‘Ours is a religion of peace’

Most religions are not

In UCANews,  November 22, 2015, by Fr. William Grimm, Maryknoll Father William Grimm is publisher of ucanews.com and based in Tokyo).

–            (Note: “Kill a Commie for Christ”, “In God we trust..we are followers of Christ, King of Peace”, so Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 8.37.28 pmgo the slogans shouted. Can you believe that such diametrically contradictory statements come from the same mouth, from thinking minds, from a peace loving people? Whoever disputes that Hinduism and Buddhism are outstanding examples of peaceful religions? Yet how many atrocities are done by Hindus against Christians or Muslims or vice versa. For most of these people religion is mere lip service and rituals, not a force for good. These are the kind of religions that must be buried for good. Against such “show-business religions” St.James says: True religions is caring for the sick, abandoned and widows. And Jesus say: “Leave your sacrifice on the alter, go first to get reconciled to the one who has something against you.” Where there is no exercise in this constant work of reconciliation, there is no religion. It is  this lesson Fr.William tries to drive home. Inventing working ways to counter-indoctrinate IS groups indoctrinated into terrorist beliefs and activities is the urgent need of the hour.   james kottoor, editor)

 "Ours is a religion of peace." That is religious adherents' programmed response to criticisms of violence perpetrated by their fellow believers. The assertion neither erases nor excuses the reality.

Twenty centuries of Christian influence in the West have not resulted in a culture that epitomizes the teachings that Christians claim to follow. While we have had our saints and sages, any honest Christian must confess that our history is marked even more by bloodshed, intolerance, cruelty, willful ignorance and oppression.

The most violent century in human history was born in the no-man's land between the trenches of opposing "Christian" nations in World War I. That was followed by the Second World War that took tens of millions of lives in combat as well as in concentration camps, terror bombings and in the disruption of economies and societies.

Even in areas where Christian influence was marginal, as in Asia, violence used and uses weapons developed in the part of the world with the longest sustained Christian influence.In China and Cambodia, to give but two examples, ideologies developed in the Christian West cost the lives of millions. Even though the individuals who developed those ideologies might not have been Christians themselves, their culture was profoundly shaped by Christianity and therefore should have immunized them against inhumanity.

Since World War II, the West has experienced an unprecedented period of peaceful development and social justice. While Christians have been part of that, the fact is that it is largely the fruit of efforts by secularists who have abandoned or at least marginalized Christianity. It was they, fed up with nearly two millennia of Christendom, who put an end to the violence and injustice that had seemed normal for centuries.

Now, it appears to be Islam's turn. In every part of the world where there are Muslims, we see bloodshed, intolerance, cruelty, willful ignorance and oppression. After every outrage perpetrated by Muslims, the chorus rises, "Islam is a religion of peace." In its best teachings and among its saints and sages and as lived by the majority of Muslims, Islam is, indeed, a call to peace and justice.

Challenge facing Muslims today

But, is a religion solely its formal teachings, or is it the reality lived by its adherents, especially the most fanatically committed? To claim that only the first is true is to ignore reality. To deny those teachings and say that a religion is only what its worst adherents do is to despair of humanity.

                     Just as we Christians must confess that Christianity has been a religion of evil deeds, Muslims must admit that Islam, too, has been a religion of evil deeds. In neither case do those deeds invalidate the religion, but nothing can be done about extirpating the evil until its presence, its deep roots and its pervasiveness are recognized.That is the challenge facing Muslims today. Their religion has been hijacked by a minority who would turn it into an ideology of intolerance and ignorance, ignorance of even their own religion. Muslims must reclaim it.

At present, the prospects for that happening are not good. News reports from Paris describe a woman who, along with another, recognized a wanted terrorist in her neighborhood. But they were too afraid to report their sighting to the police. Multiply those two women by the millions of Muslims in places less safe than France, and it becomes clear that the intolerantly violent minority will control the story of Islam for a long time.

Most Muslim violence by such groups as ISIS or Boko Haram is directed at other Muslims. That is likely to remain the case, since outer-directed violence is too costly. Recent terror bombings in Beirut and Nigeria drew little international attention, but attacks in Paris brought missiles and fighter bombers against terrorists' bases. Will Muslims succeed where Christians failed? Will they be able to unite across sects, ethnicities, languages and nations to extirpate the evil that now controls the worldwide image of Islam and destroys the lives and livelihood of so many Muslims?

Islam seems to be repeating the history of Christianity, as when inquisitions tortured and abused people with impunity, and wars of religion raged across Europe because the majority who were aghast at the violence perpetrated in Christ's name could not find effective means to retake the religion for Christ.
If, as seems likely, history will repeat itself, we are facing a century of increasing violence by Muslim fanatics mainly within the Muslim world. That violence will likely produce such overwhelming revulsion that more and more people will renounce the religion and become a force to defand it. That has happened before; it happened to Western Christianity.

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