Rich Galen

Christmas and Easter are official holidays during which employers are often required to compensate employees who have to work during those days. Battles over a requirement to teach creationism side-by-side with evolution in public schools would also appear to present interesting arguments about "Freedom of Religion."

As part of America's desire to spread the American view of liberty - and this way, WAY predates George W. Bush - we have felt very free to instruct other nations as to how they might best handle the issue of religious freedom.

We cheered the ascent of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk as the first President of the secular Republic of Turkey in 1923. The Republic replaced the Islamic-oriented Ottoman Sultanate which had ruled much of Asia and the Middle East since 1301.

Yet, in 1948 the United States was the first to recognized the State of Israel even though it was clear it would be a "Jewish State."

We have had little trouble turning a blind eye to even the most egregious excesses of some Islamic states. It is doubtful we would have gone to war to rid Afghanistan of the Taliban so that girls could go to school, but they were foolish enough to allow al Qaida to establish its training bases there.

Iraq, under Saddam Hussein, was a secular state yet we used our overwhelming military power remove him; while spending tens of billions to support the brutal (but secular) regime of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt.

And, of course, we have official diplomatic relations with the Holy See - the Vatican - even though it is about 110 acres, has a population of just over 800, and is the home of the head of the Catholic Church.

From cartoons to invisible movies; from no-headscarves rules to no-circumcision laws; the world appears to be moving toward religious strife, not toward a greater tolerance.

These are dangerous times. Best to try and understand them.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at