The spirit of war and the spirit of peace

Understanding the role of religion

Authored by: Graeme MacQueen

Handbook of Peace and Conflict Studies

Print publication date:  February  2007
Online publication date:  March  2007

Print ISBN: 9780415396653
eBook ISBN: 9780203089163
Adobe ISBN: 9781134154814


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Many people are confused about the relationship of religion to war and peace. They are perplexed by the fact that the world’s religions typically announce themselves as favouring peace while contributing in major ways to war. They seek an interpretation that will make sense of the situation. Perhaps all religions, for example, are inherently inclined to peace but are subject to manipulation by malevolent non-religious forces, which use them to promote or legitimize war? This common solution to the problem is, unfortunately, simplistic. In this chapter I want to suggest, through definitions, proposals and distinctions, a more fruitful approach.

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