In This Issue
- Church choirs decline, shift toward more participatory mode
- Current Research: October 2014
- Islamic finance facing new challenges, going green
- Israeli pagans face intolerance, ultra-Orthodox hostility
- Findings & Footnotes: October 2014
- Growing conflicts over Israel among mainline Protestant churches
- Featured Story: Islamic State’s growth feeding off anti-Shia, apocalyptic sentiments
In some sectors of American Christianity, choirs are on the downturn, yet this musical form is adapting itself to the new religious landscape, writes Cathy Lynn Grossman in a Religion News Service-based article in the Washington Post (Sept. 17). Citing the recently released National Congregations Study, Grossman reports that choirs are on the downturn especially among evangelical and mainline Protestants.
Choirs are still strong in black churches, where 90 percent of regular attendees report a choir at their main service. The same is the case for 76 percent of Catholic worshippers. Evangelicals reporting choirs declined from 63 percent 14 years ago to 40 percent; mainline choirs are said to be down from 78 percent to 50 percent. Grossman reports that sales for music for choral anthems has dropped so sharply that the United Methodist Church’s publishing arm, Abington Press, stopped buying new anthem music.
Those interviewed cited several factors for the choir decline, including the recession, high mobility in the U.S., and the “culture of performance and expertise” where amateur singing is discouraged. Some evangelicals see a different kind of choir emerging from the traditional performance choir. In its place are choirs that lead the whole congregation in song. Because a segment of evangelical churches are recent church plants, it may also be the case that they will begin choirs as they develop.
01: Although the Emerging Movement has been known for its promotion of diversity and inclusiveness, clergy identifying as Emerging tend to be liberal in their politics, according to a study by Ryan Burge and Paul Djupe.
The writers and leaders associated with the EM, known for its postmodern approach stressing community and non-dogmatism, have often differentiated it from conservative evangelicalism. In an article in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion (September), the researchers analyze data from the Cooperative Clergy Study, which surveyed ministers from evangelical and mainline denominations, finding 7 percent identify as “Emerging.”
Burge and Djupe find that, somewhat unexpetedly, a large number of mainline Protestants identifying as Emerging (the movement has often been seen as a refuge for dissenting conservative evangelicals). Clergy associated with the Emerging movement were more liberal in their theological and political views than other clergy. The movement was also found to be more diverse in ideology and religion—as Emerging leaders and writers claim—and thus may be a reason why it attracts those more liberal clergy. Burge and Djupe note that these findings may not necessarily represent Emerging Christians who are outside of denominations.
(Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1468-5906)
02: Researchers are just beginning to understand how religious leaders use social media in their ministries, but a preliminary study of two prominent megachurch pastors suggests that they tend to “broadcast” their messages to members and other followers on such a medium as Twitter rather than interacting with their fan base.
That is one of the conclusions published in an article in the Journal of Religion, Media & Digital Culture (August) by Susan Codone of Mercer University. She studied the Twitter activity (tweets) of Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in California and Andy Stanley of North Point Community Church in Atlanta. Codone finds that both leaders are “building influence outside traditional church hierarchies through their extensive use of Twitter and other social media platforms, as evidenced by their high follower counts. Along with other forms of social media, Warren is highly active on Twitter, with 1.4 million followers; Stanley has just over 392,000 followers.
Using a Twitter archiving service to access the Twitter activity of @rickwarren and @andystanley, Codone studied all the tweets of Stanley and one-third of Warren’s Twitter feed. She classifies their Twitter activity as “Encouragement and Teaching and Marketing Ministry, which falls more closely in line with their stated roles as evangelical leaders of megachurches in the United States.” Both Warren and Stanley use Twitter as a “megaphone” but neither use it as a “stethoscope” to take the pulse of their organizations. Because Stanley does interact more with his followers than Warren, “he may be able to monitor the spiritual interest and engagement with his followers while simultaneously broadcasting church events and opportunities.” Codone concludes that more research is needed to determine if more pastors tweet in the same ways as Rick Warren and Andy Stanley.
(Journal of Religion, Media & Digital Culture, http://www.jrmdc.com)
03: The growth of interest in pilgrimages is not so much a religious revival nor a secularization of a spiritual practice but rather a more mixed phenomenon, where pilgrims walking side by side may hold sharply different motivations and expectations of the experience.
