There is none, and perhaps never has been serious politician in the modern US history who would not have referred to religious symbols and terminology. A presidential candidate who would declare a religious indifference would not have even the slightest chance, not only to be elected to the highest position in the country, but even to participate, in a noticeable way, in the presidential race. Americans want the highest office in their country to be held by a believer, but, interestingly, not positioning himself as a supporter of one particular religion. The inaugural speeches of US presidents should include references to the Supreme, the Omnipotent, and faith as such. Specialists even speak of an “American civil religion”.
Out of the 49 inaugural presidential speeches between 1789 and 1981, only 10 percent did not refer to God (see C. Toolin, American Civil Religion from 1789 to 1981: A Content Analysis of Presidential Inaugural Adresses, „Reviev of Religious Research”, R. 25 (1983).
“American civil religion is a system of religious symbols that define the place of the citizen in society and the place of society as a whole in time and space. All inn relation to the ultimate, basic source and the meaning of existence. It expresses a sense of the nation’s unity, common destiny and purpose. It is a tool to manifest unity through identification with national symbols. American civil religion can also be defined as part of an ideology that sanctifies the American political system, the way of exercising power, and at the same time provides a religious interpretation of the nation itself in the eyes of the citizens. The basic truth of this religion is the belief that the American people are, by any mean, chosen by God and that the American government does His will” writes Father Bogdan Pelc. Probably the source of such thinking was the fact that the dominant religions of the first settlers were Calvinist and Puritans, and Puritanism in particular emphasized the particularity of the nation and the territories on which they settled. John Foster Dulles even said that “America is the Savior of the world.”
Belief that God is always on the side of America and Americans gave not only for the elite, but also the common people the feeling that if this is so – then Americans are a chosen, special people. This did not build a sense of increased responsibility for the surrounding world, other nations or societies, but quite the opposite. In popular American understanding the chosen people, as a collective, is allowed more, because its sins will be forgiven, while at the same time the same actions would lead to condemnation of others. This is the basic world view of American politicians. All the wickedness, crimes, and bloody wars that the United States had unleashed were based on it (obviously, with taking into consideration other, more ‘contemporary’, factors, too).
Does the American civil religion has remained an unchanging social glue from the eighteenth century to the present day? It would be too easy to say yes. It is certain, however, that a moment has come when religion ceased to play the role as a moral codex of truths and values received with respect and reverence in American politics. In the mid-twentieth century, religious values began to be used quite openly and cynically as an instrument of American policy, especially foreign. The words of the American President George W. Bush, who in a conversation with the President of Palestinian Authority, said that “God ordered him to attack Iraq”, are quite a picturesque example. Characteristically, these words that sparked criticism around the world, in the home country they provoked an opposite reaction.
But the use of religion to pursue the goals of America began much earlier.
In 1953, CIA launched the Doctrinal War Program – a covert operation that, although at first was to be used against the USSR and communism, quickly became a handy tool in relations with other countries. Politicized Christianity was to become an ideological alternative to socialism with its promise of a better life here and now. Religion, however, was only meant to be a bridge to the promotion of American values, interests, and lifestyle.
“It was in the plans of the American leadership to use the Catholic Church and other religions to propagate the American ideology that has made the society known as America,” said a specialist David Wemhoff.
“Adopting this ideology and adapting it into particular society results in the implementation of a special political economy which puts all religions on one level, making them support the political economy and the political regime. It provides material benefits to various religions and minimizes the sources of social tensions, although the real influence of religions is severely limited and they themselves are dominated by powerful private interests, and even by secular authorities or the government, ”Wemhoff describes.
The largest American media, politicians and top church figures were engaged in this action. For a long time, the CIA did everything to pretend that the propaganda activity for American values was in no way linked to the American government. The ideological war was supposed to give the impression of being an absolutely spontaneous and uncontrolled enthusiasm, religious revival and a belief in the superiority of the US system over other systems. Of course, beyond the media, there were universities and colleges, associations and non-governmental organizations that were to use disputes and discussions to promote their goals.
