Religion's role in global armed conflict

Updated: Jun 5




RELIGION AND WAR, GENOCIDE & TERRORISM


The spike in religious violence is global and affects virtually every religious group. A 2018 Minority Rights Group report indicates that mass killings and other atrocities are increasing in countries both affected and not affected by war alike. While bloody encounters were recorded in over 50 countries, most reported lethal incidents involving minorities were concentrated in Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, India, Myanmar, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Hostilities against Muslims and Jews also increased across Europe, as did threats against Hindus in more than 18 countries. Making matters worse, 55 of the world’s 198 countries imposed heightened restrictions on religions, especially Egypt, Russia, India, Indonesia and Turkey.


According to a PEW Research article published by KATAYOUN KISHI in 2018, Islamic extremists waging global jihad and power struggles between Sunni and Shia Muslims in the Middle East to the persecution of Rohingya in Myanmar. The outbreaks of violence between Christians and Muslims across Africa is also to be noted. According to PEW, more than a quarter of the world's countries experienced a high incidence of hostilities motivated by religious hatred, mob violence related to religion, terrorism, and harassment of women for violating religious codes.


As far back as the 1930, a pamphlet published by the Rationalist Press Association included this quote from historian Bertrand Russell, to which he stated:


Religion prevents our children from having a rational education; religion prevents us from removing the fundamental causes of war; religion prevents us from teaching the ethic of scientific co-operation in place of the old fierce doctrines of sin and punishment. It is possible that mankind is on the threshold of a golden age; but, if so, it will first be necessary to slay the dragon that guards the door, and this dragon is religion.


WAR, GENOCIDE & TERRORISM - CHRISTENDOM


It has become a well established fact in modern history that wars, genocide and terrorism have been backed, supported and carried out by both the religiously devout and the religious extremist.


To be noted, when you hear the term Religious War during this heart wrenching part of the article, it refers to wars that have a religious goal, claims a spiritual reward for violence and is authorized and condoned by a religious leader.


Perhaps the most globally recognized “Religious War” of the 20th century was carried about by the Nazi Germany party in corporation with the Vatican Church.


It should be interesting to note that the legitimate authority or a holy war is not the government of a state, but the Church.


As with the case of the 3 Rich, the Nazi party engaged in crimes against religious minorities including Jews, Gyps and Jehovah’ Witnesses, resulted in the estimated death of some 6 million were both instigated and supported by the Vatican during it’s beginnings.


As documented in the The Catholic Church And Nazi Germany By Guenter Lewy, "the Nazi-Nationalist coloration came into power on March 5, 1933, winning 52% of the votes and on March 13th, the Priest Pius XI, Cardinal Faulhaber publicly praised Chancellor Adolf Hitler for the stand he had taken against communism."


"Prior to this, the Holy See had been working to establish a Concordat between them and Germany that involved maintaining control over religious schooling, assets and the like. Negotiation had failed in the past due to the former German party being predominantly non-catholic. However, with the rise of Hitler, the Holy See saw a new opportunity for negotiations and were willing to implement new strategies to obtain them."


'The Vatican's use of the Hitler regime had immediate policy advantage, when a law announced on Feb 27th recognized seven Catholic feast days as LEGAL holidays.


For that reason, although having placed limits on the Nazi Party under the old regiment, the Vatican made a momentous reversal. And on March 24th, the Catholic church hastily removed restrictions placed on the Nazi Party in a letter written by Cardinal Bertram that addressed members of the Fulda Bishop's Conference.


The Vatican approved Bishop Bertram's stance on removing prohibitions formerly placed on the Nazi Party and welcoming them into the church.


Hitler saw this as a great diplomatic opportunity to establish a strong relationship with Rome and worked to establish a Concordat.


The Vatican now saw a unique opportunity to use the Nazi political power to carry out own religious agenda, and were willing to implement and support the extermination of the religious minority to achieve their religious ends. Leading many to see that what is noted in history as one of the greatest atrocities of the century was in fact instigated, supported and facilitated by one of the most powerful religious organizations of the world.


And, with the backing of the Vatican, there was now nothing to stand in Hitler's way to gain world domination by employing Vatican supported and inspired tactics to exterminate any religious opposition or entity standing in its way.



At the meeting of the Bavarian Council of Ministers on April 24th,1933, the Premier was able to report that Cardinal Faulhaber had issued an order to the clergy to support the new regime in which he (Faulhaber) had confidence.


