Considering a happy atheist: 9-18-14
Saudi leaders speaking out: 9-20/21-14

Is ISIS about religion? Yes: 9-19-14

How would you describe ISIS, or the Islamic State, as it calls itself? Just a terrorist group? A faith-based initiative? Islamists gone crazy? Chickens come home to roost?

Isis-fightersInterestingly enough, the brother of the British aid worker whom ISIS recently beheaded says that ISIS is "not about religion, they're about terror."

That's a myopic and ultimately misleading conclusion.

I agree with Mike Haines, brother of the murdered David Haines, that "The Muslim faith is not to blame for (ISIS), nor is it the fault or people of Middle Eastern descent."

But to suggest that ISIS, some of whose fighters are pictured here, isn't rooted in religion is silly. ISIS represents what happens when radical religious fundamentalism falls off the edge of the sane world.

Its leaders have adopted something close to the fanatical view of Islam promoted by the late Osama bin Laden and his brutal disciples, a view that suggests there is no space in the world for anything except their violently misguided vision of this ancient faith.

I understand that Mike Haines may have been trying to avoid saying thing to which traditional Muslims would take offense. But traditional Islam itself rejects the extremist views of the Islamists like ISIS, though it would help if more Muslims would issue public denouncements of ISIS and its theology and it would help if the media paid attention (as they often do not) when Muslims do issue such statements.

Tell me that the Christmas season in America is no longer much about religion and I'd be inclined to agree with you. But tell me that ISIS is not somehow a product of religion and I think you're simply wrong. It's a product of deviant, unhealthy religion, but religion nonetheless.

* * *


Have you, like me, been wondering what role religion might be playing in the vote this week on whether Scotland should be independent? If so, here's an answer. But maybe this is a subject about which only Presbyterians worry.


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