President Obama, speaking of terrorism, told the United Nations and the world this week the international body must coalesce behind the goal of "eliminating the cancer of violent extremism that has ravaged so many parts of the world."
Only a terrorist would disagree. Thankfully, the president is finally taking some action.
The president also said, "It is no exaggeration to say that humanity's future depends on us uniting against those who would divide us along the fault lines of tribe or sect; race or religion."
He said, "No god justifies this terror..."
For the most part, America exhaled when our president finally became engaged and took action on the terrorist issue. It was about time.
But I'm hearing the words of James Madison, a Founding Father and our fourth president---they are words of warning.
And the words of our current president linger in light of a different kind of war raging in our country.
"Those who divide us..."
"No god justifies this..."
Is it possible that conservative Catholics and biblical evangelicals could be seen as "extreme" in their conservative beliefs?
Last year it was revealed by the Chaplain Alliance that in more than 1,500 pages of documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by Judicial Watch, the US Army training instructors were teaching recruits that "Catholicism, evangelical Christianity, Al Queda, Hamas, Sunni Muslims and the Klu Klux Klan"were examples of extremists.
One of the slides in the PowerPoint presentation explained that "Religious extremism is not limited to any single religion, ethnic group, or region of the world."
After being confronted, the instructor removed the one slide, the Army apologized and everything continued. The Army said it was a mistake, but they didn't know how many other similar presentations were out there.
Are people who hold biblical beliefs on the sanctity of life and natural, biblical marriage extremists?
Apparently so, at least in the minds of the secular progressives---who happen to rule in the White House and the Senate.
Pathoes, a secular progressive voice, reported in June that "Christian extremists are fleeing 'godless' America and moving to Russia to escape the secular West and laws granting marriage equality to gay and lesbian citizens."
Mike Stone, writing for Pathoes, said, "However, if significant numbers of Christian extremists are leaving the country, this is good news for secular America. Religious extremists of any kind are dangerous."
Are biblical Christians being equated to terrorists?
Stone then turns his attention toward those whom he had quoted---Bill Murray (Christian son of atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair) and World Net Daily and others like them, declaring, "They desecrate the religious liberty our founding fathers fought and died for."
Is Bill and World Net Daily traitors? Have they committed some kind of treason? Are all who share those biblical beliefs treasonous?
Is this an isolated case?
We wish. We all know better.
This last May, Right Wing Watch attacked twin brothers David and Jason Benham, calling them extremist and threatening HGTV if they proceeded with the show featuring the twins there would be consequences.
HGTV caved and canceled the show featuring the ultra successful brothers, and a show that would have helped a good number of people own their own home.
Right Wing Watch said the brothers are "extremists" because they have been associated with the "militant anti-choice group Operation Rescue" and "protested LGBT pride events."
They were also identified as participating in a prayer rally outside the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. in 2012.
So what---some would say.
Here's how Equality Matters, another national organization described some of those involved in R-74 in Washington State.
Actor Kirk Cameron, a committed Christian, is hounded and consistently labeled as an "extremist" because he has said publicly he does not believe in abortion and does believe in natural, biblical marriage.
The Cathy family who own Chick-fil-A---the Green family who own Hobby Lobby---Conestoga Wood Products---and the list goes on and on and on.
Extremists, deserving the harshest punishment available.
People across the country are coming under the crushing weight of the law because they don't believe in so-called same sex "marriage"---Arlene's Flower Shop in Richland, Washington, or because they don't believe in abortion---the Stormans family in Olympia---and hundreds of others across the nation. Because they won't violate their conscience and participate, the state seeks to crush, punish or teach them.
While we certainly want our president to take decisive action to protect our country, the words in the context of our own culture, "Those who divide us," violent extremism "coalesce behind the goal of eliminating extremism" and "no god justifies this..." can take on an ominous sound.
James Madison, a Founding Father and our fourth president, expressed concern about this kind of issue. He said, "If tyranny and oppression come to our land, it will be in the guise of fighting for a cause."
This was not a passing concern. He later said, "The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home."
Is the concept of "Eliminating Extremism" such an instrument?
Beware. Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Informed. Be Pro- Active. Be Prayerful. Be Blessed.