Monday July 30,2007
FILLED with contempt for the rebellious British colonies on the other side of the Atlantic, the 18th-century wit, lexicographer and writer Dr Johnson once said: “I can love any man but an American.”
More than 200 years later, that is the attitude that prevails within Europe’s liberal elite, where sneering at the
US passes for a political philosophy. Self-indulgent Left-wingers work themselves into a frenzy of righteous indignation over every supposed failing by the Bush government while ignoring human rights abuses committed by genuinely tyrannical regimes across the world.
They attack the US over climate change but utter no condemnation of far worse pol-luters such as China and Russia. They rage against Guantanamo Bay and the Iraq War but say nothing about the barbarism that radical Islam inspires.
Because of their neurosis about so-called US imperialism, they end up siding with terrorists who are filled with loathing for the concept of freedom. They treat the US President as a darker threat than Mugabe, Putin or Bin Laden.
On a personal level Gordon Brown, now in the US for his first summit with George Bush, appears to have none of this puerile animosity towards America. Indeed, throughout his political career he has, if anything, been even more pro-American than Tony Blair. Unlike many of the US’s more hysterical European critics, he has read widely about American history and has built friendships in US academia and the Democratic party.
Yet institutionalised schizophrenia is becoming a hallmark of the Brown reign. So he blathers about enhancing democracy but refuses a referendum on the EU constitution. He pledges to protect the environment but seeks a vast expansion in housebuilding.
The same contradictions lie at the heart of his policy towards the US. He claims he wants our “special relationship” to become stronger yet his Government appears to be moving in the opposite direction.
Earlier this month the International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander, a fawning acolyte of Brown’s since the early Nineties, signalled that British foreign policy should be driven by our links with the UN rather than the US.
In a comment interpreted as a dig at US military power, Alexander said: “In the 20th century, a country’s might was too often measured by what they could destroy. In the 21st, strength should be measured by what we can build together.”
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His apparent scorn for the US was wholly unjustified. Not only did America help to save Europe twice from German oppression but it was only through the generosity of the Marshall Plan that Europe was rebuilt after the Second World War. In recent years, it was the US that ended the conflict in the Balkans after Europe had dithered, while the Bush administration has been by far the greatest donor of funds to fight Aids in Africa.
But anti-Americanism has been even more obvious in the outpourings of new Foreign Office Minister Mark Malloch Brown, former UN deputy general secretary. A noisy critic of the US government, Malloch Brown has not only proclaimed that Britain will “no longer be joined at the hip” to America but has even mocked Mr Bush’s Christian faith. In the recent past he has attacked the US for its lack of support for the UN, for the robust nature of its free press and for the “extremism” of Washington.
Yet it is absurd to argue, as Alexander and Malloch Brown have done, that the UN is a greater force for good in the world than the US. The United Nations is a hopelessly extravagant, bureaucratic and incompetent organisation which spends its time sucking up to dictators while demanding yet more funding from the richer countries of the world.
And its recent record is a disgraceful one. For all its hollow rhetoric about compassion, it has presided over genocide in Rwanda, Darfur and Kosovo, while its oil-for-food programme with Iraq became a byword for corruption.
Anti-Americans are also fond of pretending that the EU could, like the UN, be an alternative source of global power. But this is just more wishful thinking. The EU is as wasteful and enfeebled as the UN.
Since the end of the Second World War, most European nations have retreated into the comfort zone of welfarism and appeasement of their enemies. They are not willing to fight to defend the values of their civilisation. In the face of Islamism or a resurgent Russia, they just wave the white flag.
Only America, with Britain as its ally, has shown the guts to defend democracy. For all the derision it has endured, the US has been a beacon of freedom. Central Europe would probably be under the jackboot of communism were it not for the heroic Cold War the US waged against Russia after 1945.
No nation in history has ever possessed the kind of wealth and military authority that the US now holds, yet it is a reflection of America’s democratic values that this power has been used not for imperial conquest but for the spread of liberty.
