By C. Andrew
Prior to 9/11, the Taliban government in Afghanistan did not register very much on American radar screens, with one notable exception: when it blew up two colossal images of the Buddha in Bamiyan province in early 2001. But the destruction of treasured artefacts isn’t just limited to the Taliban.
There’s a right-wing politico-religious outfit ( Christian Taliban) centred in the US, with a global reach, engaging in similar practices, destroying religious and cultural artefacts as a key aspect of its ideology of “Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare” (SLSW).
The phrase “Christian Taliban” is used to refer to the ultra-conservative and imperialistic Evangelical Christian movement begun in America by the likes of Francis Schaeffer and R.J. Rushdoony. The doctrines of that movement call for a takeover of the American government and nation by Christians, and the imposition of Biblical laws, including the execution of homosexuals, adulterous women, women who have had abortions, etc. Once this takeover of America is accomplished, the next step is to use American power to Christianize the rest of the world. The ultimate goal is to replace secular democracy, both in America and around the world, with a Christian theocracy, an ideology known as “dominionism“.
The supposed purpose is to “purify” the world for Christ’s return – again, strikingly similar to what the Taliban believe, but also significantly at odds with more common, long-standing Christian beliefs about the “end times”, as well as the nature and purpose of prayer, and the roles of human and divine power. According to evangelical Christians, the United States was founded on Biblical principles. It is part of their mission to return the United States to a Christian nation. One way they have tried to make this change is by fighting to restore biblical teachings and principles back into schools. Opponents cite that these evangelicals are going against the Constitution, which clearly defines a separation between church and state. According to the Constitution, people are free to practice their religion of choice, but it also protects citizens from the establishment of a national religion.
Evangelical Christians in the United States, on one hand, condemn Muslim extremism as a threat to the country and their way of life, while on the other hand clearly endorsing their own form of extreme religious authoritarianism. This form of religion establishes a tribally divisive “us” versus “them” mentality, which places “our” rights and prerogatives above the needs of any other group. And it’s used repeatedly as the basis for denying other people’s rights — particularly their freedom to choose and even their right to exist. It’s worth mentioning that in the south religion buttressed this tribal mentality to force a separation between whites and blacks, who were/are seen as inferior. This tribalism is deeply embedded in white suburban Christian thinking and accepted without question.
Using words like “righteousness” or “faith” or “Christ-given mission,” and hiding behind ideas like “tradition” and “heritage” and “family values” won’t cover up this fact. And it is up to every freedom-loving person, who prefers the freedom of choice, freedom of worship, who cares about protecting women’s rights and equality for all, and advancing reason and scientific knowledge, to be aware and oppose it. If evangelicals hate tyranny, they should be very wary of becoming tyrants. But evangelicals will never see themselves as tyrants because they are commanded by their faith to be “missionaries for Christ.” This mandate engages them in a zero-sum game to convert the country, indeed the whole world, to their faith. And over the decades they have increasingly reached for more and more political power to achieve this goal. This is exactly what ISIS proposes, by trying to establish a global Muslim caliphate. The goal of religious extremists, regardless of faith, is always the same.
This ‘Talibnization’ has roots both in the US government and few of the white militant groups in the country. The emerging waves of Christian Taliban under Bible-thumping fundamentalists are bent on shaping the US government on ‘theocracy’. For instance, Jeff Sessions (Attorney General of the US) wants Sharia law in the US, but of the biblical variety. In his statement he said, ‘I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purpose’ while Ted Cruz (Presidential candidate), calls himself a Christian first and an American second. To really politicize religion and bring the theocracy in the mainstream of US politics, a bunch of politicized clerics are bringing Christian religious transforms.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders gave the statement in response of a question about why the Trump administration is separating immigrant children from their parents. ‘It is very Biblical to enforce the law. That is actually repeated a number of times throughout the Bible.’ Michael Richard Pence, the Vice President of the US, said in one of his speech that ‘I’m a Christian, a Conservative, and a Republican, in that order.’ Mullah Jim Bakker said to ‘obey’ Trump because ‘God had him elected’, a language of theocracy unexpected in the US democracy.
