Is religion an ideology

Unsettled people confuse religion and ideology

Zurich, October 7, 2016 ( Violence perpetrated in the name of religion testifies to the insecurity that a changing society triggers. Religion and ideology are mixed up. This was the result of a panel discussion by the Zurich Institute for Interreligious Dialogue, which took place in Zurich on Friday.

Georges Scherrer

Lunch and in-depth discussion: This was united by the “Religion and Violence” discussion lunch organized by the Zurich Institute for Interreligious Dialogue (ZIID) on the occasion of the opening week of the Zurich “Kulturpark”. This new development in Zurich combines work, living, education and culture in its rooms and aims to network the various players. Several church institutions are also housed here, including the Catholic Media Center.

The violence and peace potential of the monotheistic religions were at the center of the conversation, which was led by the director of the Catholic Media Center, Charles Martig. At the word violence, Rifa’at Lenzin, Head of Islam at ZIID, took a deep breath and explained that the relationship between violence and Islam has preoccupied her for twenty years. This widespread claim has become so ingrained in the minds of Muslims that many of them now actually believe that Islam and violence go hand in hand.

Michel Bollag, head of the Judaism department at ZIID, said that the roots of religious violence do not lie in religion, but in people. If theology wanted to go on the offensive today on the subject of "religion and violence", then theologians would have to work on their theology. In any case, it is insufficient if religion is described as "peaceful" on the one hand and "violent" on the other.

A piece of work between the paradises

The third interlocutor in the group, Samuel Behloul, Head of Christianity at ZIID, said that all religions harbor a potential for violence. The potential for conflict lies in the fact that the monotheistic religions see reality as “deficient” because it has moved away from its ideal origins, the “paradise”. At the same time, humanity is far from the ultimate paradisiacal state. In this perspective, humanity is "piecemeal".

Violence that is perpetrated in the name of religion is always part of people's history of violence, said Behloul. He also distinguished ideology from religion. The "kingdom of God" could not be brought about by an "overthrow". Ideologies, on the other hand, put people at the center by “empowering” them to act. This applies to fundamentalists such as the Islamic State. They would "appropriate" God for the realization of their purposes.

The paradox of violence

Rifa’at Lenzin painted a somewhat different picture for Islam. In its conception, man is a work of God. The Muslim understands his faith as devotion and submission. This worldview is clearly different from that of Christians. Violence can be understood positively as well as negatively, warned the Islamic scholar. The English language describes this paradox with the words "power" and "violence". "When is there good violence and when can it be used?" Asked the Muslim woman. In Switzerland, "state authority" is seen as positive force, added the interviewer Charles Martig, illustrating.

With reference to the jihadists, Behloul spoke of an "ejection seat Islamization". Most of the young people who traveled to the Middle East to fight there were hardly religious before their “religious mission”. They would get their religious knowledge administered in a rapid bleaching process.

Disruptive society as an opportunity for religions

The three panelists were convinced that the holy scriptures of the three monotheistic religions definitely contained the potential for peace. "It just depends on the intention with which you read these writings," said Lenzin. It would not do to commit oneself to single “quotations” in one's behavior. Belhoul demanded that "people should not be excluded" when reading the scriptures.

In view of the current social development, the religious communities would face major challenges. The catchphrase “disruptive society” was used, that is, the uncertainty triggered by huge changes in the areas of the environment, the robotization of the world of work and globalization. The panelists said the religions are capable of learning. You can find answers to the violent reactions that would be caused by the social rifts.

© Catholic Media Center, October 7th, 2016
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