Even in the mistaken adventure in Iraq, America’s goal was to overthrow tyranny and bring democracy. The failure of this mission is a sorry testament to the lethal internecine feuding inspired by Islam.
The “special relationship” between Britain and America has been a far greater influence for good in the world than all the empty posturing of the UN and EU. We should cherish this link, not seek to undermine it.<!–
Who is the True Godfather of Islamic Fundamentalism?
Author: Adrian Morgan
Source: The Family Security Foundation, Inc.
Date: July 30, 2007
The next time you hear an uninformed person say we have a problem with fundamentalist Islam because of America’s foreign policy or the Iraq War or Muslim poverty, show them this article. FSM Contributing Editor Adrian Morgan produces another must read for the well informed.
Who Is the True Godfather of Islamic Fundamentalism?
By Adrian Morgan
Analysts and commentators on Islamism often point to two individuals as the “godfathers of Islamism” – Sayyid Qutb and Syed Abul Ala Maududi. It is true that the writings of these two men have been influential upon senior figures in the Islamist and Al Qaeda movements. Sayyid Qutb (1906 – 1966) was spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood from the early 1950s until he was executed by the government of Nasser in 1966. His book Milestones on the Road (Ma’alim fi’l-Tariq) was read by, and influenced, Ayman al-Zawahiri, deputy leader of Al Qaeda.
Syed Abul Ala Maududi was born in India in 1903, and was a scholar of Islam at a Deobandi seminary in Hyderabad. In 1941, he founded the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami party in India (J-e-I). After the 1947 formation of Pakistan, Maududi moved to the new state. Under the first thirteen months of its existence, Pakistan was governed by Mohammed Jinnah, who oversaw a secular constitution. With pressure from J-e-I, secularism in Pakistan gave way to Islamism. Maududi despised the Ahmadiyyah sect of Islam. This group denounces violence, but holds its founder to be a “prophet”, which Maudidi condemned as heretical in at least one book (The Qadiani Problem).
The offshoots of Jamaat-e-Islami in Pakistan and Bangladesh have enacted severe persecutions of the Ahmadiyyah. As a result of pressure from J-e-I in Pakistan, any Ahmadiyyah member who preaches can be jailed for three years under the Islamist blasphemy laws. Maududi’s writings were to influence Sayyid Qutb.
Maududi and Qutb both supported the notion that it was every Muslim’s duty to work towards the establishment of Islam on earth as a global political entity. The two groups to which these ideologues had belonged, the Jamaat-e-Islami and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, maintained close links. Both groups have been involved in violence and sponsorship of terrorism. When East Pakistan seceded from West Pakistan, leading to the formation of Bangladesh, the local wing of the J-e-I, led by Motiur Rahman Nizami, supervised acts of genocide against Hindus and separatists. Three million died in Bangladesh’s war for independence. Senior figures of the Bangladesh terror group JMB (Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh), which committed suicide bombings in 2005, all had links with the Jamaat-e-Islami party.
The other global fundamentalist Islamic movement, spread from Saudi Arabia, is Wahabbism. This is named after its founder, Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703 – 1792), a scholar who preached an austere form of Islam. He regarded anything which deviated from ultra-orthodox interpretations of Islam, based upon the Koran and sunna (deeds) of Mohammed, as shirk or polytheism. Only one of his books, Kitab al-Tawhid (the Book of Monotheism) remains. It orders that no shrines or gravestones should be erected, lest these become places of worship. Such extreme dictates have led to destruction of Islamic historical sites. Recently a fatwa was issued by Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah Al al-Sheikh. He has ordered that Shi’ite shrines in Iraq and Damascus, which are revered by Shia Muslims as places of pilgrimage, should be destroyed.
The ideologies of these three individuals – Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab, Sayyid Qutb and Syed Abul Ala Maududi (or for easier remembering Wahhab, Qutb and Maududi) – are central to the Islamist and terrorist movements which are now plaguing both the Muslim and non-Muslim world. Yet these individuals in turn were influenced by one man who is virtually unknown to most Westerners.
