Does God favor the unequal distribution of resources? A study of the effects of religion on ethnic conflicts

Irene Rebeca Mendoza Leyva, University of Texas at El Paso


Ethnic conflict and religious conflict are two types of conflict that are too often studied as one type of conflict. Additionally, conflicts that involve the fight over resources are today a type of conflict which appears to be on the rise. Additionally, contrary to what some scholars have argued for centuries, religious influence over people’s behavior also has continued to rise. Today there is a worrisome landscape in the global landscape, ethnic conflicts are currently ongoing throughout the globe in areas such as Congo, India-Pakistan, Israel-Palestine, Sudan, Sri Lanka, and most notably Iraq. Ethnic conflicts in the past appear to be disastrous as religion becomes part of the conflict equation, and it appears as if the international community has not learned them, as these conflicts have continued to arise. As such, the question arises; does religion exacerbate an ethnic conflict? This study analyzes the relationship between ethnic conflict and religion, particularly the effect religion has on these conflicts. This study examines this question, and tests the following hypothesis: when there is an ethnic conflict between two or more ethnic groups motivated by discriminatory practices and the unequal resource allocation and there are religious divisions between the belligerent parties, these differences will lead the conflict to become exacerbated and more protracted. By utilizing the tenets of Social Identity Theory and Social Dominance Theory this thesis examines four post-World War II ethnic conflicts, the historical background and roots of the ethnic conflicts and provides an analysis of the role of religion in each of the conflict. Although the results of this study provide some supporting evidence for the hypothesis, the need for further research to strengthen the results is needed.^

Subject Area

Religion, General|Political Science, International Law and Relations|Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies

Recommended Citation

Mendoza Leyva, Irene Rebeca, "Does God favor the unequal distribution of resources? A study of the effects of religion on ethnic conflicts" (2009). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1468956.