August 09, 2012, 8:26 AM
When FBI Agent Teresa Carlson stood at the microphone in Oak Creek, Wisconsin on Aug. 5, she said “There are indicators that this (murder of six people in a Sikh Temple) could be a domestic terrorism case… Domestic terrorism is the use of force or violence for social or political gain.”
What about a religious dimension? These victims were believers who were gunned down during a worship service. We don’t have a manifesto from Wade Michael Page so we will never know his exact motives, be they social or political and/or religious. But terrorism against worshippers is religiously motivated violence nonetheless.
One day later in
These instances contradict the spirit of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States which says “Congress shall make no law… prohibiting the free exercise (of religion).” (1791) Clearly our country has welcomed all religions and this has helped to make us one of the most religiously diverse nations on Earth. That hasn’t guaranteed an unblemished record, but it has established our core value of appreciative religious inclusiveness.
Religiously motivated violence is often coupled with other factors, e.g. tribal, cultural, color of skin, economics, political power, fear of the other. So when a religious sanctuary is violated, there is a good likelihood that other factors are driving the rage as well.
Also, religiously motivated violence is present when people of religion initiate the terror. In our history, for instance, white Christians with hoods and flaming crosses burned the houses of African Americans and formed lynching parties. This too is religiously motivated violence.
There are at least two requirements to safeguard the religious freedom enjoyed in our country. One: we have to face up to the low key innuendo of religious bigotry which creeps into our politics, talk shows, and pulpits. This filters down to the arsonists and assassins and encourages destruction and death in
Two: the people of differing faiths in this nation have to find each other, find a common voice and take the necessary actions for living into religious freedom and countering religiously motivated violence.
“Domestic terrorism is the use of violence for social or political gain.” What about the religious dimension?
The purpose of the United Religions Initiative is to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings.