Topic 4 – Religion, War and Peace
Key words and concepts
Conflict: a state of discord or war.
War: a state of armed conflict between different nations or states or different groups within a nation or state.
Peace: an absence of conflict which leads to happiness and harmony.
Justice: bringing about what is right and fair according to the law or making up for what has been done wrong.
Sanctity of life: life is sacred because it is God-given.
Pacifism: the belief of people who refuse to take part in war and any form of violence.
Just War: a theory developed by Thomas Aquinas. It is a war that the Christian church defines as acceptable (see below for more details).
Jihad: Islamic holy war (see below for more details).
Why do people go to war?
- to defend their country
- to defend their beliefs, religion, freedom and way of life or to impose them on others
- to defend or protect an ally
- to remove their own leader
- to gain more land/territory
- to gain wealth, power or important resources
- to stop genocide
- the Crusades
- Vietnam war
- the Falkland’s conflict
Consequences of war
- destruction of culture, economy and infrastructure (including poverty)
- disease and famine
Just War Theory
Just War Theory was first written about by Thomas Aquinas. He was a Roman Catholic theologian/philosopher. Many other Christian groups agree with it. A ‘Just War’ must fit certain criteria. Under these criteria a war:
- have a just cause
- be lawfully declared by a proper authority
- have good intention
- be a last resort
- have reasonable chance of success
- be fought by just means and in proportion
- only occur if the good outweighs the evil
Jihad: Holy War
Jihad (holy war): fighting for a religious cause or God. Muslims believe fighting is a duty (lesser jihad) if Islam or Muslims are under threat. There is a strict criteria. For example, a war must be:
- fought for God
- a last resort
- conducted fairly
- for the protection of civilians