Romney and ‘war’ on religion

“There is a religious war going on in this country,” former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan told the 1992 Republican convention in a primetime address. Mitt Romney has declared that President Obama is waging a war on religion. Whether one actually thinks there’s an ongoing war on religion, it’s time to raise the white flag on warring rhetoric.

In an advertisement released on August 9th, the Romney campaign said, “President Obama used his health care plan to declare war on religion, forcing religious institutions to go against their faith.” Not only does this skew many facts, it belittles the power of the word. “War” stands a synonymous word for “disagreement,” when in actuality it’s nowhere near a real war.

Using “war on religion” only belittles the actual wars men and women currently fight in the Middle East. Soldiers are still dying, and many of those soldiers fight a battle within themselves once they return home. I wonder how those, soldiers and civilians, that died in an actual war might feel about the “war on religion.”

Not only does the word “war” miserably fail metaphorically, it also belittles the incredible impact of violence within the world. Whether Aurora, Colorado, New York City, or Washington D.C., within the past month our country has experienced unparalleled violence. While they are tragedies and have shaken our society, we continue to use the rhetoric of war as though actual violence didn’t already exist.

Whether we want a new Oval Office tenant or not, perhaps we could agree that using “war” in reference to political debates oversteps reality. Though we are free to utilize that those that have been injured or died in actual wars have secured language free exercise.

For people of faith, specifically Christians, to use “war on religion” does not frighten me so much as cause great concern. We have ignored passages concerned with love and neighbor in favor of political fright. Instead of calling for mindfulness in political debate, many have done nothing more than exacerbate the rousing rhetoric.

There is no more a “war on religion” now than there was in 1992. The one constant, both then and now, is that no justifiable use of “war” can ever be used when soldiers are living and dying carrying out a war that is at best, unjust. With violence palpable in every city to continue to both profit from and utilize “war on religion” we find an eerie comfort with violence, even in our language.

Language creates our world. How many debates have we heard about using gendered language for God? If it’s not really that big of a deal, then why don’t more Christian churches use “Allah” for God? Language matters, and to ignore the violence at work within the word “war” reflects an ignorance of the violence within our society.

I’ve never served in the military, but I can imagine if I did that war would seem very different than the one Mitt Romney & Company currently engage. Before candidates, on either side, attempt to scare up votes they must be cognizant of the world they seek to create.

Zachary Bailes

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About the Author
Bailes holds a Master of Divinity from Wake Forest University School of Divinity. He is the Editor of Crazy Liberals and Conservatives, a website dedicated to engaging the intersection of faith and public life.

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  • Ross Reddick

    I agree with the thrust of the argument.  The basic claim here is that language is powerful. But I want us to consider the poles of the “no-war-language” stance.  Is it *always* the case that we should avoid war language except when talking about real war?  I think of Dr. MLK Jr. who used the metaphor of battle, even while upholding nonviolence as a virtue of dissent. Aren’t there times when bold language is needed for its pathos? Just a thought….

  • http://www.facebook.com/marsha.hubbardkeith Marsha Hubbard Keith

    This is not about religion and should not be as religion does not belong in government and government in religion as based on the constitution- 

    • dodadeo

       Separation of Church and State came along in 1947, it was not part of the founding fathers idea, this is a left wing idea that was passed in 1947. In the constitution is in the 1st Amendment, it says two things Congress shall not pass any laws that abridges religion, or the free exercise of religion, Now I ask you where does that say to separate the Church from the state, it does not but what it does is protect the Church from the Government. The old saying “freedom of religion” has changed in the last 15 or 20 years to “freedom from religion”, that is where the WAR started on religion. We have the right to worship any religion we so choose, we have the right not to have a religion, but things are changing look at Great Britain they have had this war going on longer and now they have laws you cannot wear a religious symple in public, if you do you will be fired from your job. The Christians waited too long to get into the fight and now they have a higher mountain to climb than they should

  • http://www.facebook.com/marsha.hubbardkeith Marsha Hubbard Keith

    This is not about religion as religion needs to stay out of government and government out of religion as based on the constitution remember the constitution folks-

  • http://www.facebook.com/georgepwood George Paul Wood

    I agree that “it’s time to raise the white flag on warring rhetoric.” Which is why I eagerly look forward to your critique of the Democrats’ and  their allies’ claim that Republicans are engaged in a “war on women.”