What is utmost important, this program was supposed to be extended over time, a long-term activity, written for generations.
Appealing to religious values accelerated even more with the advent of neoliberalism. Paul Johnson, former editor-in-chief of the New Statesman weekly and eulogist of capitalism in its most extreme form, wrote: “So we see that the dawn of conscience, the idea that the individual absolutely rules his conscience, heralds the dawn of capitalism. Capitalism is based on a system of individual property in which individuals, as well as tribes, crowns, states, and other political and social corporations, possess property unconditionally, freely disposing of it. In turn, the concept of equality before the judgment of God heralds the concept of equality of individuals before human law. These concepts are to a large extent interdependent “(Paul Johnson,” Regaining freedom “p. 215, Poznań 2002). Johnson’s views are characteristic for the elites of the neoliberal world of the West.
In 1895, IRLA (International Religious Liberty Association) was founded as an organization dedicated to observing the freedom of religion in the world. It is officially a non-governmental body, and the fact that it is headed by the former US ambassador to Suriname is a pure coincidence.
In 1998, the United States passed the International Religious Freedom Acy, which is the basis for the annual report on the observance of religious freedoms in the world. The fact that countries that the US positions as its enemy are usually indicated as countries that violate the right to freedom of religion is not surprising at all. Traditionally, high positions among them are taken by Russia, China and selected Arab countries. But Saudi Arabia, for example, while ideally fulfilling the criteria of a state that violates the principles of religious freedom, is not a subject to public criticism. The state interest is more important.
In 2020, a new organization was established – the International Religious Freedom Alliance. It includes countries such as: Austria, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Hungary, Gambia, Greece, Georgia, Israel, Colombia, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Togo, Ukraine, Great Britain, Croatia, Czech Republic. Nervous journalists, after a quick look at the composition of this organization, quickly “baptized” the structure with the name “Religious NATO”.
Mike Pompeo, announcing the creation of such an organization, left no illusions what it would all be about. While it was about defending the right to profess any religion, at the same time he threatened that obstructing or prohibiting the any religion conduct would be considered terrorism, and countries where such activities take place – as terrorist. This is an important declaration, because “terrorist states”, from the point of view of international law, become automatically subject to certain actions of the international community, including military intervention. Examples of such thinking could be seen in Pompeo’s speech – he pointed out that countries where the rights to profess religion are being restricted are China, Myanmar, Iraq, and Pakistan. Of course, Russia is also a problem, as Moscow, as Pompeo said, interferes with the activities of the recently established Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Of course, a close associate of Trump didn’t add that the murders of Christians in Iraq (and neighboring Syria) were perpetrated by Islamic fundamentalists who may have spread their wings after the American invasion on Baghdad. He also did not notice that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church runs its posts in every major city of its country – no one forces the faithful to attend the Moscow competition.
A part of the idea of using religion for strictly political activities may be the Geneva Declaration of Consensus for Women’s Health and Strengthening the Family in October. It is an organization that advocates extremely hostile anti-abortion solutions. It is worth noting that among the signatories of this document, besides USA, there are only two European, relatively modern countries; Poland and Hungary. In addition, there are signatures of representatives of the following countries: Bahrain, Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, Kenya, Kuwait, Libya, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Uganda and the United Arab Emirates, i.e. countries where the situation of women is not to be envied.
This illustrates well what kind of religious attitudes can rely on support of American politicians adhering to extremely fundamentalist beliefs.
The presence of Poland in such a company is not surprising. Not only because there is a hostile atmosphere towards women, but simply because Warsaw is an American vassal.
In July 2020, the IRFA was to hold its conference in Poland, but due to the pandemic situation, the event was moved to November. Jacek Czaputowicz, the then minister of foreign affairs, was very proud of the planned meeting. Never he managed to say clearly that, just like in case of the infamous Iran conference, now Warsaw would be welcoming an organization that was an extension of American foreign policy just with religious symbols on the banners.
The event will take place online. It does not change the fact that Poland is once again in the harness of American ideas to rock the world but this time with the help of religious tools.
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