Ayaan Hirsi Ali was born in Somalia but grew up in Nairobi. The Somali community in which she lived was infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood who transformed Ali and her teenage friends from believers into Islamic activists.
Yet in 1992 she claimed asylum in the Netherlands as she escaped a forced marriage Following the 11 September 2001 attacks on the Twin Towers, she looked into the sources of Islam as claimed by the jihadists.
This led her to renounce Islam the following year and become an atheist. As she began to formulate critiques of Islam, this led to the inevitable death threats. Nevertheless, she continued and in 2003 was elected to the Dutch parliament. In 2004, she worked with Theo Van Gogh on his film Submission which highlighted the abuse perpetrated on Muslim women. Security for Ali was stepped up after Van Gogh was murdered in the street by Mohammed Bouyeri. In 2006, Hirsi Ali took a position at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., a neoconservative think tank.
An Irrational Leap of Faith?
After formally renouncing Islam, Ali identified as an atheist. In this, she was influenced after the 9/11 attacks. She agreed with arguments put forward by Bertrand Russell, Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins on organized religion.
Indeed she almost became the fourth member of the atheist fab four consisting of Hitchens, Dawkins and Sam Harris. But that honour went to Daniel Dennett. Then came what seemed like an about volte-face. In November 2023, Hirsi Ali converted to Christianity stating that “atheism can’t equip us for civilisational war”.
The enemies of Western civilisation were not just Islam, but authoritarian Russia and communist China. Woke ideology had eaten Western values from within and secularism was no match for the forces attacking liberty.
The only solution was a return to Judeo-Christian values. Unsurprisingly, this generated criticism both from Christians, because it lacked any indication that Christianity is true, apart from it being culturally useful; and from atheists, “baffled” that she had failed to absorb what they considered materialist rebuttals of the Christian faith. While atheism had briefly provided “a sense of liberation from punitive religion”, she found the long-term sense of life without spiritual solace to be “unendurable”.
When Ali mentioned the need for spiritual solace, it was something which had already been observed by the author of independent India’s constitution.
In the early part of the twentieth century, social reformers around the world were seduced by the revolutionary fervour of Marxism. A utopia would be created in which social inequalities would be abolished and the religious beliefs that supported this inegalitarianism.
Hence after Lenin seized power, churches, mosques, synagogues, and monasteries were destroyed in the USSR. The pattern would be repeated in Mongolia and later China. In his critique of caste and Hinduism which be blamed for causing this social oppression, Dr Ambedkar did not agree with Karl Marx and other Marxist thinkers that religion had no importance in human life. He observed man cannot live by bread alone.
He has a mind which needs food for thought. Religion instils hope in man and drives him to activity. It is a different matter that he criticised and rejected Hinduism as a religion but religion had a role to play in human life. It is for this reason he chose to embrace Buddhism with his followers shortly before his death in 1956.
As with Ali, Ambedkar saw the social importance of having a religion. Indeed he formulated his own version of Buddhist doctrine to protest against caste but stay within wider Hindu culture even though he rejected Hinduism itself. Of course in doing so, he overlooked some important facts. Buddha himself had been from a royal lineage, the Kshatriya caste.
His original followers were Kshatriyas. Wherever Buddhism went it did not level social inequities but adapted to them and even reinforced them. Sri Lanka is the sacred motherland of Theravada Buddhism. Yet it continued to have castes of untouchables and bonded slaves.
Monasteries owned vast areas of land that were worked by slaves. We find the same pattern wherever Buddhism spread in Asia, from Burma to Japan. Just as Ambedkar had reformulated Buddhism as a vehicle to fight caste oppression, Ali did with Christianity to defend against the threats to liberty. Of course, those threats have much more in common with Christianity than she would like to admit.
Right up until the revolution of 1917, the monarchy in Russia was despotic, and the Christian piety of the peasant masses was stuck in the Middle Ages. The embryonic Russian state of Muscovy was a religious civilisation rooted in the Orthodox Christian tradition. As the direct heir of the Byzantine Empire, Russia was a theocracy where church and state remained united. Christian rites and rituals such as marking birth permeated all aspects of life.
Under the Golden Horde, the Church became a privileged institution. The Mongols exempted the clergy from forced labour and military service. Monasteries became immensely powerful, amassing land and serfs. This only increased after Mongol rule ended.
