Globalization and religion

By Farrah Alladin

Religion has an important role to play in shaping the future of globalization, Calgary Bishop Fred B. Henry told an audience of about 40 at the University of Calgary on May 16.

"Globalization has its own logic, but it doesn’t have its own ethics," said Henry. "In order to make globalization work for the world’s poor we have to devise some kind of ethical and moral structure for it."

That structure might be found in the teachings of the church, according to Henry.

"Philosophers and statesmen for the past one hundred years have tried to take religion out of politics entirely, under the mantra of separation of church and state," he said.

The bishop insists that his concern lies not with promoting any political party, but promoting social justice.

"If globalization has a dynamic of threatening human dignity, then it is an issue that must be addressed by [church] leaders," said Henry. "Most of us feel almost powerless when confronting the phenomenon of globalization. To effectively confront it, there must be some kind of a balance with strengths that will be able to counterbalance some of the underlying assumptions. One of my contentions is that the major religions of the world have got that particular possibility."

Christianity, like other major religions, is as large and influential as any multinational corporation. Spread by globalization, it has shaped people’s lives around the world for centuries.

The bishop admitted that at times the influence of religion has been negative, spawning religious fundamentalism and intolerance. Yet at the core of all religions is the idea that humans are not commodities or objects, an idea Henry wants incorporated into talks about globalization at meetings such as the June G8 summit in Kananaskis.

It was in anticipation of those talks that the bishop was invited to speak as part of a series of lectures organized by Calgary’s G8 Community Building group.

"Globalization. People talk about it as an abstract concept, they don’t know how it impacts you at a local level," said Patrick McCurdy, a series organizer and a masters student studying communications. "The speaker series tries to get people from the community to personalize how the G8 affects the local Calgarian, and the local Canadian."

Jana Haska also helped organize the series. She hoped that the talk had attracted both activists and people from the religious community who would not normally come to a talk related to the G8.

"One of the reasons we wanted the bishop to speak is because he’s an excellent speaker and one of the church’s mandates is social justice."


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