Table of Contents

Blackwell Companions to Religion

The Blackwell Companions to Religion series presents a collection of the most recent scholarship and knowledge about world religions. Each volume draws together newly-commissioned essays by distinguished authors in the field, and is presented in a style which is accessible to undergraduate students, as well as scholars and the interested general reader. These volumes approach the subject in a creative and forward-thinking style, providing a forum in which leading scholars in the field can make their views and research available to a wider audience.

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The Blackwell Companion to Religious Ethics

Edited by William Schweiker

The Blackwell Companion to Christian Spirituality

Edited by Arthur Holder

The Blackwell Companion to the Study of Religion

Edited by Robert A. Segal

The Blackwell Companion to the Qur’x101_MinionPro-It_9n_000100n

Edited by Andrew Rippin

The Blackwell Companion to Contemporary Islamic Thought

Edited by Ibrahim M. Abu-Rabi’

The Blackwell Companion to the Bible and Culture

Edited by John F. A. Sawyer

The Blackwell Companion to Catholicism

Edited by James J. Buckley, Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt, and Trent Pomplun

The Blackwell Companion to Eastern Christianity

Edited by Ken Parry

The Blackwell Companion to the Theologians

Edited by Ian S. Markham

The Blackwell Companion to the Bible in English Literature

Edited by Rebecca Lemon, Emma Mason, John Roberts, and Christopher Rowland

The Blackwell Companion to the New Testament

Edited by David E. Aune

The Blackwell Companion to Nineteenth Century Theology

Edited by David Fergusson

The Blackwell Companion to Religion in America

Edited by Philip Goff

The Blackwell Companion to Jesus

Edited by Delbert Burkett

The Blackwell Companion to Paul

Edited by Stephen Westerholm

The Blackwell Companion to Religion and Violence

Edited by Andrew R. Murphy

The Blackwell Companion to Christian Ethics, Second Edition

Edited by Stanley Hauerwas and Samuel Wells

Title page

Notes on Contributors

María Pilar Aquino is Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of San Diego, and is a past Visiting Professor of Theology at Harvard Divinity School. She is the author, editor and coeditor of many publications, including her signature book, Our Cry for Life: Feminist Theology from Latin America (1993), Reconciliation in a World of Conflicts, with Luis Carlos Susin (2003); Feminist Intercultural Theology: Latina Explorations for a Just World, with Maria José Rosado-Nunes (2007), and Religión y violencia sexual. Prácticas interculturales de teología feminista, with María del Carmen Servitje (2010).

Hector Avalos is Professor of Religious Studies at Iowa State University, and the author of Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence (2005).

Judith Tydor Baumel-Schwartz is Chair of the Graduate Program in Contemporary Jewry, Director of the Institute for Religious Zionism, and Associate Professor of Jewish History at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat-Gan, Israel. She is the author of numerous books and articles and specializes in topics pertaining to the Holocaust, gender, memory, State of Israel, and commemoration. Among her books are Double Jeopardy: Gender and the Holocaust (1998), The Bergson Boys and the Origins of Contemporary Zionist Militancy (2005), and Perfect Heroes: The World War II Parachutists and the Making of Collective Israeli Memory (2010).

Nandini Bhattacharyya-Panda was formerly Senior Fellow at the Indian Council of Historical Research, New Delhi and is now Project Fellow at Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute for Asian Studies, Kolkata. She is currently writing a book on two hill communities (Lepcha and Mangar) of Sikkim and Darjeeling. She is author of Appropriation and Invention of Tradition: The East India Company and Hindu Law in Early Colonial Bengal (2008), and has published a number of articles on colonialism and patriarchy in Bengal in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Avron Boretz is Program Director, United Board (Hong Kong), and works with colleges and universities in Asia developing programs in interreligious understanding and peacebuilding. He is the author of Gods, Ghosts, and Gangsters: Ritual Violence, Martial Arts, and Masculinity on the Margins of Chinese Society (2010).

John D. Carlson is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict at Arizona State University. He is coeditor of the forthcoming. From Jeremiad to Jihad: Religion, Violence, and America.

William T. Cavanaugh is Senior Research Professor at the Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology at DePaul University in Chicago. His recent book The Myth of Religious Violence (2009) has been translated into French and Spanish.