Ivan the Terrible believed that he was appointed by god and gained the sanction of the Church to control the peasants. He also instituted a monastic private army of sinister black-clad fanatics, the oprichnina which was used to slaughter the independent-minded inhabitants of Novgorod.
Previously free peasants found themselves increasingly enserfed and free movement was abolished by the seventeenth century. Peasant conditions therefore differed little from slavery.
The Orthodox Church was inherently favourable to autocracy, especially in its duty to not interfere in the affairs of the physical world. Nicholas I was a devout Christian who said that god had entrusted him to care for Russia.
Hence he made SS Uvarov minister of education in 1833, having been impressed when he submitted a report that students should be inculcated with the values of autocracy, Orthodoxy and narodnost (national principle). The Russian Orthodox Church and tsardom relied upon each other in a symbiotic relationship that oppressed the peasant masses. The church was an essential means of social control, teaching the peasants to be loyal to the tsar as god’s representative on earth. Violating duty to the tsar was thus blasphemy.
No wonder why Russian Westernisers such as Belinsky saw the Orthodox Church as despotic and anti-democratic, and why democrats hated Tsar Nicholas II more than Kaiser Wilhelm II or Emperor Franz Joseph. Most Christian churches, not only in Russia, were gravitating around the turn of the twentieth century toward conservative, right-wing parties. The church was part of the political establishment. Those who challenged the existing order were rationalists, unbelievers, and enemies of the state and church.
Putin wanted to modernise Russia like the tsars and communists. Not make it democratic. With state privilege, the church backed attempts in Putin’s Russia to set an anti-western course. The 2006 declaration by the World Council of Russian People, an assembly of secular organisations which recognises the spiritual leadership of the Orthodox hierarchy, adopted the Declaration of Human Dignity and Rights to counter the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights. Patriarch Aleksei, head of the Orthodox Church, said that Western ideas of human rights inhibited the faithful from living in accordance with their beliefs and indeed would lead to a neo-pagan revival.
Faith, ethics and loyalty to the fatherland were said to supersede the rights of the individual. Orthodox support for Russian nationalism, especially Putin’s anti-western ideology, led it to support the idea of Russia’s civilisational uniqueness and superiority, enhancing xenophobia, racism and the idea that all other beliefs, including non-Orthodox forms of Christianity such as the Roman Catholic Church, are foreign to Russian soil and a threat to its very soul. Putin said that Russia was always a religious country and that his forebears attended church.
It was the Orthodox Church which was to fill the moral vacuum left by the demise of communism. He was in fact born to Maria, who was devoutly Orthodox and duly had her son baptised. When Ayaan Hirsi Ali says that the West needs Judeo-Christian values to counter the threat of Russia, that Russia is in fact already deeply imbibed with those same Christian values of which she speaks. They only differ on interpretation. As indeed would atheist intellectuals Bertrand Russell and Christopher Hitchens.
provoked the wrath of the Left for daring to criticise communism and the USSR based on the conditions he had actually witnessed. In 1920 the atheist and philosopher spent five weeks in the USSR as part of a Labour Party delegation to this new workers’ paradise. The honeymoon was of short duration. He was shocked by the masses of starving peasants and Lenin’s ghoulish laugh boasting of peasants hanging kulaks.
Russell was also disturbed by how Bolshevism was taking on the guise of a new official religion. It had its own elaborate dogmas and inspired scriptures. Lenin ‘proved’ his ideas by quoting from Marx and Engels. As with any belief system, the dogmas could not be proven scientifically or objectively.
Communism was against the spirit of free enquiry which had been developing since at least the time of the Renaissance. Religious fanaticism became a defining feature of this anti-religious ideology. In this, there were disturbing echoes of Puritan England under Cromwell when examining Lenin’s dictatorship and the fixed theology of the Catholic Church. Russell believed that Bolshevism would eventually form the same basis of national unity and world conquest that Islam did for the Arabs in the seventh century.
As early as 1927 Patriarch Sergius (1867-1844) issued the Declaration of Loyalty identifying the Orthodox Church with the USSR. René Fülöp Miller compared the Bolsheviks to Jesuits with the intelligentsia resembling monks in their ascetic self-discipline and the fanaticism with which they persecuted ‘unbelievers’.
