The Myth of Religous Violence Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict: Secular Ideology…

Hardcover | September 4, 2009

byWilliam T. Cavanaugh

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The idea that religion has a dangerous tendency to promote violence is part of the conventional wisdom of Western societies, and it underlies many of our institutions and policies, from limits on the public role of religion to efforts to promote liberal democracy in the Middle East. William T.Cavanaugh challenges this conventional wisdom by examining how the twin categories of religion and the secular are constructed. A growing body of scholarly work explores how the category 'religion' has been constructed in the modern West and in colonial contexts according to specific configurationsof political power. Cavanaugh draws on this scholarship to examine how timeless and transcultural categories of 'religion and 'the secular' are used in arguments that religion causes violence. He argues three points: 1) There is no transhistorical and transcultural essence of religion. What countsas religious or secular in any given context is a function of political configurations of power; 2) Such a transhistorical and transcultural concept of religion as non-rational and prone to violence is one of the foundational legitimating myths of Western society; 3) This myth can be and is used tolegitimate neo-colonial violence against non-Western others, particularly the Muslim world.

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The idea that religion has a dangerous tendency to promote violence is part of the conventional wisdom of Western societies, and it underlies many of our institutions and policies, from limits on the public role of religion to efforts to promote liberal democracy in the Middle East. William T.Cavanaugh challenges this conventional wisd...

Dr. William T. Cavanaugh is Associate Professor of Theology at the University of St. Thomas.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:272 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0.98 inPublished:September 4, 2009Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195385047

ISBN - 13:9780195385045

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. The Myth of Religious Violence2. The Invention of Religion3. The Creation Myth of the Wars of Religion4. The Uses of the MythNotesIndex