Religious violence is a term that covers phenomena where religion is either the subject or the object of violent behavior. Religious violence is, specifically, violence that is motivated by or in reaction to religious precepts, texts, or doctrines. This includes violence against religious institutions, people, objects, or events when the violence is motivated to some degree by some religious aspect of the target or by the precepts of the attacker. Religious violence does not refer exclusively to acts committed by religious groups, but includes acts committed by secular groups against religious groups.
Violence is a very broad concept and it is also difficult to define since it can be used against non-human objects. Furthermore, the term can denote a wide variety of experiences such as blood shedding, physical harm, forcing against personal freedom, passionate conduct or language, or emotions such as fury and passion.
Religion is a complex and problematic concept. It is a modern western-compartmentalized concept that was not found anywhere before the 1500s and despite it being recently invented, there is no scholarly consensus over what a religion is. In general, religion is conceived as an abstraction which entails beliefs, doctrines, and sacred places even though the ancient cultures that wrote Holy Scriptures (e.g. Bible, Quran, etc) did not have such a concept in their holy scriptures, language, or history. Decades of anthropological, sociological, and psychological research have shown that the assumption that religious beliefs and values are tightly integrated in an individual's mind or that religious practices and behaviors follow directly from religious beliefs, is actually rare. People’s religious ideas are fragmented, loosely connected, and context-dependent just like in all other domains of culture and life.
In general, religions, ethical systems, and societies rarely promote violence as an end in itself since violence is universally undesirable. At the same time, there is a universal tension between the general desire to avoid violence and the acceptance of justifiable uses of violence to prevent a "greater evil" that permeates all cultures. Religious violence, like all violence, is a cultural process that is context-dependent and very complex. Oversimplifications of religion and violence often lead to misguided understandings and exaggerations of causes for why some people commit violence and why most do not commit violence. Religious violence is primarily the domain of the violent "actor", which may be distinguished between individual and collective forms of violence. Overall, religious violence is perpetrated for a wide variety of ideological reasons and is generally only one of the contributing social and political factors that leads to unrest.
Studies of supposed cases of religious violence often conclude that violence is strongly driven by ethnic animosities rather than by religious worldviews. Recently, scholars have questioned the very concept of "religious violence" and the extent to which religious, political, economic, or ethnic aspects of a conflict are even meaningful. Some observe that the very concept of "religion" is a modern invention and not something that is universal across cultures or historical and thereby makes "religious violence" a myth. Since all cases of violence and war include social, political, and economic dimensions and since there is no consensus on definitions of "religion" among scholars and no way to isolate "religion" from the rest of the more likely motivational dimensions, it is incorrect to label any violent event as "religious". Numerous cases of supposed acts of religious violence such as the Thirty Years War, the French Wars of Religion, the Protestant-Catholic conflict in Ireland, the Sri Lankan Civil War, 9/11 and other terrorist attacks, the Bosnian War, and the Rwandan Civil War were all primarily motivated by social, political, and economic issues rather than religion.
Religion is a modern Western concept. The concept of religion is not found anywhere before the 1500s. Furthermore, parallel concepts are not found in many cultures and there is no equivalent term for "religion" in many languages. Scholars have found it difficult to develop a consistent definition, with some giving up on the possibility of a definition and others rejecting the term entirely. Others argue that regardless of its definition, it is not appropriate to apply it to non-Western cultures.
The modern concept of "religion" as an abstraction which entails distinct sets of beliefs or doctrines is a recent invention in the English language since such usage began with texts from the 17th century due to the splitting of Christendom during the Protestant Reformation and more prevalent colonization or globalization in the age of exploration which involved contact with numerous foreign and indigenous cultures with non-European languages.
Ancient sacred texts like the Bible and the Quran did not have a concept of religion in their original languages and neither did their authors or the cultures to which they belonged. It was in the 19th century that the terms "Buddhism", "Hinduism", "Taoism", and "Confucianism" first emerged.
Violence is difficult to define because the term is a "thick concept" in that it broadly carries a descriptive and evaluative components which ranges from harming non-human objects to human self-harm. Ralph Tanner cites the definition of violence in the Oxford English Dictionary as "far beyond (the infliction of) pain and the shedding of blood." He argues that, although violence clearly encompasses injury to persons or property, it also includes "the forcible interference with personal freedom, violent or passionate conduct or language (and) finally passion or fury." Similarly, Abhijit Nayak writes:
The word "violence" can be defined to extend far beyond pain and shedding blood. It carries the meaning of physical force, violent language, fury, and, more importantly, forcible interference.
Terence Fretheim writes:
For many people, ... only physical violence truly qualifies as violence. But, certainly, violence is more than killing people, unless one includes all those words and actions that kill people slowly. The effect of limitation to a “killing fields” perspective is the widespread neglect of many other forms of violence. We must insist that violence also refers to that which is psychologically destructive, that which demeans, damages, or depersonalizes others. In view of these considerations, violence may be defined as follows: any action, verbal or nonverbal, oral or written, physical or psychical, active or passive, public or private, individual or institutional/societal, human or divine, in whatever degree of intensity, that abuses, violates, injures, or kills. Some of the most pervasive and most dangerous forms of violence are those that are often hidden from view (against women and children, especially); just beneath the surface in many of our homes, churches, and communities is abuse enough to freeze the blood. Moreover, many forms of systemic violence often slip past our attention because they are so much a part of the infrastructure of life (e.g., racism, sexism, ageism).
Charles Selengut characterizes the phrase "religion and violence" as "jarring," asserting that "religion is thought to be opposed to violence and a force for peace and reconciliation. He acknowledges, however, that "the history and scriptures of the world's religions tell stories of violence and war even as they speak of peace and love."
According to Matthew Rowley, three hundred contributing causes of religious violence have been discussed by some scholars, however he notes that "violence in the name of God is a complex phenomenon and oversimplification further jeopardizes peace because it obscures many of the causal factors." In another piece, Matthew Rowley notes 15 ways to address the complexity of violence, both secular and religious, and notes that secular narratives of religious violence tend to be erroneous or exaggerated due to over simplification of religious people, their beliefs, thinking in false dichotomies, and ignoring complex secular causes of supposed "religious violence". He also notes that when discussing religious violence, one should also note that the overwhelming majority of religious people do not get inspired to engage in violence.
