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

DEAR LARRY

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

Eva

DEAR EVA

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.

About Larry Walker

Larry Walker loves God and loves people. He has a heart for teaching people how to follow Jesus Christ in all aspects of life. He has worked for years in a recovery ministry called Celebrate Recovery, and also counsels many Pastors throughout the country. Larry answers questions and provides practical application of biblical principles in everyday life. If you've got a question....ask Larry!


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Comments

  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. Betty 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.

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