Essay about Religious Martyrs

Submitted By Ranger801
Words: 2940
Pages: 12

Terrorism has plagued the world for centuries. People feel it is necessary to terrorize, or kill to send a message. Some even go as far as sacrificing their own life for what they feel is a cause greater than themselves. Some of these causes or beliefs include certain ideologies, a call for a revolution, fighting oppression, or religion. Religion has been the foundation for an enormous amount of violence throughout the birth of man. A creation intended for peace towards the universe and towards each other, only to be taken out of context countless times and used as a tool for murder and war. Though, religion can also be peaceful. The 10 Commandments of God, or The Way of The Buddha teach self-respect, not to kill, steal, or cheat on yours or someone else's spouse. As stated before, people base their life on these teachings, some are even willing to die from it. The Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, 100 years’ war, and so on. When people die for these religions, they take with them a special title to the grave. This title is known as a Martyr. In its original meaning, the word martyr, meaning witness, was used in the secular sphere as well as in the New Testament of the Bible. The process of bearing witness was not intended to lead to the death of the witness, although it is known from ancient writers and from the New Testament that witnesses often died for their testimonies. During the early Christian centuries, the term acquired the extended meaning of a believer who is called to witness for their religious belief, and on account of this witness, endures suffering and/or death. The term, in this later sense, entered the English language as a loanword. The death of a martyr or the value attributed to it is called martyrdom. The early Christians who first began to use the term martyr in its new sense saw Jesus as the first and greatest martyr, on account of his crucifixion. The early Christians appear to have seen Jesus as the archetypal martyr. In truth, Jesus was a martyr, though from a realistic point of view, Jesus was a prophet who spread the word of Christianity throughout most of the world. Someone did not like how his use of evangelism was rapidly swaying and winning over the masses, so he was crucified. This is why he is a Martyr. His death sent a massive wave of his teachings across the world. Religion has been implicated in all sorts of conflict and violence throughout human history. There is blood on the hands of the faithful, and no avoiding the fact that in the service of the wrong people, religion can be a force of great harm. This includes Christianity. If we consider the sins of the Christian past critics have plenty to work with – witch-hunts, the Crusades, Christian support of slavery. But the picture is much more complex than is often implied. Take the Inquisition. Dinner party guests are likely to nod in agreement when someone mentions the "millions killed" at the hands of the church but historians now suggest around 5,000 – 6,000 over a 350-year period. That's less than 18 a year. One a year is terrible, but the reality appears a long way from what we are often served up. Likewise the idea that most of the wars of history have been caused by religion is demonstrably false. The vast majority of wars have been conducted in the pursuit of profits or power, or waged for territory or tribal supremacy, even if religion has been caught up in those pursuits. But there is a very real sense in which religion can moderate those forces. David Hart notes that, "Religious conviction often provides the sole compelling reason for refusing to kill or for seeking peace. The truth is that religion and irreligion are cultural variables, but killing is a human constant".
Of course millions were killed at the hands of Mao, Stalin and Pol Pot. To say their murderous totalitarianism had nothing to do with their atheism is to completely misunderstand them and the ideologies on which their actions rested. Yale theologian