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

William Schanbacher, Ph.D.


Holy Wars, Jihad, Jurisprudence, Just War, The Crusades, Theorizing Warfare


The phenomenology of religion has received the most attention in social science because it has shaped society on social, political, and economic levels throughout history. Religion can be an organization that brings people together and develops a sense of identification, while also acting as a divisive structure for those of other faiths or nonbelievers. And so, we have witnessed the rise of both religious tendencies and violent acts for the last two decades, occasionally intertwined. Various belief systems have increasingly become a factor that politicians, intellectuals, and the mainstream media associate with violence-based modern warfare. However, scholars and analysts who believe that all religions promote violence ignore that a core value of religion is peace. Therefore, it can be argued that religion and violence are two mutually exclusive concepts with no direct and definite correlation.Historically, Christian and Islamic war traditions, namely the Crusades and jihad respectively, have relied on the myth of religious violence to justify violent acts. To better understand the true driving force behind religious violence, one must further examine the roots and historical motivations for wars and other violence conducted by believers. Accordingly, this study aims to provide the framework for better understanding how perpetuating the myth of religion as the sole and/or main cause of violence allows responsible authority figures to avoid punishment and overshadows the secular motivations behind so-called holy wars, including territorial, political or economic gain.

Included in

Religion Commons