Religious understanding

In all forms of communication there are undercurrents in what is said and forwarded. The undercurrents can consist of a person´s cultural comprehension, world-view, previous experiences, suspicion and biases etc. One of the undercurrents around the world consists of religious beliefs and belonging. Religion is not mainly concerning what a person believes in. What you believe is of course important when it comes to frame of reference and explaining what is happening in a personal or social context. To a high degree religion also concerns identity and belonging. In many societies religion is the cement that keeps the group together.

Solidarity to the group, tribe or clan is expressed through common rites. Breaking the religious traditions implies not only ” a sin against God” but also a violation against that what constitutes the safety and unity of the group. Group solidarity may exist on several levels depending on what the counterpart is representing  – everything from belonging to a world religion through belonging to group within a world religion (e.g. Sunni-Shiá Islam, orthodox-catholic Christianity)  to the specific traditions of a local group. A difficulty for a Western observer is that the religious identity, which can be felt as threatened or vulnerable or dominant, seldom is exposed in concrete definitions or words.

Comprehending the religious frames of understanding  and the significance of the religious identity can be very essential in international conflicts, mediation and dialogue. For a Western observer, who is raised in a secularized and individualistic context, it can be hard to perceive the undercurrents that are acting in communication between people from cultures where religion is an integrated part of the frame of reference and identity. Crucial elements in the communication might thereby be overlooked.

Conflict Prevention Group considers it important, to alongside with the psychological competence, also connect to people with knowledge and experience in theology and religion to as far as possible get a comprehensive picture of the different levels in communication.