A declaration of the Catholic teachers organization, published on April 1, encouraged its members to participate in building the new order and to be helper and friend to the nationalist movement.


When German ministers Papen and Goring of the Nazi party visited the Vatican on April 10, they were received with great honor.


The Catholic Allgemeine Rundschau concluded "The bishops cannot fight where Rome concludes peace. "


When Jehovah’s Witnesses were suppressed in Bavaria on April 13th, the Church, on assignment from Hitler's Ministry of Education, reported any members seen or thought to be still practicing the new forbidden faith.


As Hitler fulfilled his role as executor of religious minorities and began operations of the notorious concentration camps and gas chambers, members of the catholic faith were being persuaded to continue to suppress emotional sympathies.


On April 3, 1938, a Papen, who assumed the title Protector founded an Organization named Kreuz und Alder ( Cross & Eagle) to appeal to German Catholics to join in the creation of the 3rd Reich that personified the “God-Give” mission of the German nationals to deepen Christian-conservative thinking.


The Papen was clear on his purpose to use the Nazi Party for it’s own religiously corrupt means and made this eyebrow raising statement. “Success is not tied to the existence of political parties,” which according to him would not last.


For Hitler's 4th birthday party on April 20, 1935, Monsignor Kaas sent a telegraph of congratulations from Rome that was published in the press.


“For today's birthday, sincere good wishes and the assurance of unflinching co-operation in the great enterprise of creating a Germany internally united, enjoying social peace and externally free.


Kass, who wrote from Rome, was expressing the well wishes of the Holy See.


“The bishops, it goes without saying, rendered the state and the authority what according to God's command is their due. The Church has done this under earlier forms of government and she would do the same under the present one. She would urge the faithful to be obedient and respectful."The bishops gladly recognized that the new state promoted Christianity, raised the level of morality and fought the battle against Bolshevism and godlessness with vigor and success.


During that meeting, Hitler spoke on the long standing view of the church and their views of Jews as parasites, pointing to the fact that the Church had banished them to the Ghettos. He reaffirmed his stance against them and mentioned that he was only going to do what the Church had done for 1,500 years.


As a devout Catholic, Hitler affirmed that he was personally convinced of the great power and significance of Christianity and he would not permit the founding of another religion. A statement, that at that time, went unchallenged by the Holy See.


From such statements, it’s clear that Catholic Church in accordance to Vatican approval, were instrumental in orchestrating, facilitating and implementing the genocide and execution of Jews, Gyps, Jehovah’s Witnesses and other religious minorities who did not adhere to the supreme power and doctrine of the Catholic faith.


Archbishop Gober, in response to an inquiry at the Vatican, had also been told that a concordance between the Reich and the Holy See had been discussed in the talks with Papen and Goring.


So, how did the Vatican escape retribution along with Hitler and the regime with it’s fall in 1945? Perhaps in part due to the fact that Hitler and the Catholic Bishops only met publicly on a few occasions .


With the death of Pius XI in 1939, Hitler sought to influence the vote of the next Pope who would be more favorable to his policies.


After taking control, Pope Pius XII, remained politically neutral, and chose not to use their influence to ruffle the feathers of Germany, in the interest of the Church in Germany.


In his first encyclical, Summi Pontificatus ("On the Unity of Human Society"), released in October 1939, Pius urged Church members internationally, including Germany to remember a quoting Jesus, "render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's." Meaning, Church members were expected to obey the laws of the land even if it meant carrying out the execution of the religious minority, which would soon commerce in the months following his new appointment.


It’s important to note that the Bible nor Jesus ever encouraged disciples to obey Government leaders at all cost. For in that same quote, Jesus continued, “but render God’s things to God.” Meaning, that in the event that a government asks members to disobey God's commandments, the disciple was expected to give priority to obedience to God, which for Jesus disciples, involved loving their enemies, not killing them.


The Vatican at that time never directly condemned Hitler, his policies or practices, even when Hitler began the use of gas chambers starting at the end 1939.


As Hitler made his way through Europe, seeking to expand his political influence and religious ideologies, many governments sought the support of the Vatican, to help sue for peace. A tactic that failed.


Of course, by this time, war had nearly engulfed the world, as the Vatican passed intel between countries, to help them escape from a problem they themselves helped facilitate and instigate at the start of Hitler's regime.


