As a child, my Catholic upbringing taught me that a good Christian is a kind, caring, loving and forgiving one. The 10 Commandments were drummed into our ears that killing was ungodly! We were taught Christian values that everything on earth and every action of mankind came from God to fulfil the purpose of creation.
Only the world of children appears suitable for this kind of teaching. As children, we are guarded from the vagaries of the world and smothered with proximity of a caring adult.
But as one grows and begins to learn history, the stark reality becomes clear that the Church’s teaching of loving and caring is a double edged sword. It was patronising and coercive within the duality of Heaven and Hell.
The advent of Western religion has a bloody history which refuses to disappear. I had the opportunity to study the evolution of Catholicism and the split of the Church during the times of King Henry VIII, Martin Luther and so forth.
These were bloody times in the world that was dominated by the Church. In fact, one can claim that some of the most horrifying tragedies in the world emerged under the rule of the Church in the name of advancing its legitimacy.
Many people are ensconced in their faith today due to historical tyranny of the Church, which charged and murdered people for questioning its doctrines. Back in the days, the charge of heresy attracted cruelty and death. The Church issued and exacted death penalty on none-believers and belligerent Christians with impunity.
When Pope Francis decried the state of violence in the world as piece-meal world war, he was being reflective. There are sporadic acts of violence in the world which are being fought on the basis of religious mores and faith. In this world, there appears to be no issue that man cannot resolve, except matters of faith and religion.
It is a pity because those who orchestrated the January 7 Charlie Hebdo attack in which 17 people were killed at a satirical newspaper office and a supermarket in Paris, claimed they did so in the name of religion.
Here again we face a dilemma. All religions claim purity and claim that they are peaceful. These faith institutions startle when its followers commit senseless atrocities, planting bombs in public places, spraying bullets in malls or abducting non-combatants.
Religion alone is not enough for someone to conduct themselves that way. However faithful you are, none of these religions actually sanctions the murder of the innocent bystanders. There must be an underlying motive for which religion is an excuse.
Religion and faith have only been used as a façade for far deeper grievances created by unequal global system. Fanatics have only realised that through religious institutions, they easily attract alliances to advance their causes.
Imagine that we lived in a world where there are no Muslims, Buddhists, Christians or Animists, but people of the world. What other excuses would we have to justify the violence and destruction of lives? Well, there is the freedom of speech.
Persistently discrediting someone’s religious figurehead may not have been the best use of that freedom. Every right has a limit, and so is freedom. That precisely is the reason there are infringements and rules.
However, every conflict in this world occurs on similar accounts; indifference, oppression, repression, greed, inequities and indignation of others’ values. Charlie Hebdo highlights the indifference in value systems between the West and the East. France is the zone of that conflict.
Globalisation has made conflicting value boundaries fluid. They can meet and clash anywhere, at any cost, in the name of religion and faith.
Mr Komakech is a social critic and political analyst. firstname.lastname@example.org