A version of this appeared a day ago in Patheos. I think the points I am making are important enough to put this both places.
Violence in the name of a monotheistic religion has again captured the world’s attention. This time it was committed in Islam’s name. In response many columnists and politicians who should know better claim something supposedly unique to Islam is responsible. This malign misdiagnosis gets two central points utterly wrong.
First, there are over one billion Muslims in the world, and the great majority are not violent. Second, while there has been considerable violence by some Muslims in the name of their religion, the majority of their victims have been other Muslims. In this respect Islam is not unusual. Historically a great many victims of monotheistic violence have been those most other people would regard as practicing the same religion.
For mostly historical reasons, most religious violence today is by those claiming to be Muslims. But Islam has no monopoly here. Christianity has spilled plenty of blood in its past. The end of its worst violence did not come as a result of any advances in Christian morality or spiritual understanding. Relative peace arose from mutual exhaustion, when the various factions realized they could never kill all the other side.
True religious tolerance considered as a matter of principle had to wait the coming of the Enlightenment, the rise of deism, and the triumph of the American Revolution. Deism is not monotheism, which is why so many Christian leaders of that time called them atheists.