Dec. 6, 2006
Dec. 8, 2006

Dec. 7, 2006


Iran's cool-headed, always-makes-sense president says the West must follow God or vanish. But as far as we can make out from the stories about this, Mahmoud Amadinejad didn't specify which God the West should follow. Seems an odd bit of information to leave out.

* * *


On this, the 65th anniversary of the bombing by Japan of Pearl Harbor, I'm going to throw some (perhaps politically incorrect) questions at you that I've often wondered about but have never had time to research much.

ShintoMaybe you can help me -- and in the process help all readers here.

My basic questions are this: What, if any, role did religion play in shaping the thinking and values of the aggressive Japanese leadership that launched the attack on the United States? And what, if any, role did religion play in helping form the opinions of Japanese citizens who fought in the war or who were left at home to hold things together while others fought?

The population of Japan today is predominantly (about 84 percent) Shinto and Buddhist. (The image here today represents Shinto.) Other religions, including Christianity, account for most of the rest of the population, though not even 1 percent of the population is Christian. I can't say this with certainty, but my guess is that these figures were roughly the same in the 1930s and 1940s. For some background information on religion in Japan, click here. And for more, click here.

I am aware that ancient Japanese religion of Shinto and its priests, before World War II, were at least an unofficial -- and perhaps official -- part of the Japanese government, though after the war they lost that status. Also after the war, the emperor was forced to give up the idea that he was somehow divine.

In some ways, what I'm asking today is perhaps a simplistic question that might well be asked of leaders and citizens of the United States and the wars in which we've fought. Did America's predominantly Judeo-Christian values in any way shape the decisions to go to war in Vietnam or in the Gulf War or in the war in Iraq, to say nothing of World Wars I and II? No doubt you'd get a million different opinions about all of that, and perhaps that's what we can expect in answers to questions about the influence of religion in Japan.

But I've never thought of Shinto and Buddhism as religions that encourage war-like thinking. And yet that's what we found coming from Japan. Perhaps geopolitics and many other concerns simply overwhelmed religious values.

Who out there can help us with this matter today? Bring on your wisdom.

To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here.

P.S.: Conservative Jews in the U.S. yesterday adopted essentially a local option approach to the question of whether to ordain gays and lesbians as rabbis. It's the approach some people thought my Christian denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA), adopted earlier this year, though that was a mischaracterization of what happened.



Bill, you really dropped some high explosives to mark D-Day!

As (little as) I understand Islam, I think Amadinejad referred to the One God. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of the Jews, the God of Christians, the God of Islam-Allah, in Arabic. points out that "Allah" is also used by Arabic-speaking Jews and Christians.

That said, he no doubt is speaking of God as seen thru Islam, just as George W. Bush is no doubt speaking of the God as seen thru Christianity.

I, of course, being Jewish, speak of THE One God, the Original, the True and Unmodified God. (<--attempt at joke)

I don't know about Shinto and Buddhist participation in Japan in World War II. As you pointed out the other day, though, the Germans in World War II carried God on their belt buckles. Has a nation ever gone to war without God or gods on their side and the blessings of clergy?

Keith the Cynical says: Faith co-opts governance. Governance co-opts faith. Especially when it's convenient.


It was Patricia that noted the phrase "God is with us" on Nazi belt buckles during WW II. Apologies to both Bill and Patricia for my misattribution.

Thinking more of Bill's question about Ahmadinejad as I drove to work this morning reminded me of my comment earlier this week. I asked in whose God do we trust on our money? Whose God are we one nation under? When Ray Moore hauls his 10 Commandments into the Supreme Court of Alabama, whose parsing and interpretation is displayed?

Is it the God of Abraham, the common God shared by Judaism, Christianity and Islam? Is it God as seen thru the eyes and interpretation of Christianity? Islam? Judaism?

I did stumble across some references to Shinto and Buddhism in Japan that note during World War II, Official Shinto became the state religion in Japan. All other faiths were outlawed. At the end of the war, we imposed a "divorce" between the Japanese government and the Emperor, and official Shinto. Shinto, like Christianity, Islam and Judaism, is splintered. In addition, Shinto and Buddhism are very much intertwined in Japanese society, and it can get very confusing which is which and where do the roots originate.


Where's Michelle when we need her?

There is no doubt that Ahmadinejad must be referring to the God of Abraham that Jews, Christians, and Muslims all worship. I agree with Keith that he's also probably also referring to Islam, however, I think that there's a component that has to with BEHAVIOR. It is the West's perceived decadent and aggressive behavior that he would point to as proof that we are not following the one God.

Dolores Lear

To me rememembering the 2 Atom Bombs being dropped was pretty dramatic. It made people wonder if we were having the End Times 'Arm'agedden. It was a weird feeling.

We did not even question too strongly why a Christian nation was doing this. We were guided by God. Was this event worse than the Holocaust? Or equally Evil?

