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Religious War & Peace

Philip E. Johnson

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A recent article in Britain's New Statesman magazine warned that, as Britain's culture war heats up, the religious groups that threaten public tranquility are mostly being supported either by the United States or by Saudi Arabia, two nations that the magazine assumes to be equivalent in extremism. "Puritanical yet wealthy, convinced of their God-given mission to the rest of the world, sure of a divinely inspired history," the article, titled "Faith Invaders," declared,

Saudi Arabia and the United States are surprisingly similar in their mixture of religion, politics and interference in other countries' affairs. Saudi Arabia has Wahhabi Islam, Middle America has evangelical Christianity. Historically, they hate each other. Yet both see themselves as exponents of the purest version of their faith. Both are suspicious of modernity. Both see no distinction between politics and religion."

Threatening Values

The equating of Christians with Wahhabis is reminiscent of the assertion of the moral equivalence of the West and the Soviet Union that we so often heard from the European and American left during the Cold War.

Such relativism sees little difference between the religious tyranny of the Wahhabi-backed Saudi monarchy, which violently oppresses not only non-Islamic religions but other forms of Islam, and the thriving religious pluralism of the United States, where Muslims have far more freedom than they have in Arabia, and where formerly bitter religious differences, such as the chasm that once separated Protestants and Catholics, have become more like amiably held differences of opinion.

Viewing the subject from a strictly secularist perspective, the article tended to see any cooperation among religions as a threat to its own values rather than as a welcome step towards civil peace.

Read the entire article on the Touchstone website (new window will open).

Posted: 28-Jul-05



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