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The Contender
Pro (for)
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Religion has caused more violence and divide than would otherwise be without it

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/21/2016 Category: Religion
Updated: 7 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 353 times Debate No: 88599
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)




While examples such as 9/11 and the cruasades have commonly been used as examples of how much unnecessary violence religion has brought, the fact of the matter is that historically wars and violence are almost always due to a contention between, land, resources, influence, money or power. Whether religion existed or not, mankind has and always will be able to find an excuse for violence in search of personal gain and interest.

An analysis of all the terrorist attacks in recent times has shown that terrorist attacks are from a universal discontent of western troops present in their homeland, killing and destroying family members, countrymen and the infrastructure of the country. Most of these people had been religious their whole lives, but it was the atrocities of western troops that motivated their violent actions.

As for the Crusades's, if a natural feud between christianity and islam truly was the motive then it would have begun way earlier in say the 7th or 8th century when the religion started exploding. Instead it didn't begin til in the 12th century, when the seljuk turks made pilgrimage a lot more difficult for christians and defeated the byzantines who then requested aid from their fellow christians, to which the pope accepted in hope of perhaps the orthodox christian byzantines might accept him as their pope. However, there was no feud between christianity and islam for the first 500 years of the two faiths co-existing. Most probably because the rashidun, umayad and abbasid caliphates had no problems with christians so long as they paid their taxes, which is understandable because they provided so much revenue from their pilgrimages anyway.


I dutifully accept this debate. However, I would like to clarify that I am not anti-religion at all. I believe in religious freedoms, but also feel that historically speaking, religion has been a pretext for division of people as well as for violence.

Opening Arguments:

(1) It is first important to define the two words in question - divide and violence, which I will do below (since Con has not).

Violence - behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.

Divide - a wide divergence between two groups, typically producing tension or hostility.

In accordance to the above entitled definitions, I would like to proceed in contending why violence is an inherent part of enabling religions to dictate nations, or rather, why religion is easily a source of much violence in the world.

(1a) For starters, it is not always the teachings of one particular religion or another that leads to violence, it can also be the skewing of these teachings for political discourse or gain in a given area. Much of this pertains to the modern day, where the threat of Islamic fundamentalism has been used as a pretext, by the U.S in particular, to attack foreign nations and pillage them of resources. Not only had the famous attack of 9/11 on America's WTC become of Islamic fundamentalism, but the story behind the source of that fundamentalism can be explained by the manipulation of religion.

It is first important to recognize the source of the sentiment people in the long-destabilized Middle East have felt against the western world for many years now. That source is wherein many of those white* nations had overpowered poorer nations in the interest of capital gains**. Such things included oil. But after the forces of western nations had been withdrawn, the people who were left to suffer in horrible conditions were hurt, confused, and sought revenge. Similar to how after 9/11, Americans were hurt, confused and sought revenge. But in the matter of the people of Iraq, they did not seek revenge out of political or moral hurt - they were manipulated. They had been manipulated by a great force. That force was the skewed extremist beliefs of a minority of Islamic people who had been very militant in their practices. Religion was used as a tool of recruitment solely because it has so much influence. This is the danger of religion - or at least a part of it - because even if the core of that religion is not adhered, it can still be used for political gain. ISIS is of course a thriving example of this, the medium of religion helps them to rally support, hijack the faith, and fuel anger in the west to enable them to further feed off of the tensions and become more popular.

(1b) Religious stigmas have existed for many, many years between the religious and irreligious - and even among them were smaller stigmas. For instance, for many centuries Jews have faced persecution. In the Holocaust, Jews were treated as second-class and denied the right to life. In the conflicts of post-refugee Europe, many Jews had difficulty fleeing to other nations because of their religion and how scrutinized it was. Similarly, now that in America the threat of fundamental Islam has been propagated as so brilliantly dangerous, many people have created a stigma against Muslims; some of whom experience great difficulty even being in public without facing verbal abuse which can very easily escalate into violence. Among the irreligious also exists stigmas, for there are 7 states in America called the 'Bible Belt States' where atheism is prohibited from public office.

(2) Religion can be organized or unorganized, depending on the faith itself and how centralized it is.

