As part of the thematic block The New Archaic, religious historian Karen Armstrong will discuss the increasing role religion plays in our life as a problem that worries society. However, regarding religion as a social threat may be even more dangerous.
It is often said that religion is prone to violence and intolerance and should, therefore, be carefully excluded from political and public life. Those who hold this view cite the Crusades, the Inquisition and Jihad. But the reality is more complex. If we continue to ascribe the atrocities of al-Qaeda and ISIS wholly to religious fanaticism, we may be closing our minds to inconvenient truths that we ignore at our peril.