The world affairs as it is right now suggests a lot that religion is the root cause of most of the conflict experienced on a global level, be it Sudan, Iraq, Egypt, or Israel and Palestine. Directly or indirectly, it is evident that religion plays a lot in shaping up the world and world affairs. More often than not, religion remains to be a contentious issue. Many ethno-religious nationalists believe that a threat to their belief is a direct threat to their overall well-being. This idea comes about because religion appears to be a central part of an individual’s identity, which then makes it play an important part of the existence of a community. Despite all these, there exists a complex relationship between religion and conflict. While religion can be used to bring peace in instances of conflict, many at times religion plays a part in fueling conflict.
Although not all the time, there are some aspects in religion that has become a latent source of most conflicts. Notably, all religions have their articles of belief that followers have to conform to without any form of questioning. It is this aspect that can lead to intolerance or inflexibility when confronted with other beliefs. No one can question these accepted dogma if it is from a supreme being like God. However, due to their vagueness, these scriptures are open to various interpretations (Vallacher, Coleman & Bui 262-3). Hence, conflict comes about if there arises two different interpretations, and both seem correct. In the absence of an arbiter, this example of conflict may never be solved. A winner in such situation is the one with many followers and in cases where there are extremists. It will definitely follow that they will be called to action so as to bring their interpretation to bear fruit.
These extremists look at radical measures they are taught as important in fulfilling God’s word, hence escalating an already existing conflict. These individuals see moderation as a sign of selling out or bending to accommodate other religion, or not following God’s will, hence not following God’s will. This aspect makes it hard for justifying what is right or wrong. While there are other religions that use the constitution to push for their course, they would resort to intolerant means if things do not work out their way. They would urge their followers to use extreme means to attain political, social or economic gains. Most religions use violence to express their views due to the absence of legitimate mechanisms put in place for such issues.
As a good example, the Hamas and Hezbollah have always used violence because they see their governments as puppets and not doing enough to address their problems. With the current technological advances, it is easy for such groups to gain and mobilize more supporters into action. Various religious groups develop themselves into fundamentalist movements when they feel that the existence of their faith has been threatened (Vallacher, Coleman & Bui 263-4). However, the most dangerous aspect of most of these religions is when they see violence as their call of duty against other religions, for example the Islamic Jihadists of Egypt and Kach party in Israel. This can be described as a strong sense of illiberal nationalism that ends up in discrimination and intolerance to other religious groups. As they seek to eliminate any obstacles that might stand in their way, these groups of individuals view themselves as representatives of divine intervention, and that they have been appointed directly by God.
It is also important to note that some of these religious groups express their displeasure with the modern style of living, which has a few religious aspects. They use violence as a way of restoring what was there. Therefore they are motivated by the fact that religion has been sidelined. They place the full responsibility of purifying their religion squarely on their hands. Furthermore, these fundamentalists see globalization as the number one enemy due to the spread of Western materialism and values into their society. Activities such as drinking of alcohol, gambling, and sexual freedom have been blamed on the spread of Western values and so has to be stopped at all cost. Groups such as the Al Qaeda have used this idea to fuel their use of violent means against Westerners. The situation is made worse by the presence of foreign military troops in their land. By giving freedom to the marginalized groups such as women and children in such societies, their faith is actually in threat, and so violence appears to be the only way to hit back.
On the part of religious nationalists, they see a threat to their religion as a threat to their existence as a nation. It is in such contexts that religion becomes used as a tool to put forward nationalist, religious, or ethnic causes. Such venues have been used by groups such as the Hindu nationalists in India, the Catholics in Northern Ireland, amongst a few. The media has also played a lot in fuelling up this animosity through focusing on the negative side of religion and how it fuels conflicts (Weigel 2-8). The existing wide differences between different religious groups have been another cause of conflict. Due to individuals being ignorant of the other religions, there might be conflict if they clash. While religion might not be a bad idea at all times, it is when it comes in contact with other factors such as race or ethnicity that conflict can arise. This is because it then serves the purpose of being different from others and distinguishes oneself as an identity. A group that is in threat can resort to violence because they are aware of the existing tension between them and the other that are privileged.
Keeping all the facts discussed above right, any event that rises to bring conflict makes it worse, because there will be an escalation of the conflict that might be hard to resolve. Religious extremists use their religious beliefs as the cause for war. A historical injustice in the past also is a contributing factor to tension and hence a group may seek to settle scores with the other, just to be even. These situations are made worse by different radical interpretations of different faiths. Those who die in such wars are seen as heroes and have to be revenged, hence an escalation of the already existing conflict. Religion is also a source of political conflict in places such as the United States and Canada, where certain groups feel that their beliefs are in compromise such as issues dealing with abortion or same sex marriage. In consistence with many religions, they have divided the world into good and evil. This means that each see their religious beliefs as being right while the rest are evil. Such situations are the cause of conflict escalation.
In conclusion, recent times have seen an escalation in various religious interests. Each religious group competes for a slot in controlling the world affairs and expanding at the same time. However, due to the fact that there are numerous religions namely, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Hinduism, among others, there will be conflict when they clash. Roman Christians have been document over the years to have caused conflict by killing those who do not conform to their beliefs. The Muslims have also come out against the Jews and Christians. Groups like the Taliban and Al Qaeda have hid under religion in relinquishing their quest against other religions. Therefore, while religion can be an instrument of peace, it appears to be a major cause of conflict in our current world.