Saturday, October 11, 2014

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, October 11

Religion and Geopolitics Review this week includes:
Deeply embedded in Hong Kong are Christian communities and public personalities. They are playing no small role in the September protests. While we think the Christian road to the Chinese soul is filial piety, we cannot ignore the intrinsic need of Christians for liberty to worship and love God as our first loyalty.

There is a strong analogy between the support of the nation-state Pakistan for the Taliban and the nation-state Turkey for ISIS. Eventually the support of states for an ideology which aims to replace nation states with a new caliphate is untenable. The epic model of this contradiction is Saudi Arabia. Here is a clear explanation of how both Pakistan and Turkey ride the tiger of  Islamist proxies.

Although they have officially joined the fight against ISIS, Turkish troops were massed but idle as the Syrian Kurdish town of Korbana on Turkey's boarder was besieged by ISIS. The Turks have a real military which is one of the two regional Sunni powers that could fight ISIS. According to Global Firepower (GFP) it is the eighth most powerful military in the world with 400,000 active troops and 3,600 tanks. Three reasons the Turks are so reluctant: 1) The Turks are engaged in an Islamization campaign of their own. 2) They see armed Kurds as enemy insurgents who eventually will establish a breakaway Kurdistan, and as Kurds comprise Turkey's largest ethnic minority, a newly independent Kurdistan could include part of eastern Turkey. 3) Their greatest enemy in the region is Alawite (Shiite-linked) President Assad of Syria. In the past, Turkey welcomed ISIS as a force that was fighting Assad.

The Catholic bishops of Germany are known in the American press as compassionate advocates of relaxing church rules on marriage, and communion for remarried Catholics. It may not be such a simple story.  An under-reported key to this story is the government-enforced Church tax that subsidizes the richest Catholic priesthood in Christendom. The tax, often called "Hitler's tax," was actually started a century before the Fuhrer. He continued the arrangement as part of a larger bargain (the Concordat of 1933) to get laymen out of serious political opposition groups. The German bishops have taken a very hard line on the growing number of Catholics who opt out of the 8-9 % tax. While many of the German hierarchy think divorce and remarriage should not bar one from Holy Communion, their policy toward Catholics who opt out of the state tax is not quite so forgiving. No communion, no confession, no weddings, and no acting as godparents. We thought at first all these reports were wrong, especially about penance. We can't find contradictory reports, however. It does make one wonder if the relaxation of moral teaching on marriage might be a policy to shore up the tax rolls. This is a very ugly story of shepherds who care for the shepherds far more than the sheep.

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