It seems to me that almost every time the expanding tragedy of Syria is discussed on NPR commentators rush to deny that religion has anything to do with it. “This isn’t about religion,” they say, “it’s about power.”
This is stupid: Religion and power are inseparable. Look at fundamentalist Jews in Israel and New York State; look at Hindu Nationalists in India, look at Buddhists in Myanmar, look at Sha’i Islam in Iran and Hezbollah, and Sunni Islam in Saudi Arabia and Al-Queda, look at the Christian Seven Mountains movement and the Religious Right in the United States. Of course there are religions that lack power and therefore pretend that religion isn’t about power, but give them some power and they will change their tune in a heartbeat.
Not so, I’m told: People just use religious language to stoke the fires of hatred but religion itself is peaceful.
Nonsense. The fact that religious language is useful to foment hatred suggests that religion is not an antidote to hatred but a catalyst for it. When, for example, the leader of Hezbollah declared last week that Sunni Moslems are Takfiris (apostates), and Hezbollah fighters have a religious obligation to fight them, and those who die doing so will go to heaven, he is using religious language to make it easier for Shi’a Moslems to kill Sunni Moslems in quest of power. This only works if Islam is already inclined in that direction.*
I’m not opposed to religion, but neither am I naïve regarding it. If we are to create religions of peace we must put an end to politically correct talk about religions of war.
*I am using this as an example only. I am not saying Islam is more warlike that any other religion.