What About: “Christians Killed More People Than Anyone”?


What would you say to this argument someone sent me? “Crusades Inquisition, Salem witch trials? Christians killed more people than anyone.”



I suppose it would depend on the context in which they sent it.  You say they’re presenting it as an argument.  For what?  What is being argued for or against? How does this belief support their position?  I believe that context could matter.

The statement itself probably has enough truth in it that we should take it seriously.  I don’t think any of us knows whether the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Salem witch trials, etc. have resulted in Christians doing more killing than anyone, ever, in the history of the world.  Look at Hitler, for example.  I suspect his slaughter of Jews ranks pretty high up there.  So have other wars.

But the sad truth is that enough killing has been done in the name of religion to be taken seriously.  Most of the wars fought in the history of mankind are said to have been fought over religion or religious ideals.  And Christianity has an ugly history of persecuting others.  Perhaps the saddest example was when the Bible was first translated into English. During that period in our history, Christian Europeans were savage people and behaved in awful ways.  Of course that’s hind sight though.  In the moment, they thought they were doing good — protecting the integrity of the Bible.  (They felt that any translation of the Bible was blasphemy.) 

The point shouldn’t be lost on Christians though.  Just as Islam has its radicals who do heinous things that the majority of Muslims would never consider — so do does Christianity have its radicals who do heinous things that the majority of Christians would never consider.

I saw protesters this week in Libya holding up signs that had messages such as this: “Dear America, we’re not all mad at you.  What these people are doing is not done in the name of Islam.  They don’t represent our prophet.  We’re sorry.  Please forgive us.”  It’s a pretty powerful message.  Wouldn’t you agree?

The point shouldn’t be lost on Christians though.  Just as Islam has its radicals who do heinous things that the majority of Muslims would never consider — so do does Christianity have its radicals who do heinous things that the majority of Christians would never consider.  And that’s your ‘trump card’ against the alleged argument.

An ideal example to illustrate this is found in Mark 9:38-40.  Jesus’ disciples were complaining to Him that they’d observed a man ministering and driving out demons in Jesus’ name.  The disciples thought he should be stopped, because he was not one of them (Jesus’ disciples) and Jesus had not commissioned him or given him the authority to do what he was doing.  But Jesus said, “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us.”  Clearly, the people who persecuted the men that were translating the Bible into English had overlooked this Scripture passage!

Sadly, there will always be the dilemma of Christians behaving badly.  But let’s be clear.  They don’t represent Christ.  They’re not following Christ.  And the rest of us who are truly obedient to Christ have an even bigger cross to bear because of it.

Stay Informed

Subscribe to our e-newsletter and learn to live a Christ-transformed life.


  1. Lawrence Dougherty says

    I would say that the person needs to study history. People in the world were finding reasons to kill each other for years before Christ and Christianity came along. Yet I do not deny that Chrisitians have done an awful lot of killing but that does not mean that the first statement is correct. Ldougherty38

  2. Ian McKerracher says

    I would agree that a l;ittle historical research would be a good thing here. As was said earlier, Yes the Christians did horrible things during the Crusades. The point of that would be the definition of “Christian” at the time and the context. Then, as now, the Church sought to be a major player in the dominant culture of Europe, a role they were never meant to fulfill. That is an attitude that creates armies and wars and killing. It could be argued that those pursuits are directly contrary to the revealed will of God as expressed in the New Testament. In terms of the Salem witch trials, it was obviously a small group of peole with power issues and the total body count from these mass murderers is, I believe, twenty-six. In terms of body counts, it is somewhat distasteful to compare the numbers of the dead for political points. Having said that, if you want to REALLY have a body count, the numbers of dead under the hands of atheists far, far surpasses anything that all the religious wars everywhere have ever made. In the last century alone, with the likes of Pol Pot, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, Hitler, and others, the count is upwards of 200 million. The first atheist revolution, the French Revolution, spawned something called the Reign of Terror. Hmmmmm.

