Religion, Civil War, and International Order

Date Published:

Jul 1, 2006


This article addresses the question of why religion becomes a central issue in some civil wars whereas in others——even many of those whose primary combatants identify strongly with a particular religion——it has not. This question is important because religious civil wars are costly to the contending actors (both in the short term and the long term) and are more likely to affect regional and perhaps even international stability.


This document also appears as Discussion Paper 2006-03 of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, John F. Kennedy School of Government. Comments are welcome and may be directed to the author via email at
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