Essay About Religion And Society

Essay on The Role of Religion in Society

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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.


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…show more content…

When religion fails to perform this action, new religions form.

Durkheim claimed Nationalism and Communism were the new religions of the industrial society. They took over from Christianity but performed the same functions.

Functionalists do not say that Religion doesn't change. its form certainly does. Parsons believed that religion was in differentiation, but what does not change is the function of religion in society and therefore supports the status quo. The culture of a particular political movement is parralelled with the collectivity of religious movements, ie, rituals like flag waving and protest are a collective sign of respect for their sacred symbol (weather it be religious or political). Consequently, religion is in any form, is a neccessary and essential feature of society.

Criticisms of the Functionalist view on the Role of Religion

Firstly, Elementory Forms of Religious Life was based on bad and second-hand anthropology. Durkheim seemed to misunderstand both Totenism and the Aboriginal tribes on which his study was based. Durkheim's analysis was not applicable to societies of cultural diversity.

The idea that religion is the worshipping of society has been criticised by many, as people who worship a God do not always look at society

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Religion provides belief to the people when they are down and out. It is the binding fabric for the society and provides objectives to people in their lives. There are many religions in the world namely Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Sikhism to name a few. They have existed since ancient times and continue to do so however it has also become the source of conflicts around the world. In fact it is a sweet and bitter pill which is necessary for human life. Therefore, lets take a look at the advantages and disadvantages.

Positive effects of religion on individual and society:

Mental peace:

The realization of the supreme power above the human ego is only possible by following the path of religion. It teaches us that wealth would not stay with us after death but it is the good deeds that would remain in eternity. A religious person never loses focus and enjoys peace of mind.

Social work:

Many religious organizations are engaged in social work that contributes towards the welfare of society. They provide alms to the poor and also set up educational institutions so that the youth can have access to formal as well as higher education. Religion promotes good will in the society by fostering a sense of brotherhood among the people.
Compassionate behavior:

Religious people are compassionate towards others as religion teaches its followers to be benevolent and sympathetic towards the other human beings. It regulates life and encourages individuals not to indulge in bad habits that are detrimental to society. Majority of People suffering from drug related addiction turn towards religion to develop will power so that they can leave the habit.


Holy books from Gita to Bible impart wisdom to the people which benefits the humanity as a whole. All religions lay stress on following the path of righteousness and work towards the betterment of the society. They teach us to differentiate between the right and wrong on the earth.

Negative effects of religion on individual and society:

Religion as an expansionist tool:

Since time, immemorial religion was used by the empires to fight wars with other kingdoms. Followers of a particular religion believe that their teachings are superior to other religions.

Lack of scientific outlook:

One of the major drawbacks of the religion is the belief that the world originated from super natural power. Scientific rational thinking is discouraged and people asking questions based on reason are hounded or even killed.

Status of minorities:

A religious state rarely respects the rights of minority religion. Forced conversions are rampant with regular diatribes launched against the gay and other racial communities.

Also read:Positive and negative effects of globalization

Lack of Progress:

Overtly religious societies cannot progress as they do not allow free thinking. Innovation and scientific inventions are only possible when people are encouraged to think out of the box. It is only possible when religion is not adopted as the way of life.

Political tool:

Political parties around the world exploit the general discontentment among the people to whip up the religious passion and capture power. It is a dangerous trend leading to war that might cause large scale casualties in terms of human life and property.


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