The state was structured like a church in its secular ecclesiastical hierarchy which linked the Kremlin to the humblest cell of the Communist Party and officialdom. Marx, Lenin, Engels and Stalin became the sacred icons in the extravagant professions of the new faith.
In 1907 Anatoli Lunacharsky, later Soviet Minister of Education, wrote Socialism and Religion in which he said that the Christian Day of Judgement and Christ’s one thousand-year reign would be reproduced in socialism.
Eleven years later the Symbolist poet Alexander Blok published The Twelve in which twelve Red Guards march through Petrograd led by Christ under a red flag. The modus operandi of the Communist Party resembled the Spanish Inquisition.
There is more to this. Lenin himself married Krupskaya in an Orthodox ceremony and in the early twentieth century had encouraged Vladimir Bonch-Bruevich to find common ground with collectivist millenarian sectarian peasants through the journal Dawn.
In 1905 Lenin also briefly sought common ground with Fr. George Gapon. In an interesting aside, although one that is perhaps rather relevant to understanding the communist mindset, Kim Il Sung was born into a devout Protestant household in Pyongyang.
This undoubtedly explains the Christian tenor in father-son adulation and worship which is characteristic of the regime in North Korea. It was Christianity which injected the belief that human history is a teleological process which was inherited by Marx as much as Fukuyama. In the Book of Revelation, the idea of the future being progress is as ingrained as it would later be in Marxism. It postulates a struggle between good and evil in which the latter will be overcome. Modern politics is merely a continuation of the history of religion.
The greatest revolutionary upheavals were part of the long process which witnessed the dissolution of Christianity. The world is littered with the debris of utopian projects which although framed in secular terms were in fact vehicles for religious myths. While communism claims to be based on a science of historical materialism, Nazism on scientific racism, while neoconservatives swear by the whole world having democracy and the free market, these are merely recent versions of apocalyptic beliefs which have shaped Western life since Christianity introduced the idea of the End-Time.
As the last remaining communist power, this is what China has inherited. Maoism comes from Stalin, Lenin and Marx, and thus back to the very ecclesiastic source which Ali now finds succour. Modern revolutionary movements have merely renewed the apocalyptic myths of early Christianity.
Communism was but the updated version of John of Leyden and his Anabaptists who tried to create an alternative Christian utopia in Munster in 1534.
Christianity had shaped the Enlightenment. The philosophers merely recast Christian ideas, replacing the idea that history was a struggle between good and evil with that of mankind developing through stages. But they retained the essential belief in demonology. The Inquisition formed and had sinister similarities to the secret police active in communist states.
The Bolsheviks and Jacobins embodied a medieval chiliastic tradition which could be found in the seventeenth-century Protestant sect of Fifth Monarchy Men who opposed Cromwell. With their anti-liberalism, the French Positivists were influential Enlightenment thinkers.
They admired the medieval Church, not for its faith, but for its power in unifying society. In this, they shaped the ideas of Marx. In Italy an interesting syncretism took place. The Association of Christian Workers became socialist following the disturbances of 1968. The Movimento Studentesco called for an end to capitalism and bureaucracy and labelled itself as ‘Maoist-Catholic’.
It is no coincidence that China went communist when we consider how its nationalism was formed by Christian leaders Sun Yat-Sen and Chiang Kai Shek. All Mao did was harness this Christian millenarianism into its offshoot of communism. Ayaan is basically using the very roots of Xi’s own communist ideology to oppose him. Yet they both have the same source.
Jihad and Crusades
The Iraq war of 2001 was the result of the secular neoconservatives and evangelical right-wing Christians joining forces: the former saw the chance to proselytise liberalism, capitalism and democracy; the latter saw this as the final conflict which would lead to the return of Christ. Both illusions were shattered very quickly.
In like manner, Ali’s newfound faith will take a battering from which it will not recover.
The Crusaders clashed with the Islamic forces, not because of some misunderstanding. They actually understood each other very well. It was a matter of interpretation as to whose god was right and who were the infidels. Islam and Christianity are of course sister religions, each believing itself to be the final divine revelation. Islam was linked to its Jewish, Christian, Hellenistic and pagan Middle Eastern antecedents, an origin in both Near Eastern monotheism and Greek philosophy.
