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Thread: Reasons for War Between Two Religions

  1. #1

    Reasons for War Between Two Religions

    I'm having trouble figuring out a way to turn animosity between two religious factions into a full-out war.

    Currently, there are two, the Brotherhood and the Pale. They believe in opposing Gods, have opposing traditions, etc. The Brotherhood is significantly larger, richer, and more powerful than the Pale, and currently manipulate the Emperor sitting on the throne.

    What are events that would cause the Brotherhood to simply outlaw the Pale, or call for a crusade/genocide of anybody not within the Brotherhood? For a while I was thinking serial murders would be a good idea, until I realized that murders are a cause for arrest and execution, not the wide-scale conflict I'm searching for. I figured perhaps history had some precedent?

    Thanks so much!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Xanados's Avatar
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    If this war and its factions are an important part of your narrative, you shouldn't have a problem with finding an excuse for them to war. My story is essentially a war-effort between two prime factions. The conflict? Religion. It's a lot more complex than this, obviously. This is a perfectly good reason for conflict, as we all know.

    You're right that murders aren't a cause for war, but what about assassination? You could have a politically charged assassination that sparks a war.

    I can't really say much more. Their belief in opposing Gods, traditions and believes are already a cause for war. It's natural.
    Last edited by Xanados; 1-24-12 at 12:11 PM.
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    Senior Member Graham Irwin's Avatar
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    Think about how the Pharaoh Herod ordered the murder of all male children, because they posed a threat to his rule.

    The ruling party would start a war if they feared the Pale's might usurp their power.
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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Centerfield97 View Post
    I'm having trouble figuring out a way to turn animosity between two religious factions into a full-out war.
    Try economics. Money, resources, the old theories of mercantilism that the wealth of a nation was fixed and could only be improved by taking it from another country - those are the things which are today given credit for causing most wars, aren't they?
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  5. #5
    Think about the Crusades. Lots of Christians slaughtered and invaded other countries (generally islamic) in a huge religious genocide. There are plenty of example from real world history you can sue for inspiration, but I think the Crusades is a great place to start.
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    Senior Member Xanados's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Androxine Vortex View Post
    Think about the Crusades. Lots of Christians slaughtered and invaded other countries (generally islamic) in a huge religious genocide. There are plenty of example from real world history you can sue for inspiration, but I think the Crusades is a great place to start.
    This is what I was thinking when I said, "This is a perfectly good reason for conflict, as we all know," and "It's natural."
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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Androxine Vortex View Post
    Think about the Crusades. Lots of Christians slaughtered and invaded other countries (generally islamic) in a huge religious genocide. There are plenty of example from real world history you can sue for inspiration, but I think the Crusades is a great place to start.
    I'm not defending the Crusades, although there are much worse examples, but genocide is a strong word that should really only be used when it's accurate. True genocidal episodes have resulted in millions of deaths and the total destruction of peoples; the death toll of the crusades was a pittance by comparison. The Crusades were at worst religious imperialism, not genocide.
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  8. #8
    So what you're looking for is the spark that takes it from these two religions really not liking each other, but tolerating the other's existance, to actively trying to destroy one another?

    Well, religions are made up of people, and sometimes people do horrific things in the name of their beliefs even when unsupported by those around them. Look at that Norwegian gunman last year (I forget his name) who believed it was acceptable to murder dozens of people because they were affiliated with a group he disliked the political policies of. You could go that route - a vigilante dissatisfied with the official line of "live and let live" who decides it's time to do something about it. Then the other religion reacts as it might by retaliating in kind, or else condemning it, with members of that religion actively seeking the culpit and not really caring if they're right as long as they hurt/kill someone of the religion the culprit is from. Meanwhile, those of the religion the culprit is from are divided between those who think what he/she did was right, and those who fear reprisals, etc. From there it just requires a few poorly chosen words, a few individuals to take it upon themselves do stand up for their own beliefs, and you've got a war on your hands.

    Alternatively, if you've got a power imbalance, and especially if this is reflected in the population, where the religion in power also has the greater number of followers, dislike can become persecution, which becomes guerilla resistance from the other religion. Think how the Romans persecuted the Christians, but imagine they had just enough power to fight back (I should point out, however, that the Romans/Christians thing did go the other way some two to three centuries later, with the Christians in positions of power and the pagans being persecuted and driven underground).

