A rosary hanging around a gun.

“As a society, we obfuscate, ignore, and otherwise shrug off the role that religion plays in violent attacks around the world.”

The following piece was submitted by guest writer Norman Paul. All ULC Ministers are invited to contribute their own sermons for consideration/publication. To submit a sermon, please email it to sermons@themonastery.org.


Does religion, by nature, breed violent believers? The evidence speaks for itself. Muslims carry out violent attacks in the hopes of furthering a bloody Islamic crusade. Christians commit acts of violence against nonbelievers after receiving messages from God. Every day, blood is spilled in the name of one deity or another around the world.

Church leaders will drone on and on about how organized religion helped the world to become peaceful and civilized. Missionaries brought with them technology, resources, and order – all the important components of civilization. Plus, they point out, religion preaches messages of peace, acceptance, and understanding. Faith teaches us to be better family members, better community members, better people in general. And to be fair, many religious people do lead peaceful lives.

But not all of them.

Killing in the Name Of…

Islamic terrorism is as big a threat as ever. Christian attacks on mosques are up. Apparently, those fine folks were deaf to the “peaceful messages” the church claims are so effective. Religious fanatics have made a habit of latching on to wicked ideas and using perverted interpretations of scripture to justify horrific violence.

And what do we, as a society, do about it? Nothing. We obfuscate, ignore, and otherwise shrug off the role that religion plays in violent attacks around the world. Intellectuals pen all manner of essays, articles, and books defending these sick ideologies. Take William Cavanaugh, for example. He’s the author of a book titled “The Myth of Religious Violence”.

Cavanaugh argues that religion is not a useful category when trying to understand a person’s violent behavior. He points to events such as the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas, in which 58 people were killed and 500 more injured, as evidence that religion and violence are not inherently tied. Since the Vegas shooter (and others like him) lacked a clear religious affiliation, we have proof that religion is not solely to blame for acts of violence, Cavanaugh insists.

Using religion to justify violence.Well, try telling that to the families of victims of suicide bombers, abortion clinic shooters, or any other detestable act carried out in the name of religion. When someone shouts “Allahu Akbar” as they blow themselves up, is there really any doubt what the motive was? When “God spoke to them” and urged them to exact revenge against an abortion provider, are we really left scratching our heads trying to figure out why they did it?

Religion itself isn’t rotten to the core. Faith-based charities, for example, do a lot of good in the world. And the belief in a higher power has undoubtedly improved the lives of many. However, it’s entirely disingenuous to extol the virtues of organized religion while at the same time ignoring the central role it plays in so much of the world’s violence. You can’t have it both ways.

It’s about time we had an honest conversation about the real dangers that dogma presents.

 

74 comments

  1. Chuck says:

    Indeed, religion has killed MANY people in history. And again…..that is why I follow Gnostic (original) Christianity. Because Jesus’ message was that government/religion are false powers. Jesus never intended a “religion” be made around him.

    1. rabbi jim says:

      I agree with you, Chuck. People are very twisted when it comes to religion. Yeshua ( Jesus ) was not concerned with religion. He preached moralism and good faith in God. Religion is very negative in many ways. The best thing is to maintain a good solid peaceful faith. Shalom and have a wonderful day! rabbi jim

      1. Chuck says:

        I grew up Catholic, so it took some years to realize that most all religions (especially Judaism, Catholocism & Islam…..which are literally the same religion) are all based off of the same original pretext to rule (mainly Babylonian influence).

        Discovering Jesus’ Gnostic message finally made sense of the question I had since I was a kid…. how can ANY religion be correct if there is more than one? Because NONE of them are.

        1. J says:

          All religions are correct… Egotistical interpretations, mis-translations & deception are the issue.

          1. rabbi jim says:

            I agree with you, Chuck. rabbi jim

          2. Fay Fleming says:

            I have to agree. The thing with religion is power. I grew up going to church but never felt like I belonged. I always had the feeling I was not all that important. No church or church official has the right to make any person feel worthless. I do like the Gnostic message, I personally believe we should empower one another not judge and destroy. Jesus said love one another not kill one another. Love and Light to you all.

          3. dotwilson@comcast.net says:

            Yes, all religions have a core of truth. It’s about going to the center of any religion. There’s a lot of fighting on the outskirts, but the center is pure.

      2. Rev paul collins says:

        I gotta agree religions get twisted the ten commandments teach us that we should not kill Jesus would not.people to kill in his name

    2. Messenger of the way says:

      Lets step away from the old testament for a bit… we have a savior he tells us to not murder.
      Also eye for eye.
      Most of all LOVE & FORGIVE.
      & BE FORGIVEN.
      WHAT IS WAR FOR ?
      Population control !
      What someone did to my ancestry.
      Stop all the killing a great WAR of good & evil is on the way.

