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Are There ‘Moderate’ Muslims? How about ‘Moderate’ Jews and Christians?

The last heretic hanged by the Catholic Church was a Spanish schoolteacher accused of Deism in Valencia as recently as 1826.

by
David P. Goldman

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April 1, 2014 - 2:30 pm
Templars_Burning

Via Wikimedia

As my friend Daniel Pipes wrote some days ago at National Review, the Middle East Forum is debating whether one can speak meaningfully of “moderate Muslims,” with Dr. Pipes defending the affirmative and Raymond Ibrahim the negative thesis. I respect both Pipes and Ibrahim, but I am not satisfied with the content of the debate. The first issue to be settled is what moderation might mean in the case of adherence to a religion, which is after all not a list of positions but an existential stance towards life. One can speak of a moderate Communist (e.g. Gorbachev) or moderate conservatives, but not quite as simply about moderate faith. Below is an essay I published on the subject in Asia Times in 2006 that attempts to set a theological context for the question.

The West in an Afghan mirror
By Spengler

Death everywhere and always is the penalty for apostasy, in Islam and every other faith. It cannot be otherwise, for faith is life and its abandonment is death. Americans should remove the beam from their own eye as they contemplate the gallows in the eye of the Muslims. Philistine hypocrisy pervades Western denunciations of the Afghan courts, which were threatening to hang Christian convert Abdul Rahman until the case was dropped on Monday.

Afghanistan, to be sure, is a tribal society whose encounter with the modern world inevitably will be a train wreck. The trouble is

that the West has apostatized, and is killing itself. There turned out to be hope for Rahman, but there is none for Latvia or Ukraine, and little enough for Germany or Spain. That said, I wish to make clear that I found the persecution of Rahman deplorable.

The practice of killing heretics has nothing to do with what differentiates Islam from Christianity or Judaism. St Thomas Aquinas defended not just the execution of individual heretics but also the mass extermination of heretical populations in the 12th-century Albigensian Crusades. For this he was defended by the Catholic philosopher Michael Novak, author of learned books about the faith of the United States of America’s founding fathers (see Muslim anguish and Western hypocrisy,  November 23, 2004).

Western religions today inflict symbolic rather than physical death. One’s local priest does not like to preach such things from his post-modern pulpit, but the Catholic Church prescribes eternal hellfire for those who come into communion with Christ and then reject him. Observant Jews hold a funeral for an apostate child who is spiritually dead to them (retroactive abortions not being permitted).

The last heretic hanged by the Catholic Church was a Spanish schoolteacher accused of Deist (shall we call that “moderate Christian”?) views in Valencia as recently as 1826. Without Napoleon Bonaparte and the humiliation of the Church by the German and Italian nationalist movements, who knows when the killing of heretics would have stopped?

“Where are the moderate Muslims?” sigh the self-appointed Sybils of the Western media. Faith is life. What does it mean to be moderately alive? Find the “moderate Christians” and the “moderate Jews”, and you will have the answer. “Moderate Christians” such as Episcopalian priests or Anglican vicars are becoming redundant as their congregations migrate to red-blooded evangelical denominations or give up religion altogether. “Moderate Jews” are mainly secular and tend to intermarry. There really is no such thing as a “moderate” Christian; there simply are Christians, and soon-to-be-ex-Christians. The secular establishment has awoken with sheer panic to this fact at last. In response we have such diatribes such as Kevin Phillips’ new book American Theocracy, an amalgam of misunderstandings, myths and calumnies about the so-called religious right. [1]

The tragedy of Abdul Rahman also is the tragedy of Western religion. Islam differs radically from Christianity, in that the Christian god is a lover who demands love in return, whereas the Muslim god is a sovereign who demands the fulfillment of duty. Christian prayer is communion, an act of love incomprehensible to Muslims; Muslim worship is an act of submission, the repetition of a few lines of text to accompany physical expression of self-subjugation to the sovereign. The People of Christ are pilgrims en route to the next world; the People of Allah are soldiers in this one. Contrary to all the ink spilled and trees murdered to produce the tomes of Karen Armstrong and John Esposito, Christianity and Islam call forth different peoples to serve different gods for different reasons.

