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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.

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“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. Diggy

    If we were humble enough to recognize that we're all evil. Not a religious group, or an athiest group. ALL.....

    May 29, 2013 at 11:39 am |
  2. THE TORMENTORS GIVEN POWER

    WHEN THE END IS NEAR AND THE GOVERNMENT HAS TURNED EVIL! SIGNS 1 – 4 : THERE IS A DARKIE IN THE WHITE HOUSE!

    May 24, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • Science

      Better than Comedy GOLD................it is THE PEARLY GATES !.............what a JOKE !

      Heaven for atheists? Pope sparks debate

      By Dan Merica, CNN

      https://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/23/heaven-for-atheists-pope-sparks-debate/comment-page-18/#respond

      https://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/05/when-christians-become-a-hated-minority/

      Discovery Channel Mega Beasts – Great American Predator

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UHQZVQvBkU&w=640&h=360]

      https://www.zotero.org/colleengreene/items/5XRFKX8N

      May 24, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • Science

      Hey faith................... the legal end ?

      Search
      Learn About the Law
      Find a Lawyer
      FindLaw Answers
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      ...

      FindLaw
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      CNN logo CNN 3 weeks ago
      When Christians become a 'hated minority'
      .
      Hey Buffy..............from Bing.

      When Christians become a 'hated minority'
      The point where religious speech becomes hate speech is difficult to define, though, scholars and activists say. The Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama is a nonprofit civil rights group that combats and monitors hate groups. Three years ago, it... Full Article at CNN

      http://legalnews.findlaw.com/article/0bj7cdy2zIcqA?q=law+OR+lawsuit+OR+legal+OR+%28court+AND+law%29

      Hey Vic and Chadie

      Faith-Healing Churches Linked to 2 Dozen Child Deaths

      by Vince Lattanzio posted on May 25, 2013 02:45PM GMT

      http://www.richarddawkins.net/news_articles/2013/5/25/faith-healing-churches-linked-to-2-dozen-child-deaths#

      Have a great life.

      Peace

      May 26, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  3. BSH

    Oddly enough, these four signs also apply to secular governments. Coming under the photo of the Branch Davidian massacre, it begs the question of what about when government becomes evil.

    May 24, 2013 at 10:49 am |
    • Science

      Better than Comedy GOLD................it is THE PEARLY GATES !.............what a JOKE !

      Heaven for atheists? Pope sparks debate

      By Dan Merica, CNN

      https://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/23/heaven-for-atheists-pope-sparks-debate/comment-page-18/#respond

      https://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/05/when-christians-become-a-hated-minority/

      May 24, 2013 at 11:12 am |
  4. Dude

    The second coming was predictions started immediately after the death of Jesus.
    1. He just had to go to heaven long enough to pick up a change of clothes
    2. As soon as one generation had passed.
    3. One hundred years, so no one on earth during Jesus' life were still alive.
    4. The year 1000.
    5. Every war.
    6. The year 2000.
    7. Every earthquake.
    8. The year 2001.
    9. Every major storm.
    10. Every date that can be calculated by mathematically manipulating any numbers that appear in the Bible.
    11. The arrival of the Anti-Christ (see also every president of the United States.)
    12. Every historical event involving Israel. (new mall opens in Tel Aviv = end of days).

    News would be if Christians all got together and announced that there was one day on the calendar that was not the start of the Apocalypse.

    May 24, 2013 at 12:38 am |
  5. Marc

    Everything on this list is why people are so worried about Christians and Catholics today as well...... It's not just the evil Muslims, Jews, (insert any other religion's name here)....

    May 23, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
  6. Sam Grimes

    John,
    Your list is simple and foolish. Take for example "charismatic leader." Ever heard of
    Jesus
    The Buddha
    Lao Tzu
    Muhammed?

    Or how about apocalyptic ideas?
    Ever read the Bible?

    Its a shame that such an ill-informed person as yourself has such a large forum to share his bigoted ideas. Your writing should offend followers of an organized religion and non-religious people alike.
    Congratulations on producing such a colossal failure in this blog.

    May 23, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
    • urouttolunch

      @ Sam Grimes. Did you even read the article? "“Charismatic leadership is important, but in healthy religions, there’s always a process where questions are encouraged,” Kimball said." I think you missed the point about apocalyptic ideas, too.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
  7. Science

    HeroesAre Rare .........you now the drill !

    Hey Cora how are the cats and JustTheFacts

    https://www.zotero.org/colleengreene/items/5XRFKX8N...............url for you chadie !

    But in favorites or peg IT OK !

    Peace

    May 23, 2013 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |

    May 23, 2013 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |

    May 23, 2013 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse | Reply

    May 23, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
    • Science

      You to the peachy one...................No red horn-y devil !

