The question, when is religion extremism, is answered with the statement, any time it turns into an ism. There are two principal isms where religion crosses a line, imperialism, extravagant use of gold and opulence, jewels, robes, crowns on the head, or elitism, spreading the word and taking over by out-populating other religions, also a type of imperialism.
I’m not against Catholics. They claim to represent God and I’m willing to buy into that but the church has a long history of violent behavior beyond a Monty Python sketch where red-robed Spanish inquisitors threaten to torture an old lady by making her sit in the “comfy chair.” We could talk about the Crusades of the Middle Ages and how a bunch of fanatics led by the church went off to slaughter people in the Middle East but massacred mostly fellow Christian in Constantinople instead (including Jews). That’s all blood under the bridge.
Instead the church preaches on behalf today of poor regions of the earth such as South America and preaches a recommendation of having large families to out-populate other religions and opposes the use of condoms in countries like the Philippines, which has also led to the spread of AIDS. This is a form of imperialism, another ism. I’m impressed by the Pope who wears expensive robes and has lots of gold in the church for extravagant ceremonies. But preaching out-of-control birthing to spread disease and religious dominance over other religions--- is this restraint? Pardon the pun hell no!
Boys on bicycles wearing ties comes in the night and I’m standing in my front yard mulling about the pointlessness of life because I had a rough day and they ask where my neighbor is and I tell them I don’t know and they start quizzing me? Are you a religious person? How long have you lived here? Where did you live before? I know what you two bicycle boys are trying to do, convert me, I’m a heathen right, convert me into the Mormon Church. A church founded by a mushroom smoking upstate New York hillbilly who was visited by an angel named Moroni? An angel basically named Moron with an Italian-sounding ending to his name.
The kid on the bike says he will come back to visit my neighbor who is gone but before he can ask me more about myself I tell him bluntly that will be fine----goodbye! He and his buddy leave. Mormons like Catholics believe in large families to out-populate other religions so they can take over. That’s extremism.
A religion founded by a drunken lecher of an English king. One of the, again pardon the pun, miracles is how all the churches formed into different interpretations and yet there is only one God. There can only be one God. God didn’t create the Catholic Church or the Protestant Church but men did. So how come if there’s only one God and there can only be one, there can’t be 25, how come people formed into differing churches like setting up service clubs, Lions Club, Rotary Club, Kiwanis?
Or Muslim extremism:
If a Muslim talks to you about God and then says he’s going to chop your head off don’t listen to him. He’s got the wrong idea about religion.
Or Right Wing religious nuts:
Some so-called Christians try to spread not only their own brand of religious dogma but want to use the American political system to spread their power and influence despite the intent of the founders to keep religion separate from policy making. Nevertheless however, the original founders mentioned God enough (In God We Trust) to give right wing nuts the incentive to interpret this as a call to action. This is extremism. Because there are others who don’t believe in your interpretation of your particular brand of God and your desire to spread your belief in American schools to further your views over others. Whoever said God is universal?
I like portions of the Jewish service ritual (wearing the little beanie) and I admire Jewish struggle in the world against oppressors and Jews make great attorneys and comedians but when Israel oversteps justice and attempts to push Palestinians out of their own homeland this is a form of extremism too.
Non-violence is at the heart of Buddhist thinking and this is one of the few religions too other-worldly to be aggressively extremist and I’ve never heard of a Buddhist launching a crusade or holy war. There must have been a war but it was so long ago I don’t know what it is.
Hindus and the rest:
Hindus have so many gods they can’t spend their time trying to outdo yours by picking only one God to gain dominance over your God. However, Hindus have battled Muslims in India for dominance and this is wrong and extremism.
Religions often write down the word of God as they interpret it and misinterpret what they write down.