The Christian Taliban – In America

After reading the stories of the conflicts between the UCI Muslim Studen Union, the Hillel Jewish Student Union, and the UCI College Republicans I found myself wondering “When do I start worrying about a Christian taliban in the United States?”

Congressman Rohrabacher and Taliban
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher & Taliban

Well, we may already be well on the way there. An article from Stephen Pizzo at AlterNet from March 28, 2004 describes how even three years ago we were on the way to that scenario. More recently, CommonDreams posted a story by Robert Koehler titled: The Crusaders “The Christian Taliban is Running the Department of Defense.”

From Pizzo’s article:

During the Taliban rule of Afghanistan the world got a good look at what happens when religious zealots gain control of a government. Television images of women being beaten, forced to wear burkas, and banned from schools and the workplace helped build strong public support for the President’s decision to invade Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11.

But even as President George W. Bush denounced the brutal Islamic fundamentalist regime in Kabul, he was quietly laying the foundations for his own fundamentalist regime at home. For the first time far right Christian fundamentalists had one of their own in the White House and the opportunity to begin rolling back decades of health and family planning programs they saw as un-Christian, if not downright sinful.

Since 2001 dozens of far-right Christian fundamentalists have been quietly installed in key positions within the Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Drug Administration and on commissions and advisory committees where they have made serious progress. Three years later this administration has established one of the most rigid sexual health agendas in the Western world.

It began immediately. One of George W. Bush’s first acts as president was to issue an executive memorandum reinstating a global abortion “gag rule.” The rule was first implemented under Ronald Reagan but revoked during the two Clinton administrations. The rule prohibited federally funded family planning providers from even discussing abortion with their clients.

Bush’s order reflected the views of those at farthest reaches of the Christian right, zealots who saw any means by which women controlled reproduction as unbiblical:

“I would like to outlaw contraception…contraception is disgusting — people using each other for pleasure.” -Joseph Scheidler, Pro-Life Action League

“I don’t think Christians should use birth control. You consummate your marriage as often as you like — and if you have babies, you have babies.” Randall Terry, Operation Rescue

But that’s only part of the insidious agenda being played out here:

Information became a prime target of the Christian Taliban. President Bush says he respects “good science,” when making public policy. But, the crux of the matter apparently hinges on the definition of “good,” especially when it comes to family-planning issues. When good science clashes with Biblical fundamentalist beliefs in this administration, science loses every time.

Early in 2001 Bush’s Christian Taliban began scrubbing federal information sources of offending materials. The censorship campaign prompted Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) to send a letter to o HHS Secretary Thompson demanding an explanation for the removal of information from the HHS Web site of scientific findings by the National Cancer Institute that, contrary to anti-choice propaganda, abortions do not increase the risk of breast cancer. Thompson never responded but the “cleansing” continued.

  • Scientific data on condom use, long available on government health Web sites, was removed and replaced by sermons on abstinence and alarmist propaganda that exaggerated the risks of condom use.
  • The phrase “reproductive health” was expunged and replaced with the vague terms “related clinical preventive health services” and “related preventive health services.”
  • Links to non-governmental family planning resources were deleted.
  • Web sites at the Centers of Disease Control and National Institute of Health were cleared of scientific studies and materials relating to abortion and condom use.
  • At the CDC results from a peer-reviewed study showing that education about condom use did not result in increased sexual activity or sex at younger age, were deleted from the Web site.
  • The NIH’s Web site was cleaned of FAQ’s on condom effectiveness and a sexuality education curriculum called “Programs that Work.”

But just in case you want to call all of this old news…

I picked this up from Daily Kos today, A Surgeon General Who Will “Cure” Gays?:

Last week, with little fanfare, George W. Bush announced the nomination of Joseph Holsinger to become the Surgeon General of the United States. Said Bush: 

As America’s chief health educator, he will be charged with providing the best scientific information available on how Americans can make smart choices that improve their health and reduce their risk of illness and injury.

And speaking of choices, Holsinger and his wife:

…founded Hope Springs Community Church in a warehouse at 1109 Versailles Road. Calhoun called it a socially diverse congregation with a “very vital recovery ministry.” It serves the homeless and those with addictions to drugs, alcohol and sex; and it has a Spanish-language Hispanic congregation with its own pastor. [...]

Hope Springs also ministers to people who no longer wish to be gay or lesbian, Calhoun said.

“We see that as an issue not of orientation but of lifestyle,” he said. “We have people who seek to walk out of that lifestyle.”

And as a member of the United Methodist Judicial Council, Holsinger:

…supported a pastor who would not permit an openly gay man to join the church…(The church’s bishops voted later to allow the gay man to become a member.)

But rest assured, according to his supporters, this potential Surgeon General for all Americans won’t “be driven by ideology.”

So let’s bring this back to Orange County today.

In a recent post on Red County/OCBlog El Liberdator writes about the UCI Republicans fighting back against MSU extremism here. What I found most striking in his comments were these words.

But what was most remarkable about the event, was that the three ex-terrorists were able to relinquish the fear of condemning not just radical Islam, but inspiring the crowd to rally for their critique of the religion and its message delivered from the Koran. When each of them revealed their conversion to Christianity the audience erupted in cheer. The speakers also condemned Americans for being weak and urged their audience to fight this dangerous and ever growing ideology.

I would say, based upon this comment that this room full of College Republicans was also a room of Christian evangelists bent on one world religion, Christianity.