  3. Fount says

    Encourage those who ask you to research the facts. Christians are the most persecuted people in the world when it comes to total number being killed for their faith. According to World Christian Trends research through 2000 AD there were 600 major Christian killing events in 220 countries. Amazingly 5.5 million of those Christians killed were by their “fellow” Christians (the Roman Catholics killed 5.1 million of those people – mainly around the 1200s). However, almost 64 million Christians were killed by non Christians. The number one killer of Christians for being Christians is atheists (usually state powers such as Communist USSR and Communist China) – 32 million murders (primarily a 20th century event when overall 45 million Christians were killed). Muslims come in second at 9 million – but are currently killing Christians faster than anyone else. Third are the animists at 7 million. The Crusades were a delayed reaction to the over 400 years of Muslims attacking and killing Christian lands. The Virginia Tech shooter a couple of years ago killed more people than the entire Salem witch hunt combined. Christians have not been without sin (were are merely forgiven of them) – but we are pretty much always NOT the offender…

  4. Navigator says

    The problem is a “Siri” worldview that many people have these days. Not a thorough investigation, but quick answers. The way people are wired now makes so easy to engineer them. When you post a question like this and blame “Christians” for wars, you have to consider a few things: 1. Christians have been told to obey government, to a degree. 2. Governments like these people since it makes it easy to rule over them and fulfill their ambitions. It maybe why the western world adopted Christianity. 3. Institutionalized and organized religion can influence and be influenced by government. 4. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. 5. One of Jesus’ complains was that the “church” of the time was too corrupt, too powerful and abusive. 6. Jesus does not support a powerful, centralized, unified religious institution, since it can corrupt easily and have devastating consequences (i.e. wars, inquisitions, etc).

  5. says

    Since Christians have been in control for most of the last 2000 years in most parts of the world, or the most powerful of the Empires, including German people under Hitler were mostly Christians, they are responsible for not following the primary difference between the teaching of Jesus to most other Prophets to love your enemies.

    • Ian M. says

      I guess that my point was either forgotten or ignored. To say that Christians have been in control for most of the last 2000 years is historical revisionist at best. It truly is a bald-faced lie which leaves me to wonder what would motivate a person to say so. Whether it is ignorance born by a lack of research or a blind- following of a lie told to them, the result is the same. I am supposing that Betty is not perpetrating this fiction because of any evil intent or personal payoff.

  6. Anonymous says

    Hitler was a christian and a believer in god. He wrote much more in his book. LIVE WITH THAT. —— Just as the Jew could once incite the mob of Jerusalem against Christ, so today he must succeed in inciting folk who have been duped into madness to attack those who, God’s truth! seek to deal with this people in utter honesty and sincerity. -Adolf Hitler, in Munich, 28 July 1922 In the Bible we find the text, ‘That which is neither hot nor cold will I spew out of my mouth.’ This utterance of the great Nazarene has kept its profound validity until the present day. -Adolf Hitler, speech in Munich, 10 April 1923 [The Bible quote comes from Jesus in Revelation 3:16] In the life of nations, what in the last resort decides questions is a kind of Judgment Court of God…. Always before god and the world the stronger has the right to carry through what he wills. -Adolf Hitler, speech in Munich, 13 April 1923 —— http://www.flyingchariotministries.com/Hitler%20and%20church%206.jpg http://www.tiptopwebsite.com/photos3/alliance100/m.jpg http://www.remnantofgod.org/NaziRCC/hitleratchurch.jpg http://skepticism-images.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com/images/jreviews/SS-Church-Wedding.jpg

  7. Ian M. says

    Again, the issue here is the definition of Christian. Hitler was never a Christian in the biblical sense of the term. That you assume that he was, says more about you than him. Perhaps the question should be asked. How do you define the word “Christian”?

  8. Ian M. says

    By the way, some actual research into this question would reveal that only a small fraction of war history can be traced to religious differences. Phillips and Axelrod studies the history of war and found all religions together created about 7% of them. Remove Islam from the equation and the total falls to 3.2. Why is this utter falsehood so strongly believed?

