January 14, 2010

Islam is a Problem

Danish CartoonChristians, and at least a few atheists, like to criticize me for focusing too much on Christian extremism to the neglect of other forms of religious extremism. This is a fair criticism even though I have explained my rationale for this decision. It is understandable that some readers would want more content dealing with Islam. After all, the mainstream news media in the U.S. is quick to label Islamic extremism the enemy without even acknowledging Christian extremism. Of course Islam is a problem. The thing is, I'm not entirely convinced that Islam is a problem for vastly different reasons than Christianity.

To those who insist that Islam is worse than Christianity, I agree with you in one respect. Islam seems to be stuck where Christianity was prior to the reforming influence of secularism and Enlightenment thought. Islam desperately needs the sweeping reforms from which Christianity benefited. This is the reason I would far prefer to live under the oppressive Christianity I endure in the Bible Belt of the U.S. than live in a Muslim country.

In the U.S., Islam has been thoroughly equated with terrorism. While it is clear that neither Islam nor Christianity have any claim to the "religion of peace" mantle both seek, I think we need to be careful about assuming that Islam is the primary factor motivating every recent terrorist attack on the U.S. I suspect that U.S. foreign policy is more important in driving at least some terrorist acts against the U.S. than Islam.

Like Christianity, I think it is fair to say that Islam facilitates certain forms of violence that we might see less of otherwise. Without Islam, suicide bombings might be less popular in the same way that abortion clinic bombings would probably be less popular without Christianity.

I also think that the countries which follow Islamic law provide us with a potent example of what life would be like if U.S. theocrats had no obstacles to ruling as they wanted. This is scary stuff of which we can agree that we want no part. The thing is, I feel like I'm much better equipped to prevent that sort of thing from happening here than I am to hasten a reform within Islam. But make no mistake, Islam is in desperate need of reform. And until that happens, Islam is a problem.
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