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John Wayne's Holster: Religion of Violence?
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Monday, July 17, 2006

Religion of Violence?



Last week, I came across this cleverly crafted article in the New Media Journal (formerly The Rant), that claims, like so many other articles I have read from Conservative media outlets, that Islam, at is roots, is an religion of violence.

Give me a break! I must say that I find a flagrant double-standard lurking behind this rhetoric. How can someone make generalized statements about an entire religion based on the actions of its extremists elements? All this “Islam is Evil” crap is nothing more than spin to dehumanize the enemy and drum up support for the war on terror – a war which I incidentally support.

I am not being naïve here. I realize that the 19 hijackers who flew planes into the WTC were Muslims – or at least claimed to be. Osama bin Laden? Yeah, he’s one too. So are the guys toting Taliban and Hezbollah membership cards.

Well, so what!

Do the actions of these groups who identify themselves as Muslims mean that all Muslims are like them? In reality, the vast majority of Muslims do not believe that anything in the prophet Muhammad's life, the Qur'an, or Islamic law justifies terrorism.

I am not trying to gloss over the violence promoted and carried out by Muslim groups. Anyone who is paying attention to what is going on in the world can not honestly deny that there is a dark side to how some groups interpret the Qur’an and practice Islam. But let’s be real here. Christianity has its dark side as well. Anyone read Under the Banner of Heaven? Let us not forget the Crusades or the Inquisition. Then of course there are the radical hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan. And how about Timothy McVeigh? Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church? The guys who bomb abortion clinics? They all claim to be Christian.

Applying the same logic that the Right applies to Muslims, one would be forced to conclude that Christianity is a religion of violence. I can even back that up with some snappy out of context (or not) quotes from scripture. For example, in the Old Testament, Joshua, aided by God, kills the Amalekites "with the edge of the sword." (Exodus 17:13). And in the New Testament, Jesus states, "Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." (Matt 10:34).

One could pick any number of religions, and find plenty of examples of violence perpetrated in the name of the gods.

Well, if Islam is not a religion of violence, then what explains the rise in militant Islam and its campaign of violence directed against the West?

If one were to take a historical look at what has happened in the Muslim world over the past few hundred years, some of the answers would be apparent. For starters, there has been a great decline in what was formerly Muslim supremacy in politics, the arts and science. Then there is the exploitation and the inherent problems brought about by Western colonialism. The West, particularly Britain and more recently the United States, has supported corrupt and violent regimes in exchange for access to oil. Many of those violent regimes, or spin-off of them, are still in power today. These regimes suck the life blood out of the local economies. The vast majority of the obscene wealth of these countries is in the hands of a few families at the top of the economic food chain. The citizenry is kept in abject poverty. To divert attention away from the reality of their crimes so that they can stay in power, these regimes have used the West as a scapegoat for the peoples misery.

Many fundamentalists Islamic groups have taken advantage of this and have targeted directionless young men who are desperate and angry - much in the same way that white supremisist groups do in the US. These groups use inflammatory religious rhetoric, the promised of heaven and doe-eyed virgins, and eternal glory to stir up the pent up emotions in their young recruits to get them to come over to the dark side.

No one can deny that a great deal of violence has been committed in the name of Islam. But the same can be said for Christianity, and probably for other religions as well. Does that mean that these religions are all religions of violence? Or are they really religions of peace that have been hijacked by fundamentalist extremists from time to time?

Well, I will leave that up to you to decide.

1 Comments:

At 6:25 PM, Anonymous Roy said...

I agree that the religion itself is not a religion of violence anymore than it is a religion of peace. It is a religion and can be used for peaceful or violent ends among other things. But it does seem to be going through a particular violent phase right now. Certainly it would be hard to argue that Christianity during the inquisitions was not in practice a particular violent religion at that time.

The fact that most muslims do not adhere to violent interpretations does not mean that it is not currently undergoing a violent phase in its history.

 

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