Religion, Peace and Justice

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  • Created by: Phoebe
  • Created on: 04-05-13 11:04

4.1 Christian attitudes to war: Holy War

  • Holy war is an argument that it can sometimes be necessary and right to use physical violence in order to defend a religion
  • The Crusades: From 1101-1271 there were nine crusades, largely based on the belief of Christian Europe that it should take back the Holy Land and in particular Jerusalem from the Muslims who ruled it
  • The idea of a "just war" developed from the ideas of Cicero, Aquinas and Grotius - Peace is the ultimate goal 
  • War goes against the teachings of Jesus, but most Christians accept that there is such a thing as a "just war"
  • Examples: Joshua and the Battle of Jericho and the Crusades
  • The Albigensian or Cathar Crusade (1209-29) was fought by the Roman Catholic Church against a Christian group it considered to be heretical
  • Most Christians would not now support a Holy war
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4.2 Christian attitudes to war: "Just" war

A war fought according to particular conditions developed from the ideas of Cicero, Aquinas and Hugo Grotius.

Jus ad bellum - rules which state whether it is right to go to war:

  • the injustices suffered by one group must be clearly greater than those of the other group
  • only a legitimate authority can start the war
  • the war must be fought with the right intention 
  • there must be a reasonable chance of success
  • force must be a last resort after all peaceful means and negotiations have failed
  • the hoped for benefits of the war must be greater than the probable evil and harm it will cause
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Jus in bello

Jus in bello - rules which define the correct conduct in war:

  • discrimination - war must only be fought against enemy soldiers, and civilians must be protected
  • proportionality - the force used should be proportional to the wrong that has been done and the possible good which may come from war
  • minimum force should be used to limit unnecessary death and destruction
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Jus post bellum

Jus post bellum - rules which state how peace must be established after a war:

  • there should be just cause to end the war: the wrong has been righted and the enemy is ready to negotiate surrender. Or a war may be ended if it is clear is cannot be won.
  • there must be no revenge taken
  • peace terms must be made and accepted by legitimate authorities
  • the victor must ensure any punishment is limited to the people who were directly responsible for the conflict
  • any terms of surrender must be proportional to the original reason for the war
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4.3 Christian attitudes towards violence and pacif

  • Pacifists are opposed to all violence
  • Christian pacifists argue that the Christian principle of agape means that violence is never acceptable
  • Matthew - "Turn the other cheek" "all who live by the sword will die by the sword" 
  • The Religious Society of Friends is opposed to war under all circumstances, because they see God within every living being, and to harm them harms God
  • Matthew - "Blessed are the peacemakers"
  • Jesus was seen as a peacemaker when he entered Jerusalem on a donkey, however, he did occasionally acted in a violent manner, e.g. moneylenders in the temple
  • Joel - "Prepare for war" RC - Sanctity of Life
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4.4 Christian teachings on justice

Christianity teaches that justice is one of the Four Cardinal Virtues: prudence, temperance, fortitude and justice. Restorative Justice - focuses on victim and community, tries to repair

The concept of God's justice is found in both testaments of the Bible:

  • "You reward everyone according to his conduct and as his deeds deserve" - Jeremiah
  • "Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favouritism" - Colossians.
  • On the cross, Jesus asked God to forgive the people who crucified him
  • Jesus told Peter to forgive "seventy times seven", and he also told the Parable of the Prodigal Son who was forgiven by his father
  • In the Old Testament, they followed the "eye for an eye" theory - Leviticus, and some Christians still believe that capital punishment is the only solution for serious crimes
  • Many other Christians believe that human life is sacred and oppose it
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Aims of punishment

Deterrence - this may be applied individually to deter the person from committing the same crime again, or generally to deter other people from doing it.

Protection - to protect society and innocent people from harm from others.

Retribution - so that society and the victims of crime can see that the person has been punished.

Reformation - to give the criminal the chance to reform and live a better life.

Capital Punishment - Pros:

  • the risk of death might act as a better deterrent to criminals
  • if you execute a murderer, it's impossible for them to kill again


  • most murders are not premeditated, so won't think about the consequences
  • no chance to reform
  • could be innocent
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4.5 Christian responses to the treatment of crimin

  • Christianity teaches forgiveness for wrongdoings as this follows the example and teachings of Jesus - Corrie Ten Boom
  • Forgiveness does not mean there should be no punishment. Christian teaching is that people should be punished fairly for their crimes. However, if they are truly repentant for what they have done and ask for forgiveness, then they should be forgiven after they have been punished.
  • Elizabeth Fry, a Quaker, worked to improve prison conditions in the nineteenth century, and this work is continued today by the Howard League for Penal Reform
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4.6 Christian beliefs and responses to social inju

  • Covers areas such as poverty, racism, oppression by governments etc
  • Christian teaching is that social injustice is wrong because all life was created by God and is therefore equally valuable to God 
  • Some Christians respond to social injustice by working with organisations such as the Salvation Army,  and Cancel the Deb
  • Many Christians take positive action against social injustice by joining organisations designed to fight for social equality, like Amnesty International.
  • Liberation theology is a modern development in the Christian Church. It is particularly concerned with issues of equality for all, based on Jesus' teaching that he had come "to release the oppressed" - Luke.
  • It teaches that if the law of a country acts against the ordinary people in a way which can be seen as un-Christian, then it must be opposed 
  • "So God created man in his own image" - Leviticus
  • "You are all one in Christ Jesus" - Galatians
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