SHOULD WE USE RELIGION TO HELP OUR CAUSE?

Vincent Lyn
5 min readMar 18, 2024

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By Vincent Lyn

Throughout history, despotic leaders have often exploited religion to bolster their authority, control populations, and advance their agendas. Here are a few notable examples:

  1. King Henry VIII of England: Henry VIII famously broke away from the Catholic Church in the 16th century to establish the Church of England, primarily to divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and marry Anne Boleyn. By establishing himself as the supreme head of the Church of England, Henry consolidated his power and wealth, using religion as a tool to solidify his authority.
  2. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran: Khomeini led the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, overthrowing the secular monarchy of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Khomeini established an Islamic republic and implemented a theocratic regime based on his interpretation of Shia Islam. He used religion not only to legitimize his rule but also to suppress dissent and impose strict religious laws.
  3. Saddam Hussein of Iraq: Saddam Hussein, although initially secular in his governance, increasingly utilized Islam as a tool to maintain control over Iraq. He manipulated religious rhetoric and symbols to consolidate power, particularly during times of crisis, such as the Iran-Iraq War and the Gulf War. Saddam portrayed himself as a defender of Sunni Islam against Shia Iran and exploited religious divisions within Iraq to suppress opposition.
  4. The Taliban in Afghanistan: The Taliban emerged in the early 1990s as a fundamentalist Sunni Islamic movement. They exploited religious ideology to seize power in Afghanistan and impose their strict interpretation of Sharia law. Under Taliban rule, religious leaders held significant sway over governance, and dissent was brutally suppressed in the name of religious purity.
  5. Vladimir Putin of Russia: While not traditionally considered a religious leader, Putin has strategically aligned himself with the Russian Orthodox Church to bolster his political legitimacy. He has cultivated a close relationship with the church hierarchy, leveraging religious rhetoric to promote conservative values and nationalist sentiment. This alliance has helped Putin solidify his grip on power and maintain popular support.
  6. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, has often been accused of exploiting religion for political gain, although opinions on his leadership style vary widely. Netanyahu has aligned himself closely with religious and nationalist factions within Israeli society, leveraging religious rhetoric and symbolism to strengthen his political base and advance his agenda. Some critics argue that he has used religious narratives to justify controversial policies and maintain power. Here are a few examples:

Settlement Expansion: Netanyahu has supported the expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, a policy often associated with right-wing and religious nationalist groups. By promoting settlement expansion, Netanyahu has appealed to religious Zionists who view the land of Israel as a divinely promised inheritance. Critics accuse him of prioritizing the interests of settlers over prospects for peace and exacerbating tensions with the Palestinians.

Religious Freedom Issues: Netanyahu’s governments have faced criticism for policies that favor Orthodox Judaism over other streams of Judaism and non-Jewish minorities. For instance, he has been accused of yielding to pressure from ultra-Orthodox parties on matters such as religious conversion, military conscription exemptions, and public Sabbath observance. Critics argue that these policies undermine religious pluralism and equality in Israel.

Temple Mount/Tensions with Palestinians: Netanyahu has taken a strong stance on issues related to Jerusalem, particularly regarding the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, a site sacred to both Jews and Muslims. His policies and rhetoric on this issue have often stirred controversy and exacerbated tensions with Palestinians. Critics accuse him of exploiting religious symbolism to assert Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem and solidify support among religious nationalists.

National Identity and Jewish State Law: Netanyahu’s government passed the controversial “Jewish Nation-State Law” in 2018, which enshrines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people and downgrades Arabic from an official language to a “special status.” Critics argue that this law prioritizes Jewish identity over democratic principles and marginalizes non-Jewish citizens, including Arab Israelis.

While supporters of Netanyahu argue that he is a strong leader who defends Israel’s security and promotes its national interests, critics contend that his policies and actions often exacerbate divisions within Israeli society and hinder prospects for peace with the Palestinians. The intertwining of religion and politics in Netanyahu’s leadership has been a subject of significant debate and scrutiny both domestically and internationally. A major key point to consider, Netanyahu made a striking comparison and his diabolical use of religion to justify participation in the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas. He likened it to the ancient war between Israel and the Amalekites. This comparison has sparked global outrage, particularly among those familiar with biblical history.

Netanyahu said “there are no innocent Palestinians”, he sees all of Gaza as “Hamas”. Thus why they’re carrying out the collective punishment. They’re so trigger happy they even killed three of their own who were waving a white flag yelling for help in Hebrew.

As I observe a leadership that is completely delusional, firmly convinced that their path to heavenly salvation hinges on controlling Palestine, I am increasingly troubled. Some Israelis hold a belief that they have been bestowed with divine entitlement to this land, sparking an existential struggle over its possession. Since 1948, they have been aggressively ‘settling’ it, asserting their right to claim it regardless of the human cost. Their zeal is fueled by the anticipation of the Second Coming, driving them to extreme measures to ensure they are not excluded from this anticipated event.

Previously, I held the understanding that the beliefs of Christians and Jews diverged mainly between the end of the First Testament of the Bible and the beginning of the Second Testament. However, I’ve come to realize my misconception. There exists a significant number of Jews who anticipate the return of Jesus and envision his reign over humanity upon his arrival. They believe that he will gather all believers while condemning others to hell.

This isn’t mere speculation. The Chosen People ministry, established in 1892, actively promotes these beliefs, which are shared by numerous others. According to their doctrine, it is God’s ordained plan for Israel to annex all territories once known as Palestine, excluding all other inhabitants. They view their unwavering faith as justification for the relentless bombardment of the land they seek to claim.

I’m intrigued by the notion of Heaven, particularly by the fact that countless individuals aspire to reach it despite the lack of concrete knowledge about its nature, activities, and whether our behavior in Heaven stems from our inherent goodness or is influenced by divine intervention. For some of us, the concept of free will remain significant.

I won’t condemn an entire country, but I will condemn Netanyahu and his warmongering allies; I’ve voiced my disapproval of them numerous times before. Let it be noted that I believe Netanyahu had foreknowledge of the situation and permitted it to unfold. Another individual proposed a swap — the hostages for Netanyahu. While highly improbable, I believe we could find common ground on that notion (in principle).

Vincent Lyn

CEO & Founder of We Can Save Children

Deputy Ambassador of International Human Rights Commission (IHRC)

Director of Creative Development at African Views Organization

Economic & Social Council at United Nations (ECOSOC)

Rescue & Recovery Specialist at International Confederation of Police & Security Experts

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Vincent Lyn

CEO-We Can Save Children. Director Creative Development-African Views Organization, ECOSOC at United Nations. International Human Rights Commission (IHRC)