Christianity and American State Violence in Iraq: Priestly or Prophetic?, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Christianity and American State Violence in Iraq

Priestly or Prophetic?, 1st Edition

By Christopher A. Morrissey


158 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2018-03-12
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The world continues to be threatened by non-state, religiously-rationalized violence. While some fail to the see the connections between the United States’ intervention in the Middle East and this ongoing threat, the non-state perpetrators of terror consistently identify American meddling as one of their principle motivating grievances. What are the social and cultural roots of different religious positions on the war in Iraq?

Christianity and American State Violence in Iraq returns to a critical moment in U.S. foreign policy, during which American Christians publicly debated war in Iraq. It examines the religious precepts that were used to argue both for and against the United States’ military engagement in Iraq. To capture this behavior, Christopher A. Morrissey delves into the distinct social and cultural origins of both war-supporting and war-challenging positions. His analysis represents an improved understanding of the public role of religion in important foreign policy debates and helps us better understand how religious culture can legitimate or challenge state violence. An original and timely resource on the social sources of religion’s ambivalence towards violence and peace in the US and abroad.


'Perhaps there is no greater ethical dilemma for Christians than whether to support acts of war, and the question of whether to back the U.S. invasion of Iraq is a striking case in point. In this timely book, the ethical debate over this issue reveals not only the political divisions in American Christianity but also its deep moral ambivalence about militancy and pacifism. It is a thoughtful reflection on the relation of religion and politics, exploring issues that resonate throughout Christendom and all of the world's religious traditions.' - Mark Juergensmeyer, author of Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence

'Drawing on extensive public records and dozens of in-depth interviews with American Christians who advocated for or against a possible war with Iraq in the months leading up to the U.S. invasion of the spring of 2003, Christopher A. Morrissey examines the implications of the agonizing diversity of views and moral arguments across and also within Christian denominations and communities. In doing so, he puts on display the internal pluralism of religious traditions and therefore puts to rest any lingering assumptions that religions or religious actors take predictable or monolithic positions on fundamental questions of war, peace or public policy.' - Scott Appleby, University of Notre Dame

Table of Contents

1. Religious Ambivalence and the United States of America

2. Making 9/11 Sacred: Interpreting Threats to America

3. The Battle is Joined: Religious Advocacy on Iraq

4. Different Gospels: Religious Difference in America

5. The Difference? Knowing Victims

6. Conclusion—Religion and Public Support for the War and Consequences for Our Understanding

About the Author

Christopher A. Morrissey, PhD, has been Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology at George Fox University and has taught at Calvin College, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Saint Francis (Ind.) and Saint Mary's College (IN). His research interests include the politics of war and peace in the U.S., religion, war and peace and congregational life in the historic peace churches.

About the Series

Routledge Advances in International Relations and Global Politics

International relations is a rapidly changing area of research, reacting to and anticipating an ever more integrated and globalised world. This series aims to publish the best new work in the field of international relations, and of politics more generally. Books in the series challenge existing empirical and normative theories, and advance new paradigms as well as presenting significant new research.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology of Religion

Guardian Article

Christopher A. Morrissey discussed religion and guns in America in the Guardian. Read it here.