'It's your life, but only if you make it so. The standards by which you live must be your own standards, your own values, your own convictions in regard to what is right and wrong, what is true and false, what is important and trivial.' -Eleanor Roosevelt

Which Came First? Religion or Violence?

by Ethan Glover, Fri, Jan 16, 2015 - (Edited) Sat, Jan 17, 2015

As I expected, my article about how Islam isn't violent incited a few disturbing comments. It's unbelievable that these kind of bigoted attitudes exist today. There are people who believe that if you do something in the name of anything, then we should blame that anything.

They believe that a religion is a "problem" if many people do something in the name of that religion. You may as well blame black on black crimes on rap music. The logic is barbaric and, well, stupid.

I just want to say that I welcome arguments and differing viewpoints on this site. I don't want to see bigotry and hatred towards other groups of people. Remember to treat people with the empathy and respect they deserve when you talk about them. They might also be readers of this blog and its comments.

This isn't a place for me to preach to the choir, I want to create respectful discussion. I will not tolerate insults to readers from other readers. Forget the petty squabbles over race, religion, and these sorts of things that we stopped arguing over in the 1960's.

When you ignore what someone has to say, when you stick to an idea that particular groups of people are evil because of their religious preference, you'll be kicked out. No one needs you here.

State Oppression

I wanted to add to that article on Islam. Superior countries have oppressed the Middle East for a long time. Those other countries have superior weaponry and Middle Eastern governments are helpless against them. Countries like Russia, the United States, China, and England. They have all contributed to the oppression of the Middle East in some form or another.

In response to this oppression, gangs have emerged in self-defense. The hatred that these groups hold aren't because of anybody's freedoms or religion.

Nobody hates you because you're an American. Nobody hates you because you're Christian, or any other ignorant excuse someone might give for his or her own hate.

Many people in the Middle East hate the United States because the United States attacks them. It destroys their homes for no reason.

The violent gangs that have emerged need an excuse for their behavior. Religion already dominates in these countries. They gravitate to Islam because it's what's there. Just as people in the United States gravitate towards Christianity. Especially in hard times

They've never seen the separation of church and state. No matter what they do, religion is a part of every activity. They don't separate religion from life like people in the west. Religion is everything, a life philosophy, a way to build society itself, not a ticket to heaven.

These gangs look to religion for justification. That doesn't mean the Quran justifies what they do, or supports it in even the most remote sense.

Al Qaeda and ISIS abuse the words in the Quran to get around the morality of what they're doing. Remember, they respond in self-defense. As they grow, as their actions become more desperate, as they continue to fight, they begin to question the morality of it all. But fighting is the only option for them, so they have to justify it in some way.

What If?

The fact that Islam acts as that justification has nothing to do with Islam, but everything to do with geography. What if we reversed the situation? What if Iraq had the technological superiority and occupied the United States? What if people started fighting back, despite the odds? What if this religious United States started using the Bible as justification?

It's possible; quotes in the Bible could act as a justification for violence against innocents. Keep in mind that US citizens cannot fight against a superior army. Instead, innocents are the only enemy they're capable of fighting.

People would misuse the Bible and misuse its message. That doesn't mean Christianity causes said terrorism.

If Christianity were the dominant religion in the Middle East, then current terrorists would be bombing people in the name of Jesus.

I don't understand how this is so complicated. Religion comes after violence. These groups use religion as a coping mechanism for immorality. Religion does not cause their actions.

Islam Isn't The Only One

With illegal drugs, there is no protection for buying and selling. Gangs tend to emerge as a protection method. And because they have to do things outside of the law, criminals gravitate towards that business. It becomes violent.

Gang members turn to religion to excuse their behavior. The same thing happens with groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS. That doesn't mean Jesus or Muhammad preached killing "non-believers."

When people find some quotes that suggest this, they're not reading the whole thing. They don't understand the story as told in that particular text.

The people who complain about the violence inherent to Islam are just as ignorant about the religion as Al Qaeda and ISIS. They've fallen into a trap. They blame the religion and ignore the real reasons that branch from state oppression and war.

The state kills people and oppresses people. They put people into these situations where they have no other choice. Then the citizens of these oppressive countries respond with bigotry. With hate towards the oppressed. They buy into the team vs. team scam that keeps the war machine going.

The Islamophobia in places like the United States branches from the propaganda of the state.

Curiosity > Insults

If you want to criticize Islam, fine. Arguments against the religion as a religion are welcome here. But if you want to tell me that Islam somehow makes people violent. or that Muslims are all terrorists, if you want to be so insulting, so bigoted, then you're not welcome here.

Real discussion only. Take a second to put aside any narrow-minded prejudice and show a little curiosity.

If you have questions about Islam, I'm no expert, send an email over to Muslims4Liberty. I'm sure they'll answer you and prove those answers through sources. You can also check out my past article on the subject.

Listen to Will Coley field questions on Free Talk Live (below), I know it's 3-hours long, but watch it before anything else. It's what helped me understand.

I never acted like an old man who grew up hating black people towards Muslims, but I had reservations. That's OK. Watch that video first and the other sources embedded below, before you start asking questions.

I'm happy to help you find an answer. If I can't, I can refer you to someone who can. Any answers you need, that's why I'm here.

If you have corrections about anything I've said, or if I ever say anything wrong on a subject, then please let me know. This is a discussion, not a sandbox. We can talk about what we disagree on, but insulting entire groups isn't an argument, nor worth responding to.

Let's talk. I'm sure everyone reading knows the difference between discussion and back and forth ranting.

Leave a comment below, contact me on social networks, or send me an e-mail through the newsletter.

If you'd like to bring your friends into the discussion for a broader perspective, please like and share. I look forward to hearing from you.

Must See Resources

Will Coley's 3-hour call-in show/interview on Free Talk Live

Karen Armstrong on Religion and the History of Violence

Dan Carlin: Dissin' and Duelin'