Scriptural Legitimation and Support for Religiously-Motivated Violence – Survey-Experimental Evidence across Three Religions and Seven Countries

17.05.2018 - 15:00 to 16:30
Location : 
A 5,6 Raum A 231
Type of Event : 
MZES Public Lecture
Prof. Dr. Ruud Koopmans
Lecturer affiliation: 
WZB Berlin Social Science Center & Humboldt University Berlin

In collaboration with Eylem Kanol (WZB Berlin), Anselm Rink (WZB Berlin & University of Konstanz) & Dietlind Stolle (McGill University, Montreal)

This presentation addresses a seemingly simple but hotly contested question: what is religious about religiously-motivated violence? Next to calls for compassion and tolerance, the holy texts of the three Abrahamic religions also contain instructions to kill religious deviants and enemies of the faith. Extremists frequently refer to these parts of religious scripture in their mobilization and legitimation attempts. But do they have any real impact on believers’ support for violence or do most believers regard the violence-legitimizing parts of scripture as morally irrelevant? We address this question by way of a survey experiment among Christians, Muslims and Jews in Germany, the United States, Cyprus, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine and Kenya. We find strong support for an effect of scriptural legitimation on support for violence, particularly among Muslims. We investigate to what extent this effect is moderated by religious fundamentalism and by religious knowledge.

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