No sooner did a photo of alleged cop-killer Maurice Clemmons appear in the news than the screeching began. “He’s a Muslim” “He was radicalised in prison” “He’s another domestic terrorist!” Presumably this is because his visage is swarthy and he’s not smiling a genial smile, although the smile wouldn’t be necessary if he were paler in hue.
Once it became apparent that the late Maurice Clemmons was a Christian, nobody cared anymore. Most news article failed to mention it. Those that did buried it several paragraphs down the page. Because somehow when a American who practices Islam mows down soldiers, it’s terrorism, extremism, and an indictment of Islam, but when an American who practices Christianity mows down police officers, it is none of those things. And Mr Clemmons wasn’t just a cultural Christian, he thought he was Jesus.
“The whole time Clemmons kept saying things like trust him, the world is going to end soon, and that he was Jesus,” a Pierce County sheriff’s report said.
Clemmons was charged in Washington state earlier this year with assaulting a police officer and raping a child, and investigators in the sex case said he was motivated by visions that he was Jesus Christ and that the world was on the verge of the apocalypse.
Within a couple days after the Fort Hood shooting, we knew more about Major Nidal Hasan than we’ve ever known about any spree killer, ever. The media gave us its analysis of a PowerPoint presentation he gave to his colleagues, encouraged us to gasp at his email exchange with an American imam in Yemen (and I still haven’t heard a single peep from anyone complaining that we spied on an American citizen’s correspondence with an American citizen–which was judged by the FBI to be innocuous), and found a blog comment on the internet that sounded like he might have written it and attributed it to him. I imagine there are hundreds or thousands of people posting on the internet every day who say things that sound like something I would say. Please don’t attribute them to me. Thanks.
Christian evangelical minister ex-governor Mike Huckabee did not actually pardon Clemmons, so what I wrote the other day is not accurate. Huckabee recommended clemency, basically making him eligible for parole. Huckabee was prudent enough not mention the religious angle in any explanation for this clemency, so we can’t actually know that Huckabee gave Clemmons another chance because he felt he had truly repented and accepted Jesus into his heart.
Huckabee has proudly declared on many occasions that he disdains the separation of church and state, insisting that his strict Baptist piety should serve as the bedrock of public policy. Nowhere in his record as governor was the influence of religious zeal felt more heavily than in the distribution of pardons and commutations, as his own explanations have indicated. During those years he granted more commutations and pardons than any governor during the previous four decades, many of them surely justified as a response to excessive penalties under the state’s draconian narcotics laws. But others were deeply controversial, especially because so many of his acts of mercy appeared to depend on interventions by fellow Baptist preachers and by inmate professions of renewed Christian faith.
No doubt word spread among the prison population that the affable governor was vulnerable to appeals from convicts who claimed to be born again. Clemmons too was among those who benefited from Huckabee’s tendency to believe such pious testimonials. “I come from a very good Christian family and I was raised much better than my actions speak,” he explained in his clemency application in 2000. “I’m still ashamed to this day for the shame my stupid involvement in these crimes brought upon my family’s name … I have never done anything good for God, but I’ve prayed for him to grant me in his compassion the grace to make a start. Now, I’m humbly appealing to you for a brand new start.”
Mr. Huckabee, who rode a brand of prairie populism to finish second in the Republican presidential primaries in 2008, granted more than 1,000 pardons or clemency requests as governor. As his reputation for granting clemency spread, more convicts applied. Aides said he read each file personally.
In most cases, he followed the recommendation of the parole board, but in several cases he overrode the objections of prosecutors, judges and victims’ families. And in several, he followed recommendations for clemency from Baptist preachers who had been longtime supporters.
Robert Herzfeld, then the prosecuting attorney of Saline County, wrote a letter to Governor Huckabee in January 2004, saying his policy on clemency was “fatally flawed” and suggesting that he should announce specific reasons for granting clemency. Mr. Huckabee’s chief aide on clemency wrote back: “The governor read your letter and laughed out loud. He wanted me to respond to you. I wish you success as you cut down on your caffeine consumption.”
