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Five takeaways from Pew’s comprehensive study on Islam
April 30th, 2013
03:33 PM ET

Five takeaways from Pew’s comprehensive study on Islam

By Dan Merica, CNN
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Washington (CNN) – A Pew Research Center study released Tuesday takes an in-depth look at Islam, including how Muslims around the world view extremism, sharia law and the meeting of religion and politics.

The study is a four-year effort by Pew, which conducted 38,000 face-to-face interview in 80-plus languages for the survey. In total, 39 countries and territories were included, all of which had over 10 million Muslims living there.

Here are the report’s five major takeaways:

1.) Differences between U.S. and international Muslims are vast

While Muslims in the United States share a belief system with Muslims abroad, the Pew survey released Tuesday and a Pew survey on American Muslims from 2011 reveals wide differences between the two groups.

An overwhelming number of Muslims outside the United States told Pew that “Islam is the only religion that leads to eternal life in heaven.” Ninety-six percent of Egyptians and Jordanians, 95% of Iraqis and 94% of Moroccan Muslims responded that “Islam alone” leads to heaven.

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When all Muslims outside the United States were considered, only 18% said many religions can lead to heaven. In the United States, that number is 56%, according to the 2011 survey.

Additionally, U.S. Muslims were more likely to have friends who were not Muslim.

“About half of U.S. Muslims say that all (7%) or most (41%) of their close friends are followers of Islam, and half say that some (36%) or hardly any (14%) of their close friends are Muslim,” the survey reports.

By contrast, an average of 95% of Muslims outside the United States said “most or all of their friends are Muslims.”

2.) Sharia law favored, especially by more devout Muslims

A whopping 99% of Muslims in Afghanistan told Pew that they favor sharia law – a Muslim code that dictates everything from dietary laws to morals – as the official law of the land.

Though Afghanistan is by far the most supportive of sharia, majorities in countries like Iraq (91%), Palestinian territories (89%) and Malaysia (86%) favor applying sharia to everyone in their respective countries. Support for this viewpoint was particularly strong in Southeast Asia, South Asia, Middle East-North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Analysis of the survey results by Pew found “most Muslims believe sharia is the revealed word of God rather than a body of law developed by men based on the word of God.”

Those who approve sharia becoming the law of the land generally pray more than their Muslim brethren.

Muslims who pray several times a day in Russia, for example, are over twice as likely to favor implementing Islamic law as the law of the land. The same split between those who pray several times a day and those who pray less often can be seen in Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, Tunisia and Turkey.

3.) Most Muslims believe religion, politics should be intertwined

A majority of Muslims surveyed in Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Middle East-North Africa told Pew that religious leaders in their respective countries should have political influence.

Much like favoring sharia law, religious devotion played an important role in these beliefs.

"Devout Muslims tend to be more supportive of religious leaders playing a role in politics,” the survey reads. “In a number of countries, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa but also in Southern and Eastern Europe, Muslims who pray several times a day are more likely than those who pray less frequently to say religious leaders should have at least some influence on political matters."

4.) Around the world, Muslims heralded religious freedom

Despite views that Islam should influence politics and law, an overwhelming number of Muslims told Pew that religious freedom was a good thing.

Ninety-seven percent of Muslims in South Asia, 95% in Eastern Europe, 94% in sub-Saharan Africa and 85% in the Middle East and North Africa responded positively to religious freedom, according to the poll.

“Overall, Muslims broadly support the idea of religious freedom,” the study states. “Among Muslims who say people of different religions are very free to practice their faith, three-quarters or more in each country say this is a good thing.”

5.) Islamic extremism widely rejected, but still a concern

Carrying out violent acts in the name of Islam is strongly rejected by Muslims around the world, according to the survey.

While a majority of Muslims, according to Pew, in all countries surveyed said “suicide bombing in defense of Islam” was rarely or never justified, “there are some countries in which substantial minorities think violence against civilians is at least sometimes justified.”

