Children should be taught to understand the Jihadi mindset if they are to make sense of why people commit terrorist acts, the Archbishop of Canterbury has suggested.
Speaking to an audience of headteachers, the most senior cleric in England’s state church said that as society becomes increasingly secular, it is “essential” to give children a good religious education so they can understand extremists on their own terms.
While many analysts prefer to explain the rise of Islamist extremism in sociological or political terms, they will never understand the religious beliefs behind the ideology.
The Telegraph reports that the archbishop told the Anglican Academies and Secondary Heads Conference: “The heart of their theology – which is the heart of their propaganda, so this is the driving force – is an apocalyptic understanding of human history, not as a loose term but in its strictest technical terms: they believe that the world is about to end, that the Prophet will return with Jesus, and will defeat the western powers.”
“It’s very difficult to understand the things that impel people to some of the dreadful actions that we have seen over the last few years unless you have some sense of religious literacy,” he added.
“You may reject and condemn it – that’s fine – but you still need to understand what they’re talking about.”
The comments come after the archbishop wrote for the Holocaust Educational Trust saying that Christianity was partly to blame for “deeply entrenched” anti-Semitism in British society.
“It is a shameful truth that, through its theological teachings, the church, which should have offered an antidote, compounded the spread of this virus,” he wrote.
“The fact that antisemitism has infected the body of the Church is something of which we as Christians must be deeply repentant. We live with the consequences of our history of denial and complicity.”
He also condemned various conspiracy theories attributed to Jewish people.
“Even today, in the 21st century, it is shocking that antisemitism still has traction; the virus continues to seek a host.
“It latches onto a variety of different issues: financial inequality, wars and depressions, education, politics and government, grave international issues, such as the rights of Israelis and Palestinians, and interfaith tensions.”