What is there to say about the evil of ISIS?

Broken Pencil

What’s happening right now with ISIS in Iraq is so terrifying and demoralizing that I find viscerally repelling the idea of writing a blog post about anything else.

But when you’re faced with pure evil, what is there to say?

May America’s intervention stop the evil cruelties being perpetrated by ISIS, and … and let’s all hug our loved ones extra hard today, and try to be appreciative, not to say desperately grateful, for all the freedoms and liberties that it’s so easy for us to take for granted.


I’m the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question:

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • Matt

    Amen.

  • mhelbert

    Yes, there are a lot of horror stories coming from that region. Here is a link to a post by Dr. John Byron that addresses some things that we may not be hearing correctly. http://thebiblicalworld.blogspot.com/2014/08/isis-and-christians-be-cautious.html

  • Psycho Gecko

    It’s also not too good that intervention is a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” type of proposition. We don’t like people being slaughtered by religious fundamentalists, but we can’t just invade everywhere in the world that there’s a problem (especially if our invasions help cause problems like ISIS).

    One way or another, I hope we find a way that involves a minimum of bloodshed.

  • http://www.enesvy.com/ Enesvy

    This kind of terror has been going on in North Korea for generations, yet no one can tell me why we’re not bombing them. :( No American corporations to protect?

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      If you write a post about that I’ll publish it for you if you want.

      • http://www.enesvy.com/ Enesvy

        I’ll chew on it!

    • Alliecat04

      Not sure being bombed would better the lot of the average citizen of North Korea. And you seem to be forgetting the big-ass war we fought on their behalf, with the result that the border ended up pretty much exactly where it was before we started fighting. We didn’t NOT TRY, we tried and we failed because making a whole country full of people who are kept ignorant by their own government and thus think America is the Devil turn against their slave-masters is not that easy. My father, who was over there with US intelligence, once said that we would have had to kill every single person in the country. Which would not have made their lives better, by definition.

      You seem to think that their subsequent sufferings have taught them something and that now they would welcome us with open arms if we tried to “help” them. But every bit of information coming out of NK suggests the opposite is true, they believe in their way of life and would fight for it.

      About six months before my dad’s final stroke we were eating in a Korean restaurant when a table full of gossipy elderly Korean ladies came over to quiz us. They noticed my dad used chopsticks in a Korean manner and we surprised

      • Alliecat04

        Ugh, hate disqus on ipad… Continuing…

        Surprised that we liked traditional food. So they got to talking about his time spent there, and these ladies ended up hugging him and inviting him to their dinner in honor of Korean servicemen. They weren’t of the opinion that the US ignored Korea, they were of the opinion that they wouldn’t have a country if it weren’t for the US.

        • http://www.enesvy.com/ Enesvy

          Thanks, Alliecat04, for your perspective. I guess after hearing stories and watching documentaries about people who have escaped North Korea, I just assumed there were a lot of people there who don’t believe what their government is telling them. So many people are sent to the labor camps–whole families, children and all–that I don’t think they, in particular, would reject liberation. But I admit that I am not fully educated on the subject.
          And, of course, I don’t mean bombing civilian targets.

          • Alliecat04

            There are very few targets which are not civilian targets. Does the general’s secretary deserve to die? How about the general’s janitor? The only excuse for war is a realistic hope of making life better for those left alive, and that’s usually tricky.

          • http://www.enesvy.com/ Enesvy

            As a civilian, if I took a job in a military target, I would not be under the delusion that I was somehow immune to that location being targeted. Of course there are going to be civilian casualties, but you don’t target Disneyland. Military bases are known and viable targets. If you work there, you know that. I’m just saying be as careful as possible. But civilian casualties are a given in war. You’re right–it’s very tricky for a force that cares about civilians. ISIS doesn’t.

  • Troy Heckart
  • Alliecat04

    Off topic – can anyone tell me why it flags posts sometimes instead of pulling up a reply box when I try to reply, and won’t let me edit my own posts, and sometimes stops letting me type in the middle of a post? I’m writing from my ipad, and this sucks. Anyone else out there have similar issues?

