Religions2015, 6(4), 1182-1202; doi:10.3390/rel6041182 - published 30 September 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Boko Haram in Nigeria provides an important example of the combination of religion and violence in the conditions of the twenty-first century. It is both a movement in the pattern of religiously-justified violence and a significant representative of the emergence of new types of modern terrorism in recent years. This article examines both of these aspects of Boko Haram as an example of religious violence. In the general development of religiously justified violence, Boko Haram is the heir to a long jihad tradition in West Africa. Its emergence follows well-established patterns of older militant Muslim groups, but it also departs significantly from those patterns as it shapes itself as a movement in the patterns of contemporary, twenty-first century modes of religious violence. Boko Haram is also identified, in twenty-first century terms, as a religious terrorist organization. As a religious terrorist group, it fits the pattern of what David Rapoport calls the fourth wave—the religious wave—of modern terrorism. However, in the second decade of the twenty-first century, Boko Haram exhibits characteristics of a new style of religious terrorism that is more like the so-called Islamic State than the older type of terrorist organization of al-Qa’idah.
Religions2015, 6(4), 1168-1181; doi:10.3390/rel6041168 - published 29 September 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This study presents the results of an empirical study of ethical attitudes toward bribe taking in six religions—Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, the Baha’i faith, Hinduism, and Judaism. The paper begins with a discussion of the theoretical and empirical literature on the subject. The empirical part of the study examines attitudes toward accepting bribes in 57 countries from the perspectives of six religions using the data from Wave 6 (2010–2014) of the World Values Survey. The sample population is more than 52,000. More than a dozen demographic variables were examined. The study found that attitude toward bribe taking does differ by religion.
Religions2015, 6(4), 1137-1167; doi:10.3390/rel6041137 - published 25 September 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: In the discourse around sectarian violence in Pakistan, two concerns are prominent. The first is the contention that piety, or the intensity of Muslim religious practice, predicts support for sectarian and other forms of Islamist violence. The second is the belief that personal preferences for some forms of sharia also explain such support. As I describe herein, scholars first articulated these concerns in the “clash of civilizations” thesis. Subsequent researchers developed them further in the scholarly and policy analytical literatures that explored these linkages through qualitative and quantitative methodologies. I revisit these claims in the particular context of sectarian violence in Pakistan. To do so, I use several questions included in a recent and large national survey of Pakistanis to create indices of both piety and support for three dimensions of sharia. I use these indices as explanatory variables, along with other explanatory and control variables, in a regression analysis of support for sectarian violence, the dependent variable. I find that the piety index and dimensions of sharia support are significant only when district fixed effects are excluded; however, personal characteristics (i.e., the particular school of Islam respondents espouse, ethnicity, several demographics) most consistently predict support for sectarian violence.
Religions2015, 6(3), 1125-1136; doi:10.3390/rel6031125 - published 21 September 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Fear of the late modern world has been a major factor in the rise of authoritarianand violent religio-political movements. This article draws on Anthony Giddens andCharles Taylor’s conceptualisation of the self in the secular age, and applies this to twomodernist religious trends originating in the East in the later nineteenth century in thecontext of western global expansion. Endeavouring to rise to the challenge ofaccommodating Islam to modernity by adopting the tools of rationality and encouragingindependent inquiry, Islamic Modernism has become increasingly embattled. The Baha’ifaith, a movement that incorporates similar perspectives and also developed out of anIslamic context, proposes a theophanic transformation rather than renewal through reformof Islam. After a period of infusion of a progressive catalytic impulse into the Middle East,the Baha’i faith performed its own recalibration of modernism, enunciating apocalypticdenunciation of the modern world similar to that found in Muslim revivalist trends. Thearticle ends by making some suggestions for continuation of a progressive religiousapproach in late modernity.
Religions2015, 6(3), 1113-1124; doi:10.3390/rel6031113 - published 17 September 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Throughout centuries, many interpretations of miraculous healings have been offered by philosophers, theologians, physicians and psychologists. Different approaches to miracles originate from the differences in understanding of causative factors, concepts of nature and the relationship between God and nature. Despite many skeptical arguments, a vast majority of people (approximately 70%) in modern Western societies share a belief in miracles and millions of sick people pilgrimage to sanctuaries seeking their occurrence. The aim of the research was to describe the social perception of miraculous healings, and the relationship between beliefs in miraculous healings, religiosity and meaning in life. A survey was conducted on a group of 178 respondents aged 18 to 30 (M = 21.5; SD = 2.31), 90% Catholics. The obtained results show that it is possible to describe the perception of miraculous healings in category of the essence of the causative factors (natural/supranatural) and definiteness (defined/undefined). The majority (88%) of the respondents believed in miracles and most frequently associated them with God's action/intervention, less often with the still undiscovered possibilities of the human organism or the nature, and the least with medical biases. Respondents with stronger religiosity more often understood miraculous healings as an act of God than the activity of unspecified supernatural powers. Moreover, higher religiosity and understanding of miraculous healings as an effect of the supernatural specified determinant was connected with higher meaning in life.