric Anwar al Awlaki." ("More Hasan Ties to People Under Investigation by FBI" Nov 11, 09)
Let's get something straight: at this moment of American history religious fanatics of all faiths are our biggest security problem. And it is time to change the national discussion on religion, that seeks to blame everything but religion for bad behavior by religious fanatics.
The religious fanatics whine and plead special deference and we give it to them. Why? From the Tea Bagger loonies - mostly right wing evangelicals - we that hear the mainstream media doesn't respect them. From the Muslim community we hear that the shooter in Ft. Hood was bullied, that he faced stress, and that Muslims in the military are picked on.
It is time to stand up and denounce loony religion and the insane actions it spawns. Dumb, vicious religion needs no excuses for bad behavior. From Sarah Palin's evangelical/fundamentalist lies about "death panels" to the Ft. Hood shooter's hate of America the religious right - be it Islamic or Christian - is to be feared not pitied.
Frank Schaeffer is the author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back and Patience With God: Faith For People Who Don't Like Religion (Or Atheism)