People just can’t seem to stop killing people. Often we kill people because we want a thing that someone else wants. Like some land, or some oil, or a Greek hottie named Helen. Other times we start wars because we hate someone else. Maybe they’re a different tribe, or skin color, or have different political beliefs.
But sometimes, sadly, we start wars for no other stated reason than because God tells us to. Sure, there are probably other reasons, but when God tells you to do it, you don’t ask a lot of questions. Are we saying there were no other reasons for these wars? No, we are not. What we are saying is that the rationale for war, the story told to the people fighting it, is that it is willed by God.
Here are a few examples. Suggest your own in the comments, if you like!
“The LORD sent me to anoint you king over His people, over Israel. Now therefore, heed the voice of the words of the LORD. “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt. ‘Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’ ”
— Samuel, to Saul, urging war against the Canaanites, date unknown.
“Yes, God wills it, and let that divinely-given cry be yours in battle.”
–Pope Urban II, blessing the First Crusade, 1095
“The din of arms, the danger, the labors, the fatigues of war, are the penances that God now imposes upon you. Hasten then to expiate your sins by victories over the Infidels, and let the deliverance of the holy places be the reward of your repentance.”
— St. Bernard of Clairvaux, preaching the Second Crusade, 1146
“Caedite eos! Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius” “Kill them all! God will know his own.”
–Papal Legate Bishop Arnaud-Amaury, on how to discern Catholics from Cathars during the Albigensian crusade, a war fought for solely religious purposes, circa 1209
“Slay the demons and their followers and worship the one true God.”
–Hong Xiuquan, leader of the Taiping Rebellion, circa 1850.
“Of those who go to the Jihad for the sake of happiness and salvation of the believers in God’s victory, the lot of those who remain alive is felicity, while the rank of those who depart to the next world is martyrdom. In accordance with God’s beautiful promise, those who sacrifice their lives to give life to the truth will have honor in this world, and their latter end is paradise.”
–Ottoman religious leader Sheikh-ul-Islam, urging his followers to declare war on the Allies in World War I, 1914
“The Catholic Church considered the Jews pestilent for fifteen hundred years, put them in ghettos, etc, because it recognized the Jews for what they were…. I recognize the representatives of this race as pestilent for the state and for the church and perhaps I am thereby doing Christianity a great service by pushing them out of schools and public functions.”
–Adolf Hitler, April 26, 1933
“…If the White nations of the world had not allowed themselves to become subject to the Jew, to Jewish ideas, to Jewish spirit, this war would not be necessary. We can hardly consider ourselves blameless. We can hardly say we had no choice, no chance to avoid the Jew’s snare. We can hardly say we were not warned.”
–William Luther Pierce in The Turner Diaries (a novel actively promoted by Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh), 1978
“I want you just to let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good… Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a biblical duty, we are called on by God to conquer this country.”
–Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, The News Sentinel, (Fort Wayne, Indiana), August 16, 1993. [He hasn’t killed anyone–it’s just a scary quote.]
“President Bush said to all of us: ‘I am driven with a mission from God’. God would tell me, ‘George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan’. And I did. And then God would tell me ‘George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq’. And I did.”
–Nabil Shaath, referring to President George W. Bush’s alleged comments an an Israeli-Palestine summit, 2003
“[D]ash the hopes and efforts of those traitors by striking the interests of Allah’s enemies the crusaders and Jews wherever and any how you could do.”
— Ayman az-Hawahiri, al Qaeda leader, 2012