My talk today in honor of Religious Freedom Day

How often do you get to see a speaker’s original script? Here’s mine, below, from today’s Religious Freedom celebration. It was a great event. The home of religious freedom in America is considered to be Historic Fredericksburg, Virginia, where Thomas Jefferson and his team first drafted the concepts underlying our First Amendment. And in the heart of winter, following weeks of cold / grey / wet weather, we had a sunny, 60-degree Springlike day that might have indicated the approval of the Almighty Himself!

At Religious Freedom 160110 with Munira
A few of us up on the stand before the ceremony

I was honored to deliver the keynote for today’s annual event, which was hosted by the Knights of Columbus and supported by the Freemasons. We had representatives from numerous faiths, including my friend Munira, whom you’ll remember from the pages of Powerful Peace.

My comments were lengthy, as you’d expect from a 12-minute keynote, but I thought I’d drop them in here in case you have the time to read them through and give them some thought.

Munira and Cindy at Religious Freedom 160110
Cindy and Munira enjoy Springtime in winter

Without further ado, my tribute to religious freedom:


Like every other person in the world, I had my own ideas about religious freedom. So to make sure I did not misrepresent the general understanding, I first consulted that great oracle of the 21st Century…Wikipedia:

“Freedom of religion or freedom of belief is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance.”

Actually, although I found the definition through Wiki, it is referenced directly from the UN’s “Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” article 18, which states that:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

Look how similar that is to Thomas Jefferson’s own “Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom” from 1779, which we celebrate today:

“No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men…

( …Or women, of course, was their ideal…)

shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.”

In other words, you cannot be prevented from even becoming President by virtue of being a Jew, or an atheist … or a Catholic! But that’s exactly what happened in the United States for almost 200 more years until JFK’s 1960 run. According to his own Presidential Library:

“Only one Catholic, Governor Alfred E. Smith of New York, had ever been the nominee of one of the major parties. His 1928 campaign was derailed by claims that he would build a tunnel connecting the White House and the Vatican…

(… Are there any engineers in the house? How tricky would that project be? …)

… and would amend the Constitution to make Catholicism the nation’s established religion. He was overwhelmingly defeated nationwide.”

Does that sound ridiculous today? Let me now speak out on behalf of all of us in this “one nation under God:” less than a century later, we have a similar alarming trend—according to a poll by the Associated Press last month, about 8 in 10 Americans said protecting the religious freedom of Christians is important … in the same poll, about 6 in 10 said the same about Muslims. The Jews fell right in the middle, as 7 in 10 respondents said their religious freedom should be protected.

Eric Rassbach, a religious liberty attorney, said:

“People may not realize you cannot have a system where there’s one rule for one group and another rule for a different group you don’t like. No religion is an island. If somebody else’s religion is being limited by the government, yours is liable to be limited in the same way. Even if you only care about your own particular group, you should care about other groups, too, because that’s the way the law works.”

And this is the my main point on this issue: we have a system of law in this country, based on protecting religious freedom, and that system itself is designed to uphold the laws of the land. Some Mormons in Utah insisted on practicing bigamy, counter to the law of the land, and some of those are in prison for it. If any faith demands its way in opposition to the law of the land, it will be handled accordingly. We need to trust ourselves a little more and let the system work, rather than terrifying one another with dire threats about competing systems taking over. We’re better than that…although you wouldn’t know it from the frenzy on social media today.

In my own book, Powerful Peace, I unpacked this situation in what I hope are helpful terms. And this is in the context of the “mosque war” that raged regarding the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” in 2010:

[hold up and read these highlighted portions from chapter 37, “In defense of faith”]

“The mosque war caused some unacceptable and ironic casualties against deeply-held American values called freedom of religion and respect for diversity.

My two-part response to The Question that The Muslims are Waging a Stealth Jihad against America:

Answer Part A) YES…there is a stealth jihad underway.

Think about it: any group sophisticated enough to carry out the complex attack of 9/11 is smart enough to come at the problem (us) on multiple fronts. They told us who they are: al Qaeda. And AQ said it speaks for all of Islam.

Remember that Hitler said he spoke for all good Germans. Remember, too, that through the skillful manipulation of grievances and fears, he whipped up a fever pitch against another cultural-religious group, that he accomplished this through impassioned nationalism…and that the German language root for ‘nationalism’ led to the term Nazi.

Answer Part B) NO…it’s not ‘the Muslims’ who are after ‘us,’ any more than cop killer Eric Rudolph and his Christian supporters could be interpreted as proof that ‘the Christians’ are out to murder abortion doctors.

There are unsettling similarities between today’s warnings to WATCH OUT for Them-There Muslims and der Fuhrer’s earlier hysteria-laced speeches warning about the menace of Them-There Jews.

