Introduction to IJWP, March 2016
The modern world is still coming to grips with the concept of a nation-state and the degree to which states can be at peace when laws promote the cultural values of one group over another. For example, is it possible to have a religious state (e.g., a Jewish, Christian, Islamic, or a Buddhist state) that does not inhibit freedom and development by imposing a past worldview and practices on its population? Is it possible to have a state-imposed religious system that does not persecute minorities?
In the West, Emperor Constantine and others declared Christianity the religion of the empire in an attempt to create social stability. Christians without political power had proved honest and caring, as opposed to the corruption that existed everywhere in the Roman Empire. However, it has been said that when Rome became Christian, Christians went the way of Rome. Power corrupts, and it corrupted Christianity in the West. Popes and kings used religion to oppress people, most of whom were serfs, by promising salvation in the next world for obedience to their religious and feudal lords in this one. By the end of the first millennium, popes and bishops had declared crusades, fought over wealth, used deceit and trickery, and had sired countless children despite their vows of chastity. They used the power of the state to conduct horrific pogroms against heretics and Jews. Ingenious tools of torture, like racks that stretched people until they “converted” or their limbs detached, were invented for inhumane treatment contrary to Jesus’ message of “love your enemy.” Continue reading →