No Religion Responsible for Terrorism

The President of the United States Addresses Terrorism

President of the United States addresses at Counter Violent Extremism Summit.

WASHINGTON (RNS)  President Obama said Thursday he doesn’t use terms like Islamic extremism because doing so would promote the false idea of a Western war with Islam, which would help extremists recruit more terrorists.

“No religion is responsible for terrorism — people are responsible for violence and terrorism,” Obama told delegates at the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism.

Obama also said military force alone will not defeat terrorism, and the nation must work with local communities to reduce the influence of those who advocate violent extremism.

“They are not religious leaders,” Obama said. “They are terrorists.”

He also said: “We are not at war with Islam — we are at war with people who have perverted Islam.”

The summit — in which officials from cities in the United States and across the globe discussed their attempts to dissuade young people from embracing hateful ideologies — takes place as conservatives criticize Obama for avoiding the term “Islamic extremism.”

In his summit remarks, Obama cited the “fair amount of debate in the press and among pundits” about the words that used should be used to “describe and frame this challenge” of violent extremism.

Groups like the Islamic State and al-Qaeda “try to portray themselves as religious leaders, holy warriors in defense of Islam,” Obama said, but “we must never accept the premise that they put forward, because it is a lie.”

Obama also said Muslim communities have responsibilities to confront the abuse of religion.

“Of course, the terrorists do not speak for a billion Muslims who reject their ideology,” Obama said. “They no more represent Islam than any madman who kills innocents in the name of God, represents Christianity or Judaism or Buddhism or Hinduism.”

In fighting extremism, Obama said the United States and allies must also address the economic and political “grievances” that often fuel violent ideology. Governments must work to help provide economic opportunity, education, democracy, and the rule of law to their citizens, he said.

The “best partners” for these efforts are local communities, Obama said. Family members, schools, churches and mosques, and law enforcement officials can help dissuade young people from falling for the “false promises of extremism.”

That said, Obama warned that “engagement with communities can’t be a cover for surveillance,” and governments should deal with vulnerable people “through the prism of law enforcement.”

The nation must stay true to its heritage of tolerance and diversity and not target specific religious groups.

“It will take time,” he said. “This is a generational challenge.”

 

Religion News Service

RNS is owned by Religion News LLC, a non-profit, limited liability corporation based at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Its mission is to provide in-depth, non-sectarian coverage of religion, spirituality and ideas.

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15 Comments on "No Religion Responsible for Terrorism"

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The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
 
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George Nixon Shuler
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Not sure what point you’re trying to make here. Why is it so difficult to say what you mean?

Kevin
Guest

Has UMR become a mouthpiece for The White House? I can watch MSNBC if I want to see reporting like this. Time for a guest column by Rachel Maddow.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

If so, much less so than our right-wing spinoffs are mouthpieces for canned ignorance.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

I don’t think there is any doubt they are motivated by their interpretation of religion. Obama called this a “perversion” of religion, and rightfully so. The same can be said of those who claim this is “a Christian nation.”

bthomas
Guest

From their own statements, these Islamic terrorists are motivated by their understanding of Islam. This is the plain truth. Of course some politicians find this an inconvenient truth, so he styles their interpretation of their faith as a perversion. Nevertheless, it is precisely and completely in accord with what is written in their own scripture.

bthomas
Guest

As demonstrated time and again, this current administration has never acted with any commitment to truth. To expect such now is irrational. To excuse such is of course to be expected. It is the political thing to do.

Following that unfortunately transparent statement of never letting a good crisis go to waste, this administration uses issues for the advancement of it’s left-wing social and political agenda. Right, wrong, these have never have been in view. They are not now. Like the truth, it would be to… inconvenient.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

You have made several assertions there but there is no evidence for them.

bthomas
Guest

So, we are supposed to footnote every sentence? Or, is it just possible that the complaint simply boils down to an effort to discount… or silence? Is comment only to be accepted by those who are Democrats? Are UM and Democrats synonymous? Or, is it only Conservatives… even (perish the thought) Republicans who are expected to sit down and be quiet? Perish the thought. Were we so foolish, the very stones would cry out.

Mark
Guest

Saying that the people who perpetrate these atrocities are Islamic extremists–which is true–is not the same as saying we are at war with Islam. Once again this President foolishly dismisses reality and demonstrates cognitive dissonance.

And, while we are on that subject, just who ARE these rabble-rousing leaders who keep saying we are at war with Islam?

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

Tow are Pamela Geller and Frank Gaffney, not to mention the yahoos who agitate to stop building nre mosques.

Wes Andrews
Guest
This President is all about setting up straw men. He attends the National Prayer breakfast and scolds Christians blaming those attending for the Crusades, and more recently slavery. He seems to forget his history facts. It was Christians who lead the way to abolishing slavery. It is Christians who established most universities, and most hospitals, and public education for citizens. They set up most residential child care facilities around the world. Christians go throughout the world coming along side citizens of other countries and drill water wells, set up water filtration so people can have safe water to drink, provide… Read more »
Mark
Guest

Modern leftists have mastered the art of false equivocation. Had we a competent, objective media they could not get away with it….but then again, leftists and media are generally synonymous.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

The corporate media is only “leftist” to the deceived.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

Two paragraphs of hyperbole after hyperbole one after another. Of course the President did not say “Christians” did not do those good things, or that no Muslims do bad things.

As far as “…we know the difference…” you may, but you speak only for yourself as an individual. I suspect the mobs which protest building of new mosques and threaten to smear pig blood on it and the like do not. The only alternative hypothesis is they don’t care, which would make them more consciously evil than they have the intellectual cpacity to be.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

All the statements are factual and wise, but those who are willfully ignorant will disagree. Religion is merely the MacGuffin (Alfred Hitchcock’s phrase for an item central to the plot of a story) for the exercise of power and control over others in every effort to deny religious freedom to others and for the state to favor one religion over another.

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