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The "God Gap"?

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One might assume from the title of its article on the conclusions drawn by the Chicago brainiacs who think the U.S. foreign policy is tone-deaf to religions around the world that the Post thinks this is funny ... or absurd ... or something to drown with sarcasm as fast as possible. If so, I (for once) agree with the editors of that paper that our secular-but-respectful "hands off" policy regarding other nations' religions is not only reasonable and proper, it is absolutely necessary. The folks in Chicago (and elsewhere) have their heads buried in the sand and forget that Presidents visit the Vatican, attend religious rituals across the face of the planet, entertain Dalai Lamas knowing that the incident will rile China, etc., etc.

What the "God gap" people want is for the U.S. to take a religious position, of course, and that is, if not impossible, highly dangerous, because what position are they going to suggest the diplomats take? Southern Baptist? Orthodox Jewish? Buddhist? Episcopalian (which group ... the tolerant or the gay-bashers)? There is no end of trouble in this, and the Post is absolutely correct in equating our respectful posture to the fabricated missile gap of 50 years ago.

There is a point to be made beyond the obvious unAmerican-ness of a foreign policy predicated on sectarian metaphysics, however. The point that the zealots want to make is that America is a Judeo-Christian society and culture. The point that should be made is that the American culture is distinctly pluralist and that we respect (in theory and practice ... most of us) the religious rights of everyone. You see, then, that pluralism becomes and intolerable act of faithlessness to the zealots, who will have the whole cake, frosting, and candles or no one will have it.

I frankly trust the U.S. State Department to continue its low level and respectful acknowledgement of other's religious ideas, but I do not trust any part of the federal government to keep the zealots out. The U.S. Air Force (and parts of the U.S. Navy) have been captured by zealous Christian fundamentalists in the past. It is clearly wrong for anyone to use a federal government agency to promote its own religious doctrines ... but it happened and continues. This movement "towards closing the God gap" has to be thwarted, because it is a trojan horse.


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James R. Brett, Ph.D. taught Russian History before (and during) a long stint as an academic administrator in faculty research administration. His academic interests are the modern period of Russian History since Peter the Great, Chinese (more...)

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