Who Cares About Religion?

Tanzania Photo: Kerstin Bergeå

A group of happy people on a seminar exercise holding read, blue and green signs.A group of happy people on a seminar exercise holding read, blue and green signs.

Religion and other beliefs affect how people think, act, and interpret the world that they live in. But religion is not only an issue for those of faith.

Everyone working with people in international development cooperation, in conflict situations, and in social or humanitarian work, needs knowledge about the role of religion in the particular context that they work in, in order to do a good job.

The World is Religious

More than 80 percent of the world’s population identify as religious. Values and moral issues, how we live our lives, what is perceived as right or wrong, good or bad, is often shaped by religious structures and by formal or informal religious leaders.

Religion and religious actors can have both a positive and negative influence on individuals and societies. We work to see the knowledge, experience, networks, and identity of religious actors integrated at a broader level in international interventions. We have, therefore, put together several tools to strengthen development actors’ and religious actor’s religious literacy.

Everyone Needs Religious Literacy

No-one is neutral. All people carry values and beliefs that shape our way of working and can come into conflict with the beliefs of other people. An increased awareness of this improves your religious literacy. With religious literacy, you are able to explore your own values in relation to other peoples’ faith and beliefs. In this way, you are better able to shape the conditions for a better world.

Religious literacy in 2023

Religious literacy is a prioritized thematic area for SMC and has a prominent role in the current strategy period. No other Swedish organization has invested such a large part of its identity in this thematic area or produced as much educational material. SMC’s long-term investment has had an impact both among Swedish civil society actors and international actors with an interest in the area traditionally referred to as “Religion and Development”.

Advocacy with Faith in Development

We are knowledge based, working with freedom of religion or belief, religious literacy and development policy.