IS RELIGION A TOOL OF OPPRESSION?
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Religion is an important aspect of life; it influences a high proportion of many things. The odd part is that many people are not actually clear on what a religion is. There are several key aspects that make something a religion although the exact details can vary. In reality there is no firm agreement on just what a religion is. Religion is defined by the online dictionary as
‘a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs’, ‘The body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs’. Religion is a belief system that uses symbols to allow people to explore their spirituality. Religions usually rely on narratives and symbols that are used to offer a meaning to life or to explain things like who or how the universe was created. In addition most religions have an ethical component that teaches people how they are expected to live. There is a lot of variation within this as can be seen by the number of religions that exist in the world. In fact there is no firm agreement about what constitutes a religion and what does not. One aspect of religion that applies in all cases is that it is a public process. Having a personal belief system does not make it a religion. By definition a religion is an organized activity that involves other people. Most religions have a hierarchical system for example with priests and bishops and so on but this is not required. Most religions also have a specific place of worship and there are usually sermons, festivals and many other activities that are part of the process. None of this is strictly required; the only requirement is that the religion be a belief system that is held by a group of people who publicly share that religion. However in practice the vast majority of religions have some aspect of these things. A lot of religions have been established in drastically different ways with the differences largely being cultural. The largest difference in most cases is that some religions put the importance on belief whiles others put the emphasis on practice. Basically this means that in some cases the most important thing is that you believe the doctrines of the religion while in other cases it is more important what you do than that you actually believe what is being taught. It’s a known fact that religion is used to emphasise the importance of peace and harmony between individuals for example some of the laws made by the government is influenced by Christianity’s ’10 Commandment’. All Religions teach parents how to train or discipline their children, how to overcome certain obstacles and also what to and what not to do, religion does these things by promising a reward and punishments in the afterlife, paradise for the righteous followers and condemnationfor the people which disobey
However, religion is criticised of being a tool of oppression, a sociologist, Karl Marx famously stated that “Religion is the opiate of the people” that statement clearly shows that he’s thought that religion was a lie by the ruling powers for example, the kings presidents etc., to keep their subjects submissive and obedient, and to give them hope for the next life so they would not revolt in this life. Also, another Marxists sociologist, Louis Althusser, brought forth the idea that religion serves the society by being the ideological state apparatuses, this basically means that the higher class rule over the working class by controlling people’s ideas,...
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