Category Archives: Race

Muslims Out Number Catholics Worldwide

The Vatican has just reported that Islam has overtaken Roman Catholicism as the largest faith in the world.  Apparently Muslims make up 19.2% of World population, while Catholics make up 17.4%.    This really should not be much of a surprise, I would have been more surprised if Catholicism was still ahead. 

I think there are a couple of key aspects that have been left out of the analysis in this report.  Sure, Catholicism is now outnumbered by Islam, but Catholicism only counts their own members, not members of break off sects (aka Protestantism) or other independent Christian faiths (aka Mormonism, JW, etc).   While it is likely that the number of Muslims includes all Muslims regardless of Sunni, Shiite, or any other affiliation. 

A more accurate comparison would have been to compare Catholicism with Sunni Islam while comparing Christianity as a whole with Islam as a whole.  If done in this way, Christianity makes up 33% of world population while Islam (still) makes up 19.2%.   A significant lead for Christianity.  

However, all is not necessarily well in Christendom.  The Western world, which contains a majority of Christians, have some of the lowest population growth rates in the world.  In some countries, there are nearly as many deaths as there are births in a given year.  Additionally, more and more people from Christian backgrounds are leaving religion altogether as they become more wealthy and have less of a need for religion. 

The growth rates of major Christian religions, such as Catholicism, Lutheranism, etcetera has diminished to a crawl;  really the saving grace for Christianity are the newer religions and movements within the umbrella.  The evangelical movement has gone through a boom period and independent faiths such as Mormonism and the Jehovah’s witness continue to have significant growth rates and are establishing a greater footprint in the community. 

But even the growth of those faiths and movements can’t keep up with Islam.  Undoubtedly, this 14% gap in population between Christianity and Islam will continue to shrink.  At some point in the not to distant future Islam will pass Christianity.  Islam continues to spread, they are essentially experiencing their own modern-day crusade (a topic for another article) and taking over countries as they go along.   Christianity cannot keep up with this.  It is a harsh reality that needs to be recognized and if the Christian world is concerned about there ought to be serious discussion about how to deal with it (and I don’t mean deal with it in terms of War or violence) and adjust.  It is a unique time for the world.  We are indeed witnessing the rise of the East, both the Near East and the Far East.  Could this century be the century of the East? Time will tell.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Christian, Christianity, International Affairs, Islam, Politics, Race, Religion

Part II-War, National Interest, and Iraq

Last week I wrote about the first part of the following quote.  In the piece, I discussed reasons we went to War in Iraq, why we are still there, so on and so forth.  It came to my attention that it was really long and so with Part II today, I will attempt to keep it considerably shorter.  Now let’s address the 2nd sentence of the comment below. 

I guess my problem is I can’t honestly justify attacking a country for its oil when there are so many worse countries and regimes around the world. The situation in Darfur is much worse than it ever was in Iraq, and we don’t do something about it why?

There are two ways to address this sentence about Darfur and that is to discuss why we don’t get involved in Darfur due to interests (or lack thereof) and also to address the utter hypocricy by those who use this as a counter argument for Iraq.

First, let’s answer the question.  The hard and cold truth is we aren’t going into Sudan militarily because we have no interests there and because Sudan poses no threat to the outside world.  If you think that justifying war in Iraq was difficult, wait until you have to justify war in Sudan.  The reality, as cold and sad as it may be, is that Iraq and the Middle-East is of great interest and value to us and to the civilized world.  First and foremost they provide the world’s energy needs.  That is the only reason we have any relationship of a significant value with that part of the world.  If they didn’t have oil or natural gas we would treat and view them no differently than we do Mali or Chad. 

Today, admitting the fact that oil is a national interest and adding that it should be draws the gasp of millions people.  But why shouldn’t it be, we need it, the world needs it, and the middle-east has it.  But, people say, we are exploiting those people and making their lives worse. B.S., they and their governments are what determines whether or not their lives suck; how that money is used and spent is entirely up to them. I don’t see the UAEers or Kuwaitis complaining.  But I digress.

I completely understand the desire some have for more action in Darfur.  I have a great fascination for Africa, it is my favorite region to study.  I wish so much that we had the means and justification to use force to end genocide and ethnic cleansing. I remember studying the Rwanda genocide and then watching Hotel Rwanda and just being so disgusted with the actions of the western World and the inaction of the UN.   As I pondered those things, I realized the catch-22 the United States is in.  On the one hand, we are the world’s most powerful and prosperous nation.  Our people enjoy immense freedom and partake of democracy, don’t we have an obligation to help and defend those who can’t help and defend themselves?  I wish the answer were ‘yes’ and in a perfect world, we would do so.  But unfortunately, we just can’t do it.  First, if we did start getting involved militarily, where does it end?  Are we going to attack Sudan, then Uganda, Nigeria, Somalia, Eritrea, Myanmar, Zimbabwe, etc?  We would be involved everywhere and undoubtedly, both sides of the conflict would wish we would go home.

