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.
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.