After the Fort Hood shooting, public figures called for ousting Muslims from the US military. They shouted that Maj Hasan was allowed to remain in the Army due to “political correctness” and claimed that Muslims are a protected class in the United States. As if Maj Hasan wouldn’t have been able to shoot anybody if he’d been kicked out of the army, which by the way he had been trying to leave for years, to no avail. As if any Muslim can commit any kind of crime in the US without his religion making the headlines.
Meanwhile, some Christians in America are howling that they are the underclass, that everyone makes fun of them, that public entities sometimes acknowledge that there is some religious diversity in America. The “war on Christmas” is a good example.
Here’s a scientific study whose conclusions will come as no surprise to most:
For many religious people, the popular question “What would Jesus do?” is essentially the same as “What would I do?” That’s the message from an intriguing and controversial new study by Nicholas Epley from the University of Chicago. Through a combination of surveys, psychological manipulation and brain-scanning, he has found that when religious Americans try to infer the will of God, they mainly draw on their own personal beliefs.
Obviously, this is what Huckabee was drawing on when he was pardoning Christians and what Bush was drawing on when he decide to war on Muslims and when he looked into Putin’s eyes and “saw his soul.”
And along those lines, let’s talk about religion and its pernicious effects on the law. Take Uganda. It has no state religion, but the majority religion makes up 84% of the country and influences the legal and political system there. On top of that, a powerful and wealthy foreign country dominated by coreligionists has been exporting religious materials of the most extreme flavor to Uganda, and foreign fundamentalists attended a conference there earlier this year that led to an anti-homosexuality bill that if passed would impose the death penality for “aggravated homosexuality.”
Many speakers at that conference think that homosexuality is an illness that can be cured. One wrote a book that equates Nazism and homosexuality and one works at a foundation which ostensibly “cures” homosexuals.
“They told us all things are going wrong because the family is being neglected. Not having more children is one of the things that they said are going wrong. Homosexuality is a way of stopping us from having more children,” said Senyonjo.
Macauley, who fled Nigeria last year after receiving death threats for hosting a gay-friendly church, added that the harsh law comes in a context of perceived challenges to men’s role in society. Women’s increased agency, including deciding whether to have children and how many, is experienced as a threat by some men. A relationship between two men raises the fear that one of the men will behave “like a woman” in the household, which undermines any supposedly natural definition of men’s position in society.
One of these imported fundamentalists probably also met with a number of Ugandan parliamentarians.
A bill has since been drafted and was tabled on Oct 14 in Uganda’s parliament, legalising not only the persecution of lesbians and gays but also of straights that “support” them. The bill applies to Ugandans inside and outside the country. It nullifies Uganda’s ratification of any international treaties that support LGBTI human rights and explicitly rejects the notion that homosexuals have human rights.
Any parent who does not denounce their lesbian daughter or gay son to the authorities face fines of 2,650 dollars or three years’ imprisonment. Any teacher who does not report a lesbian or gay pupil faces the same punishment.
Senyonjo believes that the Ugandan law stems from the urge to protect patriarchal arrangements: “It is men who want the law. They have a very loud voice. The church is still very patriarchal. They want the man to be the head of the family. Even at weddings they say the man is the head and the woman has to be obedient.”
Shariah Christian law truly is harsh and blood-soaked. If only the close-minded fundamentalists who can’t get it enacted here in the US wouldn’t export it to the rest of the world. We excoriate Saudi Arabia for funding fundamentalist schools around the world, but turn a blind eye to Christian proselytizing of the most foul kind.
For readers outside the US who may not know who Mike Huckabee is, he is a former candidate for president who in a Gallup poll published in early Nov 2009 was the Republican frontrunner for a presidential run in 2012.
71% of Republicans say they would seriously consider voting for Mike Huckabee.