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Were More People Killed in the Name of God or in the Name of Equality?

Almost anyone who has graduated from college in the last 50 years has repeatedly heard the statement, “More people have been killed in the name of God than in the name of anything else.” And most of them believe it.

It would take a long essay to respond to this claim. I will therefore only note here that if by “God” the people who make this statement are referring to the God of the Bible, and therefore to Christians (Jews rarely had enough numbers or power to persecute anyone), the statement is simply not true.

Yes, Christians killed Jews (though it was never official church doctrine to do so). For example, whole communities of Jews were slaughtered by Christians on their way to fight in the Crusades. And tens of millions of indigenous people in the Americas were killed as a result of Christian invasion and settlement — though most of those deaths were caused by European diseases to which people in the Americas had no immunity. And Christians killed fellow Christians who had a different theology. Between 1618 and 1648, in what became known as the Thirty Years’ War — a war between Europe’s Catholics and Protestants — somewhere between five and eight million people were killed.

But there are few other examples of largescale killings by Christians as Christians (as opposed to people who happened to be Christian killing people, as in the two world wars). For example, during one of the most widely cited examples of Christian killing, the Inquisition, no more than 5,000 people were killed — a number both Jewish and non-Jewish historians agree upon.

The number of people killed by Christians in the 2,000-year history of Christianity is far exceeded by the number of people killed in the Mongol invasions of Europe and China in the 13th century alone — approximately 40 million and 60 million respectively.

It is also dwarfed by the number of people killed by Muslims, mostly Arabs, from the advent of Islam in the seventh century. During the thousand-year Muslim rule in India alone, at least a hundred million Hindus were killed. (The Indian government rarely speaks of this for fear of introducing civil strife between its Hindu and Muslim populations.) With regard to the staggering number of Hindus killed by Muslims, historian Will Durant, in his magisterial 11-volume “The Story of Civilization” (co-authored with Ariel Durant), wrote: “The Mohammedan conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history.”

Given that those who say, “More people have been killed in the name of God than in the name of anything else,” are referring to Christians, it is not intellectually honest to include the Muslim murder of Hindus as those who have killed “in the name of God” without specifying that most of that killing was done by Muslims.

Finally, and most importantly, there is something in whose name more people have been killed — in the last century alone — than in the name of anything (except Allah). And that thing is “equality.” Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and other communist tyrants killed at least 100 million noncombatants and enslaved a billion others. All in the name of “equality.”

And that is inevitable. While “all men are created equal,” as the American Declaration of Independence put it, based upon the biblical, Judeo-Christian origins of the American Revolution, it is not possible to achieve equality without violence. That is why the French Revolution, rooted in “equality,” led to the guillotine, while the American Revolution, which was not rooted in equality, led to the freest country ever created.

Why egalitarianism is a monstrous ideology is the subject of my next column.

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Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His commentary on Deuteronomy, the third volume of The Rational Bible, his five-volume commentary on the first five books of the Bible, will be published in October. His latest books, published by Regnery. He is the co-founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com.

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