Anti-Semitism refers to all anti-Jewish statements, tendencies, resentments, attitudes, and actions, regardless of whether they are religiously, racially, socially, or otherwise motivated. Ever since the experience of National Socialist ideology and dictatorship, anti-Semitism has been understood as a social phenomena which serves as a paradigm for the formation of prejudices and the political exploitation of the hostilities that ensue from them. As prejudice research, it is primarily interested in the behaviour and attitudes of different majority societies, and strictly speaking, it does not even require knowledge of the discriminated minority. This article claims that anti-Semitism research and Jewish studies are not interconnected, nor dependent on one another. However, the history of Jews, their interaction with non-Jewish majority societies, their persecution and extermination, serves anti-Semitism research as a paradigm.
This chapter covers the question of organized religions in the complex global modernity. It explores a range of interactions between the rise of cities as key global spaces for economic, political, and cultural conditions, and the rise of religion as a major force in setting where it was not quite so in the twentieth century, which saw the rise of the secularizing state. The chapter develops the urbanizing of war, as it feeds a particularly acute and violent bridging of cities with religious conflicts, and then takes two specific instances of asymmetric war, one in Mumbai and one in Gaza, to investigate the variable and contradictory elements in this bridging. Religion has emerged as one key organizing and legitimating passion, even as it is often not the cause. The Mumbai attacks had succeeded in drawing a conventional inter-state conflict into the specifics and momentary event that was that attack. Gaza displays the limits of power and the limits of war. The chapter makes visible the territorial conflict driving some of the current religious conflict, even as both sides make use of this long history to justify their actions.
Harvey Whitehouse and Brian McQuinn
This chapter investigates one of the most powerful mechanisms by which groups may be formed, inspired, and coordinated—ritual—which may be defined as normative behavior with an irretrievably opaque causal structure. The divergent modes of religiosity (DMR) theory is applied to armed groups engaged in civil conflicts, some of which explicitly incorporate “religious” traditions while others vehemently repudiate supernatural beliefs of any kind. It is argued that the DMR theory can be extended to explain recurrent features of ritual traditions which lack many or all beliefs typically marked “religious.” Unlike many religions, rebel groups tend to display the predictions of only one mode, although this may be an effect of small sample size. It is believed that the DMR theory can possibly clarify broad patterns in intergroup violence and the dynamics of contemporary civil wars.
This article considers a broad selection of mystical writings to identify in ecstatic mystical experience two fundamental dimensions: a feeling of self-transcendence and an extremely high level of positive affect. The article argues that pain is instrumental in promoting both experiences and is therefore extremely pervasive among mystics who report ecstatic states of consciousness. A brief critical survey looks at scholarly literature that has touched on the subject of pain in religious experience. A number of neuroscientific theories are examined as ways of explaining the role of pain in the production of transcendent states of consciousness, and a phenomenological approach is used for exploring the role of pain in the production of positive affect. The article argues that the mystics’ use of pain cannot be fully understood without taking into account the scientific and phenomenological terrain of positive affect.
This chapter presents an account for religious violence, and also evaluates institutional independence and political theology more carefully. Then, it uses these two factors to elaborate forms of religious violence: communal conflict and terrorism. Political theology and institutional independence are far from the only factors that explain religious violence, but it is proposed that they can account for communal conflict and terrorism. The analysis of Monica Duffy Toft's cases shows that nine of the twenty one religious civil wars in which religion has shaped ends have involved opposition groups with an integrationist political theology, all of them Muslim. Moreover, the analysis of the Terrorism Knowledge Base exhibits a positive link between authoritarian regimes and the site where religious terrorists work. It is noted that religious violence is least likely to occur in settings of consensual independence, which are found most commonly in religion-friendly liberal democracies.
James W. Jones
This chapter summarizes some of the methods and findings in religion and violence from a psychological perspective, reviewing Stanley Milgram's obedience to authority and Philip Zimbardo's prison experiment. There are important differences between Milgrim's and Zimbardo's experimental conditions and contemporary campaigns of religious terrorism. The theory of the origins of violence by Heinz Kohut highlights the role of a person's sense of self and any threats to it. It is indicated that universal religious themes such as purification or the search for reunion with the source of life or the longing for personal meaning and transformation can become colligated into destructive psychological motivations. The combination of powerful psychological motivations with profound spiritual desires gives the rhetoric of religious violence its appeal and power.
John R. Hall
This chapter investigates the circumstances of violence in a way that identifies alternative “domains” in which religious concatenations of violence arise. Despite the fluidity of empirical trajectories and theoretical transitions among analytic types, diverse situations are not so idiosyncratically historicist as to prevent theorization of alternative patterns. Religious communities “contained” by a state may raise countercultural ideologies. The structural circumstances of violence have been modified by apocalyptic war. In social processes, the link of religion to political power differentiates a variety of hegemonic and counterhegemonic conditions in which religion and violence become concatenated. Theorizing relationships between religion and violence should not be an exercise in differentiating “ideal” and “material” causes but rather an effort to understand their complex interplay in social processes.
Pamela J. Stewart and Andrew Strathern
This chapter reviews a variety of anthropological approaches to religion from the work of Emile Durkheim through the contemporary cognitive theory of mind. It specifically investigates the culturally vast interplay of imagination with divinatory processes that legitimate war, witch-hunting, and revenge, and with cosmic postulates which sanctify the imposition of suffering on others and on oneself. Rituals have an important role in either supporting or opposing violence, whether or not they have explicitly to do with spirit worlds. Durkheim has argued that religion was essentially social and founded on the expression of community values, the images of society itself. Religiously sanctioned or enjoined practices of inflicting harm on one's own body depend on cosmology. Tendencies to violence are counterposed to tendencies to benevolence.
