Who is peaceful? Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Atheists … and who did I miss? … Jews, Hindus, and Sikhs? There are so many ways to believe, and the competition can be fierce.
I once heard a story about a foreign student in the city of Glasgow, Scotland. I think he was a Muslim from Pakistan. He went shopping, and he bought a colorful tie, probably in a thrift store. There are two sports communities that dominate Glasgow, the Rangers and the Celtics. Ranger fans are historically Protestant, and the Celtics were the team of Irish immigrants, mostly Catholic.
The innocent man wore his nice new tie with Ranger colors, and waited for a bus to take him home, at the end of a day, in Celtic territory. Of course, some drunken Celtic fans also wanted to take the bus, and that foreign student had to explain himself quickly, to avoid a severe beating.
I think he stopped wearing that tie.
You might have heard part of the debate: ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ … or … ‘Islam is not a religion of peace’. If you do a search of terms like “Islam” and “peace” you will find many opinions; many angry opinions. It is ironic that people argue about peace.
If we look at belief systems, and not just religions, the most violent and dangerous movement that has killed the most people is Atheism. Communism, officially Atheist, has killed the most people, in China. Huge numbers also died in the Communist Soviet Union. The Nazis killed millions, but their record is much smaller than the Atheist Communists.
And then there were the killings in Indonesia, around 1965, when at least half a million Communists and related leftists were tortured and killed, mostly by Muslims. The Muslims fought to prevent a Communist revolution in their country.
We also have the Medieval Crusades, when armies directed by the Pope, in Rome, attacked Muslims in the Middle East. These were religious wars, and Muslims and Christians fought for centuries. Recently, some Muslims demanded an official apology for the Crusades. Someone else got angry and demanded, “Apologize for the invasion of Spain!”
All of the Crusades were organized efforts at liberation; Muslims were driven out of places that they had conquered.
In Myanmar, the Buddhists who control the country, are accused of persecuting their Muslim Rohingya minority:
They may also fight against Christians in tribal areas. The Christian fighting is portrayed in a Rambo movie. Please note, this clip is violent, at the end of a Rambo movie. You may want to skip it. The bad guys are Buddhists, and the fighters on the other side are Karen rebels, mostly Baptist Christians, and Rambo fights the Buddhists with them. This is a Hollywood version of actual history, except for Rambo.
So, who has the religion of peace?
Some groups are more prone to violence than others, but we seem to all have the same human condition.
Do Muslims have a religion of peace? Yes, if peace is what they want. No, if they don’t want peace. And that is true for everyone. Whatever peace is, we have as much as we make.
Christians follow Jesus, a man who avoided violence. He said “I am not an earthly king. If I were, my followers would have fought when I was arrested by the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of the world.” (John 18:36) Those words were spoken just before his violent execution.
Jesus also spoke to us one at a time “I am leaving you with a gift, peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27)
When we search for the true religion of peace, we need to find the people who have found peace, one at a time. If they form a group, we might find peace there.
In my experience, there is no religion of peace. There are some people who have found that gift that Jesus talked about. I hope that includes you, and me.