Christian Jihad on the Horizon

Bloggified by Jake on Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The first words out of Ted Cruz's mouth after winning the Iowa caucus were "All glory be to God." In other words--and another faith--"Allahu akbar."

Depending on who you listen to, Cruz rode to victory either because the Holy Spirit willed it or thanks to the support of a long bearded religious zealot who insisted we "rid the earth" of people who support same sex marriage. He won the largely evangelical masses of the state, edging out the past two Iowa GOP winners, Mike Huckabee--who supports the idea of using the U.S. military and the FBI to stop abortions--and Rick Santorum--who thinks federal resources being used to fight climate change should be redirected to fight gay marriage--as well as Dr. Ben Carson, who--oh, man, how much space do I want to dedicate to this?--believes an angel taught him chemistry, calls the Big Bang a "fairy tale" and suspects Satan is behind the theory of evolution, doesn't think Muslims can be President, has an unironic painting of himself with Jesus, and thinks that scientists think aliens built the pyramids.

And while she's not running this time around, it's worth mentioning that former Minnesota Congresswoman and 2012 Republican presidential candidate who won the 2011 Iowa Straw Poll Michelle Bachmann recently indicated her belief that President Obama is literally the antichrist.

While rightwingers are quick to lump all 1.6 billion Muslims together and brand them a terrorist threat to America for sharing a belief in a deity and a holy book, the leaders of radical movements are largely outcasts, rejected by mainstream society. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi isn't running for Governor of Maine on a platform of beheading criminals (rather, that would be the stance of the current governor).

The CIA estimates ISIS has fewer than 32,000 members, and maybe as few as 9000. Russia's intelligence puts the number at around 70,000. Either way, it's fewer than the nearly 86,000 people in Iowa and New Hampshire who selected Ted Cruz as their choice to be the Republican nominee for President, even if you add in the thousands of Al Qaeda operatives in the world. The number may even be smaller than the more than 27,000 who cast their votes for Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee.

Here in Phoenix, a federal trial is underway against the cities of Hilldale, Utah and Colorado City, Arizona, known as the enclave that's served as home to the Fundamentalist Mormons led by Warren Jeffs, who is serving a life sentence for promoting polygamy and sex with minors. City leaders are accused of conducting their own version of Sharia law in by shutting off the water of non-church members and seizing their property while refusing to investigate crimes by church members.

Christians Decline as Share of U.S. Population; Other Faiths and the Unaffiliated Are GrowingA Pew Research Center study from last year found religious belief is on the decline in America. Between 2007 and 2014, the percentage of the population claiming to be Christian dropped by eight percent while more than one in five Americans definined themselves as atheists, agnostics, or "nothing in particular."

And this is where it gets dangerous.

The decline in religious belief is largely reflective of open-minded people who have had beliefs challenged by others or by themselves and found the evidence for religion lacking. Most telling may be the correlation between age and religious belief, where people born after 1980 are more than twice as likely to be non-believers than those born before 1965.

This could be reflective of the fact that non-believers are more likely to raise their children to be non-believers, and that it's more likely a believer will lose faith than a non-believer will find it, thus the number of non-believers will grow with each generation. But it's likely the result of a larger power: the internet.

We are living in an age of unprecedented information availability, and maintaining a belief in an all-powerful creator in 2016 is largely a matter of stubbornness and willful ignorance. In generations past, people who questioned their faith would likely turn keep their questions quiet for fear of becoming a pariah. If they did voice their doubts, it would likely be to the clergy or a fellow parishioner who would tell them to pray or suggest their questions were the work of Satan trying to lure them away from God's love. Today, Google can offer innumerable articles, essays, blogs, Tweets, videos, and cartoons examining those questions and rationally explaining their legitimacy and the lack of evidence behind religion-based answers.

Years ago, President Obama was blasted by conservatives for describing some of his opponents for "clinging to their guns and religion." They didn't dispute that was what they were doing, but took umbrage with the implication that there was something wrong with doing so. That sentence painted a picture of the evangelical right as "proudly ignorant and willing to resort to violence," and they embraced it.

As religious belief declines, it has less influence on our government. Support for things like gay rights, gender equality, abortion availability, and drug legalization grows. A vocal minority makes noise about morality and some legislators respond with laws that eventually get struck down as unconstitutional later, but not before using them to raise thousands or millions in campaign funds.

With each year, more and more people turn away from the biblical suggestions that gays should be put to death or that women should be subservient to men, leaving only the most ardent, non-rational, unwaverably ignorant and prideful believers. These people believe in universal truths and morals and won't be swayed by the will of the voters, for they know that Satan actively interferes in the affairs of mankind. In other words, the more enlightened society becomes, the more likely we are to see terrorism by Christian extremists who understand the power of martyrs and have a shit-ton of guns.

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