Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
June 19, 2006
Faith is antidote to terrorism
The arrest of 17 people earlier this month on terrorism-related charges was at first seen as a Canadian 9/11 apprehended in advance. Then we quickly realized that these are not some uneducated fanatical rabble trained for terror in a remote part of Afghanistan.
These are our own boys.
The federal government has, so far, played this occurrence with an even hand -neither using it to ramp up the fear factor nor downplaying its significance. The smell of terrorism is one thing governments already involved in a foreign military venture too often use to try to inflame public passions. May Canada's government hold to its even-handedness.
Perplexing, however, is the fact that Canada went to Afghanistan to fight terrorism and now we find that the real enemy may be us. Or at least, some of us -some of those who are Canadian-born children of Muslim immigrants.
The problem, some would say, is Islam. It matters not that Muslim leaders across Canada have denounced the purported conspiracy. The same forces of religious fanaticism that led to 52 innocent people being killed by bombers on the London subway last summer are now afoot in Canada.
This is the sort of rhetoric our political leaders and other Canadians should avoid. A key problem with anyone who wants to fly airplanes into tall office towers or behead the prime minister is not that they have too much religion, but rather that they have too little.
Any religion that worships God proclaims that this God is the infinite and omniscient One beyond our comprehension. He is the Lord of Life. The suicide bombers have made themselves into the ones who have power over life and death. They implicitly claim to be above God, above worship and have become gods of their own making.
True religion nurtures humility and respect. Those are virtues that the Western world is short on because it is short on religion. It is true that there is religious fanaticism where the "believer" is convinced that he has an inside knowledge of God's will that permits him to put aside the norms of morality. But this is a deranged form of religion, not the real thing.
Lack of respect is not a sin exclusive to a few ethnic communities in Canada; it is becoming endemic to the culture. The hockey hooligans who ransacked Whyte Avenue during the Stanley Cup playoffs are as much a sign of this lack of respect as are those who subscribe to a perverted understanding of Islam.
When we seek solutions, we too often look to the government. Government can offer better policing and other forms of protection, but is not so able to make positive changes in the underlying culture. The infamous "civic-integration exam" in the Netherlands where newcomers are judged on their willingness to watch a film with scenes of homosexuals kissing and nude beaches only reveals the folly of government-imposed tolerance.
Citizenship surely requires a respect for the national interest and national institutions. But again the key word is "respect," a virtue that is best nurtured in the home, through religious and voluntary institutions, and through informal social contact.
This alleged conspiracy should be a warning for Canada. In a multicultural society, newcomers must be integrated and there must be dialogue among religions. There must be respect, not just tolerance, for those of minority faiths.
But there must be respect for faith in general. Faith is not the first step to fanaticism. It is an essential foundation for any good and decent society. True faith respects the consciences of others.
It also respects God, not only as the ultimate authority, but also as the One whose purposes are beyond our knowing. It is a call to humility.
- Glen Argan
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