Religion and culture relationship


religion and culture relationship

Culture and Religion are not the same, though they are very close. There are various theories that suggest a model of relationship between them. One of them . Well I wouldn't say that culture and religion mirror each other, there are countries with multiple religions but same culture and multiple culture but same religion. As of ten days ago, Muslims entered the first month of the Islamic New Year , a month known as Muharram. To non-Muslims, this will most.

Sport provides good examples of culture as common life. Let us think about football also known as soccer. Local football clubs can be founded on distinct community identity. For example, local Australian players from a Greek background can play for a team sponsored by the Hellenic Association. Clubs can equally represent a locality rather than a particular group. Regardless of background, at the international level all players in these clubs have a loyalty to the Australian football team.

Football is the common bond — a sporting pastime but also cultural practice. Think about the way entire nations can be said to embody the activities of its national sporting heroes. Supporters from different countries will identify their team as playing in a certain style, even if these are stereotypes and not entirely accurate: Do all South American sides use flamboyance and spontaneity?

The larger point, for both individuals and nations, is the tangible power of a sporting pastime to generate common bonds from the local to the international Rees— That bond is an expression of culture. Symbols of group identity The second element of culture are symbols of identity. The kinds of sign I am referring to are tangible reminders in modern societies of who we are as a people. They include styles of architecture such as bridges or religious buildingsland or waterscapes that influence the activity of life such as in harbour citiesmonuments, flags and other identity banners, styles of clothing and habits of dress, distinctive food and drink — and so on.

These signs are more than a tourist attraction, they are symbols that inform members about who they are as a group and that help the group live together cohesively. Consider, for example, the individual and international significance of national flags as cultural symbols. The Star-Spangled Banner as the anthem of the United States of America describes the power of a national flag to inspire individual and national devotion.

The answer for Key was yes, the flag symbolising defiance and the promise of victory. Equally, persecuted communities within a country might see a national or regional flag as a symbol of oppression rather than freedom, symbolising a dominant way of life that excludes them. In all regions of the world nationalist groups fight for autonomy or independence from a country or countries that surround them, and do so under alternative flags that represent their own cultural identity.

The flag of the Canadian province of Quebec, for example, employs religious and cultural symbols reflecting its origins as a French colony in the new world. Quebec nationalists campaigning for independence from Canada have employed the flag in the promotion of French language, cultural preservation and Quebecois identity. National separatist groups worldwide are similarly inspired by symbols of culture they are trying to preserve.

Stories of our place in the world The third element of culture is the power of story. Like the cultural use of symbols, societies need to tell stories. These may be about individuals and groups, of events in the distant and recent past, of tales of victory and defeat involving enemies and friends — and so on.

Such stories are told to reaffirm, or even recreate, ideas of where that society belongs in relation to the wider world. As such, stories are performances designed to influence what we understand to be real Walter72— Sometimes cultural difference can be most starkly understood by the different stories societies tell about themselves.

In such places, national holidays can be mourned as commemorating invasion and dispossession.

religion and culture relationship

New Zealand offers somewhat of a contrast, with the story of the nation including the drawing up of the Treaty of Waitangi signed in between the British colonisers and the indigenous Maori tribes. Such ownership, as an attempt to uphold the sovereignty of the Maori nation swas central to the preservation of their cultural story. Sadly, this is not the history recounted by Australian indigenous nations or most Native American tribes in the United States and Canada.

Taken together, these depictions of preservation and loss illustrate the importance of language, ritual, place and tradition in the cultural story at the individual and international level. Like living organs, societies experience growth and decline, health and decay, fitness and injury. Extending the analogy, we could say that culture is a way to measure the psychological and emotional health of society.

These descriptors reflect what individuals and international societies believe is a healthy culture. As such, culture involves agreement on the kind of things that are good for society and can make it flourish. One of the leading frontiers of culture clash worldwide involves the campaign for gender equality in areas such as education, employment, reproductive and marital rights.

The story of Malala Yousafzai from northwest Pakistan reminds us of the power of one individual to inspire an international response on the vital issue of education for girls. When Malala was 12, and inspired by her teacher father, she began to speak out for the right to education, something that was becoming increasingly restricted due to the influence of the Taliban in Pakistan. Inalthough critically wounded, Malala survived an assassination attempt at the hands of the Taliban and, on her recovery, became a brave advocate for the many millions who were being denied education due to certain cultural perceptions about girls and their place in society.

In she was co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and dedicated her prize money to the building of a secondary school for girls in Pakistan. While it has been important to consider each concept separately, highlighting the particular ways that religion and culture influence international relations, there are clear interlinkages between them. Theorists have long drawn such links and these are useful for our consideration here. Consider the similarities between the elements of religion and culture described in this chapter such as the role of symbols and stories in both accounts, and the pursuit of life according to what either faith or culture determine to be the higher standards of living.

