Editors note, I only proof read this once. I expect there are things to correct still with respect to grammar, spelling etc. I am just tired and could not be bothered so I ask that the message be focused on, not the grammar. I am just feeling too lazy to bother with more than a casual proof read this time around.
June 12th 2016 American saw yet another Mass public shooting. This time at a Gay night club by the name of Pulse. Over 100 people were shot and about 50 people were killed. Like many other tragedies like this people get upset and distraught and rightly so. These issues will continue to happen and likely will get worse as time goes on. They will serve to be a catalyst for change within the global culture, and depending on who you ask this will be change for the better or worse. This seems to be a rather divided issue with every side arguing on what the solution is and no one really having a solution. I would like to explore the argument however that these acts of mass public violence and terror are the result of living in and having a Godless society.
Being raised in a deeply religious culture myself, and understanding that people of religious backgrounds, most notably Christianity with which I most familiar, I can understand how so many people would believe this. These people in religious communities believe not only that homosexuality is a horrible sin committed by godless people, they believe that if everyone just embraced their convictions then this kind of violence would cease to happen. The problem with this is that every religion with a God thinks the same way in my experience and none of them can agree on whose version of God is the one that should be followed. It is argued that because so many reject God the consequence is violence within our culture and society.
Without fail my social media accounts start to get flooded with memes about how the problem is we do not have God in our society and that is the problem. Here are some examples of these memes.
I wish to really examine this claim and see if a Godless society is really the problem or if this is just a claim of the religious community which honestly believes if God were in our hearts and nation we would not see such horrendous crimes happening. While I can see how they would conclude that if everyone just accepted the faith of God (Muslims think it should be their faith and Christians say it should be theirs) then no one would want to commit such horrendous crimes because they are all religions of peace. I suppose in a hypothetical world where everyone embraced a singular religion that may be true, but is also an impossibility because even with these religious communities there are heated debates and conflicts about how one should practice their religion.
To really examine this issue we should start by taking a look at the motivations behind some well-known terrorist attacks (as the media calls them) to start to understand the motivations behind these attacks and events. I have selected 3 examples but realistically I think you would find that virtually every act of terrorism has been committed in the name of God, or Gods no matter what name you give to him/her or them. The first one I would like to evaluate is the crusades. While one could argue this was not terrorist attacks it surly inflicted terror and fear in the victims.
- The Crusades
What is commonly referred to as the crusades took place over a period of approximate 400 years from the 11-15 centuries. This was a series of religious and politically motivated wars against Islamic states and territories in an effort to re-capture Jerusalem. From the Washington Post
“The Crusades lasted almost 200 years, from 1095 to 1291. The initial spark came from Pope Urban II, who urged Christians to recapture the Holy Land (and especially the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem) from Muslim rule. Like the promise of eternal life given to Muslim martyrs, Crusaders were promised absolution from sin and eternal glory.”
The crusaders were brutal in their pillaging and warfare. They massacred people killing hundreds of thousands of innocents along the way as part of their holy war. Death tolls during this period are estimated to be around 1.7 million at a minimum. Like most war, I have no doubt there was plenty of rape, abuse, murder, etc… inflicted upon the innocent victims of this brutal campaign.
The motivations behind the crusades were religious. It was a war started by the Pope in the name of God. This war was started and fought by a society where the church and God were the government.
Part of this religious culture and war against innocents was what is commonly referred to as the inquisition. Thousands were brought before the church to answer for accusation of heresy and witchcraft. Confessions were often extracted through use of torture and terror against the victims. Thousands were burned alive at the stake for heresy and witch craft. These atrocities were committed by a group of people and society that had God. This was done in the name of God. This was done by a church that claims to be a religion of peace.
2. September 11th 2001 Terrorist attack
This well-known event is likely one of the most famous in recent history and most deadly. 4 Planes were hijacked, flown into the world trade centers and pentagon. Thousands dead and chaos in the streets. This was one of the most well planned and executed events in recent history. It is also the subject of much scrutiny and skepticism about who is really to blame for this event. This post however is not about conspiracy theories or analyzing who planned it, who is telling the truth, lying, covering up etc…
The reported and widely proclaimed story and accepted by world governments and mainstream media is that Islamic terrorist were to blame and did so in the name of Their God Allah. This was perpetuated in the name of another “peaceful” religion. God was in the hearts of those who committed this atrocity. They do so in his name believing they were doing Gods work.
3. Mountain Meadows Massacre
“The Mountain Meadows massacre was a series of attacks on the Baker–Fancher emigrant wagon train, at Mountain Meadows in southern Utah. The attacks began on September 7 and culminated on September 11, 1857, resulting in the mass slaughter of the emigrant party by members of the Utah Territorial Militia from the Iron County district, together with some Paiute Native Americans. Intending to leave no witnesses and thus prevent reprisals, the perpetrators killed all the adults and older children—about 120 men, women, and children in total. Seventeen children, all younger than seven, were spared.”
This massacre was sanctioned by LDS church leadership. This was done under the direction of the church itself and is a point in it’s history that they never talk about. It is not taught in church classes and in all honesty is something that the church is quite embarrassed about. This massacre was religiously motivated by a group of people who claimed to be christian. These people committed this crime with God in their hearts and lives.
I love peace, tolerance and respect for others. These are the principles that religion claims to teach. God is Love, God is respect, God is about doing good and loving our fellow-man we are taught. This is what any decent and loving human being would do. If God is this person and this is what is taught how is it that so many who profess these beliefs are driven through their faith to commit such terrible crimes in the names of their God?
I cannot help but conclude that it is not a lack of God in our society and culture but it is the presence of religion that has caused so much harm, hatred, hostilities and war. It is religion that has fueled the hatred of so many to commit acts of such evil. Can you honestly blame the followers of these religions for believing they were and are doing the work of God. Religious books and scriptures like the bible and book of Mormon are filled with acts of extreme violence in the name of God. These books are filled with acts of rape, torture, war, slavery and terrorism.
The sad truth is that religion inspires violence. It’s truth. It’s fact and while it may be hard to accept for many, the reality is no atheist ever committed an act of terrorism. At least I cannot find any examples of such a thing happening in the name of atheism, or even Satanism for that matter. It is time we rid society of religion, and embraced love, respect, and decent goodness as ideals to uphold. Religion, sadly, all to often has promoted violence, not sought to end it. This is one more reason why I am no longer religious. My God is humanity and human decency. My God is doing good to all and my worship is respect, love, tolerance and understanding to all to the best of my ability.
And that is the gospel according to Andrew