You cannot fight religion with atheism

by - 27th November 2015

Even England’s bishops voted for military action this week – in a motion that seemed wholesale in scope.  [See our report here.]

Responding to Synod’s call to government to afford refugees anywhere in the world ‘safe and legal routes to places of safety’, the Archbishop of Canterbury warned this would entail military force.

The motion was almost apocalyptic in its territorial breadth covering ‘much of the lands of the Middle East and in many other parts of the world including north east Nigeria, including Burundi and other places’ where, he said, ‘the forces that are driving people out into being refugees may need to be confronted.’

So, together with David Cameron’s insistence on air strikes against ISIS ‘to keep British people safe’, we can be clear there is agreement at the top level that the moral argument is about ‘protection’, not ‘aggression’. 

Yet much of the Muslim world will never see it that way.  They will see trigger fingers that control world arsenals worth trillions of dollars built up unchecked since the great pacifist movements of the 1970s, twitching. 

And I’m not sure I see it the Church’s way either. That's because none of it has a proper mandate from the people; the people who will inevitably suffer on the streets of London and other cities once the secret ‘covenant’ Britain’s MI6 have had with international Islamists is revoked by what will be seen as a declaration of war. [And if you don’t believe me about that, read Islamic State: The Digital Caliphate just out.]

There have been no letters sent by bishops to their congregations to be read out at Sunday morning service explaining what we are supposed to be protecting ourselves from.  Islam?  No, that’s Islamophobic.  ISIS?  Who are they and what do they want?  If we all knew that, Lapido would not be publishing a handy reference for journalists on the subject.  Assad?  No, he’s now the guy actually holding what’s left of Syria together.  

I was at my house group on Wednesday, and to my astonishment almost no one there knew the meaning of the word ‘caliphate’, or had even heard of it. Yet, that’s the agenda.  It really is.

We appear ineluctably to be going to war against an enemy with an apocalyptic cause and a system of world domination by any means that people cannot even pronounce, let alone understand or oppose.

And that’s what’s got us into so much trouble over the last decades.  The vast gulf between the governors and the governed, the public school boys dabbling in the Muslim world for their own reasons, from Lawrence of Arabia to Tony Blair, never feeling they need explain.


Decisions about the Middle East have been taken in our name, since before Sykes-Picot in 1916 when our duplicity against the Arabs was finally consolidated.  We promised Sherif Hussein the caliphate and that his historic lands (now much of Syria) would be restored to Mecca, in exchange for his support against the Turkish alliance with Germany. 

That never happened or was intended to, and as Abdel Bari Atwan writes in Islamic State: The Digital Caliphate ‘Betrayal, manipulation and self-interest were, and remain, the name of the game when it comes to Western meddling in the Middle East.’

Particularly on issues to do with the Middle East, we, the ignorant masses, have to pay with our taxes and even our lives for the hubris and avarice of our masters.

No attempt is being made to educate any of us as to the realities of the coming fight.  That it has a religious provenance as well as a historical one makes it doubly toxic and out of bounds.


As Melanie Phillips noted in The Times today with her usual lucidity, no war against ISIS can be won by airstrikes alone, even though by the logic of prevalent attitudes, this move now seems unavoidable, she says.

What she identifies as the ‘resolute moral neutrality’ of Western peoples – but I believe is in fact religious ignorance – leaves us exposed.  The preferred methods - of international law, conflict resolution and peace processes – ‘don’t work against fanatics with non-negotiable agendas, such as ISIS, the Iranian regime or other Islamist extremists who aim to kill infidels and enslave free societies,’ she writes.

The dawning horror is that Cameron is unable to commit to fighting ISIS properly by deploying ground troops, but cannot do nothing because those fanatics have us in their sights.

Cameron cannot ‘keep British people safe’ unless he’s given permission to.  And that, says Melanie ‘should surely disturb us’.


It does.  What she means is that we the people will not give him permission to put boots on the ground because we do not yet understand the full horror of what is bearing down upon us.

That it has the zeal of religious conviction behind it is what makes very vulnerable those countries - like ours - that largely believe religion is now an anachronism. 

We therefore have nothing to fight for, or from.  As Roger Scruton has written, ‘It is as though our society is seeking to define itself as a religious community, whose very lack of faith has become a kind of orthodoxy.’

But you cannot fight a religious enemy without religious conviction.  Instead, we will be consigned to an endless attrition on our own streets and against our own freedoms against an implacable foe we cannot even identify.

The future looks very bleak indeed.