The Nature of Religion • Ritual & Prayer • Emotion • Belief
Ritual & Prayer • All religions include a belief in the existence of beings or forces that human beings cannot experience. • Prayer : Means for individuals to address or communicate with supernatural beings or forces
Emotion • Deliberately alter their state of consciousness • Divine or Sacred Intervention of human affairs
Belief • Supernatural order and a set of values to be applied to daily life
Magic • Active attempt to coerce spirits, control supernatural forces. • God or Gods are not worshipped • Middle ages very popular • 500,000 executed for witchcraft • Science has eliminated much attitude towards it
Religious Practices • Earliest evidence of religious practices come from the Middle East. • Neanderthals burial practices seem to point out the existence of religious beliefs dating to 60,000-45,000 years ago.
Major Types of Religions • Supernaturalism: postulates the existance of non-personalized supernatural forces that can and often do influence human events. • Mana: diffuse, nonpersonalized force that acts through anything that lives or moves. • The proof of something possessing mana is obtained through its effects. • Religious Taboo: sacred prohibition againts touching, mentioning, or looking at certain objects , acts or people.
Major Types of Religions • Animism: The belief in inanimate, personalized spirits or ghosts of ancestors that take an interest in, and actively work to influence human affairs.
Major Types of Religions • Theism: the belief in divine beings –gods and goddesses who shape humans affairs • Polytheism: the belief in a number of Gods. • Monotheism: the belief in the existance of one single God
Major Types of Religions • Abstract ideals: focus on the achievement of personal awareness and higher state of consciousness through correct ways of thinking and behaving rather than by manipulating spirits or worshipping gods.
A Sociological Approach to Religion • Sociologist focus on the relationship between religion and society • Two main approaches • The functionalist sociologists examine the functions religion plays in social life. • The conflict theorists view religion as means for justifying political status quo.
The Functionalist Perspective • Sociologist identified four categories of religious functions: • Satisfying individual needs • Promoting social cohesion • Providing a worldview • Helping adaptation to society
Satisfying Individual Need • Freud believed religion to be irrational • Helpful for individuals to come to terms with impulses that cause guilt and anxiety • Controlling dangerous/immoral impulses • Individuals calm themselves by finding guidance or help by trusting in God • Find comfort in knowing the supernatural causes of both good and bad (natural disasters)
Social Cohesion • Durkheim noted the ability of religion to bring about group unity and cohesion. • People are bound to each other, making the stability of the society strengthened • Maintains social order
Totem • An ordinary object such as a plant or animal that has become a sacred symbol to and of a particular group or clan who not only revere the totem but also identify with it. • Durkheim believed that when people worship supernatural entities they’re worshiping their own society.
Establishing Worldviews • Weber believed that religion responds to basic human need to understand the purpose of life. • Creates a worldview that can have social, political, and economic consequences.
Calvinism • Weber believed it fostered the Protestant ethic: hard work and asceticism • Protestantism was an important influence on the development of capitalism • Certain people are selected before they are born, if destined for heaven or hell. • Financial success out of hard work and discipline, is considered of the few going to heaven.
Adaptations to Society • When society is going under great stress they may be threatened by anomie. • Social structure may break down and be absorbed by another society. • Revitalization Movements: powerful religious movements that stress a return to the traditional religious values of the past.
The Conflict Theory • Alienation: the process by which people lose control over the social institutions they themselves invented. • Marx believed it was religion alienated people the most in the human society. • “Man makes religion, religion does not make man” (Marx, 1867a/1967). • Saw religion as a tool for upper class to control lower class.
The Universal Church • Universal Church: includes all the members of a society within one united moral community. • Accepts and supports the secular culture- fully part of the social, political, and economic status quo • Preliterate Society- religion is not a separate institution but rather part of the entire social life • Complex Society- the church cuts across divisions and binds all believers nto one moral community.
The Ecclesia • Ecclesia: a church that shares the same ethical system as the secular society and has come to represent and promote the interest of the society at large. • Represents and promote the interests of the ruling classes • Ecclesia- Official or national religion • Membership is by birth
The Denomination • Denomination: tends to limit its membership to a particular class, ethnic group, or religious group, or at least, to have its leadership positions dominated by members of such a group. • Distinguished from sects: • They participate actively in secular affairs • Cooperate with other religious groups
The Sect • Sect:a small group that adheres strictly to religious doctrine and often claims that they are authentic version of the faith which they split. • Represent a withdrawal from secular society and an active rejection of secular culture
Millenarian Movements • Millenarian Movements: typically prophesy the end of the world, the destruction of all evil people and their works, and the saving of the just.
