On Friday, March 31st, the Pakistani Taliban planted a bomb near a mosque in a northwestern city in Pakistan, Parachinar. The city is located in an area with a large Shia population. Twenty two people were killed and seventy people were wounded and needed to be hospitalized. The bomb was in a remote area, near the women’s entrance of a Shia mosque in the central bazaar. Before the bomb went off, gunfire was heard, so it is assumed that it was a suicide attempt. Now after this stunt, people in Afghanistan or anywhere in the surrounding area are afraid of terrorism targeting sectarian religion. Many people have been killed this past year due to hate for certain religions or ethnic groups in their country.
As we learn more about religion and what is composed of them, I’ beginning to realize how intense religion is for people. It’s a belief system, but it’s also something that can cause havoc and horror in some people’s lives. Because sectarian views are so specific and demanding, people are definitely not going to agree with them. It’s unfortunate though that these people who share these beliefs get punished for what they believe is correct.
Islam is a religion that is practiced in countries that are predominantly Muslim, but is slowly but surely becoming the fastest growing religion in the world. It is predicted that it will surpass Christianity by 2050 according to a recent Pew Research Center Study. From now till 2050, the Muslim population will have grown across the world by 73%, followed by Christians who will grow by 35% during the same time period. Women that are muslim tend to have more children than others, so more are born and raised into this religion. The Muslim population will only continue to grow larger and soon outgrow everyone else of different ethnicity/religion.
It is interesting to see what the world will come to think of Islam and people of Muslim background as their population begins to increase and Trump holds power in office. Trump planned on banning people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the US for 90 days and all refugees for 120 days. If this ban is passed, people from these countries will resent America and will have negative feeling towards us. And as their population begins to grow, I don’t think that is a good thing for America.
At Harvard University, a graduate from 2007 named Sheehan D. Scarborough, recently took control of the LGBTQ student life office. He believes that one’s sexuality does not effect or relate to religion. He believes that one should not be prioritized more than the other when walking into church or the club. Scarborough had a very religious and strict upbringing and was not allowed to do a number of things. He struggled with his own sexuality and how to live with knowing that his decisions were against the Bible. Harvard’s faith groups are now very open to discussion about sexuality and it’s place in religion. Scarborough aims for positive conversations and outcomes for students who may be struggling with this internal struggle.
This past week, everyone shared their congregational visit stories and how different they were. I thought it was interesting that some churches were involved with the LGBTQ community and one pastor even had a lesbian pastor! The view that anything other than heterosexuality is wrong is something that is starting to evolve. I think it’s a good thing that the world and this generation are beginning to mix the two, because ultimately it’ll bring religious and non-religious people closer.
With presentations going on and learning about different religion groups, it is very interesting to see how and why people think different religions are appealing and why they feel the need to be apart of it. I started to notice that majority of churches are very eager for new people within the community or the very opposite, they could care less. The Riverside Sandals Church that was featured in one of this week’s presentations showed how much the church goes out of their way to make themselves appealing rather than another church that people have no idea exists. The Riverside Sandals Church uses technology to their advantage and makes it possible to reach out to many different types of people to invite them in. Back home, I go to a Calvary church which does the same thing. They are very inviting to everyone and uses technology to their advantage. Also this week, many people, including myself, went and visited different denominations to see how different groups of people come together to practice their religion, so it will be interesting to see how people describe the way the church brought them in/acknowledged them. Our generation can typically think that religion can be boring, so if a church is willing to go out of their way to appeal to someone personally, I think that is an attractive feature to a church and I would want to join just for that specific reason.
This past Sunday, the 59th Grammys aired live and many artists came together to celebrate the past year’s best music. Many artists performed as well accept awards. Newer rap artist, Chance the Rapper, won 3 Grammys and was overjoyed. When receiving his first award he exclaimed, “Glory be to God, I claim the victory in the name of the lord, let’s go!”. He then later performed Christian song “How Great” and “All we Got” with a Christian gospel chorus behind him. A Tribe Called Quest, composed of two Muslim men, put religion and politics into their performance of “We the People”. Rapper, Busta Rhymes, also joined on stage and thanked President Trump for his, “unsuccessful attempt at the Muslim ban”. A woman in a hijab then knocked down a wall constructed onstage. The most talked about performance of the night was performed by Beyoncé. She had special effects that made it look like she had many arms, mimicking Kali, a Hindu goddess who has been worshipped as the Divine Mother and Mother of the Universe. She wore a golden crown with roses and a veil that portrayed icons of the Virgin Mary, including depictions of the Virgin of Guadalupe, in Catholicism. These artists were very public with their display of religion and were fearless about it and I think this country needs more of that.
