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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. sunnylovetts

    The Boston bombings was a government false flag event! Don't be tricked by big brother media again!

    April 28, 2013 at 10:50 am |
    • mlblogsurbanshawk

      You're an idiot.

      April 28, 2013 at 10:55 am |
    • sqeptiq

      And Alex Jones is god...right? And infowars has the only truth...right? religious fool! Saint Glenn Beck sits at the right hand of Alex! Tremble at their righteousness.

      April 28, 2013 at 10:56 am |
    • Sue Cole

      This is the type of thinking that causes terrorist's acts.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:01 am |
    • The real Tom

      Sure. And there are alien corpses in Roswell, NM, too.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:07 am |
    • wendell

      troll

      April 28, 2013 at 11:11 am |
  2. Kisten Moonsamy

    There's room for all of us to live in harmony and love another of all races. God is the ultimate owner of this universe and He has recreated this . It's not about who was the first to settle in any country but it matters about meaningful contributions one makes to humanity and thus making their lives bearable . When the grave call you to permanent sleep all our worldly desires of controlling power is not taken with and we leave everything behind.

    April 28, 2013 at 10:49 am |
    • steve

      Who knows, maybe these are evil people that just use religion as an excuse? I'm not religious myself, since blind faith is too much to ask in this day and age. Always be wary of someone telling you something you cant prove for yourself scientifically or through real experience.

      However I do believe there is intelligent design to creation, I just dont believe we have evidence of what is behind it sufficiently to discern what form it takes. Anyone who does seems a little crazy to me...

      April 28, 2013 at 10:58 am |
    • mohamedislamlibya

      What is your point?

      April 28, 2013 at 11:07 am |
    • Science

      Hey steve .......glad you call the courts crazy ?..............open mouth insert foot !

      Dover Trial Transcripts............................................. FACTS.

      Below are the complete transcripts from the Dover Trial. Thanks to our friends at the National Center for Science Education for helping us fill in the missing transcripts.

      http://www.aclupa.org/legal/legaldocket/intelligentdesigncase/dovertrialtranscripts.htm

      April 28, 2013 at 11:27 am |
  3. ide

    l'islam is religion of peace,those who kill on the name of islam are not muslim because le coran itseft make clear in the chapter 5:32 al maida,anyone who kill an innocent person,has killed all humanity and the same if anyone save one person ,it is like he saves all humanity.if who hate people because of their belief just go back to your country,keep your anger for yourselt,becauce of some idiots peoples ,l'islam is not welcome in many places arround the world.

    April 28, 2013 at 10:47 am |
    • Abdul Bun Humpin Kamel

      There is nothing peaceful about islam, where you find islam you find bloodshed. You can stop with your Taqiyya

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taqiyya

      April 28, 2013 at 10:50 am |
    • mlblogsurbanshawk

      What about the fact that the Koran says that it's ok for believers to lie to and kill 'infidels'.
      Hate to break it to you, but it's not Christians, Jews or Hindu's threatening to kill cartoonists or directors or authors for disrespecting their religions in the 20th and 21st century, it's Muslims.

      April 28, 2013 at 10:54 am |
    • sqeptiq

      By their acts shall you know them...evil is as evil does.

      April 28, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • mohamedislamlibya

      Let us be honest, if a Muslim is truly submitting to the teachings of the Quran, there are specific reasons given to kill. دعونا نكون صادقين Quran (2:191-193)

      April 28, 2013 at 11:41 am |
  4. muslim2012

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6put1Nq_xA&w=640&h=360]

    April 28, 2013 at 10:47 am |
  5. Andrew

    This blog post illustrates the problem. It says, "how else can you tell that someone’s religious beliefs have crossed the line? ... The line between good and evil religion is thin."

    The line isn't thin. It is just that religious people need to pretend it is to hide their own evil. All religious people (or at least followers of the three abrahamic religions, judaism, christianity and islam) believe in the same evil lesson taught in the story of abraham and isaac: that reason is not for us to practise, that is the great invisible god's job, and we are just to follow orders no matter what. This is evil. Suspending reason for dogma is pure root evil. The more religious you are the more you believe this and the more evil you are. Even if the dogma is something good for society, like say giving to charity, you are still following dogma, standing against reason, and are essentially just a terrorist in waiting (waiting to get orders from your god to kill).

