Jeffrey T. Kuhner of the Edmund Burke Institute, who last year accused President Obama of having “black nationalist sympathies” (whatever those are) wrote a column for the Washington Times on February 23, which he entitled Obama’s pseudo-religion, arguing that the “President’s secular moves” are “out of step with Judeo-Christian culture.” His claim is that “Mr. Obama is a radical leftist. Like all such extremists, he has nothing but contempt for traditional Christianity and the family.”
If Obama’s “secular moves” are “out of step with Judeo-Christian culture” they are very much in step with the U.S. Constitution, for which Kuhner and his friends show only contempt.
It is fitting that Kuhner should so despise the Obama “revolution” given the feelings English conservative Edmund Burke, “the great prophet of Anglo-American conservatism,” had for the French Revolution and the ideal of “we the people” (as expressed in his Thoughts on the Revolution in France, 1790). It is equally no surprise that radical liberal Thomas Paine wrote a point-by-point rebuttal of Burke’s attack called, appropriately enough, The Rights of Man (1791-2).
It is significant, before we go on, to remember and to understand that Thomas Paine had to flee England when he wrote The Rights of Man and that for having done so, for having literally defended the rights of man in print, he was found guilty of seditious libel! Paine, the Englishman who was so instrumental in winning the American War for Independence (The Liberty Tree, 1775, Common Sense, 1776), was never able to return to England.
And this is the true focus of Mr. Kuhner’s attack: the rights of man, the “we the people” that conservative Burke himself so despised. Mr. Kuhner’s focus is on one sort of rights only: the rights of a religious group to supersede the rights of all others. Like his hero Burke, he shows only disdain for the rights of man, the very rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. Because this is a simple and inescapable fact: the United States is governed not by the Ten Commandments, not by the Bible or by king anointed by God or by a Pope, but by the secular document known as the U.S. Constitution which states that power derives not from God, but from the people.
Hypocritically, it is Kuhner who on a previous occasion claimed Obama has a “deep contempt for Christianity and democracy” as though the two are mutually compatible or even synonymous. As Gerd Lüdemann has persuasively argued (Intolerance and the Gospel, 2007), New Testament Christology contradicts the values of a pluralistic modern liberal democracy the Constitution celebrates.
There is a great deal wrong with what Mr. Kuhner writes. Again there is the ubiquitous conservative meme – the argument that secularism, which is the absence of religion from government, can itself be a religion (it cannot). There is also the chimera of “Judeo-Christian” culture. The term “Judeo-Christian” is an ideological construct, a construct created, unsurprisingly, not by Jews but by Christians. There is no such thing as “Judeo-Christian.” It is evidence only of Christianity’s desire to ride Judaism’s coattails to legitimacy as a religion. With Judaism’s antecedents, Christianity is a mock religion, and a grotesque distortion of Pagan religion at that.
One need not look too far to see that Christianity roundly denounces Jewish belief. It insists on a division of godhead not permitted in Jewish thought, by grating a “trinity” onto God, an indivisible one somehow becoming three; it insists that Jesus is now the path to salvation, not the Jewish law; it doesn’t even use the Hebrew Bible but a monstrosity called the “Old” Testament which is to be contrasted with what supersedes it (and isn’t even translated let alone interpreted properly), the “New” Testament which revolves around the idea that God once had a covenant with the Jews but now has a new covenant with Gentiles, whom demonstrably, even Jesus despised and was disinclined to preach to.
Christianity is by definition a renunciation of Judaism; don’t preach to us about “Judeo-Christian” while Christian theology is preaching that Jews must become Christians and will become Christians at the end-times or like all of us Pagans, atheists and secularists, die in the greatest genocidal orgy the world has ever known, to be hosted, appropriately enough, by people calling themselves Christians.
The idea that only a Christian can care about family is laughable but typical. It’s not as if any culture in the thousands of years of human history preceding Christianity any human couple ever cared about their family.
Makes you wonder how humanity survived long enough for Jesus to make his belated appearance! We didn’t know right from wrong for cripes sake! We had no ideas of morality or ethics, and we didn’t care for families. Of course, none of this explains why these other cultures created huge empires while Israel was, well…not to put too fine a point on it, conquered by them – repeatedly.
