“You shall not offer any of your offspring for immolation to Molech, thus profaning the name of your God. I am the Lord.” Leviticus 18:21
“Karl Marx has got you by the throat and Henry Kissinger has you tied up into knots.” Bob Dylan
In a recent address on his strategy to defeat the ISIL jihadist group, President Obama utilized his favorite catch phrase: “Let me be clear”. What was made clear to me, after analyzing Obama’s words, is that religious freedom in American is on the wane. Among otherwise encouraging statements about the planned defeat of ISIL, the arrogance of the intelligentsia can be found in Obama’s words. Obama has set himself as the definer of what religion is and is not; this development is disturbing.
Obama stated, “Now let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not Islamic. No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim.” That’s actually three things but I think the two assertions Obama meant “to be clear” about were the following:
- ISIL is not Islamic
- No Religion Condones the Killing of Innocents
Let’s examine these two assertions from a Christian worldview so that we can ascertain some clarity of our own.
ISIL is not Islamic?
“There is no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God.” The Shahada
On a Christian worldview, it makes sense to question whether or not a person or group is truly Christian and not Christian in name only. Theologically speaking, anyone who denies the Lordship of Christ, for example, could not rightly be described as Christian. Sociologically speaking, the definition of Christian can be understood more broadly. The Roman Catholic Church is rightly understood as “Christian” from a sociological perspective, even though it an apostate organization and not rightly considered theologically Christian. It makes sense for a Christian to ask the theological question “Is the Roman Catholic Church Christian?” However, does it make sense for a Christian to ask the theological question, “Is ISIL Islamic”? The answer is no.
Islam is a false religion. Like every other non-Christian religion in the world, it Islam not founded upon principles that are true to the nature of God. It doesn’t make sense, therefore, for a Christian to wonder if one sect of Islam is properly Islamic while others are not. Whether a Muslim is Sufi, Sunni (like members of ISIL), or Shia, he is a member of a false religion. Theologically, all that matters is that Muslims aren’t Christians. Therefore, Christians have to base their assessments of the religious status of non-Christians on sociological criteria.
The most basic sociological criterion for determining if someone is Islamic is his belief in the truth of the Shahada. The Shahada is basically the Islamic confession of faith. Reciting the Shahada is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Anyone who recites and believes the Shahada can rightly be considered a Muslim. The Shahada is so basic to Islam that it is featured on the flags of Islamic countries and organizations. In fact, it’s featured on the flag of ISIL.
Members of ISIL recite and believe the Shahada. They are Muslims. So either Barack Obama’s statement that “ISIL is not Islamic” is a lie or it’s something altogether more nefarious. It’s not that Obama is engaging in a “No True Scotsman Fallacy”, it’s something worse. It seems apparent to me that Barack Obama believes his own statement to be true because he believes that he has the wisdom and authority to define what Islam is and what it is not, over against anyone else in the world who actually recites the Shahada. Barack Obama, in his vast arrogance, has defined the parameters for what is and what is not inclusive for a certain religion.
No Religion Condones the Killing of Innocents?
“Considering your specific duty as a kṣatriya, you should know that there is no better engagement for you than fighting on religious principles; and so there is no need for hesitation. Bhagavad-gītā 2.31
To be fair it worldview, ISIL does not consider the people it is killing to be innocent. To put it simply, ISIL consider the people it kills to be guilty of the crime of profaning Islam. Therefore, in the minds of ISIL, the people it kills are worthy of death. So with radical Islam we do see a religion that condones the killing of innocents. We also see the religiously motivated killing of innocents portrayed in the biblical text by the Canaanites. In ancient Canaanite religion, innocent babies were scarified to pagan gods. We also see an example of religiously justified killing in Hindu thought. The mythical hero Arjuna is instructed by Vishnu to kill people in battle with whom he has no personal vendetta, despite his desire not to do so, because Arjuna is a warrior and killing is the function of the warrior cast.
Plenty of religions condone the killing of innocents (Whereas Christianity, I must note, condones the forgiveness of the guilty). I don’t think Barack Obama is totally ignorant of the cases noted above. Rather, I think he just rejects all the cases above as religious at all. Basically, Barack Obama defines his own truth. To Obama, I think, “religion” is a path to God through generically loving one’s neighbor and not casting any sort of judgment…kind of an all inclusive universalism that has no room for hard doctrines. Obama invents moral parameters and then defines true religion according to his own inventions.
Obama’s Dangerous Idea
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” John Adams
If American leaders like Barack Obama can define what is and what is not religion based on their own personal declarations and tastes, what does the future hold for religious freedom in the United States? How long until the statement, “No Religion Condones the Killing of Innocents” evolves into “No religion withholds the sacrament of marriage from loving same-sex couples”, “No religious person withholds wedding services to loving same-sex couples”, or “No religion prevents a business owner from providing the provision of chemical abortifacients to women in need.”? As we can see from recent court cases, some going all the way to the Supreme Court, that evolution may already be here.
When does Barack Obama declare that my own bible-believing, theologically conservative Southern Baptist Convention has “has no place in the 21st century?” How long until Barack Obama declares that “no just God would stand” for what I believe and do?
We Shall Overcome
“I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” Jesus
More Christians (Baptists) were killed by Lutherans and Catholics during the Reformation than were killed under Roman Persecution. There was no government-mandated religious freedom to protect either the Christians killed during the Reformation of during Roman times. Still the church grew. Still it grows today even in communist countries like China where religion of any kind was against the law. Christians, our big “G” God doesn’t need religious protection from the governments of the little “g” god of this age to build His church.
The question I have for you, Christian reader, is “Are you more concerned about spreading the gospel to the lost and living sold out to Christ than you are worried about defeating the enemies of the United States both within (Obama) and without (ISIL)?” When Jesus comes back, if the United States is still extant, he is going to decommission its government and set up His own. Always remember the scene in the throne room of God from the book of Revelation:
“Then I saw thrones; those who sat on them were entrusted with judgment. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image nor had accepted its mark on their foreheads or hands. They came to life and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” Revelation 20:4
There’s a slow train coming…
 Political sensitivities of course, are not lost on me. It would be irresponsible on the world stage for the President of the United States to stand up and declare something like “All Muslims are on a jihad to destroy freedom.” There are plenty of Muslims from whom we have no reason to expect violence. I happen to know that the Muslims here in Cartersville love pick-up trucks and America just like I do. I’m not afraid of them and I know my Muslim neighbors here in Cartersville reject the terrible Acts of ISIL. Still, it is a bridge too far to declare that “ISIL is not Islamic”.
 Again, the political aspect of war and territory-grabbing are not lost on me. There may be some in the leadership of ISIL who are not true believers in jihad but nonetheless need some greater religious cause to justify their greed with their underlings. I have no doubt that many in ISIL are true believers in jihad.
 A very Americanized version of this story is told in the movie, The Legend of Bagger Vance.
 Like Barack Obama’s Christian rejection of “gay marriage” to his Christian acceptance of “gay marriage”.
 I don’t have a direct citation here but came across this fact while reading either The Story of Christianity by Gonzalez or The Baptist Heritage by McBeth.