Posted by: buckleyr | May 12, 2009

More on Religion and Violence

I was discussing my final research project for this class with a friend, and I told him that it was about religion and violence/nonviolence. He told me that he agreed that violence is certainly not just caused by religion, but by human beings as well. However, when violence is backed by religion, there is no stopping it. This sounded strangely similar to many of the claims that the New Atheists make in regards to religious moderates and how it can many times lead to extremism because religious people are trained that I they believe something because of their religion, it is not to be questioned. This had a lot to do with my paper topic, so I had a reply.

Ward claims that there is both religious extremism and atheist extremism. An important difference is that religious extremists have the means to change with the foundations of peace and love that are found in their very religion. Because they are religious, they have a way to correct their own violent actions with peace and compassion. I do not know how likely it is that religious extremist groups will actually change their ways of thinking due to the teachings of their respective religions; however, I do know that religion does in fact provide foundations for movements of peace. This is exactly what my research this semester was about, as I explored particularly the religious influence on the Civil Rights Movement. Still, I won’t go into too much detail on that here, since you all have already heard my presentation. My point is simply that, unlike my friend, I don’t think religious violence is more unstoppable than any other type of violence, nor is it necessarily the most dangerous type. Most violence is not generally about religion, but politics. It is all destructive, and maybe we should stop looking at religious differences so much that cause this extremism, but the other reasons for it as well.

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Responses

  1. I agree with you Rachel. I don’t feel that religious violence is any more extreme or difficult to stop than other violence. I feel that the change should start within the different religions, with less disagreements between the different denominations, then maybe all religions can do the same. Religious violence seems unstoppable perhaps because most do not expect or understand why religions engage in violence or extremism, since it seems completely out of character. Contrary to what the New Atheists think, the actual number of religious extremists seems to me to be in the minority of most religious followers in the world. Violence is caused by humans and in my opinion, not worsened by religions.


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