Glass Houses & Stones: The Religious Right’s War On Islam

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Okay, let’s start off with a little education. I promise, conservative readers, it won’t get too complicated. An Abrahamic religion is a monotheistic faith of West Asian origin, emphasizing and tracing their common origin to Abraham or recognizing a spiritual tradition identified with him. This small group is one of the major divisions in comparative religion, along with Indian (Dharmic) religions and East Asian religions. It’s estimated that approximately half of the world’s faithful fall into one of these Abrahamic religions, of which the major entities are Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.

If certain people in the GOP could have their way, Abrahamic religions would lose that dominance, since they would lose about 22% of the worldwide faithful by disqualifying Islam. The latest to advance the idea that Islam is not a religion is Republican candidate Jody Hice, running for a US House of Representatives seat in Georgia. He claims that it is, instead, “a complete geo-political structure and, as such, does not deserve First Amendment protection.”

Jody Hice is not alone in this assertion; such luminaries as Pat Robertson have advanced the idea before, and even the local geniuses in my state have said it in opposing a Islamic cemetery in nearby Murfreesboro. They even brought it up in court to oppose the mosque the cemetery would serve.

I could lie and say this is an interesting point of view, but it isn’t. It’s rampantly stupid, and smacks of “I don’t like it, thus it couldn’t be anything like my cherished religion”, which is specious at best and childish and bigoted at worst. It also neatly undermines their own goals, which generally involve a greater role for Christian ideals and strictures in American life. You see, if Islam isn’t a religion, then neither is Christianity.

I can just about hear the thunderous “NUH-UH!” being panted forth from innumerable slack-jawed mouths, as well as the slightly more erudite “Blasphemy!” from the more intelligent-but-blinkered hyper-faithful. To quote Mandy Patinkin, “Let me explain. *pause* No, there is too much. Let me sum up.” (And if you don’t know that quote, shame on you; I sentence you to watch the Princess Bride and drink a iocane-powder smoothie afterward.) There are a few major points that make this true, despite the objections.

The first is that Christianity and Islam come from the same source, Abraham. Islam even reveres Jesus as a prophet. To negate one is to negate the other. They, and Judaism as well, share many similarities and are inextricably entwined by their common ideological and geographic point of origin. I can pretty well guarantee that most everyday adherents of each could not distinguish between random excerpts from the Bible, Koran, and Torah translated into plain speech.

The second relates to the claim from Jody Hice that “it’s a geo-political system that has governmental, financial, military, legal and religious components. And it’s a totalitarian system that encompasses every aspect of life”. This description also describes Christianity and, to a lesser extent, Judaism. Christianity, in all its separate sects, descends from Catholicism; no matter if you call yourself a Baptist or a Episcopalian or a Mormon, your sect was a part of Catholicism before ol’ Martin Luther took hammer to nail on the front door of Castle Church in Wittenberg and the Reformation started. As such, your faith never would have existed without a political entity with governmental, financial, military, legal, and religious components, as well as totalitarian control that encompassed every aspect of life. The Catholic Church was, and still is, its own state, with armed forces, political influence, banks (and its own money, prior to switching to the euro), judges, etc., and that’s at its current low-ebb of influence. In Europe during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the Church could literally destroy monarchs and countries, not by military power, but by political influence and by the wielding of religious faith in the political realm. “King by the Grace of God” wasn’t the formality it is today, and if that grace was removed (via the infallible Pope), well, good luck, because you’d need it. People below the level of royalty were doubly under its power; their overlords were Christian, and the local church most often had equivalent power to a noble when it came to enforcing religious rules on the populace.

Judaism also exists in a similar state of power today; Israel’s governmental power is intricately entwined with the Jewish faith, and many of its political positions are driven and directed by conservative Jewish religious positions. The fact that ultra-conservative Jews can except themselves from the otherwise-universally-required military service to their nation for religious reasons is just one of these.

The third is that, even if you don’t accept the second point (which I fully expect, since facts tend to be rejected by religious types when they’re inconvenient), the end result of actions of the religious right/GOP/Tea Party are such that Christianity in the USA would be indistinguishable from that description if they had their way. Already, we exist in a circumstance where the idea that the President is a non-Christian (even though he most certainly is one) is seen as making him unfit for office. Therefore, we have de facto control of at least one branch of the government by Christianity, if not all three, since it’s unimaginable to so many that a candidate (be they for president or the judiciary or even, in a majority of cases, a seat in the legislature) not be a Christian.

The efforts to use US power to push Christian interests abroad, to use legislative power to make Christian doctrine part of the law of the land, to ensure that only Christian attitudes are welcomed in our military, these all point to an imperial faith that seeks to fuse itself to the state, and the intent of the Founders be damned. For a group of people who decry the supposed insinuation of Sharia law into the US, they are awfully cozy with the idea of the Christian version, laws requiring even the nonbeliever to toe the religious line. Maybe it’s just that they don’t want any competition.

I doubt that Mr. Hice has put that much thought into his statements; he is likely simply seeking to foment religious hatred and strife to buoy his chances of taking a House seat by riling up his red-state constituency. Reality is inconvenient to his purpose; hyperbole and hatred are much more electorally valuable to him than the truth. After all, isn’t getting elected ever so much more important than living up the American ideal of freedom of religion? But I guess, in his mind, you DO have freedom of religion… as long as it’s the right one.

