Religious Intolerance

September 20, 2011 | by

I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that it is precisely because of the thinking expressed on that we have terrorism in the world.

The cause is religion. The cause is a belief in God. It is religious extremists in all religions that create these problems. When religion rules the mind, any and all senseless terror is rationalized and may be inflicted on any who have a different view.

I don't care if it is Muslim, Jewish, Christian, etc. Everyone has the deluded image that their religion is the only rightful one, and as such, everyone else must be consigned to hell or earthly terror.

This practice has been repeated thousands of times over the course of history. From the pogroms, to the gas chambers, slavery, to bombing of buildings, it's always the same: irrational behavior caused by an irrational belief in the deity.

Yes, I mourn for the dead. But even more I mourn for the living, those who believe it is better to die for their cause and in the process destroy millions of innocents.

The Aish Rabbi Replies

Thank you for sending your comments. I completely agree that when religion and God are used as fronts for forcing one's views on another, it is a perversion of truth and all too often results in tragedy and loss.

I can't speak for the other religions you include on your list, but I must object to the inclusion of Judaism. Although some religions claim that one who is not a member will go to hell, and have used this as a false justification to commit horrible atrocities, it is a mistake to include Judaism with them.

I was abruptly reminded of this in 2007 with CNN's three-part documentary on religious fundamentalism, God's Warriors. Under the guise of even-handedness, CNN gave equal air-time to the three major religions, equating Jewish and Christian "extremism" with the worldwide jihadist phenomenon of radical Islam. This blatantly false moral equivalence (when was the last time you saw someone hijack a plane, blow up a commuter train, bomb a nightclub, or destroy a skyscraper - in the name of Judaism or Christianity?) was a textbook case of agenda-driven journalism, with CNN comparing Islamic terror - which has spawned over a thousand suicide attacks since 9-11 - to benign activities like fundraising for Israel. It's what Dan Abrams of MSNBC called "a defense of Islamic fundamentalism and the worst type of moral relativism."

Judaism claims no monopoly on God, and a person does not need to become Jewish to reach high spiritual levels. Judaism has no concept of "non-Jews going to hell." The Talmud (Sanhedrin 58b) presents seven pillars of humanity, and Maimonides explains that any human being who faithfully observes these earns a proper place in heaven. Judaism actually discourages converts, because the Torah is for all humanity, no conversion necessary.

As well, non-Jews were welcome to bring offerings to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, which the prophet Isaiah referred to as a "house for all nations." And King Solomon specifically asked God to heed the prayer of non-Jews who come to the Temple (1-Kings 8:41-43).

The Talmud says that humans are all descended from one couple, Adam and Eve, to teach that we are all brothers. In a national sense as well, Judaism says that all of the 70 seminal nations must function together, just as the various organs work together in a body. All are necessary and play an integral part in that "being" called humanity. We are all in it together, and if we can learn to work together and respect each other, it will be a far different world.

I recommend exploring many of these ideas in our online seminar, WorldPerfect, at

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