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July 27th, 2010
01:19 PM ET

My Take: Tennessee, Islam, and Our Disposable Constitution

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

How’s this for a new argument against your local Islamic community center?

According to Ron Ramsey, Tennessee’s Lieutenant Governor and a candidate for the Republican gubernatorial primary, Islam, the world’s second largest religion, may not be a religion after all.

As in New York, a proposal for a local Islamic center has become a state-wide campaign issue in recent weeks in Tennessee, where certain Republican candidates in various primaries are trying to outdo each other for the fear vote by denouncing a recently approved expansion of an existing Islamic center in Murfreesboro.

In a June statement on her web site decrying what she referred to as an “Islamic training center,” Lou Ann Zelenik, a Republican candidate for U.S. Congress in Tennessee and a Tea Party favorite, argued that the center “is not part of a religious movement; it is a political movement.”

Now Lt. Gov. Ramsey has taken that logic one step deeper into the muck and mire, arguing that Islam may only be masquerading as a religion.

In a video of a recent stump speech posted by the Nashville Scene, Ramsey responds to a question about the “threat that’s invading our country from the Muslims.” Though he is careful to give a nod to the First Amendment (and, for good measure, the Second and Tenth), he says that our Constitution's free exercise guarantees may not apply to Islam because it may be a “cult” rather than a "faith."

“I’m all about freedom of religion,” Ramsey explains.  “But you cross the line when they try to start bringing sharia law here to the state of Tennessee.”

But who is really crossing the line here?

Apparently, Ramsey, who began his pitch with a paean to “this free country,” believes that the free market does not apply to religion, or at least not to religions that do not meet with the approval of elected officials like himself. Which leads me to wonder, first, whether Christianity really is so weak in Tennessee that it needs the coercive power of the government to maintain itself, and, second, whether the commitment to limited government of Tennessee’s Republicans is so thin that it does not require the state to stay out of our individual decisions concerning where (and whether) to pray, and to whom.

The sign marking the site of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro has been vandalized at least twice in the last six months. But as this latest round of faith-baiting moves to new venues and descends to new lows, we are vandalizing our Constitution too.  I hope voters in Tennessee are quick to repair the damage, both to the sign and to the Constitution.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Islam • Mosque • Politics • Tennessee

soundoff (145 Responses)
  1. b_ron

    JohnQuest,
    Actually, its not that I choose to believe, but as I have said, being very open, considering everything, I believe the data points to the truth about what has been written in the Bible. I have been approaching my beliefs as one would "science", the scientific process!

    The Epic of Gilgamesh, no doubt theres a lot of "recorded" history or "historical writings". I'm not bound to the Bible alone, but to say that thats older then the Bible,......what do you actually mean? The "Law of Mosses" was written by Mosses, but Mosses wasn't alive when Abraham was, neither was Adam, not even Enoch, so to say what Mosses wrote isn't that old......haven't you seen that Mosses was writing about the BEGINNING? We even have some of Enoch's writing....of course theres debate about this, but its obvious from the other writings, that there were some writings that survived. The story of Adam and Eve, How can anything be older then them when they were the first of mankind?

    Now about the History..............wow, if you can figure all that out, you're pretty good! Theres soo much over lapping, getting an accurate date would be next to impossible.......theres way too many factors! No one can be exact about Historical dates that old! What is interesting though, there are writings that seem to fit "The Long Day" with Joshua, when the sun stood still, Historical writings that have wrote about a similar anomaly around the same time!

    Ice ages? Do you also know there are maps that show Antarctica with the Ice advancing, showing the land bridge that connects the two. This "evolution" crap and the money that goes with it all has caused so much information to be put away from public. Did you know that even according to ice age theories, planes lost in WW2 were found under millions of years of ice?!!!! Ice Age is a theory! WHEN DID THEORY BECOME FACT?!!!!!!
    Evolution and everything that has to do with it is only THEORY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So many minds are being blinded by these things being taught! These things aren't even scientific!!!!!! No one still can even demonstrate how we would measure the motion of the Earth if it is indeed moving! Please!!!!! I need help with this also!!!!! I don't believe much of what they teach anymore.

    BTW, have you ever considered how all fossils are made? "The Flood" seems to be the best fitting answer for our fossil record and for the fossils themselves.

    Well, it seems as if you just keep throwing things out there, but I hope you actually consider what really could be true, the possibilities!

