Let’s say there’s this man who
…began showing up regularly at Wat Busayadhammavanara, a Buddhist Temple in White Settlement, Tex., a Fort Worth suburb. He had Thai friends, adored Thai food and said he always felt drawn to the culture, said Pat Pundisto, a member of the temple answering the phone there on Monday. He was a regular at Sunday services, intoning Buddhist chants and staying to meditate afterward.
Guess who? Aaron Alexis, the Navy Yard shooter who killed a dozen innocents yesterday.
Putting aside for the moment the idea that all religious adherents are separated from reality, I have read reports that Alexis was paranoid schizophrenic and hearing voices. If true, then this says nothing about the pro- or con- violent tendencies of any organization with which he might have been associated.
I don’t know that religions have innately violent tendencies, and that’s not the premise of this blog anyway. Moral Compass puts the lie that to the widespread and annoying assumption that people of faith have a lock on “better,” more moral behavior.
I like your preemptive caveat about all religious adherents being separated from reality. Religion itself should be placed on the mental-health continuum somewhere between slightly odd and batshit-crazy. Even perfectly run-of-the-mill, non-violent adherents hear voices, or take telepathic commands from “God,” or believe in talking snakes or resurrecting the dead or all of the above. I’d be hard pressed to not call religion a mental illness. Of course, it’s just relatively harmless silliness in most people, but not in all. I wouldn’t really know where harmless stops and harmful begins.