By Bob Allen
A Southern Baptist Convention leader disputed President Obama’s assertion that the terrorist Islamic State is not “Islamic” as “unhelpful” and “fundamentally untruthful.”
“We can certainly understand the president’s political predicament,” Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., said in a podcast commenting on the president’s nationally televised statement on ISIL Sept. 10.
“But when the president of the United States tells the American people and the listening world that ISIL is not Islamic, he is stating something that is not only unhelpful,” Mohler said. “It is untrue, and not only untrue, but dangerously untrue.”
The president announced a counterterrorism strategy designed to “degrade, and ultimately destroy” the militant group that calls itself the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a region encompassing not only Iraq and Syria but the broader region including Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Cyprus and part of Turkey.
“Now let’s make two things clear,” Obama said. “ISIL is not ‘Islamic.’ No religion condones the killing of innocents. And the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim. And ISIL is certainly not a state. It was formerly al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq, and has taken advantage of sectarian strife and Syria’s civil war to gain territory on both sides of the Iraq-Syrian border. It is recognized by no government, nor by the people it subjugates. ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way.”
Mohler said Obama was “making an argument that is not only unhelpful; it is fundamentally untruthful.”
“While it is true to say that not all Muslims are represented by the Islamic State, and while it is certainly true to say that Islam is not entirely represented by this particular organization, there is no question that the driving ambition of the Islamic State is the continuation of the expansion of Islam,” Mohler said.
Mohler called it “an understandable White House quandary” for Obama to want to reiterate the clarification put forth by President Bush that America’s war on terror is not waged against the religion of Islam.
“There is truth in that, of course, but there is also a confusion of the issues that is absolutely dangerous, because there is no doubt that Islam is a major factor behind world terrorism,” Mohler said.
“It is simply an indisputable fact that most of the dangerous and active terrorist groups in the world today are identified with Islam,” he said. “It is also an indisputable fact that the terrorist organizations that have most targeted the West, and the United States in particular, are specifically driven by an Islamic ideology and by the unquestioned ambition to further the reach of Islam not only throughout the Middle East but also in the rest of the world.”
“This is one of the animating, driving forces behind the very logic of Islamic thought and theology,” Mohler said. “There is simply no way around it, and in the eyes of many Muslims around the world, including many Muslim clerics, the president’s statement that no religion condones the killing of innocents is profoundly and unquestionably untrue.”