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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Should We Fear Islam?

A very interesting discussion recently took place on ABC moderated by Christiane Amanpour. I think anyone interested in the subject of Islam and terrorism should watch (and this ought to be everyone). One of the main points made is that there is no "one true" Islam anymore than there is "one true" Christianity. People as diverse as the Rev. Wright of Chicago and Pastor Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church are Christians. It would not be right to consider either of these as the "true" Christianity and condemn all Christians based on the statements of either man. In the same way it would be wrong to condemn all Muslims on the basis of what the extremist Islamists teach. Similarly, it would be wrong to condemn all Mormons on the basis that some Mormon fundamentalists are polygamists.

However, there is another element to this discussion. Christian extremists and Mormon extremists do not have the political base that Muslim extremists have. Thank goodness that Fred Phelps is not the ruler of a country, especially a country with a strong military or nuclear capabilities. Islamic extremists do rule certain countries and do have enormous military might as well as millions of willing martyrs. This aspect of Islam, political Islam, does need to be feared in my opinion.


  1. With the name of Allah, Peace be unto those who follow the guidance from their Lord.

    Ken thanks for posting this! As I mentioned before I have found allot of your material to be very beneficial and gaining new insights into Christian theology especially as it centres on the atonement and propitiatory sacrifice.

    You may find this series interesting here: <This man is very popular among Muslims in the United States and the United Kingdom.

    There is a good book recommendation called 'The Islamist' by Ed Husein (Why I joined radical Islam in Britain, what I saw inside and why I left)

  2. Verbalizer,

    Thanks for the kind words and for the link. I look forward to watching the series.

  3. Religion and politics is a bad combination. I don't fear liberal Christianity partnering with government nearly as much as fundies taking over government.

  4. Lynn, I don't want fundy Christians taking over the government, either. But what about fanatical Islamists? Should we really be more concerned about conservative Christians in power than Muslim extremists?

    Not that you're saying this, Lynn, but I'm reminded of an irrational moral equivalence that I hear expressed all the time (one that drives me nuts): "Christians have their fringe wackos, just like Islam -- one is no better or worse than the other." But Islamist crazies are strapping suicide bombs on children, stoning women, cutting off people's noses and ears, mutilating girls' genitals, forcing women to wear tents, beheading infidels and threatening to destroy the West.

    Let's get real: Radical Muslims pose a huge threat to peace everywhere on earth, in a way that Joe Conservative Baptist does not. And yet, we've allowed multicultural orthodoxy to cow us into making all these ridiculous concessions and accommodations. I say it's time to ignore the tenderer-than-thou among us and start telling the unvarnished truth.

    (No offense to the Muslim commenting above, who undoubtedly is a non-fanatic and probably a good guy, too.)

    Also, about lib Christians. Don't be so sure that these people wouldn't oppress in other ways. Right now, a man is on trial in the Netherlands for insulting Islam with "hate speech." I could see the same sort of thing happening here if religious liberals had absolute sway. Their phony ideas of "social justice," radical feminism and multiculturalism would surely be imposed on us all -- much to my abhorrence.

  5. In what country is it true that christian extremists don't have a political base?

    Let's get real. It wasn't Radical Islam that started two preemptive wars that killed maybe a million people and sends predator drones and black ops into every country on earth. That was Joe Conservative Baptist.

    To paraphrase Ken, this aspect of Christianity, political Christianity, does need to be feared. We should not fear Islam or Christianity, we should fear any religious person holding power. It's foolish to condemn the Hatfields and ignore the McCoys.

  6. Uzza, were these wars fought in the name of fundamentalist Christianity or Jesus Christ? You know perfectly well they weren't. Agree or disagree with whether they were justified (like you, I would say they were not justified), these were wars waged according to the interests of the United States. They were not religiously motivated. Your comparison fails.

    I see this all the time on the Internet. People who left Christianity are so P.O.'d with their old faith that they simply can't distinguish between something truly menacing (radical Islam) and something merely annoying (Joe Conservative Baptist).

  7. Also, this notion that we should fear any religious person in power sounds unwarranted to me. I don't want a fanatic in office, either. But I'm not about to cower under the bed if members of Congress or the president believe in God and go to church.

  8. “God told me to smite Osama bin Laden, so I invaded Afghanistan. Then He told me to smite Saddam Hussein, so I invaded Iraq. Now He wants me to work on the Middle East problem...”--U S President George W. Bush

  9. With the name of Allah, Peace be unto those who follow the guidance from their Lord.

    Hacksaw I appreciate the comment that I am a 'good guy'. The challenge with our world is not people who believe in absolutes (There is a God, There is no God, Jesus is the only way, No It's Islam etc)

    The real challenge comes when a person with their absolutes wish to push their particular view upon another be they atheist, liberal, conservative, Muslim what have you.