In an article in the Review of Religious Research (September), researchers Luis Orviedo, Scarlett de Courcier, and Miguel Farias surveyed 470 participants in the pilgrimage to Santiago in Spain (known as the Camino), one of the most popular pilgrim sites. They find that the majority of pilgrims are far from experiencing a revival of Catholicism and tend to value “spirituality” more. The predominant orientation of pilgrims is one of seeking new sensations and looking for “life direction.” But alongside these secular and individualistic motivations, there was often an “almost mystical sense of nature—a desire to recover a sense of identity through a detachment from everyday life and relationships.” Being in nature allowed for a deeper sense of connection with the self, the researchers conclude.
(Review of Religious Research, http://rra.hartsem.edu/reviewof.htm)
04: The notion that there is increasing immigrant ethnic and religious diversity in Europe is prevalent among both immigration scholars and the public, but a new study in the journal Ethnic and Racial Studies (September) finds that both trends have remained relatively stable since the 1990s.
The article, by Phillip Connor of the Pew Research Center, uses data from Pew and the World Bank’s migration data base to track the rates of religious diversity and immigrant origins in six European nations: Norway, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK. France did not have consistent data on these measures, and Germany does not have straightforward data on its foreign-born population.
Because these six nations represent a combination of old and new destinations spread throughout Western Europe, they can indicate broader trends for the continent on religion. Connor finds that the religious distribution of immigrants in these six countries is relatively stable since the early 1990s. It is only in Sweden where there is a decrease of Christian immigrants and an increase of Muslims. In Spain, the opposite is true. There has been a decrease of Muslim immigrants and an increase of Christian ones, most likely due to the influx of immigrants from Romania and Latin America.
(Ethnic and Racial Studies, http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rers20/current#.VC7kBCx0y1s)
05: There have been claims that low rates of employment among women in the developing world are tied to their Muslim religiosity, but a new study suggests there are few straight lines between claiming Islamic religion and women’s empoyment outcomes.
The study, published in the Review of Religious Research (September) and based on demographic data of 35,000 women from Nigeria and Indonesia, looked at women’s employment in these nations apart from farm work. Researcher Niels Spierings finds that non-farm employment of Muslim women is not consistently lower than that of non-Muslim women. While there were some religious differences, there was not a clear division between Muslim and Christan women on unemployment rates. Rather, it was the ideological strand of Islam that proved more significant in employment outcomes rather than the differences between Islam and Christianity. It is more the case that “traditional women,” regardless of their religion, are employed less often. Thus, in Indonesia, traditionalist and modernist Islamic provinces show significantly different levels of employment outside the home.
Especially since the banking crisis in 2008, Islamic-interest-free financial initiatives have enjoyed renewed interest.
However, despite significant inroads over 40 years, there are still a number of difficulties on the way, explains Rebecca Schönenbach, a German expert in ethical and Islamic financing in the German journal Materialdienst der EZW (September). The oil boom and money flowing to oil-producing Muslim countries opened the way to the founding of the first Islamic banks in 1975. Today, most of the Gulf States as well as Malaysia have implemented laws permitting Islamic banks to function according to their specific rules.
Islamic financial institutions need to receive religious-legal advising from Islamic scholars who certify conformity with Islamic principles. They strive to hire the most prestigious scholars, in order to provide the highest possible legitimacy to their dealings. Fundamentally, instead of receiving fixed interests, Islamic banks share in both the benefits and losses of businesses they invest in. Some activities are strictly forbidden, such as speculation, pornography, alcohol, etc.
Worldwide, Islamic financial products make today slightly less than 1 percent of all financial investments. While most investments are managed in Saudi Arabia, Iran and Malaysia, there is also a presence in other places around the world. The first wholly Islamic bank in the European Union, the Islamic Bank of Britain (IBB), was launched in 2004, but it has not encountered the expected success among Muslim emigrants.
In fact, the IBB has been a money-losing venture, with a constant need for outside help. Most recently, it was taken over by a bank from Qatar. It has only attracted 50,000 customers. Indeed, since a bank based on Islamic principles does not merely lend money, but becomes directly interested in businesses, this requires more efforts in order to minimize risks, and the diversification of portfolio is also limited by religious prohibition. Thus, costs are higher than for a conventional bank.