Christopher Key Chapple is Doshi Professor of Indic and Comparative Theology at Loyola Marymount University. He has published several books on the religions of India, including Karma and Creativity (1986), Nonviolence to Animals, Earth, and Self in Asian Traditions (1993), Reconciling Yogas: Haribhadra’s Array of Views on Yoga (2003), and Yoga and the Luminous: Patanjali’s Spiritual Path to Freedom (2008). He has edited several books on religion and ecology, including Hinduism and Ecology (with Mary Evelyn Tucker, 2000), Jainism and Ecology (2002), and Yoga and Ecology (2009). He serves as editor for the journal Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology.

Ira Chernus is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder and is the author of American Nonviolence: The History of an Idea (2004).

David Cook is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Rice University, specializing in early Islam, classical apocalyptic literature, contemporary radical Muslim literature and movements, the study of magic and popular religion and historical astronomy. His books include Studies in Muslim Apocalyptic (2003), Understanding Jihad (2005), and Martyrdom in Islam (2007).

Thia Cooper is Associate Professor of Religion at Gustavus Adolphus College and author of Controversies in Political Theology: Development or Liberation? (2007).

Jonathan Ebel is Assistant Professor in the Department of Religion at the University of Illinois. He is the author of Faith in the Fight: Religion and the American Solider in the Great War (2010).

Aziz Esmail is a philosopher, with special interest in religion and literature as well as psychology and human development. He was for many years a lecturer in philosophy and religion at the University of Nairobi, and was twice visiting scholar with the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. At present he serves on the Board of Governors of the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London. He has published in the areas of philosophy and psychiatry, as well as a poetic translation into English, under the title A Scent of Sandalwood, of medieval Indo-Islamic lyric poetry.

Bernard Faure is Kao Professor of Japanese Religion at Columbia University. His main publications include The Rhetoric of Immediacy (1991), Chan Insights and Oversights (1993), Visions of Power (1996), The Red Thread: Buddhist Approaches to Sexuality (1998), and The Power of Denial: Buddhism, Purity and Gender (2003). He has also recently published in French a book entitled Bouddhismes et violence (2008).

Yannick Fer is a sociologist and researcher with the Groupe Sociétés, Religions, Laïcités at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique; his specialism is Polynesian Protestantism. He has published in particular Pentecôtisme en Polynésie française (2005) and (edited with G. Malogne-Fer) Anthropologie du christianisme en Océanie (2009).

Anthony Gill is Professor of Political Science at the University of Washington and nonresident scholar at Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion. He also hosts the weekly podcast series Research on Religion () and is author of The Political Origins of Religious Liberty (2008) and Rendering unto Caesar: The Catholic Church and the State in Latin America (1998).

Ariel Glucklich is Professor of Theology at Georgetown University. He specializes in Indian religious law and rituals but has done extensive work in the psychology of religion, with a particular focus on self-destructive behavior and religious motivations. His books include The Sense of Adharma (1993), Sacred Pain (2001), and most recently, Dying for Heaven (2009).

David E. Guinn is a specialist in postconflict law and democracy development with the Center for International Development. He is the author of numerous works, including Negotiating the Sacred Peace (2006), Faith on Trial (2002), and the forthcoming Constantine’s Standard: Religion, Law, and a Faith to Die For.

Jeroen Gunning is Reader in Middle East Politics and Conflict Studies at the School of Government and International Affairs, Durham University. His research focuses on the interplay between Islamist social movements, democratisation, religion and violence in the Middle East, with a particular focus on Hamas and Hizballah. He is author of Hamas in Politics: Democracy, Religion, Violence (2007).

Elliott Horowitz teaches at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, and is coeditor of the Jewish Quarterly Review. A second edition of his Reckless Rites: Purim and the Legacy of Jewish Violence appeared in 2008.

Robert Imre is Deputy Director of the Centre for Institutional and Organisational Studies at the University of Newcastle, Australia. He is coauthor (with Brian Mooney and Ben Clarke) of Responding to Terrorism (2008).

Janet R. Jakobsen is Director of the Center for Research on Women, and Professor of Women’s Studies at Barnard College, Columbia University. She is the author, with Ann Pellegrini, of Love the Sin: Sexual Regulation and the Limits of Religious Freedom (2003) and coeditor, with Elizabeth Castelli, of Interventions: Activists and Academics Respond to Violence (2004) and, with Ann Pellegrini, of Secularisms (2008).

