On Faith: Faith in Egypt

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  February 6, 2011 — 61 Comments

My latest response at the Washington Post’s On Faith site is now up.

Here’s this week’s (about to be last week’s) panel question:

Mike Huckabee, the conservative former Arkansas governor, this weekend said that he is concerned about Islam’s role in Egypt’s future.  As On Faith panelist Reza Aslan this week noted, Huckabee has also called for Americans to “take this nation back for Christ” and, while running for president in 2008, declared that “what we need to do is to amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards.”

In America and in Egypt, should a majority religion inspire political life? How will Islam play a role in the struggles for democracy happening now in Egypt and other parts of the Muslim world?

Here’s an excerpt from my response:

Mike Huckabee, who many see as a front-runner for the Republican presidential ticket in 2012, has been courting and celebrating the kind of Christians who, if ever presented with theocratic opportunities, would be the first to oppress and marginalize religious minorities. Huckabee calls himself a “fan” and “friend” of David Barton, founder and president of WallBuilders, who believes that“paganism and witchcraft were never intended to receive the protections of the Religion Clauses,” and is currently one of Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann’s favored teachers for the freshman class of recently elected Republicans. Huckabee regularly allies himself with Lou Engle, whose rhetoric can “venture into bloodlust”according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Huckabee, like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, and several other politicians, have sought to ingratiate themselves with a new kind of Christian right, one that, in the words of Bruce Wilson, has seen a “rapid reconfiguration […] around the rising, highly militant but poorly understood charismatic wing.” This movement celebrates spiritual warfare, and is preparing itself for a renewal of Christian political and cultural dominance. So any “concern” from Huckabee about religion, or Islam, must be seen through this lens.

I hope you’ll head over to the site and read my full response, and the other panelist responses, and share your thoughts.

Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • Tomb

    Really, Egypt and Iran have a solid bedrock of secularism in their societies. While in Iran it has been paved over by Islamic Fundamentalism, the Iran Protests last year have shown that it is there and the grasp of the Clergy is not absolute on their society. The same is of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, at worse they are the Republicans of Egypt (their organiztion is just as fractured too) while possibleto gain standing in a democratic election and they will push Islamic legislation a full out Islamic Takeover is unlikely to happen-especially given Egypt's economy is largely based in Tourism which means scaring off Tourists is a BIG nono! Though besides that if you have paid attention to he events you can see that the Muslims and Copts are standing together againsta corrupt political regime AND that alot of their signs shown on the news have been in…english. They know the eyes of America are on them and they know the fear that they will be labeled as Islamists which is something they have denied since day 1 pretty much.

    • Adon

      There's indeed a strong current of secularism in many Islamic countries, some religion critics in the Arab world are harsh on Islam to the extent that you'll never hear about them in the politically-correct Western media outlets (even on Foxnews), and some very prominent arab thinkers are denied the right to speak in European universities because they criticize and expose Islam.
      However, the problem is that Islamists are the only organized force, and were not just talking about the Islamic brotherhood, there are other smaller organizations that are much more dangerous like AL-Jihad which began as a schism in the Islamic Brotherhood in upper Egypt in the 60s and became later the strongest wing of Al-Quaeda.
      And saying that the Islamists don't want to scare the tourists is the weirdest thing i ever heard.

      • Tomb

        Capital always trounces everything else…look at Gaza residents who literally drove horses and camels into the Anti-Mubarak protesters because they were angry that the revolts were driving away tourists (income). The hinge of this revolution is on the leaders and people in how they decide to bring back the economic growth: Depose Mubarak and get it over with or put down the people…but Mubarak is fortunately not that of a key component in the grand scheme of Egypt's economy

  • Tomb

    Tell me then what do you make of the Roman supression of the Druids and the general disdain for Eastern Mystery Religions? Perhaps of the Ming Emperor Jiajing's supression of Buddhism.

    • Adon

      The romans didn't suppress the Druids because they wanted them to convert, they saw them as a threat to their imperial dominance on the land, the same thing for the suppression of Buddhism in China, it wasn't suppressed because the emperor thought they were Satan's minions but because he saw it as a threat to his power and the integrity of China.

      • Tomb

        Just like conversion of all the other people in another area would secure a ruler of a foreign ruler's kingdom from internal revolt? Notoriously throughout the ages religious circles have acted as focal points of opposition to opposing regimes, Its why in the old times anicent empires destroyed or incorporated gods of opposing city-states/empires.