Ralph Tanner similarly describes the combination of religion and violence as "uncomfortable", asserting that religious thinkers generally avoid the conjunction of the two and argue that religious violence is "only valid in certain circumstances which are invariably one-sided".
Michael Jerryson argues that scholarship on religion and violence sometimes overlook non-Abrahamic religions. This tendency provides considerable problems, one of which is the support of faulty associations. For example, he finds a persistent global pattern to align religious like Islam as a cause for violence and others like Buddhism as an explanation of peace.
In many instances of political violence, religion tends to play a central role. This is especially true of terrorism, which sees violence committed against unarmed noncombatants in order to inspire fear and achieve some political goal. Terrorism expert Martha Crenshaw suggests that religion is just a mask used by political movements to draw support. Crenshaw outlines two approaches in observing religious violence to view the underlying mechanisms. One approach, called the instrumental approach, sees religious violence as acting as a rational calculation to achieve some political end. Increasing the costs of performing such violence will help curb it. Crenshaw’s alternate approach sees religious violence stemming from the organizational structure of religious communities, with the heads of these communities acting as political figureheads. Crenshaw suggests that threatening the internal stability of these organizations (perhaps by offering a nonviolent alternative) will dissuade religious organizations from performing political violence. A third approach sees religious violence as a result of community dynamics rather than religious duty. Systems of meanings developed within these communities allow for religious interpretation to justify violence, and so acts like terrorism happen because people are part of communities of violence. In this way, religious violence and terrorism are performances designed to inspire an emotional reaction from both those in the community and those outside of it.
Hector Avalos argues that religions create violence over four scarce resources: access to divine will, knowledge, primarily through scripture; sacred space; group privileging; and salvation. Not all religions have or use these four resources. He believes that religious violence is particularly untenable as these resources are never verifiable and, unlike claims to scare resources such a water or land, cannot be adjudicated objectively.
Regina Schwartz argues that all monotheistic religions are inherently violent because of an exclusivism that inevitably fosters violence against those that are considered outsiders. Lawrence Wechsler asserts that Schwartz isn't just arguing that Abrahamic religions have a violent legacy, but that the legacy is actually genocidal in nature.
Decades of anthropological, sociological, and psychological research have established that "religious congruence" (the assumption that religious beliefs and values are tightly integrated in an individual's mind or that religious practices and behaviors follow directly from religious beliefs or that religious beliefs are chronologically linear and stable across different contexts) is actually rare. People’s religious ideas are fragmented, loosely connected, and context-dependent, as in all other domains of culture and in life. The beliefs, affiliations, and behaviors of any individual are complex activities that have many sources including culture.
Others such as William Cavanaugh have argued that it is unreasonable to attempt to differentiate "religious violence" and "secular violence" as separate categories. Cavanaugh asserts that "the idea that religion has a tendency to promote violence is part of the conventional wisdom of Western societies and it underlies many of our institutions and policies, from limits on the public role of churches to efforts to promote liberal democracy in the Middle East." Cavanaugh challenges this conventional wisdom, arguing that there is a "myth of religious violence", basing his argument on the assertion that "attempts to separate religious and secular violence are incoherent".  Cavanaugh asserts:
John Morreall and Tamara Sonn have argued that all cases of violence and war include social, political, and economic dimensions. Since there is no consensus on definitions of "religion" among scholars and no way to isolate "religion" from the rest of the more likely motivational dimensions, it is incorrect to label any violent event as "religious". They note that since dozens of examples exist from the European wars of religion that show that people from the same religions fought each other and that people from different religions became allies during these conflicts, the motivations for these conflicts were not about religion. Jeffrey Burton Russell has argued that the fact that these wars of religion ended after rulers agreed to practice their religions in their own territories, means that the conflicts were more related to political control than about people's religious views.
According to Karen Armstrong, so-called religious conflicts such as the Crusades, Spanish Inquisition, and the European wars of religion, were all deeply political conflicts at the core, not religious ones. Especially since people from different faiths constantly became allies and fought each other in no consistent fashion. She notes that the Western concept of separation of church and state, which was advocated first by the Reformer Martin Luther, laid a foundation for viewing society as divided when in reality religion and society were intermixed to the point that no one made such distinction nor was there a defining cut between such experiences in the past. During the Enlightenment, religion began to be seen as an individualistic and private thing and that modern secular ideals like equality of all human beings, intellectual and political liberty were things that were historically promoted in a religious idiom in the past.
Anthropologist Jack David Eller asserts that religion is not inherently violent, arguing "religion and violence are clearly compatible, but they are not identical." He asserts that "violence is neither essential to nor exclusive to religion" and that " virtually every form of religious violence has its nonreligious corollary." Moreover, he argues that religion "may be more a marker of the [conflicting] groups than an actual point of contention between them". John Teehan takes a position that integrates the two opposing sides of this debate. He describes the traditional response in defense of religion as "draw(ing) a distinction between the religion and what is done in the name of that religion or its faithful." Teehan argues, "this approach to religious violence may be understandable but it is ultimately untenable and prevents us from gaining any useful insight into either religion or religious violence." He takes the position that "violence done in the name of religion is not a perversion of religious belief... but flows naturally from the moral logic inherent in many religious systems, particularly monotheistic religions...." However, Teehan acknowledges that "religions are also powerful sources of morality." He asserts, "religious morality and religious violence both spring from the same source, and this is the evolutionary psychology underlying religious ethics."
Historians such as Jonathan Kirsch have made links between the European inquisitions, for example, and Stalin's persecutions in the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, McCarthy blacklists, and other secular events as being the same type of phenomenon as the inquisitions.
Others, such as Robert Pape, a political scientist who specializes in suicide terrorism, have made a case for secular motivations and reasons as being foundations of most suicide attacks that are oftentimes labeled as "religious". Pape compiled the first complete database of every documented suicide bombing during 1980–2003. He argues that the news reports about suicide attacks are profoundly misleading — "There is little connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, or any one of the world's religions". After studying 315 suicide attacks carried out over the last two decades, he concludes that suicide bombers' actions stem fundamentally from political conflict, not religion.
