Clergy and conflict management in Lebanon, 1965-2005 (Thomas Scheffler)

This project examines the impact of Christian and Muslim religious leaders on the escalation and de-escalation of political conflict before, during, and after the Lebanese civil war(s) of 1975-1990.

Combining approaches from political science, comparative religion, conflict sociology, and political theology, the project compares the conflict behaviour of high-ranking religious leaders in three Christian and three Muslims communities (Maronites, Greek-Orthodox, Greek-Catholics, Sunnis, Shiites, and Druze) in three distinct phases of conflict development in Lebanon: the escalation towards civil war from 1965 to 1975; the civil war period (1975-1990); and the reconstruction period from 1990 to 2005.

Several intra- and inter-communal parameters are taken into account, most notably the balance of power between religious leaders and lay politicians within each community; the territorial and transnational ties of religious leaders; the mix of ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ resources at their disposal; their ability to effectively control the conflict behaviour of lower-ranking members of the clergy; the specific repertoires of public issues usually addressed by religious leaders; and the relation between personal and institutional aspects of religious leadership.

Author: Dr. Thomas Scheffler