However, their many points of similarity are no guarantee that their followers can get along. Most of the serious religiously motivated conflicts, mass crimes against humanity and genocides in the 20th century have been between Muslims and Christians. This has included genocides in Bosnia Herzegovina, East Timor, and the Sudan, as well as serious conflicts in Cyprus, Kosovo, Macedonia, and the Philippines. As of late 2009, two of these conflicts (Sudan and Philippines) are still active, and three others are inert only because of peacekeepers on the ground.
It is difficult to compare Christianity to any other religion, because there is such a wide range of beliefs and practices among various wings of Christianity: Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox churches, the Anglican communion and the tens of thousands of Protestant faith groups. Some commentators have suggested that Christianity consists of a number of different religions which share little more than the Bible and the name of their religion. Protestant Christianity is obviously divided into a least liberal and conservative wings -- divisions which hold few beliefs in common. Some of the descriptions below will thus necessarily be somewhat simplistic and lacking in precision.
To complicate matters further, religious practices and beliefs throughout the world are influenced by many factors:
- What the religion's holy book says.
- How the book is interpreted by theologians and clergy
- The impact of scientific findings.
- Individuals' personal experience, and above all:
- The culture in which the religion is embedded
These factors vary from country to country. This leads to selective reading of the Holy Book to find justification for local practices. To take one example, consider what different faiths in various countries teach about homosexual behavior, and how their legal systems treat lesbians, gays, and bisexuals:
- Same-sex behavior is a capital crime in six Muslim countries.
- One Christian country in Africa is considering making such behavior a capital crime.
- Many countries, both Muslim and Christian, assign long term jail sentences to sexually active gays and lesbians.
- Other countries have no laws on the books regarding same-sex behavior.
- Same-sex couples in Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Spain and South Africa -- all at least nominally Christian -- can marry.
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