    July 31, 2010 at 3:18 am |
    • JohnQuest

      b_ron, Science is not the answer for you, how about logic. If Adam and Eve were the first of our kind, when were they "put" on the planet (I would ask why but for this purpose it matters not) and where? Second, if God destroyed all of mankind and all life on land except Noah, his family, and whatever was the Ark, when did this happen and how do you explain that different cultures from around the world record a flood (If all people died in the flood who was left record anything)? These recordings (paintings and such) depict life before, during and immediately after the flood. Immediately after the flood is the issue for your beliefs, their should have been no one around to know what happened. Fossils are another issue for you, which we can save for later. Evolution is only a theory in that we are still adding to it, no one is except for creationist deny it. It basically states that life (all life) is adaptive and that we live on an evolving planet in a evolving universe which is undeniable. For a simple example, cultural evolution, 100 years ago we lived far different than we do now, no one can even guess what our lives will be like in another 100 years. Have you considered why some people can drink milk and others cannot? I am lactose intolerant (my body can not break down some of the enzymes in milk), the problem for you, if we all came from the same parents then we all should be able to drink milk or not drink milk, but we are different, how do you explain the differences? I think evolution gives the best answer, our bodies adapted over time to our environment, the people I came from were not milk drinks we have not developed the functions to process milk, (my grandson drinks milk without throwing up, gets it from his fathers side I guess, evolution at work).

      The earth moving is not in question by anyone, to help you get a grasp, think of being on a plane going 500 MPH, what happens if you toss a baseball in the air and why? That will give you your answer of why we don't "feel" the planet moving.

      I have considered all possibilities

      July 31, 2010 at 12:57 pm |
  2. Gene

    To R2;
    I was addressing Reality, about the Judeo-Christian bible, but I do understand the similarities in the Jewish, Christian and Islam religion. The differences are why I am a Christian and in this country, you have the right to believe in any faith/religion you choose to.

    July 30, 2010 at 12:43 pm |
  3. R2

    Unless this gentleman has taken the time to read the Qu'ran, which clearly he has not, he speaks from ignorance which deserves no comment. Islam, Christianity and the Jewish faith all stem from the same origin and share the same fundamental beliefs about humanity. The difference is small in faith but ignored or irrelevant to misguided individuals be they Middle Eastern extremists or TN extremists.

    July 30, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
  4. Gene

    To Reality;
    You criticize the faith of Christians, yet you state assumptions, as facts. The bible is historically reliable. There are over 24,000 New Testament manuscripts which match 99.5% of texts. The New Testament documents are better preserved and more numerous, that most any other ancient manuscript. Although there are some similarities with the ancients you mentioned, the bible is the word of God.
    Unless you are a bible scholar and/or a Christian, who is deeply familiar with the word of God, your assumptions and superficial knowledge of the bible mean nothing to me.

    July 30, 2010 at 11:51 am |
    • JohnQuest

      Gene , Consider the following: Here a few examples to start out with and think about. Samson and Hercules, Golden Apples and the Forbidden fruit, the snake in the Garden of Eden and the dragon that guarded the golden apples in the garden of the gods, Pandora’s Box and the temptation of Eve, the bible has a story of flood and in Greek mythology there is a story of a flood. God said, Let us make man in our image in Greek mythology Zeus said, “let us make man in the image of the gods”. The Greek god Bacchus was born on December 25 just like Jesus was and both Jesus and Bacchus were both crucified and died for the sake of mankind and they both rose again on the third day. There was also another pagan god named Attis in Turkish mythology who was crucified and was buried and rose again on the third day.

      Read more: http://socyberty.com/spirituality/paganism-vs-christianity/#ixzz0vC2OrLAz

      July 30, 2010 at 2:51 pm |
    • b_ron

      Gene,
      Sorry, I don't know why I was addressing you and R2, please ignore that, thats just to R2.

      July 30, 2010 at 5:58 pm |
  5. JohnQuest

    b_ron, You are right I simply pulled the questions from another source. This question go to the heart of Christian mythology (Was Jesus God), It seems to me that they are different, if they are in fact then where does your belief come from. NOTE the idea of the trinity was added by the Catholic church it was not in any of the original documents from the era.

    July 30, 2010 at 11:43 am |
  6. b_ron

    JohnQuest,
    It seems like all those you listed are all "copy & paste". My answers have answered more then 2 of your questions. No pun intended, but I really doubt you have read any of it, or shall I say really considered what they are all saying.

