The Jury Talks Back


Defining “Divided Loyalty”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Not Rhetorical @ 1:20 am

“I’m a Christian first and an American second.” If you heard someone say that, would you consider it divided loyalty? What if a soldier said it?

This does come from recent news events, of course, but I’m not trying to trick anyone with this question, and I’m not trying to make a larger point. Just wondering what you think.


  1. I would think little of it.

    They took an oath before God when they joined the military. In theory, they would do the job they signed on to do.

    Comment by Scott Jacobs — 11/8/2009 @ 6:36 am

  2. Some religions not only do not punish untruthfulness, they encourage it in the struggle against “others”.

    Comment by AD - RtR/OS! — 11/8/2009 @ 11:35 am

  3. it would worry me a fair bit, and i would not trust them with sensitive items, info, etc. if i trusted them at all.

    i’m American by birth, American by choice, and agnostic of my own free will, as protected under the US Constitution.

    people who are willing to put their religion, which includes atheism in my book, ahead of their country, seriously need to think about either their value system, or their living arrangements….. IMHO, of course.

    Comment by redc1c4 — 11/8/2009 @ 2:50 pm

  4. If a man does not put his loyalty to God above his loyalty to country, he does not truly believe in that God, for by any definition of “God,” he/she/it is greater than any political entity. I would not call this divided loyalty, but rather properly contextualized loyalty – something the Army already understands by allowing ‘conscientious objector’ and other such provisions. And it should serve as a sobering reminder to those in power that there is always a yet greater Master than they.

    Comment by Dan G. — 11/8/2009 @ 3:32 pm

  5. Ditto what Dan G said. In addition, I think all believers, agnostics and atheists recognize the concept of a higher moral duty, i.e., it’s wrong to willfully kill innocents. I guess Hasan could claim these weren’t innocents because he only targeted military, but that argument fails since one of his victims was 3 months pregnant. I don’t know if the applicable criminal laws recognize the unborn child’s death as wrongful but surely every religion does.

    Comment by DRJ — 11/8/2009 @ 9:41 pm

  6. It’s a nuanced question.

    A fellow Army doctor who studied with Hasan, Val Finell, told ABC News, “We would frequently say he was a Muslim first and an American second. And that came out in just about everything he did at the University.

    Finell said he and other Army doctors complained to superiors about Hasan’s statements.

    “And we questioned how somebody could take an oath of office…be an officer in the military and swear allegiance to the constitution and to defend America against all enemies, foreign and domestic and have that type of conflict,” Finell told ABC News.

    This was only a problem because Hasan’s coworkers perceived Hasan’s Muslim beliefs were at odds with defending America. It’s similar to health care workers’ concerns that a pro-life physician would hesitate to recommend abortions for patients in some cases. IMO it’s really about political correctness. In the latter case, it’s acceptable to raise concerns and the person raising them wouldn’t be condemned or sanctioned. Persons raising concerns about Hasan might very well be condemned or sanctioned.

    Comment by DRJ — 11/9/2009 @ 3:09 pm

  7. DRJ, Hasan holds to a belief that Islam teaches that all non-believers are the enemy, and thus not innocents. As such, he is able to justify nearly any violent action as a holy act.

    Comment by Dan G. — 11/9/2009 @ 4:28 pm

  8. “…raising concerns…”

    The damage that someone would do to their career by making a formal complaint that goes against the PC culture, would be devastating; and that explains why no formal complaint was ever lodged, only informal questions about perceived feelings.

    This is on the same level of stupidity as the Gorelick “wall” between the CIA and FBI on foreign intell.

    Comment by AD - RtR/OS! — 11/9/2009 @ 4:28 pm

  9. I also agree with what Dan G. said in #4.

    The funny thing is, when this thread was first posted, I wondered whether or not it was a question about Hasan or Rep. Anh Cao (who someone had just said was a Jesuit). I mean, it seems clearer now, but at the time it seemed like it could’ve gone either way.

    Comment by Leviticus — 11/9/2009 @ 5:05 pm

  10. Dan,

    Obviously some Muslims do believe that all non-Muslims are the enemy, but how many believe that? There are Christian anti-abortion advocates who believe it’s okay to kill abortion doctors, but that doesn’t mean all Christians believe that. Thus, at what point can you tar an entire group with the beliefs of some?

    Comment by DRJ — 11/9/2009 @ 9:45 pm

  11. […] at The Jury Talks Back, Not Rhetorical asked an interesting question: “I’m a Christian first and an American second.” If you heard someone say that, would you […]

    Pingback by Dull Razor » Loyalty to God and country — 11/10/2009 @ 6:10 am

  12. I would be likely to have questions as to what belief system might cause a conflict. Most of us have no current conflict between our loyalty to country and either our religious or political beliefs.

