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Religious Discrimination and Harassment
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  1. 1. Religion is a collection of belief, systems, cultural systems, and worldviews that relate humanity to spirituality and sometimes to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions, and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws, or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about human nature. According to some estimates there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world.
  2. 2. “Men in every society throughout the ages have pondered over questions dealing with such matters as existence, purpose and divinity. To help explain the unexplainable, provide a sense of purpose in life and make the unknown future less threatening, every society has developed the institution of religion”
  3. 3. Religion is a social institution found in all societies. However, there are variations in many of these institutional ideas and beliefs from place to place and time to time. The common idea and belief across most religions is that there are sacred elements that should govern our lives as opposed to the profane things of this world- the ordinary. All societies have developed religion as a social institution in some way and offer varying explanations for questions such as the possibilities after death, relationship with the spiritual being or life force, coping with distressing situations and more. Sociologist studies the role that religion plays in society (how it impacts on members and other social institutions) as well as how the society impacts on religion.
  4. 4. This perspective emphasizes on how religion functions in a society to preserve order and social cohesion. It sees the participation in religious activities and bury oneself in the values, attitudes and beliefs of the particular religion. Functionalism sees religion as helping members to feel a sense of belonging to provide support and guidance and to create a community of believers through rituals and practices.
  5. 5. Marxist shows the dark side of religious commitment. Marxist feel that religion prevents people from really experiencing the inequalities, discrimination and oppression that are inherent in how society treats with the lower social classes, women and other disadvantaged groups.
  6. 6. In this perspective religion is seen or understood as a subjective experience. Emphasis is on understanding how an individual or a group constructs their ideas of god, and their relationship with the god and/or church, how they choose what to believe and what not to believe, how they relate to other religions, and how beliefs and non-beliefs affect their daily actions.
  7. 7. US missionaries especially in the last half of the 20th century have brought their unique brand of Pentecostalism and Fundamentalism to the region.  After emancipation combined religious forms flourished such as Myal as well as African ones such as Vodun. Laws were often passed to restrict these practices such as the OBEAH act in Jamaica which outlawed its practice.
  8. 8.  Resistance also created other distinctive world views such as through Rastafari formed in the 1930’s in Jamaica based on Marcus Garvey’s philosophies. In the 19th century in Trinidad, Guyana and Suriname there were Hindus belonging to various sects who have schools today. Many Hindus were also converted to Presbyterianism due to the Canadian missions there who marketed it as a means towards upward mobility.
  9. 9. Our people did accept the religious beliefs of the smaller denominations who came as missionaries in so the Caribbean countries have wide varieties of Christianity. Religion is influenced by the stratification of society where Europeans and Coloreds normally attended mainstream religions and more syncretic (combined) religious forms were associated with the poorer groups. Dual membership often existed where people would have formal alliances with a mainstream religion but still would practice traditional forms such as in Cuba with Santeria.
  10. 10. Ideas of the dominant class are usually perpetuated in religious beliefs. The system of religion in the Caribbean has been a struggle between the ideas of the dominant Europeans and colonized peoples.  Syncretism and Hybridization have re-created the institutions of religion primarily through the Africans and Amerindians adopting many Europeans forms and practices into their own traditions from slavery until now.
  11. 11. Religion can help groups maintain solidarity ( integration, union or fellowship) and keep their traditions alive in the face of globalizing western culture. For example the Garifuna ( descendants of the Caribs,Arwaks and West African people) still practice many of their African customs today.
  12. 12. Religion can be a source of oppression. For example the oppression of women in almost all mainstream and alternative religions. A woman in a mainstream religion such as Roman Catholicism, plays a conservative role where religious laws affect her reproductive health that is birth control and abortion.
  13. 13. Institutions Religion is seen as a major factor in the establishment of the justice system as countries with different religious systems have usually varying justice systems. For example Sharia law vs. Western legal system based on Christianity. Some religion laws have various beliefs which bind their believers which can affect interaction with other institutions for example Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in blood transfusion altering relationships with health care professionals.
  14. 14.  Religion also has an immense ability to generate conflict in a society especially among plural societies.
  • NandiniShethphatak

    Jan. 4, 2021
  • GarfieldBailey1

    Feb. 13, 2019
  • shanikasmith123

    Jan. 22, 2018
  • ShaddaeMessado

    Apr. 24, 2015


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