The Rev. Canon Dr. Titus Presler has written an important reflection for The Episcopal News Service on the link between terrorism and religion. Titus is principal-in-exile of Edwardes College in Peshawar, Pakistan, and past president of the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas. He and his wife, the Rev. Jane Butterfield Presler, live in Shelburne, Vermont.
“Terrorism has no religion,” read a placard at a demonstration in New York. The slogan expressed a wish, but the evidence indicates otherwise.
Terrorism often does have a religion. It may be Islam, as in the San Bernardino, Paris and Orlando mass killings and the atrocities of ISIS. It may be Christianity, as in the Colorado Springs killing and the much older church-sanctioned lynchings of African Americans in the American South. It may be Judaism, as in killings by settlers on the West Bank. It may be Hinduism, as in the Gujarat riots of 2002. It may be Sikhism, as in the insurgency in Indian Punjab in the 1980s. It may even be Buddhism, as religious minorities in Myanmar and Sri Lanka have now experienced.
So is religion inherently pernicious? No, for not only are most people in the world religious but the religious practice of most people grounds them spiritually and nurtures wisdom, compassion and communal commitment.
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