    Comment by BarSinister — 11/10/2009 @ 6:31 am

  13. DRJ,

    I wasn’t attempting to make a point about all Muslims, but rather the brand of Islam he (from all accounts openly) held to. We already tar subgroups of Christians for their beliefs (Fred Phelps, anyone?) and they’re far less dangerous than the Jihadist branch of Islam.

    I do think, however, based on my limited studies of the teachings of Mohamed and the Koran, that it is far easier to justify these sort of actions using Islam’s framework than any other major religion.

    On a related note, I don’t think it would be a bad idea for the Armed Forces to have a question along the lines of “would your beliefs cause you to be unable to carry out your duties?” or something of the like asked to new recruits, if there isn’t one already.

    Comment by Dan G. — 11/10/2009 @ 3:38 pm

  14. God-ridden idiots cannot be helped. Christ asked, “Whose face is on the coin?” I.e., to whom to you owe the duty? And then answered it, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s”.

    In another instance He said, “Love God and love your neighbor ….” Both. Neither excludes the other.

    Personally, my first loyalty is to my family. My country is an extension of my family. As for the state of my immortal soul, I’ll think about that later.

    Comment by nk — 11/10/2009 @ 4:41 pm

  15. Dan,

    It seems to me the closest thing that would do as you suggest is to treat militant Islamic groups like gangs, the Mafia, or militant fringe groups and go after them using traditional legal methods — RICO/criminal law, tax law, etc. I think it’s essentially what the Bush Administration tried to do after 9/11 when it went after terrorists’ banking and financial dealings and began surveillance of their communications. It was initially successful but that success has been eroded over time.

    Add to that stories like this Patterico post where the government won’t even adhere to bans on known terrorist collaborators. Thus, we’re left with a system that is too cumbersome to identify individual threats and too unwilling to identify general ones, especially if they’re Muslim. Like you, I agree it’s a problem but, for now, I don’t think America is willing to do anything about it.

    Comment by DRJ — 11/10/2009 @ 9:01 pm

  16. DRJ,

    This isn’t the only thing we’re rolling over for in the name of comfort, either. Hopefully one day we’ll get back on a sane track.

    Comment by Dan G. — 11/10/2009 @ 11:55 pm

  17. “…but how many believe that…”

    Wiki says there are 1.57-Billion Muslims in the World.
    If only one-half of one-percent (0.5%) of them are doctrinaire Wahabist/Salafists, then that means there are approximately 7,850,000 people who want to kill infidels (generally, that means us), and will use all means to do so.

    Comment by AD - RtR/OS! — 11/11/2009 @ 1:08 pm

  18. As an Orthodox Jew, I would have to consider the situation as it applies to me and what difference the Muslim case would be. For example, if I was in the Army, I would still have to observe the Sabbath and eat kosher food. If I received orders to actually commit violations of my religion (such as eating ham – example chosen deliberately) I would have to refuse to do so as it would be an illegal order. If I were asked about the U.S. and Israel going to war with each other, I would have to answer that for such a circumstance to occur, the U.S. would have to change so much that it would no longer be the same country. It would be like asking a patriotic German Jew living before (or during) WW I, if he would serve in the German army during WW II. The very question would be meaningless. For the situation to change that much, the U.S. would have had to be taken over by the caliphate, in which case the regime would actually be the enemy that we are currently fighting. In fact, the patriotic Americans would be fighting in the resistance to restore the Constitution.

    I mentioned the Sabbath before. There are circumstances when one is allowed to violate the Sabbath while serving in the army and circumstances when one is not. For example, soldiers are allowed to carry rifles and ammunition but not a handkerchief on the Sabbath.

    The problem appears to be that Islam defines itself on a political level and does not restrict itself to situations in which the refusal to serve is actually according to the law (such as refusing to commit murder).

    It is a valid point that the U.S. armed forces define “illegal orders” and do not allow the Nuremberg defense (I was just following orders).

    Comment by Sabba Hillel — 11/12/2009 @ 12:41 pm

  19. I will state for a fact that I have said something like that on many occasions. For any nation to try to achieve any sort of parity of devotion as Providence rightfully receives is utter foolishness.

    And I’m certain more than a small number of the US’ Founding Fathers would have been very vocal in their declaration: I am a Christian first and an American second. The evidence can be found in the two most important US documents, the Constitution and the Declaration. One needs only read those documents to see it. Further evidence will be found in the Federalist Papers, private letters, other works by those great men.

    The US was founded on the fact that the US was not on parity with Providence.

    Comment by John Hitchcock — 11/12/2009 @ 10:56 pm

  20. “Abou Ben Adhem”

    Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
    Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
    And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
    Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
    An Angel writing in a book of gold:

    Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
    And to the Presence in the room he said,
    “What writest thou?” The Vision raised its head,
    And with a look made of all sweet accord
    Answered, “The names of those who love the Lord.”

