Religion and War

RST3F - Topic 1 - Religious response to Challenges Facing the World

What is War?

  • Conflict or disagreement evident throughout history
  • There are 4 types of war including civil, wars of liberation, wars between nation states and holy wars often in holy sites such as Israel.

There are innumerable examples of war, particularly throughout the 20th/21st Centuries.

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Christianity and War

  • There are a number of Biblical illustrations:
  • Matthew 5:9 - "Blessed are the peacemakers"
  • John 13:34 - "A new commandment I give unto you, love one another as I have loved you"
  • Matthew 26:52 - "Those who live by the sword will die by the sword"
  • Therefore the Bible largely promotes peace
  • Jesus also refused military Battle
  • Yet the greatest Battle wil be the Battle of Armageddon
  • Alternatively, some Christians belive that war can be justifiable
  • This can be revealed using Aquinas' Just War theory
  • Jus ad Bellum (conduct before war) - Just cause (e.g. to save lives of Civillians), competent authority (i.e. Government), right intention, reasonable liklihood of success
  • This shows how war may be a lesser of 2 evils
  • However, this is criticised for being impractical/often misued/outdated and unable to explain acts such as the 1945 Hiroshima bombings or the Syrian Uprising of today.
  • Pacifism is also widely taught in Chrisitanity
  • Preferential Pacifists promote peace (i.e. Pope Francis)
  • Absolute pacifists oppose to war on absolute terms e.g. Thomas Merton/Quakers
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Islam and War

Things to think about:

  • Muhammad was a military leader
  • He fought to promote peace
  • Jihad = the stuggle in the way of Allah
  • However, this is often misinterpreted as radical Islamism
  • Following the tragedy of 9/11 there came a threat of Islam and the rise of Islamaphobia
  • The media is largely to blame for portraying Muslims as violent extremists (i.e. today's issues) however, Islam (even Fundamentalists) are often peaceful.
  • Bruce (2002) asserts that Islamic fundamentalism is simply a cultural defence mechanism to protect the truth of the Q'uran.
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Buddhism and War

  • Buddhism is a peaceful tradition and non-violence is at the heart of their teachings
  • In 1989, the Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize and stated that "hatred will not cease by hatred but by love alone"
  • Buddhist monks and nuns revere the teachings of non-violence
  • Values include compassion (Karuna) and kindness (metta)
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Hinduism and War

  • There are contrasting attitudes in Hinduism
  • The principle of Ahimsa reinforces respect for every soul and stresses the virtue of non-violence
  • However, the Caste system highlights how for some, warfare is a part of one's duty (dharma).  This was revealed in the story of the warrior God Arujna who was instructed to fight since he was born a warrior
  • However, Ghandi was a largely influential person who strongly promoted non-violence in order to gain good karma.
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Sikhism and war

  • Sikhism is a warrior religion
  • Attitudes are based upon teachings of the Guru Granth Sahib which strongly promote human rights and virtue however, sometimes, violence is an evil necessity
  • The Kirpan (steel sword) is a symbol of the Guru's defence for the Khalsa (Sikh Community)
  • Guru Gobind Singh is a Guru who fought for the Khalsa
  • Therefore, Sikh's may claim that warfare can be legitimate
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Christian Actions to War

Army Chaplains, Taize, Corrymeela, Pax Christi

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Muslim Actions to War

Martyrdom, Muslim Peace Fellowship

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Buddhist Actions to War

Self immolation (setting oneself alight) in order to protest against communist China

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