For example, in the Palestinian territories, 40% of Muslims said suicide bombing was often or sometime justified. In Afghanistan that number was 39% and in Egypt that number was 29%.

Despite most country’s disapproval of violence in the name of Islam, religious extremism – and in particular Muslim extremism – is a concern for a majority of Muslims in the world, according to the survey.

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“At least half of Muslims in 22 of the 36 countries where the question was asked say they are at least somewhat concerned about religious extremist groups in their country,” the report reads. “In most countries, Muslims are much more worried about Islamic extremists than Christian extremists.”

Concern over Muslims extremism was at it highest in Indonesia, Iraq and Guinea Bissau, where over 45% of Muslims said they were either very or somewhat concerned about violence in the name of Islam.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Belief • Islam • Islamic law • Polls

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soundoff (1,682 Responses)
  1. Heebeejeebee

    We all go to heaven on a little billy goat.

    April 30, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
  2. Pierre - Westmount

    Has the Pew Research Center ever read Islam's Theology of Submission?

    April 30, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
  3. Throwing Stones

    It's easy to view Islam in this light with statistics that shock people, but how would other major world religions fair against these same questions? There are extremists in EVERY faith.

    April 30, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
    • moonraker

      It's all so silly – there is no heaven people. It's 2013, move into the 21st century.

      April 30, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
    • Chad

      really?

      there are some countries in which substantial minorities think violence against civilians is at least sometimes justified.”
      in the Palestinian territories, 40% of Muslims said suicide bombing was often or sometime justified. In Afghanistan that number was 39% and in Egypt that number was 29%.

      April 30, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
  4. Franky

    Speaking of religion, anyone watch Battlestar Gallactica, freaking awesome show!

    April 30, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
    • Starbuck

      No, Battlestar Galactica is a fracking awesome show!

      April 30, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
    • Bobpitt

      Battlestar Gallactica???? you seem more like a Pewee Herman type..

      April 30, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
  5. Alfredo

    The clone army is uniform in their belief of the 1400 year old fairy tale. Pretty scary that a billion buy into this nonsense....

    April 30, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
    • Troy

      All religion is a cancer and more than 1 billion practice it.

      April 30, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
  6. Franky

    Is it me or are the responses a contradiction? How can you support sharia law as well as intertwining religion and politics and in the same breath support religious freedom.

    Invariable the above to ideas place laws based on religion into general practice thus infringing on the religious freedom of others. You can not have it both ways which they seem to not comprehend.

    April 30, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
  7. thegadfly

    Imagine there's no heaven.
    It's easy if you try.
    No hell below us,
    Above us only sky.
    Imagine all the people living for today.

    April 30, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
    • Answer

      Too scary for some.

      April 30, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
    • jj

      You're not the only one.

      April 30, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
    • Franky

      Imagine there's no countries
      It isn't hard to do
      Nothing to kill or die for
      And no religion too
      Imagine all the people
      Living life in peace.

      April 30, 2013 at 10:18 pm |
    • Throwing Stones

      still beautiful...

      April 30, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
  8. Jeebusss

    Who goes to heaven? This is like debating how many gold coins are in the pot at the end of the rainbow. It's completely imaginary, grow up. There isn't a magical theme park waiting forever for you in the sky when you die.

    April 30, 2013 at 9:53 pm |
    • Answer

      The power of imagination.

      In the case of heaven – it a case of using it badly to comfort oneself.

      April 30, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
    • Heebeejeebee

      So maybe heaven isn't a magical theme park... maybe it's something way more abstract than that? something beyond comprehension. You cannot know one way or the other for certain until you've breathed your last. See you at Mr Toad's Wild Ride.

      April 30, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
  9. BM

    Obviously no Muslim goes to heaven, because it doesn't exist. The joke's on you suicide bombers. Plus you get no tasty bacon. Losers.

    April 30, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
    • BRB

      And as an added bonus for the Muslim males – there are no 72 virgins either. HaHaHaHa – joke is on you.

