Beliefnet

Anglican Bishop Andudu Adam Elnail

He warned of a famine this year, since the Sudan government’s attacks displaced tens of thousands just at the start of the planting season.

“There is hunger coming now and already people are hungry,” he said.

 “Once you don’t plant anything, there’s nothing you’re going to harvest,” said Jimmy Mulla, president and co-founder of Voices for Sudan, a U.S.-based coalition of Sudanese-led organizations.

The famine is particularly acute in the two provinces the north has not allowed to vote – the border areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile. There the government is again attempting ethnic cleansing, said Mulla.

Last June, just ahead of South Sudan’s independence, the Sudan Armed Forces began bombing the border regions and is now refusing to allow aid into these areas.

Northern Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir

Al-Bashir has “decided since he can’t win militarily, he’s going to starve everyone to death,” says Andrew S. Natsios, author of Sudan, South Sudan and Darfur: What Everyone Needs to Know, published by Oxford University Press.

So, is all religion in general to blame?

Some academics are quick to embrace that thesis, but not historian Augustine Perumalil. In a 2004 paper, he examined what he calls “two views of religion-inspired violence which are popular in certain circles – the view that it is in the very nature of religion to generate violence; and that the cause of religious violence is the presence of male pronouns and violent images in religious discourse.”

He found both “inadequate,” instead coming to the conclusion that “much of the violence attributed to religion is in fact caused by deeper social, economic and political conflicts arising from the avarice of certain sections of society for dominion, and from a sense (actual or imaginary) of deprivation, injury, injustice and insecurity of the masses.”

He noted that “People are sanctioned to kill in defense of country and defense of religion. For some entities, the fight is no longer my form of government against yours. It is my religion and my beliefs against yours.” But, as Hungtington observed and as Mark Juergensmeyer noted in his 2001 book Terror in the Mind of God,since the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, there has been a sharp increase in the religion-related conflicts.

“With the fall of the USSR,” writes Perumalil, “fighting in the name of religion has replaced the battles pitting the capitalist West against the Communist bloc.”

William Edelen, in a 1999 article “Religion is the Cause of Violence,” places the responsibility for violence solely at the door of religion and argues that it is religion’s very nature to provoke conflict. In fact, he charged, religion has been the culprit from Moses to the Crusades, Henry VIII, Salem, Hitler and Kosovo.”

Such an argument is “flawed on account of being simplistic,” observes Perumalil. What is truly to blame — religion – or the inherent

darkness of human hearts – which religions from the dawn of time have attempted to address?

Peter wields his sword at Malchus’ ear

Consider Jesus Christ and the Apostle Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane. The Gospel of John, chapter 18, tells us that at the conclusion of the Last Supper, Jesus went out into the night with His disciples. Judas, who had accepted 30 pieces of silver to betray Him, knew the garden where Jesus liked to pray and guided the soldiers there, carrying lanterns and torches and weapons.

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