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By Bruce Sidebotham, D.Min, Director of Operation Reveille and Chaplain (Lieutenant Colonel), U.S. Army Reserve
Excerpts from this essay:
If religions are different, and they lead to different moral convictions and values, then civic structures are not interchangeable between societies with different majority religions. In that case, it is absolutely essential for peacekeeping and stability operations to understand and accommodate religious differences;otherwise they are doomed to failure.
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The cultural momentum in America towards denying the relevance of religion is causing military leaders and diplomats to treat democratic civic structures as if they are plug-and-play components between different societies. But they are not, and blindness to this reality is sabotaging efforts to facilitate democratic reform in the Muslim world.
The faith of "no-religious-affiliation" is the fastest growing segment of the American population.1 Its power over our peoples’ perceptions of spiritual truth undermines national security and sabotages peacekeeping among Muslims.
Here is how that undermining works. Civic structures cannot survive without underlying values that are based upon popular beliefs. Structure for government, justice, education, public works, civil defense, marriage, and family must connect to underlying values, which in turn are based upon spiritual beliefs. If religious affiliation is deemed irrelevant, then all religions are viewed as basically the same. If all religions are viewed in that way, then different religions are not the source of relevant differences in values. Viewed from that perspective, civic structures become interchangeable between societies that have different majority religions. Therefore, peacekeeping and stability operations do not need to accommodate values that are rooted in religion; a wholly secular methodology will suffice to bring about the desired result. But if religions are different, and they lead to different moral convictions and values, then civic structures are not interchangeable between societies with different majority religions. In that case, it is absolutely essential for peacekeeping and stability operations to understand and accommodate religious differences; otherwise they are doomed to failure. This may well be the flaw in our strategy in Iraq over the past ten years that is leading to great concern today.
This essay will explore six areas of theology to demonstrate that significant differences exist between Islam and Christianity. It will also show how those differences impact spiritual and moral behaviors that ultimately lead to vastly different, and even philosophically opposed types of civic-structures. Those structures are not amenable to the efforts of Westerners to enact a plug-and-play methodology between societies that have such widely different religious heritages, convictions and values.
|Last Updated on Saturday, 27 April 2013 20:30|