Distinguishing Faithful and Woeful

There is no religion that is violent. I certainly know of no religion that teaches that killing or murdering is … Continued

There is no religion that is violent. I certainly know of no religion that teaches that killing or murdering is right or to oppress and illtreat others is acceptable.

Yes, no faith is violent and thus Islam by definition is not. What we experience is that some adherents of Islam perpetrate violence. But that is true of Christianity as well.

The Ku Klux Clan are not ashamed of using the cross revered dearly by most Christians as part of their insignia, and they then go forth to fire bomb and lynch blacks as a religious obligation.

It was Christian Germans who cooperated with Hitler in carrying out his final solution through the Holocaust.

It is Christians who are one another’s throats in Northern Ireland.

It was devout Christians who supported the vicious and violent system of apartheid and who claimed to have biblical sanction for that system.

The Oklahoma City bombers were inspired in part they claimed by their understanding of the demands of their belief.

Many of those responsible for the genocide in Rwanda were devout Christians.

Does all this make Christianity violent? No.

Some Christians may be violent, as also some Muslims, Hindu, Jews, etc. As Kofi Annan declared, it is not faiths that are the problem. It is the faithful.

God bless you.

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  • Anonymous

    “I certainly know of no religion that teaches that killing or murdering is right or to oppress and illtreat others is acceptable.”I have to ask here, with all respect, are you serious? If this was true, how do Christians and Muslims find lines of text in their books condoning precisely these actions? And what is it about monotheism that lends itself so easily to fundamentalism?Fine, anyone killing in the name of Christianity is ignoring “thou shalt not kill”. But plenty of people have reached for Leviticus before the Sermon on the Mount. If stoning homosexuals and adulterers is no longer acceptable in the religion, why is it kept in the book (that allegedly has inherent holy power from being the True word of God?)I think “people brought all the violence to religion” is a simplistic view. People brought everything to religion, and have constantly committed violence in the name of it from day one.

  • tommy_tstars

    A more interesting question would be “Is Newsweek/Washington Post/NBC inherently violent?”The answer might be yes. While they do not advocate violence, the constant presentation of it in their various media certainly is a major source of their consumership and thus their income.Even this forum was quick to post a question on the recent college rampage and now to ask this devisive and hateful question which singles out one of the multitude of faith based groups that have sponsored violence throughout history.

  • BIGD

    Friend:You are absolutely right. Anytime someone claiming a certain faith or religion does something horrible or even in anyway not inline with the truths of their faith. The leaders of that faith need to stand up and be vocal about the faith. Explain that they are wrong and not represnting the faith they profress to be proclaiming. Take for example (a mild example) the recent issues of Sean Hannity and the Catholic faith. Sean likes to claim he is a devout Catholic on air and at the sametime disagrees with and doesn’t believe in several aspects of the Catholic faith. Fr. Thomas Euteneuer took him to task and even got on his show to point out that Sean is not representing his faith correctly. Unfortunately almost all of us have misunderstandings about other faiths and beliefs that we do not know enough about. Too many of us are shaped just by what we hear on the news at night. That is why its critical for leaders in all faiths to stand up and correct errors when they arise. And to do it and a visible way.

  • Joe

    Reply to: TOMMY_TSTARSThis is probably the best response I’ve read yet.

  • Andrea

    Tommy Tstars,Sometimes, they have to create their own news. They were past the time when they should be off VT’s campus, so they aired that video made by the gunman, and are now back on the campus asking students what they think of it! I’d call that a violent and opportunistic media.

  • Peter

    Islam claims to be a peaceful religion. I think moderate Muslims should reel in these extremists and stop the violence. You condone what you allow.

  • BigD

    God Bless you Archbishop. Your work and insight are immensely inspiring.You make the point very precisely. People are the problem. No matter their claimed faith or their claimed atheism or agnostics. There are good and bad in every group. I would make the assertion that these people who commit such atrocities are not truly faithful. They are not following their faith, whatever it is. If they were they would not do anything like these horrendous acts. They may claim a twisted distortion of their faith but that is not the true faith. The problem is getting people to really know their faith and then to actually live it out in day-to-day life.We do need more Islamic leaders though speaking out harshly against any act that is claimed to be in support of Islam. Without the leaders speaking out loudly and condemning such actions it can come across as quite support. I have seen some signs that this might be on the rise, but I think there is a long way to go to help the Islamic and explain what the faith really believes.

