andrew muzychuk

Leadership, family, theology and world events

Modern Bigotry: Religion Causes War

PicsArt_1383935902253 (1) Here are some popular statements:  “Religion causes war” -Richard Dawkins.“Most wars are fought over religion”, “Christianity is a militant religion because the history of Crusades, Inquisition, New World (dealing with natives) and Holocaust.”How accurate are these statements?

The most important question is:  Have Christians done bad things because of Jesus’ teachings, or because of the lack of knowledge on what Jesus has taught, and because of their worldly motives? In other words, do Jesus’s teachings motivate people to do evil or do people act contrary to His teachings, and then dare to use His name? People who have done evil in the name of Jesus either never really knew Him, or did it because of their greed, pride, arrogance and self-indulgence; the very things that Jesus rebuked. These things were done in the name of Jesus, but without Jesus and against Jesus’ will and commandments. In this case not religion has to be on trial, but the human nature. So, the next arguments are not to whitening the evil done, but to set facts straight about what was the real extension and motives

Have Christians made wars less cruel or more brutal?          

         War was not a Christian invention. Most of wars were fought to get more: power, land, material possession, etc. So, the attempt to blame religion for it is at least shortsighted and bias.

Most of the kings, emperors and tribe leaders who were forced or chose to become Christians in the 3rd-7th centuries, chose for different reasons and weren’t really Jesus followers. After reading about their acts and motives you can’t call people like Constantine or Vladimir the Great saints, it would be at the very least laughable. When many of pagans were forced to or chose to be called Christians for economical or political reasons without really being one, pagan traditions and its mindset influenced that. As one historian said “the barbarians militarized Christianity”

Just war by Augustine wasn’t a promotion of warfare, but the attempt to limit atrocities during the war. Even though the church failed to stop war altogether, it worked to reduce the cruelty in their newly “converted” barbarian kings. Also, there is an overwhelming amount of historical evidence stating that even when the church’s leaders conditionally accepted warfare, there was a lingering pacifistic mood among many monks and clergy throughout the first 1000 years.

Crusades

Things were different for the next several centuries. There is no getting around the fact that popes had called for the Crusades. Usually, Crusades are represented as a religious zeal, and it was true for many people. Still, the reasons like expansion of the trade for Italian cities, bitterness over centuries of Islamic domination, and greed had nothing to do with Christianity or other religions. However, this has been downplayed in historical studies.

Inquisition

It is another dark chapter. Yet, two facts are usually twisted: reasons and expanse. Fist of all, inquisition wasn’t done only by the church, but often by civic courts. Often inquisition had more to do with, let’s say, a king grabbing more power than religious zeal. One of the responses to Spanish inquisition by Pope Sixtus IV was: “Inquisition has for some time been moved not by zeal for the faith and salvation of souls, but by lust for wealth, and that many true and faithful Christians, on the testimony of enemies, rivals….tortured and condemned as relapsed heretics.” Unfortunately, the Pope had to back off after a strongly negative reaction from Ferdinand king of Spain.

Most historians agree that less than 2% of those who were tried were executed. This gives us around 6,000 executions over a period of 500 years, however it is just an estimation, not a precise number. But we can say for sure that it was thousands, not millions as some believe.  Those numbers do not excuse the Catholic Church, but provide with historical facts instead of the Hollywood base impression.

New World

If the first two accusations have some ground, even with taking into consideration the worldly motives and extension, then blaming Christians for atrocity in the New World is more complex. We all know the negative facts about conquistadors and settlers, but the role of clergy is often misrepresented. And only negative examples are cited.

In the 1530s Dominican theologian Francisco de Vitoria concluded: “even if the Christian faith has been announced to the barbarians with complete and sufficient arguments, and they have still refused to receive it, this still does not supply a reason for making war on them and despoiling them of their goods” Numerous times the Jesuits were condemned by Spanish and Portuguese authorities for encouraging Indians to resist and protect savages.

“New Laws of the Indies” 1542 Leyes Nuevas, issued November 20, 1542 by King Charles I of Spain was influenced by people like Spanish missionary Bartolomé de las Casas. It was such a radical protection of Indians, that it created conflict between the Crown and the colonists.