Aspects of American Religion • Religious Diversity • World’s most religiously diverse nation • Widespread Belief • Almost all Americans believe in God • 58% think religion’s influence on American life is decreasing • More than 200 recognized religious organizations • Constitutional separation of church and state
Aspects of American Religion Cont… • Secularism (less influence by religion) • Secular sources for moral guidance • Social and political leaders rely on religious symbolism to influence secular behavior • Ecumenism • Response to secularism • American Protestants have loose boundaries
Major Religions in the United States • Nowhere is the diversity of the American people more evident than in their religious denominations. • There are hundreds of different religious groups in the United States, and they vary widely in practices, moral view, class structure, family values, and attitudes. • Three largest religions in U.S. : Christianity, Judaism, and Islam • The U.S. census in prohibited from asking about religion, so the U.S. government generally has little to say on the matter. • However, since 1972, the National Opinion Research Center has been conducting the General Social Surveys, which do give us a way of examining American religious attitudes and practices.
Major Religions in the United States • These percentages are in constant flux because demographic factors such as birthrates and migration patterns can influence the number of people in any given religion.
Protestantism • The United States is a majority Protestant country. • However this is changing and the percentage of the population that is Protestant has been falling. • Reasons • Immigration • Number of people raised Protestant and remaining so in adulthood has decreased • Percentage of people claiming no religion has increased
Protestantism • Because American Protestantism is so fragmented, many sociologist simple have classified all non-Catholic Christian denominations in the general category of Protestant. • However, differences exist among the various denominations. • Views on women, homosexuality, alcohol, smoking, premarital sex etc . • Level of education and income • It is useful to think of American Protestant religious denominations as ranked on a scale measuring their degree of traditionalism. • Conservative : Fundamentalist, Southern Baptist, and other Baptist • Moderates: Lutherans, Methodist, and interdenominationalist • Liberal: Unitarian Universalist, Congregationalist, Presbyterians, and Episcopalians.
Catholicism • Nearly 24% of the American population is Roman Catholic, representing the largest single religious denomination in the United States. • The Catholic population, which has traditionally been based in the Midwest and Northeast, has started to move to the South and Southwest. • American Catholics have long been an immigrant people, and that tradition is continuing. • One in five Catholics is a member of a minority group. • Hispanics now make up 16%, blacks 3%, and an additional 3% describe themselves as nonwhite. • A higher amount of Catholics overall come from minority groups.
Catholicism • Income and level of education • Catholics remain urban people • Catholics have historically favored larger families than have other Americans, but by 1985, the differences in the ideal family size between Catholics and Protestants had disappeared, with both groups considering two children as the ideal. • Sexual Morals • One of the most important development in the recent history of Catholicism was the ecumenical council called by Pope John XXIII, which met from 1962 to 1965 and thoroughly reexamined Catholic doctrine. • Has resulted in the questioning of every aspect of the Catholic tradition • America’s biggest single denomination now consists of traditional Catholics and “cafeteria Catholics,” who pick and chose what to practice.
Judaism • There is a strong identification among Jews on both cultural and religious levels. • Jews can be divided into three groups on the basis of the manner in which they approach traditional religious precepts. • Orthodox- observe traditional religious precepts • Reform Jews- allow for major reinterpretation of religious practice and customs • Conservatives- represent a compromise between the two extremes • Social-class difference in Jewish groups
Judaism • The American Jewish community is facing a crisis due to a decline of Jews living in the United States. • Reasons for the lack of growth in the Jewish community: • Jews in the United States are not bearing enough children to replace themselves. • Jewish population is old • Substantial numbers of young Jews are choosing to marry outside the faith • Jewish groups have attempted to liberalize the definition of who is a Jew, and – in a radical break with tradition- have decided to seek converts.
Judaism • Jews are dispersed across the United States, but the Jewish population is concentrated in the Northeast (43%0). • The regions containing the fewest Jews are the Midwest (13%), the South (22%) and the West (22%). • The Jewish population is very well educated. • The additional years of education produce a median household income that is 16% higher than the median for all U.S. households.
Islam • A Muslim is someone who has accepted the Islamic declaration of faith, or shahadah. • Like Jews and Christians, Muslims are monotheist, and all three religions share the prophets of the Old Testament. • The formal acts of worships called the Five Pillars of Islam prove the framework for all aspects of a Muslim’s life. • Faith or shahadah • Prayer • Almsgiving • Fasting • Pilgrimage
Islam • Three historic divisions: • Sunni • Shiahi-Ali • Kharijites • From its roots in the Arab world, Islam has spread in virtually every direction and is the world’s second largest religion behind Christianity. • Today, Muslims live in every country in the world • It is the third largest faith in the United States.
Islam • Muslims tend to be socially conservative, favor a close-knit family, and support religious education. • The conservatism is based partly on religious beliefs but also arises from cultural mores. • Muslims living in America often have difficulty reconciling the American way of life with the traditions and ideas about morality that exist within their belief.
Social Aspects of Religious Affiliation • Religious affiliation seems to be correlated strongly with many other important aspects of people’s lives. • Direct relationships can be traced between membership in a particular religious group and a person’s political, professional and economic standing, educational level, family life, social mobility, and attitudes toward controversial social issues and social policy.