Rise of religious persecution?

Screenshot of map showing week of violence against people of various religions. (CNN)

CNN’s Belief Blog is calling it religion’s week from hell.

Last week, headline after headline recounted violence against Christians, Muslims and Jews. On Tuesday, there was the triple homicide of three young Muslims in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. On Saturday, a gunman opened fire at a synagogue in Copenhagen, Denmark, killing a security guard. On Sunday, ISIS released a video they claim shows the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians.

And those are just the attacks we heard about.

It would be impossible to pinpoint the cause of religious persecution – both the violent kind and the tamer version that casts people as “the other,” but without overt violence. However, without a doubt, ignorance and fear of other religions is part of the problem. Last week, the Christian group LifeWay Research highlighted this problem with the release of a study on Americans’ views of Islam and – not surprisingly – the results were bleak.

According to the study:

  • More than a quarter of Americans – 27 percent – believe the violent acts perpetrated by the Islamist terrorist group ISIS are “a true indication of what Islam looks like when Islam controls a society.”
  • That number jumps significantly when the question is asked of religious leaders. Forty-five percent of American pastors say ISIS represents true Islam. Furthermore, 61 percent of senior pastors at Protestant churches disagree that Islam promotes peace.
  • Catholics are only slightly more likely than other groups to believe Islam creates a peaceful society. Only a third – 33 percent – of evangelicals agreed that Islam promotes peace, as compared to 49 percent of Catholics agreed. Meanwhile, 47 percent of people no with religious affiliation agreed that Islam promotes peace.

This map above from the CNN Belief Blog report shows where the violence from last week’s “week of hell” took place. Click here to see video and read the full story.