The myth of Muslim violence: Theorizing religion in the War on Terror

Ulrich Schmiedel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Both inside and outside the academy, identifications of Islam as a terrorist threat have gained traction during the on-going War on Terror. William Cavanaugh’s conceptualization and critique of what he calls “the myth of religious violence” claims to offer a critique of these identifications. This critique has been influential across a variety of disciplines. In this article, I assess both his more philosophical-critical and his more theological-constructive accounts of religion to argue that Cavanaugh’s myth is, essentially, apologetics. Cavanaugh’s apologetics for the church camouflages the differential treatment of religions during the War on Terror. If it has been about a myth at all, then the War on Terror has been about the myth of Muslim violence. Christianity past and present has condoned and contributed to this very myth. What is needed, then, is a conception and a critique of “religion” that, in contrast to Cavanaugh’s analysis, can account for the significance of Christianity for the differential treatment of religions in the public square, both descriptively and prescriptively.
Original languageEnglish
JournalZeitschrift für Religion, Gesellschaft und Politik
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • 9/11
  • religion
  • violence
  • political theology
  • myth of religious violence
  • war on terror


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