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When discussing issues such as international peace and security, health issues, poverty, and environment, these organizations generally share many of the same basic commitments as religious traditions—mainly peace, human dignity, and human equality, as well as conflict resolution in which they actively engage in negotiation, mediation, and diplomacy. In addition to these political organizations, religious communities such as the Roman Catholic Church, the World Council of Churches, and the Jewish Diaspora also take part in international affairs. For instance, they have taken part in events such the Jubilee 2000, an international effort advocating for cancelling Third World debt by the year 2000, and the World Faiths Development Dialogue, an effort of international faith leaders along with the World Bank to support development agendas corresponding to the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. Furthermore, religious organizations have, themselves, been involved in interreligious dialogue. The Parliament of the World’s Religions of 1993, first conveyed during the 1893 Chicago World Exhibit, brought the world’s diverse faith traditions—from African indigenous religions, the major religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), to any forms of faith that would agree to civil dialogue through mutual encounter—to use their similar values and discuss world affairs. In terms of economics, as the economy of the major countries of the world has grown, the main religions of each of those countries have also grown financially, providing more financial resources for religions to spread their beliefs. For example, although it may seem as an old tactic, missionary work—especially in light of globalization—is strong in many Third World countries where religious representatives convert the natives. As a result, the major religions today have scattered across the globe—Christianity turning “southern” and “black,” Islam turning “Asian,” and Buddhism turning “white” and “western.” Still holding on to their original territorial spaces where their shrines exist, religions are fulfilling their general purpose of spreading their beliefs to people all over the world. Finally, religion has tremendously benefited from technological advancements. Turner, “Globalization, Religion and Empire in Asia”, in Peter Beyer and Lori Beaman, (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 2000), p. Third, although globalization paves the way in bringing cultures, identities, and religions in direct contact, this essay also explains that globalization brings religions to a circle of conflicts that reinforces their specific identities.
For example, individuals who feel insecure in the globalized world, in business or personal life, will often pray to God for his spiritual support. In addition, these individuals realize that getting involved within their communities and organizing together in social movements for a good cause brings more satisfaction to them than do material possessions. They see themselves as being part of something important and worthwhile.
In short, in face of rapid changes in the globalized world, to regain the sense of certainty, many individuals turn to religion for a clear explanation of what is going on in the world. Woodward, “The Changing Face of the Church: How the Explosion of Christianity in Developing Nations is Transforming the World’s Largest Religion” , supra note 15, p.
By responding to individuals’ desire for welfare, as well as acting as a cultural protection against globalization, religion plays a social role and gains more recognition from the marginalized, particularly those in Third World countries. For instance, religious organizations such as Catholic Relief Services, World Vision International, and Islamic Relief Worldwide help serve the disadvantaged in areas such as poverty relief, health care, the HIV/AIDs crisis, and environment problems. In fact, even if only promising prosperity and hope of economic relief, these organizations draw massive followers as, by lacking “extensive transnational bureaucracies and chains of command,” they provide “the strength of collective identity and the depth of ethical commitments.” Last but not least, globalization causes mental stress. Thomas, “A Globalized God: Religion’s Growing Influence in International Politics,” , supra note 15, p.  Catarina Kinnvall, “Globalization and Religious Nationalism: Self, Identity, and the Search for Ontological Security,” supra note 6, p.  Catarina Kinnvall, “Globalization and Religious Nationalism: Self, Identity, and the Search for Ontological Security,” supra note 6, p.
Although globalization allows for crisscrossing borders, it also leaves individuals worrying about losing work, status, or other privileges. Moreover, since globalization favors material prosperity as the aim of life over inner peace, individuals focus on attaining some material possession such as a house, car, game, or simply any object. When they attain such item(s), however, they find themselves empty inside and, therefore, realize that inner peace can never be achieved through material possessions. To these individuals then, religion provides them the way to inner peace and the sense of personal fulfillment.  Catarina Kinnvall, “Globalization and Religious Nationalism: Self, Identity, and the Search for Ontological Security,” supra note 6, p.  Phra Paisal Visalo, “The Dynamics of Religion in the Age of Globalization: Lessons from Indonesia, Philippines, and Japan,” Articles/ 759  Julia Kristeva, (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1982), p.  Catarina Kinnvall, “Globalization and Religious Nationalism: Self, Identity, and the Search for Ontological Security,” supra note 6, p.
However, this essay cannot provide a comprehensive overview of religion and globalization, as the terrain is too vast.
Still, it does provide several examples to illustrate the complex relationship between the two. In fact, though having “fixed texts,” the major world religions do not have “fixed beliefs,” “only fixed interpretations of those beliefs,” meaning their beliefs can be “rediscovered, reinvented, and reconceptualized.” As interesting examples, in their attempt to create the tradition of nonviolence from diverse religions and cultures, three paradigmatic individuals—Leo Tolstoy, Mohandas Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr.—have, indeed, “rediscovered, reinvented, and reconceptualized” the beliefs of the world’s major religions. The three individuals indicate that “it is possible for narrative diversity to generate a shared ethic without sacrificing the diversity of particular religions.” For instance, although coming from a gentry class in Russia and receiving fame and fortune from his novels, Tolstoy converted to Christianity in part after reading a story about how a Syrian monk named Barlaam brought about the conversion of a young Indian prince named Josaphat, who gave up his wealth and family to seek an answer to aging, sickness, and death. Deeply indebted in Buddhism for his conversion to Christianity, Tolstoy, attempting to live his life by the teachings of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, gave away all his wealth and spent the rest of his life serving the poor. Nevertheless, the story about Barlaam and Josaphat has “worked its way into virtually all the world’s religions.” Similarly, Gandhi, when he encountered Tolstoy’s writings, drew his attention to the power of the Sermon on the Mount. In encountering Jesus’ Sermon, Gandhi became motivated to “turn the great Hindu narrative from the Mahabharata, the Bhagavad Gita, in order to find the message of nonviolence within his own religion and culture.” By finding that Tolstoy’s understanding of the Sermon on the Mount lacked “nonviolence as an active rather than a passive virtue . also drew insight from Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, and Judaism. For instance, connecting Gandhi with Jesus Christ, he saw Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence as similar to Jesus’ suffering on the cross. Therefore, King’s theological theme was the idea that “unmerited suffering is redemptive,” meaning he constantly reminded blacks that they would experience a “season of suffering” before they would achieve justice. In general terms, King’s theology focused on values grounded in religion—justice, love, and hope. In short, as Tolstoy, Ghandi, and King illustrate, “narrative traditions are not mutually exclusive.” They are connected through themes and, therefore, allow religions to engage in interreligious dialogue. “An Agenda for Peace, Preventive Diplomacy, Peacemaking, and Peace-Keeping.” June 17, 1992. As this essay’s previous sections show, religions have, indeed, taken part in dialogues beforehand. Globalization Engendering Greater Religious Tolerance Globalization brings a culture of pluralism, meaning religions “with overlapping but distinctive ethics and interests” interact with one another. Essentially, the world’s leading religious traditions—Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—teach values such as human dignity, equality, freedom, peace, and solidarity. More specifically, religions maintain the Golden Rule: “what you do not wish done to yourself, do not do to others.” Therefore, through such religious values, globalization engenders greater religious tolerance in such areas as politics, economics, and society. In political areas, globalization has built global political forums that integrate cultural, ethnic, and religious differences—ideologies that were once perceived as dividing the world—through a large number of international organizations such as the United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organization (WHO), as well regional organizations like the European Union (EU), the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), or the African Union (AU). Conclusion In a time in which globalization has yet to fully complete its process, religions must use the communication easily available through advanced technology to focus more on the humane and pluralistic forms of their teachings—values such as human dignity and human freedom—as means to manage religious diversity and avoid violence. In other words, religious should be open to other traditions and what they can teach. capable of producing an active resistance to evil,” he found it present in the Bhagavad Gita. As a result, Ghandi transformed the Bhagavad Gita from a story that authorized killing to one of nonviolence reflected from the story of Jacob wrestling with the stranger and Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Lastly, Martin Luther King, Jr. Second, globalization brings economic marginalization. For example, as transnational corporations increasingly take over the role of the state’s involvement in the economic sector, the government loses its status as a welfare provider. Moreover, increasing the gaps between those who have benefit from the global market (generally the West) and those who have been left behind (generally the Global South), globalization is seen as “Western imperialism,” as well as “Americanization.” For instance, globalization “encourage[es] people to buy American goods and services, which ultimately “undermines deep-rooted communal values.” Simply put, individuals are bombarded with Mc Donald’s, Nike, and MTV. As a result, feeling that these organizations have shattered their “protective cocoon” that has shielded them in the past, many individuals find comfort in religion. In giving individuals a sense of belonging, religious groups help them to find themselves in modern times. For instance, religious leaders, pointing to modern society’s loss of ethical values and increased corruption, preach, “the only answer to the current ‘decay’ is a return to traditional values and religious norms.” Hence, religion supplies these individuals with a feeling of being a part of a group that represents their interests and allows them to regain their traditional sense of who they are.