    I can't think of any ancient Greece examples of religion-based conflicts; the Greeks would believe in any god, if they thought he/she had power to make their life difficult if they didn't, and incorporated lots of gods into their belief system. The more they worshipped, the less likely they were to piss one off, after all. There was even an altar to the unknown god in Athens, in case they'd accidentally left one out.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Androxine Vortex View Post
    Think about the Crusades. Lots of Christians slaughtered and invaded other countries (generally islamic) in a huge religious genocide. There are plenty of example from real world history you can sue for inspiration, but I think the Crusades is a great place to start.
    The thing about that is, at least the First Crusade had little to do with attacking people because of their faith and a lot more to do with the situation in Europe at the time. Contrary to popular belief, people don't declare war on other peope just because they believe in different gods, and they absolutely don't declare war on other people just because they believe in the same god but for different reasons. It's actually a kinda complex and rather fascinating story.

    See, Europe had just come out of the viking age, one of the most violent periods ever. While the old order of people randomly murder-robbing each other for a living had faded away, it had been replaced by a feudal society based on a warrior elite of knights. It was still violent times, but most of Europe was Christianed under the Roman Catholic Church. The Vatican now faced a problem in that they had a whole continent of kingdoms with a surplus of warriors who were not supposed to fight each other. A Christian, ideally, should not make war on another Christian, but all those knights still needed something to do. So they tried to think of a way to channel all this martial excellence towards a productive goal (for them) and realized that, hey, the Muslims have Jerusalem! We have all these knight, so why don't we just take it back?

    So this huge army of people from all over Europe got together and marched on the Holy Land. This was an enormous and kinda insane endevour and most likely, non of them had any idea what they were in for. When the army finally reached Jerusalem they were all nearly dead from exhaustion, starvation and heat stroke. Taking the city under those condition would have been almost impossible but by some miracle they actually pulled it off. They conquered the city and killed every single Muslim they found inside, and then they probably got drunk for a week.

    But here's where it gets really interesting. See, once they calmed down a bit, they realized that they had overlooked one tiny little detail: Jerusalem was now the only Christian kingdom in the entire middle east, and they were completely surrounded by Muslims.

    Ops.

    So, since they couldn't actually fight the entire muslim world, they did what all small groups of invaders do when they find themselves in the middle of a larger culture: They adapted. They started trading with the muslims, because there was nobody else to trade with. They started talking the same language as the muslims, because that made it easier to trade with them. They started dressing like the muslims, and picked up some of their habits, like bathing and using perfumes. And, miraculously, everyone actually got along pretty okay and the Kingdom of Jerusalem lasted for almost a hundred years. Towards the end, this was mostly because the Christian King Baldwin IV and Muslim leader/Jedi Master Saladin were cooperating to make sure everybody kept their shit together.

    Trouble was, Baldwin suffered from leprocy and died at the age of 24. He was succeeded by his brother-in-law Guy de Lusignan, who was completely out of his mind. This guy was a freaking land-pirate and Baldwin had actually tried to annull his marriage to his sister specifically to keep him off the throne, because he knew King Guy was going to royally mess everything up.

    And mess things up he did. Guy started his reign by essentially declaring war on Saladin, which culminated in a humiliating defeat at the Battle of Hattin, after which Saladin tossed him in jail. Saladin then declared that he'd "officially had enough of this bullshit", marched his army to Jerusalem and kicked all the Christians out.

    (Some of you may recognise this as the entire plot of the movie Kingdom of Heaven, which did take a lot of liberties but was surprisingly not completely innacurate. You know, for a Hollywood movie.)
    Last edited by Anders Ämting; 1-24-12 at 2:06 PM.
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  11. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Anders Ämting View Post
    They conquered the city and killed every single Muslim they found inside, and then they probably got drunk for a week.
    There are several accounts of survivors, and many of the statements about "leaving none alive" refer to specific locations within the city, such as the temple, and not to the city as a whole. It's also worth mentioning that much of the city had already evacuated. You give the impression that the death toll was in the hundreds of thousands, but it was a fraction of that number.
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