Faith-based organizations and other religious groups have taken an increasingly prominent role in disaster response over the years. That they are doing so adds to their established presence in development work around the world. In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, religious organizations have also become influential in disaster response. In some cases, they have in the eyes of affected populations become more efficient and decisive than the state itself and other humanitarian organizations.
Over the years, scholars have documented the rise of religious philanthropy. Our work contributes to the literature by situating religious philanthropy in a transnational context. Religious philanthropic acts, inasmuch as they are local moments of disaster response, are in fact very much embedded in a transnational setting. We argue this point as follows: The global reality of religious philanthropy is not an inevitable result of technological advancement and the global presence of religious movements. Instead, religious philanthropy carries what we describe as a global imaginary. In this imaginary, the world is in crisis and it offers an opportunity to demonstrate global compassion but also, in a paradoxical manner, strength and power. Our study focuses on the relief efforts of Iglesia ni Cristo and Tzu Chi.
Our publication will be part of the Routledge International Handbook of Religion in Global Society.