  2. Susan says:

    Actually it is competition that breeds violence. Religion is used as a scapegoat. Mankind asserts that one country is superior to another, one team is better, and ultimately “my God is better than yours.” If we didn’t think that superiority is the point of existence, there would be no war, no terrorism.

    1. Alvin R Jones says:

      Amen!!!!!1

    2. Alice Elyaman says:

      Yes! Greed causes violence and blames religion. Every religious book preaches peace and justice. If people would take it literally there would be no violence, but people pick and choose what will benefit their greedy selves in the end.

    3. Karl says:

      I never thought of competition being a part of the equation but you’re right, competition does inherently breed conflict.

  3. J says:

    Religions being the heat to fuel the energy of violence? I guess I’m not buying that. That would be like saying guns kill ppl, or knives stab ppl, or cars kill ppl, or ropes hang ppl. Words have minimal bearing on who kills who & their weapon of choice. Per this storys intent… A prime example of claiming “words can kill” is someone saying Merry Christmas to a person who already has hate in their heart, looking for a reason & a place to vent it (no class named). Everything was made in the image of god / love. How each human uses said energy contained with in is a personal call. The excuse each human employs to express negative energy is a personal choice. Sex, $$$, religion & drugs are some of the top reasons ppl use to express destructive energy (God is love, all else is the absence there of). Its all about phaneron, if one not believe it they would have never seen it. Cherry picking what one wants from any teachings to fit their already warped mind is the actual issue.

    1. J says:

      PS: Addendum ~ Ppl need to get their ego’s in check. Religion / spirituality is a personal path. Not a licence to dominate others paths.

  4. Beth K says:

    The fact is that virtually all religions teach that violence is warranted when it comes to unbelievers in that religion – or often, believers of competing religions. The Bible, Koran, and Talmund all have the same stories of G-d, God, or Allah telling His followers to go to war and engage in acts of genocide against believers of other religions/other tribes in the region which was the Promised Land. If one reads these texts objectively, with modern ethics of war, the acts ordered and aided by God, G-d, or Allah would be considered war crimes. Should we really expect better of human beings than we expect of our God(s)?

    Nearly all religions have a message of peace, at the same time that the texts are filled with instances of the followers engaging in wars and genocides, myths of the gods warring with one another and dragging humans into their wars. It’s pretty easy then to sideline the message of peace and turn it back into tribalistic violence – our tribe and our faith are “good” and yours are “bad”, and we need to kill or convert all of you at the point of a sword (now gun or bomb). The worst part of that is that whereas tribes of stone age, bronze age, or even early iron age people could not do significant damage outside of their immediate region, in the atomic age it is possible to end life on earth. This religion-based war has become a threat to life! It’s even moreso when there are prophecies in many religions about the end of the world, followed by the divinity giving His/Her/Its/Their followers a new world of bliss.

    Certainly, violence is engaged in for many reasons. Seldom is it “senseless”, although we may not agree with or even understand any significant portion of those reasons. Often those are done by people radicalized by some philosophy, or related to a mental illness of some kind. If the reason underlying the violence comes from religion, and one truly believes that he/she/they are acting in a manner to make the world safe for their religion, or promote some prophecy of their religion, it is a lot more likely that a given person will act in ways which would otherwise be viewed as heinous.

    1. J says:

      All biblical teachings are for personal self growth. Not a licence to take that “personal intent / path” to ones neighbor. Setting mis-translations, mis-meanings & ego aside. All stories in the copious teachings are for SELF awareness, self growth & self guidance. Not instructions to guide / steer the world. Its to steer ones OWN world. If we all put that same energy we put into dictating to others & dictate to our-self in the name of love. There would be way less issues.

      1. Katie L Conner says:

        Actually…some parts of the books should be thrown out of the bible. Jesus while alive said not to judge. Many parts of the bible including parts after Jesus have people passing judgement…making me believe that the teaching isn’t from the same teacher or source of the teachings. They are from the bigotry in the hearts and minds of people who wrote them, making the religions themselves fallible. Also, if God is not fallible as so many believe, then why do we have loss of truth, loss of knowledge, and blinding evil?

        1. Gary Shade says:

          Jesus was talking about the judgement of souls not the acts of man.

