The First Liberty: America's Foundation in Religious Freedom

The First Liberty: America's Foundation in Religious Freedom

The First Liberty: America's Foundation in Religious Freedom

The First Liberty: America's Foundation in Religious Freedom

Synopsis

At a time when the concept of religion-based politics has taken on new and sometimes ominous tones-even within the United States-it is not only right, but also urgently necessary that William Lee Miller revisit his profound exploration of the place of religious liberty and church and state in America. For this revised edition of

Excerpt

Abruptly, truly out of the blue on a lovely September morning in 2001, there came a deed of uniquely perverse wickedness that thrust the United States, much to her surprise and against her will, into something very like a religious war. The deed that brought this effect was no spontaneous outburst of momentary rage but a plan long nurtured, carefully arranged, carried out by stealth. It was not the work of an individual madman, nor of a mob filled with a moment’s hatred; it was a deliberate undertaking of a worldwide movement with a history and an elaborate and specific claim to represent one of the great world religions. The core of the motivation of the perpetrators, by their own repeated and insistent testimony, was their own religious belief on the one side and, on the other, the deeply offensive religious identity imputed to the United States.

Thousands of innocent and ordinary human beings, just taking off their coats and starting a workday, were deliberately murdered in an inferno of jet fuel. Why? They were “infidels.” Or they were working in buildings that were symbols of the “infidel” power, the “Great Satan,” the United States.

Before the perpetrators of the September 11th attacks undertook their terrible work they read from a handwritten document, found in luggage left behind when the deed was done, that was saturated with formulaic references to the Koran, to Allah, to Islam. When they had perished themselves in the flames they had created, they would be praised as “martyrs” for carrying out this “blessed” terror. The leader and his sycophantic clerical visitors would sprinkle their commentary on the success of their brutal undertaking with religious references: More destruction was caused, more people were killed, in the World Trade Center than we had expected: Blessed be the Name of Allah.

The people of the United States, staggered by this totally unexpected atrocity, scrambling to do works of rescue, trying to cope with the grief from so many abruptly ended lives, moved by myriad acts of courage and generosity, now had to learn the meaning of the word Jihad because that was the name, they were told, of the holy war that was being fought against them.

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