Very poignant article - the fact that colonialism is partially responsible for the modern definition of religion as anti-science and anti-modern is very ironic given moderns’ general distaste for colonialism.
Also the fact that until recent history the state and religion were intertwined and people assume it was religions fault that atrocities were committed, when in fact atrocities are often simply the state trying behaving in greedy or fearful ways and happen even in atheist regimes.
Finally, and most ironically of all, those who most resolutely denounce religion as violent recommend violence in order to deal with the problem if absolutely necessary.
The teaching of Christ to love one’s enemy even to the point of dying for them still remains the only way to break the cycle of violence and bigotry.
Some highlights from the article:
European colonial bureaucrats invented the concept of religion in the course of categorizing non-Western colonized cultures as irrational and antimodern
one would need a concept of religion that would be at least theoretically separable from other institutional forces over the course of history. Kimball does not identify those rival institutional forces, but an obvious contender might be political institutions: tribes, empires, kingdoms, fiefs, states, and so on. The problem is that religion was not considered something separable from such political institutions until the modern era, and then primarily in the West.
Sam Harris’s book about the violence of religion, The End of Faith, dramatically illustrates this double standard. Harris condemns the irrational religious torture of witches, but provides his own argument for torturing terrorists. Harris’s book is charged with the conviction that the secular West cannot reason with Muslims, but must deal with them by force.