    The evil is not practising reason, and ALL religious people are guilty of this. The more religious you are the more guilty of it you are. That is the line, and it is not thin at all. Want to be a good person? Vow that you will never follow dogma, never stop practising moral reasoning. It is the most harmful lie in all of human history that we aren't meant to reason, that we are only meant to follow orders from invisible gods communicated through liars (prophets, preachers and popes).

    Religious people should be ashamed of themselves, and shamed as much as possible. Good people need to stand up and fight against religion and the religious.

    April 28, 2013 at 10:44 am |
    • Science

      Education

      From Soup to Cells—the Origin of Life

      http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/IIE2aOriginoflife.shtml

      Works better than the bible .

      Peace

      April 28, 2013 at 10:48 am |
    • mlblogsurbanshawk

      It is interesting that you wrote about the story of Isaac and Abraham. The idea of having to prove one's commitment to anything by agreeing to gut their own child is, in the words of Christopher Hitchens, not only unethical, it's immoral.

      April 28, 2013 at 10:50 am |
    • Roy

      Well said – rationality supersedes religion fully and I think the fact that the fastest growing religion in this country is.. no religion at all attests to the fact that human progression is more and more being based upon rationality more than the religions of our forefathers. The danger comes from a split between a new and the old.. with the old clinging harder to their religions that are more and more being considered lies and being abandoned – this might bring about more extremism sadly. Eastern religions are weird though and I don't think they will have this problem. Hinduism has fully embraced science and astronomy for thousands of years and i've even met hindu atheists – very smart men and women who don't believe in god but embrace the scientific edge and adherence to objective reality in their "religion." Which is so old that it's become more a culture than an actual religion for them since they're primarily atheists....

      April 28, 2013 at 10:59 am |
    • mohamedislamlibya

      How well did you Atheists do? Stalin, Mao, you?
      "Dr. R. J. Rummel's mid estimate regarding the loss of life due to communism is that communism caused the death of approximately 110,286,000 people between 1917 and 1987."
      I wonder how well humans do in the absence of God?????

      April 28, 2013 at 11:26 am |
  6. muslim2012

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krHV9iT20zw&w=640&h=360]

    April 28, 2013 at 10:44 am |
  7. mikeinsjc

    To the impure, nothing is pure.

    April 28, 2013 at 10:44 am |
  8. mlblogsurbanshawk

    The four categories in this story "I Know the Truth and You Don't" ," Beware the charismatic leader", "The end is near." and "The end justifies the means." are all staples that were fed to me since the age of thirteen years old when I got 'saved'.
    It is misleading for any one religion/denomination to use these categories while pointing fingers elsewhere.
    Roughly twenty-two years later is when I really got 'saved'.
    The late Christopher Hitchens was dead on (no pun intended) when he said that religion poisons everything.

    April 28, 2013 at 10:44 am |
    • rosethornne

      Funny, it offended me from the time I could understand it, and I rejected religion around age 8 or 9.

      Fortunately my parents, themselves lifelong methodists, actually lived the tolerance that they preached, and permitted me to develop my own views in line with the ethics and good conscience that they taught me.

      Good people with a strong ethical foundation will behave well,whether in an organized religion or not.

      Weak or bad people with a weak ethical foundation will behave badly, whether in an organized religion or not.

      Religions just provide a convenient framework for bad people to manipulate weak people into also doing evil.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:07 am |
    • mohamedislamlibya

      How does the lack of religion do? Dr. R. J. Rummel's mid estimate regarding the loss of life due to communism is that communism caused the death of approximately 110,286,000 people between 1917 and 1987.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • mlblogsurbanshawk

      Everyone loves to point at the fall of the Soviet Union as an example of the failure of non-belief and the success of religion. But ask yourself, why was the October Revolution successful in the first place? Do you think it may have been because people felt oppressed by the Czars with the blessing of the Orthodox Church?
      Kind of like the pro democracy movement in Iran and the Arab Spring in general?

      April 28, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
  9. Lee Lohan

    Of course political correctness deems we need lump Christians in with the maniacs. Idiot!

    April 28, 2013 at 10:42 am |
    • Rekenstrana's Homunculus

      The people cited above don't strike you as maniacs?

      April 28, 2013 at 10:46 am |
    • mlblogsurbanshawk

      Taking everything from the Crusades to Westboro Baptist Church and all points inbetween into account, It would idiotic not to include Christianity in this discussion.

      April 28, 2013 at 10:52 am |
    • sqeptiq

      Maniac christians only look good by comparison with maniac muslims.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:00 am |
  10. HolderOfTruth

    Just remember – God can be real but all religions could be false. The true test could be your ability to "walk past" all the vendors with their false beliefs without getting sucked into their web of lies.

