Does Christianity Cause War?
David Martin's bold new work has two main objectives. The first is to present a sociological analysis of the 'enlightened' charge, propagated by Dawkins and others, that Christianity causes conflict. The second is to criticize generalized and unrealistic Christian invocations of peace. The author argues that neither the ideology of reason, nor the religion of love enters fully into the realities of power and violence. Instead, he advocates escaping the rhetorics of praise and blame, and adopting a more nuanced, complex approach to the relationship between religion and violent conflict. Using extensive case study material from Britain, the United States, Latin America, and Romania, Martin argues for an approach that examines the interrelationship between religion, and national and ethnic identity, in specific, definable, historical circumstances. He concludes that religion is a cause of conflict only in as much as it constitutes one `marker' of social identity, that can, incertain circumstances, for example after the collapse of an empire, be referred to in the search for political solidarity. Attempting to select a single, generic actor, such as religion, as the cause of all conflict makes no sense whatsoever, since all markers of identity have the potential to bring people together as well as separate them, and will, under definable circumstances, foster enmity rather than amity.
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