Opinion by James Turnage
In the 11th and 12 centuries it was the Crusades and the Inquisition; today it is Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Boko Haram; interpretation of religion by extremists is the evil among us.
Religions all contain a single flaw; the concepts are defined by men. Whether he is standing behind a pulpit, preaching to a television audience, or lecturing in the desert sand, one man is professing his theories and beliefs about his religion; he is creating a cult. Most religious leaders speak of peace and brotherly love. They claim that the God they worship is loving and kind; benevolent and forgiving; is neither critical nor judgmental. One man is standing before us claiming to have all knowledge about the Creator.
Whether an individual is a member of a religious group or not is his or her choice. Using membership in a singular religion to secure personal goals is blasphemy. Displaying religious fanaticism to demonstrate deep faith is false; fanaticism displays a lack of faith.
The Bible, Quran, and Torah are guides to help human beings live better lives through religion. How these sacred documents are interpreted influences millions. Unlike the supreme law of the United States, there is no Supreme Court of religion to define their ‘Constitutions.’
Religious extremists find it insufficient to simply believe in God and living a moral life; they must do more to prove that they are deeply religious. They are misguided individuals who are less likely to read and digest the meaning of their religious documents; they choose to place their focus on sections which allow them to commit evil acts in the name of religious fanaticism without comprehension of the document’s entire meaning.
In the 21st century religious fanaticism is displayed in alarming ways.
The horrific slaughter of men and women performing their daily routines in Paris last week is unforgivable. The twelve people who were murdered at Charlie Hebdo were the true martyrs. The killers claimed that they were defending the Prophet Muhammad and the religion of Islam. These fanatics did not represent Islam or the vast majority of Muslims. If they had studied the Quran, they would have known that the Prophet Muhammad’s central themes were peace, love, and tolerance.
Israel claims to be a Jewish State. It has become a ‘land grabber’ thru time. It is a material country, disregarding the rights and beliefs of others as they accumulate more land for more settlements. They do not demonstrate belief in their chosen faith.
Abortion doctors and nurses have been murdered in the name of Christianity. A few men have decided that they are more qualified to determine if an individual should suffer punishment than their God. If they truly read the Bible, they would learn that judgment is solely the right of God; men are required to forgive and allow the Creator to decide whether or not an individual will be punished at the end of their earthly existence.
Interpreting religious doctrines to justify evil acts is not the monopoly of Islamic extremists; and those who commit these heinous acts are not true Muslims, Jews or Christians.
ISIS and Boko Haram are not fighting for an Islamic State, they are fighting for a Patriarchal State where they can institute sharia law which forces women to become sexual slaves.
Israeli Jews are not building new settlements to honor Yod-Hei-Vav-Hei, they are acquiring more real estate.
Those who refuse a woman’s right to control what happens to her own body, and even murder others in the name of Christianity, are not honoring Jesus Christ; they are using religion to the extreme to justify their personal beliefs.
Religion is all too often a crutch, or used as an excuse for one’s actions. If religious doctrines were followed in their purest form, everyone would ask one question of themselves before they took action: ‘What would God do?’ The only answers are that He would love unconditionally, forgive enthusiastically, and save judgment for another time.
By James Turnage