Religion and faith-based welfare: From wellbeing to ways of being


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Introduction to Religion

This social change goes a long way to enhance human dignity, giving people the opportunity to live a better life. FBOs are endowed with spiritual potentials as religious institutions, which give them credibility and legitimacy as an altruistic institution, and makes it easy for them to hire volunteers and win the hearts of donors who donate generously to support their projects, knowing that their donations will be judiciously used.

The presence of FBOs in grassroots gives them that advantage of knowing the needs of the people and tailoring their services and projects to address these needs. With all these potentials at their disposal, I will argue that FBOs more than secular organisations, are capable and able to bring social change.

I can argue based on the premises that, major Churches in Cameroon, have provided and are still providing significant welfare services in Cameroon that has and is still changing life, such as; upholding, promoting and preserving moral values through their preaching and teachings i. FBOs or mainstream churches in Cameroon, act as a prophetic voice, They encourage the government to stand up to its responsibility, and speaks against corruption and government malpractices.

FBOs in Cameroon are very active in providing education, hospitals, and other safety nets or social welfare services to Cameroonians 1 , it is therefore reasonable to argue that FBOs can bring about change in the situation of elderly and people with dementia in Cameroon. The elderly, people with dementia and their caregivers in Cameroon, desire support services such as; information, education, training and respite services etc.

Such support services if made available, will enable care-receivers enjoy quality care, and help caregivers cope with the burdensome role of caregiving. Since Churches in Cameroon already know the situation underground, and have existing medical facilities as well as the financial capability, I will contend with the fact that FBOs are better placed, than secular organisations, to introduce and promote elderly and dementia care and support services, which resonates with their objectives of promoting and preserving human dignity and well-being. The feasible goals of FBOs towards elderly and dementia care in Cameroon will be to preserve human dignity by providing support services to already existing informal system of care, human dignity is lost with intellectual impairment caused by dementia.

A loss of cognition therefore means a loss of the abilities that gives our life Value, Productivity and independence, qualities attributed to selfhood, and man as image of God 2. The next goal will be to create a stigma free community of faith, love, and support, through information, and education about dementia, which will enable people to accommodate those living with dementia. The services that FBOs provide, are very helpful and relevant considering the fact that they are of good quality, efficient, and accessible even in remote places where government services does not exist, or are yet to exist 4.

The presence of religiously based human services in Cameroon, like in most parts of the world has really improved the lives of the poor and needy in societies, and society as a whole, since these FBOs services are not limited only to the poor and needy but spills over to serve the whole nation. Their religious inclination, beliefs and spiritually make FBOs capable and very able to bring change in some aspects of human life and in human society.

These Changes can be political, economic and social.

Politically, by acting as the voice of the voiceless, and seeing that the state lives up to its responsibility towards citizens, as well as in promoting and maintaining human dignity. Economically, FBOs carry out projects that enhance economic activities which help alleviate poverty, e. Socially FBOs improve the lives of people by empowering them through education, training and support of various kinds, that goes to change the life of people and promote their well-being.

Religion and faith-based welfare: From wellbeing to ways of being

Though political and economic changes are also very important for the well-being of mankind, I will at this juncture focus on social change, which happens to be my next topic of discussion. Social change refers to any significant alteration over time in behaviour pattern, cultural values and norms.


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There are three basic theories of social change on which sociologist rely namely; evolutionary, functionalist and conflict theories of change. Change plays a very important role to remedying social inequalities and injustice. Through evolution or change a person can move from one point in life to another, for example through education and hard work a person can move from a disadvantage class in society to a higher class and change the life of his family, so change is a very important concept in human existence, be it physical economic, political or social. Social change theories are to some degree theories about history, Social change is part of human institution, and human history is very much intertwined with social change.

Without social change I am convinced that, human institutions would have been static and there would have been no room for innovations, advancement and developments, both in human lives and institutions. Therefore, social change is very important for human and societal development. Therefore, a change in behaviour, cultures and way of life that is detrimental to human advancement or human society is very necessary if there is to be development in human societies. My work will focus on possible changes that can be brought about by FBOs, which can alter behaviours, culture and life style of people in societies, making them more, exposed, informed, educated, trained and accommodating, to the poor, and the needy in their communities, especially to the elderly and people with dementia.

A kind of change which I think is possible because of the resources at the disposal of FBOs. However, with government welfare systems falling apart, and becoming more and more incapable and inefficient in executing their duties, there are, and will be an increase in the number of calls for help which will continue to increase the demand for the Christian communities to step forward and provide an alternative to the welfare system that will enhance life changing altitude within communities 6.

Sharing common goals: UNICEF, Faith-based organizations and children | Press centre | UNICEF

This life changing altitude will help people to understand, accept, accommodate, and support those in need, especially the elderly and people with dementia and their caregivers. Caregivers are very instrument to the welfare of people with dementia, support for dementia patients and their caregiver by Faith-Based Organisations or religious institutions, will go a long way to change the life of both the caregivers and the care-receivers, relieving caregivers from the burden of Care, and paving the way for them to provide quality care to their care- receiver.

Informing and educating people about this disease as well as training and provision of other social service support such as: respite service, adult day care, meals on wheel etc. It will also challenge certain cultures and notions about this disease and encourage communities to support caregivers, in order to enable them provide quality care for people living with this terminal disease. By doing this, they will improve the lives of both the caregiver and the care-receiver tremendously, as well as alter the behaviour and cultural mind set, bringing about change in the entire society.

Furthermore, in order to bring about social change, FBOs and the civil societies must be willing to change existing policies and practices as well as develop innovative approaches to the provision of community support services that are really sustainable, flexible, and responsive to the needs of individual caregiver and care-receivers 7 , which will help improve on well-being and promote human dignity. Change is an important phenomenon in human life and in human history; change takes place at different levels of human life, even human development is an experience of change in that, human beings evolve from stage to stage, i.

Even nature changes it seasons etc. This is mentioned, to emphasise the importance of change to human beings, and to human society. As social beings therefore, change is very necessary for human beings to development and move forward, change brings innovations that help to advance human life and provides for human needs, therefore social and cultural, as well as economic and political changes are very necessary for human development.

Because these changes help propel man from one stage to another, socially it might help to push man from one behaviour that kept him from progressing, to a behaviour that supports and enhance growth, and success in every aspect of life, e. Social change even though necessary, is not without its own shortcomings, some aspects of social change are detrimental to certain culture and beliefs, and some also flourish at the expense of the poor and needy in the society, for example expensive development projects like road and buildings which are not very pressing though necessary, in place of school and hospital, that go to serve the immediate needs of the poor in society and society in general.

It takes only institutions such as FBOs to set in, and help fight social injustice and change the life of the needy and marginalised in the society. The question of Faith-based social services emerged as a major policy debate in the twentieth century. The debate started as part of the Clinton administration's efforts to reform the social welfare system in mids, this discussion became stronger during the presidential campaign.

The Bush administration eventually put in place a number of initiatives to further highlight and support the role of religious organizations in social welfare provision 8 , this religious social welfare organisations became known as Faith-Based Organisations, a term which originated from the United States of America, and has being used to refer to religious organisation social welfare services.

FBOs have been, and are still playing important and leading roles in providing welfare services all over the world today. A phrase which is based on the notion that by doing good deeds you are making others aware of the unconditional love of Christ and thereby creating an opportunity for, and encouraging others to get to, or want to know Christ These connections are possible when an FBO is based on a particular religious ideology and draws its staff, volunteers, or leadership from a particular religious group. Robert Wuthnow, Cnaan, associate Dean for Research, Professor, and Chair of the Doctoral Program in Social Welfare, also the Director of the Program for Religion, and Social Policy Research, defines six categories of religious service organisations namely; 1 local congregations or houses of worship,2 interfaith agencies and ecumenical coalitions,3 citywide or region-wide Sectarian agencies,4 national projects and organizations under religious auspices, 5 Para denominational advocacy and relief organizations, and 6 religiously affiliated international organizations Among these six categories, the kind of religious service organisation which exists in Cameroon is the first type.

Through their out-reach activities, FBOs Churches in Cameroon, and CBOs Community -Based Organisation Services address shortcomings on state delivery of basic needs; the lack of education, jobs, and social security This has made them important agents of civil society, agents which work tirelessly to preserve and promote the well-being of humanity. The role played by FBOs in providing health care and social services in most parts of the world today cannot be gainsaid, and funding to these FBOs are being increased by major donor because of the trust that these donor have in FBOs, as moral institutions.

