A week or so ago, one of my readers, Claudia (Fran) Davila, posted a comment here about Mitt Romney, religion, and violence (war). I have the highest amount of respect possible for Fran. I really do. She's awesome. If you have yet to go and read her blogs, especially those on sustainable living and her post-oil survival guide, you should.
Because of my respect for her, even if I don't agree with her on certain details, I think some of the things she talked about in her comments to me deserve more discussion.
Here's part of what she said.
"He points to impending jihad from the middle east as a great threat based on their religious views, which Romney says needs to be prevented with escalating war - though somehow for Romney to run a country and lead wars abroad based on his religious views is okay? Where's the difference?"
I don't think Romney would have tried to lead the country based on religious views. There were a few things that happened on his watch as governor of Massachusetts that are not in line with strict LDS tenants. At the same time, we cannot separate a person's faith and beliefs from their actions, and Fran is good to point that out. We also need to understand that a person's stated affiliation does not mean that he or she is a perfect example of the group they are affiliating with.
This is the very problem that Islam is facing. What happens to Islam when it comes to terrorist organizations using Islam to justify terrorist acts?
As I see it, there are many people who are perverting the teachings of Islam in the name of hate. They hate others who are not like themselves. They hate the conditions they are living in. They hate their own lives. They have been indoctrinated to this hate from birth, and continue to indoctrinate others. They have turned to violence as a means of justifying their feelings, and inflicting pain on others. Such people believe that only by murdering others and inflicting fear and pain can they make themselves feel better, and increase their own standing in the world. They use a perversion of religion to justify their hatred and violent actions. This is not true Islam.
I agree with Fran that escalating violence cannot solve the problem. Such action simply gives fuel to the terrorists. "See! The evil American Satan is bombing us! They are killing us! We are justified in killing them and the evil Jews!" they scream. All the while they ignore the fact that they started this fight when they targeted and killed innocent civilians (non-combatants) to further their true cause: chaos and destruction.
How do you deal with someone like that? How do you deal with a group that indoctrinates others into a culture of hate and violence? They want you to talk with them, to try and understand them, because then you've let your guard down. They don't want to be understood and helped. They want to kill you, and they will do it by any means they can. This is especially true with so-called "Islamic fundamentalists." (I hate that term. These people are extremists. They are not practicing the fundamental ideals of Islam.)
"And he enthusiastically supports torture of military combatants and presumed terrorists. Where in the bible does it say we should hurt and kill people in the name of religion? Not even the Koran says this. All the world's religions are based on peace, and what Romney and the jihadists have in common is that they are all perverting religion for a misguided goal."
We can both agree that the jihadists are perverting religion. I'm not sure Romney is but, as I said in my initial reply to Fran, I didn't actually hear the speech she was talking about.
I'm going to deal with the torture issue, and some of her other very good points, in later posts.