More Religion, Less Justification for Violence

A Cross-National Analysis

In: Archive for the Psychology of Religion
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  • 1 Department of Psychology and Western Centre for Research on Migration and Ethnic Relations, University of Western Ontario, London, on, CANADA

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A cross-national multilevel analysis was conducted to determine the effects of religion on the extent to which violence is seen as justified against others. Contrary to popular notions that religion causes violence, frequency of prayer, importance of religion, and importance of God were negatively related to justification of violence. Only frequency of service attendance and justification of violence had a positive relationship. This relationship was attenuated when a supernatural meaning system was applied to one’s religious beliefs (i.e., religion is primarily for the purpose of making sense of life after death). This meaning system also moderated the relationship between importance of religion and justification of violence. Finally, national-level importance of God moderated the negative relationship between individual level importance of God and justification of violence, strengthening this relationship. Results undermine the constructivist argument for religion as a cause of violence.

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