On September 26, 1943, Nazi officials demanded of Jewish leaders in Rome 50 kilograms of gold within 36 hours. Otherwise, they would send two hundred Roman Jews to the concentration camps.


The Vatican, with the eyes of the world watching, were still unwilling to offer the money to Jews without a cost, instead, offered an open-ended loan in the amount needed to pay the Germans.


After the money was paid, all Jews, regardless of sex, age, or health, were rounded up and sent to concentration camps. The number deported came to 1,015. Of these, only 16 would survive the war.


The estimate of Jews killed during the Holocaust is between 5.8 M -11 M. However, some experts say that the number may be significantly higher.


In other countries occupied by the Germans, Jews underwent conversion of faith, becoming Catholics, to avoid persecution.


While some claim the Catholic Church was directly responsible for saving hundreds of thousands of lives during Hitlers anti-Jewish campaigns, others note that the Catholic Church who supported and solidified Hitlers rise to power is responsible for not only the lives lost of the millions persecuted including Jews, but that they are by extension responsible for the 75 million lives lost during WWII.


Despite many Jewish leaders praising Pope Pius XII for his help in “aiding” the Jews during the Holocaust, the reality is that the Vatican played a major role in the establishment of the Third Rich, never publicly condemned their religious intolerance and persecution, and only began helping Jews once the problem extended outside the walls of German and began impacting Church interest in other countries.


Perhaps Pope Pius XII and motives are better understood in the light of what took place when tons of explosives were dropped on Rome in 1943 during WWII, by American Bombers.


As soon as the all-clear had sounded, instead of initially using that moment to provide spiritual comfort and instill courage and hope in the ears of the people, he reportedly went to the Vatican Bank to withdraw cash reserves before driving into the city.


These are sins the Vatican can never atone for.'


RUSSIA


A more recent example of mainstream Christian religions inciting violence and intolerance toward religious minority groups is that of Russia.


Although Russia claims not to have a religion of State, Russian Orthodoxy is the most widely possessed and protected faith throughout the Russian Federation, representing some 75% of its population.


Without going to the longstanding history of Russia, we are going to specifically focus on examples of religious violence and intolerance under President Vladimir Putin.


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), Pentecostal congregations, and the Evangelical Christian Missionary Union, reported that local authorities in recent years denied them permission to acquire land on which to construct places of worship.


Authorities continued to deny construction permits to several groups including Catholics, Buddies, Muslims and Jews.


According to Elizabeth Cassidy, director of research and policy at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, “The Russian government maintains, frequently updates and enforces an array of laws that restrict religious freedom,” adding, that Jehovah’s Witnesses, who were banned as “extremist” by the Russian government in 2017, are “among the groups most brutally targeted under these laws in recent years,” as praying, preaching and dissemination of materials outside designated places of worship are often prohibited., with some members being tortured and held in prison for things including not being willing to kill or fight in war, sharing their bible based faith with others and meeting in public for worship.


Since the implementation of the anti-terrorist laws, the level of surveillance of all non-Orthodox Christian churches has increased. As a result, Christian activity is often under state surveillance, and church services are sometimes raided by security forces. Christian converts in Muslim regions face immense pressure from family, friends and the local community to renounce their faith. Out of fear, converts often do not even attempt to go to church meetings. Some have been forced to flee or find refuge in safe houses, according to open doors USA.org that also reports at least 14 Christians recently being arrested, including four Christians who worked in a rehabilitation center for drug addicts and were sentenced to five-to-eight years imprisonment.


It’s clear for the aforementioned examples, that the Russian Federation, under the direction and support of the Russian Orthodox Church, are an impediment to tolerance, human rights and global progress.


WAR, GENOCIDE & TERRORISM - ISLAM


September 11, 2001, will forever be a turning point in human history. For it was the day that Islamic extremists, under the belief of religious purity, waged their “Holy War '' against the predominantly Christian US nation.


And while many will argue that Islamic extremist bear no reflection of the true teachings of Islam, and say that radicals are in the minority, the fact remains that radical religious teachings and influence have the greatest impact for harm on the world affairs of today.


On September 11, on a clear, late summer morning, Islamic Muslim hijackers used jet airliners as destructive weapons, targeting the New York City's World Trade Center and the United States Pentagon.


At 8:46 a.m., Flight 11 hit the north tower of the World Trade Center.


At 9:03 a.m., Flight 175 crashed into the south tower.


Eventually causing both towers to collapse which resulted in massive damage to the rest of the complex and nearby buildings.