Term Paper: Relationship Exists Between Difference

Pages: 20 (5869 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] Russia,


Russian Orthodox Christians, Muslims

The Russian army attacked the breakaway region. Muslims had allegedly blown up buildings in Moscow. Many atrocities have been alleged.

Serbia, province of Vojvodina

Serbian Orthodox & Roman Catholics

Serb Ethnic cleansing programs have "encouraged" 50,000 ethnic Hungarians (almost all Roman Catholics) to leave this northernmost province of Yugoslavia.

South Africa

Animists & "Witches"

Hundreds of persons, suspected and accused of black magic, are murdered each year.

Sri Lanka

Buddhists & Hindus

Tamils (a mainly Hindu 18% minority) are involved in a war for independence since 1983 with the rest of the country (70% Buddhist). An estimated 65,000 have been killed. The conflict took a sudden change for the better in 2002-SEP, when the Tamils dropped their demand for complete independence.


Animists, Christians & Muslims

Complex ethnic, racial, religious conflict which victimizes both Animists and Christians in the South of the country. Slavery and near slavery practiced. There are allegations of crucifixion of Christians. (O'Keefe, 1998)

Tibet Buddhists & Communists Country was annexed by Chinese Communists in late 1950's. Brutal suppression of religion continues. *

Uganda Animists, Christians, & Muslims Christian rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army are conducting a civil war in the north of Uganda. Their goal is a Christian theocracy whose laws are based on the Ten Commandments. They abduct about 2,000 children a year who are enslaved and/or raped. (Independent News & Media, n.d.)

Source of Table: N.A. "Religiously-based civil unrest and warfare." Available: http://www.religioustolerance.org/curr_war.htm

Certainly one might argue that religious differences have caused wars. The table above indicates many instances where war seems to have resulted from religious differences. It does not however, appear the sole cause of wars. There are many causes including hate, greed and intolerance. Many people begin combat as a combination of a number of factors, including preservation of ethnic identity and maintenance of ownership of their land.

War has been fought since the beginning of time; civil strife between states often arises between members of even the same religion. Can war then, be justified as a cause of religion in these instances? War was considered by St. Thomas Aquinas a moral duty on the part of many to overturn injustices (Neuhaus, 2003). War is also considered a means to protect the innocent. The disarmament of Iraq recently was claimed as just such a "just cause" affirmed by religious leaders including the Pope, and affirmed by UN Security Council Resolutions (Neuhaus, 2003). Just cause should not necessarily however, result in military force or violence; unfortunately history has proven that this is often the case.

Religion has been intertwined with war for centuries on end. The Crusaders in the name of Christ for example, worked to take band land that had previously belonged to the state of Christendom. During the 16th and 17th centuries in Europe bloodshed resulted as Protestant and Catholic leaders fought. In this instance civil strife arose as people took on religious zealism and began believing it was their moral duty to protect their land and the people of their lands from alternate influences.

In contemporary times the Irish Catholics and Protestants are still at war. In other countries Hindus and Muslims clash against one another. The Ayatollah Khomeini suggested that Salman Rushdie be exterminated because he purportedly utilized Satanic verses (Copan, 2003). In Sri Lanka in 1959 the prime minister was assassinated by a Buddhist monk. It seems at every turn religion plays some role in warfare and conflict (Copan, 2003). The majority of these countries are considered at war as a result of religion. Perhaps this is how the dominant idealism that war results from religious differences has prevailed in contemporary society. There are numerous examples which, from a cursory glance, seem to support the premise that religious differences are the primary causes of continuation of these conflicts.

Regina Schwartz claimed that 'monotheism' has resulted in a violent legacy in Western societies (Schwartz, 1997). She suggests that religious fervor and belief systems have contributed to and caused much of the strife that currently exists in Western societies. There are many that support this premise, suggesting that religious differences as a cause of war is a reality. Others however have reviewed the status of current affairs, and explored historical evidence, yet still have suggested that religion itself is not the culprit; rather the ideology behind a certain set of beliefs often results in conflict (Copan, 2003). Religious wars occur frequently within the same religion and among the same people.

On first observation, much civilian strife and resulting worldwide strife might be blamed on religious differences, or the desire of one party to dominate another. During World War II the Nazi Party was responsible for inflicting much civil strife in the name of 'religion' and just cause, or at least based on the idea that the extermination of one faith group was just. The Reich bombed London, and the English forces responded by bombing Germany in retaliation. During the course of any such war, many innocent civilians are subsequently killed and suppressed. Many German citizens for example, despite the dictates from the Reich helped Jews and others escape.

They in turn were exterminated, even though they themselves were not Jewish. Perhaps this suggests that religious intolerance, rather than differences, should be labeled as the cause of civilian wars between states. Germany faced many problems that resulted from World War II, including massive loss of civilian life as well as a destruction of the native lands. These problems grew out of many factors other than religion.

Within any religious conflict there are certain factors that also point to other causes as leading to strive. For example, even during the time of the religious Crusades, power struggles over trade routes and authority over Jerusalem prevailed and contributed to the strife that existed. Some have in fact ascribed the blame of the conflict not on religious differences, but rather to the conflict that existed over trade routes and power struggles.

In contemporary times the Al Queada and Taliban have used religious reasoning to justify their attacks. Islam is used as a precipitator to justify war. Yet one can hardly successfully argue that religious differences have necessarily caused the civilian strife and wars that have dominated these countries histories; rather a struggle for control and power seems to be at the route of the majority of strife.

Religious leaders would argue that certain conflicts are more just than others however, perpetuating the idea that religious differences and idealisms contribute to war. Just cause assumes that "the idea that presumption against the use of violence and war cannot be overcome without the existence of a just cause" (Cline, 2003). The difficulty that arises from just cause is that everyone believes that their cause is just and more righteous than another; even those pursuing what traditionally might be perceived as an unjust cause believes in their heart that their cause is just (Cline, 2003).

Cline also points out the difference between just cause and right intention. Many leaders might go to war for example, with the intention of offering democracy to all (take the case of U.S. intervention in Afghanistan) however the intention of war may include assassination of world leaders who express their opposition to such motivations, thus indicating an inappropriate intention (Cline, 2003).

The Prime Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad commented on civil religious conflict while addressing the World Evangelical Fellowship in May of 2001, stating that religious strife tends to go on and on becoming permanent feuds. He noticed that in contemporary society there are "intractable inter-religious wars" in the following countries: Northern Ireland, between Jews and Muslims and Christians in Palestine, Hindus and Muslims and South Asia among others. Also noted was the realization that extremist elements often "invoke past injustices, imagined or real" which succeed in "torpedoing the peace efforts and bringing about another bout of hostility" (Robinson, 2002).

Traditionally civil strife results from a combination of factors, not just religious zealism, though religion certainly contributes significantly to the conflict. Among the other factors identified as causes of conflict include political alliances, ethical feuds and socio-economic factors. The current strife in Northern Ireland is traditionally associated with differences between the Catholic and Protestant groups. There are also political allegiances involved in the conflict however; true these political alliances may or may not have arisen from the original religious intolerances between the two groups.

In another conflict in Rwanda genocide occurred between the Hutu majority and the Tutsi minority. Though religion might be to blame, as a majority of the population supported Christian belief systems while the remainder of the population remained indigenous, there is not firm proof to suggest that religion was the primary cause of this conflict.

One of the more noted civil strafes occurred in Sudan. Tribal animosities in this country were aggravated by civil war. The… [END OF PREVIEW]

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