Religion and Violence
-Is religion really the major cause of violence in the world, in the past? Today?
-Is ‘religion’inherently violent? (Or does religion lend itself to violence?Are some religions
more violent or lend themselves more to violence than others?)
-Pawn of politics?
-Role of media in playing up religions’connections to violence?
• Religion isn’t a main cause, but it can have some correlation
-Kar Sevaks (Hindu religious nationalists)
-Ayodhya (Birth-place of the god Rama)
Purposes of religion?
• The education and promotion of the well-being of humankind?
• Ultimate authority in giving purpose, organization and meaning to life
• Reaching to the roots of motivation, awakened the capacities to love, to forgive, to sacrifice
for the common good; to discipline baser instincts…
• But, when perverted, can be a source of prejudice, intolerance, harmful attitudes &
Gods of war
God, the king and the state
• ‘Divine right’of kings; the ruler as an emblem or personification of god on earth
• In Christianity, civil rulers ordained by God to do his work– upholding justice, punishing the
• In Muslim countries, rulers expected to exemplify the laws of Shari’a, and ensure that the
people were obedient to the law Christian ‘Just War’theory
[St. Augustine 354-430 CE]
• The Guiding Principle: principle of proportionality – more lives would be saved by the use of
force than would be lost.
First people of Christianity were extreme pacifists
Christians must consider ethical beliefs whether something is just or not
• Criteria for a ‘just war’:
• Ajust war can be waged only by a legitimate authority (king or government)
• Ajust war can be fought only for a just cause (e.g., self-defense)
• War must be a last resort (all other efforts must be exhausted first)
• Non-combatants must not be injured (so, weapons used must be able to discriminate)
• Goal must be peace, not (political or economic) gain
The Crusades (1096-1291)
* Framed as just wars; instigated by several Catholic popes (first was Urban II) to ‘liberate’
Palestine from the Muslims for the Christians
* Deus hoc vult –
“Wars of Religion”
-Muslim rulers in Palestine were tolerant of the Jews & Christians that were living in their
-The Qur’an says that you have to leave the Christians of their Jews & let them be & not forcibly
-The real motive for the Crusades was political, not religious; it served interest of the
popes/rulers (what did they do though??- search it up)
-Some Crusades were against it & did not want it to continue. Though, these people were in the
“Wars of Religion”
* Struggles between the Catholics and the Protestants -- following King Henry the VIII’s
break with the Papacy, the establishment of the Church of England in 1534, with Martin