“Civilization will not attain to its perfection until the last stone from the last church falls on the last priest.” – Émile Zola
Religion commonly produces sects – splinter groups with a slightly different theological interpretation of some bit of nonsense: the Trinity, the Immaculate Conception, confession, communion; Reform and Orthodox Jews; various strains of Baptist – no one would ever suggest that these are not all religions. Despite the Protestant conviction that Catholics are doomed (and vice versa), the claim that one or the other of these gangs of theists is somehow not a religion is nothing that should be taken seriously.
Yet some Muslims (and Liberals) point to a group of other Muslims – all of them adamant about their faith and their motives – and say, “We refuse to take these people at their word. We find their actions abhorrent and so, therefore, they are not real Muslims.”
It seems the main qualifying feature of being a “real religion” is that it doesn’t provoke bad acts. This view demands a rather shocking degree of willful blindness with regard to the history of religion, the contemporary practices of those who proudly invoke the name of God, along with complete ignorance of the allegedly inerrant word of the one true God. I invite anyone who doubts this to simply open a newspaper and to spend some time actually reading the Bible or the Quran because it appears certain they have not done either.
ISIS stones people to death – an act specifically demanded for any number of offenses in the Christian Bible – and the choir responds with even greater certainty: “That’s not REAL religion!”
The stunningly hypocritical contradiction passes by them without so much as a nod or a wink: when people do exactly that which God specifically demands for reasons plainly enumerated in their inerrant, divinely revealed book, THAT’S not religion.
The members of ISIS are Muslims – you may take them at their word.
It is a fundamentally Islamic organization and Islam is either the proximate cause of the evil they do or an accelerant. They are not pretending, and have made very clear that anyone who doesn’t agree with their particular understanding of God deserves to die.
Similarly, gentle Jesus, meek and mild, is the proximate cause for people who shout epithets at women attempting to enter medical clinics, just as He was for those who burned innocent women at the stake after falsely accusing them of witchcraft.
Let’s not dodge the facts by refusing to admit that these monsters were Christians and largely motivated by righteous certainty in divine warrant. It is simply dishonest to assert otherwise.
On its face, it seems to me such an egregious evasion that it calls into question the motives of anyone who points to these people and casually asserts they are not REAL Christians, or that their foundational scripture does not fairly support and demand such things on a plain reading.
The Catholic church still takes very seriously the idea of demonic possession and the necessity for exorcism. That they have not burned anyone at the stake recently does not exonerate their dangerous and superstitious theological certainty.
As for ISIS not conforming to “Islamic orthodoxy” (the definition of which apparently cannot be left to Shi’ite and Sunnis to sort out), the actions of ISIS conform perfectly with the demands specifically made in the Quran regarding infidels, blasphemers, apostates, adulterers and homosexuals.
That the vast majority of people are rightly horrified by those actions renders neither the motives nor the terrorists themselves, “Not really Muslim,” no matter how sincere the desire to avoid offending all those reasonable Muslims who decry the murderous attacks in Paris, the burning alive of a caged man, or to comfort some misplaced Liberal need to elevate tolerance beyond reason.
The depth and breath of cognitive dissonance required to play this level of No True Scotsman is, in my view, a very serious obstacle. We cannot begin to address any serious problem with multiple causes, of which religion is plainly a very significant one, by defining that factor out of the equation because it suits some relexive desire not to offend someone’s make believe friend.
Hitchens was right. Religion poisons everything. Pretending it doesn’t – that in some small measure it’s a good thing – is whistling past the graveyard.