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New America Foundation on “God’s Country” tribalization

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Blessed be the hands that feed us social services, and report on them too:

 Max Escher hands

 

APRIL 15th in U.S.A., land of the Federal Reserve Currency System and the bottomless hole of debt in the name of every good cause under the sun. 

  • Land of Big Brother and the crisis in Fatherlessness.
  • Land where THINKING is relegate to THINK TANKS, and information gathering is via media owned by some of the same people funding the think tanks, and where experts are paid for.
  • LAND where good luck if you as an individual, or family, want to get the services promised for (luck will be necessary, or a loud squeak in the system…..)

With a land like this religion will be necessary for revival — either faith (“take it on faith”) in this big brother, or in the collective consciences of the voters (and the honesty of the ballot processes) — or faith in God, Allah, Buddha, or the innate goodness of the human condition, when given proper environment, and watering..  This last will require also the fantasy-version of human history. 

So I thought on Tax Day I’d write you about two things:  New America Foundation (you DO know we are already forming a “new America” right?  — or didn’t you catch that on the evening news?  The Constitution is evolving and the Bill of Rights (etc.) are anachronistic in the global economy….) AND an article by one of its authors, under one of the MULTIPLE “INITIATIVES” in this think tank, foundation, or whatever it is.  One thing I bet — IT’S not filing taxes and paying them today….

The New America Foundation
1899 L Street, N.W., Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036
921 11th Street, Suite 901, Sacramento, CA 95814


The RELIGIOUS INITIATIVE (I clicked actually under Family & Workforce) is only one of many initiatives for this megalith (presumably).  You should know who’s running this part of it:

David Gray

Director, Workforce and Family Program; Senior Advisor, Education Policy Program; Coordinator, Religious Center Initiative
gray@newamerica.net
 

Rev. Dr. David E. Gray directs the New America Foundation’s Workforce and Family Program, which researches and develops solutions to social, economic and family policy issues. He also serves as a senior advisor to New America’s Education Policy Program and the coordination for the Religious Center Initiative

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–>David Gray

In case you wondered, he’s also a Presbyterian Pastor….and member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and your academic pedigree, probably, can’t hold a candle to his.  How DARE You make decisions for your own family contrary to some of these foundation-funded, policy-studied, pronouncements?  Especially if you are a WOMAN– Look at this:

David is the Senior Pastor of Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church, a chaplain at American University, and a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is a graduate of Yale, Harvard, Northwestern University School of Law and Wesley Theological Seminary

While I doubt he’d subscribe, even (I hope) in his private thoughts, to the “Christian Domestic Discipline.com”, I wonder if he subscribes as well to the concepts embodied in the Constitution, Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, and other concepts that do not treat people as policy subjects….  I wonder if he cares that our country has become a child-trafficker through its own courts, and that some of the policies promising “help” have redefined the Constitution, and help, and are themselves a problem, if not THE problem, nationwide?  It’s an “attitude” thing…..

SO, I”m going to post about “God’s Country” faith struggles which are actually economic struggles, and how it plays out.  The article is written by another, I’d bet highly-credentialed writer, whose work is I presume sponsored by this same foundation.  I think it’s a well-written article. 

How I found this article:  Watching TV, and in particular a MSM (MainstreamMedia) protest that the federal government, really, really is doing great stuff for us, and should not be criticized — especially in Florida — look at the school system, look at this nearly blind woman whose Alzheimer husband has home help, look at the military installation — why aren’t we grateful for the hand that feeds us, etc.  — as I recall a spokesperson from New America Foundation was shown.

(As usual with my posts, the intros can be long, personal and pedantic.  For the body of the post, scroll down to the article quote….  As it’s also MY post, I feel free to stray off topic and cast a wider context than the title.  The persistent, fast readers, or those with time to spare will get to the juicy center of it eventually, the faint of heart (or attention) need not apply.  Welcome to what’s on my mind today…)

I may be wrong about the context where I heard this name, but I doubt I’m wrong about the heavy hand that foundations play in our daily lives, and government. 

