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Religious Wars

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Quotes about religious cruelties

- Blaise Pascal, in Pensees[an apologetics work], (1670). [Pascal was the author of the Pascals Wager argument for God's existence]:
"Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction."

- Martin E. Marty, (Lutheran Theologian):
"Most armed conflicts and much terrorism today are inspired by the stories, commands, and promises that come along with various faiths"[1]

- George Carlin, (Atheist Comedian):
"Religion has never really had a problem with murder. Not really. More people have been killed in the name of God than for any other reason. To cite a few examples, just think about Irish history, the Middle East, the Crusades, the Inquisition, our own abortion-doctor killings and, yes, the World Trade Center to see how seriously religious people take Thou Shalt Not Kill. Apparently, to religious folks—especially the truly devout—murder is ne­gotiable. It just depends on who's doing the killing and who's getting killed."[2]

- Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), (Atheist philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, writer, social critic and political activist):
"I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized by its churches, has been and still is, the principal enemy of moral progress in this world."

- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Inspiration and Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine :
"the belief of a cruel God makes a cruel man."

- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Inspiration and Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine, also found in Victor J Stenger's, "Has Science Found God?" (2001):
"The most detestable wickedness, the most horrid cruelties, and the greatest miseries that have afflicted the human race have had their origin in this thing called revelation, or revealed religion."

The Bible

Some skeptics of the Bible might reject the tons of people killed in the Bible as a result of religious war and God commands. However the christians who believe the Bible is inerrant must accept the deaths listed here even though they'll try to lower the millions of deaths from the crusades[3] to only thousands such as Dinesh D'souza[4]. Dinesh also insists that some religious wars weren't religious at all but rather that they were wars fought over land, glory, and were secular[5]. However 2 Chronicles 13 for example says Judah beat Israel and inflicted 500,000 casualties. Much more than the credit Dinesh D'souza gives to some religious wars for murders and it' clearly a religious war. It should be noted however that this argument will shift into "Blaming the victim" or "Just following orders" or "It could have been worse" which we'll investigate at Biblical atrocities

Matthew White comments "if we total the nasty bits of scripture, we’ll find 1,167,000 mass killings by humans specifically enumerated in the Bible. Perhaps a quarter of these (ca. 300,000) are historically plausible and religiously motivated". Note though that the Bible does not give a number for many of the atrocities committed through religious war, if those were to be counted too then the estimate would be higher than this

21st Century

  • George W. Bush cited divine inspiration as a rationale for the Iraq war: "God inspired me to hit al Qaeda, and so I hit it. And I had the inspiration to hit Saddam, and so I hit him." According to different sources, Bush was said to have indicated that God inspired him to "end the tyranny in Iraq".[6]
  • Nagaland Rebels: (1948–present) -- Active in predominantly Christian state in India. Involved in several bombings in 2004.
  • Second Sudanese Civil War(1983-2005) - killed 2 million people[7]
  • Nigeria -- Religious conflicts between Christians and Muslims[8]
  • The Troubles

Human Sacrifice in India(from time immemorial)[9][10][11][12]

Human Sacrifice in Nepal(from time immemorial)[13]

Modern Islamic piracy in Somalia[14]

Modern Islamic slavery - In Mauritania and by ISIS, among others

Islamic Terrorism - One site[15] estimates that there has been +27,000 terrorist attacks since 9/11

Afghan Civil War(1979-2001) - 2 million killed [16]

Lord's Resistance Army(1987-2010) - 500,000 have been killed in the course of the conflict[17]

Central African Republic Conflict(2012-)[18][19]

Christian African Witch Hunts[20][21]

Witch Hunts in India[22]

20th Century

  • Armenian genocide (Muslims vs. Christians) (1909, 1914-1918, 1919-1923) -- 1.5 million[23] Amenians were killed in an attempt by the Turkish empire (Muslims) to ethnically-cleanse the Christian Armenian population during WWI.

