February 5th, 2013
11:50 AM ET

Can religion prevent violence?

By Jim Roope, CNN

(CNN) – When tragedies happen like the shooting at Newtown, Connecticut, the question of faith often comes up. How can horrible events like that be allowed to happen?

Rabbi Marvin Heir with the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, said he’s not surprised that people question religion, and, God in tragedies.

Hear his and others' perspectives on the role of religion in our world from religious thought leaders in the player above or on CNN Radio Soundwaves

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Interfaith issues • Leaders • Violence

soundoff (536 Responses)
  1. Atheism is Healthy for Everyone - Kids Too!

    Different kinds of fundamentalist Christians now as much as ever are arguing with each other with as much sense and rationality as a flock of chickens. They can't support their beliefs by any reasonable means, yet they deem themselves fit to judge others from those beliefs or attempt to put others in the midst of their religious infighting. Their beliefs have a very weak foundation and are not consistent, ergo the over 30,000 different denominations.

    Thomas Jefferson (POTUS #3, principle author of the Declaration of Independence)

    Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

    John Adams (POTUS #2, Patriot of the American Revolution)

    I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved – the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced! With the rational respect that is due to it, knavish priests have added prostitutions of it, that fill or might fill the blackest and bloodiest pages of human history.

    James Madison (POTUS #4, chief architect of the U.S. Constitution & the Bill of Rights)

    During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.

    Thomas Paine (Patriot of the American Revolution)

    I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church. All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

    February 6, 2013 at 8:32 am |
  2. truth be told

    The Bible shows evidence of true justice not violence. For violence unparalleled look to atheism. Atheists have tortured and murdered more innocent people in the last 100 years than were killed in all previous centuries.

    February 6, 2013 at 8:05 am |
    • Troll Hunter

      More lies from the daily troll.
      Prove it troll.I know you can't.

      February 6, 2013 at 8:09 am |
    • truth be told

      Atheist Joe Stalin murdered over 60 million, Chairman Mao atheist credited with as many as 800 million murdered , dead and murdered by atheist adolf hitler over 250 million. Prove it you say, shall I go on. Every atheist despot on the face of the earth has mass murdered.

      February 6, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
    • Truthy is a liar

      Hitler was not an atheist. Stalin and Mao did not kill for any atheist reason but for political ones. And your body counts are grossly inflated (Mao killed 250,000,000? Really?).

      This lie comes up again and again.

      Why are Christians such liars?

      February 6, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
    • Communism - is just another religion

      The former Soviet Union, China and North Korea are all dogmatic, authoritarian, totalitarian belief systems, just like christianity

      February 6, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
  3. Reality

    And still more evidence that religion causes violence:---->>>>>>>>>>>>

    The Old Testament and the god-approved atrocities:

    •Exodus 32: 3,000 Israelites killed by Moses for worshipping the golden calf.

    •Numbers 31: After killing all men, boys and married women among the Midianites, 32,000 virgins remain as booty for the Israelites. (If unmarried girls are a quarter of the population, then 96,000 people were killed.)

    •Joshua: ◦Joshua 8: 12,000 men and women, all the people of Ai, killed.
    ◦Joshua 10: Joshua completely destroys Gibeon ("larger than Ai"), Makeddah, Libnah, Lachish, Eglon, Hebron, Debir. "He left no survivors."
    ◦Joshua 11: Hazor destroyed. [Paul Johnson, A History of the Jews (1987), estimates the population of Hazor at ?> 50,000]
    ◦TOTAL: if Ai is average, 12,000 x 9 = 108,000 killed.

    •Judges 1: 10,000 Canaanites k. at Battle of Bezek. Jerusalem and Zephath destroyed.
    •Judges 3: ca. 10,000 Moabites k. at Jordan River.
    •Judges 8: 120,000 Midianite soldiers k. by Gideon
    •Judges 20: Benjamin attacked by other tribes. 25,000 killed.

    •1 Samuel 4: 4,000 Isrealites killed at 1st Battle of Ebenezer/Aphek. 30,000 Isr. k. at 2nd battle.
    •David: ◦2 Samuel 8: 22,000 Arameans of Damascus and 18,000 Edomites killed in 2 battles.

    ◦2 Samuel 10: 40,000 Aramean footsoldiers and 7,000 charioteers killed at Helam.
    ◦2 Samuel 18: 20,000 Israelites under Absalom killed at Ephraim.

