In all communication there are undercurrents in what is said and conveyed. Undercurrents can consist of the person’s cultural understanding, worldview, past experiences and experiences, suspicion and prejudices etc. An important undercurrent in most parts of the world is religion.
Religion is not primarily about what a person believes in. What you believe in is of course important in terms of reference frameworks and explanatory models for what is happening on a personal and social level.
But religion is also largely about identity and group affiliation. In many societies, religion is the kit that keeps the group together. By practicing the different religious rites, you express your solidarity with the group, the tribe, the clan. A violation of religious traditions is therefore not just a “sin against God,” but a violation of what constitutes the security and cohesion of the group.
Group solidarity can exist at several levels depending on what the counterparty represents – ranging from belonging to a world religion through the belonging of a group in a world religion (eg, Sunni-Shi Islam, Orthodox Catholic Christianity) to the special traditions of a local group or clan. One difficulty for a Western observer is that the group’s religious identity, which may be threatened, vulnerable or dominant, is rarely expressed in concrete definitions or words. It is an integrated but a significant dimension of the whole.
Understanding of the religious explanatory models and the importance of religious identity can therefore be crucial in international conflicts, mediation and dialogue. For a Western observer, raised in a secularized and individualistic context, it may be difficult to recognize the underflows that relate to communication with people from cultures where religion is integrated into the world image and identity. Important factors for communication may therefore be overlooked.
Conflict Prevention Group considers it important that, besides the psychological competence, be connected to people with knowledge and experience of theology and religious knowledge, to as much as possible get an overall picture of the different levels of communication.