For many, the Taliban are not just a religious terrorist force, they represent one of the most extreme and violent groups on the planet. Understandably, then, most people are keen to differentiate between the kind of religious view the Taliban holds and those of other faiths and decrees.
However, the recent letter from the Taliban to Malala Yousafzai – a schoolgirl they had attempted to kill whilst on her way to school – shows a rather uncomfortable fact: the Taliban act like every other religious orientated group. They are not a ‘for or against us’ collection of violent thugs, they want to win the hearts and minds of people by appearing in the best possible manner and preaching what they sincerely believe to be the truth.
As anti-theists have been arguing for many years, this shows that religious dogma itself is the problem. You cannot reason with religious groups except with secularisation. The more secularisation we have, the greater need religious groups feel to normalise and drop the more extreme and violent views which they hold (hence a letter to attempt to appear more reasonable in the UK, whereas they do no such thing in Islamic regions). Under threat of rationality and secularisation they have no other way to survive than to moderate their views, and whilst we have not really seen this ‘moderating’ effect from the Taliban before in the West (their tactic previously has been to fight and oppose our lifestyles) the letter makes clear what we knew all along. The solution is anti-theism and anti-faith, not reasoning in degree.
This is not just the case with Islam’s terrorist associations in the modern world either, we saw Christianity drop all kinds of bizarre and immoral beliefs as secularisation increased in Western countries like the UK. No longer are women objects, non-whites are no longer slaves and animals are not unfeeling machines. Religion is a method of cultural indoctrination, and it will not drop it’s faith in any belief until secularisation and reason forces it to. As a personal matter we could each opt out of religion today and begin to fight faith based ignorance immediately. As a cultural matter we should begin the shift now, as it may take many years to stop religion’s worst effects.