His name is Ibn Taymiyyah, or Taq ad-Din Ahmad ibn Taymiyyah, and he lived from 1263 to 1328. His name by birth was Ahmad ibn Abdul-Halim ibn Abdas-Salaam. This individual could be considered as the real godfather of fundamentalism. Maududi borrowed extensively from Taymiyyah’s writings.
Ibn Taymiyyah lived in a time of great upheaval in the Muslim world. In the West, the Crusades were still being waged at the time of his birth, ending with the Ninth Crusade of 1271 to 1272. In the East, Mongols from the Steppes had flooded to conquer the towns and cities along the Silk Route and beyond, which had previously been conquered by Muslims. The Mongol Empire, founded by Genghis Khan in 1206, destroyed the Islamic Abbasid Empire in 1258, thus ending the semi-mythical “Golden Age” of Islam, when mathematics, the arts and sciences had been vigorously pursued. The Mongol Empire would continue for 40 years after Taymiyyah’s death. In 1299 in western Anatolia, the Ottoman Empire was formed, which would last until March, 1924.
Ibn Taymiyyah was born in Harran, in what is now Sanliurfa Province in southeastern Turkey, close to the Syrian border. The privations caused by the Mongol incursions caused Ibn Taymiyyah and his family to flee to Damascus in Syria when he was seven years old. He came from a family where Sunni scholarship of the Hanbali school was a tradition. The founder of this school of thought, Ahmad bin Hanbal (780 – 855), had been against any “innovation” (bida) in Islam. Taymiyya became a professor of Islamic studies when he was 19.
Taymiyyah preached extensively, and made numerous fatwas. He broke with tradition by declaring the Mongols, who had converted to Islam, to be heretics because they followed man-made laws, rather than Sharia. To denounce any individual or group, particularly a ruler, as a heretic (takfir) was a role previously confined to a select few, such as the Assassins. Taymiyyah declared that the Islamized Mongols were living in “Jahiliyah”, the state of ignorance that existed before Mohammed. He also argued that Muslims should not follow such rulers, and it was their duty to kill such people. Centuries later, Maududi would write of non-orthodox Muslims living in jahiliyah. Taymiyyah also denounced the worship at shrines, a concept echoed later by ibn Wahhab who also wrote in his book Kitab al-Tawhid (Chapter 36) that that no-one should obey a scholar or ruler if that person contradicts the Qur’an or the Sunnah (actions of the Prophet) in any way.
In 1300, while the Mongols (Tartars) were besieging Damascus, Taymiyyah was part of a delegation sent to the invading king, Ghazan. The other religious representatives were contrite in the king’s presence, but Taymiyyah is reported to have said: “You claim to be a Muslim. I have been told that you have with you a Qadi [Sharia judge] and an Imam, a Sheikh and a mu’adhdhin [muezzin, a caller to prayer]; yet you have deemed it proper to march upon Muslims. Your forefathers were heathens, but they always abstained from breaking the promise once made by them. They redeemed the pledges they made, but you violate the word of honor given by you. You trample underfoot your solemn declarations in order to lay a hand on the servants of Allah!” His forthright manner gained the respect of the Tartar king.
Taymiyyah’s fatwa against the Mongols, declaring them to be infidels, also made mention of a perpetual jihad: “There will always remain a group of people from my nation who establish the truth. They will never be agonised by those who let them down nor by those who disagree with them till the day of judgment.” The fatwa, issued in 1303, was followed by a battle which took place between Taymiyyah’s “authentic” Muslims and Tartars from the Mongol Empire at Shaqhab, south of Damascus. This battle, in which Taymiyyah fought, took place during Ramadan, the holy month of fasting. He encouraged the Muslims of the Damascus Sultan, al-Nasir Muhammad, to abandon their fasting following the example of Mohammed, in order to fight jihad more effectively.