Maybe some people protested, But I doubt many Christians did, because they thought the USA was God's country, and we could do no wrong, and our mission was to change to world to be like we were. It is still going on today with President GW Bush.

To me, when a person says they believe in the One True GOD, the maker/source of LIFE, the SOL of all Life that we know about, seen and unseen, the physical and the Atom and the EMF, 'this' is the ONE GOD source of LIFE.

The Society that says they accept One God and then kill, are not accepting the GOD that made the elements that make Life as we know it. Why would believers kill the LIFE that GOD made?

To me, when a person says they believe in three 'persons' in One God, either the Father, Mother, Son, or the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, these are not the One True GOD/Life. These Man Gods and Angels 'said' "Thou Shalt Not Kill". Why would believers disobey and kill for this Triune God?

To me when people believed in the Gods and Goddesses of Myth, these are not the One True GOD/LIFE. And people killed for these Gods and these Gods also killed. These were probably the Man Gods before the Noah/Atlantis Flood.

All the pagan Gods, including the Gods of today, are not the One True GOD/LIFE. Any religion that says they Love God and then believers kill Life on Earth, and their Eco System, do not 'know' the One True GOD/LIFE that made the Universes we live in, and all the Physical Life in the universes.

This is mouth worship, not Serving GOD. This is folding our hands in prayer, instead of Serving Caretaker Hands.

Maybe Life did evolve somewhere in Space, because we seem to have it in our psysic, but Life on Earth was Colonized by our HTA in 6 Days/6,000 years.

They did reproduce Pure-bred Asexual people in the Perfect Adam and Eve Colony, called a supernatural 'creation'. High Tech Science is 'super'natural.

Creation Science Theory and Intelligent Design Theory 'are' High Tech Science Colonization.
The Colony was supposed to be Equal Caretakers, not Unequal Killers.

Today we know we can Colonize planets, and the steps would be the 6 Days in the Bible. And we have the High Tech Science knowledge to know we can reproduce Pure-bred Humans, like the Adam and Eve Colony were reproduced.

We do reproduce a child in a dish, remove some genetic defects, and put it in the female.
It does not require the sex act.
Is this an immaculate conception?

Is this how Jesus, John the Baptist, Issac, Samson and others were supernaturally conceived, when the female had an overshadowing with the Holy Spirit like Mary, or a meeting with a Man God or Angel like the others that were told they would have a child even thought they were barren?

The Pure-bred people, in the beginning, did 'fall' to Heterosexual Mis-bred Body Birth, and all the problems since, have had a killing and unequal and inhumane basis.

Putting our resources into temples made by human hands, does not Take Care of the Life on a planet or the Eco System.

Until Fallen Man accepts that the One True GOD/Life is not in the form of humans, they will keep on having temples made by human hands and worship Man Gods, instead of Serving GOD/LIFE with Balanced Elements.

The Bible warns against having pictures of their God, but most do. There are no pictures or icons of the One True GOD/SOL. All other Gods that look like are pagan, and are our HTA or the High Tech people from the Noah/Atlantis Society.

As long as Man worships pagan Gods, they will destroy our Eco System and all Life on our Home planet. Man is the Crew on Spaceship Earth. How are we doing with their Caretaking?

Ever since Pure-bred Asexual Physical Man 'fell' to Heterosexual Body Birth and lost their Eternal Physical Life, the lost HTA knowledge of our HTA, along with the SOL, have been mixed up in religious teachings.

The Noah/Atlantis Society, in 100 years 'evolved' up to the High Tech Science knowledge, and mis-used it as we are today; they also made nuclear weapons, and the laser, the rod of light, like Moses had in the Wilderness.

I accept that this was before the High Tech Noah/Atlantis Planetary Flood. Also, the atomic bomb explosion at Sodom and Gomorra was before the Flood.

The Bible need to be tranlated with High Tech Science knowledge and figure out which books were from before the Flood and which were after the Flood.

The Gods flying in fiery chariots and sitting on thrones up in the air, were either our HTA that did not kill, or the Noah/Atlantis Society that did kill with High Tech weapons, like we are today.

Since the Flood, that set down a new top strata with the tidal wave action, Man has had to repopulate the Earth, and 'evolve' back up, from primitive to the last 100 years of High Tech Science, like it happened to the Noah/Atlantis Society.

Today we again have the High Tech Science Knowledge of Good and Evil. Good would be Caretakers of the Planet's Eco System and all the Life on it. Evil would be to Kill the Eco System and the Life on it.

All I can say now, is I hope Man is ready to accept the 'Eternal' High Tech Science Pure-bred Asexual Physical Life After Birth on planets and in spaceships.

Peace and Jesus' Asexual Agape Love to All.


