Sunday, August 29, 2010

Iraq, Afghanistan, and the ghost of Vietnam

When the last US combat brigade left Iraq last week, it did so in triumph. The 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division rolled across the border into Kuwait leaving an Iraq that is relatively stable, even though many politicians and opponents of the war had called it hopeless less than four years ago. Many of the same people are similarly painting the war in Afghanistan as a lost cause today.

We should all be proud of the magnificent job that the US military has done in Iraq and Afghanistan. Units who fought in these theaters of the War on Terror include soldiers from the Georgia Army National Guard, Rangers from Hunter Army Air Field, and elements of the 3rd Infantry Division from Fort Benning. Georgia soldiers also served with units based around the country and the world.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have long been compared to the US experience in Vietnam with many warning of a quagmire as US forces engaged al Qaeda and Shiite insurgents. It is possible however, that many in this country have learned the wrong lesson from the history of the Vietnam War.

It is widely believed in some circles that it is almost impossible for a conventional force to defeat insurgents fighting a guerilla war. This view is ignorant both of world military history as well as the history of the many small wars that the US has fought around the world. The US military, especially the Marine Corps, has defeated or neutralized insurgents in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, Nicaragua, and even Vietnam. The story of these and other conflicts is detailed in Max Boot’s The Savage Wars of Peace.

Boot disputes the conventional wisdom that the US military was defeated by the Viet Cong in a guerilla war. He explains how General William Westmoreland was the wrong man for the command of the US forces in Vietnam. Westmoreland was a West Pointer who tried to fight a conventional, big unit war similar to what he experienced in WWII and Korea.

Mounting casualties led to increasing public opposition, especially after the Tet Offensive of 1968. During Tet, the VC violated an armistice to launch surprise attacks around South Vietnam. The scale of the attacks convinced many, including veteran newsman Walter Cronkite, that the insurgency was not nearly defeated, as many in the government and the military had claimed. In reality, Tat was a huge defeat for the VC. WE and ARVN counterattacks decimated VC ranks and they never recovered (Boot, p. 310).

In the wake of Tet, General Westmoreland was replaced by General Creighton Abrams. Abrams implemented a “one war” strategy that focused on “clear and hold” in a manner similar to General Piraeus’ successful strategy in Iraq. William Colby, leader of the CIA’s Phoenix Program was also instrumental in turning the war around. The Phoenix Program targeted VC cadres in South Vietnam and was responsible. The program led to the killing of 26,000 local VC as well capturing 33,000 and inducing 22,000 to defect (Boot, p. 310).

The methods of Abrams and Colby were so successful that in 1970, only two years after Tet, 90% of South Vietnam was under Saigon’s control (Boot, p. 311). Sir Richard Thompson, a counterinsurgency expert, wrote in 1970 that he was “able to visit areas and walk through villages which had been under VC control for years. There was a much greater feeling of security and people were ready to take up arms for the government because they sensed that the VC were weaker…. Existing roads are kept open, and more are being repaired and opened monthly” (Boot, p. 311).

Yet we know that the Vietnamese communists ultimately prevailed, overrunning the South and reuniting the nation under communist rule. So what happened? In a word: Congress.

Richard Nixon began a policy of Vietnamization, turning over prosecution of the war to the Vietnamese and drawing down US forces in the country. As US forces left, the North Vietnamese saw an opportunity. On March 30, 1972, the NVA launched its Easter Offensive, a conventional forces invasion of the South. Nevertheless, the ARVN forces were able to hold long enough for US airpower to inflict heavy losses on the invaders and the NVA was ultimately turned back (Boot, p. 310-311).

The strong showing led the North Vietnamese to sign the Paris Peace Treaty on January 27, 1973. This was a victory for the United States since it imposed an immediate ceasefire in addition to stipulating the withdrawal of US troops. President Nixon promised the South Vietnamese that the US would come to their aid if the North Vietnamese broke the ceasefire (

Unfortunately for the South Vietnamese, President Nixon was forced to resign in 1974. Even before that, Congress passed the Case-Church Amendment on June 19, 1973 which banned US military activity in Southeast Asia after August 15. Congress also cut aid to South Vietnam from $1.26 billion to $700 million ( The North Vietnamese sensed blood in the water.

