Hill Country News Faith Column on July 8, 2016

20120220-_MG_Small6032By Chuck Robison

Perhaps you have noticed yourself getting emotionally involved in the current political discussion. We are in some kind of time zone where this emotional response is happening all over the world. You may even be saying, why have the preachers gone from preaching to meddling in politics?

Here is the simple answer: we believe our faith informs our lives…..all of our lives in all aspects, no exceptions. And we also observe that most folks resist changing their secular beliefs to conform to their religious beliefs. Preachers don’t like to hear that. With Bible in hand, we believe our power comes from an eternal God in whose creation we live and move and have our being.

We also observe that we, like sheep, are easily led along the paths of our most deeply held fears.  So two politicians appear and each claims that he or she will bomb the Middle East into oblivion…. part or all of it.  They will do this because thousands of people have been killed in terrorist attacks in this century and therefore we Americans, are justly called to destroy millions of these people.

Currently, most religions, at the leadership level, condemn wholesale killing. That was not always true. When Columbus sailed west across the Sea of Darkness in 1492 – with the express understanding that he was authorized to “take possession” of any lands he “discovered” that were “not under the dominion of any Christian rulers” – he and the Spanish sovereigns of Aragon and Castile were following an already well-established tradition of “discovery” and conquest. After Columbus returned to Europe, Pope Alexander VI issued a papal document, the bull Inter Cetera of May 3, 1493, “granting” to Spain – at the request of Ferdinand and Isabella – the right to conquer the lands which Columbus had already found, as well as any lands which Spain might “discover” in the future.

Thus, the Doctrine of Discovery allowed Immigrant Americans to terrorize and kill more than 100,000,000 Native Americans and civilize the rest by putting them into reservations. We have been living with this Doctrine of Discovery now for five hundred years, so when politicians say we are justified in nuking an entire section of the world and all the people in it, they are at least consistent with our history.

But don’t you find it strange that our two presumptive presidential candidates, both billionaires, are calling for the nuclear destruction of the Middle East, all or in part? And we of faith argue over which candidate is better, rather than reeling backwards in horror over the solutions both propose.

If our faith really mattered, from the Ten Commandments to Jesus injunction to love our brothers (and we now have almost 8 billion brothers and sisters), we would repel and reject and censor anyone calling for the annihilation of hundreds of millions of people. What we have is a remarkable silence.

There is at least one exception. Here is how the Dali Lama sees it: “War and the large military establishments are the greatest sources of violence in the world. Whether their purpose is defensive or offensive, these vast powerful organizations exist solely to kill and burn human beings.

We should think carefully about the reality of war. Most of us have been conditioned to regard military combat as exciting and glamorous – an opportunity for men to prove their competence and courage. Since armies are legal, we feel that war is acceptable; in general, nobody feels that war is criminal or that accepting it is a criminal attitude. In fact, we have been brainwashed. War is neither glamorous nor attractive. It is monstrous. Its’ very nature is one of tragedy and suffering.”

So as we bask in the afterglow of another Great American Independence Day Celebration, ask yourself: Should I take the injunctions of my religion seriously or should I follow my fear based instincts when politicians call on me to support bombing another part of the world?