* Od 5 do 30 września 2017 r. - piesza pielgrzymka do Santiago de Compostela
* bezterminowo: Akcja społeczna Zielone Bronowice

czwartek, 18 stycznia 2018

Influence of Religion on the Process of Migration

The religious persecution that drove settlers from Europe to North America sprang from the conviction, held by Protestants and Catholics alike, that uniformity of religion must exist in any given society. This conviction rested on the belief that there was one true religion and that it was the duty of the civil authorities to impose it, forcibly if necessary, in the interest of saving the souls of all citizens. Nonconformists could expect no mercy and might be executed as heretics. Some religious migrants who arrived in the new areas came “to catch fish” but the great majority left Europe to worship God in the way they believed to be correct. In my essay I want to analyze a case study from Hutterite history.

In the 1529, during the early years of the Protestant Reformation, Jacob Hutter emerged as a leader of an Anabaptist group in the Austrian province of Tyrol. They were severely persecuted by their neighbors and lost approximately 80 percent of their members in first five years of their existence. The best solution for the discriminated communities was a rupture of all social ties with oppressive authorities and mass wandering to “more friendly” areas for dissenters.

Initially, refugees were looking for a safe place in Europe. Small groups of Anabaptists travelled the Tyrolean river routes on the Inn and the Danube, and then proceeded on foot through the forests to Moravia. They were integrated into existing colonies, some prosperous, others almost extinct, and yet others completely new. From this point on, the identity of refugees was formed by the integrating force of their religion. The Hutterite case follows a process of collective transformation involving the use of old social networks to produce new ones. In Moravia they became Hutterites, with very well-defined internal rules and moral conduct.

Continually persecuted, many moved to Russia, where they were promised toleration for their beliefs and practices. This lasted about 100 years before the czars forced them into the national schools and the military. The Hutterites always refused public education and military service.

A chance for many persecuted denominations in Europe was settlement in colonies of North America. Between 1874 and 1877, all 800 surviving Hutterites emigrated to the United States. World War I brought persecution from the government because the Hutterites refused to serve in the military. As a result, almost all of them escaped to western Canada which granted them immunity from the draft. Since that time, many have moved back to the United States.

When groups meet and live in the same space, they all too often become enemies. Their enmity is caused by their different, incompatible cultures. A model developed by John Berry includes four types of acculturation strategies: integration, assimilation, separation, and marginalization. Hutterites believe that salvation is found in total submission to the group, which is more important than the individual. One of their original basic tenets was that believing Hutterites must isolate from nonbelieving spouses. It was obvious what strategy they would choose. Separation is defined as maintenance of one’s own cultural identity and showing little interest in building up positive relations with other cultural groups, adopting their customs, or accepting the host society’s values. Interactions are restricted to a minimum of communication and social contacts.

In this case isolation is not only a defense mechanism but is directly related to the religion. Hutterite clothes not only emphasize modesty but also separation from the world. The women put on ankle-length dresses and a kerchief-style head covering with polka dots. The men wear dark trousers held in place by black suspenders. Hutterites speak a Carinthian German dialect known as Hutterisch. In their colonies they use modern technologies for economic independence.

Nowadays, the only threat to Hutterites is… biology. The Anabaptist groups have many unique genetic disorders as a result of small founding populations and cultural isolation. Most of the more than 45,000 Hutterites in North America can trace their ancestry back to a group of 89 founding members. Small founding populations and isolation result in genetic homogeneity and can greatly skew the prevalence of certain genetic disorders, particularly autosomal recessive conditions. I could not find any reliable statistics except the database focuses on single-gene Mendelian disorders and the specific mutations that have been reported in Canada.

The problem comes from too small a gene pool. The parents of most individuals with genetic diseases have been closely related by blood. In recessive disorders, if both parents carry the same gene for the same disease trait, there is an increased risk that their children may inherit the two genes necessary for development of the disease. There is a high probability that the Hutterites will have to reform their rules and allow the influx of new blood to survive.

* Fragment moich rozważań w nawiązaniu do zagadnień poruszanych na kursie z psychologii religii: "Migration and Religion. Past and Present in V4 Countries."

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