Muslims do not worship the Triune God. They reject Jesus as a part of the Godhead. They consider Jesus to be a prophet at best, and secondary to Muhammad. This certainly is not the God Christians worship. I'm not sure about Jews. They are still looking for the Messiah, whom I believe they think will be God come to earth to save them. They just believe Jesus wasn't Him. So, Keith can correct me if I'm wrong.

I believe someone said the Germans also wore the same belt buckle in World War I. I don' believe religion played a role for the Nazis. They were dedicated to the idea of national socialism, not religion.

I can't think of any war in American history that was fought for the sake of God and religion. The belief that God "is on your side" is not the same as fighting a religious war. So, I believe the answer is NO, no American war has been fought as a religious war.


Great question about religious landscape at the beginning of wars, Bill. I smell a book!!!

The KC WWI Liberty Memorial Museum opened last weekend. It will be interesting to see if they include a religion component. Probably not. Sounds like a "hot potato" to me. Anybody been? Please weigh in.

I know nothing about this subject, although, surprisingly enough, as a teen I was very into WWII and read reams on it and the Holocaust. None of which I can remember today!

So I tried a couple of creative Googles, because non-creative Googles don't get you anywhere on the subject. Here is a book review called, "Zen War Stories" that notes the relation of militarism to Islamic radicalism and the attendant anti-Semitism. It references a book, "Zen at War", that would answer some questions.

Interesting comparison between kamakazis and Islamic suicide bombers. The LA Times article referenced would have to be accessed through your library.

Incidentally, tangential to the topic.....There are two films that document Jews who fled to Shanghai during the war.(and endured Japanese occupation) One is called, "Shanghai Ghetto" and the other is "Exile Shanghai".
On the ghetto today:

Ruth from Tucson

Amazing - and scary

The god worshiping leaders like Bush and this Muslim president seem to be fuzzy about which god they are talking about.

And within one religion like Christianity and Islam, people don't agree with each other.

As a Christian, I would appreciate if if people whould quit telling me what "all" Chritians believe about "god" or doctrine. My Muslim friends would also appreciate this. Do we have any Muslims in this blog?


"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself."

The Great Secret of these words and He who inspired them: If we take those words at face value instead of parsing them to death, doing what they say is REALLY NOT THAT DIFFICULT. :-)


"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself."

The Great Secret of these words and He who inspired them: If we take them at face value instead of parsing them to death, doing what they say is REALLY NOT THAT DIFFICULT. :-)


Sorry for the double post...


But it was a very nice post to double post, Jeff. Thanks.
"As a Christian, I would appreciate if if people whould quit telling me what "all" Chritians believe about "god" or doctrine."

Amen, Ruth.
This is completely off topic but raises some questions about art and religion similar to our discussion of the Ofili madonna. "Swedish artist commits cardinal sin in Rome" Warning: Adult content.
Also off topic. I am grumpy today because I endured a "majorly" disappointing Advent service last night at my church. (Minister in training, clown and the music, "Born Free". You don't want to know the details.) And before Bill can say it, "This is what I get for not driving to his service in Leawood."

Any suggestions on the "bestest" traditional advent services in town? I am game for any denomination.


Ron, like Muslims, Jews do not worship "the Triune God" of Christianity, and reject Jesus as the Messiah and a part of the Godhead. We look to the future for the FIRST appearance of the Messiah.
The Wehrmacht (German army in WW II) wore a belt buckle inscribed with "Gott Mitt Uns," or "God is with us" in English. I don't think it's fair say that religion played no role for the Nazis. There was active support from portions of the clergy (and possibly tacit support from the Vatican). Hitler often spoke using religious themes.
To address Bill's general question, one doesn't have to fight a "religious war" to fight a war made easier by religion or differences in religion.

If I'm not mistaken (again), the Southern Baptists split with their abolition-favoring northern brethren over the issue of slavery in 1845. It was a portent of our Civil War to come.

My understanding is that militaristic Japan was driven by a desire to secure natural resources and establish Japan as a world leader in business, commerce and industry. I think the use of Shinto was more a case of the government using religion, not religion using the government. There's no question, however, that Official Shinto was imposed as the only legal religion in Japan and Japanese conquered lands. After all, the Emperor was seen as a Deity in Shinto and in Japanese society.

I think one could argue that the Cold War, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Iraq I and Iraq II were made EASIER to justify/start/enter/fight because we were fighting Muslims or "Godless Commies". I think the difference between Shinto-influenced Japanese society and American "Judeo-Christian values" (Bill's phrase, not mine) made it easier to drop the atomic bombs at the end of World War II.

I'm not saying faith or any religion CAUSED these wars. It was certainly used to justify, support and even encourage them. God was invoked by citizens, clergy and politicians.

Thank you, Dolores, for speaking to the shame we all should feel when our faith, our religious beliefs, our religious leadership are dragged along by politicians and other leaders to swa


Thank you, Dolores, for speaking to the shame we all should feel when our faith, our religious beliefs, our religious leadership are dragged along by politicians and other leaders to sway us.


