the Great religions and new religious movements. Roberto Cipriani

The sociologist and teacher of Italian, Roberto Cipriani says that the great religions adapt to the world and, therefore, will survive.

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Source: Revista Ñ. By Horacio Bilbao (12/01/2012)

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Grandes religiones y nuevos movimientos religiosos. Roberto Cipriani

The study of the religious phenomenon, their practices, beliefs and influences can be traced back since antiquity. Perhaps, from Plato himself. But it was only in the SIXTEENTH and SEVENTEENTH centuries when it begins to birth what is today called sociology of religion, a research with theoretical tools and empirical of the social sciences. Even then I paid expensive any critical reading of the function of the Church, something that may sound unlikely in this present abundance of information in the proliferating eye-catching and diffuse new religious movements. “The period of the enlightenment was important, because the opposition of reason to the religion began an evolution from the scientific perspective”, reviews the Italian Roberto Cipriani, author of a comprehensive Handbook of the sociology of religion (XXI Century) and a person skilled in the art, the same which he teaches on his courses at the University of Rome III.

Cipriani rescues the authors of that enlightenment started with the French Revolution and speaks of myths, the opium of the people, or of practices of worship in the new millennium. Among the initiators, quotes the philosopher English empiricist David Hume. “It was the first one to write about religion without any idea of the confessional. Published as anonymous, because the Church was lying in wait, it was he who opened the way”, says this expert who describes himself as a practitioner-critic of the catholic religion, and who assumes his character as a scientist in every word. “All the authors that I quote in the book helped to prepare a base with the rules of method against the ideological”, shoot. And begins to talk.

However, Marx, Tocqueville, Feuerbach, Comte, Freud did not hide his purposes, ideological or theoretical…

Yes, it is true. That are positions of the time. But now the field is more differentiated. We have to Robert Bellah, who in his latest book analyzes how historical four cases: India, China, Japan, and Palestine. Bellah is a believer, has a membership of methodist or baptist but you can never see in their books that a proposition is operational. The more ideological it seems to me Charles Taylor, rather than a sociologist is a catholic philosopher who likes a lot of catholics. Speaking in line with the official magisterium of the church. And then there is a line to be more critical but far from the vision of the church. It is the case of the religious market, it is called Rational Choice (rational choice) and posits that an individual chooses a religion because it is convenient. This happens a lot in the united States, by necessity. If a person is changing jobs and city and wants to be inserted in that community considered to participate in the celebrations, methodists, even baptists. But the emotions, the feelings, the ideas cannot be reduced to rational choice, the individual does not choose only for convenience.

But at the same time, the churches and cults lose adherents, is that so?

Sociologists verify that today there is a decline in religious practice. And speaking of secularization, the end of religion, death of God, but the religion will continue. There are authors very clear in relation to this position, Acquaviva, Cox… They argue that religion has a character of persistence in societies. I am referring to religion in general, that is able to adapt to what is happening in the world.

Do you really believe that there is that capacity? Does the migration of catholics to other faiths do not indicate otherwise, it is not them who is fit?

I think that there are always changes. Slow, or very slow, but changes are there. The culture of today is not the culture of yesterday. From one generation to the other are verified mutations decisive. The visions of the world, the perception of reality is what mutates. In religion itself there is a change, a development. The problem is to establish what level of change in specific contexts. Here, in South america, some things are changing, but not in the official religion, but the religion of the people, in religion as an experience of social individuals who believe in and choose to participate or not to participate in the mainstream of the church.

This is verified in the new religious movements…

Yes, but I want to say that the possibility of the development of religious discourse on the new religious movements is possible because before there was a change preparation. That is what I explain with my own theory of religion diffuse, that speaks of a type very common in the time of educating the young, socialize new generations into the realm of religion. The family, the church, the school, associations, more or less religious as the sports connected to the church, etc, Then there is a first part of the introduction of the belief which can then be elaborated, modified, and remain in the interior of this church, or transferred to a new experience that might be these new religious movements. And this can produce the mixture of different services, as in Latin America. Think of the cults afro-brazilians, in the presence of candomblé. In some cases there is a clear continuity. Lemanyá is the immaculate virgin mary, her feast day is the day 8 of December.

Many of these new movements are born of the criticism of the church… And the Church then called sects…

The new sociologists speak of the new religious movements to avoid the label negative of sects. This allows an opening to better interpret what goes on in those experiences. But the new religious movements seem to me to be matching, similar to the practices of the church. Some of their proponents come from a church experience. Not they liked it and took another path, but all this, according to my perspective of the religion diffused, is the result of the socialization precedent. There is a religion diffused by the Church as an institution, broadcaster and there is a religion diffused in favor of other movements that are new religious movements. We don’t know what the future will be but the prospect is that all this is a way to answer what happens. If a person is passed to another move probably there will be many more chances to be heard than with the cure of his parish. It is not a religious problem, it is a problem of emotions, relationship intersubjective, it is a problem of general culture.

Many of these new movements are born of the criticism of the church…

New religious movements seem to me to be matching, similar to the practices of the church. Some of their proponents come from a church experience. Not they liked it and took another path, but all this, according to my perspective of the religion diffused, is the result of the socialization precedent. We don’t know what the future will be but the prospect is that all this is a way to answer what happens.

Cases of pedophilia, the blessing of crimes against humanity, sacrifice of believers in the Jihad, what impact they will have on these religions?

If we consider the entire history of the catholic Church and other religions these problems are not a novelty. Are important points, but have the ability to overcome them. The current Pope spoke openly of these situations, something that he had not done his predecessor. Already in Ireland and in the united States are taking strong choices, because there is a consequence, economic also.

In the US only lost 4 million faithful…

And many more millions of dollars

What is the greater loss?

No doubt the credibility…

Do you have its correlate in the loss of power?

We talk a lot about secularism of the State and of the Church. The religions cannot be the dependent of a state, there is an entire set of influences. From a point of view, religious freedom is fair, but let’s put attention to a need, the need of the freedom of the individual…

I was referring to a matter of substance, to a political discussion…

Well, let’s talk about policy. The distinction between church and state is natural. The problem is the application case by case, in a specific context. Today what I see is a diplomacy, a decision to go little by little. But as you all know there is no State, pope, king, or church that can decide what an individual thinks or does. The individual is free.

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