This isn't helping...
One of the psychological factors in the "war on terror" is that we must, at least in public, assure people that what we're fighting is not
islam itself. Curmudgeon, who's usually not far off, gleefully states
It could fairly be said that Christian fundamentalists look more threatening to "mainstream" American observers because they're here among us in some quantity. Proximity must always factor into the perception of threat. But what, exactly, do the Christian fundamentalist creeds require of their followers -- and more to the point, of others? Do any advocate conversion of non-Christians by the sword, or the execution of homosexuals? Do any prescribe the political subjugation of women, the enslavement of captives of war.... Islam prescribes all these things as core doctrines....The Muslim who dissents from any of its dicta is a heretic, subject to summary execution. According to the tenets of the creed, he is no Muslim at all....The Men of the West of our time must be as clear-sighted about the nature of their enemy as Aragorn was about his. Islam is that enemy: the creed itself. Unless it undergoes a transformation to make the Protestant Reformation look like a minor squabble over a trivia contest, it will remain toxic to human life, just as Nazism was. Those who subscribe to it in its current form cannot be trusted.
To the average "devout" christian, this sounds about right. However, analyze the statement being made here and it becomes obvious that a long string of assumptions have to be left unchallenged to even accept it in part, let alone in full. Take the statement that a "moderate" muslim is no muslim at all: the same has been said of christianity, frequently. The history of people being shamed & even murdered for questioning the Bible is well documented. This doesn't limit itself to breaking of the 10 commandments either; scientists were threatened for so much as saying the earth was not the center of the universe. Even now, there is strife within different strains of christianity over relatively minor matters. The question of who is sufficiently christian has never been a settled matter, it is not now, and it will never be.
Now, understand this: I am NOT in any way saying that the current condition of the US is in any way parallel to the condition of much of the middle east
. Matter of fact, consider the religious aspect of the muslim extremist arguement against america -- that we're "godless" and "greedy", generally riddled with sin. This is literally identical to much of what was stated by devout christians during what we now consider progress: "we are losing touch with god". One may point to their current equivalents as generally non-violent in comparison with muslim fundamentalists, but this doesn't answer anything without creating another question: how'd they come to be that way? From my point of view, I would say it's been the prosperity that has resulted from exactly what they feared. Note that as the standard of living in much of the West has gone up, religious literalism in the christian strain has fallen out of favor. Why?
Well, to put it bluntly, though they yell loud as ever they know what side their bread is buttered on.
It can be expressed as easily as considering that there used to be laws barring christians from charging interest. Now the majority of nations w/ a christian population barely even bat an eyelash at the practice: you could even say that our economies run on it. If that isn't enough, look at sexual conduct, we've gone from hardcore patriarchy & a literal reading of "'till death do you part" to no-fault divorce laws in many areas, single-parent households as a common thing, and arguing over whether or not gays can marry in place of arguing over whether they can legally have sex. How far does this trend have to go before it is acknowledged we've "crossed the line" and truly abandoned christianity as more than the cultural equivalent of decoration?
Speaking of decorations, we've gone from the statements in christianity about "false idols" to...Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and holiday sales.
In a way, the islamic fundamentalists are correct really, just not in the manner they would like. America is
godless, as economics has trumped religion, and going by the comparison of living standards I know what I would pick between the two. The only rationale I can think of that would make Curmudgeon's statement true would be if we also acknowledged that christianity used to be a problem until we essentially did away with it.
BTW: I would like all western christians to try out the following: try to imagine this "reformation" of islam. What does it look like? Describe it to me if you can.