“The specter of violent religion certainly hangs over us in these times, especially when it comes to certain followers of the world’s two dominant religions. Christian and Muslim conflict-mongers drone on against “Islamic terrorists” and “Christian infidels,” respectively, while violence continues erupting in the name of Islam, and conservative Christian figures in America, like Pat Robertson and John Hagee, urge violent solutions to foreign policy problems. (Robertson, you’ll recall, spoke favorably of assassinating Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and Hagee, the Texas mega-church minister of falling-out-with-John McCain fame, has repeatedly called for immediate military attacks against Iran.)
Yes, there appears to be considerable truth to the oft-heard claim that Christian-Muslim co-existence must be achieved lest our collective future turn out brief and brutal. Which is why it might appear outrageous to suggest, as I’m about to do, that religion may also be just the catalyst we need to steer us clear of the apparent collision course.
Religion — a solution to the problem of religiously motivated conflict and violence?
While religion has been the cause of many of the world’s violent conflicts and confrontations, Krattenmaker points out that each religion also offers teachings of peace and unity (which we rarely see even within the religious sects and denominations of the same religions themselves.) Krattenmaker suggests that while religion has been the justification for going to war and invading other lands, religion can also end wars. Call me cynical, but when I hear those words I automatically think of Revelation and how fundamentalists from both sides are looking forward to the great and believed unavoidable “final battle” for imaginary heaven and an imagined “renewed” Earth.
Krattenmaker answers his own questions:
Religion — a solution to the problem of religiously motivated conflict and violence? Yes, actually. Because in their best traditions, the world’s two dominant faiths do promote peace, both through their central teachings and the lessons-by-example taught every day by innumerable Muslims and Christians who take their scriptures seriously.
But that depends on WHICH scriptures both sides want to pull out of their ancient texts to take seriously. There is support for both. So, how can we ever expect for both sides to end war and come to any kind of resolution when based upon their contradictory and inconsistent guidebooks?
Krattenmaker sums up his essay with more idealistic questions and answers:
“So how we will know religion in the final analysis? By its peace or by its violence? The scriptures have had their say. It’s now up to the believers — through their words and works — to settle the account.”
I am not holding my breath. And like I said above, I remain cynical . . . pessimistic based on what we have seen from religion thus far. The fundamentalists like the evil parts of their mythology books too much to give them up.
The only hope for this world is with the moderates of both religions. But when it comes down to making a choice, which side will they ultimately choose?