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Blaming religion, the easy way out

In multiple courses I have read in Lums' social sciences and education department, religions are, in one way or the other taken to be an easy target. Be it the definition of religion forming primordial causes of ethnic cleansing, or any individual crime, religion is deemed as an easy target which may be much more easily targeted than any other aspect or cause.


In a recent lecture, I came across a quote by Steven Weinberg which read "With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil - that takes religion". For me, it is a very loose contention which makes grammatical rhythm and sense but that is it! Consider the Sikh murderers of Mahatama Gandhi, consider the genocide of Sikhs in India after and before death of Indira Gandhi, consider the terrorists involved in 9/11 attacks, or those responsible for 2008's Mumbai attacks. Were they good people doing bad because of religion? Or were they too naive that they simply got exploited?


Why do we not consider the aspects of hidden truths, the idea of other benefits being reaped out of conflict? Zar, Zameen and Zan (Money, Land and Woman) are 3 major attractions towards any conflict in the world, which drags people in all sorts of low and high scale conflict. Blaming religion for instigating or sustaining any form of violence, is much more loosely connected than any of these aspects.

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Your post raises a valid issue prevalent in Pakistan, scapegoating religion for various societal issues. A recent incident I can recall is the murder of Mashal Khan in 2017. Initially, the accusation was that he committed blasphemy, which ignited a wave of public outrage. However, upon examination, it was clear that personal conflicts and issues within the educational institution played a crucial role for which religion was used as a cover-up. Similarly, the murder of salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti, who were advocating for Pakistan blasphemy laws was linked to religious motivation. However, these incidents were rooted in broader societal and political tensions rather than being solely driven by religious ideology.

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You have grappled such an important topic in few lines , powerfully conveying your message. I can feel where you are coming from, as I have felt this at every level. I can only reply to it in what Galtung says, 'The ambivalence of the sacred'. Now, let's see how religion can have this state of ambiguity. We see hundred of examples everyday, where violent mobs in the name of religion chant out loud their violent slogans and there are examples from the same religion, whose followers demand peace or find ways for peace building. How I see this is that, religion is not corrupting anyone, it is the follower of that religion who has this power to either spread…


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I think the quote by Steven Weinberg which read "With or without religion, good people can behave well, and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil - that takes religion" varies from context to context. In some cases, such we have seen religion as an active factor in committing heinous acts and crimes. For example, certain religious doctrines have been used to justify discrimination and violence against LGBTQ+ individuals. In countries where homosexuality is criminalized based on religious interpretations, like Pakistan, individuals are seen to engage in harmful actions against those perceived as violating religious norms. Furthermore, in the context of Pakistan, it is evident that individuals, driven by interpretations of religious morality, commit violence…

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A very interesting idea! Honestly, reading your piece made me realize that yes religion is an easy target in most cases. In considering why religion becomes a convenient target, historical events offer valuable context. For instance, the British divide-and-rule strategy in colonial India exploited religious differences, using them as a tool to maintain control. The Rwandan genocide is another stark example where religious identities were manipulated to escalate ethnic conflict.

Moreover, the tendency to attribute violence solely to religion oversimplifies the motivations of individuals and groups. Examining cases like the Rohingya crisis sheds light on how socio-political factors intertwine with religious dimensions. The persecution of the Rohingya in Myanmar involves not only religious differences but also complex historical and political…

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In my Lums courses, I've noticed a tendency to easily target religion in discussions on social issues. Steven Weinberg's quote, "With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil - that takes religion," raises questions about oversimplification. Reflecting on cases like the Sikh murderers of Mahatma Gandhi challenges the idea of religion being the sole motivator for violence. I often wonder why we don't explore hidden truths behind conflicts, like the allure of money, land, and power. Drawing from personal experiences, I believe discussions should move beyond religion as the primary cause of violence. Examining the intricate motivations and influences can offer a more nuanced understanding of…

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