Such a view makes sense because no one religion encompasses an entire society in the world today, and no society lives entirely according to one set of sacred rules and practices.

On the other hand, in some contexts religious authority and identity can be more significant than any other cultural element. For example, when American soldiers moved into the Iraqi city of Najaf in to negotiate security arrangements, it was not the town mayor or the police chief that had most influence. Rather, it was the reclusive religious leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, whose authority influenced not only the city but much of the fracturing nation itself.

Taking another example, when Communist authorities confronted striking dock workers in Poland in the s, it was not only unions that opposed them but also the Catholic Church, whose priests performed sacred rituals and stood in solidarity with strikers in open defiance of the government.

In both these examples, the elements of religion are equally — if not more — prominent than the elements of culture. Perhaps the most useful approach, therefore, is to see the elements of religion and the elements of culture in constant interaction with one another. We have explored just four elements for each category. What might some other elements be and what are the impacts of these elements on individual and international life?

There are some excellent resources to assist us in exploring such questions. Can we all live together? To fully grasp why many Europeans gravitate toward Protestantism and not Catholicism, we must consider the historical and cultural reasons: Finally, even though the majority of Europeans identify as Protestant, secularism separation of church and state is becoming more prominent in Europe.

In nations like France, laws are in place that officially separate the church and state, while in Northern Europe, church attendance is low, and many Europeans who identify as Protestant have very low religiosity strength of religious devotionfocusing instead on being secularly religious individuals. From a Weberian point of view, the links among religion, history, and culture in Europe explain the decline of Catholicism, the rise of Protestantism, and now the rise of secularism.

Emile Durkheim — focused more on how religion performs a necessary function; it brings people and society together. Durkheim thus defined a religion as a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things which are set apart and forbidden—beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them. For example, religious rituals one type of practice unite believers in a religion and separate nonbelievers.

The act of communion, or the sharing of the Eucharist by partaking in consecrated bread and wine, is practiced by most Christian denominations. However, the frequency of communion differs extensively, and the ritual is practiced differently based on historical and theological differences among denominations.

Georg Simmel — focused more on the fluidity and permanence of religion and religious life. Simmel believed that religious and cultural beliefs develop from one another. Moreover, he asserted that religiosity is an essential element to understand when examining religious institutions and religion.

Religion and Culture

While individuals may claim to be part of a religious group, Simmel asserted that it was important to consider just how religious the individuals were. In much of Europe, religiosity is low: The decline of religiosity in parts of Europe and its rise in the U. This framework is distinct from the more Western way of thinking, in that notions of present, past, and future are perceived to be chronologically distorted, and the relationship between cause and effect is paradoxical Wimal, In his philosophy, existence takes precedence over essence, and any existing object reflects a part of the creator.

Therefore, every devoted person is obliged to know themselves as the first step to knowing the creator, which is the ultimate reason for existence. This Eastern perception of religion is similar to that of Nagarajuna and Buddhism, as they both include the paradoxical elements that are not easily explained by the rationality of Western philosophy.

For example, the god, as Mulla Sadra defines it, is beyond definition, description, and delamination, yet it is absolutely simple and unique Burrell, Culture How researchers define and study culture varies extensively. Geertzbuilding on the work of Kluckhohndefined culture in terms of 11 different aspects: Geertz,p.

The essentialist view regards culture as a concrete and fixed system of symbols and meanings Holiday, An essentialist approach is most prevalent in linguistic studies, in which national culture is closely linked to national language.

Regarding culture as a fluid concept, constructionist views of culture focus on how it is performed and negotiated by individuals Piller, In principle, a non-essentialist approach rejects predefined national cultures and uses culture as a tool to interpret social behavior in certain contexts.

Different approaches to culture influence significantly how it is incorporated into communication studies. Cultural communication views communication as a resource for individuals to produce and regulate culture Philipsen, Cross-cultural communication typically uses culture as a national boundary.

Hofstede is probably the most popular scholar in this line of research. Culture is thus treated as a theoretical construct to explain communication variations across cultures. This is also evident in intercultural communication studies, which focus on misunderstandings between individuals from different cultures. Religion, Community, and Culture There is an interplay among religion, community, and culture. Community is essentially formed by a group of people who share common activities or beliefs based on their mutual affect, loyalty, and personal concerns.

Participation in religious institutions is one of the most dominant community engagements worldwide. Religious institutions are widely known for creating a sense of community by offering various material and social supports for individual followers.