      April 30, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
    • Answer

      They've sent out their best apologists and have reduced their virgins to "raisins."

      April 30, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
  10. Teamski

    This is a rather sad report. As long as you link religion with government, the world simply cannot advance. Sharia is not a sound replacement for a rational legal system. I don't think one religion is better than the others. As a Deist, I simply believe in God, the rest is pretty much man-made. The Hadith, Talmud and any other religious law is a man-made dogma that isolates people and culture. Someday, it has to end for humans to find a common ground.

    April 30, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
  11. jill

    It is written NO man comes to the father[which sits in Heaven] except through Jesus Christ. It not any religion that gets you to heaven its not by works lest any man should boast. Its a FREE gift if you believe Jesus died for YOUR sins and you ask Him for forgiveness.

    April 30, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
    • Teamski

      Too bad that billions of Chinese will go straight to hell. Does that make sense to you? It doesn't to me. We are all god's children, no matter what religion or dogma you follow.

      April 30, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
    • Athy

      And you really believe that?

      April 30, 2013 at 9:53 pm |
    • jill

      God doesnt send anyone to hell. Your rejection of Jesus separates you from Him. Its not a religion issue its a heart issue between each of us and God. When you died I dont think God is going to ask you what religion you are. He will know you by His son. To know the son is to know the father. You cant think Jesus hung on the cross and shed his blood for nothing. Yes he loves everyone, even the guy who murdered those 3 people and injured the rest but no sin is unforgiveable only the sin of rejecting his Holy Spirit. Everyone that has breath still has time to accept him. Only once were dead is that chance lost forever.

      April 30, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
    • Answer

      It is always the same...

      "It is my god that saves you." <<– yeah sure.

      April 30, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
    • BRB

      Jill – send me an email when you arrive in heaven. Just send it to BRB – god will know who it is for.

      April 30, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
    • Lynette

      God doesnt send anyone to hell. Your rejection of Jesus separates you from Him. Its not a religion issue its a heart issue between each of us and God. When you died I dont think God is going to ask you what religion you are. He will know you by His son. To know the son is to know the father. You cant think Jesus hung on the cross and shed his blood for nothing. Yes he loves everyone, even the guy who murdered those 3 people and injured the rest but no sin is unforgiveable only the sin of rejecting his Holy Spirit. Everyone that has breath still has time to accept him. Only once were dead is that chance lost forever.

      April 30, 2013 at 10:01 pm |
    • Answer

      @BRB

      That computer they get in heaven will need 'electricity' - oh right they'll compensate with 'magic'.

      April 30, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @jill

      1) Believe or else is a piss poor and immoral doctrine for a supposed "all-loving" god.
      2) It's not a "free gift" if belief and faith without evidence is needed.
      3) According to your own bible, the sin of apostasy is unforgivable, and it also states quite clearly that your god makes people believe in lies and delusions.

      Your religion and doctrines are contradictory, and immoral. I sincerely hope that you realize that someday so that you will not ostracize people through your self-righteous behavior.

      April 30, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      #3 was more for Lynette.

      April 30, 2013 at 10:05 pm |
    • Pby1000

      Have you actually read the old and new testament? People still believe that crap?

      April 30, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
    • Franky

      It's ironic most Christians do not comprehend that it's not "believing that Jesus died for your sins" that gets you to heaven. It is that Jesus showed you how to live a life that was worthy of going to heaven, it has nothing to do with believing he died for your sins. Moreover, coming through him means, following in his footsteps. I mean if you believe this sort of thing.

      I find people who consider themselves "religious" often know or comprehend their religion the least.

      April 30, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
    • c5boi

      Finally..someone who is as retarded as Muslims!

      April 30, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
  12. KP

    Seriously??! We are using "x religion is the only path to heaven" as the benchmark for being narrow-minded and "radical"? have you opened the bible or torah recently? ridiculous hypocrisy.

    April 30, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Did someone say that Christianity didn't have this problem too?

