On a crisp, cool Tuesday morning just over 10 years ago, 19 men seized control of four commercial aircraft and changed the course of the one of the world's strongest military force and economic power. The image of fire erupting from the side of one of the United States most iconic structures, footage of men choosing to plunge to their end in place of burning alive, and a city covered in the literal remains of our countries latest victim will forever be burned into this generations mind. It was and continues to be a day that will live in infamy. September 11th 2001 left millions devastat-ed and furious, dumbfounded as to how such a heinous act could be executed against innocent men, woman, and children. Belief and Bloodshed: Religion and Violence across Time and Tradition as edited by Dr. James Wellman, Jr. provides its readers with cultural insight describing similar senseless atrocities that have ravaged the innocent masses in the name of religious cleansing for decades. Dr. Wellman and his colleagues establish that violence catalyzed by religious fervor is not unique to the post-9/11 world, but has been a recurring theme throughout recorded history.
Belief and Bloodshed begins with Mr. Scott Noegel providing his readers a vivid description of ritu-alized brutality citing the discovery of religious temples adorned with piles of human hands, heads, and phalluses. Mr. Noegel explains how the ancient cultures of Egypt and Mesopotamia would execute these brutal acts in accordance with the divine will of their gods.
Mr. Charles McDaniel introduces us to the city of Munster, Germany in the year 1534. Waging a zealous rebellion against the Roman Catholic Church, a group of Anabaptists discarded their com-mitment to non-violence and picked up their swords for battle. What followed was a significantly violent encounter as the Anabaptists initially repelled Catholic dominance over the city. The vio-lence recruited in the Anabaptists' rebellion paled, however, in comparison to Rome's retaliation of merciless torture and execution of the revolts leaders and participants.
Ms. Marianne Kamp details the mass murders of unveiled Muslim woman in 20th century Uzbeki-stan. As the Communist Party of the Soviet Union gained ground, their official atheist position de-nounced the practice of Muslim traditions, including the veiling of Muslim woman. Over a three-year period over 2500 Muslim women were slaughtered by Communist activist who opposed any Muslim woman donning a hijab.
Mr. Wellman and his colleagues walk their readers through numerous examples such as these throughout history, presenting the intricate interactions between historical cultures, religions, and political agendas. In some cases religions were the victims of violent action, in others religious fig-ures spearheaded violent crusades against opposing beliefs. In every case, the ensuing violent ac-tivities were rationalized in order to achieve a higher religious or political purpose. After conclud-ing Belief and Bloodshed, one emerges with a clear representation of various religious and cultural backdrops that have inspired violent actions throughout the history of man.