Exploring the rise of religious violence in society

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, left, and the Rev’d Canon Professor Richard Burridge, right, at the book launch of their new book, ’Confronting Religious Violence’.

International conflict and tension continues to dominate in society today with frictions between religious traditions often featured in the media.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, FKC, Emeritus Professor of Law, Ethics, and the Hebrew Bible at King’s, and the Rev’d Canon Professor Richard Burridge, Dean of King’s College London, have come together to address these conflicts and tensions apparent around the world in a new book: ‘Confronting Religious Violence’.

Last night, senior King’s academics from different specialisms throughout the university marked the publication of the book by contributing reviews and reactions at a launch reception in Bush House, introduced by the Principal and President, Professor Ed Byrne.

Speaking last night at the evening reception, Professor Burridge, said: “It is an honour to have worked closely with Rabbi Sacks at King’s over so many years, especially to explore this important and current issue facing society. His work is incredibly well respected in the field of religion and theology, and it is particularly timely to explore tensions across the globe between religious traditions. The articles in this book should be read by a much wider audience, including politicians and leaders, thinkers and writers, as well as religious leaders of all traditions.”

After stepping down as Chief Rabbi in September 2013, Rabbi Sacks joined King’s as a Professor in the Department of Theology & Religious Studies alongside Professor Burridge. In March 2016, he was awarded the Templeton Prize for that year, instituted in 1972 by Sir John Templeton to be given annually to ‘a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery or practical works’.

In January 2017, King’s hosted a symposium for the Sir John Templeton Foundation, where ten international experts from a variety of theological, philosophical and scientific fields, gathered with Rabbi Sacks and Professor Burridge to examine and explore:

  • the historical rise of religious conflict, including the growth of anti-Semitism in the later Roman Empire;
  • xenophobia, radicalism, anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia surrounding the conflicts in the Middle East;
  • the moral, philosophical, legal, and evolutionary influences on religious freedom;
  • and nationalism, the perpetuation of violence, the role of mercy laws and freedom in combating hate, and practical approaches in theological education.

The twelve papers which they discussed in that Symposium have since all been collated and brought together in this book.

Rabbi Sacks, said: “In January 2017, it was my honour to join with King’s College London and the Templeton Foundation to hold a Symposium on the subject of violence committed in the name of religion, the basis of which was the issues set out in my book, Not in God’s Name. This publication, which was co-edited with Professor Richard Burridge and Dr Meg Warner and launched at my alma mater King’s College London this week, includes a collection of extended reflections from many of the world’s leading thinkers in this area who participated in the Symposium. They all offer fascinating responses and reactions across a wide range of different disciplines, and my hope is that this work allows for a continuing and deepening discussion on one of the most pressing challenges facing the world today.”