Religion in War: Cause and Effect

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War can be terrifying, and it leaves most soldiers traumatized. The military can train soldiers how to control their body and their thoughts during the battle so they and their comrades don't get killed. However, boot camp can only simulate so much. Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome exists because of the gap between this simulation and reality. It is the after effects of experiencing war, or similar terrors. Most soldiers fall victim to PTSD, and though some handle it successfully, many do not.

Many studies have been conducted to solve the riddle of coping with PTSD, but few have delved into the realm of avoiding it. This is most likely due to the vast number of complications involved in the aspects of mental stability. One theme, however, has been the focus of many researchers: religion and spirituality. Belief in a higher power, and even an after-life, plays a major role in how a soldier copes with trauma. Their beliefs may have a positive or negative influence, depending on how they incorporate them into their experiences. Many soldiers find discord between religion and battle, which can magnify PTSD.

Most moral assumptions derive from a religious upbringing, and belief in something greater can create a false sense of security or authority. “Putting one’s faith or reliance on religion or belief in a higher power [can be used as] a retreat from the realities of this world. That reliance on prayer and rituals can be used as an escape and an excuse to not engage in choices and actions over which one has control and that could actually influence and make a difference about the underlying causes” (Scurfield 198).

One important way trauma disrupts mental stability is by shattering assumptions about safety, power or control, self, and the world. Religious assumptions are also likely to be disrupted if belief in an omnipotent God appears inconsistent with traumatic experiences (McMahill 18). When a soldier is in the war zone, very little of what...
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