Thesis Title

War Continued by Other Means: The Politics of Religion And Violence

Date of Graduation

Spring 2005


Master of Arts in Religious Studies


Religious Studies

Committee Chair

Stephen Beckwitz


Theories about religious violence tend to implicitly privilege liberal democracy as the appropriate model for the relationship between religion, politics, and violence, which is defined as politics continued by other means. Because of the separation of church and state in liberalism, this distinction is thought to ensure that religious tolerance and pluralism. Rhetorical acknowledgement of religious tolerance and pluralism is not matched within the liberal democratic system. New models for the relationship between religion and state need to be developed that refrain from privatizing differences as an individual matter of personal preferences. Instead new models should allow for differences to surface in order to more thoroughly understand and negotiate them. The model suggested here is a socialistic form of government that allows for differences and emphasizes collective political action. By investigating a number of theorists of religious violence, I seek to expose the underlying political commitments of their theories, evaluate how effective they are at understand religious violence, and what models they propose as a resolution to the problem of religious violence. Falun Gong, a Chinese syncretic religious movement, serves as a test case to determine which theories of religious violence work best, and how religion might operate differently as a collective political practice within a socialist government.


religion, violence, politics, liberal democracy, socialism

Subject Categories



© Jean A. Stalhood