Human history is filled with numerous examples—both past and present—that make religion and violence appear to be best friends. Ever since the events surrounding 9/11, religiously inspired violence has been considered one of the most pressing issues of our times (cf. Juergensmeyer 2017; Kimball 2008). While the conflictive dimensions of religion are still indisputably at the forefront of public and political attention, religion’s significant resources for peace and reconciliation gain increasing attention as well. This contribution will provide an analysis of the love–hate relationship between religion and peace in three consecutive steps. The first part focuses on the role(s) of religion in conflict. Frazer and Owen’s six different ways of thinking about religion provide a model for better understanding religion’s conflictive sides (Frazer and Owen 2018; cf. Frazer and Friedli 2015). In a second step, this article discusses religion’s potent, yet often neglected constructive resources for sustainable peace. While taking into account the vast diversity of religious actors, certain content-based and formal characteristics emerge that help to shed light on the otherwise vague “religious factor” in peacebuilding. Finally, an example taken from post-genocide Rwanda will serve to illustrate the discussions in parts I and II.
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