Bible Commands Christians to Kill Nonbelievers

Christians and Pagans, a painting by Sergei Ivanov
Christians and Pagans, a painting by Sergei Ivanov (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One often hears that it is not religious belief itself that is problematic but religious extremism. This sounds appealing until one realizes that the presence of religious believers, including religious moderates, is what often shields religious extremists from criticism. That is, the presence of religious moderates seems to provide a context in which religious extremism doesn't seem nearly as irrational and dangerous as it probably should. Moderate believers make it more difficult to question even the most extreme religious beliefs.

But isn't it a bit of an exaggeration to say that religious extremism is actually dangerous? Maybe some Islamic extremists are dangerous, but surely there is nothing wrong with their Christian counterparts in the U.S.! I mean, isn't their "holy" book mostly about how they should be nice to others (e.g., love thy neighbor and all that)? Even if many seem to ignore these parts and treat others with anything but kindness, doesn't their instruction book at least convey that positive message?

Let's examine our trusty Christian bible for a moment by taking a look at Deuteronomy 17:

If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the LORD thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the LORD thy God, in transgressing his covenant; 17:3 And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded; 17:4 And it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and enquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel; 17:5 Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.

Fairly clear, isn't it? A book, claimed by many to be "holy" in some way, instructs people to murder persons who do not believe in their god. Why haven't we heard more about this? Because many Christians are content to ignore certain parts of their bible while obsessing about others (i.e., cherry picking). And what of those who do not ignore such parts of their "sacred" text? We call them extremists...or worse.

For more on this topic, see My Holy Book Says That People Like You Should Be Killed.