Religiously-inspired violence is a matter of choice
In this brief opinion piece published by The Guardian, presumably in response to the recent terrorist attack in London, the author discusses the varied meanings and uses of religious texts. Far from promoting a singular or unified ethical system, the Bible, Qur'an, Upanishads, and others foundational religious texts are composed of multiple (often contradictory) voices. Essentially, what you seek, you shall find. The author makes an important point, in this regard, by focusing on the motivations of people of faith, arguing that seekers are most inspired by those passages and moral fables that speak to their particular need/desire:
"Yet all of these religions and post-religions have another face as well. They really do value peace and brotherhood, and anyone who wants to can find texts just as authoritative that urge believers to kindness and self-sacrificing love. The question is which face will speak to the believers, and which texts will inspire them to action. That’s not something that can be answered by literary analysis. Neither religions nor ideologies proceed from word to action. Most often the words are chosen to justify decisions already taken, and to lead up to conclusions already reached."
Christians have drawn on the Bible to both endorse and condemn slavery and numerous additional atrocities, and Muslims have drawn on the Qur'an in a similar manner. Though this opinion piece is brief, it is an important reminder that, when it comes to religiously-inspired violence, individual people are to blame rather than the religions/religious texts themselves.
One cannot assert that a given religion is inherently violent or inherently compassionate, nor that all those of a specific faith are inherently good or evil. It is what individuals choose to do with the knowledge they glean from religious texts that truly impacts human society: choosing to promote versions of a faith that emphasize hate, revenge, punishment, violence, and intolerance, or choosing to believe only the passages of a text that erode solidarity, empathy, humility, and curiosity.
Read the full article here.