Christian Dominionists and Islamists: Two Sides of the Same Coin

Racing to see who will destroy our country

Christian and Islamic extremists drink from the same wellspring of authoritarianism – the desire to impose authority, to force submission to dogma, and to compel obedience. Choice is not an option. As conservative Christianity long ago ruled, choice is heresy.

Don’t ask questions; Just believe, third century critic Celsus was told. This is a dangerous enough equation in religion; in politics the consequences are catastrophic.

You can’t dictate reality; but that reality is what it is whatever we might wish it to be, seems beside the point. Reality – and facts – must be made to adhere to a preset ideological framework.

As though science had never begun to explain the universe they chant, “Our holy book, the [insert sacred text of choice] gives you all the answers you will ever need. Feel free to express any opinion you wish so long as it is among those found in this book.” Indeed, the more science explains, the less people express a need for revealed religions and ultimate truths, the shriller and more desperate their rhetoric becomes.

And secularism is on the rise: from 8% of the U.S. population in 1990 to 15% in 2008. By the late ’70s some 20% of Americans described themselves as nonbelievers.

Nonbelievers don’t obey religious dictates and don’t care about dogma. And the numbers above do not include the growing numbers of adherents attracted to alternative or “non-mainstream” religions. These are the people most comfortable in a modern liberal democracy, which has as its lifeblood the toleration that religious extremists reject.

A pluralistic liberal democracy is the antithesis of black and white thinking, the enemy of either/or propositions, and pushes a new paradigm of compromise and tolerance over the old good versus evil model.

Christian extremists (we can call them dominionists) hate this. Islamists hate this. In them both the old fashioned crusader/jihadist mentality still flourishes. In truth, these extremists fell out of the same tree and they have more in common than they would like to admit.

Some of America’s right-wing politicians, those most fervently attacking Islam today, those most vociferous in their denunciation of Sharia Law, are the most alike in their thinking: submit to God and turn the clock back to the Middle Ages.

This era was for both a Golden Age, an age in which scripture could be legislated into law; when a holy book could be misinterpreted not only as a code of law but as a textbook on political theory.

One group champions Sharia Law, the other Mosaic Law, all the while denying they’re the same thing, and denying that the same god, the God of Abraham, wrote or inspired them both.

Reality as a Shakespearean tragedy; or is it a comedy?

But while fear of Islam is unreasonable, just as is fear of Christianity (unless one wants to fear all revealed religions as threats to liberal democracy), fear of Islamism is not unreasonable, as (in Timothy Ferris’ words) it “resuscitates the totalitarian enthusiasm that nearly wrecked Europe.”

Historian Bernard Lewis sees Christianity and Islam as two forces that have been at loggerheads since the sixth century. He observed in 1954 – at the height of the Cold War – that there are “certain uncomfortable resemblances” between communism and Islamism – both offer “complete and final answers to all questions on heaven and earth…both groups offer to their members and followers their agreeable sensation of belonging to a community of believers, who are always right, as against an outer world of nonbelievers, who are always wrong.”

Of course, Bernard Lewis was writing before the dawn of Christian dominionism, and his words are equally applicable to America’s Religious Right, which takes its cue (and inspiration) from the apocalyptic, persecution-complex-ridden Christian communities of the second century, fervently hoping – and waiting for – the end times.

Apocalypse now. To hell with waiting until 2012. Let’s get it on! A sordid, terrifying specter of the past.

And if Islamism and communism shared Christianity as an enemy, and Hitler co-opted it, America’s conservative Christians name not only Islam the enemy, but secularism, atheism, feminism, Paganism, liberalism, and most disturbing of all – science.

Yet another alarming thing the Religious Right and Islamism have in common: a hatred and distrust of science.

As if the rest isn’t alarming enough.

Ironically, (and to expand on another of Timothy Ferris’ thoughts) Islamists and the Religious Right both view the west as a “decaying shell” and agree that the only way people can support liberal democracy is if they are deluded and wicked.

And dominionists will shout to be heard above the Islamists in their claims that Western liberals are deluded and wicked.

Islamic scholar Gulam Sarwar says that “Religious and politics are one and the same in Islam.” How any times have we heard Republicans make the same argument for Christianity? We have written about them here quite often. Start keeping a list: look at it every time one of them mutters something about Islamism.

Islamists want to restore the Caliphate, the Great Universal Muslim Empire that Never Was. The Religious Right wants to resurrect the Holy Roman Empire, the Great Universal Christian Empire that Never Was. If they succeed, they can (and probably will) re-enact that favorite historical drama, the Crusades. Both will desire a better outcome for their ideology.