Donors give more to FBOs as oppose to secular organisations, with the conviction that their gifts will go to serve the purpose for which it is intended. Also, the fact that FBOs can have unique credibility and legitimacy with local populations which can help to increase acceptability and use of health care and other services, is an additional feather on their cap, or simply put, an added advantage for FBOs. According to evolutionary sociologist, society moves from specific directions, Functionalist sociologist emphasizes on what maintain society and not what changes it, while conflict theory maintains that because a society is wealthy and powerful, it ensure the atmosphere in which social practice and institutions favourable to them continue.

Without social change I am convinced that, human institutions will be static and there will be no room for innovations and advancement, both in human lives and in human institutions. Therefore human history is incomplete without social change, social change is very important for the welfare of human beings. A change in behaviour, cultures and way of life that is, or can be detrimental to human advancement or human society is very necessary, if there is to be development or advancement in human society and welfare.

My work therefore, will focus on change that can alter behaviours; culture and life style of people in societies, changes that can make people to be more exposed to new and useful ideas, be educated, informed and trained to take care of the poor and the needy in their communities, especially the elderly and people with dementia. A kind of change which I think can be affected by FBOs, because of the resources at their disposal.

However, with the government welfare systems falling apart, and becoming more and more incapable and inefficient in executing their duties, there are, and will be an increase in the number of calls for help which will continue to increase the demand for the Christian communities to step forward and provide an alternative to the welfare system that will enhance life changing altitude within communities. This life changing altitude will help people to understand, accept, accommodate, and support those in need, especially people with dementia and caregivers, who are very instrument to the welfare of people with dementia.

Support for dementia patients and their caregiver by Faith- Based Organisations or religious institutions, will go a long way to change the life of both the caregivers and the care-receivers, relieving caregivers from the burden of Care, and paving the way for them to provide quality care to their care- receiver. Informing and educating people about this disease as well as training, and other social service support such as respite service, adult day care, meals on wheel etc.

This new way of seeing things will improve the lives of both the caregivers and the care-receiver tremendously, as well as alter the behaviour and cultural mind set bringing about change in the entire society. Furthermore, in order to bring about social change, FBOs and the civil societies must be willing to change existing policies and practices as well as develop innovative approaches to the provision of community support services that are really sustainable, flexible, and responsive to the needs of individual caregiver and care-receivers.

Given that FBOs are the CBOs found in many countries, as well as the fact that they are closer to the grassroots or the poor, they are said to make a positive and outstanding contribution to the achievement of poverty reduction, which brings changes to lives and the societies. Moreover, their image as a prophetic voice, and an altruistic institution that propound and execute moral values, have made people to trust in them and encouraged donors and volunteers to give their resources and manpower respectively to FBOs knowing that their financial and physical support will go serve the needy, thereby helping to improve and change behaviours, cultures, and beliefs, that stood as a bulwark to human development and human dignity, subsequently bring about necessary change in the society.

Again FBOs, have comparative advantage in societies where religion is important here; they can easily use their spiritual endowment and charitable gestures, to effectuate change in society. A good example of social change during the colonial period in Cameroon was evident with the advent of Missionaries and the opening of schools in this country. History holds that, this brought political, economic and social benefits, i. Furthermore, the fact that Faith-Based Communities are more in cooperating than secular organisations, helps FBOs to win support, as well as the contribution of the population in execution of projects which of general interest.

Faith-based organisations can act as a stepping stone for those interested in getting involved in the development sector, because of their links with communities. FBOs it is worth mentioning often share common bases with the communities in which they operate, 16 which implies, it knows how the community functions and is aware of their struggle, with this in mind, FBOs tailors their programme to suit the needs of the community, thereby avoiding waste, and duplication of projects. Faith-based organizations are very important because, they come in to close certain gaps and fill in loophole left by the state They are very relevant in the community because they facilitate community activities by offering services that goes to serve general interest, this lines from Prof.

Cnaan, goes to support that fact: without congregations children currently in day care centers would have no place to go. Without Nursery schools to look after children of working parents, it would have being difficult for such parents to go to work, this I suggest would have been a hindrance to parents who will have to stay away from work to look after their children.

Absenting from work will have economic and social impact on the families concerned and society as a whole in that; parents will not be able to pay for necessary goods and services, which will in turn have an impact on their life style, and on taxes which goes to sponsor state projects. But with the help of Faith based or Community based organisations such needs are met, and people can work and have the possibility to live their lives, evolve and also be able to pay taxes needed by the state to be able to run its affairs.

Again there is this believe that people thrive when they are drawn into a Faith community, where they grew spiritually by helping others as well as being helped. The principal of subsidiarity is also very helpful; it encourages and promotes well-being of the poor and marginalized. Religion acts as a motivating factor in that FBOs, Churches and congregation even individuals, are all encourage by their Faith to do good works.

From the above mentioned points, it is obvious that Faith-based organisations play very important roles in bringing change in human societies. The impact of Faith-based organisations can be felt in every aspect of human society, be it in the political, economic and social sphere. Politically FBOs work to see that governments meet their responsibilities towards citizens. As a prophetic voice, it speaks out on the behalf of the voiceless in society and sought to maintain human dignity. Economically, FBOs are offering employment, education and training, which empower people financially, helping them to evolve both economically and socially.

Looking at the social aspect, FBOs provides both material and immaterial support to the needy and marginalized in society, enabling them to improve and live a better life. Besides playing important roles, FBOs also have their own negative aspects, such as being too doctrine conscious, attaching denominational doctrine to service provided, will send away people of different denominational background, thereby discouraging them from using available services. Furthermore, the idea that FBOs often want to employ only people from their own religious background, sends a wrong message to people of other faith, who frown against such approach, and term it to be discriminatory.

Too much doctrinal rituals in the running of day to day services, might keep many people from participating in FBOs projects, and hinder them from utilising their services. Furthermore, FBOs lack expertise and enough funding to carry out projects effectively since they rely most often on donations.

It means if donation no long drip in, there is going to be a problem on how to complete already existing projects. By Caring for the spiritual, and the physical well-being FBOs can bring wholeness in human beings which is what God wants man to enjoy. Dementia is a disease which cannot be treated , but can only be accommodated by patience and kindness.

Religion and Faith-Based Welfare

Furthermore, I will also examine, why this disease among other diseases common to the elderly, is a social issue that needs to be addressed. The definitions of Dementia are many and varied, but all of them share one thing in common, which is the idea that this ailment, leaves an individual intellectually impaired and dependent on external help in order to be able to cope with routines of daily life. Dementia has also being defined as a loss of mental ability severe enough to interfere with normal activities of daily living 19 , ADL.

This means people suffering from this disease very often cannot locate themselves in time and space. They are disoriented and do not know who they are, and can hardly or sparingly recognise or remember their love ones, talk less of taking care of themselves. This makes the role of care- givers very important; if people suffering from this disease are to enjoy quality life and maintain their God given dignity they need the services or the help of caregivers.

From the definitions above, it is obvious that dementia, is a threat to our identity as selves, and our role as productive, contributing members of the community. Caregivers need support to help them cope with their role as caregivers. This support will enable them provide quality care to their care-receivers, thereby enhancing their dignity even in their present circumstance.

Talking about Treatment of dementia, it has no cure. Dementia is a terminal disease which can be treated by treating the disease that causes it, i. The only treatment that makes sense is patience, kindness and love from family, friends and the community. Only these things can comfort and reassure people living with dementia, that they are loved and cherished in their society. Support for caregivers of elderly and people living with dementia, have been regarded as a prerequisite to obtaining quality care for such patients.

Caregiving is often considered a burden because, it robs caregivers of many things including: their health, free time, jobs, family and finances, therefore in order to have a healthy and productive society, caregivers have to be supported in a way that enable them to maintain their life style and enhance their positive contribution to the society, while giving quality care to their care- receivers.

The fact that FBOs acts as intermediaries between man and man, as well as between man and God, Allah, or Yahweh, as might be referred to by the denomination in question, gives it the power that it takes to provide better support services which will go to enhance human dignity. A look at some symptoms of Dementia will be of great importance, since these symptoms are indications of the presence of dementia, or announce the advent of the disease in a person.

