Violence in the name of religion
is still, after thousands of years, one of the most common causes of terrorism. Arguably, communism, which
professed to be against all religion, was the biggest offender of all, having
killed over a hundred million people in the last century. Communism was faith
based, and demanded blind obedience from its followers, had a complex theology,
holy places (the tombs of founders, where worshippers still flock) and a
fondness for mass murder ("for the greater good.") But even the more
traditional religions still have their zealots, and these guys (they are nearly
all men) are still at it.
At present, Islamic
terrorists are the most well known, and responsible for most terrorist deaths
in the last few decades. There are many Islamic sects that operate mainly
within Islam, and are little known to outsiders. Shia Islam has several of
these, usually ones who are violent in their efforts to trigger the return of
the Mahdi (a long dead Islamic leader killed in an Islamic civil war), a holy
warrior that is to one day come back and set things right. Fanatic followers of
the Mahdi pray, fornicate and fight among themselves to make this happen.
hardly the only religion to suffer from this malady. Jewish zealots in Israel
are becoming more active, and murderous. One of their main objective is the
establishment of a "greater Israel" (including the West Bank and
parts of neighboring countries), and the expulsion of non-believers. Christian
zealots have focused of late on abortion, and several medical personnel
associated with that procedure have been murdered as a result. There have been
some Christian cults that have killed, but usually among themselves. Hinduism,
generally one of the more mild mannered and tolerant of the major world
religions, has its homicidal fanatics. Their rage is currently directed at
Moslems (seen as a centuries old threat), and Christians (mainly for converting
Hindus). Even Buddhism has created some fanatics. The Aum Shinri Kyo, a radical
Japanese group seeking to trigger a planetary apocalypse, were the first
terrorists to use nerve gas in attacks. This group was denounced by all other
Buddhist sects, and its terrorist members rounded up and jailed in the 1990s.
But the group is still out there.
also pagan (what the more modern religions call all the older ones) sects that
terrorize and kill. These often practice what is called magic. Literally, it is
the use of incantations, sacrifices (including some using humans, even
children) and appeals to the supernatural for favors. These sects kill
hundreds, perhaps thousands, each year. Mainly in Africa, but this sort of
thing also shows up in Asia and the Americas.
faith are powerful tools and motivators, but sometimes the faith is misplaced,
and amped up to the point where many die. These old ways are with us still.