Whether you believe that religious violence is fueled by faith or is a symptom of larger factors — political instability, poverty, cultural chaos — one thing seems clear: Last week was hellish for religion.

Across several continents, including North America, Europe, Central Asia and Africa, scores of religious believers suffered and died in brutal attacks over the past seven days.

The causes of violence are complex, and reducing them to talking points only adds to the problem, scholars say. But if you want to rally troops to your side, few tools are more powerful than religion, said Michael Jerryson, co-editor of “The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Violence.”