Religion kills, right? Maybe not

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Religion gets a bum rap. It’s blamed for war, terror, torture, oppression, conflict, and a boatload of other evils. Groups like ISIS and the recent carnage in Paris and San Bernardino don’t do much to dispel that impression.

But is it true? Is religion evil?

Most religious people don’t kill. They wouldn’t dare. They live decent lives and are horrified at the atrocities committed in their name.

Worse, the biggest murderers in history weren’t religious, they were atheists. Mao, Pol Pot, Stalin, Hitler — more people were murdered and more horror was committed in the name of a man-made secular utopia than every inquisition, forced conversion, and crusade combined.

Religion doesn’t have a monopoly on hate. Religion isn’t the reason people kill.

The reason people kill — be it ISIS, radical homegrown Jihadists, environmental terrorists, or secular revolutionaries is rooted in weakness. It is a product of impotence and frustration. It is narcissistic and myopic. And at its core, it is self-righteous and indignant.

The self-righteous zealot cannot comprehend how someone cannot see the truth he sees. To him, the truth is self-evident. His incomprehension becomes frustration. His frustration becomes anger. And his anger — if given an outlet — becomes violent.

When you know that you are right, that your way is the only way, and that no sane person could disagree — that’s when you become a terror. It is an outlook that transcends religion. True, religious people — especially the newly religious — can be self-righteous and indignant. But secular atheists, idealists, and do-gooders can be self-righteous and indignant as well. No one is immune.

Most people are wimps and don’t act on it. Their outbursts are passive-aggressive. They troll the internet under an alias, they block people who disagree with them on social media, and they are easily offended.

But some people aren’t wimps. If given the opportunity — or if angry and frustrated enough — watch out. No cost is too high. Nothing is off limits. The ends always justify the means. They will do anything to reshape the world according to their ideals. They will kill, terrorize, imprison, reeducate, redistribute — anything to elicit the desired result.

But the problem should be obvious.

If your ideas are so wonderful — if they are so obvious and true — then why aren’t they universal? Are most people morons, brainless dolts, lemmings following the herd? Maybe. But I doubt it. Most likely, the problem is you.

Maybe you’re wrong. If you need to kill people, blow up buildings, attack rock concerts, or bully weaklings to make your point — maybe you’re missing something.

Or maybe you need to do a better job explaining your ideas. You should be able to convince people with the force of your logic. I mean, no one had to beat you into believing the things you believe.

Or maybe — and this may come as a shock — maybe other people think differently. The world is a big place. Maybe someone has a different perspective.

Terrorists are small people. They are self-absorbed, selfish, and self-centered. They cannot see a different perspective and they are too weak to challenge their own. As a result, they do terrible things.

Stop blaming religion. Religion is not evil. Evil is self-righteous, judgmental, and indignant. It can be anyone. Don’t let it be you.