The Religion and Political Violence conference (April 11 - 12, 2007, James Madison University, Taylor 404) will investigate what now appears to be a new form of political action with international consequences. Prior to September 11, 2001, the phenomenon of terrorism was far from unknown. Political conflicts with religious elements have existed throughout most of human history. Violent conflicts are described in all the great religious scriptures. In recent years, religiously motivated violence has appeared as a particularly significant form of terrorism, accounting for a large number of highly fatal attacks. It is fair to assume that the attacks of September 11 have ushered in a new era in which terrorism, often inspired by religion, poses a grave strategic threat not only to the Western world, but also to the international community at large. As a mode of action, religiously inspired terrorism has been adopted by segments of virtually all religions. At the same time, the attacks of September 11, and the continued violence since then, make us question whether the important relationship between religion and political violence has been properly understood. The conference will address a variety of questions related to the cause, characteristics, and effects of religious terrorism, discuss ways of countering this phenomenon, and develop suggestions for change.

Conference Schedule

Wednesday, April 11

9:30 a.m.         
Opening Remarks

                        Sushil Mittal, Mahatma Gandhi Center, James Madison University

9:45 a.m.          Welcoming Remarks

David K. Jeffrey, Dean, College of Arts and Letters, James Madison University

10 a.m.             "American Hegemony and Religious Nonviolence"

Earl S. Zimmerman, Eastern Mennonite University

Moderator: Ari Kohen, Justice Studies, James Madison University

11 a.m.             "Moving Toward a Pluralistic Context for Interfaith Peacemaking and Conflict Resolution"

                        Roderic Owen, Mary Baldwin College

                        Moderator: Wayne S. Teel, Integrated Science and Technology,
James Madison University

12 p.m.             Lunch Break

1 p.m.               "Lessons From Recent South Asian Political Thought"

                        Anthony Parel, University of Calgary, Canada

                        Moderator: Jack Butt, History, James Madison University

2 p.m.               "Interfaith Peace Interventions: Their Promise for Countering

                        Religiously Motivated Violence"

                        John D. Copenhaver, Jr., Shenandoah University

                        Moderator: Steven Keffer, Biolgoy, James Madison University

3 p.m.               "Taming the Terror: Religious Models for Violence and Nonviolence"

Lester R. Kurtz, University of Texas at Austin

Moderator: Cindy Klevickis, Psychology, James Madison University

Thursday, April 12

10:00 a.m.        "A Man for All Seasons: Gandhi and Nonviolent Action"

Fred Dallmayr, University of Notre Dame

Moderator: Louise Loe, History, James Madison University

11:00 a.m.        "Resisting Terrorism: From Collective Trauma to Nonviolent Response"

Cynthia Hess, St Mary's College of Maryland

Moderator -  Steven Hoeltzel, Philosophy and Religion, James Madison University

12:00 p.m.        Lunch Break

1:00 p.m.          "Dissolving Terrorism at Its Roots"

Hardy Merriman, International Center on Nonviolent Conflict

Moderator: Charles Bolyard, Philosophy and Religion, James Madison University

2:00 p.m.          "Nonviolence, Violence, and Religious Violence within Today's

                                   World Disorder"

                                   Glen T. Martin, Radford University

                                   Moderator: Andrea Veltman, Philosophy and Religion, James

                                   Madison University


3:00 p.m.                    "Gandhi's Response to Present World Violence"

                                   Majid Tehranian, Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy


                                   Moderator: Scott Vollum, Justice Studies, James Madison



4:00 p.m.                    "Gandhi against Bin Laden: The Relevance of Nonviolence in the

                                   Fight against Terrorism"

                                   David Cortright, Fourth Freedom Forum

                                   Moderator: Iain Maclean, Philosophy and Religion, James

                                   Madison University


5:00 p.m.                 Closing Remarks

                                    William J. Hawk, Philosophy and Religion, James Madison



Admission to the conference is free and open to the public. Support for the conference is provided in part by JMU Center for Multicultural Student Services, College of Arts and Letters, Cross Disciplinary Studies, Department of Philosophy and Religion, General Education Program, Office of International Programs, Office of the Special Assistant to the President, and Dining Services.

Back to Top