Strict Religion & Terror

From the April 26 New Yorker article “Terrorism Studies”:

“Trying to answer the question of why religious denominations that impose onerous rules and demand large sacrifices of their members seem to thrive better than those which do not, [the economist Laurence] Iannaccone surmised that strict religions function as economic clubs. They appeal to recruits in part because they are able to offer very high levels of benefits–not just spiritual ones but real services–and this involves high “defection constraints.” In denominations where it’s easy for individual members to opt out of an obligation, it is impossible to maintain such benefits. Among the religious groups Iannaccone has written about, impediments to defection can be emotionally painful, such as expulsion or the promise of eternal damnation; in many terrorist groups, the defection constraints reflect less abstract considerations: this-worldly torture, maiming, and murder.”

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2 thoughts on “Strict Religion & Terror

  1. Sounds like the Mafia brotherhood in which you ‘make your bones’ or you become the bones. Membership in this elite club requires sacrifice but the imagined riches are elusive.

  2. I agree. When I joined the Mormon church I had the disturbed thought that it was important to find a denomination which required ‘all’ of a member in order to be ‘a true religion’. I also had an opposing, but freeing thought when I finally got the guts to leave the life twisting obligations of the church which had kept me bound for so many years. It is important to have total freedom to choose what is best for you as an individual at any time in your life and not to allow an organization or any one person to dictate to you what you ‘should’ choose to do or be in order to achieve happiness or stability. What had served me well for a moment in time came to be bondage in but a few short years. It was an emotional decision at each end of the lifetime, even in the middle, emotion was used to keep me within the boundaries which I allowed to be set for me. Over time I have learned to use inherent logical thinking to achieve more of the freedom which serves me well at this time in my life. I have new boundaries, but they are far expanded and I can even see beyond them to the stars.

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