  9. Fount says

    Ian I am not familiar with the Phillips and Axelrod studies of the history of war. However, if they found that only 7% of the wars ever held were created by religious conflicts that would mean to me that they are defining something in an unconventional and very likely incorrect way. Islam has been around since 622 AD and as so as he could Mohammed (their Prophet) started as many wars of conquest as he could. His successors have been doing the same thing for almost 1,400 years now. Look up a listing of Muslim wars or conflicts online – it goes on for pages and pages. Almost every major conflict in the world for the last few decades has had Muslims on one side (or on both sides). Statistics say Muslims have already killed 9 million Christians and the number is growing by the hour now days. How can this reality be an utter falsehood?

  10. Ian M. says

    It is an absolute fact that there were things done in the Name of Christ that are reprehensible. Some of it can be dismissed when put in context of history. Some of it can fit into the rubric of Just War Theory first considered by Augustine. Much of it though, is in direct violation of clear statements in the Bible. How can that be considered Christian violence. It is noted that Islamic violence is given warrant in the Qur’an. The truth about violence, of course, is that the Atheist body count dwarfs all other reasons by a significant degree. Over 200 million victims in the last century alone. There are historians who believe that the “War is caused by Religion” notion were anti-religious sentiments from The Enlightenment.

  11. Fount says

    Ian The atheists are – of course – a religion. Religion is nothing more than the world that defines the relationship between a man and whatever he considers to be his creator or higher power or God. That, of course, includes all of those atheists who see there NOT (a) being a God (theists). Please look back to my October 2, 2012 posting about this reality. If you take the time to break down all those that the atheists killed after their rise to power (starting in 1917 in Russia – and again in 1949 with China) – they killed very few of their fellow atheists. They generally killed Christians (in the case of the Russians) and Folk Religionists & Christians (in the case of the Chinese). In all cases, the atheists were killing off everyone who had a theist viewpoint (most especially Christians) because they knew that would be dangerous to their attempting to rule in an environment of a-theism.

  12. Ian M. says

    One way to increase the numbers of those who died in “religious wars” then would be to declare (subjectively) that Atheists are religious and include the number of their victims in the pile. That sounds a bit underhanded to me. As one who pursues “religion” in a manner which I perceive to be rational, I would want to reject that notion if only I believe that there is a significant opposition to Religion and this feeds their fire on which I am to burn. I suppose therein rests the “lies, damn lies, and statistics” of Samuel Clemens fame.

  13. Fount says

    I am not sure what pursuing a religion in a manner which you perceive to be rational means. I do know what facts are. Such as the Pew Research survey of the “Global Religious Landscape”. Pew (a very respected research institution) classifies as the third largest group of religious in the world to be “Unaffiliated” – which includes the agnostics and the atheists. I could go on about the World Christian Encyclopedia research supporting the same nomenclature but it would be repetitive. Between around 1920 & around 1980 about 20,000,000 Christians DIED in Soviet prison camps. I would have to classify that as significant opposition to religion (in this case the Christian religion). Perhaps the current radical Islam campaign of killing Christians wherever they can all around the world has something to do with significant opposition to religion. Or should I inquire further as to what type of rationalist are you?

  14. Ian M. says

    The term “rational Christian” I may use rather freely and I should be aware that it is an idea that is foreign to many. Much of that is because of the Straw-Man Christianity that is popular in the minds of those outside the Church (and, to our embarrassment, also inside the Church). Frankly, I am one that abhors that idea of using “faith” to jump over gaps in my rationality. I believe that questions concerning the existence of God and the nature of God is best answered by the presuppositions contained in biblical Christianity. It is the easiest fit into my experiences and my musings on the topics. I cannot believe in some construct that denies God’s existence because I have seen too much of His work in me and in others to deny His reality. I also cannot believe in a construct that demands that I put aside my reason to fit in. I have pursued God through Jesus Christ for some time now and enjoy a relationship on a personal level with this Deity. That, to me is rational Christianity and I believe that it is the one found in the accounts of the lives of New Testament writers.

  15. Candice G. says

    I have been trying to find out if Christians today are doing heinous crimes against other Christians in comparison to what the muslims do to unbelievers today. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.