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Ethics & Religion
Nov. 25, 2015
Column #1,787
ISIS: A Mortal Threat to America
By Mike McManus

Click here for a hi-res image.

The Islamic State (ISIS) is a mortal threat to the United States. In just three weeks it shot down a Russian passenger jet with 224 people; killed 40 in a suicide bombing in Lebanon and slaughtered 130 people in six coordinated attacks in Paris.

America could soon face another 9/11 attack or a string of them – unless we destroy ISIS.

A year ago, ISIS had only captured largely desert areas of Iraq and Syria. It has "gained affiliates faster than al-Qaeda ever did. From none a year ago, there are now militant groups that have sworn allegiance to ISIS in nearly 20 countries," argues Michael Morell, former deputy director of the CIA.

What drives ISIS? It is important to understand the enemy. Most Muslims desire peace. However, there is a radical Islam strain that has developed a terrorist agenda. Its commitment is theological, based on verses in the Quran (Koran) that call Muslims to war with nonbelievers for the sake of Islamic rule.

"And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out." (Quran 2:191-193).

"I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore, strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them. (8:12).

Verse 9:33 tells Muslims that Allah has charted them to make Islam "superior over all religions." That chapter was one of the final "revelations" from Allah and it set in motion the tenacious military expansion, in which Muhammad's followers managed to conquer two-thirds of the Christian world in the next 100 years. Islam was launched to dominate all other peoples and faiths.

"Unfortunately, there are few verses of tolerance and peace to abrogate or even balance out the many that call for nonbelievers to be fought and subdued until they either accept humiliation, convert to Islam or be killed," according to one commentator.

There are 109 verses like this in the Quran, a small number compared to the 1,800+ pages of the text of my edition. But there are no comparable texts in the Hebrew or Christian scriptures. Quite the opposite. Jesus told us to "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you (Luke 6:27).

We know there has been conflict – even wars - between Protestants and Catholics.

Exactly 500 years ago (Oct. 31, 1517), Martin Luther set the Reformation in motion by nailing 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg. He attacked the church's corrupt practice of selling indulgences to lessen one's time in Purgatory, and upheld the New Testament as the church's highest authority – not the Pope. He translated the New Testament from Latin into German, making it accessible to common people – inspiring similar translations into English, French etc.

Wars between Christians were centuries ago. What has endured are the words of Jesus, which helped inspire the Allies after World War II to rebuild Germany and Japan.

In considering the present challenge of ISIS, we must remember Jesus' injunction to "Do to others as you would have them do to you (Luke 6:31)."

Does that mean we should ignore ISIS? Not at all. Muslim extremists are killing innocent people - crucifying Christians who refuse to convert, slaughtering concert-goers, and bringing down the World Trade Center. Just as we imprison murderers, America and its allies must crush ISIS in Syria and Iraq. The U.S. and France must organize a working coalition that includes NATO and Arab allies in the Middle East to defeat ISIS and recapture Mosul and other cities in the Islamic State.

However, we must demonstrate compassion toward Muslims as a whole, who are mostly peaceful. Christians such as Catholic bishops and leaders of the National Association of Evangelicals have been silent too long. They must denounce such people as Donald Trump who "tosses hand grenades of rumor, slander and intolerance," as columnist David Ignatius puts it.

Trump charged that "thousands and thousands of people were cheering" in Muslim neighborhoods of New Jersey when the Trade Center towers collapsed – which is utterly untrue. He says he would approve waterboarding ("You bet your ass I would…If it doesn't work, they deserve it anyway for what they are doing.")

When asked if all Muslims should be listed on databases, he said "certainly" and "absolutely," adding, "We're going to have to look at the mosques."

Nonsense. That is a strategy to recruit American Muslim youth to ISIS and violence.

Christian leaders must openly denounce those articulating similar incendiary charges.

Copyright © 2015 Michael J. McManus, a syndicated columnist and past president of Marriage Savers.

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