Troy University counterterrorism expert to address religion in international conflict

Posted: Tuesday, 04 May 2010

TROY—Religion is an effective, influential rule-following behavior that assists in achieving group goals, says a Troy University professor.

Dr. James F. Rinehart, professor of international relations and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, will deliver a talk about religion’s impact entitled “The Intervening Function of Religion in International Conflict.”

His address is part of “MacDill Lunch and Learn” from 11:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. June 4 in the Surf’s Edge Club. The cost of lunch is $12.

Dr. Rinehart is the former chairman of the University’s Department of Political Science. He joined TROY in 1995 as director of the United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at the University’s Fort Bragg, N.C. campus. His areas of expertise include terrorism, counterterrorism, U.S. foreign policy, religion in world politics and national security.

Scholars of international relations remain uncomfortable with the challenge of accommodating religion in the discipline. The concept is one of growing significance to the field of study; events around the world confirm that fact every day. Nonetheless, religion is often treated as an over-simplified notion, remaining largely on the margins of what most scholars believe to be a secular subject, Dr. Rinehart said.

Dr. Rinehart hypothesizes that rather than an unfulfilled need of politically violent groups, religion is an intervening device of significant influence that assists in the achievement of a far more complex menu of group needs. In contrast to recent research that pursues the study of religion in international conflict as primarily a theological phenomenon, his paper casts religion as primarily a behavioral phenomenon. It assumes that religion is not a need. Rather, it is an effective, influential rule-following behavior that contributes to a broad array of group needs.

The June 4 event will be Dr. Rinehart’s third such presentation at MacDill. For more information, contact the University at its Tampa Bay Site at 813-835-6220.