Sacred Terror: How Faith Becomes Lethal

By Daniel E. Price | Go to book overview

Conclusion

What’s Next?

I began this work by discussing how religion is often seen as a dark, irrational, and uncontrollable force that causes irrational behavior, violence, and terrorism. I hope that I have shown that religions are vague, amorphous, and contradictory ideological frameworks that can be and have been used to justify and rationalize a whole range of behaviors and actions ranging from the extremely harmful suicide bombing, to the mundane, what people eat, and to the benevolent acts of charity and tolerance. I have argued that it is primarily political, socioeconomic, and psychological forces that cause a very small number of individuals to choose interpretations of their faiths that justify and sanction violence. A good way to better understand the relationship between religion and violence and terrorism is to look at some of the emotions and feelings: humiliation, shame, loss of self-worth, and revenge that are characteristic of those who kill in the name of God. Is it religion that causes people to feel these emotions or is it other factors? It is the nonreligious forces listed in the preceding text, as well as factors relating to holy warriors’ personal lives, which cause these emotions. Religion, like nationalism, ethnic pride, communism, anarchism, and even liberalism, offers the ideological framework that justifies the channeling of these emotions into organized violence.


EMOTIONS THAT PRODUCE VIOLENCE

Humiliation motivates many forms of violence, not just terrorism. Students at the high school where I taught years ago often responded to insults

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