FOUNDATIONS:

Foundations (tax-free, and typically from wealthy capitalist families, some of whose ancestors helped install the IRS, and progressive income tax, Federal Reserve Board, and other marketed viewpoints that help keep this U.S.A in permanent debt crisis) — have got my attention.  Previously, as this blog states, my attention was merely on getting free from domestic violence and back to a “normal” lifestyle which by my definition means (without abuse in the home) the freedom to:

1.  Earn money where, how, and when I choose, within limits of demand for services I’m qualified to give and contacts I have made.  To someone leaving a battering relationship, that alone is like heaven.  It breeds HOPE and CONFIDENCE.

2.  Spending that money with wisdom according to our particular needs and staying off the receiving end of social services once I’d gotten there.

4.  Not subjecting my offspring to the bottom of the barrel educational model, which (as to our options) the public schools in this state ARE.  And are not about to change in the near future — at least for the better….They are war grounds for competing ideologies and breeding grounds for gangs and civil rights violations, through trauma and in general chaotic philosophies. 

They are also — and I believe intentionally so — class sorters.  And they feed social scientists (and pharmaceutical companies) with nonstop substance in the form of young humanity, for projects of all kinds and with all kinds of motives.  Again, I came to this jaundiced view (after decades of working with multi-talented and smart kids  of all kinds in and out of the schools) after my bout with the family law system in this century.

GOD’S COUNTRY, @ 2008…..

(In the land of the brave and home of the free, this is when I first hit 100% unemployment through family court escalations and insanity, and my own “insane” and apparently religious faith, that there was some due process somewhere around…Instead, I found the alternate religion of therapeutic jurisprudence and courts as psychology.  It’s really all a matter of how you view the issues, and what language is used to describe them).

NOW FOR TODAY’S ARTICLE — many parallels with USA.

God’s Country

By Eliza Griswold, New America Foundation

Eliza Griswold

Ms. Griswold bio:

Eliza Griswold is a writer who focuses on conflict, human rights, and religion. Her reportage and analyses have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Harper’s Magazine, and The New Republic, among other publications. She was a 2007 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and is the recipient of the first Robert I. Friedman Award for international investigative reporting. Her first book of poems, Wideawake Field, was recently published by Farrar Straus and Giroux.

As a Schwartz Fellow at the New America Foundation, Ms. Griswold will continue to pursue her interest in conflict, human rights, and religion. She is at work on her first nonfiction book, The Tenth Parallel, an examination of the meeting place between the Christian and Muslim worlds, which will also be published by Farrar Straus and Giroux.

If I have enough more decades of life left, I could get into this type of writing.  Hope you read the whole thing….

March 2008 |

It was an ordinary soccer pitch: sparse tufts of grass and reddish soil surrounded by cinder-block homes. The two candidates stood on opposite sides of the field as the people of Yelwa, a town of 30,000 in central Nigeria, lined up behind them one May morning in 2002 to vote. Whoever had more supporters would lead the town’s council. And whoever led the council would control the certificates of indigeneship: the papers certifying that Yelwa was their home, and that they had a right there to land, jobs, and scholarships. Between the iron goalposts milled ethnic Jarawa, principally Muslim merchants and herders; next to them were the Tarok and Goemai, predominantly farmers and Christians. For several years, their hereditary tribal chief, a Christian, had refused certificates of indigeneship to Muslims no matter how long they’d lived in Yelwa. Without the certificates, the Muslims were second-class citizens.

As the two groups waited in the heat to be counted, the meeting’s tone soured. “You could feel the tension in the air,” Abdullahi Abdullahi, a 55-year-old Muslim lawyer and community leader, said later. A tall, thin man with a space between his two front teeth and shoulders hunched around his ears in perpetual apology, he was helping to direct the crowd that day. No one knows what happened first. Someone shouted arna — “infidel” — at the Christians. Someone spat the word jihadi at the Muslims. Someone picked up a stone. “That was the day ethnicity disappeared entirely, and the conflict became just about religion,” Abdullahi said. Chaos broke out, as young people on each side began to throw rocks. The candidates ran for their lives, and mobs set fire to the surrounding houses.

