The common themes of all the great religions, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam, is to believe and honour God or Gods, love your neighbour as yourself and don’t do evil and selfish things.
Yet we end 2019 with high levels of religious abuse and persecution worldwide.
Prime Minister Modi of India has taken a successful secular democracy and has turned the majority Hindu population into a political weapon.
Modi unilaterally took away the Muslim dominated state of Kashmir’s autonomy and then passed a new Citizenship Act targeting the Muslim minority.
Because Hinduism worships multiple Gods, India historically was a republic of religious tolerance.
President Erdogan of Turkey, a largely Muslim country, has blamed all his country’s economic woes on minority religious groups.
Since his election, he has killed or jailed thousands of political enemies, journalists, Kurds and Christians to solidify power and end democracy.
Every Iman, Emir or Prince in the Middle East, except Jordan, uses the teachings of the Prophet Mohammad to stir up hatred between Shia and Sunni sects and against Christians.
This division has and continues to be the perfect tool to justify untold terror to civilians throughout the region and to keep hatred high and control secure.
Radical Muslims have taken over many portions of countries in northern Africa using extreme violence.
Today there are horrid acts of persecution against Christians in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan and in at least five African countries.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church had to break its century-old ties with the Russian Orthodox Church after Vladimir Putin’s invasion and seizure of Ukraine’s sovereign territory.
The Russian church actively supports Putin as he operates a reign of terror against homosexuals, journalists, Ukraine and all political opposition.
The massacre of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar was provoked and supported by the rise of radical Buddhism.
Rather than stopping the carnage, the country’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, cemented her power by siding with the powerful Buddhist monks.
In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte has been on a reign of terror since his election.
Under the guise of a war on drugs and saving family values, he has brutally killed millions of citizens.
His campaign of terror, in fact, has little to do with drugs or family values but everything to do with taking out rivals and consolidating dictatorial control.
Both the wealthy Christian cult, Iglesia ni Kristo, and Muslims have justified and supported Duterte’s acts of evil.
The FBI reported that Jews were the most persecuted group in the USA since 2011.
The latest attack on American soil was five Jews stabbed in a Rabbi’s home while celebrating Hanukkah. Anti-Semitism is growing in Europe at a frightening speed.
It’s remarkable that Donald Trump, whose actions before and since becoming President, are completely devoid of any Christian values of charity, contrition or mercy has maintained his hold over American evangelicals even as he embraces white supremacists who hate Jews and he enacts legislation to harm other religious groups.
There is a good reason why strong men in power, with evil intentions, want the majority religious group on their side.
Church communities have a strong sense of solidarity and brotherhood based on faith of the unknown and unseen.
Because of the complexity and mystery of all religious texts, they can easily be misinterpreted to justify or rationalize any behaviour.
Throughout history, religious hate and sinister religious affiliations with strong men never ends well.
When religions tie themselves to man rather than God, as the Roman Catholic Church did with Adolf Hitler and as fundamentalist Iman did with ISIS, it always ends up with some of our greatest world tragedies.