Social scientists have been involved in systematic research on genocide for over forty years, yet an under-examined aspect of genocide literature is a sustained focus on the nexuses of religion and genocide, a lacuna that this article seeks to address. Four ways religion and genocide intersect are proposed, of which two will receive specific attention: (1) how religious rhetoric and (2) how religious individuals and institutions foment genocide. These two intersections are further nuanced by combining a Weberian method of typologies, the Durkheimian theory of collective violence, and empirical data in the form of rhetoric espoused by perpetrators and supporters of the 1995 Bosnian genocide. This combination yields the three typologies of “othering”, justification, and authorization, which are further supported by a review of genocide literature. The typologies provide a framework for analyzing the synergistic relationship between religion and genocide in the interest of devising a model that can be applied to other genocides for investigative and comparative purposes and reveal that religion is both instrumentalized by individuals and institutionally instrumental in genocide perpetration. Individuals explicitly employ religious rhetoric to prey on the fear of the masses, and religious institutions and individuals are indispensable to lending religious justification and moral authority to genocidal campaigns. These results may serve as a starting point for devising strategies that neuter the destructive links between genocide and religion as well as leveraging the ambiguity of religion in favor of its constructive and obviating potential.
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