    Jesus said "for out of the overflow of his heart the mouth speaks"

    Mercy is at the feet of Jesus!!!! Give honor where honor is due!!!!!!

    Your rebellion is against God, not man!

    July 30, 2010 at 10:09 am |
    • b_ron

      JohnQuest,
      If one was to actually consider the writings, what has been written, and if it is indeed accurate, then all the stories/myth's will have been heavily influenced by what has actually happened. But most start off with the assumption that these writing are mythology, but where does this belief come from? You are influenced by what people have said, and not by the actual writings. You must judge for yourself. You are the Jury! Were the Greeks here before the Israelites, before the nation of Israel? How can everyone around the world have a story about a worldwide flood that wiped out all life, and speaks of the 8 survivors? What are the chances? If that is what happened.........then the people who descended from these survivors will have spoken about this, and everyone around the world would have been affected by this telephone game, but even at that.......it isn't all "telephone game", we have "artifacts", we have written records, what has been passed down through all generations, that is why we have soo much knowledge of history or the past! But really, we only know so much about history, and can only know so much.

      Did you know, that even the strata, the Earth's surface supports the story of the Global flood? Stratification, the way the layers are laid out, the sediments, the way they settled............experiments would demonstrate this. The "Global Flood" would have caused this!

      JohnQuest, my belief comes from having to deal with "FACTS", or having to deal with the facts. You, already are assuming too much! I'm no Trinity believer, that belief has been dropped, for me that isn't sound doctrine. Read carefully what I wrote, I carefully wrote it, and it doesn't support the Trinity. Jesus is a god, just like His Father, He isn't His Father, He is the Son. I don't believe: "God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit........they all make up the one true God". Jesus isn't God the Son, unless you want to make that a label for Him, He is THE SON of GOD, not God the Son! That there is traditions that have been handed down through the generation. I don't subscribe to those teachings, but it is interesting, I believe I see how and where and why it came about. What has been said about Jesus Christ is very deep, what he is. Really considered what I wrote, please! If you understood the things you wrote, you wouldn't have referred to me as a Trinitarian, although you didn't say it directly, but it is implied! You speak like you know the history, but it seems as you just know what is being said about "the history". Yes, the Trinitarian Doctrines do come from the Catholic Church, and dates back pretty far, but so do all kinds of other teachings. One should consider all the information, even information one doesn't agree with. Theres a reason for everything! Everything has a purpose!

      I hold to no mainstream religion or belief, although there may be many similarities.

      R2 & Gene,
      You guys are both in error! You guys are just catching the mainstream beliefs, a very broad perspective! Please give examples, I'm ready to refute both of you. I read/study both "writings" , the Quran and the Bible. Please bring it!

      It seems we must all be like children just as the Good Teacher has said. The people's discernment on what is "fact", on what is "faith", what is "theory", and what is "TRUE" is very poor! And thats even for me too! But please, lets work this out, let us reason, let us be of one mind! We as a people, as mankind, we need each other! We all have our own purposes....some are the eyes, some are the ears, some are the stomach, some are even the bunghole.

      Mankind, comes from somewhere, and we know that a human can only come from a Human, and that cycle can never be broken. Its been said long ago, but accepting it, can be a hard thing. It brings many things to the table we'll have to deal with!

      Jewish people are no myth, the Nation of Israel is no myth. Look whats going on! the pot is coming to a boil! It is indeed a "jihad". History is no myth!

      Please, open our hearts and minds, may we have eyes to see and ears to hear!

      As a soldier, as a bond-servant, I'm ready to serve................ Let's do this!!!!!!!

      July 30, 2010 at 5:55 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      b_ron, If I have misstated your position please forgive me, I assumed (and we all know what assuming gets us). That was a very well written answer, What I got was you believe because you choose to and I respect that. As far as history goes the Epic of Gilgamesh is a lot older the story in the Bible (wonder where they got it from), you are right the stories are pretty global but, checking the history they at take place in different times with different outcomes. Maybe had something to do with the end of the last ice age. How do you explain the fact that a lot of people had to have survived for the story to be so wide spread (if it was only one flood that destroyed the entire planet), Makes more sense that at the end of the last ice age oceans, rivers, lakes and streams overflowed in different areas at different times. No culture living inland has ever recorded a great flood (of course most people then as today live close to a body of water).

