A Bloody & Violent Religion

Jama Masjid, Delhi, India © Daniel Plasman

India’s Largest Mosque

What are we to think of a religion whose historical roots are bloody and violent, a history manifested to this day?

What are we to think of a bloody and violent religion whose sacred book is believed by many adherents to be the inerrant word of God?  I haven’t read every word of those sacred writings, but I’ve read enough between the opening and closing chapters to know those bloody and violent passages exist.

Imagine a spiritual heritage where ancient people believed that God demanded certain transgressions be punished by stoning the victim.  If a son or daughter was disobedient, the parents should haul the kid to the town square and publicly stone the child to death.

Imagine a religion with a spiritual heritage that believes God permits a soldier to rape a woman of a defeated people, and then take that humiliated woman as his wife, only to discard her after she no longer pleases him.

What are we to think of a religion whose sacred writings, believed to be inspired by God, permit the lobbing off of fingers and hands as a form of punishment?  For example, if intervening in a fight between her husband and an assailant, a woman grabs the genitals of her husband’s attacker, God permits that the woman’s hand be cut off — presumably, after she releases her grip on the assailant’s stuff.

And what of a religion that teaches if a husband discovers that his bride is not a virgin on their wedding night, he has the permission of the religious community and of God to kill her, again, stoning the preferred method of execution.

Imagine a spiritual tradition that believes God sanctions holy wars against other nations and orders the annihilation of entire populations, not just the killing of soldiers and combatants, but all citizens – young and old, male and female, the sick and infirmed, pregnant women and the fetuses inside them.

Imagine a religion whose sacred text instructs slaves to obey in “fear and trembling” their masters for this is the will of God.

This is the bloody and violent reality of our Judeo-Christian heritage.  The above examples can be cross checked in Deuteronomy 17:2-5; 21:10-14; 21:18-21; 22:13-21; 25:11-12; Joshua 10:28-43; Ephesians 6:5.

The Boston Marathon bombings have awakened a new anti-Muslim sentiment led by the pathetic ranting of pseudo news outlets.  We are a bloody and violent nation not because of Muslim aggression toward us, but because we spend more on our military industrial complex than the next 17 nations combined.  We are a bloody and violent nation of more than 10,000 gun homicides a year because our legislators fear political retribution from the National Rifle Association.  We are a bloody and violent nation because we kill innocent people abroad with drone attacks at a rate of 50 citizens for each targeted terrorist.

To the extent that we allow our biblical and spiritual heritage to legitimize our pursuit of blood and violence, we all share the blame for the way things are.

Peace be upon the victims and perpetrators of the bloody violence.

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  1. Rob Williams April 27, 2013 at 11:01 am #

    Wow. Thank you, Dan. Right on!!! Rob Williams, United Church of Spring Valley (RCA & UCC)

  2. Barbara Thibeault April 28, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

    Powerful! Thanks so much, Dan. I’m forwarding this to friends in Boston who totally share your sentiments.

  3. Joan Tirak April 29, 2013 at 3:44 pm #

    Yes to all that was written. Often times, we find ourselves saying, “God, forgive us…have mercy on us.” But not to accompany that prayer with action against these evils makes the prayer mere words. Prayer should be a call to personal action….to personal re-formation. Mercy should be something we give as well as ask for. Forgiveness has no backbone if it is not accompanied by a commitment to change. Alice in Blunderland got it right – “Lord, save us from ourselves.” May we heed and transform ourselves into what we know to be the truth.