Religion's Function in Society

Topics: Religion, Sociology, Ritual Pages: 4 (1294 words) Published: May 9, 2005
Religion has many functions within a society, both social and psychological. According to Ferraro (308) three such social functions are social control, conflict resolution, and intensifying group solidarity. Religion seems to help maintain a social order. It appears to do this by encouraging what a given society deems acceptable behavior and discouraging socially inappropriate behavior. "Every religion, regardless of the form it takes, is an ethical system that prescribes proper way of behaving." (Ferraro 308) This social order of rewards and punishment is reinforced when backed by supernatural authority. Thus one's neighbor may be exorcized from his or her community when a behavior is seen as socially unacceptable or inappropriate. Examples of this in the Jewish-Christian community would be the breaking of the Ten Commandments such as stealing, committing adultery, or murdering.

Another social function of religion is to "enable people to express their common identity in an emotionally charged environment" ( Ferraro 308). Group solidarity is intensified for those who practice it. When members of a religious group come together to practice religious beliefs, they often bond by participating in other non-religious activities as well. (Ferraro 308) People find religion an easy way to identify with one another. Religion helps to form community, schools, and even government. People who are ‘more' religious tend to hold more conservative attitudes on sexuality and personal honesty. They are also likely to hold more conservative attitudes about family life, being more likely, for instance, to support the use of corporal

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punishment in disciplining children. Strongly religious people also tend to be more accepting and satisfied with their lives and marriages. This is perhaps because they do not question what is unknown. It is perhaps merely accepted upon faith. (Brinkerhoff, White, Ortega 295-305)

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