Religion and Violence

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Religion and Violence

When most people think of religion they only think of the good aspects that go along with it, and never the violence that goes along with it. All religions have some form of violence in one form or another. There are three basic varieties of religious violence: acts of violence, which are inherently religious; those intended as punishment for people believed to be evil; and violent clashes between religious communities. Christians killed a large quantity of witches during the sixteenth century throughout North America and Europe, this continues in some parts of the world to this day. In some cultures killing a person was one of the most important religious ritual acts. “Religion is capable of bringing out the noblest trait of our shared humanity. It can also, unfortunately, motivate or justify the most depraved.” (Lewis M. Hopfe, Mark R. Woodward, 2009, p.10).

Sacrifice, which is one of the most common practices in all of the religions of the world, is another form of religious violence. All throughout history sacrifices have been made to the gods and the spirit world, usually the sacrifices was food, drinks, or animals, but occasionally there would be a human sacrifice. Human sacrifices rarely occurred in Native American religions in the United States and Canada, but they were a very important part of religion to the Aztec and other native people of South and Central America. Native Americans living in the Great Plains have a “Sun Dance” which involves self-torment or self-sacrifice. It is viewed as a way of obtaining spiritual power that is necessary for survival.

Native Americans have always used peyote in their ceremonies, but it wasn’t until the United States government humiliated and defeated them that they felt that they needed more visions and started using peyote more often than before. The Native American Church still uses peyote to this day. “Ancient Spiritual tenets are to heal the body and spirit. Further, to teach...
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