• Larry

    “Abrahamic” generalities do not apply here since there are some key distinctions. Christian and Muslim notions of morality are the most relativistic of all. Any act is considered moral if done in God’s name. Heaven awaits those who commit mayhem in his name be they “Crusader” or “Jihadi”. Judaism, to its credit, generally takes a more absolutist moral approach. Bad acts are always bad acts. Humanity takes consideration over religious tenets.

    Lets be brutally honest here, Tobin Grant would not be asking the question (Terrorist, hate crime, or whatever?) if the shooter was not white and christian.

    “But hardly all. Christianity, for example, did not murder Alan Berg. White supremacy and neo-Nazism did.”

    Bad example. White supremacy and Neo-Nazism were long linked with Christianity. For decades in the US, they were directly related to a fairly large sect, Southern Baptists. Nowadays have their own splinter Christian sect, “Christian Identity”.

  • Eric

    “It is a good way to change the subject, to divert attention away from the most pressing religious problem in the world today — radical, jihadist Islam.”

    I should have stopped reading before I hit this sentence, but it’s still the best example of why this piece is intellectually vacuous.

    “But was religion really to blame for that list of outrages? Yes, for some of them. But hardly all. Christianity, for example, did not murder Alan Berg. White supremacy and neo-Nazism did.”

    By what criteria can you, or anyone, distinguish between acts of violence that are “religious” from those that are not? Without clarifying that issue, and without defining “religion” itself, such distinctions seem arbitrary at best, ideologically freighted to privilege some social formations over others. I mean, why not call neo-Nazism a religion? Or from another angle, why not blame hegemonic masculinity for terrorist attacks by jihadists?

  • Eric

    “As Shai Held writes in the Forward: both right and left are in parallel spasms of denial about the nature of Islam. The right would deny that religion any respectability; the left would deny it any responsibility for the hateful radicalism within its ranks.”

    Here’s another reason no one should read this article. There is no “nature of Islam.” Period. No “nature of” Judaism, Christianity, or any other thing we might call “religion” (or “culture” or “tradition” or whatever). When people start talking about the “nature” or “essence” of “religion,” you should always ask what they are trying to sell you. In this case, I assume it is some type of a kinder, gentler political conservatism that wants badly to be seen as a moderate, middle ground between two extremes of the culture wars, but is really still taking sides in those disagreements. To wit, we end up with warnings about “radical Islamic jihadists” and warm fuzzies for white evangelicals.

  • Eric

    “It is really rather simple ,

    People produce religion.

    People have good stuff and bad stuff within them. ‘

    So does religion.”

    This is almost where you make a worthwhile point. Almost. But, even here there is this unfounded distinction between “people” and “religion” as moral agents that ends up mystifying the acts of the former with the cover of the latter. “Religion” does not “contain” good and bad stuff, nor does “it” do anything good or bad. People do things and they do good and bad stuff alike. That part is correct, but it gets swept up and confused with the misleading idea that “religion” does stuff too.

    And that focus on “religion” leads to a simplistic analysis that is really no analysis at all, but an excuse to play the game of false equivalency and call out critics on the side of the culture wars you disagree with. I mean, who wants to be guilty of bearing false witness against “religion” itself? Tsk-tsking people for that “sin” is far…

  • Eric

    “So, can we have a nuanced conversation about faith and violence?”

    Well, the answer appears to be no, then, because you can’t have a nuanced conversation about “faith and violence” by reducing the question of why people act violently to “is religion the cause or not”? Violence never happens for only one reason, one cause. And that fact makes sentences like these nearly meaningless:

    “But Timothy McVeigh did not commit the Oklahoma City bombing in the name of Christianity.

    That said, yes — religious people do, in fact, sometimes commit heinous acts in the name of their faiths.”

    What does “in the name of…” really mean? Because it explains far less than you think. Does it mean “inspired by a voice from God”? Or “done for a mundane reason, but justified by sacred ones?” Or “violence is religious if and only if the actor explicitly tells us he acts in the name of religion”–like the presumption that racism is only a factor in social encounters if someone uses…

  • Eric

    So, again, what is “religion,” how do we distinguish “it” from other things, and why are “non-religious” factors taken as sufficient causes in some cases of violence, but not others in your analysis?

  • Junebug

    The term “Religion” is too all encompassing to be blamed for violence even tho violence too often emerges from religious teachings. A majority of the world’s population is associated with a religion in some way. Religion produces much good. But in all, there are sects who interpret their holy books in a way to justify violence and they teach it. They teach hate toward anyone who disagrees with them. The words they spew incite violence. We need a term that would adequately describe them. Can anyone think of one ? I tried “fundamentalist”, “conservative”, “evangelical”, etc. but people and teaching within those is varied, as well.

  • ctd

    “The attack on Planned Parenthood was an attack on women’s health, on women, on medicine — in a sense, on civilized society itself.”

    With that sentence, Salkin lost all credibility.

  • ben in oakland

    fundelibangelist does it for me.