Religion is a set of fundamental ideals concepts and beliefs that guide the direction of an individual and also helps him to demystify abstract thoughts and answer questions such as how the world began? What is life? Religion is associated with culture as it contains practices and rituals. Religions are as many as the different communities that exist on earth, the main ones being Christian, Islam, Hindu, Buddhism and Judaism.
Each religion is characterized by the varying opinions on different subjects, rituals and ceremonies and beliefs. As at now there are over 750 million distinguishable religions all over the world. Of course most of these are derivatives of the main religious doctrines in the world. Judaism has over 30,000 sub groups attached with it while Christianity is divided into two main branches; Catholic and protestant. The protestant branch is fragmented into very many churches.
The question as to whether religion causes war is as controversial as the comparison of religions themselves. Religion being a matter of dogma and in most cases a blind following of doctrines puts the various religions in a collision path due to the differences in opinions and also the availability of information. There is not a universal standard for religion and this has opened up a channel for development of the various religions. The government’s hands are tied in the regulation of the upcoming new religious doctrines; this is because the right to worship and so is the freedom of association.
Religion has evolved and transformed in great degree since the 18th century. A historical discourse on religion reveals that it was developed as a human inclination towards order.Initially religion was an attempt to instill order in communities, an identification element that differentiated one community with the other. It was meant to foster cohesiveness among the members of the communities as it united them in beliefs and the constant gathering of members. Religion in those days gravitated towards fostering socially acceptable behavior and offer guidance on major issues affecting the community.
From the 18th century to the 21st century has seen religion undergo radical changes. It has moved from an epitome of order and respect in the society to an economic venture. This has seen the exponential rise of many religious institutions and consequently a significant reduction in degree of moral standing. Anyone who has the capacity to influence, ability to lead and possesses excellent oratory skills starts their own religious doctrine and in a matter of time gathers a following. The religious institutions have overemphasized the importance of material contributions to foster their development and financial integrity lacks among the leadership. In light of the above it is evident that religion has outgrown its initial objectives.
In relation to war, comparative study on wars that the world has engaged in reveals that religion has contributed to a small almost negligible degree. World war one and world war two were not as a result of religious conflicts. The Sierra-Leone war was a result of western manipulation in a scramble for diamonds. The Rwandan genocide was brought about by ethnic rivalry. The US attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq were an attempt at the restoration of democratic rule and an attempt to kick out terrorists in the respective nations. Though these wars can be argued to have a religious aspect to them. The attack by US on Afghanistan began on October 2001, approximatey a month after the September 9/11 attack on the world trade center which was bombed. The war was a retaliation on the Taliban who admitted responsibility of the attack under the leadership of Osama Bin Laden.
The war in Philippines is a clear case of inter-religious conflict. This is between the two most successful religions: Christianity and Islam. The northern region is mainly Muslim, the only region in the whole of Philippines .Muslim was brought to the region at around 13th century by Arab traders. In that area Muslim Christian conflicts has been a continual issue that has been persistent over all the years. Though this may appear as a clear cut religion caused war, we must also note that religion also has been used to achieve political ends. Therefore one must realizes that though the war may rage ,it might after all be seen as a political war too.
The implication of politicizing religion is that it becomes so easy to associate a particular region to a religion; this has adverse effects that have an effect on individual relations. This goes further goes ahead to create room for stereotyping. The common generalization that people have upon an area starts bringing out the differences in the open. Normally a war does not start like that, aggression especially if the religion has extremists in the area. A strict discipleship manifested by the area religious leader may incite one religion against the other. This has been the case in Philistines. Funding from warlords who stand to benefit from the war and armed conflicts ensue as the weapons are availed.
There are other countries that also had the same problem of inter-religious groups fighting each other. Nigeria, in Africa has seen Christians and Muslims in conflict with each other in the Niger delta region. Though this cannot be directly attributed to religious differences since there is also a significant contribution into the war by the desire to take control of the oil rich region
Examination of the history of the wars of the world reveals that a great number of wars that have ever taken place are a result of other causes. Other than religion being used as an excuse for war by the war inclined communities the presence of political forces influencing the course of wars, religion is a vita aspect of society
Despite the fact that religion is being misused nowadays its importance to the society is of a great contribution. There are many uses of religion and the first and major one being to inculcate morals to the followers. This has been a moral thread that has been observed to run across the various religious disciplines. This helps to reduce the cases of social misfits in the societies such as: thieves, rapists and liars.
Wars are almost always begun on the grounds of political and economic showdown and also as a show of might and superiority in powerful nations. The reasons could also be the discovery of a valuable mineral as has been the case in a number of states in Africa. Religion though is used in the attempt to justify wars in most areas has a little contribution in it. It could be as small as the difference in number of churches and mosques between two areas.
Religion in its unadulterated form emphasizes the value of peaceful coexistence, the virtues of honor, integrity and honesty for there to be a cohesive society. The consistent lowering of principle in religion has allowed for its violation to form even cultic organizations. Therefore religion has no direct link in wars; it should be the way to healing of the wars.