Committing Suicide for Religion
by Ron Kurtus
There are some people with extreme or distorted views who will kill themselves or commit suicide for their religion. This has been seen in Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism.
Their reasons to do this are to harm people of different beliefs, to damage religious structures, or to protest some injustice.
Questions you may have include:
- What are examples of suicide among Christians?
- What are examples of suicide among followers of Islam?
- What are examples of suicide among Buddhists?
This lesson will answer those questions.
Note: This is an educational website. We are not promoting any one religion.
In recent years, there have been only two cases where Christians committed suicide for their religious beliefs. They were Johnstown and Heaven's Gate incidents.
In 1978 about 900 followers of leader Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple of the Disciples of Christ died by committing suicide or being poisoned at the direction of Jones, who also killed himself.
After an investigation by Congressman Leo Ryan of abuse in Jonestown, Ryan and several others were murdered. Then Jones felt that the end of his community of coming and ordered the mass suicide of his followers.
It is uncertain why the others killed themselves, except that they felt their world had come to an end. Or perhaps they were like sheep who followed what they were told to do.
In 1997, members of the Heaven's Gate group committed mass suicide. The leader of the group, Marshall Applewhite, thought that the 38 members would have to kill themselves to reach an alien space craft following the Hale-Bopp comet.
The suicide was undertaken in the apparent belief that their souls would be transported onto the spaceship, which they thought was hiding behind the comet. They underwent elaborate preparations for their trip, including purchasing and wearing matching shoes and living in a darkened house to simulate the long journey they expected to have in outer space
Although the Quran instructs followers of Islam: "And do not kill yourselves, surely God is most Merciful to you," extremist followers kill themselves as a way to kill others.
Some members of the extremist ISIS Sunni sect would wear what are called "suicide vests" and then go into crowded areas of Shiite Islam areas or in Western Christian areas to blow themselves up as a way to kill many others, including innocent children.
Over the years, a number of Buddhist monks have set themselves on fire as a way to make political protests.
There are some people with extreme or distorted views who will kill themselves for their religion. This has been seen in Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism. Their reasons to do this are to harm people of different beliefs, to damage religious structures, or to protest some injustice.
Seek peace and love
Resources and references
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Committing Suicide for Religion