There’s little new in murdering people in the name of religion. It’s happened for thousands of years and remains a tragic reality of the 21st century that America witnessed most painfully on 9/11.
Graphic video [WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT] from Iraq this week shows as many as 1,500 unarmed, imprisoned Muslims killed by other Muslims in the name of religion. Worshipping the same God wasn’t enough to spare their lives.
From Gaza yesterday, we saw reports of 40 mosques used to store rocket launchers and other instruments of death, including tunnels dug next to basement prayer rooms from which heavily armed fighters claiming to act in the name of Islam could crawl several kilometers to attack Israeli communities, schools, kill children, parents, families and the soldiers sworn to protect them.
In Iraq, Gaza, and far too many other places, the guidance of Islam’s holy Qur’an is quickly ignored by gangsters who cloak their blood soaked concepts of morality behind lies falsely proclaimed as religious interpretations to frenzied flocks who often have nowhere to return, including to the very essence of their own humanity.
Values clearly expressed in the Qur’an that are common to each of the world’s monolithic religions are embraced by millions of the world’s Muslims. For them, there can be few indignities more agonizing than the hijacking of their own religion, knowing the very real risk of death they face for protesting the brutality of terrorists marching beneath symbols they cherish.
“Say; ‘Come, I will rehearse what Allah hath (really) prohibited you from: join not anything as equal as Him: be good to your parents; kill not your children on a plea of want – We provide sustenance for you and for them- come not nigh to shameful deeds, whether open or secret; take not life, which Allah hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus doth He command you, that ye may learn wisdom. And come not nigh to the orphan’s property, except to improve it, until he attain the age of full strength; give measure and weight with (full) justice; no burden do We place on any soul but that which it can bear – whenever ye speak, speak justly, even if a near relative is concerned; and fulfil the Covenant of Allah thus doth He command you, the ye may remember.” (sura Al-An’am.6:151)
Jesus, similar to many other Jewish leaders of his time and beyond, preached regularly about the same principles, as illustrated in this passage from Matthew 19:16-19:
And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
There is no justification for murder in God’s name.
That doesn’t mean governments don’t have the right and responsibility to protect their citizens. It doesn’t mean parents don’t have the right and responsibility to protect their children. It doesn’t mean neighbors don’t have the right and responsibility to protect one another.
We have those rights and obligations.
For those who embrace faith, God teaches us to love our neighbors as ourselves, bring peace, comfort and relief to those who suffer, and create a world in which God’s light, love and compassion reigns.
When creating that world means killing those who seek to spread darkness, despair and death, we have every right to act in the name of morality and justice, while knowing that the God represented in the most significant writings of the world’s major religions weeps over the death of each of his children.