Robert Wright, author of The Evolution of God, has a theory. He thinks that religions tend to be morally neutral in terms of tolerance—and that their ranges of tolerant expression are dependent on the contingencies that they find themselves in. Hence, for example, Islam is not inherently a violent religion, nor is Christianity an inherently peaceful religion:
“When a religious group senses an auspicious non-zero-sum relationship with another group, it is more likely to create tolerant scriptures, or to find tolerance in existing scriptures; and when it senses no prospect of a win-win outcome, it is more likely to summon intolerance and belligerence.”
I like this neutrality theory of religion. It’s elegant. It makes smug moral superiority and demonic projection of out-groups more difficult. What’s not to like?