Anxiety the Root of Religious Extremism?

Some interesting psychological research on religious extremism.  Take a look:

Researchers find anxiety may be at root of religious extremism

Anxiety and uncertainty can cause us to become more idealistic and more radical in our religious beliefs, according to new findings by York University researchers, published in this month’s issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory

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  • timothyrgates

    for myself, i know that the only time that i've found it necessary to try to convert every person i meet, no matter when and where, is when within my poorly covering i am less than sure of the very thing i'm telling them is necessary, here is where the anxiety would be redundant.

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  • Michael Bauman

    There is something about the way this study is described that has a bit of circular reasoning about it, or at least an assumption that correlation means causation.

    First of all, the assumptions the researchers used in describing 'extremism' are not defined or even mentioned in the article. For some, especially those not comfortable with faith, much of what we Orthodox do on a regular basis might be 'extreme'.

    It seems perfectly reasonable to me that folks reach out with greater urgency to God when they are anxious.

    Without knowing a great deal more about the study, the bias of those who designed it and how it was designed its a bit like saying folks drink water and think it has a much higher priority in their lives when they are thristy. The thirstier they are, the more important water is to the exclusion of all else.

    This is news and insight from which we can learn, what?????

    As is, the summary is only of use to those who wish to condemn those folks they deem to be overly zealous.

    I think Fr. Gregory, you can do better.

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  • s-p

    When I read the intro, I went “DUH…” I don't think one needs to nail down a definition of “extremism” because within all religions there are extremists and moderates. The issue is not a perfect correlation but a general prinicple that I think is virtually self evident: The more a person views the world as hostile, uncertain, etc. the more one tends to objectify people, resort to black and white thinking and retreat into some form of fundamentalism that gives some structure and boundaries to their fragile ego. There are plenty of other ways to deal with anxiety and religion can be expressed in neuroses, psychoses, paranoia etc etc… so fundamentalism is but one way or expression of how that can be done and it gives people the assurance that God is on their side too boot.

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