About the correlations between religion, xenophobia, racism and violence
According to the social sciences religion increases trust among congregants (i.e. among those who already know each other by belonging to the same group). But at the same time religion causes trust to drop towards unfamiliar people (i.e. those outside the congregation or group).
That’s why religion (religious faith) correlates so well with xenophobia and racism. For more details, see http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Xenophobia.aspx .
Here’s an interesting quote from that article:
[I]t is sometimes difficult to make a clear distinction between racism and xenophobia because they exhibit similar motivations for exclusive behavior designed to demean others and the exercise of political violence. However, there is one element missing in racism that is often present in xenophobia: religious identity. Manifestations of xenophobia occur not only against people with different physical characteristics but also against those of similar background who are believed to hold different and presumably dangerous and hostile religious convictions.
When it comes to the point of relationship, specifically, between religion and violence, see for example http://atheism.about.com/od/religiousviolencecauses/ .
OK, I admit that not all pundits agree with my somewhat simplified correlations that seem to show how toxic religious faith can be with regard to interpersonal relationships. Karen Armstrong, for example, is of a different opinion, see this review of one of her books: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/25/-sp-karen-armstrong-religious-violence-myth-secular .
But if I am to be accused of being a cherry-picker, then all those denying or minimizing the correlations between religion, xenophobia, racism, and violence clearly must be cherry-pickers as well.
As a matter of fact, my views on this relationship are more mainstream than Karen Armstrong’s. Have a look at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_violence#Abrahamic_religions .
Let me quote from that Wikipedia article:
Some critics of religion such as Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer argue that all monotheistic religions are inherently violent. For example, Nelson-Pallmeyer writes that “Judaism, Christianity and Islam will continue to contribute to the destruction of the world until and unless each challenges violence in “sacred texts” and until each affirms nonviolent power of God.”
Hector Avalos argues that, because religions claim divine favor for themselves, over and against other groups, this sense of righteousness leads to violence because conflicting claims to superiority, based on unverifiable appeals to God, cannot be adjudicated objectively.
Similarly, Eric Hickey writes, “(t)he history of religious violence in the West is as long as the historical record of its three major religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, with their involved mutual antagonisms and struggles to adapt and survive the secular forces that threaten their continued existence.”
Regina Schwartz argues that all monotheistic religions, including Christianity, are inherently violent because of an exclusivism that inevitably fosters violence against those that are considered outsiders. Lawrence Wechsler asserts that Schwartz isn’t just arguing that Abrahamic religions have a violent legacy, but that the legacy is actually genocidal in nature.
Bruce Feiler writes that “Jews and Christians who smugly console themselves that Islam is the only violent religion are willfully ignoring their past. Nowhere is the struggle between faith and violence described more vividly, and with more stomach-turning details of ruthlessness, than in the Hebrew Bible”.
(END OF QUOTE)
Anyhow, it would have been very interesting to ponder how Karen Armstrong and her followers would have answered, and commented on, this quiz of 30 holy verses, taken from the Bible or Qu’ran that Valerie Tarico, one of my favorite bloggers, wants her readers to take.
You don’t even need to take the quiz to understand that Abrahamic religions have caused many sufferings and wrong-doings both past and present.
So, thank you very much, Valerie, for this disclosing quiz and blog post!
The world has watched in horror while members of ISIS justify the next mass murder or icy execution with words from the Quran, followed by shouts of Allahu Akbar—God is the greatest! If beliefs have any power whatsoever to drive behavior—and as a psychologist I think they do—there can be little doubt that the Quran’s many endorsements of violence play a role in how exactly ISIS has chosen to pursue religious and political dominion.
At the same time, it should be equally clear a sacred text filled with violence is insufficient to trigger mass brutality unless other conditions are present as well. Culture, empathy, education and empowerment—and other factors that scholars understand only in part—appear to have a protective influence, safeguarding even most fundamentalists against the worst teachings of their own tradition. We know this in part because the Bible contains commandments and stories that are as horrific as…
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