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Religion Role in the Society

Introduction

God is the originator of religion. He created the world and the people in it and established some general principles and laws which they were instructed to follow. God spoke through selected prophets who heard him speak and recorded his words (Johnstone 21). He revealed to the people through the prophets his plans for humanity through revelation. Religion was created through this process of revelation.

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Judaism and Christianity have the belief that religion was created through the revelation of God’s intention for humanity. The founder of Buddhism, Gautama Buddha, also had the experience of heavenly inspiration in his quest for truth (Johnstone 22).

Why does religion exist for society as a whole?

Religion is a pervasive and noteworthy cultural occurrence. There are several theories that explain why religion exists for society as a whole. Sigmund Freud views religion as a mass obsession that is driven by a person’s emotions. The theory asserts that religion illusion is psychological distress that can be alleviated by removing this distress.

According to Raines (1), Karl Marx viewed religion as an institution that is dependent on materials and economic realities that are at the disposal of its followers. It is a reflex of the real world or an illusion that keeps the society functioning as it is, and eroding the highest ideals and aspirations of the people.

Mircea Eliade viewed religion as a focus on the sacred. However, he understands religion in two perspectives: the sacred and the profane. Religion is just about belief in the supernatural that is at the center of the sacred (Kunin 2). There are timeless forms of ideas that recur in all religions that Mircea regards as irrelevant with no particular historical contexts.

The existence of religion in today’s society depends on what people seek to achieve through it, and what they believe in. There are many religions, and each has a unique belief that distinguishes it from the others (Kunin 3).

However, most of the religions believe in the existence of a supernatural being that controls things that are beyond the ability of ordinary people. Religion exists because of the role it plays in everyday life. It shapes how people think and what they focus on in life.

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What is the relevance of religion to the modern world?

Religion in American society has, for a long time played a crucial role in shaping politics. According to Putnam, Campbell, and Garrett (1), John F. Kennedy was a presidential candidate in 1960s and won overwhelming support from his fellow Catholics. Thirty percent of the voters were Protestants and could not vote for a Catholic candidate in any political position.

Kennedy had disagreements with the Catholic Church followers on several issues, but they still supported him. Things changed in 2004 and Kerry, a presidential candidate, was a Catholic but did not get overwhelming support from the church. Kerry’s views on abortion made him lose his political bid because the church was of a different opinion. The Catholics got divided because there are those who supported Kerry and those who were opposed to him.

Kerry lost to an evangelical protestant George W. Bush. Religion played a significant role in determining who will take office as president. However, in the 2000s, the voters have not divided along denominational lines but their personal views on religion. Their concern was how religious a person is and not their religious affiliation.

American religion has today become a personal preference and not a characteristic. Society accommodates both religious and nonreligious people without any form of discrimination. There is a high degree of religious devotion and tremendous religious diversity.

The existence of religion in society influences the choices of people. In the 1960s, it influenced the candidate that one would vote for in presidential and other political races. People only voted their own. In the 2000s, people were influenced by religion to vote for candidates who are more religious than others.

Religion in society today has played an enormous role in bringing together likeminded people. People are sorting themselves into like-minded clusters where religion, social, and political beliefs determine which group a person will join. The migration from one church to another and out of the church altogether characterizes today’s religion.

Why is it important to study religion?

Religion is a major force in human experience and cannot be ignored in today’s studies. It is evident that most of terrorism, ethnic cleansing, economic destruction, and other felonies that have been fueled by religious agendas. Religion has also contributed positively to the human race. It has laid the foundation for human rights, social justice, and international peace, among others.

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According to Seshagiri (1), religion accounts for the peculiar shape of culture and the outlook of its people upon themselves and the world around them. Religion occupies a prominent place in almost every age and society in human history down to the present.

Study of religion will help people understand the role that it plays in their lives and society as a whole. People will understand how religion fuels violence and terrorism. The image of religion in society today can only be redeemed by a person who understands it.

What is the rational choice theory?

According to Iannaccone (2), the rational choice theory is a combination of assumptions of maximizing behavior, market equilibrium, and stable preferences that are used relentlessly. The most fundamental of these assumptions is maximizing behavior. The assumption implies that people approach all actions in a similar manner, assessing costs and benefits, and seeking to maximize their net gains.

The same way, people choose the religion they want to belong to and their level of participation in it. Religious choices are not static because people tend to change them overtime.

Their level of participation is also subject to change. In some cases, they modify even the character of their religion. The assumption of stable preference explains these changes as optimal responses to varying circumstances such as changing prices, incomes, skills experiences, and resource constraints, among others.

The Rational Choice Theory also views religion producers as optimizers seeking to maximize members, net resources, government support, and other determinants of success of institutions. The church and the clergy role are to make use of opportunities in the religious marketplace and address the prevailing constraints.

Religious consumers and producers interact like buyers and sellers in an ordinary market to create an equilibrium point where both are satisfied. The consumer’s freedom to choose is the constraint that the religious producers face. A seller cannot survive without the support of the customers.

Works Cited

Iannaccone, Laurence. “Symposium: Voodoo Economics? Reviewing the Rational Choice Approach to Religion.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. 34.1(1995): 76-89.

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Johnstone, Ronald. Religion in Society: Sociology of Religion, Upper Saddle River, N.J: Pearson/Prentice Hall. 2007. Print.

Kunin, Seth. Religion: The Modern Theories, New York: JHU Press, 2003. Print

Putnam, Robert, Campbell, David, and S.Garrett. American Grace: How Religion Divides And Unites Us, New York: Simon and Schuster, 2012. Print

Raines, John. Marx on Religion, New York: Temple University Press, 2002. Print.

Seshagiri, Rao. Mahatma Gandhi and Comparative Religion, New York: Motilal Banarsidass Publ, 1990. Print.

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