Hate as an emotion, while not exactly the same in all instances, manifests in certain ways regardless of whether the context is religion, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, or other kinds of difference. Religious ideologies and institutions historically have served as backgrounds that condition the performance of hatred by individuals and groups. Some religious hatred arises from intellectual cultures characterized by an absolutizing worldview, in which reality is parsed into clearly bounded categories of holy and unholy, good and evil, saved and damned. Religion is a marker of group identity, and is frequently interwoven with other aspects of identity, including nationalistic, ethnic, and cultural elements. Religious hatred, accordingly, is sometimes mixed with hatred having to do with ethnicity or nationalistic fervor. Religious hatred is most easily observed in violence, and it is through violence that it is most effectively expressed. In the history of religious hatred in the West, Judaism shares the center stage with Christianity and Islam. Religious hatred is not limited to monotheistic religions.
This chapter describes religious terrorism as “performance violence,” illustrating that performance violence is planned in order to obtain tangible goals, and also to theatrically enact and communicate an imagined reality. The scenario that underlies the performance of religious terrorism is often one of cosmic war. Some religious terrorism could also be motivated by scenarios other than cosmic war. The idea of warfare involves more than an attitude; it is ultimately a world view and an assertion of power. An act of violence sends two messages at the same time: a broad message aimed at the general public and a specific communication targeted at a narrower audience. Silent terrors are those in which the audience is not directly evident. It is noted that terrorism has been conducted for a television audience around the world.
Candace S. Alcorta and Richard Sosis
This chapter, which discusses the association between religion and violence, also addresses why suicide terrorists are willing to offer their lives for their life-affirming religions. Religious violence and “sacred pain” have long been significant components in the mythology and ritual of Western religious traditions. Religious rituals differ widely across cultures. Music intensifies the ritual experience itself, transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary and laying the foundation for creation of the sacred. Religious ritual is an efficient tool for altering group cooperation and cohesion. The evolution of religion is closely linked with the emergence of large social groups in early human populations. It can be stated that understanding both the proximate and evolutionary mechanisms which link religion and violence is an important first step in understanding, and hopefully eradicating, the religious violence that has become so prevalent in the modern world.
James E. Waller
This article explores the impact of the Holocaust on subsequent social scientific research and the contribution of social scientific research to understanding the Holocaust and its aftereffects. The principal disciplines involved in this analysis are psychology, sociology, anthropology (particularly social and cultural anthropology), political science, and economics. Although some subfields of history deploy quantitative and qualitative methodologies similar to those of the social sciences, the emphasis here is on disciplinary and interdisciplinary work that seeks to go beyond the minutiae of thick description (‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’, and ‘where’) to arrive at formulations of explanation and understanding (‘why’ and ‘how’) that reach beyond individual cases, i.e., that claim to know a little less and understand a little more.
Mark Juergensmeyer and Mona Kanwal Sheikh
This chapter tries to illustrate that there has been a “sociotheological turn” in contemporary scholarship which encourages social scientists to take stock of the religious justifications for social action, and theologians and scholars of religious studies to be more aware of the social significance of spiritual ideas and practices. Sociotheology takes religious thinking and social context seriously. The approximation of the fields of psychology and theology and sociology as poles in the same discursive dynamics contributes to eroding a stonewall dichotomy between theology and the social sciences. Guidelines for sociotheological studies include demarcating an epistemic worldview, bracketing assumptions about the truth of a worldview, entering into an epistemic worldview, conducting informative conversations, identifying narrative structures, and locating social contexts. The revival of religion in world politics and the rising value of transnational religious movements have offered an analytic dispute that sociotheology has risen to meet.
This article examines ritual ordeals that inspire terror regardless of the participants' preexisting beliefs. In such traditions, the relationship between belief and emotion is more or less the converse of that entailed by fears of supernatural punishment. Fear is a major part of the psychological processes that give rise to the gradual formation of mystical knowledge. Focusing on terrifying rituals has the advantage of picking out a generalizable feature of religion—not a feature of all religions, to be sure, but a “mode of religiosity” that is probably as ancient as our species and is still found in every corner of the globe. Given the shocking nature of the rituals in question, it is not unreasonable to refer to these practices as “rites of terror.” Two strategies, broadly speaking, have been developed in an attempt to understand the nature and origins of rites of terror. The first strategy is sociological in orientation, while the second is a psychological one. This article also discusses the rituals, memories, and motivations associated with rites of terror.
Sexuality is a domain of experience that has been variously described as embodied, deeply personal, intimate, ecstatic, and even sacred. Yet, precisely because of some of these qualities and the emotions associated with them, it is also a domain that entails not only pleasure but also the possibility of violation, even terror. It is a ground on which wars are fought (including intrapsychic, familial, social, political, and military). This chapter explores multiple aspects and causes of sexual violence, in particular interrogating the saying from the rape crisis movement: ‘Rape is about power, not sex’. Additional statements will be proposed, including ‘Rape is about power, and sex’; ‘Rape is about power, using sex’; and ‘Rape is about power, gender, and race’. The chapter concludes with an ethic of sexual justice that addresses the ethics of sexuality and of power, drawing on a Trinitarian theology that emphasizes relationality and abundant life.