The Second Sino-Japanese War(1937-1945) { Buddhist and Shintoist } -- part of the Second World War during which Shintoism reached its peak and established an imperial cult around emperor Hirohito. Several religious propagandas were used to inflame the war and resulted in the deaths of over 10 million people

The Holocaust -- Genocide of Jews that was caused partly because of the Christian anti-semitism of old about the jews being Christ-Killers. The Holocaust also targeted many others that Christians historically targeted, such as the occult practicing Romas and the homosexuals

Arab-Israeli Wars { Jews vs. Muslims vs. Christians }

Indo-Pakistani Partition

Bosnia (1992–95) - When the predominantly Muslim republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina broke away from Yugoslavia, local Christian Serbs and the government in Belgrade tried to stop them. Two hundred thousand people died in the ensuing civil war[24]

  • the Balkans (Orthodox Serbians vs. Catholic Croatians; Orthodox Serbians vs. Bosnian and Albanian Muslims)
  • Northern Ireland (Protestants vs. Catholics)
  • Kashmir (Muslims vs. Hindus)
  • Sudan (Muslims vs. Christians and animists)

Iraq, Shia rebellion in south (1991-92)

  • Ethiopia and Eritrea (Muslims vs. Christians)
  • Ivory Coast (Muslims vs. Christians)
  • Sri Lanka { Sinhalese Buddhists vs. Tamil Hindus } -- JVP monks kill Sinhalese citizens and politicians who oppose their politics[25]
  • Philippines (Muslims vs. Christians)
  • Caucasus (Orthodox Russians vs. Chechen Muslims; Muslim Azerbaijanis vs. Catholic and Orthodox Armenians)

American conflicts

  • Jonesboro church wars - Two factions of evangelicals in Arkansas conflict and turn the town into a war zone, attacking local government and forcing the National Guard to come in to restore order.

Lebanon (1975–90) - The country of Lebanon was originally carved out of French Syria to give local Christians a country where they could be a (slim) majority. By 1975, the national majority had shifted to the Muslims, so a civil war erupted over power sharing. One hundred fifty thousand people were killed[26]

Algeria (1992–2002) - Up to 150,000 died in a civil war that began when the military junta refused to hand over the government to Muslim fundamentalist parties that had won the recent elections[27]

Russian Civil War Pogroms(1919) { Christian } - As many as 115,000 Jews were killed in pogroms by anti-Bolshevik soldiers in Ukraine during the Russian Civil War[28]

Jewish Pogroms in Russia(1900-17) { Christian } 50,000 Jews killed by Tsar Nicholas I[29]

Bengali Genocide(1971) { Muslim } - killed anywhere from 269,000 to 3 million

19th Century

Boxer rebellion -- A chinese rebellion againt foreign influence in areas such as trade, politics, religion and technology that occurred in China

White Lotus Rebellion (1796-1805) { Buddhist } -- A rebellion that was initially a tax protest led by the White Lotus Society, a secret religious society that forecast the advent of the Buddha, advocated restoration of the native Chinese Ming dynasty, and promised personal salvation to its followers. Leading in the end for the deaths of 16 million people[30][31]

India, Sikh uprising

1st Sikh War (1845-46)

Babi Massacre

Dungan Revolt(1862-77)

Annihilation of the Native Americans(15th-19th centuries) - Conservative estimates put it at 15 million, while the higher figures put it at a hundred million[32]

Atlantic Slave Trade(15-19th centuries) - the death tally ranges from as "low" as 8 million to as high as 150 million [33][34]

Arab Slave Trade(7-19th centuries) - the death tally ranges from as "low" as 14 million to as high as 140 million

Indian Rebellions(1857-67) - Some authorities consider the death tally for these rebellions to be 10 million people[35]

Mahdist Sudan(1881-1898) - estimated to have killed 5.5 million people[36][37]

Sati (outlawed in 1829) - "The sacrifice of a widow on the funeral pyre of her husband was common practice in India, particularly in Bengal, where authorities recorded 8,000 satis between 1815 and 1828. Perhaps 60,000 or so widows were burned alive all across India during the preceding century, and a couple of hundred thousand since the Middle Ages"[37]

Vietnam (1820–85) - A total of some 130,000 Catholic missionaries and converts were killed under persecution by several generations of Vietnamese rulers[38]

18th Century

Taiping rebellion -- Among the most bloodiest religious war which later helped Mao get into power. Conservative estimates put it at a 20-30 million death count, however, some estimates place it much higher[39][40][41][42]. Perhaps most notably, The Black Book of Communism says on page 468 that "The Taiping revolt and its repression were responsible for between 20 million and 100 million deaths", if the upper estimate of 100 million were to be accepted, then it would mean that this book estimates that the Taiping Rebellion has killed as much as all of Communist regimes combined

South Africa, Xhosa self-destruction -- Following a prophecy, Xhosa sacrificed almost all of their cattle and grain. 40,000 starved

Muslim Conquest of India(11th-18th centuries - Will Durant and Koenraad Elst both estimate that the Muslim Conquest of India has cost 80 million lives

17th Century

Salem Witch Trials -- Many women and men are put on trial in Salem, Massachussets for possible paganism.

