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Violent people often claim that God sanctions their actions. In two studies, participants
read a violent passage said to come from either the Bible or an ancient scroll. For
half the participants, the passage said that God sanctioned the violence. Next, participants
competed with an ostensible partner on a task in which the winner could blast the
loser with loud noise through headphones (the aggression measure). Study 1 involved
Brigham Young University students; 99% believed in God and in the Bible. Study 2 involved
Vrije Universiteit-Amsterdam students; 50% believed in God, and 27% believed in the
Bible. In Study 1, aggression increased when the passage was from the Bible or mentioned
God. In Study 2, aggression increased when the passage mentioned God, especially among
participants who believed in God and in the Bible. These results suggest that scriptural
violence sanctioned by God can increase aggression, especially in believers.