We can see that Religion commonly both unites and spurs conflicts among cultures and nations. But does it do both simultaneously? Aren’t people/groups attempting to unite but in return they are also putting in place divisors? We can see this in looking at our examples of Religion dividing peoples. In the case of South Sudan, individuals and institutions are attempting to unite in Christian ideals, but all they while they are isolating themselves from the North. In Syria, the various religious groups are holding tight to their ideals, while initiating conflict with one another. Are Buddhist in Myanmar attempting a stronger Buddhist nations, without the threat of Muslim ideals. In the examples of Religion as a uniter, groups maybe uniting however are they not also isolating themselves? In the case of Europe, pope, and christianity couldn’t these be seen as a way for Europe/christian ideals to isolate themselves from the rest of the world? Moreover, religion can be seen as both a divider and uniter. But can they be seen as both within the same example or case? Can you really unite with out first dividing or vice-versa?
Religion continues to be one of our worlds strongest forces of human action and interaction, it can both separate and unite peoples and communities in our world. In fact it may do both within each case.
Is this map not an accurate description of how we can connect this topic to a variety of social studies content. In looking at the map, we can discuss how the physical location of countries paired with their religious beliefs may stir conflict with neighboring countries (physical geography with sociology). In a historical sense, we can study why regions or countries have the certain beliefs that they do. For example why might the majority of South America be Roman Catholic, from there we can get into studying the Spanish Inquisition. In a sociological aspect we can study how cultures within counties that have multiple religious beliefs interact with another both peacefully or in conflict, as we have done throughout this blog.
Just by looking at the religious maps of our world we can see why conflict or peace may have occurred or is currently occurring. We can dig deeper to investigate historical significance as to why such actions may be taking place, in doing so we can also consider how cultures interact both locally and globally because of their religious beliefs.
This video and article was reported in the Euronews website on march 22nd of this year (2013). Attached is the video and article along with it.
Although there are many cases of Religious conflict that are on a larger, more well-recognized global scale; I wanted to show a “smaller” scale example away from the typical Christian vs. Muslim Middle East disorder. This example is from the country of Myanmar, previously known as Burma.
In this example of conflict between Buddhist and Muslim’s in the nation of Myanmar/Burma, all stemmed from a altercation between a Buddhist couple and a gold shop owner. In this instance, tensions left twenty people died. Now over the course of a week, 40 people have died with around 12,000 being displaced. Muslims seem to be claiming Buddhist hostility action as a man in the video/article states: “When I jumped out of my car, a group of people started attacking me. They struck me with swords and knives,’ said a Muslim man.” Are these ideals left over from decades of a suppressing dictatorship? Myanmar is a nation comprised of 90% Buddhist with Muslims being the next big religious influence. Is this a threat to the future of a nation with the majority practicing Buddhism?
“Religious divides deepen in Syria”
Syria is a nation under extreme religious conflict and turmoil. As the civil war advances and the rebels seek to overthrow the in place organizations, the religious conflicts begin to boil to more extreme heights.
With in Syria are many different religious groups. Varying from Sunni and Shiite Muslims to Alawites, Christians, and Druze. With this wide array of religious groups within a country already under turmoil, it is no wonder tha religious wars are taking place. In this case Sunni’s are seeking to over through the in place government institutions while the majority of Christians are upholding the in place government. While some organized conflict/warfare is taking place within the country there is also more guerilla acts with random religious bombings. “The UN has counted more than ten bombings in the residential districts of certain minorities or near religious places. These bombs served no military purpose, but were merely meant to increase religious tensions. Meanwhile, many hospitals refuse to treat the sick and injured if they belong to the wrong religion, and the UN reports that many do not go to state hospitals for fear of arrest and torture because of their religion.” As rebel and in place institutions escalate conflict, we can also see the further separations of religious faiths during this process.
How might the many different faith practices in a country with conflict create more conflict, as in this example of Syria? Is this a never-ending process of religious conflict? What if rebels gain power, what kind of repression will happen to Christians and Alawites? Will completely separate nations rise up and govern themselves as the article foreshadows with the Druze people?
The splitting of North and South Sudan is a prime example of a physical splitting of nations along religious lines.
In the North are a majority of Muslim populations; while in the South the masses are of Christian faith. Thus, America in the Middle East is not the only Christian vs. Muslim nation conflict. In the case of Sudan splitting, South Sudan has all the Natural resources therefore this will cause further conflict.
In this blog by John Bith Aliap, a fellow Sudanese Christian writes about his concern of Muslim interactions in the South. “In many cases around the world, Islamic religion can barely coexist with other religions as its foundation is based on the basis of falsity and extreme hatred of non-Muslims, and this has always resulted to religious rivalry in some other countries. There fear for the newly founded South Sudan republic, is that Muslims will start to migrate south and disrupt the new nation founded on Christian principles. So here we have examples of actually territories being drawn based on religion while also the fear of social conflict because of differences in faith systems.
Actually having been in the general central Africa region when this separation occurred on July 9th 2011, I can say that people cringed as the announcement took place as they almost expected conflict to follow suite. Today the two Sudan’s are conflict with one another. Although most of the conflict now addresses the resources of the South vs. the lack there of in the North, this separation is still rooted in the religious differences between the North and the South.
John Bith Aliap makes some pretty harsh statements towards Islamic people in his writings. He seems very concerned with the longevity and future of the new South nation because of the fear of Islam coming into the South. In looking at the history of Christian vs. Muslim interactions does he have a legitimate concern? With the Muslim populations growing throughout east and central Africa do other majority Christian nations start dividing themselves? Could Sudan possibly be the start of Christian and Islamic conflict transitioning from the Middle East into the continent of Africa?
Although faith has been a source of pulling individuals and nations together. Unfortunately not every person or institution has excepted the mission of URI. With varying religions all across the globe comes many conflicts spurred from heated differences in belief systems. the following listed articles and discussions are examples of religious divisions or conflicts.
Listed below is an organization that see’s to end religious conflict by uniting people of different faith’s.
The purpose of the United Religions Initiative is to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings.
URI envisions a world at peace, sustained by engaged and interconnected communities committed to respect for diversity, nonviolent resolution of conflict and social, political, economic and environmental justice.
URI is a global grassroots interfaith network that cultivates peace and justice by engaging people to bridge religious and cultural differences and work together for the good of their communities and the world.
We implement our mission through local and global initiatives that build the capacity of our more than 525 member groups and organizations, called Cooperation Circles, to engage in community action such as conflict resolution and reconciliation, environmental sustainability, education, women’s and youth programs, and advocacy for human rights.
Cooperation Circles are unique to URI’s organizational design. Click here to learn more about URI’s charter, structure and history.”