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AP Poll of ISIS Members Proves Pope Right on Islam

AP Poll of ISIS Members Proves Pope Right on Islam August 16, 2016

(Michał Huniewicz, Grand Mosque - Mosque Saudique; Source: Flickr, CC by 2.0)
(Michał Huniewicz, Grand Mosque – Mosque Saudique; Source: Flickr, CC by 2.0)

The West’s knowledge of Islam makes Christians say dumb things about ISIS; I would venture to say nowhere is this knowledge lower than among Catholics in depressingly irreligious France.

Pope Francis, it turns out, is not French.

The pope caught a lot of flack after WYD for saying we shouldn’t talk about Islamic terrorists. The response was swift, ignorant, and predictably knee-jerk. Secularist France–not to be confused with its long but now mostly dead Catholic tradition–reacted with the twitter hashtag #PasMonPape (not my pope) as the BBC reports:

Speaking onboard the papal plane as he returned to Rome from Poland, the Pope told reporters why he doesn’t use the word “Islam” when discussing terrorism.

“It’s not right to identify Islam with violence. It’s not right and it’s not true,” he said. “I believe that in every religion there is always a little fundamentalist group.” And referring to organised crime in Italy, he added: “These are baptised Catholics. If I speak of Islamic violence, then I have to speak of Catholic violence.”

It was the mention of Catholicism that caught the eye of one French social media user @HaussmannParis who tweets extensively about Catholic issues and has written several critical blogs about Islam. @HaussmannParis – who Trending has approached for comment – was one of the first to use the hashtag #PasMonPape following the Pope’s comments on Sunday (the tag has been used in different contexts before). It translates as “not my Pope”. The hashtag within hours became the number one trend in France, which has suffered several Jihadist terror attacks in recent weeks.

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The findings of a recent AP questionnaire the validity of the Muslim identity ticked off Westerners attach to ISIS:

Most Islamic State recruits know little about Islam or hardly care about religion at all, an AP investigation shows. Another study found that the few with the most religious knowledge among the ranks of the terrorist group do not rush to become martyrs.

Debunk away.
Debunk away.

As many as 70 percent of the recruits were said to have had only “basic”knowledge of Islam – one of the three possible choices on an Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) recruitment form, according to a study conducted by Associated Press. The agency looked at thousands of leaked IS documents collected by a Syrian site, Zaman al-Wasl, and conducted numerous interviews with former IS fighters.

The probe found that some 24 percent of IS recruits could boast “intermediate” knowledge of Islam and only about 5 percent considered themselves to be “advanced” learners. Only five recruits claimed to have memorized the Koran.

This ignorance far worse than anything you’d find in a Catholic parish–even a French Catholic parish.

A great part of the problem lies in the pernicious tactic of attaching violence to one religious group, as if something called religion (a recent conceptual invention) can be spun off from the rest of life. This is because it produces a snowball effect that cannot be usually stopped. Inevitably violence is then attached to all religious groups, to all believers who ever believed. This is the basic premise of The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.

Catholics who use this tactic in order to smear all Muslims don’t realize they are using a New Atheist line of argument. They open themselves up to ascribing the many violent acts of Catholics throughout history–for example, the conversion of Northern Europe by the sword–to the core of their religion. Those who go for the scriptural violence argument tend to go with a heretical Arian argument saying that there’s only violence in the Old Testament, as if the Old Testament weren’t part of the Christian scriptures. They also overlook how much the Book of Revelation is dripping with blood, and how much previous generations have used it to justify their violence, especially Christian millenarians. Finally, they overlook the explicit words of Jesus who did not see peace automatically following upon his teaching.

Furthermore, since Catholics claim to worship the same God as Muslims, well, let’s just say automatically imputing violence to Islam is highly problematic.

In other words, if they fall for that, they might as well speak of Catholic terrorism.

William T. Cavanaugh’s The Myth of Religious Violence is an important antidote to this temptation.

Finally, those who give into the temptation of playing Benedict XVI’s bad cop off of Francis’ good cop on Islam–all to the advantage of the former as a realist on Islam clearly stopped with reading the clickbait headlines about the Regensburg lecture, but ignored how afterwards Papa Ratzinger radically revolutionized Catholic dialogue with Islam.

See A French Genocide and Salvation Outside the State for more on the vexed secularist tactic of attaching violence to particular religious bodies rather than treating is as the human problem pure and simple that it is.

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