Some of the symptoms are: short term memory loss, and difficulties in retaining new information, this are early indicators of dementia, 22 coupled with poor judgement and reasoning, as well as changes in behaviour. Finally, dementia can be said to be an illness that needs attention, because it touches not just the person directly concerned, but spills over onto family and friends, bringing with it Financial, emotional and physical consequences on both primary and secondary care givers. With increase in the rate of dementia as time passes, if it is not addressed it is going to bankrupt healthcare systems.

Therefore to arrest the situation, prompt intervene is necessary. That is why early diagnosis is important, early diagnosis can help people with dementia get the right treatment and support, and help family and friends to prepare and plan for the future. With treatment and support, many people are able to lead active, fulfilled lives 24 in this condition. Alzheimer Disease is the primary cause of dementia, and till date it continues to be the greatest risk factor for dementia. It is a disease that is progressive and irreversible. While Vascular Dementia occurs when brain cells are deprived of oxygen, and blood streaming into the brain is interrupted.

Stroke is said to be a common cause. Frontal-temporal dementia, on the other hand involves changes in personality and behaviour with little memory, as an early sign. Lewy body dementia is another type of dementia; which becomes more common as age increases, Lewy bodies are abnormal clumps of protein that have been found in the brains of people with Lewy body dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease.

Lewy body dementia symptoms are similar to symptoms of AD; its unique features include fluctuations between confusion and clear thinking lucidity , visual hallucinations, and tremor and rigidity Parkinsonism. As far as dementia is concerned, most types are progressive and cannot be cured. However surgical intervention can help treat some of these causes for example, some brain tumours, excess fluid on the brain hydrocephalus or head injury.

These medications are generally prescribed to people in the early and middle stages of the disease. It is fairly common for people with dementia to have depression as well. There are many treatments for this. Some doctors may prescribe antidepressant medication, or consult a Geriatric psychiatry, or psychiatry of old age, but the best way to treat dementia is through support and care After everything is said and done, the most important type of treatment perhaps is support and care, because our caring love enfolds these people and makes up for the cognitive loss which they suffer.

Dementia is a disease which is irreversible, but which can be accommodated with patience, kindness, support and care. Looking at what caregiving to people with dementia entails, and the consequence of this care on caregivers both emotionally, financially and socially, as well as its effect on the society as a whole, one see the necessity to address this illness.

Dementia is a devastating disease not just for patients, but for their families and friends too. And as more people live longer, it is fast becoming one of the biggest social and healthcare challenges. There is an increasing strain on budgets of primary caregivers i. Apart of the different kinds of burdens listed above, several studies have link care giving to people with dementia to depression or repressive symptoms.

Considering the impact of this disease on the care-receiver, i. Therefore considering the effect of caregiving on caregivers, and the fact that dementia is slowly but steadily affecting more people with the passage of time, something has to be done to control it, if not will ground the health machineries to a standstill, 35 in that, too many caregivers, may also become patients, and this will have a negative impact, not only on individuals, their family and friends, it will affect the healthcare system, and the economy as a whole.

In order to avoid such predicaments and maintain human dignity, something has to be done to address the question of dementia in the world. This chapter will look at the potentials that Faith-based organisations have, which enables them to provide quality and better services to the needy, and the entire society, especially to the elderly and people living with dementia.

I will also explore services by FBOs which help in the promotion of human dignity, as well as talk on what these organisations are doing to help people living with dementia, and their caregivers in Europe Germany as my example , and compare it with the situation in Cameroon Africa. Furthermore, I will examine the politico-social, cultural, as well as look at the religious situation and the role of churches in Cameroon.

I will also point out some similarities and different regarding the socio political situation in Germany Europe and that of Cameroon Africa. I will talk about the religious context and the rule of the churches especially the Roman Catholic Church of Cameroon, which is a major player in the area of social welfare provision and care of the needy in society. Finally I will make possible suggestions as to what FBOs can do to bring about change in the situation of the elderly and people living with Dementia in Cameroon.

In Europe, precisely in Germany, FBOs have put all their resources into use, in order to be able to come up with support services that have changed lives, and given people living with this disease quality care, hope and the courage to live on in dignity even with dementia. FBOS are doing a great job as far as Elderly care, and care of people with dementia in Germany are concerned. There are many intervention and support services which go to lighten the burden of caregiving, and enable caregivers to give quality care to people with dementia.

In Cameroon the situation is different, most people do not get proper diagnosis in case of dementia, therefore people do not even know what they are suffering form, caregivers are neither informed, educated on the disease, nor trained, they work through instinct. One can argue here that, although FBOs have done well in some countries in the area of welfare service provision and care for dementia and elderly; elderly and dementia care, in other countries like Cameroon, is yet to be taken seriously by FBOs.

I want to argue here that this is a case of negligence on the part of FBOs in Cameroon; because they are in the grassroots and am very convinced that they are aware and familiar with this situation, which is very present in communities. FBOs in Cameroon have being in the health care business for long, to have realise the importance of including care of the elderly and dementia patients, in their curriculum. Mainstream Churches who are major provider of welfare services, have provided healthcare services without considering the plight of the elderly and people with dementia in their communities which is not fair.

Some research needs to be done in order to understand, the reason for the absent of elderly and dementia care in Cameroon till now. People with dementia in Cameroon, are still left at the mercy of their primary caregivers i. Family and friends , with no support of any kind from anywhere. Primary caregivers have little or no knowledge about dementia and how to care for people suffering from the disease, most often they are financially incapable and overwhelmed with the situation, but with no alternative insight, they have to bear the burden of care giving with its devastating consequences on all aspects of their lives, which makes the situation of even worst.

Therefore FBOs or mainstream Churches in Cameroon, still need to extend their healthcare system to include elderly care, and care of people with dementia, this will help change lives, behaviours and promote well-being and human dignity. Deuteronomy , of the Scriptures Holy Bible , advocates for open handedness towards the poor in our midst.

Poverty in this sense is not limited only to financial or economic hardship; it also means opening our arms and hearts in supporting the elderly and people with dementia, as well as other needy people in the society. An example is their ability to create a stigma free environment 36 in some communities, where dementia patients feel welcomed and loved; a social change very necessary for their well-being.

Besides credibility and legitimacy, FBOs also have the other qualities, which gives them an edge over similar secular organisations and accounts for their relative success, these qualities are:. The image of FBOs, as moral and altruistic institutions. These altruistic intentions make it possible for FBOs to win the confidence of donors, who donates generously to support their project making them financially fit to carry out their services. Furthermore, the closeness of FBOs to grassroots enhances their relation with the local community and builds a relationship of trust, which enables FBOs to win community support.

This popular support, contributes to the success of FBOs services or project.

Publishing with a Purpose

Again operating in the grassroots among local communities, get FBOs acquainted with the urgent needs of the community and tailor their services to meet these needs. Also the fact that FBOs have existing structures such as buildings and other resources such as: labour and finance, makes it easy for them to provide affordable and quality services.

Their motive of preservation of human dignity and promotion of well-being, rather than profit making, makes people to prefer using their services instead of those of similar secular organisation, and this gives FBOs and edge over its secular competitors. Finally, Faith-based organisations because of the potentials they are endowed with, play powerful role in advocacy and public awareness in society.

This gives them the opportunity to be respected by the state, it has been regarded as an agent of civil society with powers to influence policies and affect decisions, concerning the well-being of Humanity. Looking at the capabilities listed above, one can contend with the fact that FBOs has that potential to effect change in societies, because of the resources at their disposal. FBOS are capable and able to provide quality and efficient services at affordable prices, to the needy in society and bring change in behaviours, beliefs, as well as in the environment.

Though capable of bringing about social change, there are some factors which hinder the success of FBOs, such as: unaccountability of some FBOs, dishonesty, mismanagement of funds, coupled with other factors such as: logistics, cultural, human and natural factors, These bulwarks must be taken into consideration and properly handled in order for FBOs to have complete success in their projects in future.

Dementia is regarded most often as a shameful private issue that concerns only immediate family member 37 , usually people suffering from this disease are isolated, and locked up in homes, for fear of embarrassing behaviours associated with this illness, they suffer stigmatization from the society as well. Congregations and communities in some parts of the world, through the services of FBOs, have rejected stigma on people with dementia and learn to accept and accommodate them with patience and kindness.

This has help to bring them out of isolation and remove stigma, making people with dementia to feel wanted and loved by their community or society. To share in friendship with someone with dementia, we need to learn to be present to them emotionally in a ways that comforts them and gives them joy, and freedom from anxiety For dementia is: part of the journey of aging for up to half of us, a bitter but realistic truth. Churches have become a particular kind of resource in Europe, Africa and other parts of the world where they exist.

