Religious violence

Religious violence
The Crusades were a series of a military campaigns fought mainly between Christian Europe and Muslims. Shown here is a battle scene from the First Crusade.

Religious violence is a term that covers all phenomena where religion, in any of its forms, is either the subject or object of violent behaviour.[1] Religious violence is, specifically, violence that is motivated by or in reaction to religious precepts, texts or doctrines. This includes violence against religious institutions, persons, or objects, when the violence is motivated by some religious aspect of the target or precept of the attacker. Religious violence does not refer exclusively to acts committed by religious groups but also includes acts committed against said groups by non religious or atheist persons, and vise versa.

Religious violence, like all violence, is an inherently cultural process whose meanings are context-dependent.[attribution needed] Religious violence often tends to place great emphasis on the symbolic aspect of the act. Religious violence is primarily the domain of the violent "actor", which may be distinguished between individual and collective forms of violence. Overall, religious violence is perpetrated for a very large number of ideological reasons and is generally only one of a very large number of underlying social and political issues that lead to the unrest in question.


Definition of violence

Ralph Tanner cites the definition of violence in the Oxford English Dictionary as going "far beyond (the infliction of) pain and the shedding of blood". He argues that, although violence clearly encompasses injury to persons or property, it also includes "the forcible interference with personal freedom, violent or passionate conduct or language (and) finally passion or fury."[2] Similarly, Abhijit Nayak writes that:

The word "violence" can be defined to extend far beyond pain and shedding blood. It carries the meaning of physical force, violent language, fury and, more importantly, forcible interference.[3]

Terence Fretheim writes:

For many people, ... only physical violence truly qualifies as violence. But, certainly, violence is more than killing people, unless one includes all those words and actions that kill people slowly. The effect of limitation to a “killing fields” perspective is the widespread neglect of many other forms of violence. We must insist that violence also refers to that which is psychologically destructive, that which demeans, damages, or depersonalizes others. In view of these considerations, violence may be defined as follows: any action, verbal or nonverbal, oral or written, physical or psychical, active or passive, public or private, individual or institutional/societal, human or divine, in whatever degree of intensity, that abuses, violates, injures, or kills. Some of the most pervasive and most dangerous forms of violence are those that are often hidden from view (against women and children, especially); just beneath the surface in many of our homes, churches, and communities is abuse enough to freeze the blood. Moreover, many forms of systemic violence often slip past our attention because they are so much a part of the infrastructure of life (e.g., racism, sexism, ageism).[4]

Religiosity, secularity, and violence

Charles Selengut characterizes the phrase "religion and violence" as "jarring", asserting that "religion is thought to be opposed to violence and a force for peace and reconciliation. He acknowledges, however, that "the history and scriptures of the world's religions tell stories of violence and war even as they speak of peace and love."[5] Ralph Tanner similarly describes the combination of religion and violence as "uncomfortable", asserting that religious thinkers generally avoid the conjunction of the two and argue that religious violence is "only valid in certain circumstances which are invariably one-sided." Tanner asserts that many who have no particular religious beliefs would even argue that violence is a highly likely if not inevitable consequence of the "irrationality" of religious precepts.[6] Similarly, Hector Avalos argues that religions claim "scarce resources" for themselves over and against other groups. Consequently, this may lead to violence because conflicting claims to superiority are based on unverifiable appeals to the supernatural which cannot be adjudicated objectively.[7]

Criticism of religion as violent

Some general critics of religion, who are non-experts on these issues, such as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins go farther and argue that religions do tremendous harm to society in three ways:[8][page needed][9][page needed]

  • Religions sometimes use war, violence, and terrorism to promote their religious goals
  • Religious leaders contribute to secular wars and terrorism by endorsing or supporting the violence
  • Religious fervor is exploited by secular leaders to support war and terrorism

Jack David Eller, an anthropologist of culture, violence, and religion who himself is an atheist, claims:

As we have insisted previously, religion is not inherently and irredeemably violent; it certainly is not the essence and source of all violence." [10] and "Religion and violence are clearly compatible, but they are not identical. Violence is one phenomenon in human (and natural existence), religion is another, and it is inevitable that the two would become intertwined. Religion is complex and modular, and violence is one of the modules - not universal, but recurring. As a conceptual and behavioral module, violence is by no means exclusive to religion. There are plenty of other groups, institutions, interests, and ideologies to promote violence. Violence is, therefore, neither essential to nor exclusive to religion. Nor is religious violence all alike... And virtually every form of religious violence has its nonreligious corollary.[11]

In terms of religion, ethnicity, wars, and conflicts, Eller states:

When a pure or hybrid religious group and/or its interests are threatened, or merely blocked from achieving its interests by another group, conflict and violence may ensue. In such cases, although religion is part of the issue and religious groups form the competitors, or combatants, it would be simplistic or wrong to assume the religion is the "cause" of the trouble or that the parties are "fighting about religion". Religion in the circumstances may be more a marker of the groups than an actual point of contention between them.[11]

Secular violence

With respect to secularity, Byron Bland asserts that one of the most prominent reasons for the "rise of the secular in Western thought" was the reaction against the religious violence of the 16th and 17th centuries. He asserts that "(t)he secular was a way of living with the religious differences that had produced so much horror. Under secularity, political entities have a warrant to make decisions independent from the need to enforce particular versions of religious orthodoxy. Indeed, they may run counter to certain strongly held beliefs if made in the interest of common welfare. Thus, one of the important goals of the secular is to limit violence."[12]

In response to such charges, some have argued that secularity, including atheism, is also compatible with violence and oppression.