      July 30, 2010 at 10:25 pm |
  7. Reality

    Most contemporary NT and historic Jesus exegetes have concluded that only 30% of the NT is "authentic" Jesus. This 30%, however, was borrowed or plagiarized or updated from the writings of the ancients i.e. the Hittites, Caananites, Greeks, Egyptians, Babylonians, Romans and possibly some traveling Cynics. Bottom line: the biblical passages reproduced above by JohnQuest are historically unreliable with respect to being some new thinking by the simple preacher man.

    July 29, 2010 at 11:10 pm |
  8. Gene

    To JohnQuest; and Reality;
    In Luke 14:26; Jesus is saying that by comparison to him, you must love him more than anyone else and loyalty to anyone or anything at the expense of loyalty to Christ constitutes idolatry. Jesus is love and never taught his followers to hate. The bible can be interpreted figuratively and literally when it is read by someone who has an open-mind, faith and a lack of cynicism. Some non-believers will never “believe” that but the bible addresses that issue also, in Ephesians 4:17-18; “17So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.”

    July 29, 2010 at 6:43 pm |
  9. JohnQuest

    b_ron, consider the following, all taken directly from your bible, please look them up in your personal bible and tell us what you think (Not what your Pastor tells you to think).

    "the firstfruits of them that slept." (God doesn’t sleep) (1 Cor. 15:20; fulfilling Lev. 23:10).
    "APOSTLE" (Heb. 3:1) – How could God send Himself?
    "Advocate,"
    "faithful witness,"
    "Mediator" (1 Tim. 2:5) – If he were God, there would be no need for a mediator.

    When he walked the earth, Yeshua was not omniscient and omnipresent, as God is.

    "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man." (Mk. 2:52)
    God couldn't become more pleased with himself.

    "My Father is greater than I." (John 14:28)
    Self-evident and self-explanatory.

    "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." (Matt. 28:18)
    He wasn’t born with it.

    "But of that day and [that] hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." (Mk. 13:32)
    God (the Father) knows. The son is not all-knowing.

    "Christ pleased not himself" (Rom. 15:3).
    His mission and intent was to please the Father.

    "Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures" (1 Cor. 15:3)
    God cannot die, even temporarily!

    "The head of Christ is God" (1 Cor. 11:3).
    Shows seniority, not equality.

    "God was in Christ" (2 Cor. 5:19)
    Can God be in Himself?

    He was "obedient unto death" (Phil. 2:8)
    Is it necessary for God to obey Himself?

    "God FOR Messiah's sake has forgiven you." (Eph. 4:32)
    Else God would simply forgive by Himself.

    "Jesus Christ is come in the flesh" (1 John 4:2)
    NOWHERE is it said that GOD came in the flesh.

    "angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him." (after ascending to heaven) (1 Pet. 3:22)
    Implies and can be inferred that they were not previously subject to him.

    "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him" (Rev. 1:1)
    God gave it to him; he did not already have it, did not give it of himself.

    Devils called him "son of God," NOT God (Matt. 8:29; Mark 5:6-9)
    Surely they, as created spiritual beings, would know the difference.

    July 29, 2010 at 4:49 pm |
    • Gary

      JohnQuest ,great post!

      July 29, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
    • Reality

      Most of the passages so cited have been reviewed and judged for authenticity by contemporary NT experts. These reviews/inventories/conclusions are online and make for excellent reading and consideration. Google "faithfutures" to see some of them online.

      July 29, 2010 at 11:25 pm |
  10. b_ron

    Muslims have the right to believe as they wish in this country, NO religion is enforced in this country!!! But once your actions infringe upon others rights, there are consequences! No Religion is to be enforced in this country!!!! Even upon an unbelieving wife! Theres no justifying any forced religion! We are free men!!!! Free to choose, but be warned!!! on this freedom, there are blessings and curses, life and death! Be wise, listen to the Good Teacher! He's been speaking ever since the beginning! Who else do you think the people of the Bible was talking too? Who was appearing to these people in days of old?

    Jesus is His name, He is the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End!
    All in habitants of the World, give Him praise!!!! He's Love endures forever!!!!! His glory fills the Earth!!!!!!!

