Blogpost: Religion and Society

Lifestyle / Tue 7th Mar 2017 at 06:07pm

Religion and Society

Blog by Nishall Garala

Next week I am running in an election to stand on the Committee for Hindu Society at my university, which has inspired me to write a blog about the importance of religion in society today.

Religion benefits society by teaching people the art of self-sufficiency and ideas that being charitable is important. Since cooperation is important in society, religion enforces that by teaching people to be less selfish and to help fellow community members when they are in need. Religion also gives people something to believe in, which can make them happier and more comfortable. It provides believers with a meaning for life and helps them work towards being a productive, moral person.
Both from the individual and social point of view religion perform the following functions:

1. Religion provides mental peace:
Human life is uncertain. We struggle for our survival amidst the uncertainties, insecurities and dangers, sometimes we feel helplessness. It is the religion which consoles and encourages us in all such time of crisis. Religion gives righteous shelter to us. We get mental peace and emotional support. It encourages us to face his life and problems.

2. It inculcates social virtues:
Religion promotes the major social virtues like truth, honesty, non-violence, service, love, discipline etc. A follower of the religions internalises these virtues and becomes a disciplined citizen of the society.

3. Religion promotes social solidarity:
Religion gives rise to the spirit of brotherhood. Durkheim viewed that religion strengthens social solidarity. It’s also been pointed out that religion has the supreme integration and verifying force in human society. It is true that common belief, a common sentiment, common worship, participation in common rituals etc. are the significant cementing factors which strengthen unity and solidarity.

4. Religion converts the inhuman qualities to human qualities:
Religion inculcates the spirit of self-service. It demands that people should be charitable and benevolent. Through various religious experiences, we forget the worldly life and problems. This experience suppresses the animal desires and converts the animal qualities of man to human qualities.

5. Religion is an agent of socialisation and social control:
Many views that religion is one of the most important agents of socialisation and social control. It has a significant role in organising and directing social life. It helps in preserving social norms and strengthening social control. It socialises individuals and exercises control over both individual and group in various ways. As an informal means, religion regulates the activities of people in its own way. Organisations like temples, mosques, church, Gurudwaras etc. also control the behaviour of the individuals at a different level.

6. Religion promotes welfare:
Religion teaches to the people to serve the masses and promote their welfare. It gives the message that “the service to humanity is service to God”. For this reason, people spend money to feed poor and needy. Religions like Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity etc. put emphasis on aim-giving to the poor. It developers the philanthropic attitude of the people and thereby injects the idea of mutual help and co-operation. With the influence of religious belief, different religious organisations engage themselves in various welfare activities.

7. Religion gives recreation:
Religion plays a charming role in providing recreation to the people. Religious rites and festivals are more or less performed in every religion which gives relief to the people from mental exertion. Similarly, religious lectures, bhajans, kirtans, musical concerts followed by the utterance of hymn etc. gives much more pleasure to the people and provides eternal recreation.

8. Religion influences economy:
Sociologists like Sombart and Max Weber rightly established the relationship of religion with the economic system. Weber observed the influence of Protestant ethics in the development of capitalism. Sombart found this spirit of capitalism in Jewish norms. For the distinct religious principles present in Christianity, capitalism grew in protestant countries but not in the countries like India, Pakistan etc.

9. Religious influences political system:
Religion has played a significant role in the political system in the ancient and medical society. Even in modern times in many countries of the world the religion directly and indirectly also influences political activities. During the ancient and medieval period, the monarchs were treating themselves as the representatives of the God or ruling the society in the name of God. Even today, Political leaders take oath in the name of God. The political system of the countries of the world like Bhutan, Pakistan, Italy, Germany, England etc. are influenced by religion.

10. Religion Strengthens Self-confidence:
Religion is an effective means to strengthen self-confidence. There are certain beliefs like ‘work is worship’, ‘duty is divine’, ‘result in predestined’ etc. which is found in various religions, which gives strength to the individual and promotes self-confidence.

So, as times change, new circumstances present new challenges and possibilities. And yet, through it all, this immemorial longing we call religion continues on.

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