  • Secular regimes and leaders have used violence to promote their own agendas [13]
  • Anti-religious regimes have targeted religious believers and those who believe in the supernatural for non-religious ideological reasons [14]
  • Religion is often a convenient means of mustering support for violence; religious leaders often denounce such manipulations [15] [16].

Further examples of such diverse uses of violence by secular authorities, including atheist authorities, have been extensively documented. [17] [18] [19] [20] [14] [21] [22] [23] [24]

Non-religious ideological fervour is commonly and regularly exploited to support war and other aggressive acts. People who wish to wage war and terror will find diverse ways to gather support. Secular ideologies have and will likely continue to use violence, oppression, and manipulation to further their own objectives, with or without the availability of religion as a tool. Wars that are secular in nature need no specifically religious endorsement and regularly operate with and without the support of non-religious ideologies. In addition, there exist few examples of wars waged for specifically religious reasons[25][22]

William T. Cavanaugh, a theology professor who was written on religion, violence, and politics; has contested and challenged the construct of "religious violence".[26] He argues points such as:

  • Religion is not a universal and transhistorical phenomenon. What counts as "religious" or "secular" in any context is a function of configurations of power both in the West and lands colonized by the West. The distinctions of "Religious/Secular" and "Religious/Political" are modern Western inventions.
  • The invention of the concept of "religious violence" helps the West reinforce superiority of Western social orders to "nonsecular" social orders, namely Muslims at the time of publication.
  • The concept of "religious violence" can be and is used to legitimate violence against non-Western "Others".
  • Peace depends on a balanced view of violence and recognition that so-called secular ideologies and institutions can be just as as prone to absolutism, divisiveness, and irrationality.

Historians such as Jonathan Kirsch have made links between the European inquisitions, for example, and Stalin's persecutions in the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, McCarthy blacklists, and other secular events as being the same type of phenomenon as the inquisitions. [27]

Others like, Robert Pape, a political scientist who specializes in suicide terrorism, have made a case for secular motivations and reasons as being foundations of most suicide attacks that are often times labeled as "religious". [28] Pape compiled the first complete database of every documented suicide bombing from 1980-2003. He argues that the news reports about suicide attacks are profoundly misleading — "There is little connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, or any one of the world's religions". After studying 315 suicide attacks carried out over the last two decades, he concludes that suicide bombers' actions stem from political conflict, not religion.[29]

Abrahamic religions

Some critics of religion such as Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer argue that all monotheistic religions are inherently violent. For example, Nelson-Pallmeyer writes that "Judaism, Christianity and Islam will continue to contribute to the destruction of the world until and unless each challenges violence in "sacred texts" and until each affirms nonviolent power of God".[30] Similarly, Eric Hickey writes, "(t)he history of religious violence in the West is as long as the historical record of its three major religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, with their involved mutual antagonisms and struggles to adapt and survive the secular forces that threaten their continued existence."[31]

Regina Schwartz argues that all monotheistic religions, including Christianity, are inherently violent because of an exclusivism that inevitably fosters violence against those that are considered outsiders.[32] Lawrence Wechsler asserts that Schwartz isn't just arguing that Abrahamic religions have a violent legacy, but that the legacy is actually genocidal in nature.[33]

Bruce Feiler writes that "Jews and Christians who smugly console themselves that Islam is the only violent religion are willfully ignoring their past. Nowhere is the struggle between faith and violence described more vividly, and with more stomach-turning details of ruthlessness, than in the Hebrew Bible".[34]

However Tom O'Golo declares that religious fundamentalists that use violence to further their cause contravene the root truth of all faiths:

A genuine fundamentalist is also a radical, someone who tries to get the root of the matter. A major weakness with many or perhaps most radicals is not that they don't dig, but that they don't dig deep enough. Consequently many fundamentalists end up defending or acting upon beliefs which are not really at the heart of their doctrine. For example any religious fundamentalist who harms others in the pursuit of his or her radicalism is strictly out of order as no true religion ever encounters anything but love, tolerance and understanding. 'Thou shalt not kill' is at the heart of all genuine faiths, certainly the three based upon Abraham and God. That trio comprehensively condemns intentional harm to others (and to the self as well) for what ever reason. Dying to protect one's faith is acceptable; killing to promote it isn't. Arguably, it is blasphemous to say that God needs an earthly army to fight Its battles, or perform Its revenge. God is quite capable of fighting Its own battles.[35]


I Believe in the Sword and Almighty God (1914) by Boardman Robinson.

