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A religious explanation/justification of violence - Essay Example

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A Religious Justification of Violence [Name] Religion and Theology [Date] A Religious Justification of Violence Religion has been the centre of attention in many of the conflicts across the world today (Juergensmeyer et. al, 2012). However, one must consider the teachings in various religious beliefs and the extent to which they condone violent actions in the lifestyle of their followers…
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A Religious Justification of Violence Religion and Theology A Religious Justification of Violence Religion has been the centre of attention in many of the conflicts across the world today (Juergensmeyer et. al, 2012). However, one must consider the teachings in various religious beliefs and the extent to which they condone violent actions in the lifestyle of their followers. A popular example used for analyzing the connection between religion and violence is the Palestine/Israeli war that has been ongoing for decades (BBC News, n.d.). Religious leaders have played a large role in this conflict and have caused its effects to spread to different parts of the world. The three monotheistic religions are all created on peaceful values; however, using their teachings this paper will analyze their explanation and justification for violent actions. The topic is very broad; hence the religion that will be mainly used in this paper is Judaism. Numerous leaders often condone violence camouflaged under religious messages. The attack on the Gaza strip in the 2008-2009 period was carried out as a religious attack, resulting the loss of millions of lives (Davis, 2012). Some religious leaders have made statements that were horrifically pro violence. For example, Shapira is infamous for publishing a book that supported the killing of babies, if there was a possibility that they could grow up to harm people. Furthermore the Gaza attack has been referred to as just and necessary. In Judaism, two phenomena in connection with violence will be discussed. These are the paradox associated with violence and metamorphosing violence into peace. Violence can be noticed through out the Torah, from the cold blooded murder of Abel to the vicious homophobic fire cast upon Sodom and Gommorah (Shapira, n.d). The violence in these books however is not a mode of justification but rather a way of teaching the readers and believers (Moss, 2007). These violent acts were typical for the pagan world the existed before salvation occurred. Jewish children are raced on these stories and are expected to learn the negativity and adverse effect of violence. Moses beat an Egyptian man to death for assaulting a Hebrew. However, the following day he asked one of the two men who were fighting why he was beating his neighbor (Exodus 2). Moses, in the first case defended his neighbor which shows the quality of protecting the people close to you. However, the contrast between the murder and the fact that he didn’t do the same to the Greek men fighting shows that his violent act was not the appropriate mode of intervention. We also see an instance of violence when Jacob’s daughter Dinah was raped (Sachs, n.d). Jacob remained silent whilst his sons took out their swords and killed every man from the town of the rapist. We also see a transformation of violence into peace when Elisha ordered the King to give the prisoners food and water and let them return to their masters. The Bible also shows the existence of a counter violence voice. In the Bible, Saul ordered his guards to beat the priests from Nob (Deffinbaugh, n.d). However the guards refused to perform this act as the priests were men of God and the guards felt it would not be righteous to beat these priests. This shows that the Bible does not condone violence even in situations when it is supported by the authorities. In addition, it encourages individuals to judge for themselves whether the act of violence is justifiable or not. The Bible also encourages people to intervene if they see an individual inflicting harm on another. This is known as ‘not standing in your brother’s blood’ (Gefen, n.d). It says the people should not stand idly if they are in an area where people are doing harm upon others. An individual has the moral obligation to help in such situations. The bible contains numerous stories of violent behavior. However, each of these stories has an underlying message of peace behind it. In some way or another, all the stories show alternative measures to violent behavior. The Bible also has many wars, for example, defense of the Israeli army, war of seven people and the war of Amalekites. At times the people in the Bible would complain to the King that they have insufficient food supply. The King would then advise them to join the army and proceed to obtain basic needs through civil wars. War based on economical gains occurred during David’s era, however, violence of this nature was a one time phenomenon and occurred only once. In modern times wars such as the Amalekite or seven peoples’ war are almost impossible as these people are now living in a mixed environment. War for economic reasons and defensive are the ones more likely to occur. References BBC News. (n.d) A History of Conflict. Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/middle_east/03/v3_ip_timeline/html/ Davis, K. (2012) Stanford, we are complicit in Gaza violence. Retrieved from http://www.stanforddaily.com/2012/11/14/gaza/ Deffinbaugh, B. (n.d) Saul Loses His Grip. Retrieved from http://bible.org/seriespage/saul loses-his-grip-1-samuel-225-2314 Gefen, Y. (n.d) Don’t Stand Over Your Brother’s Blood Part 4. Retrieved from http://www.torah.org/learning/jewish-values/brothersblood4.html Juergensmeyer, M., Kitts, M., and Jerryson, M. (2012)The Oxford handbookof Religion and Violence. Published to Oxford Handbooks. Moss, A., (2007) Is the Torah a violent book. Retrieved from http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/7573#.UUIACDfiKM8 Sachs, I. (n.d) The Rape of Dinah: Genesis 34. Retrieved from http://www.utoronto.ca/wjudaism/contemporary/articles/rape_of_dinah_genesis_34.htm Shapira, A. (n.d) Judaism and Violence: Violence and the War of Right and Wrong. 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