Feature

The Bible’s endorsement of violence

The Muslim holy book does indeed contain passages calling for violence against nonbelievers, but so does the Bible, said Leonard Pitts Jr. in The Miami Herald.

Leonard Pitts Jr.
The Miami Herald

People who fear Muslims like to cite passages from the Koran that supposedly prove they want “to kill us all,’’ said Leonard Pitts Jr. The Muslim holy book does indeed contain passages calling for violence against nonbelievers. But so does the Bible. The Old Testament, for instance, flatly states that if anyone—“your very own brother, or son or daughter, or the wife that you love’’—introduces you to a false religion, “you must certainly put him to death.” Moses tells the Israelites to “kill all the boys’’ of an enemy tribe, and “kill every woman who has slept with a man.’’ In Matthew, Jesus warns, “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.’’

Scholars from both faiths can provide context that helps explain these troubling quotes from a more primitive time. But why is Islam alone held responsible for the violence in its holy book? There are more than 1 billion Muslims in the world, and only a few thousand—far less than 1 percent—have been involved in terrorism. The demagogues demonizing all Muslims are playing with fire; as we learned during the McCarthy era, “panicked, irrational people are capable of anything.’’

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