In 1975, the North Vietnamese launched a second conventional invasion of the South. This time, without American airpower or aid, the ARVNs fell back. Boot reports that the situation was so dire that the South Vietnamese troops had to reuse bandages taken from corpses (p. 310-311). With no American help forthcoming, an angry South Vietnamese President Thieu pleaded, “If [the U.S.] grant full aid we will hold the whole country, but if they only give half of it, we will only hold half of the country” ( Instead, Congress granted no aid and South Vietnam fell in 55 days.

Many of the prominent Democrats who prevented the US from honoring its commitments to South Vietnam also opposed the Iraq War. These include Senators John Kerry and Ted Kennedy.

Knowing the full story of the fall of Saigon, the lesson that we should learn is that when our enemies cannot defeat us on the battlefield, they sow dissension at home. They realize that their best chance is to exhaust the political will of the government’s civilian leaders. General Vo Nguyen Giap, leader of the NVA, stated “We were not strong enough to drive out a half-million American troops, but that was not our aim. Our intention was to break the will of the American Government to continue the war” (Boot, p. 316).

A very real danger is that history will repeat itself in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thanks in large part to the sacrifice and hard work of the US military, Iraq is now much more stable than many observers believed possible a mere four years ago. The turnaround is also due to President Bush’s troop surge and General Petraeus’ counterinsurgency strategy. Afghanistan has further to go, but variations on the same strategy could also work there given enough time. It is a testimony to the stabilizing effect of US forces, and the reality of the danger that remains, that more than half of Iraqis did not want US troops to leave yet (

Much of the violence in Iraq was caused by Shiite militia groups supported by Iran. Iran pledged to the Iraqi government in 2007 that it would stop equipping and training these groups ( This pledge may have been partly to reduce the violence in Iraq and lull the US into a false sense of security, making it politically easier for the Obama Administration to withdraw US combat troops. It might also have been inspired by the possibility of uniting Iraqi Shiites into a political bloc that would elect a government friendly to Iran.

As Iran moves ever closer to developing nuclear weapons, it is possible that they will become emboldened by President Obama’s stated goal of a withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan by July 2011. A nuclear armed Iran that is faced with only token US opposition might well decide that a conventional invasion of Iraq is in their best interests. After all, Iraq is a long-time enemy that fought a decade long war with Iran in the 1980s. Perhaps more importantly, Iraq also controls significant oil reserves. Control of Iraq’s oil would make Iran exponentially more powerful on the world stage. Nuclear weapons in the Persian Gulf and conventional forces in Iraq would also threaten the vast oil reserves of Saudi Arabia.

The danger for the United States is that, like the Americans of 1975, we will be tempted to wash our hands of Iraq if an Iranian invasion comes. To do so, would be a mistake of the worst order. Not only would Iranian domination of the Persian Gulf threaten our own economy, it would also threaten our allies Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, as well as the economies of the industrialized world. It would be very difficult to form a “coalition of the willing” to stave off a nuclear-armed terrorist state.

Additionally, it would further damage America’s reputation abroad if countries in which the US has invested vast amounts of men and material are allowed to fall to Iran. A fall of Baghdad and Kabul would arouse similar emotions as the famous photo of US embassy personnel being evacuated by helicopter from the roof of the Saigon embassy. It would lead our allies to question whether we can be counted upon and our enemies to sense our weakness.

Americans should make no mistake: Just because US forces are no longer in a combat role in Iraq, it does not mean that the war is over. It merely means that US troops are less likely to die in combat and that native forces are doing the lion’s share of the work. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are likely to continue for some time as long as al Qaeda and Iran continue to oppose the elected governments and the US doesn’t cut off aid. As George Orwell once said, “the quickest way to end a war is to lose it.”

Boot, Max. The Savage Wars of Peace. Basic Books, New York, NY. 2002

Denver CO
August 27, 2010

Saturday, August 28, 2010

LEADing to the Bedroom: Using the Bible to spice up your sex life

David Reid wants to improve your sex life. Reid, the pastor of Peachtree Community Church ( in Villa Rica, Georgia, recently authored the book, LEADing to the Bedroom, a guide to helping married couples enhance their sex life. What makes LEADing to the Bedroom different is the source of its inspiration: the Bible.

