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Domestic Religion Sites

 

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People’s homes, no matter how humble, tell us much about those who live inside in terms of identity and interests. Many people mark their homes with indicators of their religious or spiritual identities, placing statues, banners, stickers, and other artefacts outside their homes or in their windows to let passersby know something about them.

A statue of the Hindu elephant god Ganesha in someone’s front garden doesn’t mean that they are necessarily Hindu. But it does express something about their interest in or reverence for the tradition. A neighbor who hangs a “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” flag in their yard in December is doing more than celebrating Christmas. They are highlighting the Christian roots of what is seen by many people as a secular holiday. An angel figurine in a planter on an apartment balcony does not reveal a specific religion, but it does recognize the home as a site of the holy. When people take the time to mark their homes, cars, bicycles, skateboards, and other personal items that are apt to be seen by others with religious or spiritual icons, they are making a public claim on the home as sacred space that adds to the richness of the local religious landscape beyond institutional religious sites.