Extreme Religion Explained

Human rights defined as individual rights as declared in the Bill of Rights and International Human Rights Declaration.

Sarah Bowman

Sarah Bowman, born and raised horse and buggy Mennonite for forty years


Based on the teachings I received in the fairly extreme Christian sect into which I was born and lived for forty years, I think there are a number of reasons that religious extremists tend to ignore and violate human rights.
  1. In my opinion, one thing that makes religion extreme is belief that the hereafter/life after death is more important than the present life. My Dad used to say that “This life is but a waiting room,” like at a doctor’s office.
  2. In extreme or fundamentalist religion, the command of Divine Authority (God, Allah, etc.) far outweighs human command. The belief is that when the Divine Authority says “Do it,” to hesitate or disobey is to risk your soul’s salvation and spend eternity in hell.
  3. The belief in hell as a burning fire pit is very real and very powerful. Here are two quotes from the Christian Bible that instilled in me a fear of hell strong enough to keep me from following rational thought and leaving that religion, a fear that lingered for nearly ten years after I did leave. Others have expressed similar experiences. NOTE: The second quote, from a new version of the Bible, the term “Hades” is used; however, the older versions of the Bible I was raised with used the term “Hell.” My mother believed newer versions softened it with Hades to make it “less real” but to her dying day she warned me, “Hell is real!”

Mark 9:43-48 King James Version (KJV)

43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:

44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:

46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:

48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

Luke 16:19-31 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Rich Man and Lazarus

19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen andwho feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed withwhat fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side.[a] The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and inHades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water andcool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

I think you can understand that a person who truly believes in the depth of his or her heart that this hell might be awaiting at the end of life, they will forego many pleasure including human rights of self and family in order to avoid the pains of everlasting hell.


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