James Turner Johnson is Professor of Religion at Rutgers University. His most recent books are Morality and Contemporary Warfare (1999) and The War to Oust Saddam Hussein (2005).

Jok Madut Jok was born and raised in Sudan and studied in Egypt and the United States. He is trained in the anthropology of health and holds a PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles. Jok is a fellow of Rift Valley Institute and Professor in the Department of History at Loyola Marymount University in California. He has also worked in aid and development, first as a humanitarian aid worker and subsequently as a consultant for a number of aid agencies. He is the author of three books and numerous articles covering gender, sexuality and reproductive health, humanitarian aid, ethnography of political violence, gender-based violence, war and slavery, and the politics of identity in Sudan. His latest book is Sudan: Race, Religion and Violence (2007).

Ben Jones lectures in the School of International Development, University of East Anglia. In 2009 he published Beyond the State in Rural Uganda, awarded the Elliott P. Skinner Prize by the American Anthropological Association.

James W. Jones is Professor of Religion and Adjunct Professor of Clinical Psychology at Rutgers University, and Senior Research Fellow, Center on Terrorism, John Jay College. He is the author of 12 books, including Blood That Cries from the Earth: The Psychology of Religious Terrorism (2008) and Terror and Transformation: The Ambiguity of Religion (2002), and coeditor of The Fundamentalist Mindset: Psychological Perspectives on Religion, Violence, and History (2010), Fellow of the American Psychological Association, vice-president of the International Association for the Psychology of Religion.

Yasmin Khan is Co-Director of the Centre for South Asian Studies, Royal Holloway, University of London. She is author of The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan (2007).

Jeffery D. Long is Associate Professor of Religion and Asian Studies at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania. He is the author of A Vision for Hinduism: Beyond Hindu Nationalism (2007), Jainism: An Introduction (2009), and the forthcoming Historical Dictionary of Hinduism.

Marion Maddox is Director of the Centre for Research on Social Inclusion at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. She holds PhDs in theology (Flinders) and political philosophy (University of New South Wales). Her writings include God under Howard: The Rise of the Religious Right in Australian Politics (2005).

Kathryn McClymond is Associate Professor and Chair in the Department of Religious Studies at Georgia State University. Her book Beyond Sacred Violence: A Comparative Study of Sacrifice (2008) received a Georgia Author of the Year Award. Her current project is Ritual Gone Wrong: What We Learn from Ritual Disruption.

Matthew McCullough is a PhD candidate in American religious history at Vanderbilt University. His dissertation addresses Christian nationalism during the Spanish-American War. He lives in Nashville, where he writes, teaches, and serves a local church.

Beverley Milton-Edwards is Professor in Politics in the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy at Queen’s University Belfast. Her recent books include Hamas (2010), The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (2008), and Islam and Violence in the Modern Era (2006).

Jolyon Mitchell is Director of the Centre of Theology and Public Issues, University of Edinburgh, and a former BBC World Service producer and journalist. His publications include Media Violence and Christian Ethics (2007), The Religion and Film Reader (coedited, 2007), Mediating Religion (coedited, 2007), Visually Speaking (1999), and Promoting Peace, Inciting Violence (forthcoming 2011).

Valentine M. Moghadam is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Women’s Studies Program at Purdue University. The author of many publications, including a 1993 edited volume on gender and fundamentalisms in comparative perspective, she is currently studying women’s movements in the Middle East. The third edition of her book, Modernizing Women: Gender and Social Change in the Middle East will appear in 2013.

Andrew R. Murphy is Associate Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University. He is the author of Prodigal Nation: Moral Decline and Divine Punishment from New England to 9/11 (2009) and Conscience and Community: Revisiting Toleration and Religious Dissent in Early Modern England and America (2001). He edited The Political Writings of William Penn (2002) and (with David S. Gutterman) Religion, Politics, and American Identity: New Directions, New Controversies (2006).

Joel Olson is Associate Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. He is the author of The Abolition of White Democracy (2004) and is currently writing a book on extremism in American politics.

Yolanda Pierce is Associate Professor of African American Religion and Literature at Princeton Theological Seminary and is the author of several publications, including Hell without Fires: Slavery, Christianity and the Antebellum Spiritual Narrative (2005).

