Religious conflict includes intolerance of other religions and discrimination against members of other religions, religious war, intellectual conflict and conflict between church and state. Such conflict is harmful to the overall credibility of religion and may cause religious apathy or disintegration. It may arise in the attempt to religiously convert tribal society and may result in ethnic disintegration and loss of cultural heritage. Religious conflict can ensue from political conflict.
Religious intolerance and discrimination exist on a worldwide scale. Conflict between church and state or other conflict occurs in the Middle East and in Northern Ireland and Cyprus. Competition and rivalry between religions also accounts for conflict. Islam and Christianity are competing for converts in parts of black Africa. Christian missionaries have made inroads into indigenous cultures, particularly in Latin America where native populations have been reduced to a state of poverty and dependency and in many cases are dying out. On the Indian sub-continent, where the Sikhs, Hindus and Moslems are involved in fratricidal blood-shed, the governments have not been able to mount a bulwark between rival religions and sects to prevent such conflict. In Southeast Asia and the Pacific tensions of greater or lesser religious nature are increasing in New Caledonia Fiji, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Australia and New Zealand.
In most current conflicts, fighting is basically not about civilization and religion, but about territories, raw materials, and trade and money. But ethnic/religious rivalries form the permanent framework within which the political economic and military conflicts can be justifies, inspired and exacerbated at any time for the purposes of territorial conflict, political interests and economic competitions. This backdrop of underlying causes stretches back over 1,000 years.