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meeciteewurker has given me a good place to start a discussion I've been wanting to have for a while.
heh. Yeah, while not a um... whole-hearted Christian myself, I find it hard to compare the two religions. Sure Christians had the "crusades", but good grief that was a while back.
Very valid questions. Are Muslims any more prone to violence than Christians, and if so why?
I take the view that religion is essentially social programming, and not very effective even at that. In most cases the actual teachings of the religion become secondary to the promotion of the institution, and by extension, that tribe of people.
Take for instance some very specific instructions from Jesus himself.
16Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?"
Seems like some pretty straightforward instructions if you ask me.
Or take this passage from the Quran:
You shall not take life, which God has made sacred, except by way of justice and law. Thus does God command you, that you may learn wisdom.
Again.. seems pretty clear.
But people keep killing each other. So I generally reject the idea that somehow religion is some kind of force for good in the world.
If we could only get everyone to follow (insert religion here) then everything would be ok?
Sure. Take a look at this picture of Hitler praying. Or this one, of priests giving the Nazi salute.
But, I hear you saying, these people were not following the true meaning of the religion
When does anyone?
There's a good reason that the media never refers to Christian terrorists, because we don't view our own institutional violence as terrorism. Most killers see a justification for their actions. Nobody sees their own aggression as wrong. The fact that the United States is the leading possessor of weapons designed to kill massive quantities of people never seems to disturb anyone. The fact that the United States supplies weapons to many other countries is underreported simply because its not relevant. We instigated aggression against Iraq for our own purposes without sufficient proof of threat.
I tend to think of the war in Iraq as a proxy war for the fundamentalists here in America. Much of the support for the war comes from the religious right who support Bush's agenda which they perceive as their own. The state has taken up arms for their cause. Hence they don't really feel compelled to form up nasty little militias and start strapping bombs to their chests.
Are today's American Christians violent?
Yes, some are. But they rarely have to resort to such crude methods of terrorism; especially since they have ready access to the largest arsenal in the world. Extremists like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell have power in this society. I have very little qualms in stating that they are the counterparts to the jihadis leading the holy war for Islam. Just today, in reference to Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, Pat Robertson called for blood: (follow the link to watch the video)
We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.
.. and people still listen to this yahoo?
People fight hardest when they're backed into a corner, and right now the Muslim world has got its back to the wall in many regards. In terms of weaponry and economic bargaining chips, they have very few. Even Pakistan, a majority Muslim country with nuclear weapons cooperates with the United States.
(How anyone can argue with a straight face that violence is not an effective tool of foreign policy in light of how we use our own military to influence other countries, is beyond me!)
I take the general view that people are the same no matter where they are born. We're hard-wired in many of the same ways. Religion, in and of itself does little to promote or stop violence. I do think that religious institutions attract people that are prone to one dimensional points of view. Most religions promote the idea that its members are exceptional for their relationship with the divine. Such ideas, in the hands of people prone to violence, acts as an easy justification for killing.
Of course nothing warms my heart more than to see someone equate their own prejudices with God's will.
The history of our own country, and that of mostly Christian Europe has been bloody and violent. Despite efforts to pretend that such acts of violence like the holocaust, slavery and the mass killings of our own native population didn't really happen, or that they were committed by people other than Christians, the truth is that violence works, and we have used it in the past and the present. Its a tiny pedestal that we put our own peaceful ways on. We've institutionalized violence in our culture with overt militarism.
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