Second, we have limited resources, just because we have the largest military in the world, doesn’t mean we have the ability to fight multiple wars on multiple fronts.  Third, the entire world would be outraged and we would have no support.  We can’t force democracy through the barrell of a gun, no matter how much we may want to.  The sad reality is that there is only so much we have the ability to do and only so much we can legally do. 

This brings me to the hypocricy of those that make comments like this.  There are two hypocricies herein.  First, they imply the argument that that we should leave Iraq to go stop a genocide in Africa, they try to come across as so compassionate and caring about human rights, yet they they either fail to realize or blatantly ignore the fact that if we leave Iraq too soon, we would inevitably have a human rights crisis created in Iraq.  All of these people who say we need to get out of Iraq also claim to care about freedom and human life, yet are ok with us pulling out to make a political point and indicting Bush, all the while creating a major humanitarian crisis.  Fixing one humanitarian crisis while creating another one does not sound like a productive move to me.

The second hypocricy is that people who make comments like this want us to think they would actually support military action in Sudan.  This is utterly ridiculous.  These people will yell and scream for us to leave Iraq and say that we should be helping in Sudan, if we actually did it and sent our military in there, they would call us murderers, empirialists, etc.   Straight hypocricy. 

Finally, as I said earlier I have great affinity for Africa.  What is occurring in Sudan and other parts of that continent break my heart and is very sad.  The U.S. does need to do more, but we also need to do more smartly.  Throwing money at it won’t help.   I personally believe that this should be a EU and UN matter.  It was European countries who colonized that continent and they have a significant amount of blame on their shoulders.  The UN needs to allow their peacekeeping forces to use force when necessary, just minor force.  Peacekeepers are worthless if they can’t do anything to keep the peace.  We also need to put much more pressure on the African Union.  Most of the responsibility falls on the backs of those people and countries who surround Sudan. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Africa, Bush, Conservative, Democracy, Election 2008, Genocide, Iraq, Liberal, Liberalism, Military, People, Politics, Progress, Progressive, Race, Republicans

LDS Church Leader Urges Caution on Immigration

It appears that the LDS Church is slowly unveiling its position on Illegal Immigration and it appears to somewhat break from the common GOP consensus.  Which consensus, I should explain, is also firmer than mine.  It seems that most GOPers (especially the average voter) is pretty hardcore in their view of illegal immigration; generally they feel that ALL illegal immigrants should be deported, often without consideration of extenuating circumstances. 

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a long time now, may remember that I broke with this common view in a piece I wrote last year.   Basically, I think deporting 12 million people is utterly ridiculous, it is an economic and logistical nightmare.  Additionally, we need to consider the impact such a move (deportation) would have on families, especially children born in the U.S. who are now citizens.

Yesterday, LDS Church historian and seventy, Marlin K. Jensen, urged that Utah’s legislature (practically all Mormon) “slow down, step back and carefully study and assess the implications and human costs involved” when confronting the issue of illegal immigration.  He added that such decisions have “significant consequences, (and) I believe a more thoughtful . . . not to mention humane, approach is warranted.” 

I couldn’t agree more.  We need to consider the human implication. 

It is important to point out that Elder Jensen is not advocating one way or another any specific legislation or even point of view regarding illegal immigration.  He is simply urging reflection and serious, realistic contemplation on the impact of various possibilities.  This is a wise course of action. 

I fear that people are so embroiled with emotion regarding this issue, that is clouds sound judgement and realistic/pragmatic thought.   Many right wingers, especially, are verging on pure racism and starting to even allow their hatred for illegal immigration with criticism of all immigration.   This is a dangerous trend.

The best antidote for such irrational movement is simply to take a deep breath, pull back from the problem, and move cautiously; all the while utilizing deliberate and realistic thought and analysis.

For the Church it will be interesting to see what kind of response is received.  There are going to be huge swaths of LDS members, especially throughout AZ, CA, and the rest of the Southwest that are going to be annoyed at best by this, others will likely be outraged.   But I urge all of you who may be upset by this move to remember the role of religion.  Religions in general (should) focus on individuals, not governments.  Thus, the LDS Church is concerned about the impact such legislation will have on individuals, and this includes illegal immigrants, legal immigrants, even all U.S. citizens.   Rational and pragmatic thought, even stepping away from the issue to get an overall view, is nearly always the wisest course.  When we move to fast and are swayed by the emotional upswell of public opinion we more often than not make poor decisions that have more dire effects in the long run.

