Extremism, Fundamentalism, Islamism and Jihadism – Understanding the Difference

Far right Christian extremism is no different from Islamic extremism. The religion used is merely a cultural vehicle used to push a harsh, authoritarian political agenda, which always dismisses or condemns education, art, and science, and subjugates or oppresses women, gays, and other vulnerable groups.   Inflicting a particular religious dogma on the population is intended to keep the people in line and suppress questioning and dissent.

Nothing good has ever resulted from the mixing of religion and politics. It has led to more wars, suffering and cruelty than anything else.
The separation of church and state does not seek to eliminate religion from people’s lives: it allows people the right to worship as they choose, and it prevents the inevitable political tyranny that results when one set of beliefs is forced on the people and informs the country’s constitution and laws, as it does in Muslim majority countries that practice Sharia Law and may do here in America if dominionists have their way and rewrite the constitution to suit their set of religious beliefs.

While reading this article, imagine replacing the words Islamism and Islamic extremism with far right Christian extremism or dominionism/reconstructionism and the article would be no less true.  The agenda, goals and methods are exactly the same.   Both believe that oppression and domination over others is God’s/Allah’s will  and that certain individuals have been chosen by God/Allah to carry out his will by any means necessary.  Both subscribe to a heirarchical, patriarchal view of humanity, in which certain men chosen by God must be obeyed without question.

There is no compromise or reasoning with extremists.  They are always right, because God/Allah has told them so.  If you disagree, you will be demonized as rebellious to God or an infidel.

disorderedworld

Although several Muslim countries are democracies – including most notably Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim majority nation – arguments about the incompatibility of Islam and democracy continue. On the one hand, research reveals a positive correlation between the proportion of a country’s population that is Muslim and its propensity toward authoritarianism. On the other hand, analysis of the World Values Survey, find that “surprisingly similar attitudes toward democracy are found in the West and the Islamic world.” While debates about the compatibility of Islam and democracy in general continue, the specific political ideology of islamism is an extreme, fundamentalist, political ideology that is vehemently opposed to the basic tenets of democracy.  

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Christian Dominionism has taken over the GOP.

fascism

Many Christians may wonder how the heartless, draconian, dangerous, and mean policies of the current GOP can be reconciled with anything Jesus Christ actually taught.

The truth is, they can’t. Although our current president (who by all indications is not a religious man, nor has he repented for his many indiscretions both before and after he was elected) panders to the Christian Right, has surrounded himself with “Christian” politicians (mostly fundamentalists and dominionists — more on dominionism in a minute), and has taken on their anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage rhetoric (to obtain support and votes, since these are the two issues that seem to concern these so-called Christians the most), Trump’s behavior (and those of the people he has appointed) is anything but Christ-like. Yes, it’s true the Bible tells us to “judge not, lest ye be judged,” but we are also told (by Jesus) that “by their fruits you shall know them [the evildoers],” and so far, this administration has borne nothing but bad fruit. So, going by that, I feel justified in judging the regime that has taken control of our country.

The ugly truth is that they have an agenda: turning our democracy into a religious theocracy — an Old Testament-based dictatorship that is to real Christianity what the Taliban/ISIS is to real Islam. They want a Christian version of Sharia Law in which women and minorities are silenced and repressed and “know their place,” in which  political or religious dissent is made illegal, in which non-Christians can be treated as second class citizens with limited or no rights, in which the land, sea and sky is raped and pillaged for human purposes (because taking care of our planet means we “lack faith” in God’s ability to replenish the Earth), in which personal sin (abortion, homosexuality, adultery, etc.) is punished harshly and maybe even by death,  and in which material wealth is regarded as proof of God’s approval/love and in which it’s justified to let the poor and sick perish and die because they are “moral failures”who have not been so blessed with good health or wealth because they are not among God’s elect (a Calvinistic doctrine that we are all predestined for heaven or hell before we are born, which of course begs the question as to how we can also have free will).

If you are thinking about how far this is from what Jesus preached in his most famous of all sermons, the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), you are right.    Jesus instructed us us to welcome immigrants  (his own parents would have been banished from Bethlehem and Mary not allowed to give birth there because they were foreigners),  take care of the poor and the sick (one of the most famous, but far from the only, verse in the Bible addressing this is the one about it being easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to get to heaven), and turn the other cheek (be humble.)    He railed against pride, greed and legalism.   He counted among his friends the beggars and the homeless.   He valued women as much as he did men.   He gave us the “new Covenant” which was to replace the old Biblical laws found in books such as Leviticus.

Now, the old Testament has much to recommend it, and of course the Ten Commandments are just plain old common sense.   Personally, I have no objection to the Commandments being displayed in courthouses or “In God We Trust” being printed on the dollar bill, because these things don’t necessarily favor only Christians and they’re simply good advice for anyone.      They don’t repress, oppress, or marginalize anyone.  They don’t hurt people or the environment.  They don’t undermine the Constitution or our freedoms.   People who object to these things really ought to turn their minds to more important issues that actually affect their lives.

Yet we have a bunch of Christian heretics high up in government who actually want to set up a fascist regime based not on the Constitution drawn up by the Founding Fathers, but on Old Testament Biblical Law.    This is the desire and goal of cultists (yes, to my mind they are a cult) who embrace an ugly and dangerous doctrine called Christian Dominionism, and Donald Trump, in spite of not himself being religious, is their cult leader.