(2a) Organized religion such as churches, mosques, or temples can be one form of the practice of faith, whereas people can also independently practice faith - even if that faith is not an "official" religion. Because of this, groups like the Westboro Baptist Church can avidly protest against homosexuality and the allowance of Islam in America and use religion as a pretext to avoid being shut down, taxed, and being slandered for unconstitutional behaviors. Many of their demonstrations are decorated in grotesque hate speech against homosexuals and other minorities, and they are still technically religious - but to refer back to the points made in 1a, whether they accurately follow the proper guidelines of a religion [per say], they can still use religion as a pretext to justify dividing people up.

(2b) Individual or non-organized religion can become more complicated. Groups like ISIS do not necessarily practice within any particular dogma of Islam according to regular principles or by regularly visiting houses of worship. But instead, they play by their own rules and use their religion to 1) gain merit among people and 2) whip up popular support. Religion is a shining badge to many people, for instance in American politics, there are numerous examples of people who simply do not feel that atheists can be trusted to withhold public office. It is at this point that I refer Con to the points I made in 1b referring to certain stigmas provoked by religion - it divides people up.

(3) Religion can often be sensitive and thus much tension already exists.

(3a) Religion is a sensitive topic at the dinner table with family, in public places, and in political discussions with friends. It is certain that religion can be a harmful thing to talk about simply because either side of the argument will have the passionate belief that their interpretation of what higher power may or may not exist is right whilst the opposing belief [or lack thereof] is simply wrong. Because of this, tensions that can very easily be exploited in the interest of acquiring power or influence already exist within the field of religion.

For instance, Con talks about "land". Well, another touchy subject that is often made about religion is Israel v. Palestine. That strip of land near is being argued over and the main reason is religion. When fleeing Yiddish Jews needed a refugee site after WWII had ceased, they were moved by British colonists into the land of Israel which became theirs, yet Arabs lived there. Discourse occurred because of conflicting values and interests and soon wars were happening, people were dying, and other nations needed to get involved. Religion can be intermixed with the ownership of land.

A Brief Rebuttal:

"An analysis of all the terrorist attacks in recent times has shown that terrorist attacks are from a universal discontent of western troops present in their homeland, killing and destroying family members, countrymen and the infrastructure of the country."

Exactly, Con here is helping to support the assertions I am making: that because things such as this can exist, the 'religion' card can be banked upon to help ensure people acquire power and really just spill the blood of innocent people for their own personal gain. Anyone who thinks ISIS is trying to fight a religious war against Christianity is outright crazy. Their whole spiel is that they feel cheated, and so the leader has used religion to brainwash people and send them after 'infidels'.

* "White nations" refers to prominent western powers such as USA, UK and Canada.
** "Capital gains" implies the interest of monetary or material profit, be it property or money.
Debate Round No. 1


(1) I completely accept that religion has and can be skewed to favor an individual's personal interest, but this only demonstrates the nature of mankind and the extents to which people go through to attain their desires. If a pope is willing to fabricate and misguide others through religion by purposefully misinforming their followers on the word of god, what is to stop a head of state to fabricate and misguide their citizen's by misinforming their people on the findings of their military intelligence? This is exactly what had happened in Iraq, when Bush and Blair couldn't stress enough at the urgency of having to invade Iraq because Saddam was apparently building WMDs that were eventually never found. While the war on terror had used the threat of islamic fundamentalism as a rallying point, the fact of the matter is that Saddam was no extremist religious figure, but your average run-of-the-mill dictator; power-thirsty, ruthless, immoral, with your standard dose of racism to a number of demographics. Religion had no part to play in this conflict, rather it was resources (oil) and influence (geo-political advantage of replacing Saddam with a pro-western president) that was the driving point of the conflict.

My point being: People can think up of all kinds of excuses to justifying conflicts, regardless of whether is present or not. If oil or influence is up for grabs, heads of states can think up of all kinds of lies to fool people into accepting the engagement.

When you said "But in the matter of the people of Iraq, they did not seek revenge out of political or moral hurt - they were manipulated", I could not disagree more. The coalition had completely crumbled the infrastructure of the country as well as the social structure. What the west did not understand is that the regime that Saddam had constructed had meant that a huge portion of people who were working for Saddam's administration did so because it was so rewarding rather than because they believed or supported his regime. By making those who worked under Saddam illegitimate in the new government, it meant that those who had the most experience in running a fragile nation like Iraq due to tension between Sunnis, Shias and Kurds could not play any part in constructing a new Iraq. With the infrastructure destroyed and a very weak government, Iraqis were left completely war-torn by the invading forces and more deprived that ever with extremists using the instability as an opportunity to harbor and promote extremism. While they were manipulated no doubt, the reason to why they were manipulated was because the west provided them with the pretext to be manipulated so easily by giving the natives a reason to seek out revenge. Now you see ISIS, an extremist, fundamentalist, hostile, pariah state, a product of a conflict for influence and resources.

