The tiniest seed does indeed yield a mighty tree.
Choose any recent act of terrorism in which the perpetrator articulates a religious motivation, or in which the target (say, Planned Parenthood) is an institution reviled for religious reasons.
Religious indoctrination enables the outliers on the bell curve, i.e. those who truly take the words of the holy books extremely literally, regardless of the specific faith. Why can’t we just say it? “Religious indoctrination enables, and often is directly causal, of violent terrorist acts.
I’m not saying a person couldn’t justify this behavior without a religious motivation. The Aurora theater shooter, VA Tech shooter, and Columbine shooters did not cite religious goals, so they are likely not religiously driven. There are many other non-religious massacres in the American canon of gun violence, so a broad brush is not a good idea either.
Nor am I saying that religious training ALWAYS leads to terrorism. That is clearly over-reaching and is not my point.
But the reality is that the asserted reason for shooting up abortion clinics/doctors, or suicide bombing cafes, theaters and mosques is the desire to advance a religious goal throuh violence. The perpetrators claim it. Why do we choose to disregard their statements? Why do we refuse to consider that religious teachings can and do sometimes lead to people acting on them?
Because it affects our own identities, and we don’t like being asked to reassess our own identities. For most of us, religious faith is something we have been taught is all good, all true, never to be questioned, etc. That works out fine as the moderate middle ignores vast swaths of their faith’s Holy Books, living perfectly decent, moral lives.
But it bites us in the ass every time something horrible is done in the name of religion, and that same milque-toast middle says “We cannot allow something negative to be attached to that which we have been indoctrinated to believe is all positive. It is de facto, by definition, impossible. These actions are not from our religion. They’re not acting in my name!”
Denial, as hack comics say, ain’t just a river in Egypt.
Religious indoctrination allows the perpetrators to act, and allows the meek middle to provide cover, and enable the outliers. These acts, and the stream of denial following them, exposes the truth that when they can’t have their way some of the religious will resort to violence to get their way, and their co-conspirator moderates accept this.
Until we can consider it, talk about it and come up with ways to change it, we can expect a long, horrendous future of mayhem: supposedly isolated, supposedly unrelated to religion, imposed on us by those who believe they are fulfilling God’s or Allah’s mission as dictated in a holy book.