When Do Religious Leaders Support Faith-Based Violence? Evidence from a Survey Poll in South Sudan

Journal article

Basedau, Matthias & Carlo Koos (2015) When Do Religious Leaders Support Faith-Based Violence? Evidence from a Survey Poll in South Sudan, Political Research Quarterly 68 (4): 760–772.

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Religion has increasingly become important in conflicts worldwide. Religious leaders may play a key role in mobilizing believers as they can call for peace or instigate violence. But what makes religious leaders support peace or promote violence? Drawing on a survey poll of 102 religious leaders in Juba, South Sudan, this paper represents virtually the first attempt to study the correlates of pro-violence opinions of religious elites in a more quantitative manner in a developing country. The paper analyzes when and why some religious leaders support faith-based violence while others do not. Employing a unique combination of innovative measures, our results have many implications for mobilization processes. We find that leaders’ support for faith-based violence is largely independent of individual demographic or personal determinants but is closely related to religious attitudes. Tolerance toward other faiths and secularism reduce pro-violence attitudes. Muslims seem to be more ready to support faith-based violence, probably given their minority status and other peculiarities of Islam in (South) Sudan. Surprisingly, interreligious activities do not reduce support for violence but increase appreciation for peaceful protest. Generally, determinants of peaceful protest substantially differ, suggesting that any support for violence follows its own distinct logic.

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