Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Religious Studies

Major Professor

Michael P. DeJonge, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Adib Farhadi, Ph.D.

Committee Member

William D. Schanbacher, Ph.D.


9/11 attacks, Political violence, Religion, Religious violence, Terrorism


Terrorism or violence can be triggered by a variety of circumstances, including the religious, cultural, political, or economic conditions of the social environment, as well as the perpetrator’s personal characteristics. However, studies conducted in the aftermath of 9/11 have largely described the attacks as religious events, arguing that religion inherently causes violence or that religion is the main motivation for violence. The primary argument for the approach adopted by such studies is that secular institutions are inclined to be less violent than religious ones. A second approach, on the other hand, fundamentally opposes the arguments that led to describing the 9/11 attacks as religious events. Research based on this approach does not exclude the role of religious motivations in the attacks but emphasizes that political and economic purposes were much more dominant. The purpose of this study, then, is to analyze the two approaches mentioned above as well as the arguments of David Rapoport and Mark Juergensmeyer, who classified the 9/11 attacks as religious events, and William Cavanaugh and Bruce Hoffman, who classified the attacks as political events. On the one hand, Rapoport considers 9/11 as a religiously motivated violence act carried out in line with the religious objectives of the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization, and Juergensmeyer emphasizes that religion is very important for such actions because it gives terrorists moral justification for killing. On the other hand, Cavanaugh argues that it is not only religion that causes violence and that religious and secular violence intersect at some points, and Hoffman, in parallel with Cavanaugh, argues that economics and politics can cause violence in addition to religion.