Churches or FBOs in Europe represent certain values and bring certain qualities to the field of welfare 39 , where Elderly care, and care of people living with dementia are no exception. In Germany, Greece, Norway and Finland, churches remain the major providers of welfare Majority Churches in Germany i. Catholic and protestant Churches, are acting as the primary provider of welfare services, 41 with the state subsidising them. These two Churches, under the canopy of Caritas and Diakonie respectively FBOs , are doing a very commendable job in providing for the needy, as well as caring for the Elderly and people with dementia in Germany, an example worth emulating in other countries especially in Cameroon.

Cameroon like most countries in the world today is facing economic hardship, but things are made even worst because of high level of corruption. Corruption coupled with poverty and injustice, has handicapped the government, making it incapable of standing up to its responsibility towards citizens. The elderly in Cameroon and those suffering from dementia are left completely at the mercy of their families who have to struggle amidst, financial, emotional and physical stress, to care for them.

There are no such support systems, as is the case in Germany, dementia patients are being taken care of by intuition, or by using person initiative, with no proper diagnosis, no information or assistance of any kind, talk less of education and training geared towards helping caregivers cope. What keeps these caregivers going is the love that exists between the care-receiver and the caregiver Family bond.

The situation of the elderly and people with dementia in Cameroon is a situation worth revisiting both by the government, and FBOs. The FBOs should step in and provide support services, to help caregiver of people with dementia in Cameroon cope, with the burden of care giving. It is the nursing care for the elderly called "geriatric nursing". The elderly with dementia in Cameroon are not being properly taken care of because there exist nothing like support services for elderly with dementia and their caregivers, which can help them cope with this illness and the challenges that come with it.

For instance caregiver intervention, such as therapy, didactic education, management skills, and training techniques of managing specific problems that exist in most part of the developed world, is yet to reach Cameroon, also intervention for the care-receivers like memory retraining, reminiscence activities and therapy, environmental reality and orientation and general ward activities 44 are not available to people suffering from dementia in Cameroon, more research is needed in order to better understand the situation of dementia.

Socially, Cameroon has being eaten by the Canker worm of corruption and the situation has being worsened by poverty and injustice, which is dragging the country to its knees. Like I indicated above, almost all sectors of the country including the social welfare system and FBOs are said to be corrupt, and this has affected their abilities to provide social and other necessary services to the population, Cameroon because of its political and social system, is lacking in government provided social welfare services, and what the FBOs are doing, is not enough to meet public demand, never the less, some important services like care of people with dementia which is gaining considerable attention in other parts of the world , is still unknown to the many Cameroonians even with the presence of FBOs Mainstream Churches in Cameroon with networking possibilities at their disposal , with tentacles spread all over the world.

More research is needed to explain the lack of interest by both the Cameroonian Government and FBOs in the area of dementia care and research, which is very important given the consequence of this disease on individuals, families and on healthcare systems of Countries worldwide. Most Christian Churches are found in the western and southern parts of Cameroon, while the Muslim religion is concentrated in the northern region of Cameroon.

Churches and Mosques in Cameroon operate side by side in almost every part of the country. There is inter- religious communications, which has contributed to peace and stability in the country. In particular, he was interested in the development of the modern worldview which he equated with the widespread processes of rationalization : the general tendency of modern institutions and most areas of life to be transformed by the application of technical reason, precise calculation, and rational organization.

Again, central to his interpretivist framework, how people interpreted and saw the world provided the basis for an explanation of the types of social organization they created. In this regard, one of his central questions was to determine why rationalization emerged in the West and not the East. Eastern societies in China, India, and Persia had been in many respects more advanced culturally, scientifically and organizationally than Europe for most of world history, but had not taken the next step towards developing thoroughly modern, rationalized forms of organization and knowledge.

The relationship to religion formed a key part of his answer. One component of rationalization was the process Weber described as the disenchantment of the world , which refers to the elimination of a superstitious or magical relationship to nature and life. Weber noted that many societies prevented processes of rationalization from occurring because of religious interdictions and restrictions against certain types of development. A contemporary example might be the beliefs concerning the sacredness of human life, which serve to restrict experimenting with human stem cells or genetic manipulation of the human genome.

For Weber, disenchantment was one source for the rapid development and power of Western society, but also a source of irretrievable loss. A second component of rationalization, particularly as it applies to the rise of capitalism as a highly rationalized economic system, was the formation of the Protestant Ethic. This will be discussed more fully below.

The key point to note here is that Weber makes the argument that a specific ethic or way of life that developed among a few Protestant sects on the basis of religious doctrine or belief, i. The restrictions that religions had imposed on economic activities and that had prevented them from being pursued in a purely rational, calculative manner, were challenged or subverted by the emergence and spread of new, equally religious, forms of belief and practice.

He noted that in modern industrial societies, business leaders and owners of capital, the higher grades of skilled labour, and the most technically and commercially trained personnel were overwhelmingly Protestant. He also noted the uneven development of capitalism in Europe, and in particular how capitalism developed first in those areas dominated by Protestant sects.

As opposed to the traditional teachings of the Catholic Church in which poverty was a virtue and labour simply a means for maintaining the individual and community, the Protestant sects began to see hard, continuous labour as a spiritual end in itself. Hard labour was firstly an ascetic technique of worldly renunciation and a defense against temptations and distractions: the unclean life, sexual temptations, and religious doubts. Weber argued that the ethic , or way of life, that developed around these beliefs was a key factor in creating the conditions for both the accumulation of capital, as the goal of economic activity, and for the creation of an industrious and disciplined labour force.

It is an element of cultural belief that leads to social change rather than the concrete organization and class struggles of the economic structure. As the impediments toward rationalization were removed, organizations and institutions were restructured on the principle of maximum efficiency and specialization, while older, traditional i. The irony of the Protestant Ethic as one stage in this process is that the rationalization of capitalist business practices and organization of labour eventually dispensed with the religious goals of the ethic.

Phenomenology seeks to describe the way in which all phenomena, including religion, arise as perceptions within the immediate sensorial experience and awareness of individual subjects. Phenomenologists study the ways in which the world, and ourselves within it, first come to presence in experience and only later become separate objects, social structures or selves. Religion is only secondarily a structure, institution, practice, or set of beliefs.

How do humans go from the flux of immediate perception to a religious worldview? For Berger, religion is a particular type of culture Berger In order for humans to survive, the world must be culturally prepared as a world in which things and people have stable meanings. Culture, Berger argues, exists therefore as an artifice that mediates between humans and nature and provides needed stability and predictability in human life.

From the phenomenological point of view, culture enables both the ongoing creation of the world as a stable, objective social reality outside the subject and the simultaneous creation, or interiorization, of social roles and social expectations within the subject.

Science and Religion -- Mayim Bialik

Religion develops because the stability of culture is inherently fragile. Just as the immediate experience of the individual is subject to flux and change, so is the foundation of the ordered, meaningful world of culture. Cultural meanings tend to be fixed and rigid through time, whereas the underlying reality they describe is not. Events occur that are not explainable. They fall outside the categories and threaten to put the whole cultural framework or nomos into question.

Religion comes into existence as a solution to this problem. Religion is able to resolve the threat of instability and terror of anomie by postulating a supernatural agency or cosmological view of the world, which are unaffected by everyday inconstancy and uncertainty. In a religious cosmology the order described by culture is the natural order, that is, it is the way the gods have decided things must be. Things that occur that cannot be explained in human terms are explained as the products of divine will. Religion is therefore a source of ultimate legitimation because it provides the social order with an unquestionable foundation of legitimacy: the way things are is the will of the gods.

From a phenomenological point of view however, the price of this religious solution is a mode of forgetfulness and alienation. For the legitimation effect of religion to work and be plausible, humans must forget that they themselves have created religion. They must forget that religion is a human accomplishment. In The Sacred Canopy, Berger argued that the processes of secularization will eventually erode the plausibility of religious belief.

For religion to function as a sacred canopy and ultimate legitimation, it must provide the foundation for a shared belief system. In modern societies however, other types of knowledge and expert systems like science assume greater authority to describe the nature of the world and our role within it. As we will see below in Section Despite the dominant expectation that modern societies were becoming ever more secular, Stark believed that religion was, and would continue to be, an important and influential factor for individuals and society.

Stark notes that church membership and new religious movements have actually increased in the United States as the country modernized. In Europe, where religious participation is relatively low, levels of individual belief nevertheless remain high and participation has not undergone a long-term decline Stark, b.

What explanation can be provided for the persistence of religion? Stark begins with the stipulation that the importance of the supernatural must be recognized when studying religion. Belief in a higher force or power is the feature that distinguishes religions from non-religious beliefs and organizations. Any theory of religion must take this into account. Stark attempts to answer this question by proposing a number of basic, general rules about humans and their behavior. Rational choice theory states that the most basic human motive is individual self-interest, and that all social activities are a product of rational decision making in which individuals continuously weigh the benefits of choices against their costs Scott, A person who has a choice between two jobs, for example, would weigh the rewards of each one such as higher pay or better benefits against the possible costs of longer work hours or further commutes.

Individuals will on balance choose the course of action that maximizes their rewards and minimizes their costs. In this sense, even seemingly irrational decisions or beliefs can be understood as rational choices from the point of view of the individual decision maker Stark, a. Religious belief in the supernatural may seem irrational from an outside perspective because it involves an orientation to invisible, supernatural powers that affect the everyday material world through unobservable mechanisms.

However, for the religious believer whose worldview is shaped by this assumption, it is completely rational that they would choose to worship and make offerings to these supernatural powers in the hopes of gaining rewards and avoiding wrath or misfortune. Moreover, by participating in religious practice, people also surround themselves with other believers who make the rationality of supernatural choices even more plausible.

According to Stark, the rewards people desire most intensely are often scarce or not available at all, such as an end to suffering or eternal life. Consequently, when such rewards cannot be attained through direct means, humans will create and exchange compensators. These are promises or IOUs of a reward at an unspecified future date, along with an explanation of how they can be acquired.

Stark argues that rewards such as these are so monumental and scarce that they can only be provided through a supernatural source. This is why religious belief persists. In other words, a person must believe that a supernatural power exists which is capable of providing this reward in order to rationally believe that it is attainable. In this sense, religious belief and practice are rational choices humans make to get the most coveted rewards regarding human existence. Religious organizations function to provide compensators for these rewards by claiming to provide access to supernatural powers or deities.

For Stark, this is the root of why religion continues to exist in the modern world, and why it will continue to persist. By using a positivist approach, Stark creates a theory where every proposition, including this one, can in principle be tested. The proposition above could be verified by examining the number of gods and their powers in the religions of small, traditional societies and comparing that to the number of gods worshipped in more established, modern ones.

In reality however, many of the propositions are difficult to test because the concepts he uses are hard to measure or compare between religions. How does one empirically quantify the scope of a certain god and compare it to that of an unrelated god from a different religion? His theory has also been critiqued for having an inherent bias towards monotheistic and particularly Protestant Christian measures of religion Carroll, In other words, he places higher value on measures of religiosity that fit the Protestant model, such as belief and adherence to doctrine, over those that better describe other religions, such as the ritual aspects of Hinduism or Catholicism.

His work may then implicitly suggest that Protestants are more religious than the others based on these skewed measures of religiousness. Feminist theories of religion analyze and critique the ways in which sacred texts and religious practices portray and subordinate—or empower—women, femininity, and female sexuality Zwissler, The crucial insight into religion that forms the basis for feminist research is the gendered nature of religion Erikson, Feminists therefore argue that questions about gender are essential for a meaningful analysis and explanation of religion.

In one line of inquiry, feminist theorists of religion have analyzed the representation of women within sacred religious texts, identifying and critiquing the way women are portrayed. For example, the gender of the deity is an issue for women, particularly in the monotheistic Abrahamic religions such as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism Zwissler, God, within these religious beliefs, is usually understood as male. The question this raises is whether religion is therefore the direct cause of misogyny —the aversion or distaste for people of the female sex, including belittling, sexual objectification, sexual violence, and discrimination against women—or whether male-dominated religious practices are the product of broader gendered inequalities and societal norms outside of religion Zwissler, ?

A second line of inquiry focuses on why power relationships within religious institutions are typically gendered Erikson, Feminist theorists note that women are frequently prevented from holding positions of power within religious practice. Ministers, imams, rabbis, buddhas, and Brahmin priests are positions within religious hierarchies which have traditionally excluded women. Despite this, cross-culturally women are proportionately more religious than men. This can be seen as a paradox within feminist religious studies.

Placed along two axes see Figure The challenges faced by women are different within each religion, and therefore the strategies women of faith use to change or work within their respective religion may vary. Being an interdisciplinary perspective, feminism brings a diversity of voices into the discussion, illuminating important issues of inequality, oppression, and power imbalance, all of which are of great importance to the study of sociology. Through analysis of the gender structures within religious practices worldwide, a deeper understanding of how different cultures and traditions function is revealed.

The understanding that women frequently do not identify as being oppressed by their religion is an important insight in trying to fully understand the nature of gendered religious practice on a global scale. Religion has historically been a major impetus to social change. In early Europe, the translation of sacred texts into everyday, non-scholarly language empowered people to shape their religions. Disagreements between religious groups and instances of religious persecution have led to mass resettlement, war, and even genocide.

To some degree, the modern sovereign state system and international law might be seen as products of the conflict between religious beliefs as these were founded in Europe by the Treaty of Westphalia , which ended the Thirty Years War. As outlined below, Canada is no stranger to religion as an agent of social change. Nevertheless debate continues in sociology concerning the nature of religion and social change particularly in three areas: secularization, religious diversity, and new religious movements.

Secularization refers to the decline of religiosity as a result of the modernization of society. This is a large increase from the , Canadians who claimed no religious affiliation in the Statistics Canada census Statistics Canada, Sociologists suggest that it is important to distinguish between three different types of secularization: societal secularization, organizational secularization, and individual secularization.

The move to ordinate female ministers to reflect the growing gender equality in society or the use of commercial marketing techniques to attract congregations are examples. Individual secularization is the decline in involvement in churches and denominations or the decline in belief and practice of individual members.

As we saw earlier in the chapter, the equation of secularization with modernity has been the view of many important sociologists including Marx, Durkheim, and Weber. But in more recent years there has been a growing number of sociologists who question the universality of the process of secularization and propose that contemporary society is going through a period of religious revitalization.

Similarly, Fink and Stark have argued that Americans, at least, actually became more religious as American society modernized. Even in Europe, where church attendance is very low, they suggest that religious practice is stable rather than in long term decline and that people still hold religious beliefs like the belief in God or life after death. However, Canada, like most of Europe, appears to be an exception to the trend of religious resurgence, meaning there has been less of an emergence of new and revived religious groups, as opposed to the U. Prior to the s Canada was a more religious nation than the United States, now it is much less religious by any standard measure.

Rather than a progressive and continuous process of secularization, Bibby argues that there have been three consecutive trends in Canada since the s: secularization, revitalization and polarization. After a period of steady secularization between the s and measured by levels of church attendance , Bibby presents evidence of revitalization in the s including small increases in weekly or monthly attendance for different age groups.

He also notes the four fold increase of non-Christians Muslims, Buddhists, Jews in Canada since the s, the high level of spiritual belief among people who do not attend church, the way that many people retain connections with churches for special occasions, and surveys that report that many would consider attending regularly if organizational or personal factors could be addressed.

Since the s, Bibby describes a third trend of polarization, with the public increasingly divided into opposite poles of the highly religious and the non-religious. Overall it can be said that understanding secularization and desecularization is an essential part of the sociological analysis of religion. Knowing the relationship between modernity and religion provides insight into the complex dynamics of the late modern world and allows sociologists to predict what is to come for religion in the future. The question is whether secularization necessarily accompanies modernization or whether there is a cyclical process between secularization and religious revivalism.

Are secular or non-secular societies the exceptions to the dominant trend of modern society? In other words, in modern societies there is neither a steady one-way process of secularization nor a religious revitalization, but a growing diversity of belief systems and practices. The practice of religion in Canada is ever changing and has recently become increasingly diverse. Religious diversity can be defined as a condition in which a multiplicity of religions and faiths co-exist in a given society Robinson, Because of religious diversity, many speculate that Canada is turning into a Post-Christian society , in the sense that Christianity has increasingly become just one among many religious beliefs, including the beliefs of a large number of people who claim no religion.

