ISIL Rape Theology: When “God” Erases Conscience

conscience 3ISIL leadership has deemed rape to be spiritually beneficial.

Including child rape:

It is permissible to have intercourse with the female slave who hasn’t reached puberty, if she is fit for intercourse.

Obedience to God can cause people to lose their conscience.

This New York Times story about the Islamic State was the most read and shared in the last few days.

Among other atrocities the article tells of a 12-year-old who was sexually assaulted for days, even as she bled heavily. An older woman who had been kidnapped along with the child recalled,

He destroyed her body. She was badly infected. The fighter kept coming and asking me, ‘Why does she smell so bad?’ And I said, she has an infection on the inside, you need to take care of her.

But the man ignored the child’s agony, and kept up his ritual of praying before and after raping her, saying, “Having sex with her pleases God.”

Almost all Muslims see this — along with ISIL, generally — as a betrayal of their religion.

And Islam is not alone in using God to erase conscience.

Studies have shown that from a very young age children have a conscience. When they watch a cartoon where one character harms another the children don’t like those who do harm. They want to help and not hurt.

Yet I can cite a number of instances where people have caused great harm because they believed God wanted them to.

Kill and torture in God’s name

During the Christian Crusades and The Inquisition people were tortured and murdered in the name of God. And Sir Thomas Moore was said to have tortured Protestant heretics who broke from the Catholic Church.

Abandoning sons and encouraging child sexual assault

Fundamentalist Mormons who practice polygamy find themselves in a quandary since there are equal numbers of women and men at consciencemarriageable age. What to do? Marry girls at younger and younger ages — basically child abuse. And accuse boys of crimes – using frivolous charges — and then tell their parents to abandon their sons in the desert as punishment. (Luckily non-fundamentalists know about this and pick the boys up.)

Women throw themselves on funeral pyres

Hindu women were once expected to throw themselves on funeral pyres where their husbands were being cremated.

Forcing girls to die in a burning building

A fire broke out at a girls dorm a few years ago in the Middle East. As the girls rushed to escape they didn’t stop to find their burqas. So guards forced them back inside because the men didn’t want to sin by seeing an unveiled woman.

Committing suicide because homosexuality displeases God

Today a lot of folks behave in ways that cause people to feel horrible about themselves, torture themselves through electric shock therapy (etc) to try to change (unsuccessfully), leaving some committing suicide when they can’t change. All because some people tell others that their homosexuality displeases God.

I’ll burn in hell before returning a man to slavery

conscience 2In contrast, Huckleberry Finn finds himself in a dilemma when he meets an escaped slave named Jim. Not returning him to his master went against both state law and God’s law, as he had been taught. In the end he figured he’d just have to burn in hell because he couldn’t bring himself to return a man to slavery. Huck followed his conscience instead of religious dictates.

Harming others to gain salvation?

It’s the ultimate in selfishness to harm others in hopes of gaining salvation.

Is God really pro-selfishness?

And if you do something that causes harm because “God told you,” you lose your conscience.

Is that really what God wants?

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on August 17, 2015, in psychology, rape and sexual assault, violence against women, women and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. I am theist what bothers me is that while I believe there was a pure purpose for spirituality and religion and love and after life, and the good things. Unfortunately, just like anything, something powerful though for a good purpose can be also used or with the intent for propaganda and control and bad deeds. It’s upsetting for the bad people seeing and using religion for bad and yearning for control over others to use it to brainwash and control.

    Two things happen with this, people with corrupt minds know the power of religion know they can use religion as a crutch to remove “blame upon themselves” for doing something bad. They do it enough they might beable to convince themselves thye are innocent and that’s the purpose, they want to do bad, but they want to rid the guilt of doing something bad so doing something that “pleases god”, well then that should free them of such guilt right? It’s not their fault it,s god’s will, god made me do it, they were bad and I’m not bad, as I’m doing God’s work right? Human beings are very complex and clever, people can and will do what they can if they have a deep down bad motive, but have some conscience there that unfortunately gets in the way of doing something evil. They just might find an :”excuse such as religion” or purposely focus on the koran or other books and take out of context or focus on a radical text and the radical text created in the first place from similar minds and then use it to allow them to do bad things and an excuse to do it as well as the excuse to others of doing a bad deed and finding the scape goat for it.

    I believe relgion is a good thing, unfortunatley human beings are attracted to powerful things and the wrong minds looking at the potential of it for bad use. There is a scientific process which could do great things medically, it’s called nanotechnolgy. Where micropcopic bots could be in your body and break down cancer cells or virues and be a break through for health. They said it won’t be till 30 years until things would be set or for use. but it’s a powerful thing and very useful for people’s health. I’m using this as an example because like religion, this is of good intent, but the same thing like religion is that is something powerful so I see the scary aspect of nanogtechnology if in the wrong hands too just like religion. I mean how easy would it be to kill millions of people discreetly in the hands of a terrorist or dictator? Quite alluriong right? Just like religion is alluring. Aferall, some might not want to do something, but when you have God or tell them it’s against god’ will and the fear of death and yearning for an aftelife. Well that can make or cause people to be brainwashed and to have others do bad things or think bad things and for that corrupt person themselves to allow and reason it for themselves that what they are doing is fine, because it’s “god’s will” So many bad things have come in the name of god, because religion is such a powerful tool.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

      I have no problem with religion, and I am spiritual, myself. I do have a problem when it erases people’s conscience or gives them an excuse to harm others. So like you I agree that religion can be used as a force for good or ill. If people hold onto their conscience it won’t be used for ill.