Cromwell’s Invasion of Ireland (1649–52) - Cromwell killed 300,000 to 500,000 Irish in his invasion.

English Civil War (1642–46) - In the struggle between the Puritans of Parliament and the High-Church supporters of the King, 190,000 Englishmen died, including, at the end, the king himself.[43]

Count’s War, Covenanters’ Rebellion (1666, 1679, 1685)[44]

Thirty years war -- series of wars that lasted for 30 years between 1618CE to 1648CE in which many European countries fought each other

Dahomey Human Sacrifice(1600-1900) - When a ruler died hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of prisoners would be slain. In one of these ceremonies in 1727, as many as 4,000 were reported killed. In addition Dahomey had an Annual Custom during which 500 prisoners were sacrificed.[45]

Ukraine (1648–54) - During a rebellion against Poland, Cossacks under Bogdan Chmielnicki massacred as many as 100,000 Jews and wiped out three hundred Jewish communities[46]

Fifth Dalai Lama's Wars in Tibet(1600s) { Buddhist } -- Fifth Dalai Lama offers just-war ideology in support of Mongol armies and their attacks[25]

16th Century

French Wars of Religion -- In 16th Century France there was a succession of wars between Roman Catholics and Protestants (Hugenots primarily). The death toll due to the French Wars of Religion had been estimated at around 2-4 million

Persecution of the Waldensians(1540-70) -- Halley's Bible Handbook, 24th ed. (1965): 900,000 Protestants killed as a result

Anglo-Scottish War (1559–1560)[44]

Persian Civil War (1500–1503)[44]

Portuguese-Moroccan War (1578)[44]

Dutch Revolt(1566-1609) -- The Protestants of the northern Netherlands rebelled against their Spanish rulers. The Spanish duke of Alva boasted of executing 18,600 rebels after he was sent to put down the uprising. In all, 100,000 people died in the revolt, including 8,000 in the sack of Antwerp. The Protestant lands became the independent Dutch Republic, while the Catholic south stayed loyal to Spain and eventually became Belgium[47]

Japan (1587–1660) - During the Shimabara Rebellion of 1637–38, the Christian rebel force of 20,000 fighting men and 17,000 women and children was wiped out, leaving only 105 survivors. Overall, the Catholic Church counts 3,125 named and 200,000 to 300,000 unnamed martyrs in Japan from this period.[37][48]

15th Century

Peasants war -- an expression of the religious upheaval known as the Reformation, during which critics of the Roman Catholic Church challenged the prevailing religious and political order

Bohemian Civil War (1465–1471)[44]

Portuguese-Moroccan War (1458–1471)[44]

Aztec Human Sacrifice - Michael Harner (1977): "Borah, possibly the leading authority on the demography of Mexico at the time of the conquest, has also revised the estimated number of persons sacrificed in central Mexico in the fifteenth century to 250,000 per year" [i.e. 25.0M per century][49][50]

Vlad the Impaler (1456-1462)Was part of the Order of the Dragon (Dracul), an ancient Christian society dedicated to fighting Turks and heretics. Vlad earned the name Tepes (TSEH-pesh) which means "Impaler" a reference to Vlad's favorite form of punishment.[51][52]

13th Century

Jews are killed as scapegoats for the Black Death

Aragonese-French War (1209–1213)[44]

Crusades(1095-1291) -- religious war sanctioned by the Papacy that took place during 1095-1291 in order to to recapture Jerusalem and the Holy Land from the Muslims by Christian militants the end result being the death of over a million people[53]

Japan(1173-1262) { Buddhist } -- Shinran's Shin sect monks fight over the belief in Amita paradise [25]

12th Century

Fang La Rebellion (1120–22) - Two million died in a peasant revolt in China that started with friction between a Taoist emperor and a Manichaean minority.[37]

German Civil War (1077–1106)[44]

9th Century

Byzantine Empire (ca. 845–55) - The Byzantine empress Theodora (not Justinian’s wife, this Theodora was the widow of Emperor Theophilus, the regent for Michael III, and a saint) hunted down and killed 100,000 Paulicians, followers of a Gnostic heresy[54]

Tang dynasty of China (815) { Buddhist } -- Soldier-monk-led revolts; spiritual murder as path of deliverance[25]

