Role of religion in society and humanitarian action


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Role of religion in society and humanitarian action

  2. 2. Does Religion Matter At All?• the greater part of the worlds population is religious• the proportion of the religious population is growing• despite a mainly secular Western world, religion still informs many ofa societys underlying values• no complete separation between state and religion in any nation• religion influences the private sphere, civil society and the politicalstage• in times of existential crises religion plays an even more importantroleFor communities• the number of faith-based organizations (FBOs) – ranging frommoderate• To fundamentalist – is increasing
  3. 3. A Word of Caution• The role of religion in socienty varies greatly with many factorssuch as• form of government• dominance of one single religion• authority of religious leadersThe role of religion in humanitarian action also depends on• emerency relief vs. religious conflict• the role religion plays in the affected community/society• the presence of other FBOs or secular organizations• → Context does matter!
  4. 4. Religion in Society (Present)• Politics:• Political parties formed on the bases ofreligion• Vote for a specific party to go to haven clerics influence rates of illiteracy (Egypt)• parties claiming the ownership of religions
  5. 5. Religion in Society (Present)• Education• Teaching religion in schools as a subject (stateapproved curriculum)• religious based schools (Christian or Islamic)West & East• depending on the school; one sidedinterpretation of religion no free though
  6. 6. Religion in Society (Present)• Business:• Holy dirt: Israeli company exporting dirt fromJerusalem to the US• Halal food restaurants in the west• Head-scarves, crosses, Icons, praying carpets• Religious tourism; tourism companiesorganizing only pilgrimage trips to Mecca
  7. 7. Religion in Society (Present)• Media:• preaching• contempt other religions• censorship? (politicized – hate speech-citizens or acknowledged clerics)
  8. 8. State & ReligionPoliticalunitInstitution Practices andbeliefsDistinction Form ofGovernmentExampleMilitary Army Order &securityRight &wrongDictatorship North KoreaMinority Ethnicity,GroupSuperiority &discriminationUs vs. others HegemonyAutocracySouth Africa,ColoniesScience Experts Efficiency &objectivityExpertise vs.corruptionTechnocracy Italy, GreeceEconomy Market Liberalise &profitPrivate vs.publicPlutocracyOligarchySouthernEurope (crisis)Religion Deity SupernaturalbeingSacred vs.profaneTheocracy Vatican, SaudiArabia, Iran?
  9. 9. Religion in Society (Future)• A role in the public sphere.• But not take control of the State.• Neither imposing a way of living.• Religion cannot substitute State’s institutions.
  10. 10. Religion in Humanitarian Action(Present)Religion has its own dynamic logic. HoweverThrough FBO in humanitarian action, religionmay have political effects (McGinnis)• FBO are inspired by 2 motivations• Humanitarian Action, religion and conflict resolution• Humanitarian action and religion and access to population
  11. 11. FBO are inspired by 2 motivations (McGinnis)• Spread influence / conversion;Ex 1- Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse and other U.S.-based aidgroups admitted that they hoped to contribute to thereconstruction process by converting locals to Christianity,which they felt would make Iraqis more amenable todemocratic governance)Ex 2- , Goal of IIRO is the re-Islamization of Muslim countries informer Soviet Union. (Benthall 2006:4)• Assist those whom are suffering or disadvantagedcore values of any religion, to provide spiritual, material, etc• Christian, including political activism (ex, Advocacy for humanright and democratic values, social participation andempowerment, (caritas)
  12. 12. Within Conflict resolution, religion is a partnerwith multilateral organizations collaboratingwithin the framework of peace building. Inwhich one cornerstone is rebuild relationshipand improve governance.•Track 2 conflict resolution: integrative and exchange powerdominance, interconnection between top don and bottom updiplomacy. Such synergies may contribute to peace process andcreates institutions for sustainable peace ( ej. inter/intrareligious dialogue, organization of committees (as mentioned byCaritas)•Reconciliation: taking place in post conflict process, and ascomponent of transitional justice (true telling), le inter/intrareligious dialogue/activities
  13. 13. Access to population in need.• Based on religious values/states, beneficiaries andorganization s can facilitate access to beneficiaries(Taiwanese-based Tzu Chi Ogr. Was allowed to accessearthquake victims in China)• Geographical presence: religion can facilitate access tohumanitarian action ( grassroots structure within the society(proximity) ex, Colombia san José de Apartado)
  14. 14. Religion in Humanitarian Action(Future)A greater role in peace talks(Mediation, negotiation etc.)- A paradigm shift from present track II to track I- Or- Fill the present Gaps ?
  15. 15. Role in Conflict PreventionPeace EducationToleranceCoexistenceRespect for diversity
  16. 16. Better Impact !Diversification of faith basedorganizationOrIslamic Relief in Islamic states?Christian Aid in Christian countries?
  17. 17. Conclusion• Religion plays a very important role in the life of the communityin general in normal times and is accorded higher status duringan emergency.• The presence of faith based organizations in society and inhumanitarian regime in particular has increased considerably.Estrangement to Engagement (Clark & Jennings, 2008)• There is a diversity in faith based organizations and fromsecular to militant FBO: It is a continuum: No, low and highreligious pervasiveness (Carlo, 2006) or secular, passive, active,pervasive, exclusive (Clark and Jennings, 2008).• FBOs sometimes have their own mission “Proselytizing ”,“Dawa” and “Umma”.• Do no harm?
  18. 18. Conclusion• Coordination key (secular-FBOs and among FBOs)• Religious institutions have been a great source formobilizing resources (Church, Zakat, Seva, Bhikshu).• More funds to FBOs {10 (2001) to 25 % (2008) USA}• Most of the FBOs put higher priority of aidingcommunity of their own faith (Carlo, 2006)• The challenge is also to differentiate between faithbased humanitarian agencies and religious bodieswith political objectives (Kirmani and Khan, 2008)• There might be a contradiction between FBO andGovernment policies (Kirmani and Khan, 2008)
  19. 19. Food for Thought• Whether faith based organizations shouldpromote diversity of faith/pluralism and havethe basis of their interventions focusing on thefaith of the community?• Can secular organizations care take of thereligious and spiritual needs of thecommunity? Is poverty reduction or reliefdistribution all about material needs?
  20. 20. Thank You• Rahat Chowdhary• Nada Yehia• Maximiliano Verdinelli• Alfonso Basanta• Karolin Etterer• Shakeb Nabi