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What is Moderation?

Reader comment on item: [American Muslim Group for Policy Planning;] Another "Moderate" Muslim Group

Submitted by Peter J. Herz (Taiwan), Dec 29, 2004 at 18:59

Moderate is as moderate does. There are Turkish-Americans who've been dismayed for years over the radical takeover of Islamic institutions, but who surely make Greek- and Armenian-Americans wince by thinking of their medieval ancestors under the heroic epithet "Ghazi".

It is wrong to suggest that only those who accept the findings of 19th century German higher criticism and those who accept the 20th century's theological relativism can be trustworthy chaplains in our armed forces. This would be very unfair to Evangelical Christians who want to convert the world to Christ (but not by force), or to orthodox Jews who would hold that Christians are misled by a false Messiah. Humorous and gentle Buddhist monks formed in the "old countries" of their varied sects (Theravada, Pure Land, Chan, Lamaism) rather than Hollywood would reveal a lot of pre-modern attitudes thoroughly offensive to feminists (if not to others) if their interviewers knew the right questions to ask.

The liberal theology that dominates the prestigious religion departments and divinity schools of our country is the same faith that would unilaterally disarm our republic and throw it wide open to every enemy--from the Communists to Osama bin Laden. It's the same mindset that would turn the Bill of Rights and the "Love Thy Neighbor" Scriptural passages into a suicide pact. It is also presiding over flocks whose average age is over fifty and climbing; and closing churches far more than it's building new ones. In present-day American Christianity, there is vigor only among the Evangelicals, but they are simply not "respectable" to the mainstream media and academia. It would be utter folly to expect Muslims who might be both fond of their own religion and cognizant of the history of their biggest rival--Christianity--to desire a "liberalization" of their religion along the lines represented by the prestigious schools.

A big part of the problem is that the foundational texts of both Judaism and Christianity include the story of the Babylonian exile and how to be the minority, singing the LORD's song in a strange land. Christianity then took that peculiar ball and ran with it through the pre-medieval Middle East and Roman worlds--and continues to do so in its mission-minded "fundamentalist" forms. Islam, on the other hand, was born as church, state, and army rolled into one, and the Qu'ran is a set of instructions given to an army on the march. It simply doesn't occurr to the framers of the Qu'ran and Hadith that believers must seek the peace (shalom) of the non-believing city in which they find themselves (as Jeremiah instructed the exiles). This exposes both fundamental differences between politicized Evangelicalism and Islamofascism; and explains why there's bound to friction with a Muslim diaspora.
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