2.1. Spirituality and the Belief in God
Traditionally, the concept of closeness with God has been understood as a religious framework. However, belief in God is sometimes understood outside the boundaries of religion. In both approaches, belief in God is a fundamental principle that forces or influences the individual to do something. In this sense, spirituality in human life is based on this principle which plays a central role in the individual’s life. According to the vertical-horizontal theory developed by Ellison
), spirituality has a vertical dimension that is effective in relations with God, a source of supreme values that influence an individual’s life. The God of the individual adds meaning and purpose to all life and the lifestyle of the individual. The meaning and purpose of life, which is revealed by the individual’s belief in God and spirituality, can affect relations with other people (Dyson et al. 1997
). Spirituality is a personal experience of the divine, whether understood conventionally as God or a higher authority or more secularly as unity with the larger cosmos (Gall et al. 2011
). Therefore, faith in God has an important place in spirituality. The belief that there is a creator and that that creator maintains order in the universe is vital in spirituality (Hardt et al. 2012
Spirituality is a prerequisite for religion, but religion is not a prerequisite for spirituality (Ekşi and Nesrullah 2021
). Spirituality might include a religious component, but it can also transcend religious and cultural borders. Ellison’s
) vertical-horizontal theory describes the horizontal dimension of spirituality as an individual’s relationship with themselves, others, and their environment (Carroll 2010
), and this approach could be regarded as the social-psychological factor. It is distinguished by self-transcendence, which can result in faith, meaning to life and the pursuit of purpose, connecting with others, inner serenity, peacefulness, harmony, increasing physical and mental health, hope, and a sense of well-being (Coyle 2002
; Hodge 2000
; Lucchetti et al. 2020
; Dyson et al. 1997
). A strong spiritual connection can boost a person’s sense of satisfaction in life while also enabling adaptation to difficulties (Delgado 2005
; Koenig 2008
). Spirituality contributes to individuals’ physical and mental health (Miller and Thoresen 1999
; Astrow et al. 2001
; Coyle 2002
). Spirituality has a protective, preventive, and therapeutic effect on physical and mental health (Borman and Dixon 1998
; Perera and Frazier 2012
; Humphreys 2000
). It also plays an essential role in rehabilitating the disabled and the morale and motivation of their families providing their treatment (Treloar 2002
) and in reducing the tendency to violence (Ekşi and Nesrullah 2021
Many studies on the positive effect of both religiosity and spirituality in coping with problems were mentioned. However, it is likely to cause harm when different meanings are attributed to spirituality, deviated from the truth, and exploited by authorities (McLaughlin 1994
; Juergensmeyer 2002
). Every faith may have a fundamentalist advocate. Some traditions or beliefs may tend to interpret negative events resulting from sin or God’s choice (Samuel 1994
). While there may be a religious understanding that sees the mentally ill as the devil’s work (Cornah 2006
; Kim-Goh 1993
), the spirituality of individuals can be shaped according to race, belief, and a certain region, which despises women or excludes those who are not like them. However, these radical approaches are the exception and difficult to generalize. However, many people have left the churches as a result of clergies’ sexual abuse (McLaughlin 1994
). With the abuse of spirituality by some authorities, individuals may fail to realize the spiritual, sacred, and psychological abuse. In other words, spiritual authorities may manipulate their followers for their own sovereignty through systematic indoctrination, put them under pressure, and control them and get them to do whatever they want (Steven 1996
). Therefore, there may be the enslavement of people in the name of spirituality. Afterward, there is a risk that such groups may turn into highly motivated and organized terrorist organizations (Voll 2015
; Pew Research 2014
; Andre 2015
; Juergensmeyer 2002
In some studies, it is emphasized that spirituality has sources other than religion. There is a tendency that spirituality replaces religion or is an alternative to religion in the modern era (Obadia 2017
; Moberg 2011
). Spirituality is sometimes used to refer to more particular, private, mixed aspects acquired from other traditions rather than religion, which is viewed as authoritative. This approach embraces modernity and globalism, freedom of choice, and cultural and traditional harmony (Heelas and Woodhead 2005
). According to Alıcı
), some people turn to spirituality for the dynamism of this world rather than the afterlife, a more egalitarian view of life rather than religion’s hierarchical structure, to move away from dogma for having different experiences and to benefit from all religions rather than a single religion. According to Giordan
), spirituality includes or originates from the holy and the emotions, the physical, and the sexual, and it examines the individual holistically. It can also be achieved through nature, music, art, philosophical belief, or friend and family relationships (Astrow et al. 2001
). The rise of spirituality is supported by the weakening of traditional moral norms that have emerged with globalization (Houtman and Aupers 2007
). In psychological studies, spirituality has been used together with religion and has become more widespread with humanist universalism. Spirituality is also used in ideological issues to support utopian ideals of dialogue and peace (Obadia 2017
