Has religion historically brought peace, or conflict? 

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teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Historically, religion has been a source of peace and hope for millions but also a source of conflict.

As a source of peace, religion has contributed to better coping mechanisms and mental health for those who are chronically ill, older and/or disabled. Studies have shown that those who are older tend to be more religious as they near the end of their lives. Those who are chronically ill, such as those suffering from cancer, have also reported less depressive issues, greater mobility and better coping ability due to their faith in a higher power. It should be noted that the type of faith one has in a higher power is a factor in the continued well-being of the patient. For those who view God as punitive, the oppressive factor of that belief may well eclipse the will of the patient to fight for survival.

However, since many hospitals and clinics are run by religious groups, the positive contribution to the physical and mental health of patients is an undeniable fact. Many of these religious institutions have a compassionate infrastructure of mental health programs with clergy support for their patients.

The other side of religion is, of course, its ability to generate conflict. Many wars have been fought between Catholics and Protestants, Muslims and Christians, and Hindus and Muslims. To provide some examples:

The Indian Partition of 1947 was an orgy of bloodshed and violence. After the hurried pullout of the British power infrastructure, India descended into a chaos of sectarian violence. The Muslims were wary of the Hindu majority and wanted their own territories. The Hindus were also suspicious of the ambitious demands of the Muslims. In the end, Mohandas Gandhi was assassinated due to his support for a multi-ethnic and multi-religious Indian state and India was divided into the Republic of India, with a Hindu majority, and Pakistan, with a Muslim majority.

Between 1968 and 1998, the Irish Troubles were fought between Protestants loyal to the United Kingdom and Catholics who wanted Northern Ireland to be part of the Republic of Ireland. The conflict contributed to hostilities between Catholics and Protestants until the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. Today the animosities continue, with Catholics still suspicious of Protestant desires to reunite Northern Ireland with the United Kingdom and Protestants still resentful of what they view as Catholic suppression of British Protestant culture.

The Crusades were fought by European Christians who went to the aid of the Byzantine Christian Empire in order to recover Jerusalem from the Muslim Turks in the 7th Century. In all, there were at least 8 Crusades and even a few Children's Crusades.

So, it can be seen that religion has contributed both peace and conflict to mankind.

References And Sources:

The Benefits Of Religiousness

The Partition Of India

The Legacies Of The Indian Partition of 1947

The Parades Controversy

The Troubles

The Crusades

thewanderlust878 | Student

In my opinion, religion has, historically, brought conflict. Over the entire history of the human race, many different religions have been formed, which inevitably would bring conflict between people who have different beliefs. Some of the biggest and most remembered religious conflicts include:

  • Second War of Kappel, between Catholics and Protestants
  • Lebanese Civil War
  • The Crusades, between Muslims and Christians 
  • Second Sudanese Civil War
  • First Sudanese Civil War
  • German Peasants' War
  • Nigerian Civil War
  • Religious Wars in France, between Protestants and French Catholics
  • Thirty Years' War
  • Eighty Years' War

Even the legitimacy of slavery and women's right to vote in the United States was questioned because of religious beliefs. Today, some religious conflicts include prohibition of same-sex marriage, discrimination against race, LGBT, religion, and gender. 

ieasley | Student

I would argue that religion has caused more conflict. While I agree with the above commentator on the good that religion has done, there are other aspects to this question that must be acknowledged. 

For example, Religious missionaries have been very harmful to countries such as Uganda, where there have been anti-gay Evangelists impose cultural harms. Uganda now persecutes to a very high degree individuals who identify as homosexual. This is due to the missionaries and their imposing of culture.

Chinua Achebe, an author from Nigeria writes a book entitled Things Fall Apart which is how Western imperialists imposed their culture and caused cultural strife. While this is not a religious specific example, the text shows the implicit harms of Western imperialism. 

Wars and conflicts have occurred for centuries due to religious conflict. We can trace conflict all the way back to the crusades to the present day of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  

Much of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is based on God given rights and holy lands. It has been very difficult to come to a conclusion and solution to the conflict for many reasons, but the fundamental differences that cause strife is the religious pride that each side exhibits. If you want more specific information on the conflict, I can better assist if you message me with specific questions. 

While religion can be important and essential in self-identity, it is also important to recognize that religion has caused a lot of conflict on an international scale. 

ssandhu05 | Student

Both. Religion brings peace to many for it brings them a peace of mind knowing that there is an entity that watches over them and potentially cares for them and their success. There is also peace with religion since it provides comfort for people that are of the same religion. That means that if there were a group of people that are of the same religion, then they would be comfortable socializing and being amongst each others presence. However, the presence of others could also be the cause of conflict. People of different religions can clash with one another because of the certain beliefs that they hold about God. Such can also be said about people that do not believe in a certain God. An example of a conflict over religion would be between Indians (Hindus and Hinduism) and Pakistanis (Muslim), even more specifically during the time of Gandhi.

ritzcrackers | Student

Religion has whole has mostly brought peace to be honest. If we travel back to the establishment of religions it wasn't the most peaceful time, but eventually people were accepting of the people of the book. For example, during the ruling of the Islamic caliphates most spread religion quite peacefully and very few forced conversion. Most caliphates were ok with people of the book. We should also remember the 5 functions of religions.

1) Social Control

2) Social Cohesion

3) Prophetic function

4) Explains the unexplainable

5) Physiological support

Of course there were conflicts as well

The Sunnis and the shias




Overall peace wins. Comment me with any questions