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Searching for the Link between Religion and Violence

Kippenberg, H. G. (2010). “Searching for the Link between Religion and Violence by Means of the Thomas-Theorem.” Method & Theory in the Study of Religion 22(2-3): 97-115.
Current religious violence is a challenge to students of religions. Do we need categories like “cult,” “fundamentalism,” or “terrorism” in order to distinguish it from allegedly “genuine” and peaceful religion? Do monotheistic religions-with their exclusive claims to truth-necessarily generate intolerance? Sociologists have demonstrated conclusively that every action is based on a definition of the situation. Social actors do not put a norm or a model into practice independent of the immediate context of action. I argue that this holds true for religious actors as well. It is not the personal motive of actors, but the religious meanings they attribute to a conflict of their faith community, which is crucial for understanding religious violence.


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