Submission Date


Document Type




Second Department

Religious Studies


Rebecca Evans

Second Adviser

Danielle Widmann-Abraham

Committee Member

Christian Rice

Department Chair

Jonathan Marks

Department Chair

Roger Florka

Project Description

This thesis examines the way in which various groups have used religion as a justification for violent action towards political ends. From the Irgun, which carried out terrorist acts in Palestine, to the Palestinian Islamist organization Hamas, which has waged war on Israel, to the Buddhist leadership of Myanmar, which has waged a genocidal campaign against Rohingya Muslims living in the country, these groups have employed a narrow interpretation of their religious texts as a means to justify the actions they take. It is explained that it is not the compulsion of religious doctrine itself that is to blame, rather, the way the religion is interpreted and manipulated by groups and their leaders. This is then contrasted with how the religion they draw motivation from does not support their use of violence based on each tradition’s view of ethical conduct in war.