PLAY the CULTURE-OF-PEACE-GAME!: Home Page :: Definitions Game :: Routes Game

forum on religion and inter-religious dialogue

Forum on religion and inter-religious dialogue
(Coordinator Comment)

Throughout history, warfare has been carried out in the name of religion, for example during the crusades of the Middle Ages, and most recently in the justifications given for warfare by Al Qaeda (Islam) and George Bush (Christianity) with the war policies of Israel (Judaism) as a major issue of contention.

On the other hand, most of today’s major religions are based on the teachings of prophets who called for non-violence. The teaching of non-violence goes back to a period in early history which has been called by one major philosopher, the Axial Age, at which time most of today's major religions originated.

As a general rule, when religion and state are linked, the religion tends to justify the state's culture of war. With a few exceptions such as King Ashoka of ancient India the opposite tends not to be true, that the state adopts the religion's belief in non-violence. Addressing this problem, a major issue in recent centuries has been the demand for separation of church and state. But this is not always achieved, and in some cases there are state religions which are used to justify a culture of war. Examples today include the state of Iran (Islam) and the state of Israel (Judaism). In the United States with its strident militarism, President George W. Bush made frequent reference to his Christian faith (he claims to be a "born-again" Christian) and there is a strong political influence of the so-called "Religious Right".

The relation of religion to the culture of war has always been complex, with a struggle inside each religion between the support of state violence, on the one hand, and insistence on non-violence, on the other hand. An overview is provided by Elise Boulding (2000), in her book Cultures of Peace: The Hidden Side of History:

"Every religion then contains two cultures: the culture of violence and war and the culture of peaceableness. The holy war culture calls for mobilization against evil and is easily politicized. The culture of the peaceable garden relies on a sense of the oneness of humankind, often taking the form of intentional communities based on peaceful and cooperative lifeways, sanctuaries for the nonviolent…."

Visitor Comments

To add your own comments in this box, click on the "Add Reply" button at the bottom of the page. For this you must be registered and logged in.

game administrator Mar. 30 2009,06:01
Readers' comments are invited on this topic.
0 replies since Mar. 30 2009,06:01 < Next Oldest | Next Newest >

[ Track This Topic :: Email This Topic :: Print this topic ]

reply to topic

PLAY the CULTURE-OF-PEACE-GAME!: Home Page :: Definitions Game :: Routes Game