“Most wars and troubles in the world are due to religion,” she said, antagonistically. I wanted to refute her, but decided to do some research first. I knew that at least some wars had certainly been carried out in the name of religion.

Here are some of them: The Crusades — a series of campaigns from the 11th to the 13th centuries in order to reconquer the Holy Land from Muslim invaders, the French Wars of Religion — a succession of wars in France during the 16th century between Catholics and the Protestant Huguenots, the Thirty Years' War — a war between Catholics and Protestants during the 17th century in what is now Germany. There were also the Taiping Rebellion, “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland, and the September 11 attacks on the United States.

But there were many other wars which had nothing to do with religion: Two major world wars, the Jewish Holocaust, the invasion of the Huns, the raids of the Vikings, the Vietnam war, the Korean war, the American Revolutionary war, theNapoleonic war, and the Communist Revolutions in Russia, China, Southeast Asia and Cuba. These were ideological wars, not religious, in nature.

Communist ideology results in domination of others. Nazi ideology requires elimination of “inferior” races. These two ideologies alone have led to the death of millions, and religion had nothing to do with it. Communism is actually an atheistic ideology. Non-religious wars form a much longer list than religious wars.

Philip and Axelrod’s three-volume Encyclopedia of Wars details 1,763 wars that have occurred over the course of human history. The authors recognize 123 as being religious, an amazingly low 6.98% of all wars. And if one eliminates the Islamic proportion, the percentage drops to 3.23%.

Non-religious causes and naturalistic philosophies are to blame for nearly all wars. The following list reveals the numbers of deaths caused by non-religious dictators:

  • Joseph Stalin - 42,672,000

  • Mao Zedong - 37,828,000

  • Adolf Hitler - 20,946,000

  • Chiang Kai-shek - 10,214,000

  • Vladimir Lenin - 4,017,000

  • Hideki Tojo - 3,990,000

  • Pol Pot - 2,397,000

(R.J.Rummel, Lethal Politics and Death by Government)

Rummel says: “Almost 170 million men, women and children have been shot, beaten, tortured, knifed, burned, starved, frozen, crushed or worked to death; buried alive, drowned, hung, bombed or killed in any other of a myriad of ways governments have inflicted death on unarmed, helpless citizens and foreigners. The dead could conceivably be nearly 360 million people. It is though our species has been devastated by a modern Black Plague. And indeed it has, but a plague of Power, not germs.”

It’s crystal clear that religion is not the primary cause for violence on earth. So what is? Jesus put it plainly: “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man” (Mark 7:21–23).

God is love. One of His ten commandments says, “You shall not kill”. But people have ignored that instruction, just as they have ignored many other instructions God has given us to keep us and our neighbours safe. It is people’s love of power, not prayer, which has caused them to rise up against others.

God’s way is very different from our way. War and trouble have nothing to do with God — but they have everything to do with man’s desire to suppress others who think differently. The only cure for war is the Prince of Peace. “He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4).

                         Judy MacDonnell

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