Religious Totalitarianism

December 2001

Thomas Friedman of The New York Times recently wrote that the war on terrorism is really a war on "religious totalitarianism."

Having written a book on the subject of religious totalitarianism, specifically Roman Catholic totalitarianism, I am writing to warn you that Friedman and those for whom he speaks have declared war on Christianity. Here is what he wrote:

"If 9/11 was indeed the onset of World War III, we have to understand what this war is about. We're not fighting to eradicate 'terrorism.' Terrorism is just a tool. We're fighting to defeat an ideology: religious totalitarianism."

In this opening paragraph, Friedman says force, violence, terrorism is relatively unimportant – it is just a tool. The real enemy is an idea that he calls religious totalitarianism.

What does he mean by that phrase?

Here are his words, and the words of Rabbi David Hartman, whom he quotes approvingly:

"Religious totalitarianism [is] a view of the world that my faith must reign supreme and can be affirmed and held passionately only if all others are negated. That's bin Ladenism."

Now some of these words are ambiguous, and others are inflammatory. What does "reign supreme" mean? What does "negated" mean?

Friedman speaks more clearly:

"God speaks multiple languages and is not exhausted by just one faith.... The opposite of religious totalitarianism is an ideology of pluralism – an ideology that embraces religious diversity and the idea that my faith can be nurtured without claiming exclusive truth.... God speaks Arabic on Fridays, Hebrew on Saturdays, and Latin on Sundays, and he welcomes different human beings approaching him through their own history, out of their language and cultural heritage.... God is not exhausted by just one religious faith."

So "religious totalitarianism" is not a religious ideology that advocates the use of force, violence, or terrorism – remember, "terrorism is just a tool – but a religion that thinks it is right and all others are wrong. Friedman says our real enemy in World War III is Jesus Christ, for Christ said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father but by me." Christ was a religious totalitarian, according to Thomas Friedman.

Not only is Friedman Antichristian, but he is a genuine religious totalitarian. It is Friedman who advocates the use of force against followers of other religions, especially against the religion that claims to be have a systematic monopoly on truth, as Christianity does. That is the meaning of Christ's statement, when he says, "I am the truth."

But Friednman is a religious totalitarian for another reason as well: He thinks his view – pluralism – is right; in fact, he thinks pluralism is right and all other views are wrong. Friedman, by his own definition, is a religious totalitarian. Far from pluralism being the opposite of religious totalitarianism, as Friedman has redefined it, pluralism is an example of religious totalitarianism.

The religious totalitarian Thomas Friedman and The New York Times have called for total war against Christianity: not only using force, but also thought control: World War III "has to be fought in schools, mosques, churches, and synagogues, and [religious totalitarianism] can be defeated only with the help of imams, rabbis, and priests."

Imams, rabbis, and priests have been fighting against Christ for centuries, but now their efforts are being redoubled in World War III.

John Robbins
The Trinity Foundation
December 1, 2001

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