          “Given these findings, it’s pretty important that both Christians and non-Christians understand what Jesus means when he says “judge not.” The key is recognizing that the word judge can be used in two different ways in the New Testament. Sometimes judge is used to mean “judge between things,” to differentiate, or discern. In this case we judge between right and wrong, good and evil, righteous and unrighteous.

          But this kind of judging-the act of discernment-is not what Jesus is forbidding. In fact throughout the Bible we are commanded to discern. In the same chapter of Luke 6 and in the very same discourse as the famous “judge not” statement, Jesus talks about having the discernment to see the difference between good people and evil people (Luke 6:43-45). He compares them to trees. Good trees, he says, produce good fruit and bad trees produce bad fruit. The call to differentiate good from evil is to judge, to discern, correctly.”

          You have it wrong Katie Conner.

        2. Wendy says:

          Paul was the worst. His “interpretation” is often in direct conflict with the teachings of Jesus, and he used partial quotes from the OT, conveniently leaving out the parts that didn’t agree with the religion he created. Fundamentalist Christians follow Paul, not Jesus. As Will Durant said, “Protestantism was the triumph of Paul over Peter, fundamentalism is the triumph of Paul over Christ.” Although, really, Christianity in its original form was the triumph of Peter’s religion over Christ’s teachings.

          1. Susan says:

            Very good points, Wendy. Interestingly enough, Jesus never ceased being a Jew. Therefore, why do we call ourselves Christians?

          2. Zea Weis says:

            Why dose Jesus have a Spanish name??

          3. John Owens says:

            That’s hilarious, Zea!

          4. John Owens says:

            Wendy, I think people pretty much twist Paul’s writings a LOT in order to come to their doctrines. Peter warned, “Beware of the writings of our beloved brother, Paul, who according to the wisdom given to him, wrote of many things difficult to be understood, which the unlearned wrest to their own destruction.” The simple truth is, any prophet or preacher who spoke contrary to the teachings of Moses is and was a false prophet. God said, “to the law and the testimony, if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Paul was OFTEN accused of teaching against Moses, the Temple, the Torah, and always, ALWAYS denied doing so.

          5. Bob M says:

            More people have been enslaved, tortured and systematically wiped off the planet, in the name of Jesus Christ, then anything else. Every “explorer”, without exception, had only a few things they wanted. GOLD, LAND OR COLONIES, SLAVES, WOMEN TO USE AS THEY PLEASED. OH, DID I MENTION DISPOSING THE LOCAL POPULATION. The Discovery doctrine and 2 other proclamations, who’s titles slip my mind, gave Christian European countries, title to any “heathen” lands they found. Discovery is what keeps every single reservation, in trust to the United States Government. Native Americans are still prisoners of war, in a sense. The Casino has finally helped the Tribes. They are using the greed of those who may not have been those who reduced them to almost nothing, but have also done nothing to help restore at least a fraction of what was lost, to finally have a decent standard of living. The Anglo Saxon Male is, always was, always will be, the destroyer of worlds. Americans in particular, care nothing about anyone who has nothing to profit from. The ones at the top are so sick and twisted but view themselves as Gods and above any laws or moral standards. The hate will pour in as soon as this posts. The arrogance, ignorance, and stupidity of these Genius’s, who only have history that was written by the victorious insurgents. I am ashamed to be an American but proud to be Native and True American. One federal holiday would be a step forward. I propose General Custer Day. June 25th, 1876. Get rid of Christmas and Thanksgiving. The new holiday season, would be the summer months. On that holiday, every native American would be aloud to kill any white man, for good cause, and one more for gp. I was never racist growing up. I hate white people in general ever since I was awakened and started to see what is really going on. So… in advance of the comments that this will generate, to those who are offended the most. .. Eat a bag of dicks. Nothing changes until one person speaks up. Gotta break a few eggs to make an omelette. Kill me if u can. Or die trying. Both are fine. And we wonder what the latest shooters are thinking….. They are doing what they have been brainwashed into thinking is justified. They are doing what this country was founded upon. Pain and suffering, and lots of innocent people killed. “Justice has been served”, Barrak Hussain Obama, declared, after the assassination and murder of his unarmed wife, as he tried to surrender. No judge, no jury, no trial, no evidence, no witness testimony. Now justice is making up any reason, even killing your family, pointing out who you want dead, and blowing their brains out. The smiling faces and cheering proudly was everywhere. We are all so undeniably fucked when this planet fights back. The 2017 hurricane, tornado, volcano, earthquake and fire seasons are just a fraction of what us, our kids, or grandkids will see, live, but mostly die from.

