Religion of Peace? Not likely

Warning: graphic video at link. 

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h/t Kevin

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14 thoughts on “Religion of Peace? Not likely

  1. Islam is an Abrahamic faith just like Christianity and Judaism. All 3 have had various wars in the name of religion. Many genocides and other atrocities have been commit in the name of religion to include (the Holocaust, US slavery, the attempted extermination of Native Americans…)

    Cults and extremists of any religion are a deviation from orthodox beliefs and tend to be violent. Hitler even spoke of Christianity as a central motivation for his antisemitism. Of the MANY Christian cults a few are: “Branch Dividians,” “Heavan’s Gate” and “People’s Temple.” I could even see the argument that the Nation of Islam is a cult, however orthodox (or moderate) Islam is no more or no less peaceful than the other 2 Abrahamic faiths.

  2. Orthodox beliefs are not peaceful. The Torah, Bible, and Koran are not peaceful texts. There are more acts of violence and brutality in those three books than an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.

    Plagues, fires, floods, earthquakes, wars, murders, executions, child abuse, spousal abuse, psychological manipulation, torture, rape, pillaging — it’s all in there. And the sacred texts identify Yahweh / Jehovah / Allah as the entity responsible for (or at least approving of) much of the human suffering on this planet. So, how exactly do you reconcile scriptures that depict a malevolent deity with universal peace.

    Frankly, the Biblical / Koranic God seems more interested in obedience and submission than peace. And we need to be careful about what we label “deviant.”

    You’ve picked out some typical examples of what we call a “cult.” But what about Saudi Arabian wahabism? Or Mormonism? These are often considered denominations rather than cults.

    Do those represent a substantive break from a peaceful tradition? Are they merely off-shoots of a pre-existing (and already violent) tradition? I think those are relevant questions that must, inevitably, include a serious discussion of what orthodoxy actually says. We need to also look at the so-called “mainstream” society (i.e. ourselves). To what degree should we accept partial responsibility for the situation. Extremists might be dangerous, but they’re not illiterate. And they aren’t simply pulling it out of nowhere. Extremists are linked to specific doctrines and texts.

  3. Branch Davidians, Heaven Gate, and People’s Temple? These are your examples of Christians who are similar to Islamists? Do any of these group number more than a few hundred if even that many? Do any of these groups represent a worldwide movement hell bent on the destruction of Western civilization? Do any of these groups enjoy acceptance among your average Christian group?

    For the sake of clarity, the Holocaust, US slavery, the “attempted extermination of Native Americans” were not done in the name of religion, but people did use religious texts to justify them.

    “Extremists might be dangerous, but they’re not illiterate.”

    Untrue. The average Islamic foot soldier is illiterate save the texts of the Koran he has memorized.

  4. I’m not sure what an “average Islamic foot soldier” is, but I’m sure religious extremism can co-exist with higher education.

    Extremist Islamic terrorists are no less extremist because they have an education. The 9-11 terrorists were educated…as were the London Tube terrorists… as were the Madrid commuter train terrorists…most of the leadership within Hamas, Hezbollah, and Al Qaeda have college degrees (some from Western universities)…

    As for Christian extremism, I’m pretty sure the kids who attend Pat Robertson’s law school knows how to read and write. Same goes for the Bob Jones University and BYU crowd. They might have other issues, but literacy isn’t one of them.

  5. As for Christian extremism, I’m pretty sure the kids who attend Pat Robertson’s law school knows how to read and write. Same goes for the Bob Jones University and BYU crowd. They might have other issues, but literacy isn’t one of them.

    Neither is mass murder…

  6. John… my point exactly. I said, “ Islam is no more or no less peaceful than the other 2 Abrahamic faiths. Christians have killed many yet for some reason we hypocritically point the finger at Muslims as if we have not killed hundreds of millions (probably billions) of people and claimed that our Christian faith justified our actions..

    Patrick… Christian Americans have killed multi-millions. Do you not realize that? For people to proclaim that Islam is any worse/killed any more people than those of the Christian faith is ridiculous. You say, “the Holocaust, US slavery, the “attempted extermination of Native Americans” were not done in the name of religion, but people did use religious texts to justify them. And that means what? Right, they justified their wrongdoing based on Christianity. What is the difference? I mean really?

    My point is simply this…. we have no right to act as though Christianity is some innocent religion and imply or say that Islam is some horrible faith. There are people of all faiths that use violence against those of another faith and profess that the beliefs of their religion substantiate their actions.

  7. There are people of all faiths that use violence against those of another faith and profess that the beliefs of their religion substantiate their actions.

    Undoubtedly true and I’ve long maintained that the violence associated with religions is rarely the fault of the religion in specific and merely a result of the fact that, by and large, people fucking suck.

    However, while I would agree with you that it’s disingenuous at best to act like Christians haven’t committed violent acts, it is just as logically corrupt to frame every critique of Islam in terms of what Christians have done. The point isn’t necessarily that Christians are good, but that Islam does indeed have some very fundamental disconnects that make it hard to credit the “religion of peace” rhetorical line Islamic apologists offer.

    While one may be able to tell much about a religious tradition by the “cults” it throws off (I suppose even my faith would be considered “cultish” by many), those traditions with their separate histories and mythologies must also be considered as separate entities and judged accordingly. To glibly say, “Well, they’re all Abrahamic based and/or orthodox and all Abrahamic religions and/or orthodox religions are equally violent,” is almost as insulting as saying, “Well, they’re all black and all blacks are equally violent.”