This appeal is not intended to raise Islam above Christianity, or vice-versa. I’m merely asking that we pause in our daily drama to consider where each of our fellow humans is really coming from. I believe in God, and I believe God made us all. I’m also pretty sure that each of us is flawed and sees only a small part of the whole picture.

Not one of us is big enough, brothers and sisters, to declare that we individually hold all of God’s truth. I suspect God finds our presumption either very amusing, or very irksome.”

I have a shocking admission: I haven’t always been a Christian. Before joining the Navy and circling the world for decades, I was raised a Protestant in a tiny village of 1,000 people in Upstate New York. Needless to say, everybody knew everybody—and everybody knew everybody else’s business. I was told that God loved honesty and right behavior…yet every Sunday I would see the adults sharing coffee and cookies with individuals we all knew had been doing some pretty bad things, and acting like nothing was wrong. In adolescent, intellectual disillusionment at this hypocrisy I left the church at 15. I first tried to be an atheist. That didn’t stick, and lasted about a week. I then wandered among other traditions like Buddhism and even paganism for about 20 years, finally being compelled by my re-reading of the Bible to return to my roots…with a wizened and skeptical eye for what people tell me about God.

Gandhi, who arguably lived a more Christlike life than many professing Christians, said:

“True religion is not a narrow dogma. It is not external observance. It is faith in God and living in the presence of God.”

We find a similar understanding and tolerance in the First Amendment of the Constitution, part of our American Bill of Rights:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Think about this: every one of you here today has the inalienable right to start your own religion, if you’re so inclined. I thought about establishing Robism, but my Christian beliefs wouldn’t let that go very far. The point is, you and I are blessed mightily to be here in this land where the freedom to worship is not only a right; it is our responsibility to ensure for all others.

We have a privilege unknown to many around the world. This comes with an obligation to defend. I’ll leave you with these final wise words of Thomas Jefferson, found on this plaque that sits on my desk:

[hold up and read plaque]

“There is a debt of service due from every man to his country, proportioned to the bounties which nature and fortune have measured to him.”

[return to seat]


(Care to learn more about my commonsense approach to improving your Self, your Teams, and your Security? Check out our site at or connect with me at social media: Twitter | Facebook Google+ | LinkedIn | Instagram)

Register for tonight’s free “Think Like the Threat” webinar

Strengthen your understanding and your resolve.
Sunday evening, I’ll offer you some solutions. When things go all to hell like they did Friday night, it’s easy to get swept up in fear and uncertainty and, basically, become paralyzed in ineffectiveness. That’s when you need to take a knee, take a breath, and take stock from an informed perspective. Understanding is a force multiplier. 

Think Like the Threat (TiLT) is my “signature” presentation. I’ve used this constantly evolving, interactive instructional talk to help military, government, and private organizations get inside the minds of their adversary and learn to look out through his eyes. Try to imagine how powerful that is for protectors.

Usually, associations or corporations pay me $4,500 for a one-hour TiLT plus two hours of workshopping to help tailor their own in-house Threat Working Group (TWiG). But in response to the tragedy in Paris, I’m going to broadcast TiLT via webinar, at no cost, to any interested participants Sunday evening at 7:00 Eastern. Please note that to allow for questions we can only accept a total of 100 attendees, so register now and make sure you tune in early. Once 100 have taken their seats for the session, we are full.

Registration details are below.  

 [LATE-BREAKING UPDATE: People have been writing in from France, Germany, Poland etc asking for a TiLT that suits their time zone. So I’ve scheduled a second session, planned for Monday the 16th at noon Eastern, 6:00pm Paris time. Stand by for the registration link, later today, if that one’s better for you.]


Please register for Think Like the Threat (TiLT) on Nov 15, 2015 7:00 PM EST:

Register for Sunday TiLT webinar

In this free session, Rob DuBois will spend one hour helping you understand the mind and methods of people who would do you harm. Any adversary, whether terrorist, hacker or business rival, can be sized up to give you an advantage. We call it “TiLTing the game in your favor.”

Rob has presented TiLT to Marines during combat operations in Fallujah, to the Fort Knox Mint Police leadership, to Lockheed Martin staff and executives, and for more than 100 other clients and keynotes. Be advised that you need to be ready to be challenged personally, if you want to get any value from this; a closed mind cannot grasp new concepts. 

Note: Again, we can only fit 100 attendees, so don’t delay your registration:

Register for Sunday TiLT webinar

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

The debate: do extremists—does ISIS—represent their religion?

