home
RSS
When religious beliefs become evil: 4 signs
The Branch Davidians, a religious sect led by David Koresh, clashed with federal agents in 1993 in Waco, Texas.
April 28th, 2013
06:00 AM ET

When religious beliefs become evil: 4 signs

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - An angry outburst at a mosque. The posting of a suspicious YouTube video. A friendship with a shadowy imam.

Those were just some of the signs that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, accused of masterminding the Boston Marathon bombings, had adopted a virulent strain of Islam that led to the deaths of four people and injury of more than 260.

But how else can you tell that someone’s religious beliefs have crossed the line? The answer may not be as simple you think, according to scholars who study all brands of religious extremism. The line between good and evil religion is thin, they say, and it’s easy to make self-righteous assumptions.

“When it’s something we like, we say it’s commitment to an idea; when it’s something we don’t like, we say it’s blind obedience,” said Douglas Jacobsen, a theology professor at Messiah College in Pennsylvania.

Yet there are ways to tell that a person’s faith has drifted into fanaticism if you know what to look and listen for, say scholars who have studied some of history’s most horrific cases of religious violence.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

“There are a lot of warning signs all around us, but we usually learn about them after a Jim Jones or a David Koresh,” said Charles Kimball, author of “When Religion Becomes Evil.”

Here are four warning signs:

1. I know the truth, and you don’t.

On the morning of July 29, 1994, the Rev. Paul Hill walked up to John Britton outside an abortion clinic in Pensacola, Florida, and shot the doctor to death. Hill was part of a Christian extremist group called the Army of God, which taught that abortion was legalized murder.

Hill’s actions were motivated by a claim that virtually all religions espouse: We have the truth that others lack.

Those claims can turn deadly when they become absolute and there is no room for interpretation, Kimball says.

“Absolute claims can quickly move into a justification of violence against someone who rejects that claim,” Kimball said. “It’s often a short step.”

Healthy religions acknowledge that sincere people can disagree about even basic truths, Kimball says.

The history of religion is filled with examples of truths that were once considered beyond questioning but are no longer accepted by all followers: inerrancy of sacred scripture, for example, or the subjugation of women and sanctioning of slavery.

If someone like Hall believes that they know God’s truth and they cannot be wrong, watch out, Kimball says.

“Authentic religious truth claims are never as inflexible as zealous adherents insist,” he writes in “When Religion Becomes Evil.”

Yet there’s a flip side to warnings about claiming absolute truth: Much of religion couldn’t exist without them, scholars say.

Many of history’s greatest religious figures – Moses, Jesus, the Prophet Mohammed – all believed that they had discovered some truth, scholars say.

Ordinary people inflamed with a sense of self-righteousness have made the same claim and done good throughout history, says Carl Raschke, a theology professor at the University of Denver in Colorado.

The Protestant Reformation was sparked by an angry German monk who thought he had the truth, Raschke says.

“Martin Luther’s disgust at the worldliness of the papacy in the early 1500s inspired him to become a radical revolutionary whose ideas overturned the entire political structure in Europe,” Raschke said.

So how do you tell the difference between the healthy claims of absolute truth and the deadly? Scholars say to look at the results: When people start hurting others in the name of their religious truth, they’ve crossed the line.

2. Beware the charismatic leader.

It was one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in Japanese history. In March 1995, a religious sect called Aum Shinrikyo released a deadly nerve gas in a Tokyo subway station, leaving 12 people dead and 5,000 injured.

Two months later, Japanese police found Shoko Asahara, the sect’s founder, hiding in a room filled with cash and gold bars. Kimball, who tells the story of the sect in “When Religion Becomes Evil,” says Asahara had poisoned the minds of his followers years before.

Asahara demanded unquestioned devotion from members of his sect and isolated followers in communities where they were told that they no longer needed to think for themselves, Kimball says.

Any religion that limits the intellectual freedom of its followers, he says, has become dangerous. “When you start to get individuals who are the sole interpreters of truth, you get people who follow them blindly."

Charismatic leaders, though, often don’t start off being cruel. Jim Jones, who led the mass suicide of his followers in South America, was a gifted speaker who built an interracial church in San Francisco that did much good in the community. Few people at the beginning of his ministry could predict what he would become.

As time went on, though, his charisma turned cruel as he tolerated no questions to his authority and became delusional.