For those who report having a Christian heritage, only a minority can articulate the basic elements of Christian doctrine or read the bible on a regular basis. To an ever greater extent, Christianity no longer provides the basic moral foundation for Canadian values and practices. Canada appears to moving towards a much more religiously plural society. This is not without its problems however. Religious diversity in Canada has accelerated in the last twenty years due to globalization and immigration.

There were only a handful of members from the other main world religions. Other religions during this time such as Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and Hindus only made up a negligible percentage of the population. With the opening up of immigration to non-Europeans in the s, this began to change. In the 21st century, religion in Canada has become increasingly diverse. Including the various Protestant denominations Statistics Canada surveyed 80 different religious groups in Canada in Statistics Canada, Religious diversity does not only include the increased number of people who participate in non-Christian religions.

During its first appearance, approximately four percent of the population in Canada identified as religiously unaffiliated. By , that number had increased nearly a quarter, rising to about 24 percent Pew Research Center, Canadians have had varying responses to religious diversity.

On an individual level, while many accept religious beliefs other than their own, others do not. Individuals are either open to embracing these differences or intolerant of the varying viewpoints surrounding them. Wuthnow describes three types of individual response to religious diversity. Firstly there are those who fully embrace the religious practices of others, to the point of creating hybrid beliefs and practices. Christians might practice yoga or Eastern meditation techniques, for example. Secondly, there are those who tolerate other religions or accept the value of other religious beliefs while maintaining religious distinctions intact.

This can manifest in the range of negative individual responses to Muslim women who wear a hijab or headscarf for example. On a societal level, there are three main types of social response to religious diversity: exclusion, assimilation and pluralism. Exclusion occurs when the majority population does not accept varying or non-traditional beliefs, and therefore believe that other religions should be denied entry into their society. The exclusionary response tends to happen when a society that identifies with a previously homogeneous faith community is confronted with the spread of religious diversity.

On the other hand, the Canadian policy towards Jews was exclusionary until relatively recently. Universities like McGill and the University of Toronto had quota systems that restricted the number of Jewish students until the s. Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany in the s were brutally turned away by Canadian officials. A step beyond exclusion is assimilation. An example of assimilation in Canada is the history of Aboriginal spiritual practices like the sun dance, spirit dance and sweat lodge ceremonies.

Between and midth century these practices were outlawed and suppressed by both the Canadian state and Church organizations. They were seen as counter to the project of assimilating First Nations people into Christian European society and a settled, agricultural way of life Waldram, Herring and Young, In and , first a pass system and then an outright ban on leaving reserves were imposed on Plains Indian people to prevent them from congregating for Sun Dances, where they sought to honour the Great Spirit and renew their communities.

The most accommodating response to religious diversity is pluralism. Pluralism is the idea that every religious practice is welcome in a society regardless of how divergent its beliefs or social norms are. This response leads to a society in which religious diversity is fully accepted Berry, Today pluralism is the official response to religious diversity in Canada and has been institutionalized through the establishment of Multicultural policy and the constitutional protections of religious freedoms. However, some thorny issues remain when the values of different religious groups clash with each other or with the secular laws of the criminal code.

The right to follow Sharia law for Muslims, the right to have several wives for Mormons, the right to carry ceremonial daggers to school for Sikhs, the right to refuse to marry homosexual couples for Christian Fundamentalists, are all issues that pit fundamental religious freedoms against a unified sovereign law that applies to all equally. The acceptance of religious diversity in the pluralistic model is not without its problems. For example, one pluralistic strategy for managing the diversity of beliefs has been to regard religious practice as a purely private matter.

In order to avoid privileging one religious belief system over another in the public sphere, e. All religious faiths and practices are equal, included and accommodated as long as they remain private. In the guise of implementing pluralism, the attempt to secularize the public sphere artificially restricts it Connelly, Religious freedom and diversity keeps the religious life of Canadians interesting. The full acceptance of religious differences may take some time, however studies show that Canadians are moving in this direction.

The evidence is that as people become more exposed to religious diversity and interact with people of other religions more frequently, they become more accepting of beliefs and practices that diverge from their own Dawson and Thiessen, While veiling continues to be practiced by Muslim women, and is more often associated with Islam than with other religious traditions, the practice of veiling has been integral to all three monotheistic religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Christian and Jewish women wear headscarves as a cultural practice or commitment to modesty or piety, particularly in religious sects and cultural traditions like the Amish or Hutterites for example. Today, we know the hijab to be worn as a headscarf covering the whole head and neck, while leaving the face uncovered.

The niqab is a veil for the face that leaves the area around the eyes clear and is worn accompanying the hijab. The burka is a one-piece loose fitting garment that covers the head, the face and entire body, leaving a mesh screen to see through. There is a popular belief among Muslims and non-Muslims alike that Islam dictates veiling upon Muslim women. Furthermore, there is a parallel belief among both Muslims and non-Muslims that the prescription of veiling is stated clearly in the Koran, the Holy Book of Islam.

As to the question of whether or not it is obligatory for women to wear hijab, the Koran states that women should cover their bosoms and wear long clothing, but does not specifically say that they need to cover their faces or hair Koran, But the best garment is the garment of righteousness. The hijab as we know it today, is not mentioned specifically in the Koran.

The prophet Mohammed was once asked by a woman if it was okay for women to go to prayers without their veils. Critics of the veiling tradition argue that women do not wear the veil by choice, but are forced to cover their heads and bodies. Purdah is part of the Pushtunwali or customary law in which women are regarded as the property of men. It is significant that following the Iranian revolution in and the seizing of power in Afghanistan by the Taliban in , the new Islamist governments forced unveiled women to wear the hijab in Iran and the burqa in Afghanistan as one of the first policies enacted to signal the Islamization of cultural practices.

Muslim women who choose to wear coverings are seen as oppressed and without a voice. However, Muslim women choose to wear the hijab or other coverings for a variety of reasons. Many daughters of Muslim immigrants in the West contend that they choose to wear the veil as a symbol of devotion, piety, religious identity and self-expression. Zayzafoon, Through their interpretation of the Koran, they believe that God has instructed them to do so as a means of fulfilling His commandment for modesty, while others wear it as a fashion statement.

Furthermore, studies have shown that for some women, the hijab raises self-esteem and is used as form of autonomy. Some Muslim women do not perceive the hijab to be obligatory to their faith, while others wear the hijab as a means of visibly expressing their Muslim identity. Unfortunately this association has also occasionally resulted in the violent assaults of Muslim women wearing hijab. By making assumptions about the reasons women have for veiling, the freedom of these women to wear what they feel is appropriate and comfortable is taken away. Most people view the hijab as cultural or religious, but for some, it carries political overtones.

Muslim women who wear the hijab to communicate their political and social alliance with their birth country do so by challenging the prejudices of the Western world. Wearing hijab is also used as a tool to protest Western feminist movements which present hijab-wearing women as oppressed or silenced. Although the principles of modesty are distinctly outlined in the Koran, some Muslim women perceive the wearing of the headscarf as a cultural interpretation of these scriptures, and choose to shift their focus internally to build a deeper spiritual relationship with God.

While wearing hijab granted women in the past to engage outside the home without bringing attention to them, the headscarf in modern Western society has an adverse effect by attracting more attention to them which ultimately contradicts the hijabs original purpose. Despite the assumptions of secularization theory and some of the early classical sociologists that religion is a static phenomenon associated with fixed or traditional beliefs and lifestyles, it is clear that the relationship of believers to their religions does change through time.

We discussed the emergence of the New Religious Movements or cults above for example. Especially in the s and s, cults represented particularly intense forms of religious experimentation that spoke to widespread feelings of dissatisfaction with materialism, militarism and conventional religiosity. They were essentially new religious social forms. Below we will examine the rise of fundamentalism as another new religious social form that responds to issues of globalization and social diversity.

Sociologists note that the decline in conventional religious observance in Canada, Europe and elsewhere has not necessarily entailed a loss of religious or spiritual practices and beliefs per se Dawson and Thiessen, Secondly, the orientation to these beliefs and practices has also changed. New Age spirituality — the various forms and practices of spiritual inner-exploration that draw on non-Western traditions e.

Dawson has characterized this new religious sensibility in terms of six key characteristics:. At the same time, the basic questions of fate, suffering, illness, transformation and meaning have not been satisfactorily answered by science or other secular institutions, which creates a continued demand for religious or spiritual solutions. With the above stereotypes, it is easy to overlook the beliefs, rituals, and origins of Rastafarianism as a religion.