Islam itself contributed much to what became Western civilisation, defining the boundaries of Christendom in the Middle Ages. The Church acted similarly to Sharia law, minutely regulating the lives of its flock in areas such as music, drinking wine, eating meat, and even laughter.
The separation between church and state has also not been a constant since the advent of Christianity. The conversion of the Roman Empire led to Caesaropapism; religious authority completely subordinated to the state. Until 1960 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, also known as the Inquisition, censored and banned books deemed inimical to the Catholic Church.
These similarities are missed by Ali. Islam itself was born into a culture already familiar with the Bible. Gnostic, monophysite and other unorthodox Christian ideas oppressed in the Roman and Byzantine empires found a home in the Arabian desert borderlands. While Christians settled in Najran, the state of Himyar in southern Arabia became Jewish in the fifth century. Contemporary observers of the Arab invasions make some interesting comments.
In c.745 Saint John of Damascus wrote his Dialogue Between a Saracen and a Christian, as part of a larger volume named On Heresies. This portion shows how a Saracen is defeated in his arguments of an alternative monotheistic faith by a Christian.
Heresies was written on the supposed superstition of the ‘Ishmaelites’ (Saracens, Arabs), how they followed a Biblical deviation, and how Muhammad was a false prophet who had stolen the teachings of the heretical Christian monk Bahira.
In the Arab Spain of the Umayyads, an anonymous author penned his Latin work historia de Mahomet which called Muhammad the ‘son of darkness’ who stole Christian teachings and claimed to be a prophet. Even if we doubt the accuracy, what is undeniable is that these Christian writers recognised the affinity with Islam.
Many Arabs in Syria had already converted to Christianity. Islam itself had a striking resemblance to Monophysite doctrine in that it respected Jesus, Mary, and the Biblical prophets, but rejected the Trinity, divine incarnation as Christ, and the resurrection.
It is due to Gnostic influence that Jesus in Islam is portrayed very differently than in the Bible. He has greater similarity to Gnostic texts, such as the Gospel of Thomas. This also influenced Sufism. This would explain why the Quran denies the crucifixion of Jesus. In Gnostic texts, Judas is made to resemble Jesus and take his place on the cross.
Ali’s teenage years in the Muslim Brotherhood are essential to understanding her conversion to Christianity. It provided a structure, a grounding, a direction, a meaning, and spiritual sustenance. Ali has merely returned to the same source when we realise that Christianity and Islam have shared origins, not just with each other, but in the very atheism to which she was so fervently committed.
Atheism and unbelief can only exist in a society which takes monotheism as the mainstream narrative. To reject this god, that god needs to have been accepted. But there has never been just one ‘atheism’. The ancient world had many schools of thought that did not deny the existence of the gods, just that they were not concerned with humans.
Roman poet Lucretius thought that the universe was composed of “atoms and the void”. Chinese mystic Chuang Tzu followed Lao Tzu in thinking that the world worked in a manner that human reason could not comprehend. They were both ‘atheists’ in the sense that a divine mind creating the universe was absent in their respective theories. They had no concept of a creator god to reject. It needed Christianity to supply that missing element.
Therefore Rome was not an empire of atheists. Hence the cults of Mithras, Isis, and Syrian mother goddess came as part of the Oriental religious imports. Also in this mix were the Jews, who attracted pagans to the synagogues.
In its wake came another religion whose followers followed a messiah. That was translated into Greek as Christos. For the masses in the Roman Empire, magic, spells, the supernatural, votive offerings, the power of the gods and belief in similar elements that would go against the very grain of atheism was normal. Christianity was not as revolutionary as claimed.
There were many preachers, teachers, philosophers and others who saw their quest as being against, often diametrically at odds, with the norms of society. They rejected it while also influencing it. The embrace of a higher spiritual goal was the path of these ‘misfits’. But when that philosophy coalesced into a powerful church, it took over the Roman state and suppressed the diverse schools of thought.
Hence this very same classical civilisation which modern atheists look to, is the same one which gave rise to Christianity and Islam. The church could not have become so successful without the unity of the empire, nor could Christianity have spread. Diocletian tried to improve efficiency by reorganising the administrative regions.
