Two contradictory things that I feel obliged to point out. I advise you not to take my sarcasm too seriously.
1. Why do conservative Christians act is if ISIS is the enemy? On a practical level, yes. ISIS is trying to kill westerners and expunge “western values” from the world. Included in western values is Christianity. That’s a tricky one. In what ways do Christian and western values coincide? (Classical) liberalism, human dignity, ummm….can’t think of much else. Western values (or lack of values) stem from a de-Jesus-ized Christianity-a goal of the Enlightenment project. Let’s take the convenient stuff from Christianity and remove its source from the picture. All human being are bestowed with dignity because they are made in the image and likeness of…..well we don’t talk about THAT guy anymore, but it’s all the same in the end. Makes sense, right? So the deistic tendencies that were born from the Enlightenment and have characterized the trajectory of western thought and culture has now tended all the way to the opposite end-secularism. Don’t talk about God, faith, ultimate values…AT ALL. Do it in your house, or in your church, but please don’t let it leak out into the public sphere! GOD forbid…wait, sorry I mean…sh*t, I didn’t mean to offend anyone [resolves to never mention anything having to do with the divine again].
Why is ISIS so adamantly determined to purify the world of western values? Partly because of that^^^. Don’t mention anything that has to do with man’s ultimate fulfillment in public. Don’t let the institution that throughout history has assisted men in pursuing that which corresponds to the deepest desires of their hearts play in role in the public sphere. You can search for happiness, you can seek to understand your humanity, but don’t go too far, don’t look for eternal happiness or true humanity. Don’t let this search have anything to do with your public life and relationships, otherwise you will be silenced. Suffocate your yearning for the infinite.
Can we really be free under these circumstances? While it would be morally disturbing for anyone to condone the way in which ISIS is responding to the grave dangers of western values, it would be foolish to condemn ISIS as being opposed to Christian values. ISIS members also desire the freedom to bring their deepest human needs into public discourse. Yes, their response to the restriction of this desire is outrageous, but the motivation is not. When are we going to address the facts that Christian values are not the same as western values!? Christianity and secularism are opposed to each other. So rather than jump on the politically conservative wagon that is setting out to defeat ISIS and any others who “threaten the glory of western values,” we ought to capitalize on the opportunity to point out that western values=/=Christian values. Secularism sucks.
2. Lucky lefties seem oh so concerned about Islamophobia and the infringement of religious freedom. Well…where were you guys when Christians’ toes were being stepped on by the Obama administration? What happened to the right to practice what you believe without the government giving you a problem? And what about Christians who are being beheaded by Muslim extremists in in the Middle east? “Well, what goes around comes around. Christians did the same, OR WORSE, in the Inquisition…” So Christians represent the MAN, while Muslims represent the oppressed minority proletariat, right? So it is a progressive person’s moral duty to stand up for the downtrodden and speak out against Islamophobia and to add it to their list of campaigns against homophobia, sexism, racism, etc-isms. Wait, have you read surahs 7:80-84, or 4:11? No, because you’ve probably never opened a Quran before. You probably are not very well-versed in the qur’anic hermeneutics or Muslim theology. But please proceed to tell me more about how Islam is a religion of peace, since you know everything about it…meaning you have a nice Muslim friend from undergrad who was just “a normal guy like everyone else”! No plans to bomb the university anytime soon. Case closed. Because of Malik, I know for sure that Islam is a religion of peace.
It may very well be true that several schools of jurisprudence of Islam interpret surah 2:190-191 in a “peaceful” way. It is also true that other schools of jurisprudence interpret jihad literally and thus are determined to kill people for the sake of defending their faith. Unlike Catholicism, Islam lacks a cohesive anthropology (God doesn’t take flesh) and a centralized hierarchy of authority (no pope). So is Islam officially a religion of peace or of violence? It depends who you ask. But to claim there is an authentic, “real” Islam is a far cry from being valid. “ISIS members are not REAL muslims. They did not act in the true spirit of the Quran.” Well actually, who are you to say that? The Dominicans who carried out the Spanish Inquisition were not acting in the spirit of the gospel, and we have the authority to say that first of all because of Christianity’s decisive anthropology which allows us to determine what is and isn’t an offense against human dignity, and we have a representative who speaks for all the Church and who can determine that the actions of those particular Dominican friars were morally problematic.
So before you go defending the true Islam against islamophobes, you might want to actually open up a quran, or read up on Islamic jurisprudence…or at least start with this article. Karen Armstrong doesn’t count. It’s cute that you “accept” your Muslim compatriots, but it might be more helpful to them if you actually learned about their religion rather than presume to be able to tell them about how their own religion works.
Three cheers for implementing religious literacy curricula in public schools!