Dan over at City of God has a good post on religion and violence. As New Atheists have been asserting for years religion causes violence. Or does it? The shrill screed of Frank Schaeffer withstanding, Anders Breivik is not conclusively turning out to be a Christian in an evangelical or fundamentalist style. If Breivik is not exactly the kind of conservative fundamentalist right wing Christian Frank Schaeffer needs him to be to say "I told you so" does this make Breivik's actions less troubling? A Frank Schaeffer who sees Christian right wingers as literal breeders of terrorism and terrorists is hardly different from the right wing Christian he demonizes that sees Islam as the bed upon which terrorism and chaos is conceived. I've already written elsewhere about how Frank is basically the pot calling the kettle black.
Atheists who would say religion was what Hitler used to gain power conflate the nature of religious belief with the civic use of religion and the nature of the content of religious belief required to be considered part of a religious community. These three things are not the same even if particular branches of religious belief integrate the three things with unusual purity. A committment to "Christendom" may turn out to not be a commitment to the core of the Christian faith so much as an ethnic, national, and racial identity of which "Christendom" is a mere part, perhaps not even the most important part. A good many New Atheists are too intellectually lazy to pierce through the veil of their own prejudices. As the episodes on South Park titled "Go God Go" demonstrate, even in a future with no religion this is no assurance to us now that there will be war no more.
The idea that without religion there will be no wars is itself an innately religious idea, a religious idea of the most apocalyptic sort. They will beat their swords into plow shears and study war no longer. They will no longer train for wars because wars will not happen. The Prince of Peace will reign. Yes, as certain pastors insist upon the point, it is true that Christ will defeat all His enemies before establishing that eternal peace, but the end point is still peace. More germane to my point, the notion that an atheist can imagine that there will be more peace without religion is fundamentally assasine because the supply of arable land, clean water, food, work, and social connectivity is not going to automatically be more plentiful just because no one believes in any god. Injustice, poverty, inequality, racial strife, rape, murder, neglect, abuse, theft, tyranny, and exploitation will never go away merely because religious ideas have been swept from the planet. What will change are the rationales used to justify these activities. An atheist who is unable to observe or concede this has a vision of reality more blinkered than a fundamentalist of any stripe.