Most every religion believes in peace.  Peace with one’s self as much as with one’s neighbor.  It is certainly an excellent ideal, however peace eludes those who believe World Peace will come when everyone is my religion.  The faithful believe in peace, talk peace, and want peace.  But the various religions are so discontented with each other, peace is hard to achieve.  Walking out the doors of the churches, synagogues, and mosques are nice people who really believe in peace.  But their convictions can be taken advantage of by fanatical leaders who wave a religious flag and wield a sword.  Religious differences start wars and are a driving force in most wars.  So much aggression, both historical and modern, is exhibited by the faithful in the name of their God.  The philosopher Aldous Huxley notes “There is hardly a single large-scale crime in history which has not been committed in the name of God.”[1]  The religious want peace, speak for peace, and pray for peace, but imbedded in most religions is a plethora of fears.  Fear of death, damnation, sinners, sexuality, and their god.  Fear of others who do not hold similar values.  These fears can surface and override the hope of peace with much less noble reactions.  In addition, religion is a part of many people’s own very personal identity.  Differences in religion are not taken as just differences of opinion, but something much deeper.  When the other guy is not of the proper faith, he is presupposed to be evil, immoral, possessed, cursed, or just plain bad.  When people differ with one another on such a deep spiritual level they end up detesting and distrusting each other.  And sometimes this breaks out into Hatred and Violence, not peace.

[1] Aldous Huxley, Huxley and God Essays, HarperCollins, 1992, pp. 254.