An Essay Written By William T. Cavanaugh

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In an Essay written by William T. Cavanaugh, he realized that many scholars were unable to define and distinguish religion from secular nations. He questioned why religion had only recently been separated from political institutions, by providing the example of the Aztec religion. He stated “Is Aztec ‘politics’ to blame for their bloody human sacrifices, or is Aztec ‘religion’ to blame?” He suggests that although many argue that Religion plays a major factor in the cause of conflicts shouldn’t many countries that claim to be completely secular do the same? Many secular nations such as the United States and their strong belief in nationalism could technically be considered to be a religion, as it withholds many qualities religions do; for example, appealing to myth and symbol in religion and in nationalism it is devotion to the flag and war memorials. Secular ideologies and institutions can be prone to violence as well as they are absolutist, divisive and in some cases irrational. With the broad definition of religion and nationalism and other secular ideologies and institutions falling under the same umbrella of religion, it can be argued that for the case of the United States the religion of nationalism is indeed a cause of war. However, more prominent religious groups have also been closely involved in acting as a cause of war, as stated in Lecture 2 by Professor Tom Greggs. Professor Tom Greggs explained that despite the fact that many religions had claimed to be…

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