In addition, the role that religious organizations play in communal conflicts is also crucial. This cultural religious identity provides people with a feeling of certainty, order and meaning - a general feeling of belonging. This may serve as explanation to the struggle for power in multi-cultural societies, confirming Lincoln's It is clear from this that struggle as well as attempts at reconciliation between cultures should be seen as efforts at establishing identity. Understanding the effort of creating identity requires an understanding of how people perceive the interplay of religion and ethnicity in creating identity.

Religious affiliation does not need to overlap with aspects of ethnic identity. This reflects Minnema's Stages 2 and 3 of cultural development. The Primordialist theory implies that one belonging to a specific religion can become part of a cultural group and still retain a religious identity. The result, however, may be that one will not be culturally equal to the cultural group into which one enters Kilp We see the same situation with recent immigrants from Syria and Pakistan to Germany.

Immigrants are welcomed into the German culture although they have a different religious affiliation. But still many Germans do not recognise the immigrants as equal members of society. To be part of the German people one has to subscribe to all that it means to be a German: Immigrants tend to become second-class citizens.

Immigrants are still being identified in terms of their religious affiliation. Religion is still their main identity marker and not the new culture they are trying to adapt to.

This sentiment is also witnessed in the discourse on immigration policies in the United States. Based on religious grounds, differences are viewed from a value perspective. Differences are now viewed either as good or bad. The differences in relation to the own identity are perceived to be based on being different, being 'bad' Kilp The ethical evaluation of the other increases in content and is perceived as a growing threat requiring protection of the self, which is now polarised as being good as opposed to the other which is now perceived as bad.

The other as evil is necessary to legitimise the self as good, pure and correct. The absence of the other the cultural enemy is dysfunctional. Cultural identity is, however, not fixed but dynamic Vroom Cultural identity can change over time. Cultural identity is an ideological interpretation as to how people view themselves and want to be viewed by others. People present their identity and thus communicate something about their culture.

Cultural identity is, thus, constructed Vroom The question would arise: If identity is created, what criteria do people select to construct their identity? Cultural groups may make selections of events or elements in history to constitute their identity Vroom A problem arises when multiple cultures co-exist in close proximity and even more so in the same country. What and who determines cultural identity then?

One can maintain one's cultural identity and still belong to a particular nation sharing another culture. It is then possible to belong to several cultures simultaneously. In the struggle to adapt and take refuge in a different culture, conflict might arise. Based on this definition, a strict exclusion is imprinted. One is only accepted when one knows, believes and acts in a familiar way to community.

Part of the knowledge, convictions and actions is acceptance of a structure of meaning reached on consensus by a community Geertz Meaning is negotiated through aesthetics.

It seems harmony between religious groups living in close proximity can only be reached when conformity from both sides is employed. Meeting one another at the borders of cultural identity and negotiating boundary markers can lead to a positive conformity. Conformity does not include taking on the characteristics of another culture, but merely recognising differences at the borders and respecting them. Religion relocated to culture Matt Waggoner The shift has taken place that religion no longer resides in the consciousness but within culture.

religion and culture relationship

Waggoner's argument in short is that a shift has taken place. Religion is no longer perceived to be subjectively imagined, locating religion in the bodies and brains of people participating in religion, but rather religion is located in culture or a social system.

The implication is that studying religion requires a change in focus, away from the individual and group consciousness and finding the location of religion in the exterior to the subjective. This argument by Waggoner goes back to Bruce Lincoln's contribution to the debate on religion and culture.

Lincoln managed to combine Durkheim and Marx's orientation to the study of religion. The first step is to acknowledge that societies construct religion. Secondly, religion, as culture, is always associated with a struggle for power. Culture, especially religion, becomes a site where power and privileges in society are negotiated.

Culture has an ideological role in this hegemonic struggle. Culture ignores its historical origin and makes transcendental claims to authorise its own position of power and discredit other claims. Further, the origin of religion is from the point of religion always an authoritative transcendent or supra-historical source, thereby concealing the cultural and historical origins. Aesthetics and ethics are core components of culture as they are concerns for all human cultures.

Kierkegaard in Pattison The role of religion in culture, however, changes from one context to the other. Religion, however, does play a 'role of prime importance' in culture Lincoln The argument by Lincoln makes provision for a situation, as Lincoln points out, how religion as one of the essential elements in culture can from time to time dominate that which is considered as culture Lincoln The implication Waggoner It is clear that religion participates in the hegemonic struggle in culture.

Religion can then act as cultural identity marker. There are, however, many potential cultural markers i. People can view others not in terms of ethnicity but primarily in terms of religion. Ethnicity and religion overlap causing cultural or religious animosity to spill over to religious or cultural animosity. This article does not pretend to have the solution to these cases of animosity. This article wants to argue that it is important in the study of religion to study ethnicity and culture as well.

