The link between religion and interstate military conflict has attracted a lot of attention among scholars of international relations and also foreign policy makers and religious organizations. This study examines whether religious differences between states in a dyad may partly affect various types of militarized conflict. It is argued in the literature that religion promotes stronger loyalty and sense of obligation than other cultural identities (Juergensmeyer, 1993); I argue that religious identity may be used by states effectively to mobilize people by means of rhetoric to generate and sustain popular support for conflict with other states. Thus I expect that states with different predominant religions to be more likely to engage in various dimensions of rivalry. The objective of this research is to contribute to understanding why certain dyads may be more likely to engage in military conflict. I construct new datasets and develop statistical models to evaluate the connection between religion and interstate military conflict. I focus on the onset of different types of interstate rivalries and war and examine the link of each of these types with different kinds of religious differences. I explore whether (a) interstate dyads with religious difference, (b) Christian/Muslim dyads, and (c) interstate dyads with different religious denominations have a higher propensity to engage in (a) enduring rivalry, (b) rivalry recurrence, and (c) war. This study covers the time period between 1945 and 2001. I conduct the analyses using logit models that incorporate alternative explanations of each of these three dimensions of rivalry. In addition, I provide a case study of the 1947 India-Pakistan war to examine closer the mechanism of the relationship between religious difference in this dyad and war. Analysis results suggest that dyads with "religious difference" are associated with rivalry recurrence and war; "Christian/Muslim Differences" do not appear to have an effect on rivalry. The findings of this research are expected to offer a better understanding of rivalry between dyads.


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Graduation Date





Kinsey, Barbara


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Sciences


Political Science

Degree Program

Security Studies









Release Date

August 2016

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)