      Earth’s timeline ................chad remember this long ago..........L4H but me on the list for this.

      Trace our planet's geological and biological ages............better than the bibles timeline.

      http://www.nbcnews.com/id/33184839/ns/technology_and_science/

      Church Refuses to Host Troops Over Scouts' New Gay Policy
      NBC News·16 hours ago

      See also: More stories ·
      Top stories

      Big circle here chadie...................

      look what shows up on Bing 16 hours ago

      AND

      By the way HAR/chadie..........your header on post was ............see below........so do not go deleting comments !

      Your request was successfully submitted.

      Bing Webmaster Tools

      June 2, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
  8. Science

    Hey faith..................the peach........... did you learn or hear from that Discovery show about the LAND BRIDGE ?

    How many years ago did we cross into North America ?.................faith chadie ?

    Free learning videos go viral

    By Salman Khan, Special to CNN

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/07/24/khan.video.learning/index.html

    The DINOSAUR ?...............Chomp Chomp !...Evolution WINS hands down...time for the horn-y red devil to get the

    HELL out of the way.....................Stem Cell research !

    Allosaurus Fed More Like a Falcon Than a Crocodile: Engineering, Anatomy Work Reveals Differences in Dinosaur Feeding Styles

    May 21, 2013 — The mighty T. rex may have thrashed its massive head from side to side to dismember prey, but a new study shows that its smaller cousin Allosaurus was a more dexterous hunter and tugged at prey more like a modern-day falcon.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130521152638.htm

    http://www.youtube.com/user/TEDtalksDirector

    Evolution wins............No red devil either !

    Evolving Genes Lead to Evolving Genes: Selection in European Populations of Genes Regulated by FOXP2

    Apr. 18, 2013 — Researchers have designed a method that can universally test for evolutionary adaption, or positive (Darwinian) selection, in any chosen set of genes, using re-sequencing data such as that generated by the 1000 Genomes Project. The method identifies gene sets that show evidence for positive selection in comparison with matched controls, and thus highlights genes for further functional studies.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130418124905.htm

    Oldest of the old.............the RCC ...........BedVrooooom.............and the red devil................not funny !

    Peace

    May 23, 2013 at 7:29 am |
    • Science

      The hike to Grandmas house trough the woods.

      Do you have any..............faith/chad?........take a hike in the woods chad you might learn something !

      Where do morals come from?.....................NOT THE BIBLE>

      By Kelly Murray, CNN

      https://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/04/12/where-do-morals-come-from/#comments

      Hey faith..................the peach........... did you learn or hear from that Discovery show about the LAND BRIDGE ?

      How many years ago did we cross into North America ?.................faith chadie and Good news..........not

      Free learning videos go viral

      By Salman Khan, Special to CNN

      http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/07/24/khan.video.learning/index.html

      http://www.youtube.com/user/TEDtalksDirector

      The DINOSAUR ?...............Chomp Chomp !...Evolution WINS hands down...time for the horn-y red devil to get the

      HELL out of the way.....................Stem Cell research !

      Allosaurus Fed More Like a Falcon Than a Crocodile: Engineering, Anatomy Work Reveals Differences in Dinosaur Feeding Styles

      May 21, 2013 — The mighty T. rex may have thrashed its massive head from side to side to dismember prey, but a new study shows that its smaller cousin Allosaurus was a more dexterous hunter and tugged at prey more like a modern-day falcon.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130521152638.htm

      Evolution wins............No red devil either !

      Evolving Genes Lead to Evolving Genes: Selection in European Populations of Genes Regulated by FOXP2

      Apr. 18, 2013 — Researchers have designed a method that can universally test for evolutionary adaption, or positive (Darwinian) selection, in any chosen set of genes, using re-sequencing data such as that generated by the 1000 Genomes Project. The method identifies gene sets that show evidence for positive selection in comparison with matched controls, and thus highlights genes for further functional studies.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130418124905.htm

      Oldest of the old.............the RCC ...........BedVrooooom.............and the red devil................not funny !

      Science books........videos.............trumps the 666.................beast.................or red horn-y thingy....does it

      NOT ........peachy ?.............but below IS..............please help .........thank you.

      A project of DC Entertainment to support Save the Children, Mercy Corps and IRC

      http://www.wecanbeheroes.org/

      The Greatest Action Movie Ever (G.A.M.E.)

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUuHV3cEzZ8&w=640&h=360]

      Again Chadie................SPLAT = E mc2...............(U-Pb)...........dating process for link below

      http://library.thinkquest.org/05aug/00461/uraninite.htm

      And a little carbon – 14 from chondrites..............and water =

      WHAM-O........horn-y planet and life.

      Mom and Dad............did it faith !

      http://www.discovertheforest.org/...............To Grandmas house we go

      Hey Vic

      Do a simple search on Prof. Higgs.

