David Robertson recently chaired a roundtable discussion entitled Millennialism and Violence? with Eileen Barker, Moojan Momen, Joseph Webster and Tristan Sturm, at the CenSAMM conference at the Panacea Trust in Bedford:
Descriptions of the End Times are full of violent imagery, of mass destruction through earthquakes, tidal waves, fire and ice. These images are written deeply into our culture through the book of Revelation, but are by no means limited to the Christian imagination. Often, our idea of modern millennial groups is informed by images of violent confrontations between them and the state, for example at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, or of mass suicide, such as with Heaven’s Gate or the People’s Temple at Jonestown.
Are we right to connect millennialism and violence? Are these groups typical, or rare exceptions, magnified out of proportion by the lens of the media – and scholarship? How do we account for the popularity ofmillennialismm outside of religious traditions, new, extreme or otherwise?
You can find an audio version and a full transcript over at the Religious Studies Project. The episode was produced in collaboration with CenSAMM, the Centre for the Study of Apocalyptic and Millenarian Movements.