Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Religious Studies

Major Professor

Michael DeJonge, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Adib Farhadi, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Benjamin Goldberg, Ph.D.


Extremism, Justification, Legit Violence, Terrorism, The Great Separation


As a consequence of the separation between religion and politics, known as secularism, the discussion about violence has also been divided into two main categories –Religious Violence and Non-Religious Violence– in the modern Western academia. The tendency of the leading scholarly work in the discourse of "religious violence" is that "religion" is inclined to be violent more than secular institutions for several reasons. Therefore, the state's violence, as being secular, steps in to bring peace. And the foundational cause of the theories relies heavily on the essential differences of "religion" and the secular. With counter-arguments, William T. Cavanaugh and Talal Asad criticize the scholars in order to demonstrate that their theories are based on the construction of the society, which is created in the modern West by separating the two main public spheres in the first place. Plus, it helps the state to legitimize its own violence. The aim of this work, then, is to present the arguments around the subject of "religious" violence and to conceptualize the narrative of both sides in terms of the legitimation process of violence. Throughout the thesis, the comparisons of both sides show that the arguments which are created by the leading scholarship can apply to either side. However, the intention is not an effort to imply religion does not cause violence. Hence, the storyline of the "religious" violence by the mainstream theorists does not seem capable of separating the "religious" violence from the state's violence.