Every religion has rules. Most of them deal with the basic temptations: lust and greed. These religions create rule books designed to reduce those temptations. They make women dress a certain way. They punish adultery with death. These extremists are relentless in their enforcement of their rules. They don't forgive. They don't associate with "infidels". Their religious structure- mosques, prayer times and the other rules, are of critical importance. If they believe their beliefs are threatened by, for example, Western culture, they seek to eradicate it. They kill and keep killing.
Westerners look at extreme examples of this and shake their heads. "How could anyone worship a god who wants its followers to kill and hurt people?"
Logically, it doesn't make any sense. If a god loves his creation, why would he kill it? Why would he want his followers to kill or hurt others? "Love the sinner, hate the sin." This begins to explain it a bit. A just god who loves his creatures might punish them, in order to keep them from sinning. It's because he knows that ultimately, sin will destroy his creation.
Here's the problem.
God acts through humans. As long as the human's motives are pure and the human acts rationally, then God's will is done. Think about Moses. He was God's COO on Earth. He wrote the laws and created the structure to enforce them. He stayed close to God and did what God wanted him to do. But Moses was imperfect, in the sense that he had free will. So, at times, he acted for himself, and not God. I'm sure he convinced himself that he was doing God's will. But deep down inside, he was rationalizing. And that's when things began to go south.
Similarly, religious zealots from all religions do things that they have convinced themselves their god wants them to do. They engage in holy war. They bomb buildings. They destroy entire villages. They murder people in the name of their god. They've convince themselves that it's what they are supposed to do. But somewhere, deep down inside, they have to know that it's wrong. Or perhaps they are deceived. Let's face it, the Deceiver is excellent at what he does. He always has been.
For that matter, there are a lot of ways to kill people. Jesus said that if you hate your brother or sister, it's the same as killing them. You can kill someone by destroying their spirit. You can bind them with the metaphorical chains of rules, guilt, and control. Instead of forgiving people, you condemn them. You create a religious structure that focuses on your rules, rather than the Ruler.
More than anything else, Jesus proved how much God loves us. As he walked among us, Jesus healed us. He forgave us. Although he was a Jewish rabbi (and therefore bound by all of the Mosaic law, and the rules that man had created), he made love a priority over those rules. He associated with all kinds of sinning people and outcasts of the proper Jewish society- prostitutes, lepers, tax collectors, Samaritans, you name it.
Think of the most offensive kind of person to you. A terrorist? A liar? A thief? A murderer? Maybe someone who didn't grown up on the same side of town as you? Jesus' human instincts would have made the people that he associated with extremely offensive to him. But he got past it because his love for them exceeded his distaste. He saw them as God sees them- worthwhile and lovable. Jesus didn't judge them; instead he loved them. Incredibly, Jesus said that we should pray for our enemies.
I wonder if we don't kid ourselves sometimes. It's obvious to us that terrorists have been so deceived that they believe they are on the side of right. They dogmatically follow rules to the exclusion of all else. Nothing interrupts their religious zeal. To sane people, terrorism is insanity: blatantly, obviously, and indisputably horrible. They do things in the name of their religion that under any circumstances, cannot be justified. We all know that our God, who loves us, condemns these heinous acts.
But what about more subtle things? We walk past someone in need. We become so focused on our lives that we refuse to share the abundance that God has given us with others. Or we isolate ourselves with other people like us, and avoid dealing with those that we find distasteful. Unlike Jesus, who threw himself into the middle of the human mess, we live sanitized lives of church attendance, "care" groups, bible studies and other religious constructs that make us feel good. But they don't help us to accomplish the second greatest commandment. We surround ourselves with people like us. We don't want to get messy with others.
We forget to put God first. We forget to follow Jesus. Following Jesus simple means to live according to his example and his teachings. But we forget to do it because we get so caught up in our routine.
Not too long ago, during a speaking engagement, I met someone who had grown up in church. She knew all the rituals. She faithfully attended. She participated in small groups and bible studies. But she stopped short when it came to Jesus. In a quiet voice, she confessed to me that she just couldn't make that leap. She believed in God. She went to church. But she just couldn't believe that Jesus was who he claimed to be. We talked for almost an hour about it.
I think it was because she was so caught up on the rules and rituals, that she avoided the basis for them. It's easy to hammer and hammer, and convince your self you are building a house. But if you don't step back and deal with the basic issue, you'll never get there. She was so caught up in church that there was no need to believe in Jesus.
Jesus is why we go to church. We do it to worship him. We do it to learn more about him. Anything else is self-deceptive. Or, perhaps its something worse. I've never seen a "Keep Out, Satan" sign at church.
So, I suppose the Deceiver could operate in a church.
Just like he could operate in a mosque. Or anywhere else, for that matter.