Reid believes that sex is a gift from God that was originally intended for both pleasure and procreation. Beginning with the first humans in the Garden of Eden, sex gave marriage partners a close soul-to-soul connection with no barriers between them. This connection provided the basis for a stable family. With the Fall of Man, however, came the Battle of the Sexes, shame, embarrassment, abuse, pornography, infidelity, and myriad other obstacles to sexual closeness. Today, power struggles and mistrust between partners have robbed many couples of the joy of sex.

Reid makes the point that Satan does everything he can to get couples into bed before marriage and everything he can to keep them out after marriage. This leads to many married couples experiencing a sex famine that leads to other marital difficulties. This book makes the powerful point that God intended sex to provide us with joy and pleasure and that couples who are not experiencing that joy are missing out on what God has offered them. Christianity has never required joylessness.

LEADing to the Bedroom offers a plan to overcome these obstacles and enhance your sex life. It will surprise many people that the Bible offers quite a bit of sexual advice. From the origin of sex in Genesis to the wisdom sayings of Proverbs to the graphic love story of the Song of Solomon (Song of Songs), the authors of the Bible had much to say on the subject. Reid’s research includes not only these Biblical passages, but also psychological and biological information on sex and what makes men and women tick.

Christianity is often confused with legalism and a “thou shalt not” mentality. It is true that the Bible contains numerous warnings and guidelines on how we should live our lives. Reid addresses many of these sexual guidelines and stresses that they are for our own protection and benefit. As many of us have learned from experience, when these guidelines are not followed we put the happiness and welfare of ourselves, our spouses, and our entire families at risk. They also prevent us from reaching sexual fulfillment, what Reid calls the “icing on the cake” of the sexual relationship.

To help couples get past all of these issues, Reid has developed the LEAD process. The goal is deal with past wounds, resentment, and disappointment in order to reach the pinnacle of sex, “soul sex.” The four step process is designed to help couples become more familiar and supportive of each other, more comfortable sexually, and generally more happy. Husbands are taught to be loving servants and gentle leaders, while wives work to become responsive “yes girls.” Reid’s plan intends to help couples introduce more frequency, fun, and fantasy into their sex lives.

LEADing to the Bedroom is not a how-to sex guide, but be forewarned that parts of it are graphic. It is a frank discussion of sex that many husbands and wives will find to be a valuable guide to improve their sex lives. Included are sample intimacy plans and guides for talking to your spouse. Reid’s wife, Katie, provides a woman’s perspective throughout the book.

You can purchase LEADing to the Bedroom on or the book’s companion website also offers additional resources such as downloadable podcasts of Reid’s sermon series on the Song of Solomon, endorsements, and a blog.

[Full Disclosure: I attend David Reid’s church and provided some small assistance in preparing the book for publication. I receive no remuneration or payment for my work on the book or this article.]

Amazon link:

Photo credit: David Reid

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Is Obama Muslim?

Ever since the campaign of 2008, allegations that he is a secret Muslim have dogged Barack Obama. In theory, he is kind of a Manchurian Candidate for the Muslim world to create a kinder, gentler America than the America of George W. Bush which liberated two Arab countries from despotic governments. Chain emails and Youtube videos purport to show Obama admitting on camera that he is a Muslim. In reality, when examined in context it becomes apparent that Obama does no such thing.

"Many Americans have Muslims in their families or have lived in a Muslim majority country. I know because I am one of them."
-Address to Turkish Parliament, April 6, 2009
Full context:

This quote has been taken out of context by many conspiracy theorists who claim that Obama is admitting to being a Muslim. When viewed in context, it is apparent that Obama is merely claiming to be one of the many Americans with Muslim relatives or who has lived in a Muslim country. Mr. Obama falls into both categories.

“You are absolutely right that John McCain has not talked about my Muslim faith.”
-Interview with George Stephanopoulos, September 2008
Full context:

In this interview, Obama is talking about the allegations that he is a Muslim. He is asked by Stephanopoulos about whether John McCain was involved in the allegations. When Stephanopoulos hears the words “Muslim faith,” he attempts to correct Obama. Obama stumbles but then completes his thought a few sentences later: “…that he [McCain] hasn’t suggested that I’m a Muslim, and I think that his campaign upper echelons haven’t either.” In context, Obama is not admitting that he is a Muslim; he is simply stating that John McCain has not accused him of being a Muslim.

