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What I’m Learning from Robert Spencer’s Book ‘Religion of Peace?’

Posted on November 15 2010 10:00 am
Lisa Graas has covered politics and religion at her blog since 2008. She has served as a crisis pregnancy counselor, youth speaker, mental health advocate and legislative consultant.
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Thanks to my editor here at NewsRealBlogDave Swindle, and to the David Horowitz Freedom Center, for sending me a copy of Robert Spencer’s Religion of Peace?: Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t. (They also sent Radical Son: A Generational Odyssey, by David Horowitz, which I haven’t read yet but have given as a reading assignment to my teenage son.) I’ve so far finished the first two chapters of Religion of Peace?: Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t and have found them to offer a thoroughly clear, but basic overview of where the battle lines of debate have been drawn, primarily in the West. I’d like to share a little of what I’ve learned.

This excerpt explains one of our primary challenges in the debate about the differences between Islam, Judaism and Christianity.

A principal aspect of [the] abject condition of Western hearts is disgust with Christianity and Judeo-Christian civilization — which for most Americans amounts to contempt for our forefathers. Christianity and the Jewish tradition from which it was born are at the heart of Western civilization. It has formed who we are as Americans, and has influenced Europeans and others around the globe for even longer. Like it or not, it has even shaped many who reject the Christian faith. For although the West has largely cast off its Christianity, and a war against Christianity has been raging in the courts for several decades, many of the societal values of Western countries remain rooted in Christian premises. Christianity also shares key moral principles with Judaism — principles that do not carry over into Islam. These principles are the fount from which modern ethicists have drawn the concept of universal human rights — the foundation of Western secular culture.

But apparently, despite all this…those who equate Christian and Islamic “fundamentalism”….[posit] that Christianity poses just as much or more of a threat to the free world than does Islam.

American high schools, colleges and universities have now created millions of Americans who…have been subjected to decades of anti-American, anti-Western, and anti-Christian conditioning by our educational establishment. And many…are today in positions that affect public policy.

The Left insists that Islam is fundamentally good, but this fundamentally good religion has been hijacked by radicals who twist it. At the same time, Christianity and Judaism are portrayed by the Left as being fundamentally bad and that only those who do not hold steadfastly to these two faiths are the reasonable ones. Spencer explains this phenomenon clearly in his first two chapters.

I must note that I have been troubled to find Catholics portraying Judaism as violent in characterizing the obstacles to peace in the Holy Land.  In like manner, I have found Jews who characterize the Catholic Faith as violent and anti-Semitic. It is important that though we have stumbling blocks along the way, sometimes serious ones, Catholics and Jews should both work to acknowledge at all times and in all places that Christianity and Judaism are fundamentally religions of both peaceful co-existence and religious freedom while Islam only promises these things if Muslims are in the minority or, in the case of countries where there is a Muslim majority, peaceful co-existence can occur only if there is no religious freedom for non-Muslims.

I look forward to reading the rest of Robert Spencer’s Religion of Peace?: Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t.


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