Religious freedom is a mirage or a kind of heaven on earth. Man has always tried to create a relationship with the absolute, giving different explanations to existential questions. However, these roads collide with each other. Why can’t we live together? Is the problem religious or social?
The theme of religious freedom, although it starts from the spiritual sphere, is absolutely not resolved in it. Clashes based (or justified) by religious incompatibility are the order of the day. Some of us were born with these clashes going on and who knows if the end will be seen. The problem is far more serious than one might imagine.
According to some experts, there are 56 countries with a level of at least medium risk for the violation of religious freedom. The improvements that are occasionally glimpsed are mostly the result of local initiatives which, however, fail to expand their range of action at least at the national level.
To understand what stands in the way of total religious freedom, we can deepen some mechanisms of group psychology. If applied in an absolutist way, they close any opening.
If we leave out all the earthly reasons that lead to a clash between groups, the greatest obstacle to religious freedom is certainly the attitude of believers. What is religious orthodoxy based on? Gerard Lenski identified a fundamental difference between devotionalism and devotional orthodoxy.
Being devout is based on the feeling of an important private and emotional connection with God, while orthodoxy emphasizes intellectual consent to the theological doctrines of a given religion.
Starting from this distinction it is possible to reconstruct two ways of participating in the religious group.
- Associative involvement based on participation in the ritual and institutional activities of a community.
- The emotional involvement that sees religion more linked to the intimate and personal sphere.
These two orientations are totally independent and cause opposite behaviors. Those who feel attached to the doctrine will hardly jeopardize it with a different version.
Affiliation and membership
Regardless of what the individual seeks in religion and religious groups, there are different methods by which the group seeks the affiliation of believers and grounds their membership in the group. Let’s see 4 perspectives.
- Charismatic groups, all those who take on religious principles in a total way in daily life and without any adaptation, often make use of extreme persuasive processes. The goal is to bring the whole life of the individual back to participation in the group through control and isolation.
- The perspective that bases affiliation on granting rewarding answers to the person’s problems.
- The affiliation that is also formed on the possibility of transforming one’s life. In a particular moment of one’s existence characterized by a need for growth or change, religion becomes an engine of growth. It will be the personal history of the individual that will dictate the direction of this change.
- The fourth perspective emphasizes the religious practices that a group offers. The simple fact of finding more suitable for our personality pushes us towards one choice rather than another.