"Religions are not teaching violence and hatred"
Sheila Stoll obviously hasn't read the old testament of the Bible which is full of barbaric, sadistic acts all done in God's name. For that matter the New Testament also has a lot of that stuff, but not nearly as much as the Old Testament.
The Old Testament is shared by the Jewish, Christian and Muslim religions.
But either way it's a very good reason not to mix religion and government.
Islam isn't the only religion creating monsters
Sheila Stoll, AZ I See It 7:36 p.m. MST January 18, 2015
Sheila Stoll: No religion teaches violence, but all have bred sociopaths who claim to act in God's name.
"How could the Muslim community let this happen … again?"
Frustrated, angry people ask these questions every time someone commits another atrocity crying, "Allahu Akbar." People in the Muslim community wring their hands and worry that others will retaliate against those perceived as co-religionists of the terrorists.
Religions are not teaching violence and hatred. No religion can be held responsible for crazy, angry, anti-social people who use religion as an excuse to carry out violence in the name of religion. Any religion.
In the U.S., we have had our fair share of violent religious demagogues. Think Ku Klux Klan, and those who burn crosses in the name of Christianity. Think Jim Jones or David Koresh. Should all Christians, therefore, abandon their religion because somebody somewhere is doing horrendous violence and uses Christianity as an excuse?
No! Non-zealots cannot and should not accept responsibility for everyone who goes rogue in the name of their faith.
The terrorists are not really Muslims, no matter how many times they yell "Allahu Akbar." No religion can effectively limit its adherents to "true believers" and exclude those with bad intentions.
Unfortunately, all religions define themselves in terms of how they differ from others. If you say "I am a Christian," you have declared you are not a Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu or whatever.
We spend a lot of time and energy teaching our children loyalty to our tribe. We don't spend nearly enough teaching our children that every person is part of every other human on the planet. We cherish our separateness.
No religion is free of monsters. I cannot support any religious belief. They all distort their original message. They claim righteous authority. No one can disprove any of it. That is the nature of belief.
Framers of our Constitution excluded religion from government. We're governed by law, not faith. In this country, religion is always meant to stay private and not be promoted or denied within civil governance.
We haven't succeeded in our exclusion: There are public prayers, people swear truthfulness on a religious book before testifying in court, and the government acknowledges Christmas. But when there is a legal challenge, our highest court consistently excludes religion from our secular government.
Wherever in the world religions run up against each other geographically, conflict ensues. Cities and countries with a long history of tolerant co-existence fall into factional violence.
In the midst of religious conflict, monsters grow. They are its natural product. Why do we allow violence to grow in our adherence to traditional belief? We all know belief cannot be proved. No one is "right." The corollary is that everyone is "right."
Does it take more monsters to make us recognize that we all have more in common than the constructs of faith that divide us?
In conflict, we regularly seek peace and love not in others, but in belief. How can anyone blame Muslims and not blame every believer in every religion?
When science and our beliefs disagree, too bad for science. In maps of the world made by ancestors who had not yet discovered the whole thing, where the comfy neighborhood ended, the unknown began and we knew what we'd find there. "Beyond, There Be Monsters!"
Sheila Stoll of Scottsdale is a retired columnist for the The St. Petersburg Times.