Though I can honestly understand that there are many processes that occur when religion builds an hierarchy in men that can lead to violence. We could overlook the proverbial baby in the bathwater. To look at it this way one should also see that the most “seemingly” violent religions have also had some of the most kindest people involved in them.
Fundamentalist interpretations of religion, which sanctify violence against other groups, do not represent the heart of religious teachings or of teaching in general. There are rising group of Atheist Fundamentalists; a fairly good book on this is from Chris Hedges called "When Atheism Becomes Religion: America's New Fundamentalists."
The inability to question authority was the primary phenomenon that all of those involved in promoting the tortures involved in Nazi Germany shared with each other...(see the book The Altruistic Personality by Samuel P Oliner). I think it remains one of the overlooked aspects of the problems we face as a society. Below are Charles Kimball’s list of warning signs for when a religion is becoming a tool for seducing people into a cult like way of life.
Kimball Five Warning Signs
- Absolute Truth Claims
- Blind Obedience
- Establishing the "Ideal" Time
- The End Justifies Any Means
- Declaring Holy War
My Five Signs of Health
- Continuous Learning, Points to Truth
- Appreciative Inquiry, Promotes Critical Thought
- Uses stochastic probabilities based on experimentation
- Justification is less important than Inquiry
- Recognizing and Allowing Diversity of Expression
Samuel P. Oliner and Pearl M. Oliner (1992), The Altruistic Personality: Rescuers of Jews in Nazi Europe, The Free Press, Macmillan see http://www.humboldt.edu/~altruism/publications.html
Hedges, C , (2009), When Atheism Becomes Religion: America's New Fundamentalists, Simon and Schuster, New York see http://www.amazon.com/When-Atheism-Becomes-Religion-Fundamentalists/dp/1416570780
Kimball, C., (2002), When Religion becomes Evil, Five Warning Signs, Harper Collins, Canada http://www.amazon.com/When-Religion-Becomes-Evil-Warning/dp/0060556102