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The Great War that took place between 1914 and 1918 was not a chronological event, which can easily be identified with religion. The followers from each side claimed that all were engaged in a justifiable war to defend themselves against aggression. In fact, all argued that the Supreme Being was on their side and each religion prayed for success. As a result, it did not matter whether or not other believers were destroyed given that they were simply considered as enemies. Religious wars are common since the creation of human being although they do not have many fatalities similar to other types of wars. The wars are always regarded as a struggle between different religions namely Jews, Christians and Muslims. This demonstrates that despite the civilization humankind has undergone over years, religion continues to cause war.
Religious beliefs are powerful motivations since aggressive individuals fight about them. They continue to cause conflicts even in small families. In fact, it is common for husbands and wives to fight on the religion that the family should adopt. The fight escalates especially when the wife refuses to follow the religion of his husband. As a result, it is common for divorce to arise from the religious differences between married couples. Such a relationship arises owing to the initial attraction between these companions. Each of these individuals has the hope that everyone will eventually see the righteousness in the other partner’s religion and accept to be converted. Conversely, some individuals coerce others to convert given that they strongly believe that they should belong to the same religion in order to have a lasting relationship. When the effort becomes futile, chances of domestic violence become high. Consequently, when they consider that the differences between them cannot be resolved even after involving other parties they end up in divorce (Erbele, 2012).
Religion causes tension even between close friends. For instance, it is common for Islamic families to have relationships with Christians. However, Muslims do not consume pork since it is not allowed by their religion. Although the relationship may be cordial, there is always suspicion from Muslim believers about the king of food they consume in Christian families particularly when the meal involves any kind of meat. Muslims are suspicious even when the meal does not include meat given that the meal may have been prepared using pork fat. Muslims ensure that they stay away from anything that involves pork. In one situation, a Muslim woman warned her husband to ensure that any Christian family they were visiting did not give her daughter any pork. This caused tension between them as the Muslim husband thought that the wife did not trust him to keep a close watch over their daughter (Woodlock et al., 2013).
The wife later admitted that she trusted the husband but did not trust the Christian family on issues regarding what they consume. Apparently, the woman does not even trust her in-law family since they are not Muslims. The tension between families is evident as in-law’s family openly consumes pork products. When visiting the in-law family, the wife ensures that she accompanies her husband and their daughter to ensure that the mother in-law who is usually craving for sausages does not give her daughter any pork product. She admits that it takes a few days for her blood pressure to resume its usual level after visiting the mother in-law who talks about the good taste of pork products (Woodlock et al., 2013).
There are other sources of war between humans such as soccer matches. However, religious differences are common excuses used by states to cause harm on those believed to have diverse religious views. For example, during the 20th century, cruel administrations of Pol Pot, Mao Zedong, and Stalin ruthlessly murdered millions of those with different religious views. In Russia, atheists murdered thousands of Christians. The atheists sought to eliminate any kind of religion from the region. It is therefore evident that religion has been a contributive attribute to most historical wars.
In the contemporary world, acts of terrorisms are believed to be caused by religious differences. Recently, there was an attack on Kenya’s Westgate Mall. The perpetrators of the heinous act were evidently Muslims considering the CCTV footages that captured them praying while facing Mecca. When the attackers first entered the mall, they held over three hundred shoppers hostage. According to reports by those who survived the attack, the attackers would ask each person different Islamic questions. Those who did not know were shot dead immediately. However, the attackers allegedly told Muslims to leave unharmed. All others who subscribed to different religions were executed.
In Iraq, religious war continues to escalate between different arms of Muslims. Terrorism in the country particularly the capital city of Bagdad continues to kill and maim tens of people daily. Muslims extremists strongly believe that any human that does not subscribe to Islam does not deserve to live. It is this conviction that lead to war between Shiite and Kurds in Iraq despite both being Muslims. The Quran is often observed as one that incites religious wars. It acknowledges the humankind tendency of disagreement and consequently allows defensive warfare. In addition to the individual’s permission for self-defense, it permits religious war in the name of Jihad against non-Muslims.
In Gulf region, the unrelenting war is mainly caused by religious differences. The war between Israel and Palestine is contributed by the fact that Israel is mainly a Jewish state while Palestine is an Islam state. The tension between these countries is further increased by the urge to dominate a large portion of land to settle those who subscribe to the Jewish religion. In the Africa’s most populated state of Nigeria, tension between Christians and Muslims in the 20th century consequently led to the current state of war perpetrated by the Muslim arm called Boko Haram. The extremists execute Christians at any opportunity. The Al-Qaeda-supported group has taken advantage of the hostility between the two religions to claim and secede from the main Nigeria and create a Muslim state (Abah, 2013).