Byron Bland asserts that one of the most prominent reasons for the "rise of the secular in Western thought" was the reaction against the religious violence of the 16th and 17th centuries. He asserts that "(t)he secular was a way of living with the religious differences that had produced so much horror. Under secularity, political entities have a warrant to make decisions independent from the need to enforce particular versions of religious orthodoxy. Indeed, they may run counter to certain strongly held beliefs if made in the interest of common welfare. Thus, one of the important goals of the secular is to limit violence." William T. Cavanaugh writes that what he calls "the myth of religious violence" as a reason for the rise of secular states may be traced to earlier philosophers, such as Spinoza, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and Voltaire. Cavanaugh delivers a detailed critique of this idea in his 2009 book The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict.
According to John Carlson, excessive attention is often paid to acts of religious violence compared to acts of secular violence that do occur. This leads to a false essetializing of both religion as being prone to violence and the secular as being prone to peace, despite the abundant examples of secular violence that have occurred. According to Janet Jakobsen, secularism and modern secular states are much more violent than religion. Modern secular states in particular are usually the source of most of the world's violence. Tanner notes that secular regimes and leaders have used violence to promote their own agendas. Violence committed by secular governments and people, including the anti-religious, have been documented including violence or persecutions focused on religious believers and those who believe in the supernatural. For example, in the 20th century, over 25 million believers perished from the antireligious violence which occurred in many atheist states. According to Geoffrey Blainey, atrocities have occurred under all ideologies, including in nations which were strongly secular such as the Soviet Union, China, and Cambodia. Non-religious ideological fervour is commonly and regularly exploited to support war and other aggressive acts. People who wish to wage war and terror will find diverse ways to gather support. Secular ideologies have and will likely continue to use violence, oppression, and manipulation to further their own objectives, with or without the availability of religion as a tool. Wars that are secular in nature need no specifically religious endorsement and regularly operate with and without the support of non-religious ideologies. In addition, there exist few examples of wars waged for specifically religious reasons. Examples of violence and conflict that have been secular include World War I, World War II, many civil wars (American, Salvadoran, Russian, Sri Lankan, Chinese etc.), revolutionary wars (American, French, Russian, etc.), Vietnam War, Korean War, War on Terrorism, and common conflicts such as gang and drug wars (e.g. Mexican Drug War). In the 'Encyclopedia of Wars' by Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod, there were 1763 wars listed overall, of which some have identified only 123 (7%) as having been primarily religiously motivated. Talal Asad, an anthropologist, notes that equating institutional religion with violence and fanaticism is incorrect and that devastating cruelties and atrocities done by non-religious institutions in the 20th century should not be overlooked. He also notes that nationalism has been argued as being a secularized religion.
Hector Avalos argues that, because religions claim divine favor for themselves, over and against other groups, this sense of righteousness leads to violence because conflicting claims to superiority, based on unverifiable appeals to God, cannot be adjudicated objectively.
Similarly, Eric Hickey writes, "the history of religious violence in the West is as long as the historical record of its three major religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, with their involved mutual antagonisms and their struggles to adapt and survive the secular forces that threaten their continued existence."
Regina Schwartz argues that all monotheistic religions, including Christianity, are inherently violent because of an exclusivism that inevitably fosters violence against those who are considered outsiders. Lawrence Wechsler asserts that Schwartz isn't just arguing that Abrahamic religions have a violent legacy, but that the legacy is actually genocidal in nature.
Bruce Feiler writes that "Jews and Christians who smugly console themselves by claiming that Islam is the only violent religion are willfully ignoring their past. Nowhere is the struggle between faith and violence described more vividly, and with more stomach-turning details of ruthlessness, than in the Hebrew Bible".
However, Tom O'Golo declares that religious fundamentalists who use violence to further their cause contravene the root truth of all faiths:
A genuine fundamentalist is also a radical, someone who tries to get the root of the matter. A major weakness of many or perhaps of most radicals is not that they don't dig, but that they don't dig deep enough. Consequently many fundamentalists end up defending or acting upon beliefs which are not really at the heart of their doctrine. For example any religious fundamentalist who harms others in the pursuit of his or her radicalism is strictly out of order because no true religion ever encounters anything but love, tolerance and understanding. 'Thou shalt not kill' is at the heart of all genuine faiths, certainly the three based upon Abraham and God. That trio comprehensively condemns intentional harm to others (and to the self as well) for what ever reason. Dying to protect one's faith is acceptable; killing to promote it isn't. Arguably, it is blasphemous to say that God needs an earthly army to fight Its battles, or perform Its revenge. God is quite capable of fighting His own battles.
Before the 11th century, Christians had not developed a doctrine of "Holy war", whereby fighting itself might be considered a penitential and spiritually meritorious act. Throughout the Middle Ages, force could not be used to propagate religion. For the first three centuries of Christianity, the Church taught the pacifism of Jesus and notable church fathers such as Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Origen, and Cyprian of Carthage even went as far as arguing against joining the military or using any form of violence against aggressors. In the 4th century, St. Augustine developed a "Just War" concept, whereby limited uses of war would be considered acceptable in order to preserve the peace and retain orthodoxy if it was waged: for defensive purposes, ordered by an authority, had honorable intentions, and produced minimal harm. However, the criteria he used was already developed by Roman thinkers in the past and "Augustine's perspective was not based on the New Testament." St. Augustine's "Just War" concept was widely accepted, however, warfare was not regarded as virtuous in any way. Expression of concern for the salvation of those who killed enemies in battle, regardless of the cause for which they fought, was common. In the medieval period which began after the fall of Rome, there were increases in the level of violence due to political instability. By the 11th century, the Church condemned this violence and warring by introducing: the "Peace of God" which prohibited attacks on clergy, pilgrims, townspeople, peasants and property; the "Truce of God" which banned warfare on Sundays, Fridays, Lent, and Easter; and it imposed heavy penances on soldiers for killing and injuring others because it believed that the shedding of other people's blood was the same as shedding the blood of Christ.
During the 9th and 10th centuries, multiple invasions occurred in some regions in Europe and these invasions lead them to form their own armies in order to defend themselves and by the 11th century, this slowly lead to the emergence of the Crusades, the concept of "holy war", and terminology such as "enemies of God". By the time of the Crusades, "Despite all the violence during this period, the majority of Christians were not active participants but were more often its victims" and groups like the Franciscans were established which used nonviolent means to peacefully dialogue with Muslims.
