Do not bring God into this war

By Tyler Vincent

The topic for this week is God in relation to our current war against terrorism.

Please note that this will not be an examination of the Eastern or Western ideas about God. It will not discuss whether God is a him or a her or an it. It will not claim Christianity is above Islam or vice versa.

God will prove to be a key player in this upcoming war on terrorism. Not just in the prayers of the soldiers on both sides, but in the rhetoric and definition of the war.

The prime suspect in the case of the terrorist attacks of two weeks ago, Osama bin Laden, sent a fax on Monday to the Al Jazeera Television network in Qatar which came in under the guise of expressing sympathy for three Pakistani Muslims who were killed in protests relating to Pakistan’s decision to back U.S. efforts against terrorism and the probable attack on Afghanistan.

But bin Laden went beyond condolences for the victims in his fax.

“We hope that these brothers are among the first martyrs in Islam’s battle in this era against the new Christian-Jewish crusade led by the big crusader Bush under the flag of the Cross,” bin Laden said. “We incite our Muslim brothers in Pakistan to give everything they own, and are capable of, to push the American crusade forces from invading Pakistan and Afghanistan. I announce to you the good news, my loved brothers, that we are steadfast on the path of Jihad for the sake of Allah, following the example of the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him).”

This is the first step in framing the pro-terrorist spin on the war. To understand this, we must understand what bin Laden’s world view is.

What has been revealed about the man bin Laden, in everything from news specials to analysis in the newspapers, is his belief that every interaction by the West over the last few decades, from Kuwait to Somalia, has been nothing more than America attacking Islam, or at least his own fundamentalist view of it.

His strategy is similar to the tact of one Saddam Hussein, who urged fellow Islamic nations to rise up against the Western oppressors during the Kuwaiti conflict.

The reasoning behind this is simple. Since the U.S. is mostly considered a Christian nation, since it is a super power in the world, it would be a slam dunk cause for the terrorists to claim this as nothing more than a Western, religious-based “crusade.”

And although Bush and the various media outlets have gone above and beyond the call of duty by emphasizing that the beliefs of these terrorists are not those of mainstream Muslims and that the ensuing counter-attack will be against the cause of terrorism, not the religion of Islam, we still must be careful.

We must be careful not to turn our upcoming war into a war about God. Bush and his staff understand this and are to be commended (his comments on the war being a “crusade” being the only sour notes of this whole affair), but our policy concerning this does not have any control over the mind-set of our countrymen.

Make no mistake, everyone from the soldier in the line of fire to the families of those who are fighting will be praying to a God. These terrorists are fighting to destroy the Western way of life because of misgivings in foreign policy favoring Israel and alleged “spoiling” of Holy Muslim sits by Western troops over the years. But they are using their cause, as noted above, as the cause of Allah.

Likewise, in America both our songs and our slogans have supposedly connected us at the hip with the Almighty. “God Bless America,” “God Bless the U.S.A.” and other visions darkest hours being lighted up “with a light from above.” Being a country of Christian majority, we often see ours as a nation that thrives of the “blessings of the Almighty.”

In this environment, it is only natural for many of our citizens to view this struggle as a case of “our God is better than your God.”

But this must not happen. When finite human beings go to battle over infinite beings, no one wins. Look at the situation in Northern Ireland between the Catholics and the Protestants. No one wins since God is infinite and since not one religion has proven itself absolutely true. The battle will never be resolved. Each side/country will be convinced that its cause is right, that theirs is the one true God and that their customs are the only true practice in worshiping the Almighty.

In addition to the effect on battlefield policy, we as citizens must also prevent this from becoming a war about God.

All of us were no doubt horrified at the pictures we saw from Bridgeview, when a group tried to march on a local mosque, at the scenes of shattered windows at an Islamic Center in Texas and at the various reports of citizens of the Islamic faith being mentally and physically abused by their fellow citizens.

We can be happy that this sort of atrocious behavior has been kept to a minimum in our little corner of the world. But we must keep that current mentality throughout the duration of this war. For whatever your personal beliefs on subject, the saying “One Nation, Under God, Indivisible,” has proven more meaningful than ever. We are one nation no matter what our religious convictions are. And should we sink into the argument of one God being better than another, we cannot stay that way.