But the fact that Christianity and Islam educe different peoples for different gods should not obscure that one cannot be either Christian or Muslim without belonging to a People of God in flesh as well as spirit. Christianity demands that the gentile, whose very origin is redolent of death, and whose heathen nature is sinful, undergo a new birth to join God’s people. Whether this second birth occurs at the baptismal font for a Catholic infant or at the river for an evangelical adult is another matter. The Christian’s rebirth is also a vicarious death – the death of the Christian’s heathen nature – through Christ’s sacrifice. No vicarious sacrifice occurs in Islam; the Muslim, on the contrary, sacrifices himself (The blood is the life, Mr Rumsfeld!, October 5, 2005).

Where is the moderation? The Christian either joins the People of God in its pilgrimage to the Kingdom of Heaven, or he does not; the Muslim either is a soldier of the ummah, or he is nothing. Religious conversion is not mere adaptation to another tradition. It is a change of people. If God is “able of these stones to raise children of Abraham” (Matthew 3:9), Christians are the Gentiles made into sons of Abraham by miracle. In Islamic society, the convert to Christianity instantly becomes an alien and an enemy.

God may be able to raise sons of Abraham from stones; that is not necessarily within the power of earthly churches. European Christianity, as I have argued often in the past, made a devil’s bargain with the heathen invaders whom it made into Christians in the thousand years between the fall of Rome and the conversion of the Balts. It permitted them to keep one foot in their national past and another in the Catholic Church, under the umbrella of universal empire. The peoples revolted against church and empire and reverted to their pagan roots, and then fought one another to a bloody standoff in the two great wars of the 20th century.

In parallel to Christianity, but in a different way, Islam made its own compromise with the nations it absorbed. It would defend the pure traditional society of tribal life against the encroachment of the empires that encircled them: first the Byzantines and Persians, then Christian Europe, and now America. Traditional life inevitably must break down in the face of globalization of trade and information, and the ummah closes ranks to delay the time when the descendants of today’s Muslims will look with pity upon ancestral photographs, as they turn momentarily from their video game.

Europe’s Christians could not summon up the “moderation” necessary to tolerate their Jewish neighbors until after 1945, when Europe was conquered and rebuilt by the Americans. Once the ambitions of Europe’s peoples were crushed in the world wars, European Christianity became “moderate” indeed, so moderate that Europeans no longer bother about it. They also do not bother to reproduce, so that the formerly Christian populations of Europe will disappear, starting with the captive nations of the former Soviet Union.

No Christian People of God emerged from Europe. In a century or two, few European peoples will exist in recognizable form. Americans, by contrast, arrived in the New World with the object – at least in the case of the Massachusetts Bay Colony – of becoming a new People of God in a new Promised Land.

In a December essay in First Things titled Our American Babylon, Father Richard John Neuhaus argues that the United States itself is not the Promised Land or the Kingdom of God; it is still another place of exile. In Christian theological terms that is quite true. But the stubborn fact remains that if the English Separatists who founded Massachusetts had not deviated from Christian theology, and set out to become a new chosen people in a new Promised Land, we would not be talking about the United States of America to begin with. Christianity drew the notion of a People of God from the Jews, upon whose trunk it proposes to graft the reborn Gentiles. But the graft did not take except where radical Protestants emulated the Jews, and set out to make a new people in a new land.

Kevin Phillips, author of American Theocracy, warns that America’s religious right is “abetting far-reaching ideological change and eroding the separation of powers between church and state”, giving the Republican Party “a new incarnation as an ecumenical religious party, claiming loyalties from hard-shell Baptists and Mormons, as well as Eastern Rite Catholics and Hasidic Jews”. On the face of it, this is a nonsensical statement, for how can a coalition of Baptists, Mormons, Catholics and Jews oppose separation of church and state, a doctrine promulgated by dissenting Protestants to protect their own religious practice against the persecution of an established church?

