Individual human nature is a strange entity, and can often influence behaviour in the worst and most divisive ways imaginable. It is curious, and is itself often colored by personal experience, environment and the example set by elders. The problems arise where a negative perception is created that concerns a specific group or demographic within society, which can lead to prejudice and the very worst kind of religious or racial intolerance. In addition to this, it is rare for the perception to be accurate in its detail, leaving a suspicion or dislike that is unique to a personal experience rather than a social group. The Advent of Religious Extremism In America this week, Republican representative Peter King has courted controversy by calling for hearing to discuss what he describes as the radicalization of Muslims throughout the entire nation. Regardless of any logic or thought that has gone into his campaign, he has drawn staunch criticism from various bodies by singling out the Muslim faith, despite his initial claims that many different factions of society maybe vulnerable to such extremism. While some support his assertions as courageous and necessary, others see it is a deliberate campaign to marginalize the Muslim faith within the US. While Mr King is right to assert that radicalization is a serious and potentially dangerous element within contemporary society, it is certainly not specific to a single religious group or faith. It is more a reflection of the strained financial and cultural circumstances that exist in the country, as the continuing processes of integration and economic recovery create a society that is uneasy and unsure of their immediate future. Subsequently, any act or discussion which serves to isolate a specific culture or religion can only have a negative impact upon the society where it subsists.
The concepts of faith and religion have undergone much scrutiny since the turn of the century. As individual religious bodies have developed splintered and extreme fractions, the core principles of various faiths have become increasingly unclear, creating conflict and dissention within and outside of certain independent belief systems. This has seen a steep rise in the increase of those who practice atheism and are agnostic within the US. The last 9 years have witnessed the total number of citizens who practice atheism double from its 2001 figure. In terms of individuals who are agnostic, their number has more than doubled in the same length of time, as faith has been tested and numerous eminent voices have disputed the validity of religion as a whole and their values. The question is whether religious bodies and their teachings actually doing God and the concept of faith a disservice?