8th Century

The Hashshashin (8th to 14th centuries)

7th Century

Byzantine-Muslim War (633-999)[44] --- over 13 wars were fought over the centuries

Sui and Tang dynasties of China (613-626) { Buddhist } -- Monk rebellions focusing on Maitreyan messianism[25]

6th Century

Eastern Roman Empire (514–18) - When Emperor Anastasius appointed Monophysite bishops (who believed that the divine and human aspects of Christ were separate) rather than Chalcedonian bishops (who believed that the divine and human aspects of Christ were unified), General Vitalian (a Chalcedonian) rose in rebellion against him. Sixty-five thousand people died[55]

Tabgatch empire in China (402-517) { Buddhist } -- Six Buddhist-inspired revolts against Mara[25]

Dhu Nuwas { Jewish } - announced that he would persecute the Christians living in his kingdom because Christian states persecuted his fellow co-religionists in their realms

5th Century

Fall of the Western Roman Empire(395-455) - Edward Gibbon has said "In discussing Barbarism and Christianity I have actually been discussing the Fall of Rome."[56]

Roman-Persian War (421–422)[44]

Roman- Persian War (441)[44]

4th century

Christian Martyrs by Romans -- Christians persecuted during the period of 30-313 CE

3th Century

Five Pecks of Rice Rebellion -- a religious rebellion at the end of the Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE) instigated by Taoist leader Zhang Daoling's grandson Zhang Lu. The name of the rebellion refers to the five pecks that were paid to the Taoist church for either cures (Zhang Daoling was a faith healer) or church dues.

Yellow Turban Rebellion(184-205)

"In Armenia, Christianity became so popular that the local king was a Christian who led the people in revolt against the anti-Christian Emperor Maximinus Thrax (235-238)."[57]

2th century

Roman-Jewish Wars (68-132) -- Two million people died on behalf of the Jewish Holy Land [58]

Before the Common Era

John Hyrcanus(2nd century BCE) { Jewish } - Idumeans and Ituraeans were conquered and converted

Maccabean Revolt(2nd century BCE) { Jewish vs Pagans }

Gladiators (264BCE-435CE) - 3.5 million gladiators were killed to honor the Roman ancestors[37]

First Sacred War (590 BCE)[59]

Second Sacred War (449-448 BCE)[59]

Third Sacred War (355-346 BCE)[59]

Fourth Sacred War (Amphissean War)(339-338 BCE)[59]

Human Sacrifice in Ancient China(ca. 1750-1050 BCE) - 13,000 human sacrifices in last 250 years of rule(ca. 1300-1050 BCE)[60]


