“A Buddhist monk can’t be a terrorist because of Buddha’s teachings.”

Logical fallacy at it’s finest. Or rather at it’s worst.

The head monk at a monastery on the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar/Burma delivered this line to a roomful of journalists in March when questioned about the TIME magazine cover featuring firebrand monk U Wirathu and the headline “The Face of Buddhist Terror.”

The Oxford English Dictionary defines terrorism as “the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.”

Wirathu, leader of Burma’s 969 Movement, is infamous for intimidating and inciting violence against Muslims, especially Rohingya Muslims in Burma’s western Rakhine State, as part of a political attempt to promote Buddhist nationalism.

Can we please just call a spade a spade.

Buddhist monks are terrorists if they engage in acts of terrorism. The same can be said for any person of any faith, belief or ideology who uses unauthorized violence to achieve political aims.

The Facebook page “Muslims Are Not Terrorists” has racked up nearly 700,000 likes on the premise that “We are Muslims and our religion is all about Peace/Charity/Brotherhood.”

Yes, the vast majority of Muslims are not terrorists. But some people who identify as Muslim, Christian, Jewish, XYZ engage in acts of terrorism, making them terrorists.

“But violence goes against my religion,” you say. Too bad.

If your religion lacks formal membership structures, hierarchies and the means to excommunicate individuals, you can’t really pick and choose who gets to represent it. Even with such mechanisms in place, if a member of the community commits a crime and you claim said crime negates that person’s stated beliefs, be prepared for some skeptical eye rolls.

Case in point? An American priest who headed his diocese’s youth group in the 1980s and allegedly abused a child for years.

A lawyer for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Trenton N.J., told a court earlier this year:

“you can determine a priest is not on duty when he is molesting a child, for example. … A priest abusing a child is absolutely contrary to the pursuit of his master’s business, to the work of a diocese.”

Cue outraged, disgusted, disbelieving eye rolls.

Buddhists and Muslims can be terrorists despite Buddha and Islam. Priests can be child molester despite Jesus and the Bible. Anyone can do terrible things despite religion.

When a popular Christian metal singer admits to being an atheist after plotting to have his wife killed, Christians shouldn’t be relieved. They should be outraged that anyone, regardless of faith, would stoop so low.

Some religious people are good. Some are not. Some nonreligious people are good. Some are not. Religion does not preclude, negate, justify or explain inhumanity. Let’s all try to remember that and help each other be better people, regardless of faith.


  1. “Some religious people are good. Some are not”

    Religion defines a ‘good’ person as one who does the Lord’s will.
    And there are no checks and balances on the Lord’s will except those determined by rational people.

    “Execute them in front of me” – Jesus (Luke 19:27)

    Why not just skip to the rational mind instead?
    Religion is useless, dangerous nonsense.

    • Atheist Max: Used ignorantly, selfishly, wrongly, religion–as history clearly shows–can be very dangerous. There are dangerous ideologies, and there are benevolent ideologies. People can be very dangerous without any implication of religion. No need to look far back. There was Adolph Hitler. There was Josef Stalin. There are plenty still around in our own time. It appears that religion is a side issue. Motives and behavior can be categorized in all kinds of ways, not just as religious.

      • gilhcan-

        Risking furthering the already established Godwining of this conversation, Hitler certainly implied religion. He had “God is with us” put on the mandated Nazi uniforms, said he was a Christian, and said that “in defending our society against the Jew, I am doing the work of the Lord” , right in Mein Kampf.

        I’m not trying to make a point of this, just to correct the statement that Hitler had no implication of religion. I think that the example of Stalin does hold fine.

        I don’t, however, think that religion is just a side issue with no effect. All of us harbor dangerous evolutionary baggage, and religion can serve to inflame or to dampen those dangerous forces in our own minds. Further, I think that some religions will be predictably more likely to inflame them, and others to dampen them, and we can look to what the religions say to see that. In that way, I agree with the article’s premise that no religion prevents terrorism. I would suggest, however, that some (depending on their content) are likely to inflame terrorism, and others are likely to reduce it.

        (without naming any names in either case).

    • Chaplain Martin

      Hello Brother Max, I was getting worried about you. Some of these folks writing in are pretty nasty with each other, you been nice to me even when you disagree. There’s a whole lot I don’t like about religion in our time, nor how it has been used through out history from the “Divine” right of kings to the “God”. language used by so many politicians to tickle the ears of the weak in the faith to get the fear vote.
      In my opinion Christianity has suffered, as a faith, every since Constantine embraced it and made it an official religion of the Roman Empire.
      Terror in the name of religion has existed soon after the first person asked, “Why I’m I here”. Of course I maybe wrong but I like what I said.

  2. Language controls how you actually think.

    Proof is in the phrase “buddhists can be terrorists”. Where buddhists is a concept of religion and a person following a doctrine of love…and terrorist to americans is a concept of violent state enemies who’s motivations are always illegal. A bit of reductive logic applies to this latter term, because if its assumed an enemy of the state wants to hurt the state, they want to hurt you…implying the state exists to protect you…and that is untrue.

    So the use of the buzzword terrorist is really just a propoganda technique used to associate a person or group, in this case buddhists, with the concept of violent and always unjustifiable enemies of the state.

    Tread carefully people. Many times the state is the terrorist.

    • Quite to the contrary, language is an expression of thought. At times it is refined and clear. At others it is awkward, bumbling and represents our lack of achieved, clear thinking.

      • Hey. Don’t reply to my posts anymore. Absolutely everything you post is a waste of time for me.

        I guess you’ve never heard if the studies regarding the thought patterns of people who learned a second language later in life. Its science, and as a good militant little lib, your all about that.

        But whatever, look, your stupid, wrong and basically just post the opposite of what any person not taking their ques from huffpo says. I have never seen anything in your posts that looks independently original in thought. So parrot to someone who is interested. I am not.

    • Chaplain Martin

      I agree with your last statement, also remember the state can put their actions in such way as to make many citizens believe they are doing it for their protection. Oh how much freedom have we lost for our “security”.

  3. Religion is a way of living with a goal. Religion is, at best, striving. In the meantime, stuff happens, human stuff. We are all human and always will be. “There are these four, faith, hope, charity, and honesty, and the greatest of these is honesty!”

    Those virtues are not definitions, they are signposts we might follow along the road of being.

    • “Religion is at best, striving…”

      Only as a fool
      strives in the dark
      willfully rejecting the option to remove his blinders.

      Religion is the asinine old uncle
      who would rather get lost
      than ask directions.

      Religion is disgraceful. Always.

  4. “Religion is the opiate of the people”, it’s the way men control others, by playing on their irrational fears and manipulating them to do what they want.

    Sure, have a personal faith, but keep it to yourself. Live as an example of what you believe, don’t shove what you say you believe down someone elses.

    If you insist on sharing your beliefs, then be fair and listen with the same intensity to others that you deliver your monologues and for the same amount of time.

  5. Agree with Lles. Of course, Buddhists “can be” terrorists, and students “can be” terrorists as well; American citizens, such as, Timothy McVeigh, who bomb govt. bldgs. in Oklahoma can be and are terrorists. However, the reality is that Buddhists historically ARE NOT terrorists nor are they aggressors, just as the majority of Americans are not terrorists nor would the majority of American individuals subsidize it.
    Some of the Dalai Lamas could rival any Renaissance pope, but that is another story.
    Buddhism by and large is peaceful loving. I just wonder who and what has precipitated their present modus operandi. The religion who has prompted it is quite evident.

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