Crusades Image Gallery: Images of Religious Violence, Hatred, Warfare
The Crusades were Christian military and religious expeditions launched both against rival religions (primarily Islam), Jews, and even other Christians. Not only did the Crusades lay the groundwork for medieval Christian society and feudalism, but they also laid the groundwork for contemporary violence between Muslims and Christians. In any substantive criticism of religion and religious violence, the Crusades will naturally play an important role.
Both Islam and Christianity became involved with mass murder over religion, holy sites, and religious beliefs for centuries. It's likely that the relationship between Christianity and Islam today would be very different if it weren't for the Crusades and it's little wonder that so many see religion as more a force for violence than peace.
The Crusades are not a simple issue or event, though. They occurred in multiple places with multiple actors over the course of centuries. Quite often the subject is overly simplified, but that doesn't mean it's too complicated to understand. It's well worth the time and attention to learn more about the Crusades because they tell us a lot about how politics can become infused with religion which ignites incredible violence and destruction.
Religion was not the only factor in the Crusades, but the Crusades were ultimately unthinkable without the extreme religious fervor on both sides. Christians were inspired by God and encouraged by priests to conquer the Holy Lands - not to mention killing dissident Christians located in Europe itself. Muslims were also inspired by God and encouraged by their own leaders to defend their territory and, if possible, to expand the dominion of Islam itself. The Crusades should be a lesson about not only the dangers in religion generally, but especially when religion and religious interests are allowed to control politics.