Today the relationship between Christianity and violence is the subject of controversy because one view advocates the belief that Christianity advocates peace, love and compassion while it has also resorted to violence in certain instances. Peace, compassion and forgiveness of wrongs done by others are key elements of Christian teaching. However, Christians have struggled since the days of the Church fathers with the question of when the use of force is justified (e.g. the Just war theory of Saint Augustine). Such debates have led to concepts such as just war theory. Throughout history, certain teachings from the Old Testament, the New Testament and Christian theology have been used to justify the use of force against heretics, sinners and external enemies. Heitman and Hagan identify the Inquisitions, Crusades, wars of religion, and antisemitism as being "among the most notorious examples of Christian violence". To this list, Mennonite theologian J. Denny Weaver adds "warrior popes, support of capital punishment, corporal punishment under the guise of 'spare the rod spoil the child,' justifications of slavery, world-wide colonialism under the guise of converting people to Christianity, the systemic violence against women who are subjected to the rule of men". Weaver employs a broader definition of violence that extends the meaning of the word to cover "harm or damage", not just physical violence per se. Thus, under his definition, Christian violence includes "forms of systemic violence such as poverty, racism, and sexism".
Christian theologians point to a strong doctrinal and historical imperative against violence that exists within Christianity, particularly Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, which taught nonviolence and "love of enemies". For example, Weaver asserts that Jesus' pacifism was "preserved in the justifiable war doctrine which declares that all war is sin even when it is occasionally declared to be a necessary evil, and in the prohibition of fighting by monastics and clergy as well as in a persistent tradition of Christian pacifism".
Many authors highlight the ironical contradiction between Christianity's claims to be centered on "love and peace" while, at the same time, harboring a "violent side". For example, Mark Juergensmeyer argues: "that despite its central tenets of love and peace, Christianity—like most traditions—has always had a violent side. The bloody history of the tradition has provided images as disturbing as those provided by Islam or Sikhism, and violent conflict is vividly portrayed in the Bible. This history and these biblical images have provided the raw material for theologically justifying the violence of contemporary Christian groups. For example, attacks on abortion clinics have been viewed not only as assaults on a practice that Christians regard as immoral, but also as skirmishes in a grand confrontation between forces of evil and good that has social and political implications.",:19–20 sometimes referred to as spiritual warfare. The statement attributed to Jesus "I come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword" has been interpreted by some as a call to arms to Christians.
Maurice Bloch also argues that Christian faith fosters violence because Christian faith is a religion, and religions are by their very nature violent; moreover, he argues that religion and politics are two sides of the same coin—power. Others have argued that religion and the exercise of force are deeply intertwined, but that religion may pacify, as well as channel and heighten violent impulses 
In response to criticism that Christianity and violence are intertwined, Christian apologists such as Miroslav Volf and J. Denny Weaver reject charges that Christianity is a violent religion, arguing that certain aspects of Christianity might be misused to support violence but that a genuine interpretation of its core elements would not sanction human violence but would instead resist it. Among the examples that are commonly used to argue that Christianity is a violent religion, J. Denny Weaver lists "(the) crusades, the multiple blessings of wars, warrior popes, support for capital punishment, corporal punishment under the guise of 'spare the rod and spoil the child,' justifications of slavery, world-wide colonialism in the name of conversion to Christianity, the systemic violence of women subjected to men". Weaver characterizes the counter-argument as focusing on "Jesus, the beginning point of Christian faith,... whose Sermon on the Mount taught nonviolence and love of enemies,; who faced his accusers nonviolent death;whose nonviolent teaching inspired the first centuries of pacifist Christian history and was subsequently preserved in the justifiable war doctrine that declares all war as sin even when declaring it occasionally a necessary evil, and in the prohibition of fighting by monastics and clergy as well as in a persistent tradition of Christian pacifism."
Miroslav Volf acknowledges that "many contemporaries see religion as a pernicious social ill that needs aggressive treatment rather than a medicine from which cure is expected." However, Volf contests this claim that "(the) Christian faith, as one of the major world religions, predominantly fosters violence." Instead of this negative assessment, Volf argues that Christianity "should be seen as a contributor to more peaceful social environments". Volf examines the question of whether Christianity fosters violence, and has identified four main arguments that it does: that religion by its nature is violent, which occurs when people try to act as "soldiers of God"; that monotheism entails violence, because a claim of universal truth divides people into "us versus them"; that creation, as in the Book of Genesis, is an act of violence; and that the intervention of a "new creation", as in the Second Coming, generates violence. Writing about the latter, Volf says: "Beginning at least with Constantine's conversion, the followers of the Crucified have perpetrated gruesome acts of violence under the sign of the cross. Over the centuries, the seasons of Lent and Holy Week were, for the Jews, times of fear and trepidation; Christians have perpetrated some of the worst pogroms as they remembered the crucifixion of Christ, for which they blamed the Jews. Muslims also associate the cross with violence; crusaders' rampages were undertaken under the sign of the cross." In each case, Volf concluded that the Christian faith was misused in justifying violence. Volf argues that "thin" readings of Christianity might be used mischievously to support the use of violence. He counters, however, by asserting that "thick" readings of Christianity's core elements will not sanction human violence and would, in fact, resist it.
Volf asserts that Christian churches suffer from a "confusion of loyalties". He asserts that "rather than the character of the Christian faith itself, a better explanation of why Christian churches are either impotent in the face of violent conflicts or actively participate in them derives from the proclivities of its adherents which are at odds with the character of the Christian faith." Volf observes that "(although) explicitly giving ultimate allegiance to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, many Christians in fact seem to have an overriding commitment to their respective cultures and ethnic groups."
Mormonism had an early history of violence. This began with religious persecution on the Mormons by well respected citizens, law enforcement, and government officials. Ultimately such persecution lead to several historically well-known acts of violence. These range from attacks on early Mormons, such as the Haun's Mill massacre following the Mormon Extermination Order to one of the most controversial and well-known cases of retaliation violence, the Mountain Meadows massacre. This was the result of an unprovoked response to religious persecution whereby an innocent party traveling through Mormon occupied territory was attacked on September 11, 1857.