The relationship of Christianity and violence is the subject of controversy because one view is that Christianity advocates peace, love and compassion while it is also viewed as a violent religion.[36][37][38] Peace, compassion and forgiveness of wrongs done by others are key elements of Christian teaching. However, Christians have struggled since the days of the Church fathers with the question of when the use of force is justified.[according to whom?] Such debates have led to concepts such as just war theory. Throughout history, certain teachings from the Old Testament, the New Testament and Christian theology have been used to justify the use of force against heretics, sinners and external enemies. Heitman and Hagan identify the Inquisitions, Crusades, wars of religion, and antisemitism as being "among the most notorious examples of Christian violence".[39] To this list J. Denny Weaver adds "warrior popes, support for capital punishment, corporal punishment under the guise of 'spare the rod and spoil the child,' justifications of slavery, world-wide colonialism in the name of conversion to Christianity, the systemic violence of women subjected to men."[improper synthesis?] Weaver employs a broader definition of violence that extends the meaning of the word to cover "harm or damage", not just physical violence per se. Thus, under his definition, Christian violence includes "forms of systemic violence such as poverty, racism, and sexism."[40]

Another Christian thought is of opposition to the use of force and violence. Sects that have emphasized pacificism as a central tenet of faith have resulted from the latter thought. However, Christians have also engaged in violence against those that they classify as heretics and non-believers specifically to enforce orthodoxy of their faith.

Christian theologians point to a strong doctrinal and historical imperative within Christianity against violence, particularly Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, which taught nonviolence and "love of enemies". For example, Weaver asserts that Jesus' pacifism was "preserved in the justifiable war doctrine that declares all war as sin even when declaring it occasionally a necessary evil, and in the prohibition of fighting by monastics and clergy as well as in a persistent tradition of Christian pacifism."[40]

Many authors highlight the ironical contradiction between Christianity's claims to be centered on "love and peace" while, at the same time, harboring a "violent side". For example, Mark Juergensmeyer argues: "that despite its central tenets of love and peace, Christianity—like most traditions—has always had a violent side. The bloody history of the tradition has provided images as disturbing as those provided by Islam or Sikhism, and violent conflict is vividly portrayed in the Bible. This history and these biblical images have provided the raw material for theologically justifying the violence of contemporary Christian groups. For example, attacks on abortion clinics have been viewed not only as assaults on a practice that Christians regard as immoral, but also as skirmishes in a grand confrontation between forces of evil and good that has social and political implications."[41]:19-20, sometimes referred to as Spiritual warfare. The statement attributed to Jesus "I come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword" has been interpreted by some as a call to arms to Christians.[41]

Maurice Bloch also argues that Christian faith fosters violence because Christian faith is a religion, and religions are by their very nature violent; moreover, he argues that religion and politics are two sides of the same coin—power.[42] Similarly, Hector Avalos argues that, because religions claim divine favor for themselves, over and against other groups, this sense of righteousness leads to violence because conflicting claims to superiority, based on unverifiable appeals to God, cannot be adjudicated objectively.[37]

Forward with God! (1915) by Boardman Robinson.

In response to such criticism, Christian apologists such as Miroslav Volf and J. Denny Weaver reject charges that Christianity is a violent religion, arguing that certain aspects of Christianity might be misused to support violence but that a genuine interpretation of its core elements would not sanction human violence but would instead resist it. Among the examples that are commonly used to argue that Christianity is a violent religion, J. Denny Weaver lists "(the) crusades, the multiple blessings of wars, warrior popes, support for capital punishment, corporal punishment under the guise of 'spare the rod and spoil the child,' justifications of slavery, world-wide colonialism in the name of conversion to Christianity, the systemic violence of women subjected to men". Weaver characterizes the counter-argument as focusing on "Jesus, the beginning point of Christian faith,... whose Sermon on the Mount taught nonviolence and love of enemies,; who faced his accusers nonviolent death;whose nonviolent teaching inspired the first centuries of pacifist Christian history and was subsequently preserved in the justifiable war doctrine that declares all war as sin even when declaring it occasionally a necessary evil, and in the prohibition of fighting by monastics and clergy as well as in a persistent tradition of Christian pacifism."[40]

Miroslav Volf acknowledges that "many contemporaries see religion as a pernicious social ill that needs aggressive treatment rather than a medicine from which cure is expected." However, Volf contests this claim that "(the) Christian faith, as one of the major world religions, predominantly fosters violence." Instead of this negative assessment, Volf argues that Christianity "should be seen as a contributor to more peaceful social environments."[43] Volf examines the question of whether Christianity fosters violence, and has identified four main arguments that it does: that religion by its nature is violent, which occurs when people try to act as "soldiers of God"; that monotheism entails violence, because a claim of universal truth divides people into "us versus them"; that creation, as in the Book of Genesis, is an act of violence; and that the intervention of a "new creation", as in the Second Coming, generates violence.[36] Writing about the latter, Volf says: "Beginning at least with Constantine's conversion, the followers of the Crucified have perpetrated gruesome acts of violence under the sign of the cross. Over the centuries, the seasons of Lent and Holy Week were, for the Jews, times of fear and trepidation; Christians have perpetrated some of the worst pogroms as they remembered the crucifixion of Christ, for which they blamed the Jews. Muslims also associate the cross with violence; crusaders' rampages were undertaken under the sign of the cross."[44] In each case, Volf concluded that the Christian faith was misused in justifying violence. Volf argues that "thin" readings of Christianity might be used mischievously to support the use of violence. He counters, however, by asserting that "thick" readings of Christianity's core elements will not sanction human violence and would, in fact, resist it.[36]

