religious tolerance

Abraham Lincoln and the Rabbi

 

During the Civil War thousands of American Jews enlisted in the armed forces of both the Union and the Confederacy.  In July of 1861 the United States Congress passed a bill which provided for the appointment of chaplains from any recognized Christian denominations.  In a Pennsylvania regiment called the  Cameron Dragoons, Rabbi Arnold Fischel was appointed chaplain.  Ironically it was Simon Cameron, as Secretary of War, and for whom the regiment was named, who denied the appointment of Fischel as contrary to law.

However, Fischel didn’t give up and moved to Washington, ministered to wounded Jewish soldiers and lobbied the Lincoln administration to allow the appointment of Jewish chaplains.  On December 11, 1861, the Rabbi met with the President .  He described the meeting in this letter: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

The Bible Is Now Trash; The Koran Is Still Sacred, Though

by Joe Hargrave

I was going to say something about the Koran burning scheduled to take place on 9/11. When I first heard about it, I had the same reaction many Americans did: this is a reckless provocation. It is heartless and insensitive in a religiously plural republic. Someone should try to talk some sense in to the pastor. And while I still believe all of those things, I have to say that given what I read this morning, I’m really having a hard time being enthusiastic about it.

What I’m referring to is a story reported by CNN of a Bible barbecue in Afghanistan, carried out by our own military. A U.S. soldier somehow “received”  – the article doesn’t specify if he requested them or if they were simply sent – a batch of Bibles printed in two Afghan languages. Meanwhile an Al Jazeera video showed television clips of U.S. soldiers praying, and inferred with no evidence that they were being told to “spread Christianity.” This false perception, combined with the presence of the Afghan Bibles, led to a decision to first confiscate, and then to burn the Bibles sent to the soldier, in order to avoid stirring up the locals and encouraging more attacks.

Why didn’t they simply send them back? Because of the sound reasoning that the church that sent them could merely send them to another place in Afghanistan, as if they couldn’t somehow print more if they really wanted to. Well, that, and this: “Troops at posts in war zones are required to burn their trash, [Lt. Col.] Wright said.”

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