The Real Facts about Christians, Violence, and War
There are a couple reasons why this is true. Initially, Sheiman points out, “Revealingly in his Encyclopedia of Wars, Charles Phillips chronicled a total of 1,763 conflicts throughout history, of which just 123 were categorized as religious.” (on 14.33% and remember thats religion, not Christianity per se) Comparatively, “Hitler, Stalin, Kim Jonbg-II, Mao Zedong, Saddam Hussein, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Fidel Castro, Slobodan Milosevic, Robert Mugabe” and others killed millions by comparison” (Sheiman, p. 117–see also Rummel for more on the killing spree of communists/fascist dictators) Moreover, obviously this classification doesn’t zero in on those who even claimed to have religious roots.
Christian is a Faith of Peace and Nonviolence
Moreover, Christianity has contributed to universal values like rights which have been encoded in Constitutions across the world, including in international law as fundamental checks on the abuses of government and other forms of dehumanization which crush human value. Our notions of human dignity were articulated in Kant and eventually encoded in the Constitution, which has served as a model of democratic peace–where conflicts have been resolved instead of erupting into violence (see Rummel, which is actually comparative evidence). Further, those universals have progressively led from the rights policies of the 1600′s to the policies increasingly favored throughout the world in 2010 and beyond (South Africa, slavery, Martin Luther King, liberation in Eastern Europe, and even more recently in Egypt). While people of the Christian faith don’t agree on everything in this regard (i.e. gay marriage), it is probably the case that without Christians gays would probably be far worse off without the protections afforded by individual rights (i.e. “endowed by our creator with the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” not the least of which is the 1st Amendment protection of free speech and the right to vote).
In fact, many Christian organizations and ideas tend to encourage non-violence which is at the root of Jesus’ message during his time on earth (love, service, compassion, humility, treating others with respect and human dignity) Walter Wink highlights this connection by pointing out, “The new reality Jesus proclaimed was nonviolent. That much is clear, not just from the Sermon on the Mount, but his entire life and teaching and, above all, the way he faced his death. His was not merely a tactical or pragmatic nonviolence seized upon because nothing else would have worked against the Roman empire’s near monopoly on violence. Rather, he saw nonviolence as a direct corollary of the nature of God and of the new reality emerging in the world from God. In a verse quoted more than any other from the New Testament during the church’s first four centuries, Jesus taught that God loves everyone, and values all, even those who make themselves God’s enemies. We are therefore to do likewise (Matt. 5:45; cf. Luke 6:35). The Reign of God, the peaceable Kingdom, is (despite the monarchical terms) an order in which the inequity, violence, and male supremacy characteristic of dominator societies are superseded. Thus nonviolence is not just a means to the Kingdom of God; it is a quality of the Kingdom itself. Those who live nonviolently are already manifesting the transformed reality of the divine order now, even under the conditions of what I call the Domination System. “
True Christianity is an open religious system. Sheiman continues, “An open religious system such as that in the United States leads to greater diversity and tolerance. It teachers that all people share in the worth and dignity conferred by God, including people holding competing religious beliefs.” (IBID, p. 138).
What Alternative Statistics Point To:
What people who are using stats which suggest the following, are pointing to a problem of Christianity or religion, but rather deeper issues, which more faith is actually the answer to:
1. Power & government, not faith
2. Extreme fundamentalism, not faith
3. Abuse of ideology, not faith
4. Us vs. Them thinking, not faith
Heres the ultimate litmus test for Christianity and faith. What did Jesus teach? Well Matthew 22:36 to 40 provides an answer:
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
In fact, oddly, fundamentalism of the Christian sort, unlike almost any ideology on the planet should actually result in more compassion, not less, more love, not less. Anyone claiming to manipulate the Bible for unjust violence is manipulating the text.
Resources & Citations about Christians, Violence, and War:
Bruce Sheiman, Atheist Defends Religion: Why Humanity is Better Off with Religion than Without It
Rummel & Death by Government http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills…
Walter Wink on Nonviolence, http://www.cres.org/star/_wink.htm
Christian Pacifism Bibliography: http://gatheringinlight.com/2009…