Posted: September 4, 2014

Religion, that’s what.

The unbelievable violence that ISIS dishes out in the name of its god is inhuman. But maybe the key to defeating these slaughterers is to use their god against them.

I grew up in a period when the IRA was very active. I saw for myself the aftermath of two London bombings…the Harrods bomb and the one in Hyde Park that blew up guardsmen and their horses. At that time many people wrote that if the overwhelmingly Catholic members of the IRA were threatened with excommunication from their church for such atrocities they might think twice. But, of course, the distant, uninvolved Vatican was never prepared to threaten such a punishment. So the killing went on until saner minds saw it was leading nowhere.

I truly believe the way to combat ISIS (Or ISIL or IS or whatever they are calling themselves today) is to turn their religion against them.

I have no religion. But I do not deny anyone the right to believe whatever they believe…unless it results in the barbaric behavior and violence towards others that drives groups like ISIS. Their fight is a religious fight and the weapon to defeat them is not a US fighter jet or Kurdish fighters on the ground. It is Islam.

The peaceful followers of that religion, worldwide, need to stand up and declare that ISIS (and all terrorists fighting under the banner of Islam) do not represent their religion. They need to make it clear that their religion does not acknowledge ISIS’s right to even belong to that religion. If there is an equivalent of excommunication in the Islamic faith then it needs to be enacted against all members of ISIS. If there is not such a punishment embedded in the teachings of Islam, the most respected leaders of the faith globally need to make powerful statements of rejection of ISIS and its goals and methods. They must also state categorically that any Caliphate created through violence will NEVER be recognized by other Islamic nations and by the religion itself. If the ISIS fighters are denied the martyrdom in which they believe and which they seek, maybe the cause will seem a lot less attractive.

It seems right now that the only way to stop ISIS is through military action. But we must recognize that this is exactly what the terrorists want. They are fighting in the name of their god in the misguided belief that that god wants the entire world under Sharia Law.

It’s time their god joined the fight…its time his followers defended their own beliefs which are far removed from the version touted by these vicious, animal-like disciples. The voice of that god can only come from Islamic leaders who have the respect of the vast majority of peaceful followers of Islam. Let’s be hearing from you guys. You cannot be silent any longer. You cannot turn a blind eye to atrocities committed in the name of your god…that effectively means they are committed in your name. Don’t call on American military might to solve this problem – even if many of us recognize the appalling responsibility that falls on Bush and Cheney for having set this catastrophe in motion – call on your god. If you truly believe in him, then you cannot stand by and see journalists and innocent villagers beheaded or tortured on your behalf.

At the same time, Americans need to stop perpetuating the notion that we are at war with Islam. Ever since Bush made a limp attempt to say this is not a war between Christianity and Islam, that idea has not truly penetrated the American conversation. In the minds of too many Americans this is a war against Islam…because they wrongly believe that groups like ISIS represent that religion. We are in a fight against unthinkable violence…just as we were when we fought Hitler and his championing of the Aryan Race…nothing more. And it’s time the religion that is being abused, misrepresented and degraded defended itself.

Deny the Islamic State the use of the word Islamic…and it will simply be in a state. A failed one.


It is if you are a peaceful follower of Islam. Come on Christian America-do not impose your god on others. You become a little more like your enemy by doing so. It’s time to separate violence from religion – no god would ever advocate barbaric murder. It’s time to embrace diversity of religion in an intelligent world. And only religious leaders can do that. Meanwhile, those of us who follow no god can only watch this insanity wondering how many more humans will die fighting over whose imaginary friend is more powerful.



  1. Michael Vines

    September 5, 2014 at 8:25 am

    Once again I agree with pretty much everything you said here and am glad to see it print, rather than just spewing out of my mouth when I find myself shouting to an imaginary adversary on the street. There is no hierarchal structure in Islam that compares to that of Christianity. No pope. So that’s out. No excommunicaton. I think the closest they come to that is a fatwa, which they issued against Salmon Rushdie. I don’t think a fatwa has to result in death, so maybe it’s time to have respected Islamic authorities rule that Isis is an anti-Islamic entity, or something. The other point I’d make is that your call for the imams and mullahs or whomever to say “that any Caliphate created through violence will NEVER be recognized by other Islamic nations and by the religion itself,” has a little problem. Muhammad himself established the first Caliphate through violence and war against all the neighboring infidels. That’s how the religion spread so far and so rapidly in the 7th century. One more thing: when guys like Paul Robertson, the sage Duck Dynasty go on Hannity (another of the world’s great geniuses) and say the solution to ISIS, ISIL (and yes, we do have to settle on one name for these guys) is to either convert them or kill them, do you think they hear what they’re saying? Do they have enough self-awareness to see the perverse irony and hypocrisy in that? Obviously not. And can we just ban anyone who’s first and only solution is to bomb the hell out of everybody and proven themselves to be demonstrably wrong, not to mention duplicitous, about that region every step of the way (I’m looking at you McCain, Graham, Cheney, Kristol et al) to just sit down and shut up? You got me started, Dave.

  2. Dave

    September 5, 2014 at 11:24 am

    That’s the idea Michael! You make excellent points as always. Problem is all religions are guilty of spreading their doctrines in dubious ways, even Christianity. But I think religious leaders of all kinds need to refocus on the world as it is today. So I think Islamic leaders could and should refuse to recognize what IS is building. I also think the news that those in the captured territories are already disliking life under fundamentalist rule is a very positive sign also. The truth is IS has killed far more of its fellow Muslims than it has its stated “enemy”. I do agree, however, that part of the problem with the Muslim world is its long memory and refusal to modify itself based in current realities. But then I feel the same about Christianity especially Catholicism.

  3. Studio Maven

    September 9, 2014 at 8:13 am

    I am a huge Rory Gallagher fan and read about the Irish show bands, which was where he started his career. I then found out about the Miami Showband massacre where gunmen in British Army uniforms (actually Ulster Volunteer Force members) planted a bomb on the bands bus in order to falsely implicate the IRA. Things like this makes me wonder what other instances of history were set ups to foment violence and falsely implicate various entities.

  4. Dave

    September 9, 2014 at 10:00 am

    Yes, SM, I remember that. It’s true…we never know exactly who does what and why. But one thing’s for sure, the Vatican stayed well away from it all when they could have been a powerful force for negotiation to replace violence. Interesting that the Arab League just agreed to get involved in the fight against ISIS. We’ll see if they truly mean it.

  5. Studio Maven

    September 9, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    When there is money involved (oil) the Arab league will be all over it because ISIS is cutting into their bottom line. It’s ALWAYS about money.

  6. Dave

    September 9, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    Right again SM…but if it forces them to do the right thing regarding ISIS I think, for the moment, the profit motive is the lesser of the two evils. Oil and money were why Bush started all this after all…(the documentary Why We DId It is great incidentally if you’ve never seen it) …maybe the same forces can stop it?

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