Monday, April 02, 2012

Did Religion Inspire Mohamed Merah to Kill?

(my newest piece in the Faithblender blog)

Religion can inspire man in many ways; sadly, it can also inspire murder. The Bible says that the first murder was inspired by a religious dispute; Cain murders Abel because he is jealous of Abel’s sacrifice. Indeed, the Midrash (an ancient Jewish commentary) says Cain learned to kill from observing his father offering sacrifices; the Midrash seems to emphasize that in this murder, religion is the inspiration. Right at the outset of human history, religious fanaticism erupts on the scene.

Religion is filled with enormous passion; we desperately want closeness to God, and are willing to do anything to achieve that closeness. But like anything valuable in life, religious passion is a double-edged sword. Religious violence is inspired by that very passion, a passion that is often manipulated by groups like Al Qaeda in pursuit of a political agenda.

Mohamed Merah, a follower of Al-Qaeda, went into the Otzar Hatorah school in Toulouse and brutally murder three young children along with a young father. This murder truly frightens me, as my own children attend a school similar to the Otzar Hatorah school. It truly frightens me that there are Muslims being taught to hate Jews, all in the name of religion. It frightens me that the spirit of Cain still walks the earth, in all faiths and all walks of life.

The only way to prevent religious violence is by ensuring that both our minds and our hearts are engaged in religion. We need to make sure that the ethical demands of the mind never get overwhelmed by the ferocious passion of the heart.

We need to reaffirm our love for Abel, even before we pray to God.

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