The Relation between Religion and Violence
The article, The Contexts of Religion and Violence by Simkinsdiscusses in point form how religion breeds violence. The authorargues that although religion is seen as a peace channel, historydemonstrates that religion is frequently tied to violence. Allreligions have demonstrated some form of violence at a given time.This is apparent in historic Near Eastern religions where violencewas seen as holy as it was enjoined by gods and involved fighting forland extension. During medieval periods, Roman churches praisedcrusades as well as executed inquisitions. In more recent years,Buddhist terrorism has been witnessed in Japan, terrorism throughHinduism in India, Israel Jewish religion violence, as well asChristian was in US and North Ireland (Simkins 83).
The article notes that the religion, which has depicted andprogresses to show a relation with violence, is Islam. According toSimkins (83), Muslim supporters all through the past have stirred upjihad in an endeavor to spread their religion, in addition todefending it from enemies, frequently in manners that use violence.Acts of terrorism executed in Washington, London, New York andMadrid, by persons that claim to be Muslims are an illustration ofthe violent nature of Islam (Simkins 83). Bearing in mind theevidence of violence linked to religion by acts like the September11, the article notes that there appears to be an intrinsicassociation of religion and violence. Most religions include in theirparticular theologies the historic idea that history, as well as thehuman soul are engulfed in an apocalyptic battle amid “good andevil, God and the Devil, which cannot be resolved without violence”(Simkins 84). The violent communication of supposed Christianprophets compares to the disparaging acts by suicide bombers apparentin Palestine, or activist religio-nationalists from Israel.
Simkins uses the illustration of Abdullah Azzam, the founder of thetheoretical underpinnings of Jihad in illustrating how religiousleaders are capable of instilling violent ideals in their followers.Together with other activists, Azzam was able to convince followersto engage in war in Afghanistan. The battle was viewed as a form ofheroism, team spirit as well as complete dedication to Islamdescribed as Sharia (Simkins 90). Many of Azzam’s followers werindividuals from the Islamic religion, who had been taught to devoteto Islamic ideals. This probably explains why jihad progresses to bewidespread among many from the religion. It is the belief thatviolent actions will result in more good than harm.
In a different article, What’s the link between Religion andViolence? Braxton demonstrates why persons that associate withspecific religions are most likely to engage in violent acts as aspecific religious group. The author begins by explaining thesignificance of religion in people’s lives. One, religion assistspersons deal with death through its function of interpreting death.This implies that without a rational, as well as acceptable accountof death, religion bears no significance for members. Religion needsto provide followers with mechanisms to transcend death, as a kind ofinterpretation as to the cause of death. For instance, Christianityinforms supporters that death is transcended through the promise ofeternal life. Buddhism informs the lack of self to die. Hence,Christians are encourage to aspire for life after passing away, whileBuddhists view it as part of the wider illusions in life (Braxton21). Second, religion provides a basis for group cohesion.Individuals that follow the similar ideals and beliefs are able toassociate as a group.
Braxton progresses to argue that since religion acts the role ofexplaining death, it touches on the greatest fears among humans. Thefears are extreme that any probable failure in religious copingmechanisms becomes deadly and immensely threatening to followers(Braxton 29). The author uses psychological mechanisms to explain howthen followers of a given religion that feel threatened by anotherengage in violence as a manner of supporting their beliefs. Forstrong religious followers, false accounts of their spiritual beliefsare a direct threat to the promises of transcendence, as death hasbeen used as an illustration. Violence emerges as members of onereligious group’s attempts to support their religious beliefs asthey oppose what is purported by other to be right. In this case, warbecomes a defense for ones religion.
Violence is an efficient manner of externalizing the fearindividuals’ face when the normal mechanisms of deathinterpretation are at peril (Braxton 30). This is because followersof a religion have strong belief in the promises, like eternal life.Any attempt to take away what they deem as true is faced with violentreactions. Followers of a religion employ violence as a manner ofsolidifying and defending their premises. Religion has the capabilityfor motivating in-group reactions, which makes it possible forpersons from the same religion to unite and become violent againstother religions. Braxton’s application of religion to violencederives from the close relationship that people form due toassociation with specific religions.
Ronald Simkins is well educated in the field of religion. He has aPHD from Harvard University becoming a professor of Old Testament aswell as near eastern research. He is the director of The KripkeCenter for the Study of Religion and Society. The Kripkefacilitates scholarly action in religion and society. Most importantis the focus on the advancing the comprehension amid faith societies,involving Islam, Judaism and Christianity. He is a professor atCreighton University and the research agenda is on informing aboutthe different world religions. The article used in this study waspublished in 2007, by the Kripke Center. He is a credible writer forthis source because he is well knowledgeable on the differentreligions. Working at the Kripke Center, as a professor in additionto having a PHD means that he has done in-depth study of thedifferent religions.
Donald M Braxton works as the J Omar Good Professor of ReligiousStudies. He instructs at the Juniata College on religiousevolutionary theories. In addition, he publishes works related toreligion. The most current work evaluates the violence and jealousgod inheritance linked to Abrahamic monotheisms. His writings are onreligion and in most instances he uses psychological analysis toevaluate different religious issues. Braxton’s article aims atdemonstrating why individuals associate with specific religions andhow they engage in violence as a defense of their religious beliefs.It is a perfect illustration of his use of psychological analysis indiscussing issues related to religion. The article is published byJuniata Voices and is a 2003 publication.