I doubt there would have been the same level of applause if the speakers had indicated their conversion to Buddhism.

The sad thing here is that if Christian zealots were to ever win their war to eliminate the Muslim faith from this planet, they would soon turn on the Jews they are using for cover now.

Religious zealots exist in most religions. The stories that El Liberdator described as being told by the speakers seem eerily similar to the scenes I saw in the documentary Jesus Camp.

I think Robert Koehler said it well in the closing of his article referenced previously…

“If this is a religious war – a “clash of civilizations,” waged by competing agents of God’s will – victory may be indistinguishable from Armageddon. God help the human race.”

Shawn SteelUPDATE:

Leave it it Republican racist Shawn Steel, former Chairman of the California Republican Party, to add icing to the cake of hatred. In his commentary today titled UCI: The war against the 5th column on the FlashReport he closes his post with this…

And, unbelievable in a very related story, in the morning’s Los Angeles Times comes a report of a young Muslim where police believe he murdered his ex girlfriend’s father and older sister and bludgeoned her mother, on May 21st. The family home was burned down. The ex girlfriend is an 18 year old Hindu student from UCI. Shayona Dhanak who had broken up with Iftekhar Murtaza. Four US marshals arrested Murtaza at Sky Harbor International Airport, where he was trying to fly on a one way ticket to Bangladesh…

Here is how I read this: Muslim Male = Murderer

Disgusting, even from a Republican.

If you’re interested, here is the link to the Wiki page on The Fifth Column

  4 comments for “The Christian Taliban – In America

  1. Aunt Millie
    June 1, 2007 at 10:21 am

    Often it feels las if the clash of civilizations is between reason and fundamentalism, with Muslim and Christian fundamentalists alike battling not only each other, but also fighting side by side against science, tolerance, and the unique guarantees against establishment of religion that our founding fathers provided in our Constitution.

    Luckily, the American people have a great sense of decency, and are taking the side of reason. I was encouraged to see from rasmussesn’s most recent polling that over seven million people, around 14% of the total base, have stopped identifying themselves as Republicans during the last two years.

    My hope that reason might triumph is returning.

  2. June 2, 2007 at 8:30 pm

    UPDATE:

    Iftekhar MurtzaI have finally had some time to research the spin on the arrest of Iftekhar Murtza presented by Shawn Steel in his Flash Report Commentary. Given that he cited the LATImes, that was where I started looking…

    From the LA Times on March 31st:

    Murtaza was taken into custody this weekend at Sky Harbor International Airport on a fugitive warrant that said he was carrying a one-way ticket to Bangladesh and was a “possible suspect” in the attacks on the Anaheim Hills family.

    But Murtaza’s attorney, Jeremy Phillips of Phoenix, told reporters this morning that the young man had notified police that he had purchased a round-trip ticket to Bangladesh and was to return in July.

    and on Friday June 1st:

    Murtaza, 22, of Van Nuys, whom authorities described as a “person of interest,” agreed in a court hearing Thursday to be extradited to California for further questioning. No charges have been filed against him, and police said they were looking for multiple suspects.

    Shawn SteelNow let’s contrast this with Steel’s comments…

    And, unbelievable in a very related story, in the morning’s Los Angeles Times comes a report of a young Muslim where police believe he murdered his ex girlfriend’s father and older sister and bludgeoned her mother, on May 21st. The family home was burned down. The ex girlfriend is an 18 year old Hindu student from UCI. Shayona Dhanak who had broken up with Iftekhar Murtaza. Four US marshals arrested Murtaza at Sky Harbor International Airport, where he was trying to fly on a one way ticket to Bangladesh…

    Nothing like spinning the truth to convict a “person of interest” for a crime that he has not even been charged with.

    But I guess anything goes if you’re trying to paint ALL Muslim men as terrorists.  That does seem to be what Steel specializes in.

  3. dan taliaferro
    February 29, 2008 at 7:09 am

    Murtaza lied to the police, telling them he was not in Anaheim on the day of the murders. His cell phone records prove he was there. He had the motive, means and opportunity. He has now been charged with the murders.

    Once Murtaza is convicted, how foolish is Chris Prevatt going to look when he has shilled so strongly for this barbaric murderer and devotee of his religion of peace.

  4. dam taliaferro
    February 29, 2008 at 7:18 am

    What an idiot Chris Prevatt has proven himself to be as he shilled for this barbaric murderer Murtaza. Prevatt decries the “spin” placed on the facts by law enforcement. It is now proven Murtaza lied to police when he stated he was not in Anaheim Hill on the day of the murders. His cell phone records prove he was.

    Here’s the latest:

    “The tragic killings and beating took place n May 21, 2007, when police say that he [Vitaliy Krasnoperov] and two other men, Iftekhar Murtaza from Van Nuys, age 22 and a co-worker of Mr. Krasnoperov’s, and 22 yr-old Charles Anthony Murphy of Mission Hills slew Mr. Murtaza’s ex-girlfriend Karishma Dhanak and her father Jayprakash Dhanak and beat the family’s mother, Leela Jayprakash Dhanak to within an inch of her life.

    The trio allegedly then burned the family’s house down and started another fire to hide the bodies on a nearby bike path…

    Apparently, Shayona Dhanak had recently ended a several year relationship with Mr. Murtaza because, according to court records, her Hindu family blocked her from dating him because he practices Islam.”

    Yet another devotee of the religion of peace exacting Islamic justice upon three Hindu infidels.

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