The role of religion in war

Were some wars actually caused by differences in religious beliefs or is religion just the excuse given to fight over other resources? A recent example is the war against the Taliban. Are the root differences religious or economic?
A more distant example is the Crusades where Pope Urban decreed that Jerusalem must be returned to Christian hands. I cannot imagine leaving my family to fight for a city so far away. There must have been other “non religious” reasons.
Any comments?

The trouble is that the question assumes the world is black and white. It isn’t.

Was there ever a war attributable purely and totally to religion? No.
Was there ever a war attributable purely and totally to nationalism? No.
Was there ever a war attributable purely and totally to economics? No.
Was there ever a war attributable purely and totally to a desire for power? No.
Have there ever been wars that would not have occured if any of those factors had been removed? Yes, without a doubt.

And that is the question that you really need to be asking. It’s not “was the war caused by religion”. War is never caused by a single factor and until very recently separating religious from secular motives was impossible. Even today it is almost impossibe. Was the current Iraq war caused by religion? No, it wasn’t. Were the religious viewpoints of the President and the people who voted for him important in facilitating the war? No doubt in my mind.

The question then is “would the war not have occured if there was no religious motive.” That question is much easier to answer, and it is affirmative for many wars. However as the case iof the Iraq war proves, it is unanswerable in many cases.

Note that this is not at at all the same as saying that religion causes more wars. If the religious motivation had been removed that war would not have occured, but another war would have broken out elsewhere. Humans seem deterimined to fight and whule religion often provides a target I don’t see any evidene that it actually encourages agression.

They are that, and nationalistic, and the result of the need for some people to have power over others. This is a classic example of a war with multple factors and religion playing a role.

Same deal. Partly economic, partly a domestic political ploy, a defintite religious pretext.

This is one case where, if the religious differences hadn’t existed, this war wouldn’t have been fought, but another war would have been needed, probably into eastern Europe/North Asia.