    •1 Kings 20: 100,000 Arameans killed by Israelites at Battle of Aphek. Another 27,000 killed by collapsing wall.
    •2 Chron 13: Judah beat Israel and inflicted 500,000 casualties.
    •2 Chron 25: Amaziah, king of Judah, k. 10,000 from Seir in battle and executed 10,000 POWs. Discharged Judean soldiers pillaged and killed 3,000.
    •2 Chron 28: Pekah, king of Israel, slew 120,000 Judeans

    •TOTAL: That comes to about 1,283,000 mass killings specifically enumerated in the Old Testament/Torah.

    The New Testament has only one major atrocity, that of god committing filicide assuming you believe in this Christian mumbo jumbo. Said atrocity should be enough to vitiate all of Christianity.

    February 6, 2013 at 7:34 am |
  4. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Pray without ceasing in 2013
    Prayer changes things.

    February 6, 2013 at 7:26 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      February 6, 2013 at 8:52 am |
  5. Bootyfunk


    without religion, violence might already be a thing of the past.

    religion, don't go away mad - just go away.

    February 6, 2013 at 4:36 am |
    • saggyroy

      There they go again....trying to solve the problems they cause. Job security.

      February 6, 2013 at 6:25 am |
  6. Joshua Dewal

    I just got paid $6784 working on my laptop using these simple steps leaked on this web page. Make up to $85 per hour doing simple tasks that are so easy to do that you won't forgive yourself if you don't check it out! Weekly payments! Here is what I've been doing Rich45.ℂOM

    February 6, 2013 at 1:32 am |
  7. Simran

    Is it just me or did someone else notice the contrasting headlines of belief blog today?

    1. Arkansas to allow concealed guns in churches.
    2. Can religion prevent violence?

    🙂 🙂 🙂

    February 6, 2013 at 12:20 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Peace Through Superior Firepower

      February 6, 2013 at 12:22 am |
    • saggyroy

      Good eye! The scary part is that there are people that do not see the oxymoron.

      February 6, 2013 at 6:27 am |
  8. Good News Volunteer

    Remaining neutral when it comes to conflicts and politics, along with abhorring violence and mistreatment of other humans including your enemy describes one particular group. John 13:35 speaks of love being an identifying mark of these people who are actively teaching people to be peaceable in almost 240 lands. Can you name them? If not you may need to visit http://www.jw.org and get to know them.

    February 6, 2013 at 12:10 am |
    • I wonder


      Well, you don't physically kill or maim or torture the apostates from your cult, but I sure don't consider what you do to them as 'love'...

      February 6, 2013 at 12:30 am |
  9. Simran

    " Can religion prevent violence?" – Is this a joke?

    February 5, 2013 at 11:55 pm |
  10. dilberth

    I have defenestrated God from life a long time ago. Since then, I have tried to prevent violence be committed by most of his followers.

    February 5, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
    • Digressive Dan

      I love the word "defenestration", but it is so hard to work it into a sentence these days.

      February 5, 2013 at 11:53 pm |
    • dilberth

      Voters had a chance to defenestrate Obama from the Oval Office but he still sits there regularly.

      February 6, 2013 at 12:02 am |
  11. tallulah13

    Religion has never prevented violence, and in fact has incited quite a bit. I don't know why anyone would think that has changed.

    February 5, 2013 at 11:44 pm |
    • Chees-Us of Nazareth

      Maybe so, but you have to credit religion with some snappy hat styles. They've got that going for them.

      February 5, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
  12. Austin

    chad, common man. oppression is not a christian virtue. those people may have claimed or acted religios, but oppression is not biblical its sin. Racism is sin.

    February 5, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
    • Cheese-Us of Nazareth

      Yeah! They weren't true Scotsmen either!

      February 5, 2013 at 11:51 pm |
    • Chad

      we cant point out the violence in governments with a state policy of atheism and at the same time distance ourselves from the violence committed by Christian govts.

      We know better, we should do better.


      February 5, 2013 at 11:55 pm |
    • Really-O?

      "We know better, we should do better."

      And yet you continue to justify prejudice and bigotry with your antiquated religious dogma.

      February 5, 2013 at 11:59 pm |
    • Austin

      Chad I see how you feel and agree with you. i caught the end of that conversation didnt get the context.

      I honestly didnt know you were talking about a christian government. so that is why i was confused. and in that sense you are absolutely right. keep your chin up brother. hang in there warrior saint.

