Debate Over Religion and Extremism Hits Close to Home

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“Lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”

This is the crux of President Obama’s recent address at the National Prayer Breakfast that has caused so much controversy.  Naturally the president’s traditional critics have leapt all over these remarks to stir up their base of supporters stoking the flames of right wing conspiracy theorists that Obama is anti-Christian and a closeted Muslim plotting behind closed doors to aid Islamic extremists like ISIS.  GET REAL!  I suppose this reaction was to be expected.  Far too often it is a natural human reaction to act in revulsion when a mirror is placed in our faces and someone points out our seemingly obvious faults.

image of Christian right's criticism of Obam's prayer breakfast remarks2

The subtitle of a recent Atlantic article accurately describes the true intention of President Obama’s remarks.  ”Using religion to brutalize other people is not a Muslim invention, nor is it foreign to the American experience.”  All in all, much of this controversy, other than the typical partisan reaction, is that as a nation we have not accepted a cohesive term to accurately describe ISIS, ISIL, etc…Part of this debacle stems from the mixed messaging the nation receives from a polarized political elite and the commonly held public post 9/11 reaction to broadly categorize ALL Muslims as extremists or terrorists.

It is mentally easier to lump all the sources of terrorism into a nice and tidy gift wrapped package.  That is the risk of falling prey to propaganda regardless of who is spewing it out…Republicans, Democrats, ISIS or even our own government.

Kennedy quote about ignorant voter

Just like in the 1950s during the heyday of McCarthyism and the House Select Committee on Un-American Activities when we saw Communists behind every corner, 9/11 and “the war on terror” have many Americans stereotyping the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims all as terrorists.

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  Let’s face the facts.  The heinous atrocities of groups like ISIS and Boko Haram that include beheading, burning caged hostages alive, senseless murdering and or kidnapping of women and children are crimes against ALL HUMANITY!  Centuries ago these same crimes against humanity were perpetrated by Christians against non-Christians by a select few who wheeled the combined power of church and state to maintain control over the masses .  Today these same acts are being perpetrated by a select minority of individuals who claim to be faithful Muslims that are seeking to create a theocratic state of power over the masses.

In both cases human beings have blasphemed the very tenets of their religions to set themselves upon shaky pedestals of power based on hypocrisy.  The members of groups like ISIS and Boko Haram are not devout Muslims.  The only religion these inhuman thugs truly practice is terrorism for the sake of power and control.  Do not be fooled by their deceptive proselytizing in the name of God.

Jefferson quote on Christianity

John Adams quote on religion in America

In both cases human beings have blasphemed the very tenets of their religions to set themselves upon shaky pedestals of power based on hypocrisy.  The members of groups like ISIS and Boko Haram are not devout Muslims.  The only religion these inhuman thugs truly practice is terrorism for the sake of power and control.  Do not be fooled by their deceptive proselytizing in the name of God.

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While Western public attention is focused on their terrorist acts against our own citizens, the facts are abundantly clear that more Muslims, brothers and sisters of their own faith, are victims to the heinous acts of these inhuman dogs.  Therefore, average faithful believers in the Muslim religion have as much reason to detest these Islamic hypocrits if not more so than non-Muslims.  Consequently, we are seeing a steady rise in the voices of the traditionally silent majority within the Muslim community condemning these terrorists for what they are—MURDERERS!

muslim is not terrorism

At the same time, self-reflection forces us all to take responsibility for some of the possible sources of why these extremist causes have gained credibility in the eyes of some poor misguided souls.  As the image above illustrates there are acts of man against man and culture against culture that fuel the message of hate perpetrated by ISIS and their brothers in terror.  No religion is immune from criticism when one realistically admits that more human beings have been killed in the name of God than any other cause in human history.

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Sociologically speaking, over and over again throughout history man has used religion as a coercive power rather than a force for good.  Therefore, I think it is appropriate for President Obama to stir the public debate in the name of good conscience in an effort to curb stereotyping or profiling.  If nothing else, it helps us all to strive for a higher purpose through the recognition that there’s plenty of blame to go around.  Admitting our own faults is the first step in progressing towards a morally higher ground when combating the evil extremities of terrorists.  By doing so we deprive them of their public relations ammunition that feeds a narrative of we’re just taking an eye for an eye.  The compelling argument that distinguishes us and strikes a defining difference is that our democratic principles have enabled our societies to accept diversity and tolerance for opposing views.  That is the difference between modern civilization and the barbaric feudalism these terrorists inflict upon the peoples they dominate.

In recent days there has been a clear military commitment from Arab nations like Jordan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in fighting ISIS.  This re-affirmation of Arab support against ISIS is being hailed by some as a “turning point” in the conflict.  Likewise, respected Muslim cleric leaders in Egypt and other nations are rising to the occasion and condemning the abominable acts of terrorism against fellow Muslims that ISIS shrouds in a false religious narrative.

All combined, the world struggles to apply an appropriate description for what groups like ISIS, Kobo Haram and AQAP truly represent.  This may seem trivial in the whole spectrum of waging a “war on terrorism.”  Yet it plays hand in hand with the seemingly ineffective struggle to overcome the successful PR campaign ISIS has used to strike fear through the press and social media.  It is an act of futility to claim victory in the battle of competing ideologies when there is no universal consensus on what to call your enemy.

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Today’s confirmation of the unfortunate death of American humanitarian activist Kayley Mueller while being held captive by ISIS underlies the pure and simple fact that they are solely responsible for this tragedy.  Regardless of whether or not that she may have perished during a Coalition bombing raid, her death would have never occurred under these circumstances if ISIS had not kidnapped her and held her for ransom in the first place.

LET US BE PERFECTLY CLEAR AND DIRECT…THESE MURDEROUS BUTCHERS IN NO WAY REPRESENT GOD OR ANYTHING HE STANDS FOR!  THOUGH THEY SHROUD THEMSELVES IN THE HYPOCRITICAL RHETORIC OF ACTING IN GOD’S NAME OR REPRESENT THE TRUE FACE OF ISLAM…THEY LIE ON BOTH ACCOUNTS!  THEY ARE NOT MUSLIMS OR ISLAMIST BUT RATHER HEINOUS BARBARIANS AND MURDEROUS CRIMINAL THUGS…NOTHING MORE AND NOTHING LESS!  IT’S TIME TO STOP GIVING THEM MORE CREDIT, PUBLICITY AND POWER THAN THEY DESERVE.  ANNIHILATION IS THE ONLY JUSTICE THEY DESERVE.

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