By Dave Stancliff/For the Times-Standard
Posted: 07/31/2011 02:40:21 AM PDT
The dangerously widening gap between Christianity and Islam is reminiscent of the crusades of old, but on a scale never before seen.
We're instantly connected by advanced technology, unlike medieval times when information traveled slowly. Today, a holy man/leader calling for jihad instantly reaches millions of devout Muslims. Something their medieval predecessors couldn't have dreamed of.
The thing that hasn't changed with these two religions is their intolerance of one another. Extremists, disguised as fundamentalists, still call for each other's blood.
The result: people like Andres Behring Breivik (right), a Norwegian and self-described Christian Fundamentalist crusader, slaughters 76 people in Norway in the name of God, the right wing political party and racial purity.
According to a Reuters report, Breivik said, “I explained to God that unless he wanted the Marxist-Islamist alliance and the certain Islamic takeover of Europe to completely annihilate European Christendom within the next hundred years, he must ensure that the warriors fighting for the preservation of European Christendom prevail.”
The European press is full of stories about opposition to Muslim immigrants who bring their customs and beliefs. The concern about Muslim globalization has become a prime political issue in Europe. Right-wing political parties are gaining followers who see multiculturalism as a threat to their way of life.
The entire world has become the hunting ground for al-Qaida and other extremist Muslims. Its founder and, until recently, leader (now deceased), Osama bin Laden, formally declared war against the West when he attacked the twin towers in New York City on 9/11/01.
Since then, distrust of all Muslims has become commonplace in America and the West. Because of Muslim religious fanatics, we don't just see a Christian backlash against Islam but a national concern about our security. American lives have been forever altered because of religious fanatics.
We've resorted to intense security and have lost some of our basic Constitutional freedoms with the passage of the Patriot Act, a direct response to extreme Islamic attempts to murder innocent people.
Norwegian investigators are looking at a 1,500-page manifesto in which Breivik vowed “brutal and breathtaking operations” in order to stop “the ongoing Islamic Colonization of Europe,” according to the Reuters report. Analysts say the manifesto was inspired by heated rhetoric from groups in the United States -- some of which are quoted directly.
Robert Spencer, the co-founder of Stop the Islamization of America, is cited more than 50 times in Breivik's manifesto.
Worldwide, religion has become increasingly prominent in politics, and it contributes to the polarization of political parties. The Middle East is a prime example, as the Jews and Arabs have never managed a real peace thanks to extremists. America is not exempt from this divisive phenomenon.
Why are Muslim leaders so strangely silent when Muslim extremists attack innocent people throughout the world in the name of Allah? I ask the same question of Christians who don't denounce extremist brethren like Florida pastor Terry Jones, who calls on God to help him rid America of Muslims.
The monumental irony, at least to me, is that both religions could live side by side if they just practiced what they preach. Both say they believe in an omniscient God that tells them how important the power of love is, yet they reject it in their daily lives. Each religion promotes peace but has prominent members who don't practice it. Instead, violent extremists from both sides are calling for crusades.
The historic crusades were geographically confined compared to the modern version, which covers the entire planet. Every atrocity committed today by these crazed religious killers seems worse than the last.
There's no sure-fire way to put an end to this religious war. Technology has presented us with wonders that have become weapons for extremists. From the Internet to smart phones, we've opened a technological Pandora's Box.
In this country, our Constitution guarantees separation between religion and state, but you wouldn't know it when you see how some of our leaders blatantly use religion to harvest votes.
If we can't stop this modern crusade in its tracks, we can at least slow it down and perhaps eventually turn the tide. We must not allow religious extremists to take over political parties. It's not too late to fight this dangerous crusader philosophy, which has the East and West on the brink of Armageddon.
As It Stands, mixing politics and religion was never a good idea, and the proof is all around us.
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