Patriotism, Piety, and the Perfect Storm

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By Michael Peabody, Esq., Vice President of the Seventh-day Adventist Church State Council in Sacramento and Executive Director of the North American Religious Liberty Association - West

Excerpted from his article in the Nov/Dec issue of Liberty.

"A while back, a friend who leans heavily to the right asked me whether I thought God supported the United States in the War on Terror. Knowing the nature of the question, I sensed that I was walking into a shabbily constructed minefield so I decided to up the ante with a few questions of my own. Can a Christian feel patriotic toward his native Iraq or toward her North Korean homeland? Does God draw lines in the sand based on geopolitics, or on American interests? Bottom line, would God drive a Chevy or a Hyundai?" ...

"I have long felt that one of the main reasons that so many communist nations failed was because they early on targeted the faith of the religious. Had they embraced the outward signs of the faith and gradually, imperceptibly, morphed it to their ends, they could have gained the support of the large number of marginal believers who would have begun to see the work of the politburo as consistent with that of God. Only the intellectually vigorous would remain in opposition, and they could easily be disposed of openly and with the blessing of the majority who would view them as criminals."

"Instead through persecution, communist dictators created a religious vacuum which ultimately became a fatal flaw. Despites its storied attempts to foist atheistic patriotism on the people, the Soviet Union was unable to sustain itself and its residents clamored for the exit when the Iron Curtain fell. Had the USSR wrapped the same authoritarian aims in the gradually modified religion of Mother Russia, it might have lasted. But in the absence of a faith, the secular state was doomed."

"In contrast, those nations that have embraced the symbols of religion, carefully choosing only those elements that support their aims, opportunistic thugs become saints, and those who question them are viewed by the majority as both unpatriotic and unholy. Kamikaze pilots turn their planes into guided missiles t the bequest of a divine Emperor, and terrorists are convinced to detonate themselves in the name of Allah."

How would you answer the questions that Michael poses in his opening paragraph?

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at