    July 29, 2010 at 2:59 pm |
  11. b_ron

    Jesus Christ, the Son of God.........did this person really exist? There are soo many facts we have to deal with, each one will have to judge for themselves! But be warned!!!! Judge rightly!!!!! Don't take this lightly!!!!! If he really is the Son of God, then what does that make Him, especially if it says that all things were created through Him, the Son? This Jesus is much more then one can fathom!!!!

    Have Mercy on us Lord!

    July 29, 2010 at 2:35 pm |
  12. JohnQuest

    jmb2fly, I'm certain we will agree 95% more than we will disagree. No body like taxes (but we know we have to pay them), we both believe in taking care of our families (the best we can). I could go on and on but I think you get my meaning.

    July 28, 2010 at 9:26 pm |
    • peace2all

      @JohnQuest

      HI there...... I saw you post here and I am in no way stating a fact, but i did see a program on t.v. concerning cults/religions, etc...

      And the expert made a comment on some of the differences.

      1)Cults-–They tend to keep family and friends away from the person/s in the cult. They also tend to break all ties to the family and turn the cultist against their family. They also, often hide them away somewhere where nobody can find them. They encourage them, sometimes with punishment, to not speak at all to them. In general, they basically break all ties to family, and they keep them.

      2)Religions--Basically, you have none of the above, athough there are some religions that try to get your money.....and even some of the more way out there religions, that I won't mention......are more like a cult.

      Don't know if any of this helps........

      Post me back, I am curious to your findings..

      Peace to you....JohnQuest....

      July 29, 2010 at 7:26 am |
    • JohnQuest

      peace2all, By that logic then Christianity started out as a "cult".
      Luke 14:26
      "If any man come to me, and HATE not his father, and mother, and wife, and children,and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, HE CANNOT BE MY DISCIPLE."

      July 29, 2010 at 8:35 am |
    • Reality

      JohnQuest,

      Luke 14:26 is simply more evidence that the simple, preacher man aka Jesus was not too bright. By the way, Luke 14:26 is one of the few passages that most contemporary NT exegetes agree was "authentic Jesus".

      July 29, 2010 at 10:24 am |
  13. jmb2fly

    Is Islam a cult or a religion? What is a cult? What is a religion? Who certifies religions as officially accepted? Is there a specific number of converts required to be a religion?

    July 28, 2010 at 8:31 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      jmb2fly, I have always thought the only difference were the number of participants.

      July 28, 2010 at 9:02 pm |
    • jmb2fly

      I think your right JQ! Something we can agree on!

      July 28, 2010 at 9:09 pm |
  14. GSA

    McCLuck, yes you live in the most powerful nation on the planet.....totally dependant on oil from the ppl you are at war with, the top most powerful coutries combined to fight a so-called war (which America leads) against terror on third-world countries that are backwards and stuck in the middle ages yet it's been how long since the war has been going on? Were you one of those ppl that was all pumped up ready to kill Osama, that went well for you. I'm just stating the truth no? You guys are very powerful and almighty....yeah right. By the way ,,,,,,,, enough comma's for you.
    To SR: Yes i'm totally worried about Sharia law taking over, HAHAHAHAHA! Are you kidding me, i'm scared of Sharia law being opposed just as much as I am of a Catholic priest molesting my kids, lol. Maybe the USA should clean up it's own house before intruding on others. Oil spill, rampant racism, immigration problems, horrible health care. America telling other coutries how to live is like a crackhead giving a meth addict advice on how to get sober, it doesn't work.

    July 28, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
  15. (B)iraq Hussein Osama

    shariah law is already implemented in "GSA's pretty neighborhood". 1,000 criminals have had their "heads chopped off" in the USA since 1979. Thats Shariah Law!! Something the Americans find handy when it suits their purpose, wink, wink.

    July 28, 2010 at 3:02 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      (B)iraq Hussein Osama, Thanks, I had not considered it from that point of view, there are more than a few interesting similarities.

      July 28, 2010 at 3:23 pm |
    • Reality

      And then there is the koran:

      God revealed His will to the angels, saying: "I shall be with you. Give courage to the believers. I shall cast terror into the hearts of the infidels. Strike off their heads, strike off the very tips of their fingers." (Sura 8, Verse 12)

      "When you meet the unbelievers in the battlefield strike off their heads." (Sura 47, Verse 4)

      Followed by the "fullfillment" of said passages:

      There, at least in two important Islamic states and among Islamist terrorists. Saudi Arabia still favors public beheading as a means of execution, and Iran has used it in special cases. But of course it is the terrorists who use it to the greatest effect. The video of the beheading of Daniel Pearl, the writer for the Wall Street Journal who was killed in Pakistan, is among the items regularly seized by British police during raids on households suspected of harboring Islamist terrorists. The video is used as recruitment propaganda.

