A MAJORITY OF faith-based organizations have only one mission—to shepherd their adherents through life. However, these congregational mechanisms of faith can also be utilized for conflict early warning and early response (EWER). For decades, peacebuilders have used EWER systems to identify and analyze conflict trends, alert to conflict risk, inform decision-making, and initiate timely responses to prevent violent conflict.
In fact, religious bodies, particularly churches, are an emerging frontline of conflict early warning and early response. Churches are highly local with deep roots in communities. They build “organic” intra- and interfaith mechanisms that can mobilize to prevent political violence at the source. Faith-based early warning systems are a valuable tool for identifying emerging signs of community violence and for controlling in-group members to quell political violence. My research shows this is as true in Sri Lanka and Nigeria as it is in the United States.
Over the years, the field of conflict early warning has evolved from formal international institutions to more community-based mechanisms capable of preventing violence using local knowledge. Early warning systems have successfully prevented political violence and mass atrocities.