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On the causes of war, by Karen Armstrong

"In the West the idea that religion is inherently violent is now taken for granted and seems self-evident. As one who speaks on religion, I constantly hear how cruel and aggressive it has been, a view that, eerily, ix expressed in the same way almost every time: 'Religion has been the cause of all the major wars in history.' I have heard this sentence recited like a mantra by American commentators and psychiatrists, London taxi drivers and Oxford academics. It is an odd remark. Obviously the two world wars were not fought on account of religion. When they discuss the reasons people go to war, military historians acknowledge that many interrelated social, material, and ideological factors are involved, one of the chief being competition for scarce resources. Experts on political violence or terrorism also insist that people commit atrocities for a complex range of reasons. Yet so indelible is the aggressive image of religious faith in our secular consciousness that we routinely load the violent sins of the twentieth century onto the back of 'religion' and drive it out into the political wilderness." -- Karen Armstrong, Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence (http://www.amazon.com/Fields-Blood-Religion-History-Violence/dp/0307957047), pp. 11-12

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