Religion is something that is supposed to hold someone/a group together in times of turmoil. The nation has been in an uproar this past week with some of President Trump’s decisions for America. The nation has been either defending or attacking his decisions based on their religion. The immigration act has offended many people in the nation, because it disallows people to come into the country, because of their background. This enrages people, because the nation should be a nation held under God and God does not discriminate against people. Trump thinks he is doing America justice by keeping people of Muslim background out of America, but he is only separating us more. God believes to love thy neighbor and to not judge. By banning all Muslims, he is assimilating that all of them are no good and mean harm to this country. As a country, we are a symbol that represents freedom and Trump is beginning to take that away. In chapter 8 of American Religions, Chaves says, “… people have been changing their religion to match their political and social views”, and I think this is what is slowly happening with America. People who support Trump would not like it if other countries banned us for the simple fact that we are from America. People saying that they support Trump, because they support Christian is outlandish and is false. By being Christian you would not support the immigration ban and would be open to having another descent in the country.
A muslim woman, Alisobhani, is currently engaged to her fiancé, Justin Yanuck, who is a Jewish man. They plan to be married May 20th, 2017 and Alisobhani is mostly looking forward to having both families together for the first time and she’s thrilled about it. However, President Trump’s immigration ban might come in-between this and may not allow the families to be able to travel to the United States to attend the wedding. This ruling bans seven Muslim major countries from being able to travel into the United States for a minimum of 90 days. Unfortunately, part of Alisobhani’s family has Iranian citizenship, so they will be for sure banned from getting into the United States. With Trump’s presidency, America is undergoing a priestly civil religion, which is the country coming first and it’s religion being it’s appendage. Trump is looking at the country’s well being first, before thinking about how it is affecting people of certain religion. He is molding the country to be mostly God-Believing in their religion. For Alisobhani, the wedding for her is more of a celebration of their families coming together and because of Trump, it may not be able to happen.
This past week, we discussed the different types of religions and how people behave when apart of it. We then watched the film, Born Again: Life in a Fundamentalist Baptist Church, that gave an inside look to how different people live their lives when apart of a certain religion. The kids in the movie complained about not being able to experience new things and knowing everyone’s business that surrounded them. Because everything was known around the community, if they participated in something that was considered sinful to the church they would have to keep it a big secret and not tell anyone. Even certain adults were not content and happy being apart of the religion. At one point, a mother was unable to see her kids, because she had committed a sinful act and could only see them if she followed certain guidelines and orders. It is amazing that people will live a certain way, because they believe in a certain religion and believe that it’s ruling is always correct. In our readings this week, it also showed that the involvement in youth in churches is starting to decline. The church is beginning to become a more older age group collectively. Younger people are no longer inspired by religion, because it seems like something that will limit them. Just from watching the film, it is apparent that kids aren’t thrilled about being apart of something that will hinder their fun and experiencing all opportunities of life.
Ever since Donald Trump has become president, the country has been in an uproar fearful that he will get rid of many minority groups that are present in the United States. Trump signed an executive order on Friday that suspended immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries that have ties to past terrorist attacks, including the suspension of the United States’ acceptance of Syrian refugees. Because of this, many people all over the country protested outside of airports and city streets. Former President, Barack Obama’s spokesman, Kevin Lewis, spoke to ABC News and stated that Obama “is heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country,” but that he “fundamentally disagrees” with discrimination based on someone’s faith or religion. Obama and the nation both are afraid that because of Trump’s reign, the nation will have a sectarian orientation. Last class, we discussed the different types of typologies of religious groups and how they treat others. The sectarian group is an organization of people who discriminate against other religions, class, or sometimes political movements. The people of the United States are afraid that this mindset will be okay and certain people’s lives will be negatively effected.
This last week we discussed the difference between an official religion and unofficial religions and thought about my past with religion. All my life I’ve been a Christian and have been told that my religion is what will get me into Heaven as long as I followed the rules. I’m pretty sure I am apart of an official religion, because we have a specific place to praise, worship, and practice and have an official book to get our scriptures from. I have friends that say they practice religion, but do not go to church. They believe in the religion, but they do not really participate in it. Does that mean that they are apart of an official or unofficial religion if they practice on their own terms? People also have the option to view church from home from the television or on the radio. I for one, have listened to church on the radio and have watched it on television. I didn’t feel as much of a connection when I did this instead going to church, because I was able to go on my cellular device and was able to walk away from it at any time. I think this new generation isn’t as connected to religion as they are able to be, because they have alternate ways to go to/view church. I think this makes it easier for people to be apart of an unofficial religion.