Added on January 24th, 2009
Personally, I hate contradictions since, no matter how small they are when they first surface, they almost always manifest themselves into
much greater conflicts. I don't believe we, as a nation, caught this one in time. We should have nipped it in the bud before it was allowed
to grow to what we see it as today. Sadly, the subject of "religious sanctuary" was never addressed, at least not to my personal satisfaction,
and here's why.
I was told that we (The United States of America) invaded Afghanistan because the Taliban had given Osama bin Laden religious sanctuary. I even own the video in which
President Bush made this perfectly clear to the Taliban. The declaration is well known and documented:
''Deliver to United States authorities all the leaders of al-Qaeda who hide in
your land,'' Bush said in his 30-minute address to Congress and the nation in the
wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
Of course, everyone was so blood-thirsty back then, they never even bothered to consider the ever so subtle conflict of words and meanings that
eventually left us with egg on our faces. Bush himself had leaped beyond the realm of reality, never once stepping back from his painting to check
the perception. We over-looked an important issue here. Is the right of religious sanctuary a principle that we, as a nation under God, respect? The
answer is... Yes! We not only respect it but we have even DEMANDED it from others! I offer my viewers the following two cases to consider.
The Case of Cardinal Bernard Law
Cardinal Bernard Law had been asked to resign for his role in aiding and abetting pedophile priests here in Boston, such as Boston priests,
John J. Geoghan, Paul R. Shanley, Joseph Birmingham ~ the list goes on. He was defiant to the end, but eventually resigned when court records
confirmed his role in what came to be known as the infamous clergy sex abuse scandal.
Almost a year later, more lawsuits have been filed, depositions have been taken, church documents
have been turned over, and we have a clearer picture of what precisely the cardinal has done, or not done,
over the past decade and a half. What's emerged is horrifying. Law was not only aware of egregious sexual
misconduct among his subordinates but was apparently engaged in elaborate efforts to cover up incident
after incident of child rape. Worse yet, he breezily reassigned clergy known for sexually abusing children to
work with more children - conduct not all that distinguishable from leaving a loaded gun in a playground.
John J. Geoghan was implicated in 130 cases of sex abuse. He was ousted from the priesthood in 1998 and convicted
of child sex abuse in January. To compensate victims of Mr. Geoghan’s frolics, the archdiocese of Boston paid out $130 million.
Thanks to the efforts of two doctors and a Cardinal,
Mr. Geoghan was free to continue his ministry for many more years.
I was heart-broken to hear that, after all was said and done, the Cardinal would not face criminal prosecution. I was even more surprised when I learned
Cardinal Law was, himself, re-assigned to the Vatican ~ placing him well beyond the reach of our legal jurisdiction! The victims and their families, whose
faith had been shattered, were shocked to learn that, not only was he the new arch-priest of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, but he was named by the
Vatican as one of nine prelates who had the honor of presiding over funeral Masses for Pope John Paul II.
Question: Did we consider invading the Vatican City to bring Cardinal Bernard Law to Justice? No, of course not. Technically, no one has ever
prosecuted a Catholic Cardinal before and there were doubts as to whether we could do so now. Why? Because Americans respect religious authority and
have recognized the concept of sanctuary as a religious right. Islam is no different.
Source: Why Isn't Bernard Law In Jail?
The Case of Abdul Rahman
As if the above isn't enough to clarify the issue, another case turned up that really drove the point home ~ a more recent incident,
the case of Abdul Rahman, a Muslim who converted to Christianity in February of 2006. He was arrested and prosecutors, in accordance
with Shariah Law, sought the death penalty. The United States and it's allied forces were quick to demand the right of religious sanctuary
for Abdul, some of the more notable who spoke out are, as follows:
Congressman Tom Lantos, United States: On March 22, 2006, wrote a letter to Hamid Karzai in which
he said, "In a country where soldiers from all faiths, including Christianity, are dying in defense of your government, I find it outrageous
that Mr. Rahman is being prosecuted and facing the death penalty for converting to Christianity."
President George W. Bush spoke out against Rahman's arrest, saying, "It is
deeply troubling that a country we helped liberate would hold a person to account because they chose a particular religion over another".
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Abdul Rahman's arrest and trial "clearly violates the universal freedoms that democracies
around the world hold dear."
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appealed directly to President Hamid Karzai for a "favorable resolution",
though she did not demand that the charges be dropped.
Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns asked for the trial to be conducted with "transparency" and reminded Afghanistan
that "people should be free to choose their religion."
The conclusion? On March 27th, Abdul Rahman was released from prison and on March 29th, he arrived in Italy after the Italian government
offered him asylum.
So, What's The Deal With Religious Sanctuary? Does It Or Doesn't It Exist?
From where I'm sitting, it just comes down to what side of the fence you're sitting on. There's no legal equity, but there is a blatant contradiction!
The Christians believe their faith is greater
than Islam because Christianity allows more freedom. It condemned the laws of Islam that sought to prosecute a man for changing his religion.
Yet, Christianity denied the right of Justice by preventing the prosecution of Christian criminals, as demonstrated in the case of Cardinal Law.
To add insult to injury, Christianity demanded Asylum for both Cardinal Law and Abdul Rahman, yet denied the Taliban this very same right.
I know, some critics would say something like: But Osama bin Laden's sins were much greater. By his command, 2,974 people died in the 911
attacks and another 24 are missing, presumed dead. By Cardinal Bernard Law's complicity, there were only 552 victims of abuse and all of them lived.
To these people I say: There were not 552 victims. There were 552 FAMILIES! And, no, those victims didn't die a physical death, but when their faith
was destroyed, it became a matter of spiritual death by means of spiritual murder.
So, how do I condemn one without condemning the other? I can't. I have to remind myself that the spirit of Justice was given domain on Earth
to replace things like mob-lynchings. I have to remind myself that religious sanctuary is the right of all religions and that they have all exercised
that right. I know we, as a people, don't always agree with it any more than we approve of other "above-the-law" statutes like diplomatic immunity.
But this isn't about what I do and don't like. It's not about what you do and don't like. It is about the reality of men and, in the end, the following are
beyond our legal jurisdiction:
- Christians vs. Cardinal Law
- Muslims vs. Abdul Rahman
- America vs. Osama bin Laden
Many people have asked me how I could possibly sympathize with Mullah Omar, Commander of the Faithful, and leader of the Taliban. I've written
this page to explain my reasons for that and I hope and pray I am not the only person on the planet who can see the severe contradiction embodied in
the subject of religious sanctuary. I hope our new president, Barak Obama, will see it too and... reconsider.
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The "war on terror" is a violation of Holy Law. Period.