An Introduction to International Relations and Religion (2nd Edition)

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The IRD project is collecting, collating, and analyzing primary and secondary source material on religious demography for all major religions in every country of the world. As data is collected and analyzed, estimates from these sources are made readily available and fully transparent to the scholarly community.


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The data primarily come from an analysis of the two largest collections of religious demographic data:. The IRD project at CURA provides a venue for the cross-validation of religious demography sources, reconcile conflicting sources of data and determine the best sources for countries where data are in short supply. The project compares cross-tabulated adherent data from demographic and health surveys, census data, and other social science sources with other demographic information such as age, level of religious participation, and so forth. However, survey and census data are lacking for many countries of the world.

Johnson, Todd M. Grim, eds. World Religion Database. It is the major source to render a definitive picture of international religious demography. No other database available today is as comprehensive.

Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, It offers the first comprehensive overview of the field of international religious demography, detailing what we know about religious adherents around the world, and how we know it. It outlines the issues and challenges related to definitions, taxonomies, sources, analyses, and other techniques in interpreting data on religious adherence.

Grim, Brian J. Johnson, Vegard Skirbekk, and Gina A. It provides a basis for ethics and proper behaviours, which establish the normative basis of the community.

Even as many Canadians move away from traditional forms of religion, many still draw their values and ideals from some form of shared beliefs that are religious in origin e. Third, religion also helps to shape different aspects of social life, by acting as a form of social control, and supporting the formation of self-control, that is vital to many aspects of a functional society. Fourth, although it may be on the decline in Canada, places of religious worship function as social hubs within communities, providing a source of entertainment, socialization, and support.

By looking at religions in terms of these four dimensions — belief, ritual, experience, and community — sociologists can identify the important characteristics they share while taking into consideration and allowing for the great diversity of the world religions. These schools were created with the purpose of assimilating Aboriginal children into North American culture Woods, In the government legally mandated that all Aboriginal children between the ages of seven and fifteen attend these schools Blackburn, They took the children away from their families and communities to remove them from all influence of their Aboriginal identities that could inhibit their assimilation.

Many families did not want their children to be taken away and would hide them, until it became illegal Neeganagwedgin, Under the Indian Act, they were also not allowed lawyers to fight government action, which added greatly to the systemic marginalization of these people. The churches were responsible for daily religious teachings and daily activities, and the government was in charge of the curriculum, funding, and monitoring the schools Blackburn, There were as many as 80 residential schools in Canada by Woods, It was known early on in this system that there were flaws, but they still persisted until the last residential school was abolished in As we now know, the experience of residential schools for Aboriginal children was traumatic and dreadful.

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Within the walls of these schools, children were exposed to sexual and physical abuse, malnourishment, and disease. By , there were more than 8, lawsuits against the Churches and Canadian government for their role in the residential schools Woods, A lawsuit filed by former students of the Alberni Indian Residential School was one of the first to get to the Supreme Court of Canada, and the first to deem both the government and church equally responsible. Apologies are still being made on behalf of the churches involved in the residential schools, but the effects it has had on the Indigenous peoples and their culture are perpetuating today.

The Christian churches and mission groups have done good things for societies, but their role in these residential schools was immoral and unjust to the Aboriginal people. In every society there are different organizational forms that develop for the practice of religion. Sociologists are interested in understanding how these different types of organization affect spiritual beliefs and practices.

They can be categorized according to their size and influence into churches ecclesia or denomination , sects, and cults. This allows sociologists to examine the different types of relationships religious organization has with the dominant religions in their societies and with society itself.

Religion's Place in International Relations

A church is a large, bureaucratically organized religious organization that is closely integrated into the larger society. Two types of church organizations exist. The first is the ecclesia , a church that has formal ties with the state.

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As such, the ecclesia forms the national or state religion. People ordinarily do not join an ecclesia, instead they automatically become members when they are born. In an ecclesiastic society there may be little separation of church and state, because the ecclesia and the state are so intertwined. In some ecclesiastic societies, such as those in the Middle East, religious leaders rule the state as theocracies — systems of government in which ecclesiastical authorities rule on behalf of a divine authority — while in others, such as Sweden and England, they have little or no direct influence.

