Role of Religion in Appiah’s ‘The Case for Contamination’


Students Name

Institution of Affiliation


Role of Religion in Appiah’s ‘The Case for Contamination’

The Case for Contamination is an essay written by Kwame Antony Appiah and to which the author focuses on three main issues that are interrelated throughout the essay. Cultural diversity, globalization as well as ethical considerations are among the interrelated issues in the essay. Religion in the essay plays two main roles within the interrelated issues, the claims made by the individuals in favor of globalization and those against globalization. Religion can be positively used to protect the cultural diversity in the idea of globalization and in the same way it could be used as a double-edged sword concerning the role that religion plays in globalization. Religion is an excellent way for individuals to keep in touch with their cultures and traditions as the issue of globalization becomes bigger.

Sipho is a religious man from the Zulu tribe originating from the province of South Africa of KwaZulu-Natal. Sipho was raised with the strong traditions based on the culture he was born in, but despite being brought up and taught within the rich cultures of their traditions, through his encounters and exposures, Sipho has been greatly affected by globalization in ways such as through the television. One of such is that Sipho was greatly influenced by the soap opera by the name “Days of Our Lives” and he explains how the soap had aided him in fixing his relationship with his father. But at the same time, certain aspects such as women dating before the age of 20 were among the issues that were still unacceptable in their culture.

The role of religion in the globalization process can also be responsible for harming the situation. The preservationists fear globalization and as well are scared that it will have some negative impacts on their culture. Every individual’s life is unique and different from the other. People range from sex, diverse cultural background as well as religion, but at the same time, they are connected to one another no matter the perspectives as deep inside, all individuals are the same. Whether through the media or conversation, people are constantly exposed to new ideas that allow for a change in their cultures. Conversation is an essential factor in the aspect of social growth, and therefore people must learn what every person’s detonation of living an average life is before they open their minds and at the same time learn to tolerate with the varying ideas and rituals that different people hold. According to Appiah, he doesn’t mean that people should agree with each and every culture that they come across but through conversations, we are able to see the different perceptions on the subjects and grow to accept and appreciate the values upheld by the various cultures.

Appiah in his analysis claims that one of the roles of religion is the creation of a global society that is not divided along the cultural ties and this implies that religion creates a society unto which all the people have to share a common culture. The common culture refers to the submission to a single god, and this depends on the religion. The author refers to the ummah, a global community that is made up of Muslims providing membership to all the people who share the same beliefs and faith as them. In this part, the author uses the Ummah group to demonstrate that religion allows different individuals from various backgrounds to share a common faith. The role of religion, therefore, is to bring about equality in the globe as it is evident that religion allows people with various economic backgrounds to be equal on the basis of religion. In each and every religion, the individuals who believe in that religion share a common faith making them equal. With the people believing and sharing the same faith, the social-economic background becomes irrelevant as no such religion in the world defines the political as well as the social-economic status of its members. With no distinctions in faith, religion, therefore, can be termed as play the crucial role of uniting people bringing an aspect of equality around the globe.

I do agree with the author’s analysis concerning the role of religion. The reason is that since time in memorial, religion has consequently been referred to as a social institution enabling individuals from different backgrounds to share a common culture. For example, Christianity is one of the global religion meaning it has followers from all over the world and most of the people come from different backgrounds. Despite having different backgrounds, all the members of the Christian religion do share a common culture, and that is Christianity. In the same manner, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism are also global religions that play the same role as Christianity in ensuring equality among believers who tend to possess different backgrounds. Under the issue of religion, no single individual identifies themselves with their culture. For example, people sharing the Islamic faith term themselves as being Muslims but do not relate to them from being from a certain cultural background. Besides, religion ensures that equality of all is attained by providing that all the members of a particular religion share a common faith. Religious faith is therefore at no instance dependent on a personal social, economic or even the political status.

As in the case of Sipho being brought up in a religious background and being influenced globalization in making various decisions. For example, in his case mending their relationship with his father imply that globalization plays a significant role in shaping the culture of the people either positively as in Sipho’s case or even negatively in the cases of the soap operas promoting sexual influence to young people under the age of 20 years. In connection to globalization, religion, therefore, plays the role of mending the broken social values and thus contribute to enriching the culture of that community by promoting their beliefs. For decades now religion has contributed in uniting people and as well ensuring equality no matter the backgrounds, and therefore, I do possess the same approach to that of Appiah in the role of religion in promoting equality all over the globe.

Work Cited

Appiah, Kwame Anthony. “The case for contamination.” New York Times Magazine 1 (2006): 32.