          6. John Owens says:

            Bob, the far greater percentage of criminals identify themselves as Democrats. If you don’t want to be a criminal, don’t be a Democrat. If you don’t want to be a victim of a criminal, don’t get around Democrats.

    2. Marylyn (Pepper) Montague says:

      What amazes me is that all religions teach that their god is All Mighty, All Knowing, everywhere all of the time and Benevolent. If they really believed that, how can they reason that their god needs them or anyone, to judge for him and kill for him. If God is everywhere, all of the time, then God IS Everything Everywhere all of the time and whatever is mistreated, is God being mistreated. Why would a REAL All Knowing, omnipresent, Benevolent God create such a diverse world and command that any part of it it be judged, converted, condemned. forced into and ruled by any other part of it.

      The truth is, a REAL GOD would not do that. Love/God does not require religious beliefs and exists without them. Religious beliefs are just that, beliefs. There is a BIG difference in believing and knowing; all beliefs are based on hear-say, secondhand information, something you have heard, or read. Knowing is first hand information and does not require belief or disbelief. You know you are reading this, that is the truth, so do you even need to believe it?

      All religions teach that God is Love so how hard is it to realize that when we Love, we are experiencing (personally knowing) God. God/Love, does not judge, kill, lie, steal, cheat, harm. God/Love, creates, heals, helps and experiences joy and can be trusted. Love/God is too huge to be stuffed into a box labeled religion.

      I trust that humankind at this point in our history, is fast reaching a point in evolution where each single one of us will have to become aware of (know) God/Love or be left on the trash heap of history… fertilizer for sustenance. We are on the brink of a quantum change. We can now, for the first time in history, destroy or horribly cripple our world and be set back thousands of years… or we can become conscious of God/Love, reach our potential and make a better world out of what God/Love created. And because Love/God is all powerful, it doesn’t take a majority to do that; at some point, soon now, it will take only one more. Let’s just keep Loving

  5. Ellis says:

    Where was God during the Vegas massacre?
    That was the anti Christ. The one who tortures and murders. Has to punish humanity for eternity, murdered his only son so that who so ever believes shall spend eternity with that sadistic tyrant. John 3/16
    Evil is nothing but illusion, religious shrines such as the abomination of desolation of our crucified lord hung high in Holy places.
    Religion creates conflicts by illusions that threatens nightmarish fear, setting the environment for sadistic tyrants to be possible. We should examine the theistic concepts, bring the errors of religious faith into the light, faith and worship that justified torture and murder of Jesus naturally produces more of the same and extremely so. The only enemy is unreality because reality is a perfection theology of the common good and so it is important to reform the Antichrist system inherited from the Roman Empire. This should prove beyond a doubt that Jesus is the Antichrist but if you are not convinced yet watch what happens. Church faithful have been scammed, they show you Jesus on the cross and teach about the torture and murder and supernatural nonsense but then the Devil has your soul and its all over. Don’t get caught there, stay away from the Church and it’s delusional trappings.
    Remember Anti-Christ is killed too and performs miracles, it was not but is and returned to the abyss. You are familiar with the scriptures. Christ is everyone, we do not have supernatural powers to get off the cross if you were put there or to survive a trial by fire or anything that is impossible and delusional so if we believe in the propaganda of the Anti-Christ system it permits the human rights violations to continue, everyone is condemned. It is the biggest lie of all history and blasphemy against all.
    We can only find truth according to natural processes, if it does not exist in nature than it is deception.

    1. Zea Weis says:

      Ellis very powerful words and so true..

  6. Steve says:

    A very well presented proposition, Joseph. I certainly agree with those above who define religion as a spiritual journey, not as a clan. After thousands of years of “civilization” we should have been able to get beyond tribalism by now. I suppose at the end of the day it’s about resources … land, gold, whatever.

  7. Linda says:

    I think Buddhism is the only religion that hasn’t had a war in its name. Most other religious extremist think if you believe other than how they believe, you are doomed to eternal hell. Therefore, they may think they are helping their notion of God by ridding the world of temptations into other belief systems, which lead to eternal damnation. Then they indoctrinate blind faith in these things, so no rational persuasion will work. How do you stop that?

    1. Wendy says:

      Maybe not quite war, but Buddhism isn’t entirely free of warlike violence. During the rule of the Catholic Ngo Dinh Diem in South Vietnam, the discrimination against the majority Buddhist population generated the growth of Buddhist institutions as they sought to participate in national politics and gain better treatment. The Buddhist Uprising of 1966 was a period of civil and military unrest in South Vietnam, largely focused in the I Corps area in the north of the country in central Vietnam.
      In a country where the Buddhist majority was estimated to be between 70 and 90 percent, Diem ruled with a strong religious bias. As a member of the Catholic Vietnamese minority, he pursued pro-Catholic policies that antagonized many Buddhists.