I had awesome pushback from a LinkedIn colleague on my recent post there. I appreciate resistance to my ideas because it means one of two things: either I made a good point badly, which means I need to correct the way I put something, or I made a bad point well—which means I personally need correcting…and if I’m receptive to that I’ll end up smarter than I had been. It’s a win-win.

My argument was that ISIS, like all terror movements, is pursuing political power rather than actual moral authority, and one proof lies in their murdering a humanitarian who was in the region to serve their fellow Arabs in need. My friend asked me what I had meant by this phrase: “No need to keep pretending it had anything to do with religion.”

He correctly observed, “For those who want to kill and behead the infidels, it is ALL ABOUT ISLAM.”

Yes, absolutely. There are some individuals who fervently support violence against innocents for their cause. When he was alive, I often startled people in my public speaking by saying that I admired bin Laden. Then I would elaborate and explain that in general, I admire self-sacrificing devotion to a cause…and who could argue that his forsaking vast wealth, comfort and safety was anything else? Of course, admiring his courage would not have prevented my killing him.

(By the way, if you’d like to read more about violent Jewish, Christian, Hindu and Buddhist extremists, jump to those links down near the end.)

I agree that for a hard core of ISIS, maybe most of ISIS, it is all about Islam according to their interpretation. There are True Believers among them. But there are also opportunists in every movement. When a criminal group has success, it attracts criminals.

For some “terrorists” in a large organization there are other-than-idealistic motivations. I personally reviewed hundreds of detainee reports in Iraq, in which subjects insisted they’d only been fighting because it was the only paycheck available and the kids had to eat. (Card carrying Nazis and Soviets did the same, in their day. I have a couple of those actual cards.) And we KNOW there was a crisis of employment during the worst of the Iraq war; in some areas it was 70%.

Jihadi prisoners, on the other hand, fewer and farther between, were proud to say they had been killing infidels. It’s a self-proving population. When the jig is up and they’re locked up, they’re only too happy to identify themselves for what they are. It gives them loyalty points with God.

And in Afghanistan, many “Talibs” began their career facing an AK-47 and an infernal bargain at their own front door: join and serve as the one required conscript per household for God’s army, or watch a loved one be killed. What would you do?

Then there are the brutish fighters. The just-plain-criminals. Some boys just want to jump in on the winning side and shoot some guys in the head.

So when I say it’s not about religion, I realize it would be much more accurate to say that “in my opinion, it is the opinion of most Muslims around the world that violent Islamists do not practice true Islam.” Obviously the extremists say it’s about Islam, and certainly some of them believe it. Westboro believes traumatizing newly fatherless children is “about Christianity,” and the Christian movement who celebrate the killing of abortion providers feel the same.

The Jewish fighters who plot to hurry God along by destroying the Dome and its “animal Arabs” believe it is “about Judaism.”

And have you heard about the violent Hindu extremists and violent Buddhist extremists?

(Yes, violent Hindu extremists and violent Buddhist extremists.)

Ultimately, in my worldview it’s important to both acknowledge and prevent the evil deeds of murderers, and simultaneously strengthen cooperation with those who can support those efforts. I believe global security in an era of unprecedented communication demands a reassessment of ALL our biases, and some very mature conversation. I believe we’re in that conversation now.

My “Maggots” Analogy to put ISIS in a useful context

I just posted a reply to a buddy in Facebook about the true nature of the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” (ISIS). It’s only my analysis and only my opinion, but I thought this might add some value to the conversation which, from my POV, has become too focused on their “great threat” to America. I totally agree that unchecked, the disease of ISIS could sicken and severely harm America. But if we deal with them effectively now, which means comprehensively (which means the “full toolkit” of Defense and Development and Diplomacy in the region and worldwide), then we can recognize them today as just another blip on the radar of our history of hating each other.
Here’s that FB comment:
“One of my first goals in dealing with violent actors is to point out their in-significance and il-legitimacy in the social order. These are parasites on our species’ body. Maggots eat necrotic tissue. Terrorists thrive on rotting social flesh, too.
In this case an obvious contributor of unhealthy tissue is al-Maliki’s mistreatment of the Sunnis, as Hussein abused the Shi’as before him…each population inevitably grows resentful. So when ISIS came knocking in the Northwest for unhindered passage, Sunni leaders said “You’re going to kick Maliki’s ass and give us some leverage in Baghdad? Be our guests! Baghdad is thataway.”
(I may have oversimplified that a bit.)
The point is, in the final analysis nobody really wants their kids to have to walk past crucifixions on the way to school. We have to deal with underlying causes, CONTINUING all the kinetics demanded by whatever degraded reality we’re currently in, to have any hope of working toward a better future situation. And we don’t do ourselves any favors by fearing that these maggots have any real authority or real power. They’re just riding the wave of grievances…until they become the greater grievance. Hitler did the same.