Special Report

The Politics of Religious Mockery

Modern-day liberalism, sure enough, always figures in the mix.

By 2.7.06

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Recently, upon having the spiritual progenitor of their religion mocked in the public square, thousands of true believers took action. They called out their mockers and brought to heel those who would make light of their religious beliefs and traditions.

Actually, this happened twice in the last few weeks; first among Christians and then among Muslims. And the ways in which these respective true believers responded to their mockers tells us a great deal about the foundational characteristics of these two major religions. Further, it tells us quite a bit about modern day liberalism and its unwholesome desire to use religion as a political weapon.

As I wrote almost a month ago, Jesus of Nazareth is in desperate need of a new PR guy. Already in this young 2006, He has been depicted as a pot head, a hipster, a playboy, a French dynast and a figment of zealous imaginations all at the same time.

In a fresh example that emerged even since I wrote that piece, NBC was prepared to air an episode of Will & Grace in the spring in which Britney Spears was slated to guest star as the host of a Christian-themed cooking show crudely titled Cruci-fixins'. As with The Book of Daniel, NBC's earlier foray into Christ mockery, hundreds of thousands of Americans called and wrote letters in protest to the network. Network executives apparently decided it was in their financial self-interest to stop mocking Christians and, so they claim, have radically altered the script.

The revered spiritual leader of the Muslim faith was also mocked recently, when twelve cartoon renderings of the Prophet Mohammed appeared in numerous European newspapers. Muslims went nuts. They rioted in Lebanon and Syria, where they also proceeded to set the Norwegian and Danish embassies ablaze (the cartoons originally appeared in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.)

I happen to agree that the cartoons in question are in poor taste and needlessly provocative. But that Christians are mocked with greater malevolence from within their own culture than Muslims are even by outsiders is shamefully clear. And yet, these episodes speak volumes about the characteristics of Christianity that are obviously lacking in Islam: patience, mutual respect, and tolerance for dissent.

SO WHAT DOES ANY OF THIS have to do with American liberals, you ask? Well, it says a lot about them when one considers that many on the left can't see the distinctions between peaceful Christian political activism and lunatic Islamist rioting and jihadism.

For example, comparing conservative Christians to the Taliban, the failed tin pot dictatorship in Afghanistan that harbored Osama bin Laden before the U.S.-led coalition demolished it in 2001, became a cute trick of the political left after 9-11.

Speaking at a rally in support of the Democrat candidate for U.S. House of Representatives in a 2004 special election, South Dakota Democrat Senator Tim Johnson exclaimed to a cheering crowd, "How sweet it's going to be on June 2nd when the Taliban wing of the Republican Party finds out what's happened in South Dakota." Sen. Johnson later apologized for the hateful smear, but only after his remarks snowballed and began to threaten Democrat chances in the special election.

The Interfaith Alliance, an ecumenical left-wing coalition based out of Washington, D.C., distributed a fundraising flyer in late-2005 that claimed the Religious Right "believes adhering to their narrow interpretation of biblical law is more important than protecting individuals from hate, violence and discrimination."

Penning an article under the charming headline "American Wahabbis and the Ten Commandments" for Mother Jones, William Thatcher Dowell wrote, "In a strange way, George Bush may now find himself in the same kind of trap that ensnared Saudi Arabia's founder, King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud. To gain political support, Saud mobilized the fanatical, ultra-religious Wahabbi movement -- the same movement which is spiritually at the core of the al Qaeda. Once the bargain was done, the Saudi Royal Family repeatedly found itself held politically hostage to an extremist, barely controllable movement populated by radical ideologues....President Bush has spent the last several months cajoling evangelicals and trying to pay off the political bill for their support."

Lewis H. Lapham, editor of Harper's, recently called a National Association of Evangelicals publication on civic responsibility "a bullying threat backed with the currencies of jihadist fervor and invincible ignorance."

Fringe elements of the left do not act out on this fetish alone. Indeed, according to Howard Fineman of Newsweek the Democratic Party actually made a strategic decision to liken the Religious Right in America to oppressive, terror-sponsoring theocrats in the greater Middle East. Fineman wrote, "The theory goes like this. Our enemy in Afghanistan is religious extremism and intolerance. It's therefore more important than ever to honor the ideals of tolerance -- religious, sexual, racial, reproductive -- at home. The GOP is out of the mainstream, some Democrats will argue [this] year, because it's too dependent upon an intolerant religious right."

Yes, conservative Christians and radical Islamists react to their tormentors in significantly different ways. And yet this is really a story about the secular left in the United States and how it refuses to understand the importance of religion and faith in public life.

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About the Author

Patrick Hynes is an account executive with the consulting firm Marsh Copsey + Scott and the proprietor of the websites www.passionforfairness.com and www.crushkerry.com.