    Now I have my bias as a Muslim no doubt but I wish people would reflect upon the fact that every place where Christianity does have strong sway in politics there is manifestation of violence.

    (Northern Ireland, Former Yugoslavia three way dance between Orthodox, Catholic and Muslim), Southern Lebanon (Christian and Jew team up against Christian and Muslim).

    The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan did have religious motivation behind them. The problem is that evangelical Christianity has a dangerous marriage with political Zionism and America has been handcuffed to this marriage.

    Watch the 'Jesus Camp' learn about Christian Reconstruction and Rushdoony, learn about Sarah Palin and Dominlonism.

    What should people fear the most? Well some where in this galaxy there is an asteroid, or an expanding black hole that has the earth in it's trajectory.

    What you should fear the most depends upon it's immediate proximity to you.

  10. Yes, Grandverbalizer, I assume you're a good guy who loves peace like the rest of us. Plenty of Muslims do, and I have no problem with such folks.

    Anyway, you said that "every place where Christianity does have strong sway in politics there is manifestation of violence." Is that true in, say, New Zealand? Australia? Canada? Des Moines, Iowa? Maybe you're seeing something I'm not -- all these Jesus followers burning people in effigy, shouting, threatening, rioting, beating people up.

    The real problem is, violence exists wherever there are people. But in most Christian-majority lands, we don't stone people to death or administer lashes. We don't cover our women in burqas, strip them of liberty or behead dissenters. Those practices do occur -- without apology -- in lands where radical Islam is in the driver's seat.

    As for the West, except for the few places where there are Catholic-Protestant clashes (i.e., Ireland), religious violence is fairly rare. (I know that people who have left the Christian faith angrily will deny this and put Christian and Islamic violence on a level field, but I think such people are flat-out delusional.)

    On the other hand, you make a good point about the relationship between evangelicalism (especially dispensationalism) and Zionism. Yes, I have to admit that evangelicals would like to influence the government in a pro-Israel direction. I happen to be fairly pro-Israel myself, but I don't like the fact that people justify such a stance from ancient religious beliefs. I do have to concede the point, though.

    As for the asteroid, do you know something I don't? :)

  11. Verbalizer,

    I listened to the youtube video series for which you provided a link. I thought it was good. The only thing that bothered me was the speaker's adulation for Malcolm X.

  12. Hacksaw Duck,

    You make some good points. And it is nice to have a Muslim voice weighing in also. It encourages me that there are lots of reasonable, peaceful people out there still.

    At this point, Muslim extremists do seem a lot scarier than Christian fundies. And yes, Christian fundies are a lot more annoying simply because I'm much more familiar with them. I used to be one.

    Here's hoping that the moderates in all the groups somehow keep the crazies in check.

    I'm SO glad I no longer have a religion to defend! What a load off my back!

  13. Thanks, Ken… I’d missed this and found it fascinating.

    What I guess is fairly obvious is that the overwhelming “provoker” of this entire controversy, and the presence of such great fear and inter-faith conflict is the events of 9-11. The phrase was used many times throughout the program, beyond just the “ground zero mosque” controversy.

    From all I could tell, it appeared that all the participants have accepted the official gov’t explanation of the 9-11 events, which remain the majority American understanding of them, also. If, however, we have been misled as to what really happened, and how, so much else changes regarding what all was being discussed.

    Now, there is no question that Muslim extremism and terrorism is still a major issue, regardless if 9-11 even had happened, but it would be on quite a different level if our perception/understanding is way off.

    Fortunately, there IS plenty of evidence and scientific analysis of it, for a sorely needed re-examination of particularly the collapse of three (!) WTC buildings (twin towers AND “building 7”)—one that fits with the reason-based, work-from-the-facts approach that religious skeptics tend to take, as in this blog (I count myself among them).

    The first necessary question, relative to just the NYC part of 9-11, is HOW, WHY did the buildings collapse? This is where science and related evidences serve us well, and the official explanation (via 9-11 Commission Report, etc.) does not.

    It isn’t actually that technical or deep-into-physics to see, from publically published, readily available images and materials samples, etc. that the collapse-from-impact-and-fire explanation is absolutely wrong. All we know of that can account for it, and which DOES fit the evidence very well, is controlled demolition. But that’s been hushed up, covered up (it certainly appears), ridiculed, etc. The counter-arguments are not persuasive.

    We all need to look again (if we haven’t)! Perhaps the best place to start is This is a group of over 1270 prof. architects and engineers convinced, based on their expertise, that the WTC buildings could not have and did not collapse due to impact and fire. There is good, quick summary as well as plenty of detail at this site, and at several other scholarly ones.

