The USA’s Separation of Church and State Binds Its War on Islamic Terrorism

YOU GOT TO FIGHT FIRE WITH FIRE. The U.S. doesn’t do it because of its cherished separation of church and state doctrine. That should change. The main weapon in the war against Islamic terrorism is not physical, but ideological. The U.S. should use it.

The radical imams know this and take much advantage of it. They preach hatred and violence, turning young Muslim men into violent jihadists, even suicide bombers. The Qur’an (4:75) states, “true believers fight for the cause of God.” These clerics add that if their disciples suffer martyrdom, they will immediately enter into a blessed afterlife in heaven that is far greater than this life, enjoying divine rewards such as multiple virgin women. So, many of these young men take up arms or suicide bombs to seek martyrdom, or they have little or no regard for continuing in this life.

The study of the History of Religions reveals that religions do not exist in isolation from each other; rather, they influence each other. Concerning the early formation of Islam, objective historians surely are right that it was influenced by Christianity and Judaism. By that time, the majority view of both of these religions concerning human nature and the afterlife was that the human soul is immortal and that upon physical death, these immortal souls enter into a disembodied, though conscious, afterlife either to enjoy bliss in heaven or suffer torment in hell. Christians generally believed in a subsequent resurrection of the body and divine judgment. Hellenistic Jews were divided on both ideas, though their ancestors had believed as the Christians did, as their Hebrew Bible makes clear. It states repeatedly that upon human death souls go down inside the earth to a place called “Sheol” (mentioned 67 times and similar to Hades) where there is no memory and no consciousness. And the Bible constantly describes souls during this intermediate state as being “asleep.” (Christians and Jews have argued as to whether this description should be understood literally or not.)

Islam likewise adopted a strong belief in resurrection and judgment, which are repeated in the Qur’an more than in the Bible. Early Islam also embraced belief in the immortality of the soul, as Christians and many Jews then did. But it was not always so.

Jewish New Testament scholar and historian Alan F. Segal wrote a classic book on this subject entitled Life After Death: A History of the Afterlife in Western Religion (Doubleday, 2004, 880 pp.). He states, “Apostolic Christianity at first wanted nothing to do with immortality of the soul” (p. 705). He says the same had been true of earlier Jews and then adds, “When Jews came into contact with Greece and Persia, everything changed” (p. 701). He means that most Hellenistic Jews then embraced belief in the immortality of the soul. Thus, Segal explains, and many historians and theologians affirm, that Jews and later Christians were influenced by Greek religio-philosophy, which generally proclaimed a dualism that included the immortality of the human soul.

Former U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, in her book Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God, and World Affairs, admits that the U.S. in recent decades has suffered, and brought suffering on other nations, because its foreign policy largely ignored religious beliefs common in foreign countries. In doing so, she suggests that the U.S. change course.

I concur, suggest that they start with consideration of belief in an afterlife, and go a step further. During WWII, the U.S. sent radio waves of propaganda toward its enemies and flew airplanes over them that dropped leaflets with the same messages. Remember G.I. Jane? Those days were similar to our war on terrorism with Islamic Jihadists in that both of our enemies were motivated by religious/spiritual beliefs. The Japanese were taught that their Emperor Hirohito was divine, and the Germans treated Hitler, who experimented with the occult, as a messianic figure. But nowadays, the U.S. does nothing to oppose Islamic propaganda that sends young men to their deaths, and in the process kills a lot of innocent people they had regarded as their enemies. I suggest the U.S. sends out a message about afterlife which opposes that message of these Imams. It might raise legal issues; but it would only proclaim history, declaring that early Jews and Christians did not believe in the immortality of the soul and therefore did not believe that viewpoint was taught in their scriptures despite the New Testament’s 2 Corinthians 5.8 and Philippians 1.21-23. And for those who think they do, belief in the immortality of the soul makes resurrection less appealing.

I think such a message by the U.S. government–that it is questionable that there is any biblical evidence for conscious afterlife during the intermediate state between death and resurrection–would cause many young Muslim men to pause and rethink choosing to forfeit their lives. It could be a powerful weapon the U.S. and other nations could use their war on Islamic Terrorism.