The fact that the US boasts roughly 200 major Christian denominations, none of which can aspire to a plurality of members, ensures that no possible theocracy ever could emerge. When Phillips uses the word “theocracy”, he simply means the emergence of a religious vote on such issues beloved of the secular left as homosexual marriage, abortion, or censorship of pornography. But there is nothing theocratic in people of faith forming occasional coalitions to impose what the law calls community standards.

American Christians are migrating en masse to denominations that preach Christ crucified and the saving power of his blood, eschewing the blancmange Christianity of the old mainline sects (‘It’s the culture, stupid’, November 5, 2004). But the United States is unique among the nations, an assembly of individuals called out from among the nations, where Christian identity is compatible with a secular definition of peoplehood. Even in the US Christians find that one cannot be half-pregnant: either one is saved, or one is not.

Islam does not know moderation or extremism: it only knows success or failure. Unlike Christianity, which prevailed only through the improbable project of abandoning its old center to create a new land altogether, Islam cannot exist outside of traditional society, which by definition knows no doubt. Nowhere else but in the United States has personal conscience rather than religious establishment succeeded as the guiding principle of Christianity. “Moderate Islam” is an empty construct; the Islam of the Afghan courts is the religion with which the West must contend.

Note
1. American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century by Kevin Phillips. Viking, US$26.95, 462 pages.

*****

Cross-posted from Spengler

David P. Goldman is the columnist “Spengler” for Asia Times Online; his latest book is How Civilizations Die: (And Why Islam Is Dying Too). He is the Wax Family Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

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Top Rated Comments   
1826 eh? I find history interesting too, but there is a danger in applying today's morals and values retroactively. For example, was this not a time where even the most enlightened of countires (according to this article) practiced slavery?

The real point here is that you had to go back two centuries to find a very unusual and isolated example of Christianity executing an apostate. To find the same in Islam, I only have to grab yesterday's paper. And today's. And tomorrow's. And the day after's.

As for the moral preening, remember it was the US who helped write Afghanistan's constitution - making it an Islamic republic, based on Sharia. And a lot of Western countires chipped in to make it happen. ANd screw the Christians over.

This should be what worries you, not what Christianity did 500 years ago.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Some things don't require a genius level IQ (which I make no claim to having) to understand, and this discussion about the nature of Islam is one of them.

Simply look at the fruits of fourteen centuries of Islam compared to the fruits of Judaism, or Christianity and you have your answer. That doesn't mean comparing Christian atrocities of hundreds of years ago or Jewish ones of thousands of years ago to Islamic practices today. Compare today's Islam to today's Judaism or Christianity.

What's known as the West has a culture derived ultimately from the Judeo-Christian tradition and any where else in the world the level of justice and in fact civilization is directly proportional to how closely a given society follows Judeo-Christian principles, whether they acknowledge it or not.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
So we should ignore Islams 1,400 year reign of brutality and terror, which continues to this day; because centuries ago in Spain they burned one heretic? nice sense of proportion there, not to mention a false equivalency.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (131)
All Comments   (131)
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“The American people have a genius for splendid and unselfish action, and into the hands of America, God has placed the destinies of afflicted humanity.”
Pope Pius X11, 1945
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Christianity grew because women would rather marry a monogamous gentleman than a pagan who cheated on her and wanted to watch her have sex with his buddies. Islam grew because the killed the men and then added the women their harem. Christians were martyred by the Romans. Islam grew by making martyrs.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
The more I think about it the more I realize how utterly wrong Spengler is. Christian history is split. Latin Christendom began to moderate when Aquinas championed Aristotle. Orthodox Christendom never had his influence. It was Western Christendom that ultimately incorporated the Classical liberal tradition the culminated in Anglo-American liberalism.

Orthodoxy remained pure Christianity undiluted by our Greco-Roman heritage well into the 19th century. It remained patriarchal and communal. There was a visceral hatred of the institution of private property. It was in Orthodoxy that communism took hold. The mindset was similar.

Islam and Orthodoxy are Eastern ways of looking at the world with similar outcomes. We see Russia having far more problems breaking out of that mindset than Poland. What happened to Islam? Aver-roes, its greatest genius, championed Aristotle but his work was rejected by Muslims. Incidentally, Maimonides help Judaism to join Latin Christendom down the path to modernity.