Ellen Posman is Associate Professor of Religion at Baldwin-Wallace College with specializations in Asian religions, Judaism, and comparative religion. She is currently the coeditor of Spotlight on Teaching in Religious Studies, a publication of the American Academy of Religion.

Ian Reader is Professor of Japanese Studies at the University of Manchester, England. He is author of Religious Violence in Contemporary Japan: The Case of Aum Shinrikyô (2000) and Making Pilgrimages: Meaning and Practice in Shikoku (2005), as well as numerous journal articles and book chapters on religion and violence.

Bettina E. Schmidt is a cultural anthropologist and Senior Lecturer in Study of Religions at University of Wales Trinity Saint David. She is the author of numerous publications including Caribbean Diaspora in the USA: Diversity of Caribbean Religions in New York City (2008) and coeditor of Anthropology of Violence and Conflict (2001) and of Spirit Possession and Trance: New Interdisciplinary Perspectives (2010).

Charles Selengut is Professor of Sociology at County College of Morris in Randolph, N.J. and Visiting Professor of the Sociology of Religion at Drew University in Madison, N.J. He is the author of many scholarly studies on religious fundamentalism and new religious movements. His books include Sacred Fury: Understanding Religious Violence (2008) and Jewish-Muslim Encounters (2001)

Walter A. Skya teaches East Asian history in the Department of History at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He is author of Japan’s Holy War: The Ideology of Radical Shinto Ultranationalism (2009).

Barend J. ter Haar teaches Chinese history at Leiden University. His recent publications are Telling Stories: Witchcraft and Scapegoating in Chinese History (2006) and Het Hemels Mandaat: De geschiedenis van het Chinese keizerrijk (a revisionist history of China until 1911) (2009).

Robert Weinberg teaches history at Swarthmore College. He is the author of The Revolution of 1905 in Odessa (1993) and Stalin’s Forgotten Zion: Birobidzhan, and the Making of a Soviet Jewish Homeland (1998).

Don J. Wyatt is John M. McCardell, Jr Distinguished Professor at Middlebury College. His most recent books are Battlefronts Real and Imagined: War, Border, and Identity in the Chinese Middle Period (2008) and The Blacks of Premodern China (2010).


The production of a volume such as this one – involving the contributions of more than 40 scholars – depends on many individuals’ hard work, good will, and attention to detail. My chief debt of gratitude, of course, goes to the contributors themselves, who showed both careful attention to deadlines and welcome patience with the inevitable delays that a project of such magnitude inevitably brings with it. Some of these contributors, the reader will note, are eminent scholars in their fields, while others are newly minted PhDs or in the relatively early stages in their careers. But all have borne with the bumps in the proverbial road with good cheer.

At Wiley-Blackwell, the Companion to Religion and Violence has been unfailingly supported from its inception by Rebecca Harkin, who commissioned the volume and kept careful tabs on it as it made its way through the publishing pipeline. (Our annual meetings at the American Academy of Religion conference helped to keep the book on schedule and to assure me that there was indeed light at the end of a long, religiously violent tunnel!) At various points, a number of other folks at Blackwell – Isobel Bainton, Lucy Boon, Sally Cooper, Bridget Jennings, and Sue Leigh – helped move a very large manuscript forward in a very short time. This combination of swift progress and careful attention to detail was helped too by the careful copyediting of Ann Bone.

This Companion was first envisioned while I was a member of the faculty in Christ College, the honors college of Valparaiso University. If it possesses any interdisciplinary virtues, they are in large part due to my time at Christ College, where I spent every working day with a tightly knit group of colleagues who approached the scholarly study of religion from many different disciplinary backgrounds. Since coming to Rutgers in the fall of 2008, I have been fortunate to have supportive colleagues in both the Department of Political Science, my academic home, and the Department of Religion. As this volume was going to press, Jim Johnson of the Religion Department hosted a campus-wide forum on religion and violence and graciously invited me and another colleague to share some insights on the topic. To our collective surprise, several hundred people attended, a number that (even allowing for the awarding of extra credit by some faculty in the Religion Department!) illustrated, if illustration was really needed, just how timely a topic is taken up in these pages. That may be a sad statement about the world in which we live, but also – one hopes – about interest in subjecting the phenomena of religion and violence to scholarly analysis, in the attempt to envision a less violent future.

