violence

Religions Of Peace, Oh Really…

It has been a while. The fatigue and recently a cold forced me to rest and I finally have time to write something that has been on my mind for years. For years now (in the media) there has been this polarisation of religions versus society where groups are targeted. The response is often that it is a matter of a few individuals tainting the reputation of others.

In the worst cases the religious people claim to be pacifists while their ancient books are not pacifist. Now if you catch my drift this claim of belonging to a religion of peace is not uncommon. Dig in European history and the roots of great empires and kingdoms, look at the theology they refer to. When I was a Christian I often thought as Christianity as a religion of peace but after digging in history and the Old Testament I became more doubtful.

Nowadays the Islam is often targeted because well, low hanging fruit is easy to pick. But instead of going for the low hanging fruit it helps to look more at the root of what religion really is. Whether you consider religion something that originates from human imagination or from divine revelation there are specific aspects you cannot miss.

Religion tends to start with a revelation through a prophet or priest who then shares the word of God or the Gods with the people. Gender is not relevant because well men and women in all kinds of religion have had the role of being a medium for their divinity or divinities. After the revelation the followers become a community and come to some kind of consensus of how to live and you have a cult. With a following in place the movement can grow and expand its influence until a theocracy is achieved and the religion becomes law.

How does this relate to the claim that religion can be a religion of peace? That is very simple. Religious people say they want to live a peaceful life and thus conclude their religion is a religion of peace. I once used to reason like that until I dug into this thing called colonialism. Then learning about how intolerant the “tolerant” Netherlands could be, I punched more and more holes into my old assumptions.

Then you have to ask yourself what is peace? The simplest answer is also the most complex one: peace is the absence of war. Absence of war for who and why? Dig deeper, for instance read “Utopia” and “The Art Of War” and it starts to dawn that this issue is still a dilemma for society today. What is clear though is that as a ruler or ruling class you need to have peace in your own territory or country and try to keep war outside the borders. Keep your own people and/or followers happy and there will always be an army to protect the ruler or ruling class.

Now apply the previous paragraph to this thing called a theocracy and the concept of religion being law. As a kid I was raised as an Evangelical Christian, the type of Christian to reach out and spread the gospel. From an early age I was taught the “us versus them” difference and how to react when people disagreed. Generally the Evangelicals are friendly.

Now imagine when you have to deal with a religious individual who instead of being friendly is aggressive. Then add that the individual in question firmly believes in a world converted to his or her religion. Additionally while aggressively emphasising the preferred theocracy the individual preaches about his or her religion of peace but if you disagree you go to hell. Going to hell implies many things. I shall spare you the interpretations.

Mind you I am okay with people having their religions. I am not okay with religious people claiming their religion is one of peace while their teachings assume a theocracy in the end of times because “revelations and prophecies.” In my younger years I sometimes met aggressive people who were full of their religious convictions. Some of them more upfront and some of them very slick. They made me think about whether I wanted to be with the religious crowd.

I do not care about how moderate religious people claim to be. Sometimes there are so-called fanatics, radicals and extremists but even they do not bother me. I look at what they preach and practise. When the preaching and behaviour do not line up something is wrong.When violence is involved I know what time it is.

If you really are a pacifist and think rationally about what makes peace work, you have to make choices. The idea of a world converted to one religion is dangerous. The Catholic Church tried it but it led to conflicts and wars in Europe. Philips II of Spain found out the hard way and almost lost his empire. He even made the once Catholic Netherlands detest Catholicism so much that the Netherlands became Protestant. That change involved plundering Catholic monasteries and churches and sometimes worse. Those were bloody times.

People can have their religions. Build your temples and churches, it is your time and money. Thing is, the moment any religious person starts preaching A but acts B and claims to belong to a religion of peace I say no. To be religious is not equal to being peaceful.

You want peace then stop preaching and let people live and accept that they are different. Avoid violence and keep your visions of heaven and hell for yourself. It is 2016, after centuries of experiences and history people should know better.

This is such a bitter topic…