Here is a comprehensive definition of what Christian dominionism is:

https://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-dominionism.html

Christian dominionists may tell us they are saved and insist we need “more Jesus” but they practically ignore the Gospels.  Instead, they cherry-pick passages in the Old Testament that they feel support their beliefs, usually the ones that show God at his most angry, intolerant, and punishing.  There is no Jesus in what they preach and to my mind, they are Christian in name only.  They also have somehow come up with the idea that America is God’s chosen nation (after Israel) and that Jesus will return here, which justifies everything they do that represses or punishes non-believers and the “non-elect.”   But there is absolutely nothing in the Bible that supports the notion that America is somehow regarded as God’s chosen country.

They (as well as many fundamentalist Christians, whether they are dominionists or not) believe that Donald Trump, while not the second coming of Jesus himself, is nonetheless “preparing the way” for Jesus’ return.   They may acknowledge that Trump is a sexually and personally amoral narcissist, but this is okay because in the Bible, God often used sinful people to fulfill his wishes.   They compare Trump to King Cyrus of Persia, a deeply flawed and cruel man who nonetheless freed the Jews.

According to this website,

“He came in, this king, as a secular ruler and decreed for the building of the house of the Lord. He literally made it possible for the Jews to end the captivity,” Lance Wallnau, an evangelical leader and author, told the Christian Broadcasting Network. “Trump has the Cyrus anointing to navigate in chaos.”

Trump as “Cyrus,” President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as “Babylon,” the Jews as either modern-day Israelis or Americans? It’s not only evangelical Christians who buy it. Before the election, Rabbi Matityahu Glazeron predicted a Trump victory based on an analysis of Bible codes, which he said also pointed to the new president as a Cyrus-like figure.

In a pre-inauguration faith gathering, Likud Knesset member Yehuda Glick, in Washington, D.C. for the festivities, expressed a like sentiment. Calling the new president “the king of the United States of America,” Glick said that if Trump moved the United States embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, “He will be the latter-day Cyrus!”

Trump has also sometimes been compared to King David, a similarly flawed man of the Old Testament who was a hero to the Israelites and made Jerusalem its capital.

Here is a list of “Christian” justifications for the evil, un-American agenda the Trump regime and much of the GOP are trying to make reality.   I am not making this up.  I wish I were.  The source I used for this list can be found here.   There are many other sources, and a quick Google search should point you to them, but I found this source the most comprehensive and will serve for the purposes of this article.    I will warn however, that this website makes for some disturbing reading.  I don’t recommend reading it if you want to get any sleep.   You can read about their plan for taking over the Republican Party (we are seeing many indicators of their agenda being fulfilled under the Trump administration)  here.

Public education for all is to be abolished in favor of religious, private education.  If you can’t afford a private, religious education, too bad, you must not be one of God’s elect.   Ignorance is good, because it keeps the undesirables in line.   Educated people ask too many questions.  How long before our child labor laws (because that’s socialism) are repealed?    Put those indigent kids to work!

Defunding protections for the environment.  Apparently, for Christian dominionists, stewardship of the earth is irrelevant, in spite of numerous Bible passages that tell us that the Earth belongs to God, and we are only to use it sustainably.    They believe that because in Genesis, Adam and Eve were told to “fill the earth and subdue it,” and “take dominion over it,” that means it’s okay for us to vandalize God’s creation and expect Him to clean up after us like parents coming home to find trash all over the house and graffiti drawn all over the walls after their unruly teenagers threw a drunken weekend party.  They justify unsustainable environmental practices such as strip mining or fracking by saying that only a person of no faith in God’s restorative ability would want laws that protect earthly resources.

Why the mainstream media should be suppressed.

The GOP war against women.  It ain’t just about abortion. They want a patriarchy where women are treated as second class citizens with fewer rights than men and where women’s health is legislated and controlled by high ranking men.  If you want to get an idea of what life might be like for women if the current GOP gets their way, read Margaret Atwood’s eerily prophetic 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale.

Why it’s “Christian” to take “entitlements” away from the poor and middle class.  According to Christian dominionists, God has selected certain individuals to take power over America (a Christian nation!) in preparation for Christ’s return.  In order for them to have the power they need to do what God has ordained, He has blessed them with material wealth like some cosmic lottery machine.   So if you aren’t rich, then God has not chosen you, and in fact you are probably predestined for hell anyway.   This is a morally repugnant (and uniquely American) theology based on Calvinism and the Puritanism that grew from that.  It explains how some far right Christians can reconcile their faith with Ayn Rand’s (herself an atheist) philosophy of selfishness, otherwise known as “objectivism.”    Never mind all that socialist business about Jesus loving the poor and weak —  he didn’t really mean it!  Using dominionist logic, Saudi Arabian oil sheikhs must be even more favored by God, since they are richer than any American Christian.

While “the little people” need more rules and regulations (Jeff Sessions wants to bring back the War on Drugs — hey, gotta fill up all those for-profit prisons!), corporations shouldn’t have any regulations (laws that keep them from exploiting or abusing people, animals, and the environment) because regulation cuts into their profits, and we already know those profits are ordained by God and should not be interfered with.

There is much more, but I’ll leave it at that.   These are the same people that condemn radical Islam for its treatment of women and their tyrannical governments that suppress religious liberty and terrorize those who don’t believe, but they want to do the very same thing here under the rubric of Christianity.   They are hypocrites who twist real Christianity into something more closely resembling a fanatic religious cult in which “freedom of religion” means the freedom to force their religious beliefs on others by making them the law.    They whine about Christians being persecuted because of creationism not being taught in public schools or because some people say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”  (personally, I doubt Jesus cares whether we celebrate his birthday or not), but they feel perfectly free to persecute those who don’t believe exactly as they do and just want to live in a country where everyone is equal and treated fairly.