Islam is a great religion.  Islam is a religion of peace.  We must respect Islam.

These are common truisms that are spun out of the media in the face of the religious and political tension in the world today. They are usually injected into the public forum shortly after an atrocity is committed by a radical Muslim. Perhaps one purpose of these public affirmations is to convince ourselves that wholesale evil is not possible, at least not in the guise of a religion. All religions are good, right? Organized religions are assumed to be harmless, and even when proven deadly, we are assured that the offending parties are a very small splinter sect.

This is all wrong. An aura of “Religious Correctness” permeates our public view of Islam, hiding from us the truth of it. Most people don’t understand Islam, most haven’t read its texts, most don’t know its history, and most give it a free pass in the court of public opinion. This is because Islam is a religion, and we are taught that religions are infallible, pure, and equally worthy of respect. In the case of Islam, we have been taught utter nonsense.

Not all religions are equal. The assumption that all religions are good and harmless is fallacious. There are examples so obvious that they are dismissed for being…too obvious? Jim Jones and his People’s Temple of Guyana yielded nothing but death and traumatized families. Scientology yields nothing but programmed zombies and the transfer of large sums of money from co-opted individuals to a spurious church. And Islam? Let’s talk about Islam.

How good can a religion be when, by its very doctrine, women are considered second class citizens? Women are stoned to death for infidelity. Women are subjected to a brutal form of female circumcision. They are abused by the imposition of an unhygienic guarantee of their virginity via stitched vaginas. They can be divorced by the mere utterance of a divorce decree by their spouses. They are forced to hide behind burdensome clothing in public. They are banished when they menstruate. They can be beaten and abused with impunity, because in most Muslim countries, the public officials preside at the behest of the male religious authorities.

How good can a religion be when, by its very doctrine, it has declared manifest destiny over the rest of the world? All “infidels” must convert and submit themselves to Islam, or face the consequences. When Islam reaches critical mass in a society, it no longer tolerates cohabitation with other religions. Some claim that the verses in the Qur’an proclaiming this manifest destiny are not to be obeyed or taken literally. Why then is the entire Islamic world surrounded by an expanding circle of violence and war? Why is there genocide in Ethiopia and Darfur? Why are school children being killed in Russia? Why is there civil war in Chechnya? Why are there resort bombings in Indonesia? Why is there genocide in Eastern Europe? Why are Hindus being killed in Kashmir? Why are Kurds being slaughtered in Iraq? Why were Buddhist temples and statues destroyed in Afghanistan? Why were planes flown into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon? We know why. We’ve just been cowered into not saying it out loud.

How good can a religion be when, by its very doctrine, it must remain secret from the infidels (the rest of us)?   What is it that they don’t want us to know? Why can we not view images of Mohammed? Why is the Qur’an not permitted to be translated into other languages? Why do their sacred texts permit them to lie to infidels? Why are infidels not permitted to enter an Islamic mosque?  Why are there sleeper cells of jihadists in Europe and North America? Perhaps that is what they don’t want us to know…

How good can a religion be when, by its very doctrine, it refuses to confer respect on other religions? Muslim children are taught in mosques and madrassas to hate the West. They are taught that Jews are the scourge of the Earth and that Palestine (Israel) must be wrested back from them. They are taught that Christians are Crusaders who must be destroyed, and that only imbeciles would believe that God begot a Son. They are taught to be suicide bombers, and that heavenly rewards await them if they kill themselves while slaughtering infidels. We tell ourselves that we have to respect Islamic mores and customs in our societies. In their societies, they tell themselves that there is only Islam, and nothing else will be tolerated.