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      You’re saying these are problems you’re having when you try to comment in Disqus (from your iPad)? (Oh, I see below that you are saying that. Let me try to see what I can find out by asking the Patheos techies of they can help with this.)

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

    Iraq, Syria, Chad
    Ethiopia, Rwanda, Nigeria
    Survivor’s tears,
    Eyes haunted, hopeless
    When will we learn Lord, When will we learn?

    Bosnia, North Korea, China,
    Chesnya, Somolia, Nicaraugua
    So many graves
    Few left to mourn
    When will we learn Lord, when will we learn?

    Greece, Russia, Germany
    Canada, Japan, The USA
    Victim, Oppressor
    History shows both
    When will we learn Lord, When will we learn?

  • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

    Ever have those days when you feel small and powerless? When your empathy makes you feel utterly impotent? I’ve been having those a lot lately. Thanks for this, John.

  • Al Cruise

    Pure evil, yes. Also purified fundamentalism.

    • http://www.enesvy.com/ Enesvy

      That’s the scary part. :(

  • BarbaraR

    The evil there will be co-opted elsewhere (like here in the US) by those ready to point a finger – or a gun – at all Muslims and cry, “See? See? This is what they’re all like! Let’s kill them before they kill us!”

  • Adele Henderson

    Thank you for your brief but powerful words.

  • Worthless Beast

    Argh, can’t change my name on here! How do I do that?

    Anyway, last night in a chat, I got into a debate about moral relativism. I said, not citing ISIS, but remembering something I’d read about them that “I think beheadding children is always evil.” I got the argument back that “It may be evil to you and me, but it might not be evil to someone else.”

    Perhaps, because I was exhausted over raging about insensitive comments regarding suicide I’d read online earlier in the day, I actually engaged in civil discourse and explained to that person that not even their atheism (as opposed to them knowing I didn’t share it) necessarily meant that they had to go the moral relativism route, because many atheists think there is a biological basis for morality… Anyway, we actually had a nice mini-debate.

    Then, I wake up today and remember/realize what they’d said about how they thought “beheading children wasn’t evil to someone else” and wanted to retroactively open up a portal in the Interent and get a rifle so I could slam them in the face with a rifle-butt.

    Because, that really is the dominant instinct I have when I encounter people who talk like that.

    Am I wrong to have such imaginary-violence impulses?

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

      You can change your name through how you log in. I tend to use my google account, which has my name as allegro63. Facebook, or Disqus has another name. Look at your account settings to see if you can change anything there.
      As for that imaginary portal… sending a message of “your opinion stinks” works quite well when you “ship” bags of harshly used cat litter. Oh if only…

      • Worthless Beast

        Sadly, we lost our cat in June, and so do not have the cat litter. I lost my job at a horse farm even earlier, so I do not have wagonloads of manure… but… yes… if the Internet had portal-technology, stuff like that would happen.

        • vj

          Hey – shadsie!!! I’ve often thought about you over the years [yikes, it really has been that long!], I used to love your comments on John’s original blog – so glad you’re still here sharing :-D

          (it was the horse-farm reference that made we wonder if it was you – sorry about that, you always seemed to really love it)

          love
          vj

    • http://www.enesvy.com/ Enesvy

      The only way someone could rationalize and believe that beheading children is not evil would be if the person believed they were “saving” the child by keeping them from living a life outside of the “correct” belief system. It’s still evil and wrong, but that’s how they may be justifying it to themselves.

    • Bones

      “17Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known a man by sleeping with him. 18But all the young girls who have not known a man by sleeping with him, keep alive for yourselves. ” Numbers 31:17-18

      Sound familiar to ISIS?

      There are those who see no problem killing children in a divine cause. And these same people will claim to be upholding God’s morality.

