In Response to: Explaining Islam

The recent letters from David Pohndorf ’65 and Lew Kamman ’67 questioning Islam (Inbox, Jan. 11) inspire questions of their own: If Christians revere the Prince of Peace, why have Catholics and Protestants slaughtered each other for centuries? Why have so many recent terrorist attacks (Timothy McVeigh, Dylann Roof, and Anders Behring Breivik come immediately to mind) emerged out of white, Western European/American Christian culture? If Christianity honors and reveres women, why do increasing numbers of Christians believe that a wife must submit to her husband in all matters? What does Biblical law have to teach us about equal treatment of women and respect for members of other religions?

My point is not to provoke a comparison as to whether one faith has generated more evil and suffering than another, but to show that one can raise similar questions about any large and diverse world religion. It is unreasonable to hold more than a billion people responsible for the actions of the worst of those claiming adherence to the same faith. ISIS and al Qaeda no more represent Islam than Hitler’s Protestant Reich Church (Reichskirche) represented Christianity.

In reality, it is not Islam that has a violence problem, it is humankind, and it will take people of all nations and all faiths (or none) working together to make any progress toward resolving it. In the meantime, one-sided critiques like Mr. Pohndorf’s and Mr. Kamman’s are not part of the solution, they are part of the problem.

Thomas G. Hess ’77
Milton, Mass.