After that episode, the Christians issued an edict that no Christian girl could be seen with a Muslim boy. “We had a problem of intermarriage,” Pastor Sunday Wuyep, a church leader in Yelwa, told me on the first of two visits I made in 2006 and 2007. “Just because our ladies are stupid and attracted to money,” he sighed.

Economics lay at the heart of the enmity between the two groups: as merchants and herders, the Muslim Jarawa were much wealthier than the Christian Tarok and Goemai. But Pastor Sunday, like many others of his faith, felt that Muslims were trying to wipe out Christians by converting them through marriage.

{{A book Now They Call Me Infidel talks about this}}

“It’s scriptural, this fight,” he said. So he and the other elders decided to punish the women. “If a woman gets caught with a Muslim man,” Sunday said, “she must be forcibly brought back.” The decree turned out to be a call to vigilante violence as patrols of young men, both Christian and Muslim, took to the streets. What eventually transpired, in the name of religion, was a kind of Clockwork Orange.

****

 

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country, with 140 million people (one-seventh of all Africans), and it’s one of the few nations divided almost evenly between Christians and Muslims. Blessed with the world’s 10th-largest oil reserves, it is also one of the continent’s richest and most influential powers — as well as one of its most corrupt democracies. Last year’s presidential election in particular — in which President Olusegun Obasanjo, an evangelical Christian, handed power to a northern Muslim, President Umaru Yar’Adua — was a farce. Ballot boxes were stuffed by thugs or carted off empty by armed heavies in the pay of political candidates. Across the country, political power is a passport to wealth: according to Human Rights Watch, anywhere from $4 billion to $8 billion in government money has been embezzled annually for the last eight years. The state has all but abdicated its responsibility for the welfare of its people, roughly half of whom live on less than $1 a day.

In this vacuum, religion has become a powerful source of identity. Northern Nigeria has one of Africa’s oldest and most devout Islamic communities, which was galvanized, like many others, in the 1980s by the global Islamic reawakening that followed the Iranian revolution. For Christians, too, in Nigeria, there’s been a revolution: high birthrates and aggressive evangelization over the past century have increased the number of believers from 176,000, or 1.1 percent of the early-20th-century population, to more than 51 million, or more than a third now. Thanks to this explosive growth, the demographic and geographic center of global Christianity will have moved, by 2050, to northern Nigeria, within the Muslim world.

No one knows what this shift will yield, in part because neither faith is a monolith. Indeed, the most overlooked aspect of this global religious encounter may be that the competition within the faiths — between Pentecostals and orthodox Christians, or between Islamic groups that want to engage with or reject the modern world** — is just as important as the competition between the faiths. But it’s also true that the fastest-growing forms of faith on both sides tend to be the most effervescent and absolute. They promote a system of living in this world that promises heaven in the next, they see salvation in stark binary terms, and they believe they have a global mandate to spread their exclusive brand of faith.

 {{** In my last post about “christian domestic discipline” — a euphemism — is an example of the latter, who want to reject the modern world, and go back to wife-beating. }}

While religion became a source of friction in Nigeria during the Biafran civil war in the late 1960s, the trouble between Christians and Muslims intensified in the 1980s, when the first oil boom fizzled and the ensuing economic downturn led to violence. Since then, thousands have been killed in riots between the two groups sparked by various events: aggressive campaigns by foreign evangelists; the implementation in 1999 and 2000 of sharia, or Islamic law, in 12 of Nigeria’s 36 states; the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan in 2001; and the 2002 Miss World pageant, when a local Christian reporter, Isioma Daniel, outraged Muslims by writing in one of Nigeria’s national papers, This Day, that the Prophet Muhammad would have chosen a wife from among the contestants. Most recently, in 2006, riots triggered by Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad left more people dead in Nigeria than anywhere else in the world.

