Religious terrorism has become the scourge of the modern world. What causes a person to kill innocent strangers in the name of religion? As both a clinical psychologist and an authority on comparative religion, James W. Jones is uniquely qualified to address this increasingly urgent question. Research on the psychology of violence shows that several factors work to make ordinary people turn "evil." These include feelings of humiliation or shame, a tendency to see the world in black and white, and demonization or dehumanization of other people. Authoritarian religion or "fundamentalism," Jones shows, is a particularly rich source of such ideas and feelings, which he finds throughout the writings of Islamic jihadists, such as the 9/11 conspirators.
Jones goes on to apply this model to two very different religious groups that have engaged in violence: Aum Shinrikyo, the Buddhist splinter group behind the sarin gas attacks in the Tokyo subway system, and members of the extreme religious right in the U.S. who have advocated and committed violence against abortion providers. Jones notes that not every adherent of an authoritarian group will turn to violence, and he shows how theories of personality development can explain why certain individuals are easily recruited to perform terrorist acts.
James W. Jones is Professor of Religion and Adjunct Professor of Clinical Psychology, at Rutgers University.
"This complex and nuanced book addresses one of the urgent issues of our times: the intersection of religion and violence. It does so with high intelligence and great sensitivity. Moving between examples as apparently different as the Left Behind
series of Christian evangelical books in America, the global Jihad within Islam, and the Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo, Jones develops a masterful psychology of religious terrorism. This book will be of great interest for all thinking Americans. --Charles B. Strozier, author of Apocalypse: On the Psychology of Fundamentalism in America
"Blood that Cries Out From the Earth
is an astonishing tour de force. Dr. Jones probes deeply into the spiritual and emotional needs that drive some youth to accept violent ideologies. He pays particular attention to the interplay between social networks, extreme religion, and individual needs -- something that previous studies have missed. This book is a gift to all of us who hope to understand and to reduce terrorist violence carried out by those who imagine themselves to be serving God by killing innocents." --Jessica Stern, author of Terror in the Name of God
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