    April 28, 2013 at 10:41 am |
  11. jonp

    I vote that we ship all of the muslims, jews, and christians to the levant and let them fight to the death over the holy land.

    April 28, 2013 at 10:40 am |
  12. Nietodarwin

    Religon , NO THANKS/ JESUS , NO THANKS, If you LOVE JESUS, the go OPEN YOUR BIBLE to (Matthew 19:11-12)
    TAKE THE ADVICE OF JESUS AND CASTRATE YOURSELVES YOU SICK SICK CHRISITIANS. DO IT TODAY!!!!!

    "But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs from the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it." (Matthew 19:11-12) The Scholar's Version has: "There are castrated men who castrated themselves because of Heaven's imperial rule. If you are able to accept this (advice), do so."

    April 28, 2013 at 10:40 am |
    • Chad

      Frankly, you should take your own advice. Jesus was speaking in a culture ruled by Rome, by the way, where such people did not necessarily have a choice about their fate. At least he was showing such people compassion, whereas your post is just an expression of shallow hate.

      April 28, 2013 at 10:43 am |
    • The real Tom

      Then we aren't to take the bible literally, since it was written for people of 2000 years ago. Thanks, Chard.

      April 28, 2013 at 10:45 am |
    • Nietodarwin

      Typical "thumper" response.
      READ THAT BIBLE!!!! (But when you come to the SICK and MENTALLY ILL parts, it's " What THAT REALLY MEANS IS" or "OH What Jesus is REALLY SAYING is") HA HA HA HA HA HA

      You are actually STUPID enough to believe that out of ALL the mammals that have lived, ONE "rose from the dead" and "was born of a virgin." There is nothing different about that than believing Mohammed rode a "winged Horse" and that you will get 72 virgins in heaven if you kill infidels.

      April 28, 2013 at 10:52 am |
    • Science

      Is that Chad with a blue handle ?

      April 28, 2013 at 10:55 am |
    • JMEF

      Chad
      How have you managed to stay out of a cult, or are so abhorrent that even they rejected you?

      April 28, 2013 at 10:58 am |
    • Ray

      It becomes obvious when a person cannot understand the light. If that's really what you got from those verses then I understand why you reject logic for the illogical.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:02 am |
    • JMEF

      Science
      It will be interesting to see if Rachel shows up in blue, also.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:04 am |
    • Science

      JMEF......LOL.........when rachael shows up in blue the end is HERE ?

      April 28, 2013 at 11:15 am |
  13. Kisten Moonsamy

    Science and technology has rapidly advanced in 21 century but unfortunately spiritual condition of people has declined drastically . It's time to turn to the God the master of all creations .

    April 28, 2013 at 10:36 am |
    • The real Tom

      What evidence do you have for your claim that people will behave better if they believe in a god?

      April 28, 2013 at 10:42 am |
    • Science

      Education ?

      From Soup to Cells—the Origin of Life

      http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/IIE2aOriginoflife.shtml

      Works better than the bible ?

      April 28, 2013 at 10:45 am |
    • TrueBlue42

      Which one?

      April 28, 2013 at 11:04 am |
    • LOL

      And let's do witch burning, crusading just like old times when spirituality is strong.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:18 am |
  14. muslim2012

    Mass Murder

    This is what the Lord of hosts has to say: 'I will punish what Amalek did to Israel when he barred his way as he was coming up from Egypt. Go, now, attack Amalek, and deal with him and all that he has under the ban. Do not spare him, but kill men and women, children and infants, oxen and sheep, camels and asses.' (1 Samuel 15:2-3 NAB)

    April 28, 2013 at 10:35 am |
  15. muslim2012

    Kill Sons of Sinners

    Make ready to slaughter his sons for the guilt of their fathers; Lest they rise and posses the earth, and fill the breadth of the world with tyrants. (Isaiah 14:21 NAB)

    God Will Kill Children

    The glory of Israel will fly away like a bird, for your children will die at birth or perish in the womb or never even be conceived. Even if your children do survive to grow up, I will take them from you. It will be a terrible day when I turn away and leave you alone. I have watched Israel become as beautiful and pleasant as Tyre. But now Israel will bring out her children to be slaughtered." O LORD, what should I request for your people? I will ask for wombs that don't give birth and breasts that give no milk. The LORD says, "All their wickedness began at Gilgal; there I began to hate them. I will drive them from my land because of their evil actions. I will love them no more because all their leaders are rebels. The people of Israel are stricken. Their roots are dried up; they will bear no more fruit. And if they give birth, I will slaughter their beloved children." (Hosea 9:11-16 NLT)

