Is Religion to Blame for Terrorism?

It is indeed the conventional wisdom these days. That wisdom says that overly fervent believers resort to violence in order to impose their beliefs on non-believers. The solution, therefore, is to stop the silly believing! Let’s all become atheists!

Is this right? One cannot deny that religious disputes have led to incredible violence in our history. That includes stuff like burning heretics at the stake — a particularly gruesome way to die … and it has included terrible wars.

But was it religion alone? Karen Armstrong argues that the answer is “no”. The real burr in the saddle has not been religion itself, but religion linked to power. When power uses religion to legitimize its use of force, we see religion as the oppressor.

So what is it about power relationships that leads to such terrible violence? I would argue that it is incompetent use of power. And that is what conflict management seeks to address.


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