Friday, September 25, 2009

Republican Talk of Being a Christian Nation Inflames Middle Eastern Interventions

I found this perspective on the effects of the religious rights influence on U.S. Middle Eastern policy an interesting one. Jack Miles won the Pulitzer Prize in 1996 for his book ‘GOD: A Biography,’ explores U.S.-Iraq relations in his work ‘A Clash of Proselytizations,’ which deals with the current war in Iraq and attempts by the U.S. government to convert, or ‘proselytize,’ the Iraqi people from a highly religious nation into a nation of secular patriots.

Miles asserted that there is a fundamental problem in how the United States and Iraq view each other. ‘We refer to them as Iraqi and ourselves as American, using national designators,’ Miles said. They refer to themselves as Mujahidin, and us as Crusaders and Jews using religious designations.’

In addition, Miles noted that the ”citizenship card’ [in Iraq] … may not function’ since many Iraqis do not desire to affiliate with political labels. When Jordanians were asked how they identify themselves, 63 percent replied that they were Muslim first and Jordanians second. It is this religious affiliation that causes much of the misunderstanding and lack of enthusiasm for the new Iraqi form of government.

Furthermore, because of the high importance of religion over nationalism for Muslims, many Iraqis see the U.S. government as trying to establish both a foreign form of government and of religion, namely Christianity, according to Miles. Miles pointed out many instances over the past few years in which public figures have asserted that the United States is a Christian country.

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