Does religion give rise to violence — or the other way around? (COMMENTARY)

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French philosopher René Girard during a colloquium in Paris in 2007. Girard, who wrote about religion and violence, died Nov. 4. PHOTO: Wikipedia/Vicq.

French philosopher René Girard during a colloquium in Paris in 2007. Girard, who wrote about religion and violence, died Nov. 4. PHOTO: Wikipedia/Vicq.

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(RNS) Mass killings by a group that calls itself the Islamic State have triggered a heated debate about militant Islam and our response. Rene Girard’s theories deserve wider appreciation.

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  • jack stephens

    By claiming reward in the afterlife for dying in service of the faith the teachings of Islam, as understood by many believers, inspire suicide bombers. In addition the Islamic teaching that apostates should be killed regularly results in murder in countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan. These are very clear examples of religious belief inspiring violence.

  • Lou

    Why are all beating around the bush.
    Either the God, Supreme being , Pasta monster or whom ever you call Him,Her,or it, has decided that Love, Hate , War, Peace , Relationship based on terms yet undefined, will be the basis of those trying to obey, copy or imitate this Supreme being…
    Each one has “made” some defining statements about themselves, a those who choose to belive them will have a happier earthly life.
    To me faith is an expectant hope based up whom you choose to believe.

  • Deacon John M Bresnahan

    One point—not all religions are the same. To consider Islam and Christianity the exact same under the one heading “religion” is to consider Communism and Jeffersonian democracy the exact same under the one heading: “Politics:” But the politicians who get us into wars seem to escape all blame by those who like to blame all religions or all evil.

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  • Joe

    I think Girard was onto something. I haven’t read his books yet, though I am planning on starting within the next month. He’s quoted by so many people I’ve been reading lately, and it seems (from a distant perspective) that he has found a way to give congruency to the teachings of Scripture (specifically between the OT God and Jesus). The modern evangelical interpretation of Christianity lacks intellectual honesty. I hope to see other scholars build on Girard’s work.

    http://godsfoolishness.blogspot.com/2015/11/did-god-kill-jesus.html

  • Ben in oakland

    Girard’s theory is nonsense. A man desires a woman because she is desired by another man? How gay is that?

    Religion is a drug. And like most drugs, it makes you be however you are, just Moreso.

    How is this for simplicity? God is what you use to justify what cannot be justified By any other means.

    If you are a violent person, religion is your excuse to be violent.

    If you are a bigot, religion justifies your bigotry.

    If you are obsessed by your own sexuality, religion tells you it’s ok to use religion to justify trying to control the sex lives of others.

    READ the manifesto published by the sick perverts responsible for the carnage in Paris. They are obsessed with sexual purity, for everyone but themselves. As are all fundamentalists of every faith. as susy bright says:

    Every fundamentalist religion today is running on the fumes of sexual psychosis. They are huffing and huffing and huffing until they annihilate everything including themselves.

  • Bernardo

    Does religion give rise to violence? Of course it does and is dictated in books like the koran:

    An example:

    Quran (8:12) – “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them”

    And please no “out of context” excuse. Imams and their terrorists don’t follow said excuses but follow the literal word of the Koran.

  • Ed Silha

    Reply to Deacon John M Bresnahan
    Not all religions are “exactly” the same. The extreme behaviors of Christians have been moderated (limited) by secularism and liberalism. However, some Christians still espouse killing others based on differing religious views (e.g., LGBT persons, abortion providers). Were it not for secular limitations, some of these people would not hesitate to take a life, claiming they know the mind of god and he wants them to kill. Both the Koran and the Bible include language that justifies killing others for religious reasons (e.g., adultery, worshiping a different god), including the killing of women, children, and babies.

  • Todd

    Bingo, Ed. We have a winner.

  • Bernardo

    Synoptic,

    Well versed in the Christian message are you. The message, however, is no longer relevant in the 21st century as your hero as shown by rigorous historic testing was a simple, preacher man of the 1st century CE elevated to deity status by the likes of P, M, M, L, John, Pilate and the sword of Constantine. Yes, Pilate is in the list for if it were not for his rule of law, Jesus could have been sent to the Roman salt mines and not the cross. Hopefully, you have thanked the man for without him you have no basis of your religion.

  • Bernardo

    No god does not since he/she/it is a figment of the human imagination.

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  • Synoptic12

    אלוהים מגיע כשאתה הכי פחות מצפה