      April 30, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
  13. BudW

    You cant fix stupid, the sooner we get our nose out of the middle east the sooner they will slaughter each other.

    April 30, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
    • Justin

      your rosy-hued optimism is refreshing, my dear Gandhi

      April 30, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
  14. lngtrmthnkr

    all problems are for us to solve ,to learn, think. grow. to become the answerers and the fixers of our world.God is for each of us to decide to seek or reject as we wish.

    April 30, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
  15. JH Gamble

    If Allāh / God is so great and powerful...
    Why does he need you to kill for him?
    Why does he need you to preach for him?
    Why does he need you to enforce his laws?
    Really?

    April 30, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
    • PW

      Perhaps, the man does not want to do the dirty job himself!!! You know how tiresome it is to go around and try to convert a non-believer? Give it a try and you have your answer!

      April 30, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
  16. JustTheFacts

    Why Islam Is A False Religion...

    Yes, there are plenty of religions in the world all claiming they are the one true church and one true religion and are the only way to be saved. The only problem is, can they prove it? Not with conjecture, and not with someone's personal opinion or theory, but can they prove it and back it up by truth that they are the one true church and the only religion that can save you? The answer to that question is, there is only one church on earth that can successfully do that and stand up under scrutiny as being the one true church. Only one. And we are that one true church, the one started by Jesus on the Day of Pentecost. And we can prove it. All others will fail. And so will Islam.

    The reason Islam is a false religion is because it was not started by Jesus Christ. Nor does Islam follow in the ways of Jesus Christ or the Apostle's Doctrine, which is the doctrine for the saints in the church of Jesus Christ. The scriptures clearly state that if any man follow any other teaching or any other doctrine other than the one taught by the Apostles, then such a person is cursed with a curse and of the devil. Islam do not follow what the Apostles taught. Therefore, Islam is cursed with a curse and is a false religion.

    Instead, Islam was founded by a man named Mohammad approximately 350 years after Jesus died on the cross. The real church of Jesus Christ had long been started by then. But instead of Mohammad following in the path of Jesus Christ and following the Apostles, Mohammad had a dream in a cave up in a mountainside. And in that dream, he claimed he saw the angel Gabriel. He states the angel Gabriel spoke to him. And as a consequence of that conversation he had, Mohammad then started Islam.

    Long story short, Mohammad was deceived by Lucifer. He may indeed have had a dream, and he may indeed have seen some figure which he assumed was the angel Gabriel. But in reality, that was not Gabriel. How do I know? I know it because God does not work that way. In the age of the church (the age which started on the day of Pentecost and will end on the day of the Rapture) God does not work through visions and dreams anymore. In the Old Testament he did, but not in the age of the church. In the age of the church, if God wants you to know something, then he already has sent preachers on earth to tell you exactly what God wants and says. So God no longer has to deal with dreams at all. Therefore, what Mohammad saw was not angel of God but a devil. A devil dressed up like an angel to deceive him. And deceive him he did. And all because of Islam – which is a false religion – Mohammad has now deceived countless others. And that was Lucifer's plan all along…

    April 30, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
    • Paulwisc

      Long story short, you're just as clueless and irrational as any Muslim. Or Christian. Or Scientologist.

      April 30, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
    • brianz72

      You're nuts. Just as insane as the typical Muslim wacko. Perhaps less violent, but just as delusional.

      April 30, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
    • jill

      God does still work miracles right? He still heals the sick? He still saves the lost? He raises the dead? How can you think visions and dreams are no longer alive? This is not a salvation issue but its an issue you might consider researching your bible more.

      April 30, 2013 at 9:53 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      To "Paulwisc" and "brianz72"… I dare you to prove I'm clueless and irrational and to back it up by truth. You're nothing but talk. And your own personal opinion about me doesn't mean a thing. Any fool can SAY I'm clueless. But proving it is another matter altogether…

      April 30, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
    • Pby1000

      Ummm, Jill, maybe you should research the bible more...