“These conflicts are a result of secular processes,” said Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, one of Nigeria’s leading intellectuals and a top executive of one of the country’s oldest banks, FirstBank. “It’s about bad government, economic inequality, and poverty — a struggle for resources.” When a government fails its people, they turn elsewhere to safeguard themselves and their futures, and in Nigeria at the beginning of the 21st century, they have turned first to religion. Here, then, is the truth behind what Samuel Huntington famously calls religion’s “bloody” geographic borders: outbreaks of violence result not simply from a clash between two powerful religious monoliths, but from tensions at the most vulnerable edges where they meet — zones of desperation and official neglect where faith becomes a rallying cry in the struggle for land, water, and work.

****

In Nigeria, the two faiths meet along a band of terrain roughly 200 miles wide called the Middle Belt. This swath of land, for the most part (an exception being Nigeria’s southwest), marks the fault line between Christianity and Islam not only in Nigeria, but across the entire continent. A satellite image from Google Earth shows the Middle Belt as a gray-green strip between the equator and the 10th parallel, dividing the fawn-colored dry land from the vibrant sub-Saharan jungle canopy. It also separates most of the continent’s 367 million Muslims to the north from 417 million Christians to the south. Plagued by bad government, a shortage of water and arable land, and rising birthrates, the Middle Belt is also the victim of environmental change: growing aridity in the north (the desert creeps forward at slightly less than half a mile a year) and flooding in the south. Shifting weather patterns have made planting and grazing seasons unpredictable and allowed insect-borne diseases, such as malaria, to run rampant.

Islam all but stopped its southward spread here in the late 1800s, because the traders, missionaries, and Sufi jihadists who had carried Islam south couldn’t handle the jungle terrain or the tsetse flies that plagued their horses and camels with sleeping sickness. Abdullahi’s people, the Jarawa, claim that their rights to the land go back to the days of Usman Dan Fodio, a Sufi teacher and ethnic Fulani herder who launched a 19th-century jihad to purify the faith, promote the education of women, and outlaw the enslavement of his fellow Muslims. Some of his jihadists, called his flag bearers, rode south over vast reaches of dry land until they reached the southern edge of the Sahel, roughly where the town of Yelwa is today.

The high, dry ridges and rocky escarpments of the Middle Belt also provided an ideal defense against Muslim slave raiders for non-Muslim hill people like the Goemai. When Christian missionaries arrived 100 years ago, many targeted these “pagan” hill people. For some, the mission was to create a buffer against the southern “spread of Mohammedanism,” as Karl Kumm, one of the more uncompromising missionaries, put it. But many of his coreligionists had little interest in combating Islam. Instead, armed with the two B’s of Bible and bicycle, as well as with the imperative of self-reliance, they dispensed practical advice on health, agriculture, and eventually education, providing a form of “emancipation” for the historically disenfranchised hill people, who also gained a powerful collective identity in Christianity.

The British colonial administration was ambivalent about missionaries, fearing that their efforts to convert Muslims would destabilize Britain’s plans for empire-building — as they had elsewhere in Africa. When the British overthrew the caliphate, then unified North and South Nigeria in 1914, the new colonial administration forbade missionaries to enter Muslim lands. Under the British policy of Indirect Rule, which was modeled on the Raj in India, Dan Fodio’s emirs were largely left in place. Many came to be seen as colonial agents, losing their religious legitimacy even as they amassed power and wealth. This colonial policy of favoring Muslims over minority Christians left a legacy of mistrust between the two groups.

{{Doesn’t this sound like some of the forerunners of the Rwandan genocide, with Belgian basis?  In the bottom line, it’s about empire-building.  Americans, beware…}}

“Every crisis is automatically interpreted as a religious crisis,” said Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, the Anglican bishop of Kaduna. “But we all know that, scratch the surface and it’s got nothing to do with religion. It’s power.”

