Spoiler alert: There is almost none!
Muslim extremists in the mold of ISIL and al-Qaeda are willing to martyr themselves to kill non-believers based on the bizarre notion that they will be greeted in the land of milk and honey by 72 virgins. On the other hand, extreme Christian evangelicals are willing to incite war in the Middle East by financing settlements in the West Bank based on their belief that establishing Israeli control of the “promised land” will lead to the return of their “Messiah.” As the story goes, that will prompt God to destroy the Earth while lifting true believers into heaven with the promise of everlasting life. For the same reason, many evangelical Christians deny that humans are contributing to climate change despite all of the scientific evidence that their inaction will lead to the extinction of more than a million species, the death of virtually all ocean life and rising sea levels that will displace or kill much of the Earth’s human population.
To these evangelicals, how the Earth is destroyed is of little concern. They are convinced the destruction will lead to their “rapture” one way or another.
Both types of extremists yearn to live under a theocracy based on the laws of their faiths. Both are contemptuous of other faiths. Both believe in the subservience of women. While Muslim extremists believe that women should cover themselves in public, many evangelical Christians view women as mere conveyances for children. Indeed, they are willing to impose the death penalty on any woman who dares to have an abortion for any reason, even in the case of rape or incest or threat to the life of the woman. They also believe that contraception is in defiance of God’s will.
Both groups believe they are persecuted. In fact, that is one of their primary tools for recruitment. Both refuse to accept that some of their accepted beliefs are the result of faulty translations of the scriptures. Both ignore the many contradictions in their gospels as well as the historical context in which they were written. And both groups are immune to conflicting information. They offer no room for discussion, debate or compromise. Indeed, they believe that doing so would be a betrayal of their faith.
Additionally, the extremists in both groups are masters of hypocrisy. We learned that some of the Muslim terrorists watched porn and visited strip clubs before committing their terrorist acts. Members of ISIL and Boko Haram have used rape as a weapon of war and have taken young women as slaves to bear their children. Meanwhile, many evangelicals live and preach “prosperity gospel” in complete contrast to the teachings of the man they claim to follow. Their leaders live in lavish mansions, are transported about in private jets, and some have been found to have engaged in embezzlement and other forms of financial fraud. And all of them enjoy the tax-free status of their religions.
Some of the evangelicals who are most outspoken against gays have been found to have gay lovers. Others have engaged in extramarital affairs. Some have even been found to have paid their mistresses to have abortions. And, recently, we learned that Jerry Falwell, Jr’s endorsement of Donald Trump came only after Trump’s “fixer” helped extort someone from releasing Falwell’s “embarrassing” photos.
Of course, there are extremists within virtually every religion. Yet, somehow, only one group of extremists is almost universally condemned by the majority population of the US. One really must ask why.