RELIGION AND VIOLENCE
Is religion inescapably violent? Are crusades, witch trials, and suicide bombings predictable features of religious commitment? And does religion therefore need to be quarantined, separated from state power, so that it does not, as it inevitably would, wreak havoc upon religious opponents and deviants? In this course, we will explore the links between religion and violence through the examination of several case studies. In these case studies, we will ask how religious commitment and doctrine may have inspired or justified violence, but that is not all that we will do. We will also explore how and why religion itself is often conceptualized in terms of violence. What is at stake, for example, in remembering the Crusades as an essentially religious phenomenon rather than a political one? Are claims about the inherent violence of religion used to disavow or mask the excess violence of state power?