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Most of us have surely heard someone make the comment that Religion (most often with the finger pointed squarely at Christianity) is the primary cause of the majority of death and suffering that come about through wars and human against human conflicts.  Perhaps even we ourselves have bought into the modern popularity of such a broad statement. But is it fact?  Is it really the case that religion causes the most wars and death?  Sure anyone can bring up the famous Crusades of the Middle Ages – and they certainly caused a huge loss of human life.  But when looking at human history and examining the total body count and what caused the biggest loss of human life, religion (especially Christianity and her monotheistic siblings of Judaism & Islam) must be placed much, MUCH further down on the list.

Let’s take a look at the evidence put forward in an article titled “Under War’s Bloody Banner” by Carl Teichrib.  He does a nice job of examining this subject and providing evidence that should surprise those that have often bought into the popular misconception myth of religion being the main cause of the biggest loss of life.  And finally Carl discusses how those flawed assumpitons lead down wrong roads and only make real peace all the more problematic.

I’ll post a few segments to wet everyone’s appetite, but you’ll want to read the full article here (and given again at the very bottom).


“It has been popularly said that religion is responsible for the majority of the world’s conflicts. Posted on a BBC News Talking Point discussion board on the relevance of religion, one commentator boldly asserted, “Just look around the world today. Religion is the cause of all war and hate.””

“Expounding on this line of thinking is an internet petition seeking “world peace” by the outright banning of “organized religion.” This petition, which needs to be viewed for what it is—an exercise in dissent—makes it very clear that organized religion “in all it’s factions, is responsible for most of the worlds wars and the entire ‘War on Terrorism’.” A number of petition signers, some showing immense tolerance by resorting to obnoxious and crude language, repeat the mantra “Religion is the cause of all wars.””

“The sheer horror and brutality of mankind throughout the twentieth century cannot be properly demonstrated in a simplistic chart. However, it’s more than apparent that the principal causations of the majority of these awful events—especially those with death numbers more than five million high—cannot be laid at the feet of classical religion.”

Read the full PDF article here: Under War’s Bloody Banner.

5 Responses to “Religion Responsible for the Greatest Killing – Not so fast!”

  1. on 22 Feb 2009 at 6:02 amSean

    Indeed, non-religious wars have slain more than religious in the 20th century, and it is also true that some wars labeled as religious really are only using religion as a means to an end. Even so, the bride of Christ does have blood on her hands and as Christians in a post-modern, post-Christian context, we need to reckon with that. Ironically, Christians did not participate in war whatsoever in the first three centuries. Perhaps it is time to return to that?

  2. on 22 Feb 2009 at 8:21 amJoshua

    The PRC’s 40,000,000 is just over half of the probable number, which is likely nearer to 70,000,000.

    It was interesting to hear Richard Dawkins’ response to John Lennox who reminded both Dawkins and other atheists of this “embarrassing” and “little” fact of history in a debate that they had recently.

  3. on 22 Feb 2009 at 9:22 pmJohnB

    This post reminds me of a quote I made up…

    Religion is what people of different faiths kill each other over.
    Doctrine is what people of the same faith kill each other over.

  4. on 27 Feb 2009 at 5:40 pmRich

    I have had this very argument (that religion is the cause of wars)laid on me by my unbelieving Jewish in-laws – as a sort of excuse for their own unbelief, it seems.

    What a bunch of baloney!

    I think you’d be hard pressed to define World War 1 or World War 2, or the Viet Nam conflict a “religious” war, and yet these conflicts have been the maors wars for the US in this century.


  5. on 14 Oct 2009 at 3:59 amRandy

    I, too, had fallen victim to that mantra. Thanks for the comments and the article. Indeed an eye opener.


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