The role of religion in world conflicts

  • News
  • Thread starter Art
  • Start date
  • Tags
    Religion
In summary, the conversation discusses the role of religion in conflicts throughout history and in present times. While some argue that religion is the root cause of conflicts, others believe that it is merely a convenient way of identifying the combatants and that the underlying issues are often political or cultural. However, the use of religion to rally people behind a cause can be dangerous and lead to divisive and violent behavior. Ultimately, the source of conflict is not religion itself, but the actions and interpretations of individuals and groups.
  • #1
Art
Is religion the source of conflicts or is it merely a convenient way of identifying the combatants?
For example the 'Troubles' in Ireland are often characterized as catholics vs protestants where actually many would argue that the root of the conflict lies not in religion but in the fact that there are two distinct peoples with two distinct lineages competing for power on a fairly small island. The fact they happen to be different religions is incidental.
 
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #2
In looking at history over all IMO religion certainly has been the root of much conflict. Currently in the U.S., I feel it has been a major, polarizing factor. The recent Washington Post - ABC poll showed a majority of Americans believe Bush has been a divider, not a uniter, and I feel this is largely due to the mixing of his religious beliefs into politics, such as the Terri Schiavo situation. It's inappropriate--along with a list of other items on the religious-right agenda.
 
  • #3
SOS2008 said:
In looking at history over all IMO religion certainly has been the root of much conflict. Currently in the U.S., I feel it has been a major, polarizing factor. The recent Washington Post - ABC poll showed a majority of Americans believe Bush has been a divider, not a uniter, and I feel this is largely due to the mixing of his religious beliefs into politics, such as the Terri Schiavo situation. It's inappropriate--along with a list of other items on the religious-right agenda.


Too true! I believe if the Dems were sharp enough (not likely!) they could build a winning majority out of religious people who believe the ultra agenda is impious or offensive to honest religion.
 
  • #4
Art said:
Is religion the source of conflicts or is it merely a convenient way of identifying the combatants?
For example the 'Troubles' in Ireland are often characterized as catholics vs protestants where actually many would argue that the root of the conflict lies not in religion but in the fact that there are two distinct peoples with two distinct lineages competing for power on a fairly small island. The fact they happen to be different religions is incidental.

I'd argue that the conflict between Ireland and England is about the same as the trouble England had with all the parts of its empire. The Irish don't like that the English have so long controlled their lands and their fates. Religion just serves as a point of distinction by which each group can justify its hatred for the other. If they were both Catholic or both Protestant, they'd find something else. Then again, I'm half-Irish and not religious, so I probably just said exactly what I would be expected to say. That doesn't mean I'm wrong, but I do wonder sometimes.
 
  • #5
Art said:
the root of the conflict lies not in religion but in the fact that there are two distinct peoples with two distinct lineages

i would say this is true for almost any conflict...i mean i know its cliche but look a Rwanda. Two different groups fighting for power, the same thing was going on in Sudan (not Darfur, but the Sudanese civil war) On a smaller bases take into account The Basque rebels in Spain or the Acheh province in Indnesia (pity that they gave up, they really did have a chance). As you mentioned before, Ireland. Almost every conflict is you have two different backgrounds who just want their own corner to live in without being "bothered". Religion just happens to be an identifing factor, and a propaganda tool for those who like to have uneducated opinions...
 
  • #6
I think that while religious sentiments can create tension, arrogance, and devisivness they aren't necessarily the problem. It seems to me that religion and religious differances have mostly been used as a tool by politicians to rally people behind them in a common goal, war and conflict being among the most common. I'm sure that conflicts have sparked between people over issues of religion but I would say most of the conflicts, especially the larger scale, have been due to/part of political mechinations.
 
  • #7
TheStatutoryApe said:
...It seems to me that religion and religious differances have mostly been used as a tool by politicians to rally people behind them in a common goal, war and conflict being among the most common.
Exactly--so well said. Religion is a very emotional, deep conviction, so when it is used in this way, is it a dangerous tactic to be abhorred.
 
  • #8
Is religion the source of conflicts or is it merely a convenient way of identifying the combatants?
Religion is not the source, people are the source of conflict.

All religions preclude the kind of violent behavior we see in all religious conflicts - plain and simple.

However, there are those who 'interpret' their religion in any way to justify behavior that contradicts that religion.

And then there is just plain hypocrisy.

Differences in culture (ethnicity) are also cited as reasons for conflict - and religion may be a part of that.
 
  • #9
Art said:
Is religion the source of conflicts or is it merely a convenient way of identifying the combatants?
More a convenient way of motivating the combatants. The difference in religion emphasizes the differences between 'your' group and the 'other' group and keeps your own group unified.
 
  • #10
Was there a religious divide in the American civil war?
 
  • #11
More of a cultural divide, although even that wasn't true universally. There were many instances of brothers fighting brothers (often because they were simply drafted by the state they happened to be in at the time). It's mostly that back then colonial times still had a huge influence and people were more loyal to their states than to their country. Robert E. Lee, the brilliant leader of the confederate armies, was a genteel man educated at West Point who had freed his family slaves long before the war began and supported freeing slaves to fight in the confederate army. He probably had a more northern attitude than many northerners. He just couldn't bring himself to fight against his native Virginia, and he felt he had no choice but to defend it from invasion, even by his own friends and pupils.
 
