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Summary: Religion & Peacemaking

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from the book Forgiveness & Reconciliation: Religion, Public Policy and Conflict Transformation,

edited by Raymond Helmick and Rodney Peterson

This chapter focuses on the intersection of religion and mass psychology. Included in the discussion is how sacred beliefs can intensify violence but also serve the cause of peacemaking.

Montville sees an understanding of dehumanization as key to reversing its destructive effects. After reviewing several examples of dehumanization in history, he suggests that the universal, human values of world religions should be central to developing strategies for the reversal of the dehumanization process.

Following this, Montville looks at each of the Abrahamic faiths and their focus on dignity and rights of the individual. Montville says these universal values of Scripture can be integrated into the ongoing dialogue among adversaries in unofficial diplomacy, and injected into the more public discourse in conflict relationships. “The preciousness and dignity of human life God embraces in the Torah, the New Testament and the Koran should be put first in the peacemaking by the peacemakers.”