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Founded by the Chinese philosopher, followers mostly in Japan, Korea, and Vietnam ... The rise of a new fundamentalism has occurred at the same time as mainline ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Religion

What is Religion?
  • A set of symbols, feelings of reverence, and
    rituals practiced by a community of believers
  • Comprised of beliefs, symbols and rituals.
  • Seeks to answer questions such as why we exist,
    why people suffer and die, and what happens when
    we die.
  • All known societies over the past 100,000 years
    have had some form of religion.
  • Religious beliefs and practices vary from culture
    to culture.

What is Religion?
  • Emile Durkheim The Elementary Forms of Religious
    Life (1912)
  • Religion is a unified system of beliefs and
    practices relative to sacred things
  • Religions component parts
  • A theology
  • Organized set of beliefs and practice--doctrine
  • A set of rituals
  • Beliefs are translated into behaviors--faith must
    be observable
  • Classification of sacred and profane objects
  • Sacred (Elements that are set apart from the
    everyday world and treated with reverence)
  • Profane (Elements of the everyday world)

Religion as a Social Construction
  • Religious truths are always subject to change
  • Although religious truths are socially
    constructed they have a symbolic realism
  • The symbols constructed have a real effect on
    life and how we interpret it--Thomas Theorem
  • Examples of the fluid nature of religion
  • Secularization (Peter Berger)
  • Process in which religion is challenged by the
    notions of science and the products of
  • Fundamentalism
  • The revitalization of faith based on the literal
    interpretation of religious doctrine

Civil Religion/Civic Religion
  • A system of values associated with sacred symbols
    that is integrated into the broader society and
    shared by the society's members, regardless of
    their individual religious affiliations (e.g.,
    patriotism, nationalism)

Four Categories of Religion
  • Simple supernaturalism - the belief that
    supernatural forces affect people's lives
    positively or negatively.
  • Animism - the belief that plants, animals, and
    elements of the natural world are endowed with
    spirits that impact events in society.
  • Theism - belief in a God or Gods.
  • Transcendent idealism - belief in sacred
    principles of thought and conduct, such as truth,
    justice, life and tolerance for others.

Functionalism Functions of Religion
  • Provides meaning and purpose to life
  • Promotes emotional well-being by addressing
    important individual questions (Why am I here?)
  • A source of social cohesion
  • Assists in the building of social ties, further
    integrating people, gives a sense of belonging
  • Provides a support system
  • Provides strength and comfortespecially in times
    of crisis

Functionalism Functions of Religion (contd.)
  • Social services
  • Provides much in the way of voluntary services to
    those less fortunate
  • A source of social control
  • Often legitimizes the efforts of government to
    engage in social sanctioning and the placement of
    boundaries on behavior
  • A source of social change
  • Many social movements have had religion as their
    source of support and inspiration
  • Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi

Conflict Theory
  • Karl Marx
  • Religion is the opiate of the people
  • Argued that religion is an ideology which creates
    false consciousness amongst the working classes
  • Religion makes people apathetic to their plight
  • Leads people to falsely believe that those with
    more are more deserving
  • Gives people the belief that their suffering here
    on earth is purposefulfor ultimate reward on the
    other side

Conflict Theory
  • Max Weber The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of
    Capitalism (1904)
  • Religious shift is significant to the course of
    social change, religion could be a catalyst to
    produce social change
  • Explored the interconnectedness of Protestantism
    and the growth of Capitalism
  • The Protestant ethic is derived from the concept
    of predestination
  • Since predestination could not be known it was
    assumed that outward symbols could give some
    indication - collection of wealth reflects Gods
  • Encouraged people to acquire wealth through
    self-discipline and hard work - acquisition of
    wealth deemed a moral good

Symbolic Interactionism
  • What meaning does religion hold for people?
  • Gives sense of purpose to life
  • Religion serves as a reference group to help
    people define themselves.
  • Womens versions of a certain religion usually
    differ from mens versions.

Types of Religious Organization
  • A church
  • Inclusive religious body (moral community)
    engaged in formalized worship
  • A denomination
  • A socially and legally recognized religious body
  • Exist within a religion through shared theology
    but contain differences in interpretation of such
  • A sect
  • Smaller but formalized
  • Focus on salvation and otherworldly
    concerns--hostile to society
  • A cult
  • Smallest but not formalized--lacking well defined
  • Typically organized around charismatic leaders

Churches and Sects
Gender and Religion
  • Religious organizations are dominated by men.
  • Barbara Harris 1st female Episcopal bishop
  • In both Buddhism Christianity, women were
    allowed to express strong religious convictions
    by choosing to become nuns.
  • In 1993, women were finally accepted as priests
    in Great Britain.
  • In the U.S., women have been ordained as
    ministers in about half of the Protestant
  • In Orthodox Judaism, women in the U.S. can become

Major World Religions
World ReligionsChristianity
  • The largest of the world religions
  • Dates back 2,000 years
  • Roots in Judaism
  • Begins as a cult led by a Jew in the Middle-East
  • Contains many denominations
  • History recorded in the New Testament of the
    BibleShares the first five books of the Hebrew
    Bible with Jews
  • Engaged in missionary work and military conquest
    to bolster expansion

World ReligionsIslam
  • Worlds 2nd largest religion
  • Like Christianity, faith spread through
    missionary and military work
  • Fastest-growing religion
  • Founded in the 7th century by the teachings of
  • History recorded in the Qur an
  • Includes references to Jesus, Abraham, and Moses
  • Two major division
  • Shiite (Fundamentalist)
  • Sunni (More Secular and larger in representation)

World ReligionsHinduism
  • The oldest and third largest religion
  • Mostly practiced in India
  • Expansion of followers tied to natural growth
  • A polytheistic faith lacking a specific sacred
  • No one supreme being sitting in judgment
  • Followers undergo reincarnation in death
  • On a journey toward nirvana (place of spiritual

World ReligionsBuddhism
  • Does not accept notion of a divine being
  • Grew out of Hinduism
  • Focus is on living in proper manner so as to
    achieve enlightenment
  • All humans thought to possess Godliness just
    unable to tap into it

World ReligionsJudaism
  • Provides the theological roots for Christianity
    and Islam
  • Small in numbers
  • 18 million worldwide
  • History is recorded in the first five books of
    the Hebrew Bible, also known as the Torah
  • Believe a covenant with God and Abraham makes
    them the chosen people destined to live out their
    lives in Israel
  • Driven out by the Romans over 2,000 years ago and
    witnessed a return in 1948
  • Now fighting with Muslim Palestinians over who is
    the rightful settlers of Israel

World ReligionsConfucianism
  • Quite secular in form
  • Founded by the Chinese philosopher, followers
    mostly in Japan, Korea, and Vietnam
  • Based on a code of self-discipline
  • Work toward the achievement of earthly reward
    rather than supernatural reward

Global Distribution of World Religions
Trends in Religion in the U.S.
  • Approximately 80-85 of Americans say they
    believe in God.
  • Although 50 of Americans say they attend church
    weekly, research suggests only 20-25 attend
  • Half of Catholics in the U.S. reject the notion
    that the Pope is the voice of God.
  • The rise of a new fundamentalism has occurred at
    the same time as mainline denominations have been
    losing membership.
  • Some members of the political elite in Washington
    have vowed to bring religion "back" into schools
    and public life.
  • During the 1990s the Christian Coalition proved
    to be a potent force in U.S. politics.

Who is Religious in the U.S.?
U.S. Religious Bodies Membership
Major U.S. denominations that self-identify as
Major U.S. denominations that self-identify as
Christian (contd.)
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