Religion and the War in Ukraine—What Does the Bible Say?

Consider the following regarding prominent religious leaders and the war in Ukraine:

  •  “The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, has not said a word against Russian aggression. . . . His Church’s systematic propaganda campaign about Ukraine has been utilised in Putin’s justification for war.”—EUobserver, March 7, 2022.

  •  “Patriarch Kirill . . . has sent his strongest signal yet justifying his country’s invasion of Ukraine—describing the conflict as part of a struggle against sin.”—AP News, March 8, 2022.

  •  “Ukrainian Orthodox Church leader, Metropolitan Epiphanius I of Kyiv, on Monday blessed his people to ‘fight against the Russian invaders’ . . . [He] also stated that killing Russian soldiers isn’t a sin.”—Jerusalem Post, March 16, 2022.

  •  “We [the Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations (UCCRO)] support the Armed Forces of Ukraine and all our defenders, we bless them in their defense of Ukraine from the aggressor, and offer our prayers for them.”—UCCRO * Statement, February 24, 2022.

 What do you think? Should religions that claim to follow Jesus Christ encourage their members to go to war? What does the Bible say?

The history of religion in war

 History shows that religion has often condoned, justified, or even promoted war while pretending to work for peace. For decades, Jehovah’s Witnesses have exposed such religious hypocrisy. Consider some examples cited in our publications.

  •  “The Crusades—A ‘Tragic Illusion’” shows how the Roman Catholic Church was responsible for massacres committed in the name of God and of Christ.

  •  “The Catholic Church in Africa” describes an example of how religion failed to prevent tribal warfare, even genocide.

  •  The articles “Is Religion to Blame?,” “Religion’s Role in Man’s Wars,” and “Religion Takes Sides” explain how Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant clergy have supported both sides of many wars.

Should Christian religions support war?

 What Jesus taught: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39) “Continue to love your enemies.”—Matthew 5:44-47.

 Consider: Can a religion claim to obey Jesus’ commands about love and at the same time encourage its adherents to kill others in war? For the answer, read the articles “True Christians and War” and “Is It Possible to Love One’s Enemies?”

 What Jesus said: “My Kingdom is no part of this world. If my Kingdom were part of this world, my attendants would have fought that I should not be handed over.” (John 18:36) “All those who take up the sword will perish by the sword.”—Matthew 26:47-52.

 Consider: If Christians were not to fight even to protect Jesus, should they take up arms for any other reason? Read the article “Is War Compatible With Christianity?” to see how early Christians faithfully followed Jesus’ example and teachings. {continue reading}

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