Through the popularization of reggae music and artists like Bob Marley, the style of Rastafarianism has globalized though many do not know there is more to the movement than the outward appearance of its members. Today, most followers of Rastafarianism are in Jamaica, although smaller populations can be found in several countries including Canada, Great Britain, South Africa, Ethiopia and Israel. He said that a King would soon be crowned to liberate black people from the oppression caused by slavery. This was an event with more than just political significance.

Many black Jamaicans regarded the coronation of Ras Tafari Makonnen as the inauguration of a new era of spiritual redemption for dispossessed Africans after centuries of colonization, cruelty, oppression and slavery. With the fall of Babylon, Rastas believed there would be a reversal in slavery-based social hierarchy. Black people would then take their place as spiritual and political leaders the way God Jah intended them too.

One of the central religious beliefs of Rastafarians is that the Christian Bible describes the history of the African race Waters, In the prophecy of Zion, Rastas strive to return to Zion to leave the oppressive, exploitative, materialistic western world of Babylon where they will attain a life of heaven on earth, a place of unity, peace, and freedom.

However, like many of the spiritual movements of late modernity, Rastafarianism does not emphasize doctrine, church attendance, or being a member of a congregation. There are several key sacraments or religious rituals that Rasta practice to achieve this direct experience. Groundation Day is celebrated on April 21st to remember the day that Haile Selassie 1 sacred Ethiopian emperor visited Jamaica. On this day Rastafarians chant, pray, feast, and create music as celebration. Achieving higher consciousness through ritual means enables participants in reasoning sessions to re-evaluate their positions, overcome the confines of their false sense of self or ego , and reach higher truths through consensus.

Smoking Cannabis Ganja also plays an important role in many Rastafarian rituals, although it is not mandatory. Cannabis use is considered sacred and is usually accompanied with biblical study and meditation. The custom of wearing dreadlocks — long, uncombed locks of hair — also has religious significance to Rastafarians Stanton, Ramsamy, Seybolt, and Elliot, Dreadlocks dreads have political significance as a protest against Babylon because they symbolize the natural, non-industrial lifestyle of the Rastas Fisher, Dreadlocks also have several spiritual meanings.

They conform to the style worn by traditional Ethiopian warriors and priests and thus represent the power of their African ancestors. From a sociological point of view, Rastafarianism has to be understood as a New Religious Movement broadly defined in the context of the social and racial conditions of Jamaica in the 20th century. It is significant that it blends spiritual motifs of dread and redemption from the Christian bible with the anti-colonial, anti-racist politics of Third World activists like Marcus Garvey.

The belief system therefore provides a religious inflection to the material circumstances black Jamaicans face due to the history of colonial oppression. It is a claim to status as much as a path to spiritual transformation. Another extreme fundamentalist group, the Westboro Baptist Church, picket the funerals of fallen military personnel Hurdle, , of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings Linkins, , and even of the brutal greyhound bus stabbing in Winnipeg, Canada CBC News, The public demonstrations of the Ultra-Orthodox men and the Westboro Baptist Church provide a platform for these groups to disseminate their beliefs, mobilize supporters and recruit new followers.

However, the controversial protests also attack routine norms of civility — the right of 8 year old girls to walk to school unmolested by adult men; the solemnity of funeral rites and the mourning processes of the bereaved — and lead to communal disruption and resentment, as well as the alienation of these groups from broader society. One of the key emblems of the contemporary rise of religious fundamentalism is that conflicts, whether they are playground disagreements or extensive political confrontations, tend to become irreconcilable when fundamental beliefs are at the core of said disputes.

These types of issue are one of the defining features of the contemporary era. Unlike discussions relating to secular business or political interests, fundamentalist beliefs associated with religious ideology seem non-negotiable and therefore prone to violent conflict. The rise of fundamentalism also poses problems for the sociology of religion. For many decades theorists such as Berger , Wilson ; and Bruce argued that the modernization of societies, the privatization of religion, and the global spread of religious and cultural pluralism meant that societies would continue to secularize and levels of religiosity would steadily decline.

However, other theorists such as Hadden ; , Stark ; and Casanova ; have recently begun to reconsider the secularization thesis. They argue that religious diversity and pluralism have sparked new interpretations of religion and new revivals of religiosity. In other words, these new sociological interpretations of religion propose that rather than withering away, fundamentalist groups will continue to thrive because they offer individuals answers to ultimate questions and give meaning to a complicated world.

Interestingly enough, in his later works, Berger abandoned his original theory of secularization. The Pew Research Center has recently presented some interesting findings that can also provide a general sense of what the future for religious fundamentalism may hold. While it is not clear from this research how many Muslims hold fundamentalist beliefs per se eg. Wahhabi, Salifi, etc. How does the sociology of religion explain the rise of fundamentalist belief in an increasingly modern, global society then? The answer that sociologists have proposed is that fundamentalism and religious revivalism are modern.

These pamphlets were not a return to pre-modern traditionalism however. They were an explicit response to modern forms of rationality, including the trend towards historical and scientific explanations of religious certainties. A response, because of their defensively orientated motivation to challenge the modernist movement; and a product, because of their use of modern techniques of mass communication and commercial promotion to transmit a particular set of beliefs in a clear and concise manner to a mass audience.

To expand the concept of fundamentalism beyond this specific usage in the context of 20th century Christian Protestantism poses some analytical problems. However its use in popular culture today has expanded far beyond this narrow reference. In this expanded usage, fundamentalism loosely refers to the return to a core set of indisputable and literal principles derived from ancient holy, or at least unchallengeable, texts.

However, even if we restrict the use of the term fundamentalism to a religious context, there are a number of problems of application. For example, the emphasis on the literalism of holy texts would not be able to distinguish between fundamentalist Islamic movements and mainstream Islam, because both regard the Koran to be the literal, and therefore indisputable word of God communicated to the prophet Mohamed by the Arch Angel Gabriel.

On the other hand, the fundamentalist movements of Hinduism do not have a single, authoritative, holy text like the Bible or Koran to take as the literal word of God or Brahman. In response to these problems, Ruthven proposes a family resemblance definition see Section In this respect, the common sociological feature that unites various religious fundamentalisms, is their very modern reinvention of traditions in response to the complexity of social change brought about by globalization and the diversification of human populations.

Globalization and late modernity introduce an anxiety-laden, plurality of life choices including religious choices where none existed before. If religious fundamentalist movements primarily serve and protect the interests and rights of men, why do women continue to support and practice these religions in larger numbers than men? This is a difficult question that has not been satisfactorily answered.

Strict observance of the rules of ritual observance is choice women make to bring themselves closer to God. Control over female sexuality is a primary focus of all fundamentalist movements. For example, in Islamic fundamentalism, it is seen as shameful and dishonourable for women to expose their bodies.

Under the Pushtunwali customary law , Afghan women are regarded as the property of men and the practice of Purdah seclusion within the home and veiling when in public is required to protect the honour of the male lineage Moghadam, For example, in , the Indian parliament passed a bill that would disallow women to file for divorce. There have also been many significant instances of violence against women physical and sexual perpetrated by men in order to maintain their social dominance and control Chhachhi, In Saudi Arabia, rape can only be proven in court if the perpetrator confesses or four witnesses provide testimony Doumato, One purpose of fundamentalist movements therefore is to advantage men and reinforce ideals of patriarchal power in a modern context in which women have successfully struggled to gain political, economic and legal powers historically denied them.

The role of women in Muslim or Hindu traditions is so different from that in Western religions and culture that characterizing it as inferior or subservient in Western terms risks distorting the actual experience or the nature of the role within the actual fabric of life in these traditions Moaddel, In order to properly study women in Fundamentalist movements, it is imperative to gather the perspectives and ideas of the women in the movements themselves in order to eradicate the Orientalist stigma and bias towards non-Western religions and cultures.

After the Revolution in Iran, the law making veiling mandatory for all women emerged as one of the most important symbols of the new, collective Iranian national and religious identity. It was a means of demonstrating resistance against Western values and served symbolically to mark a difference from the pre-revolutionary program of modernization that had been instituted by the deposed Shah.

Many women demonstrated against this law and against other legal discrimination against women in the new post-revolutionary juridical system. However, this dissent did not last long. As Patricia Higgins stresses, these demonstrations were not supported by the majority of Iranian women. The number of supporters of the demonstrations also decreased when Ayatollah Khomeini—the religious leader of Islamic revolution — mentioned his support of compulsory veiling for women.