Islam has been associated with violence in a variety of contexts, especially in the context of Jihad. In Arabic, the word jihād translates into English as "struggle". Jihad appears in the Qur'an and frequently in the idiomatic expression "striving in the way of Allah (al-jihad fi sabil Allah)". The context of the word can be seen in its usage in Arabic translations of the New Testament such as in 2 Timothy 4:7 where St. Paul expresses keeping the faith after many struggles. A person engaged in jihad is called a mujahid; the plural is mujahideen. Jihad is an important religious duty for Muslims. A minority among the Sunni scholars sometimes refer to this duty as the sixth pillar of Islam, though it occupies no such official status. In Twelver Shi'a Islam, however, Jihad is one of the ten Practices of the Religion. For some the Quran seem to endorse unequivocally to violence. On the other hand, some scholars argue that such verses of the Quran are interpreted out of context.
According to a study from Gallup, most Muslims understand the word "Jihad" to mean individual struggle, not something violent or militaristic. Muslims use the word in a religious context to refer to three types of struggles: an internal struggle to maintain faith, the struggle to improve the Muslim society, or the struggle in a holy war. The prominent British orientalist Bernard Lewis argues that in the Qur'an and the ahadith jihad implies warfare in the large majority of cases. In a commentary of the hadith Sahih Muslim, entitled al-Minhaj, the medieval Islamic scholar Yahya ibn Sharaf al-Nawawi stated that "one of the collective duties of the community as a whole (fard kifaya) is to lodge a valid protest, to solve problems of religion, to have knowledge of Divine Law, to command what is right and forbid wrong conduct".
Islam has a history of nonviolence and negotiation when dealing with conflicts. For instance, early Muslims experienced 83 conflicts with non-Muslims and only 4 of these ended up in armed conflict.
In western societies the term jihad is often translated as "holy war". Scholars of Islamic studies often stress that these words are not synonymous. Muslim authors, in particular, tend to reject such an approach, stressing the non-militant connotations of the word.
Islamic terrorism refers to terrorism by Muslim groups or individuals who are motivated by either politics, religion or both. Terrorist acts have included airline hijacking, kidnapping, assassination, suicide bombing, and mass murder.
The tension reached a climax on September 11th, 2001 when Islamic terrorists flew hijacked commercial airplanes into the World Trade Center in New York City and The Pentagon in Washington, D.C. The “War on Terror” has triggered anti-Muslim sentiments within Christendom and throughout the rest of the world. Al-Qaeda is one of the most well known Islamic extremist groups, created by Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden. Al-Qaeda's goal is to spread the “purest” form of Islam and Islamic law. Based on his interpretation of the Quran, bin Laden needed to do “good” by inflicting terror upon millions of people. Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, bin Laden praised the suicide bombers in his statement: “the great action you did which was first and foremost by the grace of Allah. This is the guidance of Allah and the blessed fruit of jihad”. In contrast, echoing the overwhelming majority of people who interpreted these events, President Bush said on September 11, "Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward... And freedom will be defended. Make no mistake, the United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts." Despite the interpretations of Islam espoused by a few militant sects, Islam is not a fundamentally violent religion. Certain groups hold the view that the Quran should be interpreted literally, while others believe that with the changing course of history, the interpretation of it should also change.
Controversies surrounding the subject include disagreements over whether terrorist acts are self-defense or aggression, national self-determination or Islamic supremacy; whether Islam can ever condone the targeting of non-combatants; whether some attacks described as Islamic terrorism are merely terrorist acts committed by Muslims or terrorist acts motivated by nationalism; whether Zionism and the Arab-Israeli Conflict are at the root of Islamic terrorism, or simply one cause of it; how much support for Islamic terrorism exists in the Muslim world and whether support of terrorism is only a temporary phenomenon, a "bubble", now fading away.
Burggraeve and Vervenne describe the Old Testament as full of violence and as evidence of both a violent society and a violent god. They write that, "(i)n numerous Old Testament texts the power and glory of Israel's God is described in the language of violence." They assert that more than one thousand passages refer to YHWH as acting violently or supporting the violence of humans and that more than one hundred passages involve divine commands to kill humans.
On the basis of these passages in the Old Testament, some Christian churches and theologians argue that Judaism is a violent religion and that the god of Israel is a violent god. Reuven Firestone asserts that these assertions are usually made in the context of claims that Christianity is a religion of peace and that the god of Christianity is one who only expresses love.
Some scholars such as Deborah Weissman readily acknowledge that "normative Judaism is not pacifist" and that "violence is condoned in the service of self-defense."However, the Talmud prohibits violence of any kind towards one's neighbour. J. Patout Burns asserts that, although Judaism condones the use of violence in certain cases, Jewish tradition clearly posits the principle of minimization of violence. This principle can be stated as "(wherever) Jewish law allows violence to keep an evil from occurring, it mandates that the minimal amount of violence must be used in order to accomplish one's goal." 
The Hebrew Bible contains instances of religiously mandated wars which often contain explicit instructions from God to the Israelites to exterminate other tribes, as in Deuteronomy 7:1–2 or Deuteronomy 20:16-18. Examples include the story of the Amalekites (Deuteronomy 25:17–19, 1 Samuel 15:1-6), the story of the Midianites (Numbers 31:1–18), and the battle of Jericho (Joshua 6:1–27).
These wars of extermination have been characterized as "genocide" by several authorities, because the Torah states that the Israelites annihilated entire ethnic groups or tribes: the Israelites killed all Amalekites, including men, women, and children (1 Samuel 15:1–20); the Israelites killed all men, women, and children in the battle of Jericho(Joshua 6:15–21), and the Israelites killed all men, women and children of several Canaanite tribes (Joshua 10:28–42). However, some scholars believe that these accounts in the Torah are exaggerated or metaphorical.
Zionist leaders sometimes used religious references as a justification for the violent treatment of Arabs in Palestine. On several occasions, Palestinians have been associated with Biblical antagonists, the Amalekites. For example, Rabbi Israel Hess has recommended that Palestinians be killed, based on biblical verses such as 1 Samuel 15.
In the United States and Europe, neo-pagan beliefs have been associated with many terrorist incidents. Although the majority of neo-pagans oppose violence and racism, folkish factions of Odinism, Wotanism, and Ásatrú emphasize their Nordic cultural heritage and warrior idealism. For these reasons, a 1999 Federal Bureau of Investigation report on domestic terrorism titled Project Megiddo described Odinism as “[lending] itself to violence and [having] the potential to inspire its followers to violence”. As of 2017, the Southern Poverty Law Center has recognized at least two active neo-pagan hate groups in the United States. Many white supremacists (especially those in prison) are converting to Odinism at increasing rates, citing the impurity of Christianity and the failure of previous groups to accomplish goals as the primary reasons for their conversion. Similarities between Odinism and other extremist groups such as Christian Identity facilitate conversions. The targets of neo-pagan violence are similar to those of white supremacist terrorists and nationalist terrorists, but an added target includes Christians and churches.
