Globalization and Religion

In the realm of religion, globalization has significant implications. Firstly, it’s worth noting the resurgence of religion not only in the public sphere but also in the consciousness of observers. It’s impossible to look at the current world without recognizing the significant role religions play. The modern concept of “religion” is a relatively recent invention, often aimed at cautioning liberal societies against the threat of too close a mixture between religion and politics.

Supporting this, there are numerous cases of conflicts motivated, at least in part, by religious convictions: Northern Ireland, Al-Qaeda, India and Pakistan, Israel and Palestine, and so forth. However, one should not rush to conclusions. In this approach, traditional religions such as Islam are portrayed as seeking to impose their conservatism on modern nations. While there is some truth to this interpretation, it’s not the whole story. Think of Ayatollah Khomeini, for instance, who spearheaded a revolution based on fundamentalist Islam; he represents more of an exception than the rule.

Olivier Roy has demonstrated that in fact, most of the key figures driving the rise of Islam in the 1970s and 1980s were young, educated, urban individuals. Whether it’s the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Refah in Turkey, or even largely the revolution in Iran, the leaders were intellectuals, often educated in the West. The same is true in Afghanistan and Morocco. The attacks in New York, Madrid, and London were less inspired by the Quran and more by an anti-imperialist ideology linked to Marxist economic theories. In other words, this assertive Islam is relatively recent and global.

Other religions may blend modernity with traditional elements, such as the Bharatiya Janatha Party in India. But Islam, more than Hinduism, presents itself as a universal religion, always reacting against Western colonialism. While it’s true that in many conflicts around the globe, the religious factor is present, for the liberal or “enlightened” view, it’s equally true that man can and should live in such a way that his religion remains in the private sphere. The “enlightened” man would be capable of conducting himself without being dependent on religious doctrine or motive.

However, it is evident nowadays that religion is not simply what feeds the “spiritual” side of a person, but rather the element that affects all aspects of life. The Protestant religion of Northern Ireland and the Catholicism of Southern Ireland are seen more as cultural realities than religious creeds. Therefore, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to understand events in the contemporary world without considering the significantly influential factor of religion in its broadest sense. This is particularly true within the framework of globalization.

Secularization itself can take on a religious aspect. But here, a distinction is necessary. Secularization has two faces. The positive aspect is that institutionalized religion, the Church, cannot exert an undue influence on the affairs of the city. According to a fair understanding of secularism, a concept closely related to secularization, no religion can exert influence on society beyond its competence. However, the danger of secularization lies in marginalizing religion to the point where it loses its prophetic voice and influence. This kind of secularization is akin to a religion with an inquisitorial arm.

As rightly pointed out by Jean-Paul Willaime, there is a great risk of turning secularism, which undoubtedly has many qualities, into a sort of religion without bearing its name. He warns against the “secularization of secularism” or a de facto atheism. Instead, he argues for “a secularism capable of positively integrating the social, cultural, and ethical contributions of religions into societies of individuals in search of guidance and motivation.”

In summary, economic globalization creates great interdependence between countries and individuals. In some cases, this leads to enrichment; in others, it widens the gap between rich and poor. The less privileged are marginalized and unable to exert any power. This dual trait is observed in both the metropolis and its suburbs. Sociological globalization creates nomadism and presents both good and bad sides. Modern travelers who have a taste for discovery and exploration find new horizons.

On the other hand, the risk of loss of identity and meaning is growing. Globalization is accompanied by a resurgence of religion in its broadest sense. The questioning of the liberal vision, which refused to acknowledge the inherent value of religion, is arguably a good thing. However, at the same time, the religious factor adds a sometimes formidable force to anti-imperialism and risks giving rise to a terrorist culture that combines modern techniques with the “weapon” of fundamentalist slogans.

This text is an excerpt from the book “CHRISTIANITY AND ITS CHALLENGES” written by Jérémie TCHINDEBE.

We invite you to read the following article “Globalization according to biblical revelation“.

Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *