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Is outside help for religious moderation really the answer?

Reader comment on item: [Moderate] Voices of Islam

Submitted by Peter J. Herz (Taiwan), Sep 23, 2003 at 19:55

Don't be too quick to say that moderation is "mainstream" in non-Islamic traditions. In Protestant Christianity, the liberal, mainstream denominations may have the endowments and proximity to the famous old institutions, but their membership averages around 55 in age (and climbing!); while the young and numbers are in fact with Evangelicals and Pentecostals. That being said, aren't we Westerners lucky that such denominations (unnoticed by our major media, by the way) usually govern themselves by congregational vote or by councils of elders rather than in an hierarchical manner? Similarly, among the Roman Catholics and Orthodox, how much did the theological accommodationists contribute to the undoing of the Soviet Bloc? Not too much.

Also, the secularism of our times won and continues to win by insisting that all reason and truth lie in its camp, ridiculing alternative viewpoints (such as Christian beliefs), and graciously conceding to traditionalist believers certain small areas of their homes and consciences (generous, aren't they?)--a little like triumphant Islam with its Christian, Jewish, and Zoroastrian predecessors, no? In short, the secularist program, abetted by "liberal" religion, is the extinction of theistic belief.

If any Muslims have bothered to look at the modern history of the West, they probably have noticed things like this; and, if their religion is valuable to them, they will probably be wary of "liberalized" Islam. And I'm as absolutely sure that the proverbial manure will hit the proverbial fan as soon as CIA money is discovered behind a few "moderate" Imams. If the masses of the Muslim world turn on an Imamate supported by a Muslim government that has lost its legitimacy, they won't support one backed by non-Muslims.

The important thing is not religious moderation, but the recognition that divine justice is not tribal--i.e., God won't wink at us and isn't necessarily on "our" side because we're His people: if we follow the Canaanites in worship the false gods (nationalism? Do-your-own-thing? Wealth?), burn our children in honor of some Moloch, and offer oppression when He enjoined justice, God will drive us out of the Promised Land just as surely as He drove out the Canaanites (the point of Genesi-Kings; which the Jews and Christians, at least, read).

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