“In the wake of 9/11, my meetings with Arab and Pakistani Americans have a more urgent quality, for the stories of detentions and FBI questioning and hard stares from neighbors have shaken their sense of security and belonging. They have been reminded that the history of immigration in this country has a dark underbelly; they need specific assurances that their citizenship really means something, that America has learned the right lessons from the Japanese internments during World War II, and that I will stand with them should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.”
-The Audacity of Hope (

This passage from Obama’s book is also commonly cited to show his sympathy for Muslims. It doesn’t refer to his own religious beliefs, but it does seem to show where Obama stands. In reality, the winds never shifted in the direction that Obama feared, but he remains sympathetic to Muslim Americans as well as Muslims around the world.

Obama does have a Muslim heritage. His father, Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., was raised as a Muslim in Kenya, but reportedly had become an atheist by the time he moved to Hawaii to attend college ( Later, Obama moved with his family to Jakarta, Indonesia after his mother married another “non-practicing Muslim.” While in Indonesia, his mother placed him in both Catholic and Muslim schools. The Muslim school, the Basuki School, was only generally religious and was not a Wahabbi madrassa as some have claimed.

Obama’s background provides some explanation for his belief that Muslim extremists, including Iran’s President Ahmadinejad, can be reasoned with. It also helps to explain the hard line that he has taken with Israel on many occasions, such as when he demanded a freeze to Israeli settlements as a pre-condition for peace talks. It explains his cautions against a rush to judgment in the aftermath of the Christmas Day Delta and Times Square attempted bombings as well as his failure to tie these attacks into a larger conspiracy. It also manifested itself recently with his support of the Cordoba House mosque which a Muslim group is planning to build near Ground Zero. To be fair, many liberals without a Muslim background share Obama’s views on these issues.

There is no evidence that Barack Obama is closet Muslim. No one has spotted him going to prayer services in a mosque, reading the Koran, or praying towards Mecca. On the other hand, President Obama doesn’t go to Christian church services often either. In 2009, he attended only three church services in Washington (,8599,1949879,00.html) and has reportedly not found a home church to replace Jeremiah Wright’s Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.

Even if Obama were a Muslim, it would have no effect on his presidency. There is no religious test for the office of president. He would have told a lie in the campaign, but let’s face it: that’s what politicians do. It would not have been his only lie of the campaign. He would simply have to face an electorate with more complete knowledge of him when (or if) he runs for re-election.

President Obama is almost certainly not a Muslim. Claims that he is a Muslim, like claims that he is not a native-born US citizen, distract from the real issues of his disastrous economic and foreign policies. Opponents of Obama should focus on what is real rather than pursuing conspiracy theories.


August 15, 2010
Watertown NY

Photo credit:


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The grand delusion: Why gay marriage isn't

NOTE: I am sure that my comments today will offend some people and for that I am sorry. Most conservatives would much rather spend the final months before the election talking about the massive failure of President Obama’s economic agenda. Nevertheless, the fight on the gay marriage issue has been thrust upon us by activist judges on both coasts.

When a US district judge ruled that California’s constitution was unconstitutional last week, he tossed a match in what is already a dry tinderbox of an election year. Only a few weeks before, another federal judge in Massachusetts had ruled the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional on similar grounds.

The amendment to California’s constitution, also known as Proposition 8, is similar to other amendments in thirty states. Readers commenting on my last article ( questioned my assertion that Prop 8 did not ban gay marriage. Here, then, is the full text of Proposition 8:

“Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California” (

There is no mention of a ban and no mention of gays. There is no prohibition on gays from marrying each other. The amendment only stipulates that the state will not recognize any marriage other than between a (one) man and a (one) woman.

Another pointed out that there were in fact some examples of homosexual marriage in ancient history. Rather get into a discussion on ancient history, I will concede the point that homosexuality has a long history, but a quick review on Wikipedia ( notes that ancient homosexual unions were generally not accorded the same legal recognition of traditional heterosexual couples. In both ancient Greece and Rome, these relationships apparently often took the form of pederasty, which is better known as child sexual abuse in our time. It seems that gay marriage in history was often similar to the domestic partnerships that California has offered since 2000 ( I maintain that gay marriage has no history in Judeo-Christian history or law, English common law, or United States law. The history of legally recognized gay marriage truly begins in the Netherlands in 2000 (

It has also been suggested that opposition to gay marriage is morally equivalent to laws against interracial marriage from our past. There are important differences in the two situations. For one thing, racial discrimination is not legal in the United States (and rightly so). Further, men and women of different races are still men and women. They still fit the gender roles and the traditional, historical, and legal view of marriage. A man and woman can procreate and form a stable family regardless of the color of their skin.