UPDATE: Further down in the SL Trib article I read the following bit and think it is essential to add to this piece.: “Jensen noted that immigration was not strictly a political issue but a moral and ethical one. And as such, he said, he was not simply speaking for himself or even for the Quorum, a group of Mormon leaders who act as church emissaries. ‘I was assigned to come here by the First Presidency of the Church.’

6 Comments

Filed under Christian, Christianity, Election 2008, Illegal immigration, Immigration, LDS, Mormon, Mormonism, People, Politics, Race, Religion, Republicans

Should Iowa really have this much control?

Perhaps the real question is do they really have any at all?

Reading the coverage today I was reminded of one of the posters hanging on our wall at work. You know the kind, where they are supposed to have some sort of trite phrase that affects the employee’s morale and motivation? Anyway, you can see the particular poster I’m reminded of here.

Yes, none of are indeed as dumb as all of us, CNN tells us this is true. I will applaud the subtlety.

Looking at that page without understanding the English language you’d be forced to see the pictures only. Which candidates seem to have the most appeal for CNN? What would you say about their personality, or suitability as a candidate based on photo alone? It would appear that according their coverage that Rudy, Hillary and Barack are the only viable candidates. Then interestingly enough compare the adjectives in the descriptions of each candidate. Look at the difference between the Edwards and McCain excerpts. Both of whom were unsuccessful in their seeking of the presidential nominations. Interesting.

The real question becomes, do small things like adjectives, photos and the like have so large an effect on us as individual thinkers? The answer is surprisingly, no. The problem is that those little things have a tremendous effect on people as a whole. In an election nobody wants to back the loser, so often times they pick the person who has the highest likelihood of winning. Not the best person for the job. That is what is alarming to me in this presidential race. There are only three people (or so) that I will be able to vote for, in no particular order: Barack, Mitt, Mike (Bloomberg). I’m half joking about Bloomberg, but if it’s a choice between Hillary and Rudy, I will either abstain or be voting some independent third party (if any real ones emerge).

My prediction will be that harnessing the power of Chuck Norris, Mitt will edge Huck by a few points with McCain a distant third, Ron Paul a close fourth.

Let’s hope the all of us are not dumb enough as some of us that buy into the garbage that Huck is presenting during the race.

~RationalZen  – part-time contributer, full-time thinker.

Go Seahawks!

1 Comment

Filed under Barack Obama, Candidates, Democracy, Election 2008, Hillary Clinton, Iowa, John Edwards, John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Race, Ron Paul, Rudy Giuliani

The Romneys, MLK, and 2008

On Thurday afternoon, after being in meetings all day and not being able to keep up with the latest news on the political front, I did a quick check of my favorite websites, my demeanor crashed, and started my one hour drive home in a frustrated state.

“How could he be so stupid?” I asked myself referring to Mitt Romney.  “How could he say over and over that his father marched with Martin Luther King, Jr, but yet it never occurred?  Didn’t he know that those are the kinds of things that ruined campaigns?  This will be his ‘brainwashed’ moment that destroyed his father’s Presidential aspirations.”  These are things that were going on in my head after seeing headlines and skimming through various posts that claimed that Mitt was lying.

Fortunately, as a result of the claims in these articles, Anne Marie Curling of CoMITTed to Romney!, did some research and discovered CONCRETE evidence of Mitt Romney’s claims and my soul has been soothed:

  • Detroit Free Press: “With Gov. Romney a surprise arrival and marching in the front row, more than 500 Negroes and whites staged a peaceful anti-discrimination parade up Grosse Pointe’s Kercheval Avenue Saturday. … ‘the elimination of human inequalities and injustices is our urgent and critical domestic problem,’ the governor said. … [Detroit NAACP President Edward M.] Turner told reporters, ‘I think it is very significant that Governor Romney is here. We are very surprised.’ Romney said, ‘If they want me to lead the parade, I’ll be glad to.’” (”Romney Joins Protest March Of 500 In Grosse Pointe,” Detroit Free Press, 6/29/63)
  • In Their 1967 Book, Stephen Hess And David Broder Wrote That George Romney “Marched With Martin Luther King Through The Exclusive Grosse Point Suburb Of Detroit.” “He has marched with Martin Luther King through the exclusive Grosse Pointe suburb of Detroit and he is on record in support of full-coverage Federal open-housing legislation.” (Stephen Hess And David Broder, The Republican Establishment: The Present And Future Of The G.O.P., 1967, p. 107)

There are other evidences of such claims that Anne Marie shares as well and I encourage you to go to her post (linked above) and read the whole thing, but this leads me to send some free advice to Mitt Romney: go after the Black vote. 