We can barely imagine our Western religions without the influence of the great classical thinkers and subsequent liberalizers. Muslims can and do understand their original religion; and the century when Western influence diluted their culture seems quite unnatural. They are going home, culturally speaking.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
“Nowhere else but in the United States has personal conscience rather than religious establishment succeeded as the guiding principle of Christianity.”

Ever heard of Luther? He stood up to the entire religious order, on the basis of a conscience that could not remember and thus could not be forgiven for its, his, own sins; that is, not on the basis of a presumed righteousness, but an undeniable darkness in his own soul. In this he was true to Jesus's words “none but God is good,” and Paul's “we see now through a dark glass.”
Luther declared that the power of God's salvation is not wielded by pope, church or tribe, but that didn't keep the sects of Luther's day from killing each other over exactly when to baptize their darkness away.
Moderation (or tolerance) is what was learned precisely from the religious wars of Europe. It was the very idea that state and church, moral and political order can and should be distinguished and separated. This "moderation" is exactly what Jesus preached in the parable of the tares; if you pull up the weeds mid-season, you pull up the grain too. Let them grow together, leave the harvest to God.
I think Spengler is absolutely wrong in lionizing the tribal Christianity of the pilgrims and the puritans. It was the failure of this city on the hill experiment that resulted in the toleration of the American system. The failure of even the "half way covenant" (civil belonging requires religious confession) is what gave us our republican system and consequent freedom of religious practice. (If this is his point, it is not made clear enough.)
Salvation is not like being pregnant; there is no test; only God knows if your name is in the book of life. As Rabbi Bob sez “I don’t know how it happened, but the river boat captain, he knows my fate; but everybody else, even yourself, they’re just gonna have to wait.”
In short, I think Spengler confuses moderation as moral squishiness with toleration based on the recognition of our common moral infirmity.
If America (IMHO) is a Christian country, it is because Madison’s “if men were angels…” is founded on Jesus’ “none but God is good.”
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Spengler has it wrong. The West became religiously moderate after the last major religious war: the Thirty Years War. The subsequent "Age of Reason" and "Enlightenment" saw a more secular and less fundamentalist orientation. The USA is a product of the Enlightenment philosophy of John Locke.

Also, David does have a point about Islam.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Maybe you should do some more research on the "Age of Reason" and the "Enlightenment." Those things actually accelerated death and led to Communist revolutions. Don't forget what happened during the French Revolution.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Rousseau, who influenced the French, rebelled against Locke and the British Enlightenment. Perhaps you should do more reading instead of denigrating the seminal doctrines of reason and rights, upon which our nation was founded.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Again, it's not just Rousseau (whom BTW actually supported the Enlightenment, not rebelled against it). We've also got Enlightenment thinkers like Immanuel Kant who supported that bloodbath, and heck, Diderot and even Voltaire played a huge role in the French Revolution and its atrocious acts, and the latter was to the right of Rousseau. I've done a lot of research into the groups that tried to massacre us Christians, and I know enlightenment ideals are what pushed for it.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
You didn’t mention Bacon, Newton, and Locke. As a matter of fact, you didn’t mention any English or Scottish Enlightenment figure. Perhaps you’ve fallen for the leftist line that the French Enlightenment is the Enlightenment! It was Rousseau who rejected liberalism. Locke firmly placed his ethical/political philosophy on human nature while Rousseau saw human nature as plastic (see the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). Property rights were sacred for Locke while Rousseau was a primitivist who saw private property as corrupting. Rousseau’s view of alienation paved the way for Marx. Rousseau was of the Enlightenment period but he rejected the man planks of liberalism and laid the foundation for collectivism. You studied the “wrong Enlightenment,” my friend.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Okay, since you want examples of English or Scottish Enlightenment figures, David Hume is one such Enlightenment figure, and I do know that he did advocate the ridicule and destruction of all Christian beliefs, even comparing them to fairytales in a derisive manner.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
Not the French Enlightenment, the Enlightenment in itself, spanning all across Europe. Don't forget, Immanuel Kant, who supported the French Revolution and the deaths it caused, was German, not French. Heck, technically Rousseau himself was not actually French, he was Genevan, or Swiss. You seem to think that the English Enlightenment is the true Enlightenment, it is not.