      • That’s the problem is that there are bad people in this earth for various reasons so something powerful that could be used to control people will attract them just like it will attract good people, but for different reasons. These are people who already lack a conscience but use religion to justify their means. Like a person who sees other’s as sub human and does bad things to that group. They already had a bad mind, but they further do things with their mind to trick it or to justify treating certain people whether black people, women, children, etc badly because they’ve taught themselves over and over it’s fine because those people aren’t human. Just like ISIS and their use of GOD, they want to carry about bad acts but some tiny little conscience they have gets in the way though most of it is bad, so they have GOD to reinforce and let them continue with evil deeds.

      • I definitely think that people who already lack a conscience sometimes latch onto religion as an excuse for doing horrible things, like many members of ISIL. But I’m also sure that many of the ISIL men would not be raping young girls if their religious leaders hadn’t told them to.

        And I also know, from my own experience growing up, that people of goodwill will do things that are harmful if they believe that that’s what God wants. The piano teacher who gave me lessons in my youth is a perfectly nice woman and she had good intentions, but she lead the charge to get rid of battered women’s shelters in my community (because feminists promoted them — so of course they were evil). She and women like her also attended conventions to vote down various rights for women. These were all women from my church.

        And people from the church I grew up in continue to promote both lesser rights for women and homophobia, which causes a lot of harm.

        So it can go both ways. Some people are drawn to harmful religions as an excuse to harm. Others become harmful in ways they would not otherwise.

  2. Religion is a double edged sword. It was meant for betterment – but is being misused by perverts. Sadly, most socities balk at rebelling at acts that are shielded by the word ‘Religion’.

  3. definitely think that people who already lack a conscience sometimes latch onto religion as an excuse for doing horrible things, like many members of ISIL. But I’m also sure that many of the ISIL men would not be raping young girls if their religious leaders hadn’t told them to.”

    Their religious leaders told them to and used religion because they knew it would be a great method of brain washing them. Plus these men of ISIS might also want to do these things but also accept God from the leaders as an excuse for themselves to carry out evil deeds. It’s one thing to unknowgingly support something its another thing to just not care and do something evil. You have to have some lack of conscience to rape little girls and torture. It can’t just be religion, but either fear of being killed yourself for not obeying or some warped mindset. The reason I say that is these men have no remorse or care and so messed up in their thoughts. If it was because GOD told them but their conscience was fine, they would have great remorse and not want to hurt little girls, but they seem to not care at all.

    • I’m sure that this is true in a lot of instances.

      It’s just that I have grown up with pretty normal and generally well-meaning people who cause harm because they have been brainwashed.

      On the other hand, religion can be a huge force for good. It helped with the civil rights movement, I know a lot of religious people who fight for social justice of all kinds, And whose values came from Jesus’ admonition that love is the greatest commandment and to do onto others as you would have done onto you.

      • That’s the point though is the fact of these people being brainwashed and the people brainwashing them The bad side of human beings wanting to control others and have them do bad things, things they want, or become bigots as a result. The problem isn’t religion it’s the desire of people to use and control others to do bad deeds. Religon is used often, because it’s so powerful and easy to get people to do ignorant or bad things, because of the fear of death or the promise of after life. It’s a powerful too and corrupt people know this when using and preaching religon to uneducated or simple minds who need something to identify with or latch onto.

        But like I said, human beings are resourceful and if not for religion then humans would find something else to use to convince people and brainswashing them. That’s why I say it’s not religion itself so much as the bad human nature to use it for bad. It just so happens that religon is used often because its so effective but don’t be naive in thinking that, hypothetically, if religion didn’t exist this wiouldn’t happen. I don’t think so. People being creative would make up or create something else to have people under their spell. So it’s a matter of people finding and using things to control others that’s the real underlying problem.

        For example, guns are powerful weapons therefore, used often to murder or rob and kill. So bad people can be attracted and use them for bad, but the real problem is the desire to kill in the first place, which is why they are carried out for bad. But if guns don’t exist, that wouldn’t stop people who want to kill from killing right? That didn’t stop all the murders in our past before guns were invented. People would just use knives, swords, etc to kill. Hell a club or stone would do the trick too, it’s just guns being powerful and easier to kill with that they are targeted but it doesn’t mean other meeans can’t be found to use for bad. Just like religion, people are the problem as they will find another way if they can’t use religion to convince people for bad and brainwash them, it just so happens that religon is very effective and other means not needed. When you have something powerful and effective you will focus on that primarily, but you can find something else if you want.

      • I don’t think that religion is bad. I think it can be used for bad, At least with people overlook their consciences and agree to be controlled to do bad things.

  4. This, and the NYT article that informed it, better many faith I had in mankind. Indeed, up until 1993, I had a belief that there was an evolution of spirit in the human race and that things were improving–in how we treated one another. Then came Rwanda and the civil conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. These also sanctioned the abuse of women, and murder. Since then, I have believed that humans will stoop as low as is permitted by their social cohort. In this case, “religion” permits it. Sometimes it’s about racial identity. Almost always, gender discrimination is an issue. This makes me ill.

    • It seems that overall we are getting better, But there’s a huge backlash, too.

      I’m reading a really interesting book that talks about why gender inequality is always so tied to these things. I’ll write about it– Probably more than once– When I’ve finished reading the book.

  5. When I read such things, Georgia, every time I feel myself on the verge of losing faith in every religion of the world, including my own…

    Religion is a purely patriarchal thing, women are the victims, always.

    • religions tend to reflect their cultures, and since most cultures are patriarchal it’s no surprise that religions are too, I guess. But I do know of several progressive religions, so there is hope.

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