The Satanic Temple’s Crusade Against Religious Freedom

Last month, someone knocked down a statue of a demonic figure at the Iowa state capital, which had been installed by an organization called the Satanic Temple. This group, which also runs after-school activities at public schools, does not represent worshippers of Lucifer, but atheists who object, inter alia, to the presence of religious symbols and activities in public spaces. Timothy Carney examines its motivations:

Some people believe that we have too many civil liberties in this country. Specifically, they believe that the exercise of religion deserves less accommodation than any other sort of activity.

That’s the motive of the pretend satanists. They want to curtail the exercise of religion. . . . Most atheist liberals who try to gain accommodation of their non-religion are doing so not because they really want the accommodation, but because they are protesting the accommodation of others, whom they dislike.

You may recall last decade that a handful of . . . atheists formed a parody religion called “pastafarianism” that pretended to worship a spaghetti god and that claimed colanders as their religious head garb. When the atheist Austrian politician and commentator Niko Alm fought for the right to wear a cheap plastic spaghetti strainer on his head in his driver’s license photo, he was, in fact, protesting against the right of Muslim women to wear headscarves and Jewish men to wear yarmulkes.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: American Religion, Freedom of Religion, Secularism, U.S. Constitution


Israel Can’t Stake Its Fate on “Ironclad” Promises from Allies

Israeli tanks reportedly reached the center of the Gazan city of Rafah yesterday, suggesting that the campaign there is progressing swiftly. And despite repeatedly warning Jerusalem not to undertake an operation in Rafah, Washington has not indicated any displeasure, nor is it following through on its threat to withhold arms. Even after an IDF airstrike led to the deaths of Gazan civilians on Sunday night, the White House refrained from outright condemnation.

What caused this apparent American change of heart is unclear. But the temporary suspension of arms shipments, the threat of a complete embargo if Israel continued the war, and comments like the president’s assertion in February that the Israeli military response has been “over the top” all call into question the reliability of Joe Biden’s earlier promises of an “ironclad” commitment to Israel’s security. Douglas Feith and Ze’ev Jabotinsky write:

There’s a lesson here: the promises of foreign officials are never entirely trustworthy. Moreover, those officials cannot always be counted on to protect even their own country’s interests, let alone those of others.

Israelis, like Americans, often have excessive faith in the trustworthiness of promises from abroad. This applies to arms-control and peacekeeping arrangements, diplomatic accords, mutual-defense agreements, and membership in multilateral organizations. There can be value in such things—and countries do have interests in their reputations for reliability—but one should be realistic. Commitments from foreign powers are never “ironclad.”

Israel should, of course, maintain and cultivate connections with the United States and other powers. But Zionism is, in essence, about the Jewish people taking responsibility for their own fate.

Read more at JNS

More about: Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship