The madness of faith
The religious madness that has touched off mob violence and revenge murders continues in Afghanistan, and all of it centers on the burning of some copies of the Koran at a NATO military base.
The Obama administration has apologized for the "mistake," leading tough-talking, irresponsible Republican candidates to condemn the apology. The predictable, knee-jerk reaction from Republicans is just another indication of how far from the reality of governing these people actually are.
To me, it doesn't matter what the religion is. When people use violence and murder to express their faith, the fundamental problem of religion is showcased. Clearly Islam is a faith that leads to wide-spread militancy. It is perhaps the worst example in our time of what happens when church and state become one.
The Christian world has a long history of religious violence, but it was the United States that ushered in a new way of thinking about religion and politics that has kept wide-spread religious violence at bay for a long time. Unfortunately, the Christian right in America is constantly attempting to unravel the progress of the past 200 years by forcing faith into politics. So far, cooler heads have prevailed, but we must always remain vigilant. Religious madness can explode anytime.
But our problem now is Muslim extremists. They are everywhere in the Muslim world--including the United States--and keeping these lunatics from murdering the innocent in one of their crazy revenge schemes is the defining mission of our time.
How Islam (or any religion) can attract free people with access to education is beyond me. If nothing else, it speaks to a deep-seated human need to be ruled by a powerful man. Witness the simple fact that offered a life free of authoritarianism and superstition, most people refuse it, choosing instead a monarch made of air, whose exploits are recounted in old stories that tell of an invisible, magic king who rules the Earth from the sky. Religion is perhaps the only area in which otherwise rational human beings will agree to believe in something they know isn't real. We even have a word for it--faith.
In the meantime, the United States--the first nation on Earth that fully understood the dangers of mixing faith and politics--must continue to drain its resources to protect itself from primitive peoples willing to kill and die to impress an imaginary sky king. Ancient conflict snaps at the heels of modernity.