We often blame religion for unexplainable acts of hate and terror. Recently, Obama stated at a prayer breakfast that people have been murdering each other in the name of religion since the founding fathers discovered the Americas. He’s right, people often use their religion as a motivating factor behind their violence.
What’s interesting is that this latest shooting was by the hands of a self-proclaimed atheist. A man who has no spiritual beliefs, shot 3 Muslim people over what’s being reported as an ongoing parking issue. If those that completely reject the idea of religion kill others of a religious view, are we to believe that religion played no part? Even if the issue existed outside of a religious belief, the focus is largely still on religion.
In my mind, atheism is a facet of spirituality, in that it does not have a spiritual belief at all. Sort of like the white crayon in the box, atheism is without colour but is still a part of the box with all of the other crayons. The ways in which violence is justified through Islam or Christianity can be justified just as easily through atheism. This brings me to my next point, is religion really our problem?
Is it safe to assume that religion is at the root of human division? Does religion create more differences between us than anything else? I am not discounting the numerous deaths that have occurred throughout history, and continue to occur, in the name of religion. Religion has undoubtedly created segregation amongst us. But when religion is removed – as in the case of atheists – why do we still see violence? Would this violence still have occurred had these three individuals been of any other religious background (or cultural group)?
I could see how someone could argue that because the victims were Muslim, this particular instance wasn’t free of religion, that it still played a part. But to say that would be to say that those who reject religion all together somehow hold a higher ranking to dominate all other religions and commit murder where they see fit, based on a differing belief. Sounds pretty ironic doesn’t it?
What I am certain of is that our society has a clever way of packaging the information that is provided to us. Just as the society that exists around me perpetuates the sexism that I experience, the ways in which we depict religion in our media shapes and molds the ways in which we views others. Even to reject religion, we still hold hatred towards those who don’t share in our non-belief. This leads me to believe that a world free of religion is still not the answer. Had the shooter been brainwashed my society and media to believe that he had a right to use violence? Did their clear devotion to religion motivate his willingness to commit murder? Did he feel that as a non-believer, these Muslim people were wrong for choosing a belief system? Perhaps the shooter bought into the media machines message that Islam is a problem.
Before anyone tries to say I only have these opinions because I am religious myself, let me say that I’m not one to have a particular religious belief. To say I belong to a specific sect would be a far reach. Exercising my mind through writing and my body through running is just as important as exercising my spirituality through belief – the belief that there is more to our world and our lives than mere existence. To have hope and faith in love and positivity is where I draw my inner strength from. Really, the fundamental basics of most religions lie in being good to yourself and to others. So while I can’t say that I believe in the story of Jesus or Muhammad, I do have a belief system, once that has no name, but does exist. That’s where I differ from an atheist. Whatever anyone chooses to have as their belief system is their choice, as I feel that to be a full human, all aspects of our being must be exercised – including spirituality. It’s when one is deemed superior to another that I start to have an issue.
Have we now gone so far that even those who reject religion have created their own section of hate against religious believers? Their lack of belief holds a belief that their non-belief supersedes others; they still exist with their own set of values and can inflict just as much harm in the name of their non-belief as the believers.