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Austin Cline

Comment of the Week: Blaming Religion for Religious Violence

By January 22, 2013

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Religious believers don't approve when their religion is blamed for violence committed by other believers in the name of their religion. That's understandable, but it's not a position that's easy to defend. If religion can't be held even a bit responsible for the violence done in its name, how can it be held at all responsible for any of the good done in its name?

Dangerous Faith
Dangerous Faith
Photo: Chris Stein/Getty

It's important to hold religions accountable for what their followers do because that's the only way religions will ever improve. Letting them get away with persecution and murder ensures that they will continue to use those tools to advance their agenda. Holding them accountable and castigating them for their crimes may force evolution and change.

Ray writes:

Should religions be blamed because they teach hate and their adherents then act unlawfully? Of course.

As the Ku klux Klan was put essentially out of business by being purveyours of hate and responsible for their members actions, the Catholic Church has imbued hate in their members by blaming every generation of Jews for killing Jesus.

Don't we remember in the 1950's Catholic School boys attacking local Jewish kids and screaming "Christ Killers".

This is the age old "We are great and moral, but we need a scapegoat in case we get criticized." And the Nazis emulated the Catholic Church and formed the same type of pyramid organization.

The Catholic Church seems to have changed their rhetoric about Jews, apparantly not because they have had a moral insight, but because in todays world, they can be held responsible for their members actions in a hate crime, and this means money.

And by the way, according to the bible, the Jews did not kill the Jesus figure; it was done by Romans, but actually God killed Jesus, because "he gave his only son". But it would be incovenient for the Catholic Church to blame Italians for killing the Jesus figure, and really hard to Condemn their God for committing suicide.

[original post]

Some religions are probably beyond improvement, but most that exist today have improved, that's why they are still around -- they've had to change with the times. If they still have the capability of changing and improving, then they will be around a while longer. Unfortunately, they will probably do quite a bit of damage to everyone around them in the process.

January 22, 2013 at 12:07 pm
(1) Greta says:

What is to blame here is things like wishful thinking, difficulty in breaking patterns, excessive imitation (found in humans more than other mammals) etc.

The problem is that all those exist – to a lesser extent – even among irreligious people, but most of those who struggle with them; seem to be the ones who stay or become religious.

Religion is more like the bruise, not the injury. And as long as its secular roots remain unaddressed; it will be there.

January 22, 2013 at 10:26 pm
(2) Victoria says:

If the KKK is truely gone, you could probably assume that they have reorganized into the White Supremacists.

In online conversations that I have had with Christians about Christians who kill, they just say ‘Well, they weren’t really a Christian.’ Denial suits them well.

January 30, 2013 at 3:44 am
(3) Sally says:

“If religion can’t be held even a bit responsible for the violence done in its name, how can it be held at all responsible for any of the good done in its name? ”

It’s called having one’s cake and eating it too. Abrahamics are particularly good at it – a parallel process to one you yourself pointed out in an article entitled “God as Abuser,” Austin.

April 14, 2013 at 11:07 pm
(4) troymation says:

I think blaming the “religion” for these atrocities deflects too much resposibility away from these various kings, queens, leaders, knights and so-called holy men…As if they couldn’t possibly have had their own individual ideologies and agendas? I think it’s more likely that they did. I think, at one time, religion was simply the easiest vehicle to use in order to impliment those idiolgies because of the amount of influence it carried.
Sure…these leaders may very well, have used a claim to some “devine right” to justify their actions. However, I contend that ANY idea, event or worldview…anything that carries enough potential for influence can be exploited in order to further ones own agenda. Pointing out these correlations can be just as frivolous as blaming atheism for the 20 million+ people Stalin murdered. Of course we’re equally as irritated when it’s done to us.

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