Conservative plans for holy war are (obviously) un-American

Last Friday’s attacks in Paris demonstrated the need for a broad international coalition to take on ISIS and defeat the organization of radicalized religious demagogues.

Ironically, several conservatives believe that, in tandem with attacks on the group, the United States should engage in a different kind of war campaign: promotion of Judeo-Christian beliefs.

And we wonder why we get accused of waging a holy war of our own in the Middle East.

Ohio governor and Republican presidential candidate John Kasich is proposing a new federal agency that would exist to promote Christian ideals around the world, brought to you courtesy of the red, white and blue. Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush have further suggested that we shouldn’t allow any refugees in our nation unless they can pass a religious test identifying themselves as Christians. Watch Bush fail to explain exactly how that would work:

President Barack Obama rightly identified this as foolish and wrong. As he said yesterday, quoted by CNN:

When I hear folks say that maybe we should just admit the Christians and not the Muslims (refugees), when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution, that’s shameful. That’s not American.

The constitutional law professor has a point.

One needs only to look back to one of the earliest treaties in our nation’s history to find such evidence. The Treaty of Tripoli ensured friendship between the U.S. and the people of Tripolitania (now part of Libya). As part of this treaty, the Americans wanted to reassure the people of that region that no disputes rising out of religious differences would ever come up. Inserted into the document is Article 11, which states (emphasis added):

Thomas Jefferson, via Wikimedia Commons

Thomas Jefferson, via Wikimedia Commons

As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion, – as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen (Muslims), – and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan (Muslim) nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

It’s also worth noting that the first nation to officially recognize America as a sovereign nation was not a so-called Western country. It certainly wasn’t England, and it wasn’t even France; it was Morocco, which recognized the United States of American in 1777. We then signed a treaty of friendship with that nation in 1786, which is the longest unbroken treaty in our history.

All this is to say that religious pluralism in US foreign policy predates our own Constitution. Which, by the way, makes no reference to God.

There is no doubt that the Islamic State poses a threat to the Western world, including the U.S., its allies and global interests. Still, we needn’t turn this campaign against terrorists into something that it isn’t — a holy war. Doing so doesn’t just go against the First Amendment, but it also runs counter to everything our founders tried to establish.

Cruz, Bush, Kasich and others who would have American foreign policy end with “in Jesus name amen” are foolish and, as President Obama would correctly say, un-American.

Suffice it to say that they either don’t understand America’s history with regards to religious pluralism here and abroad, or they’ve chosen to ignore it.

Chris Walker has been a political writer for more than ten years, contributing freelance opinion pieces to several online publications as well as managing his own blog, Political Heat, for more than six years. With a B.A. in Political Science and Journalism, Chris tries to bring a unique angle to every article he produces, including Millennial perspectives on the issues he's covering. Chris resides in Madison, Wisconsin, and proudly owns both a cheesehead and stock in the Green Bay Packers.

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13 Responses to “Conservative plans for holy war are (obviously) un-American”

  1. Cynthia Williams says:

    When these so-called Christians spout these “christian” values, ask one of them if they ever heard of the passage from Matthew 25:35-40. I find it sadly amusing to watch their faces turn red and listen to them attempt to stutter out something to excuse their hypocrisy.

    Matthew 25:35-40English Standard Version (ESV)

    35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,

    36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’

    37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?

    38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?

    39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

    40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’

  2. pin head says:

    “Judeo-Christian,” is code word for Zionist Christians. Real Christians aren’t Zionists.

  3. Indigo says:

    I suspect they fear that not only are they in the wrong but that they are besmirching the reputation of our nation outside our borders. And they’ll give themselves ulcers denying that’s what’s going on. They’re hearts are dark, even darker than their words. That’s unfortunate but that’s where the fear and anger collide. It’s a real for sure moral crisis going on among our Neo-Nativists, a moral crisis they refuse to acknowledge and with that refusal comes the very real danger of an explosion we should all be wary of. They’re at least as crazed as the ISIS/ISIL zealots and we’ve already seen what those madmen are capable of. Who knows what’s in the near future once our Neo-Nativists get past the shouting and decide they want to do something aggressive to prove their point?

