This is an interesting topic and one that I’ve been putting together a blog post about but haven’t gotten around to it yet.
Of course, it’s important to note that not all religionists kill. In fact, very few, by comparison kill in the name of their religion and/or god(s). But the fact that even a small minority do (and sometimes on a grand scale as we’ve seen with the World Trade Center attacks, the Holocaust, the Inquisition, the Crusades, and the various conflicts that are going on around the world today) is reason enough to inquire into the reason behind such heinous and horrible behavior.
There are, of course, those that would try to make the claim that atheists kill far more (the tired and worn Pol Pot/Stalin claim), but never -never- has an atheist ever said I’m killing because I’m an atheist. Not Stalin. Not Pol Pot. Not any atheist that I’ve ever seen. There, no doubt, exist such people -even they’ve never been publicized, but their incidence is so small that it pales in comparisson to religionists who are open about the supposed “rationale” behind their own horrible actions.
Here are but a few headlines and snippets from google:
A lot of the links above are Muslim and Indian religionists, killing in the name of their imagined gods. But, make no mistake: given half the chance, Christian religionists would do the same. Take the case of Paul Hill, who is lauded as a “hero” but Christian nuts who operate the Army of God website, dedicated to anti-abortion fanaticism.
Its one thing to be opposed to abortion. Quite another to murder and commit terrorism in the name of your “cause.” Paul Hill was a terrorist and a murderer. But these nuts call him a hero.
This gives some taste of the why some religious people become killers. They think their god(s) give(s) them authority to do so. They believe that the murders they commit are just and the will of their god(s).
Case in point is Christian, Terry Mark Mangum, a Texas man who believed that god “instructed” him to hunt down and kill a gay man. So he did. I linked to his story above, but Google “Terry Mark Mangum” and see for yourself.
The BTK serial killer, David Rader was a Lutheran and a devout member of the church. His pastor believed (but only after Rader’s extra-curricular activities became known to him) that Rader was “demon-possessed.”
What about the 1-year old murdered by her mother for not saying, “amen?” Surely that isn’t a command by god? Ironically (in the most tragic of ironies), the family’s pastor pleaded guilty to molesting young boys, so the mother left the church and ended up with an even more sinister cult called 1 Mind Ministries led by “Queen Antoinette” (I only wish I were making this up!) who keeps the small group in a tight-knit clutch “and operates under the extremely god-driven Queen’s direction.” True, they’re crazy, but the trigger to murder here is religion and religious dogma.
Andrea Yates thought god was telling her to sacrifice her children (in the tradition of the Abrahamic myth?), so she did.
Dena Schlosser wanted to give her child to god. So she did. By cutting off the arms fo her youngest daughter.
But, in an culture that makes it okay to kill in the name of god, why should it be expected that some of the strictest adherents who already happened to have some screws loose might not be willing to start “pleasing their god?” One of the central doctrines of Christian superstition is the “End Times”, which entails the second coming of Jesus (the alleged Christ who is a couple thousand years late) and the “rapture” of all “god’s children” to heaven, leaving behind all the heathens, unbelievers, atheists, Satan’s minions, lawyers, republicans, etc. There’s even a special video game you can play in which you convert or kill atheists and non-believers for god until you earn your way into heaven.
The Left Behind game is an abomination to humanity and, if there was ever a video game that inspired someone to kill, it was this one. What better reason to kill than if you know you have a ‘get out of jail free card’ signed by the highest authority?