The clergy’s attitude didn’t correspond well with settlers’ view. The settlers saw the chance to get rich, get land, and the obstacle: natives who weren’t that peaceful. Aztec civilization could be called the cruelest civilization ever. According to even the most conservation estimation, human sacrifices could be counted by thousands per year. Besides the Aztecs, several other tribes practiced human sacrifices, torture and cannibalism. So, the missionaries had a task not only to reach natives hearts, but reasoning with settlers to whom natives were nothing but savages.

If calling Christian religion, during the dark ages or medieval time, militaristic would be somewhat understandable, saying the same thing today is a blind lie. According to James T. Johnson, a major writer on the ethics of war and just war theory, Professor at the Center for Middle East Studies, in the Religion Faculty at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Except civil strife in Northern Ireland, the last 300 years of war had never been fought in the name of the Christian faith. Even if some groups still believe that there are places for Just War, some other like Anabaptists, Mennonites, Moravians, Quakers, Dukhobors, Brtheren held a view of total nonviolence view for centuries. Apparently such a big number of people had held that view, so the British government in 1802, issued exemption from military service for reasons of conscience.

Holocaust

In my opinion the biggest overstretch is to blame Christians for the holocaust. Many are pointing out that Hitler was baptized in the Catholic Church, and so was Stalin in Lenin in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Also, there are facts that Hitler was positively mentioning the Bible and Christianity in the 20s and even early 30s. But things changed dramatically when he came to power and a lot of churches and pastors disagreed with his polices of swearing alliance to Hitler, that only Arians can be pastors, and attempts of bringing pagan practices in the church. Thousands of pastors were arrested and many executed.

There have been a number of pastors and common Christians who have accepted his polices either because of a fear or their unbiblical belief of new Germany. But for Hitler and his aides it was clear: they had to do away with any form of Christianity after the war. Here are some of his statements during the late 30s and early 40s. “One is either a Christian or a German. You can’t be both.” “Do you really believe the masses will ever be Christian again? The tale is finished…but we can hasten matters. The parsons will be made to dig their own graves.” His comment about was about Reich, who wanted the synthesis between National Socialism and Christianity. “I do not believe this possible, and I see the obstacle in Christianity itself”

The true description of Germany starting from mid 30s to mid 40s is like this: Religious institution was discouraged, school prayers had been optional, denominational schools disappeared, carols and nativity plays were banned in schools, crosses started disappearing from hospitals and schools, religious youth groups were bullied. Only the Dachau concentration camp had 2,750 priests, seminarians, and lay brothers and more than 1000 of them had died there. Vincent Carroll and David Shiflett.

The truth is, yes some so-called Christians in Germany embraced Hitler’s antagonism against Jews, some stood up against it, but many others either choose to keep quiet, or their views didn’t matter because they were in prisons and camps, yet others actively were saving Jews and risking the lives of their own kids.

But did Hitler’s view come from Christians disliking Jews? I believe that his worldview had been shaped more by the theory of evolution than Christianity. The Church traditionally taught that a Jew is one who practices Judaism, and as soon he/she has been converted to Christianity his/her nationality is not important. The new convert is Christian. Hitler’s view weren’t religious but based on the survival of the fittest, which means weak, handicap people and inferior races ought to be eliminated. The church taught, even during its worst period, to accept the weak, poor, handicap and brothers from all nations.

It can not be ignored that huge number of clergy, pastors and just regular Christians risked their life to save Jews, and quite frankly had done more than the US and British governments. The last two, knew what was about to happen and what was happening to Jews, but for different reasons decided to keep it quiet.

It is also important to take into consideration today’s anti-Semitism in post Christian Europe. According to a recent BBC article, 46% of Jews in France and 40% in Belgium are considering to emigrate from those countries due to fear for their safety. The threat is coming from both Muslim extremists and left and right wings political views

What about “Big 5”?

My question to Richard Dawkins would be “how about the “Big 5?”. It is a list of the bloodiest wars and regimes of all time and all of them were started and done by people who were atheists, Marxists, Nationalist, etc. The most conservative numbers as follows:

WWII 66mil

Mao Zedong 40mil

Stalin’s Regime 20mil

WWI 15mil

Russian civil War 9mil

Do you consider Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot religious or Christians? Some are going as far as to say well Stalin and Pol Pot had religious education, and Hitler was baptized. Seriously? Try living in those days and confess that you are a Christian and see what would happen to you. No, Richard, they are your guys, your bros, and your company. They were against religion, especially Christianity. Then how is that each leader from the “top 5” killed more people than the 500 years of inquisition and crusades combined?

