Religion is about 5,000 years old, connecting people of all kinds across the world. Religious affiliation is powerful, thanks to strong beliefs, faith in superior power, and good deeds of mercy and compassion. Scholars argue that religion fosters community, shared values, and social cohesion. Even though religion is not as popular as it was back then, we must appreciate its influence. For centuries, it has connected and continues to connect us now, regardless of race, age, gender, or identity.
So, with that said, here are some elements behind the power of religion in unifying people.
1. Inclusivity and Acceptance
Even though most religions are built on the backdrop of suffering and discrimination, most religious institutions constantly preach inclusivity and acceptance. This trend provides a safe space for religious people to interact. For instance, the growth of online dating makes it easy to meet local lesbians, gays, and such minority groups for spiritual support and guidance.
Masjid al-Rabia is a Chicago Mosque that welcomes LGBTQ people and encourages women leadership. Likewise, Christianity has been at the forefront in making room for the LGBTQ community, as it continues to preach love for all human beings, no matter their sexual orientation. As a result, gay weddings have been adopted by some churches, something never seen before.
2. Culture and Traditions
Religion has inspired some of the cultures and traditions recognized worldwide. These cultures create avenues for people of different ages and identities to unite and interact. For example, Christmas is a Christian festival celebrated across the globe by people of all sexual orientations.
The true Christmas spirit is for families to unite and share happy moments. It has become a culture that has brought people together for ages. Similarly, Diwali and Eid al-Adha are big Hindu and Islam holidays, respectively, that have created strong ties between believers and people of Hindu and Islam descent. Celebrating these festivities always creates harmony by brings people together.
3. Interfaith Dialogue
Peace and harmony, which are primary religious tenets, inspire people of different faiths to engage in meaningful conversations. This has also led to creating mutual understanding in times of conflict, addressing global challenges, and encouraging acceptance. In fact, interfaith dialogues and their effect on religious pluralism and tolerance have led to the normalization of interfaith dating.
Religious pluralismis a state of acceptance and coexistence of two or more religious beliefs and granting individuals of different religions equal rights while treating them with respect and tolerance. Although difficult to achieve, interfaith dialogues, amongst other factors, can help achieve mutual respect.
4. Support System
Religions have built reliable support systems online where people can contact them for help. This system includes having a community of believers attend to those needing help through counseling or lacking necessary resources.
When a person makes contact requiring guidance, the religious community recommends inspirational scriptures, prays for them, and provides spiritual fellowship. Ongoing follow-ups help the needy person connect with people. These forums are deemed safe and non-judgemental by most people needing guidance.
5. Social and Political Engagement
Religious institutions help communicate messages that strive to bring positive change and sanity into the world. This includes conducting public awareness campaigns online.
For example, the church can raise awareness about sexual abuse, climate change, and suicide prevention. Such campaigns connect religious institutions with other organizations and individuals that support the same cause.
In a display of brevity, a Berlin mosque flew a rainbow flag supporting Pride Month. This example of advocacy and activism also falls under social and political engagement. In the online world, such pictures will unite people that spread awareness about LGBTQ rights.
People of faith have embraced education and are setting up schools dedicated to religious studies and a wide range of academic programs in physical classes and online. Moreover, these institutions offer scholarships, increasing the number of people they can help change their life. Additionally, adopting e-learning in these institutions has connected people via peer-to-peer studies and group projects, creating an inclusive learning environment.
7. Online Mass Meetings
Each religion has its holy day set aside for worship. While these meetings are dominantly physical, technology has led people to embrace attending mass services online via social media like Facebook and YouTube. These online meetings provide an inclusive and judgment-free space to acquire spiritual nourishment.
While COVID-19 may have accelerated this trend due to the social distancing guidelines and safety policies, things have never been the same. Even after returning to normalcy, in-person attendance has significantly dropped, proving that people still prefer online mass services.
Religion is a powerful force for uniting people. Furthermore, religions embracing online systems can reach bigger audiences and connect more people. Additionally, as religion becomes less conservative, it pulls even larger crowds. People of different ages, sexual orientations, gender, and age find it safe for spiritual nourishment, guidance, interactions, and education.