  • #12
loseyourname said:
I'd argue that the conflict between Ireland and England is about the same as the trouble England had with all the parts of its empire. The Irish don't like that the English have so long controlled their lands and their fates. Religion just serves as a point of distinction by which each group can justify its hatred for the other. If they were both Catholic or both Protestant, they'd find something else. Then again, I'm half-Irish and not religious, so I probably just said exactly what I would be expected to say. That doesn't mean I'm wrong, but I do wonder sometimes.
Was the campaign the Irish Republican Army waged against the British forces terrorism or a just war against an occupying army?
 
  • #13
Art said:
Was the campaign the Irish Republican Army waged against the British forces terrorism or a just war against an occupying army?

I don't know enough details (actually, I know little to nothing about the specifics of this campaign) to make such an evaluation. I think it's difficult to justify waging a campaign against civilians, however. In the case of the American Civil War, Sherman justified his infamous march and the razing of Atlanta and Savannah by his belief that it was necessary to break the resolve of the confederacy. He may have been right. Given the stubborness that both the confederate soldiers and generals showed, they may very well have continued to fight as long as they had something to fight for. Burning their homes to the ground and destroying their land took away that something. Another issue was the confederate draft - all men of adequate age were potential soldiers, and anyone still living as a civilian almost certainly would have joined the fight. The land was also what provided food to the armies. It should be noted, however, that Sherman's army, though certainly brutal in many aspects, did not wage a campaign of murder; they waged a campaign of property destruction. When you actually target civilians and kill them, that's damn near impossible to justify, even if you are doing it in an attempt to oust an occupying force.

But like I said, I don't know much about the modern conflict involving the IRA in Northern Ireland. I was speaking more generally of the longstanding historical hatred between the Irish and the English, which I believe has arisen not from religious differences, but from the fact that the English historically ruled, sometimes tyrannically, Irish lands and always treated the Irish as second-class citizens to be looked down upon. This was occurring before the Church of England even formed, and both nations were still Roman Catholic.
 
Last edited:
  • #14
the GOD is on OUR side factor is a big one in most wars
kill a commie for christ was one example in resent wars like Viet-nam
but it is not limited to only being used against athiests
sub-cults of the same basic belife systems have no problem useing GOD to rally the troops to their side
heirtics are allways open to being victoms of orthodox religions who get to deside who is on gods side [theirs] and who god wants them to beat

the modern moslem bomber beliveing GOD sancions his action may well be a desiding fact in those that chose that course of warfare

then you had religions that demand victoms to insure the sunrize or crops ect
thankfully they are in the past now BUT
I wonder how well modern PC types would defend Aztex freedom of religion
as they were a bloody bunch
 
  • #15
Art said:
Is religion the source of conflicts or is it merely a convenient way of identifying the combatants?

Sometimes it was the source, but I think most of the time, it was a convenient catalyzer and justification. After all, religion is the perfect stop of any rational argument: you don't argue with the gods, you obey. That's exactly what's needed to get others to go to war for you.
Rational argument would, most of the time, have led people NOT to go to war: so it is the first thing to eliminate if your desire is to do so.
The other great advantage religion has as a catalizer to go to war is its inherent xenophobia. Almost all successful religions prone up to a certain part xenophobia: the believers versus the heathens. Sometimes this is the cause for conflict. It also helps to demonise the enemi and glorify the own camp.
Great ingredients to make the fireworks go up.
 
  • #16
There's enough literature on identity motives for conflict to say there's little or no evidence of a chief cause of conflict. That why theories of conflict are highly conditional in variable and variation.

Rev Prez
 

Related to The role of religion in world conflicts

1. What is the main cause of religious conflicts in the world?

The main cause of religious conflicts can vary, but it is often rooted in differences in beliefs and ideologies between different religious groups. These differences can lead to misunderstandings, fear, and a desire to protect one's own beliefs, which can escalate into conflicts.

2. How have historical events shaped the role of religion in world conflicts?

Historical events such as the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the Protestant Reformation have played a significant role in shaping the role of religion in world conflicts. These events have created deep divides between different religions and have also been used as justification for violence and wars.

3. Are there any examples of religious conflicts being resolved peacefully?

Yes, there are many examples of religious conflicts being resolved peacefully. For instance, the peace agreement between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, the reconciliation efforts in Rwanda after the genocide, and the peace talks between Israel and Palestine. These examples show that it is possible for religious conflicts to be resolved through dialogue and negotiation.

4. How does religion play a role in ongoing conflicts?

Religion can play a significant role in ongoing conflicts by providing a sense of identity and belonging for individuals and communities. It can also be used as a tool to justify violence and perpetuate the conflict. However, it is important to note that religion is not the sole cause of ongoing conflicts and there are often underlying political, economic, and social factors at play as well.

5. What are some ways to promote religious tolerance and reduce conflicts?

Some ways to promote religious tolerance and reduce conflicts include promoting education and understanding of different religions, encouraging interfaith dialogue and cooperation, and addressing underlying socio-economic issues that may contribute to religious tensions. It is also important for religious leaders and communities to actively denounce violence and promote peaceful resolution of conflicts.

Similar threads

Replies
4
Views
2K
  • General Discussion
Replies
9
Views
3K
  • General Discussion
3
Replies
70
Views
11K
  • General Discussion
Replies
27
Views
12K
  • Beyond the Standard Models
Replies
11
Views
3K
  • Science and Math Textbooks
Replies
5
Views
5K
Replies
18
Views
5K
Replies
17
Views
6K
Back
Top