What is Religion? • Religionis a unified system of beliefs, rituals, and practices that typically involve a broader community of believers who share common definitions of the sacred and the profane. Three Key Elements of Religion • It is a form of culture. • It involves beliefs that take form in ritualized practices. • It provides a feeling that life is ultimately meaningful because it frames life in a way that other institutions do not.
Sacred andProfane • Sacred is the supernatural, divine, awe inspiring, and spiritually significant aspects of our existence. • Include religious beliefs, rites, duties or anything requiring special religious treatment. • Profane is that which is part of the everyday life experience. • Ordinary practices that are regarded with an everyday familiarity.
Religiosity Religiosity is the measurable importance of religion to a person’s life. It signifies the numerous aspects of religious activity and dedication in a person’s life such as attending mass or privately worshiping at home.
Approaches to Religion Religion is usually studied in two approaches: 1) A cultural approach that evaluates the religious aspects of the culture shared by followers of a certain religion. 2) A theoretical approach to religion including symbols, functions, exchanged-based interactions, and power issues. • Religion is important at the personal and larger social levels of society.
World’s Largest Religions • Muslims cover the largest belief system in the world. • Roman Catholics are the second largest religious belief system followed by Hindus in third.
United State’s Religions • Protestants are the largest US belief system. Protestants includes Baptists, Lutherans, and Anglicans. Compromised of many diverse denominations. • Roman Catholics are the second biggest religion, has grown due to higher birth rates and immigrants from Mexico brought Catholicism in the 1980s.
Religious Tolerance Everyone believes passionately in their faith, and finding common ground takes more effort, but sustains the process of non-prejudiced treatments. In his book “Oneness”, Jeffrey Moses describes common beliefs and values which are expressed in core doctrines and scriptures of world religions such as “Be good to those around you,” or “Honor your mother and father.” Most people from the world's religions share most beliefs in common. Although we more often define ourselves based on differences not similarities. The more we agree to accept each other’s beliefs, the more understanding and tolerant we'll become.
Sociology of Religion • Theism includes the belief in divine beings which are gods that actively influence human affairs. • Monotheism is the belief in one god. The 3 monotheistic religions include: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. • Polytheismrefers to religions with multiple gods. Hinduism is an example of a polytheistic religion. • Abstract Ideals are religions that focus on sacred principles and thoughts which guide our lives and typically have no divine beings in charge of the world and the universe, such as Buddhism. Sociologists classify religions based on beliefs and rituals. Supernaturalism is a belief system with no gods but focuses on human and non-human supernatural focuses that can influence human events. Animism is a belief system that has no gods, but focuses personalized spirits or ghosts of ancestors that take an interest in and actively work to influence human affairs.
Sociology of Religion • An ecclesia is a large assembly of people, a congregation, or a church integrated with government and other social institutions. Religions can be distinguished based on membership. Cult is a newer religion with few followers whose teachings are perceived to be at odds with the dominant culture and religion. Sect is a group larger than a cult but still perceived as being weird and is often treated with hostility by non-sect members. Churchis a sect that has gained numerous followers and has become highly bureaucratized.
Secularization • Secularization is the trend toward worldly concerns and away from concerns for the religiously sacred in the lives of society's members. • Typically the more modern a society becomes the less religious it remains and the more secular or materialistic it becomes.
The Functionalist Perspective • There are 4 functional aspects of religion: • 1) Religion satisfies the individual needs. • 2) Religion promotes social cohesion. • 3) Religion provides a world overview. • 4) Religion helps adaption to society. • ÉmileDurkheim explained that religion divides society into two categories, the profane and the sacred. • The sacred consists of things that are awe-inspiring and knowable only through extraordinary experiences • The profane consists of all observable things, things that are knowable through everyday experiences.
The Functionalist Perspective • Durkheim believed he could study the social role of religion by studying totemism, mainly because it is one of the simplest forms of religion. • A totem is an ordinary object, such as a plant or animal that has become a sacred symbol to and of a particular group or clan, who also identity with the totem. • Religious symbols, as well as religion, arise from society itself. Individuals create religion rather than religion creating individuals. • Society is the origin of a religion’s beliefs.
The Conflict Perspective Max Weber Claimed Protestant ideals of self-discipline and hard work lead to financial success of many as they lived Protestant work ethics and built foundation for capitalism's success in Western Civilization. Suggested religion sometimes encourages social change. Karl Marx Inferred that the dominant religion of society used by the ruling class to justify economic political, and social advantages over the oppressed.
The Conflict Perspective Karl Marx Defined alienation as the process by which people lose control over the social institutions that they created themselves. Called religion the “opiate of masses,” or dominated masses kept from actions. Summarized that once people created a unified system of sacred beliefs they act as if it were something out of their control.