In Germany, there are 4.3 million Muslim residents, and studies have shown that no more than 5 percent of them prefer sharia-based transactions. But, even many of those are reluctant to give up the idea of a fixed remuneration for their money, which leads Islamic banks to develop products imitating conventional banking practices at the risk of losing their religious justification in the eyes of strong believers. Still, Islamic banking can benefit from a more widespread desire of individuals to be able to invest in accordance with their own views and beliefs. In a country such as Germany, this has given rise to a niche of ethical and ecological banks, besides some banks associated with Christian churches. Schönenbach writes that Islamic banking could follow that road, but it would mean a reorientation patterned on individual wishes rather than on decisions by scholars. Each customer would decide which financial product meets his or her expectations. There have already been isolated voices in the Islamic financial sector pleading for such a new approach.
Meanwhile, attempting to lure more Muslim investors as well as crossover to the non-Muslim market, financial products that both comply with sharia and are based on renewable energy and sustainable agriculture are emerging in Islamic finance, reports Reuters (Sept. 2). Islamic finance, following prohibitions from investing in products involved in gambling, tobacco and alcohol, has only recently added themes stressing greater social responsibility. But the concern to protect the environment marks many recent financial products.
Bernardo Vizcaino reports that in late August, Malaysia announced guidelines issuing Islamic bonds aimed at helping firms raise money for projects ranging from renewable energy to affordable housing. Last spring a Dubai government planning body signed an agreement with the World Bank to develop funding for the emerate’s green investment program, including “green” Islamic bonds. Firms in Britain, Canada and Hong Kong are offering sharia-compliant investments in sustainable farming ventures, which may attract in the Gulf and southeast Asia as well as from local investors.
Vizcaino writes that “The reasoning is that green investment products can tap a wider range of demand if they are made sharia-compliant to appeal to Muslims. At the same time, non-Muslims who might normally shy away from Islamic investments—because of concerns about pricing, complexity and lack of familiarity—may embrace them if they are green.” So far, it is not clear if these ventures will be successful. In past years, when Islamic mutual funds made forays into the market for socially responsible investments, they have struggled due to limited distribution channels. Vizcaino notes that the new “crossover” products are not mutual funds but “instruments tailored specifically to invest in a certain type of asset in a specific country or region. They combine Islamic screens—lists of criteria for sharia compliance—with other practices required by sustainable investment firms.”
(Materialdienst der EZW, Auguststrasse 80, 10117 Berlin, Germany – http://www.ekd.de/ezw/)
In a country closely connected to its religious legacy such as Israel, Jewish-born Pagans constantly fear the perceived negative consequences of public exposure and intolerance both from Ultra-Orthodox Jews and from government, writes Shai Ferraro (Tel Aviv University) in an article analyzing the community-building discourse among Israeli Pagans from 2011-13 in the current issue of the International Journal for the Study of New Religions (May).
Until the late 1990s, there were only a handful of Pagans living in Israel. The spread of the Internet changed the situation, as it had a strong impact on the development of Paganism at large. There is currently a community of about 200 Pagans communicating with each other online and gathering from time to time, some on a monthly basis, and others at the annual communal festival in the fall. The current average age is around 31. There may be a few hundred more Israeli Pagans who are not connected with the existing community. Participants have noticed a growth since 2009. Most Pagans are eclectic; only a few are interested primarily in the revival of the local Canaanite beliefs.
Community-building has been slowed down by fears of violence from Jewish religious zelots who might be inclined to follow the Biblical verse “Thou shall not suffer a witch to live.” Moreover, the anti-witchcraft law—a relic from the British Mandate—is still in force in Israel, Ferraro remarks. Social networks, such as private Facebook groups, have made it possible to develop community activities more easily. Some Pagans intended to found an Israeli Pagan NGO, but finally opted to found an Israeli branch of the Pagan Federation International (PFI) in 2013, thus allowing them to launch an organization without having to deal with Israeli State authorities and to disclose the identities of several participants for legal paperwork.
Thus, Israeli Pagans have chosen to strengthen their identity by connecting with foreign Pagans and their achievements. However, there seems to be a long way to go to winning public recognition in Israel. Even in Israeli New Age circles, Pagans are not always welcome in contrast with their reception in the West. Therefore, they tend to develop a Pagan identity distinct from the wider New Age scene. In Israel, one Pagan woman observed to Ferraro, “one can be recognized as either religious, secular or spiritual”—meaning New Age, while often maintaining some form of Jewish praxis—but there is no room for being described as non-Jewish religious.