It has been noted that "religious" conflicts are not exclusively based on religious beliefs but should instead be seen as clashes of communities, identities, and interests that are secular-religious or at least very secular.
Some have asserted that attacks are carried out by those with very strong religious convictions such as terrorists in the context of global religious war. Robert Pape, a political scientist who specializes in suicide terrorism argues that much of the modern Muslim suicide terrorism is secularly based. Although the causes of terrorism are complex, it may be safe to assume that terrorists are partially reassured by the religious views that God is on their side and that He will reward them in Heaven for punishing unbelievers.
These conflicts are among the most difficult to resolve, particularly when both sides believe that God is on their side and that He has endorsed the moral righteousness of their claims. One of the most infamous quotes associated with religious fanaticism was uttered in 1209 during the siege of Béziers, a Crusader asked the Papal Legate Arnaud Amalric how to tell Catholics from Cathars when the city was taken, to which Amalric replied: "Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius," or "Kill them all; God will recognize his."
According to the hunting hypothesis, created by Walter Burkert in Homo Necans, carnivorous behavior is considered a form of violence. Burkett suggests that the anthropological phenomenon of religion grew out of rituals that were connected with hunting and the associated feelings of guilt over the violence that hunting required.
As we have insisted previously, religion is not inherently and irredeemably violent; it certainly is not the essence and source of all violence.
Religion and violence are clearly compatible, but they are not identical. Violence is one phenomenon in human (and natural existence), religion is another, and it is inevitable that the two would become intertwined. Religion is complex and modular, and violence is one of the modules—not universal, but recurring. As a conceptual and behavioral module, violence is by no means exclusive to religion. There are plenty of other groups, institutions, interests, and ideologies to promote violence. Violence is, therefore, neither essential to nor exclusive to religion. Nor is religious violence all alike... And virtually every form of religious violence has its nonreligious corollary.
When a pure or hybrid religious group and/or its interests are threatened, or merely blocked from achieving its interests by another group, conflict and violence may ensue. In such cases, although religion is part of the issue and religious groups form the competitors, or combatants, it would be simplistic or wrong to assume the religion is the "cause" of the trouble or that the parties are "fighting about religion". Religion in the circumstances may be more a marker of the groups than an actual point of contention between them.
I am using broad definitions of the terms "violence" and "nonviolence". "Violence" means harm or damage, which obviously includes the direct violence of killing -- in war, capital punishment, murder --but also covers the range of forms of systemic violence such as poverty, racism, and sexism. "Nonviolence" also covers a spectrum of attitudes and actions, from the classic Mennonite idea of passive nonresistance through active nonviolence and nonviolent resistance that would include various kinds of social action, confrontations and the posing of alternatives that do not cause bodily harm or injury.
Frequently Jewish fundamentalists refer to the Palestinians as the 'Amalekites' ... of today.... According to the Old Testament, the Amalek ... were regarded as the Israelites' inveterate foe, whose 'annihilation' became a sacred duty and against whom war should be waged until their 'memory be blotted out' forever (Ex 17:16; Deut 25:17–19).... Some of the [modern] political messianics insist on giving the biblical commandment to 'blot out the memory of the Amalek' an actual contemporary relevance in the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians. In February 1980, Rabbi Israel Hess ... published an article [titled] 'The Genocide Commandment in the Torah' ... which ends with the following: 'The day is not far when we shall all be called to this holy war, this commandment of the annihilation of the Amalek'. Hess quotes the biblical commandment ... 'Do not spare him, but kill man and woman, baby and suckling, ox and sheep, camel, and donkey'.... In his book On the Lord's Side Danny Rubinstein has shown that this notion permeates the Gush Emunim movement's bulletins [one of which] carried an article ... which reads 'In every generation there is an Amalek.... The Amalekism of our generation finds expression in the deep Arab hatred towards our national revival ...'... Professor Uriel Tal ... conducted his study in the early 1980s ... and pointed out that the totalitarian political messianic stream refers to the Palestinian Arabs in three stages or degrees: ... [stage] (3) the implementation of the commandment of Amalek, as expressed in Rabbi Hess's article 'The Commandment of Genocide in the Torah', in other words 'annihilating' the Palestinian Arabs'
The 2009 Boko Haram uprising was a conflict between Boko Haram, a militant Islamist group, and Nigerian security forces. Violence across several states in northeastern Nigeria resulted in more than 1,000 dead, with around 700 killed in the city of Maiduguri alone, according to one military official.A government inquiry later found that, while long-standing tensions existed between Boko Haram and the Nigerian Security forces, the immediate cause of the violence stemmed from a confrontation between a group of sect members and police in the city of Maiduguri. The Boko Haram members were en route to bury a comrade at the cemetery. The officers, part of a special operation to suppress violence and rampant crime in Borno State, demanded that the young men comply with a law requiring motorcycle passengers to wear helmets. They refused and, in the confrontation that followed, police shot and wounded several of the men.According to initial media reports, the violence began on 26 July when Boko Haram launched an attack on a police station in Bauchi State. Clashes between militants and the Nigeria Police Force erupted in Kano, Yobe and Borno soon after. But President Umaru Yar’Adua disputed this version of events, claiming that government security forces had struck first.