      Islamists have beheaded hostages and opponents in Algeria, Chechnya, Iraq, Nigeria, the Philippines, and Thailand. In late June, for example, a traveling salesman from northern Thailand was publicly beheaded by Islamists outside a teashop in southern Thailand and his head thrown away a mile or two down the road by his executioners. No doubt this will stifle theological debate in the area for some time.

      July 28, 2010 at 3:47 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Reality, and how is that different that States right here at home executing prisoners? You can't say that they are a threat at the time of execution, they have been locked up in some cases 15 or more years. How about dropping 1000lb bombs on houses known to have children or firing on unarmed people trying to save the life of someone you just shot up. How are we more moral than they are?

      July 28, 2010 at 4:00 pm |
    • (B)iraq Hussein Osama

      well John. you see, "beheading" someone by bombing them from the sky is both more humane and more sanitary, is what Reality is trying to point out here!! Then there is the fact that you can "behead" a lot more per "button push" than using the old sword method, so more efficient too.

      July 28, 2010 at 4:19 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      (B)iraq Hussein Osama, Although, most Americans believe and by extension the vast majority of our military consider themselves Christian, our military of Christian Soldiers are not really Christian Soldiers so it is not really like Christians dropping bombs on Muslims although that is exactly what is going on, Ignorance is Bliss. Sorry for the run on sentence, there was no way of showing the hypocrisy of this logic without it.

      July 28, 2010 at 4:30 pm |
    • (B)iraq Hussein Osama

      born-again bush and his virtual "clamoring" to go to war, itching for an excuse, any excuse is a prime example of christian america and its fetish for war-mongering. one would think that by electing a "openly christian" president on the backbone of an "openly christian" vote, we would be getting a president that overly promoted international peacekeeping as opposed to overly undermining them instead. What exactly was Jesus whispering in his ear in the White House?

      July 28, 2010 at 10:17 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Reality, why do you think we are under attach my Islamic extremist?

      July 29, 2010 at 12:11 am |
    • Reality

      One more time:

      Mohammed could not have known the size of the world, but several passages in the Koran show that he envisioned Islam dominating all of it, however large it might be: “He it is who sent his messenger . . . that he may cause it [Islam] to prevail over all religions´(Koran 9:33, M.M. Ali; see also 48:28 and 61:9). M.M. Ali designates these three passages as “the prophecy of the ultimate triumph of Islam in the whole world.”

      Mohammed’s successors, the caliphs, quoted passages like these to inspire Muslim armies as they advanced out of Arabia, imposing Islam by the sword upon a peacefully unsuspecting Middle East and North Africa, as I described in the previous chapter.

      Islamic armies, imbued with what Mohammed claimed was divine authorization, imposed Islam by force over vast areas, all the while extorting wealth from subjugated Jews and Christians to fund their ongoing conquests. As I noted, major defeats at Tours, France, in A.D. 732, and again at Vienna, Austria, in A.D. 1683, halted Islam’s attempt to take all of Europe by force. Gradually Islamic forces were forced to retreat from Europe, except for part of the Balkans. But Islam has again set its sights on a conquest of Europe and of European civilization, wherever the latter has spread to North and South America and other regions. Muslim strategists ask their followers, Why do we find in these modern times that Allah has entrusted most of the world’s oil wealth primarily to Muslim nations?

      Their answer: Allah foresaw Islam’s need for funds to finance a final politico-religious victory over what Islam perceives as its ultimate enemy: Christianized Euro-American civilization. So, Islam follows Nazism, fascism and communism as the world’s latest hostile takeover aspirant.

      Nazis, fascists and communists failed. Does Islam have a better chance at success? I believe it will flounder if we awaken to its threat in time; yet, if there is not adequate planned resistance, Islam does have a better chance of succeeding. Communism’s world takeover attempt was guaranteed to fail because its economic policy was naively contrary to human nature. Advocating the rubric What is mine is thine, and what is thine is mine, communism failed to see that human nature will not keep those two balanced propositions in equilibrium. Like a female black widow spider consuming her mate, the latter part of the formula makes a meal of the former, leading to the collapse of any system based upon that formula.