“Charismatic leadership is important, but in healthy religions, there’s always a process where questions are encouraged,” Kimball said.

Weaning followers away from corrupt charismatic leaders and bad religion can take years, but it can be done if one knows how to speak their language, says Ed Husain, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt will often deploy imams to reach out to young men in prison who have adopted “Islamism,” or extreme forms of Islam sanctioning violence against civilians, says Husain, who has written about Muslim extremism.

These Muslim clerics know the Quran better than the extremists and can use their knowledge to reach extremists in a place that logic and outsiders cannot penetrate, Husain said.

“The antidote to extremism is religion itself,” Husain said. “The problem is not to take Islam out of the debate but to use Islam to counter Islamism.”

3. The end is near.

In 1970, an unknown pastor from Texas wrote a book called “The Late, Great Planet Earth.” The book, which linked biblical prophecy with political events like Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six-Day War, predicted the imminent return of an antichrist and the end of the world.

Author Hal Lindsey’s book has sold an estimated 15 million copies and spawned a genre of books like the “Left Behind” series. Many people are fascinated by the idea that the heavens will open soon because the end is near.

That end-times theology can turn lethal, though, when a follower decides that he or she will speed up that end-time by conducting some dramatic or violent act, says John Alverson, chairman of the theology department at Carlow University in Pittsburgh.

“A religious terrorist mistakenly believes that God has ordained or called him or her to establish the will of God on Earth now, not gradually and not according to the slow and finicky free will of other humans,” Alverson said.

Yet this impulse to see God’s intervention in human affairs now and not in some distant future can also be good, he says.

There are vibrant religious communities that teach that political and economic injustice must be addressed now. Liberation theology, for example, was a movement among pastors and theologians in Latin America that called for justice for the poor now, not in some future apocalyptic event, Alverson says.

“Hope is a good breakfast but not much of a supper,” Alverson said. “We can’t just live on the hope that justice will happen; we have to actually experience justice from time to time so that our hope can continue.”

4. The end justifies the means.

It was one of the biggest scandals the Roman Catholic Church ever faced, and the repercussions are still being felt today.

In January 2002, the Boston Globe published a story about Father John Geoghan, a priest who had been moved around various parishes after Catholic leaders learned that he had abused children. It was later revealed that Catholic officials had quietly paid at least $10 million to settle lawsuits against Geoghan.

Kimball says the Catholic scandal revealed another sign that a faith has turned toxic: Religious figures start justifying doing something wrong for a higher good.

 “The common theme was trying to protect the integrity of the church,” Kimball said of some Catholic leaders who covered up the crimes. “You get all of these rationalizations that we can’t let this scandal bring the whole church down, so we have to pay off this family and send the priests off to rehab.”

Religion is supposed to be a force for good. Still, it’s common that everyone from suicide bombers to venal church figures finds ways to justify their behavior in the name of some higher good.

Those rationalizations are so pervasive that religious movements that avoid them stand out, scholars say.

Jacobsen, the theology professor from Messiah College, cited the civil rights movement. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and his fellow activists renounced violence, even as they were attacked and sometimes murdered.

“They were willing to lay down their lives for what they believed in, but what’s incredible is, they practiced not retaliating when they suffered violence,” he said. “Those people really believed that God created everyone equal, and they were committed to the point of death.”

In some ways, it’s easy to say we would never adopt a form of religion that’s evil. But when we use the word “evil” to describe those who kill in the name of their faith, we’re already mimicking what we condemn, Jacobsen says.

In his new book, “No Longer Invisible: Religion in University Education,” Jacobson writes that calling a religion evil is dangerous because “bad or wrong actions can be corrected, but typically evil needs to be destroyed.”

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

“To label someone or something as evil is to demonize it, putting it in a category of otherness where the rules of normal life do not apply, where the end often justifies almost any means,” Jacobson writes.

And when we do that, we don’t have to read about radical imams or look at angry YouTube videos to see how easy it is for someone to drift toward religious extremism, he says.

We need only look at ourselves.

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Books • Catholic Church • Christianity • Courts • Culture wars • Egypt • Fundamentalism • History • Islam • Jesus • Leaders • Moses • Muslim • Quran

soundoff (3,810 Responses)
  1. Frankie

    And the number one sign of religious fanaticism is:
    Actually believing that crazy stuff you say you believe.

