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Old 01-23-2006, 04:50 PM   #1
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Lightbulb When did politics and religion become one?

When did politics and religion become one?
by Tim Giago (Nanwica Kciji)
Native American Times - "Notes from Indian Country"
(NTN Article #7477) - 23 January 2006
http://nativetimes.com/index.asp?act...rticle_id=7477

When I was young and living on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation at the Pejuta Haka (Medicine Root) Community my father said to me, “There are two arguments you will never win and they are about politics and religion.” Never in my wildest dream did I ever think that in the 21st Century those two arguments would be reduced to one. It seems to me that today politics and religion are interchangeable.

From the history books I learned that in years past nations were ruled by Popes and great battles were fought between Christians and Muslims. Now let me see; on which side were the infidels? No matter how it is sugarcoated, there is still a war going on between Christians and Muslims.

One would be a fool to believe that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are political wars only. It seems that the enemy of the Americans is using religious battle cries of Jihad or God is Great before pulling the switch on their suicide belts. Their martyrdom opens the gates of Heaven to them immediately.

And yet the reasons the suicide bombers kill and maim are firmly rooted in politics because, in their minds, religion and politics cannot be separated. In the lands where Mullahs rule, the politics of the nation are solidly based upon religious beliefs. In other words, the laws of politics are the laws of the Quran.

Ironically, in America, we now are faced with a leadership that leans heavily upon religious convictions when making political decisions. President George W. Bush publicly flaunts his deep religious feelings perhaps assuming that all Americans believe exactly as he feels. And once again we are observing the infringement upon the rights of individuals by those who believe that the laws of the land should be based upon the laws of the Bible. Should our laws be based on the Bible just as the laws of Islam are based upon the Quran?

Even in a sparsely populated state like South Dakota the religious right has assumed control of the legislative body and too often inserts its religious opinions into legal or political decisions. In America a “red state” can be labeled as “God fearing,” while a “blue state” can be accused of being “Godless.” When did this Nation come to this ridiculous condition?

History tells us that the Indian people of the Southwest, the Pueblo, were deeply religious, but it was the wrong kind of religiosity. It wasn’t Christian enough. The Spanish conquistadors murdered, maimed and indoctrinated those who did not embrace Catholicism.

The Pueblo men and women were reduced to slavery while their children were forced into schools where their language and customs were beaten out of them, or so the conquerors believed. But some religious beliefs die hard, and the people of the Pueblos kept their spiritual beliefs underground until it was safe to bring them into the light.

What happened to the indigenous people of the Western Hemisphere should be used as a lesson to the rest of America. The new religious leaders scoffed at their spiritual beliefs and forced conversion became the law of the land.

One of the fastest growing religions with the youngest population now thrives in the Muslim world. They believe their religion is the only true religion. Sound familiar? They believe it is not only all right, but a religious duty for young Muslims to sacrifice their lives to kill non-believers.

Sixty years ago the Americans first encountered those who believed it was their religious responsibility to crash their planes into the war ships off the coast of Okinawa. The word Kamikaze literally means “Divine Wind.” It was perplexing to the ideologies of the Americans then and it is perplexing to the Americans of today.

Americans are not trained by religion or politics to take their own lives to destroy an enemy. It is a totally foreign concept. Muslims are taught at a very young age that martyrdom is a state of honor.

To read a newspaper today or watch a television newscast creates an almost surreal world. The suicide attacks upon Iraqi civilians and upon American soldiers seem to run together so that it is hard to separate one attack from the other. And of late the attacks are becoming too numerous to register as real. But from the photos of the burned out cars and mangled bodies, we know that they are only too real.

When American politicians decided to tackle the Muslim world they grabbed a tiger by the tail and now they cannot decide how to let go. If they let go too soon the tiger will surely kill them.

Unforeseen circumstances have turned Iraq and Afghanistan into religious wars. After all, weren’t the Taliban Muslim fundamentalists?

My father could never have known that when he advised me many years ago to never argue politics or religion that they would eventually become one and the same.

(Tim Giago is the president of the Native American Journalists Foundation, Inc., and the publisher of Indian Education Today Magazine. He can be reached at [email protected] or by writing him at 2050 W. Main St., Suite 5, Rapid City, SD 57701)

© 2006 Native American Journalists Foundation, Inc.
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