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Killing in the Name of God: Addressing Religiously Inspired Violence

Killing in the Name of God: Addressing Religiously Inspired Violence

Robin Gill explores religiously inspired violence drawing on research into public attitudes on the topic. (2018)

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Religion and violence seem inextricably linked in the public’s mind. But what does linked actually mean?

The public certainly isn’t clear. While 61% of people think that the teachings of religions are essentially peaceful, 70% think that most of the wars in world history have been caused by religions. Only 8% think religions are inherently violent, but 47% think that the world would be a more peaceful place if no one was religious.

If there is confusion, it’s probably because the relationship between religion and violence is confusing. In this essay, ethicist Robin Gill brings some balance to a debate that, particularly of late, has been marked more by caricature than clarity.

Recognising that there is a problem to be addressed (if not necessarily the pathological one alleged by New Atheists) Gill goes to the heart of the issue – the specific religious texts that are hijacked to legitimise violence – and argues that read rightly they can be ‘defused’.

Killing in the Name of God will not only deepen our understanding of religion and violence but, in doing so, will enable a richer and more measured debate about these major issues of our time.

See the full data tables here.

Image by Jonas Jordan, United States Army Corps of Engineers. Image in public domain, courtesy of Wikimedia

Robin Gill

Robin Gill

Robin Gill is Emeritus Professor of Applied Theology at the University of Kent. He has published extensively in sociological theology, the sociological study of churches, Christian and religious ethics, and health care ethics.

Watch, listen to or read more from Robin Gill

Christianity, Faith, Islam, Judaism, Terrorism


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