The battle of Shaqhab was a victory, commemorated by Al Qaeda in Iraq in 2004: “Make of this month like the month of [the battle of] Badr and the conquest of Makka, [the battle of] Shaqhab and other victories of Islam. We ask of God that he make of this Ramadan a month of glory, victory and consolidation… to lay low polytheism and the polytheists… raise the ensign of monotheism and plant the banner of jihad.”
Taymiyyah’s denunciations of rulers would lead to his gaining enemies. He was imprisoned several times during his lifetime, and some of his most forceful writings were completed during those periods of incarceration. In 1306, three years after the battle of Shaqhab, he was summoned to Egypt and jailed in Cairo. He was accused of viewing Allah as a human-like entity, rather than one without bodily attributes.
This happened again in 1308, when he was deported from Cairo to Alexandria and jailed for 18 months on similar charges. He was jailed again in 1331 for five months, because of verdicts he had made in divorce cases. At the end of his life, on account of his banning visits to grave sites, he was placed in a prison (pictured) in Damascus, where all writing materials were denied him. He succumbed to an illness and died. Though he had offended many with his rebukes, including Sultan al-Nasir Muhammad, his funeral brought large crowds to pay their respects. Though some of his writings have been lost, a large amount have survived. Unfortunately, only a few of these are available in English.
Taymiyyah had an ambivalent relationship with Sufis. The Sufi movement had gained great prominence in the Muslim world at that time. The Sufis were regarded as mystics, who sought a literal connection with Allah. The origin of Sufism is vague, though it is thought that 150 years after Mohammed’s death, Islamic mystics would wear robes of wool (Arabic: suf). Sufis hope to achieve a state of safa or “purity”, which comes from the Arabic word “tasawwuf”.
Ibn Taymiyyah was himself considered by some to have been a Sufi, but he also issued fatwas condemning certain classes of Sufis. One Sufi notion, popular among the masses, concerned the “oneness of existence” or wahdat al-wujud. The belief in oneness is demonstrated physically by the whirling dervishes – when they raise one hand while spinning, they metaphorically draw down the essence of God into themselves. For Taymiyyah, there could be no “oneness” or union of God and the self where there was no difference between God and self. He cited the Koran, 42:11. which states: “There is nothing whatsoever like unto him.”
Taymiyyah’s belief in Allah as having bodily attributes such as “hand”, “face”, “foot” can be found in his writings, such as Al-Aqidah Al-Wasitiyah where he quotes from the Koran and Hadiths. He had been instructed in Hadiths during his youth by a woman scholar, Zaynab bint Makki. Yet in this work he writes: “Do not change words from their context; Do not disbelieve the names of Allah and His Signs; Do not exemplify His Attributes with the attributes of His creatures because Allah, The Exalted, has no likeness: There is none comparable to Him; There is none equal to Him; The Exalted, the Supreme, is not measured by His creatures.”
Taymiyyah is currently popular in the Arab world and in India. In the late 19th century in Egypt, the emergent Salafists, noted for their literalist interpretations of Islam, took inspiration from Taymiyyah. Despite his sometimes ferocious doctrines which have come to influence Islamists, Salafists and even Al Qaeda, Many people slandered him during his lifetime. Ibn Batuta, the famous traveller, falsely claimed to have seen Taymiyyah preaching from a pulpit, saying that Allah would move his foot in a particular manner, and moving his own foot. The visit took place while Taymiyyah was in prison, and could never have been seen by Batuta.
Taymiyyah was capable of generosity and forgiveness. At one point, the Sultan of Damascus offered Taymiyyah a chance to take his vengeance on the religious leaders who had denounced him. Taymiyyah refused, saying: “Whoever harmed me is absolved, and who harmed the cause of Allah and His Messenger, Allah will punish him.”
His relations with Christians were ambivalent. He believed in jihad to remove remnants of crusading venturers from Muslim lands, yet he spoke up in defense of a Christian who had been accused of blasphemy.
