Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 05/2010

Religious Peace Activism—The Rational Element of Religious Elites' Decision-making Processes

Alexander De Juan, Johannes Vüllers

April 2010

German Institute of Global and Area Studies


Religious elites are active for peace in many violent conflicts. Normative explanations often do not suffice to explain their engagement. In this paper we draw on the findings of social‐movement research to identify the factors that induce rationally acting religious elites to be active for peace. It is their relationships to the government, other religious elites, and believers that can motivate them to call for peace. However, they will do so only if they anticipate—based on the overall influence of other religious peace (co‐)activists, the structure of the religious community, and the frame environment—that they will not be penalized for their engagement. Religious norms are an important motivation behind religious peace activism, but rational decision‐making also has to be taken into account if religious engagement for peace is to be explained fully.