In the global rise of religious violence, two questions emerge: what does religion have to do with it, and why is this happening now? This essay explores these two questions, with a focus on the actions of Timothy McVeigh in the United States and Anders Breivik in Norway. It suggests that religion may not be the problem, but problematic, in the global response to the erosion of trust in secular nationalism.
Contrary to what might be expected, there is no scholarly consensus on the role religion plays in motivating religious terrorism. This article is one of a series that explores why this is the case, examining the relevant conceptual and substantive issues. After introducing the fundamental explanatory challenges that frame the debate, the article sketches a typology of the prevailing interpretive options, and then critically examines one influential option: the claim that social relationships, small group dynamics, and social identity processes are far more important than religious or political ideologies in explaining why people engage in terroristic violence. The article then argues that the findings of a set of interviews with Western foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq, and the friends and families of such fighters, alternatively indicates that religiosity plays a more consequential motivational role, at least for jihadists, than the research literature tends to recognize.
This article explores the advocacy activities of the Church of Sweden. The historical co-optation of the Church by the state, a Lutheran theological heritage, and a trend from “voice to service” within Swedish civil society might discourage stronger political activism by the Church. The following research questions are answered: How does the extent of the advocacy activities of the Church of Sweden, understood as trying to influence politicians and officials and as achieving changes, differ from that of other civil society organizations (CSOs)? What factors explain differences in advocacy activities between the Church of Sweden and the other types of CSOs? How do the types of issues raised by the Church of Sweden through its influence differ from those of other CSOs? The article draws on a large sample (N = 1,150) from a national survey targeting Swedish civil society organizations. It compares the Church of Sweden with other organizations representing diffuse interests (i.e., religious congregations and solidarity organizations) and organizations representing specific interests (i.e., pensioners’ organizations). The analysis shows that the historical position of the Church has granted its organizations strength in terms of resources that make them more active in advocacy than comparable organizations representing diffuse interests. The Church of Sweden of the new millennium hence seems to be able to engage more in politics because of, rather than in spite of, its institutional role.
The article explores the different ways young Muslims and Christians relate to existing forms of categorisation based on ethnicity. Two questions are posed: 1) How do young Muslims and Christians negotiate ethnic boundaries related to the religion, citizenship, language and traditions of their parents’ homeland, and 2) What strategies do young people use to reinforce or overcome these ethnic boundaries? The data in this article derives from fieldwork in four immigrant congregations in Oslo – two Muslim and two Christian. The material consists of 25 semi-structured interviews, notes from observations and various types of written material. The participants are 16–35 years of age. The findings suggest that most youths downplay the importance of nationality, language and traditions by emphasising religion and other identity markers that are of greater importance to them. Nevertheless, far more Muslim youths downplay the importance of ethnicity than their Christian peers.
Nordic Journal Of Religion and Society
2-2018, volume 31
Nordic Journal of Religion and Society (NJRS) is an arena for all disciplines that study the field of relations between religion, churches, religious institutions, culture and society. NJRS is the only Nordic journal devoted to these issues.
Sociology of religion is a key discipline, but NJRS also includes contributions from scholars in psychology of religion, religious studies, church history and theology. The journal only publishes articles in English. NJRS is a referee journal at level 2 in the Norwegian system, and is published twice a year.
Professor and Adjunct professor Inger Furseth, Norway
Professor Mia Lövheim, Sweden
Ann Kristin Gresaker
Associate professor Magdalena Nordin (Review Editor), Sweden
Senior researcher Kimmo Ketola, Finland
Associate professor Lars Laird Iversen, Norway
Assistant professor Tomas Axelsson, Sweden
Professor Pétur Pétursson, Iceland
Professor Margit Warburg, Denmark
Design og typesetting: Type-it AS, Trondheim
ISSN online: 1890-7008
Copyright: Material reproduced in the journal is governed at all times by the current regulations of the standard contract agreement concerning publication of a work of literature in journals, between Den Norsk Forleggerforening og Norsk faglitterær forfatter og oversetterforening, see also www.nffo.no.
The journal is published with the support of Nordic Board for Periodicals in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NOP-HS) and KIFO – Institute for Church, Religion and Worldview Research.