Quick Thoughts: Violence in the Name of God

I just want to spend a few minutes (during a break from revision) highlighting a flaw that is used all too often in arguments against Christianity and religion in general. I hope that you will find what I say reasonable, because I don’t think I’m being particularly controversial in pointing this out.

I am sick and tired of hearing people say that religion is evil (and therefore, somehow, false) because of the things that humans have done with it. An all too cliched example of this is the Crusades. You may also hear about things like the Spanish Inquisition, the slave trade, or any event through history that has caused suffering and involves someone who claims to be justified by a god of some description. Let me get this straight, I am not trying to defend those things or deny that they ever happened. Sick and disgusting things have been done in the name of God in the past. However, in no way, shape or form does that mean that those things were sanctioned by God. If I go out and shoot someone and say that God told me to, that doesn’t mean that he did. In the same way, if English soldiers go out to try and convert the Holy Land, killing anyone who stands in their way, that does not mean that God told them to do it.

Please, if you’re going to attack Christianity or any other religion with accusations like this, go and learn what that religion actually says first. There is a reason that the Bible is a unified collection of texts: they all support and clarify each other. As an English student, I know that taking a quote out of context from any book is a terrible way to analyse the text, and the same can be said from the Bible. It’s pointless to criticise a sentence without being aware of its place in the entirety of the textual body. I am absolutely certain that the same goes for the Koran, Talmud or any other holy book. I can assure you that there are no grounds in the Bible for the atrocities that have been committed by Christians these last 20 years in the name of God. Yes, of course Jesus told us to go out and spread the gospel, but he also told us to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. Therefore, Christianity teaches that its message should be spread in a conscientious way, not through war and torture.

I hope it’s starting to become clear that the way people take Scripture out of context and twist it to either a) support their violence in the name of God or b) criticise Christianity is unjustifiable. So by all means, if you’re an opponent of Christianity (or any religion), pick up on what has been done in the name of that religion’s god and see if its justified by the sacred texts, but never assume that what a religious person does is sanctioned by their religion or their god.

And please, please remember that a single sentence does not make a religion.

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