As a reaction to Europe’s religious wars, the revolutions in France and the United States embraced separation of church and state. Most nations in the world aspire to this secular model. Today, fundamentalist Islamic, Hindu, Zionist and Christian movements are fighting against the very idea of a secular state. Terror tactics seek to undermine French laicite and core provisions of the U.S. Constitution. The United States and the UN are conflicted, supporting some governments with a religious basis (Saudi Arabia, Israel, Pakistan, Cambodia, Vatican) while attacking others (Taliban, Daesh, potentially Iran). As we strive for a “Peace” that might end the “War on Terror” how can governments accommodate strong religious revivals in the 21st century?
Appetizers: As an introduction, you may want to look at some of the following links.
Marvin Ott, Middle East Wars of Religion (Ellsworth American, October 24, 2015)
George Washington, Letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, August 21, 1790
SACKS, RABBI JONATHAN, NOT IN GOD’S NAME. (2015), Review by David Brooks, New York Times, November 17, 2015.
Karen Armstrong. Wahhabism to ISIS: how Saudi Arabia exported the main source of global terrorism, New Statesman, November 27, 2014.
Most of our readings were from two books: Armstrong, FIELDS OF BLOOD (2015) and Kissinger, WORLD ORDER (2015). Supplemental materials are on the Readings page.
Peter Sly is an attorney, secular Presbyterian and recent traveler to the Holy Land and India.