Fake religion

The attempt of the Moslem world to elevate their dispute with Israel into a matter of jihad and holy war has left the world vulnerable to fanaticism and unending violence. 

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Rabbi Berel Wein,

Rabbi Berel Wein
Rabbi Berel Wein
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One of the many troublesome trends existing in our societies is the elevation of issues that are basically political and even monetary, to the level of religious faith and practice. The current struggle, mainly in the media and not so much on the ground itself, regarding the installation of metal detectors on the Temple Mount, is an example of making a security and political issue into a matter of holy war and belief. 

It is ironic that the Saudis have been able to install such security measures in the heart of the great mosque of Mecca without apparently violating any religious principles of Islam. Yet, when Israel attempts to do so on the Temple Mount, after terrorists committed murder in its precincts, it is pressured and criticized for having the temerity to install such security measures on territory that it governs.


Once something becomes a matter of religious faith there can be no logical argument.
Anyone with a rational view of the matter would realize that there is no religious issue present here at all. Nevertheless, the Arab propaganda machine has raised the matter in the eyes of many in the Moslem world to the level of holy war and a violation of the sanctity of the site. The cynical use of religion and faith in regard to what is essentially a political and completely secular issue is unfortunately an all too common tactic and occurrence throughout the world today. 

Once something becomes a matter of religious faith there can be no logical argument or marshaling of facts that will be able to overcome that belief. And eventually this can only lead to further misunderstanding, distrust and even violence.

Sadly, this type of fake religion is also alive and well within certain sections of the Jewish community in Israel and throughout the world. The issue of the assignment of space for worship at the Western Wall, which is basically an issue of practicality, security and political reality, has been raised by all sides to the dispute to the level of a religious holy war. 

There is currently space assigned to those who wish to pray there in an egalitarian fashion. My personal observation and anecdotal evidence also indicates that this area is sparsely used, if at all. Except for the politicians and heads of the religious factions, there is no groundswell of interest in the issue amongst the great masses of the Jewish people. 

It is just fake religion being used in the name of tolerance and other noble ideas to achieve what is essentially only a political end. The opposition of certain groups of Jews to the existence and the success of the State of Israel is no longer a political issue as it once was. It has now become a wholly religious issue that leads to fanaticism and terribly shameful behavior. Again we are witness to the elevation of a political disagreement to the status of an uncompromising holy war. When the line between faith issues and political ones is erased then sadness and disaster inevitably follow.

Almost all the terrible religious wars that took place in Europe for centuries were based more on politics than on faith, even though they were all presented as wars of religion and belief. The toll of those wars ran into millions of dead and maimed. All religious principles were not settled nor were the faithful rewarded in any physical or spiritual fashion. This is because these were essentially political, dynastic and nationalistic struggles fought under the banner of fake religion. 

The scars from those wars still exist even until our day. Fake remains fake even when it comes to matters of religion and faith. The attempt of the Moslem world to elevate their dispute with Israel over its very existence into a matter of jihad and holy war has left the world, including the Moslem world itself, vulnerable to fanaticism and unending violence. 

All of this is founded on baseless beliefs and so called facts long disproven by realism and pragmatism. The Torah warns us against beliefs in magical solutions and super savants. We fall victim to this type of fake religion that undermines our true faith and eventually weakens our beliefs and actions. 

Religion may be everything but not everything should be classified as being religion. Struggles over dress, language, army service and voting for and in the Knesset, are all political and social in nature and origin. Making them matters of religious faith only serves to eventually demean religion and increase social division.