    April 28, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Frankie,

      So, then what is your take on socio-genetic algorithms? Your deemed lumping together many religions as being fanatic tells quite a bit about your insensitivity and lack of judgmental hindsight regarding the socialistic revelations of religious conservancies.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
  2. truthordare7

    Way to totally whitewash Islam by giving out the few examples of fanaticism in other religion. Have you grown up with Islam in your midst? Do you know their holy Quran and the Hadiths? Islam has been responsible for close to 21,000 acts of terrorism all around the world SiNCE 9/11. While fanaticism of all other religions in the same period could hardly even make a dent on that abominable number. Look at the very mindset of these people. They willingly come to this country, get fed on welfare, get all the freedom they need and still they badmouth the very country that gave them unliimited opportunities and haven. They even went further to cause harm and mayhem and afterwards went about their business without any moral conflict. That is a deep seeded problem which speaks to the very nature of Supremacy of their faith over infidels. How else would you explain the lack of feelings on their part? Now they are picking fights even with Buddhists in Burma, Northern India, Bangladesh, Thailand, while being responsible for the carnage all over middle east, and africa. THINK about it.

    April 28, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      Oh yeah, because CNN is full of anti Christian and Anti Judaism stories and they rarely mention any news having to do with islam. LOL

      April 28, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      truthordare7,

      So then, how can anyone resist the religiously blasphemous Acts of social persecutions in the namesakes of religious antipathies? Is not our societal world's entourage of cultured ways too fragmented morally and civilly?

      April 28, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • Kat

      you forgot about the fundi christian ex president whose role model was Jesus and who used to get advice from his "heavenly father" who forged evidence, lied to the nation, launched a bloody war that killed, maimed and made homeless millions of people (including americans). Much of those 20k attacks you speak of were a result of that fundi christian American president wars.
      I bet you admit him and follow his sources that twist facts about Muslim minorities being the victims and being massacred in Burma to be instead the aggressors

      April 28, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
  3. Boundgodsfan

    So basically all of the bullet points in this article is pointing at religion itself.
    1. I know the truth, and you don’t.
    2. Beware the charismatic leader.
    3. The end is near.
    4. The end justifies the means.

    With that being said, now, aren't all religions evil because every sect does this to stay alive.

    April 28, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • The Non Believer

      Yes.

      April 28, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
  4. lionlylamb

    I see this humanist world of ours as being an augmented cloister of multi-duplicitous hominids ever to be eking out their commonalities of thought-filled euphemisms around servile attenuations harrowing mixed sensations of emotional dispensations. The world is full of servant orientated secularisms within the framed works of all mannerisms of cultured relevance, be it religious or atheist or any other niche of socialism, people seem to tenuously serve their socialistic hierarchies with totalitarian abandonment.

    April 28, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
  5. Shaun

    The root cause is thethree Abrahamic religion believe in believer and non believer theory. Then differnt sects among these religions have created rules for these two categories, some sects have mild versions and some have violant versions which tells how to deal with non believers. Jews, Christians and Islamist are prosecuting each other as well as non abrahamic faith followers since centuries. Even today christains, mulslims talk about either cnvert or kill non christians or non muslims.

    April 28, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
  6. ScottCA

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQxJi0COTBo&w=640&h=360]

    April 28, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
  7. ScottCA

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdBJL1c7xUI&w=640&h=360]

    April 28, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  8. lol??

    Why are the A&A's proud of the slaughter of the davidians? A couple of 24 hour guards could have held them for years.No way to treat Vern.

    " Due to his poor study skills and dyslexia, he was put in special education classes and nicknamed "Mister Retardo" by his fellow students"

    bully culture

    April 28, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • oOo

      I supposed if lol?? has his way, police shouldn't have even tried to interfere with this Xtian sect (from Huff_Post via AP):

      SANTIAGO, Chile — Chilean police on Thursday arrested four people accused of burning a baby alive in a ritual because the leader of the sect believed that the end of the world was near and that the child was the antichrist.

      The 3-day-old baby was taken to a hill in the town of Colliguay near the Chilean port of Valparaiso on Nov. 21 and was thrown into a bonfire. The baby's mother, 25-year-old Natalia Guerra, had allegedly approved the sacrifice and was among those arrested.

