If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you’ll know that I’ve been doing a lot of contemplation about human nature and specifically the process by which we, as individuals, process new information. My conclusion is simple: When something is presented to us, our nature is to make whatever it is, COMFORTABLE.
But today’s subject brings me great discomfort. Why? Because my old way of thinking is being challenged and I don’t like it. I’ve been writing quite a bit on the subjects of (1) Confirmation Bias and (2) Cognitive Dissonance (here and here). These subjects have helped me to observe the 2016 Presidential Election and the aftermath in a whole different light. I’ve seen the bias of both sides with amazing clarity. I’ve read the comment sections from the Internet posts. I know that both sides of the political spectrum like to SPIN the narrative, and I’ve concluded that as individuals, we do the same thing – to ourselves. We spin the information to fit our own level of comfort, or we just refuse to hear it. Our comfort is enhanced by navigating to the stories that we agree with, or tuning into the channels that present our side of the story, and when an opposing view is presented, we reject it quickly, make up an excuse and go on building a stronger and larger wall around our biased belief structure. Soon, our custom made and individual echo chambers are fully constructed. Yes, we all do it!
So now, let me bring up the subject of Islam in America. Its not a new discussion, in fact our founders foresaw this conflict even during a time when as far as they knew, there were no Muslims living in the country. As I read it, their worst fears would have been the integration of Islam in America, so why did they codify the Muslim’s right to be here and to freely practice their faith? Our founders were admittedly Protestant. There were just a few Jews, also Catholics were a very limited minority. The European backdrop of religious wars during the Reformation and other conflicts throughout civilization is clear, our Founding Fathers knew from whence they came from, they were acutely aware of how religious differences created all sorts of havoc in Western and every other civilization. One of the greatest of all the civil liberties that our founders pondered was Religious Freedom. And the debate continues to this day. As a Christian, I can emphatically say “We have never been a Christian Country”, yet I know that we have been a country of mostly Christians, amongst some others.
I think it would be good to tell you at this point my personal belief about Islam. I will also tell you upfront that my personal feelings are of little value.
To me, Islam is a regressive totalitarian system that blends religious emotions (one of the strongest human drives) into a system of government full of tyrannical influences. Islam can become more than a religious faith, it’s potential is a controlling governmental system that suppresses human equality and is in direct conflict with American ideals. I believe that the expanding geo-political mentality of the Islamic Culture will cause the experiment of America’s Personal Freedoms to be lost and changed due to the demographic numbers of the future. Our Constitution will be nullified and a new form of government will replace it. It won’t happen due to a war fought with weapons, it will happen because the current trend towards something called Tolerance and Acceptance will forcibly CLOSE OFF all contrary discussions, here a little, there a little, slowly, those like me, who oppose the new dominate culture, will be silenced, perhaps eliminated.
Now you know my bias. But I have a real problem. The 1st Amendment is clear, there shall be no law prohibiting the free exercise of any Religion. Our founders talked about Islam specifically when they were dealing with this subject. What were they thinking? Why didn’t they just say, all Religions EXCEPT Islam are free to be exercised in America? Why indeed? For now, the Muslim population is small, the people are good and are living respectable lives within our country. Any social discord committed by Muslims is no greater in numbers demographically, than any other group, their civility maybe even better than average. They get the negative press, that’s for sure. Some are even my friends. To single them out based against their actual civil conduct would be very wrong of me, they’re good people. My personal belief about Islam as a Religion is not being met with reality as it’s presented to me here in America, so from a mentality of good ole fashioned Americanism, my prejudice is out of line, clearly.
We are RIGHT NOW at a crossroads. We cannot stop Islam by saying “You can’t practice your faith here”, that would be against the Constitution. They can and do practice here, rightfully so! Our fight remains as its always been, in the public square of debate, where reason and mindful thinking have free reign to coexist with each other. Sadly, the Antifa Anarchist groups are becoming more prevalent at Conservative Free Speech gatherings, they want to shut us up. They wear their black uniforms and cover their faces, trying to intimidate and create fear. But like the Wizard of Oz, behind the curtain is something much less fearful. We must continue to stand up against them, with our speech.
So, what can we do? Or, looking at it from another angle, “What must we do to allow our system to work and to continue to grant individual freedom to all?”
Answer: Fight for ALL of what the 1st Amendment spells out. And, as it turns out, we are in a tense battle with just this reality, RIGHT NOW.
I’ll conclude with this. The founders codified that practicing Islam cannot be forbidden. So what did they mean that speech could not be abridged? Both are spelled out in the same Amendment, if one cannot be hindered, can the other? Can you see why Freedom of Speech is paramount to every right we have? Its the glue that binds all other rights together, without it, the discussion is over. We lose.
The strength of Christianity isn’t in our ability to fight off the opposition with new laws and regulations, the strength of Christianity is “Christ in Us, the hope of glory”. Living and leading a life with Jesus as our true example will by default make the case for us. So what did Jesus leave us as an example? He loved, he debated with reason and knowledge of the truth, he bled for us, he died for us, he rose and will return for us. In the mean time, we should also be loving and debating, and with the promised help of the Holy Spirit, we have a greater advantage. We lose our advantage when we go outside of the prescribed directive.
The First Amendment
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.