This article attempts to draw the connection between religion and organized violence in today’s society by using examples from modern and past times. The article begins by highlighting recent acts of violence by IS but ensures that this sort of religious violence is nothing new and uses the crusaders’ taking of Jerusalem and the Israelites massacre of Jericho as examples. It continues to explain that there are other ideologies that are non-religious that may also take a violent form, such as nationalism. Just like religious nationalism, secular nationalism stresses the fundamental distinction between “we” and “they”. The article also explains that there have been many examples of religious nationalism and secular nationalism that have resulted in violence and the deaths of many in the past; in the present however deaths from religious wars dwarf the number of lives lost from violence with different motivation. The article states that the reason people today believe that there is an increase in religious violence is because of the emergence of groups such as IS, and the sharp difference between them and democratic western society which distances itself from religion more and more. I however believe that there is a third factor in why the assumption of religious violence is on the rise and I believe that the blame must be placed on the media. Many of the widely reported IS events that have taken place recently have been controversial to the western world but are being used as propaganda by IS. The IS prefers to have as much media coverage as possible because they use their propaganda to make a dramatic emotional impact. This forces people to associate these gruesome acts with Islam and therefore begin to think “we would never do this kind of this, Muslims do this kind of thing”. This again creates a distinction between “us” and “them” which further promotes the ideas of religious nationalism. Media outlets also feed off of this increased national pride because they more they report on it, the more infuriated and passioned the public will become because they will have a falsified assumption of just how much religious violence is actually occurring, due to the over reporting of it.
Although the strongest points of religious nationalism have past, the idea of religious nationalism and political religions is still very alive. Multiple groups today still use propaganda to promote their beliefs as it was done centuries ago but is now through different mediums and is even easier to spread. I believe that the idea of religious nationalism is much easier to engrave into the minds of citizens subconsciously now than ever before through the use of media and this article does a great job explaining how, and how it is not much different from nationalism of the past.