These included dioceses with the vicarious for the local deputy of a senior official. The ecclesiastical structure thus inherited the term ‘vicar’. Therefore Christianity was not superimposed on the Roman Empire. It grew out of it. The Greek basilieus meant king. The name was now associated with religious buildings, the ‘basilica’.
Churches resembled these basilica, which were law courts and buildings for commercial exchange. In our modern secular world we might remind ourselves that the term itself comes from saeculum, the Christian concept of ‘the present age’. Secularism inherits its bifurcation of the world into eternal good and evil from the Christianity of which it is the offspring. In secular societies, religion is repressed and salvation is sought through politics, and the cults of science and technology. The civilisation of the West is thus infused with Christianity, which arose from the classical inheritance.
It should therefore come as no surprise that the new secularist orthodoxy is every bit as dogmatic as any religious orthodoxy. Scientific achievements have themselves provided the basis to dogma and intolerance. Stalin, Lenin, Mao and Pol Pot were said to have followed a perversion of religion. But they actually admired science and to them the atheism of communism was scientific. Progress is the necessary illusion, often with mass murder as the tool to elevate humanity.
If we look back to the ancient Greek philosophers we see sinister forerunners of Sharia and the Inquisition. Pythagoras imposed his iron will on the society which he founded. The master’s word was absolute. Free enquiry was forbidden, as was writing down the sect’s doctrines.
Indeed the Pythagoreans bore a greater resemblance to a closed religious brotherhood, the very opposite of what we understand as a scientific tradition. With their fasting and asceticism, these pioneers in mathematics were in many ways the forerunners of Christian monks.
Euripides wrote Heracles in which the hero is induced by the goddess Hera to kill his own wife and children. Hera was jealous of Heracles being the product of Zeus and a mortal woman. The play raised doubts as to why Hera should even be worshipped if she exhibited such behaviour.
Such ideas shocked the Athenians and led to a reaction against incipient free thought using the accusation of asebia (impiety). Anaxagoras argued that Helios (sun god) was originally a lump of stone. He was charged with asebia and exiled to Lampascus in Anatolia.
His persecution for asserting that the sun was a hot rock has eerie echoes of what would later happen to Galileo at the hands of the Catholic Church. In 415 BC, a year after Athens had despoiled Melos, Diagoras was charged with asebia and threatened with execution for doubting the existence of the gods. He fled to Corinth, never to return to Athens. Socrates insisted that a daimonion ti or divine force, spoke to him and guided him.
This included forbidding him from participating in Athenian politics, the very democracy that was supposed to be respected and lived by a good citizen. At his trial, Socrates made a mockery of the whole process and therefore received capital punishment. By contrast, Plato had stern totalitarian views and was the very opposite of Socrates.
For the first totalitarian state though, we would have to look at Rome, and especially when it became theologically bound under Constantine. When the state becomes allied to a religious institution, any dissenters are crushed.
This was as much true under the church as it later became under the secular ideologies of Nazism and communism. Constantine merely removed the deified emperor as god, into the emperor being the representative of the Christian god. Atheism would then remove that god in later centuries. But the structure, narrative paradigm and mindset remained the same.
Hence moving between the various monotheistic creeds of atheism, Christianity and Islam is not so great. Rather than making an irrational leap of faith as her critics decry, Ali merely moved between the options available in Western narrative because there was never a neat bifurcation into secular and sacred. Jean Bodin (1530-1596) wrote De la démonomaniac des sorciers in 1580 which argued that witches should be burned at the stake.
Yet Bodin was the first great theorist of the absolute power of the secular state. He was not even an orthodox Catholic but instead believed in natural religion.
In 1542 the Concordat of Liège under the Holy Roman emperor, Charles V (1500-58) placed the punishment of sorcery under secular tribunals. Modern science was itself shaped by the Corpus hermeticum, a text of late antiquity, which combined Neoplatonism, Gnosticism, alchemy, magic and astrology, and was rediscovered in the Renaissance. Between 1540 and 1650 much of continental Europe was ravaged by wars of religion as Catholics and Protestants tried to eliminate each other.