    Howard Pepper

  14. continued from just posted comment:

    Why interject this in the discussion of the threat of radical Islam? For one, because so much of the entire emotion-charged debate, political moves, foreign-policy that includes 2 major wars, etc. all revolve around what was aroused by 9/11. If it did require more, perhaps MUCH more than benign incompetence coupled with 19 (or more, with logistical, planning support) determined Muslim extremists, then we need to know WHAT that more was, bring the plotters to justice, and get the massive corrective to the 9/11 narrative that could be a true "game-changer." The debate/discussion showed that 9/11 is what mainly has charged and overshadows the entire subject and nature of the back-and-forth.

    Admittedly the " justice" part, as well as even getting to the truth will be massively difficult, but I am convinced it is necessary and likely to be worth whatever it takes to do it.... And momentum for it is clearly growing! A legally-empowered, non-political investigation is absolutely necessary, and it needs widespread American support and completely deserves it! Among other things, the picture of the assets and abilities of the radical element within Islam could be drastically altered. I believe it will show that much more than religious ideology, or the desperation of hopeless people, etc., is involved in the real picture.

    Howard Pepper

  15. Sources? A minute with google would show you that the above quotes George Bush at the 2003 Israeli-Palestinian summit meeting in Sherm Al-Sheik. Earlier that year he told Jacques Chirac that his goal was to thwart Gog and Magog. These are the words of a religious fanatic, as Chirac noted.

    In spite of the President explicitly stating that our wars were religiously motivated in the name of Christianity, people deny it; conversely, in spite of OBL explicitly stating that his war was motivated by American politics, notably stationing troops in Saudi Arabia and supporting Israel, the same people insist that they aren't, that they are religiously motivated. They are also quick to enumerate a long list of atrocities by muslims while ignoring an equally long list by Christians: extrajudicial killings, secret prisons, torture, starting wars, etc.

    The thinking can be summed up as “Us good. Them bad.” and it's exemplified by the Abrahamic religions. It's an authoritarian, hierarchical mindset that attributes every evil to the actions of bad people, who must then be punished. That is what we need to fear, not Islam.

  16. With the name of Allah,


    I listened to the youtube video series for which you provided a link. I thought it was good. The only thing that bothered me was the speaker's adulation for Malcolm X."

    That's fair enough. At least you give people a fair shake and I respect that about you.

    For the record when it comes to Atheist I'm not a fan of Hitchens and Dawkins because they come off as so bitter and angry.

    I like people more like Sam Harris because he seems at peace with his atheism. I think that is important for people to see that. I see it.

    He writes critique of Christianity and Islam but I do not see him as bitter. I was just going to throw my 2cents in there but seeing the way the economy is going I better give a whole dollars worth!

    I don't really disagree with what anyone is saying here. There are certainly fellow Muslims that frighten me.

    Hacksaw Duck said,

    "Anyway, you said that "every place where Christianity does have strong sway in politics there is manifestation of violence." Is that true in, say, New Zealand? Australia? Canada? Des Moines, Iowa?"

    I'm not aware of the situation in New Zealand or Australia but I am in Iowa and Canada. What I meant to say is when they (the Christian groups have political ascendancy)-the more power they have over the people the more violent manifestations take place.

    There are Christian groups whom I truly love and respect such as (The Amish, Quakers (Society of Friends), The Mennonites).

    I have total respect for them and to me they embody much of what Esau (Jesus) taught.

    In fact even though my web site focuses on polemic and apologetic between our side and the Christians I do plan to have a banner in the future encouraging people to trade with the Amish and support their community (buying organic food stuffs etc)

    I think what allot of people do not understand is that in Classical Islam (not the wahabbism you see from Saudi Arabia etc) there is much of the Shari'ah that applies only to Muslims.

    Now there are common laws that are Shar'i based that apply to everyone (do not kill, robbery and so forth)

    Than there are laws that only apply to us for example if I drink alcohol I would be punished, but you as an Atheist would not because you do not embrace that world view.

    Muslims are allowed to divorce, the Christians would not be allowed because they would fall under the jurisdiction of their Church which forbids them.

    For example when you hear that in Andalusia some of the Jewish people wore yellow ribbons people blow this way out of proportion. They make it sound like Nazi Germany. The fact is that Jews wore beards and Muslims wore beards. The Jews wore turbans and the Muslims wore turbans.

    Those who wore some yellow ribbon any where identified them as a member of their community so that over zealous Muslims would not encroach Shar'i regulation upon them in cases where we had no right.

    The thing that baffles me is when I hear a fellow American say to me, "OMG your going to Saudi Arabia!" Did you know if you rape women they will kill you! Did you know if you sell drugs over there they will kill you! Did you know if you steal they will chop off your hand!

    I look at him and I simply say, "So if you went to Saudia Arabia you would sell drugs, rape women and steal people's property?"

    "No!" He replies. Than what do you have to worry about? That would be like someone saying did you know in the United States if you commit murder they will put you in jail!

    Apologies to all for being a bit long winded. I just thought I would share different insights.

