Insights from the dashboard: Religions in peace and war
Religions can contribute to peace but also drift into conflict and war. This article delves into interreligious conflicts and collaboration.
In our globalised era, different religious groups and denominations are increasingly in contact with one another. Religious institutions contribute to dialogue, but can also inspire war or conflict. This is illustrated in some religious organisations’ actions during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In this article, we will dive into the impact of religions on peace and war, specifically looking at the Russia-Ukraine war.
We use the EARS dashboard to gain insights from recent publications. The EARS dashboard provides us with a collection of summaries from European media articles on the topic of religion and society. By using the tools available on the dashboard, we can narrow our search to specific themes.
To find out how religious groups and people work with – and possibly, against – each other, we can choose the topic interreligious from the top panel on the dashboard. From the dashboard’s glossary, we can read that interreligious means “occurring between, or existing between members of two or more religions.” If we adjust the time frame to concern the last year, we find 161 summaries of news articles, all of them concerning interreligious issues.
Religions, conflict, and tension
The dashboard provides us with a number of tools that help us to explore these 161 articles resulting from our search. For instance, by using the Topic Venn, we can find out which five topics most frequently overlap with interreligious in the news articles of our scope. As demonstrated below, the five most often occurring topics that overlap with interreligious are conflict, tension, leadership, religious institutions, and identity. This information shows us that some interreligious issues relate to some sort of discord, as both conflict and tension appear in the Venn.
Peace and war
Another useful tool on the dashboard is the word cloud. It provides us with information about the events and people included in our 161 articles. As shown below, leaders such as Pope Francis, (King) Charles, and Patriarch Kirill were regularly mentioned in the articles tagged with the interreligious keyword. Many rather positive words emerge in the word cloud, such as dialogue, meeting, and peace. However, words such as Russian, Ukraine, and war seem to relate to the above-mentioned topics of conflict and tension.
Religions in and for peace
As we dig into the 161 articles of our search, it soon turns out that many of them indeed concern religious leaders and transnational entities, such as the World Council of Churches (WCC), which also appears in the word cloud. The news summaries include articles about the WCC’s efforts for peace and dialogue in many different contexts. For instance, their work in the war between Russia and Ukraine is covered.    Similarly, articles show how Pope Francis has met several leaders  and representatives of the WCC in order to find a way out of the war between Russia and Ukraine. Pope Francis has also contributed to peace between Muslims and Christians in Palestine, and requested religions around the world to protect the environment. In the spring of 2023, the pope gave a special gift, two fragments of the Holy Cross, to King Charles at his coronation.   Interreligious elements played an active role in King Charles’s coronation, as leaders and representatives of many religious denominations were invited. 
Narrowing down our search
To further narrow down our search, we can add keywords to our filter in the dashboard’s top panel. When we add the keyword conflict to our existing search for interreligious, and select the ‘&’ button, this results in all articles including both of these keywords. At the time of our search, 46 news summaries in our selected time frame include both the keywords conflict and interreligious. To further narrow down our search, we can also add tension to our search. The dashboard contains 26 news articles containing all three of these keywords.
Religions in and during the war
By exploring these 26 articles, it turns out that religious leaders and groups are sometimes in conflict with each other. For instance, there have been tensions between the Roman Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church during the war, as Patriarch Kirill has considered some of the statements of Pope Francis as not to “contribute to the preparations for the planned meeting” between the two. Some leaders, such as French President Emmanuel Macron, have also criticised the pope for doing too little to support Ukraine in the war. According to Macron, speaking about peace is not enough in the current situation. Tensions have also occurred in the relationship between the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) and the Russian Orthodox Church, and these tensions have finally led to the draft of law that would prohibit the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) on the territory of Ukraine.
The EARS dashboard allows us to gain insights into a large number of topics, including interreligious matters as featured throughout this article. The dashboard is a free tool that allows us to make connections like those described above, and to find out about relationships between interesting subjects across Europe. Please visit the dashboard to learn more.
Our team of analysts conducts research on topics relating to religion and society. Find out their relationships on the EARS Dashboard.