Religious institutions are often viewed as instigators of conflict, oppression, and violence. Religious terrorists and violent extremists share the decision to interpret religion to justify violence, whether they are Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, or Sikh.

Religion can influence laws in a good way.

More than 200 Georgia religious leaders of Christian churches fought the legislation against gun laws in Georgia. A few days after the governor signed it, the bishop of Atlanta’s Episcopal diocese, Robert Wright, responded with a directive banning guns on church property.  

The Catholic Archbishop of Atlanta, Wilton Gregory, issued a statement saying: “The last thing we need is more firearms in public places, especially in those places frequented by children and the vulnerable.”

[T]his new legislation de facto makes firearms more available in places where they may allow violence to escalate.

Churches and other places of worship are intended to be sanctuaries—holy sites where people come to pray and to worship God. In this nation of ours, they have seldom been the locations where violence has disrupted the otherwise peaceful atmosphere. Yet even those occasions—rare as they may be—are not sufficient reasons to allow people to bring more weapons into God’s house.

Adherents of Islam describe themselves as believing in the same Abrahamic God as Jews and Christians, whose instructions to humankind were perfected when delivered to the last prophet, Muhammad. Like those of Judaisim and Christianity, Islam’s texts offer both peaceful and warring messages. Many consider the 11th century “hashishiyin,” to be Islam’s first terrorists. These members of a Shiite sect assassinated their Saljuq enemies. In the late 20th century, groups motivated by religious and nationalist goals committed attacks, such as the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, and suicide bombings in Israel. In the early 21st century, al-Qaeda “internationalized” jihad to attack targets in Europe and the Uniteed States. Stalin and Hussein aimed for unbridled power;  like today’s al-Qaeda, hoped to convert the world to their own worldview.

In Africa, Muslim extremists have kidnapped more than 250 girls from a Nigerian school. On Monday they went into the town and  took on full battle. They blew up a police station and left over a 100 people dead. Islamic leaders are condemning the crime. In a statement issued today, the Islamic Fiqh Academy declared that the kidnapping, like “other crimes committed by the likes of these extremist organizations … violates the provisions of the Quran and Sunnah.”They justify their service to Allah with  putrid vile actions that in the eyes of God are abhorrent.

A quieter battle is raging on American soil in Hollywood. Some top Hollywood stars, including Jay Leno and Ellen Degeneres, are boycotting area hotels connected to the Sultan of Brunei after he recently imposed Islamic Sharia law in the Southeast Asian country. The country’s newly announced laws in part allow adulterers and homosexuals to be stoned to death.There is not a strictly codified uniform set of laws that can be called Sharia. It is more like a system of several laws, based on the Qur’anHadith and centuries of debate, interpretation and precedent

What is plain to see is that it is the twisting of concepts of faith that has led people to a dark and ugly place. Not even the Old Testament, which speaks hotly in recommending genocide, slavery, genital mutilation, and other horrors, stoops to mention the degradation of other humans or selling them as common chattel. Terrorism under any circumstance in the name of God is wrong, Faith makes the world better through Good News, not through guilt trips, good advice harsh laws,  murders and kidnappings or implied society meanings. 

In the end result as faith believers we are required to respect the individual. The  terror and violence in the name of religion is not of God or true believers. What many forget is that religion used as a tool to maim, enslave and  kill is far divorced from the principles and values that God originally intended for humanity.

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