Why do religious traditions that supposedly promote peace, justice and rewards for devotion produce terrorism? Is there a relationship between religion and violence?

Essay by GobboUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, October 2006

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Religion and violence walk hand in hand throughout history, however, how this violence is created and for what means it is utilised varies not only from religion to religion but also according to its context and ones outlook. All religions contain an element which targets an inherently malleable part of our psyche, able to produce devotion and conviction to an unrivaled degree. This makes it a perfect sphere for violence to be produced, utilised and manipulated. Religions do indeed contain an inherently violent nature and coupled with the devotion and faith it inspires it can mean even the most peaceful religions are capable of producing and supporting violence. Religion itself also takes many different forms and it can become difficult to define where it begins and where it ends. When dealing with something as complex as religion, the question arises, how much is the relationship between religion and violence permeated with the acts of societies and individuals seeking to manipulate this beneficial social institution for their own means.

There can be little doubt that religion and violence are intertwined throughout history however this link is pervaded by many different critical aspects such as its context and how it is defined.

Religion, "the opiate of the masses" as Marx puts it, is a belief that has existed in our ancient and modern day societies and has had an undeniable ability to inspire all sorts of emotions be it forgiveness or anger. Each religion gives each of us inviolable and sacred rules which attempt to govern the way we live and curb the chaos that is inevitable in life. It gives us deities, beings who are omnipotent and holy, beings who inspire us to rise above our inherently human flaws. It offers us serenity, peace and spiritual wholeness. It gives us an...