  • Bob Seidensticker

    Uh, no. You fight fire with water.

    Saying, “You want crazy?? We’ll give you crazy!” isn’t the best approach. Seeing through the nonsense of all religions (not just Islam) will take us to a better place, I think.

  • Mary

    Hmmm…Interesting thought. But wouldn’t most Christians get upset with this tactic? Not to say I would, but I could hear the argument that if there is no hell, and no fear of punishment, then that would give them a free pass. I don’t know what the solution is, but the fact is that the majority of Christians and Muslims believe in the afterlife, even if it isn’t in the OT. But it appears to be in the NT so I really don’t think that this argument would be very persuasive. I am sorry but this seems to be a simplistic solution to a very complex problem.

    • Kermit Zarley

      You seem to be wrongly assuming this post does not affirm the future resurrection and judgment. It does as follows: the third paragraph says “resurrection of the body and divine judgment…. their Hebrew Bible makes clear;” and in the last paragraph I’m saying there is no “conscious afterlife during the intermediate state between death and resurrection,” thus affirming resurrection. And resurrection certainly is taught in the OT in several places. It is mplicityly indicated in God’s promise to Abraham that he will give him all of the Promised Land and an innumerable number of descendants. This, of course, did not happen in Abraham’s lifetime and therefore will happen by means of Abraham being resurrected. And, of course, Jesus argued with the Saduccees about implicit resurrection in the OT (Mark 12.18-27).

      The resurrection is taught exlicitly in the OT in not only Daniel 12.2, its chief text, but also in Job 19.25-26; Isaiah 25.8/1 Corinthians 15.54; Isaiah 26.19; Hos 13.14/1 Corinthians 15.55. I also think resurrection is indicated in Job 14.12-14. I reject the non-literal interpretation of Ezekiel 37.1-14–that it refers to the restoration of the nation of Israel–and therefore I believe it teaches only resurrection of all Hebrews/Jews who belong to God by means of true faith. As for the judgment, in which all people must stand before God, through Christ, and be held accountable for what they did in their lives, that is taught in several places in the OT, perhaps no more clearly and briefly than in Ecclesiastes 12.14.

      • Mary

        Okay, you are correct, I missed that part. However this is a very non-traditional interpretation and quite frankly I do not think your idea is sound. The way people cling to their religious concepts despite evidence to the contrary is proof enough for me. The “creationism” movement is based on flat denial of reality. Also, is there is evidence that this propoganda campaign worked in WW2? Also there are many reasons beyond theological concerns that could cause someone to be a terrorist. Probably the main one would be to be a hero in the eyes of his friends or family. However, whether they believe that their reward comes right after death or whether at the final judgment as you describe, they are still going to believe that this is what God wants, so I don’t get your point. Also when you talk about the influence of other cultures, you are talking about mainstream thoughts affecting others, not non-traditional thoughts such as your own. Plus these influences were successful because they were being passed on neighbor to neighbor, not enemy to enemy. Frankly I think trying to change the ideology is pointless. It is important to consider that these people are already aware of what Jesus taught about non-violence. If they don’t believe in that, why would anything else we have to say make a difference?

        • Kermit Zarley

          The Bible clearly teaches that only the one God and creator of the universe, who I think is only God the Father, “alone possesses immortality” (1 Timothy 6.16; cf. 1.17). He imparts it to whomever he chooses, which so far has been only to Jesus. Therefore, the Bible does not teach that the human soul is immortal. So, as I think I make clear in my post, Jews and Christians totally opposed Greek religio-philosophical dualism and its notion that the human soul is immortal. They only began to depart from this biblical teaching and embrace that Greek teaching when they migrated to Hellenistic lands. When it comes to using the word “traditional,” the discussion can get sort of muddied. When Christians depart from New Testament teaching, they depart from their original tradition and often adopt some other tradition, which they did in this case. Read Segal’s classic book and you’ll see what I’m saying.

          Could it make a difference? It might be difficult to tell. But I think it’s worth the try. Yes, propaganda often works. It has been used in warfare a lot in history. For example, read 2 Kings 18.17–19.13.

  • Noel

    Is this a joke???