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January 10, 2014 / compassioninpolitics

Is Christianity violent? Is religion violent?

Well lets look at the underlying logic your question invokes.
• This is like saying food eaters are violent ergo I’m opposed to everything that food eaters do.
• Or….its like saying….there are people who go to the gym who are overweight, ergo the gym must not make you more fit.

Are humans violent?
Yes.

You’ve established that humans are violent and so group members will likely be violent to.

Lets look at this another way…..

Is religion violent?
Yes, religious rationalizations have been used to justify violence in the name of religion. Were those correct interpretations of the scripture.

Have you provided a contextual analysis that looks at the big picture?
No

Have you provided a comparative analysis?
No. Not even close.

What was ultimately at play here in these historical conflicts?
First, well power and lust for power. Jesus is against that–and very vocally so (he raged against “power and principalities” and was all about love). The Ten Commandments are against that. My guess is none of these would pass the criteria of just war, which would be the basis of deciding if these were even remotely justified by Biblical principle.

Second, Manipulating principles for selfish ends is never going to be a recipe for success or a fair way to judge an ideology. Every ideology has ways which it can be manipulated such that it could be a rationalization for evil things. So, its not really fair to lay that guilt at the feet of religion. In fact, we can use religion, faith, and Christianity as a means to check the violence and provide accountability for the violence.

Third, It is the philosophy and value of human rights which arose out of religion which has been one of the greatest forces for peace and human dignity on the planet. Sure, its not a perfect past. But, when looking at governments that were run on principles that violated the Bible or on contrary world-views versus ones based on representative democracy and human rights–the historical record is pretty clear.

You can see the statistics here compiled by a University of Hawaii professor at Power Kills/Murder by Government (Democide) (link)

Beyond that, if we look at who perpetuated those atrocities (re-applying your internal logic above), most would consider those dictators those who attempted to rid the world of religion or who tried to manipulate it for their own ends.

I’ve written about “Is Christianity Violent? Is Religion Violent?” question before on Compassion in Politics, which you are welcome to investigate.

One Comment

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  1. compassioninpolitics.wordpress.com / Jan 10 2014 5:11 pm

    This is a slightly edited version of the intro:

    Well lets look at the underlying logic your question invokes.

    Lets walk though the logic together….
    This is like saying food eaters are violent ergo I’m opposed to everything that food eaters do. To me that seems kinda silly, because any cross section of the population, particularly of groups in the billions is going to yield problems like this. Isolating religion or christianity is really pretty intellectually dishonest…actually fundamentally so.

    Or if you follow the logic….its like saying….there are people who go to the gym who are overweight, ergo the gym must not make you more fit. We know this to be false too. People get out of the gym what they put into the gym. If they apply a wise work out….and they apply it……and they have the proper food intake as a habit….they are generally going to . Providing isolated examples to the contrary.

    (Not to mention, this is kind of rich, because Mr. Hitchens was pro-the invasion of Iraq and vocally so, while there were actually Christians on the other side of that debate.)

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