You are on page 1of 7

order to emerge and spread, therefore, religions make good use of the technologies of

globalisation. Having geographical boundaries and frontiers blurred and dissolved, religions
find it easy to spread and reach every part of the world.

Since globalisation, according to many scholars, is aimed at the hybridisation of the world
cultures around the pattern of the Western culture; and since it entails liberal values and
norms, religion (particularly Islam) constitutes a challenge to it. This is because Islam’s norms
and values are incompatible with the liberal values of globalisation.

Globalization has played a tremendous role in providing a context for the current
considerable revival and the resurgence of religion. Today, most religions are not relegated to
the few countries where they began. Religions have, in fact, spread and scattered on a global
scale. Thanks to globalisation, religions have found a fertile milieu to spread and thrive. As
Jan Aart Scholte makes clear:
controversial or novel thinking, nor is it meant
to be. However, the dominant reasoning on
the subject of globalization, expressed by
authors like Thomas Friedman, places
economics at the center of analysis, skewing
focus from the ideational factors at work in this
process. By expanding the definition of
globalization to accommodate ideational
factors and cultural exchange, religion’s agency
in the process can be enabled. Interestingly,
the story of religion and globalization is in
some ways the history of globalization, but it is
riddled with paradoxes, including the agent-
opponent paradox, the subject of this article.
Religion and globalization have a co-
constitutive relationship, but religious actors
are both agents of globalization and principals
in its backlash. While some actors might
benefit from a mutually reinforcing
relationship with globalization, others are
marginalized in some way or another, so it is
necessary to expose the links and wedges that
allow for such a paradox. To that end, the
concepts of globalization and religious actors
must be defined, and the history of the agent-
the U.S.

Additionally, this rise in nationalism has caused

pushback again international trade
agreements, the movement of labor and
increasing racism stoked by security concerns.

The rise of fundamentalism and its leveraging

for political purposes ie. ISIS, has caused
widespread conflict across large parts of the
world. This is causing another diaspora of
people fleeing from conflict zones into areas
that are perceived as ‘safer’. These movements
of people further compound the rise of
nationalist xeno-phobic movements as people
feel culturally threatened and physically less

So, the effects on religion of globalization can

be seen in the following ares:

Rising religious fundamentalism as people feel

culturally threatened by an influx of ‘strange’
cultural factors resulting from the increasingly
multicultural societies triggered by
they become less rooted in particular places
because of diasporas and transnational ties.
Globalization further provides fertile ground
for a variety of noninstitutionalized religious
manifestations and for the development of
religion as a political and cultural resource.

The term globalization is of quite recent
provenance. It first appeared in the business
and sociological literature of the 1980s, but by
the end of the century it had become a
broadly invoked expression in both academic
and popular discourse around the world. Along
the way, it has acquired a variety of meanings
that it is well to understand at the outset. They
share the common element implied in the
word: all parts of the world are becoming
increasingly tied into a single, globally
extended social unit. Among the variants,
however, by far the most widespread sees
globalization primarily in economic terms,
referring mostly to more recent developments
in the operation of global markets, capital, and
multinational corporations. A related view
development of a transnational civil society.
Moreover, perspectives of this sort stress the
renewed importance of cultural differences
under conditions of globalization. The world is
not just becoming the same; it is also
becoming more pluralistic. It is almost
exclusively under this meaning of globalization
that religion appears as part of the process
rather than as either irrelevant bystander or

Various scholars have offered interpretative

theories of globalization. Often these theories
correspond closely to one of the dominant
meanings of the term. One finds, for instance,
theories of the global capitalist economic
system or of the global state political system.
Several efforts, however, seek to incorporate
the various meanings as different aspects of a
single process, often thereby setting the global
and the local in dialogical relation rather than
in opposition to one another. These
approaches argue that local adaptations of
globalized structures like capitalism,
nationalism, or mass media are actually
exception being the attention that Islamicist
political extremism receives. This absence can
perhaps be attributed to the dominance of
economic and political understandings of
globalization, including among those observers
who look at the phenomenon from within
religious traditions. Yet even though a great
many of the works that focus on globalization
from below—for instance, much of the
literature on global migration and ethnicity—
also gives religion scant attention, it is among
these approaches that one finds almost all the
exceptions to this general pattern, probably
because these are the only ones that, in
principle, allow non-economic or nonpolitical
structures like religion a significant role in

Consideration of the relation between religion

and globalization involves two basic
possibilities. There are, on the one hand,
religious responses to globalization and
religious interpretations of globalization. These
are, as it were, part of doing religion in a
globalizing context. On the other hand, there
most of Southeast Asia. In the early Middle
Ages the Christian church was the only
institution that overarched and even defined
as a single social unit that northwestern
portion of the Eurasian landmass known as
Europe. And this largely over against its
neighbor, Islam, which by the twelfth century
ce had succeeded in weaving a socio-religious
tapestry that extended from Europe and sub-
Saharan Africa through all of Asia into the far
reaches of Southeast Asia. It informed without
doubt the largest world system before the
arrival of the modern era.

Yet perhaps most important in this regard is

that, as the European powers expanded their
influence around the globe between the
sixteenth and twentieth centuries, thus setting
the conditions for contemporary truly
worldwide globalization, Christian religion and
Christian institutions were throughout that
entire period key contributors to the process.
The churches accompanied European
colonizers in Africa, the Americas, and
Australasia; Christian missions, whether