INTRODUCTION As many of the essays in this collection indicate, spirituality is typically seen as an essential, positive part of who we are, something which unites us with our fellow people, our environment and the divine to promote peace, strength and goodness. And yet, spirituality can also be linked to conflict, exploitation and power struggles when it is mobilized to promote inequalities and private gains. In this chapter, I examine how discourses of spirituality have been employed for private economic and power gains in three contemporary examples, connecting this process metaphorically to theories of domination and colonization. Spirituality has multiple definitions, some of them centering around a personal relationship with the divine, while others remain secular, such as “the organizing story of one’s life … [which turns] around that to which we are ultimately loyal and which we trust for our fulfillment” (Bennet, 2003, p. xiii). Among the various definitions, the common elements seem to be that spirituality is something at the core of our being which defines who we are, what we value, and how we experience our relationship with the world. For those who participate in a or a hold a in a , “spirituality” is generally accepted to be the part of them that engages in these beliefs and in the acts of and associated with religion. The of most major – the structures within which so many people develop and practice their spirituality – contain concepts of human one-ness and caring for fellow people (Fernandes, 2003, p. 103). Even for those who do not practice a religion, spirituality can be a source of inner peace, a humbling reminder of something greater and more important than the details of our daily lives, and a way of connecting ourselves to the divine, the universe and our fellow people. There is something about this which is so humanizing, so opposed to material concerns, oppression and violence, that one would hope it would be a source of equality, egalitarianism, compassion and peace. And yet, throughout history and all over the world, religion and spirituality have been implicated in conflict and oppression. I myself am neither religious nor profoundly spiritual and have at times accounted for my own personal non-involvement in religion as a response to its connection to conflict and oppression. This informs my perspective in this paper, as does my status as an urban, middle class, Caucasian Canadian. I was raised by

N. Wane et al. (eds.), Spirituality, Education & Society, 205–218. © 2011 Sense Publishers. All rights reserved. EMILY ANTZE non-religious parents of an Anglican and Protestant background, I have never actively participated in an organized religion, and I have self-identified as either agnostic or atheist since my early teens. However, I have long had a strong interest in the religious and spiritual experiences of others, in part out of curiosity about the fundamental human experience I seem to be “missing”, which has led me to several courses in the of religion in my undergraduate education and at the graduate level. I have a deep respect for other’s spiritual experiences and beliefs in the divine, understanding these through my anthropological education as valid alternative ways of knowing and interpreting lived experiences. However, I have always remained sceptical of structures of organized religions, largely because of a sense of hypocrisy: most organized religions preach love, kindness and equality, and yet so often around the world differences in religious beliefs are the source of violence and conflict, or their is used to justify restricting the rights of particular social groups. In struggling with this seeming contradiction between religion and oppression, I have found the work of Leela Fernandes on the colonization of the spiritual, particularly in Transforming Feminist Practice (2003), to be something of a revelation. Fernandes argues that there is nothing of deep or spirituality in acts of violence or oppression, but that when faith is used to justify material human struggles for power, money and privilege this constitutes a secular colonization of the divine. This link to the powerful concept of colonization allows for a rich analysis of cases where religious justification has been used to promote the secular ends of economic and political power. The use of religion to justify political action is particularly evident in the actions of contemporary religious fundamentalist movements. This chapter will therefore examine three very different examples of religious fundamentalist movements which have acted for personal or group political gain and will explore how such groups have mobilized religion-based ideologies and a shared religious identity to motivate group cohesion and action. It will maintain a focus on the structures of power within these movements and on the secular (financial and political) interests behind them, particularly as many such populist fundamentalist movements are led by powerful elites; examining how in each case people’s deep spiritual beliefs are co-opted by structures of power within fundamentalist movements, and thereby “colonized”. I will also consider possibilities for decolonizing, particularly through classroom pedagogy, so that spirituality may act as a source of equality and harmony, rather than one of separation and oppression.

THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK While the theoretical framework of this paper follows Fernandes’s work on the colonization of the divine, my analysis is also guided by an understanding of the broader field of anticolonial theory. Where postcolonial theory has tended to address broad social, political and economic issues around the world (particularly in non-western countries) by linking them to events in the formally colonial past, anticolonial theory rejects the claim that the European/Western colonization of the world has actually ended in any meaningful way, and therefore focuses on