How do you fight fundamentalism?

An article in London’s Daily Telegraph reports that a British government attempt to stop young Muslims from being turned into jihadist radicals is not working.

Baroness Manningham Buller, who was the director general of the Security Service at the time of the 7/7 bombings, said the decision of 600 Britons to fight in Syria and Iraq with Isil was evidence that the Prevent scheme had failed.

After nearly a decade of trying to halt the spread of “toxci and murderous” jihadist ideology in Britain, the government still “do not really know what works,” she said.

Of course not. That is because the British government is a secular, atheistic institution whose sole remaining virtue is tolerance.

They simply don’t get religion, and they really don’t get fundamentalist religion.

Fundamentalism is fueled by a combination of ignorance, tribalism, insecurity and paranoia.

The typical fundamentalist is from an underclass in society. He may be a racial minority, have a lower income, lower educational qualifications and have fewer real socio economic opportunities.

He is all primed therefore to be enlisted as part of an exclusive sect who perceive themselves as superior to all others. When religion is the prime motivator of that sect the heady mixture is like a drug.
Once tasted it is irresistible, and like all drugs, when it ceases to give the necessary artificial high a larger and more potent dosage is required.

The fundamentalist mentality feeds on paranoia and blaming other people. The outsiders are always the villains and must therefore be the victims. The fundamentalist is always at war. He must always have a clear and present danger that must be countered.

Then when the enemy responds in kind it proves the fundamentalist’s point that they are at war and the terror and hatred escalate. Everything evil they thought about the enemy proves to be true and the atmosphere of shared paranoia increases until violence erupts.

This is a mental illness on a massive scale. You cannot correct it with reason and common sense. The fundamentalist decries reason as a “man made evil”. Common sense? He spits on common sense. “The great warrior takes risks and does daring things don’t you know?”

Neither can you appeal to the fundamentalist by urging him to become more educated. He despises your education. He is suspicious of intellectuals. He knows they do not understand his religion and he spits on them. They are not worthy of his attention and “you can keep your stupid, atheist education! The stated aim of your education is to destroy my religion!”

The British government program is called “Prevent”. But it’s not working because the powers that be have a complete blind spot when it comes to religion.

The new head of the program has warned that the Prevent program is under pressure because of the hesitancy of the government “to acknowledge or engage with the religious dimension of the threat that we face”.

How can a secular, atheistic society counter a threat which is almost completely motivated by a toxic form of religion?

The only method is to fight fire with fire. The only thing antidote to the toxic fundamentalist forms of religion is a form of religion which is truly full of light, peace, love and genuine power.

In the end the secular, atheistic society will fail to win over, convert or prevent fundamentalism. When that happens they will resort to the only tool they have left: force of arms.

Meanwhile those who are working to build a Catholic faith that is powerful in its pursuit of peace, compassionate in its ministry to the needy, joyful in it proclamation of the truth and wise in its administration of power will stand by watching as the world descends into a deeper darkness.