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Is religion responsible for violence?

Is religion responsible for violence?

Anglican Communion News Service reports that religious violence is “a defining issue of our generation”:

From the World Council of Churches

Violence perpetrated in the name of religion was highlighted as “a defining issue of our generation” by Canon David Porter when he spoke to members of theCommission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA) of the World Council of Churches (WCC).

Porter, appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury as director for reconciliation at Lambeth Palace in London, joined the WCC meeting via Skype on 17 February. The meeting has brought together CCIA members who will set directions for the work of the Commission in coming years.

At the meeting, Porter said that religiously sanctified violence is a global challenge, and not just an issue of the Arab world. “The reality is that those promoting such violence are looking deep into their own religious traditions and are attempting to find justifications for their actions,” he said.

“It isn’t just a façade; for many it comes with a deep ideological commitment from their tradition, as they understand it. Therefore the challenge for us is to look again into all religious traditions and see how traditions and texts are used to justify violence,” Porter added.

Porter stressed the need to delve deeper into what instigates young people to be attracted to the views articulated by extremists. He said for many young people this is an ideological issue with several economic and socio-political reasons behind much of their anger and violence.

From CNN: Ending the Cycle of Hate: with Episcopal priest the Rev. Alberto Cutíe, and other faith leaders:


From Religion Dispatches:

Is Religion to Blame for Violence? Karen Armstrong’s Flawed Case

Just as I finished Karen Armstrong’s Fields of Blood, which is a very extended attack on the notion that “religion is inherently violent” or that religion and war go together like a horse and carriage, news broke of the latest atrocity-of-the-day: the beheading of 21 Egyptian men by ISIS, apparently in Tripoli. The men were Coptic Christians, from an Egyptian village where Christians and Muslims have lived together peaceably, but where lack of employment opportunities compel men to look for work abroad. According to NPR, one of the brothers of the victims of the gruesome executions invoked a biblical use of the “m” word – “martyr” – to understand the act…

Such a context makes Karen Armstrong’s job in this book difficult. In the work, she assesses countless such examples, including everything from violence in ancient Sumeria, to the “psychotic” Crusades, to the Thirty Years War, to the Terror in France, to the American Civil War, and finally to the appalling legacy of violence and destruction that characterized so much of the twentieth century.

To these examples (or to the one that will spring immediately to our mind, the atrocity of 9/11), she would have us remember as well the American role in perpetuating cycles of violence and retribution, including the deaths by drone strikes of women such as Mamana Bibi, killed in October of 2012 while out picking vegetables in a field in north Waziristan. Armstrong concludes that, contrary to what Cain asked sarcastically of his brother Abel in the Old Testament – “Am I my brother’s guardian?” – we are now “all implicated in one another’s history and one another’s tragedies.”


Religion News Service has this on the Crusades: Onward, Christian Soldiers: The complicated legacy of the Crusades (COMMENTARY)

As part of that long-ago “threat,” the Roman Catholic Crusaders were equal opportunity attackers during their two centuries of bloody assaults, killing thousands of Jews, Muslims and even Orthodox Christians. In 2001, St. John Paul II wrote to Christodoulos, the Orthodox archbishop of Athens, saying: “It is tragic that the assailants, who set out to secure free access for Christians to the Holy Land, turned against their brothers in the faith. The fact that they were Latin Christians fills Catholics with deep regret.”

When the Christian Crusaders conquered Jerusalem in July 1099, they killed untold numbers of Muslims. That massacre is an integral part of the Islamic narrative about the West and the Crusaders. Today, many anti-Western Muslim militants, including al-Qaida and the self-declared Islamic State, label all Westerners in the Middle East, including Jews, as “Crusaders” who will ultimately be expelled from the region, just as the original Crusaders were ousted after they lost the final battle in Acre (now a part of modern Israel) in 1291.