    Kill Men, Women, and Children

    "Then I heard the LORD say to the other men, "Follow him through the city and kill everyone whose forehead is not marked. Show no mercy; have no pity! Kill them all – old and young, girls and women and little children. But do not touch anyone with the mark. Begin your task right here at the Temple." So they began by killing the seventy leaders. "Defile the Temple!" the LORD commanded. "Fill its courtyards with the bodies of those you kill! Go!" So they went throughout the city and did as they were told." (Ezekiel 9:5-7 NLT

    April 28, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • Nietodarwin

      You are GUILTY OF CHILD ABUSE if you are teaching this (*&(&%&^ to children. Go practice your delusion in private, you have that right. SHUT UP about it in front of children. DO YOU THINK GRAVITY IS A HOAX TOO??? Don't bother to answer, you are incapable of thought or logic.

      "If we are going to teach creation science as an alternative to evolution, then we should also teach the stork theory as an alternative to biological reproduction." Judith Hayes
      “Debating creationists on the topic of evolution is rather like trying to play chess with a pigeon; it knocks the pieces over, craps on the board, and flies back to its flock to claim victory.”
      _ Scott D. Weitzenhoffer

      April 28, 2013 at 10:43 am |
    • mohamedislamlibya

      Let us be honest. This Torah refers to past events. We live in the here and now. What is happening now? Islam is not a religion. It is a political ideology. This is different. Islam is an ethical set of ideals, principles, doctrines, of a social movement, that explains how society should work, and offers some political and cultural blueprint for a certain social order. It has a law that MUST be followed by all people, not just those who adhere to the ideology. Do not compare Islam to Christianity.
      Good Muslims are asked not to question their faith. "O ye who believe! Ask not questions about things which, if made plain to you, may cause you trouble. But if ye ask about things when the Qur'an is being revealed, they will be made plain to you, Allah will forgive those: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Forbearing. Some people before you did ask such questions, and on that account lost their faith."
      Qur'an 5:101-102

      April 28, 2013 at 11:00 am |
    • wendell

      You are a nut, using religious text as basis for murder. Thankfully most people see you for what you are and are willing to stand up to you and your irk.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:05 am |
  16. TiSentinel65

    The article fails to mention the fact that the biggest murderer of mankind is organized government. Religion can not claim no where near the numbers of people that have been killed by governments hell bent for leather on waging war. Look at what is going on today. The saber rattling continues while our leaders try to look tough and talk war. Religion is not needed to kill your neighbor, only a righteous cause that governments can cook up to whip the people into a frenzy. How many innocent people have been killed alone by the mere fact that they lived inside the border of a country that we were attacking. Many of these people did not care about the politics of the day, only that they improved the lives of their families and gave them better than what they had before. This is a worldly goal that everyone strives for, yet we paint people with a broad brush and try to classify them as terrorists. Most of them I am sure are not terrorists, but only want to be left alone to pursue their dreams just as we have. If only we could be there to see the looks on their faces after we bombed their families to pieces, maybe we would lose our lust for war. War is a crime against innocents. It is the innocent who foot the bill by paying with their lives. Gods commandment is Thou shalt not kill. It is man who has twisted this to serve his own need for power and money. The punishment for this will be war, and for this we will all suffer. When you kill a man, it is a families burden to bury him, and they WILL seek revenge for the dead. This cycle will continue until peaceful men, men who value their neighbors lives over power and money, are elected.

    April 28, 2013 at 10:33 am |
  17. Superman

    No, read the Bible and pray to know God. A lot of "religious" people don't read the Bible and pray regularly and they fill in the blanks on their own. Atheists are responsible for the most harm and deaths in the history of the world!!! Funny how this extreme liberal writer, John Blake, (undoubtedly, an atheist) neglects that FACT! Funny how atheists criticize Christians on their faith, but atheists have blind faith in the evolution hoax.

    April 28, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • Akira

      Name anyone who has killed in the name of atheism.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:04 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      You are lying about atheists (violating your 9th commandment, bearing false witness and all that).

      There is not one you will be able to site that killed anyone BECAUSE of their atheism.
      Meanwhile I can site case after case where religious beliefs WERE the reason for millions of deaths.

