In the following group of essays, we briefly discuss the types of religious oppression experienced by individuals during different eras and in different areas of the world: ancient Israel, the Roman Empire, Europe, North America, etc. We have selected a few typical examples from various cultures. Hopefully, they will demonstrate that when religiously motivated people lose track of respect for human life and personal freedoms, they are capable of performing great atrocities.
As Sam Harris wrote: "A glance at history, or at the pages of any newspaper, reveals that ideas which divide one group of human beings from another, only to unite them in slaughter, generally have their roots in religion." 5 It appears to matter little whether the perpetrators are Buddhist, Christian, Jews, Muslims or Pagans. It matters little whether they lived in the second millennium BCE or the third millennium CE. However, monotheistic religions seem to have, on average, generated more serious crimes against humanity then polytheistic religions.
In fact, if one considers the tens of millions of individuals murdered by regimes in the USSR, China and Cambodia it becomes obvious that communist believers who also ignore human rights and freedoms can produce genocides that are just as serious as those atrocities that are religiously motivated.
Topics covered in this section:
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Web sites with extensive documentation on religiously-motivated atrocities:
Copyright © 2008 by Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance