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RELIGIOUS TERRORISTS: Driven by fear of modernity

 article about religious terrorist
Islamic, Christian, Hindu, and Jewish Fundamentalists share many common traits. As I patiently waited in line at the supermarket, an elderly lady behind me picked a morning newspaper out of a nearby rack and scanned the headlines touting a suicide bomber killing of several U.S. soldiers in Iraq. She forlornly cried, "Why does the world hate us so much?" I turned in time to see the elderly gentlemen behind her shrug his shoulders as a sign of bewilderment. Several others overheard the lady's anguish but said nothing.


Truth is that the large majority of non-Americans don't hate us. It may come as a shock to our collective egos but non-Americans do not sit around wringing their hands over anything American. They're too busy worrying about their own families and trying to make a living. In the rare times they are confronted by America they will opt for their own culture. Why should that surprise us? Nationalism and pride in one's own culture is common. They may think us weird or crazy, but they don't hate us.


Obviously there are people out there who do hate us with such intensity that they are willing to die to kill as many of us as possible. We've labeled these people as terrorists. Unfortunately the number of terrorists may be growing. Although there are a number of nationalistic liberation organizations, the terrorists threatening U.S. and Western security are driven by Islamic religious impulses. In fact, we would do well to understand the danger inherent in all religious expressions.


Nothing stirs human emotions like beliefs associated with supernatural beings. Parents have even killed their children for religious beliefs (several cases were recently reported). Many preliterate people sacrificially killed their children on an altar to their gods and the same religious views justified the slaughter of their neighbors. Let my Christian colleagues feel a sense of superiority, we should remember that we have historically killed non-Christians and, incredibly, one another in the name of Jesus Christ. Millions of them. Religious systems generally justify the killing of others in the name of their deity.


True, the historical U.S. tilt toward Israel is a strong element in Islam's terrorism, but even if we change that imbalance Islamic fundamentalists will continue acts of terrorism. And hatred will continue to beat in the hearts of Islamic fundamentalists even if Al-Qaida is eliminated. This is because Islamic fundamentalism's hatred is driven by a deep fear of modernity. And Western boots on their soil intensify this rage! Western modernity, with its scientific worldview stresses secularism and the rights of individuals to choose their own values and life style. Many believe this undermines Islamic authority. It does.


Americans should be able to understand Islam's view, since we have oodles of Christian fundamentalists also fighting modernity. This is our nation's "little dirty secret" we loathe to acknowledge and confront. First, bombing an abortion clinics is an act of terrorism. Supposedly these are evil places operated by evil people and need to be eliminated for the sake of creating a Godly society. This is the same line used by Islamic terrorists. Second, Christian fundamentalists work to ban books and magazines as a means of protecting people from evil ideas. Islamic fundamentalists do the same. Third, Christian fundamentalists, like their Islamic colleagues, also fear science, since it refutes biblical literalism and undermines the church's moral authority. Christian fundamentalists correctly view scientific evolution as undermining the authority of the Bible.


The modernist genie is out of the bottle and permeates and drives Western civilization. It liberates the individual and questions historic, taken-for-granted worldviews, replacing them with what most Westerners consider to be more accurate and useful views. Religious fundamentalists, of whatever brand, are deeply threatened by the modern worldview. No matter how many Saddams we displace, religious fundamentalism, wherever found and however disguised, is fertile breeding ground for the most lethal brand of terrorism.



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