It is mentionable that Donald Trump administration is seeking to make the case for Christian Supremacism in the US that is evident from the statements made by the finest harpers of his troupe. US authorities remain reluctant to call the extremists’ acts by the Christian US nationals as ‘Terrorist Incidences’ and have been labelling them as just ‘Hate Crimes’ or ‘Act of Evil’ in contrast to such crimes committed by the Muslims that are termed as ‘extremism, radicalism and terrorism’. Christian groups including government officials in Trump administration hijack and pervert religion in the US and aim to impose new and oppressive laws.
Extremist Christians have consistently posed a bigger domestic terrorist threat than Muslim foreigners who are treated as wizards of terrorism. This is likely to lead the US governmental structure towards an extreme religious mindset on the lines of the Crusades. One of the oldest and best-established forces in the Christian Taliban attack on secular government has been the Christian Coalition. Recently the group threw its full weight behind the President’s push for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. The Christian Coalition has been conducting a “Let’s Take America Back” national petition drive over the last several months, which now also includes support for the so-called Federal Marriage Amendment.
Domestic extremism in the US mainly has two origins, i.e. “homegrown” and “external” (mainly Islamic extremism), however, statistics of US Govt Accountability Office (GAO) indicate that during the last 16 years (2001 – 2017), 74 % of attacks have been undertaken by the homegrown extremist elements. These 16 years are those that have allegedly been termed as the rise of Islamic extremism in the US, which is not supported by the statistics. These dual standards of the US should be questioned by countries that have remained the target of US criticism of supporting terrorism including Pakistan. Between 1990 and 2014, the US Extremist Crime Database (ECDB) identified 178 homicide events motivated by far-right extremism, with 413 killings including the Oklahoma City bombing. The data for 2015-2017 shows eight homicide events committed by far-right extremists that killed 27 people. This data reveals that far-right extremists tend to be more active in committing homicides than Islamist extremists in the US. Evidence also shows that far-right violent extremism poses a particular threat to law enforcement and racial, ethnic, religious, minorities and a severe threat to the US national security. The Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund and The Center for Investigative Reporting also revealed that there were almost twice as many terrorist incidents by right-wing extremists as by Islamist extremists in the US from 2008 to 2016. The database shows 115 cases by right-wing extremists from White Supremacists to militias to sovereign citizens compared to 63 cases by Islamist extremists.
The existence of different opposing groups in a society being a natural phenomenon has a legal acceptance in the US as long as someone does not commit crimes or violence based on those beliefs. However, the rise in the number of extremist groups in the recent past and increase of violence in US society, as a result, has raised many eyebrows both at home and abroad. Adopting extremist views and committing horrendous acts of violence in the name of some ‘righteous’ cause in the US, be it religion or politics or just plain old hatred, isn’t something that only Muslims, or Arabs, or immigrants, or any other group of people commit. It’s something beyond that as demonstrated by politically backed extremists Christian Taliban.
It may be concluded that emergence of Christian Taliban has created white Supremacists having anti-Muslim and anti-Jew feelings in the US as the case of extremist organizations present in Pakistan such as LeJ, SSP, TJP, AI, LI, TNSM, HuT, TTP, etc., that are posing threat to the peace of the country. But it is notable that in Pakistan the extremist elements are dealt with an iron hand but the case of the Christian Taliban in the US is otherwise which shows the existing fault lines of US society.
Last but not the least, it is said that statements by the government or its representatives inciting religious sentiments as quoted above would do nothing but will give rise to religious hatred in the heterogeneous US society. That religious hatred would ultimately endanger the peace of the World. So it is need of the hour that the US should also pay attention to emerging threat of Christian Taliban instead of propagating that only Islamist extremist elements are a threat to the World peace.
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