Why Do Religions Fight Each Other ?


Uh… Isn’t religion about peace and love? Why would people of different religions fight? Could it be their “religion” is an imitation; dogma without substance?

From Dong-A Ilbo: No Religious Harmony, No National Unity

From Commentary Magazine: How to Manage Savagery

From Forum 18: RUSSIA: Religious dispute fuels state oppression of Kabardino-Balkaria Muslims

From the Kurdish Globe: The interfaith dialogue in Kurdistan

My personal belief is we were created to love, fashioned for compassion.

When we dip our spiritual wings in the muck of materialism, we find it hard to fly. If we do that often enough, we start believing we weren’t made to fly, we cannot soar, and we must fight to maintain our little plot of dirt…

If there is truly one God and if God’s Messengers speak the same language, we must, somehow, breach the walls of exclusivism, reach out to fellow folk on the spiritual path, and embrace the diversity that lives within Unity.

Here’s a short video about Compassion.

“The ignorant must be taught, the sick healed, the sleepers awakened. The child must not be oppressed or censured because it is undeveloped; it must be patiently trained. The sick must not be neglected because they are ailing; nay, rather, we must have compassion upon them and bring them healing. Briefly; the old conditions of animosity, bigotry and hatred between the religious systems must be dispelled and the new conditions of love, agreement and spiritual brotherhood be established among them.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 239

“The challenge facing the religious leaders of mankind is this: to contemplate, with hearts filled with the spirit of compassion and a desire for truth, the plight of humanity, and to ask themselves whether they cannot, in humility before their Almighty Creator, submerge their theological differences in a great spirit of mutual forbearance that will enable them to work together for the advancement of human understanding and peace.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1989 Mar 02, Promoting Religious Tolerance

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22 thoughts on “Why Do Religions Fight Each Other ?

  1. Hello Alex,

    Great post!!!! I truly feel that the reason religions fight because religion focuses on a culture approach to the absolute. The culture defines itself by its beliefs and of course to everyone their identity is sacrosanct religion has become an instituion I feel membership dues building funds, social activities etc. Uniting the seeker with his creator isnt the primary goal. And of course that goal has to be done on an individual basis. However religion is also a tool, the same windmill that can bring one up to the sky to the company of stars can smash on further into the mire and mud of terrestrial existence, jsut my two cents 😉

  2. Wonderful post Alex,as alway’s,you put good questions out there,and come right to the point which I admire in all of you’re writings,no matter what the topic might be,altough religion as well as politics are a topic that different folk’s might see in a different perspective,I can only speak for myself in stating a simple but honest comment.
    Nothing is as frustrating as arguing with someone who knows what he is talking about.
    Therefore I like to say very simple phrase.
    There are only two ways to live your life.
    One is as though nothing is a miracle.
    The other is though everything is a miracle.

  3. I have never understood how religions can have “Holy Wars”. Is that not an oxymoron? I was under thee impression that religous people were supposed to be tolerant. And yet that does not seem to be happening in our world.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but have not the Jews and Muslims been at war for so long we have forgotten. All in the name of religion. I don’t get it.

  4. Danette,

    Holy Wars…
    Been going on for eons…
    They’re a blight on our humanity!
    I feel God wants us to learn even if the lessons are sometimes harsh.
    Plus, He gives us Free Will, which brings up a spiritual oxymoronic consideration:
    According to the major spiritual traditions, we are only capable of free will because God permits it. Some see that as contradictory and the ones who do and sever themselves from God are Dead Souls–another oxymoron, since souls are eternal…
    Wow! Your comment made me dive deep, didn’t it?

  5. caiter,

    Here’s the blurb from the site I found it on http://www.doubletake.tv/ “With a stroke of the pen, a stranger transforms the afternoon for another man in this emotionally stirring film by Alonso Alvarez Barreda. The winner of the short film online competition at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, Story of a Sign has since become a regular feature of Mexico’s national television programming.”

  6. Ah yes Alex – this is the question of the century indeed!

    I think it is one of the biggest reasons why I turned away in the past few years from formal religion to unifying spirituality. We are all one, we are all in this together and as Danette said the whole idea of a “Holy War” is just absurd.

    I just don’t understand why people are still today, having seen and seeing all that has and is happening on the planet so intent on phrases such as “my religion believes in this or that” building the walls between us higher and higher as if “my” religion is somehow better or knows more than yours.

    So to end off on a positive note, I love the fact that I am seeing more and more people lose the illusory veils of religion and accept the common bond that holds us all together.

  7. Evita,

    “Formal religion” is capable of “unifying spirituality”. The shame is that most of the organized religions have sunk into formalistic dogma, forgetting the unifying spirituality of their Founder…

  8. Hi dear Alex! Well, I can see that once again I’ve missed out on some good discussion here. Unfortunately work has kept me away, but it is so good to read these posts. I enjoyed them and all your commentators thoughts and insights as well. They are a GREAT bunch. Wise and full of insight.

    I’ve never followed an organized religion because I found them too limiting for how I feel inside, which is limitless. I tend to forget that this type of conflict goes on until I stop and think of the “Holy Wars” and other religious conflicts.

    I think people often live in fear and unless that fear is recognized and faced, it can manifest in all kinds of ways. Like you said, the bird that believes he can no longer fly (has lost the skies) and clings fiercely to his bit of turf for fear of losing that as well. For fear of having nothing, being completely empty.

