Religions and Violence: Dialogue and Dialectic

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 June 2024 | Viewed by 727

Special Issue Editors

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Guest Editor
Department of Government, Legal Studies and Philosophy, Tarleton State University, Stephenville, TX 76402, USA
Interests: legal studies and philosophy

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Government, Legal Studies and Philosophy, Tarleton State University, Stephenville, TX 76402, USA
Interests: republicanism; Hobbes & Spinoza; American political thought; judicial review; constitutional populism; political philosophy; critical theory; political theology; Augustine & ideology; civic engagement
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The theme of religion and violence continues to spark new research, as demonstrated by Juergensmeyer, Kitts, and Jerryson’s 2013 volume, Andrew Murphy’s Blackwell Companion to Religion and Violence (2011), and Jeffrey Kaplan’s Radical Religion and Violence (2015).  These studies received further impetus after January 6, 2021 in the United States and pronouncements by Patriarch Kirill on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. However, as Nancy Levene (2017) has shown, religion interfaces with modernity, democracy, critique, and interpretation.  A comprehensive consideration therefore requires the integration of additional themes. We include major world religions, accounting for identity and tradition; violence, socialization and community; consensus formation and stability; and civic engagement. We problematize the current literature: mining internal world religion resources to explore interpretations that produce stable identities, peace, overlapping consensus, and robust civic engagement.

Evidence of apparently religious radicalization is everywhere. Stephen Wolfe’s publication, The Case for Christian Nationalism (2022) is a fact, as are creationist curricula and the Reconstructionist symbolism of January 6.  Today, is it inconceivable that Catholic integralism could lead to resistance against the American state, or that Gary Steward’s Justifying Revolution (2021), which traces the influence of Calvinist resistance theories, could support physical opposition to the “Babylonian” regime that surrounds gender transitions with confidentiality from parents?     

Yet, The Myth of Religious Violence by William Cavanaugh (2009) has pushed back against this framing.  Karuna Mantena has explored how for Gandhi’s satyagraha, framed within realism, leads to peace (2012), and Ajay Skaria has further emphasized that satyagraha is “the religion that stays in all religions” (2016).  The exchange among Walter Burkert, Rene Girard, and Jonathan Z Smith (1987), with Smith opposing a general violence-based theory of religion, is critical, as is the research on the violence and religion of Remi Brague (Sur La Religion, including “Violence et religions” (2018)).

As Altemeyer and Hunsberger (1992) have also acknowledged, orthodoxy is not fundamentalism.  How can we understand communities that reject core liberal principles but embrace peace?  These religionists must be included in broader conversations of religion and violence. In a Jewish framework, Strauss, Spinoza and Sinai (2022), edited by Jeffrey Bloom, Alec Godstein, and Gil Student, explored insights into Orthodoxy from philosopher Leo Strauss.  In a Christian context, Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option (2017) envisions the peaceful secession of the traditional-minded.

To further problematize religion and violence with respect to consensus formation and stability in an Islamic milieu: religion may aid democratization efforts.  As Andrew March relates in Islam and Liberal Citizenship (2009), Rawls is more consistent with Sunni beliefs than previously thought.  The Habermas–Ratzinger exchange (2006) provides additional reasons to hope that religious language can productively contribute to consensus formation in the public sphere.   

Interpretation is essential in this broader “religion and violence” discourse. Therefore, in asking how religions contribute to stable identities and traditions, peace, and community consensus, we will also investigate the internal resources of organized belief systems. Which hermeneutics help most in reading religious texts, and which are potentially supported by religions themselves: Do these studies adopt post-modern, Gademerian, or critical theoretical lenses?

We look forward to your contributions.


  1. Andrew, M. Islam and Liberal Citizenship. Oxford University Press: New York, NY, USA, 2009; ISBN 978-019-979-428-7.
  2. Altemeyer, B.; B. E. Hunsberger. Authoritarianism, Religious Fundamentalism, Quest, and Prejudice. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion 1992, 2, 113-133, doi: 10.1111/j.1540-4560.1995.tb01326.x.
  3. Bloom, J., A. Goldstein, and G. Student (Eds.). Strauss, Spinoza & Sinai: Orthodox Judaism and Modern Questions of Faith. Kodesh Press: Teaneck, NJ, USA, 2022; ISBN 978-194-785-772-8.
  4. Brague, R. Sur la religion. Flammarion: Paris, France, 2018; ISBN 978-208-141-686-4.
  5. Burkert, W.; R. Girard; and J. Z. Smith. Violent Origins: Walter Burkert, René Girard, and Jonathan Z. Smith on Ritual Killing and Cultural Formation. Stanford University Press, Redwood City, CA, 1988; ISBN 978-080-471-518-8.
  6. Cavanaugh, W. T. The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict. Oxford University Press: New York, NY, USA, 2009; ISBN 978-019-538-504-5.
  7. Dreher, R. The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation. Penguin: New York, NY, USA, 2018; ISBN 978-073-521-330-2.
  8. Habermas, J.; Ratzinger, J. Dialectics of Secularization: On Reason and Religion. Ignatius Press: San Francisco, CA, USA, 2006; ISBN 978-158-617-166-7.
  9. Juergensmeyer, M.; Kitts, M.; Jerryson, M. The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Violence. Oxford University Press: New York, NY, USA, 2013; ISBN 978-019-027-009-4.
  10. Kaplan, J. Radical Religion and Violence. Routlege: Abingdon, 2015; ISBN 978-081-534-831-3.
  11. Levene, N. Powers of Distinction: On Religion and Modernity. University of Chicago Press: Chicago, IL, USA, 2017; ISBN 978-022-650-753-8.
  12. Mantena, K. Another realism: The politics of Gandhian nonviolence. American Political Science Review 2012, 106, 455-470, doi: 10.1017/s000305541200010x.
  13. Murphy, A. R. (Ed.). The Blackwell Companion to Religion and Violence. John Wiley & Sons, 2011; ISBN 978-140-519-131-9.
  14. Skaria, A. Unconditional Equality: Gandhi's Religion of Resistance. University of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis, MN, USA, 2016; ISBN 978-081-669-866-0.
  15. Steward, G. L. Justifying Revolution: The American Clergy's Argument for Political Resistance, 1750-1776. Oxford University Press: New York, NY, USA, 2021; ISBN 978-019-756-535-3.
  16. Wolfe, S. The Case for Christian Nationalism. Canon Press: Moscow, ID, USA, 2022; ISBN 978-195-790-533-4.

Dr. Eric Morrow
Dr. Bolek Kabala
Guest Editors

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