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The influence of religious organisations on community cohesion in diverse and deprived communities.

I'm currently conducting a research study (at the University of Manchester) about the role that religion plays in diverse and deprived communities. Specifically, I'm examining the ways in which it influences social cohesion. Thus, the overarching issue is whether religion has a positive or negative impact on the community? Can religious organisations bring people of difference not just together but also to appreciate, understand and value diversity?

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    Aug 2 2012: I suggest shared religious experience and belief in a higher power can be a powerful bonding and behavioural influence.

    However, its a pity relying on religious institutions is relying on something with no factual basis.

    At the foundations of religions are supernatural beliefs. Those that don't believe in these supernatural claims are potentially alienated or excluded. It also excludes opposing religions and denominations. Potentially religion strengthens the in group and may exclude out groups, not withstanding outreach and community work.

    Suggest it would be better to base community on something that is less exclusionary and does not rely on subjective religious beliefs.

    Also the aims of the cohesive group would ideally be positive or at least benign.
    • Aug 2 2012: Do such objective and less exclusionary groups exist though? Religious organizations often play the role of community hub in many of these diverse and deprived neighbourhoods. There a few community organizations, however, they don't seem to have the capacity of capability of these religious organizations.

      Can religious organizations make themselves less exclusionary? Or is that one of their fundamentally entrenched characteristics?
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        Aug 3 2012: Hi Jordon,

        You are looking to understand the role of religion in social cohesion in under privileged communities.

        This might depend on the particular religion and the particular community. Religious schooling for example might reinforce common religious beliefs. Are the beliefs benign? Depends case by case.

        Understanding does not imply any objectives in terms of improving things in these communities. If you had some clear objectives in these regards I might have some ideas. You mention valuing diversity. Religions have a mixed record on this.

        In Australia churches were the main providers of schools and hospitals. Good on them. But society doesn't need to rely on them now. We have state schools and hospitals minus the religious baggage.

        I can recognise that religious organisations have social impacts positive and negative and also care about the truth. Hamas provides social services. Wouldn't it be better if the government did or some organisation without an agenda. Religious organisations have a fundamental agenda that is not about improving society, it is about saving souls or similar. They exist for some imaginary higher powers.

        I guess religious organisations can be less exclusionary. Some are already more or less exclusionary than others, more or less sexist, rascist, homophobic, secretive, child molesting etc. They can do good feeding the poor etc. No issue trying to improve religious organisations.

        Religions are human creations. Humans can be tribal. Religions, local religious chapters, and religious people are very diverse. Religions seem to be based on supposed revelation, personal experience, dogma, authority. They claim to have the truth. They may be linked to certain cultural or social groups or races (black churches). If they already exist in a community why not try and make them more supportive of diversity. Worth a try I guess.
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        Aug 3 2012: If I was looking for harmony in society, reasonable tolerance, reasonable appreciation of diversity I would look to the enlightenment, to human rights, to ethics, to education not something based on superstition and dogma that may be sexist or homophobic in part, that would rather people get HIV than use condoms etc.

        Religions can reinforce tribalism and backward beliefs.

        When you mix in beliefs and teachings about the supernatural, beliefs in absolute truths, well it can reinforce bad stuff just as much as good stuff.

        IF the pope or the bible is an authority than can not be questioned, or is harder to address with reason and evidence when pointed in bad directions.

        Suggest it would be better if the good stuff was promoted for its own, not mixed in with partially backward theologies and tribal congregations.. Look for the common humanity.

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