Why is it acceptable in some contexts for Abraham Lincoln to say that reverence for the Constitution is “the political religion of the nation,” or for George W. Bush to say that patriotism is “a living faith” that grows stronger when the United States is threatened? Why, in other contexts, is the U.S. constitutional order held as the model of secular government? With regard to the question of violence, why is violence on behalf of the Muslim umma religious, but violence on behalf of the American nation-state is secular? What is gained or lost by the insistence that violence on behalf of the United States is of a fundamentally different nature from violence on behalf of Islam? (121)
William Cavanaugh, The Myth of Religious Violence (2009)
n., the whole community of Muslims bound together by ties of religion
[Arabic, from umm, mother]
n., physical force exerted for the purpose of violating, damaging, or abusing
[Latin, violentia. See Latin violentus, (cf., vīs, force, power)]
William Cavanaugh, “Why Christopher Hitchens was wrong about religious violence” (ABC Religion, 19 Dec 2011)
Most American Christians would recoil at the idea of killing for Jesus Christ, but most American Christians believe that organized slaughter on behalf of the nation is sometimes necessary and praiseworthy. This is not to say that people do not do violence on behalf of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and so on. They do, and this fact must not be ignored. It is simply to say that so-called “secular” ideologies and institutions are capable of promoting just as much violence as so called “religious” ones.