Any religious movement consists of various elements, both peaceful and violent themes and it’s only the followers of this movement who decided what to choose. The major peculiarity of the religious extremists (and terrorists) is that they use their religion in order to justify their violent and destructive actions. It’s their personal choice, their interpretation, and those aren’t the values that our great religions such as Christian, Muslim, and Jewish and others represent in reality. The prejudice and influence are giftedly used by some leaders, and the religious followers are easier to be manipulated than agnostic. In my opinion, this factor plays especially significant role in the countries with poor education and poor living conditions, because ignorance and poverty are the favorable conditions in the process of the creation of the future terrorist.
The religious ideals definitely play their critical role in the functioning of the modern terrorism because they use the symbols and the images of the certain religions and make them work for the terrorist goals. It has to be mentioned that violent acts that have a religious nature have the special name a ‘religious terrorism’. There are few specific characteristics of the religious terrorism known to the modern researchers of this subject, such as:
– The justification or explanation of the acts of terrorism by the religious ideals;
– The leading roles are often belong to the religious people (people that are the followers of the certain religious movement or the people who are actually clerical persons themselves);
– The killings and destruction are considered by the religious terrorists as in follow-up necessity but not as an evil acts.
Gibson (2011) states the conclusion regarding the role of the religion in the terrorism spreading was made by many scholars. It’s rather one of the causes among many others (such as politics, culture and psychology) that provoke fanatics to undertake terrorists attacks. According to Gibson (2011), this kind of violence is like the other types of violence that could be found in our time.
Juergensmeyer’s ‘Terror in the Mind of God’ (2000) is a deep analysis of the “war against terrorism” that helps reader to go under the surface of the common perceptions and think about the possible reasons and the real situation in the other countries. I need to specify that Juergensmeyer (2000) pays so much of his attention to the role of religion for a good reason. Author emphasizes that religion is deeply interrelated with culture, politics and even economics. Therefore such deep research is so important: the research of underlying causes of the terrorism and the influence of the prejudice and religious ideals on the development and spreading of the terrorist movements all around the globe. Unfortunately, in my opinion, some religious studies and religious propaganda in the wrong hands may become a weapon, because these methods may not only fuel terrorist action, but often lead to the destructive war conflicts (for instance, the conflict between Israel and Palestine).
The theory of the clash of civilizations suggested by Huntington is a controversial study but the description given by Juergensmeyer (2000) somehow proves its right for to exist. The contrast of the cultures is so obvious for anyone; the values are so different that they may become a reason for violent actions of the religious fanatics. Cook (2003) compares American lifestyle and morals such as “religious tolerance, diversity, pluralism, and separation of church and state” and almost opposite characteristics of some conservative states. (Cook, 2003)
It’s also important to draw attention to the fact that Juergensmeyer (2000) has studied various religious terrorist movements, and he provides a very interesting overview of the Christian terrorist groups like White Supremacist groups and others. Author also researches Jewish religious terrorist groups, Sikh terrorist groups and Islamic terrorist groups. He demonstrates that any religious values may be sued wrongly for the argumentation of the violence and destruction.
The nature of the conflict in the religious terrorist acts significantly differs from the common terrorism because it doesn’t have a clear goal/result, and it does not have clearly defined time period for these actions. Simply speaking, it is aimed to terrify the witnesses of the terrorist act and this way to try to establish the new values, new order, and new way of living as it is seen by terrorists. There is no doubt that geopolitics plays substantial role in the spreading of the religious terrorist acts.
Another outstanding researcher, Barkun (1997) has created a study of ‘the Christian Identity movement that unfolds in a subculture few know and in which fewer still participate, where deviant religion, spurious scholarship, and radical politics intersect.’ (1997) This author represents the analysis of the origin and development of the Christian Identity. The origin of the religious conflicts (including religious terrorist groups) hides deep down in the centuries; and he aims to discuss the various aspects this complicated issue.
What makes a terrorist? Why do these religious terrorist attacks happen? What could be a reason and motives of a person to implement the mass destruction acts and killings of innocent people? It’s a very complex dispute that does not have a direct and simple answer. Its human nature and the religious beliefs may play a vital role in the education and training of the potential terrorist. It needs to be stated that the economic deprivation, the lack of knowledge, and access to education may result in the adoption of religious and political extremism and may turn a person to the terrorist group.
But the poverty may not be the only possible reason and actually it may be a popular myth. For example, the results of survey presented by Krueger (2008) indicate that the supporters of the various terrorist acts are more likely to have a higher level of education and income. This fact is a disturbing one. As for the origin of the terrorists, it seems that the international terrorists often originate from the states with fewer political and civil rights. (Krueger, 2008)