The Role of Religion in Society Essay

The Role of Religion in Society Essay

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The Role of Religion in Society

The role of religion in society is definately a dynamic one. The
relationship between both religion and society is always changing.
Religion effects different societies in different ways and different
forms, causing the forms of society to change according to a change in
religion. Religion can be a driving force in society, but as a
reactionary rather than in a radical way.

Functionalism

Functionalists believe that religion maintains social solidarity and
value consensus amongst a society's population and this helps maintain
the well-being of society. In his Elementory Forms Of Religious Life,
Durkheim argues that social life could only exist if values were
shared and society integrated into a coherent whole. Religion helps
value consensus as it undergoes unifying beliefs and practices which
help people involved, attatch meaning to the world around them. The
sacred and profane is Durkheim's distinction between people and
society.The sacred are symbols for society to worship. When they say
they are worshipping a "God", they are actually worshipping society.
The relationship between God and Humans (Power and Dependance) in most
religions reflects that of Society and Humans. It is not God that
makes us behave in a certain way, or punishes us, it is society.

Collective conscience and collective worship towards the sacred
promotes social solidarity and value consensus. The sacred will be
looked upon in times of everyday activity and therefore will help
guide the individual accordingly, to the value consensus of the
society. By worshipping together, a sense of commitment and belonging
are united...


... middle of paper ...


...tle, the poor man at his gate; god made them
high or lowly and ordered their estate."

Thus religion discourags people from attempting change, and thus the
dominant groups can maintain their power (the symbolism involved in
both religion and politics are similar). Religion is used by the
ruling class to justify their position. Therefore the ruling class and
the subject class adopt the mutual agreement that:

'The parson has never gone hand in hand with the landlord'.

Marxism generally concludes that religion of the poor focuses heavily
on the afterlife, and therefore justifies all social inequality
apparant in the class structure. Marxism looks at the nature of faith
closely. However, there are some tradional Marxists who see Religion
as a platform for social change, a postion also adopted by some
Neo-Marxists.

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