It was this, not any enlightenment which led to greater demands for separation between church and state. Anabaptists had suffered under both Catholics and Protestants. In Religious Peace: or, a Plea for Liberty of Conscience, they presented James I of England with a case that the state should not interfere in religious affairs. John Locke said that religious belief could not be coerced.
Thomas Paine was later to argue for secular government. Spinoza laid the foundations for the Enlightenment that was to follow the Reformation. Eventually, it was the Bible itself that became the casualty of the Protestant and Catholic clash as the Enlightenment took hold.
The eighteenth century saw the rise of a non-scriptural God-affirmation, called deism. Unlike theism, it rejected a personal god who intervened in the world, in favour of a divine creator who has set the world in motion, who has laid down his own laws for his creation, and now lets the machine roll on by itself. This conception of God is known as le Dieu horlogier (the clockworker-God). Voltaire, sometimes wrongly thought to be an atheist, was its best-known exponent.
Yet this clockwork God of deism could be ignored to the extent that he became irrelevant. In Germany, David Strauss (1808-74) and Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918) argued that the Bible was a myth. Ludwig Feuerbach (1804-72), a theologian and philosopher, rejected orthodox religion as God was an illusion, the outward projection of human inner nature.
In Britain, it was Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) and John Stuart Mill (1806-73) who pushed an ethical, radical utilitarianism which did not need belief in any supernatural force to underpin morality. God just became irrelevant to the atheist, humanist and secular worlds that came out of Christianity. Ayaan Hirsi Ali barely needed to change her narrative when finding Jesus.
American Conservative Caliphate
The growth in evangelicals in America has had a profound influence on the very conservative circles in which Ali inhabits. Evangelical Christians were hugely influential in electing Reagan, both Bush presidents and Trump.
Indeed the influence can be seen beyond borders. The fast growing evangelical movement in Brazil was key to the success of Bolsonaro. It is not a given that being aligned with Christian values necessarily means progress or even an alternative to the threats from Islamic jihad, Russia and China.
In America as much as in the Islamic world, events do not support the conventional view that the future will be secular. This may help to explain the closing gap with the Islamic world in areas of scientific research. From the 1970s various think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute have helped this opposition to scientific evidence, as Nixon denounced scientists as “vipers”. Under Reagan big business and religious conservatism were concocted into a menacing behemoth which ignored the AIDS epidemic until 1987.
As governor of California from 1967 to 1975, Ronald Reagan himself had endorsed creationism claiming that evolution was a flawed theory. Facts are ignored or altered, such as denouncing environmentalism, ignoring climate change, or debasing evolution to be a ‘theory’ on a par with Biblical creationism – which Bush supported.
Fringe ideas such as intelligent design compete with actual scientific theories. In the Creation Museum of Petersburg, Kentucky, the display shows Adam and Eve sharing the Garden of Eden with dinosaurs, which were apparently all vegetarian until sin entered the world. Writing in his 2007 book Letter to a Christian Nation, Sam Harris quoted a Gallup poll in which only 12 per cent of Americans believed that evolution took place without divine intervention, and 53 per cent are creationists.
An increasingly secular Europe has become irked at trans-Atlantic religious observance and moral superiority. Into the twenty-first century, bucking the trend in the developed world, Americans remain famous for their religious observance. The Puritan origins of what became America remain evident in that nation’s culture and psyche.
The first English settlements were repressive theocracies and business ventures. In Virginia for example, the penalty for missing church attendance three times was hanging. In trying to enforce strict social and religious uniformity, the Puritans created a regime in the colonies that was more repressive than the one they had abandoned in England.
The English Puritans who came to American shores wanted to build a utopia and were heavily influenced by Calvinist ideas of predestination. With its concept of the “elect”, Calvinism held that god has decided our fate in advance, and only the fittest souls were predestined for salvation. The rest are damned.
In returning to the new nation in the early 1800s, Thomas Paine saw how evangelised America had become, and how much its culture was rolling back the ideas of the Enlightenment. Capitalism and no state religion allowed churches to compete as businesses.
In the modern corporate era, we have seen the growth of mega-churches with lobbying power. A vice-like grip of history, ideology and theology now holds the monopoly of power in Washington. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 brought Christian apocalyptic thinking to the mainstream of American politics. So staunch was Bush Jr in his beliefs that he openly believed that god had asked him to run for the presidency and even asked him to invade Iraq and Afghanistan.
