Religion is a framework which allows us to lives our lives in an organized manner and according to a certain order. It provides us a certain purpose; the beliefs, doctrine of morals, theologies –enable us to feel that there was a reason for our creation. Religion also encompasses cultural traditions, writings, history, mythology; hence all such beliefs that result in communal faith and to group rituals. Religion has placed a significant role in determining the laws and culture of a society.
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However, it has been observed that societies where religion continues to play an important role have suffered the repercussions of such an order’s existence. The present scenario presents a bleak picture for such societies where religion plays a dominant role as compared to sectarian societies where religion doesn’t play a role in determining the policies of a country. Through, this paper it would be determined that religion should be kept as a separate entity from the political aspect of any government.
Historically speaking, there have been countless incidences where war has been conducted on the basis of religion strife and intolerance for other religious views. If one was to analyze the common religious view points on war; it can be seen that according to this perspective war is good sometimes and in certain cases violence is actually considered necessary. Therefore, in order to maintain decorum of peace it is imperative that war and religion should be kept separated as too many people have suffered as a result of wars conducted on the basis of religious strife.
Religion demands sacrifice and it is considered a “holy” mission to fight in the name of religion. Even in the present times, religious strife has divided entire nations and the famous saying of the US President George W bush:
“You are either with us or against us”, sums up the way we are divided along religion lines. Whether it be a jihad, or a crusade history is a testimony of the dangers that the society faces when religion is allowed an important role in the functionality of the society. Pakistan; being an Islamic society, has faced a number of terrorist activities whereas Indian, being a sectarian society has faced less brunt of the anti-terrorism movement.
Wars carried out for the sake of religions sovereignty and supremacy seems to be justified –a viewpoint that has resulted in ethnic cleansing of a few races. Incidents ranging from the Holocaust, the ethnic cleansing of the Muslims in Bosnia prove how dangerous religious wars are to the sanctity and peace of the world of today.
This phenomenon is symbolized by the Zoroastrians basic belief; light versus darkness. Death in such wars is considered a holy act and elevates the position of a believer in the eyes of god. However, as a result of this belief numerous people have had to face death due to pointless wars carried out- the one being conducted in Afghanistan is proof to this fact. Many people from both sides have had to face numerous losses due to a strong anti-American feeling resulting in a strong anti-Muslim feeling.
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Varying religions have a different perspective pertaining to religion; while Buddhists justify war for self-protection the Israelis’ live according to the famous quote:
“The Lord might in battle… (Who) will go with you to fight your enemy for you and give you the victory. “(Woodward 2006)
This strong faith and justification for fighting a war alongside religious lines as said so aptly by Norman O.Brown is the “problem of war is the problem of idolatry”. (Woodward, 2006).
Religious wars give a purpose and add a fervor which makes us mere props being used to fight for a cause we might not even believe in but fight for due as it is considered “good” to do so. We lose our individualism in the face of a “joint cause” ignoring the fact that each person would be held responsible for his/her own actions only.
Jihad; a religious war propagated by Islamic fundamentalists has became a global concern – whether it be Christians who fear persecution, or even Muslims who suffer the wrath of the affectees due to the actions of a few Muslims. Therefore, religion should have no role to play in wars as religious wars attain nothing but in fact only increase the resentment already prevailing. The Jews are one of the most persecuted races existing today; the Holocaust survivors are an evidence of this fact. As a result, of this persecution, the Jews bear deep-seated resentment against the Christians as well.
Therefore, no purpose can be achieved through such wars except to increase an already existing divide between varying religious factions.
As for the role of religion in politics, even that has resulted in nothing but a mere suppression of certain liberals factions of society. In the middle ages, when the Christian faith was at its peak; the suppressed society reacted and hence, came about the age of enlightenment. In the 1980s such a movement was faced by the Pakistani nation which is still bearing the effects of this religious movement enacted by the then dictator.
Hitler, a dictator who carried out one of the biggest ethnic cleansing of all time was able to do when he came into power- religion was allowed to play a dominant role in the policy of the state and hence, the effect was devastating.
The above arguments are sufficient enough for it to be established that religion has no role to play in the politics or war policies of any country and sectarian societies are required for the sake of peace and sanctity of the world of today.
- Brooks, Roger. “Religious Intolerance can lead to War”. Opposing Viewpoints: War. Green haven Press: 1990
- Woodward J Ed, “Religion causes War”. Current Controversies. Green Haven Press: 2006
- Maida A, “Religion is a positive force in society”. Opposing viewpoints: Extremist Groups. Green Haven Press: 2001
- Backman, R. “The World of Medieval Europe.” Oxford University Press. 2003
- Tyerman, Christopher. “The Crusades: a very short Introduction”. Oxford University Press: 2004