Religion not excuse for violence

Rationality and religion: Contrary to the acts of many, the two aren’t mutually exclusive.But somehow, there is something about the ideas of faith, hope and love that make people violent, destructive and pigheaded.

Warped, overzealous theologians, fanatics and political leaders have distorted peaceful messages to support backward ideals for centuries. Faith groups have manifested disagreements over what’s right in all the wrong ways.

Israelis and Palestinians, Protestants and Catholics in Ireland, Buddhists and Hindus in Sri Lanka – clashes like these plague humanity, and some have grown to define religion as nothing more than a source of conflict.

Many of the widespread recent reports of faith-related fallout are related to the violent reaction in the Muslim world to cartoons that first appeared in Danish newspapers depicting the Prophet Mohammed in a disrespectful fashion.

In Nigeria, the fury over the cartoons has left 49 dead since Saturday. In the mostly Muslim city of Bauchi, Muslims targeted Christians on Tuesday, leaving 18 dead. Mobs in the largely Christian city of Onitsha responded by burning two mosques and beating at least six Muslims to death.

In the end, nothing was accomplished. The cartoons still ran and Mohammad was still disrespected. Only now, people are dead, tensions have heightened and world religions have endured yet another black eye. And if there is a god, of any faith, that god probably wasn’t made too happy.

The problems with misguided faith aren’t limited to overseas. How many doctors have been killed or abortion clinics bombed in defense of life? It’s easy for most to see the hypocrisy, but for some, the idea of promoting and defending the creator of life is more important than valuing the life that has been created.

It’s easy for one to believe his or her own religion is the one true religion. In fact, to be truly faithful, one probably should. But that does not mean ignoring the basic, peaceful, loving tenets of a faith in order to defend it.

News editor Mike Dwyer for the editorial board