That’s the lesson Ferdinand Mount draws from Karen Armstrong’s Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence, citing her claim that every major faith tradition “has tracked the political entity in which it arose; none has become a ‘world religion’ without the patronage of a militarily powerful empire and every tradition would have to develop an imperial ideology”:
The conversion of Constantine also meant the conscription of Christianity. It was not long before Augustine of Hippo was developing the convenient theory of the ‘just war’. Similarly the ahadith, the later reports of the Prophet’s sayings, confer a spiritual dimension on warfare which it doesn’t have in the Koran. Militant Sikhs today prefer to quote the martial teachings of the Tenth Guru rather than those of their founder Guru Nanak, who taught that only ‘he who regards all men as equals is religious’.
Christopher Hitchens had it the…
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