Jason Francis

Jason Francis is a red-state liberal, residing in the heart of Dixie where he gets to watch the train wreck of conservative politics up close and personal on a regular basis. He's lived in affluence and poverty, in both urban and rural settings, attended both public and private schools, and has visited most of the US at one point or another.


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  • Vivian Sue House Hughes

    It’s especially weird when you take in the fact that all of these “religions” teach you not to kill, judge or condemn, but to love one another.

  • ponderingpath

    Always curious why American Christians never attempt to “convert” their Jewish “friends”; or go to Israel and preach “The Gospel of Christ”; after all, didn’t the prophets speak numerous times about how “God’s own people rejected his son and Jesus spake of their unbelief? (but I digress). Instead of trying to “take the Islam” out of believers of that faith- I dare Christians to really head Christ’s command to preach the gospel of Christ….Start with Jews and save them first.

  • Stanley Dootson

    Islam is a religious system started 600 years after Christ. There is virtually no comparing Christianity with Islam.

    Islam has literally Millions of followers who:
    Believe it is wrong to educate women.
    Remove the clitoris of women believing that pleasure should have nothing to do with sex for women.
    Believe that there are 72 virgins awaiting any Male warrior who kills infidels. There are no such virgins awaiting female suicide bombers.
    Believe it is perfectly normal and acceptable to blow themselves up to kill as many infidels as possible.
    Believe that a rape victim somehow brought it on themselves and shame their own family.

    I could go on and on!

    Christian morals and values have made America into the greatest nation in history. Which Islamic nation can make that claim? Which Islamic nation has a massive influx of illegal immigrants beating the doors down to get in?

    • Moses

      Believes that an old man walked all over the earth and collected two of every animal and got them all back to the Middle East.
      Believes that women are secondary, and evil, and the cause of the fall of man from paradise.
      Believes that women enjoying sex is immoral and should only occur for reproduction.
      Believes that fetuses are sacred and have rights, but women and mothers do not.
      Think it’s perfectly normal to kill people for their beliefs, and even engage in slow-motion genocide of the few natives of America left.
      Shares the belief that rape victims are at fault for being “sluts”.

      I could go on and on as well!

      If you think my description is inaccurate and overblown, congratulations! We’re on the same page. Your characterization is just as absurd and extremist. Do some research; they come from the same place, and have the same extremist whackjobs. It’s not Christianity that has made America great; it’s the fact that we kept Christianity separate from the state that did it. If your supposition was accurate, then England, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, the Baltic states, and pre-revolution Russia, among others, would be just as great; all Christian-based countries, all with the faith involved in their rulership. Since this isn’t the case, you are revealed to know nothing.

    • Educator

      You should really try to read into a topic before commenting on it. First of all you clearly have no knowledge of islam if the points you mentioned are what you think the religion is all about. Clearly your source of information is the typical modern day argument against islam that some uninformed person came up with and propagated it to people like you to learn like parrots to spit whenever they want to denounce the religion.
      1- You should learn to differentiate between islam and middle eastern culture. If you would just get yourself a copy of the quran or try to read a book about sound and weak hadith (prophetic sayings) you would learn that actually none of the points you made above about the religion are true. Shocker huh?
      2- You might also want to have a little bit of a historical education beyond american history and learn about the islamic golden age and scholars like ibn seena and ibn khaldoun and the origins of major advancements in science, medicine and astronomy
      3- You may not be aware that many of the major scientists you see today in america and europe are actually *gasp* non-christians!! Lots of athiests lots of jews lots of christians and *gasp again* even mooslims!! Crazy huh?

  • Jim Whoever

    So what has changed that is dragging us into mediocrity then? More government regulation? More liberalism? Irresponsibility? More social programs?I’m curious since we were once the freest nation in the history of the written word with the most advances in history, how have we fallen from such heights? Don’t say greed either, that’s weak and it’s greed and profit that drives society to new heights, not whiney, smug, arrogant, self righteous underachievers. When we were the greatest nation, we didn’t have such huge government. We didn’t have such a whiney, weak, needy population always looking for government assistance. We didn’t have such a massive deficit to fund this behemoth federal government. The states had more sovereignty and control over their own issues. I see a pattern here. On a side note, I also think this writer is rude, but it’s to be expected.

    • ibantam

      The problem with our country is NOT corporate greed, but rather a lusting of our control-freak, governmental superiors to micro-manage every aspect of life. The GREED is on the part of the useful idiot voters: Blacks who want wealth redistribution, white trash who wants a food-stamp phone, union thugs who want Nazi style communism, and even their professed Christians don’t give a damn about the slaughter of the unborn and will continue to vote for pro-abortion democrats as long as they think it will result in wealth redistribution.
      I have never voted for a baby-killer, and God will hide my family away on the day of slaughter which will come upon this nation, but those who voted pro-abortion will be “ABORTED!”

  • ibantam

    It’s the Democrats who are against the 2 “Abrahamic religions” of love, Judaism and Christianity, and it’s also the democrats who support ISLAM, the Arabic religion of hatred, female suppression and slavery.