I was a Religious Studies major in college, and in the course of my reading I once ran across a particular version of the Genesis story:
On the first day, God created light.
On the second day, God created the firmament.
On the third day, God separated the oceans from the dry land.
On the fourth day, God was attacked by demon space Jews.
Now, to most Christians reading this, that last one is pretty clearly wrong. It’s not anywhere in the Bible, and it’s completely unsupported by traditional Christian theology. It seems completely ridiculous that anyone might believe it. But it’s the version of Genesis believed by a racist movement known as “Christian Identity”.
They believe that Anglo-Saxons are the true Israelites, that people of color are either “animals” created before Adam or the result of an affair Eve had with Satan, and that Jesus is coming back to restore the white race to their rightful place as rulers of the earth. Most Christians are horrified when they read about the beliefs of Christian Identity groups, and wouldn’t even consider such an ideology to be Christian.
This isn’t because most Christians are “moderates” or “less religious” than Christian Identity followers. It’s not because they’ve “compromised with the modern world”. We don’t debate about who represents the “real Christianity”. We recognize that Christian Identity is a bunch of weird bullshit made up and/or believed in by a bunch of racists who want to justify their hate.
I’m pointing all this out because ISIS is exactly as weird to most Muslims as the idea of demon space Jews is to most Christians. They have their own theology, mythology, and eschatology, all of which is largely unrecognizable to traditional Muslim thought. Just like Christian Identity, they created their own twisted religion and then gave it a name that would help them mislead people.
When you hear about events like what happened in New York yesterday, don’t stop at separating “good Muslims” from “extremists”. See it as the equivalent of demon space Jews.
And in case you still need more convincing that the parallel is apt, let me leave you with the name of a Christian Identity adherent you may have heard of: Timothy McVeigh.