  1. . Religions of The World Shinto by George Williams
  2. . http://www.skeptic.ca/george_carlin_ten_commandments.htm
  3. . http://www.geocities.com/paulntobin/crusades.html
  4. . http://www.richarddawkins.net/article,337,Atheism-not-religion-is-the-real-force-behind-the-mass-murders-of-history,The-Christian-Science-Monitor
  5. . http://www.richarddawkins.net/article,337,Atheism-not-religion-is-the-real-force-behind-the-mass-murders-of-history,The-Christian-Science-Monitor
  6. . http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Rationale_for_the_Iraq_War&oldid=396218866#Divine_inspiration
  7. . http://ploughshares.ca/pl_armedconflict/south-sudan-formerly-sudan-1983-first-combat-deaths/
  8. . http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/warstat5.htm#Ni93
  9. . http://www.theguardian.com/world/2006/mar/05/india.theobserver
  10. . http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2013/08/atheism-india
  11. . http://archive.indianexpress.com/news/human-sacrifice--beheaded-body-found-near-kali-temple-in-birbhum/607102/
  12. . http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,322673,00.html
  13. . http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3176306/Desperate-father-kidnapped-murdered-ten-year-old-boy-religious-ritual-holy-man-told-human-sacrifice-save-ailing-son-Nepal.html
  14. . http://markhumphrys.com/somalia.html#piracy
  15. . http://thereligionofpeace.com/
  16. . Dictionary of Wars By George Childs Kohn
  17. . http://ploughshares.ca/pl_armedconflict/uganda-1987-2010/#Deaths
  18. . http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/10/central-african-republic-christian-militias-revenge
  19. . http://www.jihadwatch.org/category/central-african-republic
  20. . http://www.patheos.com/blogs/barrierbreaker/the-old-testament-verse-thou-shalt-not-suffer-a-witch-to-live-is-killing-people-in-africa-stop-transporting-it/
  21. . http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/18/african-children-denounce_n_324943.html
  22. . http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/07/21/thousands-of-women-accused-of-sorcery-tortured-and-executed-in-indian-witch-hunts/
  23. . Robert Melson in "Is the Holocaust Unique?"
  24. . “Bosnia Marks War Anniversary,” BBC, April 6, 2002.
  25. . 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 25.4 25.5 Buddhist Warfare by Michael K. Jerryson, Mark Juergensmeyer
  26. . John Daniszewski, “On 25th Anniversary of Civil War, Lebanese Rally for Account of Missing,” Los Angeles Times, April 14, 2000; “Casualty Toll of Lebanese Civil War Put at 144,000,” Associated Press, March 9, 1992.
  27. . “Ten Dead in Fighting in Algeria,” Agence France Presse, June 23, 2003; Gilles Trequesser, “Bouteflika Aides Say Algerian Leader Ahead in Poll,” Reuters News, April 8, 2004.
  28. . Lincoln, Red Victory, p. 319
  29. . James Trager, The People's Chronology (1992)
  30. . http://www.livescience.com/16689-7-billion-population-milestones.html
  31. . http://history.cultural-china.com/en/34History5503.html
  32. . In American Holocaust, Stannard estimates the total cost of the near-extermination of the American Indians as 100,000,000.
  33. . Fredric Wertham claims that 150,000,000 Africans died of the slave trade
  34. . Jan Rogozinski, A Brief History of the Caribbean (1994): "[A]s many as eight million Africans may have died in order to bring four million slaves to the Caribbean islands."
  35. . http://www.theguardian.com/world/2007/aug/24/india.randeepramesh
  36. . http://necrometrics.com/wars19c.htm#Sudan1884
  37. . 37.0 37.1 37.2 37.3 37.4 Atrociology by Matthew White
  38. . Peter C. Phan, Vietnamese-American Catholics (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2005), p. 88; Bernard B. Fall, Last Reflections on a War: Bernard B. Fall’s Last Comments on Vietnam (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2000), p. 44.
  39. . http://taipingrebellion.com/ "an estimated from 20,000,000 to 100,000,000 people killed "
  40. . Comparing Environmental Policies in 16 Countries By David Howard Davis "up to 100 million died"
  41. . Juche: A Christian Study of North Korea's State Religion - Page 184 "Hong Xiuquan instigated the failed Taiping rebellion that resulted in over 20 million—possibly even higher than 100 million—deaths"
  42. . https://archive.org/stream/pdfy-96edLzq8SzpYBSuR/2014-kung_djvu.txt "With the most profound demographic consequences in Chinese history (the number of casualties was estimated to range between 50 (Perkins, 1969) and 73 million (Cao, 2000))"
  43. . Charles Carlton, Going to the Wars: The Experience of the British Civil Wars, 1638–1651 (New York: Routledge, 1992), p. 211.
  44. . 44.00 44.01 44.02 44.03 44.04 44.05 44.06 44.07 44.08 44.09 44.10 the Encyclopedia of Wars (New York: Facts on File, 2005 AD) labels it as a religious war
  45. . http://hawaii.edu/powerkills/DBG.CHAP3.HTM
  46. . Paul Johnson, A History of the Jews (New York: Harper Perennial, 1988), pp. 259–260.
  47. . John Lothrop Motley, Rise of the Dutch Republic (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1855), p. 497; Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church (New York: Scribner, 1910), p. 180.
  48. . “Japanese Martyrs,” in Catholic Encyclopedia, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09744a.htm (accessed March 20, 2011).
  49. . http://etext.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/PreConq.html
  50. . http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/aztecs/sacrifice.htm
  51. . Cecil Adams: 40-100,000 [1]
  52. . http://www.nobeliefs.com/facts.htm#anchor197450
  53. . http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/warstat0.htm#Crusades
  54. . Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 5, ch. 54; “Paulicians,” in Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed., vol. 20, p. 960.
  55. . Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 4, ch. 47.
  56. . http://www.hawaiilibrary.com/articles/Collapse_of_the_Roman_Empire
  57. . Eusebius, The Church History: A New Translation with Commentary, transl., Paul L. Maier, book 9, sect. 8, pp. 327-28
  58. . http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/romestat.htm#JWar
  59. . 59.0 59.1 59.2 59.3 Dictionary of Wars By George Childs Kohn - Page 424
  60. . http://necrometrics.com/pre1700a.htm#Shang


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