Even IF Rousseau did in fact rebel against the Enlightenment, Voltaire and Diderot, the other founders of the Enlightenment, DIDN'T. They are considered fathers of the Enlightenment, even on Conservapedia, the Conservative alternative to Wikipedia. They still advocated for the destruction of Christianity, even forming up a blueprint specifying how to destroy it, and they were to the right of Rousseau.

And Issac Newton was a Christian scientist, not an Enlightenment Philosopher (If I remember correctly, he discovered Gravity).
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Newton and Locke, contemporaries, were leading figures of the Age of Reason. Locke was the founder of British Empiricism. His political writings are summarized in the preamble of the Declaration of Independence.

You share the hostility towards Western Civilization that I find among Muslims. They tend to cite the collectivists in the Western history and downplay the liberals. One can roughly divide Western thought into two strains stemming from either Plato or Aristotle. The liberal strain runs: Aristotle, Cicero, Aquinas, Suarez, Grotius, Locke, and terminates in the Founding Fathers. The paternalist/collectivist strain runs: Plato, Augustine, Descartes, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Lenin, Mao.

Christianity sided with the Platonic current for its 1st 1000 years and remained stagnant. With Aquinas, Western Christianity gradually adopted the liberal current while Orthodox Christianity remained paternalistic. It took 1700 years before Christians could rid themselves of monarchy and embrace republicanism, not seen since Cicero. Continental Europe fell back into the collectivistic/Platonic current during the 19th century. You clearly want to see Western philosophy as the collectivist continental current, the leftist strain. (PS see my latest "main" entry above/below for further exposition.)
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Since there is no edit function, I'll make a new post for this addendum:

Timothy Dwight, the president of Yale University from 1795-1817, gave this speech on the Fourth of July 1798, titled
"The Duty of Americans at the Present Crisis." This is an excerpt from this speech:


“About the year 1728, Voltaire, so celebrated for his wit and brilliancy and not less distinguished for his hatred of Christianity and his abandonment of principle, formed a systematical design to destroy Christianity and to introduce in its stead a general diffusion of irreligion and atheism. For this purpose he associated with himself Frederick the II, king of Prussia, and Mess. D’Alembert and Diderot, the principal compilers of the Encyclopedie, all men of talents, atheists and in the like manner abandoned.



“The principle parts of this system were:



“1. The compilation of the Encyclopedie: in which with great art and insidiousness the doctrines of … Christian theology were rendered absurd and ridiculous; and the mind of the reader was insensibly steeled against conviction and duty.



“2. The overthrow of the religious orders in Catholic countries, a step essentially necessary to the destruction of the religion professed in those countries.



“3. The establishment of a sect of philosophists to serve, it is presumed as a conclave, a rallying point, for all their followers.



“4. The appropriation to themselves, and their disciples, of the places and honors of members of the French Academy, the most respectable literary society in France, and always considered as containing none but men of prime learning and talents. In this way they designed to hold out themselves and their friends as the only persons of great literary and intellectual distinction in that country, and to dictate all literary opinions to the nation.



“5. The fabrication of books of all kinds against Christianity, especially such as excite doubt and generate contempt and derision. Of these they issued by themselves and their friends who early became numerous, an immense number; so printed as to be purchased for little or nothing, and so written as to catch the feelings, and steal upon the approbation, of every class of men.



“6. The formation of a secret Academy, of which Voltaire was the standing president, and in which books were formed, altered, forged, imputed as posthumous to deceased writers of reputation, and sent abroad with the weight of their names. These were printed and circulated at the lowest price through all classes of men in an uninterrupted succession, and through every part of the kingdom.”

It can be found on WND's Dan Brown's The Voltaire Code: http://www.wnd.com/2006/04/35810/

Or you can find it in Encyclopedia Britannica’s Annals of America, Volume 4.