“I want to emphasize that this is not an inter-religious crisis and it is not the Taliban group that attacked the security agents first, no. It was as a result of a security information gathered on their intention ... to launch a major attack," he said.Nigerian troops surrounded the home of Ustaz Mohammed Yusuf, the founder and spiritual leader of Boko Haram since 2002, in Maiduguri on 28 July after his followers had barricaded themselves inside. On July 30, the military captured Yusuf and transferred him to the custody of the police. They summarily executed him in public outside police headquarters.Islam Online suggests that politics, not religion, was the cause of the violence. People such as Christian pastor George Orjih were murdered specifically because they refused to convert to Islam.Prior to the clashes, many local Muslim leaders and at least one military official had warned the Nigerian authorities about the Boko Haram sect. Those warnings were reportedly ignored.Bombay (film)
Bombay is a 1995 Indian Tamil-language Indian romantic drama film directed by Mani Ratnam, starring Arvind Swamy and Manisha Koirala in the lead, and featuring music composed by A. R. Rahman. The film tells the story of an inter-religious family in Bombay (now Mumbai) before and during the Bombay riots, which took place between December 1992 and January 1993 after the demolition of Babri Masjid led to religious tensions between Hindu and Muslim communities. It is the second in Ratnam's trilogy of films that depict human relationships against a background of Indian politics, including Roja (1992) and Dil Se.. (1998). The film was dubbed in Hindi, Telugu and Malayalam with the same title.
Eventually becoming one of the highest-grossing films of the Chennai film industry, the film was well-received both critically and commercially, and it was screened at many international film festivals including the Philadelphia Film Festival in 1996 where it was an audience favourite. The film's soundtrack sold 15 million units, becoming one of the best-selling soundtrack albums of all time. It earned composer A. R. Rahman his fourth consecutive Filmfare Best Music Director Award (Tamil), and is considered one of greatest soundtracks of all time. However, the film caused considerable controversy upon release in India and abroad for its depiction of inter-religious relations and religious riots. The film was banned in Singapore and Malaysia upon release.
In July 2005, a book on the film by Lalitha Gopalan was published by BFI Modern Classics, looking at the film's production, the several issues it covered, and its impact upon release in India and abroad. The film was ranked among the top 20 Indian films in the British Film Institute's rankings.The soundtrack of the film was scored by Academy Award winner A. R. Rahman which is hailed as a masterpiece amongst his works.Communal conflicts in Nigeria
Communal conflicts in Nigeria can be divided into two broad categories:
Ethno-religious conflicts, attributed to actors primarily divided by cultural, ethnic, or religious communities and identities, such as instances of religious violence between Christian and Muslim communities.
Herder-farmer conflicts, typically involving disputes over land and/or cattle between herders (in particular the Fulani or Hausa) and farmers (in particular the Adara, Tiv and Tarok).The most impacted states are those of the Nigerian Middle Belt like Benue, Taraba and Plateau.Violence has reached two peaks in 2004 and 2011 with around 2,000 fatalities those years. It resulted in more than 700 fatalities in 2015.Crime in Egypt
Crime in Egypt is present in various forms both old and new. Forms of crime include drug trafficking, money laundering, fraud, corruption, black marketeering etc.Earth (1998 film)
Earth (Hindi: अर्थ; released in India as 1947: Earth) is a 1999 Indian period romance drama film directed by Deepa Mehta. It is based upon Bapsi Sidhwa's novel, Cracking India (1991, US; 1992, India; originally published as Ice Candy Man, 1988, UK), set during the 1947 partition of India. Earth is the second installment of Mehta's Elements trilogy, preceded by Fire (1996) and followed by Water (2005). It was India's entry for the 1999 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.Firaaq
Firaaq (English: Separation) is a 2008 Hindi political thriller film set one month after the 2002 violence in Gujarat, India and looks at the aftermath in its effects on the lives of everyday people. It claims to be based on "a thousand true stories". Firaaq means both separation and quest in Arabic. The film is the directorial debut of actress Nandita Das and stars Naseeruddin Shah, Deepti Naval, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Inaamulhaq, Nassar (actor), Paresh Rawal, Sanjay Suri, Raghubir Yadav, Shahana Goswami, Amruta Subhash and Tisca Chopra. It has largely been well received locally and internationally. Firaaq won three awards at the Asian Festival of First Films in Singapore in December 2008, the Special Prize at the International Thessaloniki Film Festival, and an award at the Kara Film Festival in Pakistan. It won two National Film Awards at 56th National Film Awards.Freedom of religion in Iraq
In the 2010s, uprisings of the Islamic State (IS), formerly called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), have led to violations of religious freedom in certain parts of Iraq. IS is a Sunni jihadist group that claims religious authority over all Muslims across the world and aspires to bring most of the Muslim-inhabited regions of the world under its political control beginning with Iraq. ISIS follows an extreme anti-Western interpretation of Islam, promotes religious violence and regards those who do not agree with its interpretations as infidels or apostates. Concurrently, IS aims to establish a Salafist-orientated Islamist state in Iraq, Syria and other parts of the Levant.As ISIL loses territory throughout Iraq, the armed forces and allied militias have restored crosses and Christians are being allowed to finally return to their homes.Jewish religious terrorism
Jewish religious terrorism is religious terrorism committed by extremists within Judaism motivated by religious rather than ethnic or nationalistic beliefs.Khadgam
Khadgam (English: Sword) is a 2002 Indian Telugu-language action drama film produced by Sunkara Madhu Murali and directed by Krishna Vamsi for Karthikeya Movies. The movie was released on 29 November 2002 and was successful. It features Srikanth, Prakash Raj, Ravi Teja, Sonali Bendre, Sangeetha Krish and Kim Sharma. The music was composed by Devi Sri Prasad. The lyrics were penned by Sirivennela Sitaramasastri, Suddala Ashok Teja and Shakti. The movie introduced Shafi, Subba Raju and Model Vasu as villains. It was a Blockbuster at the box-office. It was dubbed in Hindi as Marte Dam Tak, and in Tamil as Manik Baasha. In 2005, K. Subash remade the movie in Hindi titled Insan, with Ajay Devgan, Akshay Kumar and Tushar Kapoor.Mark Juergensmeyer
Mark Juergensmeyer (born 1940 in Carlinville, Illinois) is an American scholar in sociology, global studies and religious studies and a writer best known for his studies of religious violence and global religion. He is Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Global Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara. Juergensmeyer received a BA in Philosophy from the University of Illinois in 1962, an MDiv from Union Theological Seminary, New York in 1965, and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Berkeley in 1974. He has also done graduate work in international affairs at Columbia University. He is married to the University of California, Santa Barbara emerita professor Sucheng Chan.
