Is Religion the Problem?

This week’s case study, “Is Religion the Problem?”, is about  religious violence and the debate about it here in America. In it, the author Mark Juergensmeyer puts religion in two different lenses: religion as the problem— it causes religious violence, and religion as the victim— violent instances are done under the name of religion. Juergensmeyer says religion is not a problem, rather religion in public life is; religion in politics is. Found in all religions is “sacred warfare,” examples being battles in the Old Testament, epics of Hinduism and Buddhism, and so on. This notion of “sacred warfare” is misconstrued when taken out of context— especially when it is applied to the political. Religion can personalize conflict and provide personal reward for doing things in the name of religion. It provides an organizational network, is a vehicle of social mobilization, and can act as a justification for violence when applied to an outside context. However, religion can also be used for something positive in that it can offer images of a peaceful resolution and can offer justification for tolerating differences.