The West as a whole, and not just Europe, faces a double political challenge from religion today. One is to realize that the world is full of peoples whose genuine faith in the divine gives them a precise, revealed blueprint for political life, which means that for the foreseeable future they will not enter into the family of liberal democratic nations. Only if we give up the fantasy of a universal historical process driving all nations toward a secular modernity can we face this fact squarely and humanely.
The other challenge is to learn how to distinguish between those whose political programs are inspired by genuine faith, and those whose defense of religion is inspired by a reactionary utopianism having less to do with God than with redirecting the faulty course of history. In radical Islam we find both phenomena today, authentic faith and antimodern fanaticism, shaken together into an explosive cocktail.
And even in the United States we are witnessing the instrumentalization of religion by those who evidently care less about our souls, or even their own, than about reversing the flow of American history since the “apocalypse” of the 60’s.
– Mark Lilla