The “More Wars Fought For God” Myth

just the facts ma'am, dragnet

More people have been killed in the name of God than for any other reason.

People give this objection as if its historically factual. Its not even close. Queue up Joe Friday.

“Even if this were true, you could not conclude that God does not exist or that Jesus was not the Savior by citing acts of violence done in His name. This conduct might tell you something about people. It tells you nothing about God or the Gospel.” – Gregory Koukl Tactics (2009, pgs., 176-177).

The Troubles in Northern Ireland, The Inquisition, The Crusades, and 9/11 are all admittedly heinous tragedies. However, the historical facts show that the greatest evil has always resulted from denial of God, not pursuit of Him.

“More people have been killed by secular ideologies – Nazism (which stands for ‘National Socialist German Workers’ Party,’ by the way) and communism – than by all religions in history.” – Dennis Prager, “Ultimate Issues,” July-Sept, 1989.

In “Encyclopedia of Wars,” authors Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod document the history of recorded warfare. They list 1,763 wars of which only 123 involve a religious cause = accounting for <7% of all wars (that number goes down to <3% if you remove Islam).

“Most wars are over territorial conquest, to control borders, secure trade routes, or respond to internal challenges to political authority. Contrarily, ancient conquerors (Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, or Roman) openly welcomed the religious beliefs of those they conquered, and often added the new gods to their own pantheon.” – Rabbi Alan Lurie

The greatest evil has not come from people zealous for God, but rather when people are convinced there is no God.

  • 66+ million wiped out under Lenin, Stalin, and Khrushchev;
  • 61+ million Chinese killed under Communist regimes since 1949;
  • 2.7 million Khmers killed between 1975-1979 under the communist Khmer Rouge. (Guinness, 1991, pg. 92).

If your objection to Christianity is that more people have been killed in the name of God than for any other reason, then that simply is not accurate.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.” – Prov. 1:7; 111:10; 2:5; 9:10; 15:33

“When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is this: Fear God and keep His commandments, because this is the whole duty of man.” – Ecc. 12:13

If there is no acknowledgment, reverence, or submission to God, carnage inevitably follows.


All this was culled from Gregory Koukl’s wonderful book, Tactics (2009, pgs 176-177).

Koukl, Gregory. Tactics: a Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2009.

If you look in the Guinness Book of World Records under the category of Judicial, it has a subheading of Crimes: Mass Killings.

Ricochet Evangelism


When we are sharing the Gospel or defending the reason for our hope, we may not be sharing it with the person we are sharing it with. I mean, of course, we are – but that’s not all.

It may be bouncing off them and hitting someone else. Lee Strobel calls this Ricochet Evangelism.

“I have learned that sometimes my real audience is not the person I’m talking to, but the people who are listening in, eavesdropping on the conversation. You may not even know that anyone else was listening. Years later, you discover that the Holy Spirit had a different audience in mind for your efforts.” (Gregory Koukl, Tactics 2009, pg. 164-165)

It makes me think of those old Westerns like The Lone Ranger. He and Tonto are hiding behind a rock during a shootout. Bullets are ricocheting all over the place. Often times it is a bystander that is hit.

I say this because sometimes it can be discouraging when there seems to be no harvest or that the soil is forever rocky. Be encouraged that there may be ears listening of which you are not even aware.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” – Gal. 6:9

Don’t lose heart. Continue sharing the Good News of Christ. You never know for whom that particular message is really intended.