****

One Tuesday at 7 a.m. in Yelwa, about 70 people were praying their morning devotions at the Church of Christ in Nigeria (founded by none other than the fiery Kumm himself). It was in February 2004, about a year after the elders had issued their edict that no Christian woman was to be seen with a Muslim man. As the worshippers finished their prayers, they heard gunshots and a call from the loudspeakers of the mosque next door: “Allahu Akhbar, let us go for jihad.” “We were terrified,” recalled Pastor Sunday, who had been standing outside the gate as the churchyard swarmed with strangers. He stayed near the church gate, but many other people fled toward the road behind the church. There, men dressed in military fatigues reassured them that they were safe and herded them back to the church. Then the men opened fire.

Pastor Sunday fled; that’s why he survived. The attackers — who were not, in fact, Nigerian soldiers — set the church on fire and killed everyone who tried to escape. They chased the head of the church, Pastor Sampson Bukar, to his house next door and ran him through with cutlasses. They set fire to the nursery school and the pastor’s house. During my first visit to Yelwa in the summer of 2006, his burned Peugeot was still outside. The church had been rebuilt and painted salmon pink. Boys were playing soccer, each wearing only one shoe so that everyone could kick the ball. “Seven in my family were killed,” said Sunday as we sat in the churchyard. “We call them martyrs.” He pointed to a mound of earth not far from where we were sitting. On top was a small wooden cross: it marked the mass grave for the 78 people killed that day.

“This is about religious intolerance,” he went on. “Our God is different than the Muslim God… If he were the same God, we wouldn’t fight.” For Pastor Sunday, the clash was millenarian and grounded in the literal words of Christian scripture. “The Bible says in Matthew 24, the time will come when they will pursue us in our churches,” he said. Matthew 24 foretells the Tribulation: the war that will precede Armageddon and the final coming of Jesus.

****

A few hundred yards down the road from the church, there’s a cornfield. In it, a row of mounds: more mass graves. White signs tally the dead below in green paint: 110, 50, 65, 100, 55, 25, 60, 20, 40, 105. Two months after the church was razed, Christian men and boys surrounded Yelwa. Many were bare-chested; others wore shirts on which they’d reportedly pinned white name tags identifying them as members of the Christian Association of Nigeria, an umbrella organization founded in the 1970s to give Christians a collective and unified voice as strong as that of Muslims. Each tag had a number instead of a name: a code, it seemed, for identification. They attacked the town. According to Human Rights Watch, 660 Muslims were massacred over the course of the next two days, including the patients in the Al-Amin clinic. Twelve mosques and 300 houses went up in flames. Young girls were marched to a nearby Christian town and forced to eat pork and drink alcohol. Many were raped, and 50 were killed.

Yelwa was still a ghost town of sorts in August 2006. In block after burned-out block, people camped in what used to be their homes. The road was lined with more than a dozen ruined mosques and churches, but the rubble was hidden in hip-high elephant grass; canary-yellow morning glories climbed the old foundations. When I arrived at the home of Abdullahi, the Muslim human-rights lawyer, his street was mostly deserted. He stooped on his way out of a low-ceilinged hut. Behind him, I could see the sour faces of a man and woman sitting on the floor by his desk. “Marital dispute,” he explained.

It was the rainy season, so I waited out the noon deluge in another small hut on his compound. Finally, Abdullahi ducked inside, a worn accordion file under his arm. His wife followed, carrying a pot of hot spaghetti. In the beginning, he explained, the conflict in Nigeria had nothing whatsoever to do with religion. “Let me give myself as a case study,” Abdullahi said. He went to Christian mission schools and federal college, and never, as a Muslim, had any problem. “Throughout this period, I’d never seen religious segregation, because at that time the societal value system was intact. We were taught to respect each other’s beliefs and customs.” But as the population grew and resources shrank, people began to fight over who had the right to the land and its resources — who belonged as an indigene, and who didn’t.

