From Publishers Weekly
Over the centuries, critics of religion have often condemned the world's religions because of the violent acts religions' practitioners have committed against society and against one another. In this unremarkable study of religious violence, anthropologist Eller simply reminds us that religion and violence are not synonymous. After he explores quite perfunctorily six dimensions of violence (instinct, integration into groups, identity, institutions, interests, and ideology), he contends that religion is a social and ideological system that creates a reality in which violence is acceptable, necessary, and even desirable. Drawing on a broad range of examples from the world's religions, Eller examines the violence of many religious practices, ranging from sacrifice and asceticism to war and ethnoreligious conflict. In spite of the persistence of violent acts in and by religions, many religious traditions teach and practice nonviolence, and in his concluding chapter Eller explores the ways in which such traditions present an alternative to religious violence.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"This is an important contribution to understanding both the attraction and repulsion that religion conjures up among human beings. The author painstakingly and objectively covers the full spectrum of personal and mass violence associated with the whole gamut of the world’s religions, past and present."
–Barry A. Kosmin, director, Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society & Culture
"You don't have to agree with every word of the author's argument to appreciate the complex and often troubling questions that Dr. Eller raises about the nature of religion, and the potential of so many faith traditions to produce violence, abuse and exploitation. Passionately written, Cruel Creeds, Virtuous Violence is a wide-ranging and obviously timely, text."
–Philip Jenkins, author and Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Humanities, Pennsylvania State University