- Absolute truth claims -- the idea that an individual or group has access to absolute truth and that all others are wrong;
- Blind obedience -- the requiring of unquestioning conformity to a set of rules, practices, or commands;
- Establishing the "Ideal" time -- the belief that an individual or group has been raised up by God to bring to an end the current era and introduce a new one that conforms to an ideal.
- The end justifies any means -- when individuals or groups use methods that their religion actually prohibits to gain power over others or to bring about radical changed believed to be supported by God, e.g., extremists who use violence to bring about "peace" or remove what is perceived to be evil.
- Declaring holy war -- the use of just war theories or declarations of holy war to justify attacking individuals or groups who are alleged to be against one’s religion or to purify the world of evil.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Book Review: When Religion Becomes Evil
It is difficult, living in our world today, not to be aware of the many examples of religion turning evil -- particularly in the acts of violence perpetrated against others whether they be by Islamic extremists (terrorism) or Christian fundamentalists (blowing up abortion clinics). There are many subtle (and not so subtle) ways that religion can become evil. Charles Kimball, in his book When Religion Becomes Evil: Five Warning Signs suggests five signs, any one of which indicates the corruption of religion. Kimball is a professor of religion and an ordained Baptist minister who has spent much of his life travelling in the Middle East and is a specialist in Islamic studies. In this book, he draws on his wide experience and provides examples from Christianity, Judaism, and Islam to illustrate each of the warning signs he discusses. They are: