An understanding of what God's representatives (priests and ministers) have told people who decided to sell their souls can bring compassion or sympathy even for Satanists and black magicians.
This is because they were told that God is punitive, severe and unforgiving, anti-sex, anti-gay, and anti-women and that they were going to Hell forever anyway. Little wonder that they decided Satan was preferable.
Perhaps we can also have compassion for those who have been beaten or abused by fathers or priests, passing on their fear from generation to generation.
This fear of God can create terrorists like Osama Bin Laden or hard line religious leaders.
What is said from the pulpit is vital.
Vitriolic sermons in Uganda have brought about a demand for the death penalty for homosexuals in that country. Fear drives this demand.
The Religious Right in America derives from a particularly fearful form of Christianity. Their violent rhetoric is a response to violence attributed to God in the Bible. But it is fear that drives them. Fear of judgement, fear of Hell, fear of punishment. Perhaps they were punished by their parents or priests. The Catholic Church goes out of its way to terrify children.
May we have compassion for them even as their violence affects us. May we see the fear that drives them. May we have understanding and sympathy for those who attack us.
And we pray that we can overcome our fears.