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Why "Extremist" Should Never Be Used In The Same Sentence As Any Religion (Or The Media Really Need A New Dictionary Or Thesaurus)
I have been slowly losing my mind (as one of my friends would say) whilst I have been watching the reports on the latest atrocities committed by the Un-Islamic State.

Now, I have never read the Koran but I am pretty certain that it is like the Christian Bible (as in it preaches peace to all men and is against killing).  Put it this way - when I have walked around areas of Leicester with a high proportion of Muslim residents I haven't felt that i was in danger of being killed for being a non-Muslim (there have been certain "white" areas of Leicester where I have felt more threatened -I am white along withj Churches where I have felt judged by humans).

"Extreme", "Extremism", and "Extremist" are very dangerous words to apply to religious beliefs or faith.  This is because I feel that they are open to too much interpretation in that context.

For example, I worked for a Roman Catholic family.  Whilst they didn't start each day with a prayer meeting in the office, my former bosses refused to eat anything but fish on a Friday (I am not sure of the connection between Friday and eating fish in the Bible but there you go) as part of their religious observance.

I also know people who leave me scared to introduce a non-Christian to them for fear that they will immediately attempt to convert them using the most complicated, flowery, religious language possible.  (If I am scared of them when they go into "Conversion Mode" I dread to think what non-Christians think.)  In fact, I nearly blew up at someone for exactly that reason.  This person was a Christian who was quite judgemental about someone who I had met who had had some pretty difficult personal problems.  Not content with judging the book by the cover and the index she tried to get me to do the hardsell conversion on them by handing them a Christian book.  Sometimes the best way to convert someone to your faith is to be a friend to them in their time of trouble and leave it at that.

However, my definition of "Religious Extremist" is more like the two examples I have given above.  Nobody gets physically damaged or killed as a result of their contact with the followers of the religion or faith.

My definition of words like "murderer", "Terrorist", and "Twisted Maniac" are more in keeping with people like Un-Islamic State, IRA, etc.  I fail to see how religious texts actually require believers to murder people for refusing to convert to their faith - in fact I think that falls under the definition of "Genocide".  Put it this way - we are still bearing the scars of the last group of people who decided to completely delete an entire group of religious believers from the planet - and more and more peope are forgetting about what exactly happened to the Jews in WW2.

The problem with religious texts is that they were written a long time ago when the world was a totally different place.  For example, the Old Testament mentions the word "Slave" a lot - last time I looked slavery was illegal in most countries I can think of.  We need to take the message of peace from the core of the religious texts - follow the Commandments (or rules) - and adapt the surrounding details for our own time and place.

We also need to be very careful how we refer to people who twist the religious texts for their own motives.  Calling them "Religious Extremists" only makes them more attractive to those lost people who are on the verge of radicalisation.  We should just call them what they are - murderers.

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