If your god needs you to kill those who don’t believe in him, then he isn’t much of a god. A god who requires murder of his followers would be creating people of dismal character. History has shown that, on occasion, good people have had to destroy such dismal followers of evil gods, who were no gods at all. The problem isn’t with God, but with those who conceive of gods who reflect the worst of human tendencies. The problem is evil men and women who use god and religion to carry out their own evil. Such evil was common in days long past; it is a travesty that such evil yet exists today.
I have never been quite able to embrace pacifism although I respect those who do. I see a depth of character in a person willing to die rather that take life. I do not see that such a person has the right to demand that others die for their beliefs. Life and death choices must remain with each person except, perhaps, in the matter of suicide, since psychological disorder may undermine the competence of those suffering from depression or other illnesses. I oppose taking life except in the most extreme cases, those being defensive war, justice for murder, and punishment for certain other predatory crimes. I certainly oppose the taking of innocent, yet unlived life, as in the case of abortion, and the wanton, indiscriminate murder of a suicide bomber, which includes abusive manipulation of often naïve people who kill and die as some warped kind of devotion. Their evil is reprehensible; yet many are themselves victims of evil and coercive leaders.
God gets blamed for so many things that his supposed followers do. As a Christian, I am saddened and, in some cases, appalled, to know what Christians, both good and not so good, have done in God’s name. I will never understand, in this life, why any true believer would think that coerced piety or obedience would please God. Somehow people convince themselves that doing so is good for those they control. Of course, coercion often benefits the oppressors, revealing the true motive behind many domineering religionists. For thoughtful believers, only faith arising from inner conviction has any value; and, while directing the obedience of children is necessary for their protection, yet only till they can look out for themselves, forcing adults to obey what others deem necessary is misguided and wrong. If find it ironic that a largely primitive religion like Islam, as taught be some, and a supposedly modern system of progressive ideology both practice coercion of the masses, “for their own good!”
What honor would an omnipotent, omniscient being gain from unwilling converts? An earthly king might enjoy the pretense of forced public adoration, as long as he remains ignorant of the contrary thoughts of his worshipers. God would know. If a god wanted to force compliance, he could simply do it without resorting to the lesser powers of his creatures. Obviously, the violence of religious people serves the interests of religious people, especially those who seek power, not any sort of god.
The Bible calls people to repentance, faith, obedience, worship, and especially love and compassion. It recognizes the necessity of earthly government, authority, and order and commands believers to honor them. However, it does not move to
the next step and impose divine law on all human communities. Indeed, it disparages legalism as a substitute for conscious-driven, wisdom-guided liberty. It clearly teaches that law cannot satisfy God, that man cannot do enough good to please God’s holiness, and that only the sacrifice of a perfect Savior can redeem humans from their failings. Imposed obedience is so far removed from the principles of grace as to make one wonder how Christians ever managed to revert to legalistic religion, except that the Jews were already there at the beginning. The stories of God’s tolerance of sin, not because He accepts sin itself, but because He loves sinners, ought to drive the attitudes of legalism, judgment, and compulsion from Christian hearts, yet somehow believers still manage to condone what God does not.
This posting is for anyone of any religious background who justifies harming others in the name of God. Your evil is not a ticket to anything but hell. No god of any name is honored by evil or the domination of others. The United States may tolerate what some despise, but its freedoms allow people to choose to love and follow God and serve others. The good from such freedom far outweighs the bad of misguided sinners who also live here, especially since we all are misguided sinners, at times, and to some extent. Religious oppression or simple bad manners in the name of faith dishonors the god in whose name it is offered. Evil does not prove authentic faith or devotion or the legitimacy of one’s beliefs; it merely proves how maliciously pervasive evil is. If your religion requires such things, I urge you to re-examine your religion, challenge your teachings, and dare to be a good man or woman instead.
I pulled Orson Scot Card’s 20-year-old book from my shelves to reread, and now I realize it kinda fits with what I wrote here, also started some time ago (not 20 years!). I find his writing thought-provoking whether it is fiction or commentary. Even more so, as I was looking up links, I stumbled across this commentary that adds another “religion” to the list of oppressors I fear; he calls them “Environmental Puritans.” He has basically written on pretty much everything I wanted to say, when I took up the subject. Guess who is seeking to become high priest of the religion (displacing current guru Al Gore)? Yep, Barack Obama. It’s pretty scary. I highly recommend you read it.