(International Journal for the Study of New Religions, Equinox Publishing, Office 415, The Workstation, 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX, UK – http://www.equinoxpub.com/journals/index.php/IJSNR)
01: The summer issue of the East West Church & Ministry Report is devoted to the Ukrainian crisis and its impact on the churches. Ukraine’s conflict with Russia is reshaping church relations between the two countries as well as the level of unity between and political involvement of Ukrainian Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox churches. Although evangelicals are the strongest in Ukraine, long considered the Bible belt of the former Soviet Union, they are experiencing increasing tension with their fellow believers in Russia—mirroring divisions between Eastern and Western Ukraine Protestant churches.
The support for Russia is often linked to a concern about the West’s secular influence on morality and family life, although other evangelicals fear encroaching Russian restrictions on freedom of religion. Another article reports on an Internet survey, finding renewed religious interest in Ukraine in the wake of the crisis.
Within Ukraine, several articles take note of the sense of unity growing between the various Orthodox groups as well as between Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox churches. The crisis has also intensified divisions between Ukrainian evangelicals who have become more politically involved and those maintaining their long-time apolitical stance. The October issue of the magazine First Things features two more critical articles on the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Presbyterian theologian John Burgess focuses on the divisions between the various Christian communions, mainly Orthodox and Catholic. He argues that all the involved churches often claim to rise above the political fray while charging the others of holding political agendas, but they encourage infighting by their claims to be the one true church.
The second article by Ukrainian Orthodox theologian Cyril Hovorun argues that the Ukraine resistance to Russia signals an “awakening of civil society,” but faults his church, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (the largest Orthodox body in the country), for lagging behind in its support for Ukraine’s independence, even supporting Russian sympathizers in the east. For more information on the special issue of East West Church & Ministry Report, visit: http://www.eastwestreport.org/pdfs/ew22-3pdf. For information on this issue of First Things, write: 35 East 21st St., 6th Fl., New York, NY 10010.
02: Darren Sherkat’s new book Changing Faith (New York University Press, $24) is an interesting overview of Americans’ shifting religious identities, applying a wealth of survey data to this issue. Sherkat focuses on how changes within immigrant groups, ethnicities and generations drives many of these identity shifts, which in turn shape various segments of society, especially family life and politics.
The University of Illinois sociologist tends to eschew the “big theories” of religious change, such as secularization and the market theory. In fact, he often takes issue with supply side predictions that strict churches are overtaking more lax ones. He finds that both “sectarian” and more liberal Protestant denominations are declining and that inertia more than switching defines religious identification. Uniquely, Sherkat’s attention to ethnicity leads him to break down survey results by ethnic background: Latin American, Eastern European, Western European, African-American and Asian, and Native American, as well as such variables as mobility. Finding a decrease of religious identification across these ethnicities, including among recent immigrants, suggests that secularism may be growing even though they may convert or return to religion later in life.
Sherkat’s chapters on faith and family in the second part of the book are likely to be the most controversial. He takes issue with other sociologists and commentators who link a strong, often conservative, religious faith and family activity; divorce and premarital sex is just as high in these groups as with other religions. He characterizes conservative religious groups as advocating “unyielding obedience, aversion to free thinking, and embrace of physical violence (in the way of corporal punishment) to enforce their will.” On education, Sherkat argues that conservative religionists are low in educational attainment. In fact, he links factors in their family life such as early marriage with such a deficit.
There seems to be some negative bias in Sherkat’s writing in this part of the book. On religious schooling, he writes that the “segmented world of religious schools raises questions about the social and political values being taught to children under the guise of religious instruction.” Critics may also charge that Sherkhat pays too much attention to religious affiliation rather than to different rates of commitment among adherents, which might challenge the findings on divorce among conservative Christian groups as well as show more similarities between practicing Catholics and evangelicals on some issues.
03: Immigrant Faith (New York University Press, $22) is one of the few books on religion and immigration to draw largely on quantitative data to document trends on religion and immigration in North America and Europe.
