Western philippics against Islamism are hypocritical. Only four decades ago, “Serving God and country” slogan was popular in the US. It’s hard to see how the Americans were serving God in Vietnam any differently from Muslims serving him in Iraq. God is expected to be even less concerned with Vietnam.

Religion cannot be removed from political equation. Secular Americans find it too much to remove the religiously inspired symbolism, and dollar bills sport, In God we trust. Communists attempted to substitute secular faith in Lenin for traditional religion, and failed. Faced with defeat in the opening stages of WWII, Stalin appealed for ideological help to almost-extinguished Church. Critical situations require firm beliefs, and theology conveniently provides near-unquestionable beliefs.

Few people could evaluate a moral theory; most take it on faith. Morality prohibits some strong human urges, and needs an association with authoritative sources. Secular religions establish new moral systems, such as international solidarity of workers rather than biblical solidarity of neighbors, and always rely on divinized authority. Secular religions might not dwell on the Creation, though the Soviets rejected genetics and promoted the Lysenko theory of plants’ development, but they shroud themselves in all the regular garb of religions: worshipped leader (Stalin, Rabin), bizarre rites (parades), uncritical acceptance of dogmas and intolerance to dissenters. Secular religions fail to answer the human need for association with transcendent realm, and secularizing societies from Ancient Rome to Russia and America saw the upsurge of occult trends and exotic cults.

Humans have soul; nations, human-like organisms, also need soul. The enlivening force of nations is an idea, whatever idea. It could be a religion or ideology, accepted axiomatically. And why question that idea? Is it really important how the world was created? Religion provides for the firm acceptance of core values, and better be accepted if only for that benefit. Tribes need a fire to dance around. It doesn’t matter whether old-fashioned logs or modern gas pipe fuels the fire. The point is to keep the fire on.

utility of religion