Will religion play a major role in International Relations in the coming decades, why or why not? The fist Amendment to the United States Constitution expresses the importance of religious freedom. It reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” The men who made this idea the law in 1791 came from families that had fled from England and Europe because of many generations of religious intolerance. It was not at all an abstract idea for the Founding Fathers.
They could name members of their families who had been sent to the gallows or the guillotine for supporting a religion different than the monarch’s religion. American leaders have worked hard to uphold Freedom of Religion because it is better for all of the people. In his last column as Editor of Newsweek magazine, Jon Meacham reported: In 1957, President and Mrs. Eisenhower attended the opening of the Islamic Center on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington. (They doffed their shoes; the first lady padded about in her nylons. “And I should like to assure you, my Islamic friends,” the president said, “that under the American Constitution, under American tradition, and in American hearts, this Center, this place of worship, is just as welcome as could be a similar edifice of any other religion. Indeed, America would fight with her whole strength for your right to have here your own church and worship according to your own conscience. This concept is indeed a part of America, and without that concept we would be something else than what we are. ”
As the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe, Dwight D. Eisenhower designed the D-Day invasion and lead troops across France and Germany in 1944 and 1945. Then General Eisenhower managed the documentation of the horrors of the Nazi death camps. He ordered filmmakers to collect evidence from the concentration camps to use at the Nuremberg Trials to convict Nazi war criminals in 1946. So he saw firsthand the horrors of religious persecution: more than six million Jews, including more than a million children died in the Holocaust.
While executing the Jews, the Nazis also systematically rounded up and killed the Roma (then called gypsies), homosexuals, people with disabilities, and Jehovah’s Witnesses. President Eisenhower was a Presbyterian, but his mother was a type of Jehovah’s Witness. He would know better than almost anyone the dangerous outcomes of intolerance and the vital importance of freedom of religion. So how did we get from Eisenhower’s enlightened view in 1957 to dozens of people protesting at mosques in New York City and Tennessee in 2010?
Why are strangers sending chain emails in ALL CAPS asking the reader to withhold the rights of Muslims in America? Should millions of Muslims be denied their freedom of religion because of 19 hijackers who did the damage on 9/11? If this made sense, you could say that Timothy McVeigh, who blew up a truck bomb at the Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168 people including children in the day care center, represents all Irish Catholics. So the Irish Catholics should not be allowed to have St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue?
So there should not be any Roman Catholic churches in Oklahoma City? If the crime of one Catholic terrorist is not considered to indict all Catholics, then the crimes of 19 Muslims should not implicate all Muslims. In the big picture, we need to go back and look at what will really “form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, and insure domestic Tranquility” in the United States. Encouraging intolerance and bigotry may temporarily build the bank accounts for the people preaching hate, but it will not create the kind of country where people of good will want to live, work, and worship.
It is time for everyone to speak up for Freedom of Religion. As long as religious groups use violence as a means of recognition, legitimacy and recruitment and are successful, the international community will continue to see a rise in the role of religion in a negative way. They will continue to be influential. Religion has a tremendous ability to support a movement and keep it alive through tremendous adversity. When a battle is lost, religious leaders condemn the community for their lack of discipline to God and demand support.
The community must spend more time “pleasing” God through sacrifice of money and human lives and when God is pleased then a battle will be won. Juergensmeyer expresses the idea that Religious followers attribute successes and failures to Gods will on page 219, “In one of the first videotapes that Osama bin Ladin released for viewing on al Jazeera television after the September 11, 2001 attacks, he praised God, saying that by His will the twin towers of the World Trade Center had collapsed. The 19 men who carried out the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon sacrificed their lives in belief that it was a divine command. The influence shown over these men prove the power of religion to be vast. This phenomenon “has surpassed all ordinary claims of political authority and elevated religious ideologies to supernatural heights” (Juergensmeyer, 220). Without the strong justification religion provided for this attack it is hard to imagine something so powerful that it could convince 19 men to give up their lives. Religious struggles differ from secular conflicts in that the timeline set fourth is much longer.
Participants of social and political struggles desire to bring the conflict to an end within their lifetimes so they or at least their children will benefit from their fight whereas religious conflicts do not stress a timely end to a conflict. For example, leaders of Hamas have claimed they can and will persevere even though Israel is far superior in military strength. “Palestine was occupied before, Dr. Rantisi reminded me, “for two hundred years. He assured me that he and his Palestinian comrades can wait again-at leas that long“ (Juergensmeyer, 220).
Some religious activists do not expect their conflict to be completed for thousands of years. They will not compromise for their goals and thus there is no need to abide by the current society’s laws and norms. They knowingly break laws in their pursuit of their ultimate goal of heavens rewards. Violence has been spiritualized and therefore terrorism is fueled by religious justifications creating a remarkable power. Jurgensmeyer expresses the reverse of this phenomenon on page 221: Ironically, the reverse is also true: terrorism has g given religion power as well.
Although, as I have noted, sporadic acts of terrorism do not lead to the establishment of new religious states, they make the political potency of religious ideology impossible to ignore. Along with empowering individuals and movements, therefore, the violence has empowered religion: it has given religious organizations and ideas a public importance that they have not enjoyed for many years. In her book Dying to Kill Mia Bloom makes insightful conclusions and advances the understanding of the use of suicide bombings in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
For instance she uses a very good quote form an Israeli solider that expresses the difficulty of ending the war on terror against the Palestinians: There’s no way to break the system of terror in the West Bank, because the system is now in the minds of the people, in the minds of the teenagers, and what we’re doing by this operation [Defensive Shield] is giving them more reason to build that system. The government talks about how many guns and bomb factories and suicide belts its capturing in the offensive, of how we are going to break the terrorist infrastructure.
But what infrastructure? I think the most terrifying thing here-and maybe it’s something that a lot of people don’t’ wan to see-is that there’s very little of an infrastructure to break. ” (39) Bloom explains how there are no military solutions to terrorism. The best way to combat suicide terrorism is to eliminate the motivations for the programs. We must convince the Palestinians that violence against civilians is not the answer. The problem with this solution is that Palestinians consider all Israelis current, past or future soldiers as all Israelis sever in the military.
She then offers the idea that the legitimacy of the Palestinian government must be preserved because without it there “can only result in more lawlessness and create more opportunities for violence. ” (41) Bloom includes a quote from Senator Hillary Clinton that stresses the importance of convincing suicide terrorist their efforts are hindering their future, “their future lies with us” (41) Bloom make some important points here and I especially agree with her claim that there is no way to eliminate all suicide bombers but to erase suicide bombing as an acceptable practice.
Once that can be achieved the start to a better further for both Palestine and Israel can begin. If lines are not crossed support will further grow and thus Religion will gain higher influence in the international community and eventually will lead to a change in favor God. 224 The attack was a dramatic display of symbolic terrorism against the secular west and its beliefs.