Center for Strategic Communication

[ Charles Cameron — Garry Wills sees “holy war” lurking just around the corner ]

Christ-flag and tank
Pro-Russia fighters near the eastern Ukrainian city of Starobeshevo in Donetsk region, on 25 February. Photograph: Vasily Maximov/AFP/Getty Images


Let’s be clear. the image above is from the confrontation in Ukraine, whereas the holy war that Garry Wills sees is quite another business. Under the headline that also heads this post, he writes:

Discussions ricochet around Pope Francis’s ability to reconcile the Catholic Church’s bureaucracy, theology and practitioners. But for a man of Francis’s scope and skill, this is too narrow an assignment. His real task, for which he is ideally situated, is to prevent the world’s descent into religious war.

Many people want to make our “war on terror” a war on at least a segment of the Muslim religion. Sen. Lindsey Graham (RS. C.) makes this very clear: “We are in a religious war.” Some think of this war as being waged in revenge for the attacks of 9/11 — to prove, as former deputy undersecretary of defense Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin once put it, that their God is greater than Islam’s. But there are 1.3 billion followers of Islam scattered around the world, and an ambitious Gallup poll of Muslims in 35 heavily Muslim countries found that the vast majority of them did not approve of the 9/11 attacks. Significantly, those who condemned the attacks based their opposition to violence mainly on religion, while the 7 percent who considered them “completely justified” relied heavily on political arguments. How can we blame the Muslim religion for this horror?

I don’t agree with everything that Wills says, but his view of Francis’ “scope and skill” is worth pondering.


I posted the image above because it gives a vivid and immediate sense of what “Onward, Christian Soldiers” might look and feel like, if it left the churches and turned up on the evening news.

Image source:

  • The Guardian, Frontline Ukraine:’How Europe failed to slay the demons of war’