  • Andrea

    “Some Christians may be violent, as also some Muslims, Hindu, Jews, etc. As Kofi Annan declared, it is not faiths that are the problem. It is the faithful.”Yes. I am worried about this thread, though. It seems whenever a poster tries to point out these ideas to a faithful poster, we receive the reply of a big, fat, “Nuh Uh.”

  • FRIEND

    I’ll agree with you BIGD if you can substitute your belief system in the last paragraph.

  • Norrie Hoyt

    “There is no religion that is violent.”A truer statement is:”There is no religion that is not violent.”Violence is inherent in this universe that is said to have been created by Yahweh (the Cathers’ “Ignorant Demiurge”).Think of the Big Bang and colliding galaxies, tsunamis, earthquakes, meteorite collisions with earth and species extinctions.

  • Disagree

    I think there are violent “religions.” There are groups that under the banner of religion delight in violence. I am not saying that Islam (as a whole) is included in that group, but there are factions of the “religion” that certainly do. There is much about pure islamic thought and doctrine that I find difficult to link up with peace… but what do any of us know. It is only the followers of a religion that can speak to that.

  • Mavaddat

    Normally I love Archbishop Tutu’s ideas, but I think he is being disingenuous here. Those who commit violence in the name of their religion think they are following the “true” religion of God as much as Mr. Tutu believes that he is following the “true” religion of God. There is no way to adjudicate between their disagreement, as they fundamentally disagree on the proper emphasis to give the scripture. Ultimately though, they both draw from their religions what they want and both of them follow their own motives as much as the other.Sadly, I can see that this artificial and arbitrary distinction between the “true” Islam (or religion of God) and the “corrupted” version is a theme that is going to continue throughout the panelists’ replies. This attitude is certainly not going to be the one that cures us of the evils of religion, for it is as useful to tell a believer that they are not following the “true” version of their religion as it is to tell them that they are completely deluded about all that they think they know about God or faith.

  • Mavaddat

    Normally I love Archbishop Tutu’s ideas, but I think he is being disingenuous here. Those who commit violence in the name of their religion think they are following the “true” religion of God as much as Mr. Tutu believes that he is following the “true” religion of God. There is no way to adjudicate between their disagreement, as they fundamentally disagree on the proper emphasis to give the scripture. Ultimately though, they both draw from their religions what they want and both of them follow their own motives as much as the other.Sadly, I can see that this artificial and arbitrary distinction between the “true” Islam (or religion of God) and the “corrupted” version is a theme that is going to continue throughout the panelists’ replies. This attitude is certainly not going to be the one that cures us of the evils of religion, for it is as useful to tell a believer that they are not following the “true” version of their religion as it is to tell them that they are completely deluded about all that they think they know about God or faith.

  • Andrea

    Wiccan,Too right.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    A quote from Peter above:”You condone what you allow.” Five words of profound observation and very relevant to this discussion.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    “And also, when was the last time a Muslim state waged war against another state just because the other state is non-Muslim?”The constant warmongering between Pakistan and India? The Palestinian “state” vs Israel? The Arab states vs Israel? Somalia vs. Ethiopia? Sunni Muslims (Saudi Arabia) vs Shiites (Iraq/Iran- non Muslim as per the Wahhabis) ) From CNN:

  • Anonymous

    KILI FAQIRAN, Pakistan (AP) – The boy with the knife looks barely 12. In a high-pitched voice, he denounces the bound, blindfolded man before him as an American spy. Then he hacks off the captive’s head to cries of “God is great!” and hoists it in triumph by the hair.

  • Ba’al

    Mr. Tutu is a kind and gentle man. I think there is something inevitable about people who believe they have the Absolute Truth being willing to use violence to ensure the victory of Good over Evil. I have seen it described as “Manichean paranoia”.

  • Ba’al

    “And also, when was the last time a Muslim state waged war against another state just because the other state is non-Muslim?”If you include insurgencies based on religion, I could mention Thailand, Bali, and the Philippines. There is India and Pakistan. Then of course, there is Africa (Chad among several other places).

  • Henry James

    While affirming my great love and respect for Bishop Tutuhis glasses are a bit rose-colored here.God instructs the Israelites to commit genocide against the Canaanites just after saying “thou shalt not kill.”The violent history of Christianity is manifold and clear to all of us who have our eyes open.Islamic scripture and hadith instructs to “kill the infidels” in certain circumstances.We must fact he violence of religion along with the benefits with clear eyed resolve.

  • wiccan

    a humble prayer-Allah and Jesus, please save us from your followers.

