Islam, Christianity, & Violence (Both Progressive & Conservative Christians get it Wrong)

One side: “Christianity is just as violent/bad as Islam!”

The Other: “No! it is Not! Christianity chilled out on the violence! Islam is way worse!”

Hey. Look. Let’s slow things down. Time for nuance.

First–The need to control others in the name of society/religion has been with humanity  for virtually all recorded memory.

Second–Religions are like bacteria. They change and there are various strains or sects. There is no one “Christianity” or one “Islam.” To my knowledge no Quaker Christian or Sufi Muslim has advocated violence in the name of God.

So let us explore two issues:

Actual war/violence:

Does a group within a faith have religious ideology that supports using violence in the name of God?

Billy Graham used to go visit presidents when they were thinking about declaring war. The question he was helping discern was, “Is this war just?” not “Does God want this war?”

Now, Just war can devolve into Holy War, but it is not the same. Holy War is proclaims killing and fighting an enemy as righteous/good. It is also the belief that God approves of this violence. God is not upset or concerned with the death of “the enemy.” Just War is when God allows you to go to war. Holy War is when God bids you to goto war.

For example, many Christians I grew up with saw war the way they saw putting a dog to sleep. It was sad but necessary; it was justifiable euthanasia. But no one was proclaiming, “It is God’s Will we kill this dog!” To me the difference between Just War and Holy War: “One is allowable or needed. The other is righteous and good.”

Speaking of Holy War & Christianity. Yes. We have a terrible past record. Some who use rhetoric of Just War actually mean Holy War.  I was actually told  on two occasions by persons who served/were serving in military that America is God’s Chosen Nation and the wars we fight are God’s will.  They believed our current wars were not just justifiable but mandated by American exceptionalism and God himself.

Having mentioned that Christianity has factions that believe in Holy War, looking at the global scale of action and rhetoric, Islam certainly seems to currently has more factions willing to say that killing is God’s Will & act accordingly.

On Forcing Religious beliefs by law or other means

Does the religious ideology seek to force non-members or its nation-state to follow most or all their religious dogma? And what are the penalties for non-compliance?

Focus on the Family is not telling Christians to forcibly convert people. The west does not jail someone for becoming an atheist. Yes, I have friends who lost friends and/or jobs in America over their beliefs. But they were not jailed or killed.

But progressives would argue, “There are factions of the religious right in America which seek to force their worldview/dogma/rules on all Americans. The puritans outlawed adultery based on religious beliefs.”  Yes, but adultery is now legal.

The Muslim brotherhood has in common with Focus on the Family the rhetoric that “true believers” should force religious rules by legislation. But even though most American Christians believe adultery is sinful few want to make it illegal. Adultery is illegal in some Islamic regimes.

[Edit: As for numbers, There are 84 million people in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood has a mere 600,000 members and 100,000 are considered active militants. Focus on the Family has a lot of listeners. And it has paid lobbyists. But does it rise to the level of having militants? The Muslim Brotherhood, for a time, was the legislating party in Egypt. The Christian Right, especially the more militant, is far less powerful.]

Religions change. Currently, most of Christianity is less explicitly violent than Islam. “But Christianity is used to oppress people economically!”

Yes. I know a Wiccan who teaches and if her religion was public knowledge her contract would not be renewed. But some Islamic countries jail you for blasphemy.  A sad fact is that for many years, Christian minorities were safe in Islamic countries, but now less and less. It is not Islam’s fault. It was change in the culture of Islam at fault.

Islam currently has a major problem with violence. Not the average muslim. But too many streams in Islam proclaim Holy War. Christianity has problems.  But on the world stage, I do not know anyone who is afraid of bombers killing in the name of Jesus. In fact, the the incidents that comes to mind are the Catholic right winger named Breivik. And some of the abortion clinic bombers who have killed 11 people since the 1990s.

So to those who say: “Islam is violent!” I say, “Yes but so is Christianity.”

To those who says, “Hey, Christianity has violence and oppression, too!” I would say, “Yes, but currently there seems to be more streams of Islam that are far more violent, draconian, and willing to force non-members to bend to their law.”

This could change. Europe and America tired of religious war.  I don’t know why. Europe got tired of killing in the name of God.  And I hope that in Egypt, Turkey, Malaysia, Pakistan, etc. –Muslims also decide that their religion cannot explicitly condone violence or coercion of faith as true religion. David Koresh was a christian nutball. Still Christian. Jim Jones was a Christian nutball. Still Christian. The leaders of ISIS? Well they are Islamic nutballs. Most Christians don’t want to claim Jim Jones. You don’t get to pick. Most muslims don’t want ISIS in their club. But it is. Isis. Wow. They want to fight Rome. Rome? Italians riding around on Vespas saying “Ciao!” But Jim Jones is dead, does not have a twitter feed, and did take over a land mass the size of the UK. Fox news, shut the hell up, xtianity often is violent, Go ask the god-fearing rednecks that beat up blacks in the 1960s. Liberals, Islam has a global problem with Violence. Admit that it is pretty scary.

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