What are the implications? If the argument is that to study religion a clear cognisance of culture and ethnicity is necessary, what are the implications? There are two implications mentioned here: In the light of the above arguments, studying religion requires a new methodology and a new attitude towards reconciliation, namely making peace with diversity and adversity.

Methodology When studying religion, a multi-disciplinary approach will be necessary. This is, however, not new. What is new is that the emphasis will have to change. Much more attention should be paid to an anthropological approach where cultural and ethnic studies are considered as part of studying religion. Also this is not new. What I suggest is that the anthropological approach should be focussed on studying the boundaries between cultures, which is in line with Frederik Barth's suggestion.

Studying the boundaries between cultures helps to identify those elements that constitute cultural identity, whether they are ethics, religion or aesthetics or a combination of some sort. In some cases, cultures might meet where the Primordialist understanding of ethnicity determines a cultural group's understanding of its identity. Then, it is most unlikely that there will be change as to how such a group understands its own identity.

Where a group with a Circumstantialist understanding of ethnicity is encountered, there does exist a possibility of integration and changed identity. The ideal would be to convince cultures to adhere to a Constructivist understanding, incorporating a fixed identity with a flexible identity. It becomes clear that a new focus in studying religion should also be to search how cultural groups assign meaning to behaviour. This process is contextually determined cf.

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Studying religion should include studying action and meaning and discern the criteria relevant to each ethnic community how to determine meaning. Meaning is determined by values. Studying religion entails studying underlying values in cultures. The author Jos Vranckx refers in a recent blog entry on inter-cultural relations in Europe how the French-Iranian sociologist, Farhad Khosrokha, indicates that this process of seeking meaning overlaps with a search for identity.

This search for identity is especially prevalent among a new generation of jihadis who come from 'born again'-converts belonging to good educated families. They are seeking identity in a society they perceive as divided and without values, where people are only concerned with entertainment. The values of the two ethnic societies clash. In this encounter, a struggle to find identity ensues.

Studying religion with emphasis on cultural and ethnic interrelatedness requires a distinction between religion as belief and religion as identity marker, or as Ramadan puts, it distinguishes between religion and civilisation Ramadan This is indeed a difficult task. In a Western understanding determined by Enlightenment thought, such segmentation might be possible. Within other cultural orientations, such a differentiation seems unlikely. It is clear that when religion functions as identity marker, there are several traditions and myths feeding various claims of racial superiority.

Studying religion requires an understanding of the ideological determination of cultural identity. It is necessary to study the myths behind the claims as to racial superiority. Traditions from the past determine social behaviour. A study of the myths and traditions that contribute to racial and religious bias is necessary in order to understand the Other.

From this, it becomes clear that the insights from several disciplines are necessary in order to understand the phenomenon of religion and the interaction between religions. Making peace with diversity and adversity A further implication of the emphasis on studying ethnicity and culture in understanding religion lies on a social level.

Can you belong to a culture, not shared in the same race, but have the same history? Yes, white Christians participating in the liberation struggle in South Africa marching, protesting side by side to black non-Christian South Africans, are a good example. The question, however, remains whether the two cultural groups are viewed as equals? The answer differs from context to context, depending on the meaning assigned to the behaviour i. At times, it may be considered as one culture, as the borders and definition as to what constitutes culture changes.

Is it possible to be a Muslim and belong to Western culture, can one be white and not be labelled a Christian coloniser, or be a black African and not be labelled prone to animism and magic?

Anthropology in 10 or Less: 109: Religion Part 1: An Anthropology of Religion

The answer is, however, 'No! Identity is not only internally constructed. Identity is also externally assigned based on behaviour and the experience of the behaviour by others as well as the meaning assigned to such behaviour. This may lead to cultural and religious bias and generalisations and the creation of stereotypes. One must, however, recognise the circumstantial process that contributed to the formation of identity and perceptions of the other.

Religion, Culture, and Communication

The end goal of this research is to contribute to the process of reconciliation between cultural groups in South Africa. Ramadan's position on this matter is to acknowledge diversity One option is to separate culture and religion, ethnicity and religion, and the other is to embrace diversity and complexity.

A third possibility is to acknowledge that unity lies in diversity. This entails to maintain religious principles which attach a religious community to the broader community of believers worldwide. The local face of the religious community might look different from the same religious community located in a different cultural setting.

Thereby, a discontinuation as well as a continuation is maintained. This is in line with MacKay's suggestion of a Constructivist approach to the relation ethnicity to religion.

The solutions seem to be threefold: Kilp indicates how cultural conflict spills over into religious conflict based on the sequence of events.