Thursday, July 7, 2016

The UN and religion, Part 2

Does the UN have any teeth?
It is not an academic question. There will come a time when it will need teeth.
The UN has been called by detractors the World’s Largest Debating Society. Sometimes it seems like they can’t agree on when to break for lunch. Nevertheless, since its inception the General Assembly has passed over 14,000 resolutions. Unfortunately, they are “non-binding.”
So basically they are suggestions.

The Security Council is different. Their edicts have teeth. They have 5 permanent members: France, Russia, England, China, and the U.S.
Another 10 are filled in rotation by General Assembly members. Only the “Permanent 5” have veto power.
During the Cold War, that meant deadlock: nearly everything the U.S wanted Russia vetoed, and vice versa. But not always.
In the summer of 1950 the ambassador from the Soviet Union boycotted the UN because of its refusal to admit Communist China. The U.S. used that absence to pass a resolution and, on June 25, the Security Council began sending UN troops to Korea.
The incident prompted the General Assembly to pass resolution 377-A. 377-A states that, in cases where the Security council is deadlocked in a crisis, the General Assembly may issue any recommendations it deems necessary to restore peace and security.
Since that time, the UN has sent blue-beret-wearing soldiers on 60 missions, 16 of which are still ongoing. 10 years ago, 36,000 military personnel wore the blue beret. Last year, over 110,000 did.
The UN doesn’t have a standing army. When they need troops, they borrow them from members. There are two problems with this arrangement:

  • Response speed: Countries are slow to supply the promised troops – 4 to 6 months, typically; not a good thing in an emergency.
  • Loyalty. Soldiers tend to be loyal to their own country first, to the blue beret second.

One solution the UN has tried is mercenaries, contractors such as Halliburton or Blackwater. These names may be familiar to you. They have been in the news for their less than ethical record in conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
There have been instances of these ‘security employees’ kidnapping, torturing, even murdering both combatants and innocent bystanders, and when the crimes came to light their bosses simply whisk the offender out of the country.
Loyalty is an even bigger problem with mercenaries than with rank and file soldiers. A mercenary’s first loyalty is to his paycheck. Loyalty to the UN, if it exists at all, would be far down the list.
The UN’s ‘working group’ on mercenaries has, for the past 10 years, been consistently recommending against hiring mercenaries, at least until a mercenary code of conduct is agreed to. Though that issue is still not resolved, they continue to employ mercenaries.

If borrowed soldiers are too slow, and mercenaries are unethical, what is the solution? Many members of the UN believe the solution is for the UN to have its own standing army; soldiers whose loyalty is not to a paycheck, nor to their birth country, but to the UN itself. Watch the news – and this column – for developments on that front. (Revelation 17:12)
Now, what does any of this have to do with the UN attacking religion?
The UN has a love/hate relationship with religion. They refer to them as FBOs – faith-based organizations.
From the beginning, religion has lent legitimacy to the UN. Pope Benedict XV pushed for the creation of the predecessor to the UN, the League of Nations, and after it was created the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America referred to the League as a better peacemaker than God’s Kingdom. Since then, various popes have said:
  • “If ever an assembly of men, gathered at a critical crossroad in history, needed the help of prayer, it is this Assembly of the United Nations.” – Pius XII
  • It is a “duty of all peoples to accept the autonomous force of the United Nations as an international police.” – John XXIII
  • “This organization represents the obligatory path of modern civilization and of world peace.” - Paul VI
  • The UN is “the supreme forum of peace and justice.” – John Paul II
  • “My presence at this Assembly is a sign of esteem for the United Nations.” - Benedict XVI
  • “I look forward to continuing cooperation between the United Nations and the Holy See, under the wise leadership of His Holiness Pope Francis.” – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Another reason the UN loves FBOs is that they are better suited for humanitarian aid. They are typically first on the scenes of disasters, working on medical care, food and water… the UN simply doesn’t do anything fast enough to be useful in an emergency.
But the UN also hates FBOs. They refer to governments based on a religious text, such as the Koran, as “theocracies,” and they don’t mean that in a good way. They mean that theocracies, (Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc.) as opposed to Magna Carta-style governments, are radical and difficult to reason with. In the last year, the UN’s news agencies have pointed out that:
  • Christians are slaughtering Muslims in Central African Republic
  • Muslims are slaughtering Christians in Pakistan
  • Sunni Muslims are slaughtering Shia Muslims in Iraq
  • Muslims and Catholics are slaughtering each other in the Philippines
  • Buddhists and Muslims are slaughtering each other in Myanmar
  • Muslims and Coptic Christians are slaughtering each other in Egypt
A recent study showed that fully one third of the world’s governments, comprising 75% of the world’s population, severely restrict religion, either by government or social sanctions. Worldwide, religious hostilities are up 24% since 2011.
Another reason the UN hates FBOs: FBOs meddle. Oddly, despite the world’s becoming more and more secular, religious and quasi-religious groups have been gaining influence at the UN. If a special interest group can’t get the laws they want at a national level – issues such as abortion rights, birth control, same-sex marriage, drugs, stem cells – they dub themselves an FBO and take their case to the UN.
In 2008, after studying FBOs for several years a department of the UN called the Population Fund created a UN agency called Global Interfaith Network for Population and Development that brought together over 400 different FBOs.
It’s getting out of control. And, as noted in Part 1 of this series, pendulums always swing back. Some in the UN are beginning to see that their faith in Faith-Based Organizations was misplaced. They argue that “religion is too contentious and should not be involved in public life,” and cite the many UN representatives that have been killed in Bagdad, Algiers, and Kabul in the name of “religion.”
There’s another UN-linked threat to religion: The growth in FBOs is threatening the NGOs – non-governmental organizations, such as Red Cross, Red Crescent, and women’s rights groups, that have had influential and lucrative partnerships with the UN. As the FBOs start impacting the NGOs pocketbook, we should expect to see NGOs lobbying for the UN to turn a cold shoulder to religion.
Finally, the latest accusation is that more than 70% of the NGOs and FBOs working with the UN are ‘Christian.’ So now Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and Jewish organizations are pressuring the UN to correct what they perceive as a bias toward Christian programs.
Can you see how one or more of these issues might finally drive the Secretary General of the U.N. to step up to the microphone one day soon and announce:
“For too long, the world has been split by religious hatred. For thousands of years, so-called shepherds have fleeced their flocks, bilking them out of their hard-earned money with promises of Heaven. Pedophile priests have preyed on innocent victims and, when their crimes were brought to light, organizations that should have been advocates for the victims became shields for the predators.
“This ends now. No more will this body sit idly by and watch religion divide the world, foment wars, carry out genocide, demean women, and create new generations of damaged, abused human beings based on some ancient superstitions.
“Religion is hereby abolished. The assets of all organized religions are forfeit. Their property is now state property. Anyone found on this property will be arrested and charged with trespassing, or worse. Every clergyman will be investigated. This resolution will be enforced by the United Nations own ‘blue beret’ troops, each of whom has taken an oath of loyalty to the UN and has explicitly disavowed any previous loyalty to any nation, ideology, or religion…”
Okay, so maybe it won’t happen exactly like that. But, as we’ll see in the final part of this series, it will happen…

(If you'd like to read the rest of the UN Chief's (imaginary) speech, check out my novel Resurrection Day, available here.)  
Bill K. Underwood is the author of several novels and one non-fiction self-help book, all available at

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