Jihadist violence, it’s becoming disturbingly frequent. So frequent, it threatens to numb our collective minds to its presence, let alone its sheer brutality like the throat slitting of Father Jacques Hamel.
Even so, its persistence has generated reactions, some of which are ill-informed…
“When will we realise that the concessions we have made to faith in our political discourse prevent us from even speaking about, much less uprooting, the most prolific source of violence in our history?”
Sam Harris regarding religion in the book “End of Faith”, 2004.
“And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”
Barack Obama regarding Christianity in light of recent Islamic violence as previously discussed here.
So, religion, including Christianity is the most prolific source of human violence. Really?
The above claims do not square with reality. That’s bad enough but when made by people of influence, it’s particularly problematic.
Firstly, let’s address the claim that religion per se causes wars. Here’s an interesting graph based on data from 1,763 wars across the course of human history…
Clearly, religion is no where near a primary source of war. And when it is, there is one religion which stands out (hint: it’s the one that is consistently in the news these days).
The above comes from an interesting article called, “The Myth that Religion is the #1 Cause of War“.
Secondly, to characterise the Crusades as “just another war but under another deity” would be to ignore the situation on the ground at the time (as previously discussed here)…
With enormous energy, the warriors of Islam struck out against the Christians shortly after Mohammed’s death. They were extremely successful. Palestine, Syria, and Egypt—once the most heavily Christian areas in the world—quickly succumbed. By the eighth century, Muslim armies had conquered all of Christian North Africa and Spain. In the eleventh century, the Seljuk Turks conquered Asia Minor (modern Turkey), which had been Christian since the time of St. Paul. The old Roman Empire, known to modern historians as the Byzantine Empire, was reduced to little more than Greece. In desperation, the emperor in Constantinople sent word to the Christians of western Europe asking them to aid their brothers and sisters in the East.
That is what gave birth to the Crusades. They were not the brainchild of an ambitious pope or rapacious knights but a response to more than four centuries of conquests in which Muslims had already captured two-thirds of the old Christian world. At some point, Christianity as a faith and a culture had to defend itself or be subsumed by Islam. The Crusades were that defense.
Regarding Christianity, look no further than recent news as linked at the start of this article. More sobering is the time line of atrocities at the end of it and that’s only in France. We know for a fact that it is far more brutal and widespread in the lands polluted with ISIS.
And here are some more statistics which puts Christianity into perspective:
“According to the International Society for Human Rights, a secular observatory based in Frankfurt, Germany, 80 per cent of all acts of religious discrimination in the world today are directed at Christians. Statistically speaking, that makes Christians by far the most persecuted religious body on the planet.”
“…an average of 100,000 Christians have been killed in what the centre calls a ‘situation of witness’ each year for the past decade. That works out to 11 Christians killed somewhere in the world every hour, seven days a week and 365 days a year, for reasons related to their faith.”
11 Christians killed somewhere in the world every hour.
As said in this article, “The global persecution of churchgoers is the unreported catastrophe of our time.”
But it isn’t just the acts themselves which are the problem. It is the willful disinformation around and disregard of them which allow them to happen. Once again, we need look no further than recent news. Where is the protest and indignation over the brutal killing of Father Jacques Hamel, an elderly priest murdered in his own church? As one article put it…
Go around Europe these days: you will find not a single rally to protest the killing of Father Hamel. In January 2015, after the murderous attack on Charlie Hebdo, the French took to the streets to say “Je suis Charlie”. After July 26, 2016, the day an 85-year-old priest was murdered in a church, nobody said “We are all Catholics”.
Christianity is a source of war? Since Christ is the way, the truth and the life, it comes as no surprise that those who rage against Him make such false statements.
So religions are not in and of themselves the major cause of wars. A question regarding current affairs quickly reveals another aspect of this discussion – fill in the blank: “A _____ suicide bomber detonated himself in a crowd today.”
So what of Islam, the religion which triggers more wars and killings than any other religion?