Volf asserts that Christian churches suffer from a "confusion of loyalties". He asserts that "rather than the character of the Christian faith itself, a better explanation of why Christian churches are either impotent in the face of violent conflicts or actively participate in them derives from the proclivities of its adherents which are at odds with the character of the Christian faith." Volf observes that "(although) explicitly giving ultimate allegiance to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, many Christians in fact seem to have an overriding commitment to their respective cultures and ethnic groups."[45]

William Cavanaugh asserts that "the idea that religion has a tendency to promote violence is part of the conventional wisdom of Western societies and it underlies many of our institutions and policies, from limits on the public role of churches to efforts to promote liberal democracy in the Middle East." Cavanaugh challenges this conventional wisdom, arguing that there is a "myth of religious violence", basing his argument on the assertion that "attempts to separate religious and secular violence are incoherent."[46]

John Teehan takes a position that integrates the two opposing sides of this debate. He describes the traditional response in defense of religion as "draw(ing) a distinction between the religion and what is done in the name of that religion or its faithful." Teehan argues that "this approach to religious violence may be understandable but it is ultimately untenable and prevents us from gaining any useful insight into either religion or religious violence." He takes the position that "violence done in the name of religion is not a perversion of religious belief... but flows naturally from the moral logic inherent in many religious systems, particularly monotheistic religions..." However, Teehan acknowledges that "religions are also powerful sources of morality." He asserts that "religious morality and religious violence both spring from the same source, and this is the evolutionary psychology underlying religious ethics."[47]


Islam has been associated with violence in a variety of contexts, including Jihads (holy wars), violent acts by Muslims against perceived enemies of Islam, violence against women ostensibly supported by Islam's tenets, references to violence in the Qur'an, and acts of terrorism motivated and/or justified by Islam. Muslims, including clerics and leaders have used Islamic ideas, concepts, texts, and themes to justify violence, especially against non-Muslims.

Jihad is a religious duty of Muslims. In Arabic, the word jihād translates into English as "struggle." Jihad appears in the Qur'an and frequently in the idiomatic expression "striving in the way of Allah (al-jihad fi sabil Allah)".[48][49] A person engaged in jihad is called a mujahid; the plural is mujahideen. Jihad is an important religious duty for Muslims. A minority among the Sunni scholars sometimes refer to this duty as the sixth pillar of Islam, though it occupies no such official status.[50] In Twelver Shi'a Islam, however, Jihad is one of the 10 Practices of the Religion.

Muslims use the word in a religious context to refer to three types of struggles: an internal struggle to maintain faith, the struggle to improve the Muslim society, or the struggle in a holy war.[51] The prominent British orientalist Bernard Lewis argues that in the Qur'an and the ahadith jihad implies warfare in the large majority of cases.[52] In a commentary of the hadithSahih Muslim, entitled al-Minhaj, the medieval Islamic scholar Yahya ibn Sharaf al-Nawawi stated that "one of the collective duties of the community as a whole (fard kifaya) is to lodge a valid protest, to solve problems of religion, to have knowledge of Divine Law, to command what is right and forbid wrong conduct".[53]

In western societies the term jihad is often translated as "holy war".[54][55] Scholars of Islamic studies often stress that these words are not synonymous.[56] Muslim authors, in particular, tend to reject such an approach, stressing non-militant connotations of the word.[57][58] There is another word in Arabic that means struggle and is never used when referring to war. Jihad, has by association been used in times of war more often.

Some modern writers[who?] claim that the main meaning of Jihad is the internal spiritual struggle, and this is accepted by many Muslims.

Terrorism refers to terrorism by Muslim or individuals and motivated by either politics, religion or both. Terrorist acts have included airline hijacking, kidnapping, assassination, suicide bombing, and mass murder.[59][60][61]

The hijacking of four passenger jets and the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11 2001, in the United States of America was a significant attack. The controversies surrounding the subject include whether the terrorist act is self-defense or aggression, national self-determination or Islamic supremacy; whether Islam can ever condone the targeting of noncombatants; whether some attacks described as Islamic terrorism are merely terrorist acts committed by Muslims or motivated by nationalism; whether Zionism and the Arab-Israeli Conflict is the root of Islamic terrorism, or simply one cause; how much support there is in the Muslim world for Islamic terrorism[62] and whether support for terror is a temporary phenomenon, a "bubble", now fading away.[63]


Burggraeve and Vervenne describe the Old Testament as full of violence and evidence of both a violent society and a violent god. They write that, "(i)n numerous Old Testament texts the power and glory of Israel's God is described in the language of violence." They assert that more than one thousand passages refer to YHWH as acting violently or supporting the violence of humans and that more than one hundred passages involve divine commands to kill humans.[64]

On the basis of these passages in the Old Testament, some Christian churches and theologians argue that Judaism is a violent religion and the God of Israel is a violent God. Reuven Firestone asserts that these assertions are usually made in the context of claims that Christianity is a religion of peace and that the God of Christianity is one that expresses only love.[65]

