February 5th, 2013
06:00 AM ET

Can religion prevent violence?

By Jim Roope, CNN

Follow on Twitter: @JimRoopeCNN

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

(CNN) – When tragedies happen like the shooting at Newtown, Connecticut, the question of faith often comes up. How can horrible events like that be allowed to happen?

Rabbi Marvin Heir with the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, said he’s not surprised that people question religion, and, God in tragedies.

“Remember we live in a very scientific age and so the man of faith is getting smaller and smaller because he can’t bring any proof to the horizon; where is this so-called God. So that’s why religion; it’s very difficult to compete, you know, in a world where there are new discoveries and they ask you as a man of faith, ‘Where’s your new discovery?’

How does religion compete with today’s world? Would more religious influence in our society and the inherent moral ethics that comes with it increase humans’ choosing good over evil?

Salam Al-Marayati, President of the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Los Angeles said religious doctrine must be separate from religious ethics. In religious ethics we find common threads.

“Justice, mercy, compassion, doing good work believing we’re all part of one human family. That’s basically what every religion talks about when you look at the core and essence of each religion.”

Hear more perspectives on the role of religion in our world from religious thought leaders in the player above.

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Filed under: Behavior • Faith • Soundwaves • Stories
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. ElmerGantry

    Sing it now,

    ♫♪ Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
    with the cross of Jesus going on before.
    Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
    forward into battle see his banners go! ♫♪

    February 11, 2013 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • laststonecarver

      War is hell – so...to paraphrase
      Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to hell.

      February 12, 2013 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
  2. laststonecarver

    All religion is decision making process, but all decision making process is not religion.
    What will stop violence is Love.
    I believe that Love is the thinking of Understanding. That path to completely know someone or something. All the facets, good and bad, in that sharing of time and space.
    I believe that I read somewhere – Love your enemies.
    Wonder what that could mean?
    How can relious folks get beyond the wall, that is violence? Maybe they could use some help?
    All you need is Love.

    February 7, 2013 at 6:38 am | Report abuse |
    • laststonecarver

      religious folks – my bad

      February 7, 2013 at 6:40 am | Report abuse |
  3. hypatia

    History proves the opposite to be true.

    February 6, 2013 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rev. Rick

    Can religion prevent violence. Hmmmm. Well, let's use the Middle East as an example, where a number of "popular" religions originated, several millenia ago. They've had few thousand years to practice using religion to prevent violence.

    How's that working so far?

    February 6, 2013 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. threewibbes

    Religion has caused more violence than any cause in history.

    February 6, 2013 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
  6. Asgard

    "How does religion compete with today’s world? Would more religious influence in our society and the inherent moral ethics that comes with it increase humans’ choosing good over evil?"

    There's your problem right there, the unsupported assertion that religion has a distinct morality and that said morality is inherently superior.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. nomogod

    The people of the US have spoken. They don't want God. Therefore, welcome to your world. The 10 commandments are simple, but if an american doesn't want it, then his neighbor with a gun may not want it either. The book of Ronans 1, verses 18 thru 32 is a good description of a godless society. I'm not telling you to be christian; I'm just telling you that it's a good description of the US. Welcome to your world. Enjoy.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      A world without religion is a very loving, warless, and happy place. Sick, hateful people like you would not exist, and everybody would be educated.

      February 6, 2013 at 1:55 am | Report abuse |
      • wanhunglo

        I agree. A world without religion is perfect. Just like China, Russia, North Korea.

        February 6, 2013 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
      • ateismo

        Here's another example of how nice atheists are.

        "Do you believe in God?" When she replied that she did, "he pulled the trigger,"

        This was Columbine on April 20, 1999. Atheists are just the most moral people on earth.

        February 6, 2013 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. AverageJoe76

    Trying to prevent people's sexuality will make people crazy. As we see in many, many situations. Look at the jail-system. Theer's supposed to be no intercourse there, BUT... guess what happens. Priests aren't supposed to molest children. Married preachers/ pastors aren't supposed to commit adultry. Religious leaders aren't supposed to mislead the flock. America self-proclaimed itself, "Home of the free......", yet has a terrible past of hampering freedom. There are not many things that are absolute when it comes to controlling human behavior.

    February 5, 2013 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. AverageJoe76

    The question is rather easy to answer. Just look at history.... has it ever prevented violence? And I'm going to take a great, big ol' guess and say, "No."

    February 5, 2013 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. AverageJoe76

    Religion cannot prevent violence. Just like religion cannot prevent pre-martital relations, lying, stealing, rape, incest, and abuse. Love cannot prevent hate. Hate cannot stop love. The question should be; "Is violence innate, or is it learned?"

    And that's the real question.

    February 5, 2013 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mark Moore

    The biblical god pretty much is violence distilled. The bible is far more violent than any video game. It is hard to count all the mass murders god commits and orders his gang to commit. When you ask "What would god do?" The answer in most cases is murder everyone. Sometimes he allows you to keep the virgins to rape but just as often the decree from god is to kill every living thing including the animals.

    If you ask "What would Jesus do?" Torture everyone who does not love me. That means Jesus is going to be torturing billions of people. God and Jesus are the two most violent characters in all literature.

    Is it any wonder that the followers of the Abrahamic religions are the bloodiest and most vicious people on earth? They are even worse than the communists and that is bad. The really curious thing is that they bill themselves as merciful. But then – surprise surprise – so does god/Jesus, Mohammed and Allah.

    How many millions of terrible deaths are these religions responsible for?

    February 5, 2013 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. JJK

    You have got to be kidding me?!?!

    Can religion PREVENT violence? It is the CAUSE of most of the violence our world has ever experienced.

    February 5, 2013 at 7:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Jim Roope

      I think you should listen to what the story says.

      February 5, 2013 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
      • Carlos

        I will listen to what it says, yes.

        But come on: Muslim riots over a stupid movie some guy made? Killing, threatening, violence just because of a silly movie? And they play the victims, claim it's OUR fault? Because of what some guy did?

        Do I smell hypocrisy here?

        Indeed I do. If you're going to cherry pick the good parts of religion and discard the ugly ones, at least have the decency to admit you DON'T NEED RELIGION to do that. You have a moral sense, independent of ANY religion. That's where modern societies should draw their morals from, not from "holy" books some medieval guy wrote.

        February 5, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
        • ElmerGantry

          Correction, book written by Bronze Age tribal cultures.

          February 5, 2013 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |