The world is on fire. There is conflict everywhere. People killing people. Soldiers killing children. Suicide bombs. Entire people displaced. There is war everywhere.
In some places, the cause of the conflict is geo-political. Russia’s adventure in Ukraine is all about expansionism and Mr Putin’s ego. But in most cases, the conflict is firmly rooted in religion. No one religion in particular. Just religion. This is not a new trend. History is rich with examples of wars in the name of religion. In war after war, it is the followers of one religion pitted against the followers of another. Sometimes the motives are truly religious. Sometimes the motives are more geo-political, disguised as religious because a religious war is easier to sell to the people.
Here are a few examples of today’s wars in the name of religion:
– The civilian death toll in Gaza is well above a thousand now. Even the United States is ‘appalled.‘
By no measure of humanity is this an acceptable situation. But here we are. Hamas refuses to stop setting off fireworks, and Israel refuses to stop bombing Gaza. Israel’s stated position is that no population should live under the constant threat of violence. What that really means is that no Israeli (Jewish) person should live under the constant threat of violence. The lives of the people in Gaza are someone else’s problem.
– The Islamic State (ISIS) continues to wreak havoc in what used to be Iraq and Syria. Christians living in Mosul were given simple choices: convert to Islam, pay a tax for protection, or leave.
A community which had thrived there for 1600 years was uprooted in a matter of weeks. And now ISIS has turned its attention to Shia Muslims. ISIS is composed to Sunni Muslims, and they regard the Shias as non-believers. The shias have been given even simpler choices: convert and join Sunni ranks, or die. ISIS proclaims to be the Islamic State. It’s leader claims to be the Caliph. And this war, now turning its eyes toward Saudi Arabia, is being waged in the name of Islam.
– In Myammar, 135,000 Muslims are living as refugees in their own country. They have lived in their refugee camps for two years now. They live in fear of violence from the Buddhist majority. Followers of the religion that gave the world ‘karma’ are driving people from their homes and burning villages.
– Of course, no list of modern religious wars is complete without the greatest one of them all.The first American war in Afghanistan. A war against the Soviet Union, sold to the Afghan people as a religious war against communist infidels. That war brought the Soviet Union to its knees.
The problem is not religion itself. No religion condones murder. No religion preaches intolerance.
The problem is with some practitioners of religion. The ones who believe in their God, and their God only. The ones who believe that anyone who does not share their belief is somehow less than human. It is this mindset that justifies all manner of sin in the name of religion.