Wars have been fought many times on religious grounds. Religion is blamed with being one of the biggest causes of conflict among humans and it’s hard to deny it. Although no religion itself condones war, but the interpreters and gatekeepers of religion have always misused and misinterpreted it to justify killing fellow human beings. There have been many wars that were fought on religious grounds. Let’s look at 6 such wars that were started on religious lines.
6. Nigerian Civil War:
Nigeria is a state brought together by Great Briton despite it consisting of many different cultures and ethnicities. The three main ethnicities were the Hausa-Fulani conservative feudal Muslims in the north, the less Feudal and slightly Christian Yoruba in the southwest and the democratic converted Christian Igbo in the southeast. When Britain left and gave independence to Nigeria in 1960, tensions grew because of the differing religious and political structures in the three regions. This led to a civil war from 1967 to 1970 that saw a great loss of life.
5. Lebanese Civil War:
120,000 people are supposed to have died during the Lebanese civil war from 1975 to 1990. Over 1 million people left Lebanon and 76,000 were displaced from their lands within the country. The country’s political power rested mostly in the hands of the Maronite Christian minority while most of the population was Muslim or Arab supportive. 100,000 Palestinian refuges tilted the scale even more and in 1975 fighting broke out between the Maronite and Palestinian forces. Religion and politics (sorry for the tautology) as always caused great loss of life for 15 years.
4. Sudanese Civil War:
Sudanese civil wars lasted in two phases. The first Sudanese civil war lasted from 1955 to 1972 while the second one from 1983 to 2005. The main cause of these wars is the Muslim government and its attempt to try and force Sharia law on the South Sudanese Christian communities. Apart from this, other reasons such as politics, economics and international interference are also responsible for these wars but the role of religion and the intolerance it breeds can’t be disputed.
3. French Wars of Religion:
This war is interesting because it was between two parts of the same religion. The Catholics and Protestants fought each other during these periods from 1562 to 1598. There was civil fighting between the two groups as well as military action. The House of Bourbon and the House of Guise were the two major houses responsible for the conflict along with international support. Basically it was time when the Protestants and the Catholics got to take out their frustrations about each other. Another example are the Irish communities of Protestants and Catholics Christians.
2. Thirty Years’ War:
The Thirty Years’ War lasted for, no surprise, 30 years from 1618 to 1648. On a side note, great naming by the historians. But anyways, the Thirty Year’s War was also fought principally between the Protestants and the Catholics but this time all of Europe was involved. This conflict is considered one of the most destructive wars in European history. It led to massive famine and bankruptcy of the involved states. On top of that, the armies were mostly made up of mercenaries who changed sides from one battle to another and were paid by allowing them to loot the locals who lost. All in all the common man suffered the most in the name of religion. Not a surprise at all.
The first prize for religious stupidity has to go to the Crusades. There were many crusades fought from 1095 all the way to 1272. So for almost 200 years, both Christian and Muslims kept fighting each other, destroying each other, bankrupting each other, going back to recuperate and then launch another crusade. This greatest holy war is the lowest point in the history of religion. The deeper cause of the crusades are complex but the main reason was the control of Jerusalem, a place holy not just to Christians and Muslims but also the Jews. Even today Jerusalem continues to cause deaths of people. Don’t get me wrong but that’s not really a definition of a holy place is it?