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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sunni vs Shia American Style

While living in relative comfort, we Americans are often confused by why there is so much fighting between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. Of course, part of our confusion is because we are ignorant of important details. Because of our ignorance, we often oversimplify the problem and make inaccurate generalizations regarding both Shiites and Sunnis.

Despite that, there are problems between some Shiites and some Sunnis that should not puzzle us and about which we should not be self-righteous because we have our own religious divide right here in the US. Our divide is not between any of our religious groups such as Catholics and Protestants or between Christians and Jews. Rather, our great divide is between Republicans and Democrats and this division cannot be any more glaring than during this election year.

But how can one compare the current power struggle between Republicans and Democrats with the bloody Sunni-Shiite battles that are full of violence? We cannot. But we can compare our Republican vs Democrat contests with Sunni-Shiite battles when it comes to religion. We saw the religious fervor of both the Republicans and Democrats at their respective conventions.

What went on the Republican and Democratic conventions? The conventions included mindless cheering, singing, and emotional calls to loyalty to their candidates, parties and country and the atmosphere was far more intense than any spirit of worship I have witnessed in all of the Churches I have ever attended combined.

What is the object of their worship? It is our country of course and die hard Democrats and rabid Republicans wanted to show the nation that their expressions of patriotism were more holy and faithful than that of their counterparts.

The Democrats started first with a theme that is similar to what Bush promised during the 2000 Presidential campaign. As Bush promised to restore dignity and honor to the White House, so the Democrats promise to restore America as the hope for democracy and mankind. And as Obama described how he would reestablish America's place in the world, many Democrats cheered and waved small American flags.

The Republicans responded with their own show of worship of country. With a huge American flag shown on a giant screen behind their speakers, many convention delegates held signs that echoed the theme of both their convention and McCain's message. That theme was "Country First."

What cannot be missed was that these themes are religious statements according to the Bible. For example, the prophet Jeremiah warns us that those who trust in man are cursed while those who trust in God are blessed. Jeremiah's message is clear. one cannot trust in both (Jeremiah 17:5-7). In the Old Testament, the hope of Israel was never the nation of Israel; it was God.

We should also note, for those who held signs saying "Country First," that God does not smile on those who put anything else first before Him. The first two commandments given to Moses are very clear as to who should be first. According to Moses in Exodus 20:1-6, we are not to have any gods or make any likeness for worship--like an eagle. What is ironic here is that the party that claims to know the most about God promoted the breaking of the first two commandments by putting their country first.

Now worshiping one's country does not show that a similar divide exists between Republicans and Democrats as exists between some Sunni and Shiites. But the disdain that convention attendees showed for their counterparts does. Democrats looked down on their Republican counterparts for their moral failures of not caring for those in need and for condoning and practicing torture, their economic policies that benefit the rich and hurt the rest of the country, their rush into an unnecessary war, and their assault on the Constitution.

But despite what the Democrats said, ironically, the most mean-spirited and belittling statements were made by the religiously righteous Republicans. And the object of the Republicans' scorn was not just what could legitimately be thought of as being legitimate Democratic faults such as their moral relativity or their perceived reluctance to use the military to defend the nation; the Republicans viciously attacked community organizers by stating that their work carried no responsibilities. But that is not the only expression of hatred that some Republicans have for Democrats. I would add, from my blog experiences, that SOME of these conservatives demand that all Democrats should be arrested for treason.

Much of the self-adoration and the denunciations against counterparts made by both Republicans and Democrats could be easily dismissed if it were not for an implication that results from either hoping for America to reclaim its position as the hope for democracy and mankind or putting your country first when making decisions. The inescapable conclusion of both of these themes is that whatever leadership we vote in, our military adventurism and exercises in empire will be placed above all accountability. That is because if America is the hope of man and Democracy, our leaders must be free to do whatever they think is necessary to protect the Free World from its enemies. And if our decisions are guided by the principle "Country First," then there is no other law by which our decisions can be judged. After all, when one's nation is one's god, there are no laws limiting how one can defend it.

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