And considering this was made in the aftermath of the French Revolution, possibly during it if one counts the Napoleonic Wars, this definitely is relevant. And Voltaire, alongside Diderot on the political spectrum were to the right of Rousseau and probably closer to the Aristotilian spectrum by your definition (don't forget, they "advocated" free speech").
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
By your definition, Sartre and Foucault, despite supporting Cuba, Che Guevara, Mao, and the like, are "liberals" and not "paternalistic/collectivist" specifically because they advocated total anarchy (Foucault) and that the absolute freedom of the individual via existentialism (Sartre). No, the Enlightenment was not a good time for Christianity. It destroyed it, and Rousseau, Kant, Voltaire, Diderot (and the last two promoted individual freedom and advocated for the absolute destruction of Christianity and, heck, any religion). It doesn't matter whether it was a Rousseau or a Locke, they still promoted the destruction of Christianity.

And guess what, Jesus himself was a collectivist/paternalist, NOT a "liberal", especially when he himself DIRECTLY ordered his disciples and the ones they recruited to conquer the entire world (Go out and spread the good news to the four corners of the world.). Had he been a "liberal," as you put it, he would have preached the go along to get along route, not advocate for dominance of his teachings, and in fact specifically tell his disciples to not even attempt to preserve his own teachings as otherwise they'd be forcing a lot of people to convert, even if it meant the total death of Christianity.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Again you list continental thinkers in the collectivist tradition. Yes, they supported a paternalistic collectivist state. Locke is in the liberal tradition and part of an Anglo-American liberal tradition.

But now I see you are not partial to the liberal (or libertarian) strain of Western civilization. Yes, Christianity has historically leaned towards to paternalistic strain (with important exceptions) as you obviously do. Of course you just side with one group of collectivists, the Christian ones, and wish to suppress the other collectivists, the socialist ones. These are just variations on the same theme. Thanks for proving that.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Okay, wouldn't existentialism and holding the absolute freedom of the individual, heck, anarchy be technically against "collectivism" and for "liberalism?" Apparently we need a far better way of communicating, because I'm not seeing it.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sartre was a Communist and supported Stalin. He doesn't stand for freedom. He considers human beings free as long as they are alive. He basically says if you don't like Nazism you are free since you can always choose to kill yourself.

Political liberty is freedom from state coercion, not merely possessing free will (which is a metaphysical fact). As Locke put it, you are secure in your life, liberty, and property. The "freedom" socialists talk about is "entitlements." It's the "freedom" to enslave producers and there can be no right to this faux freedom. Thus, the left doesn't stand for individual liberty in the political sense that our Founding Fathers held.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yeah, that's why I disliked Sartre and Foucault, yet they promoted "freedom" and "liberty" (and BTW, Foucault basically advocated anarchy, even saying everything in existence, even those that are "beneficial" are all a con for people to gain power for insidious purposes, pretty much the conspiracy theorist who makes all other conspiracy theorists seem stable), which is, at least under definition, "absolute freedom from state coercion." After all, how can you be enslaved to state coercion if there IS no state to coerce you, or any laws to coerce you for that matter (which is what Foucault promoted)? And I dislike the political left precisely because they tried to exterminate us Christians. And BTW, God created us specifically to enslave us, even forcing us to submit to his code he calls the Ten Commandments, and Jesus forced us to submit to God and tried to force the world to submit to God ("Go out and spread the good news to the four corners of the world."). You still haven't addressed Voltaire or Diderot, BTW.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
The two most common causes of mass murder have been political ideology and religion. The Nazis and the Communists have killed their tens of millions, and over time, organized religion has killed its millions. The big advantage the Nazis and the Communists had was the ability to do killing on a mass scale thanks to technology. But organized religion has been killing its "enemies" for a far longer time even with relatively primitive technology compared to the 20th Century's two most murderous ideologies.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Congratulations. This is now the dumbest comment I've ever read on PJ Media.

Organized religion has killed MILLIONS of people? Care to give us a single example where religion killed a million?
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
The "Thirty Years War" in the 1600s was a religious war in which 3-11 million died. In Germany alone close to 1/3 of the population died. And all this was before modern technology.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yeah, I need some stats regarding the Thirty Years War as well as a site labeling it.

