University of Waikato Religious Studies Professor Douglas Pratt, will shed light on why religion can lead to extremism during his Inaugural Professorial Lecture being held at the university.
"Previously, there was a broad view, adopted by many academics in the 1960s that religion was on its way out. It turns out they were wrong. Globally speaking, religion is on the rise," says Professor Pratt. "So religion persists, but it also presents a number of problems in the modern world."
Professor Pratt has researched religion for many years and will be discussing what Anders Breivik, the Christchurch Cathedral, and the Taleban might have in common whilst presenting his model for understanding the persistence of religion and contemporary problems with it.
"The most distressing problem is the terrorism that arises out of religious motivations."
Professor Pratt has in the past advised the Australian Federal Government, the Australian Federal Police, and the FBI on religious extremism. Some of his work is with the Global Terrorism Research Centre of Monash University in Australia.
In his May 22 lecture, he will explore how religious communities and wider societies deal with religious diversity. "Religion has multiple impacts on our society, from geopolitical impacts in our lives, to economic effects. Take our export meat industry for example, which is required to be Halal certified".
"The negative dimensions of religion today sit alongside many positive ones".
He is currently working on a collaborative UK funded, four year, research project, looking at the history of Christian and Muslim relations from 1500-1900.
All lectures are free and open to the public.
Professor Douglas Pratt's' lecture titled The persistence and problem of religion, takes place on Tuesday, May 22 at 6pm at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts.