How does Islam impact Western culture? William Kilpatrick challenges the typical perspective in Christianity, Islam, and Atheism: The Struggle for the Soul of the West. He looks at the essence of Islam, the life of Muhammad, and the teaching of the Koran. In doing so, he shows that Islam threatens the Western way of life, and Christianity in particular. But what is this threat and why don’t more people recognize it?
Some say Islam is a moderate religion of peace that condemns Islamic violence as radical. If that’s true, Kilpatrick asks, “Why not open the books on Islam?” He notes how much Islamic violence simply goes underreported, such as the thousands of Christian martyrs in Northern Algeria, the millions in Sudan, and a beheading in Buffalo, New York in 2009. Besides violence itself, approval or admittance of violence remains ignored, such as the stated goal of the Muslim Brotherhood in North America: “a grand jihad eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within.” Kilpatrick explains that multiculturalists are motivated to cover up violence connected to Islam because it challenges their core belief that all religions are equal. The author shows that certain views are reprehensible when Christians espouse them but ignored when Muslims do so. For example, Iraq’s Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, long considered a moderate Muslim, stated gays and lesbians should be “killed in the worst manner possible.” The author asks, “What if moderate Muslims are the ones who hijacked the true Islam by ignoring its harsher demands?”
Kilpatrick also discusses a “stealth jihad” or cultural jihad accomplished through law, verbal reconstruction, immigration, and population growth. Some promote Sharia law to be enshrined in American law as it has been in other countries, yet Kilpatrick insists it flies in the face of the Western concepts of law and human dignity. For example, permission for wife-beating, amputation for thieves, or marriage of 9 year-old girls cannot coexist with the American Constitution.
Why don’t Westerners see Islam as a threat? Multiculturalism promotes diversity and claims that all religions and cultures have equal value. But in practice, its proponents view Christian heritage shamefully, desiring Western demotion and non-Western promotion. Many of the troublesome aspects intrinsic to Islam are never discussed because multiculturalists protect this religion from fair criticism or scrutiny. This double-standard eagerly invites Islam as a replacement to Christianity and Western life. The author also compares responses to the film, The Da Vinci Code with the portrayal of Mohammad. The same people praise a movie that indicts Christianity and Christ himself, but express outrage at negative representations of Mohammad. Kilpatrick calls for consistent standards across the board.
Multiculturalism simultaneously impugns Christians while defending Muslims and teaches Westerners to feel guilt for their way of life. Amidst a growing threat to Western life, Kilpatrick asks, “Who will defend a culture in which they’re taught to regard as shameful?” Tolerance is the greatest multiculturalist virtue. But are there things Westerners should not tolerate? The author shows that America silenced itself against corruption which has crumpled courage. The result is what Canadian author Kathy Shaidle calls “the tyranny of nice.”
The fear of offending has driven the multiculturalists agenda. The British even renamed Islamic terrorism “anti-Islamic activity,” while American military leaders have purposely ignored signs of terrorists within their own ranks. Major Hasan, who killed 13 at Fort Hood, was said to misunderstand his own religion. One explained that the shootings were “the work of a man, not a belief system…” Kilpatrick shows that Hasan’s crime sparked a defense of Islam while Christian criminals implicate Christianity itself. This double-standard is one reason that “in the end, cultural relativism is a suicidal policy.”
Some atheists have called for a humanitarian response to Islamic violence. For example, Ayaan Hirsi Ali spoke against harsh Muslim practices that defy “universal rights” and called for “promotion of freedom, equal opportunity, and secular values for all.” However, Kilpatrick points out that secular values simply cannot stand up to a totalitarian Islam because the fruits of the Enlightenment (free speech, free press, democracy, reason) depend on the Christian roots. Atheists often claim religion causes the world’s problems and removing such “superstition” will increase respect of humans. Kilpatrick responds that there cannot be human dignity or universal rights without God. As Pope John Paul II stated, “When the sense of God is lost, there is also a tendency to lose the sense of man, of his dignity and his life.”
Kilpatrick compares the Bible with the Koran and Jesus with Mohammad. He argues that differences are more crucial than similarities, such as the Koran’s regard for Jesus. The Koran specifically denies the central beliefs of Christianity: that Jesus did not really die on a cross, he is not the Messiah, and he is not divine. Further, it states those who believe this will be condemned by Jesus himself when he returns. Kilpatrick calls for open discussion and education, for Muslims to read the Bible and non-Muslims to read the Koran because ultimately only Christianity can stop Muslim growth.
Kilpatrick concludes that the crisis of Christian faith is the problem and its strengthening is the solution. Christians have a duty to speak out against wife-beatings, forced marriages, genital mutilation, and honor killings. But should Christians avoid offending Muslims? Kilpatrick explains, “Christianity itself is inherently a criticism of Islam’s claim to have the final revelation. Simply to assert the divinity of Christ is a blasphemy of the highest order by Islamic standards. If you are a believing Christian, you are already a blasphemer in the eyes of Islam.”
* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.