Either way, the French Revolution was far from a religious war, yet it actually far exceeded the Spanish Inquisition in terms of kill count/death rate and horrific punishments. The French Revolution is the very epitome of the "Age of Reason" and the "Enlightenment," showing how they go in their logical conclusions.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Look up the stats in any good history book.

The French Revolution, as I said elsewhere, was based on Rousseau rejection of property rights that set the foundation for a collectivist society. Bacon, Newton, Locke, Smith, Jefferson and Adams were the main men of the scientific and liberal enlightenment upon which our nation was founded. Cherry picking isolated talking points just isn't good history.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
It wasn't just Rousseau, though: It was also Immanuel Kant (who was German, not French, and even celebrated that bloodbath), Diderot, Montiesque, and Voltaire (and the last in particular was to the right of Rousseau, a full supporter of enlightenment beliefs, yet still advocated the massacre of Christians, even laying down a blueprint for the overthrow, degeneration, and even massacre). The entire Enlightenment, despite what your education taught you, actually was aimed at exterminating Christians, and Rousseau actually embraced Enlightenment thought. I stand with the Christians.

And "any good history book" doesn't cut it. "Any good history book" also dictated that Christopher Columbus deliberately committed genocide against the natives, that Cortez deliberately massacred Indians who had been completely innocent, and that Mao was a great leader while the Chinese leader he deposed was a cheat (yes, one of my history books did indeed claim that). Heck, we've even got "any good history books" right now that are actually PRAISING the French Revolution and the massacres it did. I know one of my history teachers certainly did and even compared it to the American revolution even when it wasn't even close. Said professor also hated Catholicism.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
The numbers aren't even close. Totalitarian ideologies trump all religious wars by a factor of at least 10.

16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well . . . no. They don't.

http://www.politicalislam.com/tears/pages/tears-of-jihad/
"This gives a rough estimate of 270 million killed by jihad."

Compared to:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Black_Book_of_Communism#Estimated_number_of_victims
"In the introduction, editor Stéphane Courtois states that "...Communist regimes... turned mass crime into a full-blown system of government"[3]. He claims that a death toll totals 94 million[4]."

270 million to 94 million
The winner is jihad, the loser is humanity.

Now mind you, as I noted in another comment, Islamism does have a 10-12 century head start (depending on when you want to claim Totalitarian ideologies begin), and Communism does a good job of racking up the numbers in short bursts, so it is likely that Islamism will be displaced.

But for right now, it is religious wars over political wars in racking up the gigatombs.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
If I remember what I heard about the Black Book of Communism, wasn't that 94 million figure for the deaths in the USSR, possibly Stalin alone?
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
No, it includes China, Cambodia, North Korea, and more.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
1. Wikipedia is to serious discussion as Wonder Bread is to a healthful diet.

2. Better estimates for Communism put it around 270 million.

16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
1. Except that is a reference to a source.

2. Support your better estimate. (Which has been done, but it still didn't hit 270 million.)

3. Even if it does reach 270 million, that means it only manages to equal a single religion.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
If I disagree strongly and publicly with a devout Christian or Jew I have no fear of losing my head. If I disagree strongly and publicly with a Muslim I have a very real fear of losing my head. Not based on a fantasy, based on a very real and very gruesome track record of beheadings by offended Muslims. That alone should answer the question posed. But such is the human capacity for self-deception that our best and brightest insist on labeling Islam "the religion of peace."
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yeah, Spengler made pretty much the same points, but he used more words.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, who gets paid by the word, here?

;-)

16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
It seems most of the commentators today read to a portion in the article that angered them and leapt down to the Comments section to vent their ire.

I know, because reading many of the comments I see my own knee-jerk reactions to some of the statements prior to reading on for the rest of his context.

