Defining our Enemies

by Mike Liccione

The distinguishing feature of Islamic militancy is that it seeks to make Islam, precisely as such, the explicit basis of political authority wherever it is the dominant religion. For a long time, to be sure, Christians were wont to do the same with regard to their own religion; but save in a few isolated pockets, that approach has been given up, as it should be if Christianity is true. We've learned our lesson. Yet the Muslim world, the Umma, has not learned the lesson. Nor do I think it can. That is the main, underlying reason why the Umma has such a hard time repudiating al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups, such as Hezbollah and Hamas. It is the main reason why "Islamic" parties are gaining ground even in ostensibly secular states such as Turkey and Indonesia. All over the Muslim world, we hear more and more calls for imposing sharia, even on non-Muslims when possible. Even now, Christians in Iraq are reduced to the options of oppression or flight; Sunnis and Shi'ites, who seem to agree on little else and continue fighting each other, seem to agree on that much. That's the attitude which is steadily gaining the upper hand throughout the Umma.

Such a totalitarian and ineradicable feature of Islamic militancy is the polar opposite of the ideology that now dominates the Western world: secularism. The core principle of secularism is not the separation of church and state as institutions; most of us believers in the West agree that such separation is good for both. I for one am glad that the papacy no longer has temporal authority and that I live in a country whose constitution ensures religious freedom. For when religion is not adopted freely, according to individual conscience, it is to that extent an obstacle to human flourishing; and that's why people brought up in any given religion ought to think critically about it if and when they can, so that they can make their choice in an informed and adult way, consistently with their God-given dignity. But I object profoundly to secularism.

(Read it all, link is above)


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