{{THINK ABOUT< NOW< THE TAX BURDEN IN USA, AND HOW THE FACTIONALISM BEGINS TO TAKE ON RELIGIOUS TONES, THROUGH THE GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS (FATHERHOOD, HEALTHY MARRIAGE, VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN, EDUCATION, HEALTHCARE, YOU NAME IT…)  IN THE BOTTOM LINE, DOES MONEY HAVE COLOR?  OR RELIGION?  OR NATIONALITY?  WHO IS FUNDING THE POLICIES, AND THE POLICY STUDIES?  }}

Abdullahi has attempted to bring several cases of ethnic abuse to the government’s attention, but as with the church massacre, the government has done little to investigate or to try those involved. He handed me a folder with depositions from one such case. As I read them, Abdullahi returned with two young women, Hamamatu Danladi and Yasira Ibrahim, who had survived the incident detailed in the files. Danladi met my eye as she stood in the doorway; Ibrahim, with long upturned lashes and a moon face, didn’t. Abdullahi invited the women in, lowered his head, and left.

During the Christian attack, the two young women took shelter in an elder’s guarded home. On the second day, the Christian militia arrived at the house. They were covered in red and blue paint and were wearing those numbered white name tags. The Christians first killed the guards, then chose among the women. With others, the two young women were marched toward the Christian village. “They were killing children on the road,” Danladi said. Outside the elementary school, her abductor grabbed hold of two Muslim boys she knew, 9 and 10 years old. Along with other men, he took a machete to them until they were in pieces, then wrapped the pieces in a rubber tire and set it on fire.

When Danladi and Ibrahim reached their captors’ village, they were forced to drink alcohol and to eat pork and dog meat. Although she was obviously pregnant, Danladi’s abductor repeatedly raped her during the next four days. After a month, the police fetched Danladi and Ibrahim from the Christian village and took them to the camp where most of the town’s Muslim residents had fled. There, the two young women were reunited with their husbands. They never discussed what happened in the bush.

“The Christians don’t want us here because they don’t like our religion,” Danladi said. “Do you really think they took you because of your religion?” I asked. The women looked at each other. “In Islamic history, there are times when believers and nonbelievers have fought,” Danladi said. “We think what happened here is part of the clash that will come. After the clash, people will see poverty and suffering and that’s what’s happening now. According to our ulamas [teachers], there is no way that the whole world will not be Muslim.”

Later, I looked up Matthew 24, the verses that Pastor Sunday had cited. In many versions of the Bible, Jesus’ words are inked in red to show that these are the exact and inerrant words of the Lord. Down the rice-paper page, one red verse (Matthew 24:19) caught my eye: “But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!” I thought of Hamamatu Danladi. After her rape, she told me, she didn’t give birth for four more months, which meant she carried that child for more than a year. Maybe I didn’t understand her. When I returned to visit her a year later, I asked again if I’d misunderstood. No, she said, she’d carried the baby for more than a year. Maybe, she thought, he simply refused to come into this world during the conflagration.

****

At the time of the massacre, Archbishop Peter Akinola was the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, whose membership was implicated in the killings. He has since lost his bid for another term but, as primate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, he is still the leader of 18 million Anglicans. He is a colleague of my father, who was the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in America from 1997 to 2006. But the American Episcopals’ election of an openly homosexual bishop in 2003, which Archbishop Akinola denounced as “satanic,” created distance between them. When I arrived in 2006 in the capital of Abuja to see the archbishop, his office door was locked. Its complicated buzzing-in system was malfunctioning, and he was trapped inside. Finally, after several minutes, the angry buzzes stopped and I could hear a man behind the door rise and come across the floor. The archbishop, in a pale-blue pantsuit and a darker-blue crushed-velvet hat, opened the door.

“My views on Islam are well known: I have nothing more to say,” he said, as we sat down. Archbishop Akinola has repeatedly spoken critically about Islam and liberal Western Protestants, and he was understandably wary of my motives for asking his thoughts. For Akinola, the relationship between liberal Protestants and Islam is straightforward: if Western Christians abandon conservative morals, then the global Church will be weakened in its struggle against Islam. “When you have this attack on Christians in Yelwa, and there are no arrests, Christians become dhimmi, the vocabulary within Islam that allows Christians and Jews to be seen as second-class citizens. You are subject to the Muslims. You have no rights.”