Show me examples where atheists coming to power didn’t oppress Christians, and opposition? French Revolution? Russian Revolution? Mexican Revolution in the 1920? Red Terror?  Mao Zedong’s reign? Cultural revolution in China? It is funny, that today’s secular humanists are trying to distance themselves from their communists and Marxists cousins. Guys, you are all one big family! Your grandma and grandpa are Atheists and Evolutionists.

People who are not Jesus’s followers do evil, despite what they call themselves. Even Jesus’s followers have done evil, but it wasn’t because of what Jesus taught them, but because they either didn’t understand something, or were blinded by materialism, hatred, nationalism, etc. Still, if I personally would have to choose, I would rather end up in the company of imperfect Christians than atheists

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10 comments on “Modern Bigotry: Religion Causes War

  1. Pingback: Modern Bigotry: Religion Causes War | andrew muzychuk

  2. G.P.
    November 8, 2013

    Secular humanists and Marxists are very different. The definition of humanism is caring utmost for the human condition and humans around us. We should all be humanists, Christian and secular. Jesus was a humanist in saying “love your neighbor.”

    Everyone has a bad history. From the Christians who killed American Indians, to the Atheist dictators in the East

    Here is an excerpt from a history book about how the Christian settlers of the American Indies treated pagans

    “They attacked the towns and spared neither the children nor the aged nor pregnant women nor women in childbed, not only stabbing them and dismembering them but cutting them to pieces as if dealing with sheep in the slaughter house. They laid bets as to who, with one stroke of the sword, could split a man in two or could cut off his head or spill out his entrails with a single stroke of the pike.

    They took infants from their mothers’ breasts, snatching them by the legs and pitching them
    headfirst against the crags or snatched them by the arms and threw them into the rivers, roaring with laughter and saying as the babies fell into the water, “Boil there, you offspring of the devil!”
    Las Casas, “The Devastation of the Indies”

  3. G.P.
    November 8, 2013

    In any sense, we don’t figure out who is right by piling up the dead bodies and seeing what side has less.

  4. muzychuk5
    November 8, 2013

    to G.P. thanks for your comments. My post is just an observation about the nowadays tendency to blame religion and especially Christianity for all evil. That impression came from going to two colleges and from what my kids are learning in schools today. This is not a historical study, neither an excuse for wrong doings. But rather, a humble attempt to bring some factual clarifications and pointing to real causes. I believe that the real root for the evil doings is not in Jesus’ teaching, but in greed, power hunger, etc..

  5. JD Blom
    November 8, 2013

    Reblogged this on A DEVOTED LIFE.

  6. mizjeevey
    November 8, 2013

    Just because someone claims to be Christian doesn’t make them so. Their lifestyle determines this. Christians are made not born- it’s something they choose. They follow Jesus not the church. A christian is not necessarily a Jesus follower. I get uncomfortable when people show more loyalty to their church than to Christ. Anywho, I liked reading this 🙂 truly a good read!

  7. mizjeevey
    November 8, 2013

    Reblogged this on My Polaroid Heart and commented:
    Its a good read 🙂 enjoy 🙂

  8. Eric Adams
    November 8, 2013

    A very interesting and informative post. It is always easy to blame religion for everything wrong in the world. As you have demonstrated, war is a complex subject, and most of the time it has more to do ith power and money than religion. It’s safe to castigate Christianity today, in this hostile culture, and it’s not like we haven’t earned some of it. I would still like to see some of the same animus Christians face to be turned on the religion that actually embraces violence, especially on infidels. I’m not holding my breath.

  9. sowingmercy
    November 9, 2013

    Your post reminder me of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Corrie Ten Boom.

    From GoodReads about Bonhoeffer: About this author
    edit data

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor and theologian. He was also a participant in the German Resistance movement against Nazism, a founding member of the Confessing Church. His involvement in plans by members of the Abwehr (the German Military Intelligence Office) to assassinate Adolf Hitler resulted in his arrest in April 1943 and his subsequent execution by hanging in April 1945, shortly before the war’s end. His view of Christianity’s role in the secular world has become very influential.

    Corrie Ten Boom was a Christian in the Netherlands. Their family hid jewish people, for which they were arrested. Her sister was killed in a gas chamber. Her book , The Hiding Place, tells the story of their time in the concentration camps. I remember one story in which she was thankful for the flea infestation because the fleas kept the guards out of their women’s cabin.

  10. Pingback: The solution to Abortion Debate | THE SCARECROW

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