Most of the great cities of the world now are melting pots of people practicing different religions. The most widely practiced religions include Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism. Religions help guide people through their daily lives and gain spiritual fulfillment. If all religions are about help and guidance we should not aim to create conflicts with people of other faiths in the name of a religion. If we fight in the name of a religion we are betraying the purpose of the very religion we follow.
The dangers and negative impacts of religious intolerance are numerous. The lack of trust among peoples creates barriers, affecting social relations and every day good will. Tribal feelings can arise where people of one religion won’t mix or trade goods with people of another religion. Communication can break down and suspicion can lead to conflict.
The first President of the United States and a leader of the American Revolution, George Washington blamed the destruction of peace in societies on religious intolerance.
“Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought most to be deprecated.
Conflicts often arise when extremists of one religion injure or murder worshippers of another. The result often leads to continuous tit for tat attacks by members of each group, whom are drawn in to conflict. If a state has a strong police force and legal system that protects freedom of religion the outbreaks of extremist action can often be contained.
Widespread outbreaks of continual violence are more prevalent in developing nations without strong legal systems to enforce peace and punish the perpetrators.
According to Wikpedia.org Nigeria, the most populous African country (with a population of over 200 million in 2018), is ‘nearly equally divided between adherents of Christianity and Islam.’
On 27 th December 2019, Islamic State in Nigeria released a video, claiming to show the beheading of 44 Christians. According to the BBC, IS said it was part of its recently declared campaign to “avenge” the death of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi during a US raid in Syria in October. The BBC also estimates over 1000 Christians were murdered by the group in 2019.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said in response, “”We should, under no circumstance, let the terrorists divide us by turning Christians against Muslims because these barbaric killers don’t represent Islam.”
In 2019 an Australian man was charged with ‘terrorism’ for carrying out the shooting and murder of 51 Muslim worshippers in Christchurch, New Zealand. It was New Zealand’s worst peace time massacre that led to changes to the country’s gun laws.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, during a news conference in Wellington took swift and strong action. She said, the government will sharply restrict access to “virtually all” semi automatic weapons by reclassifying them to require a police permit.
“I can assure people that there is no point in applying for such a permit,” she said.