..only because religion ceased to matter in any way except privately

Eventually, in the West, we emerged from the age in which people paid with their lives for a religious allegiance. We emerged into another age in which they were murdered by the million for other reasons, but not for that one. Though the religious might hate to hear it said, the West graduated from its nightmare only because religion ceased to matter in any way except privately. At the time of writing, we are in the uncomfortable position of hoping that the same thing can come true for Islam, and do so in a briefer time than the span of centuries it took to come true for us. While we are waiting, it might be of some help, although of little comfort, to realize that an Islamic fundamentalist doesn’t have to share the psychotic certitudes of Torquemada in order to be dangerous: it is enough for him to share the civilized attitudes of Queen Elizabeth I, who wanted every invading priest tortured as soon as caught, and gruesomely executed soon after that.

– Clive James, Cultural Amnesia (2007)

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