The assumption that religion is at the root of most of the major conflicts in human history seems to be ingrained in our society. But is this assumption correct? How can a Christian respond to it?
Just the Facts
According to the Encyclopedia of Wars (Phillips and Axelrod), of the 1,763 major conflicts in recorded history, only 123 of them can be classified as having been fought over religious differences. That’s less than 7 percent.
As a new Catholic many years ago, there were two rituals during the Mass that particularly appealed to me: holding hands during the Our Father and extending the sign of peace. Now I go out of my way to avoid the former (head bowed, hands folded) and oftentimes find myself gritting my teeth during the latter (not feeling peaceful at all, to be honest). For the purpose of this post, I'll focus on the sign of peace.
Such censorship is a novelty for the modern West, where the enshrinement of freedom—or license—has trumped old notions of public morality. Our obscenity laws are gone or disregarded, our entertainment codes...
"For the Scripture says 'Holy, holy, holy Lord of hosts; full is every creature of his glory'. And we, led by conscience, gathered together in one place in concord, cry to Him continuously as from one mouth, that we may become sharers in His great and glorious promises."
~ The Sanctus, here described by Pope Clement I (from his I Cor., 34:6-7) circa A.D. 95, is one of the most ancient parts of the sacred liturgy, tracing back to the time of the apostles.