Journal of the Faculty of Humanities and Human Sciences;Volume 14


Religion and Violence : Theoretical and methodological aspects

Miyajima, Shunichi

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JaLCDOI : 10.14943/jgsl.14.1


Religion and violence have been the subject of numerous discussions. One side considers that religion has the function of eliminating raw violence. According to R. Girard, when violence occurs as a result of the tension and hostile relationships that inevitably occur within a community, and to prevent further retaliative violence, a sacrifice is required to end the cycle of violence. This sacrificial mechanism becomes a purification from violence. The other side, as represented by M. Juergensmeyer, suggests that religion may be the cause of war. He called the struggle between good and evil "cosmic war," noting that it not only provides a background of violence, but also an excuse to use violence. One reason for this conflict in discussions about religion and violence is the ambiguity of the terms "religion" and "violence." For example, terrorism is direct violence and terrorists are undeniable perpetrators. If, however, those who became terrorists did so as a result of being kept in poverty, of discrimination and oppression, they themselves would be the victims of greater structural violence. One religion may give them a way to cope with structural violence peacefully, while another may provide an ideological affirmation of terrorism as a means of release from such violence. Discussions of religion and violence are diverse; it is not easy to grasp the relationship between the two, but it is, however, necessary to provide a platform for discussion allowing religions to recognize each otherʼs existence.