    “And is mine one?” said Abou. “Nay, not so,”
    Replied the Angel. Abou spoke more low,
    But cheerily still; and said, “I pray thee, then,
    Write me as one who loves his fellow men.”

    The Angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
    It came again with a great wakening light,
    And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,
    And, lo! Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest!
    — By Leigh Hunt.

    Comment by nk — 11/13/2009 @ 4:09 am

  21. From #18

    “If I were asked about the U.S. and Israel going to war with each other, I would have to answer that for such a circumstance to occur, the U.S. would have to change so much that it would no longer be the same country.”

    I bet Sabba Hillel meant “the U.S. or Israel” in his statement.

    To put things in context, if Hitler and Stalin and Mao and Pol Pot and their respective cronies had been religious Christians (I don’t know enough about Buddhism or other Eastern religions to bring those religions in) before they were fascist, communist or otherwise statist ideologues, there would have been far less murders of their own respective peoples and of their enemies.

    Our own Constitution allows us to be Christians or Jews first (again, I don’t know enough about Eastern religions to opine about them). Christians and Jews can kill other Christians and Jews in war, but they, just like atheists and all other Americans, are not allowed to commit murder. It appears that a significant number (even if not a majority) of Muslims interpret Islam in such a way that if an American soldier says he is a Muslim first and an American second, we would be wise, even if politically incorrect, to explore with him further what that means to him.

    Comment by Ira — 11/15/2009 @ 9:16 pm

  22. It’s a tough truth to get around,

    but few really mind our troops putting Christianity ahead of their country or Army. “God, Country, Corps” is a very common refrain, and the order is deliberate.

    Here’s the thing: Islam and Christianity are legally equal, but they are not really equal. One of them is good, and the other is bad. That’s why it’s OK for our soldiers to put one religion ahead of their country, such that if the USA became evil, they would defend us from it, and it’s another thing for a soldier to put a different religion ahead of their country, such that they kill unarmed people in some horrible jihad.

    We are being told 2+2=5 when we are told that all cultures and ideas are equal. This isn’t like race, where it’s a completely useless division. Religion is a very useful way to divide people. It means a lot, actually.

    That’s not to say there aren’t great Muslims in our military, or that there aren’t bad Christians. There are reliable GM products, and faulty Hondas, too.

    Comment by Dustin — 11/20/2009 @ 1:08 am

  23. I think it depends on just what those terms mean.

    If a person says, “I am a Muslim first and an American second”, I need to know what he means by it. If he means that he will pray 5 (right?) times a day, obstain from alcohol and certain foods, seeks to act justly and practice mercy out of reverent fear of Allah, I have no problem with that. (Although I guess one would need to understand just what that meant in the heat of battle. I don’t think one would appreciate the soldier operating the heavy weaponry to take a break in the middle of a fire-fight because it was prayer time.)

    If he means he wishes to see a caliphate overpower the sovereignty of the US and is supporting those who are trying to accomplish that, that’s another thing. I don’t think there is much risk of large-scale fear/hostility of Muslims for being Muslims, but rather fear and concern whether one is a “Muslim” of the first kind, or a “Muslim” of the second kind, by one’s own self-identification.

    I think it is a false and foolish notion to try to say “equal treatment” of all who call themselves Muslim, when what they mean by that is actually very different.

    As an example, this was a very real question for some clergy in Germany before and during WWII. While many threw their lot in with the Nazi’s, others were more torn in what it meant to be a faithful Christian and a citizen of a country under the direction of evil men, such as Bonhoeffer who felt it appropriate to work to overthrow Hitler. In a sense he felt “to be a good German meant to support a Germany that was good”.

    In a US soldier who said they were a Christian first, American second, I would expect they meant that if the chain of command gave them an order that was in conflict with what is considered “just” in warfare, they would refuse, which is the responsibility of a soldier anyway (“but I was just following orders” does not justify war crimes). At whatever point one thought the US was pursuing a Hitlerian agenda, then a choice would need to be made. But for many, whether by confessing a particular religion or not, to oppose a wicked tyranny would seem the “right” thing to do.

    Comment by MD in Philly — 11/20/2009 @ 8:42 pm

  24. #21

    “If I were asked about the U.S. and Israel going to war with each other, I would have to answer that for such a circumstance to occur, the U.S. would have to change so much that it would no longer be the same country.”

    I bet Sabba Hillel meant “the U.S. or Israel” in his statement.

    Actually I meant it the way it appeared. That is, the dual loyalty canard is always something like “If the U.S. declared war on Israel”. Thus, I meant, if the U.S. and Israel were on opposite sides in a war, one or the other would have changed so much that honest and just men would have to oppose the evil. I do not anticipate that either one will have changed sufficiently to become evil as far as I can see.

    Comment by Sabba Hillel — 11/25/2009 @ 11:33 am

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