Father Ed's Blog

A Catholic priest reflects…

Dehumanisation causes violence not religion!

We witnessed evil at play in Manchester this week. Children and young people targeted by a depraved man. What darkness must have infested his soul to lead him to this demonic conclusion. And after the prayers and tears a nation is, again, left aghast. Why? Why must we endure these ever frequent horrors of terrorism? Why so much bloodshed and hate?

The answer is, of course, complex. And to answer satisfactorily we must explore various strands that combine to produce the modern terrorist. One strand is undoubtedly Islam itself. Because, leaving aside the millions of peaceful followers which are to its credit, a question remains; why does Islam so dominate the landscape in the production of hate crazed lunatics?

With over 90% of terrorist activity stemming from the Islamic world- there is much for the Muslim community to ponder in seeking a solution and answer to this question. Apologies if this question offends politically correct sensibilities but it is reasonable. And my own Muslim friends acknowledge it. How might we stand by these, the decent Muslims, to denounce the wicked in their ranks? A subject I have written about in a previous post

We must also acknowledge the influence of politics. For there is no doubt that the rise of Wahabi fanaticism is linked to Western meddling in the Middle East. How the media demonise refugees whilst failing to acknowledge that the West created these refugees thanks to bombs we dropped. You cannot wreak havoc and not expect backlash. And as we tend wounds and bury our dead we in the West might ponder how such carnage is now daily reality for Middle Easterners. Why did the Arab Spring, so lauded by the Western press, turn into a desolate winter of suffering not a summer of liberty? Is it not because our real intentions were centred on greed not decency?

Finally let me put a silly (but widely held) supposition to bed. One rife on social media. Namely that religion is to blame for violence. This argument will not do because it does not stand to reason. Firstly because most every conflict was started by politicians not priests.  Religion is just a convenient banner to justify brutality theft and dominance. Only a cretinous grasp of history would deny this.

Secondly if religion were the cause of violence you would produce peace if it was removed. But Pol Pot, Stalin and every other dictator prove, beyond doubt, this is fantasy. History demonstrates atheistic regimes, if anything, produce more death not less. So how can it be religion? So where might we look for peace? Is it even possible given that humanity is the problem not religion?

The answer does exist, though its implementation seems unlikely at present. It can be discerned when we ponder an interesting fact. That the secular atheist has more in common with the militant terrorist than any authentic Christian. I say ‘authentic’ because nominal Christianity, though widespread, is a total sham, it is simply secular atheism wrapped up in Christian clothing.

See both the terrorist and secularist deny that life is sacred. Both endorse, albeit in slightly differing ways, the right to choose- who is worthy of life and who is not. The former dehumanises and then discounts ‘filthy infidels’ where the latter opts for unwanted children in the womb. But both play the same philosophical game. Both claim a right to state which life is worthy and which is not for their own gain.

If you doubt that secularists do this; explain why a foetus of 24 weeks is termed a ‘premature baby’, and given care, on the ward where parents desire the child. But in a different room of the same hospital a foetus of the exact same stage is washed down the sluice every day and deemed to be medical waste? Dress it up however you want, justify it as you like. Nevertheless when you endorse abortion you embrace a philosophy of winners and losers- one in which equality does not exist and death comes at the hands of another.

Whereas the true Christian (and to be fair those of no faith who see the importance of upholding the dignity of life) cannot play this game because they reject the atheistic claim that man is merely a clump of cells fighting for dominance, in the same breath that he/she rejects a fanatics claim that God only loves those of pure creed. Rather the Christian espouses a firm belief in human beings as embodied souls of infinite worth to God. And it is this belief – and this belief alone– that has the capacity to bring peace on earth. A consistent, uncompromising pro-life narrative. Whereby every one is held to be valuable and worthy of dignity from conception to the grave. No exceptions. Life is sacred.

So peace is possible but only if we embrace a belief in the sanctity of life and refuse to dehumanise others. Alas then that both the present Western culture and the lunatic fringe of the Muslim world are a long way from that position at present.  I guess we better prepare to deal with more of the inevitable fallout then, the fallout that comes when humanity is in denial of its true identity. When we refuse to accept that we are all children of God, and brothers and sisters one of the other.

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3 Comments

  1. Pat

    Interesting point

    I saw data some time ago (I wish I could remember where) to the effect that the atheist regimes have caused more deaths that all the religious disputes put together. Perhaps someone with better knowledge could confirm. We do have to stand together and support those who believe in the sacred God given nature of humanity.

  2. David Knowles

    Authentic religion must always embody unconditional and unlimited love. The love that Jesus commanded us to have is not necessarily a feeling or an emotion, but it is always a decision.
    When ideology and zealotry enter religion this love is lost. The ‘other’ becomes the enemy of God, the ‘infidel’, the ‘crusader’, the ‘idolatrer’, the ‘papist’, the ‘fenian’, the ‘heretic’,the’bible basher ‘, the ‘left-footer’,etc,etc.,
    It then becomes permissible, even laudable, to discriminate, to persecute, to hate, even to kill these ‘enemies of God’. History and contemporary events are littered with examples. The ethnic cleansing of the Albigensians and Cathars, the pogroms of Russia, the holocaust, the religious wars and persecutions of the sixteenth century. In more recent times the Armenian massacres, the Israeli-Arab conflict, the troubles in Ireland, and now ISIS and radicalised perversions of Islam.
    When we allow love and esteem to be limited to family, nation, tribe, co-religionists, race, gender or political affiliation we become tribal.
    Where religion looses love, loyalty to God is replaced by loyalty to the tribe and that is when our fallen human nature takes control.
    It is often said that religion causes wars but the truth is that it is religious fundamentalism and ideology that subverts religion, replaces love with hate and enables Satan.
    The Beatles had it right when they paraphrased Jesus,’ All you need is love, love is all you need’.

  3. Pat

    David Knowles points have been emphasized by Pope Francis in different words.

    A small step towards mutual efforts to support what is good was manifest in the recent gathering of the leaders of various faiths in Egypt. What surprises me is the lack of comment on the significance of the mutual agreement between Tawadros and Francis in regard to Baptism, The Lord’s Prayer etc.. Recognizing a common Baptism removes a major, but often overlooked, barrier to inter-communion. Once that is established, the road to full unity between Coptic Orthodox Churches and Catholic Churches is underway. It was a small step but, as the proverb says, ‘a journey of a thousand Li begins with a single step’. I understand that the difference in wording of the Lord’s Prayer is fairly small but with some significance. Anybody able to clarify?

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