When asked if those wearing name tags that read “Christian Association of Nigeria” had been sent to the Muslim part of Yelwa, the archbishop grinned. “No comment,” he said. “No Christian would pray for violence, but it would be utterly naive to sweep this issue of Islam under the carpet.” He went on, “I’m not out to combat anybody. I’m only doing what the Holy Spirit tells me to do. I’m living my faith, practicing and preaching that Jesus Christ is the one and only way to God, and they respect me for it. They know where we stand. I’ve said before: let no Muslim think they have the monopoly on violence.”

Archbishop Akinola, 63, is a Yoruba, a member of an ethnic group from southwestern Nigeria, where Christians and Muslims coexist peacefully. But the archbishop’s understanding of Islam was forged by his experience in the north, where he watched the persecution of a Christian minority. He was more interested during our interview, though, in talking about the West than about Nigeria.

“People are thinking that Islam is an issue in Africa and Asia, but you in the West are sitting on explosives.” What people in the West don’t understand, he said, “is that what Islam failed to accomplish by the sword in the eighth century, it’s trying to do by immigration so that Muslims become citizens and demand their rights. A Muslim man has four wives; the wives have four or five children each. This is how they turned Christians into a minority in North Africa.”

He went on, “The West has thrown God out, and Islam is filling that vacuum for you, and now your Christian heritage is being destroyed… You people are so afraid of being accused of being Islam-phobic. Consequently everyone recedes and says nothing… Over the years, Christians have been so naive — avoiding politics, economics, and the military because they’re dirty business. The missionaries taught that. Dress in tatters. Wear your bedroom slippers. Be poor. But Christians are beginning to wake up to the fact that money isn’t evil, the love of money is, and it isn’t wrong to have some of it. Neither is politics.”

****

Democracy, Nigerians told me repeatedly, is a numbers game. That’s why whoever has more believers is on top. In that competition, Christianity has a recruiting tool beyond the frontline gospel preached by those such as Archbishop Akinola: Pentecostalism, one of the world’s most diverse and fastest-growing religious movements. In Nigeria, the oil boom of the 1970s brought a massive movement of people into cities looking for work. That boom’s collapse spurred the growth of the Pentecostal Gospel of Prosperity, with its emphasis on good health and getting rich; and of the African Initiated Churches, or AICs, which began about 100 years ago, when several charismatic African prophets successfully converted millions to Christianity. Today, AIC members account for one-quarter of Africa’s 417 million Christians.

One bustling Pentecostal hub, Canaanland, the 565-acre headquarters of the Living Faith Church, has three banks, a bakery, and its own university, Covenant, which is the sister school of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Canaanland is about an hour and a half north of Lagos, which has an estimated population of 12 million and is projected to become the world’s 12th-largest city by 2020. With 300,000 people worshipping at a single service at the Canaanland headquarters alone and 300 branches across the country, Living Faith is one of Nigeria’s megachurches, and the dapper Bishop David Oyedepo is its prophet. The bishop, whose bald pate glistens above deep-set eyes and dazzling teeth, never wanted to be pastor: he had no interest in being poor, he told me. “When God made me a pastor, I wept. I hated poverty in the Church — how can the children of God live as rats?”

Bishop Oyedepo built Canaanland to preach the Gospel of Prosperity. As he said, “If God is truly a father, there is no father that wants his children to be beggars. He wants them to prosper.” In the parking lot at Canaanland, beyond the massive complex of unusually clean toilets, flapping banners promise: WHATSOEVER YOU ASK IN MY NAME, HE SHALL GIVE YOU, and BY HIS STRIPES HE GIVES US BLESSINGS.

The Pentecostal movement is so vast and varied, it’s a mistake to generalize about its unifying principles. But Pentecostals do tend to share an experience of the Holy Spirit, or the numinous, that offers the gift of salvation and success in everyday life — particularly in the realms of personal health and finance. Archbishop Akinola, whose own Anglican Church is more threatened in some ways by the rise of Pentecostalism than by the rise of Islam, finds these teachings suspect: “When you preach prosperity and not suffering, any Christianity devoid of the cross is a pseudo-religion.”

