One of the characteristics most often associated with religion is that it is a discrete source of value that shapes people's attitudes and behaviour. In some cases, these values may be negative such as submission or violence; in other cases, religion is seen to promote positive values such as charity and social justice. In recent years, the international development community has reawakened an interest in religion, and has directly embraced the assumption that religion is foundational of people's values, seeking how best to tap into the potential positive values while mitigating against the more negative values. This paper critically explores the assumptions behind this approach. It argues that there is no straightforward relationship between belonging to a religion and the values which inform one's actions and decisions. Drawing on fieldwork research from India, the paper shows that it is impossible to disentangle religion from its interaction with the social, economic and political contexts in which it is lived. The paper concludes by deriving some implications of this for the way the international development community engages with religion.
Devine, J.; Deneulin, S. Negotiating religion in everyday life: A critical exploration of the relationship between religion, choices and behaviour. Culture and Religion (2011) 12 (1) 59-76. [DOI: 10.1080/14755610.2011.557014]