Karen L. King
This chapter considers the religious justifications for and against torture. It also describes the torturous narratives at Christianity's foundations, the notion of redemptive martyrdom, and the various ways in which Christian ideology has challenged as well as supported the torturous suffering of fellows and foes. Torture functions in the absence of the facts or against the facts. Despite legal censure, torture and claims of torture are omnipresent. The violence of torture depends on sex/gender differentiation for much of its public communication. Opposition to torture on religious grounds will not be efficient without addressing the fact that enculturated ways of thinking and structures of feeling cultivated in Christian stories, images, and theological discourses are entailed in a wide variety of attitudes and behaviors, both for and against torture.
This chapter offers an older notion of just war, particularly as it developed in relation to the changing place of Christianity in Europe and North America. The just war idea presents a way of thinking in which war itself is a kind of restraint. The norms of positive international law are determined with the hope that an appropriate set of institutions might transcend and thus govern the behavior of sovereign states, imposing the rule of law in cases where sovereign states (and their rulers) violate those norms intended “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.” The universality of norms is a project to be obtained by means of negotiation among sovereign states. The outline of just war presented reveals that the idea is a moving target, in which changes reflect the dynamic nature of social and political institutions.
This article examines the roles of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Catholic Church in Croatia, and the Islamic religious authority of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1991–1995 war inWestern Balkans. Religion in this case has been instrumental as a factor for galvanizing conflict and rationalizing its outcomes. The article also notes religious activities aimed at preventing violence and healing postconflict societies. The public influence of these religions began during the collapse of socialist Yugoslavia. Through the war and afterward, religions continued rebuilding resources and increasing influence. Traditional religion was blended with the new national ideologies carried out by ethnic nationalist parties allied with the ethnic majority churches established as state religions. Two decades after the Balkan war, the growing influence of these religions in public sphere coincides with the post-Yugoslav new ethnic nations’ failures in state building and democratic transition.
This chapter, which concentrates on the North American Christian case in investigating the role of violence in the religious controversy about abortion, assesses the religiously legitimated use of violence in the extreme wing of the American pro-life movement. The legitimation of the use of violence to stop abortion finds its most public expression in an organization known as The Army of God. Mike Bray, the architect of the argument that violence can be legitimately utilized to stop abortion, has argued that there is a difference between killing a retired abortion doctor and one who continues to practice. Bray and Randall Terry are critical of contemporary Christianity, which sees God a “jolly old perennial gift giver.” In general, Christians, in the larger “pro-life” movement, believe abortion to be murder.