But Bishop Oyedepo’s followers say that those who criticize don’t understand what’s happening in Africa. “There’s a kind of revolution going on in Africa,” one of the bishop’s employees, Professor Prince Famous Izedonmi, said. “America tolerates God. Africa celebrates God. We’re called ‘the continent of darkness,’ but that’s when you appreciate the light. Jesus is the light.” The professor, a Muslim prince who converted to Christianity as a child to cure himself of migraine headaches, was the head of Covenant University’s accounting department and director of its Centre for Entrepreneurial Development Studies.

++++++++++++++

COMMENT:  I am beginning to think it is not possible to separate religion from government, because my understanding of “religion” is a vocabulary, an assignment of meaning to life (and who wants a government to do that?) and a set of priests, prophets, sacred tabus (thinks we can’t talk about) and of course the caste system.  The history of humanity is basically a history of human sacrifice, that is hard put to treat women & children kindly across the board, and is offended when some intend to do so.  The history of humanity IS a power struggle… 

So I think the thing is, to limit it.

An article today in the newspaper tells how an ex-homeless man is being kept in debt and penalized for his industry (I’ll try to put it up next).  But if you want to become an early child-care researcher, the heavens (grants) will open up for sure..  See next post.

HAPPY APRIL 15th…..   And many more.

WIKIPEDIA:

United States House Select Committee to Investigate Tax-Exempt Foundations and Comparable Organizations

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This article is about the 1952-1954 investigation into non-profits. For the 80s and 90s report on the People’s Republic of China’s covert operations within the United States, see Cox Report.

The Select Committee to Investigate Tax-Exempt Foundations and Comparable Organizations was an investigative committee of the United States House of Representatives between 1952 and 1954.[1] The committee was originally created by House Resolution 561 during the 82nd Congress. The committee investigated the use of funds by tax-exempt organizations (non-profit organizations) to see if they were being used to support communism.[2][3] The committee was alternatively known as the Cox Committee and the Reece Committee after its two chairmen, Edward E. Cox and B. Carroll Reece.

 

http://www.scribd.com/doc/3768227/Dodd-Report-to-the-Reece-Committee-on-Foundations-1954

All I know, is I wanted ANSWERS why the courts have become a farce.  I have a logical mind, in my own way, and like to look things up.  The more I looked the more foundations I saw behind policies that hurt my family.  These are identifiable traces, and I know the average person doesn’t have time (or sometimes the will) to find this out.  The average person, in short, is being lied to in regards MANY of the institutions that affect his or her daily lives. 

I couldn’t have been battered at home for so many years without scores of “enablers” who just didn’t have the vocabulary to address this, or the commitment, risking THEIR times, livelihood (and at some level, when it escalates) possibly lives — and certainly, money — which seems to have been key — in failing to speak about it. 

Speaking out can mean “ex-communication” from one’s supportive spheres, but shutting up does violence to the spirit of a person.  And if there’s one thing we need to sustain us in troubles, it’s that spirit. 

I believe that the “thing” is to understand what’s going on in the very TOP (behind the media curtain and even behind the government curtains) and the very BOTTOM of society.  This will better explain the middle. 

Currently, the very TOP does not really want to hear from the very BOTTOM.

This is going to fall harder and harder on those in the middle who just don’t want to talk about it.  Particularly REALLY hard topics like, murder, and child molestation, government-sanctioned and promoted.  In the U.S.A.

Sooner or later there may be no “middle,” so I suggest more of the “middle” folk start listening to the Bottom folk with their HEARTS, and EYES open, and without that patronizing, us/them, condescension, let us fix you mentality.  Get over yourself!  Get quiet, and start observing.

(if that shoe fits, please wear it.  If not, ignore it).  Some burdens we have to bear alone, others we cannot. Stop being a spectator and start thinking — for real!

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