Linton P. Gordon : The fight for God
We do not want to say it, but we cannot escape the reality that fundamental to the war being waged by ISIS is a modern-day fight for God.
At all stages of man's existence, there has always been a fight waged by one group on behalf of its God against other groups. During the 12th century, the Roman Catholic Church commenced the fight for God by launching an Inquisition. This was a crude, unreliable and subjective judicial process by which the Church sought to identify and punish persons for heresy.
Persons who were said to be guilty of heresy included witches, Satan worshippers and just about all persons who were not supporters of the Catholic Church. Thus, the definition extended to several persons who were converted from the Muslim faith and from the Jewish faith to Christianity, where they were suspected to be still secretly practising their original faith.
In latter years, European Christians constantly invaded the Middle East and North Africa where they waged war against non-Christians. These invaders, known as Christian Crusaders, were known to be competent, effective and capable worriers. They would descend on the non-believers atop their mighty horses, or they would stealthily arrive at ports on ships from which they would rapidly invade and destroy towns and villages occupied by the non-believers. In consequence of this, many persons were forced to submit to Christian principles and Christian beliefs in fear of being put to death by the Crusaders.
The use of the Crusaders was initiated by Pope Urban II, whose primary objective was to capture and liberate Jerusalem from the Muslims. Pope Urban II, then head of the Catholic Church, supported these Crusaders and called upon God to defend and protect them as they marched into the Middle East and North Africa along their path of murder, rape and destruction. He assured them: "All who died by the way, whether by land or by sea, or in battle against the pagans, shall have immediate remission of sins. This I grant them through the power of God with which I am invested."
The promise of remission of sins, thereby qualifying Crusaders to enter through the pearly gates to heaven, is no different from the current promise being made to the suicide bombers of ISIS - that, upon death, they will enter heaven and have at their disposal 70 virgins.
More currently, there is a fight for God among the Christian denominations. Each denomination, whether Sabbath observers or Sunday worshippers, declares that it is pursuing the correct Christian path and that the others are on a wrong path and are heading for Hell!
A number of televangelists weekly display to us how close they are to God by beating worshippers in their chest and forehead, throwing them to the ground, and shaking them vigorously as they expel evil spirits from them. Then there are many worshippers who attest to their experience of healing and recovery from diseases and other physical activities that the best doctors with the best medicine could not cure. These televangelists use the media as a weapon in their fight for God.
It was Karl Marx who once said, "Religion is the opium of the people." His words are coming to pass in the modern world, for there is no doubt that the greatest security threat now facing the world is grounded in a religious belief that is similarly to the one held by Pope Urban II, who sent the Crusaders out to commit mayhem in the name of God."
The suicide bombers who are now being dispatched throughout the world are involved in War for God. Whether we like it or not, the War for God has done far more harm and caused far more destruction to the human race than we are prepared to admit.
Let us hope that we in Jamaica can maintain tolerance of all religious views and avoid the War for God becoming violent, divisive and destructive.