Some scholars such as Deborah Weissman readily acknowledge that "normative Judaism is not pacifist" and that "violence is condoned in the service of self-defense."[66] J. Patout Burns asserts that, although Judaism condones the use of violence in certain cases, Jewish tradition clearly posits the principle of minimization of violence. This principle can be stated as "(wherever) Jewish law allows violence to keep an evil from occurring, it mandates that the minimal amount of violence be used to accomplish one's goal."[67]

The love of peace and the pursuit of peace, as well as laws requiring the eradication of evil, sometimes using violent means, co-exist in the Jewish tradition.[68][69]

The Hebrew Bible contains instances of religiously mandated wars[70] which often contain explicit instructions from God to the Israelites to exterminate other tribes, as in Deut 7:1-2 orDeut 20:16-18 . Examples include the story of Amalekites (Deut 25:17-19, 1 Sam 15:1-6),[71] the story of the Midianites (Numbers 31:1-18),[72] and the battle of Jericho (Joshua 6:1-27).[73]

These wars of extermination have been characterized as "genocide" by several authorities,[74] because the Torah states that the Israelites annihilated entire ethnic groups or tribes: the Israelites killed all Amalekites, including men, women, and children (1 Samuel 15:1-20 ); the Israelites killed all men, women, and children in the battle of Jericho(Joshua 6:15-21), and the Israelites killed all men, women and children of several Canaanite tribes ( Joshua 10:28-42).[75] However, some scholars believe that these accounts in the Torah are exaggerated or metaphorical.

Zionist leaders sometimes used religious references as justification for the violent treatment of Arabs in Palestine.[76] Palestinians have been several times associated with a Biblical antagonists, Amalekites. For example, rabbi Israel Hess has recommended to kill Palestinians, basing on biblical verses such as 1 Samuel 15.[77] Shulamit Aloni, a member of the Israeli Knesset indicated in 2003 that Jewish children in Israel were being taught in religious schools that Palestinians were Amalek, and therefore an act of total genocide was a religious obligation.[78]


One of the best known Mormon actions of violence is Mountain Meadows massacre.

Other religions




Secular Violence

Examples of violence and conflict that have been secular include World War I, World War II, many civil wars (American, El Salvador, Russia, Sri Lanka, China etc.), revolutionary wars (American, French, Russian, etc.), Vietnam War, Korean War, War on Terrorism, and common conflicts such as gang and drug wars.

Conflicts and Wars

Entry of the Crusaders into Constantinople by Gustave Doré (1832-1883)

Examples of conflicts or wars often labeled as "religious" include the Mideast conflict between Israel and neighboring Muslim countries, the Crusades, The Troubles in Northern Ireland, French Wars of Religion, European wars of religion, the Taiping Rebellion, Islamic Jihad, the Second Sudanese Civil War, the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 and Jewish-Roman Wars.[citation needed]

However, these conflicts are not based on religious beliefs exclusively and instead should be seen as clashes of communities, identities, and interests that are secular-religious or at least very much secular. [11] [22] [26] [28] Jack David Eller, an anthropologist of religion, culture, and violence, argues for example, that the The Troubles in Northern Ireland are not over religion at all since both sides are Christians, but instead the conflict is ethnic. Culture and constitutional status of Northern Ireland as being reclaimed by Ireland or kept by the United Kingdom is the heart of the matter.[11] Furthermore, Eller argues that the conflict in Sri Lanka between the Hindu Tamils and the Buddhist Sinhalese is more over matters of civil rights than over religion. One of the sides, for example, are known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and are actually secularists and atheists. [22] [28] [79] Robert Pape, a political scientists who specializes in suicide terroism argues that much of the modern Muslim suicide terrorism is secular based.[28]

Examples of religious violence and terrorism include the Mormon-led Mountain Meadows massacre, the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Mumbai attacks of 2008, the 2005 London bombings, and the Bali bombings. These attacks are carried out by those with very strong religious convictions. These acts of religious terrorism are seen by the terrorists as small skirmishes in the context of a much larger global religious war.[80] Although the causes of terrorism are complex, it may be that terrorists are partially reassured by their religious views that God is on their side and will reward them in heaven for punishing unbelievers.[81][82]

These conflicts are among the most difficult to resolve, particularly where both sides believe that God is on their side and has endorsed the moral righteousness of their claims.[81] One of the most infamous quotes associated with religious fanaticism was made in 1209 during the siege of Béziers, a Crusader asked the Papal Legate Arnaud Amalric how to tell Catholics from Cathars when the city was taken, to which Amalric replied: "Tuez-les tous; Dieu reconnaitra les siens," or "Kill them all; God will recognize his."[83]

Ritual violence

Ritual violence may be directed against victims (human sacrifice/ritual murder) or self-inflicted (religious self-flagellation).