      "The baby was naked. They strapped tape around her mouth to keep her from screaming. Then they placed her on a board. After calling on the spirits they threw her on the bonfire alive," said Miguel Ampuero, of the Police investigative Unit, Chile's equivalent of the FBI.

      Authorities said the 12-member sect was formed in 2005 and was led by Ramon Gustavo Castillo Gaete, 36, who remains at large.

      "Everyone in this sect was a professional," Ampuero said. "We have someone who was a veterinarian and who worked as a flight attendant, we have a filmmaker, a draftsman. Everyone has a university degree. "

      Police said Castillo Gaete, the ringleader, was last seen traveling to Peru to buy ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic brew plant that he used to control the members of the rite.

      April 28, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • Akira

      I do not see anyone being proud of that slaughter, Christian or atheist; what I DO see a lot of is the anarchist mindset that David Koresh is to be held up as a patron saint of anarchists because they perceive he stood up to the US Government. I see you doing this more than I see any atheists on the board doing.
      Theses same people are also holding up McVeigh as somehow less of a terrorist, because he was an American born white boy who had a government beef axe to grind. Anti-government people, and yes, I have observed that behaviour in you, seem to applaud Koresh and McVeigh as some sort of home-grown heroes who "fought the law", even though the law won.

      April 28, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • The real Tom

      "Proud"? Lolly, you don't have a clue as to the meaning of the word "proud" if you think that's how anyone feels about the Branch Davidians. Most reasonable people think the actions of the FBI were warranted based on the information they had about David Koresh's actions. As for your claim that guards could have "held them for years", how the fvck do you conclude that? Were you there? Are you an FBI agent? Then I'll give your claim all the consideration it deserves, which, considering your babbling posts, is nil.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • lol??

      Well snake eyes, your gubmint god burned more than 1 baby. Anybody go to jail?

      April 28, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • lol??

      You other two ladies?? An XX cannot "get it". The Y is not in you.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • The real Tom

      When you can translate you gibberish into English, honey, you get a gold star. As it is, I have no idea what the fvck you are frothing off about, and honestly couldn't care any less.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
  9. FredKelly

    Atheism is as much a belief system as any religion, and requires as much or more faith. The difference is that the major religions enforce a long-established morality; while atheism leaves the job of defining morality to our leaders, i.e politicians. Good luck with that.

    April 28, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • James

      Last i checked Atheism is the LACK of religion .....

      April 28, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • oOo

      Mainstream atheism involves a lack of belief based on a lack of evidence. That's different from saying "there can be no gods". No faith required.

      April 28, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      Fred, That was the biggest load of nonsense I have ever read, outside of the bible. You only prove that you have no idea what atheist means.

      April 28, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • Luis Wu

      How utterly stupid. Atheism is a NON – belief. Grow a brain.

      April 28, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Not really Fred. But I guess religion is ingrained on your psyche to the point that you can't imagine not believing in the supernatural. Rather sad, if you ask me.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Fred: please explain how non-belief equals belief. That is the equivalent of saying that alive equals dead.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • sam stone

      fred: athiesm is lack of belief in a god. atheists do not leave moral questions to leaders. do you think before you post, or would that take too much effort?

      April 28, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • FredKelly

      Sigh. OK, class, please pay attention. There's going to be a quiz. One of the definitions of 'faith' is, "Complete trust or confidence in someone or something." If you're an atheist, you have faith that there is no God and, therefore, morality is an entirely human construct. If that's the case, then there all morality is subjective and can be altered by those in power to serve a selfish purpose.

      Soren Kierkegaard said, "If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe." So, in this sense, since you cannot prove that God DOESN'T exist, claiming that atheism is truth requires an act of...class?...anyone, anyone?

      The absence of God does not mean the absence of faith – you simply have faith in something or someone else. And many of your far-left leaders have a good idea who that someone should be.

      April 28, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
    • Boundgodsfan

      @ James
      To be more accurate, atheist's belief systems is faithlessness. So it is a belief after all. Feel better?

      April 28, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
  10. ScottCA

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBwtpIu5mwc&w=640&h=360]

    April 28, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  11. Clifton Webb

    Right off the bat. At numbe 1. They relate a Christian extremist story from 1994.
    Last time I checked, as much as the liberal socialist libtards want the media to report it, and the like of Brian Ross just can not help themselves, it wasn't a Christian that blew up the Marathon.