Muslim criticism of Taymiyyah generally centers around issues such as his “anthropomorphism” of Allah, rather than his prohibitions against “innovation” or his absolutism. Taymiyyah has been criticized by imams from the Shafi’i school of thought, and by Hanfi jurist Muhammad Zahid al-Kawthari who lived at the end of the Ottoman Empire.
Taymiyyah was undoubtedly a complex character, but his injunctions against Muslim figures who are condemned as not being “true” Muslims and his call for a perpetual jihad against unbelievers are aspects of his teachings which have become influential today to fundamentalists and terrorists alike. Taymiyyah lived at a time when the Muslim world was in a crisis, and feeling attacked. In that context, the Islamists who were inspired by him – such as Maududi, Qutb, Al Qaeda, Salafists and Wahhabists – also feel that the Muslim world is in a similar situation of crisis.
The world of Ibn Taymiyyah had lost its Caliphate when the Abbasid Empire was destroyed. The Caliphate from the time of Mohammed’s death had provided a system of spiritual rulership, a central authority for all Muslims. The last Caliphate, that of the Ottomans, was officially disbanded by the secularist Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1924. Most Muslim nations are fearful of those who would re-establish a Caliphate, as their local authority would be lost, but for Islamists and terrorists alike, a new Caliphate is sought as the first step towards global control.
Many who now read Taymiyyah’s writings are themselves interpreting his words in ways he may not have even intended. But to understand the essence of Islamism, the “revolutionary” words of 20th century radicals such as Maududi and Qutb are only reworkings of ideas already formulated by Ibn Taymiyyah in the early 14th century. To understand the ideology behind the methodology of modern Islamism, the writings of Ibn Taymiyyah are compulsory reading.
The left is astir again. From Slate to the op ed pages of the New York Times and the People for the American Way (PFAW) handouts, it is clear that the left is ginning up to replay their war against any judicial nominee this President may yet propose for any forthcoming vacancy on the Supreme Court.
People for the American Way, funded by rich lefties George Soros and Peter Lewis, has consistently been the maestro of the left’s judicial nominee opposition. In its most recent press release its president, Ralph Neas says:
“Under Chief Justice Roberts, the Court has turned sharply to the right, and far out of the mainstream of American thought. Rights and freedoms Americans take for granted stand in peril, and the progress that we have made in social justice over the past 70 years is at risk.
“In just their first full term together, a new right-wing bloc on the Court has signaled that it is willing to roll back reproductive choice for women, curb free expression, favor corporations over workers in discrimination cases, limit access to the courts for ordinary Americans, and start to tear down the wall between church and state that protects religious liberty for all Americans.
“While Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito gave lip service to respect for the established rulings of the Court in their confirmation hearings, they have not hesitated to tear down or undermine long-held rulings. This Court has shown the same respect for precedent that a wrecking ball shows for a plate glass window.
Senator Schumer, fresh off his outrageous, proven to be unwarranted, suggestions that the Attorney General perjured himself before the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said that he was hoodwinked by the confirmation hearing testimony of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito and, therefore, will block any new nominees to the Court by the Bush Administration.
(I note that this hoodwinking charge seems inexplicable since Schumer voted against the confirmation of both men. How duped is that?)
In other stories an off-hand remark by Senator Specter to the effect that he was going to review the confirmation hearing testimony of Roberts and Alito has been spun to suggest he thinks there’s merit in Schumer’s claim. But he later indicated this is not the case, and that he was responding to an assertion by Justice Breyer to him at a conference respecting the new justices’ fealty to the concept of Stare Decisis, a complex doctrine in application, respecting the appropriate weight to give to prior decisions.
I have reviewed the cases Breyer seems to have referred to and the confirmation testimony of Roberts and Alito and will as soon as time permits detail why I think these charges are unfounded. (Indeed, I think one might say Breyer is projecting, for his dissents in these cases are inconsistent with his views as expressed in his confirmation hearings. In the meantime, here is Justice Breyer’s record respecting the judicial deference owed to prior precedent and his own confirmation hearing testimony on the issue.
