Food for thought: folks in the US have a double standard regarding religious violence

I’ve heard it, and you probably have as well, Islam is a violent religion. Folks who claim to be Muslim, who commit violence in the name of Islam are really Muslims. And when I have responded with the idea that it is the same regarding Christians and Christianity, I encounter opposition, folks who claim to be Christian, who commit violence in the name of Christianity, aren’t really Christians. A recent poll by the folks at PRRI bears this out. 75% of the folks in the US believe that people who commit acts of violence in the name of Christianity are not Christian. But only 50% of the folks in the US believe that people who commit acts of violence in the name of Islam are not Muslim. That’s a double standard when it comes down to who folks in the US believe commit acts of violence.

It gets even more interesting when those who hold this double standard are broken into various groups, such as Republicans vs Democrats. 75% of Republicans don’t believe that Christians who commit violent acts are really Christians, while only 33% of Republicans don’t believe that Muslims who commit violent acts are really Muslims. The Democrats do a little better but still have a double standard. 79% of Democrats don’t believe that Christians who commit violent acts are really Christians, while 55% of Democrats don’t believe that Muslims who commit violent acts are really Muslims.

Go check out the full report of the survey at the PRRI website to see the results when broken down into different groups of Christians, Americans’ Double Standard on Religious Violence.

Facts for the story and the main image are from the PRRI report linked above.

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  1. Thom Forde

    Isn’t this a bit vapid? Certainly Christianity has not had an unblemished history but I’m having difficulty coming up with Gospel citations to kill infidels. Christians have certainly committed murder but that does stop them from BEING Christian, although it does place impediments to salvation. I also can’t come up with specific events, especially in recent decades, of someone marching into a school or market and proclaiming that s/he was acting in the name of Jesus or that “Jesus is great” before pulling the trigger. Timothy McVey gets mentioned but I don’t know that he acted because he believed that the Gospel gave him warrant.

    • Thom, as one who grew up in the segregated South, many brutal acts were justified by “the sin of Ham,” and by Biblical injunctions against “inappropriate mixing of kinds” – and they weren’t acts committed by Jews (indeed, more than a few were committed against Jews). Not long ago the religious context called itself “the Christian Identity Movement.” Would I call them Christian? Hardly; but, yes, it is how they identified themselves.

      • Thom Forde

        I take your point Scott. However, I maintain that the article at hand is far too thin relative to the premise of the title.

  2. Needs a lot more nuance. There are denomination variations among Muslims as there are among Christians.
    Most Episcopalians, I suspect, would have no problem justifying national war but would draw the line at religious war. Quakers, on the other hand, would probably condemn both.

  3. leslie marshall

    Don’t look at what the people do (because we’re all sinners).

    • Thom Forde


    • Ann Fontaine

      Mohammed did not claim to be the Son of God. He worshipped God alone. Submission to God is what the Qur’an says.

  4. I’m sorry, but this is a sadly fallacious argument. Consider how such an argument would sound in a different context:

    “Most people said they think that a cat that barked is not a real cat, but a dog that barked is a real dog.”

    The premise is that Christianity and Islam are related to violence in exactly the same way, as that dogs are the same as cats. But no warrant is given to support that premise.

    And in fact, there is plenty of evidence undermining that premise. Begin with the names “Jesus” and “Mohammed.” The first preached peacefully, suffered abuse rather than afflicting it, taught his followers to forgive their enemies, and fed, healed, and rescued those on the margins of society. The second raped, started wars, tortured, committed mass murder, and enslaved the survivors of his bloody military campaigns.

    In that context, obviously it need be no “double standard” that supposes a followers of Jesus ought to act differently from a follower of Mohammed.

  5. For the approval of any future comments, please follow our posted comment policy of always using your real first & last names. – ed

    Thom, nobody said this should be limited to violence in the name of one religion against another religion. Even as I write, I think about Christian pro-lifers’ violence against pro-choicers.

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