Notice of Online Archive

  • This page is no longer being updated and remains online for informational and historical purposes only. The information is accurate as of the last page update.

    For questions about page contents, contact the Communications Division.

Laurence R. Iannaccone, Koch Professor of Economics at George Mason University, will present a lecture entitled “Religious Extremism: The Good, the Bad, and the Deadly” 7:30 p.m. Monday in Kirby Hall of Civil Rights room 104. A reception will follow.

Iannaccone’s talk will challenge the conventional approach to understanding radical religious terrorists, which focuses primarily on their theology. That approach fails to explain why these groups tend to be sects and how sects gain strength and followers. He suggests that sects are only one organizational form among many religious groups that satisfy a universal demand for the supernatural. He explains why a sect is particularly well suited to provide social services, political representation, law and order, and political violence when governments or markets do not meet the demand for those services. Iannaccone argues that understanding the sources of their organizational strength is key to designing policies that undermine the violent potential of terrorist sects.

“This is clearly a topic that requires serious thought and analysis, one that I hope will attract the attention of the best minds of the rising generation,” says Mark Crain, William E. Simon Professor of Political Economy. “The survival of institutions such as democratic political systems and market-based enterprise may well depend on it.”

Iannaccone was a pioneer in the field of economics of religion. Before joining George Mason University in 2002, he was professor of economics at Santa Clara University and had served as a National Fellow and visiting scholar at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. His research has appeared in The Journal of Political Economy, The American Economic Review, The Journal of Economic Literature, Economic Inquiry, The American Journal of Sociology, and The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.

“His visit to Lafayette offers an opportunity for the campus community to see a world-renowned scholar, one who is pushing out the boundaries of academic research,” says Crain.

The event is sponsored by the William E. Simon Professorship in Political Economy and the Department of Religious Studies.

Categorized in: News and Features