Author Phillip Connors of the Pew Research Center uses Pew research as well as other sources to show how religion often serves as a bridge for greater integration of immigrants into the host society, especially in the U.S., even while arguing that that these newcomers are not necessarily more religious than native born citizens. The American context is important, especially for non-Christian immigrants regarding integration and adjustment to their new environment. For instance, while Muslim immigrants in Europe experience low integration involving educational and economic success, immigrants of the same religion in the U.S. show a higher rate of integration.
Connor’s examination of the immigrant effect across generations is especially interesting. He finds that the religious factor also impacts the second generation negatively in so far as economic success, but in the U.S. and Canada, the occupational mobility of children of immigrants is positively associated with active involvement in a local church. But as for transferring faith between the generations, Connor finds that religious practice and commitment of the second generation becomes closer to that of their peers rather than their parents; although, in Europe and parts of Canada, it is closer to their parents.
Connor concludes that context matters in understanding the faith of immigrants. Those who share the faith of the majority in their host society experience the greatest level of economic and educational success. He cites basketball star Jeremy Lin, a second generation Taiwanese-American evangelical, as an example of such accomplishment.
04: What has become known as the “invisible aid economy,” which encompasses the growing number of Muslim non-governmental organizations, has injected religious motivations and orientations into the world of development and humanitarian assistance.
The new book Islam and Development: Exploring the Invisible Aid Economy (Ashgate, $98.96) suggests that these faith-based organizations (FBOs) are reshaping relief and development sector, which had long sought to separate their work and religion, specifically in determining the kinds of aid interventions they make. Editors Matthew Clarke and David Tittensor note in the introduction to the book that Muslim FBOs typically target their development and assistance work toward other Muslim regions and nations. The strictly Islamic orientation of these FBOs ensure their future growth, drawn from the charitable giving of Muslims, and may influence other NGOs to take aboard religious concerns in a more public way.
The contributions look at the theological perspectives and different Muslim movements behind the NGOs as well as presenting interesting case studies of particular Islamic development and aid efforts. An interesting chapter on the changing nature of Islamic mission focuses on the Turkish Gulen movement, stressing education and applying Islam to modern life, and the more piety-based Tablighi Jama’at group and the role they play in forming humanitarian values. Other noteworthy chapters include one on Muslim microfinance and its affinity with Islamic relief and development and its affinity with Islamic practices of charity (zakat).
05: The 831-page Eastern Christianity and Politics in the Twenty-First Century (Routledge, $250) represents an ambitious attempt to chronicle how the whole range of Orthodox and Eastern-Rite Catholic churches throughout the world relate to their respective governments, as well as to such issues and trends as migration, globalization and religious pluralism. Given the close church-state ties that exist in many countries with large populations of Eastern Christians, it is difficult to untangle the discussions of church politics, such as internal scandals involving church leaders, from secular politics in this volume.
The chapters are organized according to specific churches, rather than the religious situations in these countries, and several trends stand out including: the problems and challenges most Orthodox churches from post-communist countries face with both religious pluralism and disaffection from organized religion; there is little mention made to “Orthodox revival” any longer; the close link between nationalism and Eastern Christianity, which is frayed in some places, such as Romania and even Serbia, but being revived in others, most notably Russia; the continuing conflict between “mother churches” in the old homelands and increasingly independent churches in “diaspora” (a contested term in itself) in Western societies; and the escalating oppression of Middle Eastern Christianity, resulting in an ongoing dispersal of church members and leaders from their ancient homelands.
Mainline Protestants are facing internal and external conflicts over their position on Israel, writes Sarah Pulliam Bailey in a Religion News Service-based article in the Washington Post (Sept. 16). The recent resignation of Episcopal chaplain Bruce Shipman at Yale University over a letter he wrote to the New York Times linking growing anti-Semitism in Europe with what he considered Israel’s intransigence over the Palestinian, revealed some division within that denomination over issues such as divestment from Israel and anti-Semitism, Bailey writes. The Episcopal Church supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but there is a growing divide on the question of divestment. One activist said there is a “gap between the leadership of the church and networks within the church.”
