The relationship between religion and war has always been complicated. On one hand we have the Crusades, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the slaughter of religious minorities all over the world in the name of faith; on the other, missionaries and priests who voluntarily go to the war zones to help people in need, and the leaders of the various religions who meet trying to end these acts of violence. But the biggest problem is the basis of hate that foments this difficult relationship, a fear of diverse people that could change our life as we know it. And we can find this hate, this fear in every day life, in the most common situations: a different kind of war that uses words instead of arms. And those words can be deadly as guns. In my life I often come in contact with people who claim to be Christians and then say horrible things about immigrants, homosexuals, or people who believe in other religions. A Christian shouldn’t say things as: “Immigrants should stay home, not come here, I don’t care if there’s war in their country” or “Poofs should all burn in hell”. As an Italian priest, recently dead, Reverend Gallo, used to say: “If you identify yourself as part of the human family, how can you not open the doors to the others? And how can I, as a Christian, not be welcoming? And I welcome you as you are, as a person, because even before being male, female, homosexual or immigrant, you are a person.” And I believe that this is what being Christian means: welcoming the others. Christ came to be with poor and ill people, to welcome women and children, not judge and avoid them. And if Jesus came to announce the good news and being with prostitutes and lepers, how can the current Christian choose to close the doors to them? How can he simply pretend they don’t exist and not trying, instead, to open his heart and mind to them? Ignoring a problem won’t make it disappear, but rather make it worse. And these “diverse” people have been left alone for too long, and this has sometimes lead them to drastic decisions. Luckily, the Christian leaders are making agreements with the nations in order to open themselves to these people, to help them, and this makes us hope in a better future. But there are still a lot of things to do, because, unfortunately, there are still some hardliner people who incite to homophobia, racism and sexism in the name of faith. I think that the true aim of Christianity should be telling the good news to everyone, not just elect some “chosen people” and ignore or despise the others. In the words of Reverend Gallo: “I find Christianity in the others, I find Christianity in prostitutes, I find Christianity in my dearest homeless people, I find Christianity in the atheist. I mean, the good news, everyone who gives me the good news is an evangelist. Who gives me bad news isn’t. By saying no to abortion, no to this, no to that, no to divorced people, couples… well, no if they live together, no, no, no, no, no… This is not good news!”
This topic and others are discussed more accurately in Gods and Arms: on Religion and Armed Conflict, by Kjell-Åke Nordquist, ISBN: 9780718893163. For extracts, more information about the book and how to buy, click here.