While Christians may debate the positive and negative legacies of the Crusades, the lethal events of that horrific era are, however, indelibly etched into the collective memory of the Jewish people.


posted by Ann Fontaine

Image “Poprava” by Anonymous – Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – 


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Nick Porter

Religion in and of itself? No. There were people over the ages that bastardized religious tenets for their own selfish ends. Mussolini, Stalin, and Hitler weren’t “religious” and they were some of the most evil minds of our age.

Bro David

So the religion of the Israelites didn’t lead them to commit great acts of violence in their belief that their tribal diety, (tetragrammaton), was telling them to do so? Because the Old Testament stories are filled with acts of murder, rape, torture, enslavement and betrayal in the name of their God.

Frankie Andreu

Sorry Bro, I put this in the wrong box. As you know, this is a social media and it’s great to have solitaries not being solitary with us. Everybody calls me “Sir” where I hang out, but I also have a name. So do you.
Again, play by the rules or take your marbles elsewhere.

David Streever

Commentators don’t get to make the rules here. I’ve spoken to you before. You need to practice civility and attempt to engage people in meaningful dialogue, instead of re-working your own obsessions in public.

You’ve sparked multiple conversations between the moderators and caused many of our commentators to feel a bit put-off by your acerbic and unnecessarily combative posting.

Please refrain in the future & try to engage others in productive discussion, or we will ban you from the site.

Thank you.

Bro David

The rule has always been to post under your real name, that isn’t anything new. I have posted here and on many other Anglican websites as Bro David for many years. I am an Anglican solitary and have used that name since the day I made my vows.

Frankie Andreu

Bro, I think your command of English is outstanding, and your writing as well. But I honestly cannot clearly understand what is meant by your post here: Yes, it is true. The Jewish people were an extremely violent people who justified their violence in the name of their religion. (And if you visit the West Bank you will see that it continues today.) And yes the “Old Testament” is filled with violence, which prepared the way for Christianity.
I think that is somewhat what you were saying, but perhaps I am wrong.
I responded only to your grammar here and to your assertion in the other post. I discussed what you said, no who you are.
And, Bro, regarding following the rules here, one is asked to post under their real name.

Bro David

Frankie, there isn’t anything convoluted about my post. My English is usually impeccable, in spite of it not being my mother tongue. The rules here are that you not post personal attacks, but this is the second time in barely 5 minutes you have insulted my intelligence and my education. Please stop.

Frankie Andreu

Bro, I think you are right, if I can understand your convoluted grammar. Yes, it was the same God that gifted us the Son of Man. Do you worship a different one?

Frankie Andreu

Nick, very well stated. Indeed the Anglican Church itself was founded on what can only be compared to a genocide, which included mass killings, mass torture, rape, and plunder all in the name of one religion against another religion. The Anglican religion has gone on to contribute directly and repeatedly to the building of the British Empire, that included the subjugation of whole parts of the world vastly larger than them, using torture, the spread of deadly diseases, slavery, and outright genocide. The Episcopal Church provided some of the strongest leadership to the Klu Klux Klan, and it has never admitted to it or even apologized.
Indeed, as we all know, the roots of our religion lie in Sodom en Gomorra, mass genocides that only spared prostitutes. Christianity is still a rallying point that a great many Americans use to explain away the mass killings by the US government of innocent people around the world. You may be able to say: “not my church, not my sect,” but you cannot say “not my religion.”
I applaud David Porter’s talk to the WCC. I also agree with Nick Porter, but would remind him that while Mussolini, Stalin, and Hitler were not themselves religious, religion was a deep motivator for many of the people that made their dictatorships possible.
Armstrong’s book appears to be nothing more than an attempt to prove what she set out to prove. She completely failed as a scholar: she failed to learn from what she had studied.

Frankie Andreu

Thanks Bro, this is a social media and it’s great to have solitaries not being solitary with us. Everybody calls me “Sir” where I hand out, but I also have a name. So do you.
Again, play by the rules or take your marbles elsewhere.

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