Michael K. Jerryson
Journal of Religion and Violence
Religion and violence are both ambiguous categories but in the cultural mosaic that pits human against human, religion is a reoccurring justifier. There is no religion exempt from this tendency toward violence. Further, based on Milgram and Zimbardo’s experiments with students who were convinced that it was necessary to inflict torture on subjects for the greater good, it is apparent that ordinary people may commit heinous acts, given a sense of overarching emergency. Examples of religiously justified atrocities and violent rhetoric are summarized in this essay. In each case there is the mindset that violence is justified due to an extraordinary set of circumstances which require the suspension of behavioral norms.