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Killing Faith


This is, like, the third time I've started this post. Tough subject, and something with which I'm really wrestling...

My whole family is abuzz about the soldiers killed at Ft. Hood, the murderer and the press' reaction to him, and the lack of government awareness of how close this guy was to out-and-out loony with his "faith."

And then there's the Islamic issue. Or is Islam the only issue?

My son called me tonight and said that he wants to know what the Qur'an really says. I think I'll get him this book.

I've done a lot of thinking about faith and killing - what it's really all about.

In any society, there are those who make the decisions, those who protect the decision-makers, and those who just live in the society.

If I'm angry at the decisions made, wouldn't it make sense to target the decision-makers? Or those who protect the decision-makers?

Instead, we get people like Nidal Hasan (the Ft. Hood terrorist), John Allen Muhammad (one of the DC snipers), and the 9/11 hijackers who target random people who just happen to live in the society. They weren't going after the decision-makers, or those immediately around the decision-makers. They chose the innocent. They targeted their victims indiscriminately.

Here's a graphic from Michelle Malkin's site, drawn and written by Lee Malvo, the second of the DC snipers.

All of the people I listed above did so because they believed their faith, Islam, urged them to do so.

Abortion clinic bombers and abortion doctor killers also do it because they believe their faith prompts them to do so, but they target those involved in the deed - not just random people. The people at the World Trade Center were targets of opportunity, not decision-makers.

Christians don't kill those who believe differently than they do. Abortion clinic killers kill those who are actively killing, and justify their action as a preservative and protective measure. They're killing the killers. They're not out to convert anyone to Christianity through murder. They don't kill you because you're not a Christian.

Islamic killers target non-Muslims in a non-Muslim land. You're guilty and worthy of death because you don't think like they do. Hasan believed that Muslims in our nation's military should be able to file for conscientious objector status when the enemy is Islamic. He was a Muslim first and foremost, and being an American was a distant second. While some Christians are a Christian first, and an American second, I don't see any Christians in the military who refuse to kill other Christians, or who target non-Christians just because they're not Christian.

America was founded on the premise of maximizing and preserving individual freedom. If you don't believe in freedom, you're in opposition to the very premise of America.

Freedom of religion - my right to determine my own faith - is central to the reason this nation began. Christians who assert that America is a Christian nation and work to force it to be a Christian nation stand in opposition to any freedom of religion. The way they interpret that is not a freedom of choice of personal religion, but a freedom to practice Christianity. I recently asked a very devout Christian, who believes that this is a Christian nation, where I, the non-Christian, belong in America, if America is a Christian nation. She shrugged.

This planet needs a haven where freedom is maximized and preserved. A haven where laws are based on the preservation of individual liberty. A haven where I can be a Christian or a Muslim or a Jew or an atheist, and people respect my right to choose my own faith and the laws of the nation don't have a religious basis. A haven where I choose my own vocation, keep what I earn through my work, and the government is limited. A haven where I can determine the direction of my own life, so long as I don't step on the liberties of others.

Is that America?

I believe that America was founded to be that haven, but it's not that haven today, and never will be according to some Christians and some Muslims.

Faith is waning in America. I reckon that the urgency of religionists to enforce their faith by pushing it on others is part of the reason for that decline. People innately crave freedom of religion. There's a reason it's part of the First Amendment.

Any person who doesn't respect freedom of religion sends others the clear signal that they're not welcome in this country. That's mighty offensive.

You can kill me for not believing like you do, or you can push your religious agenda into our nation's laws. Neither respects my freedom of religion. Neither wins converts.

I'm coming to believe that respecting the individual freedom of others is the highest moral there is. If I can disagree with someone and not work to strip their liberties through force or through legislation, that's the greatest respect and honor I can show them.


by Brett Rogers, 11/11/2009 10:05:10 AM


Interesting post Brett, and a weighty subject. History is certainly replete with examples of atrocities carried out in the name of religion by those "inspired" by and professing faith of all brands, including individual acts, those organized and supported by political entities, and everything in between. It seems that religion is a convenient tool often expropriated to justify violence and reconcile consciences of some people who, for whatever reason, are disposed toward aggression and violence. There are also those who seek to exercise power and control over others by virtue of their position and authority within an organized religious body. In the worst cases, some believe it is their right as a "chosen one" to engage in deviant behaviors that, stripped naked of religious justification, would be considered socially abhorrent. Thus, the problem seems to be in how it is exercised, for what purpose, or for what ends, and one person's act of devotion is considered an act of evil by another. In spite of such abuses, religion can certainly be a force of good on many levels if exercised for good intents. Killing, however, is at odds with goodness.

Although Gordon Childe may need to be revisited after all these years, among the "traits of civilization" he proposes is the existence of organized religion. Will civilization ever progress to the point where we embrace a universal truth on the order of a transcendent article of faith that killing is wrong and evil? Or will our competitive nature in other spheres--economic, political, social--reinforce perceptions of threat rooted in competition that sustain an attendant need for defense that prevents us from achieving a peace?

I admire Jefferson's view: "I care not what religion my neighbor may profess; It neither picks my pocket or breaks my leg."

I think that sort of gets at the private faith and personal religion that you espouse, Brett, and I couldn't agree more.

Indeed, the libertarian ideal might be found in Madison's Federalist 51, "If men were angels, no government would be necessary."

This suggests that until we act more in the manner of angels we will not achieve the desired state of liberty. Conversely, the less angelic we are, the less liberty we will enjoy.

As always, thanks for a thought-provoking post Brett.



Posted by Matt, 11/11/2009 3:05:24 PM

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