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AbstractCITATION: Wolfgang, H. 2011. Religion and violence in a globalised world. Verbum et Ecclesia 32(2), Art. #581, doi:10.4102.ve32i2.581.
Violent religious extremism is seen as one of the mega-problems of the 21st century. This
article – based on a key lecture at the conference on ‘Violence in a democratic South Africa’
at the University of Pretoria and the David de Villiers memorial lecture at the University
of Stellenbosch, both held during August 2010 – critically discussed the interaction between
religion and violence in our present-day, globalised world. Three different propositions on
the relationship between religion and violence were scrutinised. In countering the proposition
that religion, or more specifically monotheism, necessarily leads to violence, it was argued
that violence is not an inherent, but rather an acquired or even an ascribed quality of religion.
The second proposition that religion leads to non-violence was affirmed to the extent that
religions do provide a strong impulse to overcome violence. However, they also tend to
accept violence as an inevitable part of reality and even justify the use of violence on religious
grounds. The third proposition was regarded as the most convincing, for it argues that the
link between religion and violence is contingent. Some situations do seem to make the use of
violence inevitable; however, religions should refrain from justifying the use of violence and
maintain a preferential option for nonviolence.
Wolfgang, H. 2011. Religion and violence in a globalised world. Verbum et Ecclesia 32(2), Art. #581, doi:10.4102.ve32i2.581
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