On the other hand, there is precedent for using gender is a legal basis for discrimination in certain areas of US law. For example, men and women can be required to use separate bathrooms. Similarly, women are not subject to the Selective Service system and the draft. Likewise, there are certain jobs in the military that women are simply not allowed to do. Because men and women are fundamentally different (as any preschooler can tell you), there are some roles one or the other simply does better or cannot do at all.

Gay marriage proponents often state that gay couples have a right to marry who they want, but that is not true even for heterosexual couples. One well known limitation is laws against bigamy. Even though many cultures allowed men to take multiple wives (including the ancient Jews, Mormons in the US, and Muslims), yet it is illegal around the US… even in Utah! Further, states set a minimum age to marry as well as a minimum age to consent to sex. Other heterosexual limitations on marriage include bans on marrying close relatives such as siblings or children [insert your own Alabama joke here].

In a grade school joke, one child says, “I love cheese [or insert inanimate object here].” Another child retorts “Why don’t you marry it?” Given the current trend, in a few years that might not be a joke. In fact, one woman has already chosen to marry a dolphin, although not in this country ( A Missouri law did keep a man from marrying his horse (

To understand the purpose of marriage, we should look at its history. It has only been within recent centuries that romance and love entered into the marriage relationship ( Among the privileged classes marriage was often a matter of diplomacy and forming political and military alliances. Among others, marriage was for the purpose of bearing children and giving them stability while they matured. Generally speaking, marriage has always been for the purpose of procreation and economic stability while raising children. Cheating on immigration status and tax breaks came later.

Tax breaks for married couples are granted by many governments because it is in the government’s interest to promote marriage for the good of the society. A society needs children to continue in existence as well as to ensure continued economic growth. The fact is that no one knows with certainty what the long term effects of gay marriage on children will be. Many on the left point to short term studies and simply assume that there will be no long term damage. The objectiveness of many of these studies is disputed (

Possible parallels can be found in the many instances in which government action damaged families in the past. For example, studies from decades ago that purported to show that divorce did not adversely affect children. Today, we know that children of divorce are more likely to suffer a host of psychological problems ( Similarly, government welfare programs have unintentionally increased the number of single parent households which, in turn, causes many more children to live in poverty (

The effects of gay marriage on heterosexual marriage are also not fully known. A 2009 study of the Netherlands, where gay marriage first became legal, shows that after the legalization of gay marriage, the rate of heterosexual marriage declined ( If this holds true in other areas as well, it would be a powerful argument against same sex marriage since a lower marriage rate would mean that families, and ultimately the society as well, are inherently less stable more prone to economic problems.

Finally, there are numerous indications that homosexuality is not a healthy lifestyle. Homosexuality was itself considered a mental disorder in the past. Today, we know that homosexuality has been linked to increased rates of substance abuse ( as well as higher rates of anxiety and depression than heterosexuals ( Additionally, there are clear health risks (not limited to STDs) from gay sex ( and even a life span that averages 20-30 years shorter than heterosexuals ( If the government can act to discourage other unhealthy lifestyles, from smoking to riding motorcycles without a helmet to not buying health insurance, should it at least not encourage people to practice homosexuality?

The final big reason that legalized gay marriage is a bad idea is that it does not enjoy support among the majority of Americans. Even in California, one of the bluest of the blue states, the amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman passed handily. This is even more remarkable considering that Barack Obama was elected the same day and indicates broad bipartisan support for traditional marriage. Prop 8 opponents also enjoyed sympathy from the media and reportedly outspent supporters.

The vast majority of states (thirty-nine) have defense of marriage laws as part of their constitution or their statutes ( In the US, wherever same-sex marriage has come before the voters, the voters have decided that marriage should be between a man and a woman. In Georgia, the constitutional amendment defining marriage passed in 2004 with 76% of the vote ( A majority of Americans continue to believe that gay marriage should not be legal ( It is not good for democracy for one man (or one small group of individuals) to allow their personal views to supplant the constitutional will of the people.

