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Atheism, Christianity, Politics, Religion

Religious Wars

This little sketch may be a little over the top, but I don’t think it’s missing by much.  I’ve been doing a bit of thinking lately about why we fight each other.

  • Land — Pure and simple, this is the main thing we fight over.  In almost every war I can think of, two groups each wanted control over a stretch of land.  Sometimes the method of control was somewhat underhanded, as in America’s “liberation” of Iraq from a dictator who wasn’t toeing the Team America line, or the capture of General Noriega in Panama.  (Hmmm… is there a theme here?)  And many wars have been framed in terms of freedom vs. slavery, exemplified by the rhetoric of the “Cold War.”  But in the end, it has always boiled down to who controls what stretch of land.
  • Resources – The reason we want land is that it contains resources.  (Note that there has never been a significant military effort to secure Antarctica.)  The battle for Iraq could hardly be framed as anything other than an oil war.  The Panama Canal “incident” was a clusterfuck of Soviet, U.S., and Drug Cartel money.

I have noticed that many wars are fought on moralistic grounds.  The expulsion of a cruel dictator, the freeing of slaves, and similar noble causes are often touted as the true reason for war.  But I’ve observed that proximity to domestic interests seems to be a deciding factor.  We were quick to “liberate” Panama from Noriega once he stopped toeing the U.S. line on drug policy.  Genocide still continues in Darfur, although if their oil production continues to grow dramatically, I wouldn’t be surprised to see an increased international interest in their liberation.

Religion and War


What part does religion play in war?  We know there have been plenty of “religious wars,” but critics of the Religion = War meme correctly point out that religious zealots have seldom wasted their time converting people with neither land nor resources.

I think the influence of religion is more subtle than a straight Religion = War chain of effect.  In fact, I think we’re misguided to focus on war — at least in the traditional sense.  War, if given a more liberal definition, can extend to bloodless battles involving politics, economic pressure, and social segregation.  When we start looking for examples of Religion = Conflict, we start seeing many examples.

America provides an easy example.  There is a war being waged between Christians and non-Christians, especially atheists.  And in the end, it boils down to a war for who controls the land and the resources.  Make no mistake.  If Pat Robertson’s army of Christians got complete control of the government, being a Christian would become even more lucrative than it is today.  And by the same token, if atheists got complete control of the government, tax exempt status would end for churches.  And churches are big, big business.  This is a war for land and resources.

So let’s take a step back and ask the burning question:  Why are we at war?

I don’t want to over-simplify this, but I’m having a hard time not answering “religion.”  What is it that makes atheists and Christians different?  We atheists don’t commit more crimes than Christians.  We pay our taxes.  We buy insurance.  We shop at Walmart.  Yes, we tend to be more liberal than Christians, but lots of Christians are liberals, too.  And they don’t want us in political power either.

What are the main political lines of demarcation between Christians and atheists?

  • Abortion/reproductive rights.
  • Government support of religious charity.
  • Gay marriage.
  • Prayer in schools.
  • Teaching of evolution in schools.

And that’s about it, right?  Yes, atheists tend to support universal healthcare, and tax reform, and election reform.  But so do a lot of Christians.  When it comes right down to it, the ONLY issues I can think of which divide us almost completely are issues where religious values are legislated.

So I’m left with the question:  If it were not for purely religious issues, would there be a war between atheists and Christians in America? I can’t for my life think of why there would be.

So no, religion doesn’t automatically equal war.  But it does create social divisions, and those divisions inspire both sides to fight for control over land and resources which could be shared without the religious segregation.

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Discussion

3 thoughts on “Religious Wars

  1. I think this brings up an interesting study I read about. Basically, it’s that America isn’t really the most religious country in the world, it’s the most over reported to be religious in the world.

    Basically, the study asked “Did you go to church last Sunday?” They would respond “Of course I did!”

    But if they were asked “What did you do last Sunday” the answer was “I watched football in my underwear”

    In other words, for whatever reason, Americans are over reporting their religiousity.

    http://www.slate.com/id/2278923/

    Personally, I think this has more to do with the Christian apple pie view of America rather than the Christian vs atheist America.

    In other words, they have a vision of what America should be like, and they don’t like people not conforming to that vision even if they don’t even conform to it.

    As for that video, I think the people who think that even remotly represents reality deserves to ride the short bus.

    Posted by cptpineapple | February 16, 2011, 1:13 am
  2. Them’s fightin’ words, speakin’ ill o’ Seth McFarlane. Why don’t you just try crossin’ that little pansy border of yours and see if you don’t get yer ass kicked?

    Wait… I think I just went into Ideal Apple Pie American mode for a moment…

    Yeah, I think Americans are more religious in words than deed. Always have. (Remember I’m the guy who thinks there are a lot more atheists out there who just pretend at religiosity.)

    Religious pressure is a son of a bitch. And it fits very nicely with my little hypothesis. If people are required to talk the talk, regardless of whether they walk the walk, the legislation still gets passed. I don’t want to go into the details here, but the gist of it is this: It’s easier to lie about a sin of *omission* than a sin of commission. That is, I can look at Brother Jeb and say, “Yes, sir, Brother Jeb, I voted the other day for that anti-abortion bill,” when I actually sat at home in my underwear and watched football. I’m at least lying about something I *would have done* if I’d gotten off my lazy ass. But saying the same thing when I actually went down and voted AGAINST the anti-abortion bill feels worse and is harder to conceal from skeptical eyes.

    So the hypothesis goes: People adopt the outward behaviors (mostly saying the right words) of belief first, and the attitudes piggy-back as time goes on and we feel more and more uncomfortable about voicing our true opinions. In other words, people will either leave the church or fall in line eventually. At least they will fall in line enough that it counts.

    Posted by hambydammit | February 16, 2011, 3:44 pm
  3. that last part of your article makes alot of sense but its wrong to say talk the talk isn’t a big part because most people with that type of charisma will influence others to do whats right even if they aren’t.
    I enjoyed reading this thank you for psoting it

    Posted by edgar sanchez | March 23, 2011, 10:39 am

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