Religion, Violence, Nonviolence
Lecture Series

A lecture series, offered in conjunction with RELIGST 29 and RELIGST 119. Free and open to the public. Stanford students may register for credit. Tuesdays (with one exception), 7:30-8:50 pm, starting January 5, 2016. Sponsored by the Department of Religious Studies.

We often hear of “religion and violence”–an important topic, but one-sided. This series examines ways in which religious leaders, movements, and discourses have (1) promoted violent conflict, aggression, and oppression; (2) contributed to nonviolence, peacebuilding, and liberation of the oppressed; and (3) reflected and argued over these matters. An overarching theme will be a view of religions as fields of interpretation. No religion is essentially violent or peaceful. Intricately connected to the world around them, religions become what they become through interpretation, argument, and action. Topics emphasize issues in today’s world, including Black Lives Matter, other aspects of race in the US, American debates over war and peace, and understandings of Islam.

schedule of lectures

Tuesdays (with one exception), 7:30-8:50 pm
Pigott Hall, Building 260, Room 113


Jan. 5    Fields of Religious Interpretation: The Bhagavad Gita and War — Linda Hess

Jan. 12   Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Social Gospel — Clayborne Carson

Jan. 21   Christianity in Crisis: MLK and the Black Church in the Age of Ferguson
                 Reverend Osagyefo Uluru Sekou  (this lecture is on Thursday) — Black Community Services Center

Jan. 26   Quaker Traditions of Nonviolence, Pacifism, and Activism — David Hartsough

Feb. 2    Pacifists Making Guns: A British Quaker Family in 18th-century Britain — Priya Satia

Feb. 9    Clarifying Questions and Answers about Islam in Turbulent Times
                Ahoo Najafian and Will Sherman

Feb. 16   The Ethics of Jihad and What is Islam Alexander Key

Feb. 23   Can Lotuses Bloom in a Sea of Flames? Buddhism and Conflict in the Modern Period
Paul Harrison

Mar. 1    Inner Peace and World Peace Hozan Alan Senauke

Mar. 8     Religion, Violence, and Revolutionary Love — Valarie Kaur



For more information, contact
Prof. Linda Hess (
TA: Ahoo Najafian (