According to hunting hypothesis, created by Walter Burkert in Homo Necans, carnivorous behavior is considered a form of violence. Burkett suggests that the anthropological phenomenon of religion itself grew out of rituals connected with hunting and the feelings of guilt associated with the violence involved.[84]

See also


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  2. ^ Violence and religion: cross-cultural opinions and consequences. Concept Publishing Company. 2007. pp. 5–6. 
  3. ^ Nayak, Abhijit (July–October 2008). "Crusade Violence: Understanding and Overcoming the Impact of Mission Among Muslims". International Review of Mission (World Council of Churches) 97 (386-387): 273–291. doi:10.1111/j.1758-6631.2008.tb00645.x. Retrieved 2010-11-23. 
  4. ^ Freitheim, Terence (Winter 2004). "God and Violence in the Old Testament". Word & World 24 (1). Retrieved 2010-11-21. 
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  7. ^ Avalos, Hector (2005). Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence. Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books. ISBN 1591022843. 
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  9. ^ Dawkins, Richard (2006). The God Delusion. Bantam Books. ISBN 1430312300. 
  10. ^ Eller, Jack David (2010). Cruel Creeds, Virtuous Violence: Religious Violence Across Culture and History. Prometheus Books. ISBN 9781616142186. 
  11. ^ a b c d Eller, Jack David (2007). Introducing Anthropology of Religion. Routledge. ISBN 9780415408967. 
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  16. ^ "Vatican: Pope speaks out against 'violence in God's name". Adn Kronos International. 2011. 
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  23. ^ Bantjes, Adrian (1997). "Idolatry and Iconoclasm in Revolutionary Mexico: The De-Christianization. Campaigns, 1929-1940". Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos 13 (1): 87–121. 
  24. ^ Meisner, Maurice (1999). Mao's China and After: A History of the People's Republic. Free Press. ISBN 978-0684856353. 
  25. ^ Charles Phillips, Alan Axelrod (2005). The Encyclopaedia of War. 
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  27. ^ Kirsch, Jonathan (2009). The Grand Inquisitor's Manual: A History of Terror in the Name of God. HarperOne. ISBN 9780061732768. 
  28. ^ a b c d Pape, Robert (2006). Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism. Random House. ISBN 978-0812973389. 
  29. ^ Pape 2005.
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  32. ^ The Curse of Cain: The Violent Legacy of Monotheism By Regina M. Schwartz. University of Chicago Press. 1998. 
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  34. ^ Feiler, Bruce S. (2005). Where God was born: a journey by land to the roots of religion. HarperCollins. p. 4. 
  35. ^ Tom O'Golo (2011). Christ? No! Jesus? Yes!: A radical reappraisal of a very important life. p. 105. 
  36. ^ a b c Volf, Miroslav (2008). "Christianity and Violence". In Hess, Richard S.; Martens, E.A.. War in the Bible and terrorism in the twenty-first century. Eisenbrauns. pp. 1–17. ISBN 9781575068039. Retrieved June 1, 2010. 
  37. ^ a b Avalos, Hector (2005). Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence. Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books. 
  38. ^ Schwartz, Regina M. (1997). The Curse of Cain: The Violent Legacy of Monotheism. The University of Chicago Press. 
  39. ^ International encyclopedia of violence research, Volume 2. Springer. 2003. 
  40. ^ a b c J. Denny Weaver (2001). "Violence in Christian Theology". Cross Currents. Retrieved 2010-10-27. "I am using broad definitions of the terms "violence" and "nonviolence." "Violence" means harm or damage, which obviously includes the direct violence of killing -- in war, capital punishment, murder --but also covers the range of forms of systemic violence such as poverty, racism, and sexism. "Nonviolence" also covers a spectrum of attitudes and actions, from the classic Mennonite idea of passive nonresistance through active nonviolence and nonviolent resistance that would include various kinds of social action, confrontations and posing of alternatives that do not do bodily harm or injury." 
  41. ^ a b Mark Juergensmeyer (2004). Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence. University of California Press. ISBN 0520240111. 
  42. ^ Bloch, Maurice (1992). Prey into Hunter. The Politics of Religious Experience.. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 
  43. ^ Volf, Miroslav (2002). "Christianity and Violence". Retrieved 2010-10-27. 
  44. ^ Volf 2008, p. 13
  45. ^ Volf, Miroslav. "The Social Meaning of Reconciliation". Retrieved 2010-11-17. 
  46. ^ Cavanaugh, William (2009). The Myth of Religious Violence. Oxford University Press US,. p. 4. 
  47. ^ Teehan, John (2010). In the Name of God: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Ethics and Violence. John Wiley and Sons. pp. 145–147. 
  48. ^ Wendy Doniger, ed (1999). Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions. Merriam-Webster. ISBN 087-7790442. ,Jihad, p.571
  49. ^ Josef W. Meri, ed (2005). Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia. Routledge. ISBN 041-5966906. , Jihad, p.419
  50. ^ John Esposito(2005), Islam: The Straight Path, pp.93
  51. ^ "Jihad". BBC. 2009-08-03. 
  52. ^ Bernard Lewis, The Political Language of Islam (University of Chicago Press, 1988), p. 72. Cf. William M. Watt, Islamic Conceptions of the Holy War in: Thomas P. Murphy, The Holy War (Ohio State University Press, 1974), p. 143
  53. ^ Shaykh Hisham Kabbani; Shaykh Seraj Hendricks, Shaykh Ahmad Hendricks. "Jihad—A Misunderstood Concept from Islam". The Muslim Magazine. Retrieved 16 August 2006. 
  54. ^ cf. e.g. BBC news articleLibya's Gaddafi urges 'holy war' against Switzerland
  55. ^ Rudolph Peters, Jihad in Medieval and Modern Islam (Brill, 1977), p. 3
  56. ^ Patricia Crone,Medieval Islamic Political Thought (Edinburgh University Press, 2005), p. 363
  57. ^ Jihad and the Islamic Law of War
  58. ^ Rudolph Peters, Islam and Colonialism. The doctrine of Jihad in Modern History (Mouton Publishers, 1979), p. 118
  59. ^ Iraqi Terrorist Ramzi Hashem Abed: Zarqawi Participated in the Plot to Assassinate Baqer Al-Hakim. We Bombed Jalal Talabani's Headquarters, the Turkish Embassy, and the Red Cross, Took Drugs, Raped University Students Who "Collaborated with the Americans"
  60. ^ Human Rights Watch - Afghanistan - ABDUCTIONS OF AND ASSAULTS ON WOMEN
  61. ^ to Permit Abortions for Rape Victims
  62. ^ Tony Blair, "Speech to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council",
  63. ^ The Third Bubble. THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN. April 20, 2003
  64. ^ Burggraeve, Roger; Vervenne, Marc (1991). Swords into plowshares: theological reflections on peace. Peeters Publishers. pp. 82,109. 
  65. ^ Heft, James, ed (2004). Beyond violence: religious sources of social transformation in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Fordham Univ Press. 
  66. ^ "The Co-existence of Violence and Non-Violence in Judaism". Retrieved 2010-12-09. 
  67. ^ Burns, J. Patout (1996). War and its discontents: pacifism and quietism in the Abrahamic traditions. Georgetown University Press. p. 18. 
  68. ^ Fighting the War and the Peace: Battlefield Ethics, Peace Talks, Treaties, and Pacifism in the Jewish Tradition. Michael J. Broyde, 1998, p. 1
  69. ^ *Reuven Firestone (2004), "Judaism on Violence and Reconciliation: An examination of key sources" in Beyond violence: religious sources of social transformation in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Fordham Univ Press, 2004, pp 77, 81.
    • Goldsmith (Ed.), Emanuel S. (1991). Dynamic Judaism: the essential writings of Mordecai M. Kaplan. Fordham Univ Press. p. 181. ISBN 0823213102. 
    • Spero, Shubert (1983). Morality, halakha, and the Jewish tradition. KTAV Publishing House, Inc.. pp. 137–318. ISBN 0870687271. 
  70. ^
    • Salaita, Steven George (2006). The Holy Land in transit: colonialism and the quest for Canaan. Syracuse University Press. p. 54. ISBN 081563109X. 
    • Lustick, Ian (1988). For the land and the Lord: Jewish fundamentalism in Israel. Council on Foreign Relations. pp. 131–132. ISBN 0876090366. 
    • Armstrong, Karen (2007). The Bible: a biography. Atlantic Monthly Press. pp. 211–216. ISBN 0871139693. 
  71. ^ A. G. Hunter "Denominating Amalek: Racist stereotyping in the Bible and the Justification of Discrimination", in Sanctified aggression: legacies of biblical and post biblical vocabularies of violence, Jonneke Bekkenkamp, Yvonne Sherwood (Eds.). 2003, Continuum Internatio Publishing Group, pp 92-108
  72. ^ Dawkins, Richard (2006). The God delusion. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 245. ISBN 0618680004. 
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    • Carl. S. Ehrlich (1999) "Joshua, Judaism, and Genocide", in Jewish Studies at the Turn of the Twentieth Century, Judit Targarona Borrás, Ángel Sáenz-Badillos (Eds). 1999, Brill. p 117-124.
    • Dawkins, Richard, The God Delusion', pp 289 - 296
    • Hitchens, Christopher, God is Not Great page 117
    • Selengut, Charles, Sacred fury: understanding religious violence, p 20
    • Cowles, C. S., Show them no mercy: 4 views on God and Canaanite genocide, page 79
  74. ^
    • Kravitz, Leonard, "What is Crime?", in Crime and punishment in Jewish law: essays and responsa, Editors Walter Jacob, Moshe Zemer Berghahn Books, 1999, p 31
    • Cohn, Robert L, "Before Israel: The Canaanites as Other in Biblical Tradition", in The Other in Jewish thought and history: constructions of Jewish culture and identity, Laurence Jay Silberstein, (Ed.), NYU Press, 1994, pp 76-77
    • Violence, Scripture, and Textual Practice in Early Judaism and Christianity By Ra'anan S. Boustan, p 3-5
  75. ^ The Oxford Handbook of Genocide Studies, Donald Bloxham, A. Dirk Moses, p 242
  76. ^
    • Saleh Abdel Jawad (2007) "Zionist Massacres: the Creation of the Palestinian Refugee Problem in the 1948 War" in Israel and the Palestinian refugees, Eyal Benvenistî, Chaim Gans, Sari Hanafi (Eds.), Springer, p. 78:
    ".. the Zionist movement, which claims to be secular, found it necessary to embrace the idea of 'the promised land' of Old Testament prophecy, to justify the confiscation of land and the expulsion of the Palestinians. For example, the speeches and letter of Chaim Weizman, the secular Zionist leader, are filled with references to the biblical origins of the Jewish claim to Palestine, which he often mixes liberally with more pragmatic and nationalistic claims. By the use of this premise, embraced in 1937, Zionists alleged that the Palestinians were usurpers in the Promised Land, and therefore their expulsion and death was justified. The Jewish-American writer Dan Kurzman, in his book Genesis 1948 … describes the view of one of the Deir Yassin's killers: 'The Sternists followed the instructions of the Bible more rigidly than others. They honored the passage (Exodus 22:2): 'If a thief be found …' This meant, of course, that killing a thief was not really muder. And were not the enemies of Zionism thieves, who wanted to steal from the Jews what God had granted them?'
    • Carl. S. Ehrlich (1999) "Joshua, Judaism, and Genocide", in Jewish Studies at the Turn of the Twentieth Century, Judit Targarona Borrás, Ángel Sáenz-Badillos (Eds). 1999, Brill. p 117-124.
  77. ^
    • Masalha, Nur, Imperial Israel and the Palestinians: the politics of expansion, Pluto Press, 2000, pp 129-131.
    "Frequently Jewish fundamentalists refer to the Palestinians as the 'Amalekites' … of today… According to the Old Testament, the Amalek … were regarded as the Israelites' inveterate foe, whose 'annihilation' became a sacred duty and against whom war should be waged until their 'memory be blotted out' forever (Ex 17:16; Deut 25:17-19)…. Some of the [modern] political messianics insist on giving the biblical commandment to 'blot out the memory of the Amalek' an actual contemporary relevance in the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians. In February 1980, Rabbi Israel Hess … published an article [titled] 'The Genocide Commandment in the Torah' … which ends with the following: 'The day is not far when we shall all be called to this holy war, this commandment of the annihilation of the Amalek'. Hess quotes the biblical commandment … 'Do not spare him, but kill man and woman, baby and suckling, ox and sheep, camel, and donkey'…. In his book On the Lord's Side Danny Ribinstein has shown that this notion permeates the Gush Emunim movement's bulletins [one of which] carried an article … which reads 'In every generation there is an Amalek. The Amalekism of our generation finds expression in the deep Arab hatred towards our national revival …'… Professor Uriel Tal … conducted his study in the early 1980s … and pointed out that the totalitarian political messianic stream refers to the Palestinian Arabs in three stages or degrees: …[stage] (3) the implementation of the commandment of Amalek, as expressed in Rabbi Hess's article 'The Commandment of Genocide in the Torah', in other words 'annihilating' the Palesinian Arabs'".
    • See also Hunter, p 103
    • Also describing Palestinians as targets of violence due to association with Amalek is: Geaves, Ron, Islam and the West post 9/11, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2004, p 30
  78. ^ Murder Under the Cover of Righteousness - CounterPunch
  79. ^ Bermana, Eli; David D. Laitin (2008). "Religion, terrorism and public goods: Testing the club model". Journal of Public Economics 92 (10-11): 1942–1967. doi:10.1016/j.jpubeco.2008.03.007. 
  80. ^ Full text: bin Laden's 'letter to America' accessed may 24, 2007
  81. ^ a b Juergensmeyer, Mark (2001-09-21). Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence. Updated edition. University of California Press. 
  82. ^ Christian Jihad: The Crusades and Killing in the Name of Christ
  83. ^ "Kill Them All; For The Lord Knoweth Them That Are His Steve Locks (Reply) (9-00)". Retrieved 2007-08-18. 
  84. ^ Burkert, Walter. 1983. Homo Necans: The Anthropology of Ancient Greek Sacrificial Ritual and Myth. Berkley: University of California press.

Further reading

  • Appleby, R. Scott (2000) The Ambivalence of the Sacred: Religion, Violence, and Reconciliation. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
  • Avalos, Hector (2005) Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence. New York: Prometheus.
  • Burkert, Walter. (1983). Homo Necans: The Anthropology of Ancient Greek Sacrificial Ritual and Myth. Berkley: University of California press
  • Crocket, Clayton (ed.) (2006) Religion and Violence in a Secular World: Toward a New Political Theology. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press.
  • Girard, René. (1977) Violence et le Sacré (eng. Violence and the Sacred). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Hamerton-Kelly, Robert G. (ed.) (1987) Violent Origins: Walter Burkert, René Girard and Jonathan Z. Smith on Ritual Killing and Cultural Formation. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  • Juergensmeyer, Mark. (2000) Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence. Berkley: University of California Press.
  • Pedahzur, Ami and Weinberg, Leonard (eds.) (2004) Religious Fundamentalism and Political Extremism. New York: Routledge.
  • Selengut, C. (2003) Sacred Fury: Understanding Religious Violence. Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira
  • Steffen, Lloyd. (2007) Holy War, Just War: Exploring the Moral Meaning of Religious Violence. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

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