George Romney was a huge proponent of civil rights and was quite popular in the Black community.  He regularly attended civil rights events, lead marches, and met with and supported civil rights leaders.  Curling adds the following regarding George Romney:

In 1967, George Romney Was Praised At A National Civil Rights Rally For His Leadership. “Michigan Gov. George Romney walked into a Negro Civil Rights rally in the heart of Atlanta to the chants of ‘We Want Romney’ and to hear protests from Negroes about city schools. ‘They had invited me to come and I was interested in hearing things that would give me an insight into Atlanta,’ the Michigan Republican said. Led by Hosea Williams, a top aide to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the all-Negro rally broke into shouts and song when Romney arrived. ‘We’re tired of Lyndon Baines Johnson,’ Williams said from a pulpit in the Flipper Temple AME Church as Romney sat in a front row pew. ‘Johnson is sending black boys to Vietnam to die for a freedom that never existed,’ Williams said. Pointing to Romney, Williams brought the crowd of 200 to its feet when he said, ‘He may be the fella with a little backbone.’ Williams said Romney could be ‘the next President if he acts right.’ The potential GOP presidential nominee left the rally before it ended.” (”Romney Praised At Civil Rights Rally In Atlanta,” The Chicago Defender, 9/30/67)

Mitt Romney needs to run with these stories.  Continue to explain how his father is his hero and is whom he has tried to emulate.  Explain that he has the same passionate feelings for civil rights as his father did.  Then he needs to campaign in Black communities; go to Baltimore, Atlanta, Detroit, etc and ask for their vote.   Explain that the Black community has given unconditional support to the Democratic party and that while things have changed, they have not necessarily improved.  Then proceed to unmap a vision of how to help the black community improve their plight.  He should even meet with activists like Bill Cosby and seek their support.  

Granted such efforts may not increase the amount of votes he gets from the Black community substantially, especially considering he will be running against either the wife of the “first Black President” or a Black man.  However, he may be able to consolidate the independent vote and even a good portion of the moderate Democratic vote into his camp.  If Mitt can use his spirit of optimism and incorporate that into improving the Black community, he can win and effectively revolutionize the Republican party.

It has long been my belief that the GOP needs to more inclusive, not more exclusive.  It seems that since the party has been hijacked by the South and the religious right, we have closed ourselves off to expanding our support to minority groups.  Granted, this is not entirely the case, but the perception is there and often perception is more important than reality. 

This inclusiveness is not only important for the strength of the party, but it is simply the right thing to do.  The best way for a person of any situation to improve their plight is self-responsibility and discipline.  There is no better person to compassionately incorporate this principle into social policies than Mitt Romney. 

3 Comments

Filed under Election 2008, Equality, Mitt Romney, Mormon, Politics, Progress, Progressive, Race, Republicans

Correcting Lawrence O’Donnell’s Mormon Bash

Yesterday on the McLaughling Group, the question over Mitt Romney’s speech was brought up. After some praising of the speech by Pat Buchanan and others, Lawrence O’Donnell blew up, called it the worst political speech of his lifetime, and spent the next  5 minutes trashing the LDS Church, including blatantly lieing and spouting things that simply aren’t true.

Here is the video:

The vitriolic hatred that O’Donnell has with Republicans, Mitt Romney, and the LDS Church should come as no surprise to anyone who pays attention to politics and the media.  He has blown up many, many times before and consistently sounds like a complete buffoon.  The thing that I hope viewers realize is that when a person gets that fired up, they lose all sense of rationality and pragmatism; the person is running completely off of emotion and will say whatever comes to mind regardless of factuality.   I hope this is what happened with O’Donnell here; otherwise he was just out and out lying and that is inexcusable. (Also note that O’Donnell “plays a Mormon” on the HBO show Big Love; this must be where he gets all of his information on Mormonism).

The first claim O’Donnell makes is that the Church let go of it’s “racist” policies in 1978 for political reasons.  The policies he is referring to is the fact that the LDS Church did not give Blacks the Priesthood pre-1978.  The change in policy was far from political.  What political expediency was there?  The civil rights movement, the height of political pressure, had long since passed.  There was no LDS person running for President and no threat from the federal government for revoking it’s recognition as a church or whatever.  What it came down to is the fact that God was ready to make the change and revealed it to the church leaders, in fact nearly all of the church leaders were relieved and had been hoping for such a change for a long time.  Here is the official declaration from the Church regarding the change.

