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Religions 2015, 6(3), 1033-1047; doi:10.3390/rel6031033

Comparative Framework for Understanding Jewish and Christian Violent Fundamentalism

Department of Social Sciences, United States Military Academy, 607 Cullum Road, Lincoln Hall, Rm. 120. West Point, NY 10996, USA
Academic Editor: John L. Esposito
Received: 21 July 2015 / Revised: 20 August 2015 / Accepted: 21 August 2015 / Published: 31 August 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion & Violence)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [214 KB, uploaded 31 August 2015]

Abstract

Although most scholars agree that in the last couple of decades, religious fundamentalism has become the dominant ideological feature in the landscape of modern terrorism, many prefer to ignore the fact that this is not a development which is restricted to the Islamic world, and that other religious traditions have also experienced growth in groups which prefer to use violent strategies to promote their sacred visions. The current chapter strives to fill this gap by analyzing the emergence of violent religious groups in two distinct, non-Islamic, religious traditions. At first glance, the Christian Identity and the Religious-Zionist movements have very little in common. However, both movements served as a breeding ground for the emergence of violent fundamentalist groups aspiring to facilitate an apocalyptic/redemption scenario by engaging in illegal violent campaigns. Moreover, in both cases, the role of spiritual leaders was crucial in shaping the radicalization of the groups and their target selection, and the violence had a clear symbolic narrative. In other words, for the members of these violent groups, the violence served a clear role in the mobilization of potential supporters, and the branding and dissemination of the movement's ideology. Finally, while in general, terrorism is perceived as the weapon of the weak, in these two cases it was perpetrated by individuals/groups affiliated to communities belonging to the dominant religious framework in their respective polities (i.e., the Religious-Zionist and Christian Identity movements are perceived by their members as branches of Judaism and Christianity). Hence, by utilizing a comparative framework, the article will not just analyze the violent manifestations that emerged from these two movements, but also try to identify the unique factors that characterize and facilitate the emergence of religious groups within religious communities belonging to the dominant religious tradition in their societies. View Full-Text
Keywords: terrorism; Christian Identity; Religious-Zionism; Israel; religious movements terrorism; Christian Identity; Religious-Zionism; Israel; religious movements
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Perliger, A. Comparative Framework for Understanding Jewish and Christian Violent Fundamentalism. Religions 2015, 6, 1033-1047.

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