    And it is a hoot that atheists think that their ability to tell right from wrong is inate. Your ancestors just came up with all on their own when they were just hanging around in the tree just before they fell and stood up?

    April 28, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • Luis Wu

      How about Jim Jones? How about the crusades, the inquistion, the salem witch trials, the murders of abortion clinic doctors, etc. etc. etc.? Christianity has been at least as bad as Islam throughout the ages. Probably more so. Millions were killed in the Crusades – Christians trying to force their beliefs on other people. ALL religions are ignorant nonsense. The sooner everyone gets that the sooner there will be peace in the world.

      April 28, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      The christians are off fighting their holy war, which caused the bombing. Trust me, the death toll in Iraq is much larger than three.

      April 28, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Islam and christianity are equally foolish; it just happens that at this moment in time islam is a little more INSANELY dangerous...AT THIS MOMENT IN TIME.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • Luis Wu

      They are insanely dangerous but so are we. Look at Iraq and other conflicts in the middle east. The main reason we're fighting those wars is because we support Israel, most Americans believe Israel is the "promised land" of the Jews and belongs to them because their sky fairy said so. All the terrorism, all the wars in the middle east are because of this fact and for no other reason. So how many people have American wars in the middle east killed? Countless millions. We are just as bad as they are if not worse.

      April 28, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
  12. Nietodarwin

    “We have a choice. We have two options as human beings. We have a choice between conversation and war. That's it. Conversation and violence. And faith is a conversation stopper.”
    _ Sam Harris

    April 28, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
  13. ScottCA

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0kIjspxJpg&w=640&h=360]

    April 28, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
  14. Chuck

    I love coming here now that CNN has become the Internet version of National Enquirer

    You start an article about when Religons Evil and the photo you use is Wacco,
    When this world has been under ISLAMIC Terror since the mid 60's.

    April 28, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • Luis Wu

      Go back to Faux News and drink your tea.

      April 28, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • Jesus

      Islamic terror started when western governments created Israel in the 40's !!! When Muslims got there land robbed from them! If someone took your home and killed your family and friends in the process what would you do? I bet you'd be a terrorist in on time lol....don't be some dumb buddy this war started way before the 60's get your facts str8 fool lol shows what you really know about history lol

      April 28, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • Luis Wu

      Yep. Israel, with the help of the UK and US, came in, stole their land, kicked them out, left 800,000 people homeless. They don't have cruise missiles, stealth fighter/bombers, smart weapons, tanks, etc. So they fight back the only way they can. I don't blame them.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
  15. Luis Wu

    Christianity, like all religions, is nothing more than ancient mythology, written thousands of years ago by members of a primitive society in an effort to explain existence and comfort people in the face of their mortality. I've read both the old and new testaments cover to cover. I've read many other religious texts as well. They're all just ancient mythology from primitive cultures, nothing more. Period.

    When I look around, I don't see a god flying around in a cloud or pillar of fire, I don't see sticks turning into snakes, I don't see rivers turning to blood or wine, seas parting, etc. etc. If that stuff was real and happened then, IT WOULD BE HAPPENING NOW. I don't see miracles happening, all I see is a lot of ignorant people blindly accepting ancient mythology as fact, while rejecting modern scientific knowledge. If people would use their brains for a change, THINK about it using logic, reason and objectivity, then they would understand that it's just old myths. It's just so utterly obvious. They problem is, the don't THINK, they just blindly accept what they've been indoctrinated with since birth.

    What religion you are is mostly determined by where you were born and which mythology you’ve been indoctrinated with since birth. That right there should tell you it’s not real.

    All the gods that have been worshiped throughout history would fill 10 football stadiums, but of course everyone believes that THEIRS is the only one that’s real. It’s just all so utterly stupid. It amazes me how many gullible people there are in the world.

    April 28, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
  16. NO TRESPASSING

    THE DEBATE BEGINS WHEN SOMEONE DON'T BELIEVE IN OTHERS OF OPINION .. AND OTHERS DON'T BELIEVE IN SOMEONE OF OPINION .. YOU BELIEVE THAT YOUR IS RIGHT.. OTHERS BELIEVE THAT THEIR IS RIGHT..
    SO IS THE SAME IN THE WHITE HOUSE.. ONE PARTY BELIEVE THAT THEIR PARTY IS RIGHT AND THE PARTY BELIEVE THAT THEIR PARTY IS RIGHT.... SO IS IN THE COURT.. SOME JURORS BELIEVE THAT PLAINTIFF IS GUILTY AND SOME JURORS BELIEVE THAT THE PLAINTIFF IS NOT GUILTY ... SO WHO IS RIGHT AND WHO IS WRONG ?

