By Gina Liggett
Last week, a story broke about how the gun site manufacturer, Trijicon, has been for years placing subtly-imprinted biblical references on the gun sights of standard issue combat rifles used by U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Michael Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), which seeks to preserve the separation of church and state in the military, explained that this practice should be stopped because, "It's wrong, it violates the Constitution, it violates a number of federal laws. It allows the Mujahedeen, the Taliban, al Qaeda and the insurrectionists and jihadists to claim they're being shot by Jesus rifles."
The company has agreed to discontinue this obvious attempt at proselytizing the Christian view to U.S. soldiers, and that it will provide kits to remove the inscriptions---a victory for MRFF and anyone concerned with separation of church and state.
But what is more menacing about this story is the response by an influential member of the American intelligentsia, columnist Leonard Pitts of the Miami Herald. In his January, 23 national column he took a superior-attitude pot-shot at the company president's little work for Jesus by asking, "But is that really faith, when you reduce God to a bigger version of you?"
In other words, how dare that company president show a glimmer of self-expression of his beliefs--albeit a misguided and totally inappropriate action violating the separation of church and state.
Pitts shows by comparison what REAL faith should be, best exemplified by nonetheless than the two most saintly figures of the 20th century: Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Mother Teresa's faith drove her to foreswear material riches and spend half a century working to uplift the wretched poor of Calcutta. The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s faith drove him to gamble his very life in a dangerous campaign to win human and civil rights for African-American people... [T]he point is that truest faith is not seen in a secret code on a gun sight.....Rather, faith is seen in the substance of a life lived in service to others, lived as if God were "not" in fact one's personal echo chamber in the sky. [emphasis mine]Well, my oh my. Isn't 19th century philosopher Immanuel Kant alive and well and speaking to the opinion-makers right from the grave.
In explaining Kant's philosophy, Ayn Rand says,
Kant's expressly stated purpose was to save the morality of self-abnegation and self-sacrifice.....As to Kant's version of morality....it consisted of total, abject selflessness. An action is moral, said Kant, only if one has no desire to perform it, but performs it out of a sense of duty and derives no benefit from it of any sort, neither material nor spiritual; a benefit destroys the moral value of an action.Who better than Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King, Jr. to demonstrate for us duty of sacrifice without regard to themselves? To Pitts, Trijicon's little slipup with the Constitution to advance the cliche, "there are no atheists in fox holes," is simply a trivial waste of morality. In his view, what society REALLY ought to be striving for is a deeper, broader, truer test of faith: total abnegation of the self in a life dedicated " in service to others."
That is in fact President Barack Obama's mission: to be the next Mr. Mother Teresa as our President.
"His story is the American story -- values from the heartland, a middle-class upbringing in a strong family, hard work and education as the means of getting ahead, and the conviction that a life so blessed should be lived in service to others."
(This is from the White House website, introducing Mr. Obama as our 44th President.)
(Stop the violins, please.)
When a member of the intelligentsia is trying to upstage another Christian, we are having a cultural war. Not only must we continue to fight the puritanical and rights-violating agenda of the Religious Right, we also have a more-focused and committed Religious Left whose altruistic, socialist agenda is already invading our liberties.
Little do these ostensible opposites realize they were already married in a shotgun wedding many decades ago, presided over by preacher Immanuel Kant.