Friday, February 13, 2015

The Headlines: U.S. vs. ISIS "Don’t Out-zealot the Zealots" — Very Good Advice

ISIS Has Become Ugly PR Experts
Our Religion or Else
(Not much in between)

Who owns religion? Who has a corner on their brand religion and no others? Who is say which religion is right or wrong and all-inclusive? Indeed, who? 

Some background first from here: “... [just] the mention of any religion that does not adhere to American Neo-Christianity’s hate-filled tenets is enough to drive the faithful into a violent rage.” 

For example, in Arkansas, a local Unitarian Universalist church reached out to the community in a letter alerting the residents that their “church” was all inclusive and welcomed all people regardless of race, religion, or sexual preference; like Jesus Christ preached. The letter incited typically religious right intolerance and hatred that drove some vile human being to shoot out the church’s windows and leave a hate-filled, racist, homophobic, and Islamophobic rant threatening the church’s leader.

The main article comes from here, in part: Abu Bake al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS/ISIL, recently threw down the gauntlet at the United States, intending to malign America as what he called the “defender of the cross.” He promised “soon enough . . . direct confrontation.”

Not long after, President Obama took him up on it. ISIS/ISIL savagery has been on full display in Iraq and around the globe via the internet. Mr. Obama’s bold, if initially limited, intervention in behalf of Yazidi refugees and other vulnerable civilians at Mount Sinjar marks only a first stage of what will surely be a long struggle. How that struggle is defined will be crucially important going forward.

Baghdadi’s invoking of the cross, of course, echoes the crusader references that have been a staple of contemporary Jihadist polemics, as if this contest has its roots in the 11th century. In Arabic, the word crusade is rendered as “war of the cross,” with deadly implications that the United States came slowly to appreciate after George W. Bush off handedly defined his response to 9/11 as “this crusade, this war on terrorism."

At the time, and with little or no idea of what it was getting into, Washington found itself in a full-blown religious war — attempting to out-zealot the zealots. The misbegotten invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan both served as massive recruiting festivals for self-anointed defenders of a brutal god. But religion is not, and never was, the issue here.

Finally, this from an elected official in Utah here:

Religious freedom supporters hold a rally on June 30, 2014 in Chicago, Ill. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty)
Finally, I would add: We Americans worship and honor the First Amendment to the Constitution which clearly states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

That simply means we believe that we or anyone can worship the way we/they want or choose, and to do so freely, or not to worship anything at all, also freely. 

We also are supposed to respect others and their right to worship or not. Careful, though about trying to remind a zealot about that. You may not like the answers.

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