Jeff Walton of the conservative Institute for Religion and Democracy said that there is significant pressure from groups inside and outside mainline churches to be critical of Israel. “This is most pronounced in the Presbyterian Church (USA), but we’re seeing signs in the Episcopal, and Shipman’s letter is an example of that.” The Presbyterian Church (USA)’s decision to divest from Israel this summer was criticized by Jewish groups as hurting interfaith relations. In a recent Pew Research Center survey, it was found that 55 percent of mainline Protestants sympathize more with Israel than with Palestine, compared with 70 percent of evangelicals.
The rise of the Islamic State can partly be explained by the fertile ground they have found for alliances with Sunnis feeling discriminated against by the Shia-dominated power that has ruled Iraq in recent years. That is the conclusion of Patrick Cockburn, the author of a newly-published book titled The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising (OR Books). Cockburn, the Middle East correspondent for The Independent, writes that while they may not embrace fully the IS project of an ideal Islamic State, a significant number of Sunnis have been willing to give it tacit support, at least for a time. The harshness of the IS will probably cause resentment over time, but it is not easy to break with a group willing to kill its opponents.
Cockburn describes a high level of day-to-day violence in Iraq: some 10,000 Iraqi civilians lost their lives due to violence last year, and the number reached 1,000 per month during the first five months of 2014. The survival of a unitary State in Iraq and Syria is getting increasingly unlikely; the scenario of a break-up along sectarian lines is becoming a serious possibility, which would mean millions more refugees. Cockburn as well as several other authors, such as Alastair Crooke (Huffington Post, Aug. 26-27), stress that the IS does not come out of nowhere and that its emergence is also an outcome of decade-long Saudi efforts to propagate their Wahhabite understanding of Islam. While the IS cannot be described as Wahhabite and Saudi leaders denounce it, especially after noticing a level of support for IS among Saudi citizens, the worldviews spread through Saudi efforts, including anti-Shiite propaganda, have paved the way for the ideology now promoted by IS.
While it is difficult to assess to what extent its leaders are strong believers in such ideas, it is also clear that many rank-and-file IS fighters are motivated by apocalyptic beliefs, writes Jean-Pierre Filiu, a French expert on Muslim apocalyptic movements, in Rue 89 (Aug. 29). Areas in which IS is active include those crucial to Islamic end-times scenario. In such a perspective, even the building of a coalition against jihadist fighters can be interpreted as a fulfillment of prophecies that lead to the final victory of Islam. The apocalyptic dimension does not mean that the IS is an irrational actor. It has a strategy—that it has been implementing step by step, and it is serious in its attempts to build a State implementing its principles. Although, it remains to be seen if the air strikes will disrupt that project and deprive it of some of its power of attraction.
An article by Graeme Wood in The New Republic (Sept. 15) reports that even the IS’ revival of the caliphate has apocalyptic dimensions. Wood writes that a saying attributed to Muhammad predicts a total of 12 caliphs before the end of the world. The IS’ Abu Bakr al Baghdati is considered the eighth caliph in history by his followers, and Muslim prophecy teaches that the battles preceding the Day of Judgment will take place in modern Syria, with a final showdown in the year 2076. Wood concludes that if “IS scholars are right, we could be as few as four air strikes away from forcing the caliphate to find and appoint” the 12th and final caliph.
Meanwhile, the Islamic State’s influence seems to be growing in the Muslim world, according to the Terrorism Monitor (Sept. 5), the newsletter of the Jamestown Foundation. IS’s effort to recruit worldwide can be seen in India where they have established a “cultural niche” through social media and chat rooms. Even though the number of Indians fighting for IS is small—approximately 100—a “virtual cottage industry” of pro-Islamic State propoganda has emerged, which seeks to “induce an artificial identity crisis among the young and impressionable.” In Kashmir, the IS presence is more overt, with the IS’s black flag being displayed by Kashmiri youth protestors, as well as during protests against the airstrikes in Gaza. Kashmiri separatist leaders fear the introduction of Islamic State-style sectarianism into Kashmiri society.
Reuters (Sept. 26) reports that the Islamic State “brand” is gaining ground among Asian Muslim militants in the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. Throughout Asia, including India, there have been approximately 1,000 IS recruits. In this region, “thousands have sworn oaths of loyalty to the IS as local militia groups capitalize on a brand that has been fueled by violent online videos and calls for jihad through social media, security analysts say.” There is also considerable trepidation about what will happen when battle-hardened IS soldiers return home from the Middle East.