On estimate, there are about 19 major religions in this world, which are then subdivided into 270 large religious groups, and then so forth. Christianity, which is the most popular religion in the world has over 40,000 denominations under its umbrella.
While society has grown to be more tolerant and accepting of different religions, there are still those who hold so vehemently to their religion that they would be willing to would hurt anyone opposed to their beliefs. What is so alarming is that these individuals use their faith as a basis for causing immense pain and suffering to those they consider their enemies—simply those who don’t share their beliefs.
Religious extremism often starts with targeted persecution and eventually leads to mass murder. It has grown to be such a dreadful presence that in most countries, citizens live in fear for their lives and most conceal their true religion for their own and their families’ sake. Even though these acts of crime are most prevalent in the Middle East, religious extremism in history has been performed by every religion and in the same terrible measures.
1525 – King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain commenced the Crusades as a method of spiritual Catholic purification of Spain by exterminating all Catholic or Jewish minorities.
1930s – Myanmar Buddhist monks stabbed four Europeans as an act of rebellion against the British Empire rule.
1972 – During the Munich Olympic games, several Israeli athletes were kidnapped and killed by radical Palestinians.
2006 – the Westboro Baptist church traveled to Camp Lejeune in North Caroline, to protest the U.S. Marine Corps by stomping on the American flag and waving obscene pickets.
2014 – Islamist extremist Boko Haram kidnapped at least 185 women and children and killed 32 people in a raid in northeastern Nigeria.
2015 – The militant ISIS group released a video of the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians
Despite the horrific nature of these acts, it stems from a supposed righteous sense of religious duty that motivates them to act violently. Extremists believe that eradicating other religions will bring honor and glory to their God. But a huge irony in this is that in most, if not all, religious scriptures, there is a huge focus of love and forgiveness. It leaves us to wonder how scriptures are being interpreted.
The rationale of attacking another person or group based on religious views is due to ignorance. Peace can only be achieved by mutual respect and understanding, and it starts with an accurate study of religious texts, having interfaith discussions, agreeing to put differences aside, and handling every matter with an action of love.