; Moberg 2011
). Spirituality is also widely accepted in non-monotheistic religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism. It has even spread globally through activities such as yoga and Qigong (Veer 2016
). In the modern era, mysticism has also been closely associated with the concept of spirituality (Klein et al. 2016
; Holm 2009
). However, it can also be based on religion or other phenomena beyond the visible or the invisible. In mystical spirituality, people often hold beliefs but are not affiliated with a religious institution or movement (King 2005
2.2. Spirituality, Social Contact, and Multiculturalism
Spirituality has an impact on many aspects of life which can be explained by the horizontal approach of Ellison’s
) theory. In this view, spirituality has the potential to improve interpersonal interactions, foster empathy for others and multiculturalism, promote a sense of solidarity and mutual trust among individuals and groups, improve the quality of life and well-being, and provide a sense of purpose and meaning to activities in both business and social life (Karakas 2010
; Corpuz 2020
; Demirci and Ekşi 2018
; Carroll 1998
; Dyson et al. 1997
). Most importantly, it can develop individuals’ coping skills against the sudden developments and difficulties they face in life (Rippentrop et al. 2005
; Roberto et al. 2020
On the one hand, spirituality can lead to individualization and being apolitical (Mirza 2014
). Even for some individuals and groups, spirituality means being isolated from life and living a secluded life (Boynton 2016
; Klass 2021
), but this is more common in women (Ishara 2018
). Moreover, solitariness is praised in Indian tradition and it is seen as a necessary prerequisite for spiritual health and wisdom (Prabhu 2020
). On the other hand, spirituality makes individuals more social, interactive, empathic, extroverted, and open to differences with the idea that people come from the same divine source (van Dierendonck and Mohan 2006
). Spirituality and social life are strongly linked in many ways (Daaleman et al. 2001
). The social component of spirituality is defined as one of the primary components that constitute spirituality’s social element, such as being united with other people and God. Spiritualism’s potential and social nature provide a theoretical foundation for the relationship with social inclusion and well-being (Yoon and Lee 2007
). Therefore, individuals’ feelings of closeness to God can increase interactivity with people, the acceptance of differences, and participation in society (Çetin 2019
There are groups worldwide that have exclusionary attitudes and behaviors toward other faiths or races based on their spirituality (Arnold and Taylor 2018
; Thomas 2021
; Butt and Byman 2020
). Some fundamentalist, right-wing, white supremacist Christians in the United States and Europe, for example, feel their faith justifies anti-Black, anti-Jewish, and anti-Muslim discrimination (Burris et al. 2000
; Todd 2010
; Dobratz 2001
; Koehler 2016
). As a result of an armed attack on Muslims during Friday prayers in New Zealand, 50 deaths and 48 injuries resulted. It was understood that the attacker committed the attack based on his perception of belief (Besley and Peters 2020
). However, there is often a positive relationship between spirituality and multiculturalism because spirituality usually requires accepting people without discrimination based on race, religion, language, ethnicity, nationality, and prejudice. In this respect, those with strong spirituality can embrace more differences and be open to multiculturalism (Nagai 2008
). Spirituality also positively affects the coming together of different cultures and their efforts towards the same goal (Farran et al. 2003
). Due to the presence of immigrants with different religious and ethnic backgrounds in countries such as America and Australia, it is seen that the majority of the people are accustomed to multiculturalism and different faiths and behave accordingly (Susan 2011
; Halafoff et al. 2020
). Although the culture of the Syrians who came after 2011 is partially different, the fact that their religion is the same has accelerated the mutual adaptation process. According to the literature, these hypotheses were constructed.
Hypotheses 1 (H1).
The sense of closeness to God has a positive association with multiculturalism.
Hypotheses 2 (H2).
The sense of closeness to God has a positive association with social contact frequency.
2.3. Spirituality and Attitudes towards Refugees
In countries where refugees are present, their interactions with host communities often happen with mutual reservations (Colic-Peisker 2005
) because cultural differences, insufficient information between the two communities, and possible prejudices can make it difficult to get closer and contact (Hangartner et al. 2019
). However, spirituality and multiculturalism, as universal values, may facilitate reconciliation when disparities are faced. With this understanding, it will be easier for the refugees and the host population to eliminate prejudices and live together by increasing their contact in the same area (Crisp and Turner 2009
; Cowling et al. 2019
; Knappert et al. 2021
). According to the literature, these hypotheses were constructed.
Hypotheses 3 (H3).
The sense of closeness to God has a reducing impact on negative attitudes towards refugees.
Hypotheses 4 (H4).
Multiculturalism has a lessening impact on negative attitudes towards refugees.
Hypotheses 5 (H5).
Social contact frequency has a lessening impact on negative attitudes towards refugees.
Hypotheses 6 (H6).
There is a mediation effect in the correlation between the sense of closeness to God and negative attitudes towards refugees through (i) multiculturalism and (ii) social contact frequency.