      February 6, 2013 at 12:57 am |
    • Chad

      thanks austin 🙂

      February 6, 2013 at 10:41 am |
  13. dilberth

    I have defenestrated God from my life a long time ago which enabled me to take charge of my life and do what I can to prevent violent behavior on the part of his followers.

    February 5, 2013 at 11:39 pm |
  14. fernace

    Religion doesn't prevent violence–People do.....

    February 5, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
  15. Cat Holic

    Are you kidding me ? Religions are the greatest cause of conflicts and violence

    February 5, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
  16. truth be told

    All so called atheists are liars. More people have been tortured and murdered by atheists in the last 100 years than were killed in all previous centuries. There is no value or need for atheism or self deluded atheists.Violence would have been minimal across the centuries with the extermination of atheism.

    February 5, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Evening, cap'n !

      February 5, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Obvious troll is obvious. And terribly predictable.

      February 5, 2013 at 11:44 pm |
    • frank

      Those are some mighty big lies that truth be told tells here. People have often murdered in the name of their religion. Has anyone ever even heard of someone murdering in the name of atheism? A ridiculous notion. Obvious troll.

      February 6, 2013 at 12:44 am |
    • bobk52

      TRUTH BE TOLD ¿ You wouldn't kno. if it was chewing on ur fat ass!!!!!!

      February 6, 2013 at 1:47 am |
  17. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    Many despots and charlatans have found religion to be a useful tool. It can be used to motivate people to do almost anything. So, of course it can be used to influence violent behaviour in people. That's not to say it is a good thing to have around. Just as arsenicals are effective in an array of diseases, but we know they're way to dangerous to use.

    February 5, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
  18. Mark

    Notice how these questions are framed, always with a negative slant towards God and religion. Or a question meant to bring doubt. This is nothing new. This happened in the garden of Eden, the serpent asked Eve: "has God really said?' Gen 3 Notice: "Can religion prevent violence". Duh I have a few questions: Can liberals help anyone? Can agnostics be trusted? Are atheists really that delusional? Is CNN unbiased?

    February 5, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What's "delusional" about atheism? What makes you think liberals haven't helped anyone?

      February 5, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      You would have to be a paranoid christian to believe the question as posed is negative. If the obvious answer was yes, as it should be if christianity lived up to its basic principles, the question would be a "soft ball" intended to highlight the benefits of the christian cult and warm the hearts of its members.

      February 5, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      #1. The oldest version of the tale has no dialogue.
      #2. You think snakes can talk, so you'll likely disregard #1.

      February 5, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      First you were hearing imaginary old men in the sky. Now you're seeing bias where there isn't any. Your mind is being rotted by religion.

      February 5, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      "This happened in the garden of Eden"

      Stay as far away from a polling center as you can.

      February 5, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
    • Akira

      Notice how nobody answers this: why, if God is all-knowing, did he need to have a tree of knowledge? A refresher course?

      February 5, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
    • Austin

      Tree was not a bad tree, it was a sacred tree , the fruit was not knowledge. they simply disobeyed and when they sinned it screwed their mind up.

      February 5, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
    • End Religion

      count Austin's typically imbecilic reply as a non-answer.

      February 5, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
    • Austin

      did you get my response to the Gen1:1 plural referring to the book of John and christ creator., He was in the beginning with God.

      February 5, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Is the whole thing about talking about the garden of eden as if it were real, then calling atheists irrational supposed to be ironic?

      February 5, 2013 at 11:46 pm |
    • fred

      “Notice how nobody answers this: why, if God is all-knowing, did he need to have a tree of knowledge?”
      =>you should rephrase the question so that it can be answered. The answer is because God is all knowing. No one can know why God did it because Gods thoughts are not our thoughts.

      February 5, 2013 at 11:58 pm |
    • Fred's Translator

      What fred really means is "I have no fucking idea so I'll claim it's one of gawd's mysteries."

      February 6, 2013 at 1:08 am |
  19. Blending religions

    Not getting worked up about religions could prevent violence. Agnostics could be the cause of worldwide harmony.

    February 5, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
  20. EX catholic

    How many times do I have to answer this stupid question you morons? No Religion does NOT prevent Violence, especially the violence prone Roman-catholic.

    February 5, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      And of course you are wrong, in that religion can prevent violence.
      Does it always..of course not but that's not what the question is asking.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.