      1 Timothy 2:12

      1 Corinthians 11:3

      1 Corinthians 11:5

      Genesis 3:16

      Do I need to keep going? Oh, yes, one more...

      Ezekiel 23:20

      What great family values... Why do people believe this garbage should be taught in public schools? Or, anywhere else for that matter.

      April 30, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      Jill… I know more about the bible than you ever will know. I have been well taught. Yes, God still works miracles. He heals the sick, saves the lost, etc., but he does it in a very special way. You cannot find true salvation or God everywhere (although technically, God is everywhere). Also, and don't forget, Lucifer can do miracles too. He can heal the sick, make the blind see, and do all kinds of miraculous things as well. But not to save you. Lucifer does it to deceive you and to send your soul to hell. So just because you meet someone who SAYS they're of God and does a miracle, that doesn't mean they're of God. They may well be of the Devil. And getting their power from the Devil…

      I stated, God no longer works through dreams and visions for the very reason I've already stated. And if you knew anything about the bible or truly understood the bible and the scriptures, then you'd know I speak the truth. But if you honestly don't know that God doesn't work through dreams and visions anymore, then perhaps you don't know as much bible as you think….

      April 30, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
    • Answer

      ===quote===

      "But if you honestly don't know that God doesn't work through dreams and visions anymore, then perhaps you don't know as much bible as you think…. "

      ===end====

      Have we got a job for you. That job is to talk to this "Austin" about it. XD

      Ask him to type out his list of dreams. Hahaha

      April 30, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
    • Antor

      350 years after Jesus died on the cross. You're really going to type up this whole thing about how only Christians are going to heaven etc etc and yet you couldn't even bother to look up that it it closer to 700 years after Jesus' death that Islam was founded. And you talk about proof, where is this "proof" you speak about. Hard facts, like you claim no other religion has but yours. And what about the peoples the far east, and Africa, and North and South America, who had their own religions long before Jesus's birth and death. They are all going to hell simply because they didn't live closer to the middle east? And are you aware that all the "laws" and cannon doctrine of the Christan Church were decided upon by the Roman Emperor Constantine, who himself wasn't even baptized until on his death bed? Your Christian doctrine was written by a Pagan Emperor of Rome. Now, that doesn't make your religion and less than anyone elses, it makes it just as equal. A system of beliefs and laws created BY MAN. I am not an Athiest nor a follower of any faith. I am simply a man who does good when he can, and hopes that if their is a "heaven" or "paradise" or something after this life, that I end up with like minded people, and if there isn't, then I spent my life treating others the way I would like to be treated, either way, I'm fine with that and can hold my head high knowing I am a good man.

      April 30, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
    • c5boi

      Please explain this "Rupture"

      April 30, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      To "Pby1000"… In defense of Jill, that scripture you quoted (1st Timothy 2:12) written by the Apostle Paul was not meant to be applied universally in all churches to all women telling them to remain silent. Most people do not know that. Instead in that scripture, Paul was dealing with a specific problem that had cropped up in a certain church. In that church, the women has grown unruly and were taking over the church. So Paul wrote a letter to Timothy, who was the pastor of that church, telling him that the women in his church should remain silent. That is what the scripture was about. Paul's comments were not meant to be applied universally to all churches and to all women, telling them to be silent. I can prove that but I won't go into that in this post…

      Also by the specific scriptures you quoted, it seems you were searching for specific scriptures which put down women or held them in subjection. The reality is, God created woman for a purpose. And her purpose is not to be anyones "slave" or even an "equal" partner with man (if anyone tells you woman is equal to man, that's a lie. Woman was NOT created equal to man, but was created "weaker" than him, and was designed to be his "helper"). God specifically designed the woman to be a "helper" for man, and as someone to be cherished and adored. Imagine if God had never even created woman. Who would cook your meals or go grocery shopping for you or look after the kids? There's no animal on earth that could do that for you. And there is no one on earth who can do it better than a woman. So God created woman specifically for those kinds of needs. To "help" man and to be his "help meet". And not to be anyone's "slave". God does not want the woman to be mistreated to treated as a slave…

      April 30, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
    • heliocracy

      Jesus founding Christianity is no different from Muhammad founding Islam. Your argument basically boils down to, "Christianity is true because it was founded by Christ, and Islam is not true because it was not founded by Christ." Many of us are way too smart to fall for such a empty and meaningless argument. By the way, show us that proof you were talking about, and it better not be akin to "because the Bible says so."

