In the wake of the senseless massacre of human life in Paris, I have heard a familiar refrain. A lot of people seem to be of the opinion that religion is the problem. They tell us that if we just do away with religion, wars would cease. They tout the John Lennon philosophy, made popular in the song "Imagine."
But what those who hold this opinion have failed to take into account is that the 20th century was the bloodiest century in the history of mankind, and that the atrocities of that century were committed by anti-religious movements, led by men like Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Lenin, Chiang Kai-shek, Hideki Tojo, and Pol Pot. These men were not religiously motivated, yet they ruthlessly slaughtered millions of people:
Joseph Stalin - 42,672,000
Mao Zedong (Tse-tung) - 37,828,000
Adolf Hitler - 20,946,000
Chiang Kai-shek - 10,214,000
Vladimir Lenin - 4,017,000
Hideki Tojo - 3,990,000
Pol Pot - 2,397,000
This wasn't that long ago. How have we forgotten so quickly?
Philip and Axelrod's three-volume ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WARS chronicles some 1,763 wars that have been fought in the course of human history. The authors only categorize 123 of these wars as being religiously motivated, with 66 of these 123 being waged in the name of Islam.
That means that ALL RELIGIONS COMBINED – minus Islam – have caused only 3.23% OF ALL WARS!!!!!!
Instead of blaming religion as the common denominator of war, it would make more sense to focus on the common denominator between Islamic Jihadists and men like Mao, Stalin and Hitler, etc., WHICH WOULD BE HATE! Throughout history, hateful men have waged war. Some perpetrated their hateful actions in the name of religion, others did not. Nevertheless, it is hate, not religion, that is the common denominator.
Conversely, let us not forget the countless millions who have been inspired by religion to love and serve humanity. While jihadists are blowing people up, Christians and other religiously motivated people are working in leper colonies in third-world-countries, feeding starving children in the mountains of Peru, providing warm beds to the homeless in countless shelters the world over.
Jesus said, "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another," thus providing us with a common denominator by which to judge true religion (John 13:35).