The Wall Street Journal attached a deeply misleading headline to otherwise insightful reporting on the Boston bombers. “Turn to Religion Split Suspect’s Home,” the front page story announced—implying that religiosity in general counts as divisive and dangerous. Actually, it was a turn to Muslim fanaticism that ruined the Tsarnaev family, and it’s impossible to imagine similar outcomes had the two young brothers deepened commitments to any other major faith.
If a Catholic begins going to daily mass, or a Baptist intensifies Bible study, no one worries that murderous violence will follow. When disaffiliated Jews take up traditional observance, they may annoy secular relatives but won’t try to kill them. For young Muslims like the Tsarnaevs, however, religious enthusiasm sometimes does lead to brutality. While most Muslims condemn such impulses, their theology has proven uniquely susceptible to terrorist manipulation.