So it appears that the majority of Iranian women accepted the new rules or at least did not oppose them. In the prerevolutionary regime of the Shah, there had been a state-lead attempt to change the juridical system and the public sphere to promote the rights of Iranian women in a manner similar to their western peers. Nevertheless, the majority of Iranian women, especially in the rural areas and margins of the cities, still wore their traditional and religious clothing. Veiling was part of the traditional or customary dress of Iranian women. However, an equally important fact, which is always less stressed in the dominant narrative about the Iranian revolution is that this transformation of veiling from traditional custom to political symbol first occurred in s, when King Reza Pahlavi banned veiling for all women in the public sphere.

To be clear, veiling was a custom or fashion in clothing for women, but not mandatory in law. Nevertheless, 40 years before the revolution, King Reza Pahlavi made unveiling mandatory in law for all women in Iran. What were the main reasons beneath this radical change which was imposed on Iranian society by the King Reza government?

Reza Pahlavi can be recognized as the founder of new modern state in Iran. To a certain extent he was successful, especially in building the main transportation and new economic and bureaucratic structure. In this vein, the veiling of women was recognized as one of the most important symbols of Iranian traditional culture which needed to be removed, even violently, if modernization was to succeed. But did the significance of veiling arise from its place in religious texts and the strict customs of traditional ways of life or did it arise only as the outcome of the modern reading of these religious and traditional rules?

It has been argued that fundamentalist movements represent a claim for recognition by beleaguered religious communities. However, in the case of the Hijab or veiling in contemporary Iran, the irony is that from the beginning it was not the religious scholars, traditional leaders or Olama who emphasized veiling as central to the distinction between traditional, religious Iranian culture and western culture.

Rather, the equation of traditional Iranian religious society and veiling originated with secular intellectuals and politicians. Reza Shah, the modern leader who identified these symbolic qualities of religious identity, could never be regarded as a religious fundamentalist. However, he was the first head of state to recognize and highlight veiling as an important symbol of the traditional religious way of life, albeit in a negative way. The second irony is that, apart from upper middle class urban women who embraced the active role of unveiled women in the public sphere, this process of cultural modernization and unveiling was not noticeably successful.

The majority of Iranian women were subject to traditional and religious restrictions whose authority rested with the family and religious leaders, not state laws Higgins, However, during the Iranian revolution, the political process of Islamization was not monolithically conservative or fundamentalist. At the moment of revolution the dominant Islamic discourse included accepting and internalizing some parts of modern and western identity, while criticizing other parts.

It was argued that veiled woman should participate in society equally , even if motherhood should be their priority. At this point in time, veiling was not seen so much as a return to traditional conservative gender roles, but as a means of neutralizing sexual differences in the public sphere. If they complied with wearing the veil, as noted above, most Iranian women already did wear veils voluntarily , women could leave their confinement within the patriarchal family and participate in public social activities, even without permission of their father or husband.

At this specific historical moment, the religious authorities treated women as free, independent individuals, whereas previously they had been under the strict authority of their families. Veiling, within the political narrative of the revolution, was seen as the feminine expression of the resurgence of pure Islam, a flag of the critique of western values by Iranian society.

After the revolution consolidated into the Iranian Islamic state, this modern, leftist version of Islam was displaced by a more fundamentalist conservative narrative. Even so, at its inception the meaning of compulsory veiling, as a symbol of traditional religious values, was not the product of the traditional values of religious society itself but a product of the way religious society was represented by secular scholars and politicians. Modern secularization was the process that established the symbolic significance of the veil for fundamentalism in Iran.

One of the most internationally publicized and controversial instances of sati was that of Roop Kanwar on September 4, It occurred in the small town of Deorala in the state of Rajasthan. Roop Kanwar was a well-educated eighteen year old Rajput woman who had married twenty-four year old Mal Singh just eight months before. Her husband died unexpectedly of gastroenteritis, although some speculate it was actually a suicide by poisoning Hawley, a. The next day, Roop Kanwar stepped onto the funeral pyre with her deceased husband, put his head in her hands as is the custom, and burned alive with his body.

This illegal event was witnessed by a few hundred people but there were conflicting reports as to what had actually happened. Pro-sati supporters said that Roop Kanwar had voluntarily decided to become sati and underwent the process with purpose and calm. Those who opposed sati argued that she had not acted of her own free will and was instead drugged into submission by her in-laws who had economic motives for her death.

Some reported that she had tried to jump off the pyre, but was pushed back onto it Hawley, b. The practice of Sati offers another look at the complicated relationship between fundamentalism and women. Sati is a Hindu ritual in which a widow sacrifices herself by being burned alive on the funeral pyre of her deceased husband. It is a religious funeral rite practiced or endorsed primarily by Hindu groups rooted in the aristocratic Rajput caste in the Rajasthan state of India. Sati is therefore not central to Hinduism, but is practiced by a portion of the population, both men and women, who can be seen as Hindu fundamentalists.

While the Western and English understanding of the word sati is as the practice of widow burning, in the Hindi language it refers to the woman herself. A woman who is sati is a good, virtuous woman who is devoted to her husband Hawley, a. The Rajput belief is that a woman who freely chooses to become sati is protecting her husband in his journey after death. The power of her self-sacrifice cancels out any bad karma that he may have accrued during his lifetime.

She also provides blessings to all those who witness the event Hawley, b. After her father humiliates Shiva by excluding him from a sacrifice, Sati kills herself in front of him as an act loyalty to her husband. Supporters see the modern version of sati as a manifestation of this same sacrificial power used by the goddess Sati Hawley, a. However, while sati is seen as a traditional practice, most of the early Hindu religious texts do not recognize sati at all, and it is only mentioned occasionally in later texts.

In a manner consistent with other forms of fundamentalism, certain verses have been cited as scriptural justification of the practice by supporters, but their interpretation and translation have been contested by scholars and there is no definitive, unambiguous endorsement of sati Yang, Although this Hindu practice has never been widespread, it happened with enough frequency to catch the attention and revulsion of the British in the nineteenth century while India was under British rule.

In British officials made the practice illegal and a punishable offence for anyone involved Yang, The practice has continued to occur very infrequently since then, but the worship and glorification of sati is still a major aspect of the religious belief system of some Rajput Hindus Harlan, The criminalization of sati has also become a rallying point for Hindu fundamentalists in their larger battle against the secular state. Its persecution is seen as an infringement by the state into the domain of religion causing the fight for sati to become a fight for religious freedom Hawley, a.

Twelve days after her death by immolation, a chunari celebration was held at the funeral site to honor and praise her sacrifice. Further gatherings and sati endorsement by both religious and political organizations continued in the months that followed and eclipsed smaller protests held by opponents of sati. The sati of Roop Kanwar triggered a number of larger social debates regarding the intertwining threads of religion, gender, and the state. For them, the religious significance given to sati is nothing more than a guise to aid the oppression of women. Sati also became a battleground in the struggle between the religious freedom of Hindus and the secular Indian State.

First is the reactionary nature of this Hindu movement against the perceived threat to traditional religious beliefs and values. Demonstrations by sati supporters signified a resistance to the modernization, secularization, and liberalization of India, particularly in regards to the place of women.

By becoming sati, a woman is performing the ultimate act of devotion to her husband and is sacrificing herself for the betterment of her family and the wider community. Hawley, b. For most of history every aspect of life in society revolved around some form of religious practice. In many cultures, prior to contact with the Western world, religion was so ingrained into every part of life that there was no specific word for it.

It was the means by which life was regulated and made purposeful. The modern shift towards secularization and the scientific worldview is a recent phenomenon. Explanations for events of everyday life were no longer based on the notion of mysterious or supernatural powers. Everything, in principle, could be reduced to calculation.

However, the transition from a world based on religion to one that gives the ultimate authority to scientific discovery has not been without its issues. Contemporary creationists reject Darwinian evolutionary theory because they believe everything came into being as a result of divine creation, as described by religious texts such as the Bible.

One historic example of such a conflict is that between the astronomer Copernicus and the Catholic Church Russel, When Copernicus proposed a heliocentric model of the solar system based on his empirical astronomic observations, i.

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Religion and faith-based welfare: From wellbeing to ways of being Religion and faith-based welfare: From wellbeing to ways of being

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