Presentation of the working group Religion and Emancipation

, by  Ghorbani Mégane

In 2010, 84% of the world population identifies to one of the five major religions (Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism) according to a demographic study of the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. It is thus undeniable that religions, in all their diversity, are widely present and disseminated across populations worldwide. They include systems of beliefs and social practices, sometimes economic and political, influencing the perceptions and actions of individuals. Beyond the individual dimension, religions establish – heterogeneously - values ​​and social behavior. As can show some sociologies of the electoral vote, religions can also be the source of political decisions among voters, and religious beliefs can feed visions and discourse surrounding policies. Initiators of visions, practices and social spaces, religions are important elements to consider in the analysis and initiation of all forms of mobilization.

Neglect, or even reject them, would be to delete the factors of shares and to alienate identities and visions of actors that can work for the emancipation of peoples, communities and individuals that compose them. Make invisible this dimension or discredit it is a form of domination, a domination not only of certain ideologies - which can themselves sometimes claim a religious aspect or nonreligious one - but also a domination that is exercised within the scope of movements that claim to be fighting for emancipation. This discrimination between inter and intra-movements can be observed in many countries, including the famous example in France the women’s feminist field where there is a marginalization of veiled Muslim women veiled by secularist feminists who consider that accepting the manifestation of a religious affiliation is a form of oppression. This translates into a tendency to consider that there is only one form of activism and expression of feminism, forgetting the diversity of identities of those who make up the struggle for gender equality, and seeking to choke them. Include the religious factor in the analysis of the struggles not only permit to highlight forms of discrimination that may be victims defenders of emancipation but also remind the diversity of social movements (and the actors that compose them), and finally the plurality of forms of struggles that have a common goal, the one of emancipation of all.

The group religion and emancipation wants to highlight this plurality, discuss the diversity of movements that act in favor of emancipation, from a perspective of inclusion and horizontality. This group seeks to bring out other forms of mobilizations - too often marginalized of dominant movements – that inspire or rely on religion to advance toward a more fair and equitable world where all people will be able to emancipate freely, without distinction of race, class, gender, sexual orientation or any other factor of classification / prioritization social.

Nevertheless, the question that arises is how far the movements - that are inspired by religious or not - are willing to go to accept the emancipation of all. How to ensure that the religious vision does not take precedence over a vision of total emancipation? On topics such as gender equality, homosexuality, abortion, for example, might there be some challenges to anticipate and overcome? Conversely, are there not already movements that are inspired by religious or even act in the religious field, struggling constantly for the fundamental human rights of people in their entirety ? Should we not finally overcome this perceived dichotomy between religion and emancipation to understand how two world views - between many others - can hybridize, that is to say act in relational and simultaneous way, without that one takes over the other? How to make the comprehension of this complexity more accessible to those who tend to see things in a binary manner? How to make it a wealth?

The peculiarity of the working group religion and emancipation, a multicultural, multilingual and multi-religious group, is its insertion in processes related to the World Social Forum. This group meets the needs, initiatives and questions formulated by the various social movements gathered at the meetings of convergence of the WSF 2013 and 2015. It will then search to provide a space for discussion between actors already involved on reflections on the theme and religion and emancipation, and continue discussions to prepare his participation in the next World Social Forum in Montreal.