The name of God has been misused for thousands of years. Kings said for ages they got their power by divine right. After the discovery of the New World great European powers colonized whole continents and enslaved people allegedly on behalf on God.
The idea of seperation of church and state was propagated at first by philosophers as Locke or Montesquieu during the age of enlightment. This concept of seperation of church and state found entry in the American Constitution with the First Amendment. “ Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free excercise thereof. “ Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter referring to this first Amendment: “ Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, not opinions.“ And Thomas Jefferson was totally in favor of religious freedom. “ But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say, there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.“
Unfortunately this kind of freedom is not self-evident all over the world. Saudi Arabia, the main ally of western countries in Middle East, has a legal system based on Sharia, not different from the so called “ Islamic State“ IS. A Muslim who converts to Christianity will be beheaded, and who criticizes the authorities, has to face years in jail and thousand lashes. IS is our biggest enemy. Saudi Arabia is our ally, or perhaps better “ our son of a bitch“ as President Franklin D. Roosevelt used to say about Somoza, dictator of Nicaragua. Both IS and Saudi Arabia represent an intolerant form of Islam.
But we should not put Muslims living in western countries under general suspicion, because there are intolerant Muslim countries and islamistic terrorists. As Thomas Jefferson said, the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, not opinions. Religious freedom is a great value, we have to defend.
And concerning islamistic terrorists, of course we have to defend ourselves against them. But let’s be cautious. We will not be able to export our western form of democracy and our values by military means to their countries. Making war is not a God thing, even against an evil enemy. Carpet bombing IS will not be a solution of problems.
One of the protagonists of my book “ Gott aber schweigt“ says something that’s very true I think:
Today I am aware of the this, what is fair or unfair, we can debated for long time. But nobody has the right to impose by violence the supposedly correct form of government, be it socialism, be it theocracy or be it western democracy. Hold on those who seek the truth and become suspicious, if someone tells you he found it.
I hope to publish this book with the help of my friend Eileen Fleming within this year in American language. The titel will be : Terrorists and Gods Things.
But in spite of temporary victories, violence never brings peace
( Martin Luther King)