      It is what creates the mass for our asses !

      May 23, 2013 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |

      Jeff

      That's not occam's razor. Occam's razor is that the hypothesis WITH THE FEWEST ASSUMPTIONS is the MOST LIKELY.

      Seeing as you are assuming an all powerful, all present, all knowing deity with no origin and no supporting, observable and repeatable evidence, creation through God is no where near the most likely.

      May 23, 2013 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |

      ME II

      @Vic,
      The ICR is obviously biased and not scientific.

      "Principles of Scientific Creationism

      The physical universe of space, time, matter, and energy has not always existed, but was supernaturally created by a transcendent personal Creator who alone has existed from eternity."
      "The first human beings did not evolve from an animal ancestry, but were specially created in fully human form from the start."

      "The Bible, ... is ... infallible and completely authoritative on all matters with which they deal, free from error of any sort, scientific and historical as well as moral and theological."
      (http://www.icr.org/tenets/)

      May 23, 2013 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |

      Red Rover............something NEW............you asked !

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEowVBEQl88&w=640&h=360]

      https://www.zotero.org/colleengreene/items/XW3H99PB

      I'm a Dinosaur – Ultrasaurus The Ultra Cool Dinosaur

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

      http://www.youtube.com/user/HooplaKidzTv

      http://www.allegra.com/sign_up_to_save.aspx?utm_source=cnn&utm_medium=banner&utm_term=cobranded_300x250&utm_content=living_with_allergies&utm_campaign=Allegra_2013

      http://www.autismspeaks.org/

      Hey Earl

      Share OK Thanks.

      Comments (1,644 comments)

      This Oklahoma atheist isn't thanking the Lord

      By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

      https://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/22/this-oklahoma-atheist-isnt-thanking-the-lord/#comments

      https://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/05/when-christians-become-a-hated-minority/

      https://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/02/09/my-take-a-word-to-christians-be-nice/comment-page-44/#comment-2364094

      Atheists Fight Gideon Bibles With Books By Christopher Hitchens And Richard Dawkins In Georgia State Parks

      http://www.ibtimes.com/atheists-fight-gideon-bibles-books-christopher-hitchens-richard-dawkins-georgia-state-parks-1271125

      RDFRS: Florida Teen Fights Back Against Bible ... – Richard

      http://www.richarddawkins.net/news_articles/2013/1/22/florida-teen-fights-back-against-bible-distribution-at-his-school#

      May 23, 2013 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |

      Cheers

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctrUY4CWocY&w=640&h=360]

      Thoth

      Gee CNN, use a headline to marginalize a woman who just lost her home for the sake of Blitzer's reputation. Like oooh, she isn't thanking the lord. She's so ungrateful. She should be ashamed. NO! Blitzer should be ashamed for asking not once, but twice. Even after she blew it off the first time. The headline should have been "Wolf gets Blitzed by his own dumb question"

      May 23, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply

      Science

      Thoth

      Agree . Maybe a Full B:ITZ !

      For the whole planet to see !

      Peace

      May 23, 2013 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |

      lol??

      Well, CNN is a special son of the Beast, ruled by group think. So they went with it.

      May 23, 2013 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |

      https://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/22/this-oklahoma-atheist-isnt-thanking-the-lord/comment-page-21/#comment-2364475

      Peace

      May 23, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
  9. Argo

    Very good article. It's all in education and showing respect for others. The truth is there if you take the time to research it. And once found, those who are of sincere purpose, will share freely and respect those who accept or not; not withhold and claim others don't know.

    May 23, 2013 at 2:55 am |
  10. Justin

    Who writes this cr-ap? The four "signs" that show when religion turns evil is usually when you see people are DEAD!!!!!! Millions and millions of people have faith in the bible, and believe that Jesus Christ is returning at some point – have any of these people blown anyone up lately???? Your use of the word evil is very interesting. Some might find others beliefs strange – but evil?? The use of the word evil should be kept for the Boston bombers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I really hope someone very soon will expose the agenda of CNN with stories as these

    May 23, 2013 at 12:55 am |
  11. drew

    fed burnt up the daivdians and gun them down when they tried to excape the blaze out the back of the kitchen it had nothing to do with Religion!!! Waco was a sign who dangous rogue agnets can do when they have a licneces to kill

    May 22, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • kathryn30223

      Agreed! These people posed no threat to anyone! At the time the news media put the spin on the story the authorities wanted to hear, but it wasn't the truth. Sad that people still believe it.

      May 23, 2013 at 6:52 am |
  12. mail@oldmanssite.com

    It looks like 1,2, and 4 apply to the present U.S. government. But number 3 may soon apply.