      1. Zea Weis says:

        Wendy..The Christians were very vicious toward the Buddhist. Do you remember the Monks that setting themself on fire in protest to how the Christians treated them. Buddhist are the only religion that is not violent. And Buddhist do not beleive in a creator.

  8. James says:

    Is it me or does every faith have its own holy text that states that war, murder and struggle will exist until the final day. So, by stating that, isn’t it completely asinine to wonder why. Yeah, because that is our nature! Cause the creator built it in to us as free will! Just love a car doesn’t cause the wreck, a gun don’t kill, a knife don’t cut. It’s the human factor. Just try to do better than before.

  9. Barry says:

    I feel that most people are very confused about what part Religion is
    Supposed to take.First of all it is not manditory.If it comforts some,fine.If the church aids in helping
    The distraught people,fine.But it’s when
    One Religion feels it supperior to others,that’s bad.And when people feel that the doing evil deeds in the name of their Religion, definitely wrong.And worst of all,some try to one up each other causing more hard feelings.
    My God is better than yours senario

  10. Zea Weis says:

    Religion is just someone’s idea. Our first of finding harmony in law. But I find religion to be selfish. Its a me ..me ..me thing…Ex..I have found Christ..I’m Christian…I’m moral..etc
    So when instiling fear and demonize people that don’t think like you…Religion is dangerest..It will also instill fears in people to do things they normally would not do.
    Our forefathers knew what they were doing and have seen the destruction caused by religion that’s why we have Separate Chruch and State.

  11. drrgrivera says:

    All human interests encourage violence by implicately being included in our design: the human condition. Go ahead. Try interfering with any thing any of us do.
    Yes. Label it- religion…or anything………you will see the evidence.

    Nonviolence…now lets undermine.
    VIOLENCE, IT’S PROPER PLACE IS WAR AGAINST OTHER HUMAN BEINGS WHO THREATEN OUR FREEDOM BECAUSE WE ARE A THREAT TO ALL THEIR CONTROLLING
    WAYS.
    It is not confined only to the label- religion. It is to be found anywhere human beings gather civil ally and waiting for that necessary catalyst to trigger it.

    1. Susan says:

      There is no proper place for violence.

    2. Bob M says:

      Nobody has ever taken our freedom, except our own gov’t. The USA has never been occupied by a foreign power. Our cities have never been carpet bombed. Name a single war that was based on freedom. The civil war is the only one. American terrorists forced the legitimate government from power, in the revolutionary war. Violence belongs on the white house lawn. In the congressional buildings, in the homes and offices of every CEO listed on the fortune 500. Mostly it belongs whatever the true powers are. Kill em all. Let God sort them out.

  12. Ric Moore says:

    I recently read an eloquent article by a Buddhist on the problem of literalism and religion. It was especially good in pointing out that the problem arose with both those who oppose and those who believe particular stories and doctrines – or even religion per se. The argument that religion causes violence is one such example. The author of this sermon closes with the statement “you can’t have it both ways.” That’s just rhetorical nonsense. What causes violence is violent action. What causes violent action is individual thought. What causes individual thought is inner motivation that arises from myriad sources that will interpret symbolic language to fit the emotions and drives of the precognitive reality. Religion per se does not cause that. Rather that will twist religion, science, or anything else to its own ends. This is not to say that groups of people in professedly religious societies have no influence on one another. Rather, it is to say that calling their particular psycholigical conditions or social psychological “reality” religion in general is a false equivalency. And, for the record, more people were killed in the 20th century – the most bloody on record – in the name of science than in the name of religion. But, this goes to an essential point about literalism: invoking a name for something does not make the name the reality. And, as careful science explains, correlation is not causation. If religion caused violence then all religious people would be violent. In fact, most religious people are not violent. Similarly, if religion prevented violence then all religious people would be nonviolent. We can similarly analyze specific religions, but there are no world religions that preach violence as their faith, and none with anything but a small minority of people naming themselves by particular religions who practice violence. And, when they do, it’s important to analize why, and deconstruct their reasons. It is their psychology, organic problem, social conditions, personal life story or some combination of concrete facts that can be traced as the cause, into which the rhetoric of religion is more like meat fed to a meat grinder – a dead remnant of the actual living, organic reality of faith and practice that makes up religion. Don’t blame religion – or science – for the evil that fills the hearts and minds or fuels the actions of sick, confused, or misguided humans. Instead, as Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Taoists, Shintoists, Humanists, and myriad others have said: “Cease doing evil. Strive to do good.”