1) Justice Breyer has authored opinions explicitly overruling precedent:
* United States v. Hatter, 532 U.S. 557 (2001)
* Lapides v. Board of Regents, 535 U.S. 613 (2002)
2) On several other occasions he has helped form a majority to overrule precedent. E.g.:
* Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002)
* Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003)
* Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004)
* Roper v. Simmons, 125 S. Ct. 1183 (2005)
3) He has joined at least one dissent advocating overruling precedent:
* City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507 (1997) (O’Connor, J., joined by Breyer, J.)
4) He has joined a dissent indicating that he (and others) won’t hesitate to overrule the decision from which they are dissenting.
* Carhart v. Gonzales (2007) (“A decision so at odds with our jurisprudence should not have staying power.”) (Ginsburg, J., dissenting, joined by, inter alia, Breyer, J.)
5) Excerpts from Justice Breyer’s Judiciary Committee hearing:
“I think that the law itself provides ways of departing from past law. There are circumstances in which it is appropriate according to the law to depart from the prior decision. Those have been listed by the Supreme Court recently. You look to the earlier decision and you ask how wrong was that decision. You look to see the ways and the extent to which the law has changed in other related ways. You look to see the extent to which facts have changed. You look to see how much difficulty and trouble that old rule of law that seems badly reasoned has created as the courts have tried to apply it. And then, going the other way, you look to see the extent to which there has been reliance on that old past law.” (Hearing Tr. p. 234)
“My view is that stare decisis is very important to the law. Obviously, you can’t have a legal system that doesn’t operate with a lot of weight given to stare decisis, because people build their lives, they build their lives on what they believe to be the law. And insofar as you begin to start overturning things, you upset the lives of men, women, children, people all over the country. So be careful, because people can adjust, and even when something is wrong, they can adjust to it. And once they have adjusted, be careful of fooling with their expectation. Now, that is the most general forum….
“When I become a little bit more specific, it seems to me that there are identifiable factors that are pretty well established. If you, as a judge, are thinking of overturning or voting to overturn a preexisting case, what you do is ask a number of fairly specific questions. How wrong do you think that prior precedent really was as a matter of law, that is, how badly reasoned was it?
You ask yourself how the law has changed since, all the adjacent laws, all the adjacent rules and regulations, does it no longer fit. You ask yourself how have the facts changed, has the world changed in very important ways. You ask yourself, insofar, irrespective of how wrong that prior decision was as a matter of reasoning, how has it worked out in practice, has it proved impossible or very difficult to administer, has it really confused matters. Finally, you look to the degree of reliance that people have had in their ordinary lives on that previous precedent.
“Those are the kinds of questions you ask. I think you ask those questions in relation to statutes. I think you ask those questions in relation to the Constitution. The real difference between the two areas is that Congress can correct a constitutional court, if it is a statutory question, but it can’t make a correction, if it is a constitutional matter. So be pretty careful.”
(Hearing Tr. p. 291)
The Judiciary Committe and American people deserve better than this clown show.
The Methodists’ Green Crusade
By Mark D. Tooley
FrontPageMagazine.com | 7/30/2007
British Methodists have discovered their new role in an increasingly secular Great Britain: Fight Global Warming!At their July annual conference, the British Methodists heard how Global Warming is simultaneously causing drought in Kenya and too much rain in El Salvador, while “drowning” the poor Fiji Islands.
“It is a moral issue,” insisted one Methodist preacher. “It is worse than unjust; it is a sin.” Needless to point out, most of the “sin” of global heat is coming from America. But the British Methodists confessed to their own share of carbon depravity.
Perhaps the British Methodists were remembering their spiritual forefather, 18th century evangelist John Wesley, who crisscrossed the British Isles warning of the perils of climate change. Suffering under the lower temperatures the Little Ice Age, when the River Thames would freeze over, Wesley demanded international treaties that would halt the long winters and reduced growing seasons that further oppressed Britain’s poor. As advancing glaciers crushed Swiss villages, and Nordic villages were trapped by ice, Wesley cried out for a global climate consciousness!