      • Worthless Beast

        The problem I have is not with the technicality. People can work themselves up into all kinds of evil in the name of what they think God wants or what their philosophy demands or what will be best for some imaginary Future. My problem when people when they go “Oh, morality is so relative” is the *attitude.* The modern / post-modern attitude that I see seems to be one of apathy in the face of evil, a “Oh, but it’s their culture (and those aren’t my kids they’re killing. They’re just the primitive brown, faraway people).”

        A lot of these same people will decry the Bible and say that gleaning any wisdom out of any part of it or (even believing in a concept of “god” of any kind) makes you evil because APPARENTLY it’s not possible in their eyes for someone who believes in anything to think that ancient books were written by ancient humans. Of COURSE you’re the most evil thing that ever eviled – it doesn’t matter if you don’t practice or condone genocide and look at those parts of the Bible with a very critical eye… And then they are willing to sit back and watch cultures that exist in the *current timestream with them* with tacit approval because “It’s their culture, it’s not evil to them.”

        Something relevant. I like the top of the page quote: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/CultureJustifiesAnything

        • Bones

          Some cultural practices are barbaric eg female genital mutialtion, corrective rape for lesbians, honour killings,

          Changing a culture is very difficult and not something you can do with arms. The best way of combating abhorrent cultural practices is through education and human rights advocacy, supporting those opposed to such practices.

          Let’s not forget there are those of us in the west who believe that capital punishment itself is abhorrent. And one of the countries which the US has allied itself with, Saudi Arabia, has quite draconian laws yet the US seems to not be interested so long as they have oil and a military base.

          Circumcision is an interesting one too. Some see it as genital mutilation but how do you tell Jews to stop.

  • DC Rambler

    Yes, They are evil and bad but if you had written this post 500 years ago it would be the Christians delivering the terror. The Islam vs Christian war has been waged for a thousand years and both sides have been brutal and savage all in the name of God. This current battle just seems worst because we see it and feel it but if you read the long sad history of this conflict you will see it is nothing new.

    • http://www.enesvy.com/ Enesvy

      Oh, we know it’s nothing new. And we recognize the crimes of Christians past in the horrific behavior of ISIS. I just hope Islam can move past it faster than Christianity did.

  • http://brmckay.wordpress.com/ brmckay

    How many years have we been killing and maiming people in the various wars now?

    How many billions of tons of arms and ammunition have we funneled into the chaos?

    How many people put their kids through college, or bought backyard barbeques, with their cut of the proceeds?

    We create our enemies. There is a process of refinement going on. This latest batch, just reflects the accumulated inertia of our own brutish cluelessness.

    I’m sure there will be calls to refurbish the nuclear arsenal; How else are we suppose to fight this kind of “evil”?
    .

  • http://www.theunderstandingapp.com Kevin Osborne

    The large majority of “war crises” are fueled by arms manufacture. We see the desperation of government to continue to pay for these arms in the goings on in Ferguson, where “excess” munitions have built a militaristic force and attitude on the part of a small town police force. When you give men toys, they will play with them.
    Note the two great rebuilding successes led by General Marshall and Harry Truman (who was a very competent and admired artillery officer in WWI). They were not concerned with punishing their conquered enemies in Japan and Germany and both countries are now strong allies and largely anti-militaristic societies.
    If we drop the evil name calling, have constant patience in negotiation, and pound home freedom for the individual as the message of the United States and the world, we might just tip the scales to where the world will back us against anything.
    Stopping the arms manufacture madness and having faith is a good start.

    • Bones

      You also need to acknowledge the US’s and western deplorable practices in the Middle East.

      Even Israel provided support for Hamas to create instability in Palestine.

      • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

        Yeah, which Israel, is now realizing that grand scheme of stirring the pot, is biting them in the ass.

      • http://www.theunderstandingapp.com Kevin Osborne

        I so acknowledge. The US’ model of construction is still widely admired even by so-called enemies, yet would discard that moral influence through cupidity of a few who have lost the joy of life.
        As Sister Gerald Francis used to say “misery loves company”.


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