Peter The Hermit preaching the First Crusade, from a painting by James Archer, circa 1097. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Peter The Hermit preaching the First Crusade, from a painting by James Archer, circa 1097. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Religion has been with us since the dawn of time. Whether you are a true believer in a higher power is not really the total question. The starting point is — we all have some form of belief system that makes us who we are.

A Belief System

All humans have some sort of moral code. Things we will do and things we won’t do because they violate our belief system. As you can imagine these “belief systems” span a large spectrum.

We can justify murder during war and battle but not in a civilized society. We create laws based on what our elected leaders feel will benefit the most people or protect groups unable to protect themselves.

Justification for Behavior

Many people have made the point that more people have been killed in the world in the name of religion than any other reason. I personally feel people were killed to acquire land. Religion was just used as a way to help people accept mass extermination of those holding said land.

Many people try to direct the thoughts of others using religion or lack of it. Atheists are very vocal about any display of religion anywhere. They refer to it as, “Freedom From Religion.” True believers accept the Bible as the absolute word of God. Any deviation from its teachings would be unacceptable behavior in their eyes.

Religious Toleration

Currently the Middle East is in turmoil. Israel and Hamas are trying to eliminate each other. Israel, the United States, the United Kingdom,Canada,the European Union,Norway,Jordan,Egypt,Australia, and Japan all designate Hamas as a terrorist organization. Iran, Russia, Turkey, China, South Africa, and many Arab nations do not consider Hamas a terrorist organization.

Wars between religious factions are taking place in Iraq and Syria. Sunnis and Shiite’s are the Middle East version of the Hatfield’s and McCoys. They’ve been fighting so long most can’t even remember what started their opposition to each other in the first place.

Some Final Thoughts

Most religions teach tolerance of others. Accepting the fact that others might believe differently than you do is a freedom we enjoy as Americans. But when religion is taken to extremes by extermination of anyone who believes differently that’s when religion becomes very dangerous.

Mixed signals are sent and can attract those who are easily swayed to a particular viewpoint they feel favors them or enhances their position in life. When this point is reached then tolerance morphs into violence justified by a flawed belief that a supreme deity is on your side.

People are not always going to follow your beliefs. Even close family members might not mirror your belief system completely. Let’s all try to be a little more tolerant of others and their beliefs. Your belief system is unaffected by those of others unless they take it above the tolerance teachings.

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