Religion Causes War

Topics: War, Religious war, World War II Pages: 5 (1479 words) Published: July 26, 2013

There are many arguments and counter-arguments when discussing the topic of religion causing war. Many critics argue that throughout history, religion has been the single greatest source of human-caused wars, suffering, and misery. In the name of God (by whatever name), more suffering has been inflicted than by any other man-made cause. (Pro Side) Critics on the other side counter that modern secular ideological movements are actually responsible for much greater and more indiscriminate violence than any religion ever has been. (Con Side)

They further contend that the claim that religion causes war is not supported by the historical or contemporary evidence. They maintain that only 7 (10%) of all the wars (and the same percentage of 20th century wars) had clear religious motivation, and most had no detectable religious motivation at all. The counter argument is that flies in the face of historical fact: for every year of peace in humankind's history there have been fourteen years of war, 90% of which have been fought either because of, or under the banner of, God (by whatever name).

Both sides make very compelling arguments and valid points backed up by facts and statistical data - so who's right? Does religion cause war? One could easily fall on either side of the coin on this complex issue and still be on the side of sound reason, intellect and truth. However, a close and unbiased examination of past wars lead to one conclusion over the other: religion does cause war.

One of the major examples where religion caused war would be the Crusades. The Crusades, fought in the 11th century, were a series of "Holy Wars" between Christian and Muslims that was centered around the city of Jerusalem. In summary, the Turks took Jerusalem in 1065 and massacred 3,000 Christians. This started a chain of events which lead to the start of the Crusades.

Opponents of the claim that religion causes war argue that the Crusades started because the European aristocracy and the Pope wanted to increase their wealth and conquering Palestine seemed an easy solution. Moreover, the Pope wanted to broaden the limits of the power of the Catholic church by converting numerous Jews and Muslims to Christianity. Some researchers say that the massacre of the 3000 Christians which caused the Crusades to begin was not because of differing religious beliefs.

Even if all of the above were true, it does not alter the fact that after its non-religious beginning the Crusades were fought for two hundred years as a Holy War. According to Wikipedia, religious war (Latin: bellum sacrum) is a war caused by, or justified by, religious differences. It can involve one state with an established religion against another state with a different religion or a different sect within the same religion, or a religiously motivated group attempting to spread its faith by violence, or to suppress another group because of its religious beliefs or practices.

Accordingly, whether or not it begin at the behest of a greedy European aristocracy or a power-hungry pope, the Crusades, which were justified by religious differences, is the very definition of religious war. No one knows exactly how many people died during the nine Crusades, but it is known to be one of histories bloodiest wars over religion.

The series of wars known as the European wars followed the onset of the Protestant Reformation in Western and Northern Europe. The combatants in these series of wars were often not neatly divided by religion and sometimes were altogether unconnected; yet all of these wars were strongly influenced by the religious change of the period, and the conflict and rivalry that it produced.

Indeed, the list of medieval wars that are frequently cited as religious wars are numerous and include the Muslim conquests (7th to 19th centuries), and the Spanish Reconquista (8th to 15th centuries). But what of...
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