I think the God thing is overrated. After all, it wasn’t God who make Israel a nation again, it was the United Nations – a sort of world-wide “we the people.”
Kuhn presents us with his evidence against Obama of course:
During the 2008 campaign, he decried Americans who “cling to guns or religion.”
This is what Obama said to a crowd in San Francisco back on April 6, 2008:
“You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”
Obama’s point, with which he prefaced those remarks, was this: “the truth is, is that, our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there’s not evidence of that in their daily lives.”
Mr. Kuhner claims that “devout Christians – as well as Orthodox Jews and Muslims – must subsidize with their taxpayer dollars a practice they find morally abhorrent.”
The same is true for us secularists – we are also forced to subsidize with our taxpayer dollars practices we find morally abhorrent, like DOMA, DADT, abstinence-only education, the war on women’s reproductive rights (hell, on women period), and the un-constitutional Faith Based Initiatives and the concomitant proselytization on the public dime.
Kuhner claims that President Obama’s position on contraceptives is “a direct assault upon the Catholic Church, conscience rights and religious freedom” but he says nothing of the Catholic Church’s direct assault upon our constitutional rights to be free of Catholic theology in our lives. Kuhner is sounding positively shrill by the time he reaches his crescendo, the claim that “The president acts as if he is hell-bent on eradicating Christianity from the public square.”
The real problem for Americans is that people like Mr. Kuhner are hell-bent on eradicating the very secular U.S. Constitution from the public square. The Constitution guarantees people have the right to their religion but that we all have a right to be free from the religions of others, a point with which history has shown Christians to have always had a problem.
As bad from a Pagan perspective, Kuhn takes the position that environmentalism is “a form of neo-paganism”:
Mr. Santorum’s larger point is that Mr. Obama and his liberal allies have embraced radical environmentalism – a form of neo-paganism. The green movement – exemplified by the hoax of man-made global warming – has degenerated into a pseudo-religion. Environmentalists worship Gaia, Mother Earth, turning it into a secular goddess. Hence, they believe industrial civilization must be subordinated to a green socialist agenda. This is why Mr. Obama has dramatically strengthened the Environmental Protection Agency, favors cap-and-trade legislation, prevents most oil drilling along the Gulf Coast and in Alaska, and nixed the Keystone XL pipeline project. Mr. Santorum rightly argues that Mr. Obama’s green “theology” trumps the economic interests of Americans; the president is behaving like a quasi-religious zealot. True.
False. President Obama, as any environmentalist will attest, is far from a radical environmentalist. Nor is man-made (anthropogenic) global warming a hoax, as 9 out of 10 climate scientists will attest. Certainly there are radical environmentalists and certainly some people do worship Gaia, or Mother Earth. But last I checked, the Constitution gave them this right. It even gives Kuhn the right to be an ignorant bigoted hypocrite and a liar.
Mr. Kuhner is even free to indulge in excremental fantasies like the following:
Yet Mr. Santorum should have done more than just attack Mr. Obama’s extreme environmentalism. Instead, when confronted by liberal hostility, the Republican social conservative retreated. The record is clear and obvious: The president is more a radical secular progressive than a real Christian. He has more in common with Vladimir Lenin than Jesus Christ.
As if there is something wrong with not being a Christian even if it were true. The Constitution says it doesn’t matter what your religion is; it requires no test for religion (Article VI, paragraph 3) let alone the finer points of doctrine within a religion. But as I said, Mr. Kuhner is opposed to the U.S. Constitution and everything it stands for. He can’t help but express contempt for its ideals and therefore for President Obama.
Mr. Kuhner offers no evidence that Vladimir Lenin was a radical environmentalist (!) or that President Obama’s policies or beliefs in any way coincide with those of Lenin, so this comment is on shaky ground to say the least. But it’s good for a laugh. Because really, only President Obama is bothering to quote Jesus; this is not something conservatives do. Conservatives are reaching back to the Old Testament, to fire and brimstone at the expense of love and compassion. Mr. Kuhner might want to pick up the New Testament sometime and read beatitudes, because these are the sort of sublime words that even an infidel like Thomas Jefferson could appreciate, Thomas Jefferson, who like Thomas Paine, cared so much for “we the people”, the very idea of which stands opposed to the will of any god, even (or especially) Mr. Kuhner’s.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.