The New American Theocracy

A leading secular humanist says our fight to end terrorism must begin with a critical examination of the Qur'an.


Religious jingoism rules the day: Americans have rallied round the flag, and "God Bless America" has become America's theme song. Today the USA has become a virtual theocracy (

de facto

, if not

de jure

). Every gathering in the public square invokes God and country; the Congress convenes a prayer session in the Rotunda of the Capitol and sings "God Bless America" on its steps; key members of the Congress and top officials of the government participate in a memorial service at the National Cathedral; similar religious ceremonies are held in every town and city, and at football, baseball, and sporting events. The established religion is monotheism, the belief that God the Father looks over this land and guides its manifest destiny. There is almost no room for dissent, and the secularist and atheist viewpoint is all but ignored.

September 11th is, of course, the immediate cause for this frenzied pious patriotism. The attacks on the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon by Islamic terrorists and the subsequent loss of more than 5,000 people are an enormous tragedy. Since the attacks, there has been an outburst of public prayer the likes of which I've not seen in my lifetime.

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In response to the attacks, President Bush, in a militant speech before the Congress, declared a new War Against Terrorism. Bush's vow to root out terrorists wherever they are seems to portend a protracted religious war. For many this war pits the Judaic-Christian religious camp against Allah and his minions: "Allah akbar" competes with "God Bless America" for divine favor.

Secular humanists have long been aware of the threat of fanatic Islamic fundamentalists; that is why we have recommended "caution and prudence" and not hastily contrived policies of retribution. Bush has said that he is against terrorism, not Islam. He also has affirmed that Islam is a "peaceful religion" and that it condemns terrorism. This is contrary to the testimony of history. The sword of Islam has advanced the ideological-theological message of the Qur'an and the Hadith over the centuries, and the jihad has been ferocious in many periods of history.

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