Why Obama is wrong about ISIS

“Why Obama is wrong about ISIS”, published in China.org.cn on November 29, 2014

In 2008, emails circulated claiming U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama was a secret Muslim. Obama went to great lengths to debunk the story, but a stubborn 10-20 percent of Americans apparently still believe he is Muslim six years after his election.

It is ironic then that Obama now finds himself making pronouncements on a regular basis about what is and isn’t Islamic.

On Nov. 16, 2014, he responded to the beheading of American aid worker Peter Kassig, who took the name Abdul-Rahman during his captivity, by saying; “ISIL’s actions represent no faith, least of all the Muslim faith.” Earlier, after ISIS beheaded two American journalists, he declared: “ISIL is not Islamic,” adding that “no religion condones the killing of innocent people.”

Why does Obama think he can make such wide-ranging statements on religions that he doesn’t practice?

His statements are untrue on many levels. Let’s get started with what he said last week: “ISIL’s actions represent no faith, least of all the Muslim faith.”

First, Obama misused the word “faith.” While religious belief is a type of faith, the word means more than just religion. “Faith” can mean having trust or confidence in something, and it can also mean extreme confidence in an ideology or doctrine, including religion, but also including political ideologies. Bertrand Russell wrote, “We may define ‘faith’ as a firm belief in something for which there is no evidence. Where there is evidence, no one speaks of ‘faith’.”

So even if ISIS is not religious, they still must have a great deal of faith in whatever ideology they are fighting for to be able to risk their lives in a foreign land kidnapping and beheading civilians.

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