  13. JOHN MAHER says:

    I believe it to BE, IGNORANCE and CONSCIENTIOUS STUPIDITY or do WE BLAME GOD ???
    DUMP the ORANGUtRUMP DOTAR !!!

    1. JOHN MAHER says:

      I also BELIEVE that ALL the REPLIES for NOV.7,2017 are VERY INTELLIGENT and THOUGHTFUL !!!
      DUMP the ORANGUtRUMP DOTAR !!!

  14. Linda says:

    Violence is in our nature? As we evolve to be more civilized, the use of violence seems to be fading away. Crowds use to watch people being fed to the lions for entertainment, crucifixion was quite common, people (including babies) were killed as a sacrifice. We’ve stopped hanging people and quit using the electric chair. Some cultures still do beheadings and kill women for stupid reasons (many times “using” the name of their religion) but most parts of the world are chastising them for that. Some countries say my bomb is better than your bomb, but no one really wants to use them, and the rest of the world scrutinizes and collaborates against those that might, such as with economic embargos. Instead of twisting spiritual beliefs into what some want, could the core Truths of Spirituality be slowly transforming us, creating us to be inclined to use more compassionate wisdom instead of violence?

  15. Susa says:

    I certainly hope so.

  16. Pastor Gisele says:

    Religion! Religion is man made Faith is NOT and FAITH is NOT religion. Yes, man made religion insights hatered and war. Religion is mans way of controlling people. As was with Catholicism for many years and is now also with Islam. Jesus did not set up Catholicism, or the Protestant Reformation, nor Presbyterianism or Methodist or Baptist nor, Buddhism nor Hinduism. These are all man made religions. We need to do away with religious nonsense and man made rules, regulations and legalism and get back to basics. Get back to FAITH and let God’s will be done.

    1. rabbi jim says:

      Very good coment, Pastor. You hit the nail on the head. If only all people thought like you…….rabbi jim

      1. Pastor Gisele says:

        Thank you Rabbi Jim. There are many people who think like me. I do attend church as well as preach at gatherings and more importantly I have church everyday in my home. People need to realise it’s aboit God and not man.

    2. Linda says:

      I understand your position. Even so, many seek a Spiritual organization for inner transformations, and a social support group that helps them cope with life appropriately. Different religious groups offer different insights, at different levels of spirituality, in a loving and humble way. Some groups become powerful, the spiritual leaders think they are god… and, well, “absolute power, corrupts absolutely.”
      Why aren’t there spiritual leaders, including the officers, that would willingly submit to term limits, where new candidates vie publicly with the existing leaders / officers for votes needed to fill or continue in a position? The possibility of being easily voted out may be a way to keep egos from becoming overly inflated… if the term limit happens before a “mob mentality” in the wrong direction has a chance to overtake the group.

      1. Pastor Gisele says:

        Linda, some great points you make. I do attend church as well as preach at different churches and more importantly I have church everyday in my home. My fellowship with the Holy Spirit is greater than fellowship with back stabbing, power seeking hypocrites. I love your idea of a term limit for spiritual leaders, that would surely stop man (and woman) from acting as though they’re God.

  17. Stephanie Willey says:

    Who among us would disagree that religion has been and continues to be used, misused really, as a tool, often THE tool of justification of violence, bigotry, and persecution, just as it has and continues to be used as a tool of social, economic, and political control. Using any religion to these ends is wrong, certainly, and employing the Bible to these ends is contrary to the message and teachings of Jesus.

  18. Guairdean- says:

    A few True Believers wage war in God’s name because they are convinced it’s God’s will. Most, however, simply use religion to justify the war and destruction that they desire. Of the two, the true believers are the most dangerous. A bloodthirsty tyrant may eventually tire of war, bloodlust can eventually be sated. A True Believer, however, is driven by an overpowering need to save your soul, and will spare no effort in doing so. The True Believer’s conscience will always be clear.

    1. Linda says:

      Agreed. I always thought violence begets violence, but could violence actually stop violence? Did killing Bin Laden, the head of ISIS, and others help the US? I “think” killing the leaders of religious terrorists organizations in retaliation for their crimes may have surprisingly helped to stop it. The religious terrorists manipulate one suicidal guy to act on their behalf, not an army. Could assured lethal repercussions on the leaders for their advocacy of horrific murders cause a lack of significant support for their agendas or would education and promoting tolerance be better?