    April 28, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • Akira

      Please turn off your capslock. Shouting gets you nowhere.

      April 28, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • Luis Wu

      There are these new inventions you may not have heard about. They're called Logic, Reason and Objectivity. If people would use them instead of blindly accepting ignorant nonsense then the world would be a MUCH better place.

      April 28, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • James

      Might wanna check that Caps lock key... unless jesus told you to keep it depressed the whole time.

      April 28, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • NO TRESPASSING

      @AKIRA & @ JAMES... ARE YOU GUYS DEBATING ABOUT KEYBOARD LOCK?

      @LUIS WU ... .YOU'RE ABSOLUTELY CORRECT... (1 ) OUR RELIGION IS WHERE WERE BORN AND WHICH MYTHOLOGY WE'VE BEEN INDOCTRINATED WITH. (2) PEOPLE NOT BLINDLY ACCEPTING IGNORANT NONSENSE THEN THE WORLD WOULD BE A MUCH BETTER PLACE .

      I HOPE PEOPLE ARE NOT BLIND TO READ THESE

      April 28, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
  17. Former Teacher

    Someone needs to be watching the Westboro Baptist Church because they seem to be exhibiting all these red flags.

    April 28, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • Luis Wu

      Yep. They're the Taliban of Christianity. Several other groups like that around too.

      April 28, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
  18. jimmy

    the zealous Christian who enlists in the military and kills civilians in Afghanistan is ok. the zealous muslim who kills civilians in the US isn't ok. isn't that really what they are trying to tell us?

    April 28, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      Thats exactly what every Christian and Jew I have spoken with believes.

      April 28, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • Jesus

      Excuse me jimmy but you but clearly you are not the stupid or duped ones that I mentioned on my last comment! What the world needs is more,people like you who uses there brain unlike most people who aren't intelligent enough too filter through the lies and use common sense to get to the truth of what's really going on in the world

      April 28, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
  19. johnwmorehead

    As a scholar of new religions, I appreciate the intent, but making this distinction is not as easy as it may seem. Serious questions remain about Waco and to what extent the failures of federal authorities to take Branch Davidian religious views seriously contributed to the tragic end, and if so, was it the Davidians or the feds who crossed the line into evil. Secondly, the criteria cited by the author are standard media elements of alleged "cults," and three out of four could be attributed to the early Christian sect in the first century. Did they cross the line then as a marginalized Jewish sect? This essay desperately needed some more depth and careful reflection.

    April 28, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
  20. Jesus

    What does America expect? When a bully(US and allies) throws a punch at someone (middle east) who hasn't done nothing but be a victim of false flagging (9/11) and there people are angry over innocent people and kids that got killed over a inside job by the evil bush family !!! What would you do if someone came to your house(country) and killed your friends and family and bombed innocent people and ruined and invaded your country ? ....now put yourself in there shoes!!! What would you do?? Are,people in America,that stupid,and duped? It,started,with claims that Osama bombed,the world trade,centre than why is that the US and its buddies have bombed other countries that didn't have anything to do with there claims??? And where is the WMD? Where's the proof to invade innocent people's land? Killing innocent people!!!!! People better wake up and see why the US and its buddies are,really in the middle,east!!! It's the Jews and Romans beefing with the Muslims like they have for centuries! Islam is the only religion left to conquer! So like they have always do to others first you divide than you conquer ..for decades they divided now they trying to conquer !! You don't like drama. Than quit sticking your nose(us and allies) in other people's countires and than you wonder why people wanna treat you the same you have treated them for years! It,ain't about the Muslims it's about main stream media the western governments and military polices and evil agenda they follow!n!n

    April 28, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      The Christians and Jews have admitted that this is a Holy War that they are waging on the middle east, at least when they are around like minded individuals. If you google it you will find tons of quotes ranging from high ranking military and political figures to the lowest infantryman, to that effect. They can't defend their evil religious wars when sane people bring them up, so they deny them.

      April 28, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45
Advertisement
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.