Religion and culture always exist in a close relation. Together with aesthetics and ethics,
religion constitutes culture. As ethnicity becomes part of the related concepts, the relation
with religion needs explanation. This article wants to emphasise that when studying religion,
a study of culture is necessary. This statement is argued from three positions: (1) cultural
migrations occurring worldwide, (2) religion as cultural identity marker causing the borders
between culture and religion to blur and (3) the location of religion within culture causing
religion to act as custodian of culture. This results in a situation where any signs of animosity
towards culture are interpreted as opposition towards religion. All three arguments necessitate
studying ethnicity when studying religion.
This article was presented at the meeting of the Association for the Study of Religions in Southern Africa (ASRSA), which formed part
of the Third Joint Conference of Academic Societies in the field of Religion and Theology, 11–15 July 2016 at the University of Pretoria.
This research is part of the
project, ‘Religion and
Culture’, directed by Prof.
Dr Jaco Beyers, Department
Science of Religion and
Missiology, Faculty of
Theology, University of