The rest of us will, lamentably, and tragically, be caught in the middle. And this time it will not be spears and swords and arrows that decide the issue, but nuclear weapons.

We came close to a Dominionist Bliss-out in 2003 when President Bush declared a crusade against Iraq and one of his generals announced it was not a nation but Satan who was the enemy.

Bush was one thing. Sarah Palin is another. Meditate for a moment on the image of a Mama Grizzly, witch-hunting pastor at her side, with the nuclear football in her hands. If that image is no more wholesome than that of a Osama bin Laden with a nuclear warhead beneath his robes, then you are properly grasping the gravity of the situation and the threat we face.

Just because you occupy the White House doesn’t mean you can’t be a terrorist.

Both want to make an offering to their god of the Enlightenment’s most sublime attainment: the American Constitution.

Christian Dominionism and Islamism: Drinking from the same source, it is no wonder they want the same thing – and liberal democracy stands squarely in their path.

You do the math. And vote appropriately.

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9 Replies to “Christian Dominionists and Islamists: Two Sides of the Same Coin”

  1. I totally agree that both fundamental religions are the same. Newt Gingrich rails against sharia law but he would be the first one to install his own version of it here in the United States. I totally agree with your article.

    If you look back over the kingdoms of the Middle Ages where religion ruled supreme, all you see is war. There is absolutely nothing beneficial to the people of the world during that time, that’s why we call it the dark ages. both religions in their fundamental states seek to arrest development and to confine its citizens( note I did not say believers) in a world of their choosing. As far as I am concerned there is very little to do with religion in a fundamentalist state and a great deal to do with controlling people to conform.

    Anyone who supports the newt Gingrich’s of this world have absolutely no clue what they are asking for. You might note that Mr. Gingrich never portrays his own latent fundamentalism, he only debases someone else’s fundamentalism. If you knew what he really wanted you would never even consider listening to him.

    I am not afraid of sharia law here, I am afraid of Christian fundamentalism here for two reasons. if you look at the Glenn Beck plan, which many subscribe to, the church will deal out all social services. That means that you will have to give money to the church, and that means all of you. Part of the taxes you now pay will go to the churches.

    Reason number two is, and this is just a hypothesis, if you allow the fundamental Christians to weasel their way into our government today, remember that in the future it is said that this country will be mostly Hispanic. Hispanic equals Catholic. Which means in the future we will have the Catholic church fighting a fundamental Christians for control of our government. Then we will look like Ireland.

    Religion has its place. In people’s homes and in their hearts. But never in your government. people need to fight hard to keep lunacy out of their government. It’s bad enough we have a Congress that is bought and paid for, it’s another to have representation that only is answerable to one source.

  2. You painted the picture I often see in my head of the Christian fundamentalist in the WH with her (or his) hands on the button. Palin doesn’t need the button, however, to wreak havoc on our national security as her tweet lie claiming a Muslim candidate wanted to kill US children. Just imagine…………and her followers believe her lies, so they get more full of hatred.

  3. Very interesting post, Hraf.

    According to religious fundamentalists, the answer given to the most perplexing (and unanswerable) questions in life is: “You must have the faith of a child.” Forget further analysis or discussion — just have the faith of a child.

    The simple dictate of “child-like faith” has ominous significance as Christian fundamentalists are increasingly trying to reassert the role of religion in our government. Not only does this undermine our constitutional guidelines of separation of church and state, but it issues a clarion call for true believers to bring their mindset of child-like faith into the arena of political issues where politicians become essentially transmogrified into religious leaders.

    There’s not a more malleable constituency for politicians than folks who childishly have faith in their leaders, and aren’t compelled to question or analyze the issues for themselves. It’s not a coincidence that Mrs. Palin is pushing the “Mama Grizzly” theme in her bid to be a politico-religious leader. Even the most cursory examination of any of Palin’s fans sites will demonstrate their childish and unquestioning faith in her every false and ridiculous “parental” (authoritarian) pronouncement.

    As an aside, the fundamentalists’ “faith of a child” mindset is also their defense against science, as well as their main justification of a literal interpretation of the Bible.

  4. I agree Sarah. She is dangerous whether elected or not. Palin lies as freely and unblinkingly as another demagogue, Hitler. And her followers, like his, follow with blind devotion.

  5. Thank you, C.L. Yeah, the “faith of a child” is a little out of place in the post-Enlightenment world…and the more glaringly obvious it becomes that the faith of the child is insufficient, the harder they cling to superstition. As America (and the world) become less religious, their fanaticism increases.

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