During the 1990s, perhaps 150,000 people perished in the hellish violence that raged over the Balkan peninsula. Although the conflicts were largely defined by ethnic differences, religion played a critical role in the three-sided war between Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholics, and Muslims. Armed gangs would burst into a house and demand that residents make the sign of the cross. Your life could depend on whether you made the horizontal bar from right to left (Orthodox) or vice versa (Catholic). Across Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina, ancient places of worship were desecrated and their artistic treasures vandalized.
Philip Jenkins is professor of history at Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion and author of The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade and The Many Faces of Christ: The Thousand-Year Story of the Survival and Influence of the Lost Gospels.