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Aggressive Christianity: Combining the Bible and the Gun

Discussion in 'Habari na Hoja mchanganyiko' started by John10, Dec 4, 2009.

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    John10 JF-Expert Member

    Dec 4, 2009
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    Aggressive Christianity: Combining the Bible and the Gun

    October 9, 2009
    Iraq isn't the first place where America's Christian Right has sought out a war in order to spread American values. One other time this occurred was when President William Mckinley invaded the Philippines. Christians supported this war because they thought it was the Will of God that the Philippines be made safe for Protestant Christianity and democracy.
    Matthew T. Herbst writes:
    In the war's early stage, the Michigan Christian Advocate expressed with certainty that American power would quickly and easily win the day: "The energy of our armies and the prowess of our battleships will quickly scatter the insurgents as an organized force." It depicted for readers the image that the subjugation of the Philippines was an example of the US awaking to God's plan for America in the wider world: "Every citizen of the United States is more conscious now than every before that God has not clothed us with power nor flooded us with intelligence for merely selfish ends. Life on earth means service for humanity" (MCA, Feb 11, 1899: 1). Philanthropic service meant conquest of the Philippines in order to spread American civilization. Patriotism and evangelization fused together so that the Church could not distinguish imperialism from the mission of evangelization.

    Over the course of the year, as the cost and challenge of the occupation became clearer, the newspaper defended the cause even more fervently, declaring: "Great issues are at stake, not only in those islands but in all the world and in every nation. Ignominious retreat would be moral defeat . . . The die is cast. The Americans will hold the ground, cost what it may. Americans never yield in war. The insurgents must yield. They can beat off our troops until the rainy season is over next fall, and they can in the meantime kill hundreds or thousands of our soldiers, while other thousands will die of disease, but as surely as the world revolves Aguinaldo and his misguided followers must bow to authority and learn that civilization and the public good are the purpose of the Americans" (MCA, April 29, 1899: 1).
    Sound familiar?
    In the eyes of the DAC (and Protestant America), American Protestant missionaries were the spiritual equivalent of US ground troops then fighting the "insurgents." This military struggle paralleled the American Protestant missionary battle against Catholicism: "But, really, we do not see how the Filipinos are ever to be pacified if this condition of things is to be continued. It is simply intolerable that a system of ecclesiastical oppression should be allowed such a hold" (MCA, Jan 27, 1900: 1; Methodist Conference: 120-26).

    By June 1900, as he considered the extent of Catholicism, Potts proclaimed that the "worst war in the Philippines is yet to come," since the Protestant missionaries encountered deeply entrenched Catholic beliefs and institutions which were viewed as opposing American principles and systems (MCA, June 16, 1900: 1; Nov 4, 1899: 1; Jan 27, 1900: 1). Potts declared Protestantism an arsenal of American civilization in this cosmic struggle in the Philippines, commanding the spiritual soldiers to "[m]ake no compromises with the foe! Insist on surrender in the name of God!" (Potts: 243; MCA, Sept 29, 1900: 1). The eyes of the Church were resolutely focused on American Protestant victory against Filipino independence and Catholicism.
    Protestant complaints about Catholicism sound a lot like current complaints about Islam. Herbst explains that for Methodists of this era, it was taught that the all true Christians has the obligation to spread the Word of God, even if that meant being aggressive and taking up arms. Challenges to American foreign policy were regarded as challenges to the foundations of both America and True Christianity. Refusing to engage in aggression on behalf of America and Christian was treated as a sign of weakness and decay