Religion has and always will retain a significant place in contemporary culture, as various bodies of faith foster a philosophy of living for their followers. This involves the worship of specific religious icons and different perceptions of literature, which are combined to create an overall belief system and core personal values. These are important, as they govern how an individual lives their life and the moral code of conduct that they choose to adhere to, giving their existence a clear direction that is orientated by faith and cultivated belief.
However, various religions have witnessed significant changes to their ethos and attitudes in recent times, either through an adaptation to social circumstance or the development of extremist factors. While several of these changes are welcomed by many as hugely beneficial, there is a growing concern that they are rendering the religion that they represent increasingly irrelevant.
The Nature of Religious Belief
Catholicism is an excellent example of a religion that has struggled in the contemporary age, and in time being forced to address their values and attitudes to life. If we consider the concept of abortion, which was widely condemned in the faith for generations, then we see that conditions are now being applied by the religion in an attempt to accept it as a part of liberal existence.
The concept of a multicultural population is not new in terms of its principles, and through history there have been several prominent and forward thinking individuals who have sought to remove cultural barriers in society. This is with a view to integrating all cultures and belief systems within the boundaries of nations, where citizens will live, work and procreate in harmony and without the pressures of social prejudice regardless of their creed. However, while the concept is not new, it is still one that is at the mercy of an unstable global climate and the attitudes of civilians.
Interestingly, contemporary culture has seen a significant example of a global community, and how it has contributed to a vast improvement in an individuals ability to access information, interact and seek out truth. Of course, this refers to the World Wide Web and the online revolution, which over the last 2 decades has modified the methodology that we use to undertake both everyday and complex tasks alike. This should serve as an example of how a global community can succeed, regardless of the vast differences between the virtual and the real worlds.
How the Internet Provides Hope for the Future
When a society or faction of people are exposed to something on a frequent and daily basis, it begins to lose its mystique, regardless of its capabilities and the potential for growth. It is human nature to take for granted anything that resides as a permanent cultural or social fixture, especially in an age where brand new media and technological advancements are being made with impressive frequency. However, if we consider the mechanics of the internet and what it has the potential to deliver to its users, then its possibilities suddenly become endless and unlimited.
To anyone fair minded who has the vision to see beyond their own generation, the ideal of democratic rule is the only reasonable method of government. In essence, it is government for the people by the people, and allows individuals within a society to elect their chosen political leaders while still retaining a voice and a right to protest. In theory, this should create a society of citizens who are entirely satisfied and comfortable with their nations rule, and one that is both progressive and in touch with each others needs.
However, there are issues with this ethos which lead to independent conflicts between individual factions of society and the government, which are being seen increasingly throughout contemporary USA. The main problem is that while democracy affords a voice to the society that it governs, it can not take into account each individual element of the population and the subsequent consequences of several subjective demands. This puts a strain on any liberal rule, as it is impossible to create legislation that satisfies everyone.
Fighting for Multiculturalism
Aside form the current events throughout the US, the are other underlying issues that support this theory. If we assess the continued strides multiculturalism, then we see a nation that is divided in its attitudes towards the concept, especially in specific geographically areas where both racial diversity and resource is minimal. Recent global events have only served to create even more conflict between those who support and those who disapprove of multiculturalism.
When a country is at the mercy of fiscal or social constraints, it is inevitable that a faction of its citizens will react in an emotive manner. This is indicative of any society, where certain personality types are prone to the acts of irrational and impulsive behavior. However, while this is accepted as the consequence of enhanced stress and a challenged standard of living, recent statistics have suggested that an increasing number of hate groups are emerging throughout the US.
The term ‘hate group’ is a rather generic and vague media term, but in fact applies to several different demographics of society. These groups are essentially radical right wing ensembles, who generally stand against various types of government and government reforms. Patriot and Nativist groups are relevant examples active in contemporary American culture, and share the common if misguided notion that the US state is their primary enemy.
The Facts of Right Wing Groups
The statistics are indeed significant, and reveal that 2010 saw a vast 7.5 percent increase in the number of hate groups who operated within US boundaries. It is estimated that 1002 hate groups are now active and progressive in the country, and this is the first time since these statistics have been tracked that over 1000 individual groups have been recorded. This number is startling with regards to both its volume and its presence in a liberal society, and points towards an increasingly dissatisfied public.
Of all the senstive issues which determine the success of a relationship between a government and its subjects, religion remains one of the most pertinent. These issues are enhanced in a multicultural age, as several diametrically opposed faiths and cultures subsist within a single society. Governments are therefore faced with the increasingly difficult task of finding an acute equilbrium between serving the practical needs of society and satisfying religious requirements, and there have been notable examples of conflicts emerging from particular instances.
What many faiths and bodies fail to understand are the pressures that face a government in a democratic society. Recently, a school in Michigan was forced to make a judgement concerning a Sikh student who wished to wear the kirpan, which is a small religious dagger that represents a traditional commitment to fight evil. A ban was placed on these items being worn in December due to the items being considered as potential weapons, but this was overturned after being deemed unneceesary and unconstitutional.
Against the Principles of America
The concept of religious symbols and affiliated wear is a good place to start on this issue, as there are vastly different approaches throughout western culture to regulating their usage. Governing bodies in France and similar western european countries have reacted to increasing religious uncertaintly by imposing a widespread ban on the wearing of religious garments in schools and public auditoriums, in an attempt to difuse tensions and public displays of affiliation. Similarly, a UK air stewardess was sacked for refusing to remove her crucifix during service, after the airline recieved complaints from various passengers and acted upon them.
This is not a slur on western culture, but more a realization of the magnitude of melding numerous cultural and religious bodies into a weave of similar communities. It requires a certain level of tolerance, knowledge and understanding, and also vast amounts of interaction and communication to make the transition smooth and effective. The danger is that by merging different entities together without the requisite foundation being laid could lead to ignorance, resentment and ultimately conflict.
Teaching the Values of Different Religions
There are two major issues with religious teaching in general education facilities. Firstly, it is not considered a primary or compulsory subject, and therefore either abandoned or simply ignored by students who do not see the value in such education. Secondly, where specialist religious education bodies exist, they often teach only a single religious or cultural theme that does not encompass alternative or external influences. While this at least teaches at some religious values in depth, it creates a closed minded attitude towards the notions of other belief systems.