Andrew R. Murphy

New Brunswick, New Jersey


Andrew R. Murphy

The relationship between religion and violence – however one defines either of those terms – forms a central part of the political discourse, as well as the lived reality, of modern times. In the summer of 2010, Americans from all corners of the nation passionately debated the propriety of a Muslim cultural center just blocks from the site of the World Trade Center attacks, a debate that revived all the painful memories associated with that event and fed ongoing arguments about whether Islam was a “violent religion” or a “religion of peace.” Daily headlines bring news of violent conflicts in hotspots around the world, many of which are fired by religious rhetoric, while a steady stream of publications by the “New Atheists” denounce the tendency of religions of all kinds toward violence, irrationality, and destruction, in the process spawning a counter-literature even more extensive than the work it arose to contest (Hitchens 2009; Dennett 2006; Harris 2005; McGrath 2010; Haught 2007; Dawkins 2008).

And yet so many important questions go unaddressed in these sensationalized headlines, the charges and countercharges of polarized political debate, and the provocative claims of the New Atheists and their critics. If religion and violence, and their (apparent) close connection are all around us, far more rare are accounts of these two phenomena that do more than scratch the surface or report the most egregious or provocative atrocities committed by believers of various sorts. What do we mean when we speak of “religion” and “violence”? Is all, or most, or even any, of the “religious violence” on display in the headlines really driven by religion, or is religion a convenient rhetorical tool invoked to justify violence sparked by other factors and serving other ends? After all, as part of the social landscape in the twenty-first century – much to the surprise or chagrin of those who envisioned its demise as secularization and modernization swept the globe – religion is just one of a number of phenomena that both shape and are shaped by human beings seeking meaning and value in their daily lives. And so we are led, from this consideration of religion and violence, to explore broader and more subtle interconnections between religion, ethnicity, nationalism, race, politics, gender, and economics; we are led into a more subtle and complex (and, quite frankly, a more interesting) reality.

The chapters that follow provide a guide of sorts to that more complex reality. This Companion to Religion and Violence does not, and does not attempt to, present a comprehensive treatment of every aspect of the religion–violence nexus. (It is hard to imagine any one volume doing so.) It does, however, offer a wide-ranging set of essays covering a variety of important topics, a varied set of perspectives on religion, violence, and the connection between the two, from an international and multidisciplinary roster of contributors. Many of the contributors have been researching and writing on these topics for decades, while others are at earlier phases of their careers. Each one brings his or her own particular expertise to the broader questions lying at the heart of this volume.

The Companion is organized into five sections. Part I, “ ‘Religion’ and ‘Violence’: Defining Terms, Defining Relationships,” begins the volume with two chapters exploring the difficulties of definition and conceptualization raised by these two key terms. John D. Carlson and William T. Cavanaugh consider a variety of ways in which scholars have defined these two terms, and probe the various ways in which they might (or might not) be related to each other. These provocative opening chapters set the stage for the many different approaches to religion and violence that follow in subsequent sections of the Companion.

Part II, “Disciplinary Perspectives,” turns to the contributions of a range of humanistic and social scientific disciplines to the study of religion and violence. Contributors bring the insights of economics and rational choice, sociology, anthropology, evolutionary biology, law, visual media, and gender studies approaches to bear on issues central to this Companion. Each understands religion and violence somewhat differently, and each offers unique insights into the multifaceted relationship between the two. When we look at these issues as refracted through such widely varied disciplinary lenses, we see that a multidisciplinary approach is necessary if we are to appreciate the complexity of the issues before us. Somewhere in the interaction among the varied approaches offered by the chapters in Part II lies a rich and nuanced understanding of religion and violence, both historically and in our own times.

But of course most religious believers encounter neither their faith traditions nor violence through academic lenses, but rather through lived experience and ritual, through sacred scripture and collective memory. The chapters in Part III, “Traditions and Movements, Concepts and Themes,” take up some of these phenomena and analyze their relationship to violent words or deeds. Some authors probe the internal dynamics of religious traditions and movements; others cast a broader eye on the historical development and evolution of the tradition under consideration. And since religious traditions and movements often communicate fundamental categories of meaning, value, and identity through key concepts or themes, other contributors to Part III take up a variety of such terms – jihad, just war, martyrdom, terrorism, sacrifice, and humiliation. Many of these terms are age-old, but have taken on new and important meanings in the post–September 11 world, evoking a range of relationships between religious believers and violence endured or inflicted on others.