By linking with these ideologies, Ali has not found an alternative to Islam as much as a substitute. Educated at private schools, and private universities, often having their studies paid for by private foundations these right-wing intellectuals defend private wealth and are loyal to corporate America or to the evangelical lobby.
Christian fundamentalists have not hesitated to employ the ideas of the staunch secularist, atheist and virulently anti-religious Ayn Rand to argue that god helps those who help themselves. This was repeated with neoconservatism, a utopian movement on the Right which was originally secular but became more militant as it moved into a strategic alliance with Christian fundamentalism in the 1990s.
The neoconservatives have secularised the idea of Americans as god’s chosen people in their argument that the USA has a moral duty and mission throughout the world. Change the veneer and the Muslim Brotherhood would wholeheartedly agree.
This is why Salafiyya Islam thrives on modernity, helped by literacy and mass communication. Salafiyya and modernity are inseparable. The Christian Right and radical Islamists, although locked in a holy war, increasingly mirror each other. They share the same obsessions. They do not tolerate other forms of belief or disbelief. They are at war with artistic and cultural expression. They seek to silence the media. They also hate Hindu resurgence.
The return to Judeo-Christian values has become a buzzword against the dominant woke culture and the anti-liberal forces with which it aligns. This is especially true of antisemitism, the longest hatred which has now become fashionable among the left-wing racist white elite. But this hatred came from the very values which Ayaan Hirsi Ali has now embraced.
The Judeo part in all this really came into vogue after the Holocaust, an event which would have been unthinkable without centuries of theological antisemitism. The Nazis did not invent the Jews as scapegoats for their unrelenting hatred.
They merely adopted existing widespread anti-Semitism pioneered by their ideological forebears and put Jews into the category of subhumans. Both secular rulers and the Christian churches had ensured that Jews were pariahs in European society.
Thus Hitler could declare that he was finishing the work that the Church had started. Martin Luther’s writing of 1543 is a blueprint for the Nazis’ Kristallnacht of 1938. It recommends that synagogues should be burned, Jewish literature confiscated, Jewish teaching forbidden and vengeance taken for the killing of Christ.
Christianity supplied the unique myth of Jews as Christ-killers, murderers and enemies of god, which served as the basis of anti-Semitism and the resultant persecution, pogroms and oppression of the Jews for 2000 years leading directly to the Holocaust under the Nazis.
Until 1965 the Papacy held all Jews responsible for Christ’s death. Vatican II made partial reconciliation but its Nostra Aetate did not beg the necessary forgiveness from the Jews for the Church’s sickening hatred against the Jewish people.
The very fact that the word ‘Jew’ retains a negative connotation in Western languages is a direct result of the Christian heritage. Pagans such as the ancient Greeks and Romans did not have the universal hatred of the Jews which Christianity introduced in its theological war unto death, in which to love Christ was equated with hating Jews.
Centuries of official Christian hatred burst with incredible fury in 1096 with the First Crusade preached by Pope Urban II. Unprecedented massacres took place across Christian Europe. England went further than any other Christian nation when Edward I expelled all Jews in 1290.
In 1215 the Fourth Lateran Council by Innocent II ordered all Jews to wear distinctive dress. The Reformation did not help the Jews. Calvin called Jews “profane dogs” and held them collectively guilty.
Hence they were condemned to burn in hell. Ulrich Zwingli thought Jews threatened Christian society. Martin Luther turned against the Jews when they did not convert and his venomous writings were used by the Nazis. No surprise then how at the Nuremberg trials, Julius Streicher, editor of Der Sturmer, said that if he was being tried then so should Luther.
Deeply devout Christian Russia, Holy Russia, had the most persecuted Jews in all of Europe, and for much longer.
The Jew symbolised the anti-Christ and Satan. Under Stalin, this dogma was transformed into fear of spies and class enemies, and the Jew retained his negative image. Russian Orthodox priests were active in their support of ultranationalism, pogroms, and even blaming the Jews for their country’s defeat by Japan in 1905. In Ethiopia, an ancient Christian nation in Africa, the Jewish community of Falashas were treated with contempt and regarded as bad luck.
