Globalization and Religion

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Globalization and Religion
James Davidson
Axia College

Globalization and Religion
In today's world of continuous growth and expansion, the lines of religious borders are becoming blurred. According to Merriam Webster, globalization is defined as the development of an increasingly integrated global economy marked especially by free trade, free flow of capital, and the tapping of cheaper foreign labor markets (2007). The exponential growth that businesses are experiencing is forcing corporations to expand into international territories at a rapid pace. With the growth of these companies comes an interesting dynamic of religious blending. During global expansion, oftentimes employees are transferred overseas, bringing their culture, lifestyle, and religious beliefs with them. This is one small part of the grander effects of globalization. The blending of cultures caused by globalization over the past few decades has fostered an environment of increased religious intolerance. While at one point, religions were strictly separated by geographical borders, the religious landscape has drastically changed over time. Blending cultures, ethnic groups, political beliefs, as well as religions has created a new type of society. This society has become much more diverse in terms of backgrounds and beliefs. Ellingson says, "Globalization and modernization has further resulted in increased contact between people of different religion, language and ethnicity" (Ellingson, 2004) When societies merge, they adopt and incorporate the new culture into their fold. Mogensen speaks about the blending of societies, stating that the consequences of globalization are leading toward a society of more religiously diverse countries (2006). With this diversity comes increased conflict and intolerance. In countries such as the United States of America, cultural diversity and religious freedom are important concepts. The United States has often been called the "melting pot" of the world, freely allowing immigrants from all backgrounds and incorporating their religious beliefs. Radhakrishnan reports, "Among the major religions of the world Christianity accounts for one-third (33 per cent), followed by Islam (22 per cent), Hinduism (16 per cent), Buddhism (6 per cent), and Confucianism (4 per cent)" (2004). This blend of world religions has come from the affects of globalization. Ellingsen further discusses the blending of religions, stating that globalization has not only increased contact between people of different religious backgrounds, but also people of different languages and ethnicities (Ellingsen, 2004). This merging has led to increased numbers of religiousconversions. Denmark, for example, has seen an increased number of conversions between religions (Mogensen, 2006). While religious diversity is prevalent due to the effects of globalization, some argue that globalization fosters religious segregation. Ellingsen (2004) states: While the optimists are confident that the process of globalization and modernization will lead to prosperity and peace - or in other words "a global village", in part by diminishing the relevance of religion, other scholars take the quite opposite view - arguing that the modernization and globalization process make people feel more insecure and alienated, increasing the importance of traditional values as well as the level of hostility. As a result we will be witnessing a resurgence of religion and religious clashes.

Ellingsen's viewpoint is shared by others as well. Incidents such as the terrorist attacks on America's World Trade Center are often blamed on religious intolerance. Radhakrishnan refers to the attacks as "a counter-blast against globalisation (sic)" (2004). He further states that George Bush, a 'born-again Christian' referred to the 'retalitory strikes' againts Afghanistan as a 'crusade' (2004). Commenting on the Iraq conflict, Radhakrishnan (2004) states: The Bush-Blair blitzkrieg...
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