Of course there is no way for one volume to cover all, or even most, examples of the intersections of religion and violence. In-depth studies of concrete historical examples, however, can often illustrate and clarify the theoretical, conceptual, and disciplinary insights offered in the Companion’s previous sections. Part IV, “Case Studies: Religion and Violence, Past and Present,” offers a range of studies that illustrate the many different ways in which religion and violence have been intertwined across time, place, and culture. From American slavery to pogroms in Russia; from British India to gender and the Holocaust; from Puritanism to Chinese popular religion; from South Asia to Africa and the Middle East: the contributors to Part IV reflect on the connections between religion and violence over time, and in a wide variety of settings.

And finally, Part V, “Future Prospects: Beyond Violence?” offers just a few examples of the ways in which religious actors have attempted to point the way beyond violence in the attempt to imagine new ways of dealing with conflict. Although this Companion’s emphasis has been on the complex relationship between religion and violence, the mirror image – whether we call it peace, or simply nonviolence – has always exercised a great deal of influence over the religious imagination as well. The potential for liberation theology or religiously motivated peacemaking efforts to build bridges between peoples and cultures suggests that, often, those very traditions that have exacerbated violent discord in the past at the same time hold out the potential for overcoming such destructiveness in the future. Indeed, the very scriptures that have often urged individuals on to acts of violence contain equally poignant longings for a world free from such strife. And the history of American religion suggests a strong countertrend to the all-too-frequent association of religion with violence: a nonviolent tradition deeply grounded in the American experience.

Before concluding this Introduction, two final caveats.

First, I have not insisted that the contributors to this volume adopt a uniform definition of religion, and thus readers will note that various chapters use the term in various ways. It is undeniable, of course, that (as the first two chapters in the Companion make abundantly clear) definitional issues are highly charged and important in terms of understanding just what we mean by “religion” and “violence” (let alone the relationship, if any, between them). But each contributor comes to the phenomena under consideration from his or her own particular disciplinary background or professional position, and I have allowed them to define and use terms as they find most useful for the sort of exploration they want to offer.

Second, as mentioned earlier, let me reiterate that no single volume can cover such an enormous terrain comprehensively, and that therefore there will inevitably be topics that readers will wish had been explored in the chapters to follow. As editor of this volume, I am keenly aware that certain topics lack the attention they deserve; and, conversely, that other topics may appear to receive unnecessarily excessive attention. Many contributors, for example, use the case of Islam, or Islamist movements, or terrorism (often associated, fairly or not, with certain strands of Islam) as examples to probe the purported connections between religion and violence. It is true, of course, that the debate about Islam and violence is one that threatens to oversimplify, to denigrate, and to exclude; and it would be a poor reading of the intent of this Companion to contribute to such sentiments. At the same time, if a volume of this sort is to be timely and relevant, it must direct itself toward the rhetoric that is actually at play in the world around it. Additionally, readers will note that many of the Companion’s chapters take up the issue of “Islam and violence” in order to further complicate or contest broad narratives that link the two in some sort of essential way.

All in all, then, the chapters in this Companion to Religion and Violence take up an enormously complex constellation of phenomena from a diverse and wide-ranging set of disciplinary backgrounds. While certainly not the last word on any of the topics under consideration, the Companion to Religion and Violence aims to provide readers with a broad overview of these vexed issues and a set of conceptual and interpretive tools for approaching the phenomena, and to lay the foundation for further investigations in years to come.


Dawkins, Richard (2008). The God Delusion. New York: Mariner Books.

Dennett, Daniel (2006). Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon. New York: Viking.

Harris, Sam (2005). The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason. New York: Norton.

Haught, John F. (2007). God and the New Atheism: A Critical Response to Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens. Louisville: Westminster John Knox.

Hitchens, Christopher (2009). God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. New York: Twelve.

McGrath, Alister (2010). The Dawkins Delusion? Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Press.

Part I: “Religion” and “Violence”: Defining Terms, Defining Relationships

1 Religion and Violence: Coming to Terms with Terms

John D. Carlson

2 The Myth of Religious Violence

William T. Cavanaugh