Unlike the rest of the modern world, I do not consider the Crusades as a religious war, even though they were fought between Christians and Muslims (and once in a while, against Christians and Christians). It is very important that we rediscover philosophy and that words mean something - we must be accurate. Although Christians and Muslims were fighting, it wasn't a war of religion, it was a war of territory and safety. Up until the time of the first Crusades, it was Islam that was spreading its religion by murder, by force, by intimidation, by slavery, and by invasion. The African slave trade became an industry because of Muslim Africans selling their captives to other Africans and eventually to wealthy Europeans. Islam had conquered all of the Middle East and northern Africa, which were devout Catholic nations, kingdoms, and tribes (although much of the Arabian peninsula remained pagan up to Mohammed's time). Christianity, meanwhile, left things alone. We had the pagan invaders from the lands of the barbarians to worry about. Eventually, though, Islam would rear its ugly head as it made war against the land evangelized by St. Paul - the future Turkey - and threatened the eastern capital of the Roman Empire, Constantinople. Coupled with that threat, the "highways" for pilgrimages to the Holy Land were cut off by the Muslims and Christian pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem were being robbed, beaten, and sometimes even slaughtered by the Muslims. Finally, after about 400 years, Christian Europe had enough and fought a war to liberate Palestine from Muslim control - not in the name of Christ, per se, but so that Christians who want to visit the holy sites can do so without fear or harm. It was for territory. It was for safety.
Eventually, however, Original Sin rears its ugly head and Christian turns on Christian, but was it motivated by religion, or by greed? Constantinople makes another cry for help and promises that if an army from Western Europe comes to its rescue that they would be rewarded handsomely. A large Western army arrives, but Constantinople doesn't pay them - the result? The sacking of Constantinople, which involved horrific crimes against humanity and the humiliation of their religious way of life. But, was this war one of religion? No, it was greed. The army wanted to be paid - when they weren't, they robbed the city blind and destroyed whatever was left. It was greed, not religion.
Time continues and eventually the Reformation happens. The only reason why the Reformation succeeded in northern Europe (as in, the only reason why it wasn't dispelled and forgotten) was because many kings and princes - especially in Germany - were eager to get their hands on Church land. Again, greed showed up at the door. Kingdom after kingdom, principality after principality, seized Church land. Monasteries were destroyed. Any money or property they held went to the king. All over northern Europe, this is how it played out. Kings and princes converted to Protestantism, with many doing so because the people - roused by their rejection of Roman power - would eagerly fight to rid their land of what they saw as paganism and heresy. Religion became a big factor here, but it was used as a tool to encourage the people to fight in order to protect their families and nation from eternal damnation. Religion was being used, but not for religion's sake - not for Christ's sake - but it was being used by the powers that be for....once again, greed.
So, for a posting that supposedly wants to exonerate Christianity for the charges made against it, that religion (especially Christianity) is responsible for the wars of the world, I'm not doing a very good job at it, am I? Well, not exactly - I cannot ignore the fact that Christians have fought Christians and have committed horrible acts, crimes against humanity - any opinion I have would be immediately discredited if I ignored this fact, of which I don't. However, I will show that, now that I've admitted our horrible crimes (which for the most part aren't religiously motivated), I will put all of that into perspective, using only the 19th and 20th Centuries as examples.
Ancient wars were numerous and deadly - the Mongol invasion of Russia and Europe alone killed 30 million people - but, as I said, we'll only look at fairly recent history. Were any of the wars fought by the United States religious wars? Let's look just at our wars (and police actions). Believe it or not, in the American Revolution - if you consider all the dead and wounded of the US, our allies, Britain and her allies, and the civilians, there were roughly 116,700 casualties. In the War of 1812, there were roughly 23,100 casualties. The war with Mexico - 29,000 casualties. The US Civil War - 1.5 million casualties. The war with Spain - 63,500 casualties. World War 1? 38 million casualties. World War 2? 60 million casualties. Korean War? 3.8 million casualties, mainly civilians. Vietnam? 1.14 million casualties. The First Persian Gulf War? Over 116,000 casualties (in a conflict that lasted only 6 months). The war with Serbia? Over 19,000 casualties, again, mostly civilian. Our second war with Iraq (2003-2011) - over a million casualties (although many experts believe this amount is underestimated). How about in the current insurgency? Nearly 163,000 casualties. The war in Afghanistan? Roughly 149,000 (so far).
So, just in the wars the US has been involved in (which covers a span of only 239 years), we're talking over 106 million casualties. Now, add to that the amount of people killed in the name of atheistic communism - that's another 300 million. How about the genocide in Khmer Rouge? That's another 1.7 million killed.
So, if we're taking the war casualties committed JUST during the lifetime of the US (and ONLY including conflicts the US fought in - we all know that wars rage across the globe throughout all history) and if we include in that total the major pogroms fought in the name of nationalism, atheism, communism, then our number has expanded to roughly 408 million casualties in only 239 years of world history - nearly all of which can be called non-religious in nature.
Let's compare that to how many deaths occurred at the hands of Christians in the name of their religion. According to the extensive research performed by the history department of Baylor University, all the wars in the name of Christ have resulted in roughly 5 million deaths.
5 million deaths over several centuries versus nearly half a BILLION deaths in just over 200 years. And when you add into the equation one of the "lies of Russia" - abortion - that number climbs from 408 million deaths to 1.5 BILLION non-religious casualties.
Let's be honest with ourselves. Religion, for the most part (the small amount of militant Muslims and radical Christians excluded) does NOT result in countless wars. The statistics are irrefutable, especially in the course of JUST the 20th Century's events. The leading cause of war is NOT religion and certainly not Christianity; it's a lack of religion; it's due to the lack of hope in the spiritual, as you fool yourself into thinking that a perfect Utopia can be created here on earth. Religion as the cause for most wars is a lie that unrepentant people like to tell themselves. The truth of the matter is that irreligion - atheism - and greed are the causes of most wars. Simply put, Original Sin is the cause of most wars. And the Gospel of Christ is the solution of - not the cause of - war and conflict. Jesus Christ was, is, and always will be the answer. And his Church subsists in the Catholic Church.