Recently my family and I participated in a tour of the historic Taos Pueblo, one of the oldest continually inhabited communities in North America and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s beauty beyond measure.

But as the guide was speaking, he referenced - on three different occasions - the historic conflicts with the Conquistadors, Mexicans, and later, Americans. With each reference, he insinuated that part of the reason behind the conflicts was a cultural clash over religion. Simply put: Christianity vs the traditional religion of the Pueblo People. As a convictional Christian, it made me squirm. He’s right, I thought: a terrible witness for Christ. 


WHAT THE HEADLINES SHOW: Brian Nixon says our news reports show that religion and violence often go "hand-in-hand". PICTURE:  © Boris Peterka/

And though there is always more to a story, I think our guide was correct; religion oftentimes commends and creates violence. Just a cursory look at the news, and you’d have to agree. Here’s some headlines from the last week or so:

• 'Gunmen take hostages in Bangladeshi capital Dhaka';

* 'Report Suggests Increase in Christian Persecution Worldwide'; 

• 'Fourth Secular Bangladesh Blogger Hacked To Death This Year';

• ' Christopher Harper Mercer: Possible Terrorist Link Revealed By Social Media'; and,

• 'FBI said to arrest man plotting to bomb Florida synagogue'.

Last year, CNN writer, Daniel Burke, put it this way: “Whether you believe that religious violence is fueled by faith or is a symptom of larger factors - political instability, poverty, cultural chaos - one thing seems clear: Last week was hellish for religion. Across several continents, including North America, Europe, Asia and Africa, scores of religious believers suffered and died in brutal attacks over the past seven days. Christians, Muslims and Jews alike all fell prey to assaults”.

It appears that religion and violence oftentimes go hand-in-hand.

So how is a Christian to answer when critics call us out as cultural monsters of calamity?

Here’s a few books to help you sort through the situation:

• Is God a Moral Monster?: Making Sense of the Old Testament God, Paul Copan. 

 Did God Really Command Genocide?: Coming to Terms with the Justice of GodPaul Copan. 

• God Behaving Badly: Is the God of the Old Testament Angry, Sexist and Racist?, David Lamb.

• The Skeletons in God's Closet: The Mercy of Hell, the Surprise of Judgment, the Hope of Holy War, Joshua Butler.

• The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God in an Evil World, William A Dembski. 

• God Is Great, God Is Good: Why Believing in God Is Reasonable and Responsible, William Lane Craig and Chad Meister (eds).

Brian Nixon is a writer, musician, and minister. He's a graduate of California State University, Stanislaus (BA) and is a Fellow at Oxford Graduate School (DPhil).