In general, the close ties that ecclesiae have to the state help ensure they will support state policies and practices. For this reason, ecclesiae often help the state solidify its control over the populace. The second type of church organization is the denomination, a religious organization that is closely integrated into the larger society but is not a formal part of the state.

In modern religiously pluralistic nations, several denominations coexist. So historically, in Canada, denominationalism developed formally as a result of the Treaty of Paris in , which granted Roman Catholics the freedom to practice their religion and informally as a result of the immigration of people with different faiths during the expansion of settlement of Canada in the 19th and early 20th centuries. These are both denominational and non-denominational, meaning not officially aligned with any specific established religious denomination.

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About one-third are nondenominational, and one-fifth are Southern Baptist, with the remainder primarily of other Protestant denominations. Several dozen have at least 10, worshippers and the largest U. Some even conduct market surveys to determine these needs and how best to address them. As might be expected, their buildings are huge by any standard, and they often feature bookstores, food courts, and sports and recreation facilities.

They also provide day care, psychological counseling, and youth outreach programs. Their services often feature electronic music and light shows. Despite their popularity, they have been criticized for being so big that members are unable to develop close bonds with each other and with members of the clergy that are characteristic of smaller houses of worship.

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On the other hand, supporters say that mega churches bring many people into religious worship who would otherwise not be involved. A sect is a small religious body that forms after a group breaks away from a larger religious group, like a church or denomination. Sects are relatively small religious organizations that are not closely integrated into the larger society. They often conflict with at least some of its norms and values. Their migration from Tyrol, Austria, due to persecution eventually lead to their immigration to the Dakotas in the 19th century and then to the Canadian prairies, as conscientious objectors following WWI.

Typically, a sect breaks away from a larger denomination in an effort to restore what members of the sect regard as the original views of the religion. Because sects are relatively small, they usually lack the bureaucracy of denominations and ecclesiae, and often also lack clergy who have received official training.

Their worship services can be intensely emotional experiences, often more so than those typical of many denominations, where worship tends to be more formal and restrained. Members of many sects typically proselytize and try to recruit new members into the sect. If a sect succeeds in attracting many new members, it gradually grows, becomes more bureaucratic, and, ironically, eventually evolves into a denomination. A cult or New Religious Movement is a small religious organization that is at great odds with the norms and values of the larger society.

Cults are similar to sects but differ in at least three respects. First, they generally have not broken away from a larger denomination and instead originate outside the mainstream religious tradition.

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Second, they are often secretive and do not proselytize as much. Cults, more than other religious organizations, have been subject to contemporary moral panics about brainwashing, sexual deviance, and strange esoteric beliefs. However, research challenges several popular beliefs about cults, including the ideas that they brainwash people into joining them and that their members are mentally ill.

In a study of the Unification Church Moonies , Eileen Barker found no more signs of mental illness among people who joined the Moonies than in those who did not. She also found no evidence that people who joined the Moonies had been brainwashed into doing so. Another source of moral panic about cults is that they are violent.

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In fact, most are not violent. Nevertheless, some cults have committed violence in the recent past. Two years earlier, the Branch Davidian cult engaged in an armed standoff with federal agents in Waco, Texas. A few cults have also committed mass suicide. Similarly, in Canada, on the morning of October 4th, , a blaze engulfed a complex of luxury condominiums in the resort town of Morin-Heights, Quebec.

Firefighters found the bodies of a Swiss couple, Gerry and Collette Genoud, in its ruins. At first it was thought that the fire was accidental, but then news arrived from Switzerland of another odd set of fires at homes owed by the same men who owned the Quebec condominiums. All the fires had been set with improvised incendiary devices, which made the police realize they were dealing with a rare incidence of mass murder suicide involving members of an esoteric religious group known as the Solar Temple.