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Jefferson terrorizes islamic Iraq

Rev. Jack Van Ens

The fiercest enemy facing Islam in Iraq is Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson believed that the pen proved mightier than the sword. With superior firepower, the U.S. vanquished Iraq’s standing army. Victory displayed the sword’s power. But enemies kept cropping up, like pesky dandelions in a lawn. Terrorists are difficult to hunt down because they operate in the dark. They unexpectedly wreak havoc. An enemy defeated on the battlefield still fights, sabotaging our troops with clandestine terror. Conquer the enemy’s mind, advised Jefferson, and a nation will win the war. He wielded the pen as his weapon of choice. When our battle for liberty wins minds, it wins hearts. Hearts and minds bending toward freedom break the enemy’s spirit. He is won over.Some falsely accuse President George W. Bush of inventing an excuse for the war in Iraq when weapons of mass destruction could not be found. These critics err, asserting how our president cooked up another reason to go to war, to advance democracy by globally spreading our God-given liberty. President Bush insisted on planting democracy in Iraq before we invaded it. Often our president repeated a major theme he espoused on Feb. 26, 2003. God calls us, asserts Bush, to export democracy to the Arab world. “A liberated Iraq can show the power of freedom to transform that vital region, by bringing hope and progress into lives of millions. America’s interests in security, and America’s belief in liberty, both lead in the same direction: to a free and peaceful Iraq. …”The world has a clear interest in the spread of democratic values because stable and freed nations do not breed the ideologies of murder. They encourage the peaceful pursuit of a better life. And there are hopeful signs of a desire for freedom in the Middle East.”A new regime in Iraq,” President Bush concluded, “would serve as a dramatic and inspiring example of freedom for other nations in the area.”In order for liberty’s seed to grow in the Arab Islamic world, it must germinate. Even the most potent seed, fallen on hard ground, will not grow, Jesus taught in a parable. What the president fails to reckon with is a fact Jefferson hammered home. In order for democracy to prosper, a tradition open to the separation of church and state must prevail. Without it, democracy withers on fallow ground.Islam collapses religion into politics. The two are inseparable. Islam’s aim is to wield the power of Muhammad’s spirituality over the government’s sword. The Prophet controls the body politic. No wonder Jefferson is the fiercest of all Islam’s enemies. In a letter, Jefferson taught that in religious matters “the maxim of civil government” should be reversed. We should recite this credo: “Divided we stand, united we fall.” Using terse language, Jefferson set the keystone in the arch of democracy. Church and state may get entangled, but they should never be superimposed on each other. Without separation, democracy falls. With separation, democracy stands. Islam’s vision is of its religion governing the political theater. On this stage democracy cannot take a leading role.Bernard Lewis, professor emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, repeatedly sends a warning President George W. Bush and his advisors refuse to believe.In his book “From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East,” Lewis stresses in a series of essays how Islam offers hard, fallow ground for democracy to take root. Islam holds no distinction between church and state. Christianity in its better moments heeds the caution of Jesus, who taught “to render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s,” Mark 12:17. These two powers Christianity regards as distinct, separate, not of the same kind or ordering. But in classical Islam, which abhors Western democracies, no such distinction exists. Islam does not recognize church and state as two powers. They are one. No wonder separation between them isn’t considered among Muslims in Iraq.This anti-Jeffersonian spirit goes back to Islam’s roots, shows Lewis. “As the Ayatollah Khomeini has reminded us, Muhammad exercised the normal functions of a head of state – he dispensed justice, he made war, he made peace. In other words, from the very beginning, in the sacred biography of its Prophet, in its earliest history enshrined in scripture and tradition, Islam as a religion has been associated with the exercise of power.”Again to quote Khomeini: ‘Islam is politics, or it is nothing.’ Its founder was judge, statesman and general, as well as prophet. Church and state were not separable because they did not exist as different institutions or even as different concepts. These came, but much later and from elsewhere.”Where did democracy germinate, grow and render a fertile harvest? Jefferson sowed freedom’s seeds, not the Prophet.Early on in the war, President George W. Bush verbally blundered, describing our assault on tyranny in Iraq as freedom’s “crusade.” He quickly retired this unnecessarily volatile word because the Arab world vividly remembers the church and her legions crusading across their holy lands. Brutal occupation by Christian crusaders centuries ago is rehearsed among Arabs. Consequently, the war in Iraq has religious dimensions that bode ill for democracy. Without separation of church and state, declared Jefferson, democracy dies, no matter how admirable our hope for its advance.The Rev. Jack R. Van Ens is a Presbyterian minister who heads Creative Growth Ministries, enhancing Christian worship through lively storytelling and dramatic presentations. Van Ens’ book, “How Jefferson Made the Best of Bad Messes,” is available in local bookstores for 7.95.Vail, Colorado


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