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Why do religious radicals seem to ignore the teachings of the religions they are so fanatical over?

Whether you're talking about radical muslims killing non believers, or radical Christians bombing abortion clinics, etc... Why do the radical believers cherry pick from their doctrines reasons to kill those who think differently? I'm not extremely well versed in the bibles of both these religions, but everything I have been able to research has shown me that both Jesus and Muhammad taught about peace, not murdering those who think differently. I grew up Christian and am constantly disappointed with some of the things I see people doing in the name of Christianity. I also have many Muslim friends who seem to echo the same sentiment with Islam. Why do the radicals always justify their hatred by claiming it's what their God wants, and why would anyone believe that when the dogma points to the contrary?

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    Jul 17 2012: Gandhi says "The devil's successes are greatest when he masquerades as an angel of light"

    I believe that extremists have their agenda and they simply cloak it with religion to make it seem legitimate.

    I am a christian, and Jesus only commanded his disciples to preach the gospel (which is not anyway life-threatening because it is in line with the principles of freedom of speech).

    These imposters who do evil in the name of Jesus, succeed because most people have not made the slightest effort to research and confirm what Jesus says and how he lived while on earth.

    If anyone does anything contrary to the word and lifestyle of Jesus, then such can't be said to be a follower of Jesus (christian); just like Robert Mugabe or Mobutu Sese Seko can not be refferred as democrats.
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      Jul 18 2012: Hi Feyisayo,

      I guess we have no way of confirming what Jesus said, assuming he actually was a real person. I guess he was a real person.

      All we have was written decades after he is supposed to have died, some of which was cobbled together in the different bibles a few centuries later. We don't know who wrote the gospels. We have no contemporary independent verification for any details on what Jesus is supposed to have done and said.

      The bible is a huge collection of books and letter. There is plenty of ammunition to do good and bad. Even the New Testament endorses slavery. Those were fighting words during the US Civil War.

      Not everything attributed to Jesus was all that great, unless end times were just around the corner, which people have believed for 2,000 years. And he endorsed the old Law. Only sometime after his death did they allow Gentiles to join and not follow the Law such as getting circumsized.

      You have your view what a follower of Jesus should believe and act. Others have different views. In fact most Jews didn't and don't think he was their messiah.

      Its great when religion inspires people to do good. Not as good as doing good for non religious reasons in my view. When I volunteer or donate it is not also to convert or follow some religious dogma. It's just to help people. And its bad when people do bad things for whatever reasons.
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    Jul 17 2012: The good done by religiously motivated people goes mostly unnoticed. Or, as Bill Shakespeare put it," The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones."
    Feeding the poor is not news, but blowing them up is.
    You should determine whether or not the killing and bombing you speak of is an act of obedience by a religious disciple, or an act of disobedience by an ignorant, misguided zealot. You will have to study their written doctrine. Best of luck.
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    Jul 17 2012: Tom, doesn't the author of the bible condemn many to eternal punishment?
    Didn't Yahweh personally kill hundreds of thousands (enumerated) via plagues etc, and many others not counted, including global genocide via a flood?
    There are also millions killed (enumerated) on the orders of God.
    Doesn't the bible endorse slavery?
    Doesn't it order death to adulterers, witches, people working on the Sabbath etc.
    Does god pick one tribe and help them defeat and destroy others.

    My favorite is "And the Lord was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron."
    Judges 1:19

    Maybe god is not as smart or powerful as many like to think and didn't do a great job on humans. If a god created us, he created us as smart animals, caught between instinct and reason, tribal fearful.

    Suggest it is more likely the other way around and humans created gods and goddesses and religions and scripture that contains the best and worst of the human condition.

    While there were Christian death squads in the Balkans and plenty of religious tribalism around the world, thanks the gods Christianity has been subdued somewhat in the West following centuries of crusades, religious intolerance, witch burning, Catholic versus Protestant. The book endorses slavery. Why so surprised unless you have an idealised view of what religion should be rather than the broad range from good to evil that it actually is. What you see

    Remember God created hell and the stupid rules that will send us there. God killed nearly everyone in a flood. Its only lovey dovey if that is the message you choose to cherry pick and ignore all the nasty bits.

    I disappointed by what I and others do that is selfish and harms others whatever the context. Religion can reinforce tribalism and extremism because you think you have the creator of the universe on your side. Not surprised if religion has a dark side based on the source.
  • Jul 17 2012: Tom, Obey,

    I believe Debra is right. Sometimes I am too ignorant to comment, so won't say much on this. However, I am observing lots of confusion looking at humanity. It does not seem right for religionists or anyone else to look backwards in time for tradition and claim every detail was right or absolute. One may look backward and see behavior and rules, but looking at the life and teachings of Jesus shows a marvelous change in style and bias toward treating each other well. And this change was huge considering what man did to man previously. One is not required to assimilate a religion to like something or someone good.

    Tom's question is a good one and we ought to write a book here on TED to address what I hear is a sincere underlying desire for improvement. A major aspect of cause for bad human behavior is confusion about reality---God, the Cosmos and the resulting development of world religions. Had we not had unfortunate defaults of some past teachers and authority, our world likely would now be far different. Humanity needs clear distinction of destiny, but we now have confusing concepts of afterlife and our disposition therein.

    Instead of looking backward, let's look forward and all scientists, religionists and others work for harmony and upholding value for each person in the world. This is far more attractive for spreading worthwhile ideas than cynically looking backward or just giving up on working for improvements! Fixed "formula" without possibilities result in frozen creed.

    The "why" in your question could involve untrue concepts and desiring political power over others. People have a bad agenda.

    What do others say?
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      Jul 18 2012: Mark,

      Some sects of modern Judaism are just as benign as some sects of Christianity. Suggest all but the most fundamentalist have changed a little with the times.

      The message not to do what you would find harmful to others has been around a long time before Jesus. Some parts of the message are practically positive. We don't need religion to show us Confucius's golden rule makes sense most the time.

      Pity the message is tied to a tribal wargod. You forget along with the good bits in the New Testament there is a message of the end of the world and eternal damnation via Judgement by a divine dictator.

      Sure cherry picking the nice bits is one way. Another is to dump the whole thing and pick the best from our entire range of science, the humanities and philosophy. Why tie yourself to an old book that is so flawed, unless you think it is all correct?

      So maybe we agree in part, looking beyond one particular religious view.

      Still I think we can learn a lot from history too. Not so much from getting stuck in bronze age and medieval dogmatic literature.
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    Jul 17 2012: You are not equipped to evangelize or to teach about a faith if you have never read your own book and then tried to live it.. This leads to confusion and mixed messages and down right misrepresentation and cruelty. So many many people try it though.
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    Jul 19 2012: why ? Because they are radicals; why are they radicals ? because of some psychological features I guess ; why do they have this features ? it could be education , their living .