    • Prof_Override

      “War” is an appropriate term when dealing in the physical world.  The Republican “war on women” includes such niceties as technological rape by ultrasound device and denial of procreative control.  The Democrat “war on religion” is on the conceptual plane only – a battle of ideas.  There is no equivalence here – one is a raw misogynistic power play by angry white dudes and the other is a simple debate of ideas.

      • http://www.facebook.com/georgepwood George Paul Wood

         Prof-Override:

        I posted a longish rejoinder to your reply, but I think it got lost in moderation hell.

      • http://www.facebook.com/georgepwood George Paul Wood

         Evidently, if I shorten my comments, they post immediately. So, here goes:

        First, if “war” is “an appropriate term when dealing in the physical world,” then I’m sure you’ll agree with me that describing pro-choice advocacy as a “war on babies” is perfectly legitimate. Right? That’s logically consistent with your standard of when “war” language is appropriate.

        • Prof_Override

          Politically I’m a moderate libertarian.  On the issue of abortion, I’m a fan of the current uneasy stalemate – the viability of the fetus being the dividing line.  The Paul Ryan type extremism is what drove me out of the Republican party.  I find no logic in @ conception personhood.  I also find no logic in the radical left positions either.  The issue is between a woman and her doctor, arbitrated by the current boundries of science.  So I both agree and disagree wih you. 

          • http://www.facebook.com/georgepwood George Paul Wood

            One can have a “war” on a living thing even if it’s not a person, right? Have you ever watched “Whale Wars”? It chronicles the efforts of Western environmentalists to disrupt the Japanese whaling industry. Surely one could accurately say that the Japanese whaling industry is conducting a “war on whales” because it illegally, unethically, and physically harms those whales! But whales aren’t persons.

            Similarly, even if one grants that babies aren’t persons, they are living entitites and abortion causes them physical harm (death). So, why can’t abortion be described as a “war on babies”?

            Further, if one accepts viability as the dividing line in abortion, with regard to personhood, then you must agree that any abortion after viability constitutes not merely a “war on babies” but a “war on persons” too. Right?

          • Prof_Override

            The bottom line is that social “conservative” – social statism is no more acceptable than economic statism. Christians (and I’m a front row attendee at a large Dallas church) who play God in this arena are Pharisaical at best and Talibanesque at worst. Legislating morality isn’t moral it’s obscene. Vote Libertarian!

      • http://www.facebook.com/georgepwood George Paul Wood

        Second, “technological rape” is catchy, but HB 462, the Virginia bill that required ultrasounds before abortion procedures, doesn’t require invasive ultrasounds. And as I’m sure you know, there are noninvasive ultrasound procedures. For the text of the bill, Google “hb 462 legislative information system.” I’d provide you a direct link, but doing so seems to be what’s sent my previous comments into moderation hell.

      • http://www.facebook.com/georgepwood George Paul Wood

         Third, the Virginia League of Planned Parenthood used ultrasounds (invasive? noninvasive?) as part of their abortion procedures. Google “Ultrasounds Already Part of Planned Parenthood Abortion Procedure.”

      • dodadeo

         Are you kidding, do you really believe what you said. Have you read the Constitution of the US  the very first amendment. Well the Affordable Care Act, or better known as Obamacare breaks the first amendment, the free exercise of religion clause, where it forces Religions to go against their basic tenets, and provide contraceptives, which has been a tenet for years on end.
        Now for what you said about Republicans (of which I am not one), you misrepresent what the Republicans are saying about abortion, the fact that we the tax payer have to subsidize this horrible act. So tell me again how that denies a woman’s right to an abortion, or the rape there of as you so delicately put it. Did you know that “Thou shalt not Kill” is one of the Ten Commandments? 

        • Prof_Override

          Thou shall not kill – unless you are a statistical aberration, you are anti-choice AND pro capital punishment. Clear, total and utter prima facie hypocrisy. That dog don’t hunt.

          • dodadeo

             To be a hypocrite I could take lessons from you I knew that eventually you would put your truth on the table, and even a dog that don’t hunt can shine a light of truth on your true objective, you are angry at the Republican party because they shut out Ron Paul from making a circus out of the Republican National Convention, so now you are in center ring using you whip trying to train that puppy not to hunt, sorry bud but you are busted.

