Every religion has a history of violence carried out by its fringe and/or power-players.
Let’s just look at the “Big Four” though, for examples.
Hinduism has a violent history. It was the 17th century Hindu warrior king Shivaji Bhonsle who first invented and used guerrilla warfare methods (Shiva sutra or ganimi kava), which is what terrorists claim to be doing in the present day. Although most people think of Hindu resistance in connection to Mahatma Gandhi, Hindu separatists have traditionally been just as willing to shed blood for their culture and religion as any other group. In 2003 Hindus killed almost 800 Muslims during the Gujarat riots in India. Right now India is facing a terrorist crisis from militant Hindus calling themselves the United Liberation Front of Asom. The ULFA recently killed 60 migrant workers, a fact that got distressingly little media attention in the West but is known as “saffron terror” in the countries where it promulgates. One leader of Hindu terrorism attacks that have killed more than 100 people, Swami Aseemanand, is “accused of plotting several terrorist attacks on civilian targets across the country between 2006 and 2008 … is fiercely proud of the acts of violence he has committed and the principles by which he has lived”.
Christianity has a violent history. Thomas More was so devout that he became recognized as a saint, and he is the same man who burned fellow Christians alive at the stake if they didn’t agree with him HOW to worship “correctly”. At the beginning of the 13th century Pope Innocent III decided to kill all those practicing Catharism, a form of Christianity that was devoted to non-violence to the point they were all vegetarians, embraced gender equality in the form of women church leaders, and believed in reincarnation. The 20 year campaign (1209-1229) to wipe out the Carthars was dubbed the Albigensian Crusade and was estimated to have killed ONE MILLION people. In 1243 Christian mobs in Berlitz, Germany burned alive every Jewish person (man, woman, and child) they could find in the city. Likewise, the self-proclaimed Christians in the KKK burned black people alive and their Christian neighbors did not stop them. There was the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre wherein French Catholics slaughtered as many as 30,000 Christian Protestants. Then there is the holocaust … you might have heard of it? Well, the people who did that hell-on-earth were all born into Christian families in a Christian country. In 2011 Anders Behring Breivik claimed his Christianity motivated him to shoot 110 people – killing 69 of them including children – because they were Muslims and/or liberals who were ruining Norway in his opinion.
Judaism has a violent history. Not just their conquest of foreign territory in ancient times, either. The Jewish religion’s Revolt of the Maccabees was “world’s first ideological/religious war”. Moreover, enemies of Judaism or those who failed to practice strict Jewish monotheism were killed in was designed to inspire fear and terror. For instance, Hosea 13:16 states that “The people of Samaria must bear their guilt, because they have rebelled against their God. They will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open.” The Jewish reclamation of Israel hasn’t exactly been a peace-fest either. The HRW (human rights watch) has documented how Palestinians are still being mistreated by Israel’s government, and an organization of Israeli soldiers called Breaking the Silence have devoted themselves to blowing the whistle about the systematic abuse of Palestinian children by Israeli occupation forces. In 2003, British peace activist and photographer Tom Hurndall was shot in the head by an Israeli sniper while he was trying to save three Palestinian children. The sniper, Taysir Hayb, “was convicted of manslaughter and obstruction of justice by an Israeli military court in April 2005 and sentenced to eight years in prison.”
Islam has a violent history. Islam, like the other major religions, is also having a problem with terrorism among a small number of its members. Islamic militants were behind the 1983 bombing of the US embassy in Beirut that lest 63 people dead. They were behind 1993 Mumbai terrorist attacks that killed 257 people and again in 2003, murdering another 55 people. In 1997 the Luxor massacre, half a dozen Islamic terrorists attacked tourists at the Luxor ruins and killed 62 of them. The 1998 United States embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya left 224 dead and wounded more than 4000 people. The attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001 killed more than 3000 Americans. In 2002 bombings by Islamic terrorists in Bali killed more than 200 people. The terrorist bombings of the London Underground in 2005 killed 53 victims and injured almost 700 more. In 2010 Russia’s transportation system was likewise targeted in the Moscow Metro bombings which left 40 people dead. The radical group calling itself Boko Haram is currently kidnapping adults and children all over central Africa and has murdered additional thousands. ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Levant) has taken over huge swathes of Iraq and is murdering anyone who tries to resist them. ISIS recently burned an Jordanian pilot alive, even though he was a fellow Muslim.
That’s the thing about religious terrorism – it usually kills its own. Hindu terrorists have killed more Hindus and Christian terrorists have killed more Christians than the terrorists from other religions have managed to kill. Similarly, a 2011 report by the US National Counter-Terrorism Center (NCTC) pointed out, “In cases where the religious affiliation of terrorism casualties could be determined, Muslims suffered between 82 and 97% of terrorism-related fatalities over the past five years.”
Any ideology, no matter how good at the core, can be twisted by the few who want an excuse for violence and a justification for their own evil. Anyone in any religion who thinks “They” do it and “We” don’t is deluding themselves.