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Religion - Religious Violence - Research Paper Example

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Religion - Religious Violence

Bush against Muslim extremists (particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq), Islam has received a bashing from many Christian communities. For example in 2010, a Florida pastor attempted to burn copies of Koran as a sign of protest against the establishment of an Islamic center near Ground Zero (Cave and Barnard). Meanwhile, early this year, U.S. service members in Afghanistan burned copies of the Muslim holy books which has led to the attack of at least six U.S. military personnel (Sieff). With the refusal of the United States to recall its forces in Islamic territories and the countless complaints against human rights violation in Saudi Arabia, it is no longer a wonder why Islam is the first thing that comes to mind when one talks about religious violence. But history shows that religious violence is not isolated among Muslims, it can also happen among Christians. In this article, the author attempts to show that religious violence is mainly a Western concept. Instead of religion promoting the acts of aggression, violence done because of religion is a manifestation of a bigger issue that involves a power struggle and a misunderstanding among various world traditions. The idea that religion causes violence is prevalent in the West. This view is best explained by Christopher Hitchens’ book God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. In his work, Hitchens criticizes the major world traditions of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Confucianism and Hinduism because of the violence these religions promote. He says totalitarianism is like religion because it aims for perfection, hence even the atheist regimes of Stalin and Kim Jong-Il may be classified as a religious impulse. Of religion he says: [It] is man-made. Even the men who made it cannot agree on what their prophets or redeemers or gurus actually said or did. Still less they can hope to tell us the “meaning” of later discoveries and developments which were…either obstructed by their religion or denounced by them. And yet -- the believers still claim to know! Not just to know, but to know everything. Not just know that god exists, and that he created and supervised the whole enterprise, but also to know what “he” demands of us. (Hitchens 10) Hitchens’ words are common among individuals rallying against fundamentalism and dogmatism in religion. He says that religion is violent, as proven by the violence found in the Bible (the crucifixion of Christ, the throwing of stones to punish an erring woman, etc.) and the Koran (war among the different tribes, etc.). Using this same logic, Hitchens claims that Martin Luther King Jr. was not a religious personality because he was non-violent. Religion poisons everything because it leads people to become irrational – because it poses an absolute truth despite the reality that imperfect human beings interpreted such absolute truths. Hitchens’ claims were supported by another article from Psychology Today which says that “disagreement [between religions] have little to do with the existence of God, but everything to do with claims of communication with ‘Him’, of whose holy books contain ‘accurate’ divine revelation” (Niose). For both Christian Hitchens and David Niose, the affairs of man has contributed to the aggression between different cultures. The irrationality that pervades “religious” debate hinder individuals from seeing the negative effects of their actions. Religious violence may be rooted with man’s constant need to be affirmed, and perhaps also due to the fame and fortune that comes with being correct. Having said that, we may now come to William T. Cavanaugh who says that ...Show more


Perhaps one of the most publicized case of religious violence is the 9/11 bombings of the World Trade Center in Manhattan. Such act of aggression has led the world to label Muslims as “terrorists” and reignited the war between religions…
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