    May 22, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  13. mateo107

    "use Islam to counter Islamism.” yeah, because saudi clerics converting al qaeda terrorists over to mysognistic, intolerant wahabis is such a step forward...

    May 22, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • Kim Meyers

      Moderate Islam and its “Kill Button”

      In the wake of yet another horrific attack by Muslims in England, we are reminded by the Politically Correct News Media that this is not a reflection on Islam, but just the misguided fringe of the religion. CNN promoted this myth yet again yesterday (5/27/2013) with: When religious beliefs become evil: 4 signs. They had arranged for Authors and Academics on this topic to discuss and help us understand this growing trend.

      The show started with an important Caveat: “what causes religious groups to turn violent, we will look at Islam and other examples of this”. Finding the Islamic event was a dealer’s choice from the last few weeks. The Christian even should have been easier then what they came up with – July 29th, 1994 abortion clinic shooting of the by John Britton, an abortion clinic owner and Army of God Christian group member Reverend Paul Hill Paul Hill.

      In a CNN associated written piece, the defense of middle of the road Muslims and the Peacefulness of Islam was dutifully noted. It profoundly proclaimed, ““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.”

      A real life example I experienced, explains why under past and current strongly held religious beliefs, this cannot happen. I was taking a cab ride in 2006 from Dulles airport to a Hotel in Washington. That is a pretty long ride, and during it the Cab Driver and I began to talk. After a bit, President Bush, the then current occupant of the White House came up. This led to the Cab Driver disclosing he was a Muslim. He then went on to say that in late 2011, an interesting question was brought up publicly in his Mosque: “who here is for what happened on 9/11?” The answer was a resounding “no one!” He followed this with, “I am a Republican now too, I voted for George Bush!”

      The conversation drifted, and then to try to understand moderate Islam more, I simply asked, “how do you feel about Salman Rushdie. The KILL BUTTON was hit. A Diatribe followed. “ If Salman Rushdie is in my car, I KILL him IMMEDIATELY! You do not understand, he insulted the Prophet! I would go to prison gladly. It would not matter. The Prophet is more important then my wife, my children, my freedom. It must be done.”

      I began to feel a bit uncomfortable to say the least. I thought it best to deescalate the situation as I felt he had changed so visibly I might get on the kill list inadvertently. I pictured him pulling over, we were quite alone on the highway, pulling a 12-inch curvy knife out of his turban and doing me in violently due to an insult to Islam.

      Moderate Islam is completely at peace with such actions as I witnessed. There is no protest from the Imams when the Koran is thrown to the ground and people are killed in riots across the globe. Until the religion itself publicly changes its position on behaviors that are not tolerated in any other belief, we cannot expect Islam to heal itself.

      May 27, 2013 at 10:52 am |
  14. todd

    Even he christian religion has these views!! LOL ever religion shares in the 4 listed items. Just in writing this article is telling someone else, "I know the truth, you dont" LOL

    May 22, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • Argo

      Glad you had an open mind when you read this. "Healthy religions acknowledge that sincere people can disagree about even basic truths"

      May 23, 2013 at 2:52 am |
  15. Logic

    Don't need 4. Just one: Religious Beliefs

    May 22, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
  16. bookie

    hmm. moral relativity, gasoline to fan the fuel for hate on both sides, kindle to give argument, and an ending to leave open the fire pit to burn the arguments all into. Sounds like a great bait and hook to get people to hate each other still. I love it.

    May 22, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
  17. Mike

    Whee. I agree with all points.

    May 22, 2013 at 4:05 am |
  18. Divdar

    Don't agree with #4 – The end justifies the means. Any religion uses it's teaching as a moral standard to guild them towards the end. And, yes, that standard is not always met. However, it's the non-religious that usually use this to justify their actions. I'm going to experiment on people, because of all the good it can do. I'm going to sacrifice children for stem cell research, because of all the good I can do. I'm going to steal from people, because of all the good I can do with the money. I will sacrifice a few for the good of the many.

    And for #3, charismatic leaders, both religious and non-religious, have done both good and bad, leading people to great and terrible actions.

    May 21, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
  19. Science

    When you start believing in science excluding all else, just like Hitler did. My personal idol.

    May 21, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
    • Flappy

      Hitler was not an atheist. I'm not sure why this myth keeps coming up. Why would an atheist try to exterminate Jews?

      May 22, 2013 at 2:01 am |
    • tallulah13

      It's because some christians think it's okay to break that commandment about lying, just as long as it makes non-christians look bad.

      May 22, 2013 at 2:08 am |
    • Science

      Boy faker poster above..............stole the handle ..............faith ?

      May 22, 2013 at 3:38 am |
  20. Eric

    First sign religious belief is evil: When it doesn't start condemning the bible for it's immorality.

    May 21, 2013 at 6:44 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.