    In the rainforest, far away from humans and their world, I learned that I feared my own emptiness and had never taken time to know it, to be completely comfortable with it. I had not yet realized that in my very emptiness I would hear the voice of all existence.

    I grew up in a culture that fills its every waking moment with things, and media, and doing, and running, and buying, and talking, and keeping busy, always keeping the mind busy. When I finally let go and fell into this vast empty space I made deep and abiding peace with myself and all of Life. I no longer run. I want to “see”, feel and experience Life.

    Like the birds you mention, as a species we’ve become bogged down with our things and keeping busy, and have forgotten how to soar. We were born to fly.

    As to why there are religious conflicts, I could give many of the answers above and various other thoughts, but as I was reading this another question went through my mind. What can I do to ease the way, to lessen the fear, to offer no resistance in the face of one fearfully hanging onto their religion or truth, like a lifeline? (It may be their lifeline until they are able to see that they are safe. They are loved.)

    Since I experience no need to defend any of my truths it is easy for me to let others have their beliefs as well. I also love to look at the things I can do to bring about positive change, things I can do everyday with all the people I come in contact with. I can love by sharing a kind smile, a hug, a reaching out, a gentling touch, a compassionate look, an act of kindness. I have found these things permeate where words cannot reach. What simpler way to change the world than to just love people, no matter what they believe. Love seeps in and rearranges thoughts and feelings in ways people almost have no control over.

  9. Robin,

    My best response to such a glorious statement by you, speaking about Religion and Love, is a short compilation from my Faith’s Writings. The essence of all the quotes is, “…if religious belief proves to be the cause of discord and dissension, its absence would be preferable.”

    “It is evident that no vital results are now forthcoming from the customs, institutions and standpoints of the past. In view of this, shall blind imitations of ancestral forms and theological interpretations continue to guide and control the religious life and spiritual development of humanity today?”

    (Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith – Abdu’l-Baha Section, p. 225)

    “Gradually these heavenly teachings and foundations of reality have been beclouded by human interpretations and dogmatic imitations of ancestral beliefs. The essential realities which the prophets labored so hard to establish in human hearts and minds while undergoing ordeals and suffering tortures of persecution, have now well nigh vanished. Some of these heavenly messengers have been killed, some imprisoned; all of them despised and rejected while proclaiming the reality of divinity. Soon after their departure from this world, the essential truth of their teachings was lost sight of and dogmatic imitations adhered to.”

    (Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith – Abdu’l-Baha Section, p. 225)

    “True religion is the source of love and agreement amongst men, the cause of the development of praiseworthy qualities; but the people are holding to the counterfeit and imitation, negligent of the reality which unifies; so they are bereft and deprived of the radiance of religion.”

    (Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith – Abdu’l-Baha Section, p. 238)

    “So long as man persists in his adherence to ancestral forms and imitation of obsolete ceremonials, denying higher revelations of the divine light in the world, strife and contention will destroy the purpose of religion and make love and fellowship impossible.”

    (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 339)

    “…if religious belief proves to be the cause of discord and
    dissension, its absence would be preferable, for religion
    was intended to be the divine remedy and panacea for
    the ailments of humanity, the healing balm for the wounds
    of mankind. If its misapprehension and defilement have
    brought about warfare and bloodshed instead of remedy
    and cure, the world would be better under irreligious

    (H.M. Balyuzi, Abdu’l-Baha – The Centre of the Covenant, p. 293)

  10. ~Alex

    This from one of my earlier post in response to a well known
    evangelical who had claimed a personal, and exclusive covenant with the all mighty, claiming in his righteousness, that he alone understood, that America had been called to, battle in a holy war in the name of Jesus the Christ!

    “It’s often been said “That the devils greatest trick was
    to convince man that he didn’t exist”.
    Then, truly, “INTERPRETATION IS the devils most CRUEL trick
    of all”

    I will email you the link you may include it if you wish


  11. Folks,

    Kem has sent me a link to a post he did on his blog wanting me to vet it. I think it’s very perceptive!


    Here’s a snippet:

    “For the language of “THE CREATOR” can not be written by man, For it is truly carved in stone, INDEED, upon the very rock of which we now stand!!! PUNCTUATED by a single blade of grass or mountain top, versed in the forest, the desert and oceans, noted by birdsong or the flutter of butterfly wings.

    “TRANSLATED for INTERPRETATION in the beauty of a single TREE!!!

    “Or maybe, this is just my own interpretation.”

  12. Hi,
    I am a highschool student in Brent International School and i am writing a research paper based on why people of different religions fight. and i really need help. If you have anything please tell me.


    Oh and please site it. 🙂

  13. Angelica,

    I see you’re in Manila. I spent some quality time there in 1968 for rest and relaxation from my tour of duty in Viet Nam. Our electronic connection has brought me fond memories!

    As far as help with your research, I would recommend, first, a paper I posted to my blog just yesterday — https://amzuri.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/letter_april2002_english.pdf

    You may also want to consider the two letters to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights at this location: https://amzuri.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/lettersun.doc

    And, a fine document about why there should be no religious intolerance is the document One Common Faith. I have a series of blog posts that explore it here:

    I hope these references help you with your paper!

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