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Challenges in Contemporary Religion

B082
Session Chair: N.N. | Thursday, August 27, 3:30-5:30 p.m. | Venue

Pauline Lere

A Decade of Ethno-Religious Crises on the Jos Plateau: A Socio political Analyses

While religion has contributed to human civilization, it has been manipulated and used to cause strife and wars. Religiously motivated conflicts have proliferated the world and the case of Nigeria is not different. Religion, perceived as personal, in recent years has been remote- controlled by man. The current heightened religious crises in Nigeria are traced back to the early 60’s. Jos, the capital of Plateau State Nigeria, once peaceful, with a temperate climate has endeared many ethnic groups. The city, known as “the home of peace and tourism”, has in the past decade witnessed intense crises situations, resulting to wanton destruction of lives and properties. This localized conflicts graduated into a global dimension attracting the international community. This paper explores the causes of the violence and the role of the media on the crises. The paper relies on oral interviews and documented research on the decade long crisis in Jos.

Valdemar Kallunki

The changing welfare role of the Church in Finland

The crisis of the welfare system and welfare reforms have created an opportunity window for the Churches as welfare providers in European societies. In Finland, the ongoing restructuring of welfare services and parishes means differentiation between secular and religious structures. Responding to changes, the Lutheran Church of Finland has launched a project called ”The Church and welfare services”, in which it tries to revise its role in welfare sector. The objective is to decide what kind of role the Church is aiming at in outsourced welfare services. In this paper, I will scrutinize the changing welfare role of the Church in Finland. Theoretical perspectives for the examination are the welfare crisis, individual level secularization and the differentiation of secular and religious structures. The data includes 25 interviews of parish and municipal employees and quantitative data gathered from all the parishes.

Rico Ponce

Secularization and Religion in the Philippine Context

The Philippines is predominantly a Christian country in Asia (CBCP 1999, 3). One can safely say that Filipinos are spiritual or religious persons. However, based on the survey conducted by the Social Weather Station (SWS), compared to five years ago, Filipino church members who now attend ‘church services more frequently’ are outnumbered by those who now attend ‘less frequently’. So the question is, how can we explain these phenomena? Do these facts imply that Filipino church members nowadays are becoming less religious or spiritual? Based on a survey of 4007 respondents from urban and rural areas of the Philippines, I will present the following: 1) discuss the secularization theory, 2) present some findings on the religious beliefs and practices of our respondents, 3) attempt to describe the relationship between secularization and spirituality and finally, 4) I shall draw conclusions and recommendations based on this study.

Ann af Burén

Multiplicity of religious self-descriptions among semi-secular Swedes

In my study of “semi-secular” Swedes I have found that when given the option they choose to describe themselves in terms of several religious categories simultaneously. In this paper I describe these religious self-descriptions as fluctuating and palimpsest. However, this volatility does not necessarily describe a change of attitude, beliefs, behaviors, aspirations and affiliations. It is a fluidity that is discursively allowed within the frames of a culture that offers a multiplicity of subject positions in terms of religious identities. It takes place in a context in which the boundaries between the secular and the religious are, in practice, fuzzy and permeable, allowing for signifiers to float between the different discourses on religion that the respondents are enmeshed in. However, this does not mean that ‘anything goes’– these religious self-descriptions have boundaries that need to be considered as related to the local discourses on religion available to the respondents.

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