Is religion a force for peace in the world?

3 Answers

Yo Kass Profile
Yo Kass answered

Everyone probably has their own beliefs on the role that religion plays in society, and I guess the part it plays in global peace is directly relevant to that.

Whilst it's true that many of the world's worst atrocities have been religiously motivated, it's also true that a lot of our moral, ethical and philosophical background has its root in one form of religion or another.

In terms of modern society, the three "Abrahamic religions" are the foundations for many of our laws.

It's difficult to address the subject of religion without offending someone or other, but I'm personally of the opinion that religion once served a vital purpose in providing order and social structure to the world for centuries, and therefor peace too.

As brutal as institutions like the Catholic Church may have been throughout history, they also served to maintain order and a moral hierarchy upon which entire countries were run.

Nowadays, we have stable governments and intergovernmental organisations that are (just about) capable of filling that role.

In my view, religion should now serve more as a source of moral and spiritual guidance and support for people that seek it. I don't think religion should have anything to do with politics, society or foreign policy.

I also don't think it should be enforced on people that don't believe it, or used to segregate or divide people.

Unfortunately, the people running the world's governments these days don't seem to agree.

I feel that they see religion's power to unite and divide people as a tool to manipulate and engineer favorable political situations, and a lot of the world's current peace problems stem from this.

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Yo Kass
Yo Kass commented
But just because parts of it are inaccurate or have been modified for social or political reasons, doesn't mean the "core" philosophy that made Christianity such a popular and powerful movement can't teach you something.

There are plenty of Biblical stories that can teach you about morality, how to treat family and friends, how to live harmoniously in a complex society.

I think cherry-picking parts of the Bible to discredit the whole book is as dangerous and ignorant as the people who use Biblical quotes out of context.
Yo Kass
Yo Kass commented
***I meant Byzantine Empire not Holy Roman Empire - sorry!
Paul Wilson
Paul Wilson commented
Brilliant Answer Kass - despite this being a hot topic for me, I can't actually think of anything to add (yet that is - I am sure it will come)!
Paul Wilson Profile
Paul Wilson answered

It's probably worth
defining religion in the context of the question before going too far
with this. Let's stick to definitions that emphasise the “belief
in and worship of a superhuman controlling power..” (Oxford) for
now, although the label is often applied to other reverent beliefs
and controlling principles involving obligation and solidarity.

The next thing I guess
is to acknowledge that it is indeed a force – possibly the most
powerful social and personal motivating influence yet seen in humans,
although we should never lose sight of very similar blind loyalty,
social sacrifice and group identity in non-religious ideologies such
as fascism and revolutionary communism, as well as in groups led by a
charismatic leader. For the sake of brevity, it is probably worth
identifying these two sets of organising ideologies broadly as
'nationalist' (clan, tribe, ethnic group, warlord, nation-based); and
'Religious' (groupings based on divine authority). What both sets
seem to have in common is the ability to subvert the natural
self-interest of individuals, transcend family loyalty and foster a
belief in the superiority of the 'in-group' over the 'out-group'.

The question
historically then moves to – have civilisations leaning more
heavily on religion been more peaceful than those more reliant on
nationalism for cohesion? Religion is often underpinned by a moral
code emphasising helping others, although your 'neighbour' sometimes
seems to mean just that – not necessarily the guy on the other side
of the valley with a different god! On the other hand, replacing a
religious regime with a nationalist one can lead to a more modern,
inclusive and tolerant state (Turkey for example), often with an
intolerance of outsiders though. No winner here then...

Both organising
principles have contributed to the general improvement in human
welfare over the last few thousand years, but it must be said that
much our current civic structures, laws and moral codes have evolved
directly from religion. However the biggest improvement in general
welfare has been over the last 400 years with the development of the
democratic secular state, building and improving on those religious
foundations without the need for supernatural justification. Sure it
is much harder with politics, but at least it is ours, not from
outside our world!

Although it seems hard
to believe sometimes, the world of humans is steadily
becoming a safer, more peaceful place, and it seems to me that both
religion and nationalism are now more likely to get in the way than
help in the process. A useful statistical test is to look at various modern societies, dig out statistics for the religiosity of their people, and then correlate with attributes such as violence,
crime, care of the disadvantaged and military aggression. USA versus
Western Europe / Scandinavia anyone?

Miranda Innaimo Profile
Miranda Innaimo , disciple of Christ , answered

I believe the only true form of peace comes from belief in the Prince of Peace, that is Jesus Christ. Read:

John 14 (NIV)

Jesus Comforts His Disciples

14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God;believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going thereto prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Jesus the Way to the Father

5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing,and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me.Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. 30 I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, 31 but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me.

I believe by understanding that you have an invitation into the Royal Family of GOD ALMIGHTY, you can obtain PEACE; that inner quietness, that calm resolve, that tranquility, that desire to do no harm unto another, to esteem others better than yourself, to put aside egocentricity and view everyone as a creature or part of the creation of GOD.

In the passage, you read that Jesus is preparing a place for YOU in eternity, in his Spiritual mansion; believe: After the mere moments of this life are over, your consciousness can go on into perfection for all eternity, by the belief in the name of Jesus Christ: He alone can give you pure peace, for he is the Author of Peace, the one who invented Peace. Ask Him to fill you with His loving kindness, and receive His peace.

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