Religion as an excuse for war?

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by poolking, Aug 10, 2003.

  1. poolking

    poolking New Member

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    Why do many countries use religion as an excuse for war?

    It is far too easy in today's society to say "Im doing it in the name of religion."

    So using religion as an excuse means it is okay to perpertrate some of the most heinous atrocities on the planet?

    What do you think?
     
  2. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    Unfortunately, they are usually political decisions, rather than religious. What bringing religion into it does is make a claim for some form of moral authority.

    So when group a calls for the followers of b to join against c, you can be almost assured that the religious element is used as a moral cover - for what are usually self-serving political and/or economic ideologies.
     
  3. WHKeith

    WHKeith New Member

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    Sadly, the human animal appears to think naturally in terms of "us" and "them." Us are the good guys, the ones who think, look, and act like us. Them are the strangers, the outsiders, the unknown--and therefor dangerous.

    Religion is one of the basic definers of human groupings, which include cultural differences, skin color, and, more recently, national boundaries.

    In many cases, religion seems to be used as an excuse by governments to go to war for less idealistic reasons than uniformity of belief in God. However, there are so many cases of "war" on a purely local level--I'm thinking of the mob-persecution of the Mormons in the U.S. in the 19th century, and the mass-hysteria witch burnings throughout Europe in the 14th-17th centuries--that the phenomenon must be viewed as more individual than seeing it merely as a product of government policy or nationalism. On the popular level, different is viewed as bad, which translates all too easily as dangerous, immoral, damned by God, and fattening. Obviously, "us" is right and "they," if they believe differently than we, are wrong. How could it be otherwise? This, of course, leads to an assumed moral superiority and a moral imperative to either enlighten the strangers, or destroy them.

    In my humble opinion, too literal and inflexible an adherence to scriptural authority, coupled with the filters of pre-existing social or cultural bias, is the principle cause of religious intolerance and hate, whether it be between nations or between individuals. An example, if I may be so bold, is the current debate within Christianity over homosexuality. Certain fundamentalist groups take a handful (six, I believe) of verses out of the entire Bible and use them to condemn wholesale people with different sexual orientation--while ignoring what the Bible says about other sins--such as adultery, murder, mistreatment of one's parents, theft, or not loving one's neighbor as one's self.

    People seem to feel more comfortable with a set of guidelines--saves on all that hard and messy thinking for one's self, don't you know--that spell out in detail what is right and what is wrong. Unfortunately, they are rarely aware that their particular interpretation of holy writings IS an interpretation, which means it was made within the framework of a particular cultural worldview. Elevating scripture to a dogmatic, infallible, and absolute measuring rod for moral behavior and religious belief regardless of cultural or historical realities is, in my opinion, tantamount to idolatry.
     
  4. Dave the Web

    Dave the Web New Member

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    The arguments over gay bishops has become almost intolerable. The righteousness of conflicting interpretations has become a meaningless argument in itself.
     
  5. poolking

    poolking New Member

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    I think that far too many people interpret their religious texts too closely, maybe they should see it in context of the world today not beliefs that were laid down centuries, in some cases millenia ago.
     
  6. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    Certainly true. :)

    At some point I really should steer some part of this forum to dealing with those specific cultural expressions. After all, this is supposed to be comparative-religion.com. :)

    I thought of adding a new category and board, but it's probably a little early. I'll play by ear, bring up some cultural topics, and see how it goes.
     
  7. iKwak

    iKwak New Member

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    Didn't read all the post but I would like to include:


    Terrorism all started out with conflicts between religion.
     
  8. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste all,

    it seems to me that, when a religion inculcates certain doctrines (exclusivism) into it's adherents it allows said adherents to view others as something less than themselves. either they are condemmed sinners or they are "lost" or they are simply dismissed as being possesed by the devil.

    one really has to wonder how much actual study of their religion some people do when they act in ways that are contrary to the central tenets of the practice. it appears that some people are quite content to accept, hook, line and sinker, an entire theistic system on the opinion and testimony of one person.... and they then let said one person explain the entire cannon of teachings to them... and that's it.

    sorry... the post is rambling a bit....

    however, speaking of other sins...

    on another board i'm on, someone started a thread that was dedicated to gluttony and was exposing the contrary statements of most Christians concerning homosexuals and gluttony. the point was made that it is easy to condemn things that you don't do, but hard to condemn things that you do engage in. needless to say, most of the Christian posters on that board could not see the logical disconnect between their positions :)
     
  9. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    Absolutely right! Some of the most fervent hardline fundamentalists are happy to quote Leviticus when it comes to homosexuality - but almost never do they consider themselves likewise condemned over issues such as stealing and adultery.
     
  10. Darkyl

    Darkyl New Member

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    Actually, to make an example, Palestinian terrorism didn't start as religion driven.
    They didn't claim to be performing a Jihad (as they do today) and they were closely linked to non-religious ideologies.
     
  11. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    I quite agree - conflict itself I would imagine first became manifest when our ape became socialised. Conflict is a normal part of social interraction.

    The manner with which that conflict is pursued, on the other hand...

    Oh, and welcome to the comparative-religion.com forum, Darkyl. :)
     
  12. Darkyl

    Darkyl New Member

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    Thanks a lot Brian, you have a nice forum here, congrats. ;)
     
  13. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Interestingly Islam is, doctrinally, one of the most inclusive of religions (the most, in the west, I think).

    Mohammed (pbuh) ruled a difference between the 'infidel' or non-believer, and 'people of the book' - by which is commonly understood as Christian or Jew, and there are many instances of Islam protecting the people and holy places of other religious traditions.