      April 30, 2013 at 11:18 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      Antor… I don't remember mentioning the word "Christian" anywhere in my post, nor do I even consider myself a "Christian." I am saved, yes, but I am a "saint", and that is what the bible calls us – the saints of the Most High God. Do you even know what the word "Christian" means or where it came from? If you did, you wouldn't even be using it. So apparently, even you, don't know as much bible as you think…

      You are correct that Islam was not founded in the year AD 350 but that it was years later after that. Sorry about that. In my mind, I got my dates mixed up with the "Reign of Constantine" which occurred around 350 AD.

      As for proof, yes, I stated my church is the one true church, and the same one that Jesus started on the Day of Pentecost. I also stated I could prove it. But that don't mean that I'm going to waste or spend my time proving it to you. Although I could if I wanted to.

      Regarding all that other stuff you mentioned, there is only one true church of Jesus Christ. Only one. And it is the only church that will be saved. And it was started on the Day of Pentecost by Jesus Christ himself. All the other so-called religions which existed before time are of no consequence. Nor can they save you. In this age of the church, only by being a member of the one true church can you be saved. And note, not everyone who says they are saved are really saved. The real question is, can they prove it? Can they prove they are really saved? To prove it, what they believe in must be backup by truth – the gospel truth. If the truth fails to support them in any way, then their religion is false.

      Concerning the so-called Canon doctrine you mentioned, the Canon doctrine is of the devil. So is the Roman Catholic Church which is responsible for writing it. And so is the Pope and the Church Fathers. The real true church of Jesus Christ does not follow the Canon doctrine and never has. The real true church of Jesus Christ follows only one doctrine: The Apostle's Doctrine. And any church which does not follow the Apostle's Doctrine as written in the bible, is of the devil and you cannot be saved in those churches…

      April 30, 2013 at 11:33 pm |
    • G to the T

      I could counter that Paul was deceived by the Devil into turning the religion OF Jesus (apocolyptic jew) into a religion ABOUT Jesus (the "annoited one" as "foretold" in the Torah), thus leading billions of people away from the one TRUE faith – Judaism...

      May 1, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  17. Lucifer's Hammer

    ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION: what is it with you and hinduism?

    April 30, 2013 at 9:25 pm |
    • regarding hate

      Probably the same thing it is for everybody else and their respective opposing side.

      April 30, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
    • Dippy

      And the stupid ass can't even figure out how to write CONSTlTUTION without the space.

      April 30, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
  18. What-the?

    #2 in the article and #4 are in direct conflict with each other. You cannot have 85-99% of the Muslims saying sharia law should be the law of the land, and have 85-97% of those same people saying there should be religious freedom. THE TWO ARE MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE.
    Though they were probably thinking of "religious freedom" in terms of Shiite believers in a Sunni country, even that doesn't jibe. Ask those same people if Christians or Jews living in their country are free to worship in their own way and you'll get a whole different answer. Will they allow music and singing at Christian churches? Not according to sharia law.

    April 30, 2013 at 9:25 pm |
  19. PW

    The mighty one does not need us to spread his gospels since there is a very good chance that we will screw up the translations and twist the words to suit our self-serving greed. Let's do less harm and practice your religion yourself! And, if we are do that, then no one is killing anyone in the name of religion. And, we'll all see you in heaven!

    April 30, 2013 at 9:20 pm |
  20. Ronnie Harper

    All religion is a pox on humanity; a disease of the mind.

    April 30, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
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