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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Religion of Peace & Love?

The followers of which religion killed millions during the last century?

This week the whole world has followed the terrible bombings in Boston and the incredible after-math as the two alleged perpetrators were captured and one of them killed. The big question of course, is 'why?' Why would anyone deliberately target innocent people? Regardless of their reasons, there is no justification for their actions.

However, terrorists will often target innocent people because they see their targets as responsible for the crimes of the larger group to which they may belong, such as their religion, ethnicity or nationality. It is collective punishment ... and it isn't just the domain of terrorists.

Even before it became apparent that two Muslim men were the suspects in the Boston bombings, right-wing media and organisations, including some Christian groups, were blaming Islam in general. As far as they're concerned 'all Muslims are terrorists because the religion calls for it'.

It is with the greatest hypocrisy that they blame all Muslims for the actions of a few.

There are a number of memes abounding on the internet which sarcastically ask the question 'Islam - Religion of Peace?' and then detail crimes by Muslims and blame the entire religion.

Well, if we are going to raise the issue of religion, allow me to quote the bible:

'Let him who is without sin, cast the first stone'.

One of the reasons that terrorists have targeted citizens of Western nations, and Christians in general, is because they have judged all citizens for the crimes of some Western governments. Many of these governments profess to be following Christian values, so by extension Christians are also blamed for their actions. And yes, these governments have and are committing crimes, either directly or through funding and material support of despotic regimes.

Many of these critics of Islam, will blindly support the military actions of the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel. So I have to ask, 'Christianity - a Religion of Peace?'

Most people will argue that military actions undertaken by their government are not in the name of Christianity. Well, not all terrorism committed by Muslims is undertaken in the name of Islam. Yet Western governments sworn in with their collective hands on the Bible, have committed gross atrocities. The actions were often undertaken in the name of Democracy and Capitalism; political ideals which are worshipped with almost religious fervour by some and certainly embraced as 'Christian' values by fundamentalist Christians.

Guess the Religion of Peace:
  • detonates two atomic bombs killing 250,000 people - AFTER surrender had already been offered by Japan
  • provides funding and material support for:
    • genocide and war crimes against Palestinians - 1.5 million civilian victims killed since 1948 and more than 1 million displaced)
    • genocide of Palestinians in Lebanon at the hands of Christian Phalangists - more than 3500 civilians killed
    • genocide of Muslims and Christians in Iraq at the hands of Saddam Hussein - more than 1 million killed
    • terrorist attacks on the Soviet Union in Afghanistan at the hands of the Mujahideen and 'extremists' recruited and trained by the CIA 
    • genocide of Communists and others in Indonesia at the hands of President Suharto ('one of our closest friends', according to former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher) - over 1 million people killed.
    • genocide of Socialists in Chile - more than 3,000 killed, 80,000 imprisoned and 30,000 tortured at the hands of Augusto Pinochet. 
  • calls all Muslims terrorists - there have roughly been 10,000 victims killed by 'Islamic' terrorists, while there is a total of more than 3.5 million killed in just the above activities alone by people claiming to be Christian.
Answer: Christianity 

Personally, I'd love to say the answer is fundamentalist Christianity ... or Democracy ... or Capitalism. But I can't because to apply the same rule that some people are applying to Islam means that the answer is simply 'Christianity'.  Feel like justifying it? Feel like saying it wasn't in the name of Christianity? Muslims know how you feel.

I haven't bothered mentioning Hitler in the above list, so to avoid accusations of paralipsis, I'll point out that Hitler claimed to be a Christian. We all know that Hitler was responsible for the genocide of tens of millions of people. 'I believe today that I'm acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator. By warding off the Jews I'm fighting for the Lord's work', so said Hitler. Of course, Hitler was stopped by numerous Armies comprised of Christians, Muslims, Atheists, Communists and pretty much every other people group. But he was a Christian, nonetheless.

Following terrorist attacks, many people are understandably angry and want vengeance. They feel justified in bombing and invading the nations of others. For instance, following 9/11 the 'Coalition of the Willing' invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, while many in the West, including some Christians, celebrated and boasted about their superiority. Conversely, given the millions killed by the West,  there are many who are angered, some of whom feel justified in either killing or celebrating the killing of Western civilians.

What is the difference between civilians killed at the hands of 'Islamic' terrorists or those killed at the hands of 'Christian' war machines? Not much. Both are killing innocent civilians and justifying it.

Ok, so the 'Christian' war machines generally do not mobilise in the name of Christ, although many pray before going into battle, but interestingly, Muslim terrorists are generally not doing it in the 'name' of Islam, but because they feel aggrieved. For instance, the decades of genocide and ethnic cleansing in Palestine has led to a lot of animosity against Israel for perpetrating it and the United States for funding it. Palestinians are not attacking Israel in the name of Islam; they are attacking in self-defence and anger. 

There is no justification for killing civilians, regardless of whether it is in the name of religion or a political ideology.

There is certainly no justification for getting holier than thou and believing that one religion is better than another. If you believe in God and believe it is ok to kill members of another religion, ethnic group or nationality, YOU are the terrorist.

The memes that have been proliferating the internet sarcastically calling Islam the religion of peace, do nothing but spread fear and racism.  It is disturbing that Christians who supposedly have been taught to love everyone would wallow in such hatred.

Instead of retaliating with an eye for an eye, perhaps it is time to take some more sage advice from the Bible:

'How can you say to your brother, "Brother let me take the speck out of your eye", when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eyes'.

'Love your neighbour as yourself'.

Salaam, Shalom, Peace!


Other articles

This is one of a number of articles in the 'Remove the plank' series, regarding the hypocrisy of criticising Islam. Other articles include: