If you had asked me twenty years ago to predict what the 21st century would hold in store, “religious wars” probably wouldn’t have been tops on my list.
But it should have been.
There are many forms of religious war going on. The most obvious one until now has been between radical Islam and everybody else. Yes, radical Muslims are somewhat of a minority within Islam, but they’re a huge, activist, vocal, violent, determined, and ruthless minority, and they’ve been fighting the fight for the better part of a century (centuries, that is) and have really stepped it up since their victory in Iran in 1979. During the Obama administration their threat has grown in numbers, in strength, and in barbarity.
I wrote that it’s a war “between radical Islam and everybody else.” Their war against the Jews has been going on for a long time, with Israel/Palestine as the epicenter (that war isn’t just a religious one, but it certainly is a religious one as well as a political one). The war against the Hindus also is of great antiquity. The ancient war against Christians took somewhat of a breather in Western Europe after the Siege of Vienna. In recent years, however, radical Islam’s revived war against Christians has reached a violent fever pitch.
The West could fight that war and win it, if it chose to do so. But radical Islam is aware of, and takes advantage of, another war—an internal one within Christianity that weakens the response immeasurably. Christians are divided into two camps, one of which is what for want of a better term I would call leftist Christianity (revisionist Christianity? non-traditional Christianity?), which rests on social justice warrioring, embrace of same-sex marriage and related causes, and intense devotion to third-world problems. This is the “bleeding-heart liberal” wing of Christianity, and its numbers are strong.
Traditional, or fundamentalist, or socially conservative Christianity is opposed. The recent SCOTUS decision in Obergefell on same-sex marriage pits that group against the latest trends in the law. The same is true of orthodox Jews and Muslims, of course, but somehow I doubt that the left will make them their next target—they’ll most likely begin with legal attacks on dissenting Christians because they are seen as the least truculent as well as the most numerous. Traditional Christians are weakened by the fact that their fellow-Christians have mostly abandoned them, and because there has also been a campaign for a long long time to stir up hatred against them.
I’ve seen this myself among many liberals I know. I’m not talking about leftists, who tend to hate religion in general (unless they’re members of one of the aforementioned leftist-oriented churches, or unless the religion is Islam). For decades I’ve heard casual comments about how awful fundamentalist Christians are, and this is from liberal Christians themselves, or at least liberals who were born Christian. Conservative Christians now equal hatemongers in many people’s eyes, and so whatever is done against them legally will not, I predict, ruffle many feathers.
I’m not a Christian. I’m not even especially socially conservative. But it will ruffle my feathers if it happens, and I believe it will happen.
[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]