      In contrast, political systems do well if they can persuade people to adhere to What’s mine is mine and What’s thine is thine maxims.

      Only if a strong religious incentive is added does such an idealistic formula have any long-term chance. Even then success will be spotty. But communism (and Nazism, for that matter) excluded religion. And that mistake was the final nail eventually clamping a lid on communism’s coffin. Communism, on a historical scale, perished while still in its childhood.

      Islam is not repeating communism’s mistake. Mating political cunning and incredible wealth with religious zeal, Islam does have a chance to succeed and will succeed unless major parts of the Western world unite to take appropriate countermeasures. But many Western leaders, unable to believe that a mere religion could possible be a serious political threat, keep proclaiming themselves as Islam-friendly, reasoning that all religions are good-aren’t they?

      A Muslim strategist in Beverly Hills, California, declared several years ago, as quoted by a friend of mine: “Now that the struggle between Western democracies and international communism is winding down, it is time for the real and final struggle to begin, and we are going to win!”

      July 29, 2010 at 12:18 am |
    • JohnQuest

      Reality, in a nutshell, you are saying; Islam wants to do the same thing as Christianity (spread around the world), converting all it can for it's own goal. Christianity first came with the "good news" then came for trade, then came with guns, it is a pattern that all major religions follow. The only difference with this situation is that you think it's happening to you instead of by you. How do you think the Iraqis feel, first we came to rid them of their dictator (that was not a threat to us), then we came to save their infrastructure, now we are trying to save their oil production, finally we have no intention of ever leaving (I know it is a lot more complicated than this but you gt my meaning). The same could be said for Afghanistan, if the goal was to kill a few leaders we could have sent in a special ops, no I think the goal was much bigger, this looks like we are trying to take over their land and people.

      If you look into the history of Christianity with the same eye you will find a very similar path, all I am saying is that one religion is no better or worse than another, just depends on which side you are on. All three major religions are guilty of the same offenses, spreading by force and mass killing within (WWI were between Christian nations).

      Although, I am a non believer in a deity I was ambivalent about religion, I can understand the benefits, but I am starting the think the negative outweigh the positive. I am not to the point I would advocate ridding the world of religion, primarily because people would just find another excuse to hate and kill each other, but maybe it would be one less excuse.

      July 29, 2010 at 9:19 am |
    • Reality

      JohnQuest,

      It is all about the koran vs. the NT and what each book teaches. Both books are significantly flawed historically and theologically. Unfortunately the koranic passages of death to all infidels and Islamic global domination by any means makes it a book not to be tolerated by any non-Muslim. The NT although is says to go and teach/convert all nations (not authentic Jesus by the way) does not contain such passages of horror. Unfortunately, some Christian missionaries and crusade leaders tragically forgot the NT and earlier forms of the Golden Rule of Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself.

      July 29, 2010 at 6:05 pm |
  16. GSA

    WOW! Interesting article and good to stir up a healthy debate but after reading the comments in the article and on this board i'm glad I don't live in America. Everything is black or white, right or left, conservative or liberal. Supposedly one of the most advanced and educated contries in the world, yeah right, pretty much 100%, or close to it, of the comments here are lies, garbage or hate speech. I feel so sorry for you guys. Meanwhile I have neighbors of all colors and religions, live 20 min. to a Church, Mosque, Gurdwara and Synagogue and we all get a long, people don't care about another culture or religion, our children play together, maybe something is wrong with us? Oh and for those saying how I know the ppl posting all this garbage are Americans, sorry but your "true colors" are showing.

    July 28, 2010 at 10:20 am |
    • McCluck

      It seems you are completely full of yourself and falling for the same "everything is black or white" trap you claim all Americans fall for. Your jealousy shows. When you are calling us uneducated you better learn how to properly use a comma. Now I will get back to being part of the most powerful nation on the planet. Go cry some more.

      July 28, 2010 at 1:04 pm |
    • SR

      GSA: When Sharia Law is imposed in your pretty, peaceful neighborhood and you didn't even notice how your "sweet" neighbors are all interested in having your covered in black, don't come crying here.

      July 28, 2010 at 1:55 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      SR, we only have two options, Shariah Law or no Mosque? Seems to me we have several more options than that, don't we? We could for example have Mosques without adopting Shariah Law. One thing does not lead directly to another and I think it is a logical fallacy to state that it does.

