Violence in the Name of Religion, One Scholar Says It's Nothing New

Mar 9, 2015

Tents erected for displaced Iraqis, who were forced to flee their homes because of Islamic State's advance last year, are seen at the Baharka refugee camp on December 11, 2014 in Erbil, Iraq.
Credit Matt Cardy/Getty Images

It does not take long to think of examples of violent acts in the name of religion.

Terrorist acts committed by the self-proclaimed Islamic State movement and the African group Boko Haram are just two recent examples.

But as President Obama pointed out in a speech not long ago, such acts have happened for a long time, and are not confined to Islam. But the President was criticized for raising situations in which Christians had justified violence through their faith.

Charles Kimball watches such discussions with more than casual interest. He’s the director of the Religious Studies program at the University of Oklahoma, and author of two books on the subject of religion and violence.

He was in Milwaukee recently to speak to students at Marquette University, and he joined Lake Effect's Mitch Teich while in town.

"Everybody's always invoked God in their wars - it's time we get beyond that. If you can make a case for military action, make the case on its own merits, but stop playing it at the feet of God like this is what God wants us to do," Kimball said.

Charles Kimball is also an ordained Baptist minister, and author of the books, When Religion Becomes Lethal and When Religion Becomes Evil.