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Lauren Gaertner

Mr. Fronk
AP World History
Period Two Long Essay
Religion has been a cause for conflict and peace in the world for thousands of years. In
the time period of 600 BCE to 600 CE in the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean regions, religion
leading to conflict or peace depended on the regions ruling powers opinion and stance on
religion. The government of a certain area controlled the belief system greatly. There are
examples of both conflict and peace in certain empires due to religion.
In the ancient Roman Empire, Christianity caused massive conflict and death within the
region. The Christians persecution and expansion was largely influenced by the government.
When the religion was first introduced, the Romans began to dislike the Christians because of
their beliefs. The Romans did not like the Christians due to their refusal to worship the Roman
emperor. The Christians instead followed the Jewish belief of monotheism. However, they also
worshipped Jesus, the Son of God, who was crucified by the Romans and rose from the dead. At
first the Christians were a minority, behind the Jews and Romans. The difference in religions
turned violent when in 66 CE, a full-scale revolt broke out in Roman Judea. This revolt finally
ended in 73 CE. The Roman government began to brutally persecute the Christians because of
their refusal to worship the Roman emperor, which they regarded as a sign of disloyalty to the
empire. Even though Christians were being tortured and killed, the religion grew and was spread
throughout the empire.

Another way of how government influenced religion in Rome was when the emperor,
Constantine, who converted to Christianity, ended the persecution of Christians, causing the
religion to explode throughout the region. Constantine eventually moved the capital of the
empire from Rome to Constantinople, partly because more educated people lived there and the
large Christian population. The Roman Empire is a great example of how the governments
stance on religion created conflict or peace.
A different empire greatly affected by the governments views on religion was the
Mauryan Empire. Their leader, Ashoka, engaged in many, bloody violent military campaigns
outside his empire. One battle was so gruesome and deadly, Ashoka became so overwhelmed
that he became a Buddhist. Throughout the rest of his life, Ashoka preached nonviolence,
morality, moderation, and religious tolerance in both government and his private life. He
publicized and advocated his beliefs by writing edicts and placing them all throughout his
empire. Ashoka and his governments practice of religious tolerance created peace throughout
the Mauryan Empire and encouraged the population to practice their beliefs without being
punished or discriminated against. Ashokas tolerance for other religions created a peace within
his empire.
Many times throughout history, the governments stance on a belief system or religion
has created either violence or peace throughout their controlled territory. A more modern
example of this is the Salem witch trials. There was already tensions between the civilians and
the accused witches. These tensions became fatal when Governor William Phipps ordered the
establishment of a Special Court of Oyer (to hear) and Terminer (to decdide) and they began to
convict suspected witches and hang them. Later that year, Phipps replaced the Court of Oyer and
Terminer with the Superior Court of Judicature, which disallowed special evidence. A year later

in May 1693 Phipps realized the error of his ways, but in all, nineteen people were hanged, one
stoned, several died in prison, and over 200 people were accused of witchcraft. The Salem witch
trials were much like the Roman Empire, because government created conflict about a system of
beliefs in those regions.
Throughout the world in 600 BCE to 600 CE, the governments stance on religion and
belief systems has helped create either conflicts or peace in the region they ruled over. In the
Roman Empire, the Romans did not agree with the Christians, and began persecuting them
because of it. Also, later in the Roman Empire, Constantines acceptance of the Christians
allowed the religion to explode and create a more peaceful environment. In the Mauryan Empire,
Ashokas conversion to Buddhism, which stressed religious tolerance, helped to create a very
peaceful empire with reduced conflict. Overall, I believe the governments beliefs about religion
or a particular beief system directly relate to whether or not this religion leads to conflicts or
peace in a specific region.