On a personal level, I have known and worked with many gays. I don’t hate them; on the contrary, I pity them. Many of them confided to me that they really didn’t want to be gay and were not happy. Some had tried therapy and counseling like that offered by Exodus International ( Some had success, some did not. For those who choose to embrace the gay lifestyle, I say that they have that right. However, I dispute that they have a right to remake society to accommodate their choice.

I don’t believe that people generally choose to be gay. In the absence of firm scientific evidence to the contrary, I believe that it is likely that homosexuality is the product of both genetic and environmental factors. Just because it is likely innate, it is not necessarily a good thing. There are plenty of things, from alcoholism to cancer, that are genetic or natural that are not good.

I believe that gay marriage is ultimately a pursuit of acceptance and approval from the majority of Americans. I also believe that if the Supreme Court eventually upholds the unconstitutionality of defense of marriage laws, the majority of Americans will still not approve or accept homosexuality. All major religions consider it sin, throughout most of history it has generally been viewed as abnormal, and there is a huge “ick” factor for heterosexuals when considering gay sex. Regardless of whether they can legally marry, homosexuals will not get the full effect of real and true marriage.

The bottom line is that gender matters. It matters to the children who need both a mother and a father. It matters to the society that needs familial stability to form its next generation. It matters biologically to the sperm and eggs that unite to create a baby. Gender is innate and cannot be changed. (Surgeries to change gender succeed only in mutilating the sexual organs.) The role of government should be to strengthen marriages and families rather than taking further action that might possibly undermine them.

The fight to stop gay marriage from being imposed on the United States is an uphill one, in spite of strong popular support. One way that you can help is to read and sign the Manhattan Declaration:


Villa Rica GA
August 10, 2010

Photo credit: Salvatore Vuono

Thursday, August 5, 2010

California's definition of marriage law overturned

Yesterday, in a glaring example of judicial activism, Chief US District Judge Vaughn Walker struck down California’s law defining marriage as between a man and a woman. In striking down the law, Judge Walker, himself an open homosexual who should probably have recused himself from the case (, ignored both state and federal precedent as well as thousands of years of tradition. Judge Walker also discounted the more than 7 million votes that were cast in favor of the law (

California’s first law defining marriage was ruled unconstitutional in 2005 ( In response, marriage defenders mounted a campaign to place Prop 8 on the ballot. The measure passed with more than 52% of the vote in 2008 and amended California’s constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

Contrary to popular opinion, the measure did not ban gay marriage. It preserved marriage as it always had been throughout history as between a man and a woman. Homosexuals could still marry provided they married a person of the opposite sex. They had exactly the same rights to marriage as anyone else. Since California’s constitution was amended to define marriage as between a man and a woman, the law was constitutional with respect to the California constitution.

For the conclusion of this article, please visit the following link:

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Stark truth: Democrats see no limits on federal power

The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto reports on an exchange between Rep. Pete Stark. and a woman at a town hall meeting on the subject of Obamacare ( The woman asks Stark, "If this legislation is constitutional, what limitations are there on the federal government's ability to tell us how to run our private lives?"

Stark's answer is as disturbing as it is simple: "I think that there are very few constitutional limits that prevent the federal government from rules that would affect your private life."

For the conclusion of this article, please click the link below:

Atlanta Conservative Examiner

Photo credit:
Salvatore Vuono

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Freedom of religion vs. freedom of worship: Georgia woman faces mandated re-education

Religious leaders have recently noticed a subtle change in the wording of announcements on the subject of religious freedom coming from the Obama Administration. Even though President Obama specifically mentioned “religious freedom” when he addressed the Muslim world in Cairo in June 2009, since then both Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have increasingly used the phrase “freedom of worship” (

This may be merely a stylistic change rather than a change policy, but many are concerned because, while they sound similar, the two phrases mean very different things. Religion refers to a set of beliefs and practices. Worship is merely one aspect of religion.

As an example, many authoritarian countries have freedom of worship, but not freedom of religion. A friend who grew up as a Baptist in Romania under the dictatorial communist regime of Nicolae Ceausecu had the freedom to worship, but he did not enjoy true freedom of religion. His career prospects were limited because of religious association. There was no freedom of conscience, there was no freedom to protest or lobby for religious reforms, and there was no freedom to spread the Gospel, a fundamental tenet of Christianity. Ultimately, he fled Romania for the United States where he could be free, not only to worship, but to fully practice his religion.

