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Religious Studies

Christianity: attitudes towards fighting and warfare

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Christian involvement in war

In the past there have been many occasions when Christians have fought wars and when Christian countries have fought each other including:

  • the Crusades
  • the First and Second World Wars
  • wars in Vietnam, Korea, the Falklands/Malvinos, South Africa, and Northern Ireland

Pacifism

Some Christians, such as The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), are totally opposed to fighting and during warfare they are conscientious objectors (taking a public stance against conflict). They are prepared to go into battle driving ambulances or doing other duties but they will not fight.

Other Christians are prepared to fight in the armed services and there are always chaplains attached to military units.

Most Christians today would probably not condone any war that was not fought according to the ‘Just War’ theory. A war is justified if it is fought for a reason that carries sufficient moral weight. The country that wishes to initiate the use of military force against another nation must demonstrate that there is a 'just' cause to do so.

Christians believe that they should protest when injustice is being done against other people, even though they may not be Christians.

First they came for the Jewsand I did not speak out-because I was not a Jew.Then they came for the Communistsand I did not speak out-because I was not a communist.Then they came for the trade unionistsand I did not speak out-because I was not a trade unionist.Then they came for me-And there was no one leftto speak out for me.Pastor Niemöller

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