    It is widely accepted in Traditionalist circles that by 'people of the book' the Prophet meant all peoples who live according to the precepts of a Revealed or Scriptural tradition.

    Further the Prophet said that although Islam is the Last Revelation and therefore the summation of all that has been revealed to man, that in no way was to the detriment of those religions, which still continue as, if one might use the Buddhist term 'upaya' or 'saving strategems' on the part of the Divine.

    A notably example of this, historically, was when the First Crusade arrived in the Holy Land, Jew, Christian and Moslem were living quite happily side-by-side. The crusaders took the decision, to ensure the guilty might not escape justice, to slaughter everyone indescriminately.
     
  14. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    In defence of my own tradition, which many cite as the worst example, I might say that certain voices from the beginning were for inclusiveness - the Gospels teach such, as did many of the Fathers.

    The problem arises when people see only the exteriority, which means they are fundamentally separated from their own hearts, and thus fail to perceive the heart of their own tradition, let alone anothers'.

    Frithjof Schuon, the Traditionalist, said that if he found a religion he did not love, he would not cease his inquiry until he did, which means he would not cease searching the doctrine until he found the One Truth that lies at the heart of all.

    Might I also say, without being too incendiary, that the present state of Christian fundamentalism is almost an exclusively American phenomena (the notions of 'Rapture' being a prime example) - and whilst such voices are loud on the internet, they do not represent the majority of the faithful, nor indeed the essential message of Christ.

    Whilst they might seem overwhelming, against the backdrop of history these days shall pass.
     
  15. sachetm

    sachetm New Member

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    Would that apply to all of North American, IYO, or just to the United States?

    The Baptists are pretty fundamentalist, from what I know of them. Aren't they a worldwide sect?

    As an American, I do believe Christian fundamentalists are far more vocal than their actual numbers indicate. For example, the majority of Americans favor a woman's right to choose. You'd certainly never know it by the vociferousness of the religious right.
     
  16. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    I once made a similar comment on a Christian debate board, and was scolded by a friend from a Canadian branch of the Baptist movement. :eek:

    My (more recent) understanding is that the Baptist movement is diverse - but that it's the so-called "Southern Baptist" movement of the US that is often seen to be most conversative, right-wing and fundamentalist.

    However, it should perhaps be made as a salient point that extremism pokes its ugly head into every sphere of human expression. If fundamentalism be a form of extremism, then it most certainly is not restrictied to either the Southern Baptists, the USA, Christianity or even Monotheism.
     
  17. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Hi sachetm -

    From this side of the pond I would say United States.
     
  18. brucegdc

    brucegdc Moderator

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    The more dogmatic of most faiths seem to be the ones with the largest vocal cords. Probably because they're more focussed. If religion and rules of it are the primary focus of your life, you're going to tend to be very vocal about them. If you're a "there are many paths" variety, then you're likely going to be quieter, since you're listening to others.
     
  19. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep New Member

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    Considering that there are various religious systems in the world today and in history, and that wars and violence have been perpetrated owing to and for religion; the conclusion seems inescapable that if there were no religion, then a lot of war and violence among mankind would disappear.

    No religion equals at least less of war and violence.

    Is that good for mankind, less war and less violence. Of course some people maintain that war and violence is an essential character of human nature, it serves a purpose in the long perspective of advantage to mankind, like prevention of over population.

    Where am I getting to?

    To that last contention that war and violence is good for mankind or necessary, I maintain that whatever good obtained through war and violence can be achieved as well and better by non-violent ways and means, and certainly without wars. For example, the excessive growth of population can be checked by the science and technology of birth control.

    My point however is over how the disappearance of religion is one cause less for mankind to go into wars and violence; and consequently there would be less wars and violence.

    Shall we then abolish religion? And is it possible?

    Institutionalized religion will disappear with the advance of knowledge and critical thought. And it is institutionalized religion that goes to war and commits violence on fellow humans. So, we who aspire after ending of war and the banishment of violence should exert efforts each in his own convenient at least ways and means and time to propound knowledge and critical thought.

    Personal religion can be with us for an indefinitely stretched time duration of human history. I consider myself to be a religious person, and I belong to an institutional group, but without any kind of binding loyalty that necessitates the acceptance of fixed doctrines, morals, and even social and political policies. One thing for sure, I will never kill or hurt for religion, my religious sympathies or preferences, personal ones; and those are the only ones I have. And correlatively I would never accept any pain or loss and certainly not death for the sake of my religious sympathies. And I would not feel guilt or shame for not accepting any such sacrifice for my personal religious inclinations.

    For me, religion in terms of adherence is like or should be like hairdo and cuisine. People who aspire after knowledge and cultivate critical thought should never hurt or kill others for religion, and never be passive victims for their religion either. There is no hurting others over hairdo and cuisine, is there?

    So to the question:
    No, it is absolutely not acceptable to perpetrate any atrocity whatever in the name of religion; because the number and diversity of religions in mankind and in its history shows that religion is or should be no different from hairdo and cuisine.

    And we should all who aspire after knowledge and critical thought and look forward to a world without wars and violence, should exert at least convenient efforts to propagate knowledge and critical thought.

    Susma Rio Sep
     
  20. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    I am inclined to disagree.

    Those who seek sanctity never start wars.

    Those who seek power do.

    Those who seek power always do so under the mantle of something other - religion, politics, economics, whatever - purely as a means of justification.

    The
     

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