2.4. National Belonging as the Moderator
National belonging is often explained in terms of ethnic ancestry and civic commitment (Wakefield et al. 2011
). However, civic commitment is more effective in multi-ethnic and multicultural societies. Due to the prevalence of multi-ethnic and multiculturalism in Turkish society, at least as much as ethnic ancestry, civic commitment is included in national belonging feelings. Spirituality, multiculturalism, and nationalism are intertwined concepts due to historical and religious reasons in Turkish society (Onar 2009
). Spiritual and religious, intellectual and cultural, linguistic, and traditional aspects and similarities in art and ethnic affinity, inherited from Ottomans and the Prophet Muhammed era, have led to an easier harmony between Turks and Syrians (Shaherhawasli and Güvençer 2021
; Grine et al. 2013
). During the Ottoman period, Jews, Christians, and Muslims lived together for centuries by forming their laws according to the norms of their religion (Gara 2017
; Idriz 2020
; Horii 2018
; Çiçek 1993
; Barkey 2007
As citizens, Jews, Greeks, Armenians, and Turks live together with differences in peace in today’s Turkey. In research, positive attitudes towards Armenians, Jews, and Greeks who practice different religions and live in Turkey are higher than current Muslim refugees (Yitmen and Verkuyten 2018
). This is based on a multicultural understanding with a spiritual, historical, and religious background brought about by living together with societies with different beliefs for centuries. However, some fundamentalist, right-wing, and white supremacist organizations in developed Europe and America or the Middle East and Africa have exclusionary or destructive attitudes and behaviors against different races, colors, and religions (Thomas 2021
; Besley and Peters 2020
; Koehler 2016
The recommendations of Islam regarding the acceptance of people of different faiths and ethnic backgrounds support coexistence. In this sense, some verses from the Qur’an, which are seen as a guide by Muslims, contribute to this process. The verses in the Qur’an, such as “to you is your religion, and to me is my religion” (Qur’an 2001, vol. 109, p. 6
) and “there shall be no compulsion in religion: the right way is now distinct from the wrong way. Anyone who denounces the devil and believes in GOD has grasped the strongest bond; one that never breaks. GOD is Hearer, Omniscient” (Qur’an 2001, vol. 2, p. 256
) make it easier for members of different religions to live together. In addition, in another verse in the Quran, it is emphasized that differences come from creation and should be accepted:
“O people, we created you from the same male and female, and rendered you distinct peoples and tribes, that you may recognize one another. The best among you in the sight of GOD is the most righteous. GOD is Omniscient, Cognizant”.
In other words, the message is to know each other but not exclude other societies. For this reason, nationalist ideology and conservative and religious people have generally been close to each other (Haynes 2010
; Cetinsaya 1999
), and an important majority defines themselves as both nationalist and conservative in Turkey.
It is vital in terms of social acceptance and tension that most Syrian refugees, who exceed 4% of Turkey’s population, live together with the Turkish community outside of camps (Murat et al. 2017
). In a study with university students, most participants stated that they are pleased with the presence of their Syrian classmates as they can learn a lot from them. They also stated that having the same culture, spirituality, religion, and culinary culture increased their closeness (Ergin 2016
). The fact that Syrians who took refuge in Turkey are Muslims facilitated the integration between the two communities (Hoffstaedter 2017
; Maqul et al. 2020
). Although there are occasional conflicts between Syrians and Turks, mutual tolerance prevails thanks to shared values (Kocak et al. 2021
). In addition, the current government highlighting the Islamic brotherhood and the approach of being Ansar given to the people of Medina who embraced the Prophet Muhammad and his friends who migrated from Mecca to Medina in the history of Islam strengthened the mutual positive view (Ghanbari 2019
; Danış and Nazlı 2019
; Erdoğan 2019
). Despite concerns about Syrians in Turkish society, the level of “social acceptance” remains extremely high. In other words, Turkish society does not reflect some of the negativities and troubles experienced by the Syrians, and Syrians feel happy and safe and are not exposed to discrimination (Erdoğan 2020
) since spirituality, multiculturalism, and national belonging are positively associated in Turkish society (Onar 2009
; Cetinsaya 1999
). According to the literature, these hypotheses were constructed.
Hypotheses 7 (H7).
There is a moderation impact of national belonging in the effect of the sense of closeness to God on (i) multiculturalism and (ii) social contact frequency.
Hypotheses 8 (H8).
There is a moderation impact of national belonging in the effect of the sense of closeness to God on negative attitudes towards refugees.
Hypotheses 9 (H9).
There is a moderation impact of national belonging in the effect of (i) multiculturalism and (ii) social contact frequency on negative attitudes towards refugees.
Hypotheses 10 (H10).
National belonging moderates the mediated effect of closeness to God via (i) multiculturalism and (ii) social contact frequency on negative attitudes towards Syrian refugees.
As illustrated in Figure 1
, direct, mediation, and moderation impact analyses were performed on each path to evaluate these hypotheses. Following that, the role of the multiculturalism and social interaction frequency in the influence of a sense of closeness to God on negative attitudes was investigated. Finally, the moderating influence of national belonging on each direct effect was investigated. All direct, mediation, and moderation analyses on the model depicted in Figure 1
included age, gender, education, and income level as control variables.