Claudia Parsons of Reuters has an article discussing a report put out by the EastWest Institute regarding religious extremism. It’s in advance of a conference to be held Thursday called “Towards a Common Response: New Thinking Against Violent Extremism and Radicalization.”
What does the report say?
It said extremists from each of the three faiths often have tangible grievances — social, economic or political — but they invoke religion to recruit followers and to justify breaking the law, including killing civilians and members of their own faith.
The report discussed three faiths in detail: Muslims in Britain, Jews in Israel, and Christians in America.
“It is, in each situation, a case of ‘us’ versus ‘them,”‘ [the report] said. “That God did not intend for civilization to take its current shape; and that the state had failed the righteous and genuine members of that nation, and therefore God’s law supersedes man’s law.”
Perhaps the most provocative statement (though perhaps not surprising) came from slated conference speaker and Harvard University lecturer Jessica Stern:
She said it was dangerous for U.S. President George W. Bush to use terms such as “crusade” or “ridding the world of evil.”
“It really is falling into the same trap that these terrorists fall into, black and white thinking,” Stern told Reuters on Wednesday. “It’s very exciting to extremists to hear an American president talking that way.”
Stern said to compare violent extremists from the three faiths was not to suggest that the threat was the same.
“These are not equivalent,” she said. “The problems arising from Christian or Jewish extremism are not threatening to the world in the same way as Muslim extremism is.”
Apparently, the conference’s goal is to develop a “nonpartisan strategy to combat religious extremism.”
A lofty goal… Good luck with that one.
As Sam Harris and others say, though, the only way extremism can change is from within the faith. Outsiders trying to make religious change happen won’t be able to do it, regardless of their strategy.
(Thanks to Kyle for the link!)
[tags]atheist, atheism, Claudia Parsons, Reuters, EastWest Institute, Muslim, Britain, Jew, Israel, Christian, America, God, Harvard University, Jessica Stern, George W. Bush, Sam Harris[/tags]