Most of the wars on earth have been labeled “religious” or “holy” because they were caused by differences in religious doctrine – and by religious urgings. Those wars that included the Jewish conquest of the Levant, the Muslim invasions, and the Roman Catholic Crusades were engendered by the ungodly enmity between propagators of three principal religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Armed conflicts in today’s world are the result of one or another religion’s determination to spread gospel and expand flock, or to eliminate competition. While it is true that some wars are caused by economic, cultural or political factors, it is an undeniable and inescapable fact that those wars are also inspired – to some extent – by religious goals.
Meanwhile, Hinduism, Chinese folk religion, and Buddhism – and the minor religions Taoism, Shintoism, Sikhism, Korean Shamanism, Caodaism, Bahá’í Faith, Jainism, Cheondoism, Haohaoism, and Tenriism – are pacifist and have never considered coercion as a means of propagating their beliefs.
Why then do Jews, Christians and Muslims frequently get involved in wars and become authors of death and destruction? While all three religions worship the same God, many in their leadership – those responsible for propagating the faith – make it a mission to win fealty by coercion.
The Yugoslav wars between Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Presevo and Macedonia (component states of the once-united Yugoslavia) showcased the antagonism between Christians and Muslims – and in many cases, between Sunni and Shiite Muslims.
The civil wars in Sudan, though mostly rooted in ethnic differences, were largely fueled by intolerance between various Islamic sects.
The ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflicts are caused by the refusal of Palestinians and the Islamic states, including Iran, to recognize Israel as a sovereign nation, while instead promising Israel’s ultimate destruction.
The Syrian civil war, although a rebellion to oust the country’s dictatorship, has become a desperate attempt by several Islamic sects to control as much territory and people as possible. ISIS (or ISIL) is an apparent fundamentalist Muslim attempt to avenge the Jewish invasion of the Levant which took place centuries ago.
Conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq are primarily wars between the Shiite and Sunni faiths of Islam. Historically and philosophically, these two religious sects cannot, by their own avowals, coexist.
In the Philippines, a decades-long war is being waged between the primarily Catholic population and the country’s Muslim minority.
About 10 million people perished during the Thirty Years War between Protestants and Catholics; 4 million people died in the French Wars of Religion between Protestants and Catholics; 2 million people were killed during the Second Sudanese Civil War between Christians and Muslims; 3 million people were annihilated in the Crusades when Christians tried to erase Muslims from the face of the earth; and 250,000 men, women and children died during the Lebanese Civil War between Christians, Shiite Muslims and Sunni Muslims.
Because of the preaching and teachings of religion’s propagators, neighbors in local communities have become distrustful of each other. In democratic and multicultural societies, Christians have become paranoid and fearful of their Muslim neighbors and vice versa, even as they share the same social and political environment.
Christian theologians and preachers should stop professing that non-Christians are bound for hell – and Muslim imams and mullahs must cease asserting that all who do not adhere to Islam must die.
Religious leaders should consider good will and peace among people as their primary goal, which – by their own tenet – is God’s will.
Religious leaders should stop the aggressive propagation of their faith.