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Religious Freedom & War

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QUESTION: Mr. Armstrong, Do you believe that religion should play any role in government?

Constantine-SolANSWER: Religion has historically been the greatest tool for war and justification for killing others yet we claim to punish people for murder. If you kill someone in the name of the State or what you claim is God’s will, you are creating your own exception to religious principle such as the Ten Commandments. Where does it say thou shall not kill unless a politician orders you or you think this is what God desires? Constantine used religion as justification for civil war saying their was one God so there should be just one emperor. While claiming to be Christian, he also issued coins showing himself along side Sol – the invincible sun god. Constantine was not Baptized until on his deathbed and he used Christianity as justification of robbing all the pagan temples so there was always some economic benefit for the ruling class.

Luther-MartinThe Protestant Revolution was funded by Catholic bankers who wanted to compete with the Jews but could not get into the trade since lending money for interest was the Sin of Usury. For a Catholic to engage in money-lending would result in excommunication. Capitalism is deemed to have begun with the Protestant Reformation for it gave birth to Christian Bankers. That was not necessarily something that Martin Luther supported, but nonetheless, he became the focal point to justify the birth of Capitalism. Tradition for centuries was that your first son inherited everything and your second son was donated to the Church and compelled to be a priest. So you had plenty of people who were forced to become priests without any religious calling. It was a real mess then you had kings appointing friends as bishops who were not religious in the least for political purposes. The story of Saint Thomas Becket illustrates that issue for the King or England appointed his best drinking friend as Archbishop of Canterbury who then became religious and the King had him slain at the alter.

Religion tore India in half, creating Pakistan and India. Religion has been the root of the civil wars in Britain, as well as in Ireland. To a large extent, the US Civil War was also deeply rooted in religious beliefs. The lesson that there must be human rights and freedom to worship has come at the expense of countless lives. William Penn, a Quaker, founded Philadelphia on the principle of religious freedom. The first Catholic Church was erected there along with the first churches of just about every denomination. If just one faith imposes its beliefs upon the others, everything crumbles to dust. Switzerland was a refuge for religious dissidents as well during the Middle Ages.

Cromwell-OliverThe English Civil War ended up beheading the Catholic King Charles I and installing Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector who depicted himself on the coins as if he were king. His religious strictness was the Puritan sect and they were eventually chased out of England for they outlawed kissing your wife in public, sports for they led to gambling and cursing, plays for acting was lying, and celebrating Christmas when you should be praying.

The Puritans were so radical they fled and became America’s Pilgrims whose first act was to slaughter some 600 natives because their women were bare-breasted feeding children in the open, which they claimed offended God. The USA is still dominated by Puritan philosophy to this day. We have the oldest age for being an adult and during the 1960s, one could be drafted to kill others but was too young to have a drink.

Religion should never be allowed to be a government issue. Once a particular state adopts a religious philosophy of its majority, what happens when things change? Do the majority then possess the right to impose their religious beliefs upon others? It is wrong for one belief to force others to comply with their belief. Those who say something offends God and assume some power to impose their beliefs upon others become like Iran where religion became the State. The politics inside Iran are changing because the youth differ from the older generation and are less religious changing their philosophy.

Albigensian Crusade - Arnaud Amalric

Arnaud Amalric (died 1225) was a very prominent abbot in the Albigensian Crusade (1209–1229), also known as the Cathar Crusade, which was a 20-year military campaign initiated by Pope Innocent III to eliminate Catharism in the south of France. The European crusade was primarily lead by the French crown in an attempt to bring southern France, which was largely controlled by the Counts of Barcelona, under their political control. It was during the acclaimed religious war, which was really for French political gain, that the monk Amalric is best remembered for allegedly advising a soldier who was worried about killing orthodox Catholics in the process of killing declared Cathar heretics. He said:

 “Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.” (“Kill them. For the Lord knows those that are His own.”)

The Cathars believed in two Gods or philosophies, with the first one being good and the second being evil. This idea emerged from the clash between the vengeful God of the Old Testament and the Love Thy Neighbor God of the New Testament who they saw as the creator of the spiritual realm, contrasted with the evil Old Testament God who was viewed as the creator of the physical world they identified as Satan. This evil God created all visible matter, including the human body, which is therefore tainted with original sin. The good God created human spirits that were the genderless spirits of angels trapped within the physical creation of the evil God, who in turn cursed them to reincarnation until the Cathar faithful achieved salvation through a ritual called the “consol amentum” that is similar to some Asian beliefs.

Essentially. Catharism was the antithesis to the monotheistic Catholic Church, whose fundamental principle was that only one God created all things visible and invisible. This difference in belief was used to justify war, which was politically beneficial to the French crown.

Religion has always been usurped for political gain. This is why there really needs to be a separation between politics and religion – Church v State. Everyone must be treated equally based upon religion, gender, race, sexual orientation, or whatever including class based upon wealth and education. This is absolutely mandatory at the federal level of any nation. However, it is equally violent to force upon others action that conflict with their religious beliefs. The only possible solution is that at the local level, the dominant social belief system can apply say in a town but there also cannot be any criminal prosecution for non-conformity.

This question is probably the greatest conflict morally that humanity faces, with the likelihood of any solution being impossible. If Mormons want to have more than one wife, that is fine, provided it is a local issue. Others who disagree have no right to say they are wrong and use the federal law to prosecute them. The freedom of movement is essential for if you do not believe in the culture of a local region, you should be free to leave and join a community that you agree with. Without this respect, society cannot function free of conflict, violence, and war. Perhaps this is just our fate. To some extent, we need to stop judging others by what we believe and let God sort that out on Judgement Day.