Religious Violence Examples: 3 Ways Faith Hurts

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What are some religious violence examples? How do they prove why religious and violence are related?

Religious violence causes people to act irrationally and violently in the name of religion. These four religious violence examples are all instances where people committed heinous acts.

Keep reading for several religious violence examples.

Religious Violence Examples

Religious violence examples can prove why religion leads to religious hatred, and why people justify that hatred when they enact violence against others.

Example # 1: The Murder of Dr. John Britton

First of the religious violence examples is the murder of Dr. John Britton. In 1994, the anti-abortion extremist Reverend Paul Hill shot abortion doctor John Britton and his bodyguard to death in Florida, outside Britton’s clinic.

Hill bragged about his crime to authorities, claiming that his act of cold-blooded murder was divinely justified because it was done to protect the lives of the innocent unborn. Leaving aside the question of whether an embryo, which is incapable of feeling pain and has nothing remotely like consciousness, is “human” or not, it is beyond doubt that the two murdered men were human beings. Hill’s supposed scruples regarding the sanctity of life evidently did not apply to his victims. 

Even as he was led to the execution chamber after being sentenced to death, Hill remained gleefully unrepentant for his crime and delighted in the possibility of becoming a martyr for the “pro-life” cause.

Example # 2: Homophobia and the “American Taliban”

The second of the religious violence examples is about homophobia. Religious extremists, whether they are the fundamentalist Christians of the West (particularly in the United States) or the jihadists of the Muslim world, are well-known for their hatred of behavior that they deem aberrant or contrary to their interpretation of the holy word. American Dominionists and Reconstructionists actually favor establishing a theocracy in the United States, in which the barbaric practices and beliefs of the Old Testament would be enforced by the state.

These extremists reserve particular hatred and intolerance for homosexuality. Of course, homosexuality is no crime at all (although it was still technically considered to be one even in a supposedly enlightened country like Great Britain until 1967). The private sexual behavior of consenting adults ought to be of no concern to anyone but the individuals themselves.

In the United States, the so-called “American Taliban” (so named because of their theocratic similarities with the actual Taliban in Afghanistan) foments vicious hatred against the LGBT community. Prominent figures in the American fundamentalist Christian community like former presidential candidate Pat Robertson and the Reverend Jerry Falwell claim that homosexuality is an abomination against God and that HIV/AIDS was sent as divine punishment to rid the world of LGBT people. Robertson even went so far as to attribute 2005’s Hurricane Katrina and its destruction of New Orleans to LGBT comedian (and New Orleans native) Ellen DeGeneres hosting the Emmys.

Example #3: The Danish Cartoon Controversy

In 2006, a Danish newspaper published some cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed—an act that is prohibited in Islam. Two Muslim clerics in Egypt publicized the cartoons, claiming that they were indicative of a deep hatred for Islam, both in Denmark and the West as a whole. Their actions set off widespread rioting and mayhem across much of the Muslim world, from Pakistan to Libya. In the course of the rioting, Christians were murdered with machetes in Nigeria, and nine people were killed when the Italian embassy was stormed in Libya.

The senseless violence was bad enough, but what may have been even worse was the reaction by the supposedly liberal press in the Western world. Many in the elite media refused to reprint the “offending” cartoons, out of fear of provoking the mob. Journalists sacrificed the principle of freedom of the press on the altar of appeasing violent religious mania.

Further, many editorials appeared in British and American papers arguing that the original Danish cartoons were deeply insensitive to Muslim people around the world—and that while the violence was regrettable, the outrage was certainly understandable. This reaction among elite commentators in the secular West is a textbook example of how respect for religion is placed above all other concerns, even free speech and public safety.

All of the religious violence examples show how religion can be actively harmful.

Religious Violence Examples: 3 Ways Faith Hurts

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Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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