Reactions to Fort Hood Killings
The tragedy at Fort Hood last week raised many fears among Christian political advocacy groups. For some groups the shooting provoked a fear of a Muslim "fifth column" in the military. For others groups it provoked a fear of anti-Muslim backlash in the American populace.
One plea for tolerance and restraint came from the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). The NAE called for both prayer and "stronger relationships of understanding and reconciliation."
"A tragedy caused by the act of one individual should not be compounded by generalizing actions to a culture, ethnicity or religion," said Paul Vicalvi, executive director of the NAE Chaplains Commission. "We should be clear: The actions of this one man do not reflect the beliefs or values of the vast majority of American Muslims."
As evidence for the these values, Faith in Public life listed denouncements from prominent Islamic groups including the Islamic Society of North America, Council on American-Islamic Relations, and American Society of Muslim Advancement.
Albert Mohler discussed the complexity of balancing religious freedom and the unique demands of the military.
"The U.S. Armed Forces should make every effort to accommodate the religious beliefs and convictions of its personnel," he said. "That is what we owe to those who put their lives on the line to defend our freedoms. But they owe the entire nation—and first of all their fellow soldiers—the commitments of loyalty, obedience, respect, and protection. The military cannot accommodate any belief system that undermines those commitments."
Although Major Hasan's religious beliefs appear to have motivated his actions, Mohler said, "it is not fair to generalize Major Hasan's actions to the entire Muslim community."
Pat Robertson, however, said Hasan's actions show that Muslims should be barred from service.
"If we don't stop covering up what Islam is—Islam is a violent—I was going to say religion, but it's not a religion, it's a political system, a violent political system bent on the overthrow of the governments of the world and world domination. That is the ultimate aim," Robertson said on Monday's 700 Club broadcast. "And I think we should treat it as such, and treat its adherents as such, as we would members of the Communist Party or members of some fascist group."
On Tuesday's broadcast, Robertson blamed political correctness in the military for the shooting.
"We don't dare speak out against somebody who's of the Muslim faith. Of course Muslims can serve in the Armed Forces; of course radical Muslims from Al Qaeda and others can come into our secret services; of course they can. We can't discriminate against anybody. That's nonsense. A society deserves the right to protect itself," he said.
But wouldn't eliminating Muslims from the military severely limit the availability of Arabic translators and personnel familiar with Middle East culture? On the 700 Club's Veterans Day broadcast, "terrorism analyst" Erick Stakelbeck said the need could be met by recruiting Christians and Jews from the Middle East. "We can use them without always turning to Muslims," he concluded.
Robertson was not alone in blaming political correctness for the tragedy. "The Left would have us believe that political correctness never killed anyone," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (FRC). "But there are 13 fresh graves in Fort Hood, Texas to prove them wrong."
Bryan Fischer, director of issues analysis for the American Family Association (AFA), also argued that all Muslims should be barred from the U.S. military.
"The reason is simple," wrote Fischer. "The more devout a Muslim is, the more of a threat he is to national security. Devout Muslims, who accept the teachings of the Prophet as divinely inspired, believe it is their duty to kill infidels. Yesterday's massacre is living proof. … The barbarians are no longer at the gate. They're inside the fort."
Yesterday, Fischer reiterated his position that "we simply should not have people serving in the U.S. military whose holy book commands them to kill American soldiers."
Ironically, one of the strongest reactions against Fischer's position came from an unusual source—another blogger for the AFA. Elijah Friedeman, who writes "the Millennial Perspective" for the AFA blog, wrote of his fears of possible anti-Muslim reactions from Christians.
"I was immediately, and still am, repulsed by such views trumpeted by many Christians," he wrote. "Not only are these views antithetical to the acceptance that Christ exhibited, but ideas such as these go against the very values this country has been built upon." Reacting directly to Fischer's comments, Friedman wrote, "The barbarians are at the gate, but thanks to the selfless efforts of our soldiers—whether Christian, Jew, Atheist, Wiccan, or Muslim—we are still safe."
House Okays Pro-Life Health Reform
On Saturday, the health care reform bill passed the House of Representatives by a handful of votes. But it did so only after the House approved Rep. Stupak's (D-Mich.) amendment that explicitly banned any funding of abortion.
"The Obama White House and top congressional Democratic leaders spent months concealing and misrepresenting provisions that would directly fund abortions through a government plan, and subsidize premiums for private abortion plans," said Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee. "Today's bipartisan House vote is a sharp blow to the White House's pro-abortion smuggling operation."
Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser called the vote "a principled and politically sound decision to continue our nation's longstanding policy of protecting taxpayers' conscience in the area of abortion funding."
For conservative advocacy groups, the Stupak amendment was a victorious battle amidst a losing war.
In the words of Andrea Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition, the House outcome was "a little good news buried in a lot of really bad news." In an e-mail to supporters, the American Center for Law and Justice's Jay Sekulow said the amendment "represents the only bright spot in an otherwise troubling government-run health care package."
"This vote is a win for pro-lifers—in a Democrat-controlled Congress," said Ashley Home of Focus on the Family Action. "The only thing Americans oppose more than government health care is government health care that funds abortion."
"[We will] focus on strengthening the Senate language on abortion to match the House amendment," Perkins said. "Once that's accomplished, our focus is simple: kill the bill."
For Barrett Duke of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission, the Stupak amendment was little consolation.
"Essentially, liberals got 95 percent of what they sought in their health care reform bonanza," he wrote. "If their bill or anything like it is signed into law, the American people can be certain that higher taxes, rationed care, and poorer service lie in their future medical care."
The ERLC opposes the current health care reform bills, but is in favor of improving the health care system. It published a list of fifteen principles to guide health care reform—many in line with the GOP's latest proposal—ranging from tort reform to protecting against discrimination.
Sojourners had no public reaction to the health care passage. The only mention of the Stupak amendment's success came in a post by Brian McLaren. He said that the Stupak amendment "went beyond the abortion neutrality called for by all the Christian progressives I'm aware of" and that its passage "took Christian progressives by surprise as much as anyone."
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Earlier Political Advocacy Trackers include:
After Election Day, the Vote Everyone Has Been Waiting For | Tuesday brought big news on same-sex unions and the election outcomes of conservative candidates, but all eyes are now on the health-care bill. (November 6, 2009)
Health Care Cacophony | Plus: D.C. debates gay marriage, President Obama approves a new hate crimes law, and other issues advocacy groups were talking about this week. (October 30, 2009)
Dobson: 'It's Coming Apart' | Conservative groups focus on Kevin Jennings, Chai Feldblum, and gay-rights legislation. (October 23, 2009)
Christianity Today also follows political developments on the politics blog.