The Globalization of Religion
By Junelie Velonta
HAPI Youth Ambassador
The globalist expansion of religion could be traced back to the colonial expansions of European powers starting in the 14th Century. While the search for spices was the initial push factor of the expansions, many Western “frontiersmen” found themselves settling in various areas all over the world—creating walled territories. Later, these frontiersmen conquered the surrounding areas, subjugating the local populace and making colonies. One way to subjugate the locals was through religion (Kim & Bhawuk, 2008). This was how Christianity was introduced to the inhabitants of all continents of the world.
Fast forward five decades, into the modern world, there is no need for physical occupation for resources to circulate around the world. The internet makes sure of that. In the same way, with wide access to the internet and convenient travel, religions and religious practices also circulate around the world.
With wide access to the internet and convenient travel, religions and religious practices also circulate around the world.
This spread creates a mix of not only religious beliefs but also the practices and cultures of the locals (Bhawuk, 2008). For example, here in the Philippines, while religious practices are modeled after the Spanish, there remain cultural practices that are unique to Filipino culture. These include offering food for the souls of the deceased to consume (a practice discouraged by the Catholic Church but still persists) and devotees crucifying themselves for penitence, among others.
Ironically, it is through this fast circulation that religious fundamentalism seems to spread (Salzman, 2008). This is not only observed in Islamic countries but also in countries with high percentages of other religions, such as fundamentalist Christians in the USA and fundamentalist Hindus in India. (Hall, 2002) In the Philippines alone, access to travel and internet communication allows Muslim fundamentalists in Mindanao to have outsourced training and armaments to terrorist cells outside the country.
However, all is not lost. Globalization also promotes peace through religion and trade (Pyun & Lee, 2009). For example, in African countries, where terrorist organizations such as Boko Haram remain rampant, globalization in the form of religious aid and education remains a driving factor in the improvement of the quality of life in the continent (Amavila, Asongu, & Andres, 2017).
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