      Stop lying.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:06 am |
    • The real Tom

      There isn't any faith required to accept evolutionary theory as the most likely explanation for speciation. Suspension of disbelief IS required to accept that there's a god.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:09 am |
  18. muslim2012

    Kill False Prophets

    If a man still prophesies, his parents, father and mother, shall say to him, "You shall not live, because you have spoken a lie in the name of the Lord." When he prophesies, his parents, father and mother, shall thrust him through. (Zechariah 13:3 NAB)

    Kill the Entire Town if One Person Worships Another God

    Suppose you hear in one of the towns the LORD your God is giving you that some worthless rabble among you have led their fellow citizens astray by encouraging them to worship foreign gods. In such cases, you must examine the facts carefully. If you find it is true and can prove that such a detestable act has occurred among you, you must attack that town and completely destroy all its inhabitants, as well as all the livestock. Then you must pile all the plunder in the middle of the street and burn it. Put the entire town to the torch as a burnt offering to the LORD your God. That town must remain a ruin forever; it may never be rebuilt. Keep none of the plunder that has been set apart for destruction. Then the LORD will turn from his fierce anger and be merciful to you. He will have compassion on you and make you a great nation, just as he solemnly promised your ancestors. "The LORD your God will be merciful only if you obey him and keep all the commands I am giving you today, doing what is pleasing to him." (Deuteronomy 13:13-19 NLT)

    Kill Women Who Are Not Virgins On Their Wedding Night

    But if this charge is true (that she wasn't a virgin on her wedding night), and evidence of the girls virginity is not found, they shall bring the girl to the entrance of her fathers house and there her townsman shall stone her to death, because she committed a crime against Israel by her unchasteness in her father's house. Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst. (Deuteronomy 22:20-21 NAB

    April 28, 2013 at 10:32 am |
  19. Jackson

    this is a perfect description of a liberal progressive. 1 "I know the truth, and you don’t." – how many times have you heard a liberal say this in regards to almost every issue – they also end by saying "you are so dumb". There is no greater condescending group of people. 2. A charismatic leader – there is no greater charismatic leader than Obama. That is all I have to say 3. "The end is near" – Didn't Gore say that the earth would end and be scorched due to global warming. They talk more about the "end is near" than Christians. 4. The end justifies the means – this typifies the progressives .Example after example. Gun control, raise corporate taxes, raise the debt, partial birth abortion, program after program. It doesn't matter how it hurts other people as long as the end goal is accomplished. This is the mind of a liberal.

    April 28, 2013 at 10:32 am |
    • Jackson

      The end justifies the means is by definition is progressive.

      April 28, 2013 at 10:37 am |
    • egsdg

      Yeah, well, we're winning the demographic war and culture war by such a degree that it's irreversible at this point 🙂 sux2bu

      April 28, 2013 at 10:44 am |
    • Thomas

      I agree. A progressive defines the truth as anything they believe and a stupid person is anyone that disagrees with them.

      April 28, 2013 at 10:45 am |
    • SciGuy

      Progressives are a weak lot. I've had more than one defriend me on social networks because I dare to disagree with them. Pitiful.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:50 am |
  20. muslim2012

    Kill Fortunetellers

    A man or a woman who acts as a medium or fortuneteller shall be put to death by stoning; they have no one but themselves to blame for their death. (Leviticus 20:27 NAB)

    Death for Hitting Dad

    Whoever strikes his father or mother shall be put to death. (Exodus 21:15 NAB)

    Death for Cursing Parents

    1) If one curses his father or mother, his lamp will go out at the coming of darkness. (Proverbs 20:20 NAB)

    2) All who curse their father or mother must be put to death. They are guilty of a capital offense. (Leviticus 20:9 NLT)

    Death for Adultery

    If a man commits adultery with another man's wife, both the man and the woman must be put to death. (Leviticus 20:10 NLT)

    Death for Fornication

    A priest's daughter who loses her honor by committing fornication and thereby dishonors her father also, shall be burned to death. (Leviticus 21:9 NAB)

    Death to Followers of Other Religions

    Whoever sacrifices to any god, except the Lord alone, shall be doomed. (Exodus 22:19 NAB)

    Kill Nonbelievers

    They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul; and everyone who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. (2 Chronicles 15:12-13 NAB)

    April 28, 2013 at 10:32 am |
    • SciGuy

      Unusual screen name for who appears to exalt the word of God.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:47 am |
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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.