Voices of Faith offers perspectives from religion columnists. This week’s question: Is any religion really a religion of peace?
Defense of morals can be excuse for violence
The Rev. Pat Rush, pastor, Visitation Catholic Church: Religions can be religions of peace without their adherents always being peaceful people.
Jesus’ farewell gift was the gift of peace: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.”
His earliest followers were against all war and violence, practicing Jesus’ teaching that when slapped on one cheek, we should offer the other.
Then in the early fifth century St. Augustine, who was personally a pacifist, concluded that even though individuals could, perhaps should, be pacifists, states could not be such since they had the responsibility of protecting their citizens. So he began developing what we have come to know as the just war theory.
That is the foundation of my Catholic Church which has, through the centuries, sponsored such violence as the crusades and inquisitions. But my church also has given the world such messengers of peace as Francis of Assisi, Dorothy Day and Popes John XXIII and Paul VI.
Are we a religion of peace? Yes, I think we are. But not all of us hear and live that call to be peacemakers in the same way.
Sometimes, as with Augustine, that’s because we believe that, in a sinful world, states have a moral responsibility to defend their people.
Sometimes that’s because, in a sinful world, we distort our religion’s peace message and make other objectives, often camouflaged in twisted religious ideology, a greater priority.
Sometimes followers stray from principles
The Rev. Duke Tufty, pastor, Unity Temple on the Plaza: Doctrines, creeds and dogma make up the framework for a religion, but the religion itself is the people who claim it as their own.
I believe every religion, to some degree, has people who wander from the peaceful path and resort to mean, cruel and offensive measures to make their point. Discriminations, prejudices and other divisive actions fly through the air like bullets targeting those who believe differently.
There have been more civil wars in Christianity than in any civilization throughout history.
Imbeciles picket the funerals of fallen soldiers in the name of God. Excuse my name-calling; my last statement just popped out and it felt so good I decided to leave it.
Not very peaceful of me, yet I claim to be a minister of a faith that represents peace.
Therein holds the point I seek to make. We are all students of life, not graduates of life. We are still learning how to be people of peace, but we stumble and fall on occasion. Our objective is to keep trying and keep progressing.
A wonderful practice is to repeat the following:
Peaceful mind: I am at peace with all the situations and circumstances in my life.
Peaceful heart: I am at peace with all the people in my world.
Peaceful spirit: I am at peace with myself and the existence I am living.