From 1880 Catholic newspapers in France, Italy, Austria and Germany projected the horror of Jews ritually murdering Christian children as fact. From the late nineteenth century to 1945 the Vatican sponsored the journal Civiltà Cattolica which spread uncompromising racist anti-Semitism. Civiltà Cattolica continued to bait Jews until Vatican II in 1965.
After the war, the Catholic Church in France helped to hide Nazi collaborator and war criminal Paul Touvier for eighteen years from 1972 in a number of convents and monasteries such as the Chevaliers de Notre Dame.
The churches were more concerned about Hitler’s threat to the integrity of the church itself. Now portrayed as heroic clerical resistance to Nazi oppression, in reality, both Niemöller and Bonhoeffer openly expressed classic Lutheran anti-Semitism.
Like Voltaire and Wagner, Hitler may have strongly opposed the churches but retained their anti-Semitism transforming it into action. Hitler retained respect for the Catholic Church he had been born into, including its dogma, hierarchy, and organisation. The Jesuit order provided Himmler with the inspiration behind the SS.
The fact that so many right-wing conservative think tanks have now become pro-Israel and claim to condemn antisemitism does not hide the theology which gave rise to this hate. The idea that Christian evangelicals were among the strongest supporters of Israel is an unhealthy joke.
In the twenties and thirties, evangelists from Billy Sunday to Gerald Winrod expressed affinities with the Ku Klux Klan, the Nazis and Adolf Hitler. Billy Graham shared anti-Semitic asides with Nixon during the Watergate scandal. Pat Robertson churned out anti-Semitic tales about scheming Jewish bankers and the like in his book The New World Order. Ayaan’s Judeo-Christian values hide something sinister below their surface, which is a mirror image of the antisemitism which she condemns in the Islamic world.
Monotheism at the Core
In 2023 Ayaan Hirsi Ali rejected atheism in favour of Christianity. In 2003 she had rejected Islam in favour of atheism. In 1956 Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar had rejected Hinduism in favour of Buddhism, because of the caste system.
Just as Ali has ignored that atheism came from Christianity itself, the Christian roots of both Putin’s Russia and Xi’s China, and the antisemitism which the left-wing neo-racist white elite inherited, so Ambedkar had ignored that Buddhism had been an elite religion which had not brought equality.
In 1948 Malcolm Little became Malcolm X, rejecting the Christianity of his birth in favour of the black separatist Nation of Islam. He later left that organisation and converted to orthodox Sunni Islam. The main reason was that in America, Christianity had been used as a tool to enforce slavery and then racial segregation. It was in the devoutly Christian south, the Bible belt that lynchings were common by fervent church-going whites.
Blacks were portrayed as evil and forced to attend segregated churches. In 1845 the Southern Baptists split with their northern brethren on the issue of slavery and became enthusiastic supporters of the Confederacy. It was only in 1995, that the convention voted to adopt a resolution in which it renounced its racist roots and apologized for its past. Of course, Malcolm did what Ali was to do later; ignore the inconvenient facts about the newly found faith, especially the slavery of blacks under Islam.
For all his faults, Ambedkar did not undergo mass conversion of Dalits to Christianity and Islam, despite financial incentives and the illusion of equality which these historically slave-sanctioning faiths have pushed to contrast with the ‘Hindu’ caste system.
He also studied Marxism in detail. While his conversion to Buddhism may in itself not have been accurate, he did express a desire to remain within wider Indian culture. He also drafted the Hindu codes for the republic, in which Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs were included as Hindus.
In many respects, his understanding of spiritual values and the clash of civilisations made him far ahead of Malcolm X and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, as well as Fukuyama. The almost complete negative media reporting on the construction of Ram Janmabhoomi temple at Ayodhya demonstrates this.
The BBC might as well be Al Jazeera. The American Christian far right is as incensed with the pagan practices of Hinduism as are Hamas or Jamaat-i-Islami. Just as left and right are hardly distinguishable in their reports on Hindu issues, the left-wing white neo-racist elite use the same talking points as their conservative foes or jihadi forces.
A return to these mythical Judeo-Christian values is not an alternative to the threat posed to Western civilisation by Russia, China and radical Islam. It is merely a sticking plaster substitute. The real alternative is in the ancient Hindu culture of India, where the pagans have refused to be subsumed.