The U. S. Religous Landscape Was Formed By Wars.

The attached link explains that wars can explain a lot about which countries today follow which of the world’s great religions.  Wars determined much of the distributions of religions around the world, but it’s even more striking to recall how some wars turned on one of two individual battles which could have gone either way.

What appears to have eventually effected the U. S. was the Thirty Years War in Europe (1618-1648).  This was a war the started between Protestant and Catholic countries in Central Europe who were part of the Holy Roman Empire.  Catholic domination was weakened by the war and Northern European Protestantism were strengthened.

Thus, Protestantism was the religion of choice of those who came to the U. S.  There were virtually no Catholics among the Founding Fathers.

It is sometimes argued that the Crusades weakened the aggressive Islamic countries of the Middle East so much it prevented Islam from being imposed on Europe and later the U.S.

The author correctly points out relatively few resources have be invested in studying the impact of wars on the religious landscape.  When I see the huge volume of published material devoted to arguing about what a religious book like the Bible means,  it’s obvious there is comparatively little material about where and how various religions came to dominate.

It is encouraging to see at least a little interest in studying where various religious ideas originated and the roles of wars and governments in their distribution.

7 Responses

  1. entech

    The whole story being told by Mr. Jenkins raises a question.
    How could we tell which version God actually approves of?
    Which is in fact the one true faith?
    Surely heretics would not be permitted to be on the winning side?
    Come back Joshua you are needed!

  2. eric haugen

    Interesting read. Thanks for the reference. It would be easy to assume that “to the winner goes the spoils” (something like that). However, I think you could make a strong argument that the opposite is true in regards to Christianity. Up until the time of Constantine, under extreme persecution the Christian faith exploded. Fast forward to the modern church and it seems as if the places where the church has become “comfortable” it is withering. When the church merged itself with government and it was “baptize or die” (I am primarily referring to Europe) the church is fading. However, in countries like China where it is banned the church is exploding. I am not a historian and there are big gaps in my knowledge but it seems as if complacency and battlefield victories are not good for the long term survival of the church.

  3. pqbd

    There was also another little skirmish and relocation that has reverberated through history to this day, when “God’s people” marched into Canaan and “destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys” (Joshua 6:21). It would seem the Jews cooked up a little genocide or ethnic cleansing of their own in the name of their god. Of course “All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the Lord and must go into his treasury” (Joshua 6.19). I’m not scholarly enough to know if the order of Biblical verses is significant but in this case the directive about the gold and silver precedes the directive to wipe out the population. I hope someday human brain chemistry will evolve so that all these Godhead emanated voices in people’s heads, these Divine Revelations, would cease. It’s time. Maybe technology will help. Now it is possible to steal the treasury and spare some human lives. Hmmm.

    1. pqbd 1:42 re: The “story” of the Jews.

      Good post.

      The government of Israel has funded a search for archeological evidence of the Moses story for a couple of decades now, and none is to be found. Back in Eygpt, there are suviving records showing that Jews held a least a couple of public positions. In the considerable volume of surviving documents, there is no record of an “exodus”, even though it would have meant a huge dent in the population of that time, a population consentrated in a small area along the water. The prevailing view among skeptics is that Jews went in and out of Eygpt during that period. Archeology has found some of the towns sited in the Bible’s exodus story did not exist when the made up story was was supposed to have taken place.

      The only explanation available about where the Jews came from is that they were indigenous to Canaan and through time came to be the dominant group.

      So, we start the story of Christianity with a dubious account of a hero who overcomes all odds to victory. Then, along comes another hero, doubted by plenty of people at the time and the product of an undoumented history, who also overcomes all odds to victory. It follows the pattern of other religous heros who overcame all odds to victory. Joeseph Campbell’s book, “Hero With a Thousand Faces” discusses many of them.

      1. eric haugen

        My understanding is that there are many historical cities of this era of which there is no record of. They have been completely destroyed. In addition, many of the sites referenced in the exodus account have not even been excavated. There are references by the Egyptian historian Manetho (in a series of books called the Aegyptica) which reference the Jews and the exodus. I am no expert in this area so if these accounts have been completely discredited I do not know. In addition, it is not as if there were objective historians at the time. This was a completely chaotic time in the history of Egypt. The historical writings were often commissioned by the kings were they not?Are we sure the rulers of that era would want to document it?

        1. eric 3:37 I’m not an expert either. I know at least one city mentioned in the epic about Moses has been evacuated. It was determined the city did not exist until after the time of Moses. The thing is, Israel has been paying for, searching for, evidence for 20 years. If there was some great evidence, we would hear about it. We haven’t.

          The only conclusion thus far, and maybe something will show up some day, is the Jewish religion was indigenous to Canaan.

  4. I don’t agree with this premise. I think that other factors trump war in shaping the nature of the religious landscape of the US. The top two are famine and persecution. War would be third. All of those northern European protestants would have been happy to stay where they were if it had not been for the first two factors.

Comments are closed.