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Religion has nothing to do with violent hatred



Published: Sun, September 9, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



What religion that avows belief in the Golden Rule could possibly tolerate a group of urban terrorists identified as "militant Protestants" that hurl bombs at little Catholic girls on their way to school in Belfast? Of all the evil that destroys peace around the world, surely that which intentionally targets children must be the most reprehensible.

Violent groups that mask their murderous intent and rage for power under a cloak of religion should be condemned in the name of of all that's holy from pulpits throughout the world.

In truth, the self-named Red Hand Defenders have nothing in common with the Prince of Peace but everything in common with Ku Klux Klansmen who bombed black churches in the American South -- killing four little girls in one attack -- Afghanistan's Taliban which denies education and health care to girls and women, and other murderers who invoke religion as a rationale for their hatreds -- in the Baltics, in the Middle East, in Africa.

The images of the young girls enduring the taunts, the whistles, the banging of garbage can lids, the rock throwing -- and ultimately bombs -- all for walking through the "wrong" neighborhood on their way to Holy Cross Girls' Primary School evoked nothing so much as the pictures of little black children walking through similarly hostile white crowds on their way to American schools integrated by court order in the 1950s and '60s.

What was done to those children then was terribly, terribly wrong. What is happening in Northern Ireland now is also terribly, terribly wrong.

Speaking to the BBC, Dr. Nicola Rooney, a leading clinical psychologist at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital, warned that the events of last week could cause long term psychological damage to the children. & quot;As they experience more and more of the traumas, I think ... children ... develop ways of trying to contain their emotions, & quot; she said.

It is little wonder that the hate expressed by adults on both sides cause irreparable harm to the children who ingest that hate as part of their emotional diet.

Unholy war: In Northern Ireland, militants are still fighting the Battle of the Boyne that took place in 1690. The violence in the American South resulted from the actions of those who refused to believe that the U.S. Civil War had ended nearly 100 years before. Serb nationalism is still fueled by the Serbs' defeat by the Ottoman Turks on the Field of Blackbirds at Kosovo Polje in 1389. The nation of Israel was carved out of the desert more than a half century ago, but its enemies are still bent on its destruction in a "holy" war

The Pope has called on both Catholics and Protestants to show goodwill in resolving their differences, and the U.S. has also urged politicians in Northern Ireland to do what they can to resolve the dispute. But until the militants on both sides put down their arms, their hate and the baggage of the past, there will be no peace for Northern Ireland or its children.




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