Mark Juergensmeyer, professor of sociology and director of Global and International Studies at UC Santa Barbara, has won the 2003 Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion for his book, Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence (University of California Press 2000).
The annual religion award, which includes a cash prize of $200,000, is given jointly by Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and the University of Louisville to the originators of creative works that contribute significantly to an understanding of "the relationship between human beings and the divine."
In his book, Juergensmeyer offers a timely study of religious-based terrorism and the "cultures of violence" that give rise to it. He uses interviews with the organizers (and, in some cases, perpetrators) of acts of terrorism in order to understand how and why those who support terrorism often use religion to rationalize their words and deeds.
"Although it is not my purpose to be sympathetic to people who have done terrible things," he writes, "I do want to understand them and their world views well enough to know how they and their supporters can morally justify what they have done."
"Terror in the Mind of God raises urgent questions about the role of religion in public life at a critical moment in history, and offers first-hand evidence of a sort never assembled before," says Susan R. Garrett, coordinator of the Grawemeyer Religion Award. "For its originality, clarity, and power, this book exemplifies the criteria of this Grawemeyer Award."
Juergensmeyer indicated that funds from this prize will be directed toward continued research in religion and violence in the contemporary world.
Note: Prof. Juergensmeyer can be reached at (805) 893-7898; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org