I wouldn't agree with everything Spengler says, I think he nails it for the most part. Most commentators assume Spengler means what they mean by "moderate". He doesn't. He's not using it as a comparison tool between two different Christians standing side-by-side. He's using "moderate" in a much larger context.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
No, he is using "moderate" in the context of "Do you actually practice your religion or not?"
That is what he wrote:
"Europe’s Christians could not summon up the “moderation” necessary to tolerate their Jewish neighbors until after 1945, when Europe was conquered and rebuilt by the Americans. Once the ambitions of Europe’s peoples were crushed in the world wars, European Christianity became “moderate” indeed, so moderate that Europeans no longer bother about it. They also do not bother to reproduce, so that the formerly Christian populations of Europe will disappear, starting with the captive nations of the former Soviet Union."

Note the points there:
1. Without "moderation" there is no toleration.
2. With being "moderate" there is no practice of faith.
3. And there is also no reproduction.

And yes, he does extend that to comparing two Christians standing side-by-side:
"There really is no such thing as a “moderate” Christian; there simply are Christians, and soon-to-be-ex-Christians."
"American Christians are migrating en masse to denominations that preach Christ crucified and the saving power of his blood, eschewing the blancmange Christianity of the old mainline sects (‘It’s the culture, stupid’, November 5, 2004)."

All he has to go with that is an assertion that "fanatical" American Christianity cannot produce an inquisition of heretics because of its fractured structure and a "heresy" that accepts the humanity of the otherwise inhuman and damned.
Which is what functionally occurs, but which requires a rather disparaging view of religion as a whole - one that in fact not merely justifies but endorses the worst fears and hatreds of the anti-religious, as well as making all American Christians absolute heretics in terms of their own faith.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hang on, there's a difference between objectively noting that some people who claim to be religious are according to their own religion's standards and subjectively comparing two practicing religious people and making a value judgement.

Most of the people commenting behave as if he's making a value judgement. He's not. He's objectively pointing to your own religion's standards and saying, "There seem to be two camps, those who practice and those who mime it and are likely to not be miming it in the near future."

One is an attack to which offense should be felt and passions inflamed. The other is a fair observation that attempts to clarify some issues.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Except he's not being objective about the standards of the religions.

While Judaism is rather harsh on the apostate by the text, according to the commentary such penalties are to be all bark and no bite.
Christianity does away with the bark in the text and only brought the bite in commentary that is now superseded.
Meanwhile Islam has nothing but bite in both text and commentary.

Failing to account for those differences can be many things, but "objective" is not one of them.

Proceeding from such a flawed start the conclusion can only be flawed.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Spengler always has something interesting to say but this time I think he missed the mark completely. There can be and has been moderation in many religions. Moderation means keeping your faith while not taking it so seriously that you violate its basic tenets. It's just a question of balance.
Ultimately, I believe that moderation in religion is expressed in the idea that faith is personal and individual, not collective. Mainstream Islam (Sunnis and Shiites) has yet to reach that point but neither did Christianity until recently and even then only in one place - the USA.
Erasmus is a perfect example of a moderate Christian who managed to combine reason and faith perfectly well: http://www.joabcohenauthor.com/2014/01/desiderius-erasmus-reformer-humanist.html
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Spengler wasn't using your personal definition of "moderation".

Ultimately, I believe that moderation in religion is expressed in the idea that faith is personal and individual, not collective. Mainstream Islam (Sunnis and Shiites) has yet to reach that point but neither did Christianity until recently and even then only in one place - the USA.

It's so funny that Spengler says almost exactly the same thing in his article. Too bad you didn't read to that point.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's true that collective Christianity of the middle ages was not very reflective of the true values of Jesus Christ, but when the Church was finally subsumed by the State, the moderation you speak about completely vanished in many cases., i.e. Communism and National Socialism. Islam has yet to break out of its tribal culture so I am not optimistic they can adopt the personal reasoned faith that Erasmus so eloquently describes.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Sufi branch of Islam already does this, so I believe the potential is there
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Always assuming they survive the purge.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Death everywhere and always is the penalty for apostasy, in Islam and every other faith."

The article starts with a falsehood in the very first line and goes downhill from there.

Apostasy is not a crime in Western democracies. On the contrary, it is a legally and constitutionally protected right since it is an essential component of freedom of religion.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yeah, it's a shame you couldn't be bothered to read past that sentence. You've completely missed out on his context by not reading any further.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
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