The Christian Right And Radical Islam Have More In Common With Each Other Than With Us (VIDEO)

The whole saga of the Texas Prophet Muhammed cartoon competition shootings has shined a spotlight on a big problem for America: Religious extremists in the Christian and Islamic faiths are seemingly at war, but actually have more in common with each other than they do with the rest of us.

The religious right in Texas set a trap for Islamic fundamentalists last weekend by holding a Prophet Muhammed cartoon competition. Two men turned up with guns and began shooting in the parking lot, injuring a local police officer. The two suspects were then reportedly killed by the police officers outside the venue. At time of writing, the identity and motivation of the gunmen is still unknown.

The scenes took place in Garland, Texas on Sunday. The aptly-named American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) had organized the event at the Curtis Culwell Center in what it branded as an exercise in freedom of expression. Organizer and leading anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller put up a prize fund of $10,000 for the most offensive cartoon of the Muslim prophet.

The majority Muslim community saw this event for what it was: a sickening and petulant provocation, best ignored. In fact, on April 25, Alia Salem, head of the Dallas chapter of the Council on Islamic Relations posted a plea on Facebook to fellow Muslims in the Dallas/Forth Worth area “to ignore and encourage others to ignore Pamela Geller” and her bizarre contest. He noted that Geller’s goal is “to incite our community and rile us up and I do not want us to give her the satisfaction or the media attention she thrives on. Without our reaction she has no story at all and no draw for the media which is what keeps her going and allows her to get publicity.”

Salem concluded, “Let’s not fall for it. Please.”

At time of writing, the culprits of the shooting have not yet been identified. But let’s play devil’s advocate for the moment and assume that two Muslims ignored Salem’s advice and perpetrated the crime.

This still leaves us with a pretty big problem.

Firstly, the most powerful political-religious ideology in the U.S. is not Islam (1%) but evangelical Christianity (26%). A far more relevant challenge would be against the dominating presence of the latter ideology on U.S. soil.

Secondly, while the center went into lock down, this is what took place inside.

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This toxic mix of fear, nationalism and worship should be familiar to anyone with even a cursory awareness of the history of fascism.

And finally, what are we actually afraid of in Islam? The call from the religious right is often focused on the fear of Muslims implementating Shariah Law on American soil. But that same religious right that treats the LGBT community and women with no less disrespect and violence than the Shariah courts of radical Islam anyway.

Bottom line: whether we consider the cartoon competition a battle against religious dogma or a childish provocation, we would be foolish to throw our support behind the kind of people who would shoot someone over a cartoon. At the same time, comes a sobering realization for those of us outside of this phoney religious war.

These religious extremists on both sides have more in common with each other than with us.

The religious right of America wants religious law to trump civic law and constitutional rights, it wants women relegated to second-class citizens, it wants the hard-won rights of the LGBT community reversed and believes our sexuality can be “cured” with the bible-based conversion therapy. They have all this in common with the most archaic interpretations of Islam (and other world religions). This ‘religious war’ is nothing but a turf war.

The real ideological war in America rages between progressives and conservatives – religious or not – for the future of the country. A secular nation where all are born equal, or a theocracy where constitutional rights and civil liberties are subjugated to a religious book, any book. A war that we simply cannot afford to lose.