Why religions sometimes promote hatred, animosity &
Introduction, one possible cause
Religion as a force for good and evil:
As we once stated on this web site's
"Religion is a unique force in society. It promotes both good and
evil. Historically, it has helped to abolish
slavery. It has
promoted racial integration, equal rights for women, and
equal rights for
gays and lesbians. It has motivated individuals to create massive
support services for the poor, the sick, the hurting, and the broken.
Conversely, it has been used to justify
racial segregation; oppression of women; discrimination against homosexuals;
other conflicts, oppression, and discrimination;
and mass murder
"Religion drives some to dedicate their lives to help the poor and
needy. (e.g. Gandhi, Albert Schweitzer, Mother Teresa) It drives
others to exterminate as many "heretics" as they can....Religion has the
capability to generate unselfish love in some people, and vicious, raw
hatred in others."
Unfortunately, a heresy as seen by one faith group is another denomination's
or religion's orthodoxy. And so the hatred continues.
Expressions of religious hatred in recent decades:
Christianity's main rule of human behavior, the Golden Rule, tells its
followers to treat other people as they would wish to be treated. This is
referred to as an "Ethic
of Reciprocity." Similar passages are found in almost all other world
religions. Yet, even a casual examination of today's newspaper will show that
religious hatred is often a motivation for intolerance, hatred, mass crimes against humanity,
genocide. In the past 15 years, such behavior has been observed in
Afghanistan, Bosnia, Cyprus, India, Iran, Iraq, Kosovo, Macedonia, Northern
Ireland, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Sudan, etc.
Even the United States is not free of religious hatred. In recent decades, we
have noted reports of many isolated events displaying religiously inspired
hatred. Some were:
A lynching of person because they are a Wiccan -- a follower of the
religion of Wicca.
||A longing by a teleminister to return to olden times when we stoned
religious minorities to death.
||A call by a Baptist minister for the U.S. army to napalm all Wiccans.
||Multiple calls for a genocide to wipe out all Muslims or Jews or
||An attempted mass stoning in Arkansas of demonstrators advocating
greater religious freedom and tolerance.
||Continuing attacks on churches, mosques, synagogues and other religious
This site receives a few hate Emails each month.
They are balanced by about three or four times as many positive Emails.
A possible connection between religion and anger:
John S. Spong, a retired bishop of the Episcopal Church, USA distributed an essay titled
"Understanding Religious Anger" to his subscribers during 2006-AUG.
has noted that it is common for religious people to express anger towards individuals of
other denominations or faiths. He described two verbal attacks that he
personally experienced: one happened while lining up at a university graduation
ceremony; the other when a heckler interrupted him giving a speech. He wrote:
"When one looks at the history of religious persecution, which has
included such things as excommunication, torture, and the burning of
heretics at the stake, there is ample evidence of hostility associated with
Christianity. When one adds to that the Crusades designed 'to kill the
infidels,' a history of anti-Semitism, and the wars between Catholics and
Protestants, the picture of religion as a source of anger in human society,
victimizing people in every generation, becomes clear."
He suggests that most of the anger expressed during the debate on women
suffrage early in the 20th century, and on equal rights for homosexuals and
bisexuals today has originated in the Christian churches. He links religious rage to
the "frightened human psyche" that "needs the certainty of religion,
no matter how narrowly defined, in order to feel secure."
"Has religion in general and Christianity in particular degenerated to
the level that it has become little more than a veil under which anger can
be legitimatized? What happened to that biblical proclamation that the
disciples of Jesus are to be known by their love? 3 How does religious anger
fit in with the Fourth Gospel's interpretation of Jesus' purpose to be that
of bringing life more abundantly?" 4
"Perhaps the time has come to recognize that Christianity was never meant to
be about religion; it is to be about life. The achievement of personal
security is the goal of religion. The ability to live with integrity in the
midst of the insecurity of life is the goal of Christianity. Religion seeks
to control life with guilt. Christianity seeks to free people to be all that
they can be. There is a vast difference. Perhaps it will take the death of
religion to open us once again to the meaning of Christianity, even 'Religionless
Christianity.' For the purpose of Jesus was not to make us religious but to
make us fully human."
About this section of the ReligiousTolerance.org web site:
In this section of the web site, we will attempt to:
||Discover why religion motivates some believers to hate other faith
groups within their own religion and followers of other religions.
||Document the existing levels of prejudice and bigotry.
||Suggest methods by which faith groups can reduce the level of
of these essays may be distressing to some readers. We invite those who agree or disagree to consider writing their
thoughts down and donating them for publication to our visitor essay section.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
David Barrett et al., editors of the "World Christian Encyclopedia: A comparative survey of churches and religions - AD
30 to 2200." Oxford University Press, (2001).
reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
J.S. Spong, "Understanding Religious Anger," Bulletin, 2006-AUG-22.
You can subscribe to these weekly Emails at:
The instruction to "love one another" appears 13 times in the King
James Version of the Christian Scriptures. See: John 13:34, 15:12 and 15:17;
Romans 13:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:11, 3:23, 4:7, 4:11,
and 4:12; 2 John 1:5.
John 10:10b: "I am come that they might have life, and that they might
have it more abundantly."
Additional information sources:
Copyright © 2000 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2000-JUN-4
Latest update: 2009-NOV-14
Author: B.A. Robinson