"You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out." - William Tecumseh Sherman

Name: The General
Location: Sacramento, California, United States

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Friday, September 17, 2004
  Fundamentalism, Christian and Islamic
I was just reading an article the other day on FrontPage Magazine.com by Don Feder entitled "AntiChristian Fundamentalism". The article is essentially an attack on the left by a member of the religious right for equating Christian fundamentalism with Islamic fundamentalism (he goes on to equate that viewpoint as one step away from advocating the burning of churches, but I won't deal with that non-sequitur here).

What I found interesting was Feder's idea that his fundamentalist Christianity was in any way different from a Muslim's fundamentalism. Feder says:
When he speaks of a “fundamentalist impulse” in Christianity, Gore is also degrading and demonizing evangelical Christians. The term fundamentalist implies fanaticism, which suggests mental instability, which in turn insinuates a tendency to violence.

When the left says fundamentalist it means – “takes religion seriously, believes in the Bible literally, thinks The Ten Commandments are more than suggestions, disagrees with the ACLU on abortion and same-sex marriage”: in other words, miscreants, mutants, degenerates and the criminally insane – the sort of folks who would never get a grant from The Heinz Family Foundation.

And later:
Liberals in politics smear Bible-believing Christians by comparing them to the religion of holy war and suicide bombers.

As Gore does here, by speaking of Christians like the president in the same breath as Saudi Arabia and the Kashmir – where Moslems on steroids shoot, bomb, and behead infidels.

The clear implication is that fundamentalists/evangelicals are the American equivalent of suicide bombers. The late Ayn Rand, herself an atheist, used to call such a rhetorical device the “broad-brush smear.”

The absurdity of the comparison may be seen in this way: If you disagree with an evangelical on religious doctrine, he’ll pray for you. If you disagree with a Wahhabi Muslim on a matter of faith, he’ll try to kill you. No small difference, if you’re on the receiving end of a car bomb.

Now Mr. Feder seems to build an insurmountable argument here - after all, there aren't any cases of Christian suicide bombers, only Muslim. So doesn't that mean there is a fundamental difference between these types of fundamentalists? Isn't Christian faith more benign and peaceful than Islamic faith?

Of course not. While Mr. Feder skews the picture with his pious platitudes to Christianity's peacefulness, he's quietly covering up a great deal of history. Just a few highlights:

What is notable here is that these are all primarily Christian phenomena. While Islam certainly doesn't have much to point to for redemption, the same can consistently be said for Christianity. Like all religions, Christianity is least harmful when its least taken seriously (such as during the Renaissance, and most of history since then). The fact of the matter is that anytime religion mixes with government, violence is produced. So called "pro-lifers" who promote laws forbidding women to destroy a fetus is the initiation of physical force, just as surely as any one of them had stopped her at gunpoint. They are really just one side of the same theocratic coin; both agree that it is legitimate to use violence to enforce their faith - they merely squabble over which divine whims should be enforced.

For what argument does Mr. Feder really have against those who "keep their women swathed in black from eyes to toes and make suspected adulterers shorter by a head"; Sorry, my faith says that's wrong? The Islamic reply is totally consistent on this point: Sorry, but my faith says its right. And that's where the discussion (and any discussion based on faith) ends, and has to end. Faith, especially of the fundamentalist variety, is the true enemy here, and the real cause of the violence. Until faith is rejected and replaced by reason, theocracy and suicide bombings will continue to plague the world.
 
 POSTED BY THE GENERAL AT 11:25 PM


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