Religions get interpreted by their followers in many ways. Some have been very positive (such as affirmations of love, compassion and forgiveness), but they have also been used to justify violence and repression. In the past few years Muslim suicide bombers, for instance, have frequently set out to kill innocent people with the words of their prophet on their lips. It is clear, however, that anyone claiming to be a worshipper of Allah, the Compassionate and Merciful, and also claims that such terrorists die in glorious martyrdom is guilty of the clearest blasphemy.
Similar actions have not been uncommon in the Christian world down the ages. For example, a Roman Catholic guidebook published in 1486, the Malleus Maleficarum (literally the Witches Hammer), was used to justify widespread torture and murder of women. It instructed believers on how to spot witches and what to do with them. They have to be rooted out and eliminated.
No religion – old or new – has been exempt from such episodes, and they continue even in this modern age. So we must be vigilant and oppose such actions wherever they occur.
©David Lawrence Preston, 29.1.2017
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How to Books, 2007