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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

They are religious, but it is also political

Amanpour on mixing of religion, politics Reporter calls 'clash of civilizations and cultures' -- with Sept. 11 as the catalyst -- one of two big issues facing mankind By Susan Young STAFF WRITER Article Launched: 08/22/2007 03:05:01 AM PDT
"God's Warriors" fight to bring their beliefs into the political arena so that power can be shaped through faith. They are steadfast in the notion that they know the answers because they have the ear of God.
"Whether it's Islam, Judaism or Christianity, I think that it's not just the disappointment with the secular world, but also a deep belief that they have a transcendent and unique line to God, and they have the only real way of interpreting the truth," Amanpour says. "They want that to become our culture and our politics."
When people think things are spinning out of control, they often seek refuge in religion. But Amanpour says the people she terms "God's Warriors" are much more than that.
"It's not just about people going to church, or even people who join terrorist groups like al-Qaida. It's about people who use their faith to affect power and politics," Amanpour says. "It's a commitment in a spectrum of religions who see this as a battle against secular society and who want to change the way we live and the nature of our cultures."
The unifying thing about these people, she says, is that they each feel they have a direct line to God, know how to interpret his teachings and know what God wants us to do.
"What I find interesting is that there isn't as much reporting as there can be, because this isn't just a religious issue," Amanpour says. "They are religious, but it is also political and because they want to shape the way we all live, we need to know more about them and their agendas."
There are many people uncomfortable with the notion that a certain group has a direct line to God. Amanpour says that even theologists agree that Jesus never mixed faith with politics.
"He talked about people, about the golden rule: Do unto others as you wish to have done unto you. He talked about poverty. There are some people even within who are very committed to their faith who are very uncomfortable with the notion that faith has been used as a divisive tool," Amanpour says. "They feel this is not just in Christianity. I've talked about it certainly with many people in Islam and particularly since 9/11 where that issue has become so divisive. Many people feel that it's just time, actually, to step back a little bit and to keep faith where it was originally destined for, which is in the mosque, in the synagogue, in the church."
Amanpour says it's her job to bring information to people so they can make their own judgments about what is happening.
"So the question for us was how much political power does God have?" Amanpour says. "I think we need to look at strong political leadership that can respect people's beliefs without torpedoing the greater national good."
Reach Susan Young at syoung@angnewspapers.com or 925-945-4705.

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