Stop using religion to justify hate
The Kansas City Star
I’ve heard it said, “People who hate can always find a religious justification for that hate.” This seems to be true. Americans usually think of Islamic extremists who use religion to justify the 9/11 attacks and killing women who don’t ‘obey’ their rules.
But unfortunately it seems no religion is exempt. Christians used the Bible to justify slavery, the Inquisition, the Crusades and many other persecutions and killings. I’d always thought of Hinduism as peaceful. My impression is that many followers are vegetarians because they don’t believe in killing animals. However, it seems that killing and persecuting Muslims is OK for some Hindus.
There are hatreds within religions: Shiites and Sunnis, both Muslim, have been in the news lately. And let’s not forget the Christian Catholics and Protestants in Ireland or the (Protestant) Church of England persecuting the Puritans (also Protestant).
Geez, such a lot of hate. There’s probably lots of religious hatreds that I’ve missed. Like my minister says, “Some people are so sure they’re right, they do wrong to prove they’re right.”
As an example, I remember discussing Islam with a fundamentalist Christian. She stated unequivocally that, “They’re wrong.”
I pointed out, “But they think we’re wrong.”
Her reply? “Well, they’re wrong.”
As a computer programmer, I’d call that an ‘eternal loop’ — and that’s considered a programming glitch!
Why is it that religion is linked to such hate? I know that in my religion, Christianity, people cherry-pick the Bible to find justifications for hatred. The Old Testament is full of violence against others. And even Jesus said, “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” Luke 12:51. Cherry-pick that and people filled with hate (Westboro Baptist Church comes to mind) can justify anything. But in doing so they seem to ignore the Good Samaritan, the Golden Rule and most of the rest of Christ’s message of love.
I believe there are multiple religions in the world because people have different approaches to God. And, I intentionally use the word “approaches.” I think most people want closer contact with God, however they perceive God. According to some neurologists, we have a spiritual center in our brains. We’re designed to try to find God. To say that only one method is correct limits God.
Seems to me there’s lots more in common between religions than differences. There’s a variation of Christianity’s Golden Rule — “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” — in every major religion. “Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself.” — Confucius. “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” — Buddha. “One should never do that to another which one regards as injurious to one’s own self.” — Hinduism. “As you would have people do to you, do to them; and what you dislike to be done to you, don’t do to them.” — Islam. These are just a few of the ways the same idea is expressed: be nice to others.
Golden Rule comparisons are not the only religious commonality. Several religions have winter celebrations: Hanukkah – Jewish; Christmas – Christianity; Kwanzaa – African-American (not a religion, I know); Solstice — Wiccan; Diwali — Hindu; Bodhi Day — Buddhist; Eid-al-Adha — Muslim. There are probably others that I’m not aware of.
In this holiday season, I challenge all religions and all people to stop using religion to justify hating. I notice that in most religions, the preponderance of the teachings are about love. So, I’m going to reverse my opening statement: people who love can always find a religious justification for that love. I now challenge all religions and all people to justify love.
Suzanne Conaway, of Kansas City, is retired from information technology. To reach her, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Midwest Voices, c/o Editorial Page, The Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64108.