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First they came for the communists, but I was not a communist, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the socialists and the trade unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.
– Pastor Martin Niemoeller.

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Religious Fanatics? What About Secular Fanatics? - Wednesday, July 06, 2011 at 23:20


Religious Fanatics? What About Secular Fanatics?

David C. Stolinsky
July 7, 2011

…no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.
U.S. Constitution, Article VI

We frequently hear about religious fanatics, but there are also secular fanatics. Examples include Marxists, radical environmentalists, and health zealots. These people strive to control all human activity until everyone conforms to their ideas. Like all fanatics, they believe that you can’t have too much of their favorite thing.

What I am discussing here is a specific type of secular fanatic, one whose fanaticism is fixated on removing every vestige of religion from public life, and eventually from private life as well.

Some time ago, I took a cab from the airport. The driver was a man with white hair and a thick accent. It turned out he was a retired colonel in the Russian air force, who couldn’t survive on his meager pension and came to America to be with relatives.

We discussed his service under the U.S.S.R., and the subject of religion came up. I asked if he ever went to church. He replied that he does here, but never did in the U.S.S.R. He said that if he had gone to church on Sunday, by Monday his superiors would have known about it. He would never have been promoted. He would have been reassigned to a dead-end, humiliating job and forced to retire. And he would have been investigated for other “anti-Soviet” activities.

I put the old colonel out of my mind. But recently, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times described presidential hopeful Rep. Michelle Bachmann as a “fundamentalist evangelical” whose “extremism” is “reprehensible.” What the “extremism” consisted of was unclear, but apparently it included home-schooling her children. The conclusion was that Bachmann’s beliefs make her utterly unsuited to be president.

The column’s title was “Michelle Bachmann the Believer” − as if being a strong believer in Christianity is a problem. Of course, being a strong believer in leftist ideology is no problem. On the contrary, to the author, it is a requirement for a candidate. To paraphrase Orwell, some believers are more equal than others.

At about the same time, the cover of Newsweek showed a photoshopped picture of Gov. Mitt Romney dancing crazily with a Book of Mormon in his hand. The caption read, “The Mormon Moment.” The cover left no doubt that the editors find his religion ludicrous, even offensive. I may have missed it, but who empowered journalists to judge the religious beliefs of candidates − or anyone?

Question: Terrorists are fanatics who crash airliners into office buildings, and who blow men, women, and children to pieces in trains, buses, malls, and pizzerias. They are strong believers − can they be defeated by people who believe strongly in nothing at all? In poker, if you are clever and lucky, you may occasionally beat a strong hand with a weak hand by bluffing. But in real life, you can’t beat something with nothing. Ideological disarmament can be as fatal as physical disarmament.

Nevertheless, many liberals loudly denounce conservative Christians and declare that they are unfit for high office. But these are the same people who are quick to condemn any criticism of radical Islam as “Islamophobia.” And these are the same people who claim to love the “constitution.” You know, the U.S. Constitution, which:

● Guarantees free exercise of religion and free speech.

● Forbids any religious test for public office.

● Guarantees the right to keep and bear arms.

● Doesn’t mention abortion.

● Does mention capital punishment − four times.

● Was established by men (including Jefferson) who attended church services every Sunday that were held in the chambers of Congress – at public expense.

● Was the culmination of efforts that began with the Continental Congress, which opened with a prayer − with George Washington kneeling.

Yes, that Constitution, the U.S. Constitution. But that’s clearly not what many liberals love. No, they love another “constitution,” the one which:

● Forbids public officials from expressing any religious values, and preferably from having any.

● Allows Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee to interrogate judicial nominees about their personal religious beliefs.

● Makes it difficult for evangelical Protestants, practicing Catholics, and observant Jews to become federal judges.

● Contains no right to keep and bear arms.

● Guarantees women the right to kill unborn babies, even in the third trimester.

● Forbids capital punishment of convicted murderers, but guarantees husbands the right to kill disabled wives, like Terri Schiavo.

● Forbids “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, and requires that the Ten Commandments be removed from schools and courthouses.

● Was written by people who were deists at best, and perhaps even atheists, but in any case were hostile to religion.

That’s the “constitution” that many liberals love. But it’s not the U.S. Constitution. Perhaps they are so busy reading into the Constitution what isn’t there, that they have no time left to read what is there.

What many liberals really love is their own ideology, which they narcissistically call the “constitution,” but which in fact is nothing more than today’s version of political correctness. Tomorrow’s version may be different – who can say? Yes, the liberal “constitution” is a “living document.” What should you do if it stops breathing – give it mouth-to-page respiration? In fact, a “living constitution” is really a dead constitution − and a license for the government to do whatever it pleases.

But speaking of religion and politics, here is a really insensitive, politically incorrect statement:

The general hopes and trusts that every officer and man will endeavor so to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier, defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country.

Not only that, but the general was actually seen to kneel in prayer at a government meeting. Surely this religious extremist must be fired, don’t you agree? Congratulations, you just fired George Washington.

Yes, that George Washington, the one who was president of the Constitutional Convention. The man who was in charge of writing the Constitution might be presumed to know what it means. But liberal “legal experts” claim that some things he said and did were “unconstitutional.” Is it possible that they are wrong, and old George was right?

When I see Michelle Bachmann being condemned by liberals, and Mitt Romney being ridiculed for his beliefs, and judicial nominees being subjected to an inquisition by Senate Democrats, I can’t help thinking of the old Soviet colonel, now driving a cab. What, precisely, is the difference between how the Soviet regime intimidated him from expressing his religious beliefs, and how American liberals are intimidating office seekers from expressing their religious beliefs? I see little difference.

Communist bureaucrats had 74 years to run the Soviet Union, and they ran it into the ground, causing untold deaths and misery in the process. They make really lousy role models. So why is it that many liberals are imitating some of their more repulsive practices?

Secular fanatics are much the same the world over, whether they were communist bureaucrats in Russia or liberal pundits in America. They insist that in order to advance in your career, you must proclaim their beliefs – and no others.

More on the religious foundations of America may be found in Michael Novak’s “On Two Wings.” Dr. Stolinsky writes on political and social issues. Contact: