Monday, October 11, 2010

Does Israel's loyalty "shoe" fit America's "foot"?

The Congress is considering passing a law that requires all new US citizens to pledge allegiance to this country as a “Christian state.”

Well, not really.

That’s just a “shoe” I’m trying on because Israel’s cabinet just voted that all new Israeli immigrants must pledge loyalty to Israel as a "Jewish, democratic state."

So how does the "Christian state" shoe fit, fellow Americans?

A little tight in the toe?

At the very least there’s a contradiction here. No state can provide “democratic” protections when it requires allegiance to any religion. Not Israel, not Iran, not Britain, (where the Queen is still the head of the Church of England), not, ahem, the Vatican etc.

Under a democracy, minorities (whether religious or not) have equal rights.

Back to Israel.... I assume, the term “Jewish” here is being used as a religious, not a racial, classification.

If race is part of the definition, the equivalent here might call for loyalty to the US as a “Christian, Aryan” state.

The shoe is no longer a shoe; it has the feel of a jack boot.

As perverse as the Israeli government’s pledge is, one wonders what non-Muslim immigrants are required to do in, say, Iran or Indonesia?

Just how many religious pledges are there around the world?

Of course the US Congress would never, ever consider such a pledge — at least not yet (let’s see what happens after the Nov. 2 election) — but one thing it might consider is denying foreign (including military) aid to any country whose government requires such a pledge.

That should save us a few billion bucks.

Actually, our own Oath of Allegiance, which new US citizens must take, is hardly squeaky clean. Fortunately, it offers "outs" for those who find they can’t stomach it.

Among those given a "pass" are Quakers, who don’t take oaths and who practice non-violence.

Here’s the oath (the source is Wikipedia) followed by the exclusions:

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.

In some cases, the US government allows the oath to be taken without the clauses regarding the bearing of arms and performance of noncombatant military service.

The law also provides that the phrase "so help me God" is optional and that the words ‘on oath’ can be substituted with ‘and solemnly affirm’. Also, if the prospective citizen can prove such commitments are in violation with his or her religion, the lines "that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by law; that I will perform non-combatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by law" are sometimes omitted.

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