Is Violence America’s Religion?

The country that never quite got around to fixing South Central LA has said it will rebuild Iraq and bring democracy to the Middle East. Much of the evidence suggests such promises are nothing but a pack of lies. After all, why would anyone believe the US government is serious about rebuilding and bringing peace, prosperity, and democracy half way round the world to Afghanistan (1) and Iraq (2) when Americans have long since forgotten unfulfilled promises to resolve far less complicated problems in South Central Los Angeles, just minutes from Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Brentwood, and Hollywood Hills, the most affluent and glamorous suburbs in the USA? (3)

Globalization is about finding new pockets of poor people and new ways to oppress and exploit them (4), and the present US government is interested in and committed to only its own and Israel’s economic, military, and political hegemony. Any and all other concerns are secondary or peripheral, and that is as true here in the USA as it is abroad, which is why the world’s three wealthiest people–two of the three are Americans–are worth more than the combined annual gross national product of the world’s 48 poorest countries. Of the world’s 11 richest people, nine are Americans. Of the world’s richest 225 multibillionaires, who have more wealth than 50 percent of the world’s people, some 90 are Americans.

While some 250,000 children die each week of malnutrition and treatable diseases in the developing world, Americans, more than 50 percent of whom are overweight, spend almost $30 billion each year on their pets. For about $40 billion a year, less than the Bush administration has spent so far this year killing thousands of Iraqi civilians and keeping the world safe from Saddam Hussein’s imaginary weapons of mass destruction, developing countries could achieve and maintain universal access to basic education for all, basic health care for all, adequate food for all, reproductive health care for all women, and safe water and sanitation for all–$40 billion per year–which is less than four percent of the combined wealth of the world’s 225 richest people. This year, the US government, which has men-at-arms in about 100 countries around the globe, will spend about $400 billion on our military (5), not including expenditures on homeland security.

Why do "they" hate us? Anyone so dissociated from reality that he/she has to ask is part of the problem. Never have so few taken so much from so many for so long. Factor in religious extremism based on religious concepts, beliefs, and images depicting a capricious, angry, vengeful, and violent God (6); state-sponsored and non-government-sponsored terrorism; a thriving world market in arms of all kinds presided over by the US government; weapons of mass destruction; and what you see is what you get.

If we wish to be seen as genuinely interested in solutions to the world’s problems, perhaps we American Christians, including those who have effectively given up on politics, could begin by challenging in our own country, in our own religion, in our own houses of worship, in our own lives, and at every opportunity the hideously destructive notion that the benevolent, loving, and merciful Creator of a vast universe is instead a stern, violent God of wrath whose chief delight is in adequately punishing his erring children.