  8. (Neither is mass murder…)

    We’re certainly no stranger to the concept in the West. Of course, that’s a comment on historical events. But I wouldn’t put too much faith in our “evolved 21st century sensibility” either. Though I’m sure some might construe this arrogance as passive-aggressive racism. I see it as more hubris than anything. We’re laying claim to a future that’s hardly certain.

    Currently, we have a functional civil society (where power is distributed and shared among competing institutions). If that fragile balance breaks down, as it has in the Middle East, there’s no telling who or what will emerge from the fray.

    It’s possible peace and tolerance will become the dominant force in daily life. But that’s by no means the only possible outcome. It’s just as likely that brutality and violence will reassert itself.

  9. Currently, we have a functional civil society (where power is distributed and shared among competing institutions). If that fragile balance breaks down, as it has in the Middle East, there’s no telling who or what will emerge from the fray.

    Are you saying the societal and governmental institutions of the West and the middle east have been the same? If so… NOT!

  10. (Are you saying the societal and governmental institutions of the West and the middle east have been the same? If so… NOT!)

    Even Western countries don’t have the exact same institutions as each other. The United States, for instance, doesn’t have “The Crown” as one of our institutions. Unlike the United Kingdom, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway.

    The institutions’ ability to create a system of checks and balances matters more than what they’re called. Sameness is unecessary. Distribution of power (i.e. weakening the imams’ monopoly on the state, military, economy, household, etc.) is what we need to focus on.

    Radical clerics didn’t always exercise absolute authority over the Islamic world. And even in the poisonous atmosphere today, there are voices calling for reform — such as Irsrad Manji and Reza Aslan. I’ve also had the opportunity to talk to reformist Muslims, as we have a very large Iranian exile community here in Southern California. They certainly don’t want to abandon Islam (just as we wouldn’t abandon Christianity over some doctrinal disagreements). But after 30 years in California, many of them hunger for a more equitable and modern Iran. I think you’ll find that attitude is more common than Holy War types are willing to admit.

  11. …it is just as logically corrupt to frame every critique of Islam in terms of what Christians have done

    I think we agree, QuakerJono. The only reason I’m comparing Islam to Christianity is because it is typically Christians who are pointing the finger at Islam saying how bad it is, as though people of their faith would never do such a thing.

    I 100% concur with your statement, violence associated with religions is rarely the fault of the religion in specific and merely a result of the fact that, by and large, people fucking suck. hahaha I vote for QuakerJono in the 2008 Pres. election. 🙂

  12. 27th: I think you’re right and that we are generally in agreement. I admit to a certain level of touchiness around this issue and sometimes that makes me manufacture disagreements where none may exist. I can offer no explanation of this other than, while there is a generous amount of finger-pointing, my experience has also included a fair bit of moral relativism by those with issues against Christianity or religion in general. At one point I myself embraced that sort of thought and, once I decided it was not correct for me, I meekly allowed others to propagate it without challenge. Neither line of reasoning strikes me as being particularly helpful, even if there is arguable validity in both, so now I’m quick to shut down that line of reasoning, even when it’s not necessarily being followed.

    I vote for QuakerJono in the 2008 Pres. election.

    Eeek! Oh no, please no. I wouldn’t wish that job on my worst enemy given what they’re going to get unleashed on them next year.

    So, um, GO NADER!

    Anyway, if the last eight years have taught us anything, it’s that the real power behind the thrown is in the Deputy Chief of Staff position…

  13. Now, with all of that said, I do find it interesting that the film in question had to be pulled down because of very specific and violent threats from those claiming to represent the Islamic community. As someone somewhere on some blog comment thread said, it almost seems like these Islamic supporters are verifying the movie’s conclusions through their actions.

    It’s also hard not to indulge in some comparison. When last years’ Jesus Camp was released, many in the Christian evangelical movement were outraged. While some may have campaigned for its removal, I am unaware of anyone being physically threatened over its showing. I could of course be wrong, but if I’m not, then this at least suggests two different ways of dealing with religious criticism.

    For a long time, it has largely been taken for granted that this difference in response could be traced back through a whole host of evils to the root cause of poverty. Recent reports, however, suggest this may not be true. A 2003 study by Alan Krueger and Jitka Maleckova suggests that it’s not the poor and disenfranchised who become terrorists, but students and professionals who tend to enjoy a higher standard of living.

    To me, this suggests that the difference in response to religious criticism occurs not on the faith level itself, but somewhere deeper. I tend to believe that, at least in a mundane way, religions are partly outgrowths of their society. Thus, the difference isn’t between Christianity and Islam, per se, but between Western and Middle Eastern society and it’s values. And I do generally tend to think there is something wrong with Middle Eastern society in terms of relative freedoms, rights and equality amongst its citizenry.

    I’m certainly not suggesting that all Middle Easterners are evil and corrupt. But considering the dictates of Islam and how suicide is a sin and Islam has long touted its record of tolerance to other faiths, it seems somewhat disconnected that suicide bombing is embraced by radical Islam as an acceptable means of resistance.

  14. “I tend to believe that, at least in a mundane way, religions are partly outgrowths of their society.”

    Not only in a mundane way in an often deeply fundamental way, in theology and sociology.

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