  • brian mcc, the arctic

    This is a lyric from a song entitled ‘From Source’Do you dream of spiral stairs that riseTommy John, dirty Dave, real sorry Sue Blond moose, white bear, a roaming buffaloA season changed on one the other feeds Blond moose, white bear, a roaming buffaloDo you dream of spiral stairs that rise

  • Jihadist

    Ba’alYou noted correctly : If you include insurgencies based on religion, I could mention Thailand, Bali, and the Philippines. There is India and Pakistan. Then of course, there is Africa (Chad among several other places). In Thailand and the Philippines, the Muslims are monorities. Southern Thai Muslims, culturally Malays, were waging wars against the the Thai kinddom for centuries. They see the Thais as occupiers. Same for the Moros of Southern Philippines. Their wars were waged from the time of the Spanish occupation of the Philippines and it was the Spaniards who called them Moros. The issues they have with their respective central governments economic. Minorities that feels marginalized in any way do act up in violence agaisnt the state, as the IRA and Basque seperatist did, and the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka are still doing. As for Bali bombings, it was Jemaah Islamiyah who have this naive notion of forming a pan South East Asian Islamic nation covering Indonesia Malaysia, Brunei, Southern Thailand and Southern Philippines. Can never see that happening without a state army. It members are hunted down in all of Southeast Asia by the governments and brought to court when apprenended. They are not states, but sub-state actors. As for India and Pakistan, the dispute over Kashmir is rooted in territory and self-determination unfulfilled. Read up on the conflict which Pakistan wants to be addressed at the UN Security Council and which India refused.Certainly, I can’t recall a Muslim state attacking a non-Muslim state just because it is non-Muslim and for the sole purpose of converting them all to be Muslims in the last century or this.

  • Chris

    Wow, a response written in humility instead of idiotic statements of self-righteousness.I wonder what this perspective has to do with Desmond Tutu’s accomplishments.

  • Chris

    Wow, a response written in humility instead of idiotic statements of self-righteousness.I wonder what this perspective has to do with Desmond Tutu’s accomplishments.

  • Anonymous

    Dear Archbishop Tutu,The question was not about Christianity; it was about Islam. Nice job of side-stepping the question at hand though!

  • Mark Eaton

    Dear Archbishop Tutu:I am disappointed at your response. You indeed did not answer the question. Perhaps being “politically correct” has reached your level. While it is now acceptable to say all manner of things against “Christians”, most of the panelist shy away from saying anything negative against Muslims. Why? Are not their religious zealots murdering around the world? They even have a word for it, Jihad, Holy war, RELIGIOUS Holy War. Are we so afraid of Muslims that we do not speak the truth while it hits us in the face?

  • the peace of islam

    here is what an islamic scholor just wrote:

  • Verse Infinitum

    It’s a great achievement for Islamic leaders and scholars as well as Newsweek and the Washington post to present this imperative opportunity for inter cultural and global philosophical dialogue. What’s important is that by exchanging our ideas and comments regarding inter religious relations and world events that affect our views of each other as fellow human beings. Since the advent of humanity, We strove to make sense of the world we live in and the lives we’ve experienced. Worldwide curiosities to learn the true nature of life and our universe is an exceptionally rare virtue upon life on Earth. In other words, we’re the only known species on the planet who’ve pursued to unravel these great mysteries and developed written philosophies based upon our understanding of the world around us.

  • Mark Alexander

    The Archbishop is talking patent nonsense. Had he read the Qur’an, he would have learned that violence and killing is indeed what Islam teaches its adherents to do: Kill and maim in the name of Allah, to conquer the whole world for Allah and his so-called final messenger, the prophet Muhammad. Why! Even the prophet himself was known to be violent!Making statements as the Archbishop has may be politically correct, but being politically correct makes them neither correct nor true.The fact of the matter is this: Islam has been spread by the sword. This is indisputable. Each and every country that Islam has been allowed into, and has been allowed to put down roots, it has eventually taken over. Each and every country! There is only one exception, and that is Moorish Spain, and it took the Spaniards about five hundred years to reconquer their own land. Five hundred years and much bloodshed!Archbishop Tutu needs to learn a few facts. Read the Qur’an and the aHadith, or the sayings of the prophet Muhammad. Then he will find out just how violent Islam is!What explanation does Archbishop Tutu give for the fact that wherever Muslims live, and reach critical mass, they turn to violence in order to achieve their goal of turning the ‘House of War’ (Dar ul Harb) into the House of Islam (Dar ul Islam)?The Archbishop, I’m sorry to say, is talking poppycock!