On the other hand, it has been argued that religion has developed additional importance in the current world given that globalization has changed almost everything. It becomes essential when political and national groupings are broken apart. For example, in Yugoslavia during the beginning of the fiscal 1990s, Serbians, Croatians, and Bosnians took positions as Muslims, Orthodox, or Christians (Woodlock et al., 2013). From this, Muslim academics have over centuries managed to develop a ‘just war’ theory. The theory seeks to justify that Muslims can kill others when protecting their religious beliefs. Thus, for greedy and cruel leaders to advance their territorial desires, they have taken advantage of the inclusion of ‘just-war’ in the name of Jihad in the Quran.
In the Bible, it is evident that wars were mainly based on religion. God would use a certain population to punish those who did not follow His ways. The Israelites were commonly used as the vessel for God to punish others who turned against Him. Many people who try to justify terrorism tend to distort the approach in the contemporary world to cause fear in those perceived to be of different religion. Besides, for cruel people to oppress others, they often exploit religion based on the claim for defenseless. In other situations, it is positively utilized by others to defend against such oppression. Those who are perceived to be weak in the society gang up on religious grounds to ensure that the strong and cruel hardly unleash harm on them.
Thus, religious corruption is often criticized in almost all religions. For example, both the Bible and Quran criticize religious hypocrisy. The verse that criticizes religious in the Quran (Q2:204-205) may appropriately be applied to Saddam Hussein situation in the 1990s and early 2000. The president ensured that the world saw him reciting prayers on television. However, he continued to gas and bomb Kurds. He was evidently a cruel dictator who disguised himself as a devoted Muslim. It is this fact that one may conclude that indeed religion offers an essential cover and strong motivation for those who seek to do evil.
Another aspect of religion can be seen from the perspective of Atheism. When people declare that they are atheists, believers of such a religion frown upon them. It is common for such individuals to be excommunicated from the mainstream society. Such individuals are described in hurting terms. Savage comments such as being labeled stupid or fascists are common especially among age mates as well as those who are grown-up than the atheists. Such scenarios are common in the internet. When people declare that they are atheists, there is always an overwhelming reaction from all places on earth. In fact, atheists believe that all religions are unhelpful making believers to be agitated and angered. Conversely, atheists observe those who believe in religion as foolish (Houlihan, 2012).
In the recent years, tension between atheists and believers has been rising considering the swelling number of atheists who are convinced of the need to scorn believers. After the 9/11 attack on American landmarks, some popular people who practice atheism including Ayaan Ali backed nations to be violent against any Islamic country. In a conversation between Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, atheist’s hatred of Muslims was evident. He asked his friend if he is ever worried that after atheists win the war and wipe out Christianity, Muslims would replace the vacuum. This demonstrates the violent hatred of Islamic religion by emerging atheists.
On the other hand, it is indicative of the frightening idealized nightmare that atheists possess. One may wonder why atheists seek to eliminate Christianity. The atheists’ objective to eliminate Christianity may be driven by the fact that Catholics have allegedly committed multiple contravening crimes such as protecting their leaders who commit sex with minors while they are supposed to live in celibacy. The opposition of abortion by Christians and other religions is also a driving force that renders atheists to violently attack them resulting in actual war. Although religious institutions may be dysfunctional, it does not justify their elimination. The view echoes strong hatred that continues to increase anxiety in the society.
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From the beginning of human existence, religion has been linked to many types of quarrels and brutalities. The hands of believers are tainted with blood. Thus, it is reasonable to claim that religion when placed in the hands of wrong individuals may result in devastating harm. In the early days, religious wars were less than what is experienced in the current world. The perception that religion is the primary cause of main wars in the history of humankind is only engrained in mind and community. Out of more than 1,800 main armed conflicts, only less than 130 can be categorized as having originated from religious differences. This means that about ten percent can be associated with religion. It indicates that few people were killed in these conflicts. In the ancient world, wars that were fought due to religion appeared to be less bloody compared to those fought based on other reasons.
In many societies, religion is a positive tool that facilitates the cohesion of a community. It offers a platform for relating and associating with others. Unfortunately, it is openly different when placed in the possession of power-hungry individuals. Such individuals use religious convictions to trounce their rivals. During political campaigns, it is common for aspirants to consolidate votes by associating themselves with certain religions. It is common for such power-hungry aspirants to convert to religions that they consider as a boost to their political endeavors. When religious authority is in the hands of such individuals, it demonstrates the state of human psychology as opposed to the religion itself. This is mainly the basis why most wars experienced in the past involved and will probably continue to entail religion.
Abah, H. (2013). Boko haram has no religious coloration – Bideh. Web.
Erbele, C. (2012). God and War: An exploration. Journal of Law & Religion, 28(1), 1-46.
Houlihan, P. (2012). Local Catholicism as transnational war experience: Everyday religious practice in occupied northern France, 1914–1918. Central European History, 45(1), 233-267.
Woodlock, R., Loewenstein, A., Caro, J. & Smart, S. (2013). Doesn’t religion cause most of the conflict in the world? Web.