Here, to me, is a paradox for the modern era, then: America is closer, in a sense, to the Islamic ideals it is pitted against, than the liberal, post-Enlightenment attitudes of the Western nations it is expected to rub shoulders with as its natural allies. Those who oppose America as a Godless country, festering in the filth of its own materialism, must come to terms with the insistence on the part of many Americans themselves, that theirs is a profoundly religious country. The American religious right claims America has always been so, and it is time to recognize once more, that this is so: “One nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.”
So should we conclude, then, that between the religious police tactics of the Taleban, and the periodic episodes of witch-hunting in America, there is only a difference in methods, but not intent? But to say so would be heresy, would it not? At least, for an America that believes — and votes — out of the conviction that it remains a shining city on a hill, the New Jerusalem of the Western world.
The first key difference is that religion plays a prominent role in American society and government, but it directs neither, thus cannot readily abuse itself. This separation of church and state actually serve to preserve religion while empowering the individual. Any government will have its failures and the separation protects religion from criticism. As opposed to the Taleban or the mullahs of Iran, being the government they will naturally be blame for what goes wrong.
The second difference is that with a secular government, though it can be influenced by religion, it can also be influenced by the secular society as well, and this accessibility (as well as accountability) serves to strengthen the government and provide a cohesive focus for the diverse American public.