Actually, not. Wesley generated hundreds of thousands of converts by preaching the Gospel, not apocalyptic climate change activism, or any other dubious political message.
Inverting the priorities of their founder, today’s British Methodists seem to have set aside making Christian converts in favor of trendier causes, such as Global Warming. Having lost about 30 percent of their membership just since 1970, and now down to fewer than 300,000, the British Methodists perhaps have decided they can save the planet even if they cannot save souls.
A giant footprint appeared at the British Methodist Annual Conference in Blackpool to illustrate the supposedly troubling carbon contribution of the naughty United Kingdom. Meanwhile, representatives from exploited Third World nations carried the baby-sized carbon footprints of their own victim nations. Relishing the guilt trip, the British Methodists resolved to make global warming a chief priority.
“We are hearing from partner churches about the increasing injustice that climate change inflicts on the poorest nations,” the church’s social justice official insisted to the delegates, who braced themselves for nightmarish reports from around the world. .
According to United Methodist News Service, a British Methodist relief official reported about Kenya: “The major effects of climate change in the area have been in the form of unprecedented changes in weather conditions in terms of rainfall patterns and occurrence of drought.” A Fijian pastor pleaded to the British Methodists: “Please, come help us. … At the moment, people are drowning in the tiny islands of the South Pacific.” Meanwhile, local Methodists cited recent high rainfall and flooding in Great Britain as dire signals of climate change.
Sheepishly, some of the British Methodists admitted that challenging weather is hardly a novelty in human history. But they insisted that Global Warming is making everything more severe.
“The world’s biggest market failure is climate change,” one Methodist layman explained The British have 10 times as many carbon emissions as El Salvador and 100 times as many as Africa, he fretted. “Climate change is the single most important threat to development. We are culpable. We need to bear the cost of dealing with this mess.”
A Methodist activist from Ohio, USA, referenced her own country’s abuses when she complained: “Poor people have always had a Hurricane Katrina.” She penitently confessed to the British Methodists: “In our quest for comfort and convenience, we have created a system that makes it difficult for others.” The Rev. Sheryl Anderson, a London-based minister, closed the conference debate by calling on people to see climate change as more than just an environmental issue.
“We have to make right the wrong, to become righteous,” Anderson declared. “We have to act collectively, working with the worldwide Methodist people, especially those in the U.S., to combat global warming. And we have to do it now.” She was insistent. But the language at the British Methodist Annual was tame compared to earlier warnings.
Last Easter, the then president of the British Methodist Church preached not about the Resurrection but about the ugly threat of Global Warming, with the United States as the chief climate culprit. Referencing the Garden of Eden, the Rev. Tom Stuckey bemoaned that the world had gone from a “a place of cool shade” to a “polluted paradise lost; a savage wilderness of terror, fear and insecurity,” over which “hangs the threat of further global warming and ecological disaster,” whose “first victims” will again be poor Africans and Asians.
Pastor Stuckey described the four horseman of the apocalypse in stark political terms. The white horse is “imperialism – some would say American globalization,” the fiery red horse is “military invasion and terrorist atrocity” the black horse is plague, and the pale horse is “carbon emissions that will blot out the light of the sun.”
It was a scary picture, as Stuckey described it. “The Bush Administration still chooses to close its eyes to this threat,” he bewailed. “From a right-wing Christian political perspective, it seems the American Administration prefers Apocalypse to Genesis.”
Stuckey urged his fellow British Methodists to “join God’s team of spiritual gardeners, committed to not only to climate change but also to changing the human will and heart so that we can move from Apocalypse to Genesis.’
The British Methodists have started their own “Operation Noah” to stave off Global Warming. Their churches may be emptying, but at least they might be saved from the apocalyptic white horse of American imperialism and the pale horse of carbon emissions.
Mark D. Tooley directs the United Methodist committee at the Institute on Religion and Democracy.