(2) I don't have an astute knowledge of the USA's taxation system on religious foundations, but I do know that being irreligious does not equate being more forward minded. Oriental nations like China are relatively irreligious, yet homosexuality is still rampant just like in most parts of the world. So I would not say religion is as big a factor that divides people of different sexual orientations as people make it out to be.

(3) A pessimist would say religion causes more divide between faiths, an optimist would say it induces more unity within the faith. As the globe becomes less religious, people tend to look at the bad side of religion, however what people don't consider how much unity it causes within faiths and how much it brings communities together. Religious communities are far more well connected within their communities because of how well it brings people together and the influence it has in promoting people to be kind or "christian".

(4) Regarding Israel-Palestine, while I accept that religion plays a big part this conflict is rather unique since religion and ethnicity are intertwined, as well as the two groups having a history of mistreatment in recent times. The vast majority of Muslims are Arabs and pretty much all the Jews are either Hebrew or Yiddish. Tensions are as much about racism between ethnicities as it is about a divide between faiths. Racism is rampant in both groups for the opposing ethnicity. It is noteworthy to also point out that this racism and ethnic divide has exploded since world war 2 between the two groups. Historically, Jews and Muslims have had a relatively good relationship (especially in comparison to europeans and christians). While the Jews were either being banished by the Catalans in Spain or massacred by Hitler, Jews have always been living peacefully in the middle east until the British handed over the Mandate of Jordan and Palestine to the UN which was poorly handled and led to a conflict between the two sides as they were unhappy with how the land was divided. Racial hatred and religious discrimination was in fact brewed from a poorly handled situation that escalated and got way out of hand. The conflict was actually initially over land; the Palestinians were not happy that the Jews that made up only 25% of the population were handed 57% of the land, including 90% of the fertile land by the UN. So in fact the conflict originated over a dispute between land, religious divide and racial tension developed and grew over time, not just in the Levant but in the entire Muslim world.

(5) In regards to your rebuttal of my point, the point i was making in that statement as i have already mentioned is that terrorist attacks are not half as fueled my religion as it is over the dissent caused by western troops.


Thank you, Con.

I would like to make the potential voters of this debate aware of the following, through clarification:

(1) My point was, overall, that religion's malleability in the favor of one agenda being surged is exactly what makes it dangerous and easy to use as a pretext for wars, division of the people, or hostile takeovers of institutions. For instance:

Let's say we have a made-up religion of Wixism. In Wixism, the general belief is to be peaceful, free of judgement, and to lead a health lifestyle [as laid out in the holy book of said religion]. Yet, a small political organization in the nation in which the religion exists, has hijacked the faith and enabled it to become the exact opposite; using the religion as a tool for recruitment and exercising terror upon the people of the community. Because of this, Wixism has now developed much more of a negative connotation.

One could argue that the political side of things was the source of violence and the division of the people (i.e those who are in Wix extremist groups v. those who are not), but one might also argue that the ability of people to take the religion and skew it for political purposes is the source of violence and religion. What this also comes down to is historical reasons for destabilization which leads to pockets of terrorist uprisings in various areas of the world:

When one is to look at the Middle East, a place of prevalence for Islamic extremism, they might observe that organizations such as ISIS became of western imperialism wherein superpowers reigned in new eras of regime change in exchange for capital (i.e oil pillaging). Because of the impending destabilization that resulted from this display of imperialism and hubris, religion can be used to "unite" people for revenge through violent attacks against even innocent people.

"My point being: People can think up of all kinds of excuses to justifying conflicts, regardless of whether is present or not. If oil or influence is up for grabs, heads of states can think up of all kinds of lies to fool people into accepting the engagement."

Following such a claim, one might also conclude that the very existence of capital itself can lead to conflict, because if the interest of profit exists in the world, people will always use it as a pretext to put others in danger. But this assertion would be false, because money sustains a society wherein people may thrive according to their labors and how well they are capable of contributing to the general public's successes. If money were to suddenly disappear, economic functions would grind to a halt, and the corresponding aspects of innovation and research likely would as well. Profit is not the reason terrorism happens, if that were true ISIS would have stolen millions from each place it has attacked. But this is not the case. The case is that ISIS wants to make a statement in that western powers [even if they did not cause destabilization] should suffer, and they use religion to help push their efforts and recruit followers with a "martyr" mindset.