The articles are similar in reference to their discussion. Theauthors of the sources agree that religion relates to violence. Thismeans that religion breeds violence. Simkins (83) notes thatreligions seem to justify violence under specific conditions. Thestatement implies that followers of a specific religion feeljustified engaging in violence, which is especially the case when theviolence relates to any acts in defense of their beliefs. Braxton hasdemonstrated the same argument in his argument. Braxton (23) notesthat followers of a religion adhere to its beliefs and will engage inviolence when they feel that the beliefs are being challenged. Theycreate in-groups, which are founded on the fact that they believe inthe same principles. For instance, Christians are more likely to formin-groups as persons of the same religion, meaning it could be almostimpractical to come across an in-group comprising Christians, Muslimsor persons from different religions. As in-groups, it becomes easierfor the followers to defend their religions.
Although the authors agree that religion may cause followers actviolently, the arguments differ on the approach used in presentingthe arguments. Simkins argument is straightforward and is apoint-by-point discussion on how religion has come to be associatedwith violence. He used illustrations in his arguments. For instance,is the example of Jihad, a supposed holy war among the Islamicreligion, which encourages some Muslims, that engaging in war isholy. On the contrary, Braxton’s approach is a psychologicalanalysis on how religion relates to violence. Psychologicalmechanisms explain why for instance, Christians would go to theextreme of violence as a defense of their beliefs.
Both articles aim to persuade the reader that religion can causepersons to become violent. Religion controls how people react todifferent situations as a defense for the different religiousbeliefs. Simkins interests derive from the fact that some religionsare indeed associated with war. The author endeavor to elaborate thevalidity in such claims. He widely uses the illustration of theIslamic religion, which is widely associated with terrorism.Braxton’s interests do not focus on a specific religion but on allreligions and the influence of religious beliefs.
Referring to the articles, religion becomes violent because of thespecific beliefs concerning one’s religion as well as religiousobligations. This involves the belief that one has an obligation,ordered not merely by good will and compassion, rather a divinejudgment. All through history, religion has been influential incausing violence. Many of the terrible crimes have been executed inthe name of a god. Illustrations are the Europeans who murderedmasses in God’s name, restricted and captured persons as a way ofprotecting their religion. Currently, Islam has become radical, asMuslims are involved in terror attacks as a form of Jihad. It is notviable to dismiss that a single religion is better compared toothers. This is because all religions have acted violently towardsothers at some point. Religion results to war either indirectly ordirectly as followers intend to make their god accepted hence,conflicts happen. It has the ability to easily manipulate personsthat need something to believe in, thus they will follow and adhereto what the religion says is right without questioning.
When evaluating the topic it is possible to question how religionrelates to violence, considering the fact that religion is supposedto promoted peace. The resources answer the main issue on howreligion and violence are interrelated. It is apparent that followersof a religion that engage in violence almost do so involuntarily. Ithappens after beliefs have been instilled in them over a long period,which they feel obliged to defend. When members of a religious groupengage in violence, it is because they are sure the violence is notevil and will instead be more beneficial to them. Both sources areinformative, because they evaluate all religions and explain howreligions function. The authors have analyzed the effectiveness andimportant attachment of followers to their specific religion. Thesources are also credible because different authors have also madethe arguments they make. For instance, Kitts, Juergensmeyer andJerryson (3) notes that it is specifically foundational religiousinstructions, which make violence holy to most perpetrators.
I agree with the conclusions the authors make. This is becausereligion is an important aspect of society. It is influential inteaching particular ideals. It is true that persons associated withspecific religious groups have engaged in violence. The widespreadillustration is the case of terrorism, where perpetrators are mainlyIslam, and have been made to believe that engaging in war is holy.Hence, it is possible for religion to encourage and give authenticityto violence and extreme dislike (Flood 1). It is especially the casein religions, which mandate total submission to commands dominatingprinciples as well as common sense.
Simkins presents a stronger argument compared to Braxton. Simkinsargument is straightforward and organized in a chronologic manner forthe reader to follow. The author does not depend on their personalanalysis of religion. Instead, the research is informed by referenceto violence that has already happened under the disguise of religion.Simkins introduces the association of religious groups to fightingright from the start of the resource. This makes it apparent what theauthor is discussing. Braxton’s writing is equally informative.However, one has to read the resource carefully to understand itscontext. The author does not out rightly start by responding to thetopic. He first relates religion to issues like death, as one of thebeliefs. Braxton later demonstrates how aggressiveness arises in themilieu of defending beliefs. Braxton’s argument is a personalanalysis of the topic, meaning most of the argument derives from hisown viewpoint. This makes it a weaker argument because it is notinformed by research.
Religion is what people choose to believe in, making them followersof a doctrine. Violence is any action that causes harm to others.Religion relating to violence traces back to ancient religioustraditions. The Islamic sword as well as the Christianity cross is anevident depiction of historic links with bloodshed in religiousculture. Stories on aggressiveness are common in many historicwestern writing, in the Bible. Violence from the Asian spiritualityare also primordial. The auspicious acts of damage by Vedics likeIndra are part of Indian writing and arts linked with Buddhism, whichare a reflection of how religion has shaped violence. Virtually, allreligions have comprised of violent acts. To date, followers stillact violently towards those from different religions. Whenindividuals feel that their religious beliefs are at peril, whenaggressiveness is glorified as holy, then the reaction can only beviolence.
Braxton, Donald M. What’s the Link between Religion and Violence?An Exploratory Hypothesis. Juniata Voices, (2003): 19-32.
Flood, Derek. Does Religion Promote Violence? Huff Post Religion,Nov. 2013. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/derek-flood/does-religion-promote-vio_b_3927504.html
Kitts, Margo., Juergensmeyer, Mark and Jerryson, Michael. TheOxford Handbook of Religion and Violence. Oxford: OxfordUniversity Press, 2013.
Simkins, Ronald A. The Contexts of Religion and Violence. Journalof Religion and Society, 2(2007): 83-102.