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Studium Generale Lecture by William Cavanaugh: Does Religion cause Violence?

When:Tu 22-03-2016 20:00 - 21:30
Where:Academy Building, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

Professor William Cavanaugh of DePaul University in Chicago gives the first lecture in the Studium Generale series Religion and Conflict, organized by the Centre for Religion, Conflict and the Public Domain of the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies.

Studium Generale Series Religion & Conflict
Studium Generale Series Religion & Conflict

The myth of religious violence does not correspond to fact, but is a central legitimating narrative of Western secularism according to Professor William Cavanaugh. The idea that religion promotes violence is part of the common understanding of Western liberal societies, and it informs both domestic and foreign policy, especially policies today that pertain to Muslims and the Muslim world. The idea that religion promotes more violence than secular ideologies and institutions depends on a sharp distinction between "religious" and "secular".  When we examine the use of these categories in arguments about violence, however, we find that the distinction between religious and secular changes according to the political agenda of those making the argument.  

The history of the religious/secular distinction shows that it is a modern Western invention.  There is no essential difference between "religious" and "secular" when it comes to violence; people kill for all sorts of things. The idea that religion causes violence is a piece of Western liberal ideology used to justify certain forms of violence and delegimate others.

William Cavanaugh

William Cavanaugh is Professor and Director of the Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology at DePaul University in Chicago.  His degrees are from the universities of Notre Dame, Cambridge, and Duke. He is the author of six books, most recently Field Hospital: The Church’s Engagement with a Wounded World (Eerdmans, 2016).  His books and articles have been translated into ten languages.


€3,- / free for students and SG-members.
You can order tickes via the website of Studium Generale.

Series Religion & Conflict

The series is organized by Studium Generale and the Centre for Religion, Conflict and the Public Domain of the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies. Other lecturers:

  • 29 March 2016 - 8 pm: Joram Tarusarira - Religion, Conflict and Peacebuilding: Through the lens of competitive victimhood
  • 5 april 2016 - 8 pm: RUG University Colloquium by Paul Rasor - Hate Speech, Pluralism and the many Faces of Tolerance
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