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Religious loopholes and the lone wolf problem

Ever since the horrible Nice attacks of July 14th, 2016, I’ve been wondering about the author of the attack, a so-called lone wolf non-religious Muslim, which is rather different from other attacks made by radicalized Islamists. Or is it?

One of the big questions frequently asked after a terrorist attack is simply: “Is Islam a violent religion?” with many people shouting on both sides of the answer.

For example after exposing arguments on both sides of the debate, Timothy Rowe, wrote on February 17th, 2015 in the Humanist:

The connection between Islam and violence is unsurprisingly complex, and a fuller explanation of the problem needs to reference other things, including individual psychologies, an established subculture of violence within the Muslim world, and the political and socioeconomic realities that some Muslims live within.

Is it that simple? The terrorists that commit acts of terror come from “established subculture of violence” whereas most non-Muslims do not and that’s the reason why we see so many acts of terror made in the name of Allah?

I personally have another hypothesis, and I have honestly no idea if it’s valid, but it makes me wonder.

The religious loophole hypothesis

A few Catholic mothers apparently believed that if one of their sons became a priest, they were guaranteed a ticket to heaven in the afterlife. Here is, for example, a question on Catholic Answers from 2009:

Is a mother of a priest automatically given passage to heaven?
In this case, the answer is no, but there are other “loopholes” in the Christian world to get to heaven despite having led a horrible life:
  • Late conversion: if you get baptized in a new Christian faith, you are apparently cleansed of your past sins
  • Last rites on the death bed in which you ask for forgiveness from God for your sins

Each loophole can be exploited.

For example, there is currently a debate in the Catholic church because Pope Francis wants to excommunicate Mafia member. In the Daily Beast, in an article by M.L. Nestel from April 5th 2015, the president of the Catholic League says to the author:

the assumption is always that a person, even a person who committed a grave thing, could have reconciled himself with God prior to communion,

But it gets worse!

Dan Lewis, in his blog Now I know, in a post from July 30th, 2013 recalls the World’s Worst Loophole, from the 1700s:

People were killing innocent children in hopes of getting express entry through the Pearly Gates.

In short, people who wanted to commit suicide but who still wanted to go to Heaven would kill a child to get sentenced to death, and prior to their execution, ask for forgiveness both for the murder, and for “Trying to trick the big man upstairs”, as Dan Lewis explains.

According to his source, Kathy Stuart, a researcher from the University of California-Davis, over 300 children were killed by these suicides-by-proxy. It was only solved by banning the death penalty in Germany.

Why do people want to use loopholes?

It’s hard to live a perfect life according to one’s religion. The aforementioned ban on suicide is a problem for people in a rush to get to heaven, but even if you want to live a long life, it can be tiring to follow all of the commandments.

Most people follow a “best effort” approach when judging themselves. “I give to charity (when I can), I help my neighbors (from time to time), I don’t kill, I don’t steal, so I should be fine”.

But what if you have more doubts? What if later in your life you realize that perhaps, the afterlife won’t be so good for you due to your lack of religious fervor.

What if you are filled with regret over your transgressions and have a change of heart, that you regret your “bad choices”?

That’s what a loophole is for…

If you are a Catholic, ask for forgiveness and still go to heaven!

So what about Muslims?

There is, according to terrorist organizations, a loophole in the Muslim faith that if a Muslim is killed defending the Muslim faith, he is able to ascend to Heaven regardless of past transgressions of the Muslim faith.

Apparently, this loophole is as shaky as the idea that the mother of priests automatically go to heaven. There is an  interesting article on About.com written by Christine Huda Dodge, an Islam Expert who wrote the book “The Everything Understanding Islam Book“.

Christine Huda Dodge explains that the quotes from the Quran cited by the terrorists are justifications for their killing are out of context and that:

Any verse that is quoted out of context misses the whole point of the message of the Quran. Nowhere in the Quran can be found support for indiscriminate slaughter, the killing of non-combatants, or murder of innocent persons in ‘payback’ for another people’s alleged crimes.

But perhaps these out of context quotes are enough to prompt these lone wolves to action, in the same way that about 300 children were killed in Germany in the 1700s.

As such, perhaps we should stop being surprised that non-practicing Muslim suddenly commit terrorist acts, because after all, good practicing Muslims don’t need to do so to get to Heaven and on top of it, probably know that this is a false loophole!

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