How good can a religion be when, by its very doctrine, the value of life is marginalized? Muslims must do as Mohammed did, even if there is no rational reason for emulating the behavior of someone who lived 1400 years ago. Why must they spend their days praying at five intervals, ritually scrubbing their feet, eating only certain foods, circling mosques, and climbing hills? Free thought and individualism are discouraged.There are only the Qur’an and the Hadiths. Conformity is prized above creativity, resulting in an impoverished lifestyle for millions. Sadly, the ultimate expression of life in Islam is to achieve martyrdom via suicide. There’s no mention in their sacred documents of a harem of virgins waiting in heaven for winners of the Nobel peace prize.

How good can a religion be if the believers slay each other when there is a disagreement about how to interpret the words and acts of Mohammed? Muslims have so little respect for life that their Sunni and Shiite sects are slaughtering each other. There have been wars between Islamic countries over this dispute. There have been civil wars within Islamic countries over this dispute. This has gone on for centuries, from the very inception of Islam, and it will continue for centuries into the future.

How good can a religion be when its chief Imam, Osama bin Laden, declares a jihad against the western world?  What does it mean for a religious spokesperson to do such a thing? Imagine the Pope declaring death to Arabs!  We would all surely be appalled, and the world outcry would be deafening. Why then are we not appalled by the constant call to holy war by the Imams of the Islamic world? Why is the silence deafening in the media about this glaring barbarism?

How good can a religion be when its representatives issue fatwa’s against its own dissidents, essentially sentencing them to death? Salman Rushdie is but one example. Criticism of Islam is not permitted. They have even intimidated the media outlets of the world into suspending criticism and refusing to air satires that poke fun at Islam or to display pictures of Mohammed. Such virulent opposition to open debate and criticism can only mean a few things, and they are all bad. The possibilities are that Islam may be a sham to begin with, it may have very bad intentions today, or the tyrants who have co-opted Islam are using it as a ruse for their power grabs.

How good can a religion be when, by its very doctrine, there is no separation between church and state? One of the great advancements of the West, as exemplified by the American Constitution, was to recognize the difference between the civil and the religious. Even Christianity marks the difference in the words of Jesus, “Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto God what is God’s.” Islam makes no such distinction. Its religious law, the Sharia, is also its civil law. The Sharia is a brutal regimen, lacking any civil authority to temper it. And the practicing of the Sharia leaves no room for a civil government that common Muslims or non-Muslims can participate in. How then can they assimilate into our pluralistic societies, with our democratic institutions and where we recognize and protect our diversity of religious practice? They cannot, and will not, in the long run. Yet they are among us, waiting until they achieve critical mass.

How good can a religion be when its history is one of unremitting warfare? Mohammed himself engaged in an constant warfare to solidify the hold of Islam. His immediate followers violently expanded the Islamic empire into Persia, Africa, the Arabian peninsula, and Turkey in just a few decades. Our Western histories are silent on these battles and the atrocities that followed, but to read of them now is to set your stomach churning and the hairs on your neck to stand on end.

How good can a religion be when its “moderate” leaders remain steadfastly silent as the radical elements of Islam commit murder and mayhem around the world? Why does al Jazeera TV broadcast images of celebrating Arabs when innocents are killed by Muslims? Why didn’t Imams condemn Osama bin Laden? Where are the clerics who decry the random slaughter of infidels by Muslim suicide bombers? Where are the Imams who command the hate-filled jihadists to cease and desist? They are in their mosques, collecting money to support these jihadists. They call themselves peaceful moderates, but what is apparent by their silence and inaction is that they tacitly approve of the holy wars.

We can no longer allow Islam the privilege of hiding behind religious immunity. It is an anachronistic, brutal, close-minded cult. The only difference between Islam and the People’s Temple of Guyana is that Islam is bigger and more ruthless. It is intent on conquering the world, and it has no intention of following any of the rules that we have grown accustomed to in the West. We must call it to an accounting in the bright light of reason. We don’t owe it respect, because it hasn’t earned respect. We owe it suspicion. To fail to do so is to invite and encourage a growing disaster of a magnitude that civil people won’t be able to contemplate sanely. Sleep with one eye open, America.