When the persecuted become the persecutors our humanity is lost

Religion must be scandalising non-believers and believers alike, when they see the atrocities being committed by religious groups that claim the blessings of God.

When the persecuted become the persecutors our humanity is lost

Yet Christians, Muslims, and Jews share a common religious heritage with Abraham, as their father in faith, but this has been forgotten while their differences have been accentuated. No religion can claim immunity from violence and discrimination. Each was oppressed and then became the oppressor.

Since 70AD, when the Jews were forcibly evicted from Palestine, they have been discriminated against throughout the Christian ‘Holy Empire’, accused of deicide. They were almost annihilated in the Holocaust. Now, with the establishment of the Israeli state, the Jews have no compunction about using indiscriminate violence to suppress Muslims and Christians.

The early Christians were violently persecuted during the Roman Empire, but, in turn, became a worldly armed force against the Muslims, during the Crusades, when one commentator described how the streets of Jerusalem became a flood of Muslim blood.

Christians also destroyed the lives of the indigenous people of the ‘New World’ in the name of religion, and use the utmost cruelty against early reformers during the Inquisition. The European wars of religion, culminating in the massacre of St Bartholomew’s Day, stained the name of God. Today, while Christians do not use violence against internal dissenters, equally oppressive means continue.

Some Muslims continue to bring Islam into disrepute by their violent means in the pursuit of their political objectives in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Yet, the irony is that all three religions have “toleration, love of God and neighbour” as foundation texts. But as Gandhi shrewdly observed: “As soon as we lose our moral foundation, we cease to be religious”.

When human beings become ancillary to religion and not treated as persons of infinite inalienable respect, irrespective of religious belief or not, then religion becomes a contradiction. Religion should enhance the lives of human beings — anything else is a scandal and an insult to God.

Brendan Butler

45 The Moorings

Malahide

Co Dublin

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