The Ottawa Citizen runs a feature each week called “Ask the Religion Experts.” Representatives from religious (and non-religious) backgrounds are invited to comment on general religion-related question. (So, in other words, there’s one expert.)
This week’s question: Are monotheistic religions more prone to violence?
You get a lot of No, Jesus Christ calls us to be non-violent and Religion isn’t responsible for evil any more than race or ethnicity are and Those who commit violent acts in the name of religion aren’t True [Insert Your Faith Here]s.
In general, the theists completely gloss over anything bad that’s ever been done in the name of their faith.
Then you have Kevin Smith from the Centre for Inquiry to set everyone straight:
Certainly one can name any religion and find examples of violence within their ranks. Even the Buddhists, one whose stereotype invokes men too overly meditated to fight, have participated in battle, thinking it would help them achieve enlightenment.
But it’s the single Father [of] religions, monotheism, that get the glory in recent history for being the most violent — specifically the Big Two, Christianity and Islam. There are millions of moderates within who are peaceful, although I wonder how many of them have read their holy books cover to cover, or at least don’t take them at face value. The problem lies with the literal fanatics who engage in a gang mentality where their supreme supernatural leader sets the rules. And there are thousands of rules, usually commanding to kill in His name.…
Our only salvation is to promote critical thinking, encouraging a belief in reality over dangerous myths.
(Rabbi Reuven Bulka also adds in sensible commentary to the mix.)
It’s simplistic to argue that belief in God alone makes people evil — obviously it’s more than that and we all know people who will say they’re better human beings because of their faith — but it’s willfully ignorant to avoid any discussion of how religion might contribute to violence.
Feel free to chime in on the discussion thread there. It could use more honest, rational discussion of the topic.
(via Canadian Atheist)