Dear colleagues,

After the undoubted success that we achieved in the scientific and organizational aspect, at the First European Conference for Religious Dialogue and Cooperation (which we held in 2019), we continue at the same pace. According to the established pace of holding this type of Conference (every two years), the Second European Conference on Religious Dialogue and Cooperation was to be held this 2021. However, because of the constraints caused by the Covid-19 Pandemic globally, I did not want this Conference to hold online. I believe that this type of conference should be organized only in person, to achieve all the desired effects in terms of exchange of scientific research results and achievements. In addition, the informal socializing between the participants in the Conference provides an exceptional and rare opportunity for the exchange of experiences and agreements for future cooperation and networking of the participants and their Institutions in future Scientific Research projects and other activities.

Therefore, the Second European Conference on Religious Dialogue and Cooperation on the topic: Relationship between Religion and Globalization: Religious Particularism vs. Religious Universalism will be held from 13.06.2022 to 16.06.2022 in Struga (North Macedonia). I am deeply convinced that the situation related to Covid-19 will enable us to hold the Conference in person. At this Conference, we offer a much richer tourist program for sightseeing of the most important Monasteries, Churches, and Mosques in the Western part of Macedonia, as well as all the natural beauties related to the Struga-Ohrid region and Lake Ohrid with its widely known beaches.

Processes of globalization lead us undoubtedly to the conclusion that religion in the global era is understood within the context of changes in the world in general. This is based on the assumptions that borders among societies are becoming less important and socio-cultural developments in certain societies are increasingly influenced by events from other parts of the world. Globalization imposes situations in which confessions, ethnic groups, countries, and civilizations affect each other inevitably, unlike in the past when they were more or less isolated from each other. All of this has two opposing social effects. On the one hand, there is a risk of an outbreak of clashes between different religions, which are present within a social community. On the other hand, these close contacts among different religions may diminish differences among them, and thus reduce the tensions and conflicts. Global society, among other things, is characterized by the conflict between particularism and universalism. The particularism emphasizes the importance of the characteristics of particular social groups. Those differences may be ethnic, cultural, religious, and regional. Unlike particularism, universalism emphasizes the importance of similarities among people and systems of values in individual societies.

In this context, religion as one of the most important social phenomena in the global era may take one of the following directions. The first scenario for profiling the role of religion in the global era is the following. The principal subsystems of the global world may create certain social and individual problems. The global economy and global political system are of very little assistance to the individual or to the social groups for confirming their ethnic, religious, or cultural identity. Identities are relativized and thus people lack univocal determination of what they actually are. All of that causes the crisis of identity within individuals and social groups. In this regard, religion could help people overcome that problem. Individuals and groups might reach for religion to ensure the unique but threatened sense of identity.  At the same time, they might misuse religion for proving the superiority of individuals or social groups over “the others”. Religion might mobilize the social groups having a desire to exercise power and influence in the globalized society in which they feel marginalized or think that the global society is a kind of threat. Because of that, the crisis of identity makes religious fundamentalism the most prevalent and the most controversial ideology of modern times. The claim of Universalist religions, that one God created the world, leads us to the conclusion that religion is one of the most important driving forces of globalization. Christianity and Islam have proved themselves as the most effective globalizing forces, particularly because of their missionary work. The secular purpose of Islam is founding a community of believers in which the practices referred to in the Quran, be followed consistently, and which in the militant version will be engaged in Holy War against the non-believers. The rapid demographic growth of Muslims already indicates that Islam could be a religion of globalization. However, fundamentalism is only a response to the challenge of globalization.

This leads to the realization of the second scenario about the role of religion in the modern world, in which it seeks to achieve a maximum universal approach. In this scenario, the religion tries to implement ecumenism and neo-ecumenism in practice, trying to unite different religions and beliefs. Rather than pointing out the differences, it points out the common values and beliefs, which are supposed to become global and common around the world. An example of this is the belief in universal human rights or certain concepts of social justice. Nevertheless, regardless of the aspect of observation, the relation between religion and globalization is a topic, which will be prevalent for a long time. The 21st century offers opportunities for showing the authentic contribution of spirituality to the globalizing world. While some Muslims are opposing the world of “Disney” and “Nike”, as a decadent one, a large number of Christians have accepted consumer habits without being aware of it. Although large corporations tend to steer globalization, they cannot do that if they do not convince the citizens of the world to believe in consumption as a road to pleasure. As we have pointed out, deepens the gap between the rich and the poor, and stirs up the Christian and Islamic fundamentalism. It is indisputable that Christians could go back to the Gospels to find in them the model by which to live. That model does not send the people back in the world of forests, oceans, and cities, but presents them as spiritual beings with material experience. People do not only require an answer to the question: “Who am I?”, but also to the question: “Who is the other one?”, and they do not believe that satisfaction could be achieved by the introduction of various devices and appliances, but it stems from a sincere striving for justice and care for others.

At this Conference, we will try to develop a fruitful discussion, and answer the following questions and dilemmas.

Does the role of religion as a strong guardian of national and religious identity lead to localism and prevent the influence of global processes?

Those that act in the name of religion believes that God gives the goals they seek.

Does fundamentalism is a form of collective identity.

Does religion as a strong keeper of the national identity lead towards religious fundamentalism?

Does identity politics, whether based on political, social, ethnic, or religious characteristics, tends to divide people into religious others” and “ours?

Despite the exclusivity of fundamentalism, ecumenism offers an idea where tolerance and dialogue are guided by universal values.

In the modern era, the ecumenical movement is extremely prevalent, especially within Christianity.

Does the idea of ecumenism and neo-ecumenism is myth or reality?

Does the idea of religious tolerance is a consequence of influence of global processes?

Do Christianity and Islam are carriers of spiritual and cultural globalization through the idea of ecumenism?

Is the idea of religious ecumenism a consequence of the influence of global processes?

Of course, we will offer answers to many other questions related to the topic of the Conference, in accordance with the topics of the papers that you will present at it.

For this purpose, we invite all professors, associates, and researchers who deal with this complex social phenomenon, from the fields of Sociology of Religion, History of Religion, Theology, Religious Studies, Psychology of Religion, Philosophy of Religion, Anthropology of Religion and others areas, to take an active part in the Second European Conference for Religious Dialogue and Cooperation.