ISIS Beheads Another American After a Mother's Plea for Mercy; Is It Their Religion Or Their Culture?

In my lifetime have never heard of the kind of brutality coming from ISIS by anyone other than sociopaths and serial killers like John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy. The difference is that these serial killers did their nefarious deeds in secret for fear of being caught and punished, whereas ISIS as a whole group of people is proud of what they're doing and video tapes their barbaric deeds for the whole world to see. ISIS began as an acronym for the Islamic State of Syria which represents a Sunni jihadist group in the Middle East. Through Amir al-Mu'minin Caliph Ibrahim, the group was renamed simply the Islamic State. From Wikipedia:
A caliphate is an Islamic state led by a supreme religious and political leader known as a caliph – i.e. "successor" – to Muhammad...under Islamic law (sharia). ISIS claims religious authority over all Muslims across the world and aspires to bring much of the Muslim-inhabited regions of the world under its political control, beginning with Iraq, Syria and other territory in the Levant region, which includes Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Cyprus and part of southern Turkey.
So let me get this straight, okay? ISIS wants to establish an Islamic theocracy under sharia law ruled by a caliph and this isn't a religion? Every important aspect of ISIS is religious in nature. Remove the religion and it guts everything important they hope to achieve. Without the religion there would be no ISIS. With no theocracy, no sharia law and no caliph there would be no ISIS. Their religion provides the rationale, the agenda, the justification, and the motivation to do what they are doing. It doesn't matter whether other Muslims around the world reject their religion by saying it doesn't represent true Islam. It still is a religion, a hybrid if you will of Islam, in the same way as other types of Christianities are still representative of Christianity in general. Just call it the religion of ISIS then, if you still disagree. It is a religion. To see this just ask yourself what would happen if we extracted their religion from them, every aspect of it. Would they still seek to set up an Islamic theocracy based on sharia law under an Islamic caliph? No, they wouldn't.

Given western oppression they might want to reestablish some territorial boundaries we carved up for them in the past, granted. And given human nature they might still use force to do so. But the end result would not be an Islamic theocracy based on sharia law under an Islamic caliph. They might only want to establish a dictator over these territories, not an Islamic theocracy based on sharia law under an Islamic caliph. The rationale, the agenda, the justification, and the motivation to do what they desire to do would be much different, and precisely because these things would be different they would have to come up with reasons for what they desire to achieve. The means to achieve their goals would be different. The end result itself would be different. For instance, I doubt very much they could justify such wanton brutality perpetrated on innocent non-combatants, or be so certain that what the world community thinks is irrelevant so as to broadcast this butchery like they do.

Cultures create religions. Religions create cultures. Religions change in response to cultures. Cultures change in response to religions. Religion itself is a culture. Culture itself is a religion (most of them up until recently anyway). The religious culture of ISIS is doing what we see. It is utterly barbaric to the core. But they see nothing wrong with what they're doing precisely because it's their religion that justifies what they're doing.