The Problem With Religion
TO SAY that religion is the principal cause of all conflict implies that there would be few wars if religion did not exist. Is that argument feasible? Could we eliminate war by merely eliminating religion? However you answer, one fact is undeniable: Religion has not united mankind. Consider some of the reasons why this is true.
Divided by Religion
The human family is divided by religion, with several major religious powers locked in perpetual rivalry. Is there any reason to believe that Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, and Muslims will ever exist together peacefully?
Another sad reality is the fragmentation that exists within each of those principal religious blocks. For instance, according to one estimate, Christendom is broken up into more than 30,000 denominations. Islam is also divided by conflicting beliefs. According to a Middle East news agency, a Muslim scholar, Mohsen Hojjat, recently acknowledged that “disunity among Muslims is the root cause of problems in the Islamic world.” Other influential religions, such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism, are likewise fractured into many conflicting sects.
Religion in Politics
Religion seems to influence nearly every aspect of secular life. The news magazine The Economist observes that “religious people are getting more vocal in all sorts of fields, including business. Religion is also cropping up in economics.” This results in dividing people rather than uniting them. But a more damaging influence has to do with the long-standing history of religion meddling in politics.
In a recent report referred to in the preceding article, a group of historians noted that “religion is more likely to be a cause of war when religion and the state authorities become closely allied or intertwined.” And therein lies another undeniable reality: Religion has been, and is to this day, tightly interlocked with political and military entities.
An Explosive Mix
In many lands, predominant religions have become symbols of patriotic and racial identities. As a result, the lines between nationalistic hatred, racial prejudice, ethnic rivalry, and religious enmity are virtually indistinguishable. This explosive cocktail has the necessary ingredients to tear our world apart.
The perplexing paradox in all of this is that much of religion claims to represent the God of the Bible, the Creator. Does it make any sense that an almighty, all-wise, loving Creator would have anything to do with divisive and bloodguilty religions?
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Thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses have been imprisoned for choosing the course of neutrality