Iraq's 'Religious Right' Turns Out The Vote

In the 2004 elections, Religious Right leaders here in America campaigned feverishly for candidates and causes that reflected their religious agenda. Now it seems that their example is being followed in Iraq.

Just as James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and their ilk tried to encourage churches to get involved in partisan politicking, Islamic Shiite leaders in Iraq are not only endorsing candidates, they are helping to choose a slate to promote in their mosques.

The Washington Post reports that while some Sunni groups have chosen to boycott the upcoming January elections, the Shiite leadership has identified the elections as an opportunity to cement their control of the new Iraqi government.

Under the tutelage of Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the United Iraqi Alliance has brought together mainstream Shiite religious groups with more radical elements of their community. Among the slate of 240 candidates, 30 were drawn from the followers of Moqtada Sadr who, until recently, was encouraging his followers to battle American forces.

The Post also reports that 25 candidates were drawn from the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a party that has been based in Iran since the 1980s and is a current participant in the interim Iraqi government.

These developments do not portend well for separation of religion and government in Iraq.  Although Robertson and his cronies have called for the Bush administration to demand a secular state in Iraq, their attacks on the wall separating church and state in our country speak louder than their words advocating secularism elsewhere.