So coming back from Poland, Pope Francis reiterated his belief in a global war. This war is not a war of religion, however. No religion, according to Pope Francis, wants war. It is a war driven by greed, by the worship of money. Technically the Bible speaks about the love of money being the root to all evil. Though I didn’t notice Pope Francis specifically blaming Capitalism, I wonder if others will try to make the connection. I don’t know if there is a full interview out there where he makes the connection, but based on what I’ve read so far, he merely says money. And resources. And the desire to dominate people as good as always.
Yet Pope Francis holds to his belief that religion is not to blame. How does he do this? First, he invokes the Smiley principle. That is, the principle that Tavis Smiley famously used to justify his claims that American Christians are more violent than Muslim terrorists:
Heh. I could watch that all day. I always chuckle at the young woman as her jaw drops in disbelief. How is it a person who may or may not be Christian who robs a bank proves something about Christians that a person who yells Allahu Akbar and insists his killing in the name of his religion doesn’t prove about Islam? Are we sure Christians are blowing up buildings every day in America? Not to mention the fact that the Columbine shooters were likely atheists. But hey, American, white, it has to be Christian right? Why sweat facts when you’re on a roll.
Yet apparently Pope Francis agrees with Mr. Smiley, for he lumps a person who was baptized Catholic and killed his girlfriend with the attack carried out by a terrorist in the name of his religion. In the case of Pope Francis, he’s not trying to blame American (or Italian) Christians more than Muslims, he’s saying that because Christians do violence for whatever the reason, therefore we can’t speak about violence done in the name of Islam.
To get around the obvious problem with that approach, Pope Francis does concede these things can be the fault of religion, it’s just that branch of religion that Pope Francis tends to judge rather harshly. For being the ‘who am I to judge’ pope, he can unleash a string of judgments like no KJV-only fundamentalist Baptist preacher could ever hope to unleash. And fundamentalists are a favorite target:
I don’t like to speak about Islamic violence,” the Pope said, taking into account that one sees violence every day in the newspapers, even at the hands of baptized Catholics. “There are violent Catholics!” he said. “If I speak of Islamic violence, I must speak of Catholic violence.” The Pope expressed his belief that every religion has its fundamentalist groups, including Catholicism. Such fundamentalism, when it is present, can “kill with language,” he said, citing the worlds of the Apostle James.
That’s where the woes originate, at least religion-wise. It’s a variation of ‘no true Scotsman’, if I understand that classic little saying correctly. Basically ‘real’ religion, which isn’t actually defined by Pope Francis, wants peace. Fundamentalists in each, however, are where the mischief seems to arise. I’m not sure that holds up to historical scrutiny. I’m not sure it holds up to biblical scrutiny. I’m not sure it holds up to common sense scrutiny. But his fans will love it, because there’s something deliciously satisfying about the idea that the problem with my religion is really those people over there. Call them fundamentalists or anything you want, just make sure you understand it’s those people over there. I’ve noticed that trend with Pope Francis. Not a few people have spent much of his pontificate acting as if he’s really talking to them, while talking about everyone else.
Whether he intends this or not, I don’t know. But while I appreciate the generic ‘it’s more than just religion’, lest any modern atheists try to make it all about religion and nothing else, we can’t dismiss the problems in any religious tradition whether fundamentalist or otherwise. With a nod to Edward Longshanks from Braveheart, the trouble with religion is that it’s full of religious people. Or people in general. Which is the problem with most things. That’s why we can say the world is at war, it involves certain religious traditions, non-religious motives, and as usual where history is concerned, a plethora of other factors as well.