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A Framework For Understanding And Opposing Religious Extremism In The World

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Religious extremism -- based on a very few false beliefs -- is a major contributing factor behind the most dangerous problems in the world today. This article briefly describes the situation and provides a starting point for correction and improvement.

THE MOST DANGEROUS FALSE BELIEFS

Muslim religious extremism falsely believes that God desires the suppression of all religions but Islam -- by force, if necessary. This justifies and encourages Islamic violence and conquest everywhere. In particular, this false belief is used to justify the 9/11 attacks in the USA and Islamic Terrorism throughout the world.

Jewish religious extremism falsely believes that the people of Israel are entitled by God to do whatever they choose to do to protect and expand the state of Israel. This leads to a willingness to murder/torture/smash/kill/invade/defeat/overthrow/suppress/destroy anything which threatens the state of Israel in any way -- such as Iraq or southern Lebanon or the Palestinians.

Christian religious extremism falsely believes that the state of Israel can do no wrong, and that God is planning a Third World War, starting in the Middle East, prior to the return of Jesus Christ to rule the world. These two false beliefs -- widely held by right-wing Christians in the USA -- led directly to Bush's Crusader War in Iraq, and they will lead to a Third World War if they are not corrected.

HOW DID THESE FALSE BELIEFS ARISE?

In each case, the extremists developed these false beliefs by misreading selected obscure verses in their Holy Book, then by ignoring other clear and authoritative verses which contradicted their flawed understanding of these obscure verses.

The Muslim extremists misread passages about spiritual struggle to conclude that God permits armed struggle -- including murder -- against peaceful non-Muslims. This completely ignores Qur'an 2.256, which clearly states that there shall be "no compulsion in religion." If they believe that the Qur'an is the infallible word of God, why do they ignore this clear prohibition against using force to establish Islam?

The Jewish extremists misread passages about God's love for Israel to conclude that He allows them to do anything they choose to do, including "targeted assassinations" (murder) of their supposed enemies and bombing civilian apartment buildings because they think some "terrorists" might be inside. This completely ignores Exodus 20:13 -- one of the Ten Commandments -- which says "You shall not murder." If they believe that the Ten Commandments are God's basic Law, then why do they ignore this Commandment?

And the Christian extremists misread parts of Revelation, which is by far the most obscure and hard-to-understand book in the Bible, to conclude that a Third World War is necessary and desirable as part of God's will. This completely ignores the clear and authoritative command in Romans 12:18 -- "If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live at peace with all people." So how can they disregard this clear command to live at peace, and then choose to follow their own imaginative interpretation of a mystical vision in Revelation, which leads them directly into war?

WHAT CAN BE DONE TO CORRECT THESE FALSE BELIEFS?

The first thing is to recognize these false beliefs and understand the serious problems they create. This we have begun to do, above.

The next thing is to begin a Battle Of Ideas against these false beliefs: all of them, not just the Muslim ones. I propose that the verses I have identified above -- Qur'an 2.256, Exodus 20:13 and Romans 12:18 -- be used as the basic weapons in this Battle Of Ideas. I now call upon the serious, truth-seeking scholars of all religions to develop more and better ideas to combat these false beliefs which are causing so much trouble in God's world. And I call upon all journalists, politicians, and other opinion leaders to do everything they can to undermine and eliminate these false beliefs which support religious extremism and its resulting violence in the world.

Blessings to you. May the One God, Who created all things, help all of us His children.

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HTML version of this message, with more links, is located at http://www.loveallpeople.org/frameworkextremism.html
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Rev. Bill McGinnis is an Internet Christian minister, writer and publisher. He is Director of LoveAllPeople.org, a small private think tank in Alexandria, Virginia, and all of its related websites, including (more...)
 

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