The Latent Violence in Religion

It’s a point of pride for modern Christians that, despite the horrendously bloody history of their religion, they aren’t currently the most destructive version of monotheism (which may not even be true, but I’ll save that for another time). Having spent two decades on the inside, though, I’ve seen an underlying attitude toward violence that is pervasive and worrying.

It makes sense because I understand the religion, but it conflicts so strongly with who I am that it seems crazy I ever bought into it. What I’m talking about is a tribalistic attitude that lends itself to fantasies of vigilante justice and an unwarranted persecution complex. Anyone who has spent any time around far-right libertarian Christians should know exactly what I mean.

Of course, it’s the extremists who end up taking the attitude and turning it into action. They’re the ones who murder abortion doctors, beat up gay people, plant bombs, or any number of other violent acts. Some may not perform those acts but instead work to subtly encourage them.

But the less extreme members contribute to the violence even if they don’t advocate for it. The whole ideology I grew up with was fertile ground for obsession with or glorification of violence, which was obvious in the way people talked and acted. It’s usually not consciously recognized, but it’s still there as part of the culture. I’ve been trying for a while to figure out how to express that aspect of my former community, how it affected me and fueled fantasies of battling against oppressors. It’s not healthy, and I see the same aggressive self-victimizing and/or warmongering attitude in far too many of my devoutly conservative friends and family.

When Obama was first elected, and again when he won reelection, a lot of them talked about civil war. They have made it no secret that progressives and liberals are their enemies, and that their first inclination when losing politically is to daydream about winning through violence. And this mindset isn’t just a knee-jerk reaction to losing, as we can see by the violence and warmongering that followed a massive win. I reacted to one very disturbing article recently that perfectly demonstrates the hunger some conservatives have for violence.

Our enemies are not conservatives, or progressives, or liberals, or Christians, or Muslims, or atheists. Our enemies are not human at all. Our enemies are poverty, oppression, greed, and violence. If we fail to unite against our common enemies, they will destroy us from within, as they have countless other societies before us. The exaggerated threats of radical Islam, immigrants, and crimes committed by minorities are scapegoats being used to protect the greedy, to justify violence, to ignore poverty, and to increase oppression. The conservative propaganda I’ve been fighting for years, from both Russia and the extreme right in America, is a cover for fascism and all the society-destroying evil it entails.

It is long past time for decent conservatives to abandon the Republican party, and for decent Christians to abandon evangelicalism. They have evolved into vehicles for hate, and their only end is destruction. I think the fundamental problem is the fact that they base their lives on ancient scripture that frequently commands and exalts violence, but following a more peaceful and liberal interpretation is at least a step in the right direction.

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