Last month, Wiley Online Library posted Religion and Sectarianism in Ulster: Interpreting the Northern Ireland Troubles published in Religion Compass by Laurence Elliot. The description follows.
The following article considers the various arguments and counter-arguments around the role of religion in causing and sustaining the conflict in Northern Ireland. It identifies the essential elements of the problem and assesses a number of the explanations given, emphasising the difficulty of providing a single answer to such a complex question. The correlation between religion and the divisions in Northern Ireland seems at first sight obvious, but, as a number of commentators have rightly observed, pinning down the relationship between someone’s religion and their attitudes is much more problematic. This essay therefore avoids the reductionism and ‘either/or’ formulations of so many scholars on both sides of the debate, instead emphasising that religion is ultimately one of a number of dimensions to Northern Irish identity, the politics of which sustains the social divisions and was the source of the political violence that ravaged the region.
In February, Palgrave MacMillan Publishing will publish Ex-Combatants, Religion, and Peace in Northern Ireland: The Role of Religion in Transitional Justice by John Brewer (University of Aberdeen, U.K.), David Mitchell, and Gerard Leavey. The publisher’s description follows.
Much has been written about the influence of religion on the Northern Ireland conflict and the part played by ex-combatants in the peace process. Yet we know very little about the religious outlook of ex-combatants themselves. Are they personally devout? Is religion important to their political identity? Did faith play a role in their decision to take up arms, or lay them down? And now that their war is over, does religion help them cope with the past?
Based on original interviews with ex-combatants from across the political and religious divide, this book addresses these questions, shedding new light on the interplay of religion, identity and violence in Ireland. It also shows how the case of Northern Ireland illuminates the current international debate around religion and peacemaking. Arguing that advocates of religious interventions in transitional justice often naively exaggerate its influence, a theoretical model for understanding the role of religion in transitional justice is proposed.
This November, Georgetown University Press will publish Between Terror and Tolerance: Religious Leaders, Conflict, and Peacemaking edited by Timothy D. Sisk (University of Denver). The publisher’s description follows.
Civil war and conflict within countries is the most prevalent threat to peace and security in the opening decades of the twenty-first century. A pivotal factor in the escalation of tensions to open conflict is the role of elites in exacerbating tensions along identity lines by giving the ideological justification, moral reasoning, and call to violence. Between Terror and Tolerance examines the varied roles of religious leaders in societies deeply divided by ethnic, racial, or religious conflict. The chapters in this book explore cases when religious leaders have justified or catalyzed violence along identity lines, and other instances when religious elites have played a critical role in easing tensions or even laying the foundation for peace and reconciliation.
Christopher McCrudden (Queens University Belfast, University of Michigan Law School) has posted Religion and Education in Northern Ireland: Voluntary Segregation Reflecting Historical Divisions. The abstract follows.
Since the foundation of Northern Ireland (‘NI’) in 1920, the issue of control over primary and secondary education has been a source of significant tension between its two main ethno-religious communities as well as between each and the NI government. Education in Northern Ireland is organised differently compared with the rest of the United Kingdom and several of its ‘unique features’ arise out of the particular form of its political and religious sensitivities concerning education. This chapter is structured as follows. First, I shall outline the features of the governance of education in the NI model. Secondly, I shall attempt to explain briefly why these features came about. Thirdly, I shall consider research that has attempted to understand the effects of the model on the religious background of pupils in different schools. Fourthly, I shall address the role of teachers in this model. Fifthly, I shall consider issues relating to curriculum and collective worship. Sixthly, the crucial issue of school funding will be examined. Finally, I shall consider the prospects for the model in the future by considering pupil opinion on the structure of schooling and I shall explain how this model relates to political developments in Northern Ireland generally.