4 October 2021
13:15 - 14:45
Online - see link below

Seminar: Ruud Koopmans – Scriptural Legitimation and Support for Religiously-Motivated Violence

Link to online seminar below

Title: Scriptural Legitimation and Support for Religiously-Motivated Violence

Survey-Experimental Evidence across Three Religions and Eight Countries


This presentation addresses a seemingly simple but hotly contested question: what is religious about religiously-motivated violence? Next to calls for compassion and tolerance, the holy texts of the three Abrahamic religions also contain instructions to kill religious deviants and enemies of the faith. Extremists frequently refer to these parts of religious scripture in their mobilization and legitimation attempts. But do they have any real impact on believers’ support for violence or do most believers regard the violence-legitimizing parts of scripture as morally irrelevant? I address this question by way of a survey experiment among Christians, Muslims and Jews in Germany, the United States, Cyprus, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine and Kenya. I find strong support for an effect of scriptural legitimation on support for violence, particularly among those who adhere to a fundamentalist interpretation of their religion. Religious knowledge, by contrast, has no consistent moderating effect, and among Muslims even strengthens the effect of scriptural violence legitimation. In the presentation I will extend these findings with results from a 2020 replication study among Muslims and Christians in Nigeria, which moreover adds new treatment variations to the experimental design.

Bio: Ruud Koopmans is Research Director at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center and Professor of Sociology and Migration Research at Humboldt University Berlin. His current research focuses on migration and integration, religious fundamentalism and extremism, and minority and majority rights. His most recent books deal with the crisis of the Islamic world (Das verfallene Haus des Islam. Die religiösen Ursachen von Unfreiheit, Stagnation und Gewalt; CH Beck Publishers, 2020; also published in Dutch and Danish); the new political cleavage around globalization (The Struggle over Borders. Cosmopolitanism and Communitarianism, with Pieter de Wilde et al.; Cambridge University Press, 2019); and the tension between majority and minority rights (Majorities, Minorities and the Future of Nationhood, edited with Liav Orgad; Cambridge University Pres, forthcoming).


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