Juergensmeyer is regarded as an expert on religious violence, conflict resolution, and South Asian religion and politics and has published twenty-eight books and over 300 articles. He has been a frequent commentator on news programs, especially after 9/11.Religion
Religion is a cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations, that relates humanity to supernatural, transcendental, or spiritual elements. However, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion.Different religions may or may not contain various elements ranging from the divine, sacred things, faith, a supernatural being or supernatural beings or "some sort of ultimacy and transcendence that will provide norms and power for the rest of life". Religious practices may include rituals, sermons, commemoration or veneration (of deities), sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trances, initiations, funerary services, matrimonial services, meditation, prayer, music, art, dance, public service, or other aspects of human culture. Religions have sacred histories and narratives, which may be preserved in sacred scriptures, and symbols and holy places, that aim mostly to give a meaning to life. Religions may contain symbolic stories, which are sometimes said by followers to be true, that have the side purpose of explaining the origin of life, the universe, and other things. Traditionally, faith, in addition to reason, has been considered a source of religious beliefs.There are an estimated 10,000 distinct religions worldwide, but about 84% of the world's population is affiliated with one of the five largest religion groups, namely Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or forms of folk religion. The religiously unaffiliated demographic includes those who do not identify with any particular religion, atheists, and agnostics. While the religiously unaffiliated have grown globally, many of the religiously unaffiliated still have various religious beliefs.The study of religion encompasses a wide variety of academic disciplines, including theology, comparative religion and social scientific studies. Theories of religion offer various explanations for the origins and workings of religion, including the ontological foundations of religious being and belief.Religion in Guinea
Guinea is approximately 85 percent Muslim, 8 percent Christian, with 7 percent adhering to indigenous religious beliefs. Much of the population, both Muslim and Christian, also incorporate indigenous African beliefs into their outlook.The Association of Religion Date Archives (ARDA) has Muslims at 84.8%, Christian 3.7%, and Animist 11.3%.Religious abuse
Religious abuse is abuse administered under the guise of religion, including harassment or humiliation, which may result in psychological trauma. Religious abuse may also include misuse of religion for selfish, secular, or ideological ends such as the abuse of a clerical position.Religious fanaticism
Religious fanaticism is uncritical zeal or with an obsessive enthusiasm related to one's own, or one's group's, devotion to a religion – a form of human fanaticism which could otherwise be expressed in one's other involvements and participation, including employment, role, and partisan affinities.Religious violence in India
Religious violence in India includes acts of violence by followers of one religious group against followers and institutions of another religious group, often in the form of rioting. Religious violence in India has generally involved Hindus and Muslims, although incidents of violence have also involved atheists, Christians and Sikhs. There is also a history of Muslim-Parsi riots (List of riots in Mumbai).
According to Pew Research Center, currently India is 4th in religious violence, majority of which directed at Muslims by right-wing Hindu nationalist groups.
Despite the secular and religiously tolerant constitution of India, broad religious representation in various aspects of society including the government, the active role played by autonomous bodies such as National Human Rights Commission of India and National Commission for Minorities, and the ground-level work being done by non-governmental organisations, sporadic and sometimes serious acts of religious violence tend to occur as the root causes of religious violence often run deep in history, religious activities, and politics of India.Along with domestic organizations, international human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch publish reports on acts of religious violence in India. Over 2005 to 2009 period, an average of 130 people died every year from communal violence, or about 0.01 deaths per 100,000 population. The state of Maharashtra reported the highest total number of religious violence related fatalities over that five-year period, while Madhya Pradesh experienced the highest fatality rate per year per 100,000 population between 2005 and 2009. Over 2012, a total of 97 people died across India from various riots related to religious violence.The US Commission on International Religious Freedom classified India as Tier-2 in persecuting religious minorites, the same as that of Iraq and Egypt. In a 2018 report report, USCIRF charged Hindu nationalist groups for their campaign to “Saffronize” India through violence, intimidation, and harassment against non-Hindus and Hindu Dalits.Religious violence in Nigeria
This article is for a generalized timeline of Religious violence in Nigeria. For more information on the current uprising (post-2009), see Boko Haram insurgency.
Religious violence in Nigeria refers to Christian-Muslim strife in modern Nigeria, which can be traced back to 1953. Today, religious violence in Nigeria is dominated by the Boko Haram insurgency, which aims to impose Sharia on the entire nation.Religious violence in Odisha
Religious violence in Odisha consists of civil unrest and riots in the remote forest region surrounding the Kandhamal district in the western parts of the Indian state of Odisha.
The Kandhamal district contains several tribal reservations where only tribal people can own land. The largest community in Kandhamal is the Kandha tribe. Most Kandha tribal people follow tribal and animistic forms of Hinduism. However, the socio-economic and political landscape of Kandhamal is dominated by its second-largest community, the non-tribal Pana caste. The region is also home to the Maoist guerrillas who are the largest terror group operating inside India and were responsible for several thousand deaths in India in the 2000s. Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda stated groups tend to recruit most of their leaders and cadre insurgents from tribal communities. He reiterated the Maoists's religious position: "We do not believe in any religion or are attached to any religious groups. We are not in favour of any religion."Major issues in Kandhamal that have led to tensions are claims that "The Scheduled Caste and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act" is violated. Such claims include the forcible occupation of tribal land, fake issuance of tribal certificates, illegal building of places of worship (mostly churches) on tribal land, religious conversions, and exploiting tribals for insurgent activities. This previously resulted in civil unrest and communal tensions in 1986, 1994 and 2001.Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro
Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro (English: Don't Cry for Salim, the Lame) is a 1989 Indian film directed by Saeed Akhtar Mirza, with Pavan Malhotra as lead. The film won the 37th National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi in 1989 and 1990 National Film Award for Best Cinematography.Violence against Christians in India
Anti-Christian violence in India refers to religiously-motivated violence against Christians in India. Violence against Christians has been seen by the organization Human Rights Watch as a tactic used to meet political ends. The acts of violence include arson of churches, conversion of Christians by force and threats of physical violence, sexual assaults, murder of Christian priests and destruction of Christian schools, colleges, and cemeteries.In August 2017, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) ranked India’s persecution severity at “Tier 2” along with Iraq and Afghanistan. Over the past seven years, India has risen from No. 31 to No. 10 on Open Doors' World Watch List, ranking just behind Iran in persecution severity.According to a 2008 report, "extremist Hindus have increased their attacks on Christians, until there are now several hundred per year"Indian Christians are prerogatively called 'Rice bag converts' by Hindu nationalists.