      July 28, 2010 at 3:21 pm |
  17. Gatortarian

    Easy, just get rid of all tax exemptions for religion. Problem solved.

    July 28, 2010 at 8:49 am |
    • Guest

      And lets start with the ACLU's non-profit status.

      July 28, 2010 at 10:35 am |
    • Gatortarian

      I have no problem with that.

      July 28, 2010 at 9:42 pm |
  18. trinityrev1103

    While some may call fundamentalist Christians intolerant and ignorant, I, as a fundamentalist, have to disagree. I possess four doctorate degrees in religion, have studied virtually all the major world religions, sects, and denominations, and have a pretty solid understanding of all of them. However, above anything else, I am a Christian. I believe in God, the Father of Jesus Christ (who was fully God and fully man), I believe in His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension into Heaven. Now, do Muslims believe as I do? No, they do not. If someone believes differently from me, I'm not going to say that religion is right. If I did, then why would I profess faith in God at all? We are called to "love your neighbor as yourself." While that can be taken in many ways, a study of the wording is important. The Greek word for "love" used here is "agape," which means a social or moral love. Essentially, agape means to love someone as a human being, to understand his/her struggles, and to empathize with that person in his or her humanity. It doesn't mean that I have to agree with that person, believe as that person believes, or even necessarily be tolerant of his or her views. It means I am called to love that person as the creation of God. Do I believe that Islam is correct? No, I do not. It teaches that Christ was simply a prophet, which I disagree with. However, this situation works on an inverse. If I wanted to build a church over in the Middle East, I would be shot at, mobbed, and beaten. Should the same happen to adherents of Islam who wish to build a mosque here? No, and that is the beauty of America. Religious freedom for all, regardless of how we feel about their religion. Love your neighbor, allow your neighbor freedom, but remember you don't have to love what he or she believes.

    July 28, 2010 at 5:29 am |
    • (B)iraq Hussein Osama

      "Religious freedom for all, regardless of how we feel about their religion." that does explain the vast amounts of p orn, adultery glorifying TV, fornication promoting TV, alcohol promoting TV wherever christians are a majority in the world. A muslim would argue that your freedom only leaves an open field for satan to promote "his religion" and from the evidence, his religion is beating the pants of yours!

      July 28, 2010 at 11:06 am |
    • SR

      I respect your views about your religion since you state you have read all the major religions. I also respect that you have agreed to disagree that all religions are equal. That is your personal view. I have a different view. We agree to disagree. You are entitled to your opinion and I am entitled to mine.

      But where I disagree with you and all other religious fundamentalists is this: YOU CANNOT FORCE YOUR VIEWS ON OTHERS WHO HOLD DIFFERENT BELIEFS THROUGH TERROR, COERCION OR SUBVERSION. This is where the massive amount of murders have been forced upon indigenous people the world over, in the name of "converting" them to one True God of Islam or Christianity.

      That "conversion" is abhorrent to me. If someone were to follow your religion and God as the being the greatest truth on their own is great. I would welcome all of us to be following even one religion if that were the case, through our own studies and searching for Truth.

      July 28, 2010 at 1:53 pm |
  19. Fayrouz

    Ramsey is obviously afraid and furthermore, an ignorant, rascist person that we shouldn't even consider giving a high responsibility in our society or government. Islam is the fastest growing religion in the United States. Obviously, there's something about this religion that people like. It's not a cult. Even if you don't like it, you will have to live with it. This country was founded with the spirit of freedom of religion. It seems that this spirit has been abandoned. Do we really want rascist people in our government? Do we want hate?

    Please do your own research. Americans, true Americans, shouldn't believe this ignorant talk.

    July 28, 2010 at 12:07 am |
    • Reality

      Hate? Islam reeks of hate as noted every day by the latest, "angelic-based", koranic-driven suicide bombing and assassination. Freedom of religion, yes, but safety to practice said religion comes first.

      July 28, 2010 at 8:01 am |
  20. Matt in Nashville

    To answer your question, yes, Christianity really is so weak in Tennessee that it needs pompous politicians and ridiculous laws to keep it propped up. That is, the ridiculously shallow faith that calls itself Christianity that many people in the South have embraced. Hopefully this is the last gasp of this pitiful impostor.

    July 27, 2010 at 11:35 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.