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An Obama Doctrine on religion?

An Obama Doctrine on religion?

Lauren Markoe of Religion News Service is among the commentators who believe that President Barack Obama yesterday laid out a kind of Obama Doctrine on Religion and Religious Freedom in his speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations. It’s five key points, she writes, are

that blasphemy, however regrettable, must be tolerated;

that respect for religion is a two-way street;

that violence is not a legitimate response when one’s religion is insulted;

that in its religious diversity, the United States is “one nation under God”

that extremism is dangerous.

Among the President’s more potentially controversial statements: “Given the power of faith in our lives, and the passions that religious differences can inflame, the strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression, it is more speech. … When anyone with a cell phone can spread offensive views around the world with the click of a button, the notion that we can control the flow of information is obsolete.”

Meanwhile, on The New York Times‘ Opinionator blog. Andrew F. March wants to know, “What’s wrong with blasphemy? He asks:

Suppose there had not been a single riot in response to the now infamous video “The Innocence of Muslims,” Not a single car burned, not a single embassy breached, not a single human being physically hurt. Would the makers of this risible little clip have done anything wrong? If so, to whom, and why?


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Michael Russell

I am one of those who believes that nearly everything is “political” and I am coming to the conclusion that everything is also “religious”.

Everyone at some point places their trust, belief and even dependence upon some set of propositions that are ultimately un-provable. Those folks all form connected communities, which bind themselves together (the root of the word religion). Likewise we all can demonstrate that what we believe in produces tangible benefits to us and potential damage to ourselves and others.

The only thing that results from the various world religions, including atheism, ramping up verbal and physical attacks on other religions is that those attacked escalate.

So if what everyone wants is a continuing escalation of defensiveness and attack…. just keep doing what you’re doing, cause everyone is doing a superb job at the moment.

As a human community we either choose tolerance and collaboration or war. Whether its political war or physical war is irrelevant. The choice to be intolerant, or to relegate one belief or another to the sidelines or dustbin, ultimately leads to the execrable behavior of the film maker and the murderous mobs.

Co-exist or kill those are the choices. Let’s be clear that we are not standing at the bottom of the escalator of religious violence at the moment, we are ascending it.

Now the good news is that overall, worldwide, violence has been on a steady decrease because most people are realizing that relational models that value equality and commerce which bridge differences. Sadly those groups making the most noise are still those who relational models are steeped in purity/sanctity + In-group loyalty leaving them prone to be defensive of issues like “Blasphemy”. Pinker’s, “The Better Angels of our Nature” is an important read in this area.

Bill Ghrist
Bill Dilworth

I think what would bother an atheist would be the President wasting his time and the public’s money (in their estimation) on what they consider nonsense. I’m not sure I would completely disagree with them. Both sides of the aisle pander shamelessly to religious sensibilities, and it cheapens religion. I’d rather the Obama Doctrine were simply the religious clause of the First Amendment.

Matthew Buterbaugh+

I would argue that the reaction to the video was more blasphemous than the video itself. Blasphemy is a misuse of God’s name. What worse a way is there to misuse God’s name than to destroy life and injure in it?


R/T to atheists/secularists: if they do not believe in God, it should not bother them that someone else considers all mankind “under God” as long as it conveys no burden on them. Christopher Hitchens didn’t object to people praying for him during his battle with cancer, he just thought they were wasting their time and didn’t care.

At least some of those who do think we are under God also think ALL nations are under God, and ALL people are under God whether they are believers in a Christian God, or Jewish or Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist or Wiccan or atheist or espousing this or that political persuasion. We are all children of God.

Sarah Ridgway

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