Wednesday, March 12, 2008

An Academic View on Religion and Violence

Eran Zaidise, Daphna Canetti-Nisim, Ami Pedahzur, (2007),
Politics of God or Politics of Man? The Role of Religion and Deprivation in Predicting Support for Political Violence in Israel
in Political Studies 55 (3) , 499–521


This study examines the associations between religious affiliation and religiosity and support for political violence through a nationwide sample of Israeli Jews and Muslims. Based on structural equation modeling, the findings show that by and large Muslims are more supportive of political violence than Jews and more religious persons are less supportive of political violence. Deprivation, however, was found to mediate these relations, showing that the more deprived – whether Muslims or Jews, religious or non-religious persons – are more supportive of political violence. The explanatory strength of religion and deprivation combined in this manner was found to be stronger than any of these variables on their own.

The findings cast doubt on negative stereotypes both of Islam and of religiosity as promoting political violence. They suggest that governments which want peace at home, in Israel as elsewhere, would do well to ensure that ethnic and religious differences are not translated into, and compounded by, wide socio-economic gaps.

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