Violence has been a central feature of America’s history, culture, and place in the world. It has taken many forms: from state-sponsored uses of force such as war or law enforcement, to revolution, secession, terrorism and other actions with important political and cultural implications. Religion also holds a crucial place in the American experience of violence, particularly for those who have found order and meaning in their worlds through religious texts, symbols, rituals, and ideas. Yet too often the religious dimensions of violence, especially in the American context, are ignored or overstated—in either case, poorly understood. From Jeremiad to Jihad: Religion, Violence, and America corrects these misunderstandings. Charting and interpreting the tendrils of religion and violence, this book reveals how formative moments of their intersection in American history have influenced the ideas, institutions, and identities associated with the United States. Religion and violence provide crucial yet underutilized lenses for seeing America anew—including its outlook on, and relation to, the world.
Martin E. Marty
Introduction. John Brown, Jeremiad, and Jihad: Reflections on Religion, Violence, and America
John D. Carlson and Jonathan H. Ebel
Part I. Religious Origins and Tropes of American Violence
1. From King Philip's War to September 11: Religion, Violence, and the American Way
Andrew R. Murphy and Elizabeth Hanson
2. A Nation Birthed in Blood: Violent Cosmogonies and American Film
S. Brent Rodriguez-Plate
3. From Covenant to Crusade and Back: American Christianity and the Late Great War
Jonathan H. Ebel
4. From Jeremiad to Manifesto: The Rhetorical Evolution of John Foster Dulles’s “Massive Retaliation”
5. American Providence, American Violence
Stephen H. Webb
Part II. Religion and America’s “Others”
6. New Israel, New Amalek: Biblical Exhortations to Religious Violence
7. Religion and Violence in Black and White
Eddie S. Glaude Jr.
8. State Violence and the Un-American West: Mormons, American Indians, and Cults
Todd M. Kerstetter
9. Alma White’s Bloodless Warfare: Women and Violence in U.S. Religious History
Lynn S. Neal
10. Of Tragedy and Its Aftermath: The Search for Religious Meaning in the Shootings at Virginia Tech
Grace Y. Kao
Part III. The Ethics of Violence and War
11. A Just or Holy War of Independence? The Revolution’s Legacy for Religion, Violence, and American Exceptionalism
John D. Carlson
12. Why War Is a Moral Necessity for America: Realism, Sacrifice, and the Civil War
13. Contemporary Warfare and American Efforts at Restraint
James Turner Johnson
14. Enemies Near and Far: The United States and Its Muslim Allies in Radical Islamist Discourse
Sohail H. Hashmi
15. Varieties of “Violence”: Thinking Ethically about the Use of Force in the War on Terror
Jean Bethke Elshtain
John Carlson is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Arizona State University.
Jon Ebel is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
"From Jeremiad to Jihad is an ambitious volume. The selections here introduce new perspectives on the intersection of religious institutions and American culture. Whereas the subject of just war has largely been the provenance of religious and philosophical studies, with some input from international relations and political science, the authors of this volume have brought methods and questions from the study of history to bear on the discussion. Carlson and Ebel have pulled together a significant work that fosters new conversations between scholars interested in just war and American religious history." - John Kelsay, author of Arguing the Just War in Islam
“Why is America, one of the world’s most religious societies, also one of the most violent? In a sophisticated, thoughtful and accessible manner, the essays in this collection provide an important examination of the complexities of American character that sees the sacred as sanctioning violence and allows violence to be sanctified.” - Mark Juergensmeyer, author of Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence
“This is a stunning collection of essays—the single most comprehensive and wide-ranging set yet prepared. With “jeremiad” and “jihad” as their guiding tropes, the contributors brilliantly trace the life of this rhetorical strain. This volume is ideally suited for courses in religion and history as well as anyone interested in the role of religious violence in American culture and life.” - Harry S. Stout, author of Upon the Altar of the Nation: A Moral History of the Civil War
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