JTA, a news organization covering items of interest in the world-wide Jewish community, reports on Conservative Judaism's actions yesterday at

I would hate to see a schism within the Conservative movement, as I regret seeing gay ordination's effect in the Episcopal Church. Since yesterday's actions offered something for everyone, I'm sure there will be those who will find nothing but a reason to re-align in some manner.

A NPR news story, "Israeli Religious Leaders Show Gay Intolerance", is available at . A "Fresh Air" interview with a British journalist who has written about gays in the Arab/Muslim world can be heard at , and an Israeli gay activist can be heard at .

Maybe I just don't appreciate the cooties non-heterosexuals have. So much energy and emotion expended in hating and marginalizing them.


Thanks, Keith. Are Jews Trinitarian? Do they believe that when the Messiah comes, He will be God in human form? Or, is the Jewish Messiah just another in a long line of prophets?

I don't believe Jews believe Mohammad was a prophet of God. Given this fact, it would seem Jews believe the Muslim religion, which was founded by Muhammad, is a false religion. Is that correct?

The United States of America has never fought a religious war. Of course, the USA is a secular nation, which just happens to be composed of citizens who are primarily Christians. On the other hand, almost every Muslim country today was won in battle by the Muslims and the citizens were converted by the sword.


Muslims do not worship the Christain God or Jesus. It is a false religion because it does not
recognize Jesus as the Son of God, which is part of the Anit-Christ philosophy written about in 1,2,3 John and throughout the New Testament.

Regardless of what the Imans or PC crowd says, The God of Isalm promotes a culture of Death, i.e. homicide bombers, holy war, Shia law , forced conversion, and oppression of women . The God of the Bible promotes Life and Freedom . The writings of our Founding Fathers state that Biblical principles were incorporated into our Constitution and Law ( sorry Revisionists and PC apologists ).

Dolores Lear

Who took over Europe and North and South America and Russia? Christians? Did they take over peacefully or through wars?


As far as I know, the Apostle Paul never had an Army or Navy at his disposal. I believe Christianity "took over" the Roman Empire peacefully, not by the sword.

Dolores Lear

In the Jewish, Christian and Muslim the Messiah is coming to Earth in the End Times.

Christ and Messiah are both the same word, Christ in Greek, Messiah in Hebrew.

The Messiah of the Jews, Christians and Muslims is supposed to come to Earth in the End Times.

Will this Christian Christ Jesus be the Messiah of all three religion, or are all these Messiahs different people?



Christians are waiting for Jesus to return to earth.

Are you saying the Muslims and Jews are both waiting for the same Messiah (Christ) to come to earth, God in human form? If this is so, there is a tremendous similiarity between the Jewish and Muslim religions. They are virtually the same. Perhaps they both do worship the same god. Christianity is quite different. If you don't recognize and worship Jesus as the Lord God, you're definitely not worshipping the same God.

Dolores Lear

Before Jesus was made God in the 300s, he was considered the Messiah by some of the Jews, that were looking for the Messiah to come to Earth.

Then he went up into Space in a physical body, and left Earth.

That is why I said Jews, Christians and Muslims are all looking forward to the return of the Messiah.

I think the Messiah is the same person for all 3 religions. and I also think it is Jesus, but I do not belong to organized religion anymore, so do not think Jesus is GOD.

If all 3 religions will accept Jesus when he returns in a physical body, as the Messiah, I do not know, since all the divisions and misunderstanding about the Messiah has gone on for 2,000 years.


Mary Behr

Patricia: "disappointing Advent service last night at my church. (Minister in training, clown and the music, "Born Free". Well, Patricia, now I know why you were disappointed. Sigh. I would think that sort of thing could be useful at a youth meeting. I'll stick to traditional scripture readings and O COME O COME EMMANUEL AND RANSOME CAPTIVE ISRAEL... I plan to lead all the verses, two a day when it's my week. Helps me connect to what we call the Old Testament--Keith is that the Torah?


Mary, Torah refers to the first 5 books of the "Old" Testament (or 5 Books of Moses)-Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy.


milwolf, I've been thinking about how to repond to your post. Since I am a Jew (and a LIBERAL on top of that), as well as what you might call a "Revisionist and PC apologist," you may ignore my comments, of course.

After pondering your post overnight, my reaction can best be summarized as, "Thanks for the laughs."


Delores, Jesus wasn't declared God in the 300s; The gospels were all written much earlier than that, and they clearly state Jesus is God.

Milwolf, I think your post is quite reasonable and accurate.

It was stated yesterday on this blog that the Muslims are waiting for the Jewish Messiah to come to earth. I never realized this. I thought they were waiting to be united under some supreme caliph...a mortal, human on earth. I wonder which is true?

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