    Over all I am happy for the tone and the discussion, not just for the sake of our own gratification, but I'm happy to find my countrymen(Americans) discussing things in such a manner.

    Our nation and our world is in crisis and I hope we can continue to have dialogue and energetic discussions.

  17. Is that true in, say, New Zealand? Australia? Canada? Des Moines, Iowa?"
    Every one of these countries sent troops to fight in the Mideast.

    Going somewhere else to do your killing does not make one less violent.

  18. Rev. Wright and Pastor Fred Phelps might be extremists but they are Christians nonetheless: they claim they are, claim they derive their beliefs and morality from the Bible, claim to follow Christ and so on, and in so doing exemplify a type of Christianity. As Sam Harris points out, moderate believers make possible more radical forms of a given religion, be it Christianity or Islam. We can't dismiss the likes of Phelps, Wright, Robertson and their Muslim equivalents simply by pointing to their extremism. They represent their chosen belief system just as much as more moderate adherents.

  19. OK, Uzza, I'll look into that quote from Bush. Here's why my immediate inclination is one of skepticism: If he had said these things, his political opponents would have had a field day bringing it up, constantly. The media would have asked for an explanation. But as far as I know nobody used it against him and no reporter asked him about it. It doesn't pass the smell test.

    You said, "It's an authoritarian, hierarchical mindset that attributes every evil to the actions of bad people, who must then be punished. That is what we need to fear, not Islam."

    Yes, I'm one of those screwballs who attributes evil to the actions of bad people and I believe they should be punished. Just how is that irrational?

    Apparently, you want to give radical Islam a pass and not fear it. I'm assuming you deem yourself a person of reason. But nothing is more rational than maintaining a deep concern over Islamist radicals who have announced their desire to destroy us and have taken bold steps toward fulfilling that desire. It's absurdly unreasonable to soft-pedal such a threat for the sake of political correctness (or whatever).

  20. Hi hacksaw Duck,

    The man on trial in the Netherlands is not a liberal, if anything he is rightwing in his ideas. He is not involved in any religious group. Living in the Netherlands myself, I have never heard him mention that he is a christian. He is in a particular political party and because he is in a christian country, people might think automatically that he is a christian.

    If christians really held sway then why can’t they be like Jesus who told us to love our enemies! There is nothing phony about the ideas he introduced into this world as one day everyone is going to acknowledge, when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Talking about holding sway! ( Philippians 2:10 )

    I certainly like Jesus’ brand of multiculturalism that will be gladly accepted by all. Revelation 7:9 is a wonderful picture of how mankind will one day be united before Christ. A great multitude that no one can number, from every nation, tribe, people and language.

    Kind regards,

  21. Linda, I'm not saying the man on trial is a liberal Christian. What I meant to convey is that for all the talk about "right-wing fascism," there's a distinct left-wing flavor as well -- one that imposes political correctness and speech codes to protect their favorite groups. I think that's what we're seeing in your country right now. It's in Canada too, and its a stench in the nostrils of everyone who loves free speech.

  22. Just how is that irrational?
    It's irrational when it assumes falsely that punishment will have beneficial effects.

    It's irrational because it leads people to ignore facts (as you demonstrate with the well-known Bush quotes and christian misbehavior above), when they don't fit into a simplistic good guy/ bad guy binary choice that allows no third option.

    Per my Hatfield-McCoy reference, each side punished the other and the cycle of violence continued until they changed their attitudes and took that third option.

  23. I'm not ignoring the Bush quote, but neither am I ready to confer "fact" status on it, as you seem so eager to do. I'd prefer some recognized, mainstream documentation (ABC, the Washington Post, e.g.) -- not ax-grinding fringe media, like Mother Jones or Democratic Underground. But honestly, if he said it, I'll join you in condemning it (I didn't vote for him anyway).

    And yes, I do accept the painfully obvious, time-tested wisdom that punishment does deter wrongdoing. Not perfectly, not all the time (so there's no need to cite exception-to-the-rule anecdotes). Got a better idea?

  24. >>Lynn, I don't want fundy Christians taking over the government, either. But what about fanatical Islamists? Should we really be more concerned about conservative Christians in power than Muslim extremists?

    I don't know where you live, but here in the US, at least, there is zero danger of Muslims taking over the government. They are far too few and their immigration far too slow.

  25. You're right, Chris. But hypothetically speaking, fanatical Muslims in power would be a much worse state of affairs than the religious right in power.

    I know some here disagree. And I think such people have taken leave of their good sense (if not sanity). They're understandably annoyed with the conservative Christianity they've left, but they allow that irritation -- instead of solid reason -- to drive their convictions in an area where the truth ought to be patently obvious.

    A "hallelujah" born-again Christian who wants to lead you to Jesus is not as dangerous as a Muslim who believes in suicide bombings. That should be obvious to anyone but the most profound dimbulb.