People are sickened by the brutal murders by Islamic extremists. They welcome death to honor “God” because this life is only a preparation for “paradise.” This is a medieval, twisted belief that moderate Muslims reject.
It is not only Islam that has a violent side. One only needs to study the Crusades, burning of thousands of women as “witches,” the Inquisition and European religious wars to see the ugly, violent side of Christianity.
Most religions have been guilty of violence in the name of “God”. There are exceptions. Ba’hai, Quakers, Unitarians and many types of Buddhism reject violence.
Even when not violent, most religions are about control by men, especially over women and their sexuality. In this country, right-wing fundamentalist Christians are intent on outlawing abortion and some types of birth control. They hate Planned Parenthood. Many are anti-gay, especially against now legal same-sex marriage. In some African countries good “Christians” are calling for the execution of gays.
There certainly are people who do good in the name of their beliefs. Pope Francis is a positive example. Hooray for his recent encyclical on climate change. But religion is not needed for doing good. I’ve worked on environmental issues with atheists who want to make a positive difference.
Though I belong to no belief “system,” I believe in a higher power. Most religions try to “trap” God in an ideological box. I agree with Mark Twain, who said: “Religion was invented when the first con man met the first fool.”
Larry L. Brown