          • Prof_Override

            Actually no, I’m a straight up Gary Johnson supporter. I respect Ron Paul and use him as an example with regards to political vs personal social conservatism, but his position on woman’s issues place him out my comfort zone and at the edge of the Libertarianism.

    • dodadeo

      I would like first to draw you attention to John 8:31-32 “So Jesus said
      to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, you
      really are My disciples. 32 You will know the truth, and the truth will
      set you free.”
      I really hate to
      inform you this there really is a war on Religion, or rather
      Christianity, that is where the war is, If you are Islamic, you can say
      your prayers in Public, if you are an Atheist, you can voice your
      opinion and nobody Raises Cain, but if you are Christian keep quite
      because you may hurt someones feelings. Take our Constitution, it tells
      us that the Government can make no law that abridges Religion, or
      prevents the free exercise thereof. Now I ask you is that not war
      when that happens, and yes it has happened the President did that in his
      so called Obamacare, deny that all you want it is true. Your whole
      article gave me the distinct impression of relativism, you certainty
      have a right to that if you so choose, if you want to jump off that
      cliff of Secular Humanism, try to deny gravity. PS Don’t presume to
      speak for Veterans living or dead until you have walked in their shoes, I
      have I volunteered to give my life for my country, obviously I did not
      lose my life, but never the less I am more appalled that you would deny
      the “War on Christianity”, than their use of the word War. Look a
      Great Britain that war has been going on longer there than here, and now
      if they wear a Christian symbol like a crucifix they will be fired,
      Christians are having to go to court to try to change this law, and we
      had better put a stop to this “War on Christianity” before we get like
      the Britts.
       

  • heretheycomeagain

    mmm

  • heretheycomeagain

    Criticize Pat Buchanan all you like, but to simply ignore him is folly. He was and is certainly onto something. But unlike Pat, I don’t see it as a war on religion as much as I see it as a war on God. So for those who see God as just being this amorphous spirit that some of us pretend to worship on occasional Saturdays or Sundays, I suggest you avert your eyes and avoid reading what I have to say.

    There is a spiritual battle going on, but the battle is between God and Satan. When Jesus Christ  founded His One Holy and Catholic Apostolic Church, He depended upon the Popes and the Bishops over the ages to serve Him by teaching His truth and thereby help bring all people to salvation. But, as it were, man (including Popes and Bishops) has a free will, and a number of Popes and Bishops exercised that free will in the mid 1960‘s at the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) and adopted the heresy of Modernism. As a result, our society has gone violently off the tracks since that time.

    Jesus Christ gave us His Holy Sacraments (including the Holy Eucharist and Confession) as the spiritual weapons to fight Satan. Satan, the evil one, uses as his weapons the pleasures of this world to lead us astray (illicit sex, worldly possessions, etc.). The Catholic Bishops and priests, who should be using their spiritual arms to fight Satan, have lost their voices in teaching the faithful about those Holy Sacraments and have focused virtually all of their efforts on promoting humanitarianism and other social issues. They have turned the Catholic Church into little more than another socialistic government. They teach us that we need more welfare and social programs to get to heaven; and say nothing about the Sacraments. They tell us that what pleases God is to defend illegal immigration and protect the environment; and then stand mute at the pulpit when it comes to speaking to the Sacredness of traditional marriage, encouraging us to have as many children as God will allow, and placing our trust in Jesus Christ to solve our problems, rather than depending on government.

    So yes, there is a war on religion; and it’s being waged by the Modernist Bishops of the Catholic Church against the true teachings of the Catholic Church. Whether those Bishops will wake up and change their ways, only time will tell. But they are leading many souls astray and a day will come when they, like the rest of us, will face Jesus Christ. And whether one chooses to believe it or not, on that day God will demand an accounting. I pray that all of us, including each and every one of the Bishops of the Church, are prepared to meet our maker at that time.

  • James Stagg

    “When Hitler attacked the Jews 
    I was not a Jew, therefore I was not concerned. 
    And when Hitler attacked the Catholics, 
    I was not a Catholic, and therefore, I was not concerned. 
    And when Hitler attacked the unions and the industrialists, 
    I was not a member of the unions and I was not concerned. 
    Then Hitler attacked me and the Protestant church – 
    and there was nobody left to be concerned.”
    -Martin Niemoller