  4. LanceThruster says:

    Clearly with Rethuglicans, peak stupid is only a theory.

  5. LanceThruster says:

    Chosenites view everyone else as inferior (sub-human).

  6. JaneE says:

    Which is why I don’t consider almost all of those who proclaim themselves Christian to actually be one.

  7. BeccaM says:

    The radical version of Islam which suggests it’s perfectly fine to commit heinous acts of terrorism is really just a death cult.

    The radical version of Christianity which pines openly for a new holy war Crusade of conquest, so that the world can be brought to an end in their prophesied final Apocalypse, is also technically a death cult.

  8. nicho says:

    “Violence is as American as cherry pie.” –H. Rap Brown

  9. mf_roe says:

    The War is against REASON, and it goes exceedingly well.

  10. Don Chandler says:

    Republican Congress can’t address gun control or school/theater shootings, so they create a red herring argument against ME refugees. Ofc, the US is partially responsible for the strife in Iraq and also Syria. You can’t bomb people and then claim they are terrorists when they flee…well, unless you are a dumbass republican. Reasons for the War on Islam?

    Distraction from real domestic issues–congress is so inept (politics).
    Christian Crusade–appease religious right (politics).
    Weaken First Amendment–appease religions right and thwart free speech (politics of control).
    Fund War Machine–money money money.
    Wag the Dog–money politics money.

  11. mf_roe says:

    Un-Christian my ass:
    “onward christian soldiers, marching as to War”
    Holy Inquisition
    Divine Right of Oppressors

  12. JaneE says:

    Turning away refugees is inhumane. It is un-Christian. Unfortunately, it is not un-American. We have responded this way before, and when people ask how could America turn away Jews fleeing Hitler, this is exactly how.

  13. mf_roe says:


    In the Marquis de Sade’s Juliette,
    published in 1797 (trans. Austryn Wainhouse, 1968), Sade uses the term
    in a scene where Juliette explains to King Ferdinand the consequences of
    his policies:

    Though nature lavishes much upon your people, their circumstances are
    strait. But this is not the effect of their laziness; this general
    paralysis has its source in your policy which, from maintaining the
    people in dependence, shuts them out from wealth; their ills are thus
    rendered beyond remedy, and the political state is in a situation no
    less grave than the civil government, since it must seek its strength in
    its very weakness. Your apprehension, Ferdinand, lest someone discover
    the things I have been telling you leads you to exile arts and talents
    from your realm. You fear the powerful eye of genius, that is why you
    encourage ignorance. This opium you feed your people, so that,
    drugged, they do not feel their hurts, inflicted by you. And that is why
    where you reign no establishments are to be found giving great men to
    the homeland; the rewards due knowledge are unknown here, and as there
    is neither honor nor profit in being wise, nobody seeks after wisdom.

    I have studied your civil laws, they are good, but poorly enforced,
    and as a result they sink into ever further decay. And the consequences
    thereof? A man prefers to live amidst their corruption rather than plead
    for their reform, because he fears, and with reason, that this reform
    will engender infinitely more abuses than it will do away with; things
    are left as they are. Nevertheless, everything goes askew and awry and
    as a career in government has no more attractions than one in the arts,
    nobody involves himself in public affairs; and for all this compensation
    is offered in the form of luxury, of frivolity, of entertainments. So
    it is that among you a taste for trivial things replaces a taste for
    great ones, that the time which ought to be devoted to the latter is
    frittered away on futilities, and that you will be subjugated sooner or
    later and again and again by any foe who bothers to make the effort.”

    Religion has long been known as a false answer to the question of how man must live. Those who take it up always face destruction.

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