Religious Extremism

May 25, 2008

It really annoys me when I see references to “religious extremism” bandied about, especially by politicians.
They mean to distance themselves from language that refers to a ‘war on terror’. However it doesn’t go far enough; I wish people would say “religious criminality” instead of “religious extremism”.

I contend that many people in Britain are extremists. One may take an extreme view on femminism, another on cycling. One may be a fundamentalist trade unionist, the other a radicalised environmentalist. Diversity is a sometimes useful, sometimes beautiful thing; people should be ‘allowed’ any view they wish, and the freedom to communicate that view and in so doing make a real contribution to diversity of thinking in britain.

Its not the view itself that is the problem. One can hold any view they wish. Its the action which follows. For this reason I think the phrase ‘religious criminality’ is more useful than ‘religious extremism’.

Jesus was a religious extremist, in a sense. Not the type of extremist who murders indiscriminitely but the type of extremist who allowed Himself to be crucified for the sake of all others [John 3:16-17]. A whole different type of extremist. The term extremist should be reclaimed for those who want to live in that mold. They cannot be called moderates, and should not be made to fear being identified with such a pure form of fundamentalism.

You get labour lib dem and tory fundamentalists. SNP too! You get jogging extremists, gaming extremists, femminist extremists. Thank God. Just because they’re extremists doesn’t mean they’re evil. Just because their views are extreme doesn’t mean those views are wrong.

Extremism is fine – you’re all extremists you just dont realise it. Criminality is not fine – but even if the belief is wrong, its the action not the view that should be legislated against.

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2 Responses to “Religious Extremism”

  1. wand777 Says:

    religious freedom perforce entails religious tolerance.

    if you can’t stand another’s opinions, you need to mature up, and GET some empathy.

    religion is a form of mind control

  2. forgelindin Says:

    I think I broadly agree with all but the last point

    There are probably a lot of countries in which religion is used as a form of law enforcement, but I don’t think that applies in the kind of true religion I had in mind, which almost always runs counter to our culture rather than being controlled by anyone in it.

    Although it must be emphasised that exactly the same criticisms can be made for a comparable percentage of atheists. Not believing something does not necessarily mean that one has greater empathy, or a more open mind.


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