Is Radical Islam More Dangerous Than Radical Christianity?

[Re-dated and renamed post from 3/27/08] I debunk Christianity, Evangelical or Fundamental Christianity, because I know the most about it. That being said, I think radical Islam is much more dangerous to civilization than perhaps any other religion, especially more dangerous than Christianity. There are four things that make Christianity less dangerous than Islam in my opinion.

One) Christianity has a Virgin Mary who helped bring in the redeeming Messiah. The Catholics have even made Mary a co-redeemer. This feminine Biblical example exalts women to some degree. Women aren’t entirely worthless chattel. Islam only has an Eve, who is known for being a temptress to Adam. She is weak, needing to be ruled over, who can be blamed for bringing upon the earth such misery.

Two) Christianity has its Jesus, who is basically seen as non-violent and who laid down his life for humankind. Islam has no corresponding figure. Mohammed was a political ruler, whereas Jesus had no earthly political power. So the Koran reflects the political goals of religion, whereas in Christianity it’s merely implicit.

Three) Christianity has gone through an Enlightenment beginning in the 16th century with the rise of science and modern philosophy. The only version of Christianity we see in today’s world is one reflecting various degrees of this enlightenment. As a result the only Christians we see are “cherry-picking” from the Bible based upon their modern experiences and understandings. They do not take the Bible literally. They do not think it honors God to stone adulterers, kill witches, or keep women in submissive silence at home. By contrast, Islam has had no Enlightenment. Muslims still take the Koran at face value, and there are some pretty hateful things said in it about infidels, Jews, and women, along with some barbaric ways to punish criminals.

Four) Christianity does not have the same political power that Islam has within any country in the world today. There are whole countries ruled by Islamic law. There are no countries ruled by Christian law, although there is a heavy influence of Christianity in America, the most powerful nation in the world. Even many Christians think it’s best to have the separation of church and state. But in this nuclear age with WWD's, all it would take to destroy millions of lives is a rogue Muslim state or a small group of militant Muslims who gained access to them.

What do you think?


Shygetz said...

I have seen some truly absurd unbiblical stuff propogated by Fundamentalist ministers that was just eaten up by their congregations (Pro-war Jesus? Seriously? God says global warming is a myth? Honestly!) So, I am inclined to think that fundamentalist Christianity is susceptible to authoritarian co-option as is radical Islam. I think the difference is that fundamentalist Christianity does not have the motivation nor the popularity to turn as radical as the militant Islamic sects.

So, to sum up, I think radical Islam is more dangerous now, but that sects of fundamentalist Christianity have the potential to be equally as dangerous. I don't think that differences in the underlying theology would be sufficient to restrain these sects of fundamentalist Christianity were the social and economic climates different. I think the role of Christians in various acts of aggression, terrorism, and genocide in less peaceful and prosperous parts of the world (Rwanda, Northern Ireland) support my opinion.

But then again, it's just my opinion and I could be wrong. I hope I never find out the depths to which either religion can be twisted.

Anonymous said...

Sorry about the poll. I realized after people started to vote that the "No!" answer can be interpreted to be the same as the "Equally Dangerous" answer. I wonder if anyone thinks radical Christianity is presently more dangerous than radical Islam. If so, the "No!" answer should be used for that.

Zachary Moore said...

I'm in agreement with you here, John.

Frankly, I'm not too optimistic about the future prospects for Islam either, although I'm hoping that there's an outside chance that the exposure of American Muslims to our Enlightenment heritage will attenuate some of Islam's worst aspects.

Hamilcar said...

I'll stick to two simple ideas.

Radical Islam is more dangerous because, in its current incarnation, because:

1) Suicide is justified and encouraged. There are many "checks and balances" in the laws of our civil society that rely upon an assumption that the criminal has at least some degree of self-preservational instinct. With this value gone in the case of radical Islamic perpetrators, we're forced to rethink many of our strategies and tactics for deterrence.

2) Radical Islam is more entangled with government. In the West, even our Christian-dominated societies are governed by explicitly secular states. There is a strong tradition of justifying laws and policy on rationality and an evaluation of consequences. Islam is more involved in government, seeks more control over people through government, and wants to base state policy on arbitrary or irrational principles of faith.

Rotten Arsenal said...

Seems like eventually, the radical Islam folks will run out of people they can convince to blow themselves up. They get them at such a young age, it would seem like they are destroying their ability to create more like them.

I wonder if that's why they've started using more women?

goprairie said...

In this country, the separation of church and government is by the government's choice and declaration only. The separation is NOT a feature of Christianity.

Most mainstream Christians are NOT well-informed at to why this separation is important and are willing to let it be eroded such as the 'innocent' 'it-hurts-no-one' moment of silence recently enacted in Illinois schools.

And I have had several fundamentalist Christians admit to me that they would like to see Christianity declared as our national religion, ten commandments posted in every public place, prayer in school and at government meetings, and many laws changed to be in line with biblical teachings. they are vague on which parts of the bible this might mean and when i ask about corinthians where women can't speak in church and must cover her face in long hair they snarl 'of course not' but who is to say? Several have admitted they would like to see a cross superimposed on the stripes of the flag.

So do not think that the separation is there because Christianity is more wise or more reasonable. the separation is there solely because the constitution currently guarantees it and if we don't become better watchdogs for that separation, laws will be passed that increasingly erode it. If we have a majority fundamentalist government at some point, there could very well be a push for a constituional ameendment to get rid of that separation.

Scarecrow said...

what I don't understand is the fasination with the 10 commandments that the fundies have. Why not Kristo's Beatitudes published at public buildings ect.?

Anonymous said...

The original post contains a pretty slipshod characterisation of Islam, even if the word is taken to only refer to radical Islam as defined in the US or UK. To say things like "Islam only has an Eve" displays a lack of familiarity with Islam's own history (how can Fatimah be left out?). And although the Islamic world never saw an enlightenment exactly like Europe's, it did see its own golden age which was an essential precursor to the European enlightenment (and ended mostly due to external reasons, such as European and Central Asian invaders).

There are certainly groups of people who claim Islam as their religion and who are a very real threat to others, but it's hard to reduce that to their religion when you consider the variety of Islamic experiences, past and present, and the critical disagreements over interpretation and practices that others have with these groups.

Evan said...

John I see the dichotomy you're trying to make here and the only thing that I would suggest is that you should qualify both with the word fundamentalist.

If you compare the fundamentalist brands of both religions, they are both lousy. Just watch Jesus Camp for a Christian example.

The moderate/liberal wing of Islam that I encountered in Turkey was very tolerant and just as open minded as moderate/liberal Christians.

The problem I have is that all moderate religions can devolve easily to fundamentalism, which has definable characteristics:

1. Anti-modernity
2. Assertiveness edging in to violence
3. Belief in their exclusive salvation
4. Public displays of distinction
5. Fear of other religious ideas or secular ideas
6. Belief in inerrancy of a source and mandatory obedience to that inerrant source
7. Belief that all authorities and laws are appointed by the deity
8. Belief in the need to control and subjugate women and their sexuality
9. Coercive rules regarding sexual behavior and shunning or violence against "deviant" behavior.
10. Convergence with nationalism or political sectarianism.

Since those seem to exist in all fundamentalisms, the problem is the mindset that leads to fundamentalism, not the specific truth claims of the religions. However, the only way to get someone to move out of the fundamentalism is to engage them on the specific truth claims and show them to be errant, fallible, and of questionable benefit. Prior to this, most fundamentalists cannot see beyond the walls of their belief set.

Thus, a site that does what we do for any other religion capable of fundamentalism is equally valuable to the believers of that worldview.

I believe given the right circumstances, Christian fundamentalism could be just as bad as Islamic fundamentalism. It is important to remember that prior to 9/11 the worst terrorist attack in US history was done by Christian fundamentalists, who also bombed our Olympics, and have been murdering doctors for several decades now.

John said...

I'll be honest and say I haven't read through the comments, just the original post. That said, I don't have much to quibble with, except your first reason, regarding the Virgin Mary. In fact, Islam has important female figures, namely Mohammed's two most important wives. Not only did one of them lead an army into battle, but it was widely known in Mohammed's community that he consulted the other one in nearly all of his decisions. So to say that Islam only has weak female figures is, I think, false.

Nevertheless, what I've just added actually strengthens your second reason. The female figures important to Islam are, like Mohammed himself, political figures.

Additionally, regarding your third reason, I don't disagree with you, but I've read some books that suggest that Islam is equally capable of having its own Enlightenment, even one that suggests that's what is going on right now with the rise of radical Islam (just as, say, the Inquisition was somewhat roughly contemporary with Christianity's Enlightenment). For more, see David Cook's Understanding Jihad and Reza Aslan's No god but God.

My own personal take is that the two are equally dangerous insofar as each is radical. While radical Islam is explicitly endorsing violence at the moment, it wouldn't be a stretch to imagine radical Christianity adopting a similar stance in the not-so-distant future. Moreover, the threat that things like teaching creationism poses to scientific progress is not negligible.

All in all, an interesting and important topic. These are my 2 cents.


Unknown said...


I believe that in Islam, Eve was not a temptress, and that Adam and Eve both succumbed to the temptation of Satan.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for everyone's comments. I learn from you. One of the reasons I don't write much about Islam is that I haven't taken the time to study it our. Christianity does indeed have the same potential, Shegetz. Suicide bombers are desperate acts aren't they Hamilcar, even though suicide is condemned in both religions. And we do indeed need to "build up that wall" of church/state separation, as Christopher Hitchens proclaims, gopraire. Although I'm not sure by replacing the word "radical" with "fundamentalist" helps distinguish anything, Evan. That's just nomenclature, I think, although I know what you mean by it. John, thanks for your input too. I do think Islam is going through Enlightenment right now, of sorts. Read Bernard Lewis' great books, "What Went Wrong: Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response," and "The Crisis of Islam." It's just that such a process may take a century...who knows? Many Muslims will have to die in protest before it takes place, just like many in the Christian West did. I've been influenced a bit by Dore Gold's book, "Hatred's Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism."

david said...

This is the most disturbing video on Islam I've ever watched:

Evan said...

Funny the things you find in the Baptist press.

david said...

Oh cool I just learned how to post links....

Fitna video by LiveLeak

"The movie offers his views on Islam and the Qur'an. The film's title comes from the Arabic word fitna which is used to describe "disagreement and division among people", or a "test of faith in times of trial".

Wilders released the film on March 27, 2008 at 7PM local (Dutch) time on the video website Liveleak. Liveleak subsequently received threats to their staff, and decided to remove the video. Per 29 Mars 2008, a banner on top of the site declared that to be a "sad day for freedom of speech on the net". The Dutch version of the movie received 1.6 million pageviews in 2 hours.[citation needed] The English version garnered over 1.2 million in 5 hours"

Irv said...

Speaking of dangerous radicals, I invite all readers to visit Yahoo or Google and type in "Dangerous Radicals of the Religious Right." Irv