Steven P. Weitzman, Stanford University, Religious Studies, Building 70 Main Quad, Stanford, CA 94305-2165, USA. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. I am indebted to a number of individuals for sharing their first-hand experience and insights: Michael Barkun, Nike Carstarphen, Eugene Gallagher, Steve Herrick, Bruce Lawrence, Jean Rosenfeld, Gregory Saathoff, and Catherine Wessinger. I am also grateful to Shahzad Bashir, Holly Folk, Sylvester Johnson, Kathryn Gin Lum, Jessica Rosenberg, and the two anonymous reviewers of the JAAR for very helpful feedback during research or on earlier drafts of this article.
Can the study of religion help to counter religious violence? In the wake of 9/11 many scholars argued that it could, but such claims have never been tested. What would happen if scholars were ever in a position to intercede in a real-life religious conflict? We can explore this question by considering an earlier effort to use scholarship in this way, a consultative relationship developed between scholars of religion and the Federal Bureau of Investigation that was meant to help avoid a repeat of the tragic Branch Davidian standoff in 1993. How did this relationship develop? Did it accomplish its goals? And what does it teach us about the interventionist aspirations of Religious Studies intensified by 9/11?