      1. Guairdean- says:

        I’ve found that ignorance and fear beget violence. Insanity can’t be ruled out as a cause, but ignorance can be cured, and knowledge eliminates most fear. Insanity can be treated, or sequestered in a safe place if need be. The death of Bin Laden was an attempt at cutting the head off of the snake. In many ways, it was successful. It weakened his organization and took away part of its driving force. There are times when violence is the only answer, but it must be measured and carefully applied. Education is a must fi you want to eliminate senseless violence, but it can’t be done in schools or churches. It must be done at home and by example. A lesson learned from the ones you love and respect the most will last. If ignorance is cured and fear is mitigated, tolerance will become a normal way of life.

        1. Linda says:

          We allowed Arab students here, hoping they would relay back home they enjoyed American friendships. Very successful Arab Muslims are living here too. Do Arabs coming here help educate the Arabs back in their countries? If so, do good Arabs coming here outweigh terrorists using that guise to get here too?

  19. Carrie says:

    Organized religion of any kind is inherently evil. One must follow what they are told and believe the myths on which the religion was founded. This is not to say it is all evil, it is if followed blindly, like so many do. They give up responsibility for their own lives and live totally according to the dictates of another. Karl Marx called organized religion the “opiate of the masses” as it dulls the senses and the mind. Confucius once stated that all fanatics should be wiped out before the scourge takes hold. Religion is not faith…..religion is blind. The missionaries did as much damage to the people they came in contact with as if they had guns! Faith is clear. It is something that each of us carries in our spirit. Faith is a very private thing and does not judge what another’s faith should be. The true organizer of civilization was never religion, it was the plow! That single invention led to the building of communities and added the leisure time to “invent” religion.

  20. Frank Villari says:

    “Organized” religion says it all.

  21. Linda says:

    I attend a Universalist group. Because of its vast diversity of religions, people are very tolerant, respectful, and take what they can use and leave the rest. The consistent introduction of different perspectives and philosophies causes personal belief systems to be always evolving. I don’t think Universalists have the problem of violence because they don’t believe everyone has to believe one thing and place an emphasis on respecting others.

    1. Zea Weis says:

      Linda..I admire the UU’s..And I do belong to one. If we could all just feel that god has no religion instead of my god is better than your god.craziness…Namaste

  22. Paul Pignal says:

    The only God that would ask you to kill is the self created god …the ego god that unfortunately always arises in every religion….it is the god of “being right” about god….and sadly religion has had very little difficulty getting in bed with the political powers of the day.
    The reason we as humans are attracted to religion or anything that promotes “group think” in the first place is because we long for a place to “belong”, to be a part of something larger than the ego has created or can create. Sadly the ego has infiltrated all institutions including religious ones….what else could we expect from human institutions run by humans…we are all at the mercy of this thing that convinces us we have to “make something of ourselves”
    Until we get back to the simple understanding that all of this is only the natural consequence of the “fall” or as I like to put it the “turning away” from our true self we will continue to follow false constructs of god for the appeasement of our own need to belong and be right.
    Turn back and let go is the formula that has worked for me…I now know that what I am is love and all I am called to do is give it away freely to all with no expectations in return…unless I see the love in others how can I expect them to see the love in me?…the opinions of the world, and its institutions are none of my business, my business, our business is love. God may be defined by Jesus, or Mohamed, or Buddha, or etc etc by religions…but god is certainly not confined to any of them or their followers.

    this is just where I’m at on the journey so far…. still open to the evolution happening in my soul…can’t imagine what other evolution matters?

    1. Hans Hartman says:

      Correct. When Man “Creates Religion”, it is then open to the interpretations of man.

  23. Darwin Tubbs says:

    I feel that it is false religion when it comes to killing for the Lord had said tho shalt not kill and to be doing in the name of the Lord is using his name in vain and condeems them for evil insteed

  24. John W. Browning says:

    I would kill only in defense of others or myself.
    A mythical “god” will never command me to do anything.

  25. Susan says:

    Agreed. Killing in God’s name is a patent absurdity.

  26. Hans Hartman says:

    Religion, organized or nonstick, are not the central reason for violence or evil. The twisting of the message of Jesus Christ, is the problem with those who kill in the name of Christianity. Twisting of the message of the Old Testiment is the cause for Judaism to be violent. Focusing on certain passages in the Koran is what causes others in Islam to be violent.
    PEOPEL cause wars. Ideology when attached to “Scripture” for their liking, causes “religious wars”. Organized religion is difficult, because people cherry-pick what they want to say. You can go to any service in the world and you will never hear the same, exact message twice.
    As long as the pulpit is used as a personal platform, we will never hear the true message of Jesus Christ as he intended.

  27. Rev. T. Lightning Bolt says:

    I wouldn’t kill for religion. But Christians have been doing it for centuries! The the muslims encroach on their action and the christians scream “terrorist!!” !!!!!! A bit of the ‘ol Pot calling the kettle black I’d say!

  28. Bill Fox says:

    The United States of America has a history of being a religious country. Settlers who formed cities built hardware/dry good stores, banks, bars, brothels, and churches. In this great country, less than 5% of it’s citizens have served in the military. Many have been religious. That said, diversity, not religion is a cause of friction that leads to violence.

  29. Linda says:

    Perhaps the different religions from different parts of the world are like the 5 blind men and the elephant. Each touch only a part of the elephant claiming they know what the whole elephant is like… because “their experience” is true. Unfortunately, it is also limited and some choose to kill for their limited rigid perspectives taken to the extreme. So, is religion to blame for that or is the acute psychosis of these individuals to blame? If we’d all get together, focus on what we agree, respectfully reason through disagreements, recognize killers from ALL religions are a manifestation of mental illness instead of religion, we may ALL find our “middle ways” seamlessly fits together. Then we’d know more about the whole elephant. Jesus said we’ve been given the ministry of reconciliation, individually and collectively. I think most religions, if not all, promote the middle way, which is avoiding disrespectful hedonism or extreme pious behaviors. Hence, the two edged sword cuts both ways. Don’t all religions promote the perspectives in the middle as the way, making the killer extremists against their own religion?

  30. Sawyer says:

    I think what has been missed in this article is religion is a vehicle for evil people to obtain followers. Most religious attacks (crusades, jihads, etc.,) have been led by a few people, who seeing the power that religion has over people and how much stock they hold in it, have then used that power by manipulating the Church/Mosque into acts of unbelievable violence. Religion itself is not to blame, but when man takes religion and bends it and defiles it for his gain, then we have a problem.

    Church leaders have too much power over the thought of the individual, people need to think for themselves. If one is a once-weekly-Christian, as most of the fold is these days, they will hear a sermon on Sunday and accept it as their own belief as they will not take it into their hearts and think on it. They will be led slowly away from what they believe to what the preacher says is right. Black and white. No middle ground. However, if one takes the message and thinks on it, forms opinions on it, and when next they are in their place of worship, opens a dialogue on it; then there will be no blind following.

    If you choose to listen, hear, think, and communicate; then I implore you to also push your boundaries. Communicate with someone who has a different view than you! Do not try to lead them, do not try to prove them wrong. Listen to them; hear their ideals; think on what those ideals mean to you; and communicate further, ask questions, understand why, learn.

    This is the only way we can stop acts of violence, hate, disagreements. It will not happen over night, it will not happen in a year, it may not happen in your lifetime; but each time you choose to listen, hear, think, and communicate it encourages the other person to take the same path.

  31. Barb Lanier says:

    It works the same way with the news if one does not have control of their own mind and they allow someone else to control it and how they think they will truly be deceived and that is the mark of a weak mind and we are not created equal in that department but it is certainly up to us to become aware so that we can make better choices

  32. Barb Lanier says:

    We will never control gun violence or any other kind of violence in this world as long as evil walks amongst us and we have a right to defend ourselves from such evil. We should not go out and start violence we should live in peace and try to bring peace to the world. Not all religions wage war in today’s world maybe centuries ago but man has progressed. Only those without a conscience or those who are unenlightened continue to do so. And we must keep in mind that prayer is nothing more than a petition to God and God honors what he will. To argue with those who do not understand the power of prayer or what it actually is makes matters worse. Only love truly combats evil and yet God still has his Heavenly Warriors to defeat it.

  33. Keith Eash says:

    I do take offense that you purposely chose to place a photo with a gun with a Catholic Rosary making Catholics out to be fanatical gunmen. If you have any concern about that stupid picture you would remove and apologize for it. If you are going to place a picture then use one of a fanatical Muslim terrorist. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

  34. Jef says:

    The sad part is you put a cross on the gun. When we all know the Muslims are killing people for religion with guns not Christians. Islam has killed many more people than Christianity. Sad to see you still loving in denial

  35. Jef says:

    Islam is the only religion that says kill the non believer. Christian and Jewish god did not say go to war. It only said they would win. Only man has said go to war. The gods had their battle long before we started worshipping them. There are many stories of their space craft launching nukes and laser beams. They do not need us to fight each other as they can take us out anytime they wish. Problem with religion is people do not understand what comes from heaven(space). Not gods just other beings more advanced then us.

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