As Chuck Colson points out, if religious freedom is the same as the freedom of worship, then Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia also have religious freedom since the king allows private religious services ( In reality, Saudi Arabia does not have religious freedom since non-Muslims are not allowed to proselytize, Muslims are not allowed to convert to other religions, and Bibles are not permitted at all (

One reason that many observers are concerned about the administration’s choice of words is that religious freedom conflicts with another of Obama’s priorities: gay rights. Secretary Clinton hinted at this priority in a December 14, 2009 speech on human rights at Georgetown University in which she said that people “must be free to worship, associate, and to love in the way that they choose” (

One of President Obama’s appointees, Chai Feldblum, illustrates why people are right to be worried. Feldblum, an openly lesbian law professor at Georgetown University, was a recess appointment by President Obama to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on March 27, 2010. Feldblum has said that when it comes to a conflict between religious liberty and gay rights, “I'm having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win.” She continues, “Sexual liberty should win in most cases. There can be a conflict between religious liberty and sexual liberty, but in almost all cases the sexual liberty should win because that's the only way that the dignity of gay people can be affirmed in any realistic manner” ( This is very troubling coming from a former law professor who is now ruling on discriminatory hiring practices!

Religion and gay rights have led to numerous legal conflicts in recent years. One current case in our own backyard involves Jennifer Keeton, a graduate counseling student at Augusta State University. Keeton had stated in classroom discussions that she believed that sexual behavior “is the result of accountable personal choice” and not a “state of being” ( She also stated her belief that gender is assigned at birth and is not a matter of choice or a social construct. Another student accused her of advocating “conversion therapy” for homosexuals in a conversation outside the classroom. She denied the charge although she freely admits to discussing Christianity and sexual ethics.

According to a lawsuit filed on her behalf by the Alliance Defense Fund (, Augusta State told Keeton that her behavior and beliefs were in violation of the American Counseling Association and the American School Counselor Association. The school threatened to dismiss (expel) her unless she satisfactorily completed a remediation (in this case re-education) program including attendance at three workshops on sensitivity training, reading ten articles on gay counseling, increasing her exposure and interaction with gays (for example, by “attending the Gay Pride Parade in Augusta” (, and writing a monthly two-page report on how “her study has influenced her beliefs.”

The ADF filed the suit on July 21, 2010 and the case is pending. The school responded with a written statement that says “no student is asked to change their religious beliefs or views in order to participate in any program" ( In reality, it appears that Keeton was singled out for her beliefs, not because she took any discriminatory action or harassed any gay students. The teachers indicated that they wanted to change her beliefs through their remediation plan. The case is reminiscent of Orwellian “thought crimes.”

Keeton’s beliefs are consistent with mainstream Christianity as well as most other major religions. Additionally, most Americans, as well as most Georgians likely hold similar beliefs to Keeton. For example, in 2004, 76% of Georgians voted in favor of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and civil unions ( In most other states where the people have been allowed to vote, there have been similar results. Keeton’s views are hardly outside the mainstream of American thought.

There have been numerous similar cases in recent years with respect to both homosexuality and abortion. In both issues, many people oppose the politically correct position because it conflicts with their religious beliefs (although many nonreligious people oppose abortion and homosexuality on other grounds as well). Many of these cases are profiled on the ADF website (

In one recent high profile case, the Supreme Court ruled that the Christian Legal Society at the University of California’s Hastings College of Law can be required by the school to open its leadership positions too students who disagree with its statement of faith. In other words, the society has to accept students who may very well be trying to take control of the group in order to subvert it. The ruling came in spite of the fact that the “all comers” policy at Hastings was not applied to other student groups.

Even though many of the cases revolve around persecution of Christians for their beliefs about abortion and homosexuality, the real issue is religious freedom. The Constitution guarantees the right to be free from government interference with one’s religious beliefs. At issue is the right to disagree with government mandates, many times misapplied or not even coded in law, that are at odds with religious freedom. The current liberal push which requires not only tolerance but forced affirmation of the morality of homosexuality and abortion puts the Democrats on a collision course with the first amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty.


Houston TX
July 31, 2010

Photo credit:
renjith krishnan