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Is Religion the Cause of All War?

Religion and War

Question of the Week:

I am Jewish but cannot embrace Judaism as a religion. Religion is the cause of all wars and I believe we would be closer to world peace without it. Just look around the world. Wouldn’t we all be better off if it weren’t for religion?


Rejecting Judaism because you believe in world peace is like refusing to enter a Japanese restaurant because you like sushi. It just doesn’t make sense.

War comes naturally to people. It existed long before any religion. Peace did not. Peace is not natural to the human condition. It has to be taught. And it started as a religious idea.

The two World Wars are proof enough that people can kill without any religious justification. Communism and Nazism rejected religion and seemed to do fine at killing people nonetheless. But without religion, the term world peace would not have entered our lexicon. Whether you are aware if it or not, your dream of world peace is biblically inspired.

The first and most powerful vision of world peace was presented to mankind by the prophets of ancient Israel. They predicted a time when “one nation will not lift a sword against another nation, and they will no longer learn to wage war”. In a world that saw war as an inevitable fact of life, the Jewish religion introduced a radical new concept: that war is ultimately undesirable and peace is the ideal state for which to strive.

Judaism is not pacifism. We do not believe in standing idly by when we are attacked, but we always view war as a regretful necessity that we pray will become obsolete. This is not a rationale position, it is an article of faith. We believe that war will be over one day, and we make every effort to make that a reality.

True, religion has been used by many as a pretext for war. But this does not invalidate all religion, just as when overzealous soccer fans attack each other it does not invalidate the game of soccer. Abolishing soccer would do nothing to promote harmony, and ridding the world of all religion would not end war.

In fact, religion still provides the strongest argument for peace between people: that we were all created by the same G-d. May we all live to see that belief translate into true peace.

Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Moss

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