The next falsehood, and this one may be less consequential, is he claims that Blacks could not be members of the Church.  The fact is, Blacks could become members and could participate in the church and partake of the sacrament like all members. This was the case from it’s earliest days.  However, Blacks could not receive the Priesthood until 1978.

Then he brings up what he apparently thinks is our basis and doctrinal belief on where this policy stemmed from.  He said, “Black people are black because in heaven they turned away from God.”  Completely, completely false.  If this were the case and they turned away from God in heaven, those spirits never would have come to Earth, they would have been cast out with the 1/3 of the hosts of heaven that Lucifer lead away (see Revelations, etc). 

He then goes onto directly accuse Mitt Romney of racism, for firmly believing the “faith of his fathers.”   O’Donnell completely and knowingly ignores facts here.  Mitt even mentioned in his speech that his father marched with Martin Luther King, Jr.   Mitt’s father continually pleaded with the Church to overturn the policy and stridently fought for civil rights and equality.  Mitt has never done anything to remotely imply that he is a racist and O’Donnell’s attacks here are wholly unfair.

The most egregious and false claims made by O’Donnell, however, is the claim that both Joseph Smith and the Church as a whole supported slavery and racist political policies.  Nothing is further from the truth.  One of the largest reasons the Mormons were persecuted like they were in Missouri and were so hated, was that they were ardent abolitionists as a whole.  Slavery was an economic necessity to the Southerners (or so they thought) and this influx of immigrants into their area from America’s Northeat and Midwest, Canada, and England caused great apprehension and concern among the local populace in terms of political might and power.  The Mormons were seen as a political threat that would in an instant revoke the right of Slavery if given a chance.

Further, Joseph Smith ran on an abolitionist platform when running for President in 1844.  He consistently preached against Slavery his entire life.  In a pamphlet sent around the country stating Joseph’s political stances in his run for the Presidency, it was made clear that, “Joseph Smith expressed his feelings on most important issues of the day except his desire to add to the powers granted the federal government. This may have been an effort to demonstrate that he was truly aware of national problems and would not use the office of president merely to promote the interest of the Saints. Among other things he called for prison reform, abolition of slavery, economy in government, a national bank, and territorial expansion.”  I take this attack from O’Donnell to be the most offensive.   Never at any time did the Church promote slavery, on the contrary, it always seeked to abolish slavery.

I do not blame people for criticizing the Church for it’s pre-1978 racial policy.  It is fair game as far as I am concerned.  People are free to criticize as they desire.  I just ask that people be accurate in their characterizations of such criticism.  At least be truthful; and here O’Donnell was anything but.

Now, to address the present standing of the Church on racial issues.   I would submit that no faith is as inclusive to all races as the LDS Church is today.  They have vast Missionary efforts in every corner of the world.  Africa is one of the fastest growing regions for the Church; more and more wards, stakes, and missions are being created there.  The Church even has Temple’s in Ghana, South Africa, and Nigeria. 

Finally, this issue of race was discussed by the President of the Church, President Gordon B. Hinckley, in the Church’s General Conference in April 2006, here is the segment on race:

I have wondered why there is so much hatred in the world. We are involved in terrible wars with lives lost and many crippling wounds. Coming closer to home, there is so much of jealousy, pride, arrogance, and carping criticism; fathers who rise in anger over small, inconsequential things and make wives weep and children fear.

Racial strife still lifts its ugly head. I am advised that even right here among us there is some of this. I cannot understand how it can be. It seemed to me that we all rejoiced in the 1978 revelation given President Kimball. I was there in the temple at the time that that happened. There was no doubt in my mind or in the minds of my associates that what was revealed was the mind and the will of the Lord.

Now I am told that racial slurs and denigrating remarks are sometimes heard among us. I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Christ. How can any man holding the Melchizedek Priesthood arrogantly assume that he is eligible for the priesthood whereas another who lives a righteous life but whose skin is of a different color is ineligible? 

Let us all recognize that each of us is a son or daughter of our Father in Heaven, who loves all of His children.

Brethren, there is no basis for racial hatred among the priesthood of this Church. If any within the sound of my voice is inclined to indulge in this, then let him go before the Lord and ask for forgiveness and be no more involved in such.

13 Comments

Filed under Conservative, Election 2008, Equality, Lawrence O'Donnell, LDS, McLaughlin Group, Mitt Romney, Mormon, Mormonism, Pat Buchanan, Politics, Progress, Progressive, Race, Religion, Republicans