"Now you see ISIS, an extremist, fundamentalist, hostile, pariah state, a product of a conflict for influence and resources."

Yet even then, an enormous part of many international conflicts for years now has been religion: people use it, alongside a whole plethora of differing factors among people, to excuse genocide and invasion - when in reality, these excuses do not suffice. The truth behind this claim is that it is somewhat wrong: while it is true that the USA did pillage much of Iraq and did reap the benefits of stealing resources of theirs such as their oil, it is also true that a large part of the War on Terror has been using religion (i.e Islam) to inflate the problem for popular support. Politicians will often speak to exaggerate how big of a threat groups like ISIS are to the world, only for them to wind up inciting more problems and feeding more propaganda to the organizations that are causing instability overseas. Political stamina in such predicaments can often stem from the manipulation of religion (ethos & pathos).

(2) Con makes an outlandish claim that China is irreligious - and therefore unique - but experiences rates of homosexuality among itself similarly to the rest of the world. Con is therefore giving homosexuality a bad connotation without further explaining why, and also glossing over that by doing such they would potentially derail discussion. For these reasons, I will only provide a brief response to the general statement:

China appears predominately irreligious, but in fact is not. Of the 90 percent of Chinese citizens who are not particularly of religious affiliation, only an estimated 6.3 percent are atheist, says an article from Wikipedia. This interesting religious statistic raises questions, because while many citizens in China do not have religious affiliation, they also might have [agnostic] beliefs, which would incline them to possibly still believe in a higher power or being, just not necessarily to conform to a religion in particular. Now, being forward minded is a point I was not exactly going for, although one could logically argue that in a world where humans depend more [statistically] on science than they do on religion, it would only be fair to say advancements in their society would be so much more fluid. The point about homosexuality has my head spinning, so I will abstain from responding to it until further clarification is given.

(3) I will agree that religion can be unifying, but would also think it is quite dividing in society. There are common practices in religions that are inherently negative: for instance the practice of homophobia by many religious organizations or people who practice popular monotheistic religions (i.e Christianity, Islam and Judaism). While isolated, underground communities within each of those religions exist, it is rather sad that they are not as public and vocal about their rights to unify through religion as they can be - simply because their religions' organizations would not tolerate the "sin" of homosexuality. This sort of collective xenophobia is a large contributing factor to the divide among people solely caused by religion.

(4) It is true that the Israel-Palestine conflict was initially sparked by land, but it has also become characterized by religious intolerance. Whether or not pro-Israel activists are just in saying so, many feel that anti-Israel activists or political participants are anti-Semitic; this use of intolerance as a shield has played a big role in shaping our perceptions of tolerance v. intolerance, and has helped to identify some of the argumentative fallacies that engulf the issue; many people feel that one side is Jews and the other is Muslims, and therefore more evangelical people would tend to fall in line to support Israel.

(5) I agree that terrorism is the product of western troops destabilizing and senselessly invading other land, however, this does not allow us to omit the fact that many of these terrorist militias hold religion key to their efforts. I will refer to my points made earlier for further explanation.

Sources Cited:
Debate Round No. 2


frastgouy forfeited this round.


My points remain ill-refuted by Con, I would like for all voters to vote for me, as he has forfeited.

However, to conclude:

1. Religion is far too malleable to truly be trusted, though it remains an individual's right to practice whatever faith [or lack of] they desire.
2. Religion has been the source of many world conflicts, particularly observed in less stable regions.
3. Religion has been used to justify discrimination for many years (i.e sexuality and race).
4. Religion can be used as a tool for getting away with certain behaviors otherwise seen as inhumane and unjust (i.e rejecting service to someone).
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Aguilajoyce 7 months ago
Religion being the belief and adherence to the tenets of a belief system is not responsible for violence and war, but rather it being employed as a guise/tool for political power/subjugation... The roman catholic church was no so interested in the salvation of souls (sale of indulgences) as it was in holding political sway over Europe. It all comes down to money and power... So one could say that the greed of individuals is what tarnished religion...
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by SirMaximus 6 months ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Con forfeited 1 round, and Pro forfeited no rounds. Therefore, Pro wins conduct.