Socrates (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes:
On the issue of the Covenant, specifically the religious and social hierarchy of the Covenant: I don't believe that this is a religious war at all. In fact, I think it's something much more power-oriented. I believe that, based on information present in the Fall or Reach, the "Prophets" long ago set themselves up as the leaders of the Elites, ruling over them through the then important religious aspects of both societies. However, all the Prophets were interested in power, and eventually, many years/decades/centuries later, the Prophets ruled through fiat simply because they were the most closely connected with the Gods (Forerunner).
Thus, it was not the "will of the gods" which necessitated the attempt for the destruction of the Human race, but the will of the Prophets, as political leaders. The Elites believed the Prophets were oracles, the mouthpieces of the Gods (Forerunners), speaking the words that the Forerunners communicated to them from The Beyond. The Elites, in turn, then provided the military power to keep the rest of the Covenant in line, using the religious belief system as a tool to keep loyalty and discipline.