For background, see "The Real Reason America Used Nuclear Weapons Against Japan. It Was Not To End the War Or Save Lives," and
a Video Reenactment of the Hiroshima Bombing.
Christians have been the major perpetrators of homicidal violence against each other as well as against the world's non-Christians for the past 1700 years. One of the most embarrassing recent examples is Northern Ireland, where Catholics and Protestants have been killing each other for generations. Rwandan Christians brutally massacred hundreds of thousands of their fellow Christians in the mid-1990s. US Christian soldiers, with the prayers and blessings of their Christian churches back home, mercilessly destroyed, physically, emotionally and spirituality, hundreds of thousands of innocent Central American peasants during the Reagan era.
That same church-endorsed military continues its destruction, which includes the spraying of lethal pesticides on peasants and their farms in South America, under the guise of a long-since discredited US drug interdiction policy. And the organized church, perhaps exhibiting a lack of faith in Jesus' clear gospel commands to practice unconditional love of friends and enemies, remains almost totally silent on the indiscriminate human slaughter that is modern war.
When one looks at the last 1700 years of Christianity through the uncensored lens of honest historians, one can't feel anything but disgust at the cruelty that has been perpetrated with the knowledge and consent of the church of Jesus Christ.
The reality of the Crusades, where
Christian soldiers killed without mercy the so-called "enemy of God" pagan
occupiers of the Holy Land, is a dark blot on the history of
The Inquisitions, where Jews, wise
women and other "heretics" were tortured and burned at the stake, often during
religious celebrations, went on for 600 years, with the blessings of official
The reformation and
counter-reformation wars started in the 16th century by those in charge of
church doctrine. All sides, Lutheran, Calvinist, Catholic and Anglican, believed
that one could follow Jesus and simultaneously kill each other as well as any
other member of the body of Christ who happened to have a different
interpretation of the Bible.
The American Civil War resulted in
the deaths of over 600,000 American soldiers, virtually all claiming
Christianity as the faith of their fathers, the North using the Bible as
justification for total war, the South justifying the institution of slavery.
Both sides participated unhesitatingly in the mutual
Both World Wars I and II were
started and fought by Christians against fellow Christians, with the pulpits on
all sides ringing with flag-waving patriotism - the people in the pews shouting
for blood, glory and victory for the fatherland.
The atomic bombing of Nagasaki (and
the obliteration of that city, the historical and spiritual center of Oriental
Christianity) is still regarded as totally pointless overkill by all credible
historians; but the bombing was carried out by an all-Christian bomb crew, whose
mission was solemnly blessed by its Catholic and Lutheran chaplains on that day,
the infamous August 9, 1945.
The on-going genocide, both military
and economic, of indigenous peoples since the arrival of Columbus, is still
being perpetrated with the full knowledge, consent and participation of decent,
"God-fearing" "bible-believing" Christians and justified by passages found
mainly in the pre-Christian scriptures.
Most of the non-Christian world
knows without a doubt that Jesus was a pacifist and preached active, nonviolent
resistance to evil (rather than the justified violence against "evildoers" that
is commonly preached today in most of Christendom). Outside observers know that
Jesus was a merciful and compassionate teacher/prophet who renounced homicide
and violence in all its forms. Given those facts, one has to wonder what has
been going on inside the Christian churches for the last 17 centuries. (It is
instructive to recall that Gandhi, a devout Hindu and widely considered the most
Christ-like figure in the 20th century, often said that the only
people who don't think Jesus was nonviolent are
And therein lies a serious spiritual
problem for the church. History documents clearly that the Christian church of
the first three centuries took Jesus' teachings of unconditional love of friend
and enemies seriously. Indeed, the church that sprang up among the followers of
the nonviolent Jesus started out, as one would expect, as a true peace church.
So, if the church of the first few centuries was a peace church, and the latter
churches of the last 1700 years have virtually all been either Holy War churches
or Justified War churches, one has to wonder: 'What would the world be like
now if every church had been a peace church?" A little clear thinking for
those who know a modicum of history would come up with a multitude of
tantalizing possibilities, including the following:
1. The baptized Catholic Adolf Hitler would have been raised within a
progressive peace church by a strong pacifist Catholic mother who would have
nurtured and loved and protected little Adolf from the cruelty of his father and
the cruelty and anti-Semitism of the Austrian Christian culture he grew up
The Lutheran Adolf Eichmann, the Russian Orthodox dictator Joseph Stalin,
and the Catholics
Benito Mussolini and Joseph Goebbels
and most of the rest of those of Nazi infamy were baptized Christians, but none
of them were ever taught that the Sermon on the Mount was central to the
theology of Jesus and that therefore nonviolence was at the core his
3. If every church had been a peace church, the American Christian churches
of the South would have rejected the brutal enslavement of blacks Africans and
the American Civil War would not have happened.
4. If every church had been a peace church, Christian European monarchs and
their obedient Christian soldiers would not have raped Africa, Asia and the
Americas into colonial submission over gold, silver and slaves, and the bloody
armed revolutions of liberation a century later would not have been
5. If every US church was a peace church, a unified, benevolent United
States would be working hard right now to nurture and reconcile with, rather
than demonize and marginalize, the officially feared and hated minorities such
as Muslims, Palestinians, Jews, blacks, Hispanics, gays, lesbians, and non-white
foreigners of various ethnicities and religious
If every church was a peace church, there would not be the current
crippling military budget which makes every program of social uplift
If every European church had been a peace church, there would have been
no World War I, no oppressive Treaty of Versailles, no Nazi party and no World
If every church was a peace church American Christian children would not
be cruelly bullying their weaker brothers and sisters in the Columbine high
schools of this land, and the victims of bullying would have no reason to shoot
If every church had been a peace church, professed Christian presidents
would not be trying to outspend their predecessors on lethal weapons systems,
nor would they become gleeful hanging judges with a need to disprove their
suspected wimp-hood by saber-rattling their nations into World War
10. And if
every church had been a peace church, those who claim discipleship to the
nonviolent Jesus would be leading the world to peace, rather than into
And the Peaceable Kingdom